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Comment: Re:Invite Only (Score 2) 359 359

Agreed. Google+ was launched at a perfect time to gain mass adoption. Complaints about Facebook seemed at an all time high and the "Facebook is uncool/loosing users/dead" stories seemed more frequent than usual. When everyone saw that there was an alternative that gives them better control over their posts, we were all saying "sign me up!!!". But even if you could get an account under the invitation only version, you probably didn't have any friends there. And as you said, by the time anyone could sign-up, the hype had died. They pretty much had a tiny window to get mass adoption and they blew it.

Comment: Re:Boil it down to cost (Score 2) 104 104

This. You need to do formal business requirements gathering on what the solution should do, regardless of whether it is a custom solution or off the shelf. This is a collaborative process that you need to drive. You also need to speak their language. This is not a technical discussion, it is a list of business wants/needs. You shouldn't even call it a specification, this is before the specification. An example business requirement is, "I must be able to assign volunteers to one or more categories" or "The system must be able to generate a report showing the sign-up history of all users." Process mapping can go a long way to helping identify requirements. Talk through the process of how volunteers need to sign up, administrative activities, etc. and what a system would need to do at each point. They have been doing this process already, so it should be easy to map out. You may even identify places where the process can be improved. Once you have a requirements list, you need to have them prioritize each requirement. This is critical for you since you are trying to convince them to go off-the-shelf. Each requirement is either Must Have or Nice to have. You can do a 1-3 scale too if that works better. If those edge cases they feel aren't addressed by off the shelf solutions are Must Haves, then, and only then, do you price out a custom solution along with all of the pros/cons of doing so. The price may make them change their minds on those edge cases. If it turns out those edge cases are Nice to Have, then you have what you need. You have essentially lead them into making the decision that you want them to make.

Comment: How about Employee's Spouse? (Score 1) 253 253

As a male, I would have loved to have this type of coverage through my employer for my spouse. When my wife and I decided to have a baby, we had to go the IVF route due to a condition my wife has. Since we knew we wanted to have a second, but the odds of doing so naturally were very low, we chose to freeze/store the extra eggs they retrieved as part of the procedure. My employer's health plan had a maximum lifetime coverage of $25,000 for fertility services, but it does not cover the cost to freeze and store eggs. Freeze and storage cost us $1200/year. When money was really tight, you really start to weigh your options as to whether you keep storing and pay that high price, or quit and free up the cash.

I think my anecdote also highlights a different use case for egg storage. While the summary, and most of the comments here focus on using the egg storage as a means of delaying having children, this can also be vital to whether you can have children at all or how many you can have. But I'm not surprised at the narrow focus of discussion. This seems to be the case with most controversial women's health issues. The birth control coverage issue I found particularly irritating. The argument was solely about whether employers should be "subsidizing a promiscuous lifestyle" yet hardly ever made mention of the fact that a large minority of women take birth control for a wide array of other reasons that are directly related to their health and well being. But that's mostly related to a woman's period, hormones and disorders/diseases that affect a woman's reproductive system and "that's totally disgusting. Shut up and go away!"

Comment: cheap labor (Score 1) 236 236

There always seems to be a pendulum in the cheap labor vs. automation decision. When a lot of manufacturing jobs were being outsourced to China, many looked at what those jobs were and saw that they were very repetitive and low skill jobs. They would then get a puzzled look on their face. They get that a Chinese person can do the same task cheaper than an American person, but why have a person do it at all? This job is perfect for automation! The reality, though, is that many Chinese people toiling away is still cheaper than designing, building and maintaining an automated system (i.e. robot). Of course, that still didn't stop someone from trying to figure out how to automate such a task, and now the costs of automating have significantly dropped. At the same time, as the economy of China is stimulated, the quality of life and cost of living rise, so rises the wages. Automation then looks like the cost effective option. The cycle will continue with the next cheap labor market and task that is only newly and expensively automated, and so on and so forth.

Comment: Re:Translation... (Score 1) 200 200

And the award for most prescient poster goes to Teancum. NASA has made the official announcement and it the contract is going to Boeing AND SpaceX (, thus making this entire Slashdot story completely useless. Hey contributors/editors, if you see a story with inside information on something that will be announced within hours, why not just, you know, wait for the official announcement.

Comment: Switching is easy if you do it right (Score 3, Informative) 145 145

Assuming you have an option to switch ISPs (and I realize that many of you don't), it's actually pretty easy to do, even with leaving Comcast. This is really just an order of operations issue. Most people will decide they want to switch, call up their incumbent ISP to cancel their service, and then order their new service. Seems logical, but for best results, flip it around. Once you have decided to switch to the other guy, call the other guy first. The other guy will then set up your account, come to your house and do all of the installation, port your phone number over (if applicable) and then once you have verified that the service is working to your satisfaction, you call up the incumbent and tell them to cancel. This is how I switched from Comcast to Verizon a few years ago. Granted, I still dealt with an extremely defensive (anti)cancellation person on the phone, but it was a much more straightforward conversation. It went something like this...

Me: Hi. I switched to Verizon, cancel my service
Comcast: Why do you want to cancel?
Me: Your service doesn't work, I've had a tech out here 3 times and they didn't fix the issue. Fios has already been ordered and installed and it is working, which is something I could never have said for you.
Comcast: defensive statement...yada yada..Verizon installed a new wire to your house, that's why it's fixed
Me: Yeah, maybe you should have tried that on one of your 3 service calls, but you didn't. Anyway. I 'm not going to argue with you. I'm already receiving Verizon services, Comacast services have been physically disconnected. Cancel my account.
Comcast: Fine. Done.

And that was it. Hell I could have kept it even briefer if I had been prepared for such a defensive attitude, but even still, since you have physically disconnected their service and are already paying for their competitor, you know they have a snowball's chance in hell of getting you to agree to sending another tech over to re-connect Comcast and then go and cancel Verizon.

Now if you are not planning on switching, but want to pay less, or want better service, I use their anti-cancellation policy against them. The first level CSRs have limited power to do anything like offer discounts, upgrade service for free, etc. They can do some, but that is child's play compared to your cancellation people. What you do is if you don't work something out with the first level, tell them you want to cancel. You don't have to actually mean it, you just have to make them think you mean it. Even if there are no good alternatives ("I'll switch to satellite and DSL. I don't really need all of your bandwidth" or "My 4G hotspot works fine for me"). Sounds ridiculous, but you need to commit to the role. They will then transfer you to the cancellation people. Their job on paper is to shut off your service and close your account, but as we have seen in the news recently, their actual job is to do anything they can to prevent you doing that. If you get here, you are golden. Walk right into their trap: "Why do you want to cancel?" "I'm sorry to hear that, you must be very frustrated. What if I were to offer you x y z? Would that change your mind?" Checkmate.

Comment: Re:Please answer me one question (Score 1) 195 195

The miners can sell the coins as soon as they are produced.

Yes, but will they be selling those coins at a profit or a loss? It costs money to produce coins (equipment, electricity, physical space, etc.). Let's assume that when you begin mining, the the sale price of BTC will allow you to turn a profit. But as we have seen, the sale price of BTC can fluctuate wildly. If the price falls below your starting price, you will no longer be turning a profit, but be bleeding money.

If the "majority of people" think bitcoins are overvalued, then they would be shorting them, and the value would fall. The current price is the consensus price where buyers and sellers are balanced.

This statement assumes that everyone who knows what bitcoin is and has an opinion on it is actively participating in the bitcoin economy. This is untrue. The majority of people who don't think bitcoins will hold their value have chosen not to participate in the bitcoin economy at all and are investing elsewhere.

Comment: Re:Two different tech (Score 3, Insightful) 158 158

This has become much less of a challenge than it would have been only just a few years ago. With more of the handset makers moving to the strategy of one device across all carriers and the carrier exclusive model almost dead (thankfully), most customers who have bought a mid to high end smartphone in the past two years likely already have both CDMA and GSM radios. I know at least if you have CDMA, you most likely also have GSM, not sure if the other way around holds true. In the short term, they will obviously have to maintain two networks, but over the long term, they need to pick one and begin to transition everyone over. If I were them, I would pick GSM simply because it is much closer to be a "standard" than CDMA and has a very strong global presence. This makes them more appealing to those moving from overseas and further strengthens the appeal of GSM in the US (If I choose Sprint but end up unhappy, I can take my phone to AT&T, but if I choose Verizon, my phone is stuck with Verizon). For transitioning, there is the very slow way: every new handset sold defaults to GSM until there are no more CDMAs (or few enough to pull the plug). They will also likely heavily promote cheap/free upgrades for anyone still on CDMA to speed things up. Or there is the quick way. Everyone has until X date to switch to GSM, and by the way, we have a lot of cheap/free phones to choose from, plus those new flagships that you know you gotta have right now. Slow is expensive, but will piss off less customers, the other will be cheaper, but could piss off more customers. AT&T and Verizon could also captitalize on those disgruntled customers and make it very easy and cost effective to switch (especially Verizon if Sprint chooses GSM and their CDMA customers want to bail). So in conclusion, it is a challenge, but not one without a solution, and nowadays, is a lot easier to solve.

Comment: Volunteer Tax Preparer (Score 1) 386 386

My father is a volunteer tax preparer based out of our local public library. He will prepare anyone's taxes for free regardless of how complex they are. And this is not just him going it alone, he is part of a program that is funded by the IRS and use tax software the the IRS provides. I recommend that people look into this in their area if they would like someone else to do their taxes but don't want to pay someone like H&R Block to do it. This is a good option especially if you have a fairly complex tax situation. Since I travel for work a lot, I usually have to file taxes in more than one state. I have had as many as 5 state forms in a year. I used to win the award for the most complex taxes (especially the year I switch jobs, moved to a new state, got married and worked in 4 additional states), but he has been doing this for a while now and has encountered some really off-the-wall situations. Everything from I am self employed and have a pile of receipts for you" to "I haven't files my taxes for the past 10 years" to "I am a Syrian national living in the US under political asylum". I'm sure I could do this all myself with TurboTax just fine, but I do like having a person I can ask questions to. For instance, this year I got a really large refund. I don't like giving the government such a large interest free loan, so he was able to give me some advice on what factors were contributing the most to my huge refund (i.e. was it the amount of withholding, or one of the many deductions I was eligible for?) and devise a plan to try to reduce the size of my refund for the next year.

Comment: Re:Moral of the story... (Score 1) 1746 1746

Never said there was anything sincere about Cathy's apology, nor do I really think his views have changed. What Cathy did admit was that making his views public was bad for business. If he still wants to be bigoted behind the scenes, then there's not much anyone can do about that. He has a right to his own thoughts. However, donations to hate groups is not a "behind the scenes" activity. So if you want to keep your opinions behind the scenes, then the donations have to stop or be concealed. It appears in Cathy's case, the donations have stopped, or at least significantly declined.

Comment: Re:Moral of the story... (Score 1) 1746 1746

I think you misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying that the consumer should ignore the CEO's views. I am saying that a company should do everything it can to ensure that a CEOs views never become a deciding factor in the first place. Meaning, unless those views are directly related to the product you are selling, keep them to yourself. So when it comes to a web browser company, views on all things web, software, or even just plain business strategy/philosophy are all fair game. They could even be good differentiator. Everything else, particularly polarizing or controversial issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc. should be avoided like the plague (plagues should also be avoided). Up until recently, when you had to make a decision on what web browser to use, you may have considered many factors. Speed to load, adherence to standards, open vs closed source, non-profit vs. for profit company. I bet not once did you consider the political views of any of the CEOs, cause there was nothing of interest to even consider. As a company, you want to keep it that way. Now the cat's out of the bag, and you and many other people are factoring the CEO's views on gay marriage into what web browser to use (and rightly so!). That can only be bad for business.

Comment: Re:Moral of the story... (Score 4, Interesting) 1746 1746

Chick-fil-a's CEO, Dan Cathy, may actually disagree with you. Not long ago, he openly apologized for his comments about gay marriage and his donations to many of the apparent hate groups have declined or all together stopped. He cited many reasons for his change of heart, but the most telling was that "it was bad for business."

I remember reading at the time (although I can't find the source anymore) that while sales spiked during the initial publicity, they later declined to a point lower than before the controversy started. So they didn't really get any new customers from the whole thing, just lots of people who were already Chick-fil-a customers going out and making a statement. Once the controversy died down, existing customers went back to their old purchasing habits. However, they did lose customers. Those who used to be customers and were offended by the comments, will likely never be customers again.

A company needs to succeed based on the product that they are offering, whether its differentiating qualities are real or perceived. Anything else is simply a distraction. This goes for chicken and web browsers. The views of the CEO shouldn't be a consideration for customers when choosing a web browser.

Comment: There is no "Sharing" going on (Score 5, Insightful) 353 353

Can we stop referring to these companies as "Ride Sharing" apps? It's just a way to make it sound like they are not car for hire services, but they really are. And I'm not complaining about the services themselves. I use Uber constantly. I love it. But I am under no illusion that UberX drivers "just happen to be going my way." They picked me up because they want my cash. And that is the real problem with the author's idea. The drivers don't want to barter. They don't need credit for future rides. This is their profession. Most of the drivers I have spoken to drive at least part time, if not full time. Last ride I got, I asked the guy when he usually called it quits for the day (it was the end of a long workday for me). His response: "I'll be driving all night. This is all I do." Does this sound like "ride sharing" to you? Regular taxis should have every right to be worried, though. And price is the least of it. I use a lot of taxis and Ubers, so I feel I can make a fair comparison. In general, Ubers are friendlier. Their cars are cleaner. And the biggest reason I use Uber, is because of the ease of payment. I travel for work, so I put everything on my corporate credit card, including taxis (Using cash means I 1) need to be carrying it, 2) I need to carefully track receipts and 3) I don't get the money back for another few weeks). With Uber, I just step out of the car, and my card is immediately charged and I receive and e-mail with the receipt. With regular taxis, he tells me how much, I say I want to pay with a credit card. At this point, I get one of two responses. If I am lucky, he says, "No problem" and takes my card. More often then not I get "can you pay cash instead?" or "the machine's down, cash please". I then insist on credit, at which point the machine magically works again. (No joke, last week a guy gave me the "machine's down" line and then after I suggest he do a carbon copy, he whips out his iPhone with a Square reader attached!). Ok, back to the machine. If the machine is the kind in the back seat, process is fairly smooth, but does take a little time. Or it's the old school one in the front that takes a little more time to process the payment and print out the receipts. I get that taxi drivers get less money and it takes longer to get paid (so I usually tip more), but it's a huge hassle, and creates a shitty experience when I have to argue with every taxi driver. Uber's experience is far superior. And there is no reason that taxis couldn't adopt the same payment system.