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Comment: Re:Even better, reflect true cost of cell phones (Score 2) 72

by fermion (#47536175) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill
Right now you best deal on a contract phone is buy a new phone when the contract runs out. Otherwise you are paying the fees for a phone that is already paid for. If you sign a new contract, and get a new phone, the amount of money you pay is constant. There is no wasted money. If she was paying for a plan that was out of contract that was a waste of money. Paying $100 is wasted if she was out of contract. Paying $100 in contract would not necessarily be a waste, but it is likely a wash. The value of an iPhone 5S is about $650. If you buy the phone and use something like Cricket it will be $2000 over two years, but there is no lockin. If you get the subsidized phone, and use something like verizon, you are paying a few hundred dollars more over the two year period, with lockin. Most people aren't set up to lay down a few hundred dollars for a phone at time of purchase. Getting a phone for free and paying for a couple years makes more sense. The lockin comes from this extended payment. My fear is that this current climate is leading to higher prices. On verizon, if you use their early upgrade plan you pay about $150 extra over the two years, in addition to the $300 premium.

Comment: Re:Even better, reflect true cost of cell phones (Score 2) 72

by swillden (#47536091) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

And are you seriously telling me if she gets an iphone 64 GB 5S it's the same price as if she gets the $20 special?

In many cases... yes. The most expensive phones have an up-front cost in addition to the two-year commitment, but if you get the most expensive phone you can without an up-front fee, then there is no price difference between that one and the cheapest phone.

Yes, this is ridiculous.

Comment: Amazon isn't out of expansion area (Score 1) 166

by Animats (#47533631) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

Amazon isn't out of expansion area. Their target is all of retail, and there's still a lot of non-Amazon retail. Most other big US companies with lots of cash have hit their natural limits.

Trying to go beyond those limits is tough. Google has not been successful in expanding beyond ads. (Android only makes money as an ad platform; Google's phone revenue is small.) Apple has a lot of cash, but can't find any way to use it that will yield the kind of margins Apple is used to. Facebook is still growing, but again, it's all ads.

There's only so much ad spending in the world, and the ad-based companies are all fighting over the same pot. There's more room to grow when your business model is "sell everything".

Comment: Re:Vote (Score 1) 177

Here's the key point to all of this: If you only have one option for a phone company that's because it's unprofitable to serve the area you live in.

You're full of shit. I live in a wealthy suburb of San Francisco and have almost no Internet service options (which is what we're talking about in this article - Internet service). Any provider not hamstrung by regulations favoring incumbents would make an absolute killing here. Comcast has the monopoly (I don't care what you call it) on high speed Internet access in my area and has refused to do anything with it except raise prices through the roof while making my Netflix stream play like ass.

While I sympathize with my rural neighbors, I can't think of a single legitimate reason why their choice to live in difficult-to-serve areas means that I have to have shitty, expensive Internet in the heart of the world's high-tech capital.

Comment: Re:Not news (Score 1) 258

Hallam said it best: there has never been a time when humanity has successfully and peacefully coexisted with nature.

That would be a nice quote, but it contains an implicit assumption which is seriously wrong: That there is any distinction between humanity and nature.

It's not surprising that we tend to see ourselves as distinct from the rest of nature, because we are dramatically different from all other forms of life around us, and not just because we're self-centered, or even because we're objectively hugely more successful than any other species. We're dramatically different because we're the only species we know of that is capable of creating explanatory knowledge, of conjecturing and criticizing ideas, individually and in collaboration, to understand how and why things work. Many species on Earth are capable of learning, but as far as we can tell it's all "behavioral" learning; understanding merely that specific behaviors cause specific results. Sometimes the results of that level of understanding can be quite sophisticated, as in the animals who can create and use tools in complex sequences to accomplish goals, but it's still on a completely different level from the ability that humans have to deduce deep explanations of the structure and nature of the universe, and how to manipulate it.

Regardless of the temptation to view ourselves as separate from nature, though, we're not. That doesn't mean we won't benefit from applying our understanding of the rest of nature to maintain the elements of it that are beneficial to us. Obviously, we're better off if we don't make the world a worse for ourselves -- the flip side of that is that we are better off if we make the world a better place for us, so stasis is not the goal. That's really good because stasis (aka "sustainability") is impossible.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 798

It's not just U.S. airlines... I flew Varig to Brazil, a great airline by most standards. While in Sao Paulo awaiting our flight to Miami, we were informed the plane had mechanical difficulties, and we wouldn't be able to fly until the morning. They ushered us out to the public transportation lanes and issued taxi after taxi a voucher to drive us to a 4 star hotel that they contacted and requested they hold the evening buffet open for the passengers, as it was quite late by that time (after 11:00pm). In the morning, two beautiful tour busses (nice and clean and new), complete with air conditioning and full bathrooms, picked up the passengers at the hotel and brought us back for our flight.

Needless to say, every single person on the flight missed their connection in Miami. Keep in mind this is the SAME airline, just in Miami instead of Sao Paulo, Brazil: The plane got in fairly late (I don't recall exactly what time... but late evening at the earliest). No one was there to meet the plane and make arrangements for connecting flights. No one was at the desk. We had to call the airline in order for them to get someone to come and deal with us. They arranged our flight for like 6:00am the following morning, and told us we could go to a particular hotel (decent, not great hotel), and we needed to catch the hotel's shuttle in the public transportation area. So there we were, like 150 people waiting the the curb... with all of our luggage, and the bus pulls up, the driver opens the door and says "I'm sorry, I can't take all y'all," and drives off without taking anybody. So we go back to the Varig desk to complain (yes, the shuttle bus should have taken people, but it would have taken 10 trips to get everyone on their luggage anyway). They called the hotel, but would not pay for taxis or arrange any other transportation. I ended up just taking a taxi at my own expense anyway. We get to the hotel and it's jam packed... the check in line was out the door. Many people didn't even get a room until 4am, enough time to take a shower and go back to the airport. In Brazil we walked into the hotel and were just handed the keys to a room, the airline had taken care of everything; everybody had a room in, I'd guess, no more than 20 minutes.

The conclusion is the airlines don't have the onus in the U.S. that they have elsewhere to treat passengers better. Why the amazing treatment in Brazil? Are there laws about it? I don't know. We made Varig aware of our dissatisfaction and haven't used them since, but what else are you going to do? You're usually limited to flights available, there isn't always a lot of choice.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 798

Yes... general boarding. But before that, they let on first/business class, airline club members, frequent flyers, etc.; this guy wanted to board 2 other people ahead of others because he was a frequent flyer. Southwest over reacted, but the guy was not entitled to do that, either.

Comment: Re:too much math (Score 1) 798

Yes, because that would only happen in the U.S.. In my international travels, travelers from other countries (South America in this case) act like a herd of starving people getting bread off the back of a truck when the first row is called to seat.

What they should do is print a boarding code on the boarding pass, and call by code... and guess what? Some of them do that!

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 798

It's actually not uncommon for this in the U.S. as well, however, some people pay for the privilege of boarding first: first/business class customers, "gold club" members (or whatever the airline wants to call it, frequent flyers... then when it comes to general boarding, after those people, it's usually handicapped and people traveling with young kids. In this case, the guy wanted frequent flyer privileges for three people because one of them was a frequent flyer, and then got mad he didn't get it, expecting someone to break the rules always because people had broken the rules in the past.

I'd again re-state my position that the Southwest agents acted inappropriately, no doubt, but the guy was a jerk, too.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 798

Why is the rule stupid? I think it's pretty fair... the kids aren't frequent flyers, they aren't allowed early boarding. Case closed. How is it fair to everyone else waiting to board? Or, how about someone goes to a theme park and buys a single "fast pass" and tries to use it for the whole family. I guess the ride attendant would have to be brain dead to say "no."

There's no excusing Southwest's reaction, but the guy was a jerk, too.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1) 798

I agree, the reaction was ridiculous - but so was the tweet. The agent was rude because she was following rules? So just because some agents broke the rules related to boarding in the past means they are forever obligated to break the rules in the future?

As so often happens in these cases, I see the clash of two idiots, not a one sided sob story.

Comment: Re:That's great, but ... (Score 3, Interesting) 119

practical long distance EVs at a reasonable price and/or can recharge in less than half an hour

The price may or may not be reasonable, depending on your budget, though it definitely is for a non-trivial number of people, but the Tesla Model S fulfills the other requirements today.

My Nissan LEAF doesn't, though it's still a very practical car that easily manages all but a small fraction of my driving.

There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.