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Comment: Re:a good friend (Score 1) 189

by garett_spencley (#44597249) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Experiences Working At a High-Profile Game Studio?

I see both sides.

If I witness a good friend who I think is about to walk off of a cliff (metaphorically or literally) then I usually say something, but it has to be pretty serious because otherwise I don't think it is my place. I'm sure the person posting the question to /. does think this is serious, as he is worried his friend is turning down a lot of money and an excellent opportunity for something that won't pan out. Yet at the same time, if this person wants to go work for a game studio that kind of implies "that is my dream" to me. And the type of friend who would discourage someone's dream is the antithesis of someone I would want to a call a "friend."

That's the question that needs to be answered. If the programmer / student wants to work for a game studio because he thinks the game industry is growing and it's his best bet at securing a solid financial future there is no harm in presenting facts to the contrary. But if, on the other hand, he is akin to a musician who dreams of becoming a rock star and is perfectly content pumping gas and sleeping on couches trying to carve out a career and has no ambitions of getting married, starting a family and having a comfortable middle class retirement then it is a very big asshole move to step into the role of father and say "No don't do that because there's no money in it." He's probably already had to put up with enough of that bullshit from his parents already. What he needs from his friends is support in that case.

Comment: Free market (Score 4, Insightful) 238

by garett_spencley (#44456969) Attached to: How Did My Stratosphere Ever Get Shipped?

1) No one, not even the most "hard core" fiscal conservatives / libertarians, claim the free market is "infallable." The free market is individual human beings making individual economic decisions without coercive interference from others. Human beings are fallable, thus the free market is "fallable."

2) 3rd party reviews = free market. What is not free market is when government creates oversight organizations / watchdogs through taxation and uses them to enforce laws and regulations. Examples are the FCC, FDA etc.

3) As imperfect as it may be, at least when a company releases a major catastrophe of a buggy product they get penalized with support and replacement costs, bad PR and a market that will think long and hard before buying another product from that company.

4) There is nothing stopping anyone from implementing your suggestion for creating better cellphone reviews. That's the beauty of the free market. The fact that no one has done it (as far as we know) does not hint to the free market's imperfections, it means there is a business opportunity waiting to make someone some money.

Comment: Re:Technical illiteracy among politicians (Score 3) 266

by garett_spencley (#44372989) Attached to: British Porn-Censoring MP Has Website Defaced With Porn

I've tried to follow this discussion. Let me see if I've gotten it right.

First, someone says that studies have found that pornography causes no psychological or ill effects.

You respond with information to the contrary.

You get a response which basically said "So what? Some people get addicted, they also get addicted to TV and other things, and I take objection to your 'nothing good comes out of it'" and he makes some points.

Now you're saying "OK well I guess some good comes out of it but wouldn't you agree that there's more negative than good?"

My response to that is: "Citation needed."

I am really interested in why you are "anti-porn." Why are you fixated on whether it's largely good or bad ? We're talking about something that people do in private for themselves. Now, I don't tend to look at things in collectivist ways, meaning I don't judge something based on it's "contributions to society" because I am an individualist. However, I can make the argument that "society" is a collection of individuals and so if porn provides some sort of positive service to any individual then I would judge it to be good. And if you're looking at things in terms of "how many numbers of individuals does it hurt v.s. how many numbers of individuals does it help" then given that the overwhelming majority of people who consume porn do not get addicted (and we can be very broad with the word "addicted" by defininig addiction as "when the activity begins to interfere with your day to day life") then even looking at it in collectivist / "greater good" terms then you would have to come to the conclusion that it actually does more good than harm.

Comment: Re:What else did you expect? (Score 5, Interesting) 387

by garett_spencley (#44252629) Attached to: Steve Ballmer Reorganizing Microsoft

Ballmer might be a horrible CEO (I don't really care enough to know), but you would think a CEO should have some idea of what parts of the company are "important", and "important" should not be a matter of opinion, but of objective profit measurement.

Books have been written about why companies that focus do better than companies that try to get their hands into everything. PepsiCo owns everything from Frito-Lay to KFC to East Side Marios restaurants, but both Coca Cola and McDonald's each have PepsiCo beat in terms of net asset value despite each corporation focusing tightly on only beverages or a single fast food chain.

It's not against anyone's best interests for Microsoft to cut the fat and sell off divisions and brands that aren't integral to it's core focus. What the core focus is, if it has one, I don't know. My guess is it should probably be Windows and related products like Office. XBox should at the very least drop the Microsoft brand and be treated as a separate company, if not actually spun into a completely separate company. There's really no reason not to. The shareholders can spin off divisions or brands held by Microsoft corp into completely new companies and still retain ownership in those new companies. They would just elect a new Presidents for those new corps, hire a new executive team (preferably by promoting experts within those divisions who know what they're doing), and let them be run as tightly focused companies that don't need to compete for capital and resources with all of the other divisions under the currently bloated umbrella corp that is Microsoft. The shareholders continue to profit from their holdings as long as the new company is profitable, and the employees working in those divisions benefit from working for a company that is dedicated solely to achieving the success of the products they actually work on, rather than being treated "unimportant" compared to the other divisions (i.e: no more infighting). As long as there is any hope for those products they stand to do much better as stand-alone companies.

Another reason defocused companies are at a disadvantage is that often they need to sell to their competitors. Pepsi actually outsells Coca Cola in super markets, but in restaurants Coca Coca destroys them, and as a result Coca Cola wins in terms of net profits. The reason is because McDonald's and others don't want to buy from PepsiCo when Pepsi owns Taco Bell, KFC and other competitors.

Comment: Re:Thou hast angered thy King (Score 1) 260

by garett_spencley (#44076541) Attached to: China Says Serious Polluters Will Get the Death Penalty

Reparations can be made to a living person, and dead people cannot exercise habeus corpus.

People screw up when dealing with each other, it's a fact of life. One can even argue that that's the entire justification for government existing in the first place: to provide a means for resolving interpersonal conflicts. The government, being human, has the capacity for error. And so governments need to be held accountable for their actions which is the point of checks and balances. Those checks and balances become meanlingless in death. A person who was falsely executed for a crime he/she did not commit has no access to habeus corpus and cannot hold the government accountable for the mistake that ended their life.

Morally, a person who murders another deserves to die. But under that same principle it is better to sentence 9 murderers to life in prison than it is to execute 1 innocent person, as it only takes that one false execution to turn the state itself into a murderer by definition.

Comment: Re:Of course (Score 1) 260

by garett_spencley (#43798045) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can Yahoo Actually Stage a Comeback?

I'm going to back up your "So What?" with another point of view.

There is a perception that traditional "big business" has long understood, but that the big Internet corps like Yahoo and Google have yet to "get", and it holds that the less you focus the worse a job you will do.

Corporations like Procter & Gamble have solved the problem with heavy branding: Tide, Bounty, Charmin, Crest, Oral-B, etc., etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Procter_%26_Gamble_brands

Each brand exists as if it's a complete and separate company. While I doubt there's many people who haven't heard the name "Procter & Gamble", most people use their products without realizing that they're using a P&G product. Some P&G brands might even compete against each other.

There is no reason that Yahoo needs to "glue" it's products into some sort of "Yahoo identity." In fact, if the Yahoo! "brand" is dying, they could opt to kill it off entirely and go the branding route. Keep Flickr as "Flickr" and Tumblr as "Tumblr." They're solid brands unto themselves. I think that even gives Yahoo an edge because people, psychologically, become more likely to use something that stands on it's own rather than gets package-dealt with something else. For example, psychologically people tend to think "If Yahoo Search sucks then Yahoo sucks and so 'Yahoo Flickr' must suck too." Keep the branding separate. Flickr = Flickr, Tumblr = Tumblr and then only people who are really passionate about their reasons for liking or disliking specific corporations will care that Flickr and Tumblr just happen to be owned by Yahoo.

Google has a really good thing going with Youtube, as a brand, and should *not* try and integrate it with the Google name in any way. Notice how many steps in that direction have resulted in negative blow-back. Like trying to force people to use their real names for comments, and link their Youtube accounts with a Google account. I used to have a registered Youtube account, I don't anymore because of that. Gmail was a success story, and in some ways it might qualify as a brand unique from "Google", but people think of "Google" as a search engine. They'd be better off keeping it that way. Blogspot should stay Blogspot, Chrome should stay Chrome. There's no reason not to drop the "Google" name from each of those brands entirely and let them stand on their own. While this is pure conjecture, I kind of suspect that Google Plus may have had a slightly better chance of succeeding as a Facebook killer if they had done a better job with branding, and not associated it with Google. It should have focused entirely on what separates it from Facebook and makes it *unique and compelling* instead of "Hey Google has one too!" ... the appropriate response to that was "so what?"

Apple is a total anomaly in the world of branding. They've created an "Apple Identity" and their indivdual brands have been able to benefit from that. But it also puts their individual brands in potential jeopardy becuase if the Apple brand takes a hit it's more likely to trickle down to their individual products.

Yahoo could be very successful as a holding company with many unique brands that each focus on their own individual "identity." They don't need to integrate a thing or attach the Yahoo name to any of them. Just let each product shine on it's own.

Comment: Re:The definition of PC (Score 2) 184

by garett_spencley (#43239127) Attached to: Apple Yanks "Sweatshop Themed" Game From App Store

It is exactly, every one bit, a "straw man" argument because not one single person is making any of the claims that you are saying they make. You are building up an argument for the sake of tearing it down. That is a "straw man" by very definition.

Your post shows a complete lack of having even read my paragraph, which clearly stated that to many abortion is about preventing a murder, and has nothing to do with "wanting the woman to do anything." To them it is about preventing a wrong, not enforcing a particular behaviour or forcing a woman to do anything. And once again, that is THEIR position, not mine. I am probably more "pro choice" than most on the pro-choice side.

Comment: Re:The definition of PC (Score 4, Insightful) 184

by garett_spencley (#43236219) Attached to: Apple Yanks "Sweatshop Themed" Game From App Store

Any time you have a movement or an ideology that affects people who don't share that ideology you see outrage. That outrage often comes with straw-man tactics used in discourse.

I can think of many examples of so-called "right wing" or "conservative" ideologies that are on the receiving end. The "pro-life" movement is one example. To most who are "pro-life" the issue that is that life begins at conception and so an abortion is literally murder. But many on the "pro-choice" side have accused the "pro-life" crowd of hating women and wanting to enslave them. That's a very blatant straw-man argument from my point of view. And FWIW, I'm probably more "pro-choice" than most.

Fiscal conservatism receives straw-man arguments all the time. Whenever people accuse a fiscal conservative of being "on the side of the wealthy" or "greedy", whenever someone claims that libertarianism is "anarchy for rich people" those are straw-men arguments.

Comment: Re:Mounting evidence - of hype. (Score 3, Interesting) 335

by garett_spencley (#41090123) Attached to: Why Cell Phone Bans Don't Work

But your false dichotomy is irrelevant anyway: I'd rather have neither group on the road with me.

I'd rather have no one on the road with me. What's your point ?

I absolutely hate driving. No other activity has inclined me towards removing myself from society all together and going off the grid in the wilderness somewhere. I love the ability to drive, I just can't stand the driving itself.

But until someone actually causes an accident and inflicts some sort of harm or injury I respect their right to use the roads and drive a vehicle, even though I fantasize about being a tyrannical dictator that makes a law giving myself exclusive use of the roads when I feel like driving somewhere.

Blood alcohol limits, graduated licensing, road tests, license renewals, hell ... even licenses themselves ... are all preemptive; taking a pessimistic view of people and treating them as a danger and potential criminal by default. If we took the same view towards other day to day activities that we take towards driving we would have curfews and random stops and searches and all sorts of other nanny-state intrusions in the name of keeping people safe. I do understand where the sentiment comes from. 5 minutes of driving is enough to make someone really pessimistic about the driving abilities of the average person, but it's telling that with all our laws and regulations and licensing and testing those idiots are still there causing accidents and being jerks. IMO we should be throwing the book at people who get into accidents due to negligence and recklessness as we do with all other crimes, you know innocent until proven guilty, and stop trying to nanny the hell out of everyone's driving habits.

Comment: Re:The Best Advertising... (Score 1) 716

by garett_spencley (#41076763) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock?

For me its just the opposite. An advertisement is an attempt to get me to trust the advertiser's word on their product. If they want to convince me, the way to start is by being honest about what they're doing and not try and disguise it as something else.

Why did you interpret my thoughts as endorsing any sort of dishonesty ?

While trust is certainly a factor, I would go even further and say that "marketing" (which is a much wider field than "advertising") serves the purpose of informing people about a solution to a problem.

You're very set in this idea that "an ad is an ad is an ad." I don't think that making an "ad" that is entertaining and offers some sort of value in and of itself has to wear a disguise in any way what-so-ever. You can inform people quite honestly about a product and do so in a way that gets people to care. You don't have to mislead them to be entertaining or informative.

I suppose that product placement could be viewed as "an ad in disguise" but it doesn't have to be. I have no shame in admitting that I would love to drive an Audi because that's what James Bond drives. If they're shit vehicles then it hurts the Bond franchise and people will start to think of that as blatant and crummy product placement. But they've got a reputation for being luxury vehicles that I think is hard earned. If I did have the money to buy one I'd do more research to make sure my impressions are accurate, the real point is that I wouldn't even bother if Bond didn't drive one.

Comment: Re:The Best Advertising... (Score 2) 716

by garett_spencley (#41076675) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock?

What sort of disclosure do you display on this sponsored content? Are users clearly informed they're ads? This suggests not:

I was intentionally vague, because I'm not here to pitch my web-site or talk about what I do etc. But you did hit on something:

Much better would be if I could learn about things through unbiased content written by you and your users, and you get paid through affiliate-like mechanisms.

That's a pretty accurate description of what I do. I don't work for anyone or promote one given company. The ads that people are there to see is the content of the site, and it is a subset of what it's trying to sell. But you can't get it on the "manufacturer's" web-site without paying for it. My site provides free samples. Think of people who might go to Costco on Friday just for the samples, and if they really like something in particular they might buy it. The only difference is, people usually don't perceive the content on my site to be an advertisement, and I'm in the very fortunate position where 99.99% of my competitors shove blatant ads and pop-ups down their surfer's throats. People tell me they come to my site because there are no ads.

Comment: Re:The Best Advertising... (Score 1) 716

by garett_spencley (#41076609) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock?

Except they stole your time and attention with no recourse. They probably rang at meal time too.

To an extent, I agree. I hate receiving unsolicited phone calls and I did point that out. I would much rather that I had sought them out as opposed to the other way around. But I guess the reason they won me over was a) they did offer a solution a problem I had at the time, and it was a solution I would not have thought to research on my own and b) it turned out to be an enjoyable conversation. I could have hung up at any time without feeling any guilt nor any obligation to be "polite" (I'm not a very polite person, especially to telemarketers) but I chose not to. So it didn't feel like they "stole my time" at all.

You're paying for that "value" in the increased price of the product to pay for the ad.

Not necessarily. If the company makes up for the cost of the marketing campaign in sales generated by the campaign, the costs do not have to be passed on to the consumer. And the entire point of the marketing campaign is to increase sales. So there's no reason to increase the prices, especially when companies are competing on prices as well as other factors.

This actually reminds me of another marketing tactic famously employed. When Microsoft released the X-Box they sold it at a loss expecting to make up for it in game sales. That's not an example of advertising but it is an example of a marketing strategy that may tempt you to say "people paid for the X-Box in part by the cost of games", but if they sold more games at the same price than they would have without taking a loss then the price was not necessarily passed back to consumers. I don't think any customers would have felt ripped off by paying less for an X-Box and then buying more games because they wanted to and were satisfied with their product (I'm not saying that's what actually happened, just that that was the intended outcome and was therefore a good idea IMO).

Comment: Re:Just block all ads and don't worry about it (Score 5, Insightful) 716

by garett_spencley (#41076353) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock?

we should be asking if it's in the public interest

This is a nitpick, but I'd rather ask if it's in any individual's interest.

I like to differentiate between "marketing" and "advertising." If you'll bare with me for one second: marketing, as I see it, is about trying to develop relationships with customers, present or potential, and provide them a solution to a problem they have. Advertising is one single tool that can be used as part of a marketing campaign.

As long as there is more than a single monopoly providing a given good or service then individuals really do need a way to become informed about alternatives and make decisions. I think that's where marketing comes in. And it doesn't have to be the company jumping in front of you, interrupting what you're trying to do in an attempt to get your attention. If you are, for example, shopping for a laptop you might ask your friends. If they have had a good experience with a given company, that's a form of marketing (marketing isn't trying to make a sale, it's trying to keep customers as well and get them to speak highly about their experiences). If you google "laptops" and read user reviews, maybe even go to a consumer review site, that's also marketing. And a good consumer review site will realize that people are there looking to buy things and instead of shoving ads in their face, will provide affiliate links in appropriate places so when someone decides to check out, say, "Dell Computers" the link they click on will provide a track-back to the consumer review site and the user will never think that they've just earned someone some ad revenue.

I think there are a lot of crappy ads out there and companies that haven't the first clue how to market properly. I also think that advertising is necessary and "good." And us having this debate right now, and using ad block software etc. is also a "good thing" because it's how our opinions get shoved in the faces of advertisers. The good marketers will take notice and respond. They'll realize that making people happy in some way is the whole point of a business and that marketing is about informing choices. Not informing people who don't care, but people who are actively seeking that information.

Comment: The Best Advertising... (Score 5, Interesting) 716

by garett_spencley (#41076177) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: To AdBlock Or Not To AdBlock?

... is advertising that doesn't come across as advertising.

People who say they loathe advertising in any form actually just loathe the bad advertising; the advertising that detracts from what you're trying to do and immediately screams "this is an advertisement, I'm here to interrupt you in some way in the hope that somehow it will get you to buy something even though I've pissed you off."

A few years ago I received an unepxected phone call on my wife's cellphone from a company offering a CDN service. At first I was really pissed off that this company had reached me in such an inappropriate manner ... but the guy on the other end didn't try to sell me anything and the conversation was unlike any telemarketing call that I had ever received. It was personal and appealed to my geeky curiosity (CDNs were very new at the time, the only companies that were using them were heavy traffic movers like Yahoo, so I wanted to know how it worked), it was offering me a solution to a problem I had at the time and the conversation was very informal. Within a minute or two I was actually asking him questions, and that's how it works. And to top it off when I told the guy I wasn't going to buy from him he chuckled and said "I'm not trying to sign you up today, don't worry." It kept me on the phone. I didn't buy but I was impressed enough that if I had chosen to purchase a CDN service within the next little while I probably would have given them a second look.

I still don't like people phoning me, and I think there are far better ways to reach out to people, but everything that transpired within that phone call was an example of marketing done in the right direction.

I'm self-employed, running a high-traffic web-site that generates money via ad revenue for 11 years now, and the people who visit my web-site have no idea that the entire site is one giant advertisement; in fact, people have complimented and praised me for not having any ads on the site. And yet when fellow webmasters in the same industry as myself share their sales and conversion stats I always get a big smile on my face. Their sites are crawling with blatant advertisements and they need 2 to 5 times the traffic to generate the same revenue. I've never understood how pissing off your customers can be regarded as any form of business model.

I think the best well-known type of advertisement that's going in the right direction is product placement. It can be done poorly, yes and I know I am about to get a bunch of replies from people telling me that they always notice it and it ruins the program etc. But it *CAN* be done in a subtle way that blends with the program and does not detract, to the point where the viewer does not notice or care.

But I think the real way to do "advertising" is provide a value to the viewer as the advertisement itself. Imagine an hour long infomercial on television that was entertaining and/or informative enough to get you to watch it for it's own sake, with no intention of buying anything. Remember that "punch the monkey" ad that was on every single web-site a decade ago ? Imagine if that had actually been a real game that you could play. No pushy-ness what-ever. Not shoved in your face and not done as a banner / flash ad. Instead, something people genuinely wanted to play, with an entertaining sales pitch as part of it. Good advertising can be done, and occasionally is. We just don't notice because we're too distracted and pissed off at the "BOO!!! HAHAH! THIS IS ADVERTISEMENT! YOU WILL BUY NOW LOLZ!"

I've practiced "magic"/illusion-performance as a hobby for a few years and in reading/studying I've learned that corporations will often hire magicians at trade-shows to pitch new products to retailers. Some of the better magicians have crafted entire 20-minute magic routines around the product they're hired to pitch. It's entertainment and people want to watch it for that purpose alone, but it's also an advertisement.

Comment: Re:Honestly (Score 4, Funny) 76

Reasons to hate the TPP:

"latest attempt by the US at legislative colonisation of sovereign countries' IP laws."

Reasons to love the TPP:

Stick it to neo-religious enviro-nazi "green" hippy fanatics.

World spinning. Can't ... decide ... where .. to ... stand... gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (1) Gee, I wish we hadn't backed down on 'noalias'.

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