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Comment: Why the 35%? (Score 3, Informative) 570

by gorzek (#47567643) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

I skimmed a lot of comments and didn't see one directly addressing the question posed in the summary.

Basically, 35% of Americans have debts in collection status because it's easy to have an account go to collections and then linger there forever. You can imagine people's "debt responsiveness" as being exponentially bound to the time since the last payment. A debt that recently had a payment made is almost certain to have its next payment made. A debt that's a few months late has a decent chance of getting a payment made soon. A debt that is 6 months (or more) late has a very low chance of ever being paid again. This is why debt collectors buy/pursue old debts. The original creditor will likely accept pennies on the dollar just to get something out of it, while the collector wants to obtain the whole amount. If they can even get half, they come out way ahead. It's a profitable business.

I used to work in this industry (wrote software) so I could tell you some things about it.

Comment: Re:Chain effect (Score 2) 300

by gorzek (#47457035) Attached to: Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

I have seen precisely that happen, too. A company cuts the dead weight--and maybe some not-so-dead weight--and the people with marketable skills head for the hills because they don't want to be next. So the company may have meant to cut 10% but instead loses 15%, with much of that last 5% being their top performers. Pretty bad deal for the company, to be sure.

Comment: Re:Dropping the Xbox? (Score 1) 300

by gorzek (#47457001) Attached to: Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

We're not talking about a product that needs time to find its feet, we're talking about what should be a mature product line that nevertheless struggles to turn a profit. We're not in year two of MS' Xbox experiment, but going on year 13 of a popular consumer brand. There is certainly something to be said for selling a product that loses money in order to stimulate ancillary revenues, but that's not what is happening here. The whole division is, at best, a wash for MS. How long should they keep this up before writing it off?

Comment: Re:Dropping the Xbox? (Score 2) 300

by gorzek (#47456913) Attached to: Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

Unless MS can turn marketshare into money, it's worthless. So, MS has put Xboxes into millions of homes, and they have... oh, wait, no profit to show for it.

The Xbox division isn't some new thing. MS has been at this for over a decade, and what they have to show for it are incredibly tepid returns. This, after sinking gobs of money into it.

Might be a different story if MS hadn't completely bungled the Xbox One push, but they did, and it's unlikely to recover. Sony's got this gen locked up, so why should MS keep throwing money at a market loser?

Comment: Re:Not creepy (Score 2) 106

by gorzek (#47456457) Attached to: Seat Detects When You're Drowsy, Can Control Your Car

It's not your "every move," just your actions on public roads. You know, the kind you have to be licensed to drive on, in a vehicle registered with the government.

We are talking about high-speed rolling death machines here. Tens of thousands of people a year are killed in car accidents--most of which are preventable as they result from human error and negligence.

I would not at all object to a prohibition on transmitting any of the data of this fatigue-monitoring system to authorities or insurers. It may follow the same trend as other safety technologies: you get an insurance discount for having it, but the insurer is in no way monitoring how you use it. I'm also not aware of police using remote knowledge of vehicles except in emergencies, e.g. kidnappings, high-speed chases, etc.

Frankly, if someone is about to fall asleep at the wheel and they're ignoring the car's warnings to pull over, I very much would want nearby police notified to get that person off the road. A sleepy driver is a menace to everyone around him.

Comment: Re:Occupy was anarchists not libertarians (Score 1) 404

by gorzek (#46900229) Attached to: Rand Paul Suggests Backing Bitcoin With Stocks

I won't discount that there may have been some libertarians at Occupy rallies. Takes all kinds. Occupy was/is a very diverse movement. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there were some libertarians here and there.

But you know where I guarantee you could find a lot more libertarians? Tea Party rallies.

Comment: Re:Economic reasons (Score 2) 384

by gorzek (#46860375) Attached to: How Concrete Contributed To the Downfall of the Roman Empire

Computers aren't regulated nearly as much as cars are, which cuts down the price a lot. That is not to say cars aren't regulated for good reason, though. Apart from emissions control (which is a significant expense), the numerous safety features required in modern cars add considerable costs. Research and design also aren't free--it costs a lot of money to design a car, certainly much more than it used to, and those costs have to be defrayed in the sales of new cars.

Of course, one could also blame unionized workers, whose pay has fared better against inflation and wage levels as a whole when held up against non-unionized workers (the vast majority of those who will be buying cars.) By that token, cars seem more expensive because, in real terms, most people's pay has stagnated or fallen.

In short, I don't think the current price of a new car is generally unjustified, considering what you get for it. Even "base" model cars have a lot of features that absolutely weren't standard 20 or 30 years ago: airbags, air conditioning, power windows and locks, CD/MP3 player, anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control, etc.

Comment: Re:Maybe this will wake some people up (Score 2) 182

by gorzek (#46814517) Attached to: GitHub Founder Resigns Following Harassment Investigation

This is not really an issue across the entire software industry, but rather a particular subset: the Silicon Valley (and sometimes New York City) startup run by people in their 20s who think they are going to reshape the software industry (if not the entire world.) Bad attitudes also persist into video game development studios, though the environments are perhaps not as bad. I'm sure it varies a lot from place to place.

Larger and more mature software organizations are by nature far more risk-averse, so they tend to take reports of harassment far more seriously. I have a friend who got fired outright because he pulled a silly prank that could have reasonably been construed as sexual harassment. He didn't really mean anything by it, but it was 100% his bad and a justified termination.

When people talk about "professionalism" in software development, I think the common assumption is that it refers mainly to things like writing good code and putting in enough work on a daily/weekly basis, rather than crossing over into one's general conduct and particularly attitudes toward women and minorities in the workplace. The sorts of environments that have problems with harassment tend to be overwhelmingly white, male, and young. This is a bad combination if you want to attempt to have a professional working environment, and especially if you want to branch out to have a more diverse workforce.

Being a professional is about much more than mere competence at one's job duties. It also has to do with how you resolve interpersonal conflict, how you interact with people who may not share your worldview or experience, and whether you can do your job without being a huge asshole about it.

Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught how not to. So it is with the great programmers.

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