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Comment Re:Not on the list: time for getting new client (Score 1) 47

In my experience, flat-rate projects succeed or fail by the contract terms. The deliverables have to be fixed and the project completion has to be extremely well-defined so you can declare it complete when the deliverables are complete. Scheduling should also be part of the contract so that client delays can't sap momentum and drag the project out. All change orders should be time and materials at a rate significantly higher than the flat rate average to discourage scope creep.

I usually see the problem with flat rates as being lack of client acceptance (using troubleshooting or whatever as an excuse) and delays as the main problem and vague deliverables contributing to both.

Overall, you have to be hard negotiator AND willing to tell the client "the deliverables are completed as specified, I'm not working anymore". Few businesses are willing to do this and even fewer individuals, which is why T&M is always the safer play.

Comment Re:How much of "college" is really necessary? (Score 1) 219

The student housing is pretty astonishing anymore.

When I was in college (in the 80s), even the new dorms were spartan -- small, box rooms with a desk, a closet and a bed. I thought I scored huge when I snagged a room in a somewhat renovated dorm that had carpet and hotel-style HVAC units (which only let you control the airflow; the heat and A/C were steam-derived, so the system did heat until they switched the loop over to cooling, which always seemed to happen about two weeks too late).

At the University I attended, I'm pretty private dorms now outstrip the University dorms by at least 3:1 -- I don't even recognize the near-campus neighborhood anymore because of the vast student housing blocks. My guess is that Universities are taking an MBA-style view of their housing and figuring that they need $X/sq ft revenue from their dorm buildings to justify the land use and are trying to compete with the private dorms just off campus, which means they need the kinds of amenities the off campus units have.

I'm actually surprised the older dorms haven't been razed and replaced, since structurally they can't accommodate the en-suite bathrooms or private bedrooms of double rooms.

My sense is that as tuition has increased, student loan borrowing has increased, leading students to a sense of false affluence, causing them to increase their living standards. My guess is that the tuition increases are the main driver and if tuition had risen only at the rate of inflation there would be less student loan borrowing overall and less borrowing available for luxury accommodations.

Comment Re:15 years old? (Score 1) 341

Here's something that's real that you can do with only a minor inconvenience... You could stop eating meat. It would improve your health and help the environment. Eating meat has the environmental impact equivalent to all of the driving you do.

Better yet, don't have children. You should do both.

Comment Hitting all the checklist items (Score 2, Insightful) 341

* Young -- because you can't trust anyone over 15
* Hip-hop savvy -- shows your street cred
* Long hair -- because personal grooming is political
* Unpronounceable name -- you have to be ethnic to be taken seriously
* Filed a lawsuit -- This shows you mean business and are willing to take the law into someone else's hands
* Coloradan -- Dude, you can hook people up, ya know.

I'm sure he's a total hero with his brave, hip-hop flavored anti-authority, not to mention probably getting more dewy-eyed hippie chicks than even a 15 year can handle.

Comment Re:How does space elevator save energy? (Score 1) 141

People claim all sorts of things. While there are lots of problems with a space elevator on a world as large as Earth, energy efficiency isn't one of them.

Personally, I doubt that a space elevator will ever be practical on Earth, but it should be on Mars, and it definitely would be on the Moon. For Earth I'd favor something like the pinwheel. You can think of the pinwheel as a rotating space elevator that doesn't reach as far down as the ground. (You'd probably want to not reach further down than the upper stratosphere to minimize frictional losses.) You fly up to meet the descending arm at the bottom, and unload cargo onto it. Descending cargo can be handled the same way, or you could use a combination of parachutes and lifting bodies. You need to balance freight going up and coming down or you get orbital decay...either it lifts too high or comes down too far, but this can be handled by a station keeping ion rocket, possibly of Vasimir design. Reaching a height is a lot cheaper than going into orbit. This does require a large orbital mass.

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling