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Comment: CR is right (Score 2) 329

by mikefocke (#43625445) Attached to: Is Buying an Extended Warranty Ever a Good Idea?

Because they base their judgement on the amount paid out versus the amount paid in. And their figures year ago on auto "extended warranties" was ~30% of what people paid in got returned in the form of expenses to repair, 70% went to selling, overhead, administration, etc.

Why does every clerk selling you something try and sell the warranty/insurance? Because all the management get bonuses, the selling company gets something, the insurer gets something, etc. That money isn't returned to the consumer in benefits.

I'm 70, have made it a habit of insuring to the hilt everything I can't afford to pay for (house, auto, liability, umbrella rider, etc). For all products I decline coverage because I can afford (with some pain) to pay for them. I'm way way ahead.

Extended warranties are like a casino, a very few win, some break even and the average loses big. Except casinos pay out at much higher rates...some more than 95%.

Before you buy, do some research on the latest profit and loss statement from the insurer. Oh, and insurers often do go bust only to reform the next day under a new name, same management.

Comment: The rich (Score 1) 720

by mikefocke (#43535513) Attached to: FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

Figure out what it takes at today's interest rates to generate $50k a year and it isn't $500k.

If you are 70 and the amount of money that you take out of an IRA is $30k per year, it takes nearly $1m to fund that and then you pay taxes on the $30k. So you better have more than $1.5m in investment assets to retire at 65 and take out $50k because you project to live another 30 or so years. And that doesn't account for much inflation beyond the norm over your 30 years and historically you'll see a stretch that will seriously affect your nest-egg.

So criteria #1 is invalid, not in concept but because the numbers are way too low.

How much do you have in your savings accounts for retirement. Go to one of the calculators and do the math. Scary for most when the average savings is less than $100k.

Comment: It isn't taxed already (Score 2) 631

by mikefocke (#43406763) Attached to: No Such Thing As a Tax-Free Lunch At Google?

They didn't pay tax already on the money used to purchase them in the sense that they paid corporate income tax on the funds. Because the expense of buying the food and preparing it and cleaning up afterwards etc is written off as a business expense and thus isn't all Google's profit ... some of it is (depending on what tax bracket Google is paying) but some would be tax money that could pay for all the infrastructure Googlers and the rest of us use every day.

Comment: Call up the hospital IT network guys (Score 2) 238

by mikefocke (#43381265) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Unwanted But Official Security Probes?

and make friends. Tell them what you are seeing and express your concern for live confidential data being exposed and ask if they are seeing similar probes on their side. See what they say. Maybe they say "oh, that is just us" and you have one response. Or maybe they say "we are seeing that too" but we have been told it is some contractor we hired to do penetration testing. Then you have another response. Or maybe they don't know a thing in which case you report what you are seeing up your channels and across to their senior IT guys.

But first start by making friends.

Comment: Go back and rerad the Federalist Papers (Score 1) 73

and examine the concern over the frenzy of the mob and the need to temper it as a reason for not having immediate votes by every citizen directly.

I just finished 6 hours worth of recorded lectures on the Federalists versus the anti-Federalists and the debates leading up to the writing of the constitution. Interesting how the concerns of both sides are still in play centuries later in most of the red/blue disagreements.

Comment: Ah but (Score 5, Insightful) 893

by mikefocke (#43361009) Attached to: Massive Data Leak Reveals How the Ultra Rich Hide Their Wealth

When I report my income, do I really report all my income or is much of the real income available to me hidden in deferrals, tax free municipals, etc? I'm not rich, but I can assure you even my reported income is very different from the real income with the difference mostly in the ability to defer income on investments (iBonds, IRA, 401K, etc.)

Every businessman I know writes off things which personally benefit him be it the yacht (qualifies as a second home), the vacation place, the golf club, the charity deduction (designed to provide positive exposure for his business), the gas for his truck, the company car he commutes in, etc.

The poor have no such investments or write-offs. So their reported matches the real.

I filed my taxes the other day, I was shocked at the low % amount of tax relative to even reported income.

So I question the stats of tax paid versus income percentages because if one of those figures isn't the same (real) for all the strata being compared, you get a very false picture.

Comment: Till you have been in a huricane at sea (Score 1) 184

by mikefocke (#43327265) Attached to: A Sea Story: the Wreck of the Replica HMS Bounty

you have no appreciation of the power you are forced to grapple with. Not wanting to get caught in port and with all ships sortieing out to skirt the storm, I've stood 28 feet above the waterline regularly taking green water (not white foam) over my head with the bow of a 260 ft long ship burying. At that point, few are functioning, many sick. You sleep lashed into your bunk for only minutes at a time, walk only the interior passageways bouncing from bulkhead to bulkhead, spend long hours on watch and hope like heck you are alert enough to make the right decisions. And before leaving port every petty officer and then officer inspected the spaces to make sure there was nothing loose. Everything was designed to be bolted down to steel or aluminum and not go moving around. Even the TVs. And all critical systems were redundant.

Thank you engineering division for keeping those screws turning.

Comment: You can increase far more than 50% in most cases (Score 1) 431

by mikefocke (#43177379) Attached to: EU Car Makers Manipulating Fuel Efficiency Figures

Go back a few years.

My wife drove an Acura TL at 22.9 MPG with Premium fuel needed so the cost is about equivalent to getting 20.
She replaces with an Avalon which gets 25.3 for about 25% more miles per currency unit.

I drove a CRV at 22.2 and replace it with a Prius station wagon (so same class of car) at 42 for about 90% improvement.

(all fuelly figures, not EPA)

And someone buys our trade-in cars and potentially replaces 15MPG older cars and gets 50% improvements. And the 15 MPGs replace 12s and so on down the food chain until the oldest get wrecked or are uneconomical to repair and thus go to the scrapyard.

Sure, there are exceptions but this is how the higher EPA figures help over time.

(It is weird to realize your old car is parked right in front of you at the shopping center.)

Comment: But they do work hard..just not for your interests (Score 1) 788

by mikefocke (#36952296) Attached to: Re: the debt deal reached Sunday night ...

Because the business of a congressman/woman is to get elected. They were out raising campaign funds for their next election. I've known congressfolk and I wouldn't have their job except on the assumption that I would be a one term representative of the people's interest...and not what the media or politicians has stirred them up into clamoring for today. Once you make winning the next election important, you lose the ability to think long term and damn the short term political consequences.

Comment: Re:A regular bank account? (Score 1) 242

by mikefocke (#33101466) Attached to: Alternatives To Paypal's Virtual Credit Card Service?

You can also be denied credit despite having a very large net worth if you don't have your name on the prior credit card accounts you have used or if the credit reports have the information wrong. My wife just got turned down asking for credit in an amount that is a rounding error compared to her net worth. But since the credit history doesn't show any of the assets she might have nor does it list her participation in the credit I might have had (she has paid the bills for the last 37+ years) her history/worthiness looks sparse/doubtful.

It amazed me how many facts the 3 credit reporting agencies got wrong or how they were listed differently on each of their reports.

I'd urge you to check yours...and your spouse's if you should have one. The results may shake your confidence in the system.

Comment: What other charges do you pay for internal IT ? (Score 1) 420

by mikefocke (#33078052) Attached to: Internal Costs Per Gigabyte — What Do You Pay?

Is the per storage unit the only metric used to derive the internal transfer "cost"? Or is it the only metric?

Hardware, backup hardware, floor space, cooling, network, external network, off site backup, transfer costs of media, depreciation, staff, software, software development, etc.

Do you provide separate funding from your cost center for the desktop, portable, phone, fax, printers, etc? Pay for per page printing in a tiered manner (desktop, group printer, black and white at the central facility, color, binding, etc.)?

What labor market are you in? Done any corporate downsizing so that fixed costs have stayed constant where usage has declined?

What I'm trying to understand is just what the per unit of storage cost has to cover.

What starts out as a simple question needs lots more background before you are able to compare apples to apples. Most IT groups don't make a profit as such but try to estimate for budget purposes whet you will need 18 months in advance of actual usage. Try it sometime and you'll understand that plucking a number is probably as good a method if done by the right person with an understanding of the organization and what it will be trying to do over the next year or so.

Comment: The last time I trusted google with my documents (Score 1) 194

by mikefocke (#32163920) Attached to: I trust Web apps like Google Docs ...

they lost every document which had a "?" in the file name. About a dozen whose value was about 3 days worth of 12 hour day's work.

I'm uploading 341 pictures to a printing site as I type this. The pictures are on 2 computers, a camera and a memory stick. I'm a mainframe guy whose backup habits saved my bacon more than once.

Not with anything I really value thank you....

Comment: It all depends (Score 2, Interesting) 122

by mikefocke (#31642850) Attached to: It's Time To Split Up NSA Between Spooks and Geeks

It all depends on what level of Common Criteria evaluation you are talking about. At the higher levels, there is a lab authorized to conduct a product inspection and, once you pass that test, you get a medium level NIAP certificate. If you wish a higher level of CC approval in the US, after this original process NSA itself takes control and does its tests. So the process is still a two step process with NSA involvement...or was about 4 years ago when I was involved in taking an "Orange Book" product through CC evaluation.

Comment: The skill of the person using the tool (Score 2, Insightful) 72

by mikefocke (#31506788) Attached to: The State of Robotic Surgery

really matters. No matter if you are using a so called robotic tool or an X-ray generating tool, the Doctor you choose and his or her experience and success rate will determine the outcome far more than the type of treatment you choose.

When you talk to a doctor, ask him how many of the procedures he did last year and what his success rate was. I had the choice of a Doctor who answered "3 and I don't know" and a Doctor who answered "several a day and people with your 'scores" have had a success rate of x and a complications rate of y". Show me the Doctor who measures the success of the way he does a procedure and tries to improve and I'll show you the increased success active learning brings.

Plug ProstRcision into your search engine.

"The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy." -- Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards