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Comment: Re:It is time to get up one way or the other (Score 1) 1087

by ottothecow (#49304609) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US
And crazy special interest groups don't have to rile up that many people to get their agenda passed.

If you want to see some crazy people, take a look at the LA school board and city council. When your local elections only have single digit turnout (as a % of registered, which is even lower than % of total, especially since a lot of places allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections), that means your winners have less voter mandate than Ross Perot or Ralph Nader do to be president. There is a district headed to runoff (so there will have to be some further agreement on a candidate) where by my estimates, the front-runner candidates received about 1% of the registered vote.

At least here in Chicago we had a whole 33% of people turn up. And this is voting for politicians you can actually go talk to. If you are having a problem with the gas company, or you want reserved parking for your moving day, you can contact your alderman as one of the few thousand people who voted for them. There were races here where 30 votes were the difference between victory and a runoff....and people can't be bothered to vote for that? "My vote doesn't matter anyways" is just an excuse for laziness.

Comment: Re:It is time to get up one way or the other (Score 1) 1087

by ottothecow (#49303949) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US
I suppose you could make the first question on the ballot something like "Do you give a shit?"

With electronic voting machines, anyone who answers "No" could be immediately given a receipt without seeing a single ballot option. If these people already don't care at all, why are they going to want to spend time going through a list of candidates for president, senate, house, local senate, local house, elected judges, water reclamation district, non-binding ballot questions, etc. They will say no and GTFO.

Of course I still can't get behind mandatory voting. You should be free not to, and still having to show up and check the "No" box is not a valid substitute. Make it a holiday (not on a monday or friday, as people will just turn them into long weekends and not even be in town for voting); some people still have to work on holidays, but it takes a lot of the pressure off. Or figure out how to do it from home without fraud (Estonia figured this out...and we already do it from home if you count mail-in ballots). Otherwise you will just have a bunch of uninformed idiots voting. Maybe you will get lucky and they will all vote for joke candidates...or maybe they will all vote for the guy who runs on the platform of "Lets end mandatory voting".

Comment: Re:It is time to get up one way or the other (Score 1) 1087

by ottothecow (#49303835) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US
Don't forget about all of the local elections where you actually do have a choice. Many of those are on the same ballot as the president, and by not bothering to show up, you don't get to vote for them (and they might actually have more of an impact on your day to day life).

Comment: Re:UberX in NYC is Different (Score 1) 155

In Chicago, the taxi driver's license is a written test involving things like being able to tell you how to get from the current location to XYZ intersection or a famous landmark. The taxi commission loves to parrot about the fact that their drivers have special licenses like it is a safety feature...but those drivers didn't take any actual additional driver's training or pass any skills tests. They took the same test as the rest of us, and most of them did so with *less* training since they are primarily immigrants (and immigrants often don't have to do any of classroom and behind-the-wheel driver's ed stuff that teenagers do since they get their licenses after turning 21).

Sure, it is annoying when you tell your driver to take you to a major intersection and they have no idea how to get there...but you summoned them with a GPS-capable phone. Now both Uber and Lyft let you type your destination into the app, and it will pop up directions on your driver's phone--you don't even have wait for them to type in your address.

Comment: Re:Been the opposite for me (Score 1) 155

Uber X in NYC is expensive compared to Chicago. Almost as expensive as a yellow cab and has an $8 minimum so if you are only going a mile or 2, it isn't necessarily cheaper (and uber charges for time the car is moving in addition to distance...yellow cabs only charge time when the cab is stopped). I still don't understand why these researchers used estimates since they could have calculated exact fares for exact rides...their $35 figure seems like bullshit. If there is no surge, it will almost always be cheaper as long as you are going past the $8 minimum. If there is surge, it will cost more...but it doesn't take a team of researchers to multiply a number by 1.75.

But of course half of the reason people use them is because they are clean, the drivers don't smell, complain, or yammer on their phones, payment is handled instantly and automatically and you don't have to step outside to hail one. Uber X fares used to be higher than yellow cabs in NYC IIRC and people still used them.

Comment: Re:Always more expensive? (Score 1) 155

Upon a bit further analysis, it looks like there is one variable that makes it stop being an easy algebra problem....NYC cabs charge time fares only when the car is not moving. Uber X charges time for the entire ride. So if you had a 10 minute 5 mile car ride, there would be a difference between one where you crawled along at 30 mph and one where you got on the highway and went 60 but spent 5 minutes waiting at lights getting on/off.

Uber also has an $8 minimum fare in NYC...so any trips less than a couple of miles are going to be cheaper in a taxi.

But still, you could calculate exact fares for an Uber using the Taxi sample data. Using Uber's fare estimates when you already know exact time and distance is silly.

Comment: Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 155

What?

The driver has no way of knowing how long of a trip you are taking until you get in their car. At that point they can't kick you out (well, they *can*, but if they make a habit of them, uber will fire them).

Besides, short fares aren't bad unless you have to drive a long way to pick them up. Like a yellow cab, there is a flag pull fee just for sitting down in the cab. A half mile ride is worth like 75% of a mile ride. Payment is instant in the app, so its not like you lose time while they fish for money, give change, etc.

Comment: Re:Always more expensive? (Score 1) 155

Uber X is cheaper than taxis in most markets. Uber Black is more expensive (but you are in a towncar or luxury SUV).

This study seems stupid. They say they used uber's fare estimates? Why the hell would they do that? If they know time and distance (which the NYC taxi dataset provides), they can calculate exact fares. Uber X is priced just like a taxi...flag pull fee for getting in the car plus X dollars per mile and X dollers per minute of time.

NYC is a different market (and for a while, their Uber X rates were higher than a taxi...so...never cheaper) so I don't know the exact prices but the math is easy in Chicago. Is there surge pricing? No? then Uber X is significantly cheaper than a yellow cab. If it is surging, then it depends how much...I think you reach parity with taxi pricing around 1.7X.

This is a god damn algebra problem. They don't need a sample of taxi rides to do the math.

Comment: Re:The coping mechanism is to fix the room (Score 4, Informative) 95

by ottothecow (#49176047) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Wireless Microphone For Stand-up Meetings?
That is not even close to the right microphone.

They want to pick up multiple people wandering around a large room. That mic works best right in front of (measured in inches) the source of the sound.

The right answer is to just buy a polycom phone. Why try to buy a microphone and configure software (since you want a sensitive microphone that picks up everything, but then you will want noise cancellation that blocks out half of what the mic captures) when there is already a product that does this incredibly well for a pretty low price. You can get one for $50 or less on ebay.

Comment: Re:Interesting (Score 3, Interesting) 293

by ottothecow (#48663949) Attached to: Hotel Group Asks FCC For Permission To Block Some Outside Wi-Fi
I think you are missing many of the benefits of being a repeat customer.

In many cases, I'll take a United flight if there is up to a $50 or maybe even more difference. Between having a United credit card and flying them relatively often, I get a bunch of things that I don't get on any other airline (except southwest). Free checked bags have actual value. I may not use them every time, but even on shorter trips, I often like to buy local beers that aren't available in my town which can't be carried on (and if I am not going to check bags, I can go with the cheaper flight). I get priority boarding and extra privileges when it comes to changing seats/flights. Priority boarding is super handy because I seem to end up on a lot of planes like CRJ-700s where you will get stuck gate-checking your carryon if you are in a late boarding group. I get a couple lounge-passes a year...not helpful most of the time, but great if a flight gets delayed or cancelled (both for somewhere to hang out, and because the customer service agents in the lounge are more helpful than the ones at the gate). $200 difference on a $300 flight? No way, save me the money

And in terms of employer paid airfare? Who cares. When I have travelled for work, I generally fly whatever airline has the times I need...it isn't about the price, it is about the flight that gets me there in time for the meeting...never heard a client complain that I could have saved $200 if I took the 5AM flight instead of the 7AM. If there are multiple options, sure, maybe I would opt for a slightly more expensive United flight if I wanted the extra benefits....but that cost difference pales in comparison to the cost of me going there (since my time is billed hourly). Finally, if you have status, you could actually be saving the company/client money. For instance, say that my boss only flies business class. If he has enough status on one airline to book seats that get upgraded...he can book a coach fare and get upgraded for less money than the business class ticket.

Comment: Re:Duh. (Score 0) 190

by ottothecow (#48606129) Attached to: Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?
Did you even read my comment?

I click because the headline interests me and I don't immediately recognize it as a Bennett post. He often picks interesting topics, but his actual responses are awful.

I comment because I choose not to just ignore it. Sure, I could install a greasemonkey script to eliminate Bennett, but that is not going to help slow the downfall of slashdot. I comment because I want to make sure Dice knows that there is public opinion that doesn't want this crap. I comment so that any new users who happen upon slashdot and click on Bennett's junk aren't led to believe that his content is accepted as reasonable discourse by the community.

FWIW, I don't usually check the "Disable Advertising" box that they give you for having good karma (it eventually unchecks itself and you have to re-check it). But when I read a Bennett article, I immediately go and check that box. They aren't getting any extra ad revenue from me out of Bennett's drivel.

Comment: Re:Duh. (Score 4, Insightful) 190

by ottothecow (#48601515) Attached to: Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?
I think it is a two-fold issue.

First, most of us think Bennett is an idiot and simply don't want to read his drivel. Slashdot doesn't provide an easy way to ignore his stuff (although other users have written greasemonkey scripts to get rid of him). If he posted comments like that, I personally think that he would be moderated away. If stories were subject to moderation, I think the same would happen. If this were reddit, his posts would never see the light of day.

Second, and more importantly IMHO, is the issue of why is Bennett special? Slashdot links to articles. With the exception of things like ask-slashdot and posts about slashdot itself, everything is cited to an external source. RTFA is a thing, because usually there was an actual article with content. Why does this Bennett guy get to use slashdot as his personal editorial platform? He should have to post this on his own person blog, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, I believe it used to be frowned on to self-promote to slashdot. If you want your articles to show up on slashdot...write good articles and hope other people post them. I 100% believe that if he was posting this stuff on his own blog, it would either not get submitted at all, or the editors would reject it. It simply doesn't meet the quality standards of slashdot (at least the quality standards that there *used* to be). If the articles aren't good enough to stand on their own, why does this post-Dice slashdot feel the need to give this guy a soapbox to stand on?

Slashdot will probably never be what it used to be...but Bennett's crap is one of the most noticeable things that numerous long-time users absolutely hate. The articles often hook you in with an interesting prompt...but the writing is terrible and you soon realize you are reading a moron's rantings. This isn't an ad-hominem attack--I don't reject his articles because they are written by him. I usually don't notice it is a Bennett piece until I am halfway through reading it and say "Oh man, this is terrible" only to look and realize that it is another one of his poorly thought-out editorials which has been given free web-hosting and promotion by slashdot. Every single one of them is bad. If he were to write a decent piece (and preferably post it elsewhere with just a summary and a link on slashdot), I wouldn't complain. But they are all *awful*.

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