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Comment: Re:Worse Than U Think (Score 1) 565

by pipedwho (#47562689) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

When considering 'worth', you forgot to factor in the value of a constant income stream. In economic terms, a person is cash-flow positive if their income exceeds their outgoings. Even though someone may have an instantaneous snapshot of wealth that is equal to or less than zero, they may still be cash-flow positive or neutral.

Business valuations are related to total potential revenue which may be far less than the outgoings for a start-up company. However, that company may still be valued at millions or billions of dollars if the earnings potential is non-zero, even though they are hugely negative on their balance sheet. Think Amazon back in the early days when it first started.

This is the same for a person. If that person dies, they may have zero direct assets at the time (or may even owe more money than they have assets), but you'll quickly realise they were 'worth' a lot more than zero as all the debts and other things that were being paid for suddenly cease to covered. At that point, cash-flow takes a huge negative hit and debt is accumulating in a way that it can no longer be repaid. That debt may be in the form of dependants that now must be paid for by someone else (or by the State), unsecured loans that must now be written off by the creditors, and other general outgoings that will stop.

Say I somehow take out an unsecured loan for a million dollars from a bank. I am now worth $1,000,000 to that bank. If I die straight away, they are out the million. As long as I'm alive and working, I can keep repaying the loan, and at 5%pa over 10 years I'll end up repaying the loan, plus an extra couple of hundred grand in interest. So if you ask the bank what I'm worth, they'll tell you I'm worth a lot more than zero, even if I took the money to Vegas and blew it all in the high-rollers lounge.

Comment: Re:Flash panic (Score 1) 161

by pipedwho (#47555445) Attached to: OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

It encourages you to sign up for a loyalty card in the first place, otherwise you pay 'full price'. Once you have the loyalty card you start thinking about going to one of the shops that you are 'loyal' to rather than the corner shop down the street. (This may not be individually true for everyone, but on average that is how it works.)

This sort of 'discounting' is kind of like in industries without loyalty programs where there is an RRP and a much lower 'street price'. The shops don't actually expect people to pay the RRP (with the exception of someone that is either uninformed or desperate to buy a more difficult to source item immediately). But it does allow them a lot of 'discounting' and haggle margin to make the customers feel good about what they're paying.

Once the first few chain stores started doing this, the others followed suit. So now you have a sad state of affairs where the 'chain cartel' has a huge advantage when it comes to repeat customers. Your local corner store loses business and has to jack up their prices to pay the rent, causing even less customers to shop there. Less competition from small players. Big chain stores can get away with this because they always have one or two items that the other big chain stores don't and thus you end up signing up.

As a loyalty card holder, the retailers have far more detailed (marketable/mineable) information about you than they otherwise would have. Now they can run the numbers to see where its safe to jack up the price without losing customers.

With competition reduced, once a company has significant control over a market (either geographically or in a category segment), up go the prices to the maximum the market can afford.

So you may think you're getting a discount, but the discount is simply from an artificially inflated starting price. Or in some industries funded by the fact that you are now buying more than you otherwise needed to. It is all a numbers game. The big retail giants have increased profits year over year, so at no point have they been forced to release some of that profit back to either the suppliers by paying more, or to the consumers in the form of honest price reductions.

Comment: Re:Flash panic (Score 2) 161

by pipedwho (#47555043) Attached to: OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

The problem with most 'commercial experimentation' is that it isn't about getting better value for the consumer, but about how to to best convince the consumer to pay more for something, or buy something, that they otherwise would not have.

Loyalty cards are a way for a business to encourage a customer to return whether or not it is really in their best interest. Phone contracts, transaction 'fees' and 'licensing' are other ways to get people coming back for more of a beating. If you make the fine print and pricing structure too complicated to understand, while offering all sorts of shiny bling in the big print, marketers have found that they can significantly increase sales. Auto bank account debits are great in that the consumer starts to forget that they are continually paying for something, and may take a few extra months (and therefore payments) to cancel a service that they are no longer using - especially when you make it difficult to do.

Factory rebates are another example of sneaky marketing. They make it hard to claim the rebate, in some cases always 'losing' your first application, or finding something incorrect or incomplete in their overly complicated request form. In the end they pay out less than 1 in 5 rebates because most people give up trying to claim that $100. However, when buying the product the consumer factored in the rebate and probably avoided a more suitable competitor with a better more 'expensive' product.

All these techniques would have been arrived at by experimenting on consumers. It is simply about a business trying to get as close to the threshold of pain as possible to maximise profit. Too far and they go backwards - which is why they experiment on a small sample of their market before any large scale roll out.

Comment: Re:Switchin back to a Keyboard (Score 2) 543

Only twice as fast with "touch typing" vs a touch screen phone?

I'm easily at least 10 to 20x faster with touch typing on a bluetooth external keyboard than on the touch screen of my phone.

Anything smaller than about 2/3 size keys are too small for proper touch typing.

That being said, I only ever use the touch keyboard on the phone for short responses and scenarios where being able to type a few words at all is better than nothing. A friend has one of those fold-out bluetooth keyboard cases for his Samsung mega phone and loves it. After folding open, the keys are just big enough for real touch typing - he flies with that thing. His phone + keyboard case is about the same size as an old Palm Pilot.

Touch screen phone keyboards are a major compromise, but do provide a keyboard that takes up no space at all and is still quite useable when you're on the go. Especially when pocket space in the hipster skinny jeans is at a premium.

Comment: Re:Advantages? (Score 1) 146

by pipedwho (#47526503) Attached to: Comcast Carrying 1Tbit/s of IPv6 Internet Traffic

How so?

A firewall can be set to block all incoming connections with a few inbound exceptions that the user requires (eg. port 22 on a particular box, and port 80 on another one).

The advantages are that the firewall no longer has to keep track of all NAT connections with the associated timeout issues, and that there will never be a network address collision issue when you connect via VPN from a remote network with the same subnet range. It also removes issues related to split-horizon DNS.

For certain corporate requirements and address aliasing, IPv6 can still be NATed where necessary.

But, for your bog standard user that just wants to 'feel safe' behind their firewall, there is really no difference in setup or maintenance complexity between NAT and a router with a default firewall setting of 'block all inbound connections'. UPNP/etc even works the same way to automatically open up a gaping hole whenever requested by a user application.

Comment: Re:Innovation patents are not true "patents" (Score 3, Informative) 36

by pipedwho (#47421541) Attached to: A Brief History of Patenting the Wheel: What Goes Around Comes Around

The system is not so silly when you look at how it works in practice, http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/...

The greater flexibility does not restrict innovation, and that should be the key test of it's usefulness.

This is because an "innovation patent" is not examined until it is challenged, at which point, the ones that don't meet patentability requirements will only be rejected at that point and not before. The duration of an Innovation Patent is also much shorter than a standard patent.

Comment: Re:This is scary (Score 1) 284

by pipedwho (#47395729) Attached to: Consciousness On-Off Switch Discovered Deep In Brain

Right, but anesthesia or a wrench is not exactly the "kill switch" that this seems to be .

More precisely, both are more likely to be actual 'kill switches' than this new method. In both general anaesthesia and the old wrench to the back of the head, there is a non-trivial likelihood that both will end in the recipients death. This new technique is theoretically attempting to target the required part of the brain with far more accuracy and less collateral damage than existing methods of rendering a person unconscious.

I perceive it more like a virtual machine suspend.

Comment: Re:Useless (Score 5, Informative) 235

by pipedwho (#47381611) Attached to: Radar Changing the Face of Cycling

It's not that the driver thinks it's a motorbike and gives extra consideration. It's that with multiple co-linear lights, a driver is far better able to judge how far away the cyclist is. As another poster noted, if a driver thinks you're a motorbike, they'll also assume you are travelling at or faster than the traffic flow.

On a bicycle, a single point source of super bright light will let a driver know that you're somewhere in that direction - while partially blinding them if you angle it up like I see done far too often.

Whereas, a wider (multi-element) lamp that isn't overly bright will let the driver's eye far better estimate and track how far away you are - while not blinding them to the other surrounds.

Comment: Re:Well, sort of. (Score 3, Interesting) 109

by pipedwho (#47381501) Attached to: Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

There's also the off-peak hot water signals that are modulated on the line (at around 1kHz) in some places. Those signals are generated at the local substation. Their purpose is to activate various hot-water systems to load balance the area's power use. Where the final goal is to minimise the peak usage during 'peak' periods of use.

It is conceivable that if an 'interview' is made when that type of noise appears on the line, and that an accurate time reference is available, it may be possible to use this to narrow down the search region.

Still not going to pin-point a location, but could definitely narrow it down far better than just using the 60Hz line frequency. Which is far too narrow band to provide any useful information beyond what country you're in.

Comment: Re:Dislike function is positive reinforcement (Score 1) 293

The prediction of operant conditioning predicts that positive reinforcement will increase behavior and negative reinforcement will reduce behavior. The report is not contesting operant conditioning it is only determining what sort of reinforcement the like and dislike function provide; reporting that the like function of these sites actually has little or no reinforcement and that the dislike function has a positive reinforcement toward unwanted behavior. This shows that it would be appropriate to say that there could be some debate on the meaning of like and dislike functions and what some appropriate alternatives may be.

    - Corbett Dehring

In addition to this, I'd suggest that trolling can be likened to bullying in the sense that the negative response of the victimised party (or group) encourages continued trolling behaviour. And negative in this context is really about the negative feelings of the reader being communicated through the use of the like/dislike up/down vote.

Without that communication or feedback, the trolling/teasing/bullying behaviour has no reinforcement path, and the troll/bully moves on to greener pastures.

Comment: What about devices with no RTC? (Score 4, Insightful) 187

by pipedwho (#46997513) Attached to: Do Embedded Systems Need a Time To Die?

If a device does not have a way to keep track of time (eg. in built real time clock, with backup battery that will last for the duration of the device's 'lifetime'), then it becomes vulnerable to permanent denial of service when something spoofs a fake future date and time. What happens when a hundred thousand devices go offline because someone spoofed an NTP response?

You may as well force every device to have a kill switch and remotely shut it down when it's too old. At least that'll probably require some kind of public key signature from an authenticated service (in the same way you'd authenticate a remote firmware update).

What I'm trying to say is this is one of those 'management ideas' that sounds great in the philosophical sense, but fails in technical merit.

Comment: Re:Autoimmune disorder... (Score 5, Informative) 350

1. Pay phono
2. Voip over someone else's wifi
3. Someone else's phone while they're too drunk to notice an outgoing call
4. Hacked remote computer, then install and use Voip service
5. Stolen cell phone
6. Break into someone's house and use their land line phone
7. Burn phone
8. etc.

Comment: Re: Dangerous (Score 1) 490

No idea about your local regulations, but in most places cyclists are allowed to ride down the curb side of stationary vehicles. Especially so when there is a bike lane marked. Cars are only allowed to do this if the vehicle is stopped and indicating to turn left (or right in places that drive on the left side of the road). Many places also allow motorbikes to filter between lanes to get to the front when traffic is stopped at lights.

Naturally this maneuvers can be dangerous if the cyclist isn't paying attention to motorists that are also not paying attention.

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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