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Comment: Re:Change management fail (Score 1) 159

by Loki_1929 (#47579977) Attached to: Passport Database Outage Leaves Thousands Stranded

Sounds like your IT has been outsourced to India, who as a culture, literally does not know how to say "no".

It takes two to fail to communicate. You should not be asking questions that require a direct "yes or no" answer. In many cultures, that is considered rude.

So they lie because their culture tells them to and it's my fault for not identifying that they're lying and taking careful steps to help them not lie?

Sorry, but that's absurd. If one's culture does not allow one to perform one's job correctly, one needs to either find a new culture or find a new job.

Comment: Why I joined: (Score 4, Interesting) 204

by wirefarm (#47573063) Attached to: Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

I listed my membership on my résumé, along with the ACM logo.
This was 15 years ago and I was a contractor around Washington, DC, doing many short-term contracts.

Yes, it was effective.
In the course of interviews, the interviewer would often tell me that they had been meaning to join, or had heard of it, but not once that they were themselves a member. Just a little psychological advantage, I guess. This helped,too, because I never went to college.

That said, I got absolutely nothing from their articles or other content.

Comment: Re:So! The game is rigged! (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47572593) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

I don't pay interest on my credit cards and they pay me cash back. I use the reward points and cash back for free vacations. I financed my last car at below the rate of inflation. Adjusted for inflation, the bank paid *me* for the privilege of buying me a car.

It isn't a scam; it's a game. And rule number 1 is understand basic mathematics.

Comment: Re:So! The game is rigged! (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47572577) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

I pay for everything cash, so I have a low credit score.
How the fuck does that work?

Your credit score is the calculated chances that you'll stick to the terms if credit is offered. It's based on past performance and present (credit-based) circumstances. If you have no history, they can't score you. That's how the fuck that works.

I paid for my car cash, I pay my rent cash, I pay the cable company cash.
I have over $30k in the bank and I have monthly paychecks.

None of this hits your credit report, so it can't be used to score you. Money in the bank isn't reported and isn't scored. Paychecks and income aren't reported and aren't scored.

So I should have a much higher credit rating than someone who is constantly paying with credit cards in my opinion.
I wouldn't even mind so much, except that when renting a house they do a background check, and they expect to find a credit history, which I don't have.

Someone who is paying with credit cards and is keeping those accounts paid as agreed has a demonstrated history of responsibly managing their credit. You don't have that. That's why they score higher. You seem to want a credit score that's based on some personal knowledge of you, or your handshake, or a magic 8 ball or something. But that isn't how it works because we no longer live in villages of 20 families. Various items related to how you've handled credit/debt are reported to credit reporting agencies. Other companies (okay, pretty much just FICO) have developed various scoring models that take the information reported to the CRAs and turn that information into a single, simple number which represents the chances that you'll stick to the terms of credit is offered. Since they don't have any information about you, you don't get scored.

I pay for everything with credit cards, pay them off every month so there's no interest, and then I take free vacations with the reward points and cash back money. I have a long credit history showing that whenever someone provides me credit, I manage it responsibly and pay them on time as agreed. If someone is thinking about offering me credit, they can look at that long history (or just the number) and see that I'm a pretty safe bet. They can look at someone else who has a long history of failing to pay back everyone who lends them a dime and see that person is a huge risk. They look at you and they see a mystery box. What exactly would you expect to happen?

Comment: Re:You needn't charge anything (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47572543) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

No need to look up how FICO works, no one actually uses FICO when considering you.

Except for credit cards, car loans, mortgages; just about anything that requires credit. But yeah, except for those things, nobody actually uses FICO.

There are many many systems to calculate a credit score and if you go apply for a loan/credit card/anything that gives you a score from 5 different places the same day you'll get 5 different credit scores and the difference has nothing to do with recent credit inquiries.

Just wrong time and time again. First of all, there aren't 5 different places. There are 3: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Secondly, there are multiple types of FICO scores and the lender chooses which type to use. Auto-enhanced FICO scores weigh vehicle loans differently, but are otherwise very similar to the consumer FICO score you can pull. Most differences between scores from different CRAs are due to differences in the credit reports themselves. Often times, accounts (in good standing or otherwise) aren't reported to all three CRAs, which means you'll have different histories and different scores with them. And yes, there are other proprietary models available, but they're hardly ever used (as in 10% of the time).

When it comes to applying for credit, FICO is still the kind of the castle precisely because it does adapt and broadly predict consumer behavior, allowing lenders to appropriately price risk.

Comment: Re:You needn't charge anything (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47572507) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

First off, 60% credit utilization is too high. I haven't looked up the numbers recently, but there are people out there who game the system and have figured out near optimal values.

Depends on the scoring model and your personal 'bucket', but the optimal is typically 9% total utilization for revolving accounts. Keep in mind that certain scoring models (TU98 comes to mind) want that all on one revolving account. Any more and you'll lose the small bit of bonus you get for having the balance at all. That said, the typical bump to credit score is often less than 10 points. It can be used for a temporary bump prior to seeking big credit or for bragging rights, but honestly, you're just about as well off paying everything to zero each month prior to CRA reporting.

Comment: Re:Lies and statistics... (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47572439) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Because we don't like paying 70% income taxes and waiting for months on end for treatment. We like having the treatment centers that people from single-payer countries fly/drive in to pay to use when they can't wait any longer.

If I wanted to sit on a waiting list until I died from lack of care, I'd have joined the Army. *ZING!*

Comment: Re:You needn't charge anything (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47572387) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

His loan officer told him his credit score would reflect more positively if he used only about 60% of his available credit line each month, and left 15 or 20 dollars per month in carryover balance, instead of paying off the entire balance each month.

Truth or bullshit?

Bullshit, to an extent. First, FICO only sees your balance as it's reported. When your card company reports it to the credit reporting agencies depends on the card, but it'll typically be shortly after the statement date. You can use 100% of the card's credit, then pay it off a dozen times over the course of the month but if the issuer reports $0 to the CRAs, the FICO score pulled will reflect that.

You also want to be careful about where you leave balances. Now this is one of the areas where different FICO formulas will give different results. The overall message is this: having a zero balance reported on all cards is fine. You'll have pretty much full points on the revolving credit portion of your FICO score by doing this. It's possible to squeeze a small number (typically single digits) out of your score by keeping about 9% utilization on your revolving accounts. Where it gets messy is that different scoring models treat where that balance sits in different ways, but I honestly wouldn't worry about that; just pay them off and make sure they're at $0 when the issuers report them. You can find more about this sort of thing at the MyFICO forums at

Keep in mind that if your son is looking for a vehicle loan, that's going to be an auto-enhanced FICO score, which you can't get your hands on until he actually applies. That won't change much from what you can pull on your own if he hasn't had car loans before. As a general rule, if he's had car loans and paid on time as agreed, his auto-enhanced FICO score will be somewhat higher than his regular FICO score. If he's had car loans and didn't pay as agreed, it can be a bit lower (possibly quite a bit lower).

Word of advice on vehicle loans: shop around and be smart about it. Did you know that if the dealership shops you around to different banks and finds one that'll finance you at 5%, they can tell you 10% and keep the difference? Know your score before you walk in the door so they can't try pulling a fast one on you. Also, don't walk in the door without financing already available. Why? Because you then have all the power and you can shop like a cash buyer. Since you have a relationship with a credit union, it's likely you've been thinking about just going through them for it. They probably even have pretty good rates (credit unions are often quite good). When you apply for some types of credit, like a credit card, the issuer will do a "hard pull" on your credit to check your score and credit history and that inquiry will cost you a few points. However, some credit types like mortgages and vehicle loans have a grace period allowing you to shop around for the price of a single inquiry. So when he's ready to buy, have him make sure his report is accurate and clean as possible (no 30 day lates or other delinquencies on any of the three reports - and yes, check all 3), then shop around with the credit union, other banks you may have a relationship with, anyone who's advertising good rates, etc.

Many places will run through a quick approval process over the phone and if approved, they'll mail you a check good for x number of days (usually anywhere from a couple weeks to a month or two) for up to y amount of money. The loan doesn't actually happen until you fill out the check and hand it to someone, so start with finding the best deal before you go to any dealership, then get that check in hand. Obviously shop around for the car as well, but once you've got it narrowed down to a few dealerships, walk in and let them know right away you have that check in hand. Negotiate like you've got a suitcase full of cash in hand because that's essentially what you have. Try and find the dealer invoice price before going in there and start there (they'll have rebates and such above and beyond that, so don't let them fool you into thinking that's what they'll actually pay for the car). Further, if you're getting something that isn't a super hot seller, let them know you know they're paying every single day to floorplan that car and make it clear you'll walk if they won't meet your price. I've literally been asked to leave a car dealership before for low-balling them only to get a call back later that day agreeing to the price or getting extremely close to it.

Once you're set on price, you get to play a fun game. See, you've got that check in your hand which is at a certain interest rate (let's say 5%). Now the dealer wants you to use his financing because he can make more money on there that way, especially since you just pounded him on the price. So what you tell him is if he can beat your financing (and give yourself a little room, tell him it's at 4.5% and that's what he has to beat), you'll let him finance it. If he can't do it, you sign your check (he will). Where you want to be careful is manufacturer financing where they tease you with 0% or 1%, something to that effect. You almost always have to give up rebates and other incentives to get those rates, so when they tell you they can do your financing at 0.9%, ask specifically what you're losing to get that rate. When they tell you it's the $2,000 cash back offer they'd figured into the original price (and this is where they're real assholes and honestly should be prosecuted for fraud because they wouldn't have offered that tidbit of info - just put the new figure on the financing forms and waited to see if you noticed it), you're going to need to do some math to figure out the best move. I recommend using a vehicle loan interest calculator (PSECU has a good one here:

Doing all this, I've literally walked into a dealership with no money in hand (just a draft check from a credit union), bought a car at ~30% off MSRP, and walked out with 100% financing (as in I didn't hand them a penny or write any check or let them touch a credit card - just signed my name) at well under 2% with full rebates and incentives intact. At that rate, over the course of the five year loan, when adjusting for inflation, the bank paid me about $300 for the privilege of financing my vehicle and I paid less in inflation-adjusted dollars than someone who saved up all the money to go in and pay cash. I hate negotiating (and I'm terrible at it), so I simply hand them a piece of paper with their dealer invoice price, taxes, tags, rebates, destination charges, etc already calculated and a final number of what I'm willing to pay and tell them to please just let me know if they can meet that number. If they won't, there are plenty of other dealerships and somebody always plays ball.

Comment: Re:The American Dream (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47572245) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

In 1991, the USSR's per capita income was $9,130. Germany's was $14,600. The UK's was $15,000. In the US it was $21,800. The rate of inflation was 14% in the USSR. It was 9.3% in the UK and 5.4% in the US. GNP was dropping by around 4% in the USSR at that time.

With the economy collapsing, strikes were common and people turned to the grey market and black market for even basic necessities. Bartering became common as did thievery and bribery. Paint whatever picture of paradise you like leading up to it, but understand that they ran out of other peoples' money and the whole thing ended in tears.

Comment: Re:The American Dream (Score 1) 565

by Loki_1929 (#47566049) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Not that I disagree in principle, but it seems as though home ownership is only now available in many areas to those who are either making truly ridiculous amounts of money or those who are making very good money and are willing to live house-poor. I don't know any home owners making truly ridiculous amounts of money, but I do know plenty of people who make good money, own their own homes (with a mortgage), and have almost no room in their budgets for things like going to the movies or going out to eat, let alone actually do real vacations or weekend trips. I'm talking about people with household incomes in the top 15% of the country who didn't run around buying ridiculous homes; just nice normal ones.

I guess I just don't understand how you have huge areas where you don't see anything selling at under $650,000. Hundreds of houses in neighborhood after neighborhood all across the region that sell easily at prices that maybe 3-4% of households could possibly afford. In my area, $350k+ is considered a normal price for an okay home in an okay neighborhood. Nothing fancy, not even especially nice, just okay. That excludes around 83% of households from being able to affordably buy one, yet there they go, all day long selling like hotcakes. Who the hell is buying these things?

Comment: Re:Arneson (Score 1) 182

by hawk (#47563091) Attached to: How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

The "glory years" identified were my Jr & Sr years of high school . . .

The "other" things in circulation at the time were largely either supplements to the the original booklets (and supplements), such as Arduinn, Spellcaster's Bible, and Runequest (farther removed), or completely orthogonal, such as Travellers & Runequest (also TSR).

A bit of this, a bit of that, a few articles from Dragon, and so forth.

And the moronic arguments as to which system handled dragon breath more "realistically", for crying out loud. D&D (blast goes off in the middle of people, but the second row doesn't get shielded from the first) or something goes off between two people, but one takes half as much damage as if the other wasn't there (Arduin)

hawk, who has the original Arduin supplement somewhere (before the bra was added)

The biggest difference between time and space is that you can't reuse time. -- Merrick Furst