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Comment: Maybe the author needs to get out more (Score 5, Insightful) 139

by Sycraft-fu (#47570537) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

No dude, your books are not so incredible that people will buy them no matter what the price. There may be a few people who are like that, but most aren't. Price matters in entertainment. Turns out, when you make something cheap enough so that people don't need to think about spending the money and even more so they feel like they are getting a "Great deal" they'll spend very freely.

Steam has figured this out with videogames and siphons tons of money out of people's pockets, and has people thank them for doing it. People get drawn in by the "savings" of the sales and spend tons. I should know, I'm one of them. Not only do I have games I haven't played, I have games I haven't installed. I see something that I'm interested in that is a good price and I say "Oh man, I should get that," and I do. If they are more expensive, I think about it more, I wait until I really want a new game, I go and replay something I already enjoy.

Cheaper books will lead to bibliophiles just collecting the things. I know my mom would. You get them cheap enough and she'll drop hundreds a month on stuff she'll never read, just because she wants to have it.

Authors/publishers/developers/etc need to get over this idea of their digital goods being "worth" a certain amount. No, you need to figure out what you need to do to maximize your profits since there is zero per unit cost. Usually, that is going to mean selling cheap, but selling lots.

Comment: Re:um yea... (Score 2) 500

by Sycraft-fu (#47563353) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Also with regards to the 3% charge rate, that is something that likely wouldn't go away, even if everyone went cash. Thing is, cash takes a lot of work to manage. You have to count it (*and account for it) secure it, get it to the bank, etc. If you look at a cash heavy place like a Las Vegas casino you can see the large amount of infrastructure they have in dealing with that. It isn't free. Turns out 3% isn't such a bad charge for not having to deal with that.

My parents ran a small business and they really didn't care for cash transactions. They took it, of course, and it was maybe 10% of their business. However despite not having 3% (or I think like 2.7% with their processor) shaved off the top, they prefered less cash because of the extra work. If they had a cash heavy day it meant having to cycle money out of the register in to the safe, potentially having to go to the bank to get more smaller bills/coins, and having to make bank runs more often per week. All the time spent doing that was time not spent doing something else for the business.

Cash costs money too, which is why most places don't really mind the credit surcharge. Cash might not have a direct surcharge, but there's a cost to dealing with it and the more you deal with it, the more it costs, just like the credit surcharge.

Also, in the rare occasion you do find a business that'll give you a discount for cash (contractors are often like this) you always have the option of using it. It isn't like Visa pays for goons to follow you around and force you to use your card.

Comment: No they don't (Score 1) 500

by Sycraft-fu (#47563321) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

You have no idea how it works, do you?

Debt collectors are nearly always separate companies. So what happens is you get way behind on a payment, the company you owe tries and tries to get money, but they fail. Finally, they just write it off. They then sell your debt to a debt collector. These debt collectors buy it cheap, usually 10% or less of the original amount. The company takes the loss and goes on with it. The collector then tries to get money so that they make a profit on the debt, and not a loss.

Companies do not want to sell a debt because there's no way they can sell it for what it is worth. They'd much rather have the money.

Student loans are a little different, since Sallie Mae does both loans AND collections, and student loans they offer are usually government insured (so they get their money no matter what) and you can't discharge student loan debt. Also they are a complete cluster fuck of stupidity since they are basically the worst combination of private enterprise and government agency (they were originally government, now private, but have something of a special status). They are currently under investigation regarding their practices.

Normal consumer debt though, they don't want you to default on. What they would like is that you run up a lot of debt and they pay it off slowly, paying a lot of interest, but pay it on time and completely. They would not like you to default.

Comment: Bullshit (Score 2) 500

by Sycraft-fu (#47563289) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Now I should note everything I'm going to say here applies to FICO credit score. Banks are certainly welcome to delve deeper and look at individual account performance and make a determination that way. So maybe, and there's no way to know this, the bank would evaluate that pattern more favourably when looking at the account and considering an upgrade to an unsecured account.

However for credit score what matters is (in order of importance):

--Payment history. Paying as agreed (meaning not more than 30 days late) is the biggest thing. Having no delinquencies, collections, defaults, etc is the prime thing. A long history of "pays as agreed" is what matters most.

--Debt burden, meaning how much you owe. For revolving accounts that is the amount of credit available vs the amount used. So having a number of high limit unused credit cards helps your score. For installment/mortgage accounts it is more about how much has been payed off.

--Length of credit history. The longer you've had a credit history, the better it can be. Also the longer you have specific accounts, the more they help.

--Types of credit. The more kinds of credit you've had, the better. This means revolving (like credit cards), installment (like a car loan), and mortgage. If you've multiple categories, that helps more than just having one.

--Credit inquiries. Each time you seek credit, it hurts your score a little for a short while. It isn't much and it doesn't last long, but is has an effect.

That's it. That's how it is calculated. Of those, payment history and debt burden are by FAR the biggest part. So if you have accounts that show you always pay as agreed, and you don't owe much, you'll have good credit.

As an example: I have a mortgage on my primary house, also a paid off mortgage on file since I refinanced (which is technically a new loan so the old one shows as paid off). I have a bunch of credit cards, probably $40,000 in credit, most of which don't get used, I got them because they offered a bribe and then never made use of them again. I have a primary card that I use for pretty much all purchases, and pay off in full each month. My credit score was 820, last time I checked.

The reasons are I have a perfect, lengthy, payment record, two kinds of credit, and I owe very little in relation to my available borrowing power. Hence, good score.

Also when I did a secured card, which admittedly was like 2 decades ago, I paid it off in full every month, and after the prescribed period, 6 months I think, they gave me an unsecured card no issue.

Comment: You needn't charge anything (Score 1) 500

by Sycraft-fu (#47561961) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Just having one is sufficient. If you owe nothing on it, each month it'll be marked as "pays as agreed" on your credit report. Also it shows up as unused credit, which helps your score. Getting one and not using it works just fine. Having more than one and not using it works even better.

Comment: Also maybe you got in a fight with a company (Score 1) 500

by Sycraft-fu (#47561915) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Fedex sent me to collections for a debt I didn't owe. Now I was very feisty with it and made sure to check that it didn't go on my credit history, but many people wouldn't. It was only $20. So maybe they just ignore it, it gets on the credit record. That would be "in debt collections" but wouldn't really reflect on the rest of my finances, it would just be something I decided to quit fighting.

There's a difference between someone with a small debt in collections because they don't agree they owe it and someone with a bunch in collections because they truly are financially underwater.

Comment: Re:Who cares? (Score 5, Interesting) 229

by Sycraft-fu (#47555893) Attached to: Free Copy of the Sims 2 Contains SecuROM

No kidding. And sims 2 has ALWAYS had SecuROM in it. They just didn't feel like taking the time to patch it out. While I'm a firm believer that DRM is a waste of time and money on the game company's part, there's no massive conspiracy here. They used SecuROM when they released Sims 2 (it was released in 2004, they used SecuROM a lot with games then) and they haven't bothered to redo it because, well, it is old and they just don't wanna spend the time.

Fair enough, particularly for free.

Plus the nerd rage over it is really overblown. Turns out when there's a problem with something, sometimes companies listen and fix things. So last SecuROM game I played was Battlefield Bad Company 2. It was not problematic at all in my experience. You had to activate it one time online and it then ran without checks or ever going online again. You got a certain number of activations, 5 or 10 I think, but not only could you deactivate it, with a tool or automatically during uninstall, but they would replenish automatically over time. So unless you were doing a ton of reinstalls and not deactivating it was really unlikely you'd have an issue.

Silly to include DRM in my opinion, particularly for a game mostly played online, but not at all onerous on the user.

People seriously need to chill about this shit. Support DRM free games when there's a version available (GOG is a good site, please not Steam is not DRM free, Steamworks is DRM) but don't rage and whine if there's DRM and the DRM isn't a problem. Yes it is silly and a waste of money, but don't act like it is some massive issue if it is not.

If a game has some "always on" DRM bullshit that shuts it off if the connection goes down? Ya that's a reason to get mad and not buy it. If it has a DRM that wants to activate once and then fucks off? Oh get over it, you probably have to get online ones to patch the thing anyhow. Just jump through the hoop and go on about your business.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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