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Comment: You are the vendor, not the product (Score 1) 287

by sjbe (#47889015) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

You're not the customer. You're the product.

That's not correct either logically or from an accounting perspective. The opposite of customer is not product. The opposite of customer is vendor. Every transaction has two and only two parties. If you aren't the customer then you are the vendor for that transaction. Unless you plan to go into slavery the product isn't you. The product is data about you. What that makes you is the vendor of the product. Google "buys" this data in exchange for IT services and they then sell the data to advertising customers. In that transaction chain Google buys from you and that is how you appear on Google's financial statements - as a supplier, not a customer.

Comment: Vendor not Customer (Score 1) 287

by sjbe (#47888975) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

The user's relationship with Gmail does involve payment in the form of consideration, and they are customers.

That doesn't make them necessarily a customer for that transaction. As far as Google is concerned they are vendors because Google "pays" users via an in-kind exchange of services for data which they then sell to their customers for cash. In that transaction chain the user is properly considered a vendor to Google and that is how they would show up on Google's financial statements. In that transaction Google would be your customer rather than the other way around.

Comment: You are a vendor in that transaction (Score 1) 287

by sjbe (#47888957) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Sure they are customers. They are paying with their personal data, which Google hords and then sells to third parties.

That makes you a vendor/supplier rather than a customer. Google "buys" your data with an in-kind exchange for IT services and then they sell it to advertisers. You aren't a customer, you are a vendor in that transaction chain.

Comment: You are a vendor to slashdot (Score 4, Informative) 287

by sjbe (#47888939) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

Of course I'm one of slashdot's customers. Slashdot would be out of business if we (the customers) stopped coming to their website.

I'm an accountant.

Unless you are sending cash to slashdot, your relationship to them is most accurately described as that of a vendor or a supplier if you prefer that term. You provide data to slashdot in exchange for entertainment which is a form of in-kind exchange. Slashdot then uses that data to sell advertising to their paying customers. From an accounting perspective by providing this forum to you, you would be on slashdot's books as either Cost of Goods Sold or more likely some kind of Operating Expense. This effectively makes you a vendor to them, not a customer because they don't sell you anything.

It can get a little murkier if you have a paid subscription but they still advertise to you because then you become both a customer and a vendor. Which you are depends on the transaction in question. Logically it would make sense to have the subscription be treated as a contra-expense because then you don't have to have this dual relationship. But it's more likely that they would book it as income and have the user on the books as both a customer and (indirectly) as a vendor.

Comment: Users are generally vendors not customers (Score 2) 287

by sjbe (#47888829) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

A customer is someone who receives a service from a company, even if the (monetary) price for that service is zero.

That doesn't make you a customer. That makes you a charity recipient.

In any case the general relationship between Google users (as opposed to paying advertising clients) is that the user is properly thought of as a vendor or supplier. We supply data to Google in exchange for in-kind services (email, search etc) which Google then turns into a product which they sell to their paying customers. Customers are people who pay you and vendors are people you pay. Google "pays" users for their data with online services which is a sort of barter really. They then process that data into a product they can sell to their customers which generally are advertisers.

What sometimes confuses people is that Google also sells IT services (like data storage or corporate email) but what that simply means is that someone can be both a vendor and a customer depending on the specific transaction. This is perfectly normal. It's not at all uncommon for companies to sell stuff to each other and have both a vendor relationship and a customer relationship but they can be only one or the other for a given transaction. The key distinction to determine whether they are the vendor or customer is (generally) the direction of the cash flow for the particular transaction in question. In cases in-kind exchanges its a little fuzzier so you have to look at what they do with the item received.

Comment: Comparing eras (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47884543) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

All we need are dissection records or dissection of well-preserved corpses from the era, so as to examine the state of organs.

The few remaining corpses of people 100+ years dead will most likely not give you the information you seek. There simply is not enough material remaining even among that which is well preserved to make authoritative claims regarding entire populations. At best we might get some hints and get some limited insight but there will be pretty sharp limits on making serious comparisons. Furthermore, I don't know how much time you've spend working with medical records but I've spent a lot of time with them in my professional life. Even modern medical records can be pretty bad. Medical records from 100+ years ago are very difficult to glean useful information from in a lot of cases. Not saying it can't be done but our understanding of medicine has advanced rather a lot since then.

Finding the source material is difficult.

That's putting it mildly. It's an interesting project you propose but you seem to be making it sound much easier than it is. That is a very challenging study.

Comment: That is why we test hypothesis (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47884251) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

But it does help with water retention, right? And you would imagine that as the body retained more water it would become generally more pressurised?

That doesn't automatically mean that it affects mortality or patient outcomes. The human body is complicated. Just because it seems logical doesn't mean it actually is a problem.

Comment: Misinterpreted correlations and fads (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47884203) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

That has given us margarine (plastic for your body), high carbohydrate diets loaded with wheat gluten, and the result is massive obesity - and all the concomitant health issues.

There is no causal link known between gluten and the obesity epidemic. Gluten sensitivity appear to be merely the latest in a long string of fads jumped on by people who are hypochondriacs as the demand for gluten free products has hugely exceeded known affected population. While there are a relatively small number of people with coeliac disease and other sensitivities, there is no (credible) published evidence that avoiding gluten has any benefit for most people or that it is a primary driver in the current obesity epidemic.

You NEED a good amount of cholesterol for a healthy nervous system, and avoiding eggs and cholesterol containing foods in general is thought to be responsible for the increase in Alzheimer's disease, among other issues.

That is little more than a hypothesis. We do not know with any certainty what causes Alzheimer's disease. Anyone who claims we do is selling something or confused. We are learning lots about it but we do not fully understand the disease process. There may be a correlation regarding eggs and cholesterol but the studies simply haven't been done to establish any sort of causal link in the disease process.

Furthermore you might consider linking to the source material you cite rather than an editorial in a random non-peer reviewed website that refers negatively to statin drugs as "mainstream medicine". That is not what I would consider an unbiased or credible source and it casts your argument in a worse light than it probably deserves.

Comment: A+B != C (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47884039) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

You would think sometime in the last few centuries someone would of bothered to get a few people together, control their food intake, adjust salt intake, and see what happened. If we are studying water retention, and its effect it could be a short-term study of around a week.

We know what happens to blood pressure in the short term. Salt affects blood pressure = known fact. We've understood that for a very long time. That is completely different from proving that salt affects heart disease or salt affects mortality in patients with heart conditions. Those things are MUCH harder to test because they require large, long term population studies. They're expensive and difficult studies to do. The problem is that people took the fact that salt affects blood pressure and applied it (without evidence) to treatment of heart disease when there was no known causal link between the two.

This is the logic that was used:
    A) We know salt affects blood pressure.
+ B) We know high blood pressure can cause negative patient outcomes in patients with heart problems.
= C) Therefore controlling salt should reduce negative patient outcomes

The problem is that A + B does not equal C. We just assumed that it did because it sounded right. You have two bits of data that seem to add up to a logical result but it turns out that the equation is more complicated and thus our simple "answer" is wrong.

Comment: Action sometimes before evidence (Score 5, Interesting) 290

by sjbe (#47881511) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

This is one of the many examples of why I don't care about consensus opinion. Show us evidence, or go away.

Fair enough. Do you have sufficient expertise that you are able to interpret the evidence? Is the evidence clear? Is the evidence properly gathered and analyzed? Do we have enough evidence to draw firm conclusions or merely enough to nudge the direction of inquiry? Will the patient die before you can get conclusive evidence?

Fact is that the human body is complicated and sometimes a good sounding theory is the best we have to go on. A lot of diagnosis are basically well informed probabilistic guesses because we don't completely understand the underlying disease process. Sometimes you have to act before you can be certain of your case. For instance if you have a bacterial infection it can take days to culture the infectious organism and the patient can die before you get a definitive answer. So the doctor has to take an educated guess before he has the evidence. Sometimes a consensus opinion is the best we can do.

What people miss about consensus opinions is why they matter. What a consensus is NOT useful for is as evidence proving or disproving a theory about physical phenomena. A consensus IS useful for as evidence against the (political) argument that there are substantially conflicting opinions when there in fact are not. A consensus is useful for establishing standard of care. A consensus is (sometimes) useful for protection against legal liability.

Comment: Theory versus tested facts (Score 1) 290

by sjbe (#47881313) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

But it does help with water retention, right? And you would imagine that as the body retained more water it would become generally more pressurised?

As I understand it, that is a big part of the basis of the theory behind controlling sodium in heart patients. Osmotic gradient controlled through reduced sodium. Good sounding theory. However just because that sounds sensible doesn't mean it actually matters in medical outcomes. The human body is complicated and sometimes good sounding theories turn out to be completely incorrect. This appears to be one of those good sounding but false theories.

Comment: They ran with a hypothesis (Score 3, Interesting) 290

by sjbe (#47881257) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

This is not actually news though it's one more study on the pile. My wife is a physician and her instructors in med school pointed out that the relationship between salt and high blood pressure was based on correlations, not a causal chain. Basically it was a logical hypothesis that people started acting upon before it was ever established as fact. A lot of patients with high blood pressure problems (apparently - I'm not a doctor) have issues relating to osmotic gradients and other biological functions where salt is involved. So the theory went that by controlling sodium you could help control these problems. A good theory. But a good theory isn't a necessarily fact and it sounds like a lot of medical effort went into controlling sodium before anyone actually could test to see if it really mattered. Apparently the answer is turning out to be that it doesn't matter nearly as much as we thought.

Oblig XKCD

Comment: Re:Life is complicated (Score 2) 363

by sjbe (#47880827) Attached to: Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

The problem is, his second chance came at the cost of endangering innocent people.

And you've never done anything that endangered others? (If you say "never" I'm going to call you a liar)

We're talking about someone who endangers everyone else on the road should he "screw up" again.

And he has served time in prison for that. You think he doesn't understand the consequences? I know the guy and his situation and you do not. I know what he's been through and I know how he has comported himself for the last several years. Don't be so eager to dole out "justice" for people you've never met. He had his license pulled for 10 years. He had to prove to a judge that he had straightened out. He had to have an interlock on his car even when granted a provisional license for 2 years. He had to get drug tested regularly. He had to show up to work every day for several years. Honestly I trust this guy more than I would trust you if we just met on the street.

It isn't right that your life is ruined because of a single screwup, but it also isn't right that someone else has to risk their life being ruined to avoid that.

We do that every day. I trust thousands of drivers I pass daily to stay in their lane. We depend on each other to not screw up all the time.

Comment: Re:Texting 911 (Score 1) 363

by sjbe (#47880705) Attached to: Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

Depends. What if you send a tweet? Now what if the tweet is sent via data over TCP/IP instead of SMS?

Same thing. Shouldn't be legal. It's basically the same activity so should be covered under the same rules.

Same end result, but difference in transmission medium defeats the whole "SMS isn't reliable" argument stone cold.

No it does not because those other services you mentioned are not least common denominator services. Pretty much every phone has SMS - not all phones are smart phones. Plenty of people do not have twitter or other similar messaging services and even when they do they don't all have the same ones.

Or why we need specific rules banning it, versus simply applying existing distracted-driving laws?

Distracted driving laws are A) inconsistent, B) only enforceable after the fact and C) are widely and demonstrably ignored. Disabling all texting while in a vehicle in motion would proactively prevent a lot of accidents and is much easier to enforce.

Comment: Re:Texting 911 (Score 1) 363

by sjbe (#47880605) Attached to: Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

You're forgetting though that a text message is far more likely to be transmitted than a phone call when there is minimal signal.

It might be transmitted but it still doesn't guarantee delivery or notify you if the message was not received. With a phone call you know for certain if the other party received the message. Kind of an important detail.

If you hype something and it succeeds, you're a genius -- it wasn't a hype. If you hype it and it fails, then it was just a hype. -- Neil Bogart