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Comment: But seriously... (Score 1) 104

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47571239) Attached to: The Problems With Drug Testing

What does this story have to do with Linux?

I assume you were going for "funny".

But on the off chance you (or some reader) is asking this seriously...

Slashdot is about things that are of interest to nerds. The approval process for new drugs (which might save, enhance, damage, or end their lives) is one of those subjects.

Comment: Maybe the author needs to get out more (Score 5, Insightful) 140

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:Not deploying driverless cars kills people (Score 4, Informative) 150

by TheRaven64 (#47567809) Attached to: UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January

Wikipedia has a nice table of the relevant data. Per capita statistics are a bit misleading as they don't count for different levels of car ownership. Per vehicle statistics are a bit better. The UK has 6.2 fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles (per year), whereas the USA has 13.6. Generalising this to 'Europe in general' doesn't really work though: Greece, for example, has 13.8 and Portugal has 18.

Even that doesn't tell the whole story though, because people in the UK laugh hysterically when we hear how long people in the USA think a reasonable daily commute is and so cars in the USA are likely to be driven further, which might account for the difference. Taking that into account and using the numbers for fatalities per billion km driven, the UK has 4.3 and the USA 7.6 , so under twice as many. As the grandparent said: not too far behind.

Comment: Re:Thankfully those will be patched right in a jif (Score 1) 125

by TheRaven64 (#47564673) Attached to: Old Apache Code At Root of Android FakeID Mess
I can only assume that you rarely talk to non-geeks. I upgrade my phone roughly every 3 years and most of my non-geek friends have significantly older phones than me. Many of them get new phones only when a geeky relative upgrades and hands down their old device, so the least technical users end up with the least secure devices...

Comment: Re:Past due not reported by companies (Score 1) 500

by TheRaven64 (#47564645) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'
Because you can make more money if you invest more capital. If you have a project that has a 10% annual ROI and have $1m in the bank, then you can double your money if you use that as collateral and borrow $10m to invest. This is a big part of the reason why money tends to concentrate in the hands of people who already have money.

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.

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

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