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Comment: Re:COG (Score 3, Insightful) 143

I don't doubt the goodness of Apple's heart. However, of that $100 million, about $50 million or less is actual COGS. And, they get a huge multi-million dollar tax deduction. And, they are clearing out their old inventory of last generation hardware that is now worth less due to newly introduced versions, and they place that inventory in the hand of customers who wouldn't necessarily pay for those products on their own (i.e., poor families and schools) and therefore don't fully steal from their own market share. And, they are continuing their strategy of putting their products in the hands of students so that those students become future customers, i.e., fantastic marketing. So, Apple is to be commended for their generosity, but they are to be venerated for their business acumen.

Comment: Re:Not a chance (Score 1) 631

by ttsai (#48253103) Attached to: Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

Note that there are two issues with CurrentC: the access medium (app and scanned QR code vs. NFC or mag stripe or smartcard) and the banking system (credit or debit card; Visa/Mastercard/etc with banks vs. debit card with banks). Theoretically all combinations are possible, so the discussions to view the various issues are not necessarily linked. They are currently linked due to the nascent nature of the offerings, but I wouldn't be surprised to see CurrentC paired with NFC in the future. That's a relatively minor technological issue.

The bigger issue is the underlying banking system and whether it's wise to cut Visa/Mastercard/etc. out of the loop. The benefits are cost savings to the merchants and ultimately to the consumer. The supposed drawbacks relate to security and consumer protections. There are differences in legal protections at the federal level as well as state level. It is an incorrect notion that debit cards have no legal protections. For example, for my Chase debit card, there is zero liability for unauthorized transactions and unauthorized charges are reimbursed by the next business day while the charges are investigated. Sounds similar to credit card protections.

There is also the issue of a grace period for repayment with credit cards, but that is relatively minor with today's very low interest rates. If I can delay payment of a monthly total of $2k for one month and keep that money in my 0.9% online savings account, I would gain about $1.50 each month. Not nothing, but close. And that assumes that I'm willing to continually transfer money back and forth between my 0% checking account and my 0.9% savings account.

There are differences between debit cards and credit cards, but I imagine that many people are not aware that the differences are less that what they might assume.

I personally use credit cards all the time, mainly due to the better rewards programs and my desire to limit the number of active payment accounts. However, if CurrentC offers better rewards, then maybe I would consider using it.

Comment: Re:Take the money and run (Score 1) 54

by ttsai (#48156241) Attached to: Tech Workers Oppose Settlement They Reached In Silicon Valley Hiring Case

Are you a plaintiff? Do you have to take time from work to testify, talk with lawyers, sign things, video deposition, or do any number of things that these people have had to do?

After a while, "Fuck this, gimme the 2 grand" also means "I can't fight for the moral side anymore"

If it were you, you would have given in a long time ago, statistically speaking. If you are 1 in 100, you would have given in before this appeal started. You would have to be 1 in 1000 at least to get this far. Basic stats means I don't believe you. And you shouldn't believe you until you have been through this.

Fighting for the right side takes more effort than most people have. It seems like once a year we get the odd "I lost $25k or more even though I won the lawsuit" story. One per year, in my unscientific anecdote, which might sound like a lot. But it's not enough to win any ground.

Do you want to bankroll the losers? You already are, so that's a trick question. But if it were you, you would really appreciate someone kicking in a few bucks so you and your unemployed ass could take time to fight the good fight. And when the donations don't add up, you give in and live your life.

Hence the legal concept of a class action lawsuit where a small set of named plaintiffs represent the rest of the class and taken on the time and resource burdens of presenting the case to the court. I'm not part of the certified class, but if I were, I'm not sure if I'd be willing to be one of the named plaintiffs, but I'm pretty sure I'd be willing to participate as part of the class. Yes, I know, very selfish of me.

Of course, despite your protestations, the only motivational consideration is whether the lawyers are willing to bankroll the lawsuit and that depends on their assessment of the payout. It has very little to do with how much any of the plaintiffs expect as payment or how justified their case is. And, no, I don't feel any pity for the majority of the class (almost no effort expended), the lawyers (no explanation needed), or the named plaintiffs (usually have emotional stakes in the process if not the outcome).

But that's all generalized mumbo-jumbo. The pertinent particulars of this specific case are (1) most of the class would benefit only marginally from the $1-2k settlement since they are as a class highly paid hi-tech workers that were sought out by successful tech companies (e.g., a $1-2k bonus for these workers would be a cause for complaint) and (2) the plaintiffs' case is strong, as has been mentioned by the judge when she rejected the settlement.

Comment: Re:Take the money and run (Score 1) 54

by ttsai (#48155723) Attached to: Tech Workers Oppose Settlement They Reached In Silicon Valley Hiring Case

What significant harm? The allegation is that they agreed not to recruit one another's employees. We were still free to apply where we wanted, they just wouldn't call us. Frankly, it bothers me not at all that I got less spam from douche bag recruiters.

For you and me, there was only indirect harm in that the high end of the salary spectrum was depressed for some workers, which in turn might have had some effect on the entire salary distribution. There was no direct harm because you and I (well, definitely me and probably you) were not in the select set of workers that were directly harmed by the collusion. So, our harm is minimal. However, for those who were affected, they either didn't get a promised job (like the guy in France) or didn't get the raises or increased benefits due to decreased employer competition. The harm for each affected worker can be monetarily quantified and is likely in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Comment: Re:Take the money and run (Score 1) 54

by ttsai (#48154891) Attached to: Tech Workers Oppose Settlement They Reached In Silicon Valley Hiring Case

Good question. If it were me, I would definitely go for the 1-in-a-million chance for $100k versus a guaranteed $2k now.

I would love to play any game of chance with you. 1 in a million chance of $100k (expected value of $0.10) is preferable to a 100% chance of $2000?

Well, I wouldn't choose to play the $100k vs. $2k game at all, but these folks didn't have the choice to be mistreated by their employers. But given that these folks by the nature of their lawsuit class (i.e., "prized" hi-tech employees) are not poor, $2k should not be that significant to them.

Assuming that the $2k (or whatever the lower value is) is indeed noise and that I don't really need it now, absolutely I would take the chance for the higher payout. The choice is between an improbable, significant payout versus a guaranteed, insignificant payout. Another way of looking at this is that I would consider a $100 million powerball ticket to be much more worthwhile than a $50 scratch-off lottery ticket. One has a chance to affect my life, and the other doesn't help me that much even if I win.

Comment: Re:Take the money and run (Score 2) 54

by ttsai (#48154641) Attached to: Tech Workers Oppose Settlement They Reached In Silicon Valley Hiring Case

Do you want a new TV now, or a very(!) small chance to get a new car 5-10 years from now? That's what it comes down to.

Good question. If it were me, I would definitely go for the 1-in-a-million chance for $100k versus a guaranteed $2k now. The $2k is noise and makes no difference in my life. If I lose it, I lose nothing of significance. The significant harm has already been inflicted, so the additional $2k is lost compensation is irrelevant. The $100k can actually affect my life. So, this decision from the point of the victims is a no-brainer.

That's just the personal economic decision. Not even the larger $100k (or whatever it turns out to be) will adequately compensate for the past economic harm, but the satisfaction of a legal penalty may be more rewarding.

Comment: Re:Well.... (Score 1) 425

by ttsai (#47929975) Attached to: Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

It will be interesting to see if even Apple is able to change user habits. Visa and Mastercard might have signed on, but that's not important. Retailer support is the critical factor.

You clearly don't know the first thing about accepting credit and debit cards. Without the payment networks, NOTHING happens at point-of-sale.

Retail lives and dies by the Payment Card Industry standards and audits. Without Visa / MC / Discover / Amex, you are a cash-only business. Period.

I'm probably more ignorant that you realize, but that's beside the point. Visa/Mastercard support is necessary but not sufficient. The historical challenge for electronic but non-credit card systems has been placing readers at the point of sale locations. Without those readers, Apple Pay is useless. Someone has to pay for those readers. The stores don't want to do it unless they are convinced they can recover the cost.

If Apple can get either the stores or the banks to pass for the readers, then I will admit that Apple is an amazing magician. With the iPhone, Apple convinced AT&T et al. to subsidize the phones because the carriers were guaranteed to recover their investment through contracts with early termination fees. iPads don't come with such subsidies and are not as profitable for Apple. With Apple Pay, unless Apple swallows the cost of the readers, how will they convince the stores or banks for pay for the infrastructure without any guarantee of coming out ahead?

Comment: Re: Well.... (Score 1) 425

by ttsai (#47923719) Attached to: Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

Getting Visa and MasterCard to agree to process transactions is a necessary first step but doesn't mean much by itself. Banks don't give out readers for free. That upfront and monthly cost will be hard for many small retailers and may not be worthwhile even for larger stores. The only game changer is if Apple can somehow get the banks to subsidize the cost of the readers. Apple got the cell phone carriers to agree to this subsidy, but I imagine the banks will be a harder sell. It remains to be seen if the retailers will feel the need to swallow the monthly and per-transaction costs to the banks plus to Apple. Small retailers and restaurants already complain about paying the bank tax. Would they agree to another tax? Would there be any benefit for the stores? Would iPhone users actually avoid a store just because it didn't have an Apple Pay reader, especially given that they could always just pay with a credit card add they have always done?

Comment: Re:Well.... (Score 1) 425

by ttsai (#47922381) Attached to: Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

Now, what remains to be seen is whether Apple allows others to play in the Apple Pay sandbox or not. If they don't, they might successfully corner the phone market for the average person with Apple Pay and an iPhone 6C provided the POS vendors elect not to integrate other mobile payment schemes into their terminals.

It will be interesting to see if even Apple is able to change user habits. Visa and Mastercard might have signed on, but that's not important. Retailer support is the critical factor. Even though Apple has signed up "200,000 retail locations" including "Bloomingdale’s, McDonald’s, Subway, Walgreens, and Apple Stores", and users and use Apple Pay "inside a store’s mobile apps, such as Target’s or Starbucks’", I'm guessing the number of retailers is a very small percentage of potential retailers and a small percentage of a typical user's purchases. If that's the case, then it's very likely that there are almost no people who can use Apple Pay exclusively without continuing to carry traditional credit cards. And if I'm carrying a credit card anyway, what's the point of Apple Pay? Yes, I whip out my phone instead of my wallet and credit card, but is that an improvement in my life?

Comment: Re:Parallax. (Score 2) 425

by ttsai (#47922211) Attached to: Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

No, the phone is shown at exactly right angles, and they're right, the lens is photoshopped out. Meanwhile, it's 1 mm. What is that, the thickness of 2 business cards?

2 business cards makes it sound insignificant. Meanwhile 1mm / 6.9 mm is about 15%, which makes it sound more significant.

Does this 15% matter? If you want an Apple phone, it doesn't matter. If you don't care for Apple phones, it does.

Comment: Science is a religion to some (Score 0) 221

by ttsai (#47781825) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

The statement "We depend too much on science and not enough on faith" presents a false dichotomy. Science as depicting scientific thought and experimentation via the scientific process is orthogonal to religious belief. I can believe in God and still apply the principles of the scientific process.

In fact, the scientific process itself is even orthogonal to scientific belief. The sleight of hand occurs when science is used to represent both the scientific process as well as scientific belief. For example, there is a huge difference between trust in experimentation to test hypotheses and the belief that humans evolved from single-celled organisms. The case of evolution (and pretty much most of past history) is poorly suited to testing via the scientific process. That doesn't meant that human evolution isn't true, but it does mean that it shouldn't be held in the same regard as other results that have been subjected to double-blind, independently repeatable experiments that are the gold standard of science.

Comment: Re:The Tools of Science (Score 1) 134

by ttsai (#47750259) Attached to: 13-Year-Old Finds Fungus Deadly To AIDS Patients Growing On Trees

Since when is collecting samples and cataloging them not hard science? Not particularly difficult, but most definitely hard science.

It is part of hard science, but it's the technician part. The scientist part is figuring out what problem to address, thinking of hypotheses to test, designing a methodology to test the hypotheses, and then executing the experiment and analyzing the gathered data.

Finding a kid who has executed some scientific project is not rare. However, finding a kid who has done that without having the problem set up or at least directly motivated by a mentor (often a parent) is rare. Furthermore, it's even more rare to find a kid who has finished the experiment without resources provided by that mentor, often resources that are not readily available to most kids.

Comment: Re:OK, fine, do it already. (Score 2) 83

by ttsai (#47744177) Attached to: Sources Say Amazon Will Soon Be Targeting Ads, a la Google AdWords

The idea that regular people will curate the advertising data used to profile them is a huge non-starter.

Somehow the geekboy bias of slashdot thinks it's a great idea to make the effort to do Amazon's or Google's job of making targeted ads non-annoying. For normal people, configuring ads on Amazon's behalf is obviously annoying and is obviously a non-starter.

Of course, the real solution is not to do Amazon's job for them. The real solution is to block ads. No, the websites won't go away. Corporations are hooked on money and will find another way to stay in business.

Comment: Re:serious confusion by the author (Score 1) 235

by ttsai (#47687515) Attached to: Email Is Not Going Anywhere

Right, because people understand and care about that.

So much that they've flocked by the billions to closed, centralized platforms.

People may not necessarily understand or consciously care for open platforms, but they at least subconsciously cling to it. Of those that have flocked to closed messaging systems, how many have given up email? How many of us know even a single person that has given up email?

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound