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Comment Gas powered refrigeration (Score 1) 317

So he gave up refrigeration? an ac synchronous motor is much more efficient than DC alternatives.

You can go with a gas or propane powered refrigerator. My family has one at a cottage which is too remote for electricity. Works pretty well though I can't vouch for it being particularly efficient. Uses ammonia as the coolant. I understand they are often used in RVs too.

Comment Do you really print a lot of photos? (Score 1) 171

I've yet to see a color laser that can print photos as well as even the cheapest color ink jets.

So what? There are print shops for that unless you are printing a LOT of photos. And very few people print a lot of photos these days. Unless you have a very specific need for an inkjet there is really no reason not to buy a color laser these days. I use laser's exclusively. On the rare occasion I want to actually print a photo I can get it done at my local print shop, drug store or even Walmart.

I think laser printing tech doesn't lend well to making photographic prints.

The high end copiers are laser based and they'll do pretty much as nice a job as most inkjets.

Comment Bash it until it goes away (Score 1) 72

You know what, stop telling us about Flash vulnerabilities ... when Flash hasn't been used in an exploit in several months, that will news worthy.

I think the hope is that if we keep bashing Flash that eventually it will go away forever. We're almost there but some lazy/cheap websites still cannot be bothered to update and ban flash entirely. Frankly if Adobe were a responsible company they would simply abandon flash altogether and that might finally move things along but that's almost certainly a pipe dream.

Comment A rock and a hard place for Microsoft (Score 2) 169

If, on the other hand, you want the Google Play store, then you have to pay Google, agree to ship other Google apps in the default firmware install, and agree not to ship competing apps in a few categories in the default install.

The amount of money Google makes from this is almost negligible. Something north of 95% of Google's revenue comes from advertising so whatever they are charging to access Google Play it doesn't amount to much in the grand scheme of things. Microsoft on the other hand basically makes all their revenue from software sales so they pretty much have to charge something for it since they lack a supporting revenue stream. (unless you want to count desktop software sales but that would be kind of dumb of them)

A lot of that is marketing. It's far more a brand problem than a design culture.

Marketing isn't some magical pixie dust you can waive over a company to make people want their products. Marketing at its core is relationship development and that takes a lot of careful work and time. Microsoft has mostly done a terrible job developing relationships with customers. They've been the beneficiary of a monopoly so their survival never depended heavily on people having warm fuzzies when they think about Microsoft. Apple on the other hand has been arguably brilliant at it, almost from their beginning. Think about how many Apple stickers you've seen on the backs of cars. Probably quite a few - I see them regularly. People LOVE Apple even when they shouldn't. Apple has one of those brands like Harley-Davidson that people have almost a fetish for. Now how many Microsoft stickers have you seen? Probably none. By and large people don't love Microsoft or their products. Microsoft has the money to change this I suppose but it will take a lot of careful effort and time and frankly I doubt they have the corporate culture to pull it off.

Comment Book value (Score 2) 169

Oh bull shit. Value of the company? Please we are talking about perception to investors.

No we are talking about the book value of the company and to some degree the intrinsic value. The secondary market value of the company is a separate concern.

The only thing a write-off decreases is the profits of the company at the time the write-off is booked.

Wrong. It decreases the assets of the company and increases expenses. It also affects the equity of the company because assets decreased and so equity must decrease also if you aren't adding liabilities. The write off also means that the expected future earnings from the asset are reduced which reduces the net present value of the enterprise. The notion that the only thing that is affected is the profits in that one financial period is demonstrably wrong and any accountant should be able to easily show you why.

It may also reduce the company's tax liability - by reducing its profit.

If you have an impaired asset you record the difference as a loss but it is no different than any other investment gone south. Put in simple terms what you are suggesting is selling a $2 bill for $1 to try to intentionally realize a $0.15 tax savings. The company is worse off by $0.85 so worrying about the $0.15 in reduced tax is idiotic. Any reduced tax liability should be small consolation for shareholders in the face of a $7 billion writedown.

Comment The Big Bath (Score 2) 169

Actually, this is pretty common trick to improve the bottom line.

It does not improve the bottom line at all. That is an accounting fact. It has other effects but improving the bottom line isn't one of them.

It doesn't improve the bottom line in that quarter, of course, but the single huge writeoff concentrates all the losses in the one quarter, making all the other quarters look better. Management then passes off the one bad quarter as an anomaly.

You are talking about the Big Bath tactic. That is an earning management tactic to try to prop up the stock price by showing artificial profits in other financial periods. It is a fairly transparent and rather shady technique used to try to take advantage of the short memory of investors but make no mistake that it does nothing to improve the bottom line. Whether you take the hit all in one quarter or over time is irrelevant to the effect on profitability. Writing off an investment - any investment - reduces the value of the company.

Disclosure: Among other things I am a certified accountant.

Comment The solution nobody asked for (Score 3, Interesting) 169

I can't be the only person in the US who purchased said phone, can I?

No but you aren't in a large crowd. I know I can count the number of Windows Phones I've seen in the wild on my fingers. Windows Phone was pretty much a solution nobody asked for several years later than anyone cared. Android and iOS already were large and dominant and developers weren't really looking to support a third platform. Technically it's probably fine but it offers nothing that people care about that the competition doesn't already have.

Furthermore Google is basically giving Android away so the handset makers have no incentive to care about Windows. Why would Samsung want to pay Microsoft for a product nobody wants anyway? Microsoft lacks the design culture and brand to compete with Apple on the high end (through vertical integration) and Google is undercutting them on price on the low end. Frankly I think Microsoft is screwed in the mobile phone market. I just don't see a path to profitability for them.

Comment The Bottom Line (Score 3, Insightful) 169

The fact that Microsoft not only could write this off, but did write this off shows how little they care about anything but the bottom line.

Umm, writing this off does not in anyway improve their bottom line. Quite the opposite in fact. It's an admission that they bought something for a lot of money that is now worthless. What it shows is that they are not doing a very good job of maintaining the bottom line because the company is throwing money at bad investments. It's also a strong indicator that management at the time (read Balmer) was of questionable competence.

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly