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Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 1, Interesting) 445

by wvmarle (#48466039) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Even China has a far more reliable power supply than the USA. Virtually no outages due to normal storms or lightning or so; occasional outage after a particularly destructive typhoon (hurricane on your side of the Pacific) or a massive earthquake.

Can't really call China a small country.

It's just the sad truth that the richest country in the world has one of the most unreliable power supplies.

Comment: Re:Know what you're going to do (Score 1) 175

by wvmarle (#48454613) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

What do you need these volunteers for? If you can't do something yourself, you have to hire someone to do it for you, however most businesses start off as a one-man shop. Many of those never grow beyond that, they provide the owner a good income and that's it. Many owners may not even have the ambition to grow further, to start having to manage people instead of doing the real work (which they enjoy doing). That accounts for all businesses, including software businesses, this are just businesses where a person is self employed, selling his services directly to the people that need exactly that.

OP doesn't even mention what kind of software he wants to do (other than that he can't write software himself). There's web design, there's database development, there's custom application development. All these things can be done by a single person. I've done just that for my own business: I'm a tour operator and I happen to be pretty computer savvy, so for that my business set up a web site (to promote my tours), an online booking system (accepts credit cards - using PayPal as payment processor), a MySQL database to store all the tours and bookings, a front-end for me to manage tours and bookings. I've designed promotional leaflets and a presentation for use during the tours, explaining geological processes that took place. Besides all that, I'm operating the actual tours, and no way I'd hire someone to do that for me as that's the fun part of the business.

Yet still I'm a one man shop. I haven't hired anyone to do this for me. I haven't even set up a company for that (not legally required as long as I operate using my own name). The only thing that I outsource is stuff that I don't have the equipment for such as the printing of leaflets, and I'm renting a cloud server to run my website on.

What you're thinking of, is far more difficult to make money with. You have to have a unique idea, have to be the first, have to implement it well, have to get the idea out to the people.

On the other hand, there are lots of huge, established markets (such as tourism - what I'm currently involved in) with many businesses providing income for many people. The trick is to get into such a market, and make some of that money flow your way. It usually won't make you super rich, it won't make you a second Google or Facebook, but the chances that you can make some good money in such a market are good, while the chances of making it super rich are very, very, very small. Buying a lot in the lottery gives you a better chance to strike it rich than hoping for a unique product that takes off massively.

Comment: Re:Get a sales force and some customers (Score 2) 175

by wvmarle (#48443653) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

That for six out of at least six million businesses the amount of sales and customers doesn't matter too much, doesn't make it the new rule.

Yes, they're big. But no, you won't be one of them. Unless you somehow win the lottery when it comes to having the right idea at just the right time.

Comment: Know what you're going to do (Score 4, Insightful) 175

by wvmarle (#48441699) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

The summary is a bit short on detail, but one thing is lacking: a business plan. I've never run a software business, but am running my own business now so have a bit of experience in setting it up. What do you want to program? Who are your customers? Where's the demand?

You're already talking about hiring multiple people - this means you must have a decent outline of a piece of software to develop, and it's going to be a quite big project. Do you have customers for that already? Without customers, you're going to run dry very very soon, and you won't be able to get any funding. No customers, no future for whatever you want to do. Just saying "let's set up a software shop" is a one-way street to bankruptcy. You need to have potential customers before you start producing anything, really. You need to know the demand is there. You need to have your income sources. You'll have to find customers who need a product, and who believe you can deliver what they need at good price and quality.

Hiring people is very expensive for a shop without income. I've always started up on my own, do everything in house until you have too much to do that you have to start getting other people involved. In the meantime this also means that revenue is there.

Getting started is hard: no-one knows you, and hiring you (the new kid on the block) for some big, expensive software project (the kind a single person can't handle) won't happen. They'll go to the ones they know that can handle it. You'll have to start small, slowly get your way into the market, get your name out, get your product out, let the people know you're there and you're good. Then you may get bigger projects, then you may start hiring people and setting up an office that's not part of your living room.

Good luck with it all!

Comment: Re:UPS (Score 1) 233

by wvmarle (#48439491) Attached to: What is your computer most often plugged into?

What definitely helps is that hardware from around 2010 is a lot more reliable than hardware built before the year 2000. That alone may help to explain less hardware failures.

Getting better quality components (good chance you did that the same time you decided on a UPS), or simply luck also helps a lot.

I've barely had hardware failures over the past 20 years - and even if UPS would have prevented them all, it'd have cost me a lot more (need for multiple UPS units due to different locations) than to just replace the broken hardware which invariable was past its economic lifetime already by the time it broke.

Comment: Re:Alternative? (Score 1) 377

by wvmarle (#48375351) Attached to: How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

There is more to GM seeds than short-term feeding of people.

There's the patents - putting too much power in the hands of a handful of people. In the end we may be stuck with eating Soylent Green.

Then there's the problem of plants grown from hybrid seeds, which do not produce viable seeds themselves, so you have to buy seeds every time. You can't use seeds you harvest from your own crops any more. Cross-breeding between hybrid and traditional strains (this will happen, if only accidentally) introduces these hybrids to traditionals, so the traditional strains may lose their ability to produce good seed. In time, we may only have these hybrid seeds available. The genetic variation in the crops goes down, local varieties disappear as they can not produce their own seeds any more.

All that then has to happen is some plant disease to appear, against which the hybrid strains (we don't have anything else any more) is not immune, and we have a world-wide famine, with little to no option to recover.

Comment: Re:3.6 billion passenger trips. (Score 1) 48

by wvmarle (#48374741) Attached to: How Baidu Tracked the Largest Seasonal Migration of People On Earth

It's probably counted like that indeed.

But don't overstate air traffic - it's still quite low capacity compared to trains and buses, which are the transport method of choice for all those migrant workers. Even in the US, if 20% of your population is on the move, 90% of those will have to take other transport than planes.

Comment: Re:Presumably passenger journeys, not people (Score 1) 48

by wvmarle (#48374713) Attached to: How Baidu Tracked the Largest Seasonal Migration of People On Earth

I'm more used to hearing about numbers in the tune of 200-300 million people travelling over the New Year holidays - China's most important celebration. That's mostly migrant workers travelling back home, plus some tens of millions of tourists.

No matter what, this are huge numbers.

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