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Comment Re:Amazing such a thing would be trusted (Score 3, Informative) 54

A random private citizen who is know for pointing a video camera at the relevant section of street every day. Like, say, some business that operates a surveillance security camera where the field of view includes the crime scene. Evidence like that is routinely gathered and used in court.

Archive.org operates a similar video camera pointing at many web servers.

Comment Re:Except that evidence can and has been destroyed (Score 2) 54

I was under the impression thst it stops saving new pages, and stops *displaying* old pages, but does not nuke the old pages from storage. If your robots.txt goes away in the future, the old pages come back.... Ay least, that was my understanding from long ago...

Submission + - Detecting USB Power Adapters That Don't Meet Certification (hackaday.com)

szczys writes: The USB to mains adapter is an important part of electronics. It's the last line of defense between the device and line voltage. But it also defends the user against shock and guards against accidental fire. Bob recently took on the challenge of finding safe and reliable USB power adapters to ship with a product his company has developed.

USB power supplies are super cheap and omnipresent. They are the Tribble of my household. But they're not all created equal, and some of them may even be dangerous. I had to source USB power supplies for a product, and it wasn't easy. But the upside is that I got to tear them all apart and check out their designs.


Comment Re:Wow, really? (Score 1) 388

Yeah, I'm assuming employees handling cash - if you're any larger than a micro business, then you'll have employees doing a significant portion of that (even if the owner is the one who runs to the bank). And, yeah, there's time value even if it is the owner.

I agree, if you're a business where a non-trivial portion of your sales are small (below $20, say), then the per transaction fees are a much bigger concern. So yes, I agree that for small tickets, the costs are more onerous. (Interestingly, especially in that scenario, the costs of handling large amounts of small-denomination cash go up significantly. Counting $10k in $5 and $10 bills takes longer than counting $10k in $50s.)

Comment Re:Wow, really? (Score 1) 388

Agreed - the price of the service is completely out of line with its costs, but that is true of many service industries. I'm not arguing that the Visa/Mastercard oligopoly is fair, just that the cash alternative costs too.

Unfortunately the cash costs scale closer to linear with the transaction size and transaction volume, which is why Visa gets away with having a percentage cost structure.

Comment Re:Wow, really? (Score 1) 388

When I run the calculations for a couple of small businesses that I frequent (where I know the business well enough to estimate the numbers involved), they come out between 0.8%-1.5%. So yes, you are paying more for cards, but not enormously more.

Which ties in with a lot of the larger businesses (my phone and electricty providers) where they do charge a CC surcharge, it's often around 0.65%, which would approximate the difference in cost between handling CC and other forms of payment.

Comment Re:Wow, really? (Score 1) 388

from your link:

And there we have it. An online business that processes $10,000 a month with an average ticket of $50 will pay about 2.80% of volume or $280 a month in credit card processing charges.

If you're paying your cash-handling staff $10/hour, that's about 28 hours of work in the month, or about 1 hour per day (1.5 hours if you don't open on weekends) for additional cash handling beyond the individual transactions.

That's not especially far-fetched - in practice for a business carrying about $300 in float, and taking between $300-$500/day, the cash handling time is probably somewhere between 30-45 minutes per day, depending on whether you bank daily or you have a safe on site and bank weekly. Cards are more expensive, but not significantly more so, unless you're running your business on the slimmest of margins.

Comment Re:Wow, really? (Score 4, Insightful) 388

You believe that paying with a credit card does not cost more than cash? You may not see the cost as it may be charged to the store instead of you, but you pay in higher prices for all goods and services.

For a long time, I used to think like you did - that the merchant was getting ripped off to the tune of 1-2% when I paid by credit card.

However, that was before taking into account the costs of handling cash - paying staff to count the cash twice a day, infrastructure/security to store cash safely overnight, paying staff to transfer cash safely to the bank regularly, potential costs of staff theft, arranging/maintaining sufficient float to give change to customers, sufficient security for float cash during the work day, etc.

These are real costs on a business, which are not relevant for card transactions, and also get factored into the costs of goods and services.

Submission + - Is Crowdfunding for the Public Good Evil? 1

theodp writes: "Too many students," lamented DonorsChoose.org CEO Charles Best, "don’t have the classroom resources they need to realize their passions and unlock their potential. Students can’t dream big when classrooms lack books, microscopes, and robotics kits-or even paper, pencils, and paste. That’s why more than 50 actors, athletes, entrepreneurs and philanthropists are stepping up to provide a boost to those students and their teachers. They’ve created a philanthropic flash mob to make classroom dreams come true across America." So, time to give the biggest names in tech kudos for generously participating in DonorChoose's #BestSchoolDay project, right? Not according to Peter Moskowitz, who argues in Wired that Crowdfunding for the Public Good Is Evil. "Once we start privatizing what was once squarely public," writes Moskowitz, "governments will all too eagerly push those expenses off their ledgers. The effect snowballs, and crowdfunding becomes an excuse to leave more and more basic services up to the crowd." He adds, "If crowdfunding for the public good is allowed to continue unchecked, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which everyone votes on public works with their dollars-distorting priorities and giving those with deeper pockets more of a say."

Comment Re:Missing the point (Score 1) 519

Therefore when the rare occasion occurs when the computer does something stupid I want manual controls so I can take over. I do not want to be sitting their helpless cursing some nameless programmer with my last breath because the car has suddenly switched to British locale and now thinks it has to drive on the left hand side of the road!

But you're okay with sitting there helplessly cursing when your friend in the driver's seat has a delusion, grabs the manual controls and swerves into traffic to avoid a non-existent obstacle?

It sounds like what you really want is an off switch. In an emergency, bring the car to a stop, regardless of what the computer thinks. No need for manual controls, just a safe stopping mechanism.

Comment Re:Then become a patron or read the firehose. (Score 2) 216

As our former glorious leader once said: http://www.g4tv.com/articles/49932/Ten_Minutes_with_CmdrTaco/:

What's the magic Slashdot formula that keeps attracting more people?

I think that the site's slogan pretty much sums it up: "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters." It's a very simple motto, and I think that appeals to a lot of people. You can go to CNN and see very straight-laced, spell-checked, fact-checked summary of the day's events. Or you can go somewhere like Slashdot and you can see maybe a little bit more raw discussion of the events, a summary of a different type of news - tech news, but with a different slant than you might get on CNN.

Comment Re:75% of American Horse Association riders say... (Score 1) 519

... the human brain is less prone to a spontaneous crash from an errant cosmic ray flipping a bit when doing 110 km/h down the motorway.

Cosmic rays, sure.

Things that do crash human attention and judgement include:

  • That bright flashy advertisement on the shoulder
  • That chick in the next car with a nice rack
  • The screaming kid in the back seat who just dropped his icecream
  • A sneeze
  • A yawn
  • Shit, what's that noise?
  • Oh, look, a pony!
  • Eww, what's that smell?
  • Why is that car pulled over? / Oh, look, an accident!
  • AAAAARRRHHH, THERE'S A SPIDER ON THE DASHBOARD!
  • What did the passenger just say?
  • What's the speed limit in on this road?
  • What is that car doing?

And those are just things which have taken *my* attention off the road. Fortunately, in most of those situations, I've had good road placement beforehand, and so have generally avoided collisions due to those issues, but I don't think I've seen any situation where I think I'd be less likely to crash than a computer...

And I don't think random cosmic bit errors occur as often as any of those situations, and on top of all that we already have autonomous systems which can deal with unreliable computers - m-out-of-n control systems have been around since forever.

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