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Comment So true (Score 1) 263

Interesting. I'm building an arcade cabinet right now. I have some limited skills working with wood, but by no means am I carpenter. I debated buying a kit, but could not find one that I was happy with. So I'm building from scratch.

I have been proceeding very slowly and teaching myself new skills everytime there is something I want to do, but have not done before. I am *very* happy with the results, and there is absolutely no question that I value this piece of work far more than if I had just purchased it. In fact, I've estimated that considering the time and labor I've put into it, I would need to sell it at at least $10,000 to break even. This is far more than I think anyone would be willing to spend; but it is what I think it is "worth".

On the other hand, this cabinet is highly customized. And perhaps this is the the more practical reason why I value it so highly. It's true that I wouldn't pay $10,000 for a "stock" arcade cabinet like the one I built. But if I had gone to a master woodworker and stood over his shoulder directing him to do all of the major and minor tweaks that I did, ask him--mid stream--to throw away assemblies he had done and re-do them in a different way (because I changed my mind after seeing what it looked like), and to have him overbuild and overfinish it in ways users would never see or appreciate; yeah, I guess I wouldn't be surprised if he charged me at least $10,000.

So yes, I think we tend to value things we produce ourselves more highly than those built by others. However, for me in particular, when I really think about it, the reason is less about self-love than it is about customization--and even small customization can have tremendous value if that's the thing that you *need* to make the thing "perfect" for you. The thing I like so much about Open Source is that I can go into it and make those little tweaks that make the software do exactly what I want. A good example of this is Atari800, one of the emulators that I use in the cabinet. I really like this emulator, but it had some annoying (to me) minor issues that made it less than perfect for my application of it. So I contributed fixes for these things to the project. So now my project is perfect. And I value that a lot.

Comment But is it really? (Score 1) 402

Maybe this is a tech gap, but maybe its partially due to the fact that some Americans are frugal. When my mother-in-law recently called for Internet service from the same cable company that I get fast broadband service from, the first thing they asked was what what she used it for. They offered different price plans for different speeds, and one of this was a "slow" 1.5MBS. But quite frankly that's all she needs. Really. As a developer, I completely appreciate fast Internet speeds and use them, but if all I did was read email and do light web browsing, why would I pay more? Is my mother-in-law's choice to pay less for lower speed service contributing to the tech gap? Now if she actually *needed* the speed and it just wasn't available, that would be another story, but that's not the case here. Actually, even my service is way over the top 95% of the time. Occasionally, I'll download a large file and I'm happy that it took only an hour instead of overnight (not that it was really worth the extra $20 a month--but I guess I can afford it); and occasionally I'll watch a news clip or YouTube video--maybe even in bit-sucking HD fullscreen (whoohoo!). But really, I could care less about the so called "tech gap". What might be nicer is for all the bandwidth that I don't use but pay for every month) be converted into fuel credits for the needy--hmm, maybe I should switch to 1.5MB too and contribute to the tech gap.

Comment Re:Oh great, another subdized vehicle... (Score 1) 594

Actually, you're both absolutely correct. The government redistributes funds to whoever it sees fit. This is apparently what Americans want since both rich and poor vote for their leaders, and their leaders (especially the current one) are quite up front about their intentions. It's called socialism, and its nothing new or surprising. What would be surprising is if Americans voted to terminate their welfare and stimulus programs in favor of substantially reduced taxes and greater personal responsibility. Sorry, ain't going to happen.

Comment Don't forget about the warranty (Score 1) 710

The last set of fluorescent bulbs I purchased came with a 7 year replacement warranty. Of course, I would need to send a burned-out bulb back and pay postage, so on CFL's the warranty is nice, but its real value is a bit dubious once you count the cost and inconvenience. However, on a $40 bulb the economics improve since return postage would be a much smaller fractional cost of the individual light bulb. It is also much more likely that I would actually use the warranty on a $40 bulb than a $3 or $4 one. If Panasonic were to warranty this bulb for, say 19 years, I think I'd be game to try it.

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