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Comment Re:No, they handle 1.2% of all retail sales (Score 2) 70

I think the key is to look at the trend. Amazon's graph is one way for now. Online retail is also one way. Importantly quite a bit of what is being added to online sales is products that you can't even buy in stores from manufacturers who won't easily show up on any statistic. If you look at the last 12 months of my purchases (other than rent, groceries, and utilities) the vast majority has moved online. The second I can order my groceries competitively online, I will. But from a retail statistic only my groceries will probably show up as something changed. My other ordering is from companies that I very much doubt play ball with any retail organization statistics gathering. Thus I would say that out of $10,000 in optional spending maybe 90% of that is invisible.

Also I am in Canada where amazon sucks for things like groceries. I know Americans who pretty well only buy perishable items from non online and usually amazon.

So if you look at the product lines of the huge conglomerates then I suspect that online isn't that much of a trend for them. But it is their less mass marketed competitors who will be going gang-busters online. This is probably invisible to most statistics.

The people to ask with the most trustworthy statistics would be the credit card companies and combine that data with bank cards. I am willing to bet that the trend there is in the "oh shit" territory for bricks and mortar companies. They would probably look and say, we can't reconfigure to compete with that for at least 3 good reasons. Things like product variety, manufactures who won't play ball with regional exclusivity or other price fixing, and simply that there are direct to customer sales that simply don't leave any room for the costs of their supply chain.

Comment I love the layers of self-entitled middle-men cut (Score 1) 70

While there may be many problems with Amazon concentrating so much power in one company, I don't cry much for the many greedy layers there have traditionally been between me and the manufacturer. I am happy to give my money to the people who make something. I am not happy to give money to the layer after layer after layer of people who have managed to insinuate themselves between the manufacturer and me.

Often distributors would force manufacturers to sign exclusive regional distribution agreements that then allowed them to lock the price for a large area. The retailers would then spend zillions of dollars marketing at me which they then had to recoup. Then there are the malls and other landowners who charge retailers exorbitant rents that need to be recouped. And then there are the greedy retailers themselves who would gouge the crap out of me while treating their retail employees like crap.

While Amazon has certainly been abusive to their own employees, I have not heard tell of them abusing their suppliers. They don't let large conglomerates shove out minor players from the Amazon shelves. If a small manufacturer sells a great widget at a great price, garnering great reviews, then the giantco that traditionally owned that space needs to up their game or see the minor player start to get some serious traction in that market. Normally giantco would turn to the distributors and retail giants and tell them to cut the minor player out of the loop, assuming that the minor player could have even gotten onto any shelves in the first place.

This bookends with people cutting off all forms of traditional media; thus cutting off all forms of traditional brand marketing. If a company XYZ wants to sell me a thing, and their amazon reviews are the best and their price is good, I will buy that widget without even having a slight guess as to how many 10s of millions giantco spent marketing their second rate pile of junk.

If you go back just a few years, you would find people nervous to stray from what they had been brow-beaten into believing was the proper thing to do. Now they do their own homework and come to their own conclusions. This is no small thing. I know more and more people who are doing a vast percentage of their shopping on Amazon and they don't have their favourite brands, they don't buy brands I have previously heard of, and they certainly aren't buying from companies that have multi billion dollar advertising budgets for their entire product lineup. Or if they do it is only because that product managed to actually win on its own merits.

There are a few exceptions such as Apple, but even these brands are losing their luster because people are no longer being told what to buy at all the levels from marketing to the in-store experience.

I went into a mall the other day (because there was an office that I needed to visit) I looked around the mall and was disgusted. The prices were bonkers, and the employees were there for the hard sell. They provided negative value for the customer. People aren't generally stupid and as time progresses more and more people will join the ranks of those who have left brand and store front retail behind.

Comment Re:He's totally right (Score 1) 269

Even a PRIMITIVE system that's only capable of "stay in the current lane, follow the car in front of you if the lane becomes ambiguous, and maintain speed while braking if necessary to avoid a rear-end collision" on limited-access roads would be a net improvement over what we have today.

Actually, those systems already exist today and even yesterday, because they've been around for years already.

Comment Re:Live by the media hype die by the media hype. (Score 1) 269

Google has already shown that automated driving is safer (not counting some conditions, because they don't test in regions with ice, because it will loose effectiveness for certain sensors).

The 'problem' is with the user. We are now in limbo land between manual and automated. If a car only supports automated you'll have a whole lot less problems.

Comment Re:What does this even mean ? (Score 2) 365

Your last one is the # reason I make driving mistakes. Luckily I haven't had one translate to an accident, but my rule is I pull over and wait for the mouth to shut. I have pulled over. Waited 10 minutes. Pulled out and immediately pulled back in because it started up again around 5mph. Then I pulled over and waited, then repeated this 2 more times. I then pulled over, got out and called a cab.

Who's the asshole here?

PS The mouth does not drive.

Comment Re:Too big a thing to be decided by someones opini (Score 1) 365

My theory on this is very simple. At first there will still be accidents caused by driverless cars. But the data gathered by the driverless cars will easily be enough to reproduce those accidents. With each accident, a team of brilliant engineers will pour over the data and figure out how to deal with that accident. It wont only be solved for that accident but the changes will be tested against a zillion hours of difficult data to make sure that the new code doesn't cause new accidents. All cars will then get an upgrade and will now be safer.

After a while the driverless cars will have hit a point where solving for the tiny remaining number of edge cases will actually reduce overall safety. But these edge cases will be so few and far between that they will make national news when they happen. Thus, the stats behind driverless cars will be so extraordinarily safe that for a single human driver to "prove" that they are safer would take lifetimes of flawless driving to prove. This number will only spread as time grows.

I would not be surprised if the experimental driverless cars are in the top 1% of the top 1% of drivers in the world.

The key being that a single driver gets to accumulate only their own stats, while 1,000,000 driverless cars will do more than a taxi driver's lifetime driving nearly every day or so.

Then to make it worse, we meatbags are variable. Even the best driver in the world with a flawless record, might be forced to drive in non-optimal conditions. They haven't slept in a few days, they are sick, and a sudden emergency forces them to drive someone to the hospital. None of that applies to a driverless car.

For instance. I have a 20+ year flawless driving record. Part of that is that I know not to drive when I have not slept well the night before, or any time between 1am and 7am.

One other bit is that driverless cars will soon have some interesting abilities. Things such as gathering data from other driverless cars. Thus if something has dropped onto the highway, one driverless car can alert the rest about it. Or if one car hits a surprising icy slick, it will not only notify other cars, it will start to build a pattern of when that road is icy. These would be the few initial areas where people would be better; where you know that a certain intersection seems to have ice on it in these conditions. Or observing the behavior of other cars to possibly be alerted to problem such as trash on the road.

Comment This makes complete sense. (Score 1) 365

Presuming the car is only driving where cars should be driving, any situation where the car would need to "sacrafice" the driver for a pedestrian is where the pedestrian has done something stupid, such as stepping out onto a highway.

While I certainly hope the car would avoid even the stupidest pedestrians, quite simply if you step out onto a highway, you should expect to become bug-splatter.

I would be enraged if some one ran out onto the road and my car drove me into a pole avoiding them. I certainly wouldn't buy a car that planned on this. and I would modify (even if illegal) my car if it were mandatory. I would certainly vote any politician out of office who pushed for this.

Some might argue, "What about kids chasing balls?" again, I hope the car would do something reasonable to avoid said child, but given the choice between me and the improperly parented child... well darwin will handle this one.

Comment Sad old cable companies trying to be relevant (Score 1) 44

All the other streaming systems appear to be sad old cable companies trying to be relevant. They just don't seem to have the customer in mind. All kind of tricks that smell like the bad old days are there. For instance their preferred products are featured heavily. They get yards of advertising on the old cable networks, they often have pricing that is hard to figure out (not all but many) with all the usual tricks such as "intro" pricing that goes through the roof after some period of months.

Then there is the whole net neutrality thing. Can you imagine if they didn't have that. Netflix would come in like it was a 9600 baud modem where they would probably stream their own services at 100mb even if you had a 15mb connection.

These baby boomer executives think that they can somehow make something that is vaguely netflix that will keep them in power. When all they have done is take their terrible abusive model and slap it onto the internet.

I was reading that the NFL is really hurting for viewers. Maybe people don't want to watch a 20 minute game spread out over many hours with nearly endless advertising and inane chatter. (the advertising is nearly endless for even when they are showing the game there are sponsors visible everywhere.

What makes me happy about this is that here is this organization that managed to pervert labor laws, get taxpayers to fund their stadiums, and have a strange monopoly on so much are suddenly faced with a situation where they can't scale back and survive. I love it.

Comment I always thought that shooting down drones was bad (Score 3, Interesting) 60

Until now I thought those people who shot down drones were luddites and assholes. If a drone advertises at me I will use every engineering skill in my toolkit to take those bastards down. And I don't mean knock it out of the sky. But send it back to its base with malware that will fly the entire fleet into the ocean.

Comment Re:This doesn't prove what they were hoping to pro (Score 1) 192

Your IV example is not a good example, that is actually something people are working on, here some quick list of some links:

Comment I bought a pc because I am a weirdo. (Score 1) 310

Weirdos buy PCs. Most people are now able to get most of their computing needs out of their phones or tablets. If they need something more, a 10 year old PC or laptop will do fine. You can surf, watch videos, download, print, and game a bit.

Then there are the "power" users who are doing a bit of video editing who need a newer laptop. But for us few weirdos, we need CUDA, or we need 10TB in hard drives, or we like that we can fix any one part cheaper than if that same part died in a laptop. Oh yeah, there are the gamers, but for the most part anyone at this point who buys a PC is a weirdo like me.

Comment In Canada it was far worse (Score 0) 198

In Canada we have what is called CanCon which is a legally mandated level of Canadian Content. What this translates to is a huge amount of stuff that represents groups far beyond their proportions. So an entire native channel, more French channels than I can count in French, and yards and yards of stuff made in Toronto that is then rammed into our eyeballs.

I say in Canada it "was" far worse because one of the huge drivers of people to things like Netflix is to get away from this government mandated shit. Now I watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it, and I don't feel that I have some crap made for a tiny group using vast quantities of my money.

Every now and then there are murmurings about forcing Netflix to buy CanCon, good luck with that. Also the beauty of any such crap on Netflix is that it gets a one star rating and will never show up on my screen.

But after a lifetime of being told by Ottawa that I have to watch crap made in Toronto I will never go back. If pretty boy and his mandarins did succeed in forcing Can Con onto the internet, I would go back to torrents. I will never take their shit again.

So if people in the US only watch 10% people in Canada probably watch 5.

Comment There is also a B cohort (Score 4, Interesting) 162

Keep in mind that there is also a large group of people (likely with no legal standing) who don't apply to companies that are known in the industry of only hiring below a certain age. Thus they don't even bother applying to companies like this. For this reason we need the government to step in and fine the shit out of companies like Google.

As someone over 40, I can say that there is a single benefit of hiring people at least in their late 20s and beyond. Most programmers that I have worked with who sucked, sucked because they had latched onto some technology cluster/methodology and would let go. It was group-think at its worst. One of the benefits of hiring someone with a decade or more experience is that it is easier to detect this. So if you see someone who has 20,000 certifications in a single technology stack over a long period of time and a resume with nothing else, it throws up a massive red flag. Then you can explore this in an interview. Is this their only hammer in the toolkit.

What also amazes me is that many people in their early 20s make it clear that they have largely learned all they plan on learning. Thus they have not only picked a technology, but a version of that technology. So I will walk into a consulting job where I have been brought in because the project has gone to complete hell. I will start looking at things like the overall systems architecture, the internal architecture, and finally the code and the methodologies for creating that code. It is not uncommon that it is a fairly good selection of the worst of breed everything. Someone who didn't know what they were doing made a prototype and then an entire system was built on that. So you get some Ruby, a bad choice of cloud provider, some bastardization of Azure, and they are using some slow as molasses IDE/build system that means 5 minutes between making a change and seeing the change work. Except they have 100,000 lines of this crap code.

But what amazes me is that the above story happens regardless of age. There is some myth that 20 somethings chase the node.js type things of the world and that the 50+ crowd is just decades out of date. The reality is that they are often both wrong but for different reasons. The 50+ crowd screw up because of the "This is how I have always done it." and the 20 year old versions of the same crap programmer is "This is how my professor said was the only way."

The key being that crap programmers are crap for reasons other than their age, and as I said, the advantage of getting someone with a bit of a resume is that their bad attitude is easier to detect.

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