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Comment re: credit cards and cabs (Score 1) 200

I live in the DC metro area, but both in DC and in "provincial backwaters" like Chicago, there have been problems for YEARS with cabbies not wanting to take credit cards. Sure, they technically CLAIM they can do so. But check out how often they lie and tell you the card reader is broken/down, in an attempt to get cash instead.

Oh, and BTW -- another big problem with cabs? They like to refuse to pick you up if they know your destination crosses a state line. Happens all the time with folks who live in Virginia but want to take a cab to DC and back. The cab will happily bring them to DC, because they know they can easily pick up another fare there. But they'll find every excuse to refuse to take you back home again afterwards if it means they're going to end up in some suburb of VA.

Comment Re:They should unionize or form a not-for-profit U (Score 1) 200

I.T. people probably don't believe you because your scenario isn't that plausible.

There's going to be a big shake-up in the labor market thanks to advances in automation -- but that automation is going to be marketed, serviced and programmed/developed by people with I.T. skills.

A whole lot of automation is going to heavily rely on network connectivity, too. That means your Internet providers and people maintaining the wired or wireless networks are still going to be in high demand.

People need to be flexible enough to learn new skills and adapt, but that's always been true.

Comment re: Libertarianism is a crime against humanity (Score 1) 200

What a twisted, absolutely incorrect way to summarize libertarian ideals!

I can't fathom why so many people think the superior way to handle things is living in a society where you've arbitrarily handed pretty much unlimited power to a group of "elites" in a central government -- who you agree to hand over a large percentage of your earnings to via taxation, and then get to "beg, plead and petition" them to spend the money in ways you agree with (which they may or may not do).

Wages as numbers are arbitrary. All that ultimately matters about a wage is how much buying power it gives a person in the economy they're surrounded by. That's why these pushes to demand a "$15 minimum wage" and so on are doomed to fail in the long-run. What happens is, you use the force of law to dictate that suddenly, everybody has to pay at least this certain amount of money, no matter WHAT you've hired a person to do. In at least SOME situations, the people being employed weren't doing labor worth that much money to the employer. So adjustments WILL be made to compensate. Either they'll make do with FEWER employees, or they'll raise prices of whatever they sell, or they'll cut back on some costly benefits they used to offer. What they WON'T do is just accept the fact that it's "good business" to overpay everyone they hired to do the most menial types of work they needed to get done. Initially, when you mandate a big bump in pay - it's an improvement for those receiving it. That's only because the market takes time to compensate for it. Give it a year or two though, and that $15/hr. will be buying everyone less than it used to. Essentially, you created enough inflation to make the $15/hr. worth about what the previous minimum wage was worth to them.

Your premise is fundamentally flawed. The market ALWAYS sets wages. Government simply interferes and breaks the functionality of the free marketplace whenever it tries to regulate them. If you have a skill that's difficult to find and in high demand, you WILL earn a lot of money with that skill if you match it up with an employer who needs it. Government's meddling in "minimum wage" enforcement has zero bearing on that fact.

Comment re: Independent contractors (Score 1) 200

Sure, the law is "more complicated" than just stating a person is "not an employee". But I don't see how Uber drivers can be construed as employees/staff?
I know plenty of people who decided they'd do some driving for Uber, and among other things, there's no requirement you actually perform a specific job for Uber. You're free to accept or reject all opportunities that pop up on your phone. You can work as much or as little as you like.

Comment Sorry buddy.... that's not what happened here.... (Score 1) 200

Libertarian corporate experiments are amazingly GOOD for society, and unfortunately, government regulation and taxation usually keeps them from popping up nearly as often as they should.

Uber actually raised the bar for traditional taxi cabs and their cartel they had going.... Whether Uber dies now for other reasons is irrelevant. Thanks to Uber, most city cabs I've run across will now accept major credit cards, and a growing number have apps to hail rides (no more 19th. century flailing of arms and whistling necessary!).

I'm seeing Lyft learning from Uber's mis-steps and predict they'll do well in their place, if Uber can't turn things around for their own business.

Comment Re:The battery upgrade annoys me .... (Score 1) 53

I understand that I "bought and paid for a 60kw system" but the fact remains that when I did so, I wound up driving around with a 75kw capable battery in the car that I'm not getting the full use of. It's capable of giving me more driving range. Only an artificial software restriction holds it back.

I agree it may be a situation where it's cheaper than the alternative of dealing with 2 different physical batteries to have to stock and swap into cars where an owner wants to upgrade the capacity. But I think it also means it invites the aftermarket to find other ways to unlock the full potential.

Reminds me of Chevy, where in years past, they always made sure a given Camaro SS produced less HP with the same engine they put in the Corvette. Camaro owners could turn to the custom tuning market to rectify that and make their engine produce the full output it was really capable of, and many did.

Comment The battery upgrade annoys me .... (Score 4, Interesting) 53

The fact that the ability to hold more of a charge is something merely unlocked via a costly software update means Tesla sold you a 75kWh capable battery all along but gimped it artificially.

From the strict sense of "getting X when you pay Y amount", that makes perfect sense. (Tesla is essentially giving you a price break on a Model S60 or 60D by selling you the same car they normally charge a higher price for, and letting you pay the difference when you want to unlock that extra charging capacity.)

BUT .... when I buy something as expensive as a new car? I guess I expect all the physical equipment I get in it to fully function. Tesla is treating all of this like a computer on wheels that you buy and do various software upgrades to.

From Tesla's standpoint, I can't imagine they're actually losing money on every S60 or 60D sold, with the hopes those owners will eventually buy the software upgrade that forces them to pay back the rest of what the car was actually worth. The fact they offered these tells me that they can, indeed, sell the car at a reasonable profit with the 75kWh battery in it, but at the S60 or 60D price. Then, the rest is pure profit when those customers opt for the upgrade.

In the auto industry, the usual situation is -- any time a manufacturer artificially holds back some capability of a vehicle, the aftermarket finds ways to offer relatively low-cost ways to remove those restrictions. (Custom tuning of factory ECUs and transmission control units is a HUGE business.)

I'm wondering when we'll start seeing performance shops offering their own, cheaper unlock/re-flashes for Teslas?

Comment I've never really tried to service a game cabinet (Score 2) 184

... but I thought I just read an article a week or two ago about a huge electronics recycler who it turns out wasn't really doing much recycling of old CRTs after all. They had warehouses chock full of old televisions and computer CRTs.

I can see where maybe a 29" CRT is an odd size that's difficult to source. But I would think you could reuse a working CRT tube out of a television or monitor for a game cabinet in many cases?

Comment Re:The value of clear communication (Score 2) 139

Exactly.... I don't call for an Uber because I'm looking forward to a long chat with the driver. But it's terrible service when they can't even communicate well enough to figure out where I want to go, or how to pick us up.

I had that experience in Rockville, MD recently when a group of us got tired of waiting on a MARC commuter train that had major delays. I called for an Uber but the driver who accepted it was unable to locate us. I could see him circling the vicinity on the map in the app, but he wasn't turning down the right side road to enter the "park and ride" lot where we were waiting. He called my cell at some point, trying to ask where we were, but it was impossible communicating that to him. He got frustrated and canceled our ride.

Comment Re:I.T. in colleges .... (Score 1) 391

There's some truth to the "low wages" situation with the community colleges, but that's not the whole story.... At the one out here, for example? You automatically get 3 weeks of paid vacation, plus a generous sick leave policy and plenty of holidays off work. Additionally, they really don't do a 40 hour work week. It's more like 36. That's something they really don't advertise as well as they probably should when doing hiring -- so people calculate the pay rate incorrectly, basing it on 40 hour weeks, and decide it pays too low.

At the end of the day, it's a good job for someone who values having some more free time over working a maximum number of hours, but getting compensated for all of it.

Comment I.T. in colleges .... (Score 3, Interesting) 391

I think the original posted is absolutely correct, in his comment that, "I've observed that the average age is definitely older, and people have been here forever. Lots of my co-workers are stuck in their ways, and they have an attitude about their job + entitlements that only a person with no recent private sector work experience would have."

My wife work in I.T. for a local community college and has observed the same thing. The head of networking has been there for YEARS. His area of expertise was Novell Netware, which is utterly obsolete today. Ever since he was forced to move to support Windows networks and servers, he's done nothing but screw things up and hold back needed change. (He won't implement basic security precautions because he keeps saying they aren't necessary. In reality, he's probably not confident he can implement any of them properly and doesn't want to be bothered to learn.)

Another guy on the team was continually pushing updates out to systems that broke them, and then just going home, shrugging and saying, "Oops.... Oh well.... something to figure out later." Professors had to cancel classes in some cases, due to his negligence. Yet did they fire him? No! They just moved him to another area for a while, and now he's back, making the same mistakes again!

Comment re: manufacturing jobs (Score 1) 391

I agree that a lot of the recent "Trump talk" about bringing back manufacturing is just speech to make an audience happy. But it doesn't have to all be nonsense either.
You can see by how many foreign auto-makers chose to put assembly plants in the U.S. that it can make good financial sense. (Not long ago, the whole "Buy American!" thing meant bashing companies like Toyota, Hyundai and Kia -- yet today, they're employing lots of American workers and putting the vehicles together here that we buy here. Saves a lot of money in costs to ship them over from Japan or S. Korea.)

No, there's not any point in trying to bring manufacturing here that's little more than slave labor, like sewing together dress shirts or jeans. But there's a whole lot of more advanced manufacturing of physically large objects that makes sense to do in America.

Comment Jay Z didn't even mention half of it, IMO! (Score 1) 203

He has a point, but there's much more that's contributing to the death of radio.
One of radio's big problems, IMO, is the sound quality. Standard FM is noticeably poorer sounding than a CD, or even a compressed MP3 at a decent bitrate. Reception fades in and out and you get static while driving around, etc.

The "solution" was almost worse than the problem, though.... "HD" FM radio. The way it's usually implemented, broadcasters split up its bandwidth so they could have "HD1" and "HD2" alternative stations along-side the primary one. That means there's no analog signal "backup" for any of them but the primary one. So if you're listening to one of the alternates and your signal gets too weak, it just drops out completely. And that happens a LOT because it's tough to pick them up very well when you have tall city buildings partially blocking the signal, or when you live a little too far from the transmitting tower. And if it's the primary station you've got tuned in, you hear the annoying switching back and forth between better and much worse sound quality as it locks onto the digital signal and falls back to the analog again.

Comment Yep! SO much, THIS .... (Score 4, Interesting) 805

I was born and raised in the midwest, and while everyone around me was convinced it was a dead-end hellhole, lacking in any sense of "style" or appreciation for the arts -- the time I spent in California convinced me that was so untrue.

I mean, one thing you will find in the midwest is a larger percentage of folks who aren't highly educated by formal institutions. If you're used to living in an area with far more college grads running around, it can be off-putting. But if you get to know these people better -- they're often far more substantial folks with real concerns and aspirations. They may laugh at the idea of ordering a coffee being more than deciding if you want cream and sugar or not -- but chances are good they have real skills doing useful things the CA crowd has to pay someone else to do for them.

But IMO, it's really nice living someplace where people don't *care* if your clothing choices are just practical and reasonably priced, vs. spending 5x more to chase after trends, and it's something you grow to really appreciate when your neighbors want to look out for each other and volunteer to help you when they see you working on something.

In CA, I just ran into a lot of people who invested WAY too much time in superficial stuff they collectively deemed important. My friends from CA who came to visit me in the midwest couldn't stop complaining about such things as stores that closed by 9 or 10PM instead of being open 24 hours a day. You know? These things really aren't a big problem for everyone who gets used to the concept of things having schedules that don't just cater to your whims ....

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