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Comment Make them spend money (Score 5, Insightful) 497

Pick up the phone. Ask them who they're calling from, have them spell your name specifically, state you "do not recall" such alleged debt. If you can, record the call. ("It's for my own records" if they ask.) Don't ever give them ANY information. If they insist on collection, ask them to send you a physical claim. If such arrives, find a defect and tell them about it when they call back. (unless, of course, they have an actually-toll-free number, which they have to pay for.)

Oh, and always, ALWAYS make them repeat themselves. Repeat yourself ad-naueum, as well.

Just don't make any false statements, or agree to the validity of any debt you are not willing to pay.

(Honestly, though, I'd expect a scam to drop at "I'm recording this call, and your name is?")

Comment Re:Documents shared with Google? (Score 3, Informative) 178

Quickoffice was a document-editing program way back in the PalmOS days, and it was the only major player to make a WebOS version.

Quickoffice does not require Google Docs to work. Although it does have some features which are counter-intuitive and don't work depending on the view you're in.

Comment Re:$5000 gets you... (Score 1) 196

> 3) Its battery life is pathetic, so it makes up for it with a mediocre ICE to charge with. Wake me when it has a range near 1000 miles, which is what a setup like this should be sporting.

This is a serial electric hybrid. You are evaluating a metric that only really matters for an all-electric car.

A Volt (or any other car with a gasoline engine) can make a journey of 1,000 miles significantly faster than any car tesla makes. They can also be rescued if energy runs out with a common plastic container, instead of a tow truck.

An electric car is an excellent choice if your daily commute and fiscal budget allow it. (I know people whose daily commute is well over 100 miles each way.). But they are simply not the same category as hybrid cars, be those hybrids serial or parallel.

(And, yes, I know that the Volt's engine and likely the ESR have a physical connection to the drivetrain that is used at certain highway speeds. That makes it a semi-paralel hybrid, not an electric car.)

Comment Re:Until they hit the max number of bitcoins (Score 1) 595

I've tried and tried to wrap my head around this, but it makes no sense to me. How can you have fractional-reserve banking if the coins have to match a digital signature? Fractional-reserve banking creates money out of thin air. How can you create bitcoins out of thin air?

1: It's "wealth", not "money." Fractional reserve banking doesn't create more US dollars, it just creates a debt from one part to another and formalizes the transfer of debts instead of the physical exchange of bank notes.

2: Annuities and futures. If I loan you 500 bitcoins to buy a car, with terms that you pay me back over 12 months with interest, I have ~500 BTC as an asset I can promise to others.

Comment Re:Well the ultimate value of Bitcoin is (Score 1) 605

but what I have not seen is a technical discussion on how Bitcoin is going to be shut down.

Assuming for the moment as a given that the feds describe to shut down BitCoin (let's say Congress passes a law banning it), I'd wager that the implementation would not be not dissimilar to the approach they take against child porn. Ban the practice outright, impose punitive sentences for dealing with it, and employ police officers to track down those engaging in the practice.

And if that happens, I wager domestic bitcoin usage would just shutter rather than deal with persecution. Bitcoin 2 would be written to concur with the law, and likely overtake its predecessor due to simple market weight.

Comment Re:Well the ultimate value of Bitcoin is (Score 4, Informative) 605

In the United States, people cannot ... trade real goods and services with BC -- because the U.S. gov' ...will enforce the dollar as the sole legal tender

That's not what "legal tender" means.

I could set up shop today in New York State and accept only bitcoins if I wanted to. The government wouldn't stop me, and in fact they'd back up my right to set my prices as whatever my little heart desires, in whatever strange currency I want.

But as soon as I ask the police to force a shoplifter to pay, I'll wind up having to deal with dollars, because that's all the government will force anyone to pay a debt in. And if I am on the other end of that transaction, I might wind up having to convert some bitcoins to dollars at a sub-optimal time when the bill comes due.

(That I'll also have to pay my taxes in dollars and likely pay my vendors and suppliers in the same means I'll have to deal with some local currency regardless. but that's a different issue.)

Comment Re:Who uses bills? (Score 5, Insightful) 605

For every $1000 in deposits, that means they can lend $10,000 at 5% above their costs and payouts, or more, yielding a $500 profit... wow!

1: It's $1,000 in assets. That includes a whole bunch of things beyond deposits, such as certain bonds.

2: That's $500 in revenue, not profit. From that revenue, they need to pay for all of their bills, and their payroll, and account for losses due to uncollectable accounts and outright thievery.

This $500 is spent by them eventually, and helps dilute the value of your original $1000 by inflation... so your "savings" loses value, as they leverage against it in multiple manners....

3: Inflation is a feature, not a bug. The work you did picking tomatoes last year is less valuable to the species than the work you did picking tomatoes today. The species would be better served if you used that same frugality to horde useful items instead of tokens, which is why the market rewards investment over savings.

Comment Re:Who uses bills? (Score 1) 605

My money is a few bits in my bank's private datacenter.

Your liquid wealth is a properly formatted record and data trail at your bank's private data center. (more than a few bits. At least a few integers for value and date/time for each transaction you've ever had.)

I don't know about you, but these days I have very little money. If i want some I just redeem some of the debt that my credit unit owes me for some, although most merchants I deal with will accept an electronic debt assignment instead of requiring money.

Comment Re:Well the ultimate value of Bitcoin is (Score 5, Interesting) 605

Bitcoin does have an intrinsic value: the computing time it takes to mine a bitcoin.

Stop. Bitcoins have an intrinsic COST. The computing time that goes into producing a bitcoin is comparable to the paper and ink used to print a physical US dollar, or the wages and electricity cost of the "creation" of purely electronic dollars. (Which are really debts, rather than currency, but that's an entirely different boneheaded idea that the one you're postulating.)

Once a bitcoin is produced, it cannot be redeemed for an equal amount of computer time. In fact, using a bitcoin requires SOMEONE ELSE to pay for the verification chain that makes this electronic currency at all feasible.

(you're right that it's a bubble, and I'm not here to argue the system's inherent merits or flaws.)

Having said all that: the dollar, in contrast, really does have no practical intrinsic value. Ever since 1971, when Nixon threw the last vestiges of any standard away. (And defaulted on U.S. debt in the process, by the way. People who said the "fiscal cliff" would be the first time the U.S. ever defaulted on debt simply don't know their history.)

The US dollar is backed up by an almost non-intuitive fact of modern society. It's legal tender for payment of debts. As in, if you don't pay your employees or pay for that meal in a restaurant, or if you just wrong someone more generally, the courts will denote whatever judgement is finally ordered against you in US dollars, and if your wealth is denominated in some other currency, you'll be subject to whatever market exchange rate you can manage to produce sufficient dollars to pay the debt.

Or, in short, "people who say the US dollar isn't backed up by anything don't know what they're talking about."

On a different note, though, I'd be interested if you could point to a US debt that was denoted in a weight of precious metal and not redeemed for sufficient value to satisfy the bond-holder. Just because in 1971 the President of the United States stopped offering gold for dollars doesn't mean the US "defaulted" any more than Wal-Mart selling out of ammo means they "defaulted' on that gift card you bought. (The phrase "Redeemable in gold on demand at the United States Treasury, or in gold or lawful money at any Federal Reserve Bank" was gone from bank notes decades before. And still did not specify the amount of gold.)

Comment Re:So they wont get sued by asshats (Score 1) 213

It's the usual clause companies have to put

"You give us the right to make derivative works from your stuff" is just about as far away from "usual" as you can get it.

With a clause like that, Dropbox can do the smallest of alterations to your stuff, sell it, and not give you a dime. Even if it's something that you sell for $$ and don't give away for free. Hell, with a clause like that, Dropbox can take your software code and release it under any license they want, essentially as if they were you.

No part of the law requires them to not list out what they do. "Make any derivitive works necessary for this service" would do it. This isn't the law -- this is their lawyers being either dickish or lazy.

Comment Re:Enforceability? (Score 1) 388

Can they enforce what you do with an iPad? Not legally. They can do some PRACTICAL things, and they aren't necessarily doing criminal things to stop you... but the things they can do to keep you from using, selling, breaking, or whatever with your iPad after you buy it are pretty short.

Now, there IS some authority that attaches to advertising that uses their trademarks... but, AFAIK (IANAL - don't trust legal advice you get from the internet) as long as you're not claiming to be Apple, claiming to be associated with Apple, or spreading misinformation about their products, they don't really have much legs to stand on.

To wit: the same laws that say you CAN buy five iPads and tell everyone around that you are giving away five free iPads are also the ones that say you can buy an iPad, review it, and then tell everyone your opinion about it.

Oh, and also:

It's certainly their prerogative if they want to say that any of those things void my warranty, but I don't think they can enforce any of their demands on me.

Warranties come in two parts. What's legally required in the jurisdiction of sale, and what the company does above and beyond that. While they can add special conditions to that part of the warranty that goes beyond your local legal mandates, said mandates themselves are applied based on your local law and not the arbitrary dictates of the manufacturer.

(What kind of warranties are forced? Well, for starters there's the warranty that the iPad won't burn down your house due to a flaw in design or manufacturing. So, that's something.)

Comment Re:Lunchbreaks (Score 1) 475

Why not recommend he light a homeopathic candle while he's at it?

Sheesh. And I won't even comment on your food choice, aside from noting that "organic" food is, by and large, more expensive for little or no gain. So-called "organic" foods are farmed differently... but unless you care enough about their farming practices to pay the surcharge, the "non-organic" ones are just fine.

(And when's the last time you saw "in-organic" food, anyway? And salt doesn't count. ;) )

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