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Comment Amazon will have the upper hand (Score 5, Interesting) 467

I used to be willing to shop at Walmart, but with their race to the bottom it's become an unbearable place to shop. Their rock-bottom pricing gospel has always attracted people who can't afford to pay anything more than that. Of course this includes many decent people of modest means and quite a few thoroughly unpleasant people. It used to work out well enough when the stores were reasonably staffed and they could keep things in check, but now it seems most of them are being run by a skeleton crew and the damages of the resulting circus are being considered just a cost of doing business. With Amazon, you never have to see these people and suffer the misery of queuing for 15 minutes just to check out. With Walmart, the experience is horrible. So if I'm looking to cheap-out on regular supplies, you can bet I'm going with Amazon. That's why I think they will win out in the end.

Comment Re:What the hell (Score 1) 38

I honestly don't think America has a culture of scamming in the traditional lying-and-swindling sense. I have no evidence to back my claims, but I think in a lot of other countries you have to much more wary that businesses are straight-up lying to you. On the other hand, I think I agree with Scott Adams when he says that a lot of American businesses are "confusopolies". They inundate consumers with options, purchasing plans, agreements, contracts, and all sorts of unnecessary business models designed to overwhelm consumers- none of which is necessarily fraudulent. But the net effect is either frustrating consumers to the point that they will accept a worse deal than they should, or leading the customer to believe they made a wise choice when in reality they didn't have much of a choice at all.

Comment Re:Fetishization (Score 4, Funny) 120

I don't think that's entirely fair to a lot of vinyl 'enthusiasts'. I am not one myself, but I can appreciate why people like it. The ritual of playing a record on vinyl restores some sense of intimacy with the music. I have several friends who collect vinyl, and none of them are remotely interested in snake oil audiophile products. Hell, half of them use cheap, unimpressive old speakers. Perhaps that's part of the aesthetic?

Comment Non-issue? (Score 2, Insightful) 120

As a sell-proclaimed audiophile I can appreciate the point of the article- limited production capacity, high demand, and large budget production runs leave little capacity and long delays for small vinyl releases- but I can't see this really being much of a tragedy. If you're wanting the music itself, a digital copy with superior quality is just a few clicks away. If you're in it for the novelty of vinyl, well you clearly enjoy ritual, waiting, and inconvenience. It would probably make actually receiving the plate all the more rewarding. Vinyl demand has shot up fairly aggressively in recent years. Production capacity will meet demand eventually. When it does. the only thing that will maintain the novelty of vinyl will probably be artificial scarcity and inflated prices.

Comment Re:This is not surge pricing (Score 1) 164

In Seattle, at least, surge pricing is pretty predictable. You are more likely to hit surge when people get off work/go to dinner between 4-6:30ish. Friday and Saturday you might see low surges all night until 1AM-2:30AM when people are coming home from bars and the surges hit hard. If there's a football game or concert going on at Centurylink Field or WAMU Theater, you can expect surge at the beginning or end. Very predictable. You might have times where there's a surge and you couldn't name a single specific reason for it, but that's still far from "functionally random".

Comment "Legitimate recognition in the industry" (Score 1) 49

The idea of "legitimate recognition in the industry" is ludicrous. Soundcloud is the new music industry, or at least the face of what is to come. It's a huge gamechanger because artists take their content straight to Soundcloud with very little overhead and no gatekeepers, and they can reach fans directly. I'm a huge music person, and I rarely ever have to leave Soundcloud to stay entertained. There's a huge number of very talented people and good content. I don't listen to pop music or the radio, and I'm actually genuinely excited because a lot of people in my age group are starting to be the same way. The electronic dance music umbrella of music genres is particularly interesting in that it is significantly divorced from the megalabels like UMG and yet still growing rapidly. Over the last couple of years I've watched a number of small artists that I found early on grow a significant following and start touring. If anything, this is the establishment music industry trying to stay relevant to younger people. I've slowly seen Soundcloud continue "selling out" and seeing more of the corporate branded pop garbage being pushed in my face on the site which is disappointing. I really wish they could find a more "wholesome" way of staying funded

Comment Will this affect perception of research? (Score 5, Insightful) 45

I think a concerning matter is that journalists (not science journals necessarily) also destroy the credibility of science by taking these observations ("according to a recent study...") and running with the "results" as news. A recent one that comes to mind is that researchers noticed that the diabetes medication Metformin seemed to have effects on life expectancy. Of course news outlets are currently running with the story that we might have found the miracle anti-aging pill. You can turn up a bunch of articles by googling the drug. It's usually later found that the claims are hugely inflated by the media and further research really goes nowhere. I suspect that the fatigue of constantly hearing these kind of false-hope and misleading reporting articles might hurt the image of legitimate scientific research. I wonder if this will have an effect on this issue. I suspect researchers may be complicit in providing journalists with these stories that they love to run with. Keeping that kind of speculation to a minimum might help.

Comment Will question headlines ever go away? (Score -1, Offtopic) 213

I know these are kindof a backup plan in jounalism when you have nothing real to report, but can we please avoid these FUD articles headlined by a doubtfully posed rhetorical questions and little or no content? If you can answer the headline with 'yes' or 'no' and move on, it was probably a waste of time and ultimately pointless.

Comment Same Shit, Different Day (Score 5, Insightful) 258

It's incredibly frustrating that these 'sponsors' will continue to ram legislation down our collective throats such as this, when it clearly is against the general good and serves only private interests. Even if a bill such as SOPA gets defeated in the public spotlight thanks to major protest campaigning, it just shows up a couple months later under a different name. The tragedy is you can't get people interested in fighting 'the man' every week. I was very pleasantly surprised by the general outcry when SOPA was being pushed through, but I seriously doubt you can rally that kind of support every time these legislators bow to lobbying pressure and essentially copypasta their last draconian bill and rename it without any effort at all. How are you supposed to fight this kind of system (a term I generally avoid in this kind of context, but is rather fitting), when it's painfully obvious that the common man really has far too little say in government?

Comment The Volt is still a flop (Score 0) 443

It's understandable that emerging markets like electric vehicles will experience growing pains, but the Japanese offerings still make the Volt look pitiful, as far as the electric powertrain side goes. Even if you concede that the fire issues were mostly journalistic hyperbole, it still didn't meet any of the expected sales figures. If anything, I think it's evidence of stagnation of development from 'Detroit'. Not that foreign competition is anything new, but I'm afraid that GM is going to get shut out of this market in the future before it even has a real chance.

Submission + - How Companies Learn Your Secrets

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "For decades, Target has collected vast amounts of data on every person who regularly walks into one of its stores. Now the NY Times Magazine reports on how companies like Target to identify those unique moments in consumers’ lives when their shopping habits become particularly flexible and the right advertisement or coupon can cause them to begin spending in new ways. Among life events, none are more important than the arrival of a baby and new parents are a retailer’s holy grail so in 2002, marketers at Target asked statisticians to answer an odd question: “If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn’t want us to know, can you do that?" Specifically, the marketers said they wanted to send specially designed ads to women in their second trimester, which is when most expectant mothers begin buying all sorts of new things, like prenatal vitamins and maternity clothing. “We knew that if we could identify them in their second trimester, there’s a good chance we could capture them for years,” says statistician Andrew Pole. “As soon as we get them buying diapers from us, they’re going to start buying everything else too." As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score and he soon had a list of tens of thousands of women who were most likely pregnant. About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry. “My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?” The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again but the father was somewhat abashed. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”"

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