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Comment Re:Threshold (Score 1) 401

Incorrect. A Big Mac cost 49 cents in 1967. 49 cents in 1967 has the same buying power, today, as $3.54 according to the BLS (prices are all in USD btw). Today's Big Mac costs $3.99. That's roughly a 12% increase in price. This is with inflation already calculated as well.

The median income in 1967 was $26,100 2011 dollars. The 1967 Big Mac thus cost 0.0135% of the median income. The 2015 median income is $56,500, and the 2016 Big Mac costs 0.00706% of the median income.

So in 2015, a Big Mac cost 52% of what it cost in 1967. The Big Mac today costs half as much as it did in 1967.

You will work for half as many hours today to make the wage required to buy a Big Mac as you would have worked in 1967 to bu ya Big Mac at that time.

A Big Mac in 2015 costs half as much as a Big Mac in 1967. Cool, huh?

Comment Re:Threshold (Score 1) 401

The pneumatic air gun thing was a typo--it's redundant. Pneumatic nail gun was what I was going for.

I'd guess a whole load of people lost their jobs.

They did. We have 4.9% unemployment today.

The point is their work gets displaced. If you cause a 10% uptick in unemployment, your economy has a bad time; if you cause a 1% uptick spread across 1 year, your economy hardly actually notices.

People notice. Someone loses his job and he sure as hell notices. Welfare is supposed to cover for that, and stronger welfare is possible today--the inflection point for America is 2013, so excuse the politicians for not quite catching up yet--and that's supposed to patch up the other side. It's what we exchange: sometimes you lose your job, and you get to have running water and spend less than half your income on food because people have lost their jobs over the years. As a participant in this system, you deserve some just compensation; and it turns out the economy is more-efficient when we have stable welfare (but not welfare beyond the means to which we can supply).

Folks like to imagine businesses can take profits forever, and see a business cutting off 10% of its workforce as a business that just got $1,000,000 of additional profit forever. That might actually be true: that business might get $1,000,000 of additional profit which they never give back--not until it's eaten away by inflation over the next few years. More than likely, it'll keep those profits for 2-3 years at best--most likely, not longer than it takes the competition to catch up. In active, quickly-changing economies, the change is often rapid.

The other factor is growth. The Nest Protect smoke and CO2 detector didn't get any cheaper--it's still $100--but it now lasts 10 years instead of 7. It got a redesigned, upgraded sensor. It's now $10/year, essentially, which is better. Cars come packed with fancy new traction control systems, complex suspensions, and other upgrades not available in earlier models. Essentially, as labor became cheaper, they employed more labor to build more stuff--cars still cost damn near 56% of the income of the purchaser, on average, by sale price.

So sometimes those added profits go away when competition comes up. Sometimes the company supplies a higher-end good, trying to be the leading-edge supplier selling what's still a $100 widget but with so many more features that you wouldn't spend the $100 for the last-generation competition's product. They slim their margin, capture a market, and dominate their competitors. Adding all that crap creates cost because it creates replacement jobs.

It happens. It's happened since the beginning of human history. It will continue to happen.

Comment Re: Remember kids! (Score 1) 309

Maybe US machines are different to the ones in the UK. In the UK you don't just press a button or pull a lever to spin, you have multiple buttons that allow you to "hold" a wheel and stuff like that.

Say you have fruit-fruit-bar. You spin and get bar-bar-jack. You can roll the emulator back and repeat the spin, you always get bar-bar-jack because the PRNG is deterministic and not based on timing. So it looks like if you hold the original bar that you had, you should get bar-bar-bar and win. If you do hold it, the machine has already decided that you are going to lose this one so produces fruit-bar-bar or something so that you lose.

The display is supposed to make you think that if you had just held that bar you would have won, but it's a lie. You were going to lose no matter what, it's just trying to make you think you have a chance when you don't.

Comment Re:Provided you're using it for business (Score 1) 423

My only cheap computers are an old Netbook I didn't have the heart to get rid of, and a Chromebook I take to breakfast. Those are cheap and I don't care if they are lost or get stolen.

With 10.1" netbooks becoming harder to find as manufacturers make 11.6" their smallest size, I do care if mine gets stolen.

Comment Re:Threshold (Score 1) 401

Oh god not the money argument. Let me explain money to you.

You make $20/hr. Some other person makes $10/hr. Well, as it turns out, for every 1 hour you work, you can induce that person to work 2 hours. Wage inequality.

So to make a thing, someone has to work. They have to labor in the fields to make food, they have to spin thread and sew cloth to make clothing, and so forth. This, of course, means that your work--which produces--can be traded for their work, in the same way: your hours versus their hours, exchanged in "Money".

So we find a way to get the seamstresses to make clothing in 1/10 the time by inventing the "sewing machine". Instead of hand-sewing, they just buzz shit off the line using sergers and the like. Now the seamstress works 40 hours still, but produces 10 times the garments. People buy about 5 times as many clothes... but we still only need 1/2 as many seamstresses; and those clothes only weigh your hours against 1/10 as many of their hours per unit clothing.

That is to say: where it took 10 hours of work to make a shirt, it takes 1, and so you pay $10 instead of $100 for that shirt. Where we used to need 10 seamstresses to make 10 shirts in 10 hours, we now only need 1. Where we used to buy 10 shirts, we buy 5, so ... we need 5 seamstresses.

That leaves you with $50, so you buy more of something else.

So money doesn't do anything but represent labor; and what labor can make changes as we increase technology.

We used to spend 90% of our time making food. In 1900, we spent 40% of our time making food. Today, it's under 12% of our time.

The cost of clothing has plummeted dramatically--the industrial revolution, then later with the basic sewing machine and the serger, and then again with the trade advantages provided by globalization. Chinese manufacture isn't just about cheap labor; they're very good at what they do, and the Chinese can optimize an assembly line to any quality specifications with minimal cost to retool--which means they can hit ROI on smaller batch runs, too.

Costs of construction fell with the invention of iron furnaces that cut labor requirements by over 99.5% (yes, they made 216 times as much iron with the same labor when they brought out the hot blast furnace), pneumatic and electric power tools (nail guns and circular saws versus hammers and handsaws), and big machinery like excavators (because fuck shovels).

The wooden shipping pallet allowed a crew to carry out the loading and unloading of canned goods in 4 hours--a task which took the same crew three 16-hour days, or twelve times as long.

Costs have fallen dramatically over the years. Go back two centuries and you'll find a world that can't produce enough food to feed a billion people. Go back to 1900 and you'll find a world that's facing famine as it races past a population of 2 billion. Agricultural technological advances in the 1900s and 1920s won Nobel prizes for saving billions from starvation.

Since the late 1800s, we've cut the working week from 100 hours to 40, eliminated child labor, and dramatically increased productivity. We live in a ridiculous caricature of society in which stuff just appears out of nowhere as people go through the motions of waving a magic stick at a voodoo apparatus that just spits out piles of completed product. The army of horses and postal workers required to deliver this message to its readers all over the world has been replaced by a fraction of a fraction of a second of labor share in a network that, for each hour of human effort, can deliver literally billions of such messages to billions of people.

How do we quantify that?

I pay $83/month for 200Mbit/s Internet service and probably have a data cap of around 200GB/month. By cap, that's 284MB per hour. Comcast has something like a 10% profit margin overall, but that doesn't help us here: the gross profit margin on Internet service would translate to labor share, although the actual capability to provide the service does come down to total net profits (i.e. there might be a 40% or 90% profit margin "on Internet service", but actually providing Internet service as an ISP involves a whole lot of other stuff essentially funded by that profit margin--stuff besides routers and cables and firewalls). That just tells us that we can supply way more than, but at least, 284MB of message transfer per person per hour.

That's delivery of almost 300,000 letters to every single person who has an Internet connection every hour. The message arrives seconds after it's sent.

Can the Pony Express do that on horseback?

No, it can't. We live in a world where everything that took a shitton of labor 100 years ago or even 50 year ago now happens by some kind of ridiculous magic, and supplying an early-1900s lifestyle to everyone would be ludicrously-cheap.

Comment Affording both cable and cell Internet (Score 1) 423

That said, why would you cancel your cable Internet for this?

A lot of people have to choose one or the other because they can't afford both $60/mo cable Internet and $60/mo cellular Internet. See the previous Slashdot story "Americans Abandoning Wired Home Internet, Shows Study".

if you imagine the development server being as locked down as a Chromebook or iDevice

By this, do you mean incapable of running programs in any language other than JavaScript?

an era when leaving Firefox open for a day with 20 or so tabs open seems to result in it eating 4+Gb of memory

Do you have privacy.trackingprotection.enabled turned on? It turns off scripts that track the user from one site to another, which tend to be big RAM hogs in my experience.

Comment Re:Real Stuff (Score 1) 96

To answer your first question. Linux distributions fill different needs. RedHat, SUSE, Are Enterprise Linux solutions meaning your CIO won't have a fit with using them. Debian, Fedora are Server based where you realize you are not paying for anything important from getting the Enterprise support. Then you have the likes like Ubuntu and Mint. Which are more Desktop/Workstation linux distributions meant for people to work with. Not just set it and forget it.

Linux was designed to be a lot like Unix so it was mainly a server OS. So for some people the Real Linux is used for a server on big iron systems.

Comment Re:We love functional languages except using them. (Score 1) 160

The hell does that mean?

In coding if you are often too clever you often make code that is very dense in mathematics. Taking advantage of bit overflows, and other mathematical functions that happen to perform the behavior you are trying to achieve. For example If you are making a Mario type of game, you can use a sine function to simulate the jump effect. vs. making some more codier version where you have a loop that is decrementing how many pixels to to move up after each step.
The first approach is good and will get you an A+ on your homework assignment. However, after making the game, you find that you now need to account for obstacles. Perhaps different wind forces... Where you will either need to change your sin function around with different variables, which will need a lot of testing. Or just put in a sloppy old IF statement to change your variable when a condition is in place.

Comment Re:Very true, until everything was on the internet (Score 1) 176

These days, the spreadsheet is probably in the cloud (on the internet), pulling data from some source on the internet. Having people who can almost barely code creating code for your business, including those web-enabled spreadsheets, will very likely end up with one of them making all your data from your spreadsheets available online.

I'd have thought the opposite. Files on Windows rarely make use of permissions and it's really easy to attach one to an email or throw it on a USB drive. Few organisations have much control over all the random files their employees use. On the other hand web services always require a log-in and the better ones enforce per user permissions by default too. They are still vulnerable to copy/paste leaks but at least emailing a link will still require the recipient to have viewing/editing rights.

Comment Re:Better to spend on education than salaries (Score 1) 176

Even the highest quality code will be abandoned if the person commissioning it didn't know what they really wanted, or failed to adequately predict future requirements. A lot of new code is written just because the old code doesn't work quite the way it needs to or there is some new technology that needs to be supported and starting from scratch is easier.

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