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Comment Re:How can a taxi company... (Score 1) 156

I don't understand how Uber works, as I'm not a driver. I assumed you paid an Uber driver to take you from point A to point B for some amount. The driver kept some percent and the rest went to Uber.

How does Uber lose money on this transaction. Or, more to the point, how does Uber lose money on each ride?

The passenger pays the fare in the app, and the driver gets a percentage of the fare. In some instances, Uber will pay the driver more than the fare, otherwise known as ride subsidizing.

This is mostly done to get more drivers into a new market. Uber has a chicken or the egg problem in new markets (like China) so they need to pay a premium to drivers when there are few passengers. They might have to pay a driver $50 per ride because they will only have 2-3 rides per day, even though they only charge $25 per ride to the passenger. In this state there will usually be far more drivers than passengers, so the level of service is excellent. Soon more passengers install Uber in this city, and once drivers can get 10 fares per day their payment per ride can go down to $20. The price per ride can probably go up a little too since they don't have to undercut taxis as much once Uber becomes more ubiquitous.

Uber spent around a billion dollars per year trying to break into the China market this way (plus many other similar strategies and marketing costs).

Comment Re:How can a taxi company... (Score 2) 156

How can a taxi company with literally no expenses except for keeping a few servers running run a loss in the billions?

Uber spends far more money on marketing and ride subsidies than on running their servers. They undercut taxi companies by simply losing money on each ride in many markets. The claim is their costs would go down once economy of scale raises, but there is also a good chance prices would go up significantly if they ever win their battle with taxi companies.

Comment Re:A better pro tip (Score 4, Interesting) 242

Thing is: Gawker didn't know that and thought they were on firm legal ground. If they knew this would happen they wouldn't have done it. This is the problem: You don't find out if you're right or wrong until you've paid lawyers millions of dollars. Shouldn't be like that.

Gawker knew it was pushing boundaries of the law. I'd agree that no one could have claimed with 100% certainty which way this case would go three years ago when they first ignored a judge's order, but that doesn't mean this result is some kind of big surprise either. When you break the law, even when you think the law is unjust, you accept the possibility of severe consequences.

The courts are a crapshoot.

This is why you settle, and why you don't try to make political or social commentary in our court system unless you are willing to lose everything. That is what lobbying is for.

Gawker knowingly put its existence in jeopardy by fighting this court case. They are not a babe in woods here.

Comment Re:Followed by: (Score 3, Informative) 445

The article quotes Bill Nye as saying:

“This is the result of climate change,” he said. “It’s only going to get worse.”

That is just bad journalism. He did say those words at some point in the discussion, but it is taken out of context. He says this statement briefly near the beginning but is interrupted, and then later clarifies with a more detailed explanation. He gives the explanation in the same discussion, so it isn't as if he made a gaffe and was trying to cover it up. He made it very clear exactly what he meant.

Comment Re:Followed by: (Score 5, Informative) 445

Or more accurately Bill Nye says "it is reasonable that these storms are connected to [climate change]", and the media cannot understand the difference between drawing a probable conclusion and drawing a definitive conclusion. Bill Nye never said this was absolutely because of climate change, just that climate change most likely had a significant impact on the magnitude of the rain. But that is too reasonable and we need a more inflammatory headline.

Comment Re:Outsourcing vs Inhouse (Score 1) 252

The problem isn't outsourcing, it is leadership that is incapable of articulating needs correctly.

This, and the tendency for company leadership to feel outsourcing means they can offload all responsibility for project success. This is especially true when consultants are brought in for a project when in house staff has no expertise in one or more major aspects of the project. It's as if management believes an advisory role also includes ensuring overall project success.

Comment Re:Stop chasing the shiny (Score 2) 161

Who are you to tell people what they should want?

Someone with more brain than money?

More likely just someone without either. These phones are obviously discretionary purchases so anyone being asinine enough to differentiate between need and want in this discussion is either not very bright or biased enough in some way to limit their rational thought. Obviously any feature someone "needs" in their smartphone is actually a "want" from a survival or overall life enjoyment standpoint, but that doesn't change the fact the device may need to have a feature for them to buy it.

Swillden was absolutely correct that the need vs want question was completely irrelevant to what is being discussed here. I can't remember the last time I purchased any good or service because I needed it, outside of health care related services that is.

Comment Re:Uber is not "ride sharing" (Score 1) 445

The proper term is "hired car service." Nothing is being shared here, people are paying other people to drive them around.

You may disagree with entire concept of the new "sharing economy" as its called, but that doesn't change the general definition this industry is giving these services. Ride-sharing merely implies the car's primary purpose is as a person vehicle, and is only shared with others for side income. This is as opposed to buying a taxi cab for the express purpose of driving others for a living.

I would agree a hired car service is also a proper term for Uber, but that doesn't mean ride-sharing is an improper term. It can be both.

Comment Re:Uber is not "ride sharing" (Score 1) 445

No, I don't think you get it at all. It is sharing if you were making the trip anyway.

My brother and I shared my parents' cars all the time while we went to different destinations, or even when only one of us needed a ride but couldn't without help (not 16 yet). Sharing the exact same trip is not the only way to share a vehicle.

I agree there is very little fundamentally different between ride sharing companies and taxis. Ride sharing is simply a way of providing a better (cheaper) service by finding drivers who don't need to make a living doing it, and bypassing onerous regulations, so they can offer far lower rates. Overall it creates a drastically better experience for anyone not currently employed by taxi companies, as evidenced by every single person I have ever talked to about their Uber vs taxi experiences. And if anecdotal evidence isn't good enough, as evidenced by their increasing market share.

Comment Re:Uber is not "ride sharing" (Score 1) 445

I agree its a poor choice of terminology, as what they are really doing is "vehicle sharing." Although the word "ride" can be used colloquially as meaning someone's vehicle, such as the statement: "check out my new ride." Either way calling the company part of the sharing economy is still accurate.

Comment Re:And if you believe that... (Score 1) 445

Illinois was actually able to raise taxes from 3% to 5% temporarily (for 4 years), and did lower the rate at least to 3.75% when the four years were up. It did take a newly appointed Republican governor willing to let the state go without a budget for over a year to fight the Democrats on raising it back to 5% though (among other points of contention).

I would have given 5-1 odds the income tax rate would never go below 5% again back in 2011 but I would have been dead wrong.

Comment Re:Subsidizing Businesses.... (Score 4, Insightful) 445

So -- You favor throwing all of us who run only free software on open computer hardware into some sort of digital ghetto?

I don't think anyone is favoring it, but I certainly don't want progress stopped by even the tiniest degree to accommodate those who self-impose such restrictions on themselves. I'm also not concerned at all with how the Amish will be affected by technological progress if that helps put things in perspective.

Comment Re:Reeks of desperation (Score 1) 256

This is literally the "Everyone I know drives a Ford, therefore Buick is a failing company" argument. You're on /., you're balls deep in a techie bubble where no one's ever seen a dollar bill or used a phone for a voice call or bought a book anywhere *except* amazon.

I did say my statement only applies to those affluent enough to have a credit card. Considering a third of Americans don't even have a credit card, and many purchases still must be done with a check / money order (such as rent / mortgage), its not surprising that half of transactions involve cash.

But we are on Slashdot here, so saying Amazon gift cards are any different from cash here is just being pedantic.

I will concede there are plenty of tinfoil hat conspiracy nuts who care if all of our transactions are tracked, but most people with the means to use digital currency vote with their actions (which show they don't care about the privacy implications).

Comment Present day retirement will be historical footnote (Score 1) 282

Retirement as we know it is a very modern phenomena. As recently as 1880 78% of men over the age of 65 were still working, compared to around 20% today. We are already starting to see a trend towards the end of retirement since this number was closer to 10% in 1980.

The initial driving force which created our retirement system was the idea old people are worthless and need to get out of the way. It wasn't some kind of reward for years of hard work, it was only marketed that way. Our economy is already finding uses for older workers and by the time all baby boomers are retired I would be surprised if usage of older workers doesn't ramp up. Advisory or mentoring roles working 500 hours per year would be a great fit, for instance, and could give some supplemental income for those who didn't save enough money. And then there is the likely possibility medical technology improves so that 80 year old's can still function as 50 year old's (or even younger) in the workplace.

There will probably always be a form of disability insurance for those who cannot work for physical or mental reasons above a certain age. But for the rest of the elderly they may take long sabbaticals from time to time but full retirement will probably be a rarity.

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