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Comment Re: Poor on $100k? Sure (Score 1) 668

What are you talking about? It's not middle management's decision about where to base their company and operations; that comes straight from senior management.

It's generally middle management's decision whether to hire people who will work remotely, whether to hire full-time employees or consultants, and so on.

How so? If you're an on-site consultant, you have to pay the living costs in that area, unless you're living in your car or something. If you're talking about being a remote consultant, then sure that works out great but how many people are able to get a gig like that?

I found no shortage of companies willing to have me work remotely, even back when I was starting out and had little reputation. I almost never worked for someone closer than 3 time zones and often for people 6+ time zones away (in both directions). I was cheaper than anyone living in SV, about the same price as people in the mid-west, and a lot more expensive than people in Russia, India, and China (I had a few contracts doing design work that would then be implemented by cheaper teams because of this).

Comment Re: Overboard, Sad! (Score 1) 158

Concussion covers a multitude of injuries. I've had a few, the worst when I was a child and decided to swing from some scaffolding that turned out to be less stable than I thought. I fell backwards and hit the back of my head on the corner of a doorstep (the concrete - the softer wooden step hadn't been installed yet). I spent the night in hospital, but was fine the following day. In the more mild instances, I've had a brief response check at the time and otherwise continued (though with a splitting headache).

A concussion just means that your head has been hit hard enough that your brain bounces off your skull. That can be fatal, or can be something that you shake off immediately, depending on the amount of force and the angle (and, presumably, how bouncy your brain is).

Comment Re:It's all out of whack... (Score 1) 668

As long as populations increase and jobs are available the demand will continue to push prices up.

That's two conditions that could cause a pop. Number one: companies realise that there's a big advertising bubble and little ROI from online advertising. Companies like Google, Facebook, and so on that depend heavily on advertising revenue see a massive drop in customers and have to aggressively start trimming workforce. Sudden drop in bay area jobs and people have to pack up and move to somewhere where they can get a job and afford to live.

Number two: cost of living reaches a point where it's cheaper to open a new office somewhere cheaper than to expand you SV presence. Jobs don't leave the area, but new jobs appear elsewhere instead. Gradually the exciting tech developments move so that management also moves to the other areas and eventually the SV office becomes the satellite office where people who retire or leave aren't replaced.

Comment Re:Landlords (Score 1) 668

Why is this a troll, he's exactly right. Significantly raising the median income has the effects that the grandparent is complaining about, but raising the minimum wage typically doesn't do that much. It does increase the costs of anything labour intensive, but we're already living in a world where the vast majority of things where labour costs are a significant fraction of the total price are luxury goods and services.

Comment Re:"borrow money to make it through the month" (Score 2) 668

Of course, if you're willing to have employees that work remotely, then your talent pool is the entire world rather than one small geographical area. And somewhere like the Bay Area without the ability to hire remote workers also locks you out of a lot of talent: i.e. all of the ones able to do basic arithmetic and realise that they won't have any financial security if they move to the Bay Area and work for a company that has a 50+% chance of not existing in a year's time (i.e. any startup).

Comment Re:Don't buy what you can't afford. 3,500feet, $24 (Score 1) 668

And the important corollary: look at cost of living before you negotiate a salary. If the employer isn't willing to pay you what you need for a comfortable cost of living, then run. You're obviously not valuable to them, so you'll likely be the first to be let go and you'll find it hard to get the next job after that.

Comment Re: Poor on $100k? Sure (Score 1) 668

It depends a bit. There's a trade for the management between salary costs and control. You can give someone a 20-50% pay cut when they move out of the bay area and they'll still have more take-home pay and a higher standard of living. It's increasingly hard for middle management to justify to senior management why they're not doing that. That said, the bay area situation is great for consultants living in places with a sane cost of living. When I was doing that, my contracting rate was lower than a salaried employee in the bay area, yet I was able to cover my cost of living and pay off my mortgage quickly if I worked two days a month. Anything beyond that built up a buffer in savings in case I wasn't able to get work for an extended period.

Comment Re:Poor on $100k? Sure (Score 1) 668

Buy a bread machine. It takes about 1-2 minutes to load it, wait a couple of hours and you have a loaf of bread that will last about a week and is about a quarter of the price in ingredients of an equally nice store-bought one. The bread machine has some capital costs, but mine is about 10 years old and still works fine, so it amortises well.

Comment Re: Rockets are too expensive (Score 1) 330

Note your launch cost analysis is not useful: the entire ribbon doesn't need to be put into space. The best and cheapest way to build the elevator is with a seed string.

My launch cost numbers were to LEO - GEO is a lot more expensive - and so was only ever intended as a ballpark figure. The seed string itself needs to be lifted and I'd be very surprised if you could do that for under a billion. Sufficient strength of carbon nanotubes to be self supporting (based on theoretical models - we still can't actually build them) would come in above that for launch costs.

Comment Re:Rockets are too expensive (Score 1) 330

Cotton is strong because the individual threads are imperfect and so the strength comes from the friction between the fibres. Current nanotubes have almost no friction between the fibres, so when you spin them together you end up with something that simply falls apart when you pull on one end. There are research projects to try to improve this, but claiming that it's no different from cotton or wool implies a complete failure to understand the problems.

Comment Re: Rockets are too expensive (Score 2) 330

How much would it cost to make 50 thousand miles of 3-foot, paper-thin steel?

Assuming 'paper-thin' means 1mm thick, then that's around 75,000m^3 of steel, or about 680 Gg. At current steel prices, that's about $250-600m, depending on the kind of steel. The cost of getting that amount of steel to LEO (vastly cheaper than GEO, but assume that most of the mass doesn't have to go up to GEO) at current prices (assuming the cheapest possible launch) is just under $4tn.

The real question is why you care, because steel doesn't have anything like the tensile strength required to be a tether.

Comment Re: Maybe, but maybe not (Score 1) 320

My memory is that if Amazon had been happy with just books and bookish stuff they would've turned a profit much sooner. A smaller, and possibly short lived, profit...but sooner.

Profit is a pretty misleading metric. Amazon had enough income to exceed their operating expenses for quite a while. This is the intuitive definition of profit, but not what appears on a balance sheet. They were taking all of that money, using it as collateral to borrow more, and then investing all of that in growing their business. That meant that they didn't make a profit, but only because anything that would have been profit was ploughed straight back into the business. They were also very willing to shift markets. They created a cloud offering because they had to over-provision in their data centres to cope with spikes in demand and realised that they could sell some of this excess capacity. This turned out to be so lucrative that they poured all of the profits from their retail arm into expanding it for years. They did the same thing with the Kindle.

Comment Re:Sounds good to me (Score 5, Informative) 320

For the employer it's a win, but for consumers and staff it's not always

It actually isn't. There was a Freakonomics episode about this a few months ago. The problem is that front-of-house staff in the USA are now getting a significant proportion of their income from tips, which are a percentage of the total cost. This means that their income has gone up a lot more over the past couple of decades than that of kitchen staff, to the point where someone with a cooking qualification can still make more money waiting tables than being a chef. Even worse, it means that the income varies hugely between days, so it's trivial to find someone to work on a Friday or Saturday night, because they'll make loads of money, but restaurants often can't find people to work on Wednesday or Thursdays, because they'll make a lot less (for regular slots, you can establish a rota, but if you need cover for a sick employee then it's much harder).

Comment Re: Bloggers (Score 4, Insightful) 320

There are a few things that make Uber better than a taxi company, from a customer's perspective:
  • They tell you up-front how much it will cost.
  • They handle the payment automatically.
  • They aren't geographically limited, so you can use the same app all over the world, not have to try to work out which taxi company is reputable when you're travelling.
  • Start and end points are put on the map by the customer, so there's never a 'oh, I thought you meant the other Foobar Road' issue (I've hit this in Boston, where you have several overlapping cities that have many of the same street names, so you start heading in one direction before realising that the driver thought you meant somewhere else).

The problem for Uber is that there's absolutely nothing stopping the taxi companies adopting all of these. Many will already do fixed-price trips. If you have a corporate account, they'll happily just bill the company rather than the rider. An open protocol for interfacing with their dispatcher system and allowing them to provide locations of taxis that could be dispatched and quotes would let a federated system work. Some individual taxi companies already have apps that let you provide GPS start and endpoints.

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