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Comment Re:Too Bad (Score 2) 79

Of course the banks would - they're really loaning the money to the buyout firm, not the company being bought out. The firm performing the buyout makes big money, as do the banks. The firm being bought out is stripped to the bone and charged with servicing that debt. Sometimes they survive and can be spun off into the market again for big profits. Sometimes they limp along in private ownership and make modest profits, all of which go to the buyout firm instead of being shared with public stock owners (or, god forbid, the remaining employees doing the actual work). And often they just implode. The banks take a hit on some of these deals knowing that often they turn out to be quite profitable, at least in the short term - profitable enough for them to be able to afford to write off quite a bit of bad debt.

They're sort of like corporate identity theft rings. A buyout firm is essentially using the good credit of a going business concern to take out enormous loans it couldn't get on its own. They use some of the money for buying the going concern, and then hopefully refinance that debt at lower interest rates down the road, pocketing the difference and using it as collateral for the next buyout. If the debt load implodes the legitimate business they purchased, well, that's just too bad for the American economy. The parasites are off to suck the next victim dry via identity theft. But it often works long enough for them to cash out and use the money to hijack another business.

Remember, the guys running these sham operations are paying themselves enormous salaries and bonuses, regardless of how well the identity theft operation pays out. Even if Dell implodes they still make millions in the process. The success or failure of the companies they took over only alters the magnitude of the payout, not its eventuality.

Where things get interesting is if interest rates start rising again. We've been in a long term cycle of declining interest rates essentially since the early 1980s. That's been facilitating these buyouts for decades now. These gamblers are betting that if they borrow billions today at, say, 6%, they can refinance in the future at 5% and pocket the difference, covering up for a lot of incompetence in the running of the actual businesses they've hijacked. If that changes, expect to see a slew of business that were involved in these sketchy transactions go under - the buyout firms will cut their losses and run, leaving a bunch of investors holding the bag.

Don't worry about the banks, though. If things get too bad they'll just call up Congress and request another bailout, using your retirement money.

Comment Re:I remember a story when I worked at Microsoft.. (Score 4, Interesting) 257

There was an April, 2007 article written by analyst Roger Ehrenberg called "When Will Microsoft Own Up To The Xbox 360 Bomb?". Essentially, he ran the numbers for the divisions of Microsoft where they'd stuffed their console business, and determine they'd invested over $21 billion (at that time) in the console business, and had earned a whopping $5.4 billion of cumulative operating losses in return. That didn't fully account for the Red Ring Of Death either, which apparently cost them another $1 - $5 billion.

They have had profitable quarters since then, but as far as I know they haven't come anywhere close to earning $26-$30 billion just in order to break even on their investment in the console business.

Consoles have been a money pit for Microsoft.

Worse, in order to remain competitive with Nintendo and Sony, they're going to have to sink billions more into the next-generation of consoles if they want to stay in that business (and pride pretty much dictates they have to stay in that business).

It's likely they'll never break even on their investment. They may have blocked Sony or Nintendo from becoming the de facto home entertainment hub, but it isn't clear to me that keeping their options open in that space has been worth close to $30 billion. There's also the considerable threat that Apple will waltz into that space with a compelling new offering and blow most everybody else out of contention (while spending far less than $30 billion to do it). Google and Amazon are disruptive threats as well in that space.

Ironically, Apple spent far, far less than $30 billion developing the iPod, iPhone and iPad, combined - a combo that's proven a money machine for Cupertino almost since the day the products were released into the market. Each one of those products could have come from Microsoft - they were certainly years ahead of Apple at one point when it came to smart phones and tablets. Redmond took their eye off of that space while chasing the console business, a decision which I think will go down as one of the biggest misallocations of resources any corporation ever made.

Comment Re:Sturgeon's law: 90% of games are crap (Score 2) 121

I think you've nailed it - the lack of any sort of quality control will cause this thing to flame out pretty quickly. The hardware also strikes me as ridiculously anemic.

However, I could see both Apple and Amazon releasing similar devices, based on Apple's iOS and Amazon's customized version of Android respectively, and tied to their existing online stores. They could sign deals with top developers to produce software - software that could also run on their tablets in theory - and act as a filter to keep their game stores from overflowing with crap.

Their gadgets would have to sport more advanced hardware than the Ouya, but both Apple and Amazon should be capable of convincing enough people to shell out, say, $200-$300 on a console / media center to make such a platform viable.

If Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo aren't very nervous, they should be. The barriers to entry in the console business have clearly gotten a lot lower in the past five years, and there are at least a couple of large players now in a position to challenge them quite effectively without investing the billions MS, Sony and Nintendo have spent establishing their current position.

Come to think of it, Samsung is another potential threat. They don't have the online distribution power of an Apple or Amazon, but they could churn out the hardware cheaper than anyone, and they know Android inside and out.

Comment Republiclowns (Score 1, Flamebait) 578

I thought these Republican idiots were supposed to be great businessmen and job creators. So how is it the Kenyan socialist communist fascist Marxist Muslim empty chair community organizer ran a campaign that outfoxed and outplayed them at every turn, even without having an entire media empire (Rupert Murdoch) spewing favorable propaganda 24/7 for free?

You'd almost think these Republican business geniuses were really a bunch of incompetent, thieving rich idiots who couldn't run a successful taco stand without help from their daddy's buddies and generous taxpayer subsidies coming from people who, you know, actually work for a living.

Comment Re:Math (Score 2) 576

>2.4% *is* a small difference.

By the standards of modern Presidential elections it's not that small. Bush won in 2004 with only a 2.46% margin - lower than Obama's 2.5% now being reported - and had the audacity to call his re-election a "mandate". Of course, this is the same guy who "won" with a -0.51% margin in 2000.

Carter only won with a 2.06% margin. Nixon came into his first term on a 0.70% margin. Kennedy bagged a 0.17% margin.

At the other extreme, Nixon blew away McGovern with a 23.15% margin, although that second term didn't exactly turn out the way the Republicans expected...

Comment Re:Math (Score 1) 576

>That doesn't take away from Silver's math, though, considering that the polls all had Obama and Romney
>neck and neck and Obama won by a huge margin.

Uh, I'm sorry, but "all" the polls did not have Obama & Romney "neck and neck". Gallup and Rasmussen had them neck and neck in the national polls, but we don't elect Presidents via national polls, we elect them via the Electoral College on a state-by-state basis. And virtually all of the polls in most of the swing states showed Obama leading by comfortable margins greater than 2% throughout the past few months. It was only truly close in Florida (where Obama managed to squeak out a win) and North Carolina (where Obama remained behind though close in the polls in the weeks leading up to the election). There was a dip in the swing state polls after the first debate, but that quickly evaporated and by the time of the election Obama was about back to his polling peak on average.

Obama won the Electoral College by an enormous margin. The popular vote he only won by about 2%, which is a respectable margin but not as impressive as the roughly 60/40 split of votes in the Electoral College. That having been said, I believe he's the first Democrat since FDR to be re-elected with more than 300 votes in the Electoral College, and likely a harbinger of things to come for the Democratic Party, especially since the Republicans seem to be doubling down on the stupid.

Comment Re:"Fortunately" (Score 0) 185

>It is really telling how close to lunacy the Republican party leadership is.

It's really FRIGHTENING how close to lunacy the Republican Party leadership is. They clearly believed their own B.S. These clowns aren't just liars, they're delusional. Like, Baghdad Bob delusional.

I guess this is what happens when a major political party is comprised of fundamentalist religious fanatics with an average IQ of about 80, the senile, and a small crust of wealthy inbred fools who've never worked an honest day in their lives and couldn't run a successful taco stand without daddy's money and connections.

Comment Re:MPG testing (Score 1) 238

Something's gotta be wrong with your car. I have a 2008, and get 25mph and higher in city driving. And I floor it from stoplights and seldom gradually coast to a stop. The 2011 got better mileage than the 2008 IIRC.

Maybe its your tires?

I'd try taking it to another dealer and have them check it out.

Do you drive it with the A/C running a lot of the time, either for cooling or defogging? I've found the A/C in mine isn't terribly effective, although I haven't noticed it being a huge gas suck.

Comment Re:Yeah well... (Score 1) 182

>Yeah, get back to us when tablets have more than 64GBs of storage, and don't need to be tethered to a wifi to get things done.

Wireless connectivity is almost ubiquitous at this point. I have high-speed connectivity at home and at the office. The era of the desktop computer is rapidly drawing to a close. The cloud is obviously supplanting it. I wouldn't be surprised to see the desktop PC completely replaced within 5 years by a tiny Apple TV-sized box you plug into your monitor. It'll communicate with whatever other devices and interface gadgets (keyboards, mice, motion control, voice) you happen to have on hand, and with your cell phone and tablets. It'll sport advanced voice control, like Siri but far more capable, all powered by the cloud. It'll do games too, via a service like OnLive, and media, and if you want to run high-end software like Photoshop that'll be available to subscribe to for $20 a month if you're a professional or maybe $5 for a one day one-off use. It'll all be running on incredibly powerful virtual machines out in the cloud, so folks won't need to blow $1,500 every few years upgrading their computers to run the latest & greatest software. You'll buy a $200 Apple TV like box, a phone and a tablet or whatever and subscribe to whatever level of service you require beyond that.

Ubiquitous connectivity changes everything. It's essentially headed toward Star Trek technology, where you say "Computer" and tell it what you want it to do and it does it. "Computer, book me a flight to Boston on August 23rd. I can't spend more than $350." "OK, do you want an exit row seat like you usually request? And I won't search United because you hate them."

Also, shifting processing to the cloud offloads a lot of battery burden from these increasingly tiny mobile devices, saving power for their wireless radios. In the business world, it gets companies out of having to pay the Microsoft tax every three years and deal with the hassle of swapping out expensive machines. If everything lives in the cloud, managing the dumb terminals becomes a lot easier.

Comment Re:Yeah well... (Score 1) 182

Intel has the best fabrication facilities on earth, bar none. If they can't make it selling x86 chips, they could always open the floodgates to manufacturing ARM-based chips for Apple. There's more than enough demand there to soak up all of Intel's excess manufacturing capacity. It would dent their margins, but they'd still be enormously profitable.

If PC sales continue their recent tailspin, Intel may be left with no choice. They're counting on Atom-derived low-power x86 chips running Windows to save their platform's bacon. We'll see if Microsoft can deliver with Win 8 everywhere. My guess is it'll be a fiasco, but then Microsoft convinced plenty of idiots to buy that terd Vista, so who knows...

Comment Re:Here is more from John Gruber of Daring Firebal (Score 4, Insightful) 561

I'm loving the new Apple maps, at least here in the US. Seems to have no problem finding addresses, and features spoken, turn by turn instructions. Used them extensively this weekend. Huge upgrade over the old Google maps.

Now, apparently the default maps app sucks - at least for the moment - in many countries overseas. China oddly enough not being one of them. The Chinese are apparently marveling at how much better Apple's map app is than Google's. Go figure.

Seems to depend a lot on the quality of the map database Apple bought in each country. In the US they bought their data from Tom Tom, which is pretty high quality (for driving, anyhow). Overseas looks like it's a crap shoot.

I think a lot of users are going to read the hysteria surrounding Apple's maps, then have an experience similar to mine and wonder what the Fandroids are all smoking. Apple's critics keep doing this ("Antennagate" being the best example), and come off looking like idiots as a result.

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