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Comment Re: Nothing says... (Score 1) 271

In trucks swapping batteries might fly.

Large trucking companies on well traveled routes might just own all the batteries they swap/charge at the battery swap points. Smaller operators or trucks used for less traveled routes may rent batteries and the battery charging/rental business will be responsible for retiring batteries that no longer meet spec or move them to situations requiring lower specs (perhaps renting them at a lower 'per kwh' or 'per hour' cost).

With driverless trucks, drivers won't be leasing or buying the tractors anymore so some big capital intensive organization will own, maintain, and operate them.

Comment Re: Is anyone asking the real question here? (Score 1) 575

How much more would you be willing to pay for a "non-bumpable" ticket? Would you accept the restriction that the ticket was completely non-refundable and non-reschedulable unless, for example, the flight departed more than two hours late? Would you accept that such a ticket would become "lowest possible standby priority only" if you didn't check in more than 30 minutes before departure (and, still be non-refundable if there were fewer seats than standby passengers so you didn't get a seat after all)? Perhaps the airlines should consider offering such tickets. However, most people who are willing to pay extra for such tickets are also unlikely to need them or accept the additional restrictions as they are probably already flying business or first class and are likely a member of the airline's frequent flyer club -- a combination of factors that make one almost completely immune from bumping at most airlines.

I certainly don't think United handled this as well as they could have from a PR standpoint. However, if they had a crew shortage (due to illness or delays of incoming flights for example) at the destination and were going to have to cancel one or more flights out of there, the decision to bump four passengers from this flight to make room to ferry crew members probably made sense overall (it would inconvenience the smallest number of passengers and also make the most economic sense).

Comment Re: Is anyone asking the real question here? (Score 1) 575

The law and the contract you agreed to when you bought the ticket are what controls here, not what you think is "reasonable" or in "good faith" at a particular moment in time.

Here is United's Contract of Carriage document - in particular see rule 25. Here is the Federal Code of Regulations section regulating overselling. Notice the last sentence of 250.3(a) in the CFR (aka FAR) which governs the policies airlines must make regarding overselling which states that:

Such rules and criteria shall not make, give, or cause any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or subject any particular person to any unjust or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect whatsoever.

This makes it difficult for an airline to consider special cases (such as true, or untrue, claims that "I have to see patients tomorrow") as if they do so and allow Passenger A who was initially selected for removal to remain on the flight, they now have to now remove Passenger B who would have otherwise remained on the flight -- opening the airline up to a lawsuit from Passenger B. Thus, the last resort of random selection among the lowest priority passengers.

If you fly United, you agree to all the rules above. If you don't like them, don't fly United. If it's really important that you get somewhere, pick an earlier flight (and certainly not the last one of the day) or have a backup plan (another airline, another flight, a private charter on call, etc...).

I don't like overbooking but it reduces the cost of airline tickets. Perhaps a new set of fare classes could be added which would guarantee a seat. These tickets would probably still have restrictions but would be just like what you seem to want. They might cost quite a bit more, they might be completely non-refundable/transferable unless the flight departs more than two hours late, they might require checking in 30 minutes before scheduled departure (at which time they would become standby tickets but still be non-refundable even if you don't get a seat because all seats are filled by other standby passengers).

Perhaps you should start an airline that differentiates itself by not overbooking at all if you feel strongly about it (the CFR doesn't seem to require overbooking, just allow it). Maybe it will be so popular you will get rich and put the rest of the airlines out of business (although I doubt it -- most passengers are very price sensitive).

The odds of being involuntarily booted from a flight are tiny compared to all the other reasons you might not get where you expect at about the time you expect. Other risks such as mechanical failures, crew shortages, computer failures, weather holds (even not at your source or destination -- but the plane planned for the flight is stuck on the ground at a third airport) are far greater risks so it is reasonable to assume that all passengers are prepared for failing to get where they expect at about the time they expect.

BTW, if someone fears being denied boarding due to overbooking, there are several ways to dramatically reduce the odds of being selected. One is to buy a higher class (business or first) class seat. Another is to check luggage (the airline doesn't want to delay your flight by having to find and retrieve your luggage from the plane). Another is to join the airline's frequent flyer club. Another is to become disabled -- perhaps chop off a leg or gouge out your eyes (but I really don't recommend this last strategy).

Comment Re: Is anyone asking the real question here? (Score 1) 575

And, that contract, in conjunction with government laws and regulations, allows them to boot you from a flight with minimum compensation requirements set by the government.

Your analogy with an apartment is not very good as many (most?) states have additional specific protections for residential tenants written into statutory law. As well, a tenant is given exclusive use of a specific unit for a extended term of time (and is generally responsible for returning the unit to its 'move in' condition less normal wear and tear at the end of that time). Airlines don't give you guaranteed exclusive use of a specific seat ever (they often switch flights, combine them, substitute other aircraft etc).

Airlines are obviously free to move you from seat to seat, plane to plane etc. Suppose the plane had a mechanical problem after this passenger was seated. Is it your position that that the airline had to let him sit in the seat for the duration of the (planned) flight and that he, in turn, could refuse to leave the seat for that time?

The fact that the passenger boarded and was seated does not matter -- the airline has as much right to order the passenger to leave their plane as they had to refuse to allow him to board in the first place. The passenger was a jerk and should have simply gotten up and left the plane when requested. The moment he was told to leave the plane and failed to do so, he was in the wrong. Perhaps the airline and police could have handled it better, but ultimately he was not going to be on the flight.

A better analogy would be a hotel which decides they don't want you staying there (for reasons other than because you are a member of a 'protected class'). Generally, a hotel can revoke your right to be on the property for almost any reason -- perhaps just because they want to do maintenance on the room and the vendor is there doing maintenance on other rooms so it's cheaper to kick you out and refund your money than to have the vendor come back. I'm sure there's a good (rental or Uber) car analogy as well.

Comment Re:The real problem... (Score 2) 286

Then don't use your work devices for personal business. Your employer selected Microsoft for their business so they must be okay with this collection - it's your employer's data, not yours.

Personally, I will probably never again install Windows 10 (or successors) on any personal iron for a variety of reasons -- Linux works fine for my personal use for almost everything. If my employer chooses to use Windows 10, it doesn't bother me because it's not my machine/data.

Comment Re:this is why you need two factor auth (Score 1) 237

Which works until the admin is in an induced coma for a couple of days after a really bad accident. The canary dies and at the very time the admin would be hoping for sympathy and some leeway due to her long upcoming recovery, she is instead fired and eventually ends up in prison and bankrupt and unable to ever again get a job in IT (or, perhaps anywhere).

Comment Re:A race to the bottom (Score 1) 467

I don't whine about outsourcing so I guess I'm not your target audience.

We all live in a global economy and for decades mass manufacturing with large unskilled labor content (and not burdened by excessive product shipping costs etc) has moved to the country with the lowest labor cost and an economic and governmental climate suitable for establishing plants. The individual workers in these countries benefit and generally the country's economy rises -- benefiting all in the country.

I'm happy to see my dollar go to some poor person who is working their tail off in another country -- esp. if the alternative is paying more for the product so a self-entitled US factory worker can be overpaid for their skills (or lack thereof). The fact that they were unwilling to work hard enough in school or throughout their career to do better for themselves serves as an object lesson to the next generation.

It is shortsighted to believe that America's best future lies in prioritizing low skill labor over high skill labor (which generally require more education and making good life choices). It lies in education and expecting and encouraging people to make responsible life choices so they can be productive members of the competitive global economy and maintain a high standard of living for themselves and their families.

Comment Re:A race to the bottom (Score 1) 467

No disagreement -- I would never buy a screwdriver at Harbor Freight because of the very issue you mention. One has to be selective. (And, one has to look at the specific instance of the tool they are buying -- for example, I've seen speed squares in the bin at HF that had flash all along the "marking" edges -- but others next to them were fine).

However, I will buy a drilling hammer, clamps (for when I need a bunch of them occasionally instead of just a couple that I normally use), cheap multi-meter for crude work (they just get tossed in the toolbox -- might get broken and crushed but rarely do, I certainly wouldn't do that with a $300 multi-meter so I probably just wouldn't have one in a place where I would like to have one).

Generally, I won't buy any power tool from HF if I really expect to use it more than a few times a year or expect precision results from it (I do always make sure to test it immediately upon purchase -- DOA is a real risk at HF) and I've never bought a battery powered tool there as I don't want to "buy into" some questionable (and archaic) battery system. Sometimes I do buy power tools at HF that I never could justify for my limited use at a higher price and occasionally I find myself using them more than expected and then I'm likely to buy a better quality one to replace the HF version when it dies or I get annoyed at it.

Comment Re:A race to the bottom (Score 4, Interesting) 467

It turns out that the vast majority of consumers prioritize cost over quality. This is not irrational and those that have a need can usually do otherwise.

For example, Harbor Freight tools are generally crap. But they are cheap. Professionals who use them ten hours a day, six days a week are not going to buy them unless they work in an environment where the tools "disappear" after a couple months (both because they fail more often and because they, generally, are not as easy to do quality work with quickly) -- these professionals buy professional tools. The rest of us are well served by buying a $19.99 "sawzall". If it ends up that we wear it out in five years or less than ten hours of "run-time", we will buy another OR a better brand -- but, in reality, most of these tools end up working for the rest of your life (at least as a backup to the better one you bought because you decided you wanted the cool features or smooth operation of the better one). Sometimes, the best tool from 40 years ago is inferior to the Harbor Freight tool (due to technology advances) and it is better to just buy new tools incorporating recent technology every ten years than using "great" tools that are thirty years old but can't hold a candle to the cheap tools available now.

If you build a new server/desktop, do you buy the "highest quality" bits? If you're wealthy, doing so makes sense for bragging rights. However, for most engineers who are going to toss it in three to four years, it really doesn't matter if the case is plastic or thick steel or flimsy steel -- the resale value of the case is essentially zero and all three types of cases work fine if you don't have a full grown pet gorilla in your household who likes to play "toss the computer against the wall" (in which case, the quality of the case is likely the least of your worries as the gorilla grows up).

Most of the durable goods bought at Walmart (tools, kitchen utensils, small kitchen appliances etc) probably end up being used a few times over the owner's lifetime. If they are going to bake all day, every day, they will buy a professional mixer instead of the deprecated KitchenAid crap that Target or Kohls or Walmart sells. Generally, why pay for "quality" -- do you really care if the kitchen gadget still works when your great grandchild inherits it and it's completely technologically obsolete anyway? Engineers should understand "cost:benefit" tradeoffs very well.

I've got a very cool looking meat grinder that got passed down from my grandparents that still works as it did when my grandmother used it. Guess what, I look at it but don't use it. It's not dishwasher proof (my grandmother probably never saw a dishwasher), it's a pain to clean (my grandmother was used to things being a pain to clean), it spews blood around while grinding (my grandmother probably never thought about that - "it is what it is" - as all her friends' grinders did the same), I have to find a place to clamp it and there's no rational place to do so my kitchen (but probably was in my grandmother's kitchen).

If you care about "quality" (or false pretenses of same), you're not shopping at Walmart, Home Depot, Target, or McDonalds. However, every one of those vendors has multiple competitors who DO offer quality products and better selection (of course at a higher price). For a tiny example, if you want selection and access to quality products, check out McMaster-Carr or similar -- but make sure you've got a high limit on your credit card.

Comment Re:Hope it goes better than the plan did for Kelo (Score 1) 325

Fortunately, it appears Gorsuch is also very critical of Kelo. According to CNN, in an email to a couple of friends at the time, Gorsuch praised Thomas' rather scathing dissent (interestingly, Scalia joined only in O'Connor's dissent, not Thomas').

It's interesting that Trump nominated Gorsuch. Trump seems to think Kelo was a "great" (or maybe "beautiful" or maybe just "pussy grabbing worthy" - I don't recall his exact words) decision. I'd guess that Trump wasn't aware of Gorsuch's views on Kelo before nominating him.

Comment Re:Two problems (Score 4, Informative) 325

And if they can't do that, they'll draft such a law THEN charge you.

First, just drafting a law doesn't make it law -- they would have to pass the law through the usual channels.

Second, the US Constitution prohibits Congress from passing ex post facto laws (Article I, Section 9: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.") and States from passing ex post facto laws (Article I, Section 10: "No State shall [...] pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law [...]).

Comment Re:And it might be illegal (Score 1) 325

The FTC can't "pass" a "law".

Perhaps you meant: "If it is within their regulatory authority to do so, the FTC should enact regulations requiring that *every* corporation must protect customer privacy."

(Although, I don't know why such a requirement would be limited to corporations -- I don't see why unincorporated businesses should get a pass).

Comment Re:Internet Rape (Score 1) 547

The good news is that a careless CPA may email a copy of Trump's tax returns to a colleague and an ISP along the way will suck them out of the stream and sell them to the National Enquirer without fear of legal repercussions.

(Not really because, if nothing else, there are strict Federal laws that protect tax returns specifically -- but it's fun to think about how this could backfire.)

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