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A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

lgw Re: Wow ... (330 comments)

As sibling says, Visa charges this fee to the merchant, not the customer. Visa is in the transaction-processing business; it's banks that loan money.

4 hours ago

Ridley Scott to Produce Philip K Dick's The Man In the High Castle

lgw Re:Actually read the book! (110 comments)

SF is the abbreviation for "real science fiction". SciFi is the abbreviation for action/horror movies with futuristic explosions. Harlan Ellison suggests "skiffy" as the pronunciation of the latter, and some have taken to writing it that way too. I hear Edge of Tomorrow was actually good SF, but I haven't seen it yet - but 1 a year is lucky for SF films.

Plus you have films like Gravity, which wasn't even SciFi, but instead a historical period piece. Remember when we had shuttles, and the will to build vehicles that could launch men into space? Good times; good times.

9 hours ago

A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

lgw Re:in fairness... (330 comments)

If your costs for a box are $1 production, $1000 R&D, then your replacement costs for shrinkage and shipping damage and so on are: $1/box. This guy mightt be 1 lost sale, but he certainly isn't 40.

9 hours ago

A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

lgw Re:Wow ... (330 comments)

The customer didn't print special cards here - they're just normal, expired cards.

The store doesn't call the number on the back of the card - the store calls their own merchant bank.

This was just straightforward grift (a con game), not some glaring flaw in the banking system. The sales clerks got suckered, perhaps due to lack of training by Apple, or perhaps the con-man was just that good.

9 hours ago

A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

lgw Re:Wow ... (330 comments)

The truth is that credit card interest is the highest profit gig in the whole world. Because of this, Visa/MasterCard

Visa/MasterCard make $0 off of interest. They charge a fee for the convenience of not having to use cash. They're not in the "loaning money" business at all, and of course TFS talks about debit cards, not credit cards.

Vendors are not even allowed to do things like require an ID, (I know they do, but it is against the vendor agreement), even though it would make purchases a lot more secure, because EASY trumps everything, EASY makes billions.

Easy is what the customers want. For normal fraud with actual credit cards (nothing to do with this story, of course), it's the merchant who eats the fraud for ID theft. But merchants sign up for that, because they'll have less business if they're inconvenient for their customers.

Security is not the primary goal here, nor should it be. The only goal of any security here is to limit losses system-wide to something manageable. And it does that just fine.

9 hours ago

What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

lgw Re:network (144 comments)

WiFi vs powerline networking is very much house-specific. Modern WiFi works great in most places these days, but it matters what's in the walls between here and there. Powerline networking works great in some places, but other are wired so there there's no signal at all between certain rooms, because of deliberate isolation (only heard o fthat in newer houses). One or the other is pretty likely to work for you, if you can't get GbE wired where you need it. At least try to wire up your most-used TV.

I use the Handbrake command line to rip these days, because of the DVD/BR trickery, language choices, and so on. With a few scripts I get the audio and subtitle tracks I want, reliably. I have a little program to scan the DVD (using handbrake) and generate a ripping script, needing as input only whether it's an animated title, which 90% of the time I can just run. It's only the stupid BluRays where there are many bogus titles that it takes me more than a few seconds of effort these days.

BTW, Disney isn't the main villain when it comes to the fake BR tracks, that's LionsGate. I haven't seen that from Disney for some time now (Disney cartoons do typically have 1 title choice per language, since they localize on-screen writing and sometimes the credits, but that's just a few titles to sort out, not the 9-title puzzle box).


US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

lgw Re:How to regulate something that is unregulateabl (155 comments)

Gold notes were just as virtual as anything else. Physical gold coins, or barter for consumables, is the only way to avoid virtuality, and there were many practical reasons we went away from that. Nothing, of course, will prevent a government from debasing a currency - it's what they do, it's all they do.


VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

lgw Re:Appre (224 comments)

I disagree. If you can hold down a professional job in America, you should get a green card (after only a criminal background check). If you can hold down any job in America, you should get a work visa (after only a criminal background check). The only way in which legal immigration can be bad for us is when people come here without jobs to consume federal programs. Have a job? Welcome aboard!

If native population were growing fast, it might be a different story, but since native population is shrinking (birth rate below replacement rate), we need people, those with professional skills preferred.

4 days ago

VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

lgw Re:Appre (224 comments)

The problem isn't people coming here on H1-Bs, but their difficulty in turn that into a green card. The "apprentices" would mostly stay here if they could. And does anyone really want to argue that immigration of well-educated, highly-skilled engineers is bad for America?

All the focus on the political immigration debate seems to be on low-skilled workers, and the answers aren't so easy there. But anyone who can come here and work a job that pays $100k+? Keep em coming, I say.

about a week ago

Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

lgw Re:Kittens? (260 comments)

Can I use kittens in my design?

Yes, as long as they fit in the box (so you're likely limited to 1 kitten), and as long as they're not water cooled kittens.

about a week ago

The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

lgw Re:Pft (960 comments)

From what I hear, death threats are quite normal in the video games industry. Certainly the vitriol flies on gaming forums (can't imagine how busy the moderators for official game forums must be). This article seems to boil down to "but women get rape threats too". OK, sure, men don't often get those, fair point. But in an industry thick with death threats, how many developers or commentators have actually been lynched by angry fans since the beginning of time? Roughly zero? It's not rational to actually be creeped out or worried about this stuff.

For goodness sake, Jack Thompson is still alive and well. If any of these threats of violence could be taken seriously, he'd be the first casualty. Think you're more hated than that guy?

about a week ago

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:Why do you want pieces of plastic (353 comments)

I have 100 discs in my Netflix queue that aren't available on streaming. Go through about 6 a week, and have for years (I don't have cable). Only about 10% or what I watch can be streamed. And sadly the count of "very long wait" is up to 20 now, and climbing.

For the most part, it's only recent (but not too recent) content that's streamable. Heck, you can't even stream The Wire, and that's not that old. You can't stream any of the pre-reboot Dr Who episodes, and I could add another 100 discs to my queue just for Dr Who (does the BBC have these streaming yet?)

about a week ago

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:Time will tell (353 comments)

If there were an alternative to Netflix for disc shipment, I'd switch today. I might pay double, certainly 50% more, for the breadth of selection Netflix once had, if catalog growth continued, stuff got upgraded to BluRay, and so on.

But there's no such animal. Kids these days are all about streaming. Netflix's model of "delayed gratification" for TV watching was a miracle in the first place. I'm amazed it's lasted as long as it has.

about a week ago

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:Time will tell (353 comments)

The advertisement for Hulu plus will resume after this commercial break. Stay tuned afterwards for our Best of Commercials Spectacular, we're sure you'll love it.

about a week ago

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:call them (353 comments)

Netflix streaming is nearly-worthless - there's just no content.

Hulu streaming is totally worthless garbage. Fuck commercials.

Amazon has the wrong model. PPV isn't where it's at.

There's no question Netflix is gradually ending their disc service (selection is falling rapidly), and that really sucks. The ~$1.50 price to watch a disc was right for me, and it's sad to see it die. There's so very much great stuff from the 20th century that seems doomed to vanish with the death of physical media (and the complete and utter failure of government and the legal system when it comes to streaming and licensing).

At this point, I can only hope good rips of everything are around somewhere and being archived by hobbyists, awaiting some fix to copyright law. (Torrents may be plentiful for new stuff, but new stuff is easily available in legal ways for those who aren't broke anyhow. Torrents for last-century works are a different story).

about a week ago

New York Judge OKs Warrant To Search Entire Gmail Account

lgw Re:Warrants are supposed to be narrow (150 comments)

I don't think the question is really whether the judge can order such a thing. I think it's more of a question of whether it is justified in this case.

We lack the data to second-guess the judge's judgment. I'm elated by this story, personally. There was a judge; there was a warrant; that's amazing progress for email!

about a week ago

Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

lgw Re:IBM (383 comments)

You seem blind to the fact that your arguments only make sense when viewed through the "only Americans matter" lens, but are obviously false otherwise. How else do you explain it?

about a week ago

The debate over climate change is..

lgw Re:n/t (278 comments)

On human timescales, let's say a maximum lifetime of an average building, on most places climate would be stable.

Well, assuming you mean a few hundred years, like a European building, then not so much. Look at the Vostok Ice Core Data, if you haven't already. The past 10k years or relative climate stability is a stark anomaly compared to the previous 400k (apparently the previous 800k years are much the same).

Based on the data, the warming spike to current conditions should have been over very quickly, and the glaciers should have been on the march by now. No one knows why the last 10k years is odd. Heck, we don't even know that much. Is the Quaternary Ice Age coming to an end after ~100 M years? If so, human actions mean nothing on the scale of that, but it seems a bit non-Copernican to suppose it's so. (OTOH, the past 10k years of anomalous climate stability were key to humans emerging as a technological species, so it wouldn't be entirely coincidence.) What mechanism causes the abrupt temperature spike every 100k years? What brings it down again so sharply? What's different this time? The science here is in its infancy.

With human influence, in particular their massive release of CO2 and it's feedback effects, it looks like climate can and indeed will change so fast, that buildings close to oceans may get submerged in massive scale, farmland may become unarable faster than it's economical to create new farmland with all the food production infrastructure that goes with it etc.

Don't watch so many disaster movies. America grows enough food to feed itself on a small fraction of the land it needed even 100 years ago, and there's plenty of land to the North of current farm belts. This stuff won't change in a handful of years, not by and order of magnitude or two, and a handful of years is all it would take for modern agri-industry to move farming north.

Basically, the bad case for warming is that cities would have to move over generations to higher land. There's certainly an economic cost one could assess for that. If the climate models ever get to the point where they're useful, we could even put a dollar figure per year on it. But I expect heavy dependence on fossil fuels is just a passing phase in technological progress anyhow, and we'll be largely beyond it before it really matters.

about two weeks ago

US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

lgw Re:Did he just notice that? (529 comments)

The thing is if employers want the duty to just pay you for services, then they should get out of everything that does not involve work.

I couldn't agree more. And that goes double for the government. Heck, even the concept of health "insurance" as we have it today seems broken - does my car insurance pay for tune-ups? I'd like nothing more than being able to buy catastrophic care insurance (what was once called "major medical") like I buy car insurance (including the government-mandated high-risk pool so that no one gets priced out - we made that work for car insurance after all), and let all the day-to-day medical stuff be a cash transaction no different from an oil change.

It's an imperfect world.

about two weeks ago

US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

lgw Re:Did he just notice that? (529 comments)

BTW, on the QA side, Microsoft did in fact give people a few months to apply internally for dev jobs (it wasn't official that the rest would face lay-offs, but the writing was on the wall). About half of them made that jump. That's not re-training, of course, but it's nicer than most corporate layoffs.

about two weeks ago


lgw hasn't submitted any stories.



Economics in Brief (Internet Flotsam)

lgw lgw writes  |  about 3 months ago

Here's some internet flotsam attributed to a graduation speech by Thomas Sargent (without digging into whether this speech really happened: the content is interesting).

Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts,
and their preferences than you do.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That
is why social safety nets don't always end up working as intended.

5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.

6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their
choices. That is why it is difficult for well meaning outsiders to change
things for better or worse.

7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are
some promises that you'd like to make but can't. No one will believe those
promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to
deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about
whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change.
This is how you earn a reputation.

8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.

9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is
what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do
(but not the social security system of Singapore).

10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or
tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.

11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government
transfers (especially transfers to themselves).

12. Because market prices aggregate traders' information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.


Geothermal vs Solar Power

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Here are the basic numbers on aailable geothermal vs solar power (since this has come up in discussion more than once).

The surface area of the Earth is about 5.1 x 10^14 m^2. The cross sectional area is about 1.3 x 10^14 m^2 (one quarter of the surface area, of course).

Per this paper found as a cite on wikipedia, the total heat flow out from the Earth's interior is 4.42 x 10^13 W, or 0.0867 W/m^2. Of course, the available power is much less because it's only the subsurface-surface temperature difference that's available.

Total solar irradience is 1361 W/m^2 by NASA's latest estimate (so about 1.7 x 10^17 W across the entire cross section), or about 1000 W/m^2 on the surface at noon on a cloudless day. Averaged over the day-night cycle (surface area vs cross-section, so 250 W/m^2), and taking clouds into account that's about 180 W/m^2 (I can't find a solid source on that yet, but it looks close).

So, total solar power flow is about 4000 times as large as total geothermal flow. I'm not quite sure how to estimate the (ideal) available power as a percentage of the total geothermal power flow, but if we use a WAG of 50%, then the available power from solar is also about 4000 times per square meter more than geothermal - significantly more if we average solar power only across populated latitudes.


Global Warming Link

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 5 years ago

This is the best summary of the great global warming fraud I've yet seen, and published in the most unlikely of places.

To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.

Although I feel Harold Ambler makes some good points, he misses what I've always felt was the most important. Given that the climate will change (as it always has), do we want it to be warmer, or colder? As glaciers covering Europe (the norm for the ice age we've been in for the past 100M years) seems to me far worse than rising sea levels, I've never understood why we'd want to fight warming in the first place.

I think the whole global warming fraud started by ignoring all of the available evidence and blindly asserting that the climate is naturally stable, so therefore if man did something to break that stability we'd be creating an otherwise-avoidable catastrophe. What BS. The only thing historically unprecedented is the inexplicable stability of the climate for the past 10K years. Change is unavoidable, with or without the actions of man.


Some quotes I like

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 9 years ago

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." - Abraham Lincoln

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.'" - George Orwell

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