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35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

pipedwho Re:Worse Than U Think (545 comments)

When considering 'worth', you forgot to factor in the value of a constant income stream. In economic terms, a person is cash-flow positive if their income exceeds their outgoings. Even though someone may have an instantaneous snapshot of wealth that is equal to or less than zero, they may still be cash-flow positive or neutral.

Business valuations are related to total potential revenue which may be far less than the outgoings for a start-up company. However, that company may still be valued at millions or billions of dollars if the earnings potential is non-zero, even though they are hugely negative on their balance sheet. Think Amazon back in the early days when it first started.

This is the same for a person. If that person dies, they may have zero direct assets at the time (or may even owe more money than they have assets), but you'll quickly realise they were 'worth' a lot more than zero as all the debts and other things that were being paid for suddenly cease to covered. At that point, cash-flow takes a huge negative hit and debt is accumulating in a way that it can no longer be repaid. That debt may be in the form of dependants that now must be paid for by someone else (or by the State), unsecured loans that must now be written off by the creditors, and other general outgoings that will stop.

Say I somehow take out an unsecured loan for a million dollars from a bank. I am now worth $1,000,000 to that bank. If I die straight away, they are out the million. As long as I'm alive and working, I can keep repaying the loan, and at 5%pa over 10 years I'll end up repaying the loan, plus an extra couple of hundred grand in interest. So if you ask the bank what I'm worth, they'll tell you I'm worth a lot more than zero, even if I took the money to Vegas and blew it all in the high-rollers lounge.

2 days ago

OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

pipedwho Re: Flash panic (161 comments)

I have to agree that buying something useful that you otherwise would not necessarily have bought in the first place is not a bad thing for either yourself or the economy as a whole.

2 days ago

OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

pipedwho Re:Flash panic (161 comments)

It encourages you to sign up for a loyalty card in the first place, otherwise you pay 'full price'. Once you have the loyalty card you start thinking about going to one of the shops that you are 'loyal' to rather than the corner shop down the street. (This may not be individually true for everyone, but on average that is how it works.)

This sort of 'discounting' is kind of like in industries without loyalty programs where there is an RRP and a much lower 'street price'. The shops don't actually expect people to pay the RRP (with the exception of someone that is either uninformed or desperate to buy a more difficult to source item immediately). But it does allow them a lot of 'discounting' and haggle margin to make the customers feel good about what they're paying.

Once the first few chain stores started doing this, the others followed suit. So now you have a sad state of affairs where the 'chain cartel' has a huge advantage when it comes to repeat customers. Your local corner store loses business and has to jack up their prices to pay the rent, causing even less customers to shop there. Less competition from small players. Big chain stores can get away with this because they always have one or two items that the other big chain stores don't and thus you end up signing up.

As a loyalty card holder, the retailers have far more detailed (marketable/mineable) information about you than they otherwise would have. Now they can run the numbers to see where its safe to jack up the price without losing customers.

With competition reduced, once a company has significant control over a market (either geographically or in a category segment), up go the prices to the maximum the market can afford.

So you may think you're getting a discount, but the discount is simply from an artificially inflated starting price. Or in some industries funded by the fact that you are now buying more than you otherwise needed to. It is all a numbers game. The big retail giants have increased profits year over year, so at no point have they been forced to release some of that profit back to either the suppliers by paying more, or to the consumers in the form of honest price reductions.

2 days ago

OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

pipedwho Re:Flash panic (161 comments)

The problem with most 'commercial experimentation' is that it isn't about getting better value for the consumer, but about how to to best convince the consumer to pay more for something, or buy something, that they otherwise would not have.

Loyalty cards are a way for a business to encourage a customer to return whether or not it is really in their best interest. Phone contracts, transaction 'fees' and 'licensing' are other ways to get people coming back for more of a beating. If you make the fine print and pricing structure too complicated to understand, while offering all sorts of shiny bling in the big print, marketers have found that they can significantly increase sales. Auto bank account debits are great in that the consumer starts to forget that they are continually paying for something, and may take a few extra months (and therefore payments) to cancel a service that they are no longer using - especially when you make it difficult to do.

Factory rebates are another example of sneaky marketing. They make it hard to claim the rebate, in some cases always 'losing' your first application, or finding something incorrect or incomplete in their overly complicated request form. In the end they pay out less than 1 in 5 rebates because most people give up trying to claim that $100. However, when buying the product the consumer factored in the rebate and probably avoided a more suitable competitor with a better more 'expensive' product.

All these techniques would have been arrived at by experimenting on consumers. It is simply about a business trying to get as close to the threshold of pain as possible to maximise profit. Too far and they go backwards - which is why they experiment on a small sample of their market before any large scale roll out.

2 days ago

Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

pipedwho Re:Switchin back to a Keyboard (539 comments)

Only twice as fast with "touch typing" vs a touch screen phone?

I'm easily at least 10 to 20x faster with touch typing on a bluetooth external keyboard than on the touch screen of my phone.

Anything smaller than about 2/3 size keys are too small for proper touch typing.

That being said, I only ever use the touch keyboard on the phone for short responses and scenarios where being able to type a few words at all is better than nothing. A friend has one of those fold-out bluetooth keyboard cases for his Samsung mega phone and loves it. After folding open, the keys are just big enough for real touch typing - he flies with that thing. His phone + keyboard case is about the same size as an old Palm Pilot.

Touch screen phone keyboards are a major compromise, but do provide a keyboard that takes up no space at all and is still quite useable when you're on the go. Especially when pocket space in the hipster skinny jeans is at a premium.

2 days ago

Comcast Carrying 1Tbit/s of IPv6 Internet Traffic

pipedwho Re:Advantages? (146 comments)

How so?

A firewall can be set to block all incoming connections with a few inbound exceptions that the user requires (eg. port 22 on a particular box, and port 80 on another one).

The advantages are that the firewall no longer has to keep track of all NAT connections with the associated timeout issues, and that there will never be a network address collision issue when you connect via VPN from a remote network with the same subnet range. It also removes issues related to split-horizon DNS.

For certain corporate requirements and address aliasing, IPv6 can still be NATed where necessary.

But, for your bog standard user that just wants to 'feel safe' behind their firewall, there is really no difference in setup or maintenance complexity between NAT and a router with a default firewall setting of 'block all inbound connections'. UPNP/etc even works the same way to automatically open up a gaping hole whenever requested by a user application.

about a week ago

A Brief History of Patenting the Wheel: What Goes Around Comes Around

pipedwho Re:Innovation patents are not true "patents" (36 comments)

The system is not so silly when you look at how it works in practice,

The greater flexibility does not restrict innovation, and that should be the key test of it's usefulness.

This is because an "innovation patent" is not examined until it is challenged, at which point, the ones that don't meet patentability requirements will only be rejected at that point and not before. The duration of an Innovation Patent is also much shorter than a standard patent.

about three weeks ago

Consciousness On-Off Switch Discovered Deep In Brain

pipedwho Re:This is scary (284 comments)

Right, but anesthesia or a wrench is not exactly the "kill switch" that this seems to be .

More precisely, both are more likely to be actual 'kill switches' than this new method. In both general anaesthesia and the old wrench to the back of the head, there is a non-trivial likelihood that both will end in the recipients death. This new technique is theoretically attempting to target the required part of the brain with far more accuracy and less collateral damage than existing methods of rendering a person unconscious.

I perceive it more like a virtual machine suspend.

about three weeks ago

Radar Changing the Face of Cycling

pipedwho Re:Useless (235 comments)

It's not that the driver thinks it's a motorbike and gives extra consideration. It's that with multiple co-linear lights, a driver is far better able to judge how far away the cyclist is. As another poster noted, if a driver thinks you're a motorbike, they'll also assume you are travelling at or faster than the traffic flow.

On a bicycle, a single point source of super bright light will let a driver know that you're somewhere in that direction - while partially blinding them if you angle it up like I see done far too often.

Whereas, a wider (multi-element) lamp that isn't overly bright will let the driver's eye far better estimate and track how far away you are - while not blinding them to the other surrounds.

about a month ago

Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

pipedwho Re:Well, sort of. (109 comments)

There's also the off-peak hot water signals that are modulated on the line (at around 1kHz) in some places. Those signals are generated at the local substation. Their purpose is to activate various hot-water systems to load balance the area's power use. Where the final goal is to minimise the peak usage during 'peak' periods of use.

It is conceivable that if an 'interview' is made when that type of noise appears on the line, and that an accurate time reference is available, it may be possible to use this to narrow down the search region.

Still not going to pin-point a location, but could definitely narrow it down far better than just using the 60Hz line frequency. Which is far too narrow band to provide any useful information beyond what country you're in.

about a month ago

Data Mining Shows How Down-Voting Leads To Vicious Circle of Negative Feedback

pipedwho Re:Dislike function is positive reinforcement (293 comments)

The prediction of operant conditioning predicts that positive reinforcement will increase behavior and negative reinforcement will reduce behavior. The report is not contesting operant conditioning it is only determining what sort of reinforcement the like and dislike function provide; reporting that the like function of these sites actually has little or no reinforcement and that the dislike function has a positive reinforcement toward unwanted behavior. This shows that it would be appropriate to say that there could be some debate on the meaning of like and dislike functions and what some appropriate alternatives may be.

    - Corbett Dehring

In addition to this, I'd suggest that trolling can be likened to bullying in the sense that the negative response of the victimised party (or group) encourages continued trolling behaviour. And negative in this context is really about the negative feelings of the reader being communicated through the use of the like/dislike up/down vote.

Without that communication or feedback, the trolling/teasing/bullying behaviour has no reinforcement path, and the troll/bully moves on to greener pastures.

about 2 months ago

Do Embedded Systems Need a Time To Die?

pipedwho What about devices with no RTC? (187 comments)

If a device does not have a way to keep track of time (eg. in built real time clock, with backup battery that will last for the duration of the device's 'lifetime'), then it becomes vulnerable to permanent denial of service when something spoofs a fake future date and time. What happens when a hundred thousand devices go offline because someone spoofed an NTP response?

You may as well force every device to have a kill switch and remotely shut it down when it's too old. At least that'll probably require some kind of public key signature from an authenticated service (in the same way you'd authenticate a remote firmware update).

What I'm trying to say is this is one of those 'management ideas' that sounds great in the philosophical sense, but fails in technical merit.

about 3 months ago

Canadian Teen Arrested For Calling In 30+ Swattings, Bomb Threats

pipedwho Re:Autoimmune disorder... (350 comments)

1. Pay phono
2. Voip over someone else's wifi
3. Someone else's phone while they're too drunk to notice an outgoing call
4. Hacked remote computer, then install and use Voip service
5. Stolen cell phone
6. Break into someone's house and use their land line phone
7. Burn phone
8. etc.

about 3 months ago

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

pipedwho Re:enforce existing laws? (490 comments)

This makes no sense. But, then again, you are posting as AC.

By your logic, you may be me, and this post might be me replying to myself.

about 3 months ago

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

pipedwho Re: Dangerous (490 comments)

No idea about your local regulations, but in most places cyclists are allowed to ride down the curb side of stationary vehicles. Especially so when there is a bike lane marked. Cars are only allowed to do this if the vehicle is stopped and indicating to turn left (or right in places that drive on the left side of the road). Many places also allow motorbikes to filter between lanes to get to the front when traffic is stopped at lights.

Naturally this maneuvers can be dangerous if the cyclist isn't paying attention to motorists that are also not paying attention.

about 3 months ago

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

pipedwho Re: Dangerous (490 comments)

Being overtaken while riding through an intersection is usually far more dangerous than being overtaken further up the road where there are far less distractions for the driver doing the overtaking.

about 3 months ago

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

pipedwho Re:enforce existing laws? (490 comments)

Actually, bicycles that don't roll through intersections are more likely to hold up traffic behind them, while having motorists make unsafe overtaking manoeuvres to get around them right near the intersection itself.

Any time someone uses a car (or any object for that matter) to intentionally cause an accident, that person is open to prosecution. Whether it be a douche bag pulling in front of a 30 bike peloton and slamming on their brakes, or opening their door while queued up a traffic light just to stop a motorcyclist from filtering through to the front. That shit is illegal simply because it is someone intentionally causing harm to another person. Just like someone running over an old lady that was taking too long to cross the street; the light goes green on them, and a driver thinks 'fuck it I have right of way, I'll just blow right over the top of her in my oversized SUV'. They definitely don't have the 'right of way' to injure or kill someone.

I'm sure there are many assholes out there who just claim they did what they did for some other idiotic but 'unintentional' reason. But, that doesn't make it right, nor does it guarantee a jury will believe them.

Maybe I'm misreading your post, but If you can't see that road safety isn't just about blindly following regulations, then you should definitely not be driving on the road. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before you end up in court wondering how you got there.

about 3 months ago

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

pipedwho Re:Dangerous (490 comments)

There is nothing in the regulations that say treating a stop as a yield or a red light as a stop sign somehow gives you any additional right of way. All it means is that you don't have to wait as long to determine if the intersection is safe to cross.

The Idaho Stop / California Roll is all about going slow enough that you can gauge the traffic heading towards the intersection for the other directions to determine if it is safe to move. A stop sign simply 'forces' cars to stop even if it would be otherwise safe to only slow down to a few miles an hour. And a red light forces cars to stop even when you can see for miles in both directions that there is nothing coming.

A car moving slowly can easily kill or do heavy damage to a pedestrian (or another road user). Whereas a bicycle has a much smaller cross section, lower kinetic energy, and a rider that is far more likely to come off badly no matter how small the object/person is that they collide with.

You can't be serious saying it is more dangerous to give way at slow speed versus coming to a complete stop and then having to huff and puff back up to speed, while simultaneously being overtaken with inches to spare by a bunch of impatient motorists because you can't outpace them.

In fact the article gives clear statistics showing the exact opposite. Just about every cyclist I know treat 'right of way' as synonymous to 'enter at your own risk'.

about 3 months ago

USPTO Approves Amazon Patent For Taking Pictures

pipedwho Re: Our patent system is totally broken (152 comments)

Win win for all ... patent lawyers!

Sadly it is true that they are doing their duty to their customers. Customers who unfortunately are not the general public, but a small conclave of large corporations.

about 3 months ago

USPTO Approves Amazon Patent For Taking Pictures

pipedwho Re: Our patent system is totally broken (152 comments)

Like when a studio photographer points an umbrella flash at the white backdrop, or puts a slave flash behind the subject to soften or remove shadowing on the background.

This is definitely an example of an examiner failing in their public duty.

about 3 months ago


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