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Comment AirBnB is a plague (Score 2) 62

The problem with AirBnB is that it doesn't distinguish property owners who are renting out a room in their primary dwelling are doing it to earn extra cash on the side, versus landlords who use it to turn entire buildings into vacation rentals without regard to noise ordinances and the surrounding rental market. So, AirBnB defends itself by holding up the former case as an example, while ignoring the legitimate complaints caused by the latter case.

Let's be absolutely clear here: for many major cities, if apartment landlords are able to use AirBnB, they would make a lot more money than they would through regular rentals. If enough of them do this, it would increase the cost of rent for the entire region by making housing more scarce. This is unacceptable.

Cities have fought back by trying to force limitations on the circumstances under which an AirBnB would be allowed. But AirBnB fights these because it threatens their business. They put out propaganda saying that cities are limiting the freedom of struggling property owners, or accusing government of bowing to some all-powerful hotel lobby. The reality is that they care nothing about the destruction of the housing market, or to noise complaints. I know from first-hand experience: they do not take noise complaints seriously; as long as they get their cut, there's no accountability. I've had to call the police on various "guests." I've complained through their site numerous times, to no avail. I have no leverage.

Regulations are not some intrinsic evil as libertarians would put it. Until it happens to affect YOU, there's always this prevailing belief that it's nobody's business to dictate what others should or should not be able to do. But let's see how you deal with AirBnB guests who party until 3-4 am on a weekday when you have to get up in the morning to work; how you deal with landlords who ignore your threats to take them to court; how you deal with having to call the police on a weekly basis until even they stop caring because there's nothing they can do except tell drunk asshole guests to quiet down. Let's see how you deal with having your property value decrease because you're next to a 24/7 party house. Let's see how well your "live and let live" attitude serves you when you find rents increasing in your region by 10%+ every six months because every fucking apartment owner is doing AirBnB so that they can make $4000/month on each apartment instead of $2000/month.

Comment I tried to warn a friend (Score 3, Interesting) 726

A few years ago, a friend of mine who had been working in a full-time job in the hospitality industry, had signed up to be an Uber driver during his spare time. He claimed to be making an extra thousand dollars a month or so, which he used to finance a used vehicle.

I probed for more details. "What about insurance," I asked. "Have you accounted for wear and tear on the vehicle due to increased mileage? Is this a sustainable income model? What if the pool of drivers increases and you face increased competition for fares?" He was completely nonchalant: at the time, Uber was still growing, there weren't as many drivers as there are now, and since he was still receiving a salary, he had no concerns for wage instability.

Months later, he mentioned that he quit his full time job because he could make more money driving for Uber, and it was lower stress. He seemed happy. Well, we know how that turned out. He ended up essentially destitute, unable to afford food and rent; unable to fix his car when the inevitable breakdown occurred and would cost thousands to repair; and still had payments to make on the loan.

I'm not saying that these kinds of jobs cannot be sustainable as full-time employment, but it is a great deal more difficult to make it viable than the vast, vast majority of people enticed into the idea are led to believe. The fact that these companies make it sound like it's easy (for obvious reasons) is the modern-day equivalent of selling Amway.

Comment I just have one simple question. (Score 5, Insightful) 564

For all of this spectacle, all the attention paid to the actors and pawns in this charade--Assange, Manning, Snowden, Obama, the US government, Sweden, UK--what has ever come of the actual substance of these disclosures? Has no one bothered to ask who should be held accountable for the lives of those journalists shot down in Iraq? Has no one lifted a finger to ensure that the NSA does not continue to violate the US Constitution?

Why is this such a difficult issue for so many people to stay focused on? Why is it that, even now, people are still focused on the players and not the crimes? Assange is no less guilty than the US government for playing his part to deflect attention from the real issues in his desire to grandstand in the spotlight. That nothing has come of these revelations that Manning and Snowden brought to the attention of the American people and the entire world, is the greatest success that fascists could ever hope for, because it means that even when massive criminal wrongdoing is exposed, the people will not force change: there is zero accountability and the government can act with impunity.

Comment In other news... (Score 5, Funny) 252

"Sales of dongles soar after Apple removes MacBook Pro ports"

I can see what's next:

"Sales of external battery packs soar after Apple eliminates batteries from all products to make them 2 mm thinner"

"Sales of wireless keyboards soar after Apple removes keyboard from MacBooks to make them 1 mm thinner"

"Sales of trackpads, displays, and logic boards soar after Apple announces new MacBook Pro is an empty cardboard box; calls it 'our most innovative and courageous product ever'"

Comment Re:Congrats! Apple screwed you to sell more headho (Score 2) 252

Removing the headphone jack was annoying and regressive; on that we can agree. Samsung is likely to remove it to the S8, in response to Apple, and that makes it all the more frustrating.

Beats are crap. I refuse to buy any of those headphones. I got a pair as a gift for Christmas--wireless, natch--and I haven't taken the shrink wrap off. I intend to sell it.

I bought Jaybirds years before Apple removed the jack. They work great, but they're not perfect. So I'm not sure where you're coming from when you say that Beats controls the wireless headphone market. People have been buying other brands long before the iPhone 7.

Apple has very clearly lost its way, but it's not like their acquisition of Beats and removal of the headphone jack was planned specifically so that they would force adoption of hideous and overpriced wireless pieces of shit. Well, at least I don't think that's the case.

Comment Re:You have no right to take pictures in public (Score 4, Insightful) 184

You *DO* have the right to take photographs in public (at least, in the United States). But the defendant has an incorrect interpretation of this right.

The right to take photographs of individuals in public, from a public location, does not extend to situations in which the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This means that "upskirt" photographs, or similar covert attempts to photograph people in a way that exposes that which is not visible under normal circumstances, is not a protected right. The basic reasoning is that by choosing to wear clothing that obscures your body in public, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy that no one is going to take photos from a point of view that would reveal what is under those clothes.

Comment Re:What about stop making stuff super thin? (Score 3, Insightful) 289

The obsession with thinness is all the more ironic considering that for many of these devices, the very first thing that the user does is cradle it in a thick plastic or silicone case to protect its exquisitely sleek and fragile surface.

I totally understand that people want to be able to protect and personalize their phones through cases, but it really proves how consumers don't actually NEED each successive generation of devices to be increasingly thinner. They want durability, they want grip, and they want better battery life, none of which is served by making devices so thin they will bend or explode with the slightest force.

Don't make something thin unless you intend for it to also bend.

I'm old enough to remember the "small" phone craze that happened decades ago. Mobile phones were on this progressive death spiral toward tinier and tinier form factors (this was even parodied in Zoolander). Now it's the same thing, just with thinness. It's a sign that the industry has gotten too comfortable with itself. Something will need to come along that really innovates, much in the way that the original smartphones broke the tiny phone trend.

Comment Re:Apple bears some responsibility here. (Score 1) 121

Chargers and cables are not cutting edge technology. The design and safety considerations are well known and stable. Your suggestion that the high price is justified from a research, design, and consumer safety perspective is not supported by actual evidence: for example, a Lenovo laptop charger retails for $55 but an Apple charger retails for $85, yet the Lenovo design has all of the safety and durability features that even the Apple charger lacks: it has strain relief, and it has a replaceable cable that disconnects from the brick.

And this comes from someone who uses both Apple and Lenovo products; the former for personal use, the latter for work. And I detest and loathe Windows and Lenovo hardware in general. (I would have rather had our company go with Dell but I didn't have a say.) So when I go out of my way to specifically point out that even a (in my view, substandard) manufacturer like Lenovo can make a safe, reliable, durable charger and sell it for substantially less money than Apple, that really should underscore how serious and blatant Apple's design hubris really is.

Comment Re:Apple bears some responsibility here. (Score 1) 121

Anonymous Coward:

The victim here is the consumer. Not Apple, and not the counterfeiters, who are both playing a role in the consumer's victimization either directly, by offering unsafe low-quality products, or indirectly, by offering safe but expensive low-quality products. Together these comprise opposite sides of the same coin. Neither manufacturer is harmed in the least bit by their actions; to the contrary, they both profit handsomely, which is precisely why this issue has become so prevalent among Apple products.

Comment Apple bears some responsibility here. (Score 3, Insightful) 121

The only reason why there's so many fake Apple chargers and non-compliant cables is because Apple prices genuine ones exorbitantly, and yet they are not designed to be durable. This combination creates a market for counterfeit and shoddy replacement products because when the genuine version breaks, consumers don't want to spend $100 or $45 or $20 to replace a charger or cable.

Case in point: MacBook Pro chargers have been known to suffer from frayed cables due to Apple's insistence on a design that lacks adequate strain relief. This has been a known engineering defect in their chargers since the iBook and PowerBook design over a decade ago, yet Apple has persistently refused to correct this flaw, presumably to encourage people to buy new chargers and make more profit. It would be a trivial matter for Apple to redesign these chargers to make the cable detachable from the brick--something that virtually every other laptop manufacturer does, so that if the cable breaks, you don't have to pay $100 to replace the whole thing and toss the broken one in the trash.

Same problem with iPhone cables. No strain relief. Apple talks about being an environmentally conscious company, but with millions of iPhone users--and almost everyone I know who owns one has said they've needed to replace the OEM cable due to wear--the cost of this garbage is substantial. Then add in the cost of the counterfeits both in terms of waste and safety.

Apple: lower the profit margins on chargers and cables, and make them more durable. You won't sell as much or make as much money, but only then will you be living up to your claims of being environmentally conscious and actually caring about consumers not injuring themselves, because you are playing a role in the fact that your consumers are buying knockoffs in the first place.

Comment Re:The electoral college is not needed (Score 0) 637

1. What you think is "equitable" in fact is not: the Electoral College as it currently exists places disproportionate weight on voters from states with small populations. Why should their votes have more influence on the outcome than someone who lives in a large city? Each person's vote should count for an equal share in the determination of any voting outcome. That is by definition equal representation and this is not how the Electoral College works.

2. We already do count all the individual votes; this is precisely how we determine the electors. The historical examples you cite actually prove that disputes about legitimacy or voting outcomes are NOT addressed with the Electoral College, because these controversies occurred even when the College was used. In fact, had the Electoral College been abolished in 2000, Al Gore would have won the presidency irrespective of the result of the disputed Florida ballots, because he had won the popular vote nationwide.

3. Trump is extremely popular and in the eyes of many extremely dangerous: he is self-contradictory, so we have no idea what he will do or say. And his supporters, far from holding him accountable, find all kinds of post hoc rationalizations and justifications for his erratic behavior. Yet he was elected through the Electoral College. It is in fact not a protective measure at all: electors are, almost without exception, bound to elect the candidate they pledged themselves to. Whether you agree or disagree about whether Trump is "evil," is actually secondary to this fact.

In summary, the reasons you cite for keeping the Electoral College are in fact reasons for doing the exact opposite.

Comment Apple misses the point (Score 5, Insightful) 212

(Gordon Ramsay voice): It's not about the price of the bloody dongles you fucking donkey!

It's about not having to deal with all the extra connectors, keeping track of them, taking them with you when you travel and then worrying about losing them. It's about Jony Ive and Tim Cook having the arrogance to design both the iPhone 7/7+ and the new MacBook Pro with release dates less than a month apart, yet not include in EITHER BOX a cable that lets you connect these two devices directly to each other. What the fuck is that, Jony? Just tryy to justify that decision. I dare you. It's about marketing USB-C as the future but not actually providing any cables out of the box that connect to those ports! How many devices exist in the market that support this connectivity?

Anyone who has the money to spend on this laptop is not going to balk at another $50 of cables. But the fact that Apple expects them to play pin the tail on the dongle with their new laptop is a slap in the face. Every time you have to fiddle with a dongle, it is like Jony Ive personally reaching out and bitchslapping you.

Comment Re:What the hell?! (Score 1) 63

If you're willing to sign a legally binding waiver indemnifying Samsung and TCF and your wireless provider from any harm that may occur as a result of keeping your device, and accept all risks and liabilities of such a hazard in the event the device causes death or injury or property damage to other parties, then of course you should be able to continue using it.

Not willing to sign such a waiver? Then Samsung should do what it can to encourage you to return the defective product, because as long as you haven't absolved them of this liability, it is theirs to retain. They have no other recourse to protect themselves. Most rational people will recognize that continuing to own a hazardous and defective product is not in their own best interest, because in some cases, you could lose any claim for damages if the manufacturer can demonstrate that you were injured or suffered a loss after you willfully ignored reasonable attempts to recall the product.

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