Re: Dystopia Now

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Tim told me about this article. That place is so fucked up. And it's clearly messed with the workers' minds. Even some of the people who chose to leave reported that they were addicted to the Amazon way of working.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:07 PM
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You think, ogged, that a majority of white-collar workers are confident in their ability to get another similar job elsewhere? Not my view. And other jobs aren't necessarily better.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:21 PM
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I buy pretty much everything on Amazon. The thought of going to an actual store to find, say, sippy cups or pajama pants... [shudder] The thought of going to individual specialized e-stores is only slightly better. But it feels increasingly icky, knowing how they treat all all there employees, from warehouse workers up through software engineers and middle managers.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:25 PM
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But who else will keep your middle manager in pajama pants?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:29 PM
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2: Not white-collar workers more generally, but workaholic white-collar workers in tech can probably get another job.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:39 PM
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I had some phone interviews with Amazon one time - fairly credulous technical interviews from the people who would have been on prospective team. The would give you some problems involving algorithms from AP Comp Sci way back in high school, and you would have to dictate the code to them, and discuss the Big O value and shit.... which all would have been fine, if it weren't an extremely ridiculous task for a telephone call, and if the whole process weren't repeated with 3 different people.

Anyway, the vibe I got from them was "don't expect 40 hour weeks" and they were pretty cagey about the work-life balance. I also got one of them griping about the shitty office space and how cheap management was. Oh, also, one week out of four, you get to be on call 24/7 for any support issues that come up.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:40 PM
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I've cut Amazon mostly out of my life, except I have an Amazon-branded credit card from ten years ago when I was in history and bought lots of books. I'd cancel it, but it seems like that could hurt my credit rating by dropping my total available credit. I use it once per year because they almost cancelled it for non-use.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:40 PM
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3: FWIW, a friend who works in AWS reports that the work culture there is totally sane (and was in fact recruiting people by explicitly mentioning 40-hour weeks). So you can breathe easy being one of their customers!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:45 PM
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Tech employees have different expectations. Most Amazon jobs aren't byte collar.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 5:53 PM
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Why do undergrads voluntarily go to Caltech? Odd case.


Posted by: Two cultures | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 6:22 PM
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I use it once per year because they almost cancelled it for non-use.

I wish all credit cards worked that way. I have a decade-old Bank of America credit card that I've tried to cancel multiple times. Every time I tried to cancel it, their customer service people just repeated "you don't want to cancel this card; it'll hurt your credit rating" over and over until I gave up.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 6:22 PM
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"Amazon is O.K. with moving through a lot of people to identify and retain superstars"

Gee, that sounds familiar somehow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 6:41 PM
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Do you reactivate the card when they send you a new one when the old one expires? The card (not Bank of America) I have didn't reach the verge of deactivation until something like two years after I got it and never activated it.

The limit on that card, which isn't all that high, kept rising while my student debt rose too, during the time I didn't use it. It would have been a noticeable hit to my available credit. The card I actually use regularly has only a slightly higher limit.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 6:42 PM
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7, 11: How do they get away with that shit? How is closing an old CC account a negative signal, like, at all (or remotely a bad idea)? The only "blemishes" I have on my credit score are: (a) I have closed CC accounts in my life and (b) I don't currently have enough credit cards (never mind I have enough credit to drain my savings several times over).

8: I'm not an AWS customer.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 6:45 PM
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Well. From my not-far-distance, white-collar 'zon has about the same work life quality as grad school, but the pay goes from better to unimaginably better - and so does the chance of seeing your work affect the world. Still a gamble, not the worst one going.

The treatment of warehouse workers seems more worrisome. Also that as long as using up packaging and fuel is cheap enough to be profitable that's how they'll do it.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 6:48 PM
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8: I'm not an AWS customer.

What, don't tell me you're using google compute engine or something?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 6:53 PM
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It turns out I have no present need for a cloud computing platform.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 7:09 PM
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Granted, one school set the bar by telling us, as we got our keys, whether anyone had committed suicide in our carrel yet.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 7:11 PM
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14.last: Standpipe!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 7:13 PM
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After having read that article I'm more than a little bit surprised that there have been no workplace shootings there.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 7:55 PM
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Well, you know, no PowerPoint bullet point lists*: arguments made in prose and read to the end. That's worth something.

*theoretically


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 8:22 PM
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It's a tech company, but that doesn't mean most of its workers, even excluding the manual workers, are people prized for technical skills. I'll bet there's a great deal of precarity they experience.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 9:18 PM
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The people I know who work for Amazon are in the warehouse and seem to like it, certainly are encouraging others to join and saying it's more pleasant and productive than comparable work. That just makes me think other jobs are really awful.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-15-15 9:25 PM
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23 seems kind of surreal to me because in Europe Amazon warehouses are famous for their shitty working conditions to the extent that people boycott the company on that account.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:57 AM
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23: I think your take on this is correct.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:33 AM
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I worked in the warehouse for Big Lots. So much dust because it was all remainders of remainders. I also worked :/ the Comp USA warehouse. They went broke, possibly because they appeared to sell mostly floppy disks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:16 AM
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:/ should be "in". Stupid phone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:17 AM
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Here is a Hacker News thread with people with actual Amazon experience chiming in. It seems to run the gamut from "not bad, really" to "frickin' awful."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:00 AM
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Credit scores are one of those things where the industry has convinced themselves they have this super scientific data driven method to maximize profit to risk, and in reality the factors they use are things a fifth grader would recognize are stupid. And even taking the factors they use at face value, the data going in is shit.
I have a card that shows your score for free each month and tells why it changes month to month. Some months it goes down because it says I've had accounts open too short (my last credit card was opened 10+ years ago) then next month that's gone then it comes back. Similar with other factors, I run up roughly the same balance most months and always lay in full but some months it's a negative and some not. My score seems to be a harmonic oscillator fuelrd by bullshit data.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:05 AM
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I could also imagine that the management of the warehouses is so sub-contracted that there's not much consistency in what the working environment is like.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 8:03 AM
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"still sounding exhilarated months later about providing "Frozen" dolls in record time."

This just beat out "for sale: baby shoes, never worn."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:24 AM
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That article certainly makes Bezos sound like the prototype for L. Bob Rife.

After spending a few hours on really tedious QA overtime yesterday, I am feeling a lot more confident in my ability to rise in the company in some type of project management or business analyst role.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:42 AM
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30 is right: most (all?) Amazon warehouses aren't run by Amazon themselves.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 11:16 AM
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re: cancelling credit cards, there's all kinds of information online if you google "does cancelling a credit card hurt your credit rating."

e.g., according to which it's a function of your total balance-to-limit ratio. If you pay off your balance in full every month, it doesn't seem like it would be a problem to cancel.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 11:21 AM
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34: it also has to do with the avg age of accounts, so canceling an unusually old one is bad, canceling an unusually new one can be net good.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 11:58 AM
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29: But it's pretty predictive anyway.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 11:59 AM
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This is a pretty funny rebuttal from an Amazon employee to the NYT piece:

No one at Amazon has time for this, least of all Jeff Bezos. We've got our hands full with reinventing the world.

uh, the article is an attempt at a fisking, and I can't read through the rest of it with any patience. Suffice it to say that the guy reads like he's really drunk the cool-aid. Look for the terms "growth feedback" and "course-correct."

Amazon is, without question, the most innovative technology company in the world. The hardest problems in technology, bar none, are solved at Amazon.

Heh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:03 PM
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I also worked :/ the Comp USA warehouse.

Longstanding mental tic to pronounce this compoosa has not been triggered in many years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:09 PM
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Aside from the obvious stuff like whether you've stiffed a bank before, I thought the whole point of the rest of that credit score stuff was used because it correlates with poverty, being a minority, youth, and things you aren't supposed to use as reasons for charging higher interest.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:22 PM
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[This] is, without question, the most innovative technology company in the world. The hardest problems in technology, bar none, are solved [here].

Is this attitude unique to tech companies or does this happen everywhere? I know people at every major tech company that believe this about their employer, and it's also a common attitude at the small (and obviously non-world changing) startups I know of. One of the many things I find weird about this is that it's not just youthful exuberance. I know plenty of middle aged folks who will tell me non-ironically that (just for example) people LOVE Microsoft products and that it's the most important company in existence.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:35 PM
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Age of Empires was great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:37 PM
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We're in biology not tech but same attitude is prevalent.
If that guy is right about Anazon, I guess it means when AI kills all the humans they'll do so by refusing to deliver toilet paper to everyone.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:49 PM
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40: I assume it's one of those cognitive dissonance things. They wouldn't be working as hard as they are, or as long as they are, or have to spend as much time saying they're doing something revolutionary, or amazing, or how much they love the company they work for at meetings with higher-ups if it wasn't true would they? Imagine how miserable that would be! No all that stuff obviously describes the actual world. And look how many approving looks they get from people above them in the hierarchy they get when they say it, and how everyone else around them says it too! I'm pretty sure that's how like half of all human cognition works and, honestly, I don't know if there's much difference between them saying that and what you hear from academics about their jobs.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:50 PM
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And look how many approving looks they get from people above them in the hierarchy they get when they say it

Yes, this. Given the message delivered by the NYT piece, this guy gets points simply for vigorously defending the company.

Academics are a different case, at least if you're talking about tenured faculty.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 12:58 PM
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There's enough out there about the life of the mind, and how committed people are to the mission of the university and stuff that I suspect it's a lot closer than you're giving it credit for. When when it comes to seniorish tenured faculty it's less that way, sure, but I think that's not even a plurality of academics at this point. (I mean, I bet higher ups at most of those corporations probably aren't as over-enthused about things either, when they aren't encouraging it in their subordinates.)


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 1:07 PM
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Okay. I confess I wasn't aware that academics in the lower ranks had particularly drunk the cool-aid about how awesome their work and jobs were. Sure, they believe there's significant value in teaching, but I haven't really heard a lot of "We're changing the world!" talk.

But we travel in different circles and read different things, I'm sure.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 1:14 PM
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42: what a shitty way to die


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 1:15 PM
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The software company equivalent to tenure is having "gone home rich", which isn't very equivalent... Yeah, I hear too many people eliding difficult and novel technical work with the nitwittery posted in 37. If you've come from a suberose bureaucracy, it probably feels true. They should still know better - see recent discussion of CS degrees that don't understand computability.

The exhilarating thing about this working style is not having a bullshit job: instead, being rewarded for doing something better than anyone else. No flair required! You can tell your boss his idea won't work, and if you're right you get rewarded! The cumulative effect of all this is your team building something that you see working all over the world. *That* is a hell of a high.

In my 20s this was irresistible. In my 40s it's harder to pull off against 20somethings, but I'm not sure the race itself is wrong, it's the allocation of risk and reward.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 1:39 PM
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This is a bit of a tangent, but one thing that's changed in the past ten years in tech is that you don't need to play the lottery to go home rich anymore. Large tech companies that are competing for talent now pay you enough in mid-level positions that you can retire very comfortably after working for a decade (assuming the tech bubble doesn't pop).

A T5 at Google or L63 at MS or whatever equivalent level at FB pulls down $250k+ in total comp. This is even true at Amazon as long as you come in an area they care about with a solid competing offer.

I don't understand why programmers get paid so much right now and I'm curious if programmers will still love their jobs in the same way if compensation returns to the (inflation adjusted) levels they were at in the 90s. I suppose it's a "good" sign that academics non-ironically love their jobs in the same way. If anything, if this is because of cognitive dissonance, you'd expect more of this if other factors get worse.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 1:54 PM
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[This] is, without question, the most innovative technology company in the world.

The thing is, he's not actually wrong here. Most people don't realize how mind-blowingly innovative AWS has been, and continues to be. It blows the doors off of whatever Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook are doing these days.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 1:56 PM
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A T5 at Google or L63 at MS or whatever equivalent level at FB pulls down $250k+ in total comp.

Note to self: get the fuck out of the public sector.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 1:59 PM
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What's so special about AWS?


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:01 PM
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If some lawyer a few years out of school can make $250,000, I don't see why a programmer shouldn't make that kind of money. Who makes more money, tech firms or law firms? So who should make more money, programmers or lawyers?


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:03 PM
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Who makes more money, tech firms or law firms?

Well, if we're talking Amazon, law firms.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:16 PM
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I see AWS as an impressive product, but (in most areas) substantially behind where Google is with their internal infrastructure. I think there's a lot to be said for putting things together into a product and selling it, but I personally find what Google's done to be more impressive even though they've totally dropped the ball on actually turning it into a saleable product.

And on the product side, Azure is dominating in high-end enterprise sales. To a large extent, that's due to having a better sales org, but if you find Amazon's ability to make a product more impressive than Google's ability to build infrastructure, I don't see why MS's ability to make high-end sales shouldn't also be impressive.

I don't mean this as a knock on Amazon. They do lots of cool stuff. When I sit in on discussions about what bog standard database to use basically every startup that's big enough to have scaling problems and has tried a wide variety of databases recommends redshift (unless you're too big for redshift, which very few startups are). That's great. But I don't see that as obviously more innovative than the equivalent internal solution at Google (in fact, it lags behind by many years). I also don't see AWS as having a solution that blows the doors off of things MS is doing like this. Amazon spent $300m on Annapurna, which might let them develop the equivalent capability, but that remains to be seen, and they had to go buy an external vendor to do it. These are just a couple of particular examples. My general point is that Amazon is ahead in some areas and behind in others.

Sure, if I were a startup I'd almost certainly run on AWS, but I don't see it as more innovative than its competitors.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:17 PM
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52: A time traveler from 2000 would have their mind blown to learn that you could run a Netflix-sized business (35% of primetime Internet traffic, according to one questionable statistic) without building your own datacenters. In 10-20 years, practically the only organizations keeping rooms filled with racks of servers will be Google, Amazon, Facebook and the NSA.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:20 PM
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37.indent1 (do we have a shorthand for that?) is too good to be true. It could've come from The Onion's response to the story.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:22 PM
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What's so special about AWS?

Probably the preeminent problem in software and systems engineering for the decade between 2000 and 2010 was the challenge of how you get things to scale. The internet was growing at a ludicrous speed, and so were the volumes of transactions that came with it. Not only did data centers and bandwidth availability have to keep pace, but there were all sorts of issues with database replication and messaging and running service buses and what have you.

What AWS figured out was how to offer scalability as a service. First they came along with some cool virtual machine technology, so if you needed 10 or 100 servers, you didn't have to buy or install them, you just pressed some buttons and they showed up for you in the cloud. Then they came up with great storage and database offerings - divided into ways to store the shit you need now, the shit you need access to, and the shit that needs to go on ice because you have to have a record somewhere for legal purposes, but you don't really want to be paying a lot for instant access. It used to be you needed departments to manage all that.

Most recently they are introducing some crazy Lambda shit that redefines the entire architecture of what a server is. Instead of installing an application on Tomcat or whatever, you just write some code that responds to events, and let Amazon worry about where to run it, or what to do when you have 100,000 users hitting the same resource at the same time. I haven't figured out what to use that last one for yet, but I really think it has the potential to change the way stuff gets built, more than anything since the shift from cgi scripting to application servers.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:28 PM
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the only organizations keeping rooms filled with racks of servers will be Google, Amazon, Facebook and the NSA

And Unfogged. We'll have 30 years of TFA by then.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:37 PM
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58.4 sounds like an ass-backwards description of App Engine.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:37 PM
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Longstanding mental tic to pronounce this compoosa has not been triggered in many years.

I was a manager there and that's how I (and others) often pronounced it.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:44 PM
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Yeah, I havn't tried App Engine in a long time, but I guess it is similar to that. The difference is that its integrated in to the rest of the AWS infrastructure, where as App Engine (at the time I tried it, maybe its more flexible now) basically locks you into using Google's Wacky Key-Value Store Big Table.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:46 PM
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The NYT article seems to be talking about people who mostly don't work on AWS but, if they buy into the Amazon ideals, believe that AWS makes their working conditions less shitty.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 2:59 PM
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Accounts typically continue to appear on your credit score for 7-10 years. So canceling an old card won't hurt you for several years, and similarly canceling a new card doesn't actually help and will probably hurt in 10 years. At any rate, it's not a huge deal wither way.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 3:45 PM
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In 10-20 years, practically the only organizations keeping rooms filled with racks of servers will be Google, Amazon, Facebook and the NSA.

And pinboard!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:19 PM
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I just went and checked my credit score. My worst axis total accounts: my 3 credit cards are scored "Not Bad." "Excellent" would be 22 or more. Who TF needs 22 credit cards (or loans, mortgages, etc)? Are these people serious? My preferred number would be one. I have two for reward-point optimization and the third because I'm too lazy to cancel it.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:25 PM
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There's a weird historical contingency to the fact that a search engine and a shopping site have the world's best physical computing infrastructure. If Facebook had started five years later, they surely would have built on AWS. There's a scale at which it becomes an unbearable risk to have your infrastructure controlled by someone else, but Netflix really challenges ones assumptions about where that line should be drawn.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:31 PM
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The thing is, he's not actually wrong here. Most people don't realize how mind-blowingly innovative AWS has been, and continues to be. It blows the doors off of whatever Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook are doing these days.

Most people don't even know AWS exists.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:32 PM
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If you and I both had a bankruptcy and I were to travel at the speed of light, my bankruptcy would be off my credit report before you were ever able to borrow a dime. Unless the credit agency traveled at the speed of light also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:34 PM
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68: I haven't the slightest idea myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:35 PM
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Accounts typically continue to appear on your credit score for 7-10 years. So canceling an old card won't hurt you for several years, and similarly canceling a new card doesn't actually help and will probably hurt in 10 years.

What about the account that I only got to get more frequent flier miles, which I only need for 2 years, and which starts charging a $90 yearly fee after 1 year?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:35 PM
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67: I'm curious what the next company to build its own large scale datacenter infrastructure will be. It really requires a sort of insanity to do it, but most startups seem at least a bit insane, so maybe that's not a large barrier.

If you talk to people who buy components for big companies, they're able to get basically at-cost pricing for pretty much everything except for Intel CPUs and Nvidia GPUs, and those exceptions are because the alternative options are a joke. Anyway, anyone who now gets big enough to get that kind of pricing from hardware vendors (maybe Netflix or Dropbox) is also big enough to negotiate very deep discounts from cloud providers. Given that it would take multiple years and a multi-billion dollar investment to build out competitive datacenter infrastructure, it doesn't really make sense to try.

This doesn't necessarily stop people, though. Alibaba has been paying way above market rate to hire people to build out their public cloud. I believe Etsy also runs on their own hardware, and if they ever grow enough to play in the same sandbox, they'll have to build out the same kind of infrastructure.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 4:49 PM
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Etsy can probably find a bunch of hand made servers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:00 PM
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73: excuse me, is that server artisinally hand-stretched?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:18 PM
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Usually I can tell, because it is either slightly larger or slightly smaller than the standard 19 inch instrument rack...


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:18 PM
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In my experience, national governments are also terrified of the cloud. Part of that has to do with the need for data sovereignty, which is a legit concern - nobody wants the US government spying on their citizens if it happens that some of their data winds up on servers located in US territory. The NSA really hasn't done AWS and Microsoft Azure any favors.

I've been trying to think up a good solution there, and I think use of encryption is part it. But encryption is good for transmitting data is secret, while data-at-rest really benefits from being not encrypted, in terms of being able to search it and analyze it and have it be useful. So I'm not sure what is to be done there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:19 PM
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IMO, Google, Amazon, and MS are likely to have good security practices than most orgs. Storing stuff on Google is more likely to keep data secure than storing it in house somehow. But that's a PR battle that seems impossible to win.

On the technical side, there are a lot of academic attempts to allow queries on encrypted data. The really interesting stuff seems impractical and the practical stuff seems underwhelming, but I bet something pretty nice will emerge this decade.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:36 PM
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Yeah, no doubt, security is much better on the cloud services than in a lot of these orgs.

But actually, its not even the NSA and spying that's at the heart of the problem. There's also shit like Federal judges ordering Microsoft to produce emails held on Irish servers. If the US Government thinks it can do that, ain't no sovereign nation going to be keeping their data with American companies - regardless of the location - if all it takes for Uncle Sam to get hold of it is a subpoena.

That encrypted big query thing looks interesting; I will review. I'm sure Amazon and Microsoft are working on this problem as well.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 5:53 PM
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Where I work, there's a HIPAA-compliant natural search engine. I think it's web-based. Not sure how that works.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:02 PM
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Blithely oversimplifying, security researchers do lovely math to enable encrypted searching and then privacy researchers show that most people can be disambiguated out of most searches using seemingly trivial data. (Also 76. Also, what do we do if Google and big insurance cos merge?)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:02 PM
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I know the opposite is a concern, there are orgs that will not use a service if their data will be on a non domestic server. I believe one of the services allows you to specify that as a requirement (maybe AWS?)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:13 PM
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Also, what do we do if Google and big insurance cos merge?

I wouldn't worry about it. Judging by Google Health, Google wouldn't be able to keep its eye on the ball long enough for it to become a problem.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:16 PM
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What if they put their finger behind the ball and asked you to cough?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:23 PM
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No, its Apple you have to worry about with teh medical information. They can use the heart rate monitor to figure out if you are wearing your Apple Watch during sex.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:28 PM
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This is so interesting. I wonder what AWS stands for.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:29 PM
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amazon web services?


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:33 PM
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Because Bezos is a feminist.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:34 PM
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you caught my uptalk?


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:35 PM
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Amazon Women's Servers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:45 PM
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89: big sale: half off


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:49 PM
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I'm not even sure what "The Cloud" accomplishing that I don't get by having iTunes and two gmail accounts (so I can mail thing to myself). I also don't understand what "An Internet of Things" means as a concept because there was never an internet of not-things unless you use a stupid easy Turing test.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:55 PM
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you dont need two accounts to do that


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:56 PM
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Pretty sure you don't need two accounts to mail things to yourself.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:56 PM
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Dammit.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 6:56 PM
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I know. But, I read a Douglas Adams novel where one of the characters would call his office and leave long messages on the answering machine instead of just talking into a tape recorder. I'm not sure why that struck me as reasonable, but having two emails accomplishes the same goal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 7:02 PM
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Anyway, iTunes and Gmail are both versions of "The Cloud," I think, so I'm not sure what you're talking about exactly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 7:03 PM
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Relevant.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 7:05 PM
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It wasn't a clear comment. I should probably have had one more verb.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 7:07 PM
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98: You accidentally the verbs?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 7:08 PM
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When people talk about "The Cloud" wrt AWS et al. they're not talking about Gmail or Dropbox, they're talking about the fact that you can run a web server or a database without buying a machine and finding somewhere to put it and hooking it up to the Internet; you just pay Amazon a small monthly fee to rent one of their machines (actually a virtualized "machine" that shares the real hardware with other customers but whatevs). Unlike, say Gmail vs. Apple Mail, it is a huge win with real demonstrable savings for traditional IT orgs.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 7:24 PM
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Thanks. That's never been made clear to me before. Or it was and I forgot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 7:28 PM
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You know, around this time last year, pointy haired-types were talking about The Fog, as the next iteration of The Cloud. Fortunately, that talk seems to have gone away. Partly because The Fog was a pretty bad idea on a technical level - something something about devolving computing tasks to small, under-powered nodes at the edge of the network, as opposed to the big-ass powerful servers in closer to the center.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 8:39 PM
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78: Oh. Right. That. I don't know why so many US officials are trying to cripple the US public cloud industry. Luckily for American companies, the only non-US company that's investing enough right now to even plausibly maybe compete in the next few years is Alibaba, and their government is at least as untrustworthy as the US government.

Maybe IKEA should start offering cloud services.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 8:55 PM
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This seems like the sort of thing Iceland might be into.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:00 PM
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Yeah, Iceland has that sweet, sweet geothermal energy that can run massive server farms with a low carbon footprint. And they are relatively short pinging distance to both Western Europe and the east coast of the US.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:16 PM
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Mostly hydro rather than geothermal, but yeah. IIRC they already have some server farms, or were at least looking into developing some.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:19 PM
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Iceland has earthquakes though. And the occasional volcanic eruption.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:28 PM
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Well, I mean, California has earthquakes too. And Iceland is in a tectonic spread zone, which is generally a more predictable and lower-risk area than a subduction zone.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:34 PM
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I don't know where most companies have most of their servers, but I'm pretty sure it's not California. E.g., Google's most recent data center is in Alabama.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:55 PM
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I think a lot of stuff that's done in house in academic research institutions and related organizations will move to some version of "the cloud", especially storage tasks, but that people charged with long-term preservation of data are going to continue to want to have copies of their data on infrastructure that they, or similar institutions with which they have reciprocal, face-to-face relationships, control themselves.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 9:59 PM
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I meant to write, especially processing tasks, not storage tasks.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-16-15 10:02 PM
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In my experience, national governments are also terrified of the cloud. Part of that has to do with the need for data sovereignty, which is a legit concern - nobody wants the US government spying on their citizens if it happens that some of their data winds up on servers located in US territory.

The UK seems pretty blase about it, as long as they get to look at it too.

You know, around this time last year, pointy haired-types were talking about The Fog, as the next iteration of The Cloud. Fortunately, that talk seems to have gone away

Very lucky, or we'd be neck deep in killer ghost pirates.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 1:55 AM
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Very lucky, or we'd be neck deep in killer ghost pirates.

Spectarrrs.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 2:41 AM
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re: 110

There's an initiative on-going at the W / ellcome to build a cloud infrastructure for hosting digitised content: images, metadata, etc. With the idea that it'd be a chargeable (but affordable) service for institutions that can't afford to do it properly themselves, and available as a free service to individual researchers and the sorts of groups that couldn't afford to do it at all.

All via standard APIs.

It's not intended to be a preservation infrastructure, but would mean that institutions could concentrate on storing their stuff (e.g. on cheap media like tape), and let the more resource intensive stuff that they may not have the technical nous to build themselves, happen in the cloud.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 3:28 AM
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Posting this link hopefully won't lead to someone following a link back and uncovering my sekrit identity.

http://blog.wellcomelibrary.org/2015/06/moving-the-wellcome-library-to-the-cloud/


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 3:29 AM
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It seems like numerical simulation (molecular dynamics, in my case) would be a good fit for cloud computing, but when I looked into it, I didn't find anything that was reasonable, cost-wise. I suppose part of it is that I don't pay (at least not directly in a way that I can see) for our universities computing cluster, so it seems cheaper.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:08 AM
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In fact we're moving part of our former in-house LSF, used for things like calculations on enormous matrices and molecular dynamics, to the cloud. I think there's still a local cluster but now they offer "cloud-burst" capabilities for very large jobs.
Didn't some rich technolibertarian set up a bunch of compute clusters in Iceland to mine Bitcoin? I wonder if they're still being used for that.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:23 AM
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It seems like numerical simulation (molecular dynamics, in my case) would be a good fit for cloud computing

There may actually be a counter trend here due to the rise in uber-powerful graphics cards. I don't know enough (anything) about molecular dynamics to know if those calculations are a good fit for doing on a GPU, rather than a CPU, but, for certain types of computing (known as "embarrasingly parallel"), its a better bet to buy a $500 graphics card with 2800 cores, rather than to cluster a bunch of 4 or 8 core x86 chips together. So, rather than cloud computing, there is a potential case for moving it back to the desktop.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:42 AM
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This reminds me that I need a new computer. My old one is so slow that I have to have a book to read while the computer does the other players turns in Civ.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:45 AM
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Didn't some rich technolibertarian set up a bunch of compute clusters in Iceland to mine Bitcoin?

Yes, but most of that action has moved to China where it can be run on cheap coal. Because fuck the future.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:46 AM
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re: 118

I've tentatively looked at that, as there are GPU-based Jpeg2000 libraries, so in theory, I could get a win by moving image decoding from a local, but virtualised, cluster to a couple of dedicated boxes with monster graphics cards in them.

But ... intertia ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:51 AM
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This is peculiar -- while I am almost completely uninterested in this topic, as far as I can tell, it's exactly Buck's latest publication. If you're interested in this sort of thing, have you looked at theplatform.net ?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:53 AM
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I thought it was a shoe-fetish site.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:57 AM
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The headlines there use words that look like the ones I'd make up if I were trying to sound technological but actually had no clue about the field.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:07 AM
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The only thing I understood there is that Google is taking steps to try to not run me over and that you can't replace a data center with a giant-ass flash drive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:17 AM
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We're moving to something different because what we have now is, um, inadequate. I've been trying to push for using Luna given the kinds of materials I'm dealing with and I'm impressed with the functionality (also a friend has prior experience putting this up: http://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet ). I'll have a look at the W/ ellcome info and mention it to those responsible for making this decision but I have a feeling that ,well things being what they are for that side of things I may need to go presidential to speak frankly.

Given what I do here, which is dealing with various aspects of the physical media, I'm most concerned with embedding geodata in our digitized content. (Do you use GMLJP2?) Unfortunately no one here deals with metadata.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:17 AM
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If you become the guy who can deal with metadata, then you'll probably get promoted to emir or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:18 AM
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I deal with metadata but not that kind of metadata.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:19 AM
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I think if I knew how to deal with some types of metadata, it would be much simpler than my present system of putting what I think is supposed to be metadata into the filename.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:21 AM
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I've mentioned several times at work that we need a position dealing with metadata. Maybe more than one, not just a specialist/technician but someone with some authority who can enforce interoperability and see that the needs of various departments are being met. Especially since a lot of what I want to build here depends on it but I'm not a programmer or a digitization specialist myself or anything like that but where I was working before I've seen up close what goes into building some really cool stuff and I want to do that here.
Now it's in the hands of, well, I don't want to complain about it unpresidentially.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:30 AM
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116 et al: we've been moving a lot of our computationally intensive stuff off of the university research computing cluster and back on to locally hosted machines with a lot of GPUs. Just way faster.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:32 AM
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Speaking of faster, guess who's got two thumbs and "Boarding Group A" passes for flights tomorrow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:37 AM
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This guy, the one who doesn't use question marks. That's who.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:39 AM
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I'm done. Live blogging your flight check-in doesn't take long. Carry on.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:44 AM
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The Gerald Ford library should have been in Omaha instead of Michigan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:51 AM
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If you become the guy who can deal with metadata, then you'll probably get promoted to emir or something.

Truly he IS the Kwisatz Haderach!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:51 AM
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His geolocation string is a killing word.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:10 AM
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137: That does happen.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:13 AM
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Though the current cloud players are insanely ahead, I don't see why you can't commoditize much of it. Maybe you can't get the full economies of scale, but now a whole set of techs exist (cloud deployment, caseless servers etc) you could still slash data centre costs and still keep control of your data. Thought the pricing power against hardware vendors is an interesting point I hadn't thought of before.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:14 AM
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138: It's ok, they're only meta-dead.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:15 AM
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135: You can't help where you're born, but you get to choose where your presidential library goes.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:24 AM
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135 was supposed to be in the other thread. Sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:40 AM
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Though the current cloud players are insanely ahead, I don't see why you can't commoditize much of it.

My personal vision is of shipping containerized data centers as a cottage industry running in small villages off on local solar arrays or small geothermal sources, bidding to take on specialized computing tasks on some kind of automated open marketplace. So, if the Minnesota Public Self-Driving Cars Commission needs 460 square miles worth of real-time footage of street conditions transformed into a constantly updated map, they can pipe it off to St. Lucia Geothermal-powered Data Analysis in a Box, who will do the necessary and send it back. It would be a nice industry for the St. Lucias of the world, and the MPSDCC would get their green industry/overseas development credits.

The main problem is bandwidth. I haven't figured that one out yet. Also, this particular example use case doesn't actually work because it would make more sense to just equip each car with a graphics card, and have them do the computing in a distributed manner. Which, huh, I guess that would be The Fog, wouldn't it?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:58 AM
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Su passegieri, venite via!
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:02 AM
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143: Container-based yeoman green cloud computing is a pretty cool vision, though like yourself I can't actually think why it would be competitive.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:15 AM
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||

Useless griping:
Insurance company: now that you have a longterm prescription, you should do our mail order rx service instead of using a pharmacy.
Me: Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.
Insurance: Only you must have a 90 day rx instead of 30 day. You'll need to get a new rx from your dr. But we'll fax them a request for you!
Me: Sounds great!

[Dr doesn't respond to faxes, phone calls go nowhere, eventually I give up]

Insurance company: BTW, after this month, we won't cover your pharmacy pick up anymore. You used up your plan limit for pharmacy pick up. [WTFUCKING FUCK] Only mail order. So you'll need to get that 90 day rx in, before the end of the month.

I call the doctor: We never get any faxes or anything! Have the insurance company call us!
I call the insurance company: We're not allowed to call doctors, but we faxed it again!

I'm so livid that I'm wasting my morning chasing this shit.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:21 AM
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The main problem is bandwidth. I haven't figured that one out yet

If you don't need real-time analysis, just use sneakernet.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:22 AM
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If you don't need real-time analysis, just use sneakernet.

Meh, who's going to want to schlep a bunch of hard drives from Minneapolis to St. Lucia in the middle of wintertime?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:28 AM
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But, yeah, I can't really see what advantage you're hoping to get from putting the computer in St Lucia. You're hoping that the difference in power costs between St Lucia and Minneapolis will outweigh the additional cost in bandwidth involved in sending the data there?
In fact, small hot countries often have more expensive electricity than the US - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pricing - and it's also going to be far less reliable. If you are building a geothermal station in St Lucia, your business model should probably be "sell the electricity to St Lucians" rather than "ship in a containerised data centre and plug it in".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:28 AM
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Also, there's not a lot of benefit to the St Lucians from having a humming container sitting in their village crunching numbers for Minneapolis. It's not like it's employing anyone. What Minneapolis should be shipping to St Lucia is pensioners, allowing them to be looked after much more cheaply than they would be in Minneapolis (assuming that Minneapolitan pensioners are looked after rather than just set adrift on a passing ice floe).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:31 AM
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Why not just have you shipping containerized server farm on an actual ship? Apart from icebergs, storms rogue waves, pirates & etc., what could possibly go wrong?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:36 AM
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||

Doctors: We didn't get it. Give them this fax number. Or have them call us.

I call insurance.
Insurance: That's not the fax number we have. But you can't change the fax number. Only the doctor can. [makes sense]
Me: Can you please call them directly?
Insurance: Sorry, we're not allowed to call. Only fax.

I call doctor:
Me: Can you call and give them the correct fax number so they can fax you the request.
Doctor: No, we won't place calls. But they're faxing the wrong number.
Me: Then can you fax them the prescription?
Doctor: We can call it in to the same pharmacy as before. But nowhere else.
Me: THEY WON'T LET ME PICK IT UP FROM THE PHARMACY THAT'S THE WHOLE PROBLEM. Then I borderline frustrated-cried and my voice cracked and sounding like I was crying apparently means they will pass you along to someone more helpful.

Except this kind of helpful: "I'll see what I can do. Why don't you follow up with us in a day or two."

ARGH

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:37 AM
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Thanks Obamacare.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:39 AM
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What Minneapolis should be shipping to St Lucia is pensioners...

This is my retirement plan. Not St Lucia specifically, but some third world non-that-shitty place, preferably where they speak English.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:40 AM
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I don't understand how my insurance company won't cover a prescription because it is being picked up in person. I mean. GRRR.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:40 AM
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154: Mississippi?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:41 AM
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Me: Can you call and give them the correct fax number so they can fax you the request.
Doctor: No, we won't place calls.

This is ludicrous. Why on earth can't a doctor place a call that's needed to let you get the drugs they've prescribed you? Storm into your doctor's office, pull out your mobile phone, dial the insurer's number, hold the phone against your doctor's head and snarl "Talk".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:45 AM
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If you are building a geothermal station in St Lucia, your business model should probably be "sell the electricity to St Lucians" rather than "ship in a containerised data centre and plug it in".

The problem is actually that St Lucia (and Dominica, Nevis, Guadaloupe...) has major geothermal resources, but that there aren't really that many St. Lucians to sell the electricity too, so making the large capital investment in the geothermal doesn't make sense. So they don't make the investment in geothermal, and electricity costs remain high because they are still importing diesel to run their generators (instead of using solar, like you should in a tropical country, but that's another problem).

You could drop some power cables to export the electricity to other countries, but those ideas havn't panned out so well in the pilot stages. My thought is that, rather than trying to export raw electricity, it would make more sense to have a value added product made using the electricity, which could then be exported to the world. And data services strike me as a good value added product for export. Except for the low bandwidth, but you could put in more fiber, and there would be a lot of knock-on benefits to doing so.

I agree there are a limited number of jobs that come with it, but you do get some other jobs for the region by establishing a shipping-container data center building industry over in Trinidad.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:45 AM
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157 is a good suggestion. There are a lot of problems, especially bureaucratic ones, that really can't be effectively or quickly solved without standing right in front of someone making eye contact with them and demanding that they do whatever it is. Social pressures are what people respond to, and phones don't convey them anywhere near as effectively.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:52 AM
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Why on earth can't a doctor place a call that's needed to let you get the drugs they've prescribed you?

It's not that they can't. It's that if they are too responsive to the demands of insurance companies, the insurance companies would fuck with them even more. The incentives in the current U.S. system are really just horrible, unless you don't get sick and don't pay for your own insurance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:04 AM
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Storm into your doctor's office, pull out your mobile phone, dial the insurer's number, hold the phone against your doctor's head and snarl "Talk".

Insurance: I'm sorry, we're only around to receive doctor's calls from phone numbers we have on record.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:05 AM
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161 we're only around to s/b we're only allowed to

Don't know what happened there.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:18 AM
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Probably they'll claim HIPPA is the problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:21 AM
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158: ah, I see. That makes a lot of sense - like Iceland exporting electricity by importing bauxite and exporting aluminium?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:25 AM
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re: 126

I run our Luna system here. We are moving away from it, though, both to our Digital naieldoB platform, and to IIIF based viewers. All of which I also run, so I can describe our experience offline, if you are interested.

I'm not a programmer or a digitization specialist myself

I am. So, if you want to presidentially discuss things ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:33 AM
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Storm into your doctor's office, pull out your mobile phone, dial the insurer's number, hold the phone against your doctor's head and snarl "Talk".

The doctor is about an hour away. Similarly, the insurance company suggested that I just stop by the doctor in person to get a handwritten rx, which I could mail in, which would work just fine if it were closer.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:46 AM
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re: 165

We don't do any geotagging stuff on the projects I work on. I do know, slightly, the people here, though, who do a lot of that:

http://www.oldmapsonline.org/

The people behind that provide consultancy.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:46 AM
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But also, it is equally ludicrous that the insurance company has a policy against calling a doctor, even while faxing them again and again. "We can only call if there is a problem with a prescription, not if we are requesting a new prescription."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:47 AM
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For the low low price of 49 cents I bet your doctor could get the written Rx to you.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:48 AM
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Won't somebody think of the shareholders? Making it hard on people who use healthcare makes some of them give up (profit) and some of the sickest people go to other companies (even more profit).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:50 AM
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169: I bet there is some rule against putting prescriptions in the post.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:54 AM
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We can only call if there is a problem with a prescription, not if we are requesting a new prescription."

But there is a problem with the prescription. Its too short!

Hopefully, they are spending way more money on arguing with you over the phone than they will save through their mail-order Rx program. But, given the cost of Rx, I'm not so sure.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:56 AM
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Belatedly, spurred by Gil/man tweeting on the topic: working for Amazon is being a servant of the Line.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:05 AM
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That would be great ttaM. Would you drop me an email?

I'd like to enable some cool projects along the lines of http://www.oldnyc.org/ and other similar stuff.
Also I would be curious to know why you're moving away from Luna. We're not dealing with nearly the storage or bandwidth issues that I can imagine you deal with routinely.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:07 AM
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167 Yes, one of my projects is going to be getting our digital collection to a state where we can be part of that (it's a great site). Of course, getting the stuff cataloged properly, digitized properly, with the embedded geodata will only be the half of it. Then there will be convincing upstairs that we should be part of it.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:12 AM
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Spike, the data center services that would pop up in a well-connected place with poorly paid politicians are unlikely to be socially positive.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:17 AM
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Spike, the data center services that would pop up in a well-connected place with poorly paid politicians are unlikely to be socially positive.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:17 AM
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re: 175

Klokan, from what little dealings I've had with them, and it's largely just attending the same conferences rather than working together, seem like good people.

They have some good links and open-source tech stuff on their website.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:25 AM
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178. I'm familiar with them (I use their invaluable Bounding Box tool). I wasn't aware they do consultancy stuff for those type projects (or if I was I'd long forgotten it) I'm also familiar with Top / omancy (they did a lot of stuff for the NYPL when I was there and going to library school. It'll be hard to justify hiring consultants to higher ups until I'm a lot further along with prepping some projects (and presenting to them the kind of cool stuff we should be doing). Things work...differently...here.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:31 AM
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OT: Is Pacific Grove California nice? I may get to go there. I'm trying to figure out how hard to lobby for it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:32 AM
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180: very nice


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:39 AM
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I've already seen the Atlantic ocean. Is it that different?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:41 AM
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Did you see its grove?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:42 AM
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Eh. The Pacific goes to 11.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:45 AM
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That's 2 am at the Atlantic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:47 AM
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I know it's very different if you get far enough out, but I really can't see myself using more than the first couple hundred yards of the ocean.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 9:50 AM
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Here's a different bleg:

I have a few cousins trying to make a living in the arts, and we semi-frequently kick in $50-100 to their various projects. Jammies has a brother who has been trying to get a business up and running in Brazil for the past two years, and they need a cash infusion of $20K.

1. In theory, this is a loan, and we're being asked for $3-5K. But it seems foolish to expect it to be repaid. I think he's probably being reasonable, given their financial needs.

2. Technically we can afford it, but it's way disproportionate to my personal scale of frugality. I mean, we drive to fucking Montana to spare us $3K on airplane tickets.

3. It hurts my stomach that we kick in $100 towards my cousin's own theater troupe that she built from the ground up, but we'd be kicking in $3k towards this start-up which is probably a longshot. But maybe not, what the hell do I know.

The sense of scale is killing me, but I don't know how to balance it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:15 AM
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my cousin's own theater troupe that she built from the ground up,

Also if you're in Philly and want to check out some experimental installation plays, let me know.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:17 AM
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187: Are you trying to figure out whether to go though with it, or how to feel okay with it?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:17 AM
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Is it disruptive?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:17 AM
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189: I'm honestly not sure. Depends how strongly Jammies feels about supporting his brother, I think.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:18 AM
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Anyway, it's nuts of think of that as a loan and worse to give that much money away when you've got four small kids and are not independently wealthy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:19 AM
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How would you feel if it fails and you don't get back the $3k?

(how is your cousin's theater troupe doing?)


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:20 AM
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Objectively, this is probably a young businessman's hard lesson in failure, and he's well-positioned to move on to more sensible things from here. But this is clearly about being a supportive sibling in hard times. But good lord.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:20 AM
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How would you feel if it fails and you don't get back the $3k?

I assume this is what would happen. I feel trapped between massive hypocrisy and feeling like we ought to be supportive siblings during the learning process.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:22 AM
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On the other hand, when the four small kids are grown and looking to hit up relatives for cash, hitting up the uncle with the Brazilian business might be a good option for them.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:22 AM
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(how is your cousin's theater troupe doing?)

Considering the experimental nature of the stuff they put together, very well. I think it's the standard arts definition of success: work your ass off, cobble together grants and fundraisers, and have a small loyal following.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:23 AM
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Giving away money on that scale is fine if you can afford it and want to support family at that level, but it's not a loan no matter what it gets called. I mean, even if it does succeed wildly and you get money back that should feel like an unexpected surprise, because there's no such thing as loaning money to friends or family. Social ties are almost always more important than it, and by the time people are borrowing money unofficially like that it's likely to be higher risk.

It might feel awkward to do it, but I think everyone grasps that so a family member should be able to accept "I can't afford to give out that much money right now(or ever)" as a reason for not giving.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:24 AM
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On the other hand, when the four small kids are grown and looking to hit up relatives for cash, hitting up the uncle with the Brazilian business might be a good option for them.

I mean, there's something to this - presumably, Jammies brother will find his footing in a venture over the next ten years, and if we have a kid who needs an internship or whatever, he'll have goodwill towards us.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:25 AM
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Alternatively, there's my dad's theory of loaning money: you always loan money the first time, and write it off as a loss. If they pay you back, great. If they don't, they won't hit you up when they're in serious trouble.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:26 AM
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You could probably get the same amount of goodwill for like $1,000.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:26 AM
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If they pay you back, great. If they don't, they won't hit you up when they're in serious trouble.

IME, it doesn't work that way.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:29 AM
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Talking it out like this is helpful. I think we have to cough up maybe $1-2K out of loyalty and supportiveness. (With no expectation of repayment.)

I mean, we're about to throw away that much on a new fridge. And on Hokey Pokey's broken arm. What's a grand or two.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:29 AM
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My family is pretty poor, so when my next-oldest brother was getting married I chipped in $1K for his wedding since I providentially had a month where I was double paid the month before (accounting differences between the place paying me the previous and subsequent years). So I then set that as a baseline: I'm happy to give around $1K to each of my brothers if they need it. I gave my youngest brother around $500 for his wedding (I was a little cash strapped at the time). The third brother ended up needing almost $1.5K to get his car out of impound when he fell behind on payments while switching jobs. For me 3-5K is enough for me that I'd feel resentful about it, especially if it weren't for a genuine emergency. I also think I'd also draw the line at business finances versus personal finances. Finding investors is an important wakeup call in terms of whether your business is actually successful or not. Similarly, I wouldn't chip in for a family member doing an unfunded PhD program: if you can't get funding then you should realize you're unlikely to ever make money doing that.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:31 AM
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Finding investors is an important wakeup call in terms of whether your business is actually successful or not.

True. I have no idea whether or not he's just unconnected but has a good business plan, or if he's reasonably well-connected but smart business people have laughed at him.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:35 AM
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197 That's awesome, good for her. I love it when people can make neat stuff like that work.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:37 AM
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How do you think the brotherly relationship would be affected by failure to repay? I mean, people who are indebted and embarrassed tend to distance themselves. I also am having trouble imagining a small business where $20K would make the difference between success and failure. Would there be subsequent rounds of fundraising?

In your position, I'd write the check and be a little sad about what $3000 would have bought me, but that's only because you say it wouldn't be a hardship. If we could afford it, I'd chip in that much for a sibling with some kind of emergency, but not more than once.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:39 AM
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if you can't get funding then you should realize you're unlikely to ever make money doing that.

Ironically, as often as not, it's true that if people usually get funding for the PhD programs they're also unlikely to ever make much or any money doing whatever it is.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:39 AM
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The fridge fell on HPs arm, breaking both fridge and arm? Talk about bad luck.
Anyway if it's a for real business that doesn't make it you can use the $3k loss to offset against other income when it formally fails.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:40 AM
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If HP wants another broken arm, just firmly say the money for that was already given to Uncle X.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:41 AM
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How do you think the brotherly relationship would be affected by failure to repay? I mean, people who are indebted and embarrassed tend to distance themselves.

I think they'd be fine? This is the brother who loves to tell stories of how he got into wacky scrapes and got bailed out, so I don't think this would strike a nerve. But maybe it would, since he's putting his heart into it.

I also am having trouble imagining a small business where $20K would make the difference between success and failure.

I think the idea is that this tides them over while they secure real funding. So...yeah. OTOH, the currency exchange w/ Brazil works in their favor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:41 AM
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Small point: at the $3000 level, it's worth the trouble to get something in writing defining the contribution as an investment or business loan, so you can deduct the loss some day. That will turn your $3000 loss into a mere $2000 loss.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:42 AM
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If you have no expectation of being paid back anyway, why not ask for equity. That way if he fails and you don't get the money back, nbd, if he succeeds wildly despite the odds then you also get to benefit. N.b. this is still obviously an insanely terrible investment, but I think for me it would be psychologically more tolerable to spend $5k on my sibling's crazy scheme with some faint expectation that I could get rich from it and see a huge return, than to spend $5k on my sibling's crazy scheme with some faint expectation of maybe getting the money back sometime with conceivably a bit of interest. The downside is that this ties you more intimately into the brother's business and then if it does make money you need to start worrying about whether and how you can cash out your stake, etc.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:43 AM
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213 certainly appeals to my sense of humor. Also I'm dying to tell you all the nature of the start-up, so rather than being coy for a few comments, I'll just pretend you all cheered me on already. They are making blended juices, like Odwalla or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:46 AM
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If you make a pledge of $5,000 or more, you'll get a tote bag and the complete Are You Being Served? on DVD.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:46 AM
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Also, 209 and 212.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:46 AM
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Demand a seat on the board, then you can add it to your CV.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:47 AM
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Given where I'm currently vacationing, blended juices seems like a reasonable investment.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:49 AM
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Right? It's not exactly crazy, if you had sufficient venture capital. But that "if" is doing a lot of work.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:52 AM
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They are making blended juices, like Odwalla or something.

I don't see that being, or becoming, the sort of high-margin business in Brazil that would justify burning $3000, but I wouldn't want to deny you the pleasure of bringing that up in marital fights for decades to come.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:52 AM
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Presumably someone's gonna be the Odwalla Of Brazil over the next decade, no?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:55 AM
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220.last is right. If you want to win marriage, the easiest way to make sure your family has caused fewer problems than your spouse's family.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:55 AM
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You can't fight big Acai berry, and you shouldn't try. They have this one weird trick for crushing new competition.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:56 AM
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222: Moby, you are my Clausewitz.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 10:56 AM
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223: I would fight one acaĆ­ berry the size of a horse or one hundred acaĆ­ berries the size of ducks, but not both.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:02 AM
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Bridget Dowling won marriage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:05 AM
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221: And it's not going to be FEMSA Brasil, apparently?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:05 AM
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227: maybe that's him!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:07 AM
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Brazil has the Olympics next year. Presumably athletic types drink healthy juice, no?

On the other hand, Odwalla was the first company I ever bought stock in, with $800 left to me by my grandmother. I bought it because I though it was such an awesome product, and they were just starting to go nation-wide at the time. But then, like 3 weeks later, they poisoned a bunch of people with e-coli, and my investment completely tanked.

In conclusion, if the $20K is to be put towards a pasteurizer, that's pretty darned important.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:11 AM
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I just seriously considered (for about 2 seconds) having a quiet chat with a new cow-orker about how his hoodies are a bit out of place. Is Amazon accepting applications?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:13 AM
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Don't poop in the juice!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:13 AM
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Also, I was going to respond to heebie with something very similar to 213. If the justification of the high amount is that it's a business investment, make it that more formally. Then you have at least a small chance of getting a return in case of success, or a tiny bit back in case of bankruptcy.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:15 AM
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Also, if it's formally an investment, that gives you more social armor to refuse if he starts failing and asking for more.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:17 AM
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Coincidentally, my brother's mill is needing $45K in additional equity to convince his bank to reopen his $75K line of credit for buying grain. He's getting the money from my mother, borrowed against his prospective inheritance. The business does seem to be growing, though.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:19 AM
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An attempt to model Amazon vs. local storage costs over a long time period, for those of you still following the cloud subthread.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:23 AM
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Speaking of dystopianism, Microsoft wants to give me a free upgrade to Windows 10. Is there a catch?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:08 PM
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No, Windows 10 is cool. Go for it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:34 PM
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O.K.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 4:38 PM
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It's only at 6 percent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:06 PM
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In Windows 10, you are the catch. Or at least your data is.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:14 PM
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moby, how far now? the suspense is killing me


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:20 PM
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Is it a HIPPA problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:21 PM
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89 percent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:23 PM
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And holding. It is apparently not a percentage of time until completion.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:32 PM
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Still there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:40 PM
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My laptop loaded up Windows 10 the first day it became available. My desktop is still waiting. I didn't mind Windows 8 so much before, but now that Windows 10 is hear, its stupid lets-break-the-desktop paradigm can't go away soon enough.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:46 PM
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I'm now back at 1 percent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:52 PM
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I hope 1% me and 89% me don't accidentally meet and kill each other.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 5:58 PM
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Done, but no way do I have time to start a war in Civ like I was going to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 6:48 PM
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Should I install Windows 10, or buy a Mac Mini? "Neither" would also be an acceptable answer.


Posted by: Stepin Fetchitler | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:17 PM
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I don't know what a Mac Mini is, but really don't install Windows 10 unless you have a lot of time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:18 PM
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He said to Unfogged.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:21 PM
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That makes a lot of sense - like Iceland exporting electricity by importing bauxite and exporting aluminium?

Yes, aluminum smelting is the classic example of the approach Spike is talking about (and Iceland isn't the only place that's done it but probably the best-known). That might actually be a better option for Spike's Caribbean islands than data centers given their proximity to the bauxite mines in Jamaica, but I don't really know. There's been some talk of doing similar things in Alaska, which also has a lot of stranded renewable energy resources, but nothing's come of it so far.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:38 PM
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Why jinx the good run with unrenewable resources?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:46 PM
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The climate change thread's further up.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 7:48 PM
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The South Island of NZ combines rain and steep vertical drops, and exports power that way too - Tiwai Point.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 8:26 PM
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The containerisation approach makes more sense if you are expecting to move the data centres around a lot - just build a building.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-15 11:03 PM
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My laptop loaded up Windows 10 the first day it became available. My desktop is still waiting. I didn't mind Windows 8 so much before, but now that Windows 10 is hear, its stupid lets-break-the-desktop paradigm can't go away soon enough.

You can manually install it outside of the automated distribution mechanism. Just download it straight from MS here.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-15 2:18 AM
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Sure, you could do it with a building. But containers are easier to fit into the steep terrain, can be spread around the island as a disaster-risk mitigation measure, and encourage a diversified ownership model. If you build a big data center, then one rich guy owns the data center. If you build a bunch of smaller modules, each can be owned an operated by small enterprise. I'm not sure it would work in practice, but that's the idea.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-18-15 5:28 AM
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Fair enough.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-15 5:33 AM
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The thing linked in 37 is hilarious. His "data"-filled response (where I come from, an individual subjective experience is not "data") to the NYT is entirely in the form of either "No. Just, no," or "Sure, it's like that, but who would want it any other way?"


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08-18-15 7:05 AM
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37, 261

One of my tweeps (and fellow NYC art-house cinema going acquaintance I know IRL) has personal experience of the jerk who wrote that, see his multi-part rant here:

https://twitter.com/joeldylan/status/633965919384010753


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-19-15 9:33 AM
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