That children are now being conditioned to allow strangers to shove hands down their pants, that young women are subjected to genital inspections before being allowed to pursue their careers, that innocent people are adopting poses of humiliation and surrender in response to barked commands, is such a great harm to our society that no one with any sense of history could consider reducing the risk of an astronomically remote adverse event to be justification for TSA’s reprehensible actions. There’s just nothing to balance here. The harms are enormous, the benefits are make-believe. Disband the TSA, now.
This is a partial list of the fees charged by my merchant account provider each month.
Not only is the list of fees enormous and indecipherable, but ever-changing as well. 10 out of 12 months each year, my monthly statement starts with a notice of one of these many fees increasing, or a new one being added. Continued use of my account is acceptance of these changes.
It’s to the point that I’m paying more than 5% of my gross sales to various fees, despite originally being quoted a rate closer to 2%. Some of the fees seem simply made up, like the new $9/month flat fee masquerading as a “Customer Service Fee” even when I never contact customer service.
Can I take my business elsewhere to do better? Not really. My customers’ cards are locked up in my payment gateway’s secure storage solution (Authorize.net’s CIM), and they do not transfer gateway accounts to different merchant accounts. If I wanted to move, all my subscription customers would have to provide new billing information to be stored at the new account; I would lose more than 5% of revenue doing that, as at least 5% are not heavy users and would probably let their subscription lapse instead of being hassled.
I’ve come to prefer third party payment processors like PayPal, Amazon Payments and Stripe to traditional merchant account providers. While comparing their marketing materials shows the third party processors to be more expensive, it’s not really true. PayPal takes a flat $0.30 + 2.2% out of every transaction. My account is nearing its 13th anniversary with them. My fees have gone down, not up, since joining.
The content industries calls this scheme a “graduated response” plan, which will see Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others spying on users’ Internet activities and watching for potential copyright infringement.
The music and movie industries are relatively small in the grand scheme of things, yet seem to exert inordinate power over policy makers, public and private alike. What other industry’s lobbies wield the power to write laws and have them enacted as treaty around the world? To have teens extradited for doing things that aren’t illegal in their home countries and have never set foot on US soil? To extract a royalty on every blank CD sold in a dozen countries because it might, potentially, be used to record a copy of one of their songs? And now, to convince national ISPs to spy on what webpages their customers view, to act as private police for this small group of companies?
Thanks to my Belkin Conserve Insight, I know the exact power draw of virtually every electronic device and appliance in my house. I check power ratings on new gadgets I buy, and keep those I can’t avoid like cable boxes on power strips I can switch off when not in use. I almost exclusively work on a laptop computer that uses 80% less power than my desktop tower. My average electric bill for my 1900 ft2 home is around $60 per month, and I both live and work here every day.
Naturally, I don’t buy incandescent lightbulbs. I replaced all those power-sucking filament burners with power-sipping clouds of mercury gas, also known as compact fluorescent bulbs. I don’t like CFLs; they’re too white, buzz when underpowered, flicker when poorly made and have a short working life if you turn them on and off too often. But they use 80% less power than the equivalent incandescent, so I have been buying them for years.
Finally, I can get rid of them.
As my current bulbs die I’m starting to replace them with LED bulbs. Decorative, candelabra and other low-wattage bulbs are just a few dollars each. 40-watt equivalent A9-shaped bulbs are finally below $10 a piece. I’m using them in dimmable fixtures with multiple bulbs where 40-watt equivalents are plenty bright.
Philips’ 60-watt-equivalent LEDs, the best incandescent-lookalikes in terms of color, brightness and spread while still clocking in at less wattage than a CFL are still a bit pricey at $25… but that’s still much less than last year, and the year before. By the time all my CFLs burn out, I’ll probably be able to pick those up for under $10 too. I look forward to that.
This project is experimental and of course comes without any warranty whatsoever. However, it could start a revolution in information access.
— Tim Berners-Lee, announcing the availability of the WorldWideWeb in 1991.
Find other interesting, historic messages, from the first mentions of CDs and New Coke to Linux and AOL at the 20 Year Usenet Timeline.
I love these sites.
This late night snack purchase is my tribute to Stephen Colbert, one of my favorite entertainers, who’s suspended his TV show to be with his sick mother.
It was only some time last year I realized the reason the incremental cost per gigabyte of RAM when renting a server or VPS has no relationship to the actual cost to buy RAM chips. Memory is being used as a proxy for hosting companies’ actual costs — power, cooling, hardware wear & replacement and bandwidth. The amount of RAM ordered has a strong correlation to actual resource utilization of that customer, so the industry’s converged on using RAM to set its service pricing.
Unfortunately this choice also creates market distortion — if I could get my hands on servers with more RAM at the same price, my applications would be written to favor memory over CPU (for example, more caching layers, less database access), which would actually save the hosting company money since the CPU is the main driver of power and cooling costs.