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Messages - aaron

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1
Economics & Investing / Re: trade war
« on: September 20, 2018, 06:11:17 PM »
So much for the trade war destroying the capital markets (at least not happening in the short run). US stock market back on fire again yesterday and today.

Tilray longs and shorts are both smoking very large bowls throughout the trading day
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/20/pot-stock-tilray-set-to-open-higher-after-more-wild-trading-overnight.html
CPG companies should trade in tandem with Tilray as shareholders get rich & cash in a bit to buy some munchies.  Couple more strong weeks by Tilray and they'll be able to buy out the (then lower valued) FANG players in stock for stock transactions. :D

Dollar General (import cheap stuff from China retailer without the diversified supply chains a Walmart has) is within 3% of their all-time high.

Even the Chinese internet-related companies have jumped.

Baidu $217 to $231
Alibaba $156 to $166
JD.com $25.75 to $27.15
Tencent ADR $41 to $42

And even some bland/boring/cathartic value stocks have been going up in spite of the 10-Year rising to a 4 month high
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-year-treasury-yield-inch-toward-7-year-high-2018-09-19

I was hoping for a downdraft as political ugliness leading into midterms couples with trade war narrative & rising bond yields to whack the stock market, but it keeps going from strength to strength. Maybe political outrage fatigue has simply made the media a bit impotent with all the doommongering stuff.

2
A friend also recommended DP in the past & I thought it was a great deal as well.

Before DepositPhotos there was one called something like DollarPhotoClub.com, but at some point that went away and the credits got converted into expiring credits at Adobe Stock.

3
Economics & Investing / Re: trade war
« on: September 18, 2018, 10:15:17 PM »
Quote
That is to say, the timing of the staggered increase was calculated so that the effects would not be known in time to be an issue for the 2018 elections. Which, frankly, if I was an incumbent worried that the tariffs might turn out bad for likely donors to my party's candidates, that's how I would time it.
I think the reason they left more stages was so they left more layers of uncertainty & had more in the bottle of pain to leverage later.

They could have waited an extra month from now and started with 25%, but by doing things in smaller stages they have better control of the narrative.

The lobbying flows pre-date the passage of anything significant.  Even rumor of a scent of potential costs or regulations drive intense spending on the GET THE FACTS styled political (dis)information campaign front.

It is already over half-way through September. Elections are November 6th. That is a 50-day window.

If the tariffs came through full right away, much of them likely would not have been passed onto consumers that quickly. Retailers can show margin pressures so long as they show e-commerce growth (or spin the cause as being associated with heavy investment in growing ecommerce), but retailers can't show low margins, declining sales & limited ecommerce growth. Until Amazon's stock price seriously heads south (which might not happen anytime soon) retailers will do anything to hype their ecommerce growth, cross claim sales that touch a computer in any way as being ecommerce, lose money to keep volumes up at least until the holiday shopping season is through, etc.

4
Hardware & Technology / Re: Epic Privacy Browser
« on: September 18, 2018, 09:50:16 PM »
I was looking at the list, seems like everyone is opting for Chromium over Gecko. I wonder why?  A few go with Webkit.
Apple users are more likely to use whatever Apple sets as the default vs switching web browsers to a rival brand, so even if you beat Apple building from Apple's code base (in terms of quality) you probably still are not going to get much share. Plus what if Apple shifts their code base dramatically in a way that only works on their hardware? They did do away with the Safari for Windows browser years ago.

Chrome has the most marketshare on desktop (bundling with Adobe Flash security updates, heavily marketed across Google properties, etc.) & on mobile (via Android). So if you use Chromium as your base you are getting something that should both work cross-platform & be something many web developers have optimized their code against.

5
Traffic / Re: Article 13
« on: September 18, 2018, 09:44:55 PM »
I guess the point I was trying to make is there will still be all sorts of regulatory arbitrage across the platforms in terms of the local cost to be paid.

In the US
https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/pr/previously-convicted-black-hat-search-engine-optimizer-sentenced-retaliating-against
Quote
William Laurence Stanley, 54, of Dallas, Texas, a self-proclaimed black hat search engine optimizer and reputation manager was sentenced June 12, 2018, by U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to serve 97 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $5,605,226 in restitution, following a five-day trial in April 2017, announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.

In Europe
http://fortune.com/2018/09/13/tripadvisor-review-fraud-italy-promosalento/
Quote
TripAdvisor’s investigators then identified him, gathered evidence, punished the businesses that bought his services—by demoting them in the rankings—and then went to the police, which were already investigating thanks to a separate complaint.

In China
https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-investigates-employees-leaking-data-for-bribes-1537106401
Quote
In exchange for payments ranging from about $80 to more than $2,000, brokers for Amazon employees in Shenzhen are offering internal sales metrics and reviewers’ email addresses, as well as a service to delete negative reviews and restore banned Amazon accounts, the people said." ... "The going rate for having an Amazon employee delete negative reviews is about $300 per review, according to people familiar with the practice. Brokers usually demand a five-review minimum, meaning that sellers typically must pay at least $1,500 for the service, the people said. ... One Chinese Amazon seller said competition on the website had become so heated that he is tempted to use illicit tactics to gain an edge. “If I don’t do bad things, I will die,” he said of his business.

6
Hardware & Technology / Re: Epic Privacy Browser
« on: September 18, 2018, 06:24:41 PM »
Opera also has a VPN built in, which you can turn on or off with a toggle.
https://www.opera.com/

It was bought out by some Chinese investors a few years ago
https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/18/opera-browser-sold-to-a-chinese-consortium-for-600-million/
had a news app added to the company to show faster growth
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/08/opera_v49_overhaul/
& then was flipped back public on the Nasdaq for about double the buyout valuation
https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/27/browser-maker-opera-successfully-begins-trading-on-nasdaq/

I think a lot of the company's growth (& thus valuation) comes from the news app, but I am highly suspect that will be a sustainable stand alone thing over time.

Part of what did in the Yahoo! home page was the Facebook or Twitter news feeds, but another big thing that continues to hurt them is how many leading browsers recommend stories on new tabs. Microsoft does this, so does Mozilla, the Chrome version on mobile is a massive traffic driver & Apple bought Texture as part of a move to eventually offer a paid news subscription service where they'll do some sort of rev share with publishers for the top end of the market.

I am not sure how Opera will continue to grow the usage of their news app against the deep pocketed online surveillance ad network companies which own the operating system layer or such.

Some of the original team behind Opera launched another browser
https://vivaldi.com/

7
Standard policies typically do not cover that on the basis that the property damage is highly localized, which could put insurance companies out of business.
http://www.iii.org/article/does-my-homeowners-insurance-cover-flooding
Quote
It's important to note that, as a rule, homeowners and renters insurance does not cover damage from flooding. To protect your home, be sure to understand the risk of flooding and what your insurance options are. … Flood insurance is available for renters as well as homeowners, but a special policy is required as flood insurance—like earthquake insurance—is not part of standard homeowners coverage.

Some of the highest risk areas have federally subsidized flood insurance
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-politicians-wont-tell-you-about-femas-flood-insurance-2017-08-28
where other poorer homeowners (who may often have their own claims denied)
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/national-flood-insurance-program-meant-to-help-victims-spends-millions-fighting-claims/
are subsidizing the sort of low lying multi million dollar waterfront mansions of others.
https://www.salon.com/2013/10/30/the_1_percents_flood_insurance_scam/



I think the other one which is not covered by default (for the same reason, highly localized damage that could put an insurance company under) is earthquakes.
https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-earthquake-insurance-and-risk

Even coverage of volcano eruptions has gotchas in it
https://www.iii.org/article/volcanic-eruption-coverage
Quote
Most home, renters and business insurance policies do not cover damage from earthquake, land tremors, landslide, mudflow or other earth movement regardless of whether or not the quake is caused by or causes a volcanic eruption. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, and in California from the California Earthquake Authority, a privately funded, publicly managed organization.

Volcanic Effusion (i.e. volcanic water and mud) is not covered under a typical homeowners, renters or business insurance policy. However it is covered by flood insurance, available through the National Flood Insurance Program.

8
Pretty soon, what you find is that if you aren't careful, at an average of $10/mo for subscriptions that seem completely worth it for "just", you now have a big fixed cost that is silently draining your coffers through autopay.
Buying too many domain names and accumulating dozens of hosting accounts can also end up being a big drain. I prune domains every few years. I think about every 2 or 3 years I keep deleting about half of whatever is left.

For music or books or movies I usually prefer to buy a MP3, book, ebook that is owned, or a DVD that can then be converted to a local styled Netflix offering on Plex for the house.

I subscribe to the WSJ & a few other niche media sites like Real Vision.

One way to save decently on a Lastpass or RoboForm styled subscription is to wait until they have a 40% off black Friday sale or such & then do the 5-year extension which is 40% off for buying 5 years. Get 40% off of the already 40% off and you are paying 36% of the typical annual cost.

And for things like stock photos I either go for something with non-expiring one-off credits, or if I wanted to work on revamping a large project for a client or something like that maybe I'd do a big subscription for a month or two & then cancel it when the project was over or such.

9
Quote
so much depends on how well the Admins of each instance manage these things.  Plus there will be a lot of churn
Outside of journalists & financial traders (along with *really* fringe political movements) there may not be a huge market for up-to-the-minute microblogging.

And arguably the single best filter for many forms of niche community websites is requiring payment for access. Require a recurring payment to participate and most forms of trolling & other disruptive behaviors disappear. Charging for access aligns incentives & acknowledges the cost of running the site, the moderation, dealing with churn, etc.

I don't think the problem is technical barrier to entry, but largely one of incentive structures.

There still are tons of forums & niche blogs on the web, but over time they tend to keep losing out to the likes of Facebook & Twitter. Many communities with staying power are ultimately more about depth of discussion rather than speed of analysis.

And sometimes charging for something makes people value it more. Which could make a once a week or once a month community site that is freely accessible become part of a daily routine if the owner charged for access.

10
And increasingly people do not own what they purchase

No, but didn't you hear, that is MUCH better for the consumer. They don't want to own things. They want to pay subscriptions indefinitely
https://www.zuora.com/vision/subscription-economy/

The subscription model does better align incentives (product creator keeps making a better product that keeps delivering more value) and customers who value it most can pay higher rates for more features while those who do not value it as much don't pay.

The big issue from the consumer perspective is lock-in. And then the big issue from the company perspective is dealing with the cost of repeated churn & people who use free trials or such repeatedly across different computing devices, web browsers, emails, VPNs, etc etc etc

I had been hesitant to buy an Office 365 license wanting to forgo an ongoing subscription price for software I downloaded, but they added a feature I wanted which was only available to Office Insiders, which is only accessible to those with an active Office 365 subscription. That feature was worth far more than the ongoing recurring licensing fee.

Some other companies which have really juiced revenues by going recurring on account access fees like Adobe I have been more hesitant to move across on & I bought the latest version of the Creative Suite the day their model shift was announced so I had the newest version of the old stuff which will last as long as possible.

Sometimes with software there is a bit of a water cycle as companies use small businesses to dogfood their software & build awareness later move upmarket to enterprise the cost spiral eventually leads to a new market entry point for a new provider catering to small businesses. But in some cases if there is a subscription price set low enough and/or a free tier and/or academic exemptions to the price spiral perhaps once dominant software can remain dominant far longer.

Sites like Canva or services like Sketchup or Google Docs are plenty popular, but nothing has really displaced Adobe or Autodesk or Microsoft Office.

I can't imagine how complex the Excel codebase is or how hard a deep rewrite would be without breaking the software on existing computers all around the world.

Some of the smaller software companies have simply went away or were sold for a song while the dominant players have grown more dominant (based at least upon what the stock market is saying with Adobe being worth over $100 billion, Microsoft not too far from $1 trillion & Autodesk more than tripling over the past 3 years).

As the customer relationships become annuities rather than discrete sales, it gives the leaders increased margins to spend more money on brand awareness and drive up ad rates in the industry, which blocks out most other competing commercial offerings unless they are more specialized to a specific niche market.

A smaller animation software maker like Smith Micro Software trades at about $2 a share, down from $63 in 2010. They definitely should do the subscription model with their animation software seeing how well it worked for Adobe.

Muvizu went away and got purchased by some company out of China for a song. Customer support & setting up a license may require learning a bit of Chinese & opening up a QQ account or such.

11
The Google video shows:
The underlying message makes it obvious that Google does not share any traditional American values but is all-in for "Globalism" and one world government. These are "Google values."
[zerohedge]
If you have spent more on AI than anyone else & believe AI is the future then of course govs are sort of just in the way of the master plan & perhaps a source of cheap fuel until the company grows more powerful.

Eric Schmidt had a quote about wanting to have someone give them a city and just see what they could build. And Larry Page had a quote about wanting a land where they controlled where people could opt out of government. Larry also suggested governments will collapse under their own weight
https://reason.com/blog/2014/07/08/googles-larry-page-i-think-the-governmen

12
Traffic / Re: Article 13
« on: September 15, 2018, 05:29:41 PM »
Some countries which do not have large populations & are not parts of large trading blocks may end up pushing hard into regulatory arbitrage as the web gains further regulations from core markets.

It would be very hard (& expensive) to force regulations on virtual entities which are pure fictions located in country A, owned by a person in country B, hosted in country C, with some new regulation taking place in country D.

Hell, even some of the countries inside the EU are VERY slow at prosecuting intentional & extreme criminal conduct by some of their own citizens. In some cases a perp stating they committed major fraud and deserved to be locked away for a decade might find they are freely walking the streets a year or two after admitting to being a criminal fraud.

13
In some contexts people consider a cage .... er, cab ... on top of their machines to be a luxury.
And increasingly people do not own what they purchase (purchase to lease :D), be it digital files from Apple or Amazon, or the ability to self-repair the onboard computers in their tractors.

14
Water Cooler / Re: Re Robots vs low skill Human jobs
« on: September 15, 2018, 05:22:14 PM »
BUMP:

BBC > Unions call for four-day working week

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45463868?ns_source=facebook&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ocid=socialflow_facebook

That's the big mystery of the modern world - why hasn't the 15-hour work week predicted by Keynes come to be? There are many reasons, but trading time for stuff, trading stuff for family, etc is a lot of it.

There are some pretty strong arguments for cutting the standard work week.
Financialization of the economy (healthcare, education, houses, cars, even pay by the month cell phone leases with perpetual trade ins) has allowed the FIRE (finance / insurance / real estate) industry to suck up over 100% of productivity gains.

The Great Recession was an opportunity to allow financial asset prices to reset lower & allow labor to gain leverage over capital, but central bankers swiftly stepped in to prevent the risk of anything approaching actual free markets.

15
Marketing / Re: Nike bets on its demographic
« on: September 10, 2018, 10:42:57 AM »
I read that the press alone was worth $2b in advertising.  Clearly, they did the math.
It is very easy for people to hate a pro athlete who is more known for their outside the game drama than for their actual performance. The short term buzz provides a bit of a lift, but the long-term resentment from attaching oneself to a politically polarizing mascot in an age of increasing polarization might create an entry point for another competitor to launch & then later expand across.

Presuming red states keep getting economically screwed & presuming there won't be a blowback worse than Trump is perhaps a bad presumption.

I think New Balance ended up moving some of their shoe production offshore, but if they were purely domestic with their production then selling the whole patriotism angle would be pure marketing gold for them to do if they did a bunch of geo-targeted advertising where politics leaned right. They still do produce about a quarter of their shoes in the US.
https://www.themadeinamericamovement.com/products/are-new-balance-shoes-made-in-usa/
https://sneakers-magazine.com/behind-the-manufacturing-of-the-new-balance-1978/

The left/right divide is often an urban/rural divide as much as anything else.

How hard would it be to run statewide targeted ads that exclude 5 or 10 core urban areas?

Spinning up those marketing campaigns & making them speak a message to a base without also being polarizing will take a bit of time, but not doing it is a wasted opportunity for someone like New Balance.

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