Hacker Newsnew | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit | briandon's comments login

If someone is living in an urban area without a vehicle, they are likely to be paying more for housing and living in a significantly smaller space than someone living in a lower-density setting (e.g. suburbs) who owns and uses a vehicle of their own and may have a lawn, swimming pool, tool shed, little machine shop or sewing/crafts room, etc.

Can you sell more gardening products (seeds, soil, tools, fertilizer, etc.) to someone who has a yard or someone who has a balcony that could potentially accommodate a planter or two?

Will you sell more pool toys and equipment to someone who has a pool in their yard or to someone who may periodically use their building's clubhouse's pool or walk to the local municipal pool?

How much less furniture or art or carpeting or pretty much anything can you sell to someone who has 500 square feet to live in versus someone who has 1000 to 2000 square feet of space in their home? Smaller kitchens translates into less counter space, so less space for kitchen appliances or even fancy pasta storage containers.

The knock-on effects of your customers living in smaller, urban spaces vs. larger suburban-type homes are huge.


So the downside to beautifying and reclaiming our cities by discouraging the automobile is that ... we buy less useless crap and live more efficiently? Shudder.


It sounds awesome, so long as there's always excess supply of on-demand transportation.

When there's a bump in demand (rainy day, major sporting/tourist/whatever event) and on-demand transport services are fully utilized, leaving many waiting or unable to get a vehicle, not so much.


Sorry that the 2nd half of my reply to your comment is on top of the first half). HN wouldn't let me post it as a single reply, so I had to break it up. HN wouldn't let me reply to myself either, so it had to be a 2nd reply to your comment.

I hadn't realized that replies were stacked newest-to-oldest.

My bad.

Edit: this reply was the last but has ended up on the bottom. Wheee!


I'm not really sure what you're getting at. You're saying that your supermarket and delivery person use you low quality packaging material, so therefore you need to take care of it yourself via car? Um, okay? Going from flimsy paper to a gigantic, self-propelled metal box seems like a bit of an extreme, but it floats your boat?

I still buy milk and eggs regularly and I don't have the issues you're talking about. Maybe it's because I use a reusable cloth bag that's sturdy enough to hold up even when drenched. Maybe my milk is packaged in a decent enough carton that condensation isn't really a relevant factor. Maybe the person who bags my groceries is competent? Maybe it's because I walk like a normal person?

> I didn't even touch on what it's like to be walking home from the supermarket, in the open, and getting caught in a sudden downpour.

I've experienced it. And at this point in my life, I've started to hate rain, which is ironic for Seattleite. But it's still manageable. Perhaps it's because I'm young and virile, I'm still capable of stepping up my pace for two blocks with a heavy backpack on my back (I walk to work and I carry my laptop with me both ways) and my hands filled with bags. (We still use paper bags, too; city ordinance for recycling. Seattle tends to be less humid than Hong Kong.)

I should point that out a third time to make it clear: my closest market is 2 blocks away. Because it's the Asian one, it doesn't have all the foods that I like (like Jamaican jerk sauce, mmm), so I take the light rail downtown and go to one of the markets there and bring it back.

I also do not use a delivery service. I consider it an unnecessary luxury, and am afraid of the exact hassles you describe: I have enough issues receiving the usual parcels to begin with.

> Without a vehicle to hold stuff in between stops and to get you from one stop to another faster, everything takes much, much longer to accomplish and the planning outings becomes much more than a matter of leaving the supermarket stop for last so that your ice cream won't melt.

That's certainly true. I tend to make it a point to only target a few stores per outing, because it's not reasonable to do them both on the same day. This is pretty nice, as it means I actually spend less overall and I get a bit more exercise. I need to value my targeted purchases highly enough to dedicate a trip to getting them.

Incidentally, I have family in Kowloon (both of my parents grew up there) and my aunt actually uses a car. But I also don't know about anything near her apartment; it's been a long time since I visited.


What I'm getting at is that having a personal vehicle gives a person a lot of choices that are not available to those without personal vehicles and that walkability and public transit are not a viable replacement for vehicle ownership unless one is willing to sacrifice large amounts of time (walking time) and mental energy (working out, in advance, the logistics of your movements for the day/evening in advance in detail).

Your situation with a local market that doesn't stock everything that you need leading to you needing to sometimes have to make another trip to get a specialty item, is a small example of what I'm talking about. You make an effort to see the upside (spending less, getting exercise) of having to advance-plan your errands and restrict the number of errands that you can do in one go and I think that your positive attitude is admirable but it's akin to a person who has lost their vision comforting themselves with the thought that their sense of hearing has become much more acute to compensate somewhat for their loss of sight.

Also, a reusable cloth shopping bag is great. So long as you always carry it with you. And so long as all of your purchases fit inside of it.

Perhaps, from your point of view the reusable shopping bag's fixed size serves as an additional constraint on your grocery spending and is helping you to lead a more frugal and focused life.

Obviously, I disagree. I can think of better uses for my time than acting as a human pack mule and the opportunity cost is cumulatively enormous -- all of the things that I could be doing during the lost time, which does add up, and the things I'm not getting done or taking longer to get done b/c of the can-only-get-n-errands done instead of n+several-more factor due to walking time or the delay involved in hailing taxis or waiting for booked taxis to show up.


> What I'm getting at is that having a personal vehicle gives a person a lot of choices that are not available to those without personal vehicles and that walkability and public transit are not a viable replacement for vehicle ownership unless one is willing to sacrifice large amounts of time (walking time) and mental energy (working out, in advance, the logistics of your movements for the day/evening in advance in detail).

Sure. But what you're not detailing are the drawbacks of having a personal vehicle, namely the additional errands piled on from having to maintain it (and its license), the extra space required to store it, the emotional tax of being in traffic, the higher risk of injury, the consequences at a macro-scale.

It's manifestly unfair to say, "Well, choice!" when both options have drawbacks. Not having a car, for instance, makes it harder to road trip: admittedly not something you do much of in Hong Kong, but it's a quintessential American fantasy. I'd estimate 20% of Americans have lived out of their cars at some point; their experience would not have been better without a car.

> Perhaps, from your point of view the reusable shopping bag's fixed size serves as an additional constraint on your grocery spending and is helping you to lead a more frugal and focused life.

This is overthinking it, in my view. I recognize that I can always make a second trip if I need to, and given that I can literally go to the store twice a day if I actually have the need, it's meaningless to worry about buying too many items. "I'll go back tomorrow" is a reasonable thought and doesn't require justification.

It's an extra 10 minutes a day to detour through the market, pick up what I need, go through checkout, and be on my way. This is a side effect of not driving; if I drove, I'd go to the Costco in the other neighborhood, fill up my trunk with bulk purchases (because any less would fail to justify the gas I just spent), and be set for a few months since I'm living alone.

It's certainly true that I disagree with rampant consumerism and unintentional obesity. This is something like saying I disagree with providing suicidal people with loaded guns, in order to provide them with choice. The provision of choice is not a binary action: it can be provided in many ways, and you need to choose between those possible actions.

In order to argue for cars, you need to do more than argue that they provide choices unavailable to walkers and cyclists. You need to argue that the choices they provide are more important than the choices provided by what a car-less society would look like.


[continued from previous reply]

(4B.) The next day was uneventful. You were silently thankful that the delivery guy didn't call you while you were at work and pointlessly try to browbeat you into agreeing to an afternoon delivery. When you got home at 6PM, after changing out of your work clothes and freshening up, you began the prep work for your chili. You set your phone on the kitchen counter next to you while you de-seeded and de-ribbed the bell peppers, chopped them and the onions, and minced the garlic. When that was done, since you were already in the kitchen, you wiped down the counters and range and tidied things up. At 7:30, you phoned the supermarket and asked them where your stuff was. The manager apologized and promised to phone you back. At 7:50, he called and apologized some more. There was a mixup and your order never made it onto the delivery truck. But he assures you that they'll deliver everything tomorrow.

You'd already chopped the vegetables. And, luckily, you had eggs and cheese. You made a frittata. The next day, you went back to the supermarket and bought more onions and bell peppers. You bought more beef too, since the pack you'd bought two days earlier had passed its use-by date.

(5.) Why would you visit a grocery store? Jeez what year is it. Of course, you shopped online, at the supermarket website, paid by credit card, and everything was delivered hassle-free three days later from the supermarket chain's warehouse, located some miles away. Well, it was almost hassle-free. The delivery person did haggle over the time -- they wanted to deliver everything at 2PM and it took you a while to make them understand that there would be nobody at home until 6PM. And then, though, he had agreed to deliver between 6PM and 7PM, he didn't actually show up until 8PM.

After tipping the delivery person and cutting open the taped-shut cardboard boxes containing your purchases, you were a bit aggravated to find that they had charged you for two cartons of Brand X organic, free range eggs ... but delivered two cartons of (cheaper) Brand Y eggs. Also, some of the vegetables had seen better days. No matter. The former was an honest mistake and the latter was a small price to pay for convenience you knew that you could cut out the iffy bits of the vegetables before using them. You put the eggs in the fridge, after calling the supermarket and being shuffled from one employee to another to get them to agree that you could exchange the wrong eggs for the ones that you had paid for at your local branch the next evening, provided that you could show them the printout of your order confirmation email. Then, you briskly began the task of cutting up the now-empty cardboard boxes and folding and stacking the pieces so that you could get them into a bag or so that you could get rubber bands around them ... for the trip downstairs to the cardboard recycling bin. It was nearly nine by the time that you got back into your apartment and slipped off your sneakers to sweep up the slivers of cardboard and little bits of flotsam and jetsam (dried bits of banana-something from the banana boxes and wispy little feathers that had been inside the boxes that had held cartons of eggs before being reused by the supermarket) that ended up on your kitchen floor while you were unloading and then cutting up and packing the cardboard.

Except for permutation #1 (I haven't seen supermarkets using paper bags here, possibly because of the condensation issue), we have experienced each of these scenarios, numerous times.

I didn't even touch on what it's like to be walking home from the supermarket, in the open, and getting caught in a sudden downpour. Even if you are carrying a tiny collapsible umbrella, it's a neat trick to use it if you're carrying more than a tiny amount of stuff since holding an umbrella with one hand entails carrying everything else with the remaining hand. Fun times.

I didn't take up the question of multiple stops/errands, either. Without a vehicle to hold stuff in between stops and to get you from one stop to another faster, everything takes much, much longer to accomplish and the planning outings becomes much more than a matter of leaving the supermarket stop for last so that your ice cream won't melt. You've got to juggle your guesstimates as to the weights of the stuff you'll be picking up or dropping off at each stop, the form factors of the packages they'll be in, and (for those establishments where you'll be making purchases and which offer delivery) their delivery times and your past experiences with the reliability of their delivery personnel.


Your problems are easily solved with a collapsible shopping cart.


Collapsible shopping carts would not solve the problems created by trying to accomplish everyday errands and maintain a developed-world standard of living in the absence of a personal vehicle any more than keeping your plough's blade really razor-sharp would solve the problem of having to use a plough, drawn by oxen, after the use of tractors has been forbidden for ideological reasons.


Was that all a parable? The specific problem was getting more groceries home than you could comfortably carry, and needing them sooner than they could be reliably delivered. Wheels are a huge help in doing this.

Perhaps the more general problem is having things appear in your home at more or less the instant you decide you want them. Since instant delivery is unavailable (is this the problem?), this will require you to outsource your planning to some other person, like a servant, or to some sort of AI, or the closest that Amazon or Google can do.


As someone who lives with their spouse in a highrise dozens of stories tall built on top of a MTR (mass transit rail) station in a city (Hong Kong) that has what is widely considered a wonderful mass transit system and who regularly walks everywhere, including to and from my local supermarket, and who does not own a vehicle, I would like to respond to your post.

Imagine that you wanted to cook chili for dinner (and leftovers for lunch the next day and or chili dogs a few days on -- YUM!). Recipes differ, but let's say that you went with ground beef, canned beans, tomato sauce of some kind, fresh onions and garlic, and maybe some bell peppers. You might have bought some cheese to grate over bowls of the finished chili and sour cream to spoon onto the cheese. Assume that you already had chili powder and any other spices that you needed at home. Since you're at the supermarket, you also bought the other things that you needed: a bottle of shampoo, some toilet tissue, a lightbulb(it would be slightly cheaper to get a 6-pack of bulbs but you only need one right now and don't want to carry anything absolutely unnecessary home) like, a couple of cartons of milk, some coffee or tea, a carton or two of eggs, some chicken breasts, more vegetables, etc. At the checkout, you bagged your own purchases or had them bagged for you and began the five-to-ten-minute walk home.

(1.) Unfortunately, it was warm out and the cartons of milk sweated and the condensation soaked through that bag (the supermarket uses eco-friendly, recyclable paper bags) and the bottom tore out and everything from that bag fell onto the sidewalk. Time to set your bags on the pavement or the grass next to the sidewalk and try to distribute those items between the remaining bags. The bag holding the ground beef and chicken breasts is looking a bit iffy too, but it'll probably hold (fingers crossed!) until you get home. The milk cartons have warmed up a bit and hopefully won't sweat enough to take the bag(s) into which you've placed them before you get home.

(2.) Wait. Suppose that you opted for the (biodegradable) plastic bags. Condensation wouldn't affect them. As you were walking home, however, one of the corners of one of the milk cartons, with the help of gravity and the movements to which the bag containing the milk was subjected as you walked home, made a whole in the bottom of the bag, with the same result as if you had been using paper bags.

(3.) OK, so you wisely double-bagged (in plastic) your groceries and you made it home without any bags failing. Unfortunately, something in the bag with the carton(s) of eggs shifted while you were humping the bags home and a coupel of the eggs broke, making a bit of a mess in the bag.

(4.) No, of course you wouldn't haul all of your groceries home at once. That's sheer madness. You only took the perishable items and left the rest to be delivered. That meant an extra few minutes spent at the checkout, at the head of a long line of people, each of whom also had to spend a bit longer in line themselves, giving the store your home address and telephone number and checking with the cashier to find out when your stuff would be delivered (answer: 12PM to 8PM the next day, but the delivery person will phone you first). What's a few extra minutes here or there, right? You also aren't paranoid, so you have no problem giving the store your home address and phone number and don't care whether or not the company owning the supermarket aggregates your purchases with your name, address, and phone number and resells the information to marketers. It's a small price to pay for the convenience of not having to lug all of your stuff home yourself.

Not having all of the ingredients for chili (the cans of beans and jars of tomato sauce are amongst those purchases that were to be delivered), you had something else for dinner instead. You weren't planning to make chili that night anyway, since you took the delivery delay into account when you made your grocery list.

The next day, the delivery guy called you a few times while you were in a meeting and couldn't answer your phone. Jeez, his last message sure sounded irate. He was still annoyed with you when you phoned him back and even more annoyed when you told him that nobody would be home to take delivery until at least 6PM. The earlier he can finish his deliveries, the sooner he can get home and spend time with his own family.

When you got home, at 6 PM, he was waiting for you in the hallway outside your apartment door with your stuff packed in half a dozen repurposed cardboard boxes (from the labels printed on the boxes, you can tell that some of them had held bananas and others had held cartons of eggs) stacked on a little cart. Cardboard is better than plastic (even the biodegradable plastic used in the supermarket's bags), so that was good. Unfortunately, after you transferred the boxes inside your apartment, tipped the delivery guy, and began unpacking the items you had purchased the day before, you discovered that the shampoo had been packed upside down and half its contents had slowly leaked out. It only took a few minutes to wash the shampoo off the cans of beans. No big deal. And you can always get another bottle of shampoo when you go back to the store. Maybe you ought to tighten the top of the bottle a bit before going to the checkout next time, just in case, or carry it home. Carrying a bit more weight will just help build up the muscles in your arms and shoulders, right? As a matter of fact, your shoulders were a bit sore from carrying the perishables home yesterday. Feel the burn, baby!

[to be continued]


  It’s as of yet unclear how many other manufacturers leave
  their firmware updating sequences unsecured. Appotech is 
  a relatively minor player in the SD controller world;
  there’s a handful of companies that you’ve probably never
  heard of that produce SD controllers, including Alcor 
  Micro, Skymedi, Phison, SMI, and of course Sandisk and 
Which begs the question: so why target Appotech rather than Sandisk or Samsung?


If you watch the presentation, it's pretty funny why they used the Appotech chipset:

They managed to read out the embedded raw-flash on one device, and when they searched for the vendor/device, the third link that popped up on Baidu brought them directly to a download for the windows based firmware-update-tool (in chinese, of course)... so much for a headstart in analyzing the firmware :-).


I upvoted your comment because I agree completely with the core of what you're saying.

On the other hand, overseas customers, like myself, pay a much higher shipping rate for used books purchased from third-party sellers.

If I buy a little out-of-print paperback from an Amazon Marketplace seller, I will pay the listed price, plus $16.95 for shipping. If the weight of the book is over 1lb, then I'll be paying $23.95 for a single book.


It used to be a single rate, $13-something. Before that, it was $11-something. I can remember it being $9-something not many years back.

That hasn't stopped me from buying used books from Amazon altogether, but it has made real impulse, curiosity-driven buys less frequent.


Ah, I assumed you were in the US. I've actually bought some more second hand books from Amazon because it's now typically $3.99 for the handling and that includes the seller's profit - the book itself may cost as little as 1c.

That said I still prefer haunting second hand bookstores, which are far more fun that browsing online. I'll sometimes spend a year or two looking for a book even though I know I could find and order it in a 2 minutes on Amazon...but there's no satisfaction in doing so, whereas finding a book through diligent searching is enormously rewarding.


Totally correct.

Now, if you told HN the net floor area of your $USD 2.5k-a-month village house and the dimensions of your 3 bedrooms, you'd probably shock many posters here.


When you were living in a cozy apartment, did it happen to be in a city where free, public conveniences (like greenery, shaded benches, water fountains, etc.) were rare to nonexistent, situated in a region where the climate was extremely hot and humid year-round?

I ask because I live in such a city and socializing seems to take the form (for the affluent) of, for example, sweaty people buying overpriced iced coffees so that they have an excuse to sit in an air conditioned cafe and (for the less well-off) of people, especially the elderly, sitting on ledges, steps, the rare bench or two, etc. in air conditioned shopping malls, libraries, and government buildings all day.


No, it wasn't in such cities. They were, however, equipped with excellent public transportation, which certainly lowers the barriers to going out.


Are (many of) the apartments privately owned in this scenario?

If so, then everyone who has already bought an apartment and everyone who stands to inherit such an apartment will "lose" money or the opportunity to convert their real estate into money in the future if newer apartments are more spacious or nicer in any obvious way.

Real estate developers will have less difficulty selling the units that they build right now if buyers are confident that future apartments will not be nicer (and hence more desirable to future buyers) than the apartments that you're trying to fob off on them today.

It's a feedback mechanism that, unchecked, leads to what you find in HK: progressively slightly smaller, more unpleasant apartments being built with every passing year.



Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact