I am on page 60 where train operators and station agents are making $122 000.
The difference between "workers" and manager salaries is about 4x, pretty low compared to the private sector.
I find the salaries to be outrageously high, even factoring in that we are talking about the Bay Area & San Francisco. Considering that the average age of BART's cars is 30 years , the money seems better spend on updating the equipment.
Union mechanics update the equipment, and BART has been offering pay increases, which they also admit are not increases, preferentially to safety improvements.
For instance, the lighting situation in the tunnels is unacceptable and has likely been involved in at least one worker death.
BART workers have important jobs, evidenced by the pain we're experiencing as a region without them. That's what strikes are about.
Would you appreciate your salary negotiation going something like this:
"Hey, four years ago when the company and our customers were struggling, I accepted a pay freeze to cover essential costs to keep us afloat."
"Thanks for that. We'd like you to start covering some of the costs of your benefits, though we're actually doing a good bit better. We're going to give you a raise that amounts to half of inflation in the most optimistic of light, and that will cover the new costs we're asking you to cover. We're going to do this so that we can go to the press and say that we offered you a raise, you're a bunch of ungrateful fucks, and look at how you've fucked all of the poor riders. Also, on top of that, all of the things you've asked us to purchase for the system that would increase worker safety are rejected or deferred - we don't think that should be a part of your negotiation, even if you're saying that you might be willing to accept the pay we're offering if we budged a bit more on these costs. Do you accept?"
I'm an outsider to west coast city politics, but I suspect it's the same all over: the details of why the public workers are striking won't matter. Previous sacrifices and safety concerns be damned. All the public at large will hear thanks to this salary data is that the public worker is doing substantially better than they are in terms of pay and benefits, and likely for less time and effort. Of course, the majority of people --who labour under private entities that regard salaries as costs to be minimized-- could never expect such treatment. And if they can't get it then they sure as hell won't stand for someone else getting it on their taxpayer dime.
It's classic divide and conquer class stratification, and you don't even have to do the agitating yourself.
Do you understand why people get pissed off when they read the salary tables? The people riding the trains don't have massive employer contributions to their pensions -- or even have pensions. They don't get paid overtime -- they just work unpaid. Stagnant wages? How have wages changed in the area generally, relative to the cost of living?
If you want the upside of big jumps in salary, you should have to take on some of the risks (like losing your job and medical insurance, or your business).
Do you ever wonder if there's someone else who would be willing to do the job you are doing for less?
Would you appreciate your salary negotiation going like this:
"I want 20% increase over four years."
"No. We're laying off 20% of the staff because revenue is down. We might hire you back as a part-timer later, without health insurance or benefits."
Sounds like people working in terrible conditions like that could benefit from forming a union. But they'd rather pull everybody down to their level rather than work to bring their own working situation up to something that isn't absolutely fucking abysmal (unpaid overtime (!), no cost-of-living adjustments -- why should any company be allowed to treat their employees that way?)
Those "people working in terrible conditions" don't have the ability to threaten everyone around them, like your transit workers do. They'd rather push everybody down, rather than recognize that they have the same options available to everyone who wants an increase in pay. Go find someone willing to pay you more.
Word to the wise: don't waste your time on the video. The interviewer ("laborvideo") coaches the interviewees through their interviews. When they lose steam or wander off script, he helpfully coaches them back on topic with dramatic, inflammatory statements/questions.
Oh, by the way, Fox News' coverage of the strike is also poor. News at 11!
If people (riders) realize what the salaries are and compare that to the service they get in return, they should ask for BaRT employees to become more efficient, given their salaries, else BaRT emps will price themselves out and automation will become more and more viable option, despite the political obstacle.
So, yeah, I agree, they should use this money toward upgrades and or service expansion, maybe invest in an additional track smoother. And, as someone said below, they need to realize that they are a service organization and act like one.
It's difficult to speak about BART staff without using broad strokes. I think station agents are too adversarial and should have a performance measure based on that. I don't know how to do that in any way that is sane. I'm a programmer, and I don't want to ride to work on an automatic train.
I don't much like BART police, and in fact I think the decision to have a private police force for BART should be revisited. These officers are often rejected based on psychological exams from departments like SFPD, OPD, and UCPD. They have higher entry salaries than workers who aren't armed, and while people on Facebook groups seem constantly to want them around with greater presence to admonish cyclists breaking silly rules or chasing naked acrobats, in fact the only thing they seem capable of doing is accidentally murdering people.
You want upgrades? The maintenance team at BART wants safer working conditions to install the equipment you propose to purchase. With no raise during a period with 18% average cost of living increase - a low average all of us on HN know - I'm sure many of these hard working folks are concerned about having to move their families to neighborhoods with worse schools and crime while being asked to work longer hours, and called greedy for clocking overtime.
Just to be clear I have no affiliation except that I have had some drinking buddies who are SEIU organizers. They're serious people who are very good at taking care of the lower wage employees around the world, and esp in places like the bay area with huge income disparity.
There are lots of systems with at least some lines with full automation. I've been on some. They transport lots of people. I never had a problem on the ones I was on.
I think if rapid transit is to take off and replace car culture (as a viable alternative), it needs to be affordable and has to go where people want to go. That means make BaRT more affordable and make it go more places --Van Ness, Geary corridors, go down to San Jose via El Camino develop el Camino down the peninsula for dense housing.
I've been in more than a few verbal altercations with station agents at almost every downtown SF BART station, where, when going from the platform to the street via the elevator due to having a stroller - am confronted with a disgusting and unbearable stench of urine and other fluids in the elevators.
I hit the emergency call button and demand they clean the elevators. I get a god damned attitude from the station agents as though its not their problem.
Then who the fark's problem is it. The cost of BART and the service on gets - particularly the hygienic risk - is unacceptable.
They can't. You can hire a full-time person whose sole job is to stand by the elevator and clean it every five minutes and it still won't be clean.
The state of San Francisco's transportation system, whether it's BART or MUNI, is a reflection of the city and its problems, not just of the transit system itself. I sincerely hope you noticed the homeless and mentally-ill that are everywhere in the city before you noticed the elevators they shit in.
Just like human shit clogging up and breaking down escalators (true story, I wish I jest), it is BART's problem, but BART and its employees are more or less powerless against it. When you have a veritable army of homeless and addicts inhabiting your city, there is not much you can do besides stay in that booth.
If you would like functional elevators that aren't biohazard zones, I'd suggest becoming involved locally and solving the problem at its root. I am confident you will get nowhere with clean elevators until you get somewhere with reducing the homeless and mentally-ill population.
> If you would like functional elevators that aren't biohazard zones, I'd suggest becoming involved locally and solving the problem at its root.
"If you want clean elevators, just solve homelessness!" Reminds me of "if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, first you must first invent the universe." It's cute... but if you actually want to know how to make an apple pie from scratch that answer is just obnoxious.
Your prescription for how to clean an elevator is absurd.
Why not simply install elevators with a grated floor and install a plastic tarpaulin at the bottom of the shaft. This way and urine would not stay in the elevators. It probably wouldn't do much for poop, which would still have to be removed manually, but I imagine that simply having the elevator open on top and bottom would allow enough air to circulate to eliminate the smell.
Alternatively, is there a way to detect when poop or piss touches a service and trigger an automatic lockdown of the elevator until an officer has come to inspect it and release it? Once someone has been trapped and fined once, they are more likely to avoid doing anything that triggers them getting caught in the elevator.
The elevators are disgraceful (old, slow, faulty and small) and unhygienic, for sure. They are routinely urinated on and defecated on by mentally unbalanced people who need care (but there are politics with that too). So it's not totally BaRT employees' fault but the situation needs to be managed better and the facilities upgraded for modern transportation (elderly, people with strollers, people with luggage). One measly elevator per station (and two escalators) does not cut it for the volume of people they handle hourly/daily.
The tools would make my live so much easier, I can not start to express how much science needs this. Why did no startup jump on implementing them, like "Light Table" ? Alternatively, why did Victor not release it commercially? He would not get rich, but I guess he does not need to earn money anymore. His tools could benefit humanity, from cancer research to safer cars.
I really wonder, what the reason is why Mr. Victor never published any of his tools. It makes me sad to see such genius applications and all I can do is look at them.
HCI guy here, who gave a fair share of demos at conferences etc. to illustrate new concepts. Those demos are usually held together with duct tape, and would require TREMENDOUS work to turn into production ready apps.
Additionally, HCI researchers (group in which I'll include Bret Victor, even though he doesn't publish at the main conferences etc., sadly) are more interested in creating those examples to illustrate their research, but not in building commercial stuff (which is a very different type of work).
I actually was at Victor's talk "Stop Drawing Dead Fish", and at the end an audience member asked if he could release it. He said that if he released it, no one would get any use out of it, because it was really built only with that talk in mind. (which, of course, is not surprising– that's the nature of his work)
> ' He would not get rich, but I guess he does not need to earn money anymore.'
You're greatly overestimating things here, my friend :)
I'm sure Bret would call himself a designer rather than an HCI researcher, and its true that many HCI researchers sneak design ideas into HCI conferences (Are we designers? Are we scientists? Let's just through in some pointless vigor in what is otherwise a good design paper!). Sorry, this is just one of my pet peeves, and its a problem we have in my own field (PL) also.
I agree most of our prototypes are held together by duct tape and do not represent ideas that are ready to go into production. The paper/idea is the artifact, not the prototype/demo, which exists to promote the idea. Ten years from now (more or less) the best ideas will be integrated into products by some entrepreneur who has the tenacity to make it all work for reals. E.g. we hope this happens with LightTable.
This. it's really hard to ship, it's even harder to ensure all the marketing/support/commerce stuff you really don't want to do as an interaction developer is also running.
Personal case examples:
1) Recently announced a plugin mentioned by some top designers - basically brings some new interaction ideas to graphic design tools. It's taken about 4-ish months of evenings to make a functioning prototype. Then another couple months to design the website/do user interviews/etc. Despite the flattering mentions, I still freak out a bit that not enough people will buy it when I launch.
2) Made a desktop app that had more of an 'interaction-first' approach, and inspired by folks behind Balsamiq. After 2 years of doing code, hiring a coworker, etc. It was 80% done, customers couldn't wait for me to ship, but some just-hired manager didn't get it and canned the project, along with my employment. Just downloaded what the old stuff they still ship, it has 2012 copyright info.
Also, it hasn't been encouraging when going to conferences like microconf, where the focus and advice leaned towards "find that b2b niche and make a saas app, you're gonna regret otherwise"
I'm also interested in knowing why. A lot of his demonstrations are really cool and I'd pay a dollar or two just to play around with them as they are, so I imagine people would pay a lot if they could buy full featured packages.
Hrm... It looks like these talks are pretty recent. It seems like he is still exploring interaction and visualization and is creating some pretty fantastic work. That doesn't mean he is ready to or has something to sell.
The Samsung software I have seen on their TVs, laptops, phones has been adequate at best. I wish them best of luck developing another closed ecosystem. However their track record of developing good, functioning software is not very promising.
When you use Apple products everything is tied into Apple. I didn't like some parts of their ecosystem (Itunes). It is all or nothing for Apple, so I said farewell and moved on.
When I switched to Android I discovered it is strongly tied to Google, their services are great and free. However I grew increasingly worried about a future in which my account ends up as a "false positive" and my life get's deleted. — Seriously those horror stories about people's Google account getting deleted for no good reason are very scary to a startup founder. The probability is very low, but I am scared enough to invest money and time in moving all my data away from Google.
So Samsung if the article is right and this is your longterm strategy, I wish you best of luck, don't expect me to be a customer at any point in the future.
I agree. I've ranted previously about how Samsung is toxic for Android in the past, mostly because they really did copy Apple too much, which gave the impression that "Android" (since Samsung is a very popular Android device provider) copied Apple too much.
Exhibit B, the copy bug where copying more than 20 items in a single device session would break copy/paste across the entire device, causing any app which tries to access the clipboard to crash. The bug they didn't fix for close to a year (they never really fixed it per se, they just waited until the normal Android system OS refresh cycle and didn't include the bug in the next revision) and whose "workaround" was doing a factory reset of your device once it got into that state (you could also fix it by rooting the device and manually deleting some protected files but of course that wasn't officially supported).
As someone whose current job involves Android development, it is nearly impossible for me to avoid Samsung's terrible devices (95% of the time they are the ones I have to investigate device specific bugs on in our app) despite the myriad of problems I have with them.
The only Samsung device I've touched that is tolerable to use is the ARM Chromebook, presumably because they had virtually nothing to do with the software on it.
> The problem is that whenever they don't blatantly rip-off Apple the designs they come up with are terrible. And beyond just design they're clearly lacking on the software quality front.
Actually I find their blatant copies of Apple some of the worst offenders when it comes to their design. The ugly bars all over TouchWiz are pretty much darker tinted variants of the default bars found on iOS. The Samsung messaging app is ugly and essentially copies the iOS messaging app with a darker color scheme.
But really Samsung's designs are just terrible. They should try to work more with Google and leave as much of the stock UI as it is.
> When I switched to Android I discovered it is strongly tied to Google
This is a common misconception. It is very easy to replace Google apps commonly found on Android phones (such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk, etc.) with non-Google apps. If Google's services start to get shitty, manufacturers will simply replace it with alternatives. For example, in China, where Android phones are popular but Google services are largely inaccessible (due to the government censorship rather than anything that is Google's fault, but the situation is sufficiently similar to Google losing its edge), Android phones come with Baidu as their default search engine. There was even a phone released on Verizon that had Bing as its default search engine (Microsoft probably paid Verizon a ton of money for that).
Yes, but in China Google services aren't nearly as prevalent as they are in the US. Baidu is as popular, so naturally it'd be okay as a default standard.
The Samsung Fascinate (Galaxy S1) on Verizon had Bing included by default, and there were quite a bit of complaints about it - not to mention the fact that the device wasn't too competitive with other devices on the market at the time.
From Engadget's review:
"This was maddening to us. We don't have a personal issue with Bing, but it's not our engine of choice, and we'd be willing to bet that it's not yours either. Now, imagine buying an Android phone -- a Google phone -- only to discover that not only was Google not defaulted to as a search engine, it's not even an option! For us, this is actually a deal breaker. It's fine to throw a new choice a user's way, but to force them into using nothing but that choice seems pretty low. Even on the original iPhone you were given a choice between Google and Yahoo!. Here, you've got Bing unless you want to get hacking -- and most people actually don't want to get hacking. They just want to use their phones. Again, it's not that Bing is a bad search engine, but Google is the standard. If it's not even offered, what does that say?"
> Yes, but in China Google services aren't nearly as prevalent as they are in the US. Baidu is as popular, so naturally it'd be okay as a default standard.
And if Google's services became so crappy that people started using something else (like Bing) on their PCs, then it would be trivial for Android phones to switch over to that as well.
My point was that Android phones are not tied to Google services, and that Chinese Android phones are a good example of that.
> The Samsung Fascinate (Galaxy S1) on Verizon had Bing included by default, and there were quite a bit of complaints about it
Yes, because people didn't want or expect Bing, they wanted Google. The reason why almost all Android phones (outside of China) have Google as their default is because people want Google to be the default, not because Google has mandated it.
> The Samsung software I have seen on their TVs, laptops, phones has been adequate at best.
You've clearly used a Samsung SmartTV then. The software is so slow, so clunky, so unreliable; it's a hair pulling exercise just waiting for the thing to load (1-2 minutes to bring up the dashboard). Its bad enough to justify hauling the thing back to the shop and getting a refund.
I have a SmartTV as well. Tried the apps once and never touched it again. It really is 90's era software.
I honestly can't fathom why the TV manufacturers are just sitting back, twiddling their thumbs and waiting for Apple to come in and make them look stupid. I mean really is a TV so much more complicated to build a decent UI for than a smartphone or computer ?
So true. But the worst part is when their software update servers go down. Apparently SmartTV phones home about every 5 minutes or so, and when Samsung's servers are offline for any reason the TV pops up an annoying box in the middle of the screen telling you that your internet isn't working. Even if you're just watching TV or a DVD.
I contacted Samsung and they told me not to use my TV and that it should be fine the next day. In the end, I factory-reset my TV and didn't give it the wi-fi password.
Very true. I feel like I'm sitting at a PDP-11, except a PDP-11 would be more intuitive than the Smart TV interface. I only use my Apple TV as an interface for Netflix, Hulu+, etc. now; the only thing I touch the actual TV controls for are changing sources.
I own a Samsung TV, a camera by them, and used to own a cell phone by them. My friend also has a GS3.
All of them are just poorly-designed, cheap imitations of Blackberry and Apple UI design. The Smart TV interface is a disaster. It's a mess; nothing works and the supposedly "smart" touchpad integrated into the remote constantly misses what I want to select.
The camera is decent; but it's only a camera, so not very much going on there.
The phone I used to own (a feature phone by the name of SGH-A867) was also okay with regards to UI. It was fairly intuitive and worked well; although AT&T probably designed most of the software for the phone. It was, however, on the hardware front poorly designed. The touch screen stopped responding after a year of light use. Unacceptable.
The GS3 that my friend owned really seemed promising. But the polycarbonate construction left a lot to be desired and the UI felt like a hobbled-together, piecemeal catastrophe.
I bought a Nexus 4 and am enamored by it. It's perfect.
Software is hard. Any company where you can ship production code with all of physical memory mmap'able world-readable/writable (Exynos Android 4.0 vulnerability) points to a seriously flawed software engineering culture.
A lot of people don't remember Palm OS, but as someone who owned a Palm TX device, I have most fond memories of it. And I still consider it the best handheld device that I had (including my current Nexus 4) in terms of both design and UI, and user control, and battery life, which lasted up to a week! It was a real bummer to see it go. I still miss it.
I agree with niggler, I guess this tax would eliminate >95% of all trades. Therefore the expected tax income of 352 billion would be significantly lower (~ 20 billion) over 10 years.
Still I do believe the tax would have a significant positive impact on the economy.
The tax would most effect arbitrage trades. Arbitrageurs get between buyers and sellers. When a seller offers a stock for $95 and a buyer is willing to pay $105 the arbitrageurs buy the stock for $95 and sell it to the buyer for a premium (~ $102.5). Arbitrageurs have trading algorithms which can do this millions of times per second, that's how they can buy faster than the "real" buyer. They behave like vultures fighting for the scraps (so to speak) and getting in the way of "real" market participants.
The act of arbitrage trades is taxing market participants already. The proposed tax of ¢3 might make buying stock cheaper on average. (I don't know the real numbers, this is just a guess)
Further more I would rather see the money in the hand of the government, as there is a chance that some of the money is spend on better streets & health care. The alternative is to fund hoards of highly skilled engineers to improve algorithm that pick up the scraps. I personally know engineers at broker firms who feel their extremely well paid job provides absolutely no good to society.
EDIT: The main argument for the existence of arbitrageurs is that they provide liquidity to the market when there are not enough buyers & sellers. My personal believe is, they liquidity they provide today comes with a to high of a price. 20 years ago when it was a few guys yelling on the trading floor you could always count on one guy yelling (the arbitrageur). Today the number of market participants & electronic transactions make trades near perfect; The utility of arbitrage trades vanished almost completely.
I think you are misinformed about arbitrage. Arbitrage involves taking advantage of a price difference between two different markets. In the US for equities, there is a national best bid and offer which means that the prices stay in line. (Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_best_bid_and_offer)
If someone in the US first wants to sell a stock for as low as $95 (places a resting ask order at $95), and then someone else comes in and is willing to buy the stock for up to $105 (places a bid at $105), their orders will match, and the transaction will occur at $95. They won't just sit around waiting for some arbitrageur to come around.
Let's say there is an arbitrage between an index fund etf and its component companies such that you can buy all the components for $99, and sell the etf for $100. In this case who is the poor real market participant who gets screwed by the arbitraguer? If the "real market participant" got his order filled, he will be happy.
"Today the number of market participants & electronic transactions make trades near perfect; The utility of arbitrage trades vanished almost completely."
I think you are confusing cause and effect. The reason why the markets are indeed much more efficient these days is because of the existants of many more people engaged in arbitrage. This is something you should be happy about. Those algoritms that pick up the scraps significantly decrease the cost of investing for everyday people huge amounts of invested pension and retirement fund wealth.
Considering that humans are the judge of what constitutes as a well spaced font, one should look at the workings of the human brain. It turnes out we already know the algorithm employed by the visual cortex for edge detection, the _Gabor filter_
Of the approaches mentioned in the original article, "wavelet" masks, are the ones closest to the calculation done in the V1.
A quick search on http://scholar.google.com for "Gabor space visual cortex" uncovers that much research was dedicated to this topic.
I think you did well. I understood what you are trying to do immediately, but there was a struggle communicating that to Paul. I think you can immediately get the idea across by saying that it is "Metacritic for consumer electronics". Assuming your audience knows what metacritic is, which may not always be the case :)
I always spend a lot of time researching products before buying, and I would use a site like yours if I could validate your rankings. Perhaps offer a straightforward recommendation, but provide the option of letting the user understand everything that went into that score.
Also, you said you are using conversion rate as a datapoint. Laptops are a big purchase and sometimes people don't purchase right away, or they research online and then go in store. For your next product, you could get some quick data like Paul was suggesting by reviewing a product that is easy for people to impulse buy. Perhaps something like home media players (WDTV, Boxee, Roku).
I looked at your site after it finally started working again during your segment. Why is the Macbook Pro ranked #1 for gaming laptops? It has superior build quality, but gaming performance leaves plenty to be desired compared to many of the laptops below it. It also costs much more, which doesn't seem to be factored in to the price.
The ASUS G73SW-A1 listing says this in the Display summary:
"Looking at the screen both indoors and outdoors is a generally enjoyable experience"
Then this in the Display details:
"The reflections on this screen cause its usability to be close to minimal. Users will only be able to comfortably view the display in either dark environment or with the least possible amount of lighting. Outdoor use will prove to be absurd; patience and continuous focus will be required for any actual and efficient use of this laptop under medium lighting conditions."
These seem contradictory, and there were little inconsistencies everywhere I looked.
Thank you for your feedback, it is very appreciated.
The current problem with our website is: We didn't put the newest data up. We have other plans with it and kind of starved the consumer version of new laptops.
Nevertheless your points are very valid, the categorizing of products needs improvement, very much.
We have many better gaming laptops in our complete database, I hope we will manage to make them available to everyone in the next few weeks.
About the wording, we are no native speakers, so our English is definitely a week point.