On My Day Interviewing For The Service Economy Startup From Hell

@WorkinHardBrother "Working a 12hr day in Manhattan is very standard" No, it's not, unless you're being exploited (as these CSRs are). "as is BYOD (bring your own device) at both major corporates and startups alike " LOL. No, it's not. This is bizarre and abusive to your employees, and shows a lack of respect for the privacy of your customers. The security implications alone are horrifying. And I'll bet it's illegal, since it smacks of hiring discrimination (someone who couldn't afford a laptop wouldn't be hired by you).

Posted on October 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm 6

On We're Anxious Decision-Makers Who Bought a House and Got a Dog

I share your decision-making "strategy," and I too recently bought a house perhaps a bit impulsively. One bit of advice for the ether out there: getting a preapproval letter hurts your credit rating! I didn't know this when I was originally house-hunting (in San Francisco, where agents won't talk to you unless you are preapproved). Because the preapproval from your bank only lasts a month, I seriously damaged my credit, and ended up bumping my mortgage interest rate up slightly, because I had gotten several preapproval letters over the past year. Learn from my mistakes!

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm 0

On Why There Were 400 Visual Effects Artists Protesting at the Oscars

I've been working in the VFX industry for close to ten years now, and from the smallest boutique shop to the biggest effects houses in the world, the economics are terrible. As Deepo wrote, the vast, vast majority of effects money pays for labor: it takes an enormous amount of human creativity and effort to make all the things you see on screen come alive. R&D departments work hard to make it easier, but the bar for visual quality keeps going up (compare Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk with the Avenger's Hulk -- same company, 9 years later), so you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in place. In addition, hardware has to be upgraded constantly, software licenses have to bought, etc. Now none of this would be a problem if the studios were dealing with the VFX studios in a mutually beneficial manner. However, they do not and the contracts VFX studios get are terrible. Specifically, one of the standard practices for studios is to force VFX studios to take "flat rate" contracts -- which means a certain number of shots of a certain complexity for a flat fee. If the director or external visual effects supervisor changes his or her mind, the VFX studio eats the cost of the changes. For "Avatar," whose director is infamous for being picky and fickle about his effects work, this resulted in Weta losing in the neighborhood of $50 million. Effectively, Peter Jackson (and eventually the NZ taxpayers) funded the biggest-box office movie ever, and saw none of the profits. Why do Weta (and other studios) sign these type of contracts? Largely because they have no choice. There are effectively only six movie studios (obviously there are more, but only the big six American studios make effects-heavy films), which means that tacitly or no, there is a colluding oligopoly where the studios all offer identical terms, with none of them breaking ranks to be more generous. On the other side of the economic equation, there is an abundance of VFX talent in the world, so the studios can have the VFX shops bid against each other and take the cheapest. The movie studios always win, and everyone else loses. It regularly happens that a VFX studio will take a contract that loses them money because the alternative is having no work at all, and losing even more money (and all your employees). So if you're trying to make a profit, you have to bid against VFX houses like DD who are not even bidding to break even. Good luck! Even worse, this terrible situation is exacerbated by governments around the world offering huge tax incentives for film and effects work to be done in their countries. Most infamously, New Zealand rewrote its damn labor laws in order to help fund Weta (and thus fund American movie studios). It is becoming impossible for American studios to compete in such an unfair market, and the macroeconomic effect of these subsidies is to increase the amount of effects talent in the world, which is the exact opposite of what the market "wants" to happen.

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm 1

On Young, Privileged, and Applying for Food Stamps

@Ghost Fart@twitter I think this is unkind to the author. She's not "dreaming" of living in the big city like some 30's movie heroine, but rather wants to get a job in a field she's qualified for, that happens to be concentrated in a very expensive city. (I work in film, and face a similar problem: the jobs are all in very expensive places like San Francisco, NYC and LA). So, should only wealthy people be "allowed" to work in these fields, then? What if I lose my job; should I immediately move out of town so you're not subsidizing "dreams"? Furthermore, it costs a LOT of money to move. Thousands of dollars, at the minimum. Hiring a moving company or renting a U-Haul costs money, breaking your lease costs money, staying in temporary housing while you look for new apartments costs money, re-buying all the stuff you threw out when you left town costs money, and so on.

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm 6

On Way to Go, Zuck

16% of Facebook's revenue comes from Zynga. Zynga's year-on-year profits are down 92%. GM, the nation's 3rd biggest advertiser, recently stopped advertising on Facebook because the ads were a waste of money. It's going to be fuuuuun to watch Facebook auger into the ground over the next year or two.

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm 0

On How Much Money You Need To Realistically Recreate The Scrooge McDuck 'Gold Coin Swim'

Another obvious problem, besides containing four times the world's supply of gold, is that the filled vault would contain 850 million pounds of gold. Spread over a surface area of 14,400 sq feet, that's 58,611 lbs/sq ft or a little less than 30 tons per square foot. That's got to be a pretty damn strong vault floor. But I suppose he could afford it.

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm 0

On Welcome to The Billfold

@deepomega Can I pay you in whuffie? Or perhaps bitcoins.

Posted on April 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm 0