Health Care and Insurance Fees to Consume 1/3d of typical family income by 2022

Look for insurance savings – San Francisco Chronicle.

By 2022, the typical family will pay 1/3d of their income to the health insurance and health industry industrial complex:

It is difficult to see how the U.S. will remain competitive in any economic activity when, over time, all of our income will be spent on health insurance and health care industries.

Individual purchasers of pre-paid health care (aka health insurance) – and only individual purchasers – are required by ObamaCare to purchase a rich package of Federally defined “benefits”.  Corporations and government are exempt from this requirement.

Among the oddities, under ObamaCare, the elderly and women who have had hysterectomies and men who have had vasectomies are required by ObamaCare to purchase maternity care insurance. Those who do not drink, smoke or do drugs are required by ObamaCare to purchase drug abuse counseling insurance.

Those who purchase medical devices – say an Epi-Pen to prevent loss of life due to food allergies – will pay an additional 2.3% tax to fund ObamaCare. (Epi-Pens, which used to be sold individually, are now sold only as a pair. Why sell one when you can sell two for twice as much? Cost: $232 every year.)

In the past two weeks, Sen. Max Baucus who wrote the law, and Sen. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader  who pushed the legislation through, both said ObamaCare looks to be a “looming train wreck”.

What a mess. That certainly inspires confidence 🙂

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HR is often a road block to hiring good workers

Ask The Headhunter: The Talent Shortage Myth and Why HR Should Get Out of the Hiring Business | The Business Desk with Paul Solman | PBS NewsHour | PBS.

At many companies there are layers of HR-related staff and automated resume scanners that pre-screen applications.

But as the author of the linked article points out, the HR staff generally lack the technical skills to adequately evaluate technical applicants, and they are not held accountable for the good people they inappropriately reject.

The author’s recommendation is that HR should not be involved in the recruiting and hiring process – that job properly belongs with the managers who are trying to fill positions. In other words, outsourcing (or insourcing) the recruitment process is not working, he says.

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Why my posting here has been light – we’ve bought a home in the Portland, OR area and are wrapping up prep’ing our current home for sale. Plan to call some real estate sales people later today. Anyway, this has been intensely time consuming and blogging fell off the task list.

Self-Published Authors should charge $2.99 to $9.99 for their e-books

Self-Published Authors Say ‘Don’t Overcharge for E-Books’ | Creatives at Work.

Interesting but this conclusion appears to be based on opinion (which I agree with) but there’s no hard data presented. The pricing model is also oriented towards short to mid-length novels rather than all types of e-books.

Still, I think consumers expect a discount for purchasing an e-book. And a lower price point may encourage more people to buy on a whim.

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The difference between software engineering and computer science

Computing Now | Putting the Engineering into Software Engineering Education.

(I have an undergrad degree in computer science and one of my graduate degrees is in software engineering. They are related but not the same thing. Legally, however, it is generally against the law in many states for anyone to call themselves a software engineer unless they are a licensed Professional Engineer – or they work for a company and their state permits an industrial exemption for titles given to internal employees. The first PE exam for software engineering is to be offered in April of 2013; licensure in most states may require passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam covering topics such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, structures and what not.)

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Robotic Snowplows

I dreamed up some ideas about this a few years back: Design and Development: Robotics Teams Compete for Best Robotic Snowplow | Robotics Trends.

In my concept, we only need a small personal robotic snow plow. As soon as it starts snowing and there is perhaps just one inch of snow on the ground, the robot snow plow starts plowing the driveway or path.

It could even use a behavior-based approach, like the Roomba vacuum cleaner, where it seemingly randomly plows the driveway, but due to probabilities, covers everything anyway. Obstacle detection leads to a reverse course – or if necessary, a panic stop.

Since its a robot, it (and we) do not care if just plows all the time to stay ahead of the snow, as long as the battery holds out and an auto charger is available.

There could even be a fleet of little robots to cover larger areas.

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How to Use Contests and Giveaways to Get User-Generated Content

Good ideas! How to Use Contests and Giveaways to Get User-Generated Content.

User generated content contests – and voting polls – encourage users to pass a link on Facebook and Twitter, helping to market the content – for free.

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How to save your Instagram photos and then delete your account

In light of Instagram’s new policy to license out user’s photos for ads, without specific permission or compensation, users are canceling their Instagram accounts in droves: Oh My Tech!: How to delete your Instagram account | The Salt Lake Tribune.

Many are switching to the Flickr.com, which now includes an iPhone photo sharing app.

Update: Instagram co-founder wrote a blog post suggesting they messed up their new terms of service and will make unspecified changes.

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The statistics behind start up success

Startups: never have so many understood so little about the statistics of variance present in the outcomes of small samples.

People like to speak of 10x productivity, non-stop work and geniuses – but the reality is much less interesting. A large number of small teams working on many different problems will by definition have a great variance in outcomes just by random extraneous factors (also known as the law of small numbers and insensitivity to sample size).

via Startup School And Survivor Bias | Hacker News.

A lot of the advice is like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers – luck is random but you can increase your preparation so that you can respond when luck falls in your direction. In the case of start ups, it means trying many things – or in the terminology of Silicon Valley – “pivot quickly”.

Unfortunately the advice ends with a strong recommendation to engage in sex, age and ADA discrimination against workers:

Here’s my list of startup advice:

Be alive. Be male. Be young. Don’t have health issues. Be born in America or move there. Enter the cycle after a recession. Speak English. Enter a growing/new field where the level of competition is low and so is the sophistication of your competition. Surf cost trends down from expensive to mass consumer markets. Work bottom up – on small things. Be of above average intelligence. Have family support. Have a college degree.

One wonders what their lawyer thinks of them writing things like this in public?  This is on the web site of a business that funds start ups, openly admitting illegal discrimination practices. It’s become so deeply ingrained in Silicon Valley thinking that not one commenter to the article notices.

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RailsInstaller: Use it

RailsInstaller.

I am just starting to learn Ruby on Rails, the web development software and tools. I started with Michael Hartl’s book Ruby on Rails Tutorial: Learn Web Development with Rails, Second ed. This is supposed to be the #1 book on the subject – I sure hope the subsequent chapters are better than the installation chapter!

His book walks the newbie through the torturous process of setting up Ruby, Rails, Git, and Heroku access by downloading, installing and configuring every component (more than those listed here). The only word for the install is “torture” as many others have commented about it online. Perhaps another might be “stupid”. A lot of stuff didn’t work and required frequent digging online and finding everyone else having the same problems as we all battled through the installation process.

A far simpler way is to go to RailsInstaller.org and download and run the all-in-one installer.

I spent hours yesterday undergoing the Ruby on Rails installation on Mac OS X (equivalent to a root canal without pain killer) from his book. Finally got the first_app demo to load and run off of Heroku. Only to find that when I went to the second app, the Mac OS X installation no longer worked. Hours later, I discovered the online RailsInstaller – gave up on Mac, went over to my Windows desktop and had Ruby on Rails on Heroku up and running in 15-20 minutes.

Word of advice: Use RailsInstaller – ignore Hartl’s installation instructions.

Update: Chapter 2 onward is going much better 🙂

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