I Admire Honesty in Corporate Communication – The AU PS3 price is "Obscene"

Australians are generally subjected to some degree of price gouging when a product has one official importer. Only the degree of gouging varies. I buy my laptops from Japan, because by the time an ultralight makes it to Australia at least six months later it has lower specs and a much higher price tag.

The PS3 will launch Australia at AU$999 for the 60GB model. That is a significant, but not remarkable premium on the US or Japanese price. For comparison it is about US$700 plus tax. US price is US$600. Japanese price is US$520. So Australians will pay about 17% more than Americans and about 35% more than the Japanese. (at today’s rates from oanda.com).

Sony Computer Entertainment Australia’s Managing Director Michael Ephraim naturally has to claim that the price of the PS3 is justified. To point out that he is also doing it tough, he points out that he pays an obscene premium for his BMW in Australia.

In an interview with Jason Hill, he says “If you look at any other products it’s the same. I drive a BMW and I pay a price that is completely obscene – 80 per cent higher compared to the US.”

When you look at it like that, a 35% premium on the PS3 is quite restrained I suppose. Well at least if you ignore the fact that in Australia cars over $57K are subject to luxury car tax of 25% in addition to normal GST. If his hypothetical BMW cost AU$200K, then about AU$50K would be tax. His 80% premium means it costs the equivalent of AU$111K in the US. The Australian price of AU$150K plus tax is then an “obscene” 35% premium over the US price.

I’m with Michael . I don’t know how BMW Australia can live with themselves.

It reminds me of a speaker I heard once suggesting more people take up polo. “Many people,” he said, “think polo is only a rich man’s sport, but it is no more expensive than many other hobbies like sailing or motor racing”. He did not actually compare the price of polo to playing video games but that was back in the days of the original PlayStation, so it might not have compared so favourably.

Every Blog Should Have at Least One Post With Erotic in The Title

I love seeing what people type into search engines. You might need to work at a search engine, or subscribe to some sort of search intelligence service to see the true depth and breadth of what your fellow man is searching the internet for, but if you have some risqué terms in your blog you will get a small taste test if you have any sort of analytics running.

Since I put up my Java Programmers Are The Erotic Furries of Programming hierarchy, my referrer logs have been amusing me a great deal. I can’t help but think that people coming from a google search for “erotic” are in for a letdown when they get here. But some make me wonder even more.

The reason I had to write this post was because I just snorted coffee over my laptop after finding somebody searched for “javascript for furries”. Although some other phrases are intriguing, “geek monkeys”, “erotic java” and “erotic nerds”, did not induce an involuntary snort.

I am tempted to start including deliberate weirdy bait in posts, just so I can see if people are out there searching for “hot girls in hot tinfoil hats” or “Is it wrong to want to have sex with my cousin if she is also my sister”, but taking the randomness out of if would probably spoil the fun.

I have to credit anybody who made it here searching for “erotic” with being dedicated to the cause though. According to Google Webmaster Tools, a page on my site is the 156th result Google presents for that search. Having clicked through 15 pages of results to find this, I really hope some of the other nearby results were more suitable. Though I think dedication is a fine trait in a pervert. I have no time for those fair weather perverts who would have stopped after the 10th page of results.

For future reference, this is a Java Programmer:
Java Programmer
(from: http://faq.javaranch.com/view?ActiveStaff)

This is a furry.
Furries
(from http://pressedfur.coolfreepages.com/press/sex2k/ [NSFW])

While I will grant you that there are some striking similarities between the two groups, I think given practice you will learn to look for the subtle differences that set them apart and be able to differentiate the two groups.

Digg's Kevin Rose Has an Account on User/Submitter?

If you missed it, User/Submitter is a paid service allowing people to buy diggs.

They are very upfront about their business model. Submitters (people who want stories promoted) pay $20 plus $1 per digg. Users (digg users who’s second job as a WoW gold farmer is getting tedious) get paid about 17c per digg. So buying 100 diggs costs $120, and in theory nearly $17 of that gets paid out to diggers, there is a $20 payout minimum, so the chances of many people diligently digging away and making 120 paid diggs before their account gets noticed and shut off seems unlikely. In either case, it is nice profit margin while they can get away with it.

Digg unsurprisingly don’t seem to be fans. Poking around, I can see accounts are being disabled. One of mine got disabled, but that might be a bad example because I was not very subtle. Commenting on stories that I dugg that I had dugg them for 17c is probably more blatant than most. Result:
disabled

Looking at other accounts with suspicious behaviour though I see a few of these:
invalid

Privacy is not particularly well guarded at User/Submitter. If you want to know if a digg user name is registered there, then try to register it. An interesting username to try is kevinrose.

Kevin Rose On User/Submitter

Of course, the experiment is somewhat flawed. You can only check once, and while a negative result is definitive, a positive result might just mean that somebody else performed the same experiment before you. Rumours of Digg’s demise might be popular, but I don’t think Kevin yet needs a side job paying 17c per click.

Suspicious behaviour though is not hard to find. Here are a list of Digg stories that received paid Diggs in the last few hours.
http://digg.com/videos/people/Backflipping_Midget_Chased_by_Cops
http://digg.com/offbeat_news/Russian_wrestling_gone_amazing
http://digg.com/gadgets/The_ULTIMATE_domain_search_tool
http://digg.com/world_news/Photo_essay_Unexploded_bombs_are_everywhere_in_Iraq
http://digg.com/tech_news/Lenovo_Recalls_209_000_Notebook_Batteries
http://digg.com/2008_us_elections/Who_Else_Wants_to_Bash_Bush_Now
http://digg.com/videos/educational/Blind_Turkish_Book_Reviewer_The_Alchemist
http://digg.com/gadgets/Nikon_D40_Review_Good_Camera_at_a_Great_Value

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of the same users digging many of them.

What a social site should do about abuse is a harder problem. Any competitive environment is bound to get people gaming or abusing the system. I am not sure that disabling accounts is the best solution though. If I was a 3rd world subsistence gold farmer sitting in an internet cafe clicking links for a few cents a time and my account got disabled I would just create a new one that needs to be detected and disabled. If my account silently got flagged as a source of worthless diggs, and just ignored in calculations, then I would merrily continue clicking away and over time nearly all bought diggs would be worthless because they would mostly be being paid out to account that have already been detected.

Publicly disabling accounts is good for maintaining the appearance of transparency, but longer term, allowing abusive users individual sandboxes to play in lets them waste time without affecting others. In a system where reregistering under another alias is painless, disabling accounts is not a very effective deterrent.

Maybe it is time I got out of PHP

It struck me at Kiwi Foo that PHP’s place in the world has changed. Ten years ago, it was a niche tool for solving a particular problem, the Web problem. Using it felt like an adventure, clients had to be talked into it, documentation was patchy, you might not know in advance if something was possible.

Today, a great many things are being approached as a subset of the Web problem, and PHP is everywhere. Using it is the safe, easy choice. You are almost certainly not going to be the first person to try to implement some weird functionality. You are almost certainly not going to be the company to test its ability to run large sites. You will know what you intend to do is possible before you start. PHP is on the slow downhill slope to that dusty, tweedy place where boring old programming languages go to be tended to by boring old programmers.

It will not be long before you are driving past an old people’s home near you and see a sign reading “Bingo Mondays, PHP Classes Tuesdays, Lawn Bowls Wednesdays”

The dilemma really, is where would I go?

Clearly I could not switch to Java. Now don’t get me wrong, Java is a fine language for some things, it is just that the main thing it is good for is keeping an army of people who don’t really enjoy programming but enjoy earning a decent living productively occupied and off the streets. It is not ideally suited for the Web, and it is not something I would use for fun.

Ruby is nice in many ways, and although Rails is not as nice, Ruby’s main problem is the user community. I don’t remember the PHP community when it was the same size being infected with the same degree of religious zeal and rampant fanboyism. Trying to advocate a particular piece of technology and clinging to a blind refusal to admit that your technology of choice has any flaws at all is not convincing.

Python syntax annoys me.

Perl has already descended further down the dust, dentures and bingo slope than PHP.

Some things though have not changed over the years. PHP may have its wrinkles, but it is still a great tool for pragmatic people to get a job done quickly and efficiently. That of course is the reason that I will be using PHP tomorrow, and presumably for a while longer too.

I Am Up There With Paris Hilton?

I am not quite sure what to think of this birthday list.

Simon‘s top five list of “Presents NOT To Give Your DAD On His 60th Birthday” is:

* Free one year’s subscription to FHM
* Paris Hilton’s New CD
* Stretchable pants
* PHP and MySQL Web Development (3rd Edition) (Developer’s Library) by Luke Welling and Laura Thomson (Paperback)
* That small blue pill…

What can I say?

The Utter Stupidity of AOL is Staggering

OK, that is not news, but I am paraphrasing Techcrunch‘s coverage of the AOL Research data release.

For a while, AOL research put data on 20 million web searches by 650000 of their subscribers up for download. The link was fairly quickly taken down, but once information is released it is very hard to take it back. I am sure you can find a mirror or torrent if you look.

Because is it data on a selection of logged in AOL users, it contains a continuous record of their searches over time (March to May 2006). Because you have a record of searches over a period of time, you can start to make some assumptions about the user or the household and depending on the information the user has searched for you can sometimes identify them.

Most Many commenters on Digg don’t seem to see it as a problem, but then maybe their search history does not make it look like they are searching for information on their family tree, information for English teachers in a conservative US state, the website of a local church, chamber of commerce, and rotary chapter in the same state in between searching for MySpace, cheerleaders, preteen sex and strap on sex toys. AOL has kindly replaced these people’s screenname with a sequential integer but I am guessing if you went to that church, Chamber of Commerce, or Rotary chapter you would be able to pick an English teacher with that surname.

Maybe he made all those searches and deserves to be found out. Maybe he shares one internet connection with his son. Maybe his nextdoor neighbour steals his WiFi. In any case, I expect that the free AOL CD he picked up a while ago might have suddenly become pretty expensive.

OSCON Wrap Up

George Schlossnagle, Laura Thomson, Luke Welling, Theo Schlossnagle, Chris Shiflett signing books at OSCON06.  Photo by Mark Taber.

George Schlossnagle, Laura Thomson, Luke Welling, Theo Schlossnagle, Chris Shiflett signing books at OSCON06. Photo by Mark Taber.

OSCON is my favourite conference. I really like the way it brings people passionate about a whole range of things together. Sometimes of course, they choose to concentrate on their differences, but for the most part somebody who is interested in one technology is more likely than average to be interested in others, and likely to have a great deal in common. Contrary to popular opinion, PHP does not officially stand for “People Hate Perl“.

Remind me next year that at the end of every OSCON I always wish I had spent more time outside the PHP track.

Highlights included
Rasmus, demonstrating how his name became a verb (and profiling a PHP app with Valgrind).
Terry Chay‘s ongoing struggles with Tourette’s syndrome.
Zak Greant‘s lightning talk on how PHP is saving the world a variety of unusual ways. (Hopefully he will write it up as a blog post or similar)
Cal EvansPHP’s Most Wanted cards, which you can download if you want your own set.