160: TZ Panel – The British Invasion

Justin, Alex Gemmell & Peter Cooper talk about various Hacker News stories including The Unintended Effects of Driverless CarsWhat really happened aboard Air France 447More Paypal nonsense, Don’t Be A Free UserWhy we ditched PayPal for Stripe17-year-old wins 100k for creating cancer-killing nanoparticle , Zendesk CEO calls Freshdesk a freaking rip off – Freshdesk responds.

  1. Andrew says:

    You might want to check out the implications of having a “Donate” button on the techzing website.

  2. Matt S says:

    Fun show – you guys should spin off and start a second podcast 🙂

  3. Loved it. You guys could do a spin off podcast. It was also nice to hear people doing a podcast and speaking the Queens English (Im an Aussie).

  4. Yeah! A spin off show! Ours will be called TechPow!

  5. @Alex Gemmell Oh I like that name. Its like techzing, edgy, but in a late 90’s way. Or you could call it “The Winging B’s” and make fun of yourselves.

  6. Jason says:

    Well done, lads! I was hoping it would go well and it sounds like you pulled it off. 😉

  7. nethy says:

    Hi Guys,

    Good episode. I think a lot of the anti-Paypal stuff is personal experience on top of complaint stories. I recently moved (to Ireland incidentally) and I tried to buy something online. Paypal wouldn’t let me change my address or ship to different one. The internet said I needed to open a new account to get a new address so I did, transferred whatever money I had (paid fee) and bought the stuff. This triggered some fraud detection and Paypal yanked the money back from the site through the new account to the old one. They then froze both accounts and asked for a current bank statement, proof of address and the deed to my dog. I asked for more time and they sent me a “lets part ways” email.

    The money will (supposedly) be unfrozen in 6 months. I pissed off the merchant (I hate that) and I guess I’m now banned from paypal.

    This isn’t the first issue I’ve had with them. I’ve ecommerce for several businesses as a consultant and things got slippery a few times. Money being frozen, automatically refunded, etc. In one case, the business basically stopped trading for 3 weeks because they couldn’t buy stock. Dealing with Paypal is basically dealing with a temperamental machine. It makes a decent coffee 95% of the time but 5% of the time you need an unsweetened soy coffee without cinnamon and there is no such button. Sometimes it just keeps giving you boiled milk no matter what you press. You can’t pick up the phone and solve things like you can with a bank.

    Beyond the practical problems that 1/10 people hit, I think the bigger reason you’re finding people don’t want to use them is the psychological. I think this is where Paypal is part of a bigger story.

    There is a scary new Kafka-esqu tech bureaucracy that’s creeping into our world. What’s so terrible about If you rely on any of the new tech companies (Paypal, Google, Facebook…) for business you can get pretty stuck in it. It feels awful.

    A lot of these automated system behave, from the user perspective, very erratically. Take Google Adwords’ ad approval system. Ad approval and rating is pretty much random. I have disapproved ads once per day. My fix is adding or removing punctuation (sometimes from the url) and resubmitting. The result is pretty much statistical.

    Customer support @ Google (even when you spend $100k+ p/m) is trying to prove to someone without any power to check or fix problems that there is a problem then having them not get back to you. There is a definite feeling that people are not to be involved in making decisions. The people’s job to explain the machine’s decision and to help you operate the machine. It’s very similar to dealing with other faceless powers: immigration authorities, customs. Horrible.

    Paypal and Google are examples of companies that have gotten a lot done by automating. There is something dis-empowering about it when the automatic thing you’re dealing with is substantially impacting your life.

    When your trying to make a profile on a new social site or buy a book, its not so bad. These companies are crossing lines though. They can determine if people get paid, substantially impact social lives, stop businesses from operating. When you get into that territory, I don’t think you can just look at things from a dry perspective when you have that kind of impact. 3% trigger this fraud detector. 1% are false positives. Eliminating them will cost $x. Not worth it.
    Maybe once your important enough you need to hold up a standard of justice. Maybe you can’t ban a teenager from facebook without just cause.

  8. @Ben Boyter: And because we’re British we’d spell “whinge” correctly… ;D

  9. @Alex Gemmell Yeah… spelling really isn’t something I put any effort into on random blog posts and I know I should.

    I shall flog myself accordingly.

  10. @Ben Boyter: Self-flagellation is the only appropriate response. You honour yourself!

  11. Axure says:

    I want a new episode.

  12. David says:

    (in your best singing voice…..perhaps this one’s for Justin….ha!)

    “On the ??? day of Christmas, my TechZing gave to me….a new episode in an iTunes tree.
    On the ??? day of Christmas, TechZing also knows about me…..I’ll patiently wait ’till that can be!!”

    (End of song)

    I know you’re both busy and dealing with myriad holiday (both in the American and the British sense of the word) issues. Take your time. No worries. I’m sure that at this time of year chatting to friends, family, and loved ones is much more fulfilling than chatting to a microphone. 😉


  13. EVC says:

    Car sharing already exists in several major US cities. It started in Boston, I believe. See http://www.zipcar.com/