Friday, December 30, 2011

An unusual "terms and conditions" page

You might have noticed my new "Terms and conditions" page, above. But then again, if you're like most users, you probably haven't.

Which is the whole point.

Nobody reads those pointless agreement pages, yet they are legally binding. This is crazy! I don't want to be legally bound by contracts I haven't even read.

For this reason, today, I counter-attack using my own "Terms and conditions" page. I am not a lawyer, but if I ever get into trouble with one of the many agreement pages I have not read, my opponents should not be able to claim that I am bound by their terms and conditions without accepting that they are also bound by mine.

It is not legal to encourage someone to sign a contract without reading it. Similarly, it should not be legal to encourage a user to click "I agree" without reading and understanding the conditions he or she is agreeing to. Yet, that is precisely what service providers are doing! Successful service providers streamline their website's user experience to encourage a particular behaviour, for example, signing up for the service. And my experience with online agreements is that the encouraged behaviour is always to click "I agree" without reading anything.

For example, service providers often go to great lengths making sure the product offering is crystal clear, by using short punchy sentences or video presentations. By contrast, those same service providers use many pages of long-winded, cryptic legalese to describe their legal agreement. And even when I do take the time to read and consider such terms, I am often rejected with a "this page has expired" message.

The only way to reach the service, in this case, is to click "I agree" without reading the contract. Since that is the expected behaviour, that's what I am going to do from now on. But since you don't expect me to read your contracts, don't expect me to be bound by them.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Our Life in 3D

By the way, my girlfriend and I will be updating the blog Our Life in 3D, a blog about our common project: modelling her entire condo using Houdini and 3DS Max.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Time != Money

Today's xkcd comic depends on a very common, but unjustified economic equation: that time is money. More precisely, I am objecting to the practice of using a person's hourly salary to evaluate the amount of money lost when that person wastes one hour of his time.

Granted, if that person wastes time during working hours, then he costs at least that much to his employer. At least as much, because employers expect employee work to yield returns over and above the cost of their salary; otherwise, it would be economically pointless to have employees.

But why would the employee himself be deemed to lose that money? If he wastes his time during office hours, he gets his hourly salary anyway. If the time wasted is not during office hours, then the opportunity cost of wasting this time is zero: had he done something else with his time, he would not be earning any money either.

Perhaps "time is money" only applies to startup founders, whose startup-related work directly impact their bottom line. But this line of thinking works precisely because founders don't have an hourly salary; rather, their net worth is a function of the worth of the company they own. So it still doesn't make sense to compare time and hourly salary.

That being said, I still think that Time is a very precious resource. I want to enjoy every minute of it; I just don't buy the idea that I'm wasting money doing so.