Thursday, September 19, 2013

Poor Web Site User Experience (Ux)

Financial website universally (at least those I use) do a very poor job at some very simple things. It is confusing for non-professional investors to keep track of what markets are open when.

It is really lame that huge sites (Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance, CNBC, CNN, Marketwatch...) can't easily show what markets are closed. Instead they show changes (which imply changes today) that are often for the previous day. So half an hour before a market opens the display indicates it has returned whatever it returned yesterday. And if the market is closed that day, all day long the display acts as though it has the return it did that last day it was open.

Display on Bloomberg. But actually the Hong Kong market is closed today, bad Ux :-(

This feeble usability failure should have been fixed years ago. Yet as far as I can tell all the sites continue to fail to take sensible steps to make it clear what the real data for today is.

From Marketwatch, you have to look at the graph, see it isn't yet 2 PM in Hong Kong and then deduce the Hong Kong market isn't open today, bad Ux

On a much more minor point, eliminating tiny decimal places is better (as Marketwatch does but Bloomberg doesn't). 100% (99.999% rounded up :-) of users don't want to see the Nikkei is at 14,788.80 it is better to display 14,789. Similarly don't display fractions of a cent for stock quotes.

Related: Bad Visual Controls, Software - Customer Focus and Internet Travel Search - 6 years Later Goolge Acts To Let Me Block Sites I don't want to see (2011, then Google removed this useful feature so again lots of lousy sites clutter the results) - Understanding Technology and Programing is Vital - Gobbledygook (bad password usability)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We Continue to Vote for Those that Sell Out the Country for Cash Gifts

We continue to re-elect the bums that give favors for cash gifts (and those favors in turn harm our society). Sadly, I don't see us as likely to start throwing people out that sell out the state or country given our track record. Too bad.

At the federal level the cash for votes problem is bad (probably not quite as bad as at the state level). Cash buys votes but within some constraints. Issues take a bit different shape at the federal level.

At the federal level lots more cash is needed to pay for for trade barriers at the state level (which is what auto dealers have bought from those supposedly meant to represent the citizens) and likely the issue (of laws meant to transfer cash from the public to dealers) would fall the other way (over time) at the federal level. Another issue that is very similar (restraint of trade to benefit those giving politicians cash at the expense of the citizens) - is funeral services.

Trying to get a federal band aid for the auto dealers having bought state legislators may work (it will be a huge struggle with lots of cash given to politicians to buy them for each side). The system fix is to stop voting for people that sell you out to those giving them cash. But we have shown no interest in doing so. Both parties do it and barely even have a tilt in the way they do it.

Republicans don't do much for unions so don't get that cash (but that is the exception, not the rule). Most special interest groups have bought both parties - it is just a matter of which benefits they have bought that will be push stronger depending on which party has the power. The huge benefits the special interest buy are actions not words. The words of parties and politicians may well lead you to think they stand against the corruptions special interest want. The words don't matter.

What matters is the benefits granted to the special interests most of which are done with full cooperation of both parties leadership. The verbal sparing on most issues special interests care about are a side show that have little to do with what matters. Votes rarely matter. The behind the scenes favors to special interests are many multiples more important (killing any votes, putting in often incomprehensible language that lavishes favors on those giving cash, stopping regulations, creating regulations...).

Democrats get tons of cash from most any financial special interest you can name (including any people think the Democrats appose in some way). Look at things like too big to fail institutions. Those huge companies that broke the global economy were allowed to do so by Democrats and Republicans that were bought by the too big to fail crowd. As can be seen those elected officials are still bought and paid for and we continue to put them back in office to sell out the USA for those that give them the most cash.

Neither party has any philosophical reason to support the too big to fail crowd. Some can argue the big business Republicans may (that may be true but the big business Republicans really are just a descriptions of bought and paid for Republicans there isn't a philosophy that supports creating anti-competitives monopolistic companies to reap monopoly rents from the favors granted by congress). Both parties have just been bought and paid for by the too big to fail crowd and until we dump those that are bought and paid for they will continue to undermine the country. Even when the parties are bought and paid for individuals hold out. Elizabeth Warren (D) and Rand Paul (R) for example are not bought and paid for by the too big to fail crowd.

Related: Anti Competitive Lobbying (2006) - Lobbyists Keep Tax Off Billion Dollar Private Equities Deals and On For Our Grandchildren (2007) - Fed Continues Wall Street Welfare (2008) - Congress Eases Bank Laws in 1999 at the request of their sponsors (setting the stage for too big too fail disaster) - Ethanol: Science Based Solution or Special Interest Welfare (2007) - Sugar Industry Taxes Consumers via Their Bought and Paid for Politicians (2005)