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0309: "Shopping Teams"

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:01 am UTC
by ShadowLurker
Image

Alt-text: "I am never going out to buy an air conditioner with my sysadmin again."

LOL "That is not your main problem!" I like this one, though it's not one of his best. And I can definitely relate to the nerds *nods*

Though, I wonder what they're buying

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:04 am UTC
by Cryopyre
Analytical philosophy

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:04 am UTC
by Economica
It's all about expected marginal utility. :D

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:07 am UTC
by thedufer
I think this may be the first time I have found myself in the non-nerd category. Maybe instead of nerds it should be "frugal nerd". Or, to be blunt, "cheap nerd". I generally fall in the nerd category, but I don't tend to carefully choose the brand with the best deal. Maybe this will change when I'm the one paying for stuff.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:12 am UTC
by toysbfun
I don't know if it was the comic or the good mood I'm in, but this one made me laugh out loud.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:12 am UTC
by Nyarlathotep
This is my dad and I when we go shopping for electronics.

Though apparently, I'm something like five nerds when it comes to shopping. Often I'll leave without buying a damn thing. Unless it's in a comic book store, in which case I have to be dragged out after being forced to put down all the Serenity action figures and Godzilla plushies.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:14 am UTC
by Steven.nevets
it's very true, value is hard to define. if we use the example of an air-conditioner. is it price? power per dollar? size of the unit? how many cats will fit into it? you need a clear definition in order to make these important decisions...

*sigh* sometimes i wish I didn't relate with these comics so much

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:16 am UTC
by Bakemaster
I don't understand people who buy breakfast cereal according to unit price. I don't care how big that box of Rice Krispies is, the Grape Nuts are $2.25 per pound!

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:20 am UTC
by huadpe
Economica wrote:It's all about expected marginal utility. :D


Actually, since there are only 2 air conditioners, the function is undefined at all except two discrete points, and marginal utility doesn't exist.

Actually, now I'm tempted to pose a game theoretic problem based on the comic. Suppose an infinitely repeated game, where 2 products are available being bought by 2 buyers, one of which is superior to the other. One player (nerd) can tell which is superior by examination in each round, though which is superior is randomized, so it can't be extrapolated past that round. The other player can tell if she got the superior or inferior after purchase, but she can tell. If the nerd must give advice before each round to the non-nerd, what would the equilibrium for each be, if an equilibrium exists?

Remember that the non-nerd would notice if the nerd's advice were always bad, and thus choose the opposite, so that's not gonna be optimal for the nerd.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:27 am UTC
by Code J
Eh. I'm a cheapskate.


Either the inner nerd or the inner Jew.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:33 am UTC
by proudfoot
huadpe wrote:
Economica wrote:It's all about expected marginal utility. :D


Actually, since there are only 2 air conditioners, the function is undefined at all except two discrete points, and marginal utility doesn't exist.

Actually, now I'm tempted to pose a game theoretic problem based on the comic. Suppose an infinitely repeated game, where 2 products are available being bought by 2 buyers, one of which is superior to the other. One player (nerd) can tell which is superior by examination in each round, though which is superior is randomized, so it can't be extrapolated past that round. The other player can tell if she got the superior or inferior after purchase, but she can tell. If the nerd must give advice before each round to the non-nerd, what would the equilibrium for each be, if an equilibrium exists?

Remember that the non-nerd would notice if the nerd's advice were always bad, and thus choose the opposite, so that's not gonna be optimal for the nerd.


This depends on, of course, the gender and attractiveness of said non-nerd.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:38 am UTC
by Delbin
Bakemaster wrote:I don't understand people who buy breakfast cereal according to unit price. I don't care how big that box of Rice Krispies is, the Grape Nuts are $2.25 per pound!


I'm confused. Do you mean not according to unit price?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:40 am UTC
by Jach
The girl with a television for a head is back!

I often go in stores, look around, think "Hmm, I wonder if I could buy this cheaper online", and go back home and check it out. After seeing that I couldn't, I usually just forget about the item and don't buy it.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:49 am UTC
by Cabhan
Maybe it's just because I haven't gotten to game theory yet, but I'd personally probably end up doing a utilitarian analysis of both devices.

Personally, what made this comic for me was just the last line. "That is NOT your main problem!" Genius.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:55 am UTC
by LassLisa
I've learned not to do that with unimportant purchases, but with something like an air conditioner or a new computer it's almost crippling.

I've been looking for a new laptop for months. Then I decided to just use my old laptop and build a desktop. I expect 6 months to a year before I decide what specifications I want, at which point my old laptop will have broken and I'll be forced to buy something just to have a computer.

Forewarned: Not always forearmed.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:58 am UTC
by MissingDividends
Steven.nevets wrote:it's very true, value is hard to define. if we use the example of an air-conditioner. is it price? power per dollar? size of the unit? how many cats will fit into it? you need a clear definition in order to make these important decisions...

*sigh* sometimes i wish I didn't relate with these comics so much


Hmm... since it's all important, maybe we need a formula that takes it all into account; formulas make everything easier!

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:00 am UTC
by GirlNoir
Yarg female non-nerd! :-)

I've had this happen so many times. Usually it's me and my father at Fry's, but I tend to defer to his superior nerdity. Although, the boyfriend and I have been known to argue for far too long over component parts at Radio Shack. (It was an emergency robotics project! I swear! We usually buy online...)

By the way, hi all. :-) Long-time lurker, first time poster.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:16 am UTC
by killerstar
I don't think it is a problem of definition. My guess is that the problem comes from a lack of an objective measurement of "value". For instance, although we can argue for hours on a clear definition of intelligence, there are ways to measure it and, further, to compare.


Great comic. It made me think...

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:16 am UTC
by SirOmega
This also is optimal for non-nerd stuff.

e.g. a cute and fashion savvy friend of my sister took me shopping a few weeks ago for clothes. It worked well because as a nerd I have no fashion sense, and she knows what is hip. So I spend $300 on clothes and can manage to look not so much like a nerd anymore. Of course that illusion vanishes when I open my mouth and start optimizing solutions....

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:17 am UTC
by aylatrigger
It is worse with my family... 5 nerds all arguing. This actually happened when we were picking out my cousin's air conditioning unit (Though we do it for grocery shopping too... arguing over a 2$ bag of chips can't be explained as easily...)

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:43 am UTC
by Bakemaster
Delbin wrote:
Bakemaster wrote:I don't understand people who buy breakfast cereal according to unit price. I don't care how big that box of Rice Krispies is, the Grape Nuts are $2.25 per pound!


I'm confused. Do you mean not according to unit price?

No wonder you're confused, apparently I don't know what unit price is. I thought it meant (quite reasonably, I might add) the price it costs to buy one of something. Like, a box of cereal. My mistake.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:56 am UTC
by Sinisterff
I LOLed at the alt text, i wonder if i went at Best Buy with some of the Nerd at my class to buy a hard drive, the employees just look at us weird for being there half an hour, oh and maybe this will happen

----------------
Now playing: Nobuo Uematsu - 10 - The Castle

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:04 am UTC
by Banana Sam
I run into more or less this problem trying to sell stuff at work. it's fine if the customer actually has some kind of input or gives me some place to start. like if they point at a laptop and ask if it's going to do what they want it's easy. (mostly because 48 times out of fifty a 256 would do what they want)
but when people walk up to me and ask "what computer do you recommend?" I seize right up inside I'm thinking "Do you have even a vauge idea the number of variables here? your asking me to pick out of like thirty, the one computer that fits the needs of a total stranger!" I don't say that of course, I generally just mumble about WiFi until something useful happens.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:38 am UTC
by jasticE
I tend to estimate the price over usage time before deciding how much time to spend on a price based decision process, ie looking for a better deal. It gets hard though when trying to figure out how much I am actually going to use a particular item.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:52 am UTC
by Unforgiven
Jach wrote:I often go in stores, look around, think "Hmm, I wonder if I could buy this cheaper online", and go back home and check it out. After seeing that I couldn't, I usually just forget about the item and don't buy it.

For me, I'm all about instant gratification. If I can get either wait a few days to get the new gadget or pay a few bucks more at the local store to get it right now, I'll pick the latter option in many cases (unless the price difference is really extreme).

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:18 am UTC
by EvanED
SirOmega wrote:This also is optimal for non-nerd stuff.

e.g. a cute and fashion savvy friend of my sister took me shopping a few weeks ago for clothes. It worked well because as a nerd I have no fashion sense, and she knows what is hip. So I spend $300 on clothes and can manage to look not so much like a nerd anymore. Of course that illusion vanishes when I open my mouth and start optimizing solutions....


My first thought: clearly you should not open your mouth then. Problem solved.

Second thought: seems like I better keep my mouth (or, as the case may be, my fingers) closed too. ;-)

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:26 am UTC
by Xeio
Unforgiven wrote:
Jach wrote:I often go in stores, look around, think "Hmm, I wonder if I could buy this cheaper online", and go back home and check it out. After seeing that I couldn't, I usually just forget about the item and don't buy it.

For me, I'm all about instant gratification. If I can get either wait a few days to get the new gadget or pay a few bucks more at the local store to get it right now, I'll pick the latter option in many cases (unless the price difference is really extreme).


Except for the recent case with Bioshock, I can always wait to buy something, especially since I can get it cheaper online a lot of times (free shipping at Amazon usually, and no sales tax, yay!). But I'm also frugal with my money, so when I spend my money, I look for the best deal. :wink:

Also, first post!

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:49 am UTC
by Lil'Bondy
Xeio wrote:
Unforgiven wrote:Except for the recent case with Bioshock, I can always wait to buy something, especially since I can get it cheaper online a lot of times (free shipping at Amazon usually, and no sales tax, yay!). But I'm also frugal with my money, so when I spend my money, I look for the best deal. :wink:

Also, first post!


I can sorta relate, but i never wait to buy things, i just dont buy them, hell, my computer is an assortment of other peoples old parts (how i get it to run new-age games ill never know :P)

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:10 am UTC
by Domovoi
Lil'Bondy wrote:hell, my computer is an assortment of other peoples old parts (how i get it to run new-age games ill never know :P)


New-age games? You mean.. like Endorfun?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:41 am UTC
by Jello B.
Domovoi wrote:
Lil'Bondy wrote:hell, my computer is an assortment of other peoples old parts (how i get it to run new-age games ill never know :P)


New-age games? You mean.. like Endorfun?

I remember that game. After every level, there would be like some part about peace, or fortune, or something. I have approximated this using The GIMP.
Image

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:45 am UTC
by Tengfred
killerstar wrote:I don't think it is a problem of definition. My guess is that the problem comes from a lack of an objective measurement of "value". For instance, although we can argue for hours on a clear definition of intelligence, there are ways to measure it and, further, to compare.

That's just two sides of the same coin, though. Saying we can objectively measure intelligence, implies a definition of what intelligence is, namely that which is measured by IQ-test. This definition is convenient for some situations, but doesn't necessarily stop us from hours of debate over to what extent this definition correlates to some other, perhaps less well-defined, definition.

Similarly, a good definition of value would (if it doesn't it would be a bad definition) solve the problem of objective measurement. If for example we find that value is defined as "cooling effect/price", measurement is trivial.

Hmm... I probably should not go shopping for air conditioners with killerstar :D

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:53 am UTC
by Domovoi
Jello B. wrote:
Domovoi wrote:New-age games? You mean.. like Endorfun?

I remember that game. After every level, there would be like some part about peace, or fortune, or something. I have approximated this using The GIMP.


No, not after every level. You'd get messages about peace and fortune constantly. They were 'subliminally embedded' in the game's music.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 9:02 am UTC
by the_nexus_p
The way I look at things, time has value too. If I think the amount of time that I will need to decide the optimum purchase will be worth more than how much the optimum purchase is better than some random purchase, I will not spend that time.

Of course, I can compromise, and, say, spend half the required amount of time to narrow down the choices to half of the original pool. Maybe I need to figure out how much time is the optimum amount of time to figure out a purchase (but that might take more time than is worth it)

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 11:09 am UTC
by Jack21222
The bystander shouting out "That's not your main problem!" cracked me up.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 11:37 am UTC
by madjo
Jello B. wrote:I remember that game. After every level, there would be like some part about peace, or fortune, or something. I have approximated this using The GIMP.

I admit to be a GIMP newbie, how did you create that graphic?
Most stuff I can create with it, aren't nearly that elaborate-looking.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:12 pm UTC
by Domovoi
Is it just me, or does the layout for this comic bug other people too? I can't stand the fact that there's a huge white area in the lower left.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:26 pm UTC
by Cassi
The layout bothered me before I read it, but once I actually read the comic I didn't notice it...

As far as value goes, I'm always one extreme or the other -- I'll buy something because it's shiny without thinking about the price, or I'll spend a month trying to find the best deal, and then not want/need it anymore...

Does anyone have this problem with books? I'll spend ages on amazon, trying to get the most number of books for my money, but then trying to decide how much I should take into account the length of the book or if I know I'm going to like it...is it worth paying more for something I'll definitely like instead taking a chance?

In the end, I usually just change it around to I'm within pennies of what I can afford, and hope for the best. :P

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:45 pm UTC
by roaikgid
Domovoi wrote:New-age games? You mean.. like Endorfun?

I just found my endorfun cd yesterday and put it on my comp. It's still pretty fun.

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:00 pm UTC
by Domovoi
Endorfun got a lot of bad reviews back in the day, probably because it's highly touted 'feature' of subliminal, endorfin-releasing messages was nonsense, but all in all the puzzle game itself was actually pretty fun.

Also, with just a puzzle game like that they would probably never have gotten that much press. Even a publisher would seem unlikely. So the whole angle of "this game makes you addicted because you want to keep it releasing endorfins into your brain to make you feel good" was a pretty smart marketing move.

Re: "Shopping Teams" Discussion

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:14 pm UTC
by evilbeanfiend
Alt-text: "I am never going out to buy an air conditioner with my sysadmin again."


cos you got such an awesome air conditioner it will last you forever, right?