Payday loans or modern day loansharking

I never thought about the sources of spam nor the types of spam until I started this blog. I must not have this site configured very well as I receive spam daily. I have tried to set things up to filter spam out but the spammers are actually much more clever. That is why today I am writing about payday loans.

I have been around and in some countries it is possible to have payday loans where the annual percentage rate is calculated to be the equivalent of 2600% and can even be advertised on the television. Wow, that is a hefty percent, boy am I glad that the USA doesn’t stoop to such business practices.

Well, I guess that last sentence was created with out a lot of thought or research. Of course payday loans are legal and I suppose even thriving in the land of the free. Not even in America’s heartland is it possible to escape.

What is a payday loan

A payday loan is a small short-term loan that is taken out with the intent of covering an immediate need that cannot be met with existing resources. Because this loan is a very short term it is expected to be repaid once you receive your next pay check. The average length of a payday loan is two weeks. A payday loan differs from a traditional loan in a few key points. A traditional loan is paid back in installments while a payday loan must be paid back in a single lump sum. Also installment loans are of a much longer duration ranging from months to years. The biggest difference of the two is the amount of interest paid for the privilege of the loan. A traditional loan interest rate is usually in the single digits while a payday loan is easily in the digits.

Wow, 100% interest? Nah, usually more like 400 or 500% interest but it is never really advertised that way. It is usually more in the way of a fee charged for the use of the money over life of the “loan”. I was looking at one such payday loan website to see just how much it might cost for a quick loan.

Finance charge. A finance charge will usually range from $15 to $30 per every $100 you borrow. If we use a two week loan as an example, your finance charges can cause interest rates grow to as high as 400-780% APR.

I guess they do advertise that the loan may have a 400% interest rate.

How to calculate APR.

For this example I am going to assume the following.

  • loan amount of $250
  • Fee of $20 per $100
  • loan duration two weeks

Annual percentage rate (APR) is calculated with the following steps.

  • Divide the finance charge by the loan amount ( 50 / 250 = 0.20)
  • Multiply the result by the number of days in a year (0.20 x 365 = 73)
  • Divide this result by the length of the loan (73 / 14 = 5.214)
  • Multiply by 100 to make this a percentage ( 5.214 x 100 = 521.4%)

The APR is not quite so intuitive as the common but incorrect calculation of what is the cost of the loan divided by the amount of money ( 50 / 500 = 0.2 ) multiplied by 100 to make a percentage (0.20 x 100 = 20%)

Rational for a payday loan

I get why someone might get into a financial bind. The alternator on their car breaks on December 26 which is also the same month their second child was born. Unexpected costs are both unexpected and hard to cover.

The payday companies are charging more interest than a bank because they are not expecting to build a long business relationship and it is possible that you might not pay them back. They do need to cover their costs and be able to continue to stay in business but it does seem that a 50 dollar fee for a two week loan of 250 dollars is excessive.

Perhaps using the word loansharking is not quite accurate. That word tends to conjoure images of someone who might break your leg if you don’t pay the load or come up with the “vig” by the end of the week. I guess a more accurate word might be usury.

Usury

The practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest.

During my research I found another source which does clearly describe the process.

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Pandemic Times – Testing for the win

I am uncertain where exactly I heard this particular quote.

“By the way, you know, when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else,”

Politico

I guess with small bit of information we are seeing what must be an unexpected surge in testing in some of the US states that have reopened. Much kudos for the states to go above and beyond to get some extra statistics in this time of turmoil.

The only thing that would be better to create a exceptionalism in testing would be to have a few large organized indoor events or perhaps a outdoor protest or two.

Not only bank robers wear masks.

Based on all available information this is not Don Ho#s brother

Wear a mask for the win.

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Deep fake in an environment of fake news

I remember reading an internet joke which was a job placement. It was looking for someone who would be willing to work for 40 hours a week, clean up messy spills and deal with diapers and up to 128 hours of unpaid overtime. Without actually referring to the positions title, “mom”, the list of all the tasks and hours sound pretty incredible to the average person who does not have this list of responsibilities.

I think about this as sometimes when I read articles about some of the voice operated assistants that are being invited into people’s living-room. Who would have thought even a few years ago that you would ask personal questions of a computer device that you might not say to a coworker or to your parents. This information is not only going to a big room full of computers but in many cases they are being stored for later analysis and evaluation by people.

  • Siri What are the symptoms of a STD?
  • Alexa I weigh 120 pounds am I obese?
  • Cortana Where is the best place to bury a body?
  • Google now How many sex partners are too many?

Not only are you sharing your most private thoughts but you are actually helping a nameless faceless corporation get better at understanding speech. Nobody actually thinks that this will be used against us in the future. Despite the lack of enough people to analyze everything I might have to say considering that there are millions of other Americans or billions of other Asians this becomes less of a problem when you start to include computers into the mix.

Thinking about being spied on at home is not something that usually causes any lost sleep. If you don’t want to be spied on then don’t give your money to a corporation that will be mining through your personal life trying to maximize their profit on their knowledge of you. What usually gets me is how many people are willing to trade their personal details for little or nothing.

Just recently a smart phone app Zao will allow you to upload a few photos of your face with various differences (blinking, moving mouth, …) to allow their system to analyze your face so it can then create deep fakes of other video footage. Your face could then replace Leonardo DiCaprio as the star of the Titanic or perhaps you become Tony Stark of Ironman.[1]

For me what is shocking is not just the people giving up their likeness but that the company could if they wanted create a database of people. The users sign up with their telephone number which allows a unique id for people who are already providing their picture.

The company whose app created such a stir was forced to issue a statement on pledging changes after critics attacked the app’s privacy policy, which had in it “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable, and relicenseable” rights to all user-generated content. [2]

The most important aspect of this situation is the input data for their developers. As a software developer it is often difficult to get good test data. This particular app had become an overnight success and ended up on the top download spot in the Chinese IOS store despite the with it despite rather draconian permissions.

Neither the Chinese government nor Zao are the only companies or governments that want or use facial recognition. Abuses of facial recognition will inevitably occur simply due to the number of closed circuit television cameras and the ravenous nature of both private industry and government to track people.

I cannot stop the eventual tides of survellience but I do have the power to not invite the intruders into my house.

[1] https://hypebeast.com/2019/9/viral-deepfake-app-zao-facial-recognition-swap

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/02/chinese-face-swap-app-zao-triggers-privacy-fears-viral

zao

https://www.pocket-lint.com/apps/news/149159-what-is-zao-and-why-is-everyone-talking-about-it

morphing examples

https://www.theguardian.com/news/shortcuts/2019/aug/13/danger-deepfakes-viral-video-bill-hader-tom-cruise

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Building a personal computer – the grand finale

Building a personal computer is not quite as simple as building a house out of legos but in some ways it is similar. All of the parts are standardized and the parts are simply plugged together. The process can indeed take a while depending on any difficulties you encounter.

A lot of this time can be consumed while unpacking boxes, finding or selecting which parts are relevant for your build (AMD vs Intel) or even plugging together all of the cables. In my case I connected up the motherboard on the table and worked through all the issues (memory in my case) and then disconnected quite so the motherboard could be moved into the case.

Most of the cables are big and unambiguous when being connected up. However, this does take a while and can be difficult depending on the size of the case and the size of your hands.

The only big surprise for me was when trying to connect the last few tiny cables from the case to the motherboard. For reasons not known both the reset button and the power button cables were both labeled power button. It turned out that these are just for creating a temporary connection on the motherboard and it did not matter which was used.

The other big surprise was that the cables need to be connected with a specific orientation. The power cable contains a tiny triangle which represented the positive lead.

What parts did I eventually decided on?

PC CasePhanteks Luxe with tempered glass
MotherboardGigabyte x570 Aorus Master, with AM4 socket
CPUAmd Ryzen 9 3900x, with AM4 socket
CPU Coolerbe quiet! Dark Rock PRO 4
Graphic cardGeForce GTX 1650 SUPER OC
MemoryCrucial 32gb x 2
Disk drives4TB WD Black
Power supply650 Watt be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11
Case fans140x140x25mm Corsair ML140Pro red LED

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Building a personal computer – cable management

Cable management is just a term that means you will organize the cables as nicely as possible. If you are new to pc building you might think that means laying the cables between the graphics card and any other cards installed in the case.

This might also be the case but cable management usually takes place on the back side of the motherboard. All tower cases regardless of their size have two side panels. The main panel opens up to the main area where the motherboard is located and pretty much everything else.

It is the other side panel that is usually where most of the cable management occurs. The power, and other cables, are usually a bit longer than they need to be and this extra cable needs to be stowed somewhere.

This storage area is usually only a few centimeters deep but that is more than enough space to hold the extra length of cables. These cables might be attached directly to the case with zip ties or in some higher end cases there may be additional connectors or facilities.

PC Build and cable management

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Building a personal computer – thermo paste

I actually found this particular step to be the most intimidating. There are quite a few different methods for applying it.

  • Pea method
  • Line
  • Rice
  • X
  • Spread

Different paste methods

The process is simply applying a small amount of paste onto the top of the CPU before attaching the CPU cooler.

As long as you select the correct amount paste, then basically any of these methods will produce good results.

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Building a personal computer – about fans

There is actually more to fans than big ones can push more air. There are essentially two different styles of fan.

The first type of fan is PWM style. PWM stands for pulse width modulation which is a variable speed fan which is controlled by PWM. These fans have a four pin connection which is used for both powering the fan and controlling the speed. This types of fans can be controlled in a number of ways.

These fans can be controlled by an external switch on the case itself or it can be controlled via the motherboard. Controlled by the motherboard typically means the temperature is being monitored and the fan is being ramped up based on the temperatures received.

The ability to speed up the fans only when needed make them perfect to help have a cool system but also to have a quiet system.

The second type of fan is a static pressure fan. These fans run at a constant rpm and are good for pushing air with some force. This type of fan is typically used for pushing air through radiators where the extra pressure is needed to get through the aluminum fins. Because these fans only run at a specific speed they do not have the same PWM control so they only have a three pin connector.

Selecting a fan

RGB Fans

Up until now I have not been involved with RGB peripherals including fans. RGB fans behave similar to other fans except that they have another lead – a 4 pin connector which will control the colors. Only the colors are controlled by this cable.

This cable cannot be connected to a regular 4 pin fan cable connector but instead of a 4 pin RGB connector. This connector may be on a motherboard but may also be part of separate a RGB controller from another vendor.

Cooler Master

https://coolermaster.egnyte.com/dl/dA2AWV1rO1/

Corsair

https://www.corsair.com/de/de/Kategorien/Produkte/Custom-Cooling/Accessories/CORSAIR-RGB-Fan-LED-Hub/p/CO-8950020

More about fans

I choose a system that was rather limited in the RGB and my motherboard actually does have RGB connections. I choose a few fans that were LED lit but not pure RGB fans. Perhaps in the future I will enhance this aspect.

My case choice was actually rich as far as airflow goes. My case choice, “Phanteks Luxe with tempered glass”, came with four 140mm fans, two in the front, one on top and one in the back. I decided to get a small bit of color so ordered a three led lit fans for on top

Note: These fans are obviously flat so how can you know which direction they are pushing the air? The answer is on the edge of the fan is an arrow showing the direction of airflow.

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Building a personal computer – cooling

The CPU is going to get hot, really hot and so you need to keep it cool. This was covered above under the topic of CPU Cooler. Yet that is not everything as the GPU will also generate heat and both the CPU and GPU will be inside a metal box.

All cases will have a case fan or two but quite a few of the larger cases have a few prepared locations for an extra fan or two (or five).

The question of how many to add depends on how you plan on venting the hot air. There essentially are three different situations in the case.

  • Positive pressure
  • Negative pressure
  • Neutral

Neutral pressure simply means that the amount of air coming in is equal to the amount going out. Positive pressure is when more air comes in compared to the amount going out and conversely the negative pressure is when more air is coming out compared to coming in.

It is impossible to be truly positive or negative pressure, in that situation the extra pressure will equalize via any crack or opening in the case.

Obviously the best case would be neutral pressure but failing that positive pressure would be the next best. The over pressure will escape via cracks. This usually means that the incoming air is filtered and then escapes but the negative pressure situation will have unfiltered air entering into the case via all cracks or openings. The unfiltered air means that dirt will begin to accumulate in your case.

There are different sizes of fans but the most common sizes are 120mm and 140mm. Larger fans will push more air which means that they can spin slower and will be quieter.

Air pressure examples

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Building a personal computer – power supplies

Selecting a power supply is somewhat anticlimatic in comparision to some of the other accessories. It is a matter of getting a supply that is big enough to support your accessories

Power supply calculator

https://www.bequiet.com/en/psucalculator

Power supply calculator

https://www.coolermaster.com/power-supply-calculator/

Power supply calculator

I choose a modular power supply so I can connect only the cables that I need and specifically the Dark Power Pro as the cables were slightly longer than other bequiet power solutions.

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Building a personal computer – selecting a hard disk

Any computer needs a hard disk to hold the operating system and any other types of work that you do. As recently as a few years, ok perhaps 10, the only question was how large of a hard disk do you need and the only hard disks were mechanical.

There were a few different types, but basically the difference was how fast were the platters spinning which affects how quickly the data can be returned. For mechanical hard disk the data throughput rate was about 100mb per second.

The biggest advance was the invention of the SATA SSD which is a huge advance as the hard disk is just a bank of memory. The delays due to spinning disks is eliminated and the throughput skyrocketed to about 500mb per second. This transfer rate actually approached the limits of the SATA interface.

The most recent breakthrough was when the NVME M.2 SSD hard disks. The difference was the change of the electroncs from the SATA to the PCI bus. This resulted in another giant breakthrough to data transfers of from 2100mb per second.

History and comparison of hard disks up through NVME SSD disks.

Visual demonstration of different disk technology in load times

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