Saturday, June 6, 2015

FADE To Black

Fade:  "Nothing lasts forever"

Well I suppose when "Nothing lasts forever" is your tagline, users should not be surprised when the service itself disappears after only a little over a year.

FADE is/was one of those location based smart phone apps that pretty much acts as an anonymous bulletin board.

Unlike competitor YikYak it relied on memes (photos) with a simple headline to which users could respond with comments and  vote it up or down.  Up votes gave it a few more minutes of life before it would "fade" into oblivion.

Although like Snap Chat  the downside of posting something personal is users can simply do a screen grab as I did with their farewell. 

The app targeted institutes of higher education so UMass had its own chapter so to speak.  It required 500 downloads for the app to become activated and I'm sure at peak UMass had thousands of users.  Plus a few old grumps like me.

During the lead up to the Blarney Blowout (that also ended up going poof) I had fun interacting with the pro party crowd.  A few of my Tweets were reposted on FADE, and occasionally some nitwit would give away interesting information in their response comments.

 Even in its final hours ...

Oh well, maybe now this will free up time for kids to -- you know -- study?

 Maybe there's hope for our youth yet


Dr. Ed said...

Larry, a place like UMass Amherst has always existed for three types of students:

1: Those seeking to learn "Scientific Agriculture."

2: Those who can't afford to go elsewhere (poor kids)

3: Those who can't get into any place else (kids who don't study)

The days of the family farm are long gone, even in Hampshire/Franklin County, and the farms that remain either are successfully marketing to a niche market and/or sustained by the wages (and benefits) of the job that one/both partner obtains from non-farm employment. UM's Flint Lab, built to teach students how to make ice cream, now is used to teach them how to manage hotels and restaurants (HRTA).

In the 1930's, a lot of young men went to UMass to learn how to build concrete forage silos -- a young man knowing how to do that was something that would impress a young lady's parents back then -- now, not so much...

Young men like GE's Jack Wilson went to UMass because it only cost $50,
he wrote that in his book, and if UMass only cost $400 (what $50 would be worth today), you'd see a whole lot different cadre of students at UMass.

Face it Larry, the only kids going to UMass today are those that can't get into (or remain in) the places they otherwise would attend -- kids whose parents have the money to pay for UMass and often have the political connections to both smooth over the otherwise less-than-supportive institution and/or bail out junior afterwards.

Dr. Ed said...

I will go further -- those who benefit from having UMass being the way it has become (and that includes you, Larry) deserve having to tolerate the consequences.

Amherst simply couldn't exist as it currently does were UM students not exploited as they currently are -- if half the town budget wasn't being paid by UMass students living off-campus, the tax bill of O/O properties would have to double in order to maintain the current level of services. And were all the rental housing currently occupied by UM students instead to be occupied by "families", you would more than double the number of K-12 students (and hence Maria's budget) without one additional dollar in property tax revenue...

Larry, your property is worth more and taxed less than it would be...

Larry Kelley said...

Over 50% of Amherst is owned by tax exempts, mainly Amherst College, UMass and Hampshire College. Of the other 50% of property that is on the tax rolls 90% of it is residential and only 10% commercial.

UMass pays the town $370,000 for AFD ambulance services only. Nothing for fire protection. And that is only for on-campus incidents.

This year our Public Safety budget -- Police, Fire, Dispatch -- is $10 million. UMass students eat up easily one-quarter of that, or $2.5 million. And School Superintendent Maria Geryk stated the cost of students coming to Amherst Public Schools from tax exempt UMass housing was $1.2 million.

Now we're up to $3.7 million, so that $370,000 annual payment from UMass is a lousy ten cents on the dollar . Not a great deal for Amherst taxpayers (those who do pay taxes).

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, do you know the difference between "gross" and "net"?

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that your $2.5M estimate is accurate, that is GROSS, not NET -- and you have to deduct the income that the town gets from Ambulance fees and court fines. Just because the money doesn't go to AFD/APD doesn't mean it doesn't go to A -- Amherst gets it and you ought to ask where it is all going...

Remember the allegations of disproportionately Black arrests that came out in the midst of the Ferguson riots? The underlying issue was that the Ferguson PD were using out-of-town motorists as a revenue source, and the racial demographics of the cohort of out-of-town motorists are considerably different from that of Ferguson residents.

Larry, if you truly were a journalist and not an editorialists, if you were truly interested in obtaining & reporting facts and not in advocating what really is a public policy agenda, you would do some quantitative research, calculating stuff like mean, median, modes and the other fun stuff that is so much easier to do with SPSS. You would calculate exactly how much of the public safety budget is actually consumed by residents who attend UMass versus both other types of residents (e.g. residents residing in AHA-owned tax-exempt properties, residents with Sect 8 subsidies, residents in Servicenet "programs" for DMH/DMR clients) as well as both residents who are homeowners and the collective entirety.

You would look at how much each cadre consumes, both in terms of requests and in terms of problematic behavior, and then you'd look at the related revenue from them. For example, let's say that when you include training, supervision, equipment and supplies, the actual cost of a cop and cop car -- two boots & four tires on the ground -- is $20/hour. (It probably is closer to $30 but I want to make the math simple, and I've only hired UMPD cops and on overtime, which is where I started from -- $20/hour is a reasonable estimate.)

So there is a massive party that requires the entire shift -- five officers -- to clear out, and they spend an hour there. And then (keeping the math simple) there is a total of five more officer/hours involved in arresting the four residents for noise violations, processing them and the rest. It has now cost the town 10 officer/hours at $20 each, or $200 -- and this is where you stop Larry -- and shouldn't.

Because four noise tickets, at $300 each, have been issued -- and that is $1,200 in revenue that the town gets. Maybe not the APD, but that is a political issue because the town does get it. Now $200 less $1,200 is -$1,000 -- a net negative cost, or profit. Spending $200 and getting $1,200 back is NOT costing the taxpayers anything -- that is $1,000 *less* in taxes they have to pay!

The case is even better with AFD because while AFD doesn't itself get the money, the town actually profits from all those ambulance runs hauling drunken UM kids across the river. And then there are all the excise taxes on long-junked vehicles that former students wind up paying in order to renew their drivers licenses -- a real ethical issue because the town doesn't tell the kids that they have to file the right paperwork when they move upon graduating and the town taxes them for a car they don't own anymore.

If you were a journalist, you'd investigate and report on this side of the story too,

Now, there is nothing wrong with advocating a public policy position as long as you admit -- at least to yourself -- that's what you are doing, and that you are a lobbyist.

Dr. Ed said...

"And School Superintendent Maria Geryk stated the cost of students coming to Amherst Public Schools from tax exempt UMass housing was $1.2 million"

If the cost of 50-60 kids is $1.2 million, then the cost of an additional 5,000-6,000 kids would be $1,200 million -- or $1.2 billion.

$1.2 Billion Dollars in additional expense with NOT ONE PENNY in additional property tax revenue!!!

That, Larry, is what would happen if all the apartments occupied by UM students living off-campus were instead occupied by "families".

Larry Kelley said...

With the extraordinary high cost of living in Amherst those apartments now occupied by UM students would most certainly not be filled by families with children. That's the problem NOW: the middle class (with families) can now longer afford the basic overhead in town -- aka property taxes.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Larry, your requests often will only lead to increases in property taxes.

People like to think they can tax employers and the employees don't pay, yet that is the primary reason for stagnant wages at the bottom (combined with the costs of regs that have to come out of employee pay budgets too).

You like to think that you are going to get the biggest players in town to pay and, as even you point out, it often falls to the bottom. Those in power and part of big institutions don't get in that position to get pushed around by little towns, especially when the towns have the citizens they can tax as much as they want.

Perhaps if people paid for things they wanted or needed and we provided welfare for the desperate things would work out.

Trying to sustain welfare for those that are not in need is exactly what you are up against. People of means getting schooling that costs $20k a year for only a few grand x who knows how many people does not make sense. Poorer people have to pay for it. This is all by design and now folks don't like the outcome, but it looks exactly the way it did on the plans only so many years ago.

If there is a budget problem in Amherst it is this - people not having to qualify for educational assistance. They simply get it and it is a lot of money. It is more money than UMASS could be "costing" the town. The only reason those of means get a significant discount on their education is the law, just like the laws that discount UMASS vs. other property owners. There is not logic in who pays for what when the govt is involved. It simply boils back to power. Parents of means have the power via the law to force others in town who have less means to finance their kids' education. UMASS has the power to not pay taxes. Both are excessive, the parents' in town especially. Perhaps if some of this stuff was a priority to work out we could divert tax money that finanices the middle class to support and get the desperate back on their feet. The middle class is consuming welfare dollars before the poor get them. Why - because the poor have no power and the middle class has a nugget more.

The high cost of living due to basic overhead - aka property taxes - results from a bunch of middle class people that never stop sticking their hand out for more. Why - it is easier than working and paying for it themselves.

And the only place I ever heard of Fade was here.

Plus some families, many in fact, send their kids to UMASS because they are smart enough to benefit from college, but alas, cannot get welfare or afford more expensive schools. That's ok though, because it is difficult to justify state school costs given that there is little to any increase income for most college students who don't stick with a professional field.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ed...

I already explained to you a couple weeks ago that UMass is no longer a safety school. It's a shame you dodged all of my facts I presented and continue your narrative.

Anonymous said...

Um Ed, you can't seriously advocate deducting court fines and ambulance rides. Otherwise, we should all go out and break enough windows and take enough drugs until our property tax goes away. Sorry, but when someone has a heart attack they don't get to deduct the ambulance ride from their taxes. UMass produces income as do all the commercial businesses in town that pay taxes. They should pay their fair share.

Dr. Ed said...

"I already explained to you a couple weeks ago that UMass is no longer a safety school. It's a shame you dodged all of my facts I presented and continue your narrative.'

Explain one thing: If UMass is going to claim credit for every graduate who is successful, then why shouldn't UMass be held responsible for every graduate who isn't? What you are doing is the same thing that the casinos do, show the few who win big without showing the far larger number who don't. And the odds at a casino actually are better than at UMass, and every bit as random.

I understand that you have to "put lipstick on the pig" -- fine, just don't ask me to say it isn't a pig...

Dr. Ed said...

"Um Ed, you can't seriously advocate deducting court fines and ambulance rides. Otherwise, we should all go out and break enough windows and take enough drugs until our property tax goes away."

Take the example I gave, that of the town noise ordinance. In theory, if "we all" were to have enough loud parties, actually be issued noise tickets, and if Judge Payne didn't look at the APD and say "hey boys, what's going on here -- why are you citing the entire town for noise violations?" -- in theory at least, if there were enough revenue coming in from these $300 tickets, there'd be no need for a property tax.

IF expenses remained constant. They wouldn't -- there would be inevitable demands to spend all the extra money, but if that didn't happen and the noise tickets provided all the money the town needed, people would start to ask why there is a property tax with all the money the town hasn't spent yet...

"Sorry, but when someone has a heart attack they don't get to deduct the ambulance ride from their taxes."

And that is relevant, how?

The cost of providing that service is offset by the payment -- and a heart attack is a hell of a lot more medically intensive than carting drunks across the bridge -- they may even pull a second ambulance out of service for extra guys to save your life and you don't pay one penny more than the drunks they hauled across the river.

" UMass produces income as do all the commercial businesses in town that pay taxes."

There is a difference between "income" and "profit" -- UMass is considered a "charity" (why I didn't sue it -- the limit is too low) and it is like taxing the state plow trucks that plow Route 9 -- to what end....

Anonymous said...

You know, Ed, you don't get paid by the word. Can't you reign it in a little? Godalmighty!

Anonymous said...

Da feds. Da illuminati. Who says 'illuminati' and can't say "the?"

Anonymous said...

Is there a Rosetta Stone lesson in Ebonics?