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Comment: Re:Not just that (Score 1) 127

by JonBoy47 (#47195199) Attached to: Sony Overtakes Rival Nintendo In Console Sales

The Wii was able to exploit a perfect storm of marketing. The novel motion controls garnered a lot of media buzz, and it certainly helped that it launched at half the price of the then new PS3 and XBox 360, while including a pack-in game, which made it a more convenient "single purchase" holiday gift. It's graphical shortcomings were excusable, at least for the first three or four years, given the low cost, novelty of motion controls, and the low market penetration of HDTV's at the time of its launch.

Nintendo followed this up with the Wii U, with the Gamepad as the new hook. Unlike the masterful job they did with the Wii, Nintendo failed to effectively convey to customers how the Gamepad works, how it is used in game play, and that it is part of a bundle that also includes an entirely new game console, rather than an add-on for the original Wii. The Gamepad also boosted the manufacturing price. Given Nintendo's insistence that the console itself not sell at a per-unit loss, the resultant retail price negated much of the price advantage the Wii had enjoyed at launch.

Unfortunately, unlike Microsoft, who was able to realize an instant $100 price cut by simply jettisoning the white elephant Kinect, the Gamepad is so tightly integrated that releasing a lower cost Wii U bundle with a Pro Controller in lieu of the Gamepad most likely isn't a viable option. Fortunately, Mario Kart 8 sold 1.2 million copies in its first weekend. The (anecdotal) fact that none of the dozen or so Gamestop's within a 20 mile radius of my house have them in stock also bodes well, I think.

Comment: I too am somewhat underwhelmed... (Score 2) 180

by JonBoy47 (#46641443) Attached to: Amazon Launches Android-Powered 'Fire TV' For Streaming and Gaming

Regarding the assertion that you should just use a game console or old PC, many people don't game seriously enough to warrant a $400+ game console, and don't want to uglify their TV setup, or deal with the kludge factor of a PC-based solution.

That said, this thing retails for $100, which means it has no price advantage over Apple TV, and there are several Roku models (not to mention Chromecast) that undercut it. The purchase also oddly does not include the game controller, which seems more or less a necessity to play the games, which is positioned as a major selling point of the unit. As it is, there seems no compelling advantage over existing set-top streaming boxes.

This would have been much more interesting if it had included the game controller and a pack-in game at the $100 price point (Minecraft, anyone?) of if they had done a more minimalist device a la Chromecast with its own remote, that they could have thrown in as a freebie for all their Prime members, to offset the recent Prime price bump...

Comment: Say thanks to FDR (Score 1) 538

by JonBoy47 (#46384263) Attached to: U.S. Students/Grads Carrying Over $1 Trillion In Debt

Prior to WWII, college was a (relatively speaking) expensive proposition, only undertaken by those at the top-most rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Non-professional jobs did not call for a baccalaureate degree because there simply weren't nearly enough people with bachelor's degrees in the workforce to make such a requirement at all tenable. That all changed with WWII, and FDR's original GI Bill, which guaranteed a full ride at any accredited four year college. 16 million WWII vets qualified for GI Bill benefits. College enrolment exploded, both at existing colleges, and at the many new colleges that opened in the post-war years to service the explosive demand driven by the GI Bill. As the Greatest Generation completed their studies, there was suddenly a glut of college educated workers in the job market. Sallie Mae and the rest of the student loan/financial aid apparatus were erected to sustain enrolment and continue to make college affordable (at the point of service).

The last couple of generations (The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers) benefited greatly, in terms of upward mobility, relative to their parents, thanks to their greatly expanded access to post-secondary education. Bachelor's degrees are now so easy to get that all the upper-level professional jobs are saturated with degreed workers, and employers, acting in their own self-interest, are requiring them of applicants for even mundane, low level positions. The Millenials are the first generation whose parents were themselves college educated. Thanks to the greatly increased income their parents have enjoyed, Millenials very often find themselves overqualified for the same financial aid benefits their parents enjoyed. Given the evolution of the job market, the student loan treadmill is Millenials' last option to get a degree, and enjoy even a small fraction of the upward mobility their parents took for granted. A bursting of this trillion dollar bubble is the surest way to break this cycle. Already, the system has evolved to the point that a large plurality of colleges and majors no longer pay for themselves in terms of lifetime earning-power increase. As a late Gen X father of three post-Millenial boys, I say "Bring it on! Burst the bubble!"

Comment: Re:Tell me again... (Score 1) 538

by JonBoy47 (#46383957) Attached to: U.S. Students/Grads Carrying Over $1 Trillion In Debt

Congrats, by being a brainiac (and thus qualifying for various grants and merit-based scholarships) you were able to have most of your college expenses defrayed at no cost to you. And it sounds like you covered a lot of the remainder by saving money living like a rat. Going to school in Arizona, with its low cost of living, also seems to have helped.

Comment: Re:Microsoft, the former leader (Score 1) 178

by JonBoy47 (#46316995) Attached to: Microsoft Said To Cut Windows Price 70% For Low Cost Devices

The fact that the iPhone was (initially) very expensive, and exclusive to only one of the four major carriers, which greatly limited the initial market uptake. The "all screen" form factor, which eschewed the physical keyboard, was also seen with much skepticism initially. In the mid 2000's, when the iPhone was in gestation, Microsoft had all it could do putting out the twin fires of getting Longhorn (Vista) out the door, and patching the (barn door size) holes in XP's security. Though the decision proved calamitous in hindsight, it wasn't entirely unreasonable to devote resources to propping up what was (at the time at least) Microsoft's core product-line.

Comment: Re:Ah yes... (Score 2) 178

by JonBoy47 (#46316839) Attached to: Microsoft Said To Cut Windows Price 70% For Low Cost Devices

Regarding the selling of VM licenses: Apple is primarily a hardware company. Yes, they make software, but that's just to make the hardware work better and look shinier, and thus more appealing to consumers. The fact that you can "only get that software on pricy Apple hardware" is, arguably, the major pillar propping up the sales of their well-made, but outrageously pricy hardware. The "Hackintosh" phenomenon has already demonstrated that, if you're not concerned about slick industrial design (or EULA compliance), it's completely possible to build a working OSX computer for half what Apple charges for similar hardware specs.

Making a version of OSX that would run on VM's would necessarily require the OS to not perform the "Am I being installed on blessed Apple hardware?" check. Setting up a Hackintosh would be trivial, compared to the current level of effort required. Apple likely fears that someone would actually mount a serious (and potentially successful) legal challenge to the "only run it on Apple-branded HW" clause of their EULA. If that clause of the license were invalidated, the Hackintosh floodgates, including "store-bought" variants would be opened, and Apple's Mac sales would be eviscerated. I imagine Apple has decided that ceding the server market to competitors is a small price to pay for the continued sales (and fat margins) on their consumer machines.

Comment: Re:Ah yes... (Score 2) 178

by JonBoy47 (#46314689) Attached to: Microsoft Said To Cut Windows Price 70% For Low Cost Devices

Free as in beer... Apple has wisely realized that most users care more about the user experience, and having the system meet their needs, then they do about the nebulous freedom RMS says they need to care about more than these the actual, you know, usefulness of their device. Besides, running OSX on non-Apple hardware is a violation of the software's EULA...

Comment: Re:Good-bye middle tier (Score 1) 178

by JonBoy47 (#46314637) Attached to: Microsoft Said To Cut Windows Price 70% For Low Cost Devices

This explains the rash of $249 PC's I've seen recently. The $300 PC market just became the $250 PC market. There's just not enough meat left on the bone, after paying the full boat Windows license, to make a $300 box better enough than a $250 box to justify the incremental cost, in the eyes of the typical "cost senstive" consumer who's actually buying these crap-can PC's. Aside from the bottom-feeder Celeron and AMD E-xxx CPU's already common at these price-points, OEM's will cheap out on fit/finsh, put fewer cells in the laptop battery, and eliminate the expansion slots on desktops.

Comment: Re:Live in a cave (Score 1) 664

by JonBoy47 (#46311991) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

My 2000 Toyota Camry 4 cylinder, and my wife's 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan both beg to differ with you. Though electronic control of forward gear shifting has been the norm for a couple decades at least, most automatics still use mechanical control for selection of the operating mode (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive). Mis-adjustment of the neutral safety switch continues to be a cause of no-start symptoms, even in late model cars. I will grant you that the trend is toward purely electronic controls.

Comment: Re:Live in a cave (Score 3, Interesting) 664

by JonBoy47 (#46308613) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

Many of these uncontrolled acceleration cases involved hybrid Toyota vehicles. In addition to the electronic throttle, Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive uses brake by wire, so the computer can dynamically use any desired combination of regenerative and friction braking, based on the hybrid battery charge state and the severity of the driver's control input on the pedal. These cars also eschew mechanical control for the gear-shift and the push-button ignition switch, relying on interface through the ECU.

It thus seems entirely plausible that a stack overflow, race condition or other crash/freeze/whatever could result in a wide-open throttle with no brakes and no gear-shift or ignition off control. if this is the case, it represents a epic lack of fail-safe design. It certainly doesn't help prevent operator error when Toyota uses a non-PRNDL shift pattern on their hybrids, to say nothing of the lack of industry standardization of the behavior of push-button ignition.

Comment: Public Safety vs. Big Brother (Score 1) 173

by JonBoy47 (#46243265) Attached to: Federal Smartphone Kill-Switch Legislation Proposed

So there's a definite public safety problem going on, with people getting mugged for their phones and what-not. For the record, I think this concern is what's driving this legislation. But there's definitely room for the Big Brother Let's Stop the Flash-Mob-esque City Square Filling Demonstrations appeal to the Kill Switch, so the government shouldn't have any access to it. Hell, ideally the carriers shouldn't either. Make it something only the customer can initiate.

Comment: Re:Why smart phones? (Score 2) 173

by JonBoy47 (#46243241) Attached to: Federal Smartphone Kill-Switch Legislation Proposed

Theft by mugging is People don't carry laptops around at nearly the same rate they do smartphones, so the theft by mugging isn't nearly as big a problem. When laptops get stolen it's typically because the owner was careless and left it unattended. Meanwhile violent muggings, where people's cell phones are stolen, is reaching epidemic proportions in major cities. In the 90's people got jacked for their Air Jordan's, now it's for their iPhones. And unlike many other commonly stolen items, this anti-theft capability can be added at no incremental cost. Hell, the iOS Find My iPhone function is already nearly compliant with the proposed California and federal "kill switch" legislation. If they changed the initial setup such that it was enabled by default, it would be compliant in all respects.

As for cars, just about every car made in the last decade and a half has a passive anti-theft system. These systems have been credited with reducing theft of certain models by 90%. Don't have the right programmed smart key? That car isn't starting without some major effort. The process to replace lost or stolen keys is byzantine, inconvenient, and unique to each manufacturer, by design.

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