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Comment: Re:Compelling? (Score 1) 243

by MightyYar (#49734799) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

To be fair, MS sort of decimated any other competition in the computer arena - almost got Apple, too. It's hard to not look innovative compared to MS. "Look, we made the Start Menu ROUND!"

Android similarly makes it very hard for the many manufacturers to differentiate themselves from the pack - they are all selling very similar devices. Few use anything custom inside, so competitors quickly emulate anything even remotely advantageous in the market.

And finally the ridiculous profit margin that Apple commands means that they can make their hardware $0.10 more expensive, but spend that handful of change in areas that the consumer will notice: slightly higher quality finishes or some purely decorative item. It makes their gear stand out.

Comment: Re:so what? (Score 1) 202

by MightyYar (#49672765) Attached to: Study Reveals Wikimedia Foundation Is 'Awash In Money'

I get that, but it is an emotional response and doesn't actually help the less fortunate. The Red Cross helps people in a very real and effective way, and in a way that is completely unique. You simply cannot find a low-overhead charity with their mission, outreach, or effectiveness. IMHO, judge charities on the good that they do, not how they get around to doing it. But it is your money.

Anyway, most charitable executives make substantially less than they would in a similarly-sized private organization. Yes, they are still making a lot of money - but they are "donating" whatever the difference in salary would be - which is likely quite substantial. The Red Cross took in $3 billion last year and has 30,000 employees who co-ordinate 500,000 volunteers. A similar-sized company (in revenue terms) is Analog Devices, but they only have 10,000 employees. Total executive compensation at the Red Cross is $4.5 million (that's from 2010). Analog Devices pays $17.7 million to it's executive team. The CEO alone makes $6 million - more than the entire Red Cross executive team. You want charity? How about working for $5.5 million less than the market would otherwise pay you?

Comment: Re:so what? (Score 2) 202

by MightyYar (#49665841) Attached to: Study Reveals Wikimedia Foundation Is 'Awash In Money'

Charity is about giving, not profiting.

I'd argue that it is about helping people. If hiring good people lets you do more good, than I don't get caught up in how much the employees make. How many low-overhead charities were able to help in Nepal? I'd be surprised if you could find one that made a meaningful contribution in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

Comment: Re:so what? (Score 4, Insightful) 202

by MightyYar (#49663385) Attached to: Study Reveals Wikimedia Foundation Is 'Awash In Money'

That's not a fair characterization of the United Way. They do all of the overhead fundraising stuff so that smaller charities don't have to. Then those smaller charities come out fantastic on those brain-dead "overhead" rankings, because someone else spent the overhead money.

Similar criticisms leveled at the Red Cross are misguided. The Red Cross is huge and has corresponding overhead, but they have to stockpile massive amounts of stuff and then just sit on it waiting for something to happen. It's never going to be "efficient", but they are the main and first"boots on the ground" at every major disaster, and they are at every residential fire with blankets, clothes, and shelter. Sometimes it is worth paying people who are good at their jobs.

Comment: Re: Indian Point == Ticking Timb Bomb (Score 1) 213

by MightyYar (#49657713) Attached to: Transformer Explosion Closes Nuclear Plant Unit North of NYC

Sort-of. He is building a giant battery factory in order to get battery prices down. He needs to sell that capacity. Tesla has other constraints on the number of cars that they produce, but I think mainly there is a recognition that battery is where his competitive advantage lies. There are dozens of companies capable of building high-quality automobiles, but only a handful of companies who can make automotive-sized batteries. Tesla has no chance in hell at selling cars if they are the smallest player in a huge industry, but if they have class-leading battery technology, that changes the game.

Comment: Re:Indian Point == Ticking Timb Bomb (Score 2) 213

by MightyYar (#49657631) Attached to: Transformer Explosion Closes Nuclear Plant Unit North of NYC

Indeed, I do say that about Fukushima. In isolation, it looks like a disaster. In perspective, it was a very small element of a much larger disaster. The part that makes it "special" is that the people are displaced by an invisible hazard and they have to deal with a government that seems to alternate between lies and incompetence. Or maybe just delusion.

Comment: Re:Indian Point == Ticking Timb Bomb (Score 3, Interesting) 213

by MightyYar (#49657399) Attached to: Transformer Explosion Closes Nuclear Plant Unit North of NYC

IIRC (and we have a former Homer Simpson at work that translates all of this crap for me), the problem wasn't a lack of generators - it was that all of the electrical equipment was destroyed by the salt water. They recognized that the original emergency generators were vulnerable to flooding and moved them to higher ground, but they left the original electrical in place. It was all fried, and so there was nothing to plug into.

In the US, plants are required to have some kind of mobile generator. I don't know if their electrical systems are supposed to be redundant or somehow different than the Japanese plants - but I doubt it. A tsunami could probably put a US plant in a similar situation, but in order to get to Indian Point, it would have to kill a million or so people on the way, so the meltdown wouldn't be that big of a deal in the larger disaster.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan