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Comment: Re:Switching from Mercedes to Tesla after $12K bil (Score 2, Interesting) 352

by Strudelkugel (#46784073) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

I sympathize. I have a similar story about my former Benz. At 70K miles I had repair problem with the motor. MB's fault really, had to have been set up wrong at the factory. Cost of repair was about $7K. They put in $2K, but I had to fork over the rest. I will never buy another Benz. I have owned several cars. None ever had a catastrophic failure at 70K miles. Of course the dealers will tell you that is why you should buy an extended warranty. My response is the policy and its renewal fee would have been about as much, so it would have been worthless to me. After I decided to get rid of the Benz, I was quite tempted to buy a Model S after driving one. Ultimately I thought I would wait until they add a few features I like that are available on other cars. When the warranty is about to expire on the new car I will buy the Tesla.

It's also worth noting what a huge difference there is when buying a car from a dealership and a Tesla from the store. I think 99% of us share the opinion that buying a car from a dealership is the most insulting retail experience there is. Dealers know it but don't care since the franchise laws protect them from reasonable market forces. No wonder they are all trying to stop Tesla from selling direct to consumers. But car dealers are not the only industry that plays the regulatory game. Just one of the worst abusers.

Comment: Re:Armor (Score 2) 330

by Strudelkugel (#46478675) Attached to: What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

Actually electric motors power the biggest machines I can think of, such as draglines, railroad locomotives and ships. The Presidential limo is not designed for a high speed getaway, it is really an armored personnel carrier with a nice paint job. It also doesn't have to go very far. The only time a limo had to go very "fast" was after an assassination attempt, but remember that it has a police escort that will clear all other traffic ahead of it. In JFK's case, speed would have been irrelevant, and in Reagan's case, they still had to drive through Washington D.C. streets which were more of a speed limitation than the limo itself. In addition, there is always an ambulance following the motorcade, so the POTUS would be transferred to it for a medical emergency. (This didn't happen for Reagan since he was shot right next to the limo. His Secret Service agent pushed him in after noticing blood and made the decision to go to the ER immediately.)

Four independent electric motors might actually give the limo more mobility than a single ICE, since all four would have to be knocked out to immobilize the car. They would also be lighter than the ICE. As for power, they could always charge up an electric limo using the APU on board AF1, or just carry additional battery packs. Another option would be to put a turbine generator in the car if extra range were needed, but I seriously doubt the POTUS will ever take a road trip in the limo. Truman might have done it for fun since he liked driving so much, but that was a different time.

+ - IBM Sees Growing Enterprise Demand for Windows Phone->

Submitted by Strudelkugel
Strudelkugel (594414) writes ""Actual end user momentum is trailing business interest," Szafranski said. "IT likes Microsoft and likes Windows. They've made a lot of investment in things like Active Directory and Exchange and as a result they have a lot of interest in seeing Windows Phone used by employees. I don't think anyone is going to be all Windows on mobile, but enterprises do want it and I think they have a strong opportunity when it comes to the enterprise side of purchase decisions.""
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Comment: Re:This nonsense only works in corporations (Score 1) 437

by Strudelkugel (#46031361) Attached to: You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

Consumers will buy another brand without these annoyances

This model already exists:

  • Satellite radio
  • On Star
  • Nav map updates (in some cases)

Enabling heated seats by subscription is an interesting example. It might be a good deal for the consumer depending on how much cheaper a car is without them, with the subscription version, and always available. Pricing would vary by region no doubt. People in desert climates might opt for the subscription where they are primarily useful at night, but people in cold climates might be willing to pay the price for constant availability. The opposite might be true for AC. Pricing various features sounds like it could be more complex than pricing airfares, however.

+ - 15 Rising Programming Trends -- And 15 Going Cold

Submitted by snydeq
snydeq (1272828) writes "From the Web to the motherboard to the training ground, InfoWorld offers a look at what's rising in popularity among developers, and what's cooling off. 'Programmers love to sneer at the world of fashion where trends blow through like breezes. That's not to say programming is a profession devoid of trends. The difference is that programming trends are driven by greater efficiency, increased customization, and ease-of-use. The new technologies that deliver one or more of these eclipse the previous generation. It's a meritocracy, not a whimsy-ocracy. What follows is a list of what's hot — and what's not — among today's programmers. Not everyone will agree with what's A-listed, what's D-listed, and what's been left out. But that's what makes programming an endlessly fascinating profession: rapid change, passionate debate, sudden comebacks.'"

+ - AT&T's Sponsored Data is bad for the internet, the economy, and you->

Submitted by sirhan
sirhan (105815) writes "From The Verge: AT&T is looking into what they call Sponsored Data, a program designed to let content providers bypass bandwidth caps if they pay AT&T. Simply enough, "if YouTube doesn't hit your data cap but Vimeo does, most people are going to watch YouTube. If Facebook feels threatened by Snapchat and launches Poke with free data, maybe it doesn't get completely ignored and fail. If Apple Maps launched with free data for navigation, maybe we'd all be driving off bridges instead of downloading Google Maps for iOS.""
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+ - Gordon Chang: Snowden Lied About China Contacts->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "From The Daily Beast, "“I have had no contact with the Chinese government,” Snowden wrote in a Q&A on the Guardian website while taking refuge in Hong Kong in June. “I only work with journalists.” That’s far short of the truth. ... Snowden, according to one of my sources in Hong Kong, had at least one “high-level contact” with Chinese officials there. Those officials suggested he give an interview to the South China Morning Post ... This is significant because, as the Post noted, Snowden turned over to the paper documents that contained detailed technical information on the NSA’s methods. Included in these documents were Hong Kong and Chinese IP addresses that the NSA was surveilling. The disclosure of those addresses was not whistle-blowing; that was aiding China. The Post ... had sent two reporters to interview Snowden. The paper did not give a byline to one of them, a Chinese national serving as the deputy to Editor Wang Xiangwei, who openly sits on a Communist Party organ in the Mainland. ... it appears that agents of China’s Ministry of State Security were in contact with Snowden during his stay in Hong Kong ... “The Chinese already have everything Snowden had,” said an unnamed official ... days after the leaker had left Hong Kong for Moscow.""
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+ - Old browsers preventing HTML 5 are growing (not just IE)->

Submitted by Billly Gates
Billly Gates (198444) writes "The monthly totals from g.statcounter.com and netmarketshare.com came out with the latest December statistics which sometimes cause flamewars as both sides companies report different results on the most popular browser/OS (Netmarketshare favors IE, while statcounter.com favors Chrome).

However, ZDNet noticed something interesting from both statistics. Obsolete browsers are gaining traction even with auto updates for all them. Typically we hear of old browsers we think of corporations running old versions of IE like IE 6 in which any intranet developer will say is a must for support until last year. But Safari now beats IE in terms of users who do not wish to upgrade as 50% run obsolete versions!

Firefox too has its obsolete versions kicking and screaming with 1 out of 5 more than 2 versions old. IE has its old versions as well but this is expected in corps where they use apps which write to MSHTML and MS CSS with MS Jscript for their intranet apps as IE 11 is too modern and standards compliant.

As 2014 starts the web is becoming more and more important as new sites like salesforce.com, LinkedIn, and a million cloud providers all really benefit from HTML 5 features not to mention the security risk associated with"

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Comment: Re:Off-topic question (Score 2) 108

by Strudelkugel (#45831605) Attached to: No Question: Snowden Was 2013's Most Influential Tech Figure

Snowden played this excessively smart, and that's the only reason he's sort of free now.

I don't think Snowden is that smart or free. Today he does what the Russian government allows him to do. But consider the Russians have protesters in Moscow, protesters in Kiev, and suicide bombers in their midst. How long will the Russian government tolerate an icon for freedom from surveillance, especially given their history? I believe Snowden is in considerable danger.

Another reference: Sergei Guriev

Also Mikhail Khodorkovsky

As for Snowden, I still think we know 10% or less of the story. There is a lot that does not make sense.

Comment: Re:And why ... (Score 1) 148

by Strudelkugel (#45663451) Attached to: Program to Use Russian Nukes for US Electricity Comes to an End

Trust has very little to do with it. The people who have these weapons have them. The best that can be hoped for is a process of disarmament that does not cause too much damage if trust is broken, and one which prevents other parties from gaining the weapons and thus becoming risk factors in and of themselves.

A general perspective from Sen. Sam Nunn. The world requires more progress. I think people have become too complacent about these weapons.

Comment: Re:This is why I don't trust this guy (Score 0) 381

by Strudelkugel (#45534605) Attached to: Intelligence Officials Fear Snowden's 'Doomsday' Cache

Snowden's slow release has been keeping this story in the news. He's helping to build controversy around the programs.

Do you really think Snowden has ANY autonomy as a "guest" of Putin? The only thing we know is that Snowden is an American citizen who worked for NSA. He apparently released classified information he thought the public should know. But even with everything that has been written in the press, I doubt anyone outside of NSA, including Greenwald, really knows what he copied and what information is valid. You can be certain that any information attributed to Snowden now is very carefully crafted to serve Russian interests. Russia could release false information and attribute it to Snowden just to see the reaction, or various other reasons. I would be surprised if more than a very small number of people knows more than 10% of the story.

+ - Microsoft abandons stack ranking->

Submitted by Strudelkugel
Strudelkugel (594414) writes "In an overhaul of its employee-review system being announced Tuesday, Microsoft will stop requiring managers to rank workers on a scale of one to five on a "bell" curve. The system—often called "stack" or "forced" ranking— meant a small percentage of workers had to be designated as underperformers. The rankings were also crucial in allocating bonuses and equity awards.In place of the bell curve and numerical-ranking system, Microsoft managers will give employees more frequent feedback on how they're doing their jobs. Managers also will have more flexibility in how they dole out bonuses. The changes take effect immediately. The stack-ranking system was designed to ensure Microsoft's most-effective employees were awarded the lion's share of bonus pools, and were first in line for promotions. Such forced-ranking systems were widely copied after they rose to popularity at General Electric under CEO Jack Welch, but have fallen out of favor in recent years. Some current and former Microsoft employees say the software giant's system has serious flaws. Critics said the review program sometimes resulted in capricious rankings, power struggles among managers jockeying for their employees to get better reviews, and unhealthy competition among colleagues."
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Comment: Re:Subjects in comments are stupid (Score 1) 157

by Strudelkugel (#45320063) Attached to: Surface Pro 2 Gets Significant Battery Boost

Maybe. I find myself using my iPad much less than I used to. iPad Air? Who cares. My iPod Touch weighs less, fits in my pocket and runs the iOS apps I need. But a tablet that is also a fully capable PC, one that can also run VMs and legacy Windows apps? Far more useful than an iPad. I sold my old laptop; I will replace it with a Surface Pro 2. Yes it's more expensive than I would like, but now I can subtract the price of the iPad I really don't need anymore. I thought about buying an iPhone 5 as an international phone, but now I'm looking at a Nexus 5 given the huge price difference.

I don't know what is happening at Apple HQ, but their products are becoming so expensive compared to the competition they should be sold at Tiffany's.

Comment: I was just thinking about this since... (Score 4, Interesting) 160

by Strudelkugel (#45077143) Attached to: Car Dealers vs the Web: GM Shifts Toward Online Purchasing

I bought a new car recently. I try to keep my cars as long as possible, but the old one was causing me to wonder how long it would last without another expensive repair. That meant a trip to the dealership, knowing quite well that I was about to have the worst category of retail experience known. It doesn't matter if you are buying a cheap car or an expensive one - dealers treat all customers the same way. Haggle, make you wait while the sales person "I will try to get my manager to accept your price, but he is going to beat me up..." talks fantasy football with his manager as you wait. (If you are trading in a car, they will take your keys to look at your trade-in. You will not be getting them back any time soon, so be sure to bring an extra set of keys you can drive off the lot while they are playing this game to wear you down.) Make them wait while you enjoy a sandwich or read a book in the coffee shop across the street.

After you endure that nonsense, you get to talk tot he "finance manager" who will try to get you to by an insanely overpriced extended warranty contract. If that doesn't work for the dealership, they will be happy to offer you very high rate auto loan. Think of what is happening: The sales rep is telling you how great the car is while you are looking at it, then the finance person is telling you an extended warranty is really needed because the car will probably have a major repair after the warranty period is over. Be sure to ask the finance person if they think you should tell the sales person you will not be buying the car since he or she just told you it really isn't a very well made car.

Car dealerships are really parasitic IMHO. They use their intermediary status to extract as much as possible from customers, and in doing so alienate the customers from the manufacturers. The manufacturer spends a huge amount of money establishing a brand, designing cars they hope will appeal to the public, taking capital risk, and managing production. Think of the extended warranty pitch - it totally undermines the manufacturer since it implies the car really isn't very reliable. My previous car was a high end brand, but I detested the sales and service department at the local dealer so much I vowed to never buy another model of that brand, even though I really liked the car. But none of this is new to anyone who has purchased a car from a dealership, new or used.

Given the above, and manufacturers know all of it, I am surprised that Ford and Chrysler aren't jumping on the direct sales model, too. They probably will though; the dealership model makes far less sense now that consumers can learn more about a car online than most car sales people will ever know, since that is not what they care about. Before the internet, it was necessary to go to a dealership to look at a car, maybe get a brochure and see what the car actually looked like. Of course the buyer still has to test drive the car, but there is no reason manufacturers can't follow the Tesla model. This is a bit of a simplification, since Tesla cars in high demand and people are willing to wait for one. There is also a lot to be said for having inventory on a lot since it simplifies distribution and might help close a deal. But... I think every manufacturer would clamp down on the pathetic treatment of customers their dealers engage in if they were selling directly.

A friend of mine is thinking about buying a BMW M3, but I told him he should drive a Tesla first given that the two models are similar in price. The BMW might be a good car, but he dislikes the dealership experience as much as anyone. Why support the dealership business model if there is a choice? My thought is that my next car will be a Tesla not only because it is a great car, but also because I know my money won't support the jerks who run auto dealerships.

Given the intermediary advantage the dealer has when approached by a customer, it is no wonder they are fighting the direct sales model. They have a license to steal, and don't want to give it up. We have seen this before in music business. The good news is information technology will most likely level the playing field in the future, sending the business practices of car dealers to the case study guides of yesteryear, along with patent medicine, unregulated meatpacking and oil trusts.

In all fairness, I would like to encourage anyone who works, or did work for a dealership to offer objective reasons for their business model in case there is something I have missed. But given my experience, it certainly is hard to rationalize.

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy

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