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Comment: Re:Wrong Focus (Score 2) 48

by jcr (#49365325) Attached to: SpaceX's New Combustion Technologies

As it happens, back in the '80s I worked at a company (Commonwealth Scientific) that built ion-beam guns based on the Kaufman duoplasmatron, which was the basis of the mercury-vapor thrusters that NASA had developed in the 1960s. The company was trying to make the aperture of the guns as wide as possible, and the difficulties included neutralizing the ion beam on the way out, keeping the plasma inside the gun stable, and keeping the beam density even. Basically, the bigger the gun, the harder it was to make it run steadily. When I was there, they had 8" apertures and were working on scaling them up to 12" apertures.

-jcr

Comment: Re:Not a huge surprise (Score 1) 164

by c (#49364603) Attached to: Best Buy Kills Off Future Shop

I shopped more at Best Buy than FutureShop because Best Buy sales reps were not on commission while FutureShop sales reps were (and, as a result, tended to be very pushy).

It might be a local thing, but I've found that the Future Shop employees generally leave... sorry, left me alone unless I hunted one down and asked questions. The few times I bothered with Best Buy I either couldn't find an employee willing to answer questions or couldn't find the product I needed.

Comment: Re:The Canadian middle class is dying out. (Score 2) 164

by epine (#49364223) Attached to: Best Buy Kills Off Future Shop

This is a huge change from what the country was once like, when it had a robust middle class.

First of all, this is the norm among industrialized economies. Perhaps Norway is different. I haven't checked since the fracking boom.

Second, the thriving middle class was a fairly short lived affair, centered around three decades from 1950–1980. Most affluent societies have now returned to pre-1930s levels of economic inequality. Historically, an affluent middle class is the exception and not the norm.

I had a college roommate whose brawny younger brother dropped out of high school with few skills and somehow got a job with the CAW at a starting wage north of $70,000 per year, back in the early 1980s. He soon had a wife and children, a driveway filled with expensive motor toys, and cash-flow problems.

He was almost certainly employed at a factory making automotive products that discerning consumers—those of us lacking misty-eyed Big Three loyalty—did not wish to purchase.

Meanwhile, high school drop-outs trying to scrape by on non-union wages weren't necessarily doing much better than those same people today, a major difference being that the majority of those fantasy union jobs have now gone away.

Someone needs to get in a time travel booth to go back to the early 1970s to inform the CAW management group that no matter what course of action they chose, their business model (high union wages for semi-skilled labour) could not survive selling shit product. Marketing the hell out shit product was a short-term solution at best (Future Shop—ultimately—not excepted).

As much as the Reagan and Thatcher plutocrats initiated a self-serving destruction of the middle class, the middle class itself was hardly blameless.

Now it's time for the plutocrats to determine whether they can recognize how they are painting themselves into a non-viable corner before they encounter a messy corrective force of their own seeding.

Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming

Comment: Re:The Better, Longer Lasting, Cheaper Bulb (Score 1) 130

by sjames (#49364089) Attached to: Graphene Light Bulbs Coming To Stores Soon

But it doesn't happen in one step even if the economics would support it. It starts more expensive and hopes to sell on features and performance. The price slowly drops to a new plateau as the early adopters slow down but remains more expensive. As others me too the features (assuming a patent sueball and/or collusion doesn't work), the price slowly drops.

Comment: Re:Ikea (Score 2) 62

by Tom (#49364081) Attached to: Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production

That's a meme, but also a lie. As IT people especially, we can take a big hint from IKEA in this regards. Their documentation is short, mostly visual, always step-by-step and gives the user exactly the information he needs, with none of the unimportant blabla that many blow up many other documentations from the necessary 3 pages to the actual 30.

If the instructions for Windows were made by IKEA, thousands of IT support people would be out of jobs because users could actually do simple tasks by themselves.

Comment: Re:Ikea good points (Score 1) 62

by Tom (#49364073) Attached to: Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production

And don;t forget to put a price on convenience: instead of waiting 4-8 weeks for your new stuff, you get to take it home and use it right away

This.

When my girlfriend moved in, we needed some new furniture. The huge wardrobe took three weeks to be delivered, and then one more week to exchange an (important) part that was broken in transport.

We both dislike IKEA a lot, but we went there to buy some dressers. Half of what they have on offer is trash and the other half ugly, but we went home with two pieces of the one dresser that's not a shame to have in your bedroom. Because we didn't want to have her clothes in luggage and bags waiting for furniture to be delivered. It's not the 16th century anymore where people had to go into the forest to chop down trees every time they wanted to have a table.

Comment: Re:What really is happening? (Score 2) 147

WTF? "Sleeping" should draw way less. It doesn't take a lot of power to keep a couple of sticks of SDRAM alive. Okay, probably also the NIC and a MCU to monitor the remote. I bet your console is reporting to the mother-ship or something.

First off, a power supply is less efficient at the low end than at the high end. A 200W power supply may be 80% or 90% efficient when running at its design load of 150W, but when you want 5W in standby mode, you can easily get into the 50% or lower efficiency range.

And 5W is probably perfectly reasonable for keeping SDRAM alive and refreshed, the NIC and other bits alive. It's just the power supply is only 50% efficient, so it draws 10+W at the wall.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

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