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Comment: Re:Brand/product persistance seems dead anyway (Score 1) 277 277

The setup costs don't disappear, but when you have a system dominated by contract manufacturing the competition forces manufacturers to basically eat a lot of setup costs in order to compete against each other. The costs don't go away, but become reduced profit margins for manufacturers.

Comment: Re:Hipster tactics (Score 1) 277 277

Aside from maybe some tshirts I really cannot think of any "ironic embrace of vintage" that resulted in a meaningful resurgence of a product. I've seen some legitimate attempts to bring back old products or aspects of them but the successful ones are pretty much never ironic.

1970s fashions? I think this got embraced by hipsters early and became very mainstream. I have a friend who was in the vintage clothing business and he can define where he could buy 1970s fashion clothes in bales by the pound one month and the next he was having to negotiate prices by the item from his suppliers. Not long after that they become unobtainable except as yard sale or Goodwill finds and new iterations of the same fashions were showing up new in department stores.

Beer also seemed to be kind of like this. 10-15 years ago, there weren't many craft beers -- you had a bunch of mainstream domestics, some well-known imports like Heineken or Becks. Hipster bars of the era tended to focus on "vintage" brands like PBR or Rolling Rock and this embrace of older, niche products seem to have something to do with the rise of craft alternatives (well, and quality, too..).

Comment: Re:Keep the VMS Help system (Score 1) 415 415

Is that an operating system feature, or just a historical case of a system modern enough to have online help but old school enough to have decent, comprehensive documentation of functionality and error messages?

The long term trend definitely seems to be that documentation is an afterthought at best, with a lot of things, especially errors, being totally undocumented. You might get lucky and find a decent O'Reilly-type book or roll the dice with some 900 page Sybex monster that's 80% screenshots of obvious GUI tasks.

Comment: Re:Prediction after the fact. (Score 1) 277 277

I think your analysis is insightful (...and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter).

I feel like I either have very strong preferences or none at all. Things that I like I tend to have a kind of complex rationale for why I like them. Cost enters the picture, but only as a tail-end constraint, and usually if the cost is extreme. Generally I'm willing to pay more -- or not buy at all -- because the less expensive products fails my preference rationale.

This being said, I'm always surprised at the people who always seem to prefer lowest cost first, even when the price difference is negligible. I'm always struck by people who buy cheap first and then are disappointed/frustrated when their choices end up inadequate.

I'm even more surprised with people who seem to be cost only driven -- seeming to have no preference and seeing all choices as equal and only differentiated by price.

With regard to harbingers, I wonder if some of them just have unusual tastes that differ from average. They may just be buying new products more often because new products almost by definition differ from current popular products as vendors seek niches. As old niche products "fail" and disappear, these people just end up buying whatever is new because they want what's different. It's not a failure prediction as much as it is a market failure to provide consistent alternatives to mainstream tastes.

Comment: Re:"Harbinger of Failure" = Hipsters? (Score 1) 277 277

I think you have the concept of hipster exactly backwards. Usually hipsters seem to cluster around emerging trends and often seem to be influential enough that an ironic embrace of vintage/past products often produces a resurgence of that product.

It's debatable whether hipsters even exist, or whether it's a group that identifies products before they become popular or whether it's a group that's defined as clustering around products that became popular.

Comment: Brand/product persistance seems dead anyway (Score 1) 277 277

I don't know if its my perception or not, but it seems to me that very few products anymore have any persistence. It's not just a question of picking a loser -- it seems like so many products have an initial run and then disappear to be replaced by something else.

I suspect it's a byproduct of easier product design using computer aided design and the heavy use of contract manufacturing overseas. CAD makes it easy to tweak a design to create the new-car-model kinds of changes or just something different. Contract manufacturing lets vendors shop designs around for the best production cost and it wouldn't surprise me if the tooling/setup costs get eaten by the manufacturer.

Comment: Re:I have wondered about doing 'leasing' for .... (Score 1) 51 51

HVAC is too mechanical and homeowners are too persnickety. You'd get killed on break fix and maintenance overhead and labor. If you tried not to, your service would suck and people would quit paying the leases or deduct out of pocket repair costs from lease payments.

Plus, what happens when you want to move? "Oh there's this weird lease on the HVAC..." could make it harder to sell.

Comment: Re:Why can't this be the law everywhere? (Score 1) 267 267

The bigger problem is that HR and everyone else who sees arrest records take a "where there's smoke, there's fire" attitude towards arrests, assuming that anyone who got arrested is of questionable character, a troublemaker. Maybe there's even some assumptions that a lot of minor arrestees might get the charges dropped or dismissed.

They have no subtlety, willingness to understand what happened or differentiate why you got arrested, just that you were arrested.

Personally, I think arrest records without charges ought to be sealed after six months and it should be illegal for employers to even look at them at all. The unsealed database should be public but controlled and audited access, and not resold to database providers.

Convictions are trickier, and probably have a greater public right to know angle.

Comment: Re:False Flag (Score 1) 198 198

It's really not hard to think of increased Fed control over fiber being a cover for NSA tapping activity. If the FBI is monitoring your fiber and something goes down, it's easy to say "we're on the job, nothing got cut, you must have an error in your network".

It used to be such ideas were tinfoil hat, but post-Snowden nothing seems tinfoil hat anymore.

Comment: Re:High Priced Meh. (Score 1) 79 79

That's a tad harsh. I have a 1680x1050 display connected as a third display via a USB-3 adapter and while I didn't expect much, it's worked pretty well for sysadmin tasks. I even occasionally throw full-screen Netflix/HBO/Amazon video on it without any serious problems.

I think the real benefit here isn't gee-whiz cutting edge display technology as much as it is a set of display(s) that are fairly seamless to carry around and use with a laptop to give you a triple head display.

It would be nicer, sure, to have displayport chaining and super high resolution display support but even without that you might get a more useful display resolution than 1366x768 and a pretty seamless mounting and portability setup than existing solutions.

And if they manage to use USB3.1 10 gig, it might lessen any lag effects, although it might be argued that displayport would be the more widely available interface.

Comment: Re:Dumb as a Rock (Score 1) 76 76

I think you would probably make a lot of sacrifices for 252 square feet. That's a square 15 feet on a side, smaller than a standard 2 car garage. My dad lived in a 40 foot motorhome (8 ft x 40 ft) and that's 320 square feet and it felt small when I stayed in it; plus, most everything was motorhome-sized (stove, toilet/bath, etc) and a lot of built-ins & storage efficiencies.

This guy says he has a wife and 3 kids -- I think it might take some religious type orientation to live in a cold climate with 5 people in 250 sq ft of space.

The most bare necessities like a toilet, sink, tub, bed, stove, fridge, table, chairs add up pretty quickly. I didn't dig around enough in his web site to see if there were inside pictures, but I'd be curious to see how its arranged.

My biggest beef is just that the poster was disingenuous -- "I built a stone house for $7k". What he built is smaller than most garages and approaches a large shed in actual size. I'm also skeptical $7k can actually cover building, furnishing and decorating even that small space completely. Maybe if he moved in existing appliances. Maybe if he built all his own case goods. Maybe if the finish materials are like prison-basic (just coating the slab with a gloss topcoat instead of tile or carpet), white paint on the walls, etc

Comment: Re:Dumb as a Rock (Score 1) 76 76

252 square feet is smaller than a lot of New York City apartments. A king size bed alone is 42 square feet.

I do agree that a lot of the "smart house" technology isn't very sustainable, and realtors I've talked to tend to say that it actually makes houses hard to sell.

I suspect, though, that some flavor of smart technology will become more normal at least with regards to electricity. I think improvements in battery capacity, reductions in net metering value and so on will get more people running from mixed power sources, whether it's grid, generators, solar, wind, etc, and an electrical system that understands its power source, available power, charge status, etc will become not unreasonable.

We all live in a state of ambitious poverty. -- Decimus Junius Juvenalis