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Comment: Re:Minivans are practical but ignored (Score 1) 205

by darylb (#47506985) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

I'll emphasize my previous post by noting that weight is a BIG factor. These minivans are large and heavy. As I recall from a couple of years ago, even the Mazda 5 (which is sort of a mini-minivan) was only getting low- to mid-20 mpg on its four cylinder engine. For that kind of fuel economy, you might as well get the power output of the six.

Comment: Re:Minivans are practical but ignored (Score 1) 205

by darylb (#47506951) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

I'd like to see 30+ mpg in a minivan myself.

My 2001 Odyssey had a 210 hp engine. My 2011 Town and Country has a 283 hp engine and gets slightly better fuel economy. The vehicle weight is about the same (i.e., HEAVY, at 4,000 pounds or so). The problem is that the manufacturers are caught up in the minivan horsepower wars. The current Chrysler delivers 283 hp, the Sienna about 270, and likewise the Honda. Add the weight of the big box, and it's a tough one. I suspect a reduction in engine power back to 210-220 hp would get us to 30 mpg, but such a model would suffer sales losses to the more powerful units.

I have to disagree concerning the other points. My minivans have all handled extremely well, with much better footing (being lower to the ground) than any truck I've driven. Leather interiors are available (my Chrysler has leather), although, long-term, cloth tends to last longer. (Leather is prone to drying and cracking from heat and UV exposure. The cloth can stain, although fabric protectant will mostly fix that, but the fabric in my well-used Odyssey looked very good when I retired the van.) Toyota offers AWD. That's a compelling feature, but I had concerns about reliability in the first iteration.

Minivan styling? Whatever. It's a box with a compact drivetrain to maximize interior room. You want swoopy style, it'll hurt the very thing you want the minivan for.

Comment: The death is greatly exaggerated (Score 4, Interesting) 205

by darylb (#47500325) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

While there were 14 manufacturers of minivans 15-20 years ago, there are only five today: Chrysler/Dodge, Honda, Toyota, Kia (with a newly reintroduced Sedona), and Nissan. Still, that's five manufacturers all offering competitive products.

As a father of four minions, I've yet to find an SUV that equals the minivan in its ability to haul six or seven people AND THEIR GEAR in good comfort, all while achieving 25+ mpg. My 2011 Town and Country actually got 27.5 mpg on one tank of gas on a recent 2800 mile trip. My brother's SUV struggles to achieve 18.

Having rented several SUVs on trips, they can seat everybody, but squeezing in the bags is a real challenge.

I sure hope the minivan doesn't disappear. Truly, it is without equal for families up to about 7 people.

Comment: Re:Overstating things.... (Score 2) 300

by darylb (#47457617) Attached to: Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

Platform choice is no religion. You're right there.

I'm glad there are alternatives across the board. There is, however, a knee-jerk anti-Microsoft reaction here on Slashdot that rejects Windows Phone (particularly) out of hand. It has its merits. Really, it does. I don't think Microsoft subsidized the Lumia 520.

LibreOffice is fine for the word processor and presentations package. The spreadsheet is missing key functionality (as confirmed by several Ph.D. graduate students). I don't know about the other stuff.

As for cloud based apps, I still doubt that any enterprise with confidential information is going to hand it over to an off-site cloud environment. Microsoft already offers their own cloud alternatives (Office 365 particularly), which make it easy to move between desktop Office and cloud Office.

I'm a Linux fan (particularly Mint Cinnamon), but I still don't see Microsoft going away on the desktop soon.

Comment: Re:It's not as important as we think it is. (Score 1) 300

by darylb (#47456851) Attached to: Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

I don't myself think Xbox should be tossed. However, if it doesn't align with the internal vision and direction, then it can be jettisoned. Microsoft is not Nintendo.

Tablets have a tremendous business future. The offices of my family's doctors are full of them. The delivery drivers for a local Chinese restaurant use them. I can imagine these tablets being deployed all kinds of places, replacing these hacked up Palm things currently in use. That such tablets running Windows 8.1, especially on Intel hardware, can run all kinds of EXISTING software, is a huge benefit. Add to that the ability to secure the devices to restrict allowed applications (preventing the FedEx driver from surfing pr0n on a lunch break) and communicate via encrypted channels, and it's a clear win for a general purpose solution.

Comment: Overstating things.... (Score 2) 300

by darylb (#47456801) Attached to: Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

Eroding? Hah.

The number of offices (of any kind) that I've seen running non-Microsoft software on end-user systems can be counted on one hand. Offices -- which is to say, businesses -- are what counts. They don't just get software that comes with the computer. They pay for upgrades ("maintenance") and technical support. They pay for their actual usage, because they agree to be audited for license compliance as part of the deal. I don't remember the last office I saw that WASN'T an academic institution that wasn't running Exchange. Exchange/Outlook make the world go 'round at these places. After 20+ years of effort, it mostly works. Why would companies get rid of it in favor of an inferior solution? Just imagine the hell of migrating all that old email, required for all sorts of compliance, to another solution.

Maybe you don't have Microsoft software running your phone or tablet, but it still powers employee desktops and servers all over the place. All of that is quite high margin. An Intel-based Windows tablet can run an awful lot of software that is STILL unavailable for the other mobile platforms.

And, frankly, while I don't use the Modern UI on my Win8.1 desktop (in favor of Classic Shell), I quite like Windows Phone 8. I like it a lot better than iOS, in fact. I didn't think I would, but a missing smartphone had me using a $70 Windows Phone for a week. (There is no Android phone selling for under $150 that's worth using.) I was hooked.

Comment: It's not as important as we think it is. (Score 1) 300

by darylb (#47456707) Attached to: Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

You don't need consumer products to be successful, relevant, or profitable. Nor does one need business products for those results. Just look at Apple, which has transformed itself from a "computer company" to a "consumer products company," with its emphasis on phones, tablets and residual income from providing the infrastructure for delivering music and applications *created by others*.

Oracle continues to be quite profitable (and hated, I guess) while having nearly zero visible presence among consumers. Business markets are worth a lot, and demand a different sort of expertise as compared to consumer markets.

Comment: Re:This one lasted a year... (Score 1) 278

by darylb (#47436243) Attached to: My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

Not the same thing.

This was a bulb in an upright lamp that just started smoking, out of the blue. I was in another room during the middle of the day, smelled the foul odor, and went looking for the problem. If the CFL had been knocked over, covered up, or otherwise compromised, that'd be one thing. But this malfunctioned in this way in the regular course of expected operation.

Comment: Instead of buying a phone every three years... (Score 1) 129

by darylb (#47399853) Attached to: Android Wear Is Here

you can now buy a watch every one to two years.

C'mon. There are three broad categories of watch people these days:
1. The "I have a phone, so why do I need a watch?" category. Most people under 30 are here.
2. The "My watch is the measure of my style." category. They either view watches as cheap and disposable (watch as fashion statement), or expensive and long-lasting (watch as jewelry or mark of status). Who among these will buy a $100-$200 device that will be obsolete every couple of years?
3. The "My watch tells me the time without fuss and hassle" category. These people buy watches that last, but don't really want to think much about it. It needs to tell time, and perhaps have an alarm. They don't want to charge it every day. (I'm in this category. My Casio G-shock cost $40 5 years ago. I've changed its battery once. Otherwise, it requires no maintenance.)

I don't know which of these people these Android watches appeal to. What possible advantage does a tiny display on an expensive item offer that really beats out what your basic smartphone can do, and which is still required in the equation?

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