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Comment: Re:Shyeah, right. (Score 1) 69

by Lumpy (#48463945) Attached to: Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out?

I still have SDLT tapes that are still readable after 15 years. Hell I have Bernoulli disks that are still readable. The one working like new drive was packed with it along with an assortment of SCSI cables and a current working SCSI to USB adapter and a linux driver on a CD. hopefully if anyone needs to read that data in the future they will figure it out.

I actually did the same thing 3 years ago for a friend. he arrived with a stack of 9 track tapes and a desktop tape drive. Luckily I was able to find an older PC with an ISA slot and installed the card linux had drivers for it and even had the tools to convert the data to standard ASCII. Read all 20 tapes and handed him a DVD disk with the contents of all the tapes. Made a cool $2000 for sitting and watching tape spin. it was cool.

Comment: Re:Misleading Summary (Score 1) 485

by geekoid (#48463153) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Based on the read, their premise seems really stupid.
Reducing emissions, and getting rid of CO2 in the air are two different things. No wonder it failed.

Why won't a 10MW solar furnace near a data center not work?
If you want to reply 'doesn't work at night' you should be ashamed of yourself for commenting on something you know nothing about.

Comment: Tethers (Score 1) 26

by Dunbal (#48462775) Attached to: NASA To Deploy Four Spacecraft To Study Magnetic Reconnection
Considering the terrible back luck all space agencies seem to have had with deploying tethers (getting stuck, snapping, etc) - they plan on deploying 4 per satellite? I hope there are contingency plans or someone really thought long and hard about possible failure modes and engineered around them.

Comment: Re:It was an almost impossible case to prosecute (Score 1) 988

by flyingsquid (#48459767) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

We the public don't yet know all the facts. Nonetheless, it was an immensely difficult case to build for the prosecutor as the only person alive who knew what happened was the one who pulled the trigger.

Two words: gun camera.

They started using gun cameras in WWII to look at the effectiveness of the aircraft, but you could use them on police firearms to hold police accountable when they draw their weapons. Here the main problem is the he-said they-said nature of the event. We don't know what happened because there is no recorded account of it. Using off-the-shelf technology, you could install a small iPhone style camera and microphone that activates whenever the safety of the weapon is taken off and enough storage for 10-15 minutes of footage and audio. The recorded footage would then be available to establish whether the officer was justified in drawing their weapon and, if fired, whether the firing of the weapon was justified. If the officer committed murder, we'd know. If it was justifiable, we'd know. Either way, we wouldn't have rioting in the streets right now.

Comment: Re:$1200+ for a 15 min trip! (Score 3, Funny) 105

by Cro Magnon (#48458183) Attached to: "Advanced Life Support" Ambulances May Lead To More Deaths

The President himself sabotaged that possibility by accusing doctors of performing unnecessary amputations, which besides depicting surgeons as being suitable for the leading roles in either "Little Shop of Horrors" or "Sweeney Todd", is nonsensical because amputations actually are relatively inexpensive.

I dunno. I heard they cost an arm and a leg.

Comment: Re:The "Protesters" (Score 3, Insightful) 988

by flyingsquid (#48457799) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting
It's worth remembering that the protests started out peacefully. It was the police who escalated things by responding to peaceful protests with armored vehicles, police in body armor carrying assault rifles, launching tear gas at people exercising their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. You have a police force that has abdicated its responsibility to protect and serve the population, and is instead acting like an occupying army and oppressing the community they are sworn to help. And this is after years of targeting the black community. If you act like an occupying force, it's hardly surprising if people start acting like insurgents.

Comment: Economics of auto parts (Score 1) 276

Can you explain to us how the accounting is done?

Yes though you are asking a bigger question than you may realize.

If I buy a part 20 years on for a vehicle for which I'm not even the first owner, and it's a part which can fit 20 different vehicles, how do you account for the profit?

Whose profit are you trying to account for? The manufacturer of the part? The OEM who built the car? The dealer? For OEM parts the OEM (think Ford or GM) will purchase the parts from a supply chain during the production run and they will usually contract for several years worth of replacement parts in addition to the production run - usually something like 3-7 years worth. Once the original production run ends it usually moves into aftermarket manufacturers, sometimes custom replacements or sometimes the original manufacturer will continue to produce the part for some time if there is a market for it. It's not unheard of for the OEM to keep the supply chain for replacement parts running for 15-20 years though that isn't the norm.

You don't have accurate statistics on failures on vehicles that old, because people don't bring them back to the dealer for service.

Actually dealers do see a lot of older vehicles for service so they have pretty decent information. Aftermarket parts dealers also have a pretty good idea what parts fail commonly on which vehicles. Furthermore the parts that are failing in year 5 are mostly going to be the same as the parts failing in year 20 with a few additions.

From my various forays into automotive parts replacement and part ordering, I know that without exception the manufacturers charge absolutely abusive prices for replacement parts.

Actually it isn't usually the manufacturer charging the outrageous markup, it is the dealer who is independent. (And you are right, it is outrageous) The OEM usually charges the dealer a 10-40% markup. Anything you buy from a dealer typically has a minimum of an 8X or more markup over the actual manufacturing cost. To give you an example, my company makes a jumper harness for a GM vehicle. Costs us about $3.00 to make it and we sell it for roughly $4.00. We are a Tier 3 so by the time it gets to GM it probably costs somewhere around $6-8 once you factor in the markups along the way and they probably double the price they sell to a dealer. If you were to march into a dealer and try to buy our part by itself from a dealer it would cost you somewhere between $30-50 if they would even sell it to you as a standalone product which they probably would not. I've seen assemblies that cost $3 to actually make selling for $200+ and the majority of that markup comes from the dealer.

You're telling me that having more expensive parts doesn't lead to more profit?

No, I said a larger part count for the OEM generally leads to less profit. Increasing part counts has no benefit to the OEM. Ford has competition and they cannot simply pass on any markups to the car buyer. In essence they have a cap on how much the can sell the car for. If they make a more complicated part that will cost more to make, it will break more often and sooner and Ford will make less profit. There is a limit to what they can charge for aftermarket parts too though the price elasticity is less sensitive. If a car constantly breaks people tend to get rid of the car in the long run. Furthermore the reputation benefits foregone in lost sales alone far outweigh any minor additional profit from more expensive replacement parts.

Automakers derive significant profit from parts sales, and EVs both have less parts and are less prone to failure than vehicles with ICEs.

They do get some profit from part sales but only after the warranty runs out and not nearly as much as you probably think. The expense of recalls from failures can easily swamp any profit from a vehicle line. Even the most profitable vehicle manufacturer has a net profit margin no higher than 8-10% and most are somewhere around 5%. Do you have any idea how easy it is for 5% net profit to vanish? Car manufacturers make most of their money from selling and financing cars. Parts might help but most of that profit accrues to the (independent) dealer network rather than the manufacturer.

We've been driving production hybrids for fifteen years now. We already know the best way to do it, you replace the torque converter of an automatic transmission with an electric motor. In spite of that, people are still doing it in other ways which cost more money, and which increase parts count.

If you think the technology in hybrids is mature you are very mistaken. It's evolving quite rapidly and the technology is still highly non-standard. I defy you to find an engineering consensus that there is a "best way to do it" and certainly nothing as simple as just swapping out the torque converter. That might be your opinion but it isn't a widely shared one. Hybrids are expensive because there is a lot of engineering and tooling costs that have to be recouped and the sales volumes aren't big enough yet to fully amortize the fixed costs away.

Comment: The part count is not a cost advantage (Score 2) 276

We're not talking about evolutionary change but revolutionary. Drop in parts number is so drastic that it allows for more competitors to sprung up (hence Tesla)

I'm a cost accountant and I do this sort of stuff for a living. You have the cost accounting completely wrong. The different in part numbers provides Tesla no cost advantage at this time because the parts they have to buy are significantly more expensive. Electric vehicles have such low sales volumes currently that any cost advantage they might have from reduced part counts is hugely swamped by the high R&D costs and fixed costs of production. They simply don't have enough volume to reach minimum efficient scale.

The risk for established players is in going from oligopoly and into a commoditized market.

There is minimal risk of automobiles becoming meaningfully more commoditized than they already are. Switching to an electric platform will not change that. A commodity product is one that one unit is indistinguishable from another. That does not describe the car industry unless you abstract more than is appropriate. The established players you are talking about already have the capability to develop and sell an electric vehicle. Several of them have already done so. Nothing Tesla is doing is outside of the big automaker's capabilities. They are staying out of the market because the market simply isn't big enough given the state of the art in electric vehicle technology right now to make it worth their while. There is enough room for a few niche products but that's it for the time being. It's not worth their time right now because they cannot make a profit doing it yet. Even Tesla hasn't made any sort of meaningful operating profit on car sales yet.

"Why can't we ever attempt to solve a problem in this country without having a 'War' on it?" -- Rich Thomson, talk.politics.misc

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