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Comment: Re:Oh please (Score 1) 287 287

. . . so a company would outsource the design and manufacture of the one feature their customers cared most about? I don't think you'll find many examples of that in history -- at least, examples in which the parent company survived very long. You're more likely to find examples in which the outsourcing company found itself in competition with its vendor, and then went out of business when the vendor kept feature improvements for its own designs.

You really believe that Apple or Google or Tesla would be content making just the software for cars, when the rest of the car is a commodity? (Check their cash reserves before you reply.) Or that GM or Toyota or Volkswagen could defend itself from them, once they made their move into a commoditized car industry serving customers who only cared about the car's OS?

Comment: Re:Oh please (Score 1) 287 287

I don't doubt that the industry has such contingency plans, but I wonder just how effective they will be. Business history is rife with cases of large companies that failed to move as rapidly as their industries, and disappeared as a result. See Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma for a bookload of examples.

The problem is that the companies are built on a certain premise of customer wants and needs and, due to their installed asset base, organizational structure, and culture, can't react fast enough to supply products emphasizing the new customer wants and needs. By the time the company is willing to invest the capital needed to meet the needs of the new customers, they are so far behind their smaller, innovative competitors that they cannot compete. Whether they buy one of their upstart competitors or try to compete with their own new division, the corporate mass and culture almost inevitably dooms the venture.

Suppose the automotive market did change, to one in which customers didn't care about fuel mileage, or number of seats, or whatever it is they do now, and instead cared only about what OS the car was running. How many decades do you think it would take to remove all the car- and engine-geeks from the company and replace them with digital-geeks?

Kodak was aware of the digital photo revolution (it invented the digital camera, and its Board of Directors hired George Fisher from Motorola as CEO back in 1993), but a fat lot of good it did them. They had too many chemists, dye specialists, and high-performance camera designers, and an organization and profit structure built around discrete cameras and physical camera film. It was never clear how Kodak could maintain its market dominance in the digital camera world -- and it didn't.

Comment: Threshold of old (Score 1) 287 287

Sitting on the floor is still easy, but getting up involves a lot of aching bones/muscles.

I think a good working definition of "the threshold of getting old" is the age when overexertion causes more pain in the joints than in the muscles.

As a young person, running an unusually long distance or lifting a weight an unusually large number of times causes sore muscles. As a not-young person, running an unusually long distance or lifting a weight an unusually large number of times causes sore joints -- and, unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to recover from sore joints.

Comment: The Focke-Achgelis FA 330 (Score 4, Informative) 75 75

I always thought the most practical combination of aircraft and submarine was the FA 330, a rotary-wing kite used by Nazi submariners to get their lookout higher to see farther. It was tethered and unpowered, but it was quick to set up, simple to use, and provided a great benefit to the sub in the last few days before radar.

Comment: For those learning the English language (Score 1) 489 489

. . . training which can curve some of their impulsive tendencies... however at the same time insure if they need to use force it is more affective.

should actually be written,

. . . training which can curb some of their impulsive tendencies... however at the same time insure if they need to use force it is more effective.

This uses curb with the definition of, "to check or restrain," and effective with the definition of, "producing a desired result" (as opposed to affective, which may be defined as, "influenced by, or resulting from, the emotions").

These types of errors (using similar-sounding words instead of the correct words) are called "malapropisms." The speaker knows which of the two words is correct, but somehow when speaking (or writing) the brain pulls the wrong word out of memory. It's an interesting neuropsychological phenomenon.

Comment: Where was the flight attendant? (Score 4, Interesting) 737 737

It's my understanding that the flight deck by international regulation is a "no alone" zone, meaning that when the pilot left, a flight attendant should have entered the flight deck so that the copilot was not alone. This rule is why it made sense to have a "Locked" position on the door.

The real question, to me, is, why was the flight attendant not on the flight deck while the pilot was away?

Comment: Ignoring the economics (Score 2) 85 85

Obtaining patents isn't free. One would have to look at the zillions of generated patent applications and decide which ones, if any, were worth the application and prosecution fees -- not to mention the attorney's fees. (It wouldn't be a very high percentage.) This is a pointless exercise.

My advice is to roll over and go back to sleep.

Comment: The Spirit of Butts' Farm (Score 4, Informative) 175 175

Just to put this silliness into perspective, the current distance and duration records for a model aircraft are held by The Spirit of Butts' Farm, built by legendary modeller Maynard Hill. The model took 38 hours, 52 minutes, 19 seconds to fly the 1,881.6 mi (3,028.1 km) from Cape Spear, near St. John's, Newfoundland, to Mannin Beach, near Clifden, Ireland.

This was their fifth attempt to complete the trip. The longer trip across the Pacific, against the wind one way (the proposal is a round trip!), would seem to be far outside the meager budget of the Kickstarter guys.

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"