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Comment Tossed Salad (Score 1) 248

The comment has been made before that the better analogy is to a tossed salad (or salad bowl), rather than a melting pot, as the ingredients tend to maintain their individuality, rather than becoming homogenized. A lot of it is bland lettuce, but one also has everything from olives to jalapeños to spice things up a bit. (Extra credit for identifying a good analogy for the salad dressing.)

Comment Range (Score 1) 120

From TFA:

[. . .] According to this prediction, the possible attack distance is approximately 16.78 cm using the same sound source that we used for the real-world attack with the maximum volume (113 dB). This attack distance range might not be sufficient for a malicious attacker. However, attackers can overcome this distance limitation by using a more powerful and directional source (e.g., a loudspeaker array) than the single speaker used in our experiments. For instance, SB-3F from Meyersound can generate sound of 120 dB at 100 m, and 450XL from LRAD and HyperShield from UltraElectronics can produce 140 dB at 1 m, which is equivalent to 108.5 dB at 37.58 m. Therefore, the possible attack distance is 37.58 m, if an attacker uses a sound source that can generate 140 dB of SPL at 1 m.

Comment What *is* every little app doing? (Score 2) 129

There may not be any need to panic and start fixating on what every little app is doing.

But then again, there might. How is one to know? That's the biggest problem I have with the mobile telecom computing model. I have no idea what the apps do, and no way, other than make it my life's work, to find out.

I hate having to trust the OS provider that everything is properly sandboxed, that none of the apps in their stores are malware, etc. What's going on, inside this box?

Comment Absolutely. (Score 1) 288

[T]he reason why older people don't use the technologies is because they suck, are intrusive, unreliable and fleeting.

This. I was born in the 1950s, when dirt was still relatively new, and this is exactly it. When one first sees new software and UI technologies as a young person, understanding them is an end in itself. After 50 years of watching them come and go, however, I am tired of the technology of the month, and instead find myself using something stable that will allow me to get my "real" work done -- that being the point of software, after all.

Learning to use a good software tool once is a useful and rewarding experience. Being condemned to a lifetime of re-learning to use the same tool every year just because some idiot changed the UI, not so much. (Sisyphus would understand.)

I sometimes ask these UI wizards what they think would happen if I moved the keys on their keyboards around with every software release, in response to the latest theories on typing speed and accuracy, and perhaps added and/or subtracted a few just, well, just because I thought it would be a good idea. If one is, say, ten years old and just learning to touch-type, perhaps the new keyboard layout indeed would be better. However, the installed base of zillions of users that are used to, and expected to see, the old keyboard arrangement would be totally hosed, and would need to retrain themselves just to get back to the productivity levels they had before I "helped" them. Do you really, really want to do this kind of thing to your customers? Repetitively?

I am always amused to find that the same programmers that gleefully shuffle, delete, and obfuscate menus and other UI features for their users strenuously object if you even suggest taking away their precious Dvorak, XP, or simple QWERTY keyboards -- let alone, say, reverse the order of the bottom row of keys, transpose the T and H keys, and move the "@" symbol so that it is now CTRL - ALT - ].

Comment Re:Oh please (Score 1) 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

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

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

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.

The clothes have no emperor. -- C.A.R. Hoare, commenting on ADA.