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Comment Re:ZTE... (Score 1) 134

The swappable battery isn't just for people who burn through their battery in a day and need to swap it. It's also for people whose battery goes bad and they'd like to replace it. With a non-removeable battery, you either need a new phone or have to pay $$$ to have it swapped professionally. With a swappable battery, no problem, just buy a replacement somewhere and pop it in. There's no really good reason not to have it; the Galaxy S5 even manages to be waterproof with a swappable battery.

Would you buy a car where the tires couldn't be changed? It's not like you have to do it often, and some tires can go nearly 100k miles now.

Comment Re:Market share != $$ (Score 1) 134

I dunno, maybe it's a gamble for them and they're hoping to become profitable before too long by building up a brand and reputation. I'm really not sure. Are the numbers correct though: are they really losing money? And in all markets they sell in? I can't imagine the numbers are the same for developing countries, for instance, as they are for the US and western Europe where there's lots of people who can afford iPhones. People in China can't afford those prices.

But as for Apple having 80-85% of the profit, just because one company has somehow figured out how to make a ton of profit on a product doesn't mean just anyone can do that. Apple's somehow carved out a niche of customers willing and able to spend a large amount of money on a phone which doesn't cost them that much money to make. Most companies would kill for profit margins like that, but if it was that easy to get that kind of profit margin, everyone would do it. You can only charge what the market will bear, and for most things, it won't support that kind of profit margin; someone else will come along and make something just as good (or maybe not as good) with a lower profit margin and take away your customers with lower prices. Occasionally, companies get lucky and build up a coveted brand name like Coach and charge high prices and get away with it, but usually their volumes are much lower for it (not that many people can afford $5k for a stupid purse, or $300k for a car like a Rolls-Royce). Apple's really defied the odds and somehow gotten both high profit margins and large volumes, making the company insanely profitable. But there's lots of people (like me) who refuse to buy iPhones for various reasons, and lots more people who can't afford them, so there's certainly a market for smartphones not made by Apple, but they're not going to have that kind of profit margin, just like not all carmakers can have the profit margins of R-R or Ferrari. But that still doesn't mean it makes sense to sell phones at a *loss*, so there must surely be something else going on. Either they're making money somewhere else on them (pre-loaded crapware maybe? Malware even?), the numbers are incorrect, or it's a strategy to try to operate in the red for a while to build a brand.

Comment Re:they are proposing customized outsourced compon (Score 1) 217

As I mentioned in my original post, my plane can accept three engines, from two different companies.

That's probably because it was specifically designed that way, and those engines are all very similar to one another. Lycoming and Continental have a bunch of engines that are nearly identical, at least when comparing size, power levels, mounting, etc. But you're not going to grab some random engine and toss it in there.

My car also comes with three engine options. Each of those engines is also used in other cars and trucks, of different marques.

Again, that's because those cars were specifically designed that way. The mfrgs wanted the flexibility of being able to offer different engines to customers. Lots of cars have multiple engine options. But you're not going to take a random Chevy and throw in a random Honda engine, they're just far too different. There are some small companies that specialize in making kits for installing engines into cars which weren't designed for them, but these kits are usually quite pricey because they have a bunch of custom-made parts, and that's even when the new engine is from the same mfgr as the old one. You need custom-designed engine mounts, driveaxles, wiring harness adapter, maybe a different hood, etc. And a lot of times, with kits like that, you can't install all the normal equipment, so you might have to go without A/C because there wasn't any room for it.

In long-term essential software especially, it's good not to be locked in to a single supplier.

Yes, and that's why your plane was designed for multiple engines. But not just any engine, only the 2/3 models it was specifically designed for. You can't just grab some random engine (even if it's a similar size and power rating) and toss it in there (though truthfully, assuming it's a typical Cessna-like front-engine plane, it's probably easier than swapping engines in a car).

As for automakers and their suppliers, automakers have *always* used suppliers. Heck, in the early days the automakers didn't even make their cars' bodies! Have you forgotten about "Body by Fisher"?

That isn't done very much in software.

Sure it is. You get a database from one supplier, you get components for it from another supplier, you get a source-control system from yet another supplier, etc. Haven't you heard of "applications"? Even a lot of commercial software contains components from other companies; you just don't see them because it's opaque to you, just like you probably have no idea which company made the headlight assemblies for your car.

Comment Re:configure; MAKE; make install (Score 1) 217

Um, it's not quite as bad as you describe. Things like bolts are not custom to a single model; go look up the mfgr part numbers for various bolts in your car and compare to other cars by the same mfgr; you'll find they're likely all the same. It's not like they need different kinds of 10mm bolts or flare nuts, unless there's a special application that needs a high-strength version or something. Same thing with engine gaskets: those are certainly particular to an engine, but not a car. The same engine is frequently used on multiple models (though it might be retuned, which is usually a software change, though there could be different manifolds on it too). Stalks and buttons are frequently reused across models by the same mfgr. Go to a Volvo dealership and sit in all the different models; they probably all have the same stalks, or slightly different versions of them (for when they have different options, some might have a rear window wiper and others don't, for instance).

What you don't see much is the same component from different mfgrs, at least for stuff that drivers typically see. But even here there is some commonality, as they get a lot of components from suppliers who sell to multiple mfgrs. So for instance Takata is a big seat belt and airbag maker, so while the overall modules are probably specific to automakers and even models (because an airbag is usually integrated with some piece of interior plastic), the pieces inside may very well be common. A supplier selling A/C compressors could very well use the same model for different carmakers (though the carmakers would designate it with their own part numbers), though it might have a different pulley on it because Ford wants to use a serpentine belt with ribs and Chevy wants to use a V-belt.

Wiring harnesses likely are very custom, but even here there might be some commonality (not sure though): if you have two models that are pretty similar (a sedan and a CUV for instance), they might share the same wiring harnesses in the doors if the mounting points are the same. Maybe. One thing that really is the same though is the connectors: one automaker will reuse as many connectors as possible across the whole line. And those connectors are made by a supplier, so you'll probably see that same connector on different automakers' cars.

The basic truth is that manufacturers save money by reducing their number of unique parts as much as possible, and then buying them in higher quantities, so they try to standardize as much as is feasible to realize savings by economies of scale. But a car is a complex system of parts working together, so there's only so much of this you can do. You wouldn't use the same alternator on a stripped-down econobox as you would a top-of-the-line luxury sedan or SUV.

Comment Re:Maybe an Engineering Revolution? (Score 1) 217

Make PEs liable for crappy designs and bad implementations.

And why exactly would anyone want to assume this liability? It's not like companies are going to pay their employees big $$$ to be PEs and assume this kind of liability. No one else in the engineering world does this kind of thing, except civil engineering consultancy firms. In those, the PE is really a head honcho of some design/construction firm, not just some low-level employee, so he's staking his reputation on the bridge not collapsing, but he's also rewarded handsomely for it (it's partially his business).

Off-the-shelf software doesn't work this way, and never will. Software made by consultant firms could, but how often do people hire consultancy firms to build them custom software? When companies do do that, there certainly are contractual provisions about the product meeting certain requirements. Avionics software is probably a good example here, and that kind of software is not developed at all like normal software. No one would be willing to pay for their computer OS to be developed in that fashion.

Comment Re:Heard this before... (Score 1) 217

We're still arguing over process for creating reliable time estimates and development solutions, much less some grand unified software vendor plan.

It's not like physical products are that great with this stuff either. Just look at how over-budget and late the F-35 is.

Most commercial products seem to be a lot better, but then again most of them seem to be very evolutionary in design as well; each model is clearly just a tweak of an older model, with many things carried over and not too many changes all at once.

Comment Re:Yes (Score 1) 217

No more of this bullshit "we build it, but if it crashes, burns your operations etc... it's none of my problem" mantra.

What's wrong with that? No one's willing to actually pay for code that's developed to, for instance, avionics standards, nor are they willing to wait that long. Why should software developers accept any legal liability for it if they're not being compensated appropriately? If the code they buy sucks, maybe they should find a better vendor. You get what you pay for, and caveat emptor.

Comment Re:configure; MAKE; make install (Score 2) 217

What's more, you make it sound like complex products are assembled from off-the-shelf parts. That simply isn't true for most things. With aircraft even, there's only certain engines which will fit in a certain chassis. With cars, it's much worse; car chasses are designed specifically for certain engines (usually made by the same company). All the components in the engine bay have to be fitted around the engine itself; you can't just take some other engine and slap it in there without serious modifications and reliability concerns. All the other parts are usually made specifically for that car too, esp. anything in the interior. They don't just grab some dashboard off the shelf, they design it specifically for that model, to fit in aesthetically and functionally, the seats are designed for that model, etc. There'll be a degree of commonality across one manufacturer's line to save costs (they might use some of the same switchgear between two adjacent models, they might even use the same engine, like in my Mazda3 where the optional 2.5L engine is the exact same engine used in the higher-end Mazda6, and also in the CX-5 SUV (though probably with some tuning changes, so it's likely not exactly the same)), but you're not going to swap a power window switch assembly from a Ford to a Chevy without making a lot of modifications.

Comment Re:configure; MAKE; make install (Score 1) 217

How is that any different from current software? The people who make your OS are not the same people who make the database, the web server, the office software etc. In the open-source world, these are all entirely separate projects and teams, and even in the commercial world they're either separate companies (Oracle DB on Windows, for instance) or are separate teams (MS Office on Windows). The Microsoft stuff is really a special case anyway; for the most part, you usually get software from different organizations.

Comment I wonder... (Score -1, Troll) 40

... if this was due to the kind of employees who would work at a government lab in Utah. If you're a really smart bio grad, why would you want to go to work for the government, and especially in Utah of all places? Here again, it seems like the government is screwing up because they hire the leftovers that commercial industry doesn't want (plus wierdos who actually like Utah or the other crappy locations the government usually chooses to locate their facilities).

Comment Re:Regeneration (Score 1) 244

Those studies sound like BS. For one thing, there isn't that much arable land out there, esp. with the freshwater shortages going on. You're talking about an entire continent full of arable land (Africa is a really, really big continent, despite what your crappy Mercator projection maps would have you believe; it's much much bigger than Greenland in case you didn't know). Africa doesn't have that much arable land; 1/3 of it is a big desert (which is growing), and the rest isn't all that great for growing either, or else Africa would be the "1st world" now, not Europe. Most of the world's landmass is simply not very suitable for growing crops.

Finally, it sounds like these studies never accounted for all the other stuff populated/developed land is used for: commercial space, industrial space, etc. Filling half the US with Dallas-style subdivisions isn't going to be very helpful if people don't have places to work, shop, go to parks, etc.

Comment Re:Regeneration (Score 1) 244

The population of the developed world is not increasing, and in most developed countries it is decreasing.

Wrong. The population of the developed world IS increasing. It's all from immigration, but it's still increasing. The US population has increased every single year. Are you trying to claim that immigrants aren't people?
And the population is growing in the 3rd-world countries too; so much that the excess is moving to the developed nations. Overall, it's increasing everywhere.

Also, the US is by no means overpopulated. I just drove across the country, and most of it is empty.

Yeah, because a lot of it is used for agriculture. Where do you think the food's going to come from when you pave over all the fields and replace them with subdivisions full of McMansions? There's also a serious lack of water in the Western states. Population growth is constrained by freshwater supply. You can't build a bunch of subdivisions in southern Utah when there's zero water there. I guess you're one of those people who won't be happy until every natural place has been eliminated and all land is filled with development, right?

Comment Re:Abandon IT (Score 1) 263

That's funny because the new job I am about to start in a week for a DoD contractor just bought me a Mac Book Pro. I wonder how they are going to put Windows and malware on it.

Good luck connecting that thing to a DoD network.

I love the city I live in too, but I guess not everybody appreciates hills and trees with all kinds of outdoor adventures just a short drive away.

Many DoD facilities are not in or near cities.

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?