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Comment details, details (Score 5, Informative) 91

"SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded upon landing on a drone ship" is not quite accurate...

In December, SpaceX lanuched a Falcon9 rocket with a series of successes: successful launch of the whole rocket, successful landing (on land) of stage1, successfully reaching orbit on stage2, insertion of 11 satellites into sustainable orbits, etc etc. It was a good day for them.

A couple weeks ago, they launched another (slightly older design) Falcon9, *mostly* successfully: Launch was good, stage 1 separation and return to landing spot (this time on a modified barge) was successful, stage 2 was good, payload was good, etc etc. The failure was that immediately after landing on the barge, the stage 1 fell over because one of the landing legs failed to lock. So yeah, the stage 1 exploded... /after/ successfully landing on a tiny dot in the middle of the ocean. These guys are making huge strides forward in reusable spaceflight, so it's hardly fair to dismiss the whole thing as "exploded upon landing" because of a mechanical leg failure after the damn thing landed and powered off.

Comment Re:John Carter was awsome (Score 2) 207

That ain't than half of it. This was epically bad timing not because of its placement on a specific weekend, but because Disney tanked an opportunity for a 100-year anniversary of one of the seminal pieces of science fiction.

The original John Carter story, "A Princess of Mars" was published in 1912.
The "John Carter" movie was released in 2012.
The utter morons who marketed this thought "Ooo, old = bad. Give it a new name, and pretend it's some fantasy epic we thought up."

So instead of marketing something like this is the story from which virtually every modern scifi epic draws ( the princess, the alien sidekick, the man out of place, teleportation, gravity technology, planetary migration, resource wars, solar power, etc etc -- *all* drawn from Princess of Mars).... No, instead we have people seeing the movie with no context and panning it because it seemed derivative -- a full century later. What a sad waste of an opportunity to celebrate the whole history of scifi.

Comment Re:Why so long? (Score 1) 79

No, this report is silly. We used this kind of vector as standard structured attack fare at @stake and foundstone a decade+ ago. It was in our basic reports to explore alt input -- you know, feeding stop-A in barcode to a manufacturing robot, or feeding a break and shellcode to a POS station, one re-labelled product at a time on the belt.

Comment amateur hour at the crypto factory.... (Score 4, Insightful) 62

It's irrelevant to the core logic of the issue, but misspellings and grammar errors are a pretty good indicator of the quality of a piece of work.
A "mute" item would be "(1) refraining from making sound or (2) silent" -- one that does not make an actual audible sound.
A "moot" item is one that is "(1) of no importance or (2) merely hypothetical."
There are many other errors that seem to indicate this whole document was whipped up in a hurry by a pissed off individual without review, but the high-school-level error "mute point" sticks out like a sore thumb.

Seeing this kind of minor but highly-visible mistake in the headings and TOC of a formal document... does not lend credibility to the whole.

Comment ...admitting the flaccid keyboard was a dumb idea (Score 1, Troll) 152

Microsoft's highest achievement was stealing the late Steve Jobs' distortion field when they announced the Surface. It kinda went like this: "Holy shit, it's an iPad for Windows! And it has a kickstand we stole from Archos! Running a tiled window manager we lied about market-testing! And some people have to do real work on it, so we made up this floppy disaster of a keyboard, because hinges are so yesterday!"

Yeah, we see how that went. Sad missionaries from Redmond trying to balance a flipped-back keyboard on their knees, or seeking a flat table when they have to type... Truly, the specs of the tablet were good, but a limp, flaccid keyboard was just unfathomably stupid on a device intended to run Office. Sure, the thousands they distributed to employees at the time were greeted with interest, but after a few days with the floppy felt touch keyboard, more than half just got boxed back up and stuck on a shelf while something with a HINGE got used everyday.

And now they tacitly admit the floppyboard sucked, by claiming they invented/reinvented/discovered the hinge. Brother, please. How about just saying "yeah that was a screwup, but we've come up with something nice"?

Comment how about voting machines first? (Score 1) 177

Open access to the source code of consumer routers is an excellent idea. However, one of the bigger problems is that often elections take statistically bizarre turns, sometimes affecting access to other data... Why not start with mandated open access to source code of voting machines. It doesn't have to be open source per se, but at least inspectable so that outright fraud can be addressed....

Comment on to destroy the executive branch just like HP (Score 5, Insightful) 488

disclaimer: I have a household member who's worked as an engineer at HP under Carly.

The unending wellspring of universal hatred for Carly as a leader from those who worked under her (especially at HP) is impressive, and remains constant even from people whose politics are somewhat to the right of Genghis Khan. She did what she was told, she laid waste to that not-so-micro economy, and she shows no regrets whatsoever -- for either the human or financial disaster in her wake. There's no surprise, then, to find she was unquestioningly supportive of what she perceives to be rungs above her on the ladder of power. Godwin's Law is entirely appropriate for examples of where this leads; don't mistake "comfortable sociopath" for "hawkish."

Carly is precisely the sort of person who should never be allowed to have power over others, or even a sharp knife at dinner: Total obedience and no discernible ethics at all.

Comment "Digital and Cyber" (Score 2) 35

We can tell if you're working for an aging government agency if you still use the word "cyber" to describe anything since the 1980's.

The funny part is "Cyber" is Hill-speak for "newfangled stuff" and the linguistic contortions are hideous: "His section is going to focus on cyber (and get the modems working right)" or "We're going to call in specialists who understand cyber (so that the VCR won't blink 12:00)." Cyber fits right into totally, grody, bitchin', illin', schweet, and wigging out. Living through the 80's was horrible the first time, and these guys just won't let go.

The sad part is that it actually has a negative impact on recruiting for intel roles, on top of the fact that a .gov/.mil role pays half what you can make in the private sector with similar skills. Flash up the word "cyber" and the recruits that visualize Johnny Mnemonic and stand up quick... those are the ones you want to filter out. Eventually the professionals stand up, see that the pay is shit, and sit back down. So the system actually is biased toward low-skill chaff, or the equivalent of guys who will do anything to be a cop because they really really really want a gun and authority; precisely the kind that you want to keep out of intel positions. It kinda drowns out the good guys, the smart ethical ones who actually want to do the public good.

Not good.

Comment Re:Apple doesn't get it (Score 1) 279

...And KBB consumer reviews of the Aztek are 8.2/10 over those product years, which just go to show that opinions are all over the map. It's a slow morning, so...

Just the numbers: 119,700 Azteks sold
estimated they needed to sell 30,000 per year to break even (150,000)
sold 23,940 per year on average = about 6060 cars short of hitting that mark (30,300 total)
avg mfr invoice minus holdback for those 5 years = about $17.5k
530m shortfall over 5 production years = 106m/year loss

GMA (just the cars, not the rest of GM) had a 2001-2004 net income/profit of about $1 billion/year over net revenue of $150 billion/year before badder things happened in the larger economy. the Pontiac Aztek accounted for a 0.07% dent in revenue, and 10% reduction in total profit. Ow.
BUT, consider that the same assembly line made the Buick Rendezvous (the blander version of the Aztek) which substantially exceeded targets of 30k/year at about 57.9k/year. The two products off the same assembly line, same tooling, same costs totalled up, were a net positive (about 82k/year over a combined break-even point of 60k/year) -- meaning GM had a net profit from that production and assembly line, exceeding break-even production by 35%+. They didn't actually lose money.

One might argue that's a way of shuffling losses, but if you dig into GM's reports and strategy, they say (GM AR 2003, p 6):
>> GM brought brand differentiation to the world back in the
>> 1920s, when Alfred Sloan created the price ladder of GM
>> marques that offered “a car for every purse and purpose.”
>> ....
>> Those lessons are now being applied in North America to
>> our volume leader, Chevrolet, to our performance-oriented
>> brand, Pontiac, and to Buick, which is restoring its reputation
>> for refined, dignified elegance.

GM's Pontiac brand was *supposed* to be the edgy just-break-even part of the business (e.g. the subsequent GTO), the product and assembly lines were specifically structured that way, and GM's balance sheet was combined in a way to handle that. The whole notion of the Aztek/Rendezvous::loss/proft rests on the dumb assumption they were going to sell the edgy-version vs mass-market version of the same car at a 50/50 ratio. Want to see what killed Pontiac? Look at page 19 of that 2003 Annual Report, which shows in page-filling bold type the demise of Pontiac and Saturn were just speed bumps in GM's idle mismanagement:

>> Here’s what’s new
>> about GM’s strategy this year:
>> Nothing.
>> Our 2003 plan is the same as 2002.
>> We’re getting better, year by year.

Wow. Bankruptcy was about a year away.

Net net is that Edmonds can print hyperbole about a car they hate, and weirdos like me can spend a Sunday morning rattling on about what we like, but the long and short of it is that the Aztek was wasn't really significant in GM's 9-million-vehicles-per-year business, any more than the Newton MessagePad killed Apple. IMHO what is significant is the design influence, the things we talk about years later, and the encouragement to go do ballsy things despite the risk of failure.

Coffee, I need coffee.

Comment Re:Apple doesn't get it (Score 3, Informative) 279

Fair call on much of this, but citing the Pontiac Aztek as "incompetent" would be inaccurate; it was a niche product that had an insanely high customer satisfaction rate among those that bought it. ("The Aztek had among the highest CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) scores in its class" and JD Power 2001 cites: "The Aztek scores highest or second highest in every APEAL component measure except exterior styling)."

Most people didn't like it, but the mark of incompetence would have been producing the Aztek as the main-line product. (Oh wait, they did: the Buick Rendezvous; just as ugly but without balls.) Producing weird shit that the corners of the market eat up -- Pontiak's Aztek, Nokia N900, Apple Newton, Saturn EV1, the first decades of online "remote" shopping and of television, and other things we love(d) to hate but keep talking about or ended up using -- they generally fall in two categories: they move the entire market/industry forward significantly despite losses, or their makers lanugh all the way to the bank. (Cadillac's styling for their entire current lineup owes more to the Aztek than any other ancestor. It just took GM a while to figure out who wanted Klingon cars.)

To the point: It may take a decade for a ballsy move like the Aztek to translate into a shitpile of cash, but it's better than standing still. Microsoft's failing is that they keep making a large number of unremarkable things, while competitors like Apple and Google make fewer things that are much more memorable, much better milestones. Do you remember what search was like before Google Search? Tablets before the iPad? Can you recall many jumps forward in Windows, Office, or Azure that feel the same? Google ships Chromebooks to schools and makes "lost homework" and quaint archaic idea, and Microsoft shuffles buttons in the ribbon, has us scrolling sideways in Metro, and ships a tablet with a flaccid keyboard. Utterly forgettable if not a step backwards. Repackaged Windows that brings back Win7 UI features? A kickstand idea they got from Archos? Active tiles from IOS? Win10 and Surface: New, yes; revolutionary or memorable beyond the next product announcement, no.

Comment sucks to be Scott Charney, I guess... (Score 4, Interesting) 112

After all that bluster about security and privacy, ten years of "Trustworthy Computing" and Scott Charney poised to head to some White House role as the voice of Microsoft, it's all fallen apart. Scott's sidelined, TwC effectively disbanded and it's security and privacy groups laid off or rolled into the Windows group, and all the new hot noise and hubub is about sending Brad to grow the army of sheltered Satya-style bro-grammers to churn out even more shit code. So much for the idea of BETTER products; We'll just brace for MORE of the same minimally-tested, designed-by-assumption, cloud-based/bing-telemetry-sucking, insecure dreck. Woohoo.

The H1B debate is irrelevant; when the direction and mission of the enterprise is so fundamentally disorganized, orthagonal to real-world business use cases, and requires dismantling national labor legal structures, the "need" for more tech workers to get there is a nonsequitur. Microsoft is looking at Google in 2015, with the same curious lack of understanding as IBM looked at Microsoft in the 1990's -- not understanding the landscape itself had changed, and vigourosly agitating for more mainframe system programmers. More H1Bs would make the same difference to Microsoft now as IBM then.

Comment not the test case we would want (Score 1) 195

I *would* agree with Microsoft on this one, except that it's a lousy test case, and likely to set a bad precedent.

What would be good to test in the courts -- and have protected by case law -- would be something like: Can a US court demand access to data generated by Notamericastan clients using a US-based software service that stores their logic in datacenters in Notamericastan. In this case, *some* of the data makes a roundtrip through US circuits, but generally the US company is providing logic for non-US clients in a non-US location with non-US data storage; is that enough for a US court to reach out and retrieve data that appears to be thoroughly out of its jurisdiction based on the contractual agreement of the client to use a US-based service? Would be nice to know.

But that's not what's at stake here. What appears to have happened is that some clever people in Redmond (US-based workers), working with some data submitted by non-US people, ended up working with intermixed US- and non-US-sourced data, and then the US-based workers decided to park the data on non-US servers in order to claim that it was out of US jurisdiction. IANAL, but that seems a lot like a guy speeding across a state line, and being surprised when the state trooper doesn't stop pursuit. This is not exactly good material for Brad to make a blustery moral stand. How does Msft think this turns out?

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