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Comment Re:Goes Back To Kennedy (Score 1) 32

I once worked at Rockwell-Collins, which had been a supplier for the Space Shuttle programme. When I arrived, they were very stringent about how we handled our time reporting and billing. Why? Because apparently before I got there they had just gotten heavy slapped down for exploiting cost-plus Shuttle contracts. Whenever any project went over budget, they just had employees credit their time to the Shuttle programme.

Comment Re:It is in the nature of the business! (Score 1) 32

And before you go and say Blue Origin and SpaceX are doing it so much cheaper, yes, but that is because they are standing on a mountain of research & technology courtesy NASA.

Something both of them readily admit. SpaceX in particular has continually expressed their gratitude for all of the support they've gotten from NASA over the years. And they have an interesting cooperative model in place now for Red Dragon - no money exchanged, but they get access to NASA facilities and time working with NASA researchers, and in turn NASA gets all of the data they acquire from their missions.

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 2) 32

I'm anyone but someone to defend SLS, but this report seems rather flimsy. It seems that they're calling anything that NASA does in-house "overhead". That's not really a fair measure. A rocket is not just its physical construction; there's a huge amount of cost in research, design, testing, and support infrastructure - in the case of SLS, particularly the Exploration Ground Systems (EGS). Part of the problem however is that every time NASA builds something new, they're rarely allowed to shut it down. Including major projects with contractors. Congress keeps mandating this inefficiency, when what NASA really needs is the freedom to put large amounts of infrastructure to the axe when it can't contribute toward competitive costs, and reallocate the funds as is needed. So long as they face mandates to keep everything open (both internal, and with specific production lines run by particular suppliers), they shouldn't be criticized for their high costs - congress should.

I really think NASA would fare better if it went back more to the NACA model - a research and support organization for other players, maintaining the common infrastructure and R&D used by others - with the addition of a scientific exploration program. NASA shouldn't be making anything that a private business case can be built for (for example, rockets reaching LEO / GEO), but they should be running the DSN, range support, creating a market for private industry to continually expand/improve its capabilities, nurturing startups to increase competition, and extensively working to bring more advanced technologies (that the market couldn't afford to sink money into due to the risk) from theory into real world - not trying to make "workhorses", but proof-of-concept systems that others will run with if merit and maturity can be demonstrated.

In short:
If there's a business model for it: private industry
If it's too risky or long-term for business: NASA proof-of-concept
If its a common need for multiple businesses in the field: NASA permanent infrastructure

Comment Re:Second rule of business (Score 1) 89

Your business has absolutely nothing to do with what you want to sell... it has absolutely everything to do with what your customers want to buy.

"But we can shift that paradigm! This time, we'll plan better, we just need to educate our consumers."

Well, at least they taught their consumers a valuable lesson: Sony, famously guilty for shitting on the rights of virtually everyone through their crappy DRM-enabled hardware, still sold way more consoles than Microsoft.

Microsoft just has never excelled at building what customers want.

Nokia and everyone else had phones with Java, so Microsoft shipped WinCE phones - that didn't sell.
Apple came out with their DRM-encumbered iPod, so Microsoft followed it up with the DRM encumbered Zune - that didn't sell.
Apple came out with the iPhone with the walled app garden; so Microsoft shipped Windows Phones with a walled garden - that didn't sell.
Steam and Sony and Nintendo came out with DRM encumbered games; so Microsoft shipped the XBox One - that sold quite a few, but sucked.

Their two biggest problems are that they want to use services as license enforcement gateways, and that their stiffest competition to their Software V3.0 is their own Software V2.0. Nothing new in Office has been worth buying upgrades since about 2007, yet they have managed to convince some people to upgrade to Office 2010, 2013, and now Office365.

And people are getting more and more fed up with the constant greed. LibreOffice has caught up to about Office 2007 in terms of maturity, which is good enough for a lot of people and companies. Linux has caught fire in the corporate world, overthrowing WIndows Servers by the millions. Cloud computing is moving companies to outsource their hardware data centers. Azure is competent in this arena, but cloud computing is already close to a commodity - there's not a lot of value Microsoft can add over the other big players.

It's weird, but at the core it's an existential crisis for one of the world's largest companies. They are desperately trying to figure out something to sell that will still be in demand 10 years from now.

Comment Re:Self-contradictory (Score 2) 99

I suspect by physical interface they mean something you interact with physically, rather than directly - ie you push buttons with your fingers on a keyboard, you receive images via a monitor that converts them into photons, etc. It's awkward language, but I'm not sure there's a "correct" way beyond calling the brain link something awful like "really, really, direct."

Comment Re:Typical of America. It always belittles... (Score 1) 154

Needless to say, he returned to our company as a consultant on some project that had incurred budgetary overruns and incompetency.

All at the hands of our so-called American trained "engineers."

I can't speak to the specifics of this situation but I have seen others where the desires of in-house personnel were ignored but when the same initiatives are suggested by a consultant, they're followed with gusto.

Don't blame the engineers, blame the management.

LK

Comment Re:You don't want this to succed (Score 1) 334

Leaving aside the fact it's rarely the case you can just sign away liability..

The GPL only applies if you decide to accept its conditions. Just installing Ubuntu doesn't mean you've agreed to the GPL and, as such, Canonical has anything to point at if your Nuclear Reactor has a meltdown because a bug in Unity swapped the "Drop fuel rods/Raise fuel rods" buttons by accident.

Sure, you might give up your right to sue if you subsequently redistribute Ubuntu to others. But even then... like I said, it's rare you can just sign away liability.

Comment Re:Wow (Score 1) 334

Scrollwheels used to work fine. Then some idiots at Canonical and GNOME decided to redesign the scrollbar, on the grounds we don't need it any more because we have scrollwheels, despite the fact that, actually, no, quite often we don't, and in the course of effing up the scrollbar they managed to eff up the mousewheel at the same time.

I still don't know why they didn't just revert to how things were. They fixed a problem that doesn't exist, and appear to be too stubborn to admit they made a mistake.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 144

2014 called -

Forget Makerbot - did you warn them about the Paris attacks? The Ankara bombings? The Metrojet bombing? Did you tell them to have Robin Williams visit a psychiatrist? Did you tell them to have Carrie Fisher visit a cardiologist? Did you have them warn Ukraine not to underestimate Russia in Donbass? Did you tell Germanwings to up their game on psych evals? Did you tell them to teach Podesta basic email security? Did you tell about Brexit? Did you warn them about Trump? Did you have anyone tell Clinton that she'll be best known for email servers and a conspiracy theory about a pizza parlor's occult child pornography dungeon? Did you warn Bowling Green about the horrific terror attack, and the cruel irony that people will forget about it?

Comment Re: Nope (Score 3, Interesting) 144

Is it really that expensive? I know some people who had run a small startup automaker that raised 30-something million. They were about 3 months out from first commercial deliveries (having made a couple dozen prototypes to various degrees, ranging from empty shells to full builds), with about $10m still left in the bank - when the board decided to bring on a guy from Detroit (Paul Wilbur, the guy responsible for the Chevy SSR, and a bunch of other train-wrecks-in-car-form), who then proceeded to run the company into the ground.

Are aircraft that much more expensive than cars, that you can't even build a demonstrator for that kind of money? To be fair, the automaker's vehicle was technically classified as a motorcycle, so their regulations weren't as onerous as for most cars (but they still did full crash and crush tests anyway, voluntarily). But, I mean, they just churned out prototypes one after the next.

Comment Re:Uhm... (Score 1) 526

Documents 6 bankruptcies, and 13 businesses that closed up shop - at the very least suggests he doesn't know what he's doing.

Business has something in common with war and engineering:
  1 You try a bunch of stuff that looks like it might work.
  2 Some of it works, some of it doesn't.
  3a. You stop doing (and wasting resources on) what doesn't work
  3b, and continue doing more of what does (transferring any remaining resources from the abandoned paths.)
  4. PROFIT!

In business, step 3a is called "a large business environment, major projects are done in separate subsidiary corporations. This uses the "corporate veil" as a firewall, to keep the failed attempts from reaching back and sucking up more resources from what's succeeding. Dropping a failed experiment in step 3a (when it's failed so badly that there's nothing left to salvage in a different attempt's 3b) is called "bankruptcy". It lets you stop throwing good money after bad and move on.

So bankruptcy is NOT necessarily a sign of weakness, stupidity, or lack of business acumen. On the contrary: It shows the decision-maker was smart enough to spend a bit extra to erect the firewall between the bulk of his holdings and the iffy project.

So a successful large-business-empire-operator who is also innovative will usually have a number of bankruptcies in his history. It's no big deal, anyone in business at or near that level knows it, and took it into account if they risked some of their resources in someone else's experiment that failed in the hope of profit if it succeeded.

Also: Someone starting out may have to few resources to run many experiments simultaneously. (Or even a big guy may be reduced to a little guy by too many failures - not necessarily his fault.) So he has to try serially, doing only one or a few at a time. This may mean total bankruptcy, even multiple times, before coming up with something that does work. Lots of successful businessmen went through total bankruptcy, sometimes several times, before hitting it big.

Comment Re:Law mandated technology (Score 1) 267

So, what in AmiMojo's post mentions the Federal Government?

FWIW, yes, since the mid-nineteenth century, after the creation of railroads and the adoption of a national currency, the Federal government has had power over virtually all commerce due to the fact it's allowed to regulate interstate commerce, and the things I just mentioned makes all commerce effectly interstate. I know it's not a popular thing to say, but things change. This changed 150-200 years ago and yet there's always someone who thinks that the government doesn't have the right to regulate something the constitution now gives it the power to do.

Want to change that? Either amend the constitution, or put up real barriers between the states.

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