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Comment My 'data points' (Score 1) 481

Y2K remediation, sample size about 50 people. Corporate IT charged 2 hours for PCs, 1 hour (min charge time) for Macs. Most PCs took at least 2 hours, the worst case was the guy who was down for 3 days. Most Macs took less than 30 minutes if Corporate IT did the updates. But most Mac users did this themselves (in part saying, "I don't trust corporate to mess with my Mac.") Most of the required Mac patches were for Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat and other 3rd party products. The required change to Mac OS X was to set date display to 4 digits.

Where I used to work, the Macs were mostly self-supporting. When someone needed help, s/he would send a message to the internal Mac user group, and usually get a good/authoritative answer. The few times we needed to work with corporate IT involved hardware problems.

Laptop 'survivability,' sample size about 40 people. I was on a project with about 75% travel for several years. No one had a machine that lasted 3 years without a repair, most Windows machines were replaced within 2 years (ThinkPads lasted substantially longer than the Dells, HPs and Toshibas that most people had.) My first Mac lasted almost 3 years, it had a motherboard failure at 34 months. I dropped it off at the Newport Beach CA Apple Store late Thursday night, and got it back at the McLean VA Apple Store Tuesday AM. My second MacBook Pro lasted 5 years, but for the latter part of that period we were on less travel. I did have that machine knocked over and the screen cracked, but that's not an Apple problem. I handed that machine in when I left the company, it still worked and was usuable but a bit slow. One of the (removable) batteries had failed, the second was weak (and I had a 3rd replacement battery), but the hardware was otherwise fine.

As usual, Your Mileage May Vary.

Comment Re:It's how you define the 'utility function' (Score 1) 609

Well, (1) widely distributed decision-making has real problems with ensuring everyone has reasonably enough information to act rationally in a timely basis; (2) then an assumption that people act rationally in aggregate. The two very large scale distributed decision-making examples I can think of are (a) stock markets and (b) elections. It's going to be damn hard to argue the value of large scale distributed decision making from -those- two examples.

Comment It's how you define the 'utility function' (Score 4, Insightful) 609

Any optimization approach/algorithm is set up to maximize the value of its utility function. Consider two utility functions for getting from "A" to "B", 'fewest miles' or 'fastest'. A direct route that takes you down 10 miles of roads at a speed limit of 30 MPH, compared to 20 miles on an interstate at 65 MPH, will win under the first utility but not under the second.

The same thing holds true for public policy. Do you want "most lives saved?" Do you want "greatest economic output?" Do you want "Least tax burden?"

So independent of any other consideration, there is huge judgement and therefore huge variation when trying to conduct 'rational policy' by what you choose as your utility function.

Comment "safe and effective" (Score 1) 212

AV software should meet the standards for medical treatments, following the virus analogy. First, they should be clearly shown to be 'safe' - to not cause problems on the machine or introduce new vulnerabilities. Second, they should be shown to actually stop known viruses, be able to react to new infections, and in general do a better job than the OS vendor in rapidly adapting to threats.

Frankly, on Mac OS, I don't think any product meets these standards.

Comment Re:MAKE UP YOUR MINDS (Score 4, Informative) 145

"Agile" is -whatever you want it to be-, and that's part of my problem with it. There's no real normative definition that can be used to distinguish 'agile' from 'not-agile.' And whenever you push back at 'agile' asserting it is not meeting its promises, you get told "you're doing it wrong."

So at the end of the day, "agile" means not having to do anything you don't want to do (see 'technical debt')

Comment Re:repair part costs (Score 1) 364

So you believe that the one control is roughly 1/3 the cost of the entire product? If we take away marketing, retail mark-up, etc, that could put a $180 part to at least 50% of the cost of the drier (which has a motor and drive parts, the rotating drum with bearings, 3 other controls, the external housing, assembly, shipping, etc, etc, etc.)

For the truck, the parts are probably environmentally qualified, so that makes them more costly than the stuff from Fry's.

But the cost for safety design and certification -are already paid for- in the product. There's no justification for trying to recoup engineering costs for subsequent repair parts.

There is carrying cost for repair parts. If the item cost $5 to make, I don't expect to buy it for $5, due to inventory costs, transportation costs, etc.

So no, I don't accept that the cost of either of these two items is at all reasonable, even factoring in safety and environmental qualifications. (I've worked on safety-critical and embedded vehicle projects, as well as inventory control systems where we had to calculate carrying costs as part of the 'reorder point' calculation, so I claim some specific domain experience.)

With respect to Apple, they have set a specific market. If that's not your market, OK, go elsewhere.

Comment repair part costs (Score 2) 364

The mechanical timer broke on my (gas) drier. The part cost $180, for a drier that probably cost $500-$600.

The cost for the ABS (computer) module on my 2000 Nissan Frontier was $1.8k.

Will we legislate 'reasonable prices' for repair parts? And who determines 'reasonable'? (Same argument goes for other aspects of 'repairability'.)

Comment "To Engineer is Human", and "Design of Design" (Score 1) 178

"To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design" by Henry Petrosky
We learn much more from failure.

"The Design of Design, Essays from a Computer Scientist" by Frederick Brooks
This isn't as well known or quite as easy to read as "Mythical Man-Month."

Both of these books should take you outside of 'pure coding' into thinking about the systems the code is part of, and how those systems interact with humans and with other systems.

Comment Treasury 'Foreign Accounts' form (Score 5, Informative) 154

Last year (2014), I had to download Adobe Acrobat to submit a form to the US Treasury dept. The only way you could do this was Acrobat, it used PDF and Adobe proprietary form submission. (I couldn't use Apple to fill out the form.)

This year (2015), Treasury added the obvious alternative, a fully on-line Web form. I guess that's progress.

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