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Comment Re:They did it to themselves (Score 1) 238

That's more than likely part of the high cost of OEM repairs -- they already outsource that stuff to third parties, so there are additional transaction costs of job routing and the material and overhead costs of parts depots spread all over. Plus most of the labor providers are big companies with big overheads which jacks up costs.

It would probably be good for everybody if OEMs would build out a network that used existing screwdriver shops as official repair locations. They do a lot of the work now, but are kind of cut out of the parts supply. There's one near my house I've used to help source parts for my own repairs and they say that OEM parts are tough to get because the OEMs don't supply repair parts like they used to. They often rely on EBay and stripping broken systems for parts these days.

Comment Re:Yes, Netflix will (Score 1) 94

I think an advantage for Netflix is their ability to produce niche content.

Studios have to aim for a broader appeal for any given film since they can produce and distribute fewer titles which usually have a higher budget and thus greater risk, and to hedge against risk they have gotten in the habit of re-doing what was popular before with the idea that it will be popular again. So they make a picture that's only of average quality to an average audience.

By aiming at niche audiences, Netflix makes content that may have a smaller audience but provides better than average satisfaction to the audience. I think I've heard more people talk about Stranger Things than any of the Oscar nominated films or most of movies released this year period.

I'd also wager that a 10 episode Netflix serial, even at near-movie quality production values, has some economies of scale and has a cost per running hour that is less than a Hollywood film, providing more content at aggregate cost. The difference between a 10 hour series and a 2 hour movie is often more expository scenes that make more efficient use of the cast and crew since you're getting more mileage out of costumes, settings and locations.

Comment Re:Were they ever in it? (Score 1) 123

That was my thought.

Ford has $60 billion in fixed assets on their balance sheet, Apple less than half that. I didn't see Apple ever ramping up the building of assembly plants nor doing the work to line up thousands of supplier relationships necessary to actually build an entire car.

I don't follow the auto industry, but my sense has always been that while they have a deep parts supply chain there really aren't contract manufacturers who build whole cars based on third party designs the way smartphones or computers are made.

Comment Re:They did it to themselves (Score 3, Insightful) 238

If you were running a shop fixing these things, you would have some process surrounding the job which took into account paperwork, getting the parts and laptop to the bench, opening the parts (which would no doubt be packaged up the wazoo), installing them, finishing paperwork, putting the laptop back and dealing with the old parts (electronics waste process) and putting the laptop back on the pickup shelf.

You'd be crazy if you didn't bill this as a one hour job and covering your labor costs would make it a $200 repair pretty easily. And if you were a smart business person, you'd probably also survey the market and price according to market options -- ie, buying a new laptop for $900 -- and extract another $100 in pricing.

Bam. $300 repair job. Sure, Lenovo's pricing is way out of line but they are in the business of selling new laptops, so they are going to structure pricing to motivate you to buy a new laptop.

But in the bigger picture, people fixing things as a business have other costs to consider that have to met by their labor charges. There's no such thing as pricing a labor job based solely on the time to do the primary repair. The *process* takes longer and that process is necessary to run the business and that cost has to be covered. Your personal repair speed isn't the basis of a business process.

Comment Re:"Police found Purinton 80 miles away at Applebe (Score 1) 1028

The one thing I know is you can not have a rational discussion with them about gun control.

And this is where the discussion quickly disintegrates, because any discussion with someone who believes in the right to bear arms is quickly labeled "irrational" when the person who believes in less gun control doesn't immediately agree with the person who believes in more gun control.

It is still a rational discussion even if your counter-party does not abandon their position and cede to your argument.

Nearly all the people I've known who have been gun rights advocates, even those who have been senior members of lobby organizations, have been in favor of gun control measures, usually enforcement of existing gun control laws like prohibitions on convicted felons from possessing them (as one example). In fact, a major theme is that the government itself does not prosecute many gun control measures already on the books.

I doubt more than a small percentage of the people charged with gun crimes in Chicago who are eligible for Federal charges were referred to Federal prosecutors and further, that Federal prosecutors declined to prosecute a number of cases that were referred to them. If you can charge a violent felon with a gun crime, why wouldn't you?

Because gun control advocates label any discussion which doesn't start out with "How much more gun control should we have?" as *irrational*, it's led to the belief that gun control advocates really are gun ownership ban advocates -- there isn't a threshold for them where there is "enough" gun control, they favor outright gun ownership bans and often won't say it directly.

Comment How does it work legally for boats? (Score 1) 245

Many larger recreational vessels (say, 30' and over) have been available with combination systems (radar, depth sounders, chartplotters, autopilots) which integrate to make the boat self-piloting.

Surely at some point there have been problems where these systems didn't work as intended and there were accidents that resulted.

For most boats, though, at best the control system (electronics and autopilot) might come from one vendor, the hull from another, and the primary propulsion from a third.

But I wonder if they have held the electronics/autopilot liable for the malfunction or if they have shifted it onto the mariner in all cases.

Comment Re:Doing more with less.. (Score 1) 133

That's kind of bullshit, really, because the enable-exchangecertificate -services flag specifies specific services in an umbrella manner (eg, IIS, SMTP, etc) and neither it nor its official documentation explains that assigning a certificate to these services *won't* actually use this certificate.

Ie, the -services iis flag will get your assigned cert for OWA/ActiveSync/OA with IIS, but the Backend site will hang onto the self-signed cert at installation, as will hub transport SMTP. And it's poorly documented at best and NOT mentioned in the enable-exchangecertificate documentation in addition to running counter to past version behavior.

But the larger problem is that Exchange on premise is rapidly become a spaghetti mess of code written mostly for O365 hosting and cut-down and neutered for sites not quite ready to pay 3 to 5 times as much for hosted Exchange. The documentation blows, which is magnified as more and more configuration melts into a maze of Powershell commands.

I predict that by Exchange 2019 or whatever the next version is that MS will have reduced the documentation and ease of management so much that only sites large enough to support dedicated exchange teams (and access to high-level support) will even be able to run it on premise.

Comment Re:Always wait for the S version (Score 1) 114

IIRC, the AT&T Next program or whatever they called it made my last iPhone (6 Plus, so it's been a while) basically an 18 month interest free loan.

If you're upgrading on two year cycles, then that's at least 6 months with no payments. 3 years would make it 18 on and 18 off with payments.

In some cases, even "perpetual" payments may not be as bad as they seem. Until the 6 Plus, I upgraded every year but my wife got my year old handset and her handset got pushed down to be our "home" phone. So each phone technically had a 3 year (probably slightly longer) use cycle, at which point it was close to software obsolete or nearly unusable with the most recent software update.

My 6 Plus is the first iPhone I've had where there wasn't a noticeable degradation in performance when switching to the "new" OS released with a new phone model. Between that and the lack of compelling new technology, I've been content at this point to hold on to my 6 Plus. It really is all I need.

Comment Re:People are a problem (Score 1) 123

You're right that the tyranny of the majority could be a big problem, but these days initiative and referendum seems like it has some real benefits. As a safety override for legislatures which are increasingly incapable of only passing legislation beneficial to the moneyed class or so divided by partisanship they are unable to fix issues which the partisans have stakes in but which the electorate sees as non-partisan.

I'd put legalizing recreation marijuana in the category of cases where referendums served the public good. It stays illegal because the existing stakeholders in the security state and big pharma see it as antithetical to their individual interests, and most politicians are too pusillanimous to take a reasonable position on the issue.

Comment Re:Interesting to mull over effect of shapes. (Score 1) 106

You can't really compete with the concept of WWZ zombies -- they're just too fast and aggressive, but I think nearly every other invocation of them would fall away from an elliptical wall.

The other low-tech zombie fighting tool I've always wanted to see employed is a good old demining flail. These look like tanks with a combine attached on front, only the combine part is steel weights the size of melons attached to chains. They rotate and pound the ground to set off any mines.

If you raised the flail assembly so it just spun in the air, you could literally drive into zombie hoards at low speed and just pulp them.

My guess is that a similar apparatus on a smaller scale could probably be adapted to nearly any vehicle, probably even improvised from hydraulic sweeper attachments for Bobcats.

Comment Re:You all laugh now (Score 2) 106

I always wondered why a slope with an incline that gradually increased to vertical wasn't ever employed in zombie fiction forts. They would shamble forward until their center of mass shifted and then fall back.

With the right slope contour, you could make it so they fell back pretty far.

Another option would be a kind of blind curve, where they shamble in and then just shamble away on the other side.

Comment Re:Doing more with less.. (Score 1) 133

Why aren't these tools built in, though?

IMHO, PKI on Windows is problematic less because PKI is complex but more because the in-built tools suck or are non-existent.

Most IT admins are oversubscribed enough that writing that Powershell script or putting together the third party tools for certificate expiration won't happen, especially when you consider for most organizations the number of certificates that matter is relatively small.

I will grant an exception for Homeland Security, though, as any organization using PKI to that extent ought to have an entire team responsible for managing it, which means they would have the time/tools/experience to deal with it.

Comment Re:Doing more with less.. (Score 1) 133

I think you're basically right, PKI implementations are horribly complex in practice and doubly (or more!) so with Windows.

It seems to get worse as certificate-based security gets added into products as defaults installations. As an example, Exchange 2016 installs a self-signed certificate by default which gets assigned to SMTP and IIS. The normal (spanning back several releases) process of adding and assigning a public certificate to services doesn't change the self-signed certificate assignment and use for the IIS Exchange Back-End site or for transport connectors.

I ran into these are problems recently with a customer who deleted the self-signed certificate after installing and assigning his public certificate. Bam, dead Exchange GUI -- had to re-bind the back-end Exchange site in IIS with the public certificate.

Another customer had "verify certificates" enabled on their spam service and when they switched SMTP delivery to the new server, the self-signed cert was still being used by the front-end receive connector. It took some kludgy, un-documented Powershell to force the connector to use the public certificate -- ie, the attribute has to be built as a compound variable using sub-attributes of the public certificate combined with some text, and then that variable assigned as the TlsCertificateName on the connector.

So even if you're trying to use certificates, application behavior and certificate selection is pretty opaque in many cases and can actually ignore specific certificate assignment options.

I won't even get into the management trainwreck that is Windows certificate server, with its 2003-era dialog boxes and management tools. In my mind at least, all of this could be modernized and made much simpler to manage, but the toolchain remains completely user-hostile.

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