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Horrid Forums of Technology

by siegestate Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 09:50:03 AM EST

Previously, one of the reasons to chose the products of a large manufacturer was their documentation and support, even if a smaller company might have had a step up on them with innovation. Now, in this "Era of Good Enough", when competition and prices are so fierce and people figure they can fix it themselves or throw it away, few companies can afford the extra support personnel to do such things,

The current 'value add' to a product is "Support By Forum". This has some advantages, especially when the company is new. The hits on the board are within the capacity of the Tech Support Staff to handle, and it takes far less time to handle things online than with a phone call (the immediacy of the disruption, politeness time, let me check time, harried disruption of other's time). It also leaves a trail for others to follow, which in early days would have nicely-honed solutions to well described problems.

So far, so good. <cue audible effects; low freq notes from Jaws, stabbing scene from Psycho, mix into a Phillip Glass hip-hop melange>


Fortunately, equipment and software changes, but unfortunately it leaves those previously described solutions no longer exactly as valid as they first appear. In haste, the hard to find and train support staff will still point to earlier threads as a way to handle the more numerous problems, amplified by more customers going online for solutions.

Even this has devolved to the point where groups have no support staff at all. Perhaps this is in emulation of groups who are developing open source software, who are volunteer engineers developing and fixing bugs and who toss a few support ideas out when people describe problems that pique their interest. Eventually a user who has figured out the system will pick up the ball and answer questions in the forum, since the developers are off to their real jobs, or fixing bugs or pushing the technology forward.

This turns into other users supporting each other, which leads to inside information and half told truths or guesses being amplified to gospel, which of course sticks harder as time passes instead of being deleted or edited when something changes.

The new user is termed a 'newbie' or 'noob' and sneered at for not looking things up, followed by trolling though a dozen threads with contradictory data, old data, wrong data, and simply specious non-sense, peppered with newbies begging to please have an explanation of some nuance that the old-hand passes over by saying "Then simply grab that and put it into the proper folder." Which that? and what folder?

Lately, forum software has developed a way for people to mark the "best answer". A second solution is a wiki which hopefully brings the best answers into a logical format. This at least helps focus the the effort of dragging through swill. But a wiki can go stale as well, and not all best answers get marked...especially since many questions still go unanswered.

Another heartbreak is being told to read a few things, which turn out to be master treatises on the subject. Cricky~! This happened to me twice this week for software tools that I paid money for, specifically so I wouldn't have to become an expert.

This becomes part and parcel with the problems of copyright v the instinct that everything should be free (because, naturally, we are being ripped off), and the disregard that we have for our time.

I spell all this out because I was finally able to get through the aficionado's knee-jerk reactions on a couple forum/boards this week, until a couple of respected writers (in both cases) went off the defensive and wrote that maybe something should be done. The first was toward a lingering unmet promise of the software. The second was toward actually handling requests by new people. To these latter people I wrote the following manifesto:

  • The internet is not a manual.

  • The forum is an understandable choice for the developer. Everyone wants the developer to keep cranking out, a) new cool things and, b) bug fixes to make the last cool thing work right. But just like paying their bills or managing the company, some time should be spent on documentation by the developer, whether it is checking to see if the wiki is right or refining a manual of basics.

  • If a manufacturer or developer decides to let a forum replace a real manual, to be their point of entry into their product, then no question is off limits or too simple.

  • Pointing to a thread that answers the question is excellent, and closing off a thread when the question is correctly answered is a good first step. But it is not perfect because there is evolution in the framework and evolution in the specific product (and other associated 3rd party products), and people who have not watched the evolution don't know what is no longer true or how to get to the next step.

  • Since no one likes to be wrong, and since there are so many who will make others wrong, people usually don't post a question until they have gotten frustrated with their inability to find an answer. If there is one person with a question, there are likely to be dozens more who don't ask. If there are a few asking, then there is a sever malfunction in getting an answer across.

  • There are too many definitions of the word 'it' and 'that' and 'they'. Whenever one of those words are used, the author should be very certain that there can be no confusion of what 'it' is referring to.

  • If the authors intention is to communicate a helpful answer, then it is the author's responsibility to figure out how to communicate a correct and complete answer to the person being addressed.

  • The internet has the advantage of being able to move with technology, but when the technology moves and it leaves a 1000 bad answers remaining in its trail.

  • I participate on other technology forums which also have this same problem. Even a wiki of the best answers cannot keep up with a technology if the developer doesn't want to make the time to keep it right and up to date. And I can attest, as someone who has written or re-written wiki pages, that if you are off doing something else for 6 months, you are almost a newbie coming back in. Have mercy.

  • The 3rd tier of people, those coming in after the wave of you aficionados, are still early adopters. Understand and take care of them, or else the 4th wave will swamp you. This will limit growth, and everyone suffers.

  • Finally, this is an era which is defined by 'not valuing our time.' We have become our own secretaries and flight reservation agents. These things used to take 5 minutes, and now take 6 times more (allowing for the time to be polite to someone who was providing a service)...yet we think we are so clever because we got such a good deal. The reality is: Googling for answers, looking for pearls among a hundred posts, is a waste of time. We are all swamped in this mud of no respect for our time. We jointly have to figure out how make the best of it. Treat people with respect and give them the answer that would have helped you 6 months ago.

Good luck to us all.
</rant>

Display:
Who would have thought that my first diary would be a rant?

Oh well. I wrote the last part and thought that others in the same circumstance might like to use it when they are trying to communicate with someone online.

Then, as is my wont, I overwrote the introduction, creating the history of online support.  Maybe someone will see this while walking through their hologram research system sometime in the future and have a laugh at our growing pains.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 09:55:09 AM EST
You touch or approach a topic dear to my heart: Cargo Cult Manufacturing. As you know, cargo cults are symptoms of cultural mismatches, where one group misunderstands another and goes through the motions of an endeavor, hoping to get useful results. In manufacturing, it's the business of making something that LOOKS right, but doesn't work right.

For example, my wife recently bought a new toaster, made in China as they all are nowadays. The damn thing burns one edge of the bread and leaves the other one cold: It looks like a toaster, but isn't.

My theory is that the Chinese don't eat toast, so they have no idea how a toaster is supposed to work, so they just make these metal boxes that look like toasters. It's Cargo Cult Manufacturing.

by asdf on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:26:21 AM EST
Old-fashioned toasters like this

are not uncommon in Spain. They have only one resistance in the centre, so you have to turn the toast around after one side has been toasted. That's a disadvantage over "box" toasters with resistances on both sides of slots. They also don't have a timer, nor can you regulate the heat.

The advantage is the absence of moving parts. "Box" toasters have automatic spring-loaded slots with moving parts that can get jammed of break. In this case The toast is loaded from the sides instead of inserted in a slot, so this design is more robust.

However, a box with a resistance only in the middle is the worst of both worlds... Cargo cult manufacturing indeed. You would expect them to reverse-engineer the devices they're copying...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a wonderfully efficient mechanical beater that you clamped to the edge of the table. You turned a large cogged wheel with a handle on the wheel that transferred the energy through a simple gear. The two interlocked beaters could be twisted out of the gear for washing. Simple, efficient and cheap.

It is now on the island where we try to do without electricity during the summer, although there's a PV panel for minimal lighting that is somewhat safer than candles or fueled lamps with kids around.

The only electric kitchen gadget I have is a zapper, or 600 watt handheld blender with a tiny sharp propellor blade in a shallow housing. Ideal for purées and soups.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 11:02:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually hadn't heard of Cargo Cults before...thanks for the term.

I don't blame the Chinese in the instance of any of the products though. They are all being contracted by big EU and US corporations. They know what it takes to get a product right. They know that they have to get the design validated several times before production. They must just figure that we are only interested in price and they are willing to provide us with tools that will break in a few years.

I know that we have gone through 3 toasters in 7 years. I repaired a couple of them as long as I could, but at a certain point it isn't worth the headache.

My theory is that we have to get the owners of the stores, and their spouses, to sit in a room and cook toast or whatever in front of us once a week on live TV. Watch one snafu after the other. The world would love the screw-ups and maybe they would push to make better products.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See CARGO CULT SCIENCE by Richard Feynman
Adapted from the Caltech commencement address given in 1974.

During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such
as that a piece of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a
method was discovered for separating the ideas--which was to try
one to see if it worked, and if it didn't work, to eliminate it.
This method became organized, of course, into science. And it
developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It
is such a scientific age, in fact that we have difficulty in
understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when
nothing that they proposed ever really worked--or very little of
it did.

But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me
into a conversation about UFOS, or astrology, or some form of
mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and
so forth. And I've concluded that it's not a scientific world.

...

I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate things like
runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's
the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're
doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the
way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So
I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the
apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but
they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.

...



Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economist: "I'm using mathematical models, and lots of statistics, it ought to work."

Scientist: "So those tools are not helping refine your cause and effect explanations of the economy?"

Economist: "what and what explanation of what, now?"

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:32:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ROFL

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:45:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
John Frum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is also worshipped in Vanuatu by cargo cult followers, the Prince Philip Movement, following a royal visit to the area in 1974.[1] He is now regarded as the head of the cargo suppliers.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 04:43:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are not there yet by a long chalk, but I foresee that 'consumers' will have to take more responsibility for the products that are created for them. Demand-driven design.

That responsibility would be for the lifecycle sustainability of production, use and disposal, the product development and specification, and feature v price efficiency.

This won't be a free-for-all of misinformation. I predict the emergence of  'Living Lab' online expert organizations that theoretically develop and specify products using surveys of reader/members to refine these researches. These reader/members are then the potentially loyal audience for the product which is put out to manufacturing tender.

This is already happening to some extent. R&D divisions of large multinationals that come up with potential products deemed outside the product/marketing scope of the company, are being offered online to other companies. Some manufacturers are also getting rid of their R&D divisions and using specialist subcontractors.

Don't ask me for details of how exactly it would work - but it will ;-)

Consumers have to become responsible for what they consume.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:51:18 AM EST
Sven Triloqvist:
but I foresee that 'consumers' will have to take more responsibility for the products that are created for them. Demand-driven design.

the internet can make this a lot easier. as it is if i want advice on any new item i intend to buy, i can google consumer reports, forums etc on the item and see others' reviews before deciding. of course review sites like engadget add value through being very on the ball and funny to boot.

this process can be simplified, and made less the somewhat lumpy, haphazard process it is now.

i recently bought a pre-amp/compressor, and my first request for advice was from a real meatworld person, whose opinion (and taste) i respect, then came the internet searching.

the consumer cannot have too much info before sending her money winging off.

in the future i hope to be able to chose what toys i buy for grandkids by checking into all aspects of the company providing the toys, from their factory safety, attitude to unions, quality control, donations to political parties, environment/recycling awareness etc.

all at one easily searchable, ad-free, unbiased databank, no more wild-google-chase!

this would also benefit the movement to apply political pressure through boycott, a tool that may be one of the last left in the citizens' box.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:05:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be one of the few tools left, but it will become a mighty one imo. There are carrot versions and stick versions. Giving or taking away custom.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:16:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm....idea melds with idea. Good one.

But how is it viable 'ad-free'? Are you willing to make a micro-payment for this? Do you need to also have a review of whether the product works or now, or is that done somewhere else?

Would you not have bought the pre-amp/compressor if you found that they did not have some of the click-marks that you consider important?

I recently choose a hosting service. Yesterday I ran across another company that was twice as expensive, maybe a little more, for essentially the same service but they have tweaked their service to be significantly carbon-neutral. Would I have paid more for that?

I'll tell you what. I'll make that database, and get it online in the next couple months. Then I'll let the companies speak for themselves and fill it in. Would that work for you? There will be other ads on the site, since it is a news magazine (of sorts.)

What other criteria? How deep? Like, they get their parts from many sources, and things are assembled here and there and everywhere. You want to know about each factory? What if it is made in Israel? You want to know if the factory hires Palestinians? You want to know the political contributions of the out-sourced groups?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:43:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
siegestate:
But how is it viable 'ad-free'? Are you willing to make a micro-payment for this? Do you need to also have a review of whether the product works or now, or is that done somewhere else?

good q... on instinct, i'd say don't put ads, but it has to wipe its own face somehow, so i guess micropayments/donations would be the way to go.

there should be a 'good housekeeping/consumer reports' type rating for products and services that took all the factors into account. as for the product working, well yes!

could you put in the name of the toaster manufacturer and find out instantly that it only toasted one side? pretty long shot... eventually maybe.

Would you not have bought the pre-amp/compressor if you found that they did not have some of the click-marks that you consider important?

if i'd seen there was a lot of conflicted reviews, i'd deduce that the compressor has a lot of 'character' and was only for fans of that particular sound, if the reviews were more uniform, that the product was so good it fit with many peoples' tastes.

I recently choose a hosting service. Yesterday I ran across another company that was twice as expensive, maybe a little more, for essentially the same service but they have tweaked their service to be significantly carbon-neutral. Would I have paid more for that?

dunno, would you? we all try to slant our purchases towards greener when we can, and sometimes we can better afford the extra premium, other times not.

meanwhile we can try to affect society to organise itself better so brown unrefined rice costs less than factory polished, iow that prices reflect ecological realties more, and less the economy of scale, ie that the white rice factory is bigger, therefore can afford to pump out product that has a bigger footprint for a lower price. 'efficiency' is questionable when this is the case.

puchasing organic food is a good example, because like all 'right livelihood' transactions, it goes much further than just my bellyful, influencing how much clean air and water there is left, and farmers doing the extra work to respect the land, encouraging them to stay in business.

I'll tell you what. I'll make that database, and get it online in the next couple months. Then I'll let the companies speak for themselves and fill it in. Would that work for you? There will be other ads on the site, since it is a news magazine (of sorts.)

that's cool! i think that would be a good step in the right direction. for sure a magazine would be more fun that a raw database of stats to see how many people had bought wang dong toasters and hurled them cursing into the landfill...

What other criteria? How deep? Like, they get their parts from many sources, and things are assembled here and there and everywhere. You want to know about each factory? What if it is made in Israel? You want to know if the factory hires Palestinians? You want to know the political contributions of the out-sourced groups?

sure, why not? transparency in practice.

some folks i know are boycotting israeli avocados etc, and i have been asking them, 'how do you know if you're not immiserating some arab farmer trying to make an honest living?

we need more info, the more the merrier...

passes back baton...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:11:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK; baton taken.

I am quite excited about the potential of this site, and adding this will be an asset.

I have another site to get up and going, but it is using all the same tools, so the learning curve will be less.

I would say, 2 months and it will be in flower.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 02:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow~! You got a '1' from Humbug.

Was that for the Israeli / Gaza comment?

Shouldn't I have gotten one as well? I had clearly set you up such that there was no other remark that a logical, sane and caring person could make.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 08:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Although I am quite dis-abused of the idea that the consumer generally knows what they want, I tend to think there are some mechanism for what you are talking about...or will be.

It somewhat comes back to marketing though, doesn't it? One would have to educate the market on potentials, educate them on the balance of time and cost to production, make them able to actually describe what they would pay for.

Would asdf pay for a more expensive toaster. Would we feel as if we were getting ripped off if the only toasters cost 100€, and there were no 30€  (built-to-break) toasters there to compare them to?

The internet makes a large world small enough to reach the aficionados of some idea. It can change the way a project is financed.

I don't know either. Lots of tangents to the thoughts, some that lead to obscure ideas that were tried successfully but were undupliacatable.

The cool stuff comes because someone sees something and says "I bet I could get it to do 'that'", or, of course, they steal an idea thinking they can make it cheaper or faster to market. So many variables.

Contrary to the outreach idea is the problem of a simple idea that needs to be timed right. A product that I am working on now is just combining something that is out there now, modernizing it, combining it with something else that is out there commercially and in the public domain and tossing a salad on the back end so that it fits into a market. If exposed to early, any number of companies can come up with it long before our 'weekend engineers' could get it out.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:25:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right that marketing is one big problem. I fight every day in a way that I didn't when I was in the middle of my career. One, because I know so much more now, and two, because I am often the oldest in the room and I am 'allowed' to say the unsayable. Or so I think ;-)

The third reason is that the whole system of consumerism has now been exposed as unsustainable. But that not everyone gets it yet.

The customer is not always right. The customer is often excruciatingly stupid.

The conflict in all this complexity is between individual rights and social rights. Or rather between between the effects of a single purchase and a million purchases. What people don't think about is what happens if everyone does as they do - even if they have the right to do it. For example, a family might buy a giant plasma TV. They can afford it, and they can afford the extra energy payments. But a plasma TV can easily use 7 or 8 times more electricity than an old cathode ray TV. In Finland, we would need another nuclear reactor if every home bought one.

One bit of dropped rubbish on the streets is a minor problem, easily dealt with. If everyone drops their rubbish on the streets it becomes a huge problem with social consequences beyond the logistics of disposing of  it.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
For example, a family might buy a giant plasma TV. They can afford it, and they can afford the extra energy payments. But a plasma TV can easily use 7 or 8 times more electricity than an old cathode ray TV. In Finland, we would need another nuclear reactor if every home bought one.

yeah but think of how much less they're driving around to the cinema now they can enjoy HD at home!

less eyestrain, less doctor visits.

:)

if you can run your 600W whisk off a panel, why not yer plasma off a few more?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many TVs on for 7 hrs a day = over 4 kW = say 300 days a year = 1200 kW annually.

1200 kW is a lot of pedaling ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
only on cloudy days, surely?

wassamatta your hamsters, the vodka turbo not working?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:30:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I am still working on my giant interior wheel that you exercise within and power your home.

The problem that I have calculated is that hamster walking leaves no time for abusing the TV, thus removing the reason for hamster walking in the first place ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:38:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
perhaps you've just reached peak hamster.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:06:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
Well I am still working on my giant interior wheel that you exercise within and power your home.

it's all in the gearing, lube and bearings, i want one that you apply about 5g. pressure in the morning and the holographic flywheels do the rest.

Sven Triloqvist:

The problem that I have calculated is that hamster walking leaves no time for abusing the TV, thus removing the reason for hamster walking in the first place ;-)

so you take the hamsters walking in finland?

i was visualising them spinning their turbines of fortune, sucking on fortified protein drinks.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:58:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
his plan is really to set up a mass wheel power station on Hamstered heath ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, must be similar to the tone wheel generator on Hamster organs... :)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 07:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhas because people have abused marketing in the past, or perhaps because their previous version was a sledgehammer approach that they thing it is too subtle, but people don't get the concept.

Don't give me any of that 'till the field crap, just get me some sold products."

But I don't know about the death of consumerism. Perhaps abusive consumerism and debt driven consumerism, but people are going to get hip to buying an OLED TV and heat pump device that knock off a significant portion of their electricity bill.

Jobs are still not going to be where the people are, but mass transit ain't gonna arrive for a lot longer then they can wait for solutions. Cars will be sold, but people will choose more efficient ones and stop buying for status.

All the bulb in the world are in the process of being replaced.

Someone will invent the great ApartmentHydroponicsTM kit and people will have to buy it to get more energy out of their garden than they put in.

Even something like replacing 20.000 soldiers with 20,000 engineers in Afghanistan and 5 hotspots in Africa will create consumers.

On your rubbish point, isn't it something to be in a different culture and watch their personal rubbish habits? But it reminds me of the anti-PC-ness of the right wing argument against climate change. They're all like, Oh man, not that PC stuff about global warming, don't you know that we're just in a natural cyclo-millennial heat cycle? and I'm all like, dude, forget all that...if I were to throw some trash into your yard every day as I walked by, how long until you got upset about it...and how is that different than the amount of gasses that I am tossing into the air as I drive by your place?


Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 02:44:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
siegestate:
Would we feel as if we were getting ripped off if the only toasters cost 100€, and there were no 30€  (built-to-break) toasters there to compare them to?

split the difference...the €50 toaster that lasts 20 years, (heck why not 50 or 100?) is made of recyclable materials, and whose production company hasn't had a sheaf of lawsuits complaining the thing caught fire and burned down the teepee.

oh yes and for those spoilt, fussy folks, that it toasted both sides!

at once...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:19:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be a:

Products with longevity already exist, but they cost much more than consumer disposables. So the products and the brands are reserved for the middle classes, where they're as much about status and consumer narcissism as function.

A Dualit can cost up to £200, which is more than most people want to pay for a toaster, even if it's likely to last a long time.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good snag. I have met the founder of this company and have looked at his product at conventions and the like.

Something like this, in any field, made to a much higher build standard, with better components and support, has to cost more because the market isn't as large but the internal costs will be a higher percentage of the income.

For example, marketing costs will be the same to introduce this in the Hamburg show as Phillips pays for introducing a 30€ version.

Yet, they both might be made in the same factory in China~!

So, the Dualit lasts two decades and the Phillips lasts two years. I pay 30 x 10 and loss on the deal. But I don't have the 200 now.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 02:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the landrover of toasters, huh?

good, someones's already there, now let's figure out how to make it the same quality for cheaper (assuming we all need toasters), without compromising quality. in other words, is the maker making an 'unreasonable' profit, say because he's the first (or only) fish in that niche-pond?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt if he is making an unreasonable profit, though he does have a little flat and boat in the south of france. Anyone who keeps people employed and goes through the headache of keeping a quality company viable should get some rewards (is my view as head of the Arbitrary Remuneration and Knitting Committee.)

To get it cheaper in price, one would have to make an order of magnitude more. And perhaps one could cut some corners like stamping out and welding the metal instead of what they do now, or using a cheaper etch.

At a certain point, it becomes a different company which doesn't really know how to design and market that product and which might fail if it tries.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 08:40:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
R&D divisions of large multinationals that come up with potential products deemed outside the product/marketing scope of the company... Some manufacturers are also getting rid of their R&D divisions and using specialist subcontractors.
Are you thinking of corporate skunk works? Such work groups are not unusual. Neither are they ubiquitous. Consultants have recommended the creation of such a group either to test internal R&D efficacy/entrenchment, compete with internal R&D output, or liason with SMERD suppliers. OTOH, Web 2.0 evangelism is a more cost effective method of harvesting product innovation. Individuals are easily solicited to participate in "competitions," then bought off.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:57:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paper manuals weren't exactly classics of clarity either.

I don't know what the answer is, but I'm working on a general theory of corporate dysfunction based on the observation that functional teamwork is inherently collaborative and goal driven, while dysfunctional teamwork is inherently adversarial, authoritarian and status driven.

So it depends on the culture. If the culture of a forum is full of individuals trying to pull rank on each other and claim territory, don't expect much use from it.

If the individuals are solution oriented rather than obsessed with imaginary nuances of status and rank then you're more likely to get good answers and real help - even if by necessity some of it is buried in a FAQ for newcomers.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 02:23:30 PM EST
Ummmm...rows full of fold out drawings of each circuit board, each console leg, the spacing of the air holes in the back panel...took up a shelf or two. Who didn't love those?

I suspect you are right about the culture being the key.

At some point it has to work out. I, for one, can't go on with this ineptitude. Perhaps this is my first stab at challenging it. I am mid-process in setting up 3 forums myself, and have a product in design. Maybe I should think about this for my own customers benefit.

<cloonks head with realization.>

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 03:24:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
If the individuals are solution oriented rather than obsessed with imaginary nuances of status and rank then you're more likely to get good answers and real help

that was so true for me with Digital Performer, my first foray into hard disc recording, the yahoo forum was a godsend, full of superkind, experienced users trading questions and tips.

ThatBritGuy:

Paper manuals weren't exactly classics of clarity either.

LOL, you sure got that right, i used to believe there was a particular form of japanese sadism involved in roland manuals for example. let's have a giggle messing with the gaiji mindset, there, scrambled...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Removal of usable manuals as a way of externalising costs. The number of major companies that now make more money off training than actually they do from their products....

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:33:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, actually, that's what Eric Raymond says about free software in The Cathedral and the Bazaar: there's more money to be made in customization and training than in selling the software and the documentation.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That dosn't mean you can't make extra money from selling the documentation though.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:00:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a cottage industry of software books all the way from advanced development manuals to "single-button mouse for dummies".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All praise the great god O'Rielly.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Their online store leaves much to be desired, though :-)

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Had a Safari membership for several years, and never had any problems myself.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:18:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still getting actual dead tree versions from them...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do actually prefer dead tree versions, but my employers supplied me with one, Any dead tree ordering I always did through Here

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:29:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
There is a cottage industry of software books all the way from advanced development manuals to "single-button mouse for dummies".

It's not a cottage industry - it's huge. International sales of a popular For Dummies book will be six or even seven figures. A print run for a less popular For Dummies title is likely to be low five figures.

Elsewhere in publishing, a hardback that sells 5000 copies is considered a success.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:17:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
lot easier to update a pdf than a dead tree manual. some of the latter come with a corrections and addenda page tucked in right from the start!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:32:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but a lot harder to flip from page to page when you're tracking down a problem. Not to speak about comparing a screen full of text to what you have running when you actually have a problem.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't always have multiple devices capable of displaying PDF to hand?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
not always when buried up to the armpits in network cabling and switches. can find yourself a bit short on places to put a laptop down.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:08:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Technologies of Satan

Automatic bill pay scams
Phone trees from hell
"Simple" office devices with massive menu trees
Press this three times,hold the other button in for three seconds, stand on your left foot if its Tuesday
Cloud computing....Oh your data is "private"..."trust us, we have a privacy policy"

No answers, no solutions really, just more junk.

by Lasthorseman on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 11:11:50 PM EST


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