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Member since: Feb 26th, 2007

John's Latest Comments

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Recent Comments:

Infamous Chinese pirates launch Ubuntu that looks just like Windows XP (Download Squad)

Dec 27th 2009 9:19AM Most users won't know they are using Linux or Windows .. even base Ubuntu. Lot's of Linux users load computers up for family; 'grandma's computer'; and grandma is off and running - posting to facebook and twittering.

The linux users know they will have zero maintenance problems to worry about as there will be no virus problems.

China has a big problem with Windows viruses. The Ubuntu-based OS will be very secure and safe to use - and run faster on any machine so workers can use much older equipment and still get their work completed.

Too bad they spent all that time copying when they could have worked on a new unique theme to put in But that is probably next with the 10.4 LTS version.

How would you change the netbook as we know it? (Engadget)

Sep 12th 2009 5:56PM Netbooks are meant to be small and portable. I only see big wish lists without price tags.
Netbooks need to be under the $199 price point - or else go buy a regular laptop. Computer makers will make money because of demand that will show up. But they need to focus on a very few functional objectives:

It needs to interface to portable projectors (VGA &/or HDMI)
It needs long battery life and swappable battery packs.
reasonable amount of Ram
Multiple USB ports.
SSD HDD of modest to small size
Shock and crush resistant, including screen and hinges
wifi & ethernet
headphone & mic ports

CPU can be equivalent to Pentium 3 - 800 to 1000Mhz or faster. Don't need dual processors and other fancy things.
Offer both lightweight Linux (Xubuntu) and Win XP/7 pre-load options
Screen / keyboard sized to the standard 6in x 9in business book you'd read on flights/trains.

The netbooks, running under Linux, don't need to be that powerful. I use a 1999 HP P3-500Mhz and 256MB ram laptop for travel and customer presentations, it runs Xubuntu 8.04 and Open Office 2.4 quite well. It's slower than my desktop but it's a lot more portable.

At that price point, the netbook with 3G cell capable port and/or built in upgrade, would overpower blackberry and iphone - which can read email but not the attachments (easily) and so on.

"a laptop can never be too light nor have too much battery"

AMD sees distinction between netbooks and laptops vanishing (Engadget)

Jan 25th 2009 11:15AM "A laptop can never be too small nor have a big enough battery"

Netbooks are following the marketing playbook... ASUS put the stake in the ground with a tiny inexpensive computer running Linux. Then focus groups and 'profit margin' chasing at all manufacturers has increased the specs and price so all the netbooks are bumping against the lower end laptop market. Ask anyone in a focus group what they want and it would be a 52" LCD laptop - but they don't want to spend more than a few dollars for it - nor for the cart to wheel it around. But they want it and so the hardware development team inches closer to 'the voice of the customer'.

95% of users don't really need anything more than the performance specifications of a 1999 HP laptop I use - running Xubuntu I can give presentations to 'Fortune 10' corporations and watch some YouTube videos at the airport. It's heavy hardware, but inexpensive, obtained used for under $25. 500Mhz processor and 256MB ram. The 'slow' netbooks are at least double that performance. People want a web browser first and then something to write letters and email and track their checkbook, Firefox and Open Office are perfect. I even have a 2GB USB flash drive with two separate Linux operating systems installed (or use liveCDs), and save documents to a second flash drive. If you want to run XP, Vista or maybe even Windows 7 then the hardware performance has to be way up there.

The Netbook vs Laptop debate will continue indefinitely.

I'm waiting for the next big surprise of Netbooks under $150-$200 range each - many more customers will get them. Running a modern Linux of course, probably an Ubuntu base OS with XFCE or Fluxbox window manager to make them really shine.

How to Jumpstart the Economy - Tax Free Small Businesses (Blog Maverick)

Aug 1st 2008 12:37PM I've started several businesses (in both real and imaginary worlds!). This is an excellent idea. The paperwork and hassle factor is a real issue. The 25 person cap is realistic and reasonable.

There will be a savings that wasn't discussed... all the government agencies that currently "regulate", "track", "punish", etc in complying with all the paperwork will be freed from a very significant cost. There are many more small companies than there are large companies - so chopping off the huge "long-tail" of small accounts will really increase the productivity and reduce the cost of running these agencies. Meanwhile the government systems will still get tax revenue because it flows from owners' personal earnings (some reallocation methods will be needed in the federal vs city accounts, but a negligible issue to resolve).

As for some of the comments about the litigation fears etc, that is why the Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) format has been developed - nearly a "template method" to use in starting a business that the owners and investors are protected (such as anyone can be...) against most issues. Each state is different so your mileage my vary.

Unfortunately, unless action is taken, the "real world" regulations will seep into and be applied and enforced on the Internet companies and "blogging" individuals. So far this aspect of the Internet is open because it's new and there are many arguments to be had both ways.

A good portion of the work I do is in getting companies to rethink their products and processes to remove costs. By removing those costs the company has more profits to invest in new products and equipment and people - which drives the economy forward. Reductions in government 'red tape' are just as good at reducing costs, increasing profits - and tax revenue!

Keep up the work in simplifying things!


World's Cheapest Laptop may just be the world's cheapest laptop (Engadget)

Jul 22nd 2008 6:51PM Assuming the MIPS processor comment is incorrect (that it's difficult to run other programs for x86), this isn't that bad of a machine. Can the Ram be stretched any (like to 256MB)? I just got a 8GB USB stick to put a full OS on for $11.

I use a P3-500Mhz (and a P2-300Mhz that's a bit heavier) for travel and client presentations. They run Xubuntu 8.04 (as modern of an OS as released in April this year) and work perfect for the need. I run Open Office on both. I have a slightly faster 2.4Ghz desktop main work box (also with Xubuntu).

These will have some success as they are inexpensive. Especially if you buy a lot of 50 and ebay all but one or two for $175 each (netting $2200 if covering other costs with shipping). Then you can take that cash and buy a desktop wonder station for home and ssh/vnc or whatever into it from the road.

The portability is key for this unit as well as the success of the eee pc. There will be other entries now that manufacturers realize that people will buy a lot of small inexpensive machines - most people not playing games are just surfing, editing blogs, and reading news. You don't need that much horsepower to do those tasks well.


Study says more than 10,000 laptops go missing at US airports each week (Engadget)

Jul 6th 2008 3:40PM "U.S. airlines carried 561.9 million scheduled domestic and international passengers during the first nine months of 2006" = 748 million passengers per year Wiki Answers

When I was flying regularly most travelers (unless you were going to Florida or Nevada or around holidays) were business travelers with laptops. If there are 10,000 per week lost, or 500,000 per year, then that is less than 1.5% to 2% of the possible laptop carrying people. While the actual number lost is large, it's statistically insignificant out of the possible events.

Most are just misplaced. Fliers who forgot they left it in a cafe, under a chair, by the gate, in the plane seat, and so on. There are constant reminders about "report abandoned luggage" - so worried travelers will certainly not let a bag sit idle before getting someone over to take it away.

Hey GM, Bring Back the EV1 - Autoline on Autoblog with John McElroy (Autoblog)

Jun 29th 2008 1:01PM For fuel economy and more room of the 'old designs' is the Saturn SL (mine got 38-45mpg). Or the old VW beetles... VW discontinued them in the late 60's but they were (and maybe still are) produced in Latin America through the 1990s or so (couldn't retrofit a lot of Brazilian parts on German built bugs though).

The problem with resurrecting the old designs is they don't really exist. There might be some old drawings or files stored somewhere but finding them is a problem. Then tooling for high volume production won't exist, or the suppliers that made those old parts don't often exist. So parts need to be made with new tooling and new suppliers. The assembly plants that produced these vehicles 'no longer exist' - either closed or producing something entirely different (and thus need to be retooled).

When looking at high production volumes, even expensive tooling begins to get cheap on a per part basis. A $100,000 injection molding tool for one "cup-holder" part would be $0.08 cost in each part if run for five years at a typical high volume assembly plant of 250,000 units per year.

So there is no incentive in the front end of such a program to do anything but completely new. It's also easier to market "new" than "we're selling you ten year old technology" or for the buyer to tell his neighbor "look at the brand new geometro I just bought for three times it's price in the late 1980s!" since real inflation has set in to the currency).

Low volumes are where tooling gets difficult - but finding the tooling or re-making the tooling gets really hard. Remember there are over 25,000 parts in the typical sedan. That's 25,000 often unique tools, suppliers, engineers, and so on. Not easy.

I think the EV1 was built at the "Flint Craft Center" (might have been the same factory where the first Oldsmobiles were built by Ransom before GM itself existed) due to the low volumes and may not exist anymore. I suspect that most of the tools used in its construction were low volume "soft tools" - that are less expensive but will also have less than a lifespan of 10,000 units before needing to be replaced (and so were probably fully used up). Talk to someone in the service parts organization at GM - my experience is that the service parts production stream gets really fragmented after a model is replaced.

Hopefully, GM is using the common parts bins for all the non-electric/hybrid portions of the Volt that they can. Maybe even the charging motor is common with something they or others are already building - even a lawn tractor engine or motorcycle engine sourced outside of GM (I remember some college dyno tests of fuel injection system improvements on a motorcycle engine for an SAE "go-cart" competition that were very impressive The more common parts they can reuse, the lower the overall tooling and parts costs will be for the Volt. Then the costs can be better allocated to the powertrain requirements that need it.

Oh, and the battery pack (not the vehicle like EV1) needs to be leased. That way the consumers are "future protected" against concerns of replacement costs and the technology improvement ownership is still an issue for GM personnel to figure out.

Discretionary Thoughts

How would you change Alienware's Area-51 m15x / m17x laptops? (Engadget)

Jun 22nd 2008 9:42AM Sourcing cheap parts can be done successfully IF you have good Engineering Design behind those parts (not just Styling with Bling). The same tooling process can make a poor or great performing part from the same materials and manufacturing equipment. I've seen tooling and gages with such awful needless complexity and missed opportunities they produce parts performing half as good as others with the right Engineering.

Most of the parts sourced by Apple, Dell, and others all originate with virtually the same set of supplier manufacturers. It's how you craft those parts that can matter.

Hulu is kicking Youtube's Ass (Blog Maverick)

Jun 21st 2008 12:40AM The two sites draw different viewers. Hulu is just short of content (like they have last season's show but not the prior one) but as they get more traffic that may change. YouTube will continue to be huge in content (that doesn't have to be paid for.. like Hulu does), there is a lot of relevant data on YouTube to link the typical Google advertising to (from "see these similar videos" column to the text keyword tags). Long term YouTube has the advantage, not Hulu.

Hulu is kicking Youtube's Ass (Blog Maverick)

Jun 21st 2008 12:31AM Thomas # 19 - You can watch Hulu on Ubuntu (you may need to turn on a few more codecs look for "easy ubuntu" and/or "medibuntu" or "flash" player on your favorite search engine and install by launching the Synaptic package manager).