Wednesday assorted links


1) I'm not sure how good the economics are in this article, but I don't think it is the way the PC market has really worked. IMO the 'expected price to pay' varies by user group, but has generally been too high. By that I mean that technology advanced faster than the average purchaser understood, and so they spent more, because they thought they had to.

It is hard to remember now, but in 1983 an IBM XT cost $7,545.00 (IBM list price). In 2005 an IBM Thinkcentre A50 with a thousand times the power sold for $659 (again, list price).

A shrewd consumer would have steadily reduced willingness to pay, while reaping higher rewards. Few could though, because as they described to me they wanted "a good computer" and kept their offer too high. Over-selling was an easy sell.

(As an aside, a tech savvy person snags the good hardware that is no longer cool, as in this quad core (Intel Q8200) nabbed for $275)

1.) Shouldn't there have been some treatment of the used computer market? Ebay and Craigslist are loaded with cheap old computers for people who only need to do Facebook+light browsing+emails+Microsoft Office.

And refurbs. Maybe few people need a quad-core for $180, but you can.

Great if you just want to run Ubuntu fast. Powerful price/performance for your R programs.

I've saved $thousands over the years by buying used computers on eBay & Craigslist, instead of buying the latest shiny new models.

A computer's value drops by some 50% in the first year; even more for custom-spec models.

The exception is Apple computers, which exhibit much smaller price drops. But if you're happy with last year's Dell or Lenovo models, you can get some real bargains. Especially if you find one with a three-year tranferable warranty.

#3. Holy hell, this reads like something from an alternate universe:

'Nathan Perlmutter, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, said: ''Part of it has to do with the selfconsciousness that some have about seeming to stifle freedom of speech. I'm conscious as director of this agency of my responsibility to be protective of the dignity of the minority group while simultaneously protecting the freedom of speech that is sometimes loud and vulgar. Frequently these are close calls.'''

You've come a long way, baby.

"1. What is the marginal value of a technology upgrade?"

"Forced Upgrade?
Specifically, would a substantial segment of consumers, be better served if older PCs were still available to consumers, alongside their cutting-edge successors?"

The author seems to not understand how the standard high volume manufacturing process works. Companies don't always (or even mostly) build a new facility when they add a new product. Instead, they'll upgrade the least profitable product line, which is usually (but not always) the oldest product.

So, for example, if a given plant has 6 lines and the facility is full (no more empty bay space for a new line) , the oldest line is replaced. The line is shutdown, upgraded with the newest equipment, unit op tested, QA'd and then run up to full speed with the most current product.

You can't just keep the older product going. You need the facility space and trained staff to make the newest product.

I don't know if they're looking at the upgrade market for computers the right way. People have computers for certain tasks. As long as a computer satisfies those tasks at a speed they find acceptable, upgrades don't matter at all.

However, as the things they do change; imagine the current internet at 28.8K, playing more intensive games, or even being able to use the current version of office because you need to make a file that's compatable to someone else; upgrades start to become required. The question I'd have is whether the marginal upgrade on those products is worthwhile, and on the whole, it seems yes, they are. Facebook and twitter are way more efficient then grandma sending emails of cat pics, civilization V is better then civilization I, and I enjoy having all the extra emojis in my current word processing programs.

3. Wow, imagine if someone tried to do something like at a university! Elsewhere in America, you could, but there's not much freedom of expression in Tyler's milieu. And he likes it that way.

In any case, I think those jokes have migrated from trade paperback to the internet.

2) The omission of the UCSD library is criminal. Everything about it is both brutal and gentle, much like a tender orangutan lover. It's a government building but a library. It's concrete but in the form of a tree. It's all straight lines, but graceful angles. Heck, it's even named after Doctor Seuss, and there's nothing more brutal but loving than him. The Geisel Library is a building which is overwhelmingly loved unlike some of those other beautiful instances which were torn down because they were eye sores.

You make a compelling case. Still, these buildings, even the Geisel Library, appear to be an intentional affront to humanity, completely and knowingly totalitarian.

Never has a style in French so translated well to the reality in English.
The sad thing about the brutalist (raw concrete) buildings is that concrete can be colored, pigmented, stained, and otherwise made to be far more appealing than the 'raw' style. They could even just be painted.

I like the UCSD library - but isn't it just a bit too "designed" for brutalism, which after all is all about raw concrete (brutal is not about the style but from the French béton brut or raw concrete). The concrete looks incidental to the glass, it's more post modernism to me. I always think of Denys Lasdun's National Theatre as the archetypal brutalist building - it's a sea of concrete with no apologies or softening of the fact.

Brutalism is fine in small doses, like a hot spice. Too much of it in one area though is depressing, raw concrete does not look good when it is damp and raining.

#2 has fun graphs. A good corrective for the uninformed.

#1. As others have said, the older models do remain available on the used market or as refurbs/closeouts. And given the nature of the electronics business, it's not necessarily true that the manufacturer could continue to produce and sell the older model at a lower cost. Multiple active product lines impose costs up and down the chain -- which is why you see steeply discounted sales of old models to clear them out (I notice that often the discounted closeout prices is lower than the eBay used price after the closeout sale is over). And even if keeping extra product lines around were not a problem, it might not even cost less to build the old model. Production cost reduction innovations are made right alongside performance improvements. So the new model may be better and faster but also as cheap or cheaper to manufacture.

Much tech follows a V shaped price curve. Prices fall until as things are obsoleted, but then rise again as the only people who need them fight for existing stock. Those 8 inch floppies used by the air force, etc.

5. I wonder if I am looking at the past of blogging.

#2. Artir's blog is one of the best there is. What MR could be, if it didn't spend 3/4 of the posts talking about Tyler's lunch and reading menu, and Tyler's virtue signaling.

As for brutalist's one of the most abhorrent inventions of humanity. Pure ugliness. Must reflect something about the architects, and the politicians who requested such monstrosities. I much prefer Fascist architecture, which tries to do the same, but with much more aesthetically pleasing results. See Palazzo della Civilta Italiana for one of the best examples of how to do it right.

#3...As a kid, I collected cheap pocketbook joke books, lots of them. At some point, I realized that ethnic jokes, even seemingly stereotypical ones, were being used about a number of ethnicities. So, it did seem to me that you needed to tailor the jokes to a group well known to your audience to be funny to them, but that the insults themselves were universal.

In college, I once went to the local natural history museum with one of my roommates, who has since become a Professor of Medicine. He's always been a dignified person, but, as we approached some kind of cro-magnon man exhibit, he decided to get earthy. "He appears to be Italian," he said out loud, and I chuckled and kept going on for a few seconds, until I realized he was having a discussion with a family about the exhibit, an Italian family. We both decided to avoid ethnic humor after that.

6) The price of freedom still is the eternal vigilance.

Tastless jokes, ethnic or otherwise, are frequently bad. But I must ask why are these books selling better *now*? Is it

(1) Culture is coarsenning, so tasteless jokes of all kinds are doing better.

(2) This is a reaction to political correctness.

(3) People are piling on a bandwagon now that Trump-like ideologues have made anti-PC acceptable?

My guess is that culture is not in fact coarsenning and so the answer is somewhere between 2 and 3.

A large cost of upgrading the PC is in transferring all of your files and software from the old one, and setting everything up to run again. That means when I upgrade I only want to do it as infrequently as possible, so my steps tend to be large. I just upgraded my Windows XP Dual Core machine a couple months ago. For my new PC I built substantially more than I needed, but I also didn't want to have to do it again in a couple years.

But yes, the old WinXP machine was working fine for me, although software compatibility and ongoing support was starting to become an issue.

I put those in the family who don't need native apps on Chromebook. No data transfer ever again. No backup. No viruses. Most home computing worries gone.

#1 the market responded, by 2007 cheap (very cheap) netbooks went for sale.

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