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Medicine Technology

Is "Good Enough" the Future of Technology? 350

Posted by Soulskill
from the seems-to-work-for-the-movie-industry dept.
himitsu writes "In an article titled 'The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine,' Wired claims that the future of technology, warfare and medicine will be filled with 'good enough' solutions; situations where feature-rich and expensive products are replaced with bare-bones infrastructures and solutions. 'We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect. These changes run so deep and wide, they're actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as "high-quality."'"
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Is "Good Enough" the Future of Technology?

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  • by minsk (805035) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:20AM (#29240215)

    Look at a large amount of government systems. Everything is to the cheapest bidder. But the cheapest bidder isn't always the best or product, and contains issues. Also known as 'good enough.'

    No, that's just the cheapest. You don't know about 'good enough' without careful planning and quality evaluation.

    Or, taking the more common approach, you purchase it and deployed it. Then you discover why it was cheapest. Because it wasn't good enough.

  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:22AM (#29240231)

    Simplicity is the key... just like my post.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:25AM (#29240243)
    This article is really just one guy pointificating about a few anecdotes. Of course he's right that the mass market is in the middle to low end. But what was it not so? Ford outsells Ferrari. This is not news.
  • Re:That concerns? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:34AM (#29240289) Homepage

    People are confusing "quality" with "features".

    The quality product isn't the one with the most features, it's the one that
    meets the actual requirements, does so reliably and doesn't fall apart. This
    means that a Toyota or even a Hyundai is a quality product despite not having
    the frills of a Benz or the hype of a BMW.

    When the frills get in the way of getting things done, the more basic device
    is actually the more suitable one and represents "higher quality".

  • Sweet Spot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:34AM (#29240301) Homepage

    As someone who has been in the computer industry for a long time, I can tell you that there are sweet spots everywhere. Would you pay $100 for a good video card, capable of 80% of the power of a $200 one? Or would you pay $400 for one with 110% of the power of a $200 one?

    'Good Enough' is how technology has always been. Sure, we could make our jet fighters 10% more fuel efficient, if we added 50% to the cost of the engines, and a similar amount to the upkeep. We COULD do a lot of things, but one or two steps down from the best is still good enough for most applications in the real world.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:38AM (#29240319) Journal

    Um, it probably would cost about the same as XP/Vista/7, assuming most end-users would get this 'WinMin' OS instead of WinXP/Vista/7, as the market has shown that people are willing to pay that much for the OS, even if they don't use all the features of it.

    And somehow I doubt Microsoft would devote all that extra money into making the OS more secure/reliable/easy to use. They probably would blow it trying to diversify into some other markets, such as a licensable OS for routers (so Cisco can make the hardware, and MS would provide the software!).

  • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:38AM (#29240321)
    Wired are actually telling us that we LIKE high quality stuff, but after a point, consumer products are just repetitive. It's pornographic to the T - they're exploiting consumers by pushing for higher and higher quality while the essential creation remains the same.

    So we're starting to get a sense for what industrialism brought us: The need to put a harness on creativity, to attempt to "own" creativity. And it can't be done.

    My own theory is that we've tried unsuccessfully to sustain ourselves on consumerism, and the people who are doing the real creative stuff now are no longer what would be termed "consumers." They have withdrawn from the marketplace. So industry and media need to put a spin on this fast - they need to siphon off what's left in the can before they start to die. They're just in a mad grab for gobs of raw ideas, knowing that they can't hold onto individual ideas for so long anymore.
  • Uhm, well, DUH?!?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:40AM (#29240329) Journal

    I drive a Toyota Matrix. It's no Lexus, but's it's plenty "good enough".

    I live in a two-story, 2,000 Sq Ft home. It's no mansion, but it's quite nice, and it's "good enough".

    My computer is an almost-3-year-old Dell running Fedora Core Linux. Although it was a bit spendy when I bought it, it's worth 1/10 of it's original value. I still use it because it's "good enough".

    My shoes, purchased at Payless shoe source, black leather Airwalks. Are they the nicest shoes in the world? Well, they are if by nicest you mean "easy to come by for $30 or less". Oh, and "good enough".

    Lame article is lame. We *always* compromise quality for price to find a healthy balance between the two. You don't drive a bulletproof limousine, nor do you (likely) travel to work every day in a private jet. Given a particular product marketplace, as features broaden, they become less and less important. The marketplace for the product as a whole commoditizes, and prices collapse.

    This is the natural order of market progression, and is the march towards general social wealth. The author of this article needs a little Econ 101, as does the article submitter.

  • by crispytwo (1144275) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:45AM (#29240353)

    But it's good enough to get me annoyed!

    This is just another diseased mind thinking that nostalgic reminiscing is when it was good. Ya, I remember when I was young and everything was so great! High quality stuff was everywhere. My Kraft dinner was so much better when my mom made it for me! That is just nonsense. Technology gets better all the time. "Good Enough" differs depending on the product. A CPU that doesn't quite do logic is not going to be "Good Enough", but a program that crashes some times might be "Good Enough".

    Get over yourself, is what I say.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:50AM (#29240379)

    that applies to cars too. The tata nano is essentailly that. No seat belts, most of the time people don't need those. Rear view mirrors, got by for 60 years without em. Airconditioning? Open a window. Air bags? If something goes wrong they can hurt you, even without an serious accident. Anti lock breaks, well with some practice a good driver can do better than ABS, and you aren't going fast most of the time anwyay. Radio, distracting. Cost: 2500 bucks US (or thereabouts).

    The reason you can't sell them for that price in Europe/the US - the governments (including others such as Canada where I am), have decided if you want a car you must have all sorts of that stuff. Projected cost to bring them to 'western' markets ~10k. And even then they wouldn't go highway speeds.

    Windows - for all of it's faults, does a lot of stuff you don't see, and don't know you use. So does linux of course. And both of them are deisgned for 'marginal' situations as well as main use ones. How many people plug in a monitor that's rotated 90 degrees or how often do you change the audio output/input device? Some of that is draconian, and some of it is good planning microsoft telling you things you should be able to do.

    Ever see the Simpsons episode where Homer designs a car? He talks about 'rack and peanut stearing' - the average consumer doesn't know, doesn't want to know, and is possibly better off not knowing what their stuff does. If they think they know, and don't, they may try and fix it themselves and end up more in trouble. The standard of 'good enough' needs to be chosen by people with brains- unfortunately they tend to get overruled by management, but that's cost/benefit analysis for you.

    Up until this summer my mother was using a computer with Windows 98. All she does is e-mail. Is that good enough? Well she thought so. But I couldn't find a free AV program that was up to date and didn't cripple her system. Firewall? Good luck. Need a USB device for anything, not going to happen. Once I moved far enough away I couldn't help her on a regular basis she started getting nasty e-mails from the cable company about how they detected 'virus like activity' from the network. She of course doesn't understand and ignored them. Good enough in the context of computer needs to be sustainable - which by definition a paid product won't be, since adding stuff costs money and they will eventually charge for added stuff. Linux can be, but when linux fails it doesn't tend to fail as gracefully, recovery as easily or get fixed as easily - which isn't a technical problem but a proliferation of skills issue, though my mother doesn't care why it can't get fixed, she cares that it won't.

    I think you'd be suprised how useless a windows minimum with 10% of the functions 7/Vista would be. Lots of stuff 'under the hood' of vista is there for application developers to do stuff, and stripping out a lot of functionality would cripple hardware and severely limit what programs you can run. Granted there are computer systems out there with very software features (think ATMs), but really simple is almost a specialized market in itself.

  • The 95% rule (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarusa (104047) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:54AM (#29240403)

    This isn't really new, it's just the 95% rule (where admittedly 95% is just a WAG) and I've considered it a rule of thumb for decades

    Basically anything that's 95% good enough and has some other overwhelming advantage (cheapness, convenience, lack of confusion) wins over technically more capable competitors, except for a few fanatics who aren't enough to drive the market. MP3s lose some quality from CDs and FLAC/WAV, but who cares? They're more convenient. YouTube is a horrid example of this - everyone thinks blocky, tiny, hitching video is good enough because it's so convenient and there's so much content. So you have to reboot your mobile phone now and then or can't get coverage in some places, when land-lines work damn near 100% of the time - who cares? Apple knows this rule and uses it brilliantly - Mac OS and its apps do 95% of what people need and it don't bother you about or give you decision paralysis for the other 5% that only tech-heads want.

    I find that Linux with package management does about 95% of what I need to do out of the box and I have to script the rest... but that's good enough for me to just run Debian on all my servers and not worry about it. It's worth not having to fetch and compile every damn dependency by scratch or wade through all of Windows's hideously incestuous server configuration crap. More to the point, I could run BSD on all those servers, but why bother? Yes, I know you have all sorts of technical reasons why I should, but they don't matter. It's good enough and more convenient.

    I've got about 10 more examples but will shut up now, because I think I've made 95% of the point.

  • by bonhomme_de_neige (711691) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:58AM (#29240417) Homepage

    I haven't seen any one device with a 12mp camera, 80gb memory for my music (yes I do listen to atleast 40 gb of different music per week), and phone usage too.

    I haven't seen any combination of those 3 individual devices (camera, phone, and mp3 player) that together occupy less space than any current smartphone.

  • by kuzb (724081) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @02:03AM (#29240443)
    It's wired. "Good enough" pretty much describes the level of research they're willing to do in order to publish something. I wonder if this article isn't directly related to their own laziness.
  • by Tanman (90298) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @02:05AM (#29240449)

    'Good enough' is what funds 'advancement.' See Bugatti Veyron for reference.

    It is the average/affordable/usable sales that fund advancement for the high-tech/advanced. Another excellent example of this is photography. The development for the latest and greatest DSLR low-light cameras with anamorphowidealcoholic lenses is paid for by point-and-shoots. Video cards are another example -- the low- and mid-range cards fund the cutting-edge. The only purposes for high-end are advertising of brand name superiority and to have trickle-down on the 'good enough' stuff.

  • by golodh (893453) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @02:36AM (#29240577)
    I mean, just look at MS Windows. Throughout its history it has always been "good enough" in a technological sense of the word, but superior in terms of accessibility and convenience.

    And what about Henry Ford's T-model? It most certainly wasn't anything to brag about, technology-wise. It most certainly wasn't any better than the competition, but yet gaain it was "good enough" and accessible (in the sense of affordable).

    Now what was that about "the future of technology" again?

  • by fooslacker (961470) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @02:59AM (#29240643)
    It's not just technology it's all things. As much as engineers want to have a perfect widget and developers want to have a perfect system it's just not practical. What is "good enough" is determined by exterior factors and most notably economics/usage. If a product is desirable enough to make it the most profitable at a given price point with a given feature set and less than optimal quality then there is no incentive to improve the product beyond that point. In fact it is damaging the economic value of the product to do so since it consumes resources without an expected return. For those of you who find the economic argument in poor taste and just want to make things good on principle switch the concept over to helping people solve their problems or pure usage of your product(s). Investing more in a product won't help more people or get more people to use it beyond a certain point where as focusing your efforts on a new product will help more people or get more usage of your portfolio of products as a whole.

    Regardless this is nothing new and yes "Good Enough" will be the future of all things not just technology. What is good enough will largely depend on the economic concept of "utility" and maximizing that utility for the greatest number as well as the impact of failures. If failures kill people the definition of what is good enough is different than if you just have to reboot and wait 20 seconds.

    Heck life just works this way. Evolution isn't an optimal system for the individual but by being suboptimal at that level it tries out failure paths and becomes optimal for a species as a whole. Economics and how "good" something gets works in a similar manner serving the needs of the whole population rather than the needs of the individual user or small group who want the product to reach it's perfect form.
  • Re:Sweet Spot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mce (509) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:01AM (#29240649) Homepage Journal

    Even if that were true - which it isn't - there still is a sweet spot. Imagine what else you could do with the money you do not spend on the 400$ card. If everyone does the same, as they do, demand for the expensive cards is low and what should be a $600 card according to your theory and could be a $800 one - considering the more expensive components - really has to be priced $1000 just to recover the development costs.

    Beware: I'm a software engineer who worked up his way through the ranks in the electronics hardware industry and even obtained an MBA at age 41 - i.e. with real life experience under my belt, but even so I went for it. So unfortunately I'm sure to be hampered by some relevant experience and knowledge. :-)

    Engineering always has been about finding the sweet spots, even in the days of gold plated contacts.

  • by improfane (855034) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:04AM (#29240661) Journal

    I think the bare-bones and full featured are niches that will always exist.

    Things like Notepad, Vi/Emacs and Notepad++
    Google Docs, Microsoft Word/OpenOffice
    Photoshop, GIMP then Paint.NET
    Apache, lightHTTPd

    Any other examples?

    It's kind of sad that the most full featured projects are commercial. I think TIME makes all bare bones software into full featured. I mean, Word is 1983, it has been re-envisioned and re-written many times whereas Google Docs is built on a relatively recent platform.

    The Pure Digital camcorder is just another niche. I doubt that the expensive camcorders lost sales to this? Or did they? Does Word lose sales to users of Google Docs?

    I think the world wide web IS an example of worse is better! Desktop applications are faster, more capable and powerful yet we rely on relaying redundant TEXT and continually re-drawing the screen. ...terminal much?

  • by macraig (621737) <.mark.a.craig. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:04AM (#29240663)

    ... if it's taken them THIS long to notice the inexorable descent from qualitative focus to a quantitative one. It's only been progressing for over a century, after all. That descent is one of the primary things that has made my life hell, because I will not and cannot make that descent. I'm not "wired" for it like all the neurotypical types. I'm not alone in that inability and refusal; when can we emigrate to another planet and create a culture of craftsmen? This culture of suits and middlemen is killing me!

    Way to go with that prescient observation, Wired.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:07AM (#29240679) Journal

    If you were willing to pay a similar proportion of your income for a dryer today, you can still get a similarly high quality dryer right now. Miehle makes excellent washers and dryers.

    -jcr

  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:07AM (#29240681)

    One complaint I often get to hear from the older ones is that in ye olden days, most people in management were engineers themselves, who had worked up their way through a lifelong career. Those were the days of quality products, of taking pride in the excellence of your work.

    Maybe so, but those same engineers are likely to miss other trends, such as the personal computer versus mainframes. To them the personal computer is junk compared to their meticulously crafted machines, but they miss the point entirely.

    I'm reminded of the photography industry, where for many years the purists insisted that expensive European lenses and cameras would always be superior, but in reality the Japanese products were the future.

  • by PyroMosh (287149) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:25AM (#29240747) Homepage

    Your music listening ability is staggering.

    Let's assume, exceptionally high quality bitrate files... So an average of 10MB each. And let's assume that each song is short at that size as well, so around 3 minutes in length on average...

    40 GB = 40,000 MB

    40,000 MB / 10 MB each = 4000 songs.

    4000 songs * 3 minute each = 12000 minutes.

    12000 minutes = 200 hours.

    200 hours = 8.333 days (nonstop).

    All in one week, eh?

    Keep in mind that a 320kbps CBR MP3 will eat up about 2.2MB per minute, meaning that a 3 Minute MP3 at that bitrate would be only 6.6MB... So the 10 we used in this example is quite... liberal. And of course, rounding errors for using HDD manufacturer's definition of "GB". Also, unless you listen to some very specific genres of music, 3 minutes is not overly long for an average song length.

    All that aside, if you like to have a ridiculous amount of music on you at all times, just say so. But for some reason it irritates me when people insist they listen to impossible amounts of music on a regular basis, so flash based players are inadequate.

    I can see the qualitative argument for carrying a separate digital camera. Phone cameras run the gambit from "what is that supposed to be a photo of?" to "It's okay, but I wouldn't frame it, and I payed a fortune for this phone". But digital audio playback is great even on some cheap phones. Higher end smart phones are as well. Add that the fact that flash memory is cheap and abundant, and I don't see a reason to purchase a separate MP3 player unless the size of your phone, or battery life are issues.

  • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:43AM (#29240805)

    "Hooray for mediocrity" is not an excuse for doing crappy things the wrong way. Neither is "The Simpsons did it".

    The Tata Nano car was not rejected because of consumerism or market protection, but because it is a low quality, highly dangerous piece of technology. Coupled with its cheapness and almost limitless availability, we all would've had a quagmire on the roads pretty quickly.

    Just a few examples: seatbelts, the car safety feature that has saved more lives than the alcohol prohibition or the traffic light. A hard braking without actual impact can send you smashing on the steering wheel or knocking your teeth out - while with a seatbelt you and your car would've had no damage whatsoever. People not wearing seatbelts are very hesitating in applying full brake power in an emergency situation because of this and that would've cost lives of passengers, pedestrians and other drivers. That's why they're mandatory and why you're fined for not wearing them.

    ABS: Drivers can do better than ABS but only if they're really experienced. We're talking about "half a million mile" or "NASCAR experience". Beginners cause the most crashes and one out of three drivers will have a situation where having ABS will mean the difference between sweating and loss of money, limb or life. Even if one is an experienced driver, I bet you hope the other guy is also experienced or has ABS. I hope on both.

    The Nano is destined for markets where it is the only mobility alternative for much of the population and better than the ubiquitous scooter everyone has now. There, the Nano can decrease total road deaths simply because four wheels and a windshield are much safer in the downpouring rain that parts of India and Asia seasonally experience.

    In Western markets, the Nano would increase road deaths, possibly up to terrible levels from the Fifties. I'm with you when you say we COULD omit air conditions, power windows, central locking, electric mirrors, electric hatches. But safety features like seatbelts (pennies), ABS (a few hundred bucks) or ESP (another few hundred bucks) will cost more if they're missing. You could not save more than 1500 bucks (at most) on manufacturing the car but the first accident will cost more than you'd ever saved in property damage alone. Or worse.

    Extremely cold-heartedly saying: it costs about 150'000 bucks to raise and educate one kid to be an average adult in our society. Because of that, even if we all were the most heartless, profit-oriented bastards on earth, we'd equip our cars with all affordable safety features.

    In doubt, drive to an empty street somewhere and practice maximum emergency braking, with and without wearing the seatbelt. Hesitated smashing your teeth on the steering wheel, even for a fraction of a second?. Wear a seatbelt, dude.

    Obligatory wiki links:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusion_of_control [wikipedia.org]

  • by Entropic Alchemist (1613649) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:44AM (#29240809) Homepage

    I myself use maybe 10%. There are parts (of Windows Vista) that I have never explored and will never explore. I just do not need all that functionality.

    Yes, but who is to say that every user uses the same 10%? If most users only utilise 10%, I would think that these 10% segments overlap enough to cover a significant proportion of the total function of the OS.

  • by deimtee (762122) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:58AM (#29240855) Journal
    If you're right (and I think you are) then the next industry is going to be biotech.
    It still has a lot of techies in the owner/management ranks, especially in the small start-ups that drive innovation.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:58AM (#29240857) Homepage

    As the first poster indicates, we are already there... or it's already here. But what does it mean?

    New tech has certainly lost its luster and people are certainly realizing that new doesn't always mean better. But this cannot be the whole reason can it? Is this yet another sign of economic down-turn? Maybe, but for many, this started happening before the downturn really started having affect. I think it's the consumer pushing back and demanding value in larger and larger numbers. With every "new thing" that replaces old things that work just fine, we are seeing more and more "needless" advancement or changes that aren't really advancements at all.

    We see this especially in things like Windows where resistance to moving away from "Just Fine" Windows XP to the newer, shinier "Aero" interfaced versions is surprisingly strong... well, surprising for Microsoft I am sure, and surprising when you see how abrupt this movement has been. After all, people had been discussing the new Windows for years with excitement only to be disappointed with all the most significant features removed. We see this in the shrinking numbers of "Hummer" vehicles on the road as well, though we might argue that has more to do with fuel costs than anything else, but from where I sit, Hummers are nothing more than oversized pickup trucks as they only bear slight resemblance to the HumVee which is what really excited people about "Hummer" in the first place, but "Looks like a HumVee" doesn't sell Hummers the way it did at first. People soon realized that there should be more to expensive cars than what it looks like and the price tag. [funlol.com]

    I think what the "push back" is all about it a crying out for "substance" in our new stuff. What all the new stuff we see these days really lacks is substance. I'm not saying that turds are not useful, but we want turds that are more than just polished... otherwise, our old turds are "just fine."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:04AM (#29240883)

    When MS Provides an OS for Cisco Routers...the end of the internet will be upon us.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:13AM (#29240897) Homepage Journal

    It would be terrible to grow up in a world where there are real consequences for our actions, wouldn't it? It's just wonderful that we have a nanny state to mandate the use of seatbelts, airbags, ABS, etc ad nauseum, all designed to protect us from our own idiocy.

    I have a couple of better ideas. First, let's get about 2/3 of the people off of the roads. We don't NEED the millions of automobiles that are out there. Second, let's have real driver's education. It was silently dropped sometime after I got out of high school. Today, driver's ed is less than a sick joke.

    Quick, without looking it up, tell me what the stopping distances are, including reaction time, at 40, 50, 60, and 70 mph. How many school kids are being taught that sort of stuff?

    I was tested on it. Failing the test would have meant that I could not take the driving part of the course, and I wouldn't have been able to get my driver's license til I was 18. My, my, how the laws have changed.

  • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:40AM (#29241003)

    I'm fine with getting two thirds with people off the road. We don't need the millions of automobiles out there.

    Now would you be so kind to hand over your car keys and driver's license? You do want to follow your own example, right?

  • Re:Sweet Spot (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:54AM (#29241071)

    The article is about something else. Would you buy a $300 bicycle that is "good enough" or would you prefer a $500 bicycle that will be a joy to use because someone put extra thought into all the details? It has not always been the case that people opted for "as cheap as tolerable". The change is a result of the shift away from buying to own towards renting or buying disposables. The prospect that you're not going to hang on to something devalues quality. You know the saying: He who buys cheap buys twice. That's often an inversion of causality. Not always though: I live on a road which was last paved decades ago. It's still in excellent condition. Many roads in this town which were built or repaved more recently have potholes or grooves and generally uneven surfaces. The workmanship has gone down considerably and it's going to cost more, not less, to keep the roads in usable condition. Good enough is often only good enough until you're no longer in charge and someone else then needs to buy another "good enough" solution.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @05:35AM (#29241269) Homepage Journal

    So, do you follow the 2 second rule, the 3 second rule, or the 5 second rule?

    The stopping distances are taught for a reason, yes. That reason is that graphic demonstrations make lasting impressions. I took my own sons out, and DEMONSTRATED. We made paint marks on the roadway, I let them accelerate to a given speed, then hit the brakes at the first mark, and made a new mark where the car stopped. No, this didn't measure reaction time - but I stressed with each test that they had to add that little bit to their stopping distance.

    When the kid stands there, and sees just how far he travels AFTER hitting the break pedal, he begins to understand.

    "And by the time you've recalled the appropriate stopping distance for the speed, you've just ploughed straight into the car in front without slowing."

    Yes, I understand that some people have problems walking and chewing gum at the same time. Go back to my original post. We don't NEED THEM on the highways. Deny them a driver's license.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @06:43AM (#29241513)

    When you look back a few years, then "second grade" was inferior and often not up to speed. Remember those Cyrix processors, the kinda-sorta-intel-compatible ones? They were cheap, they were allegedly compatible, but often they were anything but "good enough". Or the cheap knockoff electronics that first came from Japan (in the 50s/60s) and then from China? They were kinda-sorta good, but if you wanted quality you headed for the real stuff.

    Today, everything is from China. The allegedly "good stuff" and the cheap knockoffs, often they come from the same conveyor belt. Brand name is no longer a sign and guarantee for quality. Manufacturers, or rather, the companies that have others manufacture for them more and more these days, realized that it's cheaper to produce cheap products that break sometimes/often and just replace them under warranty. Of 100 pieces you sell, maybe 70 will work ok, of the 30 non working ones you'll get 20 thrown back, the other 10 will just toss it and buy something new or don't know enough about the merchandize to even realize it doesn't work as advertised. That's cheaper than producing quality goods where 99 of 100 will work.

    Another thing is life expectancy. 40 years ago, you could sensibly expect your TV to last at least a decade. And you also had it for a decade, it was expensive enough to have it repaired if its magic smoke escaped. Today, you'll be lucky to have it for more than its warranty period. But even that is 'good enough'. By the time those 2 years are over, some new standard is coming out and you want a new set anyway.

    It actually is "good enough". People don't expect things to last anymore. And often don't even want them to last. They want cheap. They want cheaper. They want new, shiny stuff and not cling to that old appliance forever and a day. Quality, of course, suffers in such an environment. It's very difficult to get quality products anymore, if you need some, you will have to look very carefully.

    And if you find something, inform me. I'm looking for quality instead of cheap, but I can't find anything anymore.

  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @06:47AM (#29241523)

    A good analogy of this is comparing today's high-definition flat-panel televisions versus the color TV's of the 1960's with all its tube components in the interior of the TV. Today's latest flat panels run cooler, offer a VASTLY sharper and clearer picture in terms of resolution and color clarity, and generally do way more than that old TV. And inflation-adjusted, the new TV is actually quite a bargain, too; a top-of-the-line 25" (diagonal) color TV from 1968 cost around US$500, about US$3,061 in 2009 dollars. What can you buy for US$3,000 nowadays? How about Samsung's UN55B7000 55" LCD panel with LED backlighting, a flat-panel TV with AMAZING picture quality, especially if you watch playback from a Blu-ray disc. That TV is good reason why a lot of people have less interest in watching sporting events in person. :-)

  • by Narpak (961733) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @07:11AM (#29241627)

    Look at a large amount of government systems. Everything is to the cheapest bidder. But the cheapest bidder isn't always the best or product, and contains issues. Also known as 'good enough.'

    As with most things you buy, what is cheapest upfront might not be the cheapest in the long run. Arguably doing it right the first time might save you maintenance costs down the road.

  • by GNU(slash)Nickname (761984) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @08:53AM (#29242299)

    ABS extends stopping distance. Want proof? Go out in a parking lot and "lock 'em up" Now pull your ABS fuse and do it again. It's quite a difference. Credentials: Electrical Engineer, Muscle/Tuner/EV Builder/Racer and Professional driver.

    Now do it while steering around an obstacle.

  • by GNU(slash)Nickname (761984) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @09:07AM (#29242419)

    Let's assume, exceptionally high quality bitrate files... So an average of 10MB each. And let's assume that each song is short at that size as well, so around 3 minutes in length on average...

    He never said the 40 gb was compressed. :) At 650MB per CD, he'd listen to ~ 60 CDs per week. Call it nine hours a day of continuous listening - that'd be doable.

  • by jheath314 (916607) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @09:17AM (#29242495)

    I agree. You and I have no choice but to live in the suburbs far from everywhere. Sacrifice is something other people should do.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:32PM (#29245087) Journal

    Well, sad to disappoint some people, but the whole history of humanity is filled with using the thing that was only 80% as good, but cost a tenth as much as the best-of-the-best.

    E.g., in WW2 it meant losing IIRC 4 Shermans to kill a Tiger... but here's the funny stuff: it cost the USA less to replace the 4 Shermans than it cost the Germans to replace the Tiger. Guess who won that war?

    E.g., other than the English virtually nobody used the superior longbow. Why? Because longbowmen had to be well trained, they cost a lot to hire, they cost a lot to replace, and they needed better pay and rations. Meanwhile every freshly-drafted peasant could point and click a crossbow or later musket. Sure, it had a crap rate of fire. But you could hire a lot more crossbowmen for the same money. And so the longbow was pretty much doomed to the garbage bin of history.

    E.g., going even further back in time, the big expensive quinquereme were put out of business by cheap liburnians. The latter was the kind of ships that Augustus used to rout Marcus Antonius's and Cleopatra's state-of-the-art fleet.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to use outright crap. (Ask the Chinese how well their dadaos -- big swords -- fared against Japanese machineguns and tanks.) But the cost rises exponentially when you approach the best-of-the-best grade of equipment. "Good enough" is often "good enough" because you can buy several of it for the same price as one state of the art whatever-you're-buying.

    Even in computers, it's nothing new. Minis won against big iron, because you could afford several "good enough" minis, for the price of one state-of-the-art big iron machines. Then minis got spanked by micros for the same reason: you can put a full PC on several people's desks for actually less money than a mini with that number of terminals.

    And somewhere in between, UNIX became the next big thing because... it was a simple unsophisticated OS that could run on (and had been developped for) a cheap mini with 4k RAM, that was originally sold as a coprocessor for a bigger machine. You could actually do real work in UNIX with a cheap little machine that cost a fraction of the cost of the state-of-the-art stuff. You could do a lot less with it, mind you, and it lacked most features of the "real" OS's of the day. But you could get several of those crap little machines with UNIX on it, for the same price as one big serious machine with a big serious OS and tools. It was, you guessed, "good enough."

  • by ColaMan (37550) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @05:40AM (#29250415) Homepage Journal

    It also ignores the fact that ABS is intended to preserve vehicle control under panic braking conditions, not to reduce stopping distance.

    Not only that, but multi-channel ABS can keep things under control much better than a human driver - unless he's got four brake pedals (and four feet). For example, braking heavily at speed in a typical 2-wheels on dirt/2 wheels on tarmac collision avoidance situation without ABS will usually result in the vehicle spinning off the other side of the road.

    Add in the relatively trivial software patch for ESP and you've got a car that's quite capable of saving your life on that *one day* that you exceeded your capabilites.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:34AM (#29250785)
    There should be a name for this "10% of functions is all that's needed" fallacy. Yes, you only need 10% of functions at any given time, but that does not mean that you always need the same 10%. Right now I'm using the web browser to connect to the Internet, so all I need from the OS is a network stack and some memory management. Tomorrow I might connect my digital camera to my laptop, so I need from the OS some USB support, some way to access removable media, and some way to transfer files.

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977

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