When the marketing department makes safety decisions


Click to enlargeMichael Tewelde/AFP

The Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320 types are single aisle planes with some 150 seats. Both are bread and butter planes sold by the hundreds with a good profit. In 2010 Airbus decided to offer its A-320 with a New Engine Option (NEO) which uses less fuel. To counter the Airbus move Boeing had to follow up. The 737 would also get new engines for a more efficient flight and longer range. The new engines on the 737 MAX are bigger and needed to be placed a bit different than on the older version. That again changed the flight characteristics of the plane by giving it a nose up attitude.

The new flight characteristic of the 737 MAX would have require a retraining of the pilots. But Boeing’s marketing people had told their customers all along that the 737 MAX would not require extensive new training. Instead of expensive simulator training for the new type experienced 737 pilots would only have to read some documentation about the changes between the old and the new versions.

That was a really sensible way to save on training costs, eh?

Thanks, Tom

Volkswagen CEO expects software to be 90 percent of innovation in new cars


REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

❝ Volkswagen will ramp up its hiring of software experts to ensure that the car and truck maker stays at the forefront of innovation in an industry geared toward refining mechanical, rather than software components…

Demand for software functions has risen exponentially as customers increasingly expect advanced driver assistance systems, smartphone connectivity and self-driving functions.

❝ “Today our 20,000 developers are 90 percent hardware-oriented. That will change radically by 2030. Software will account for half of our development costs,” Herbert Diess said.

Compared to a smartphone, a car has ten times as many lines of software code, and a self-driving car will have a thousand times that amount, Diess explained.

The carmaker needs more software engineers to program the various sensors and actuators within a vehicle, so that a self-driving car can develop the right reflexes to navigate traffic situations and avoid accidents.

When you can offer several completely different-purposed vehicles from the same essential skateboard platform, making software and top-of-the-skateboard functions do the work…you can roll out new products a lot faster and more cheaply than existing tech. Once you get up to economies of scale. Simplified platforms made possible by electrification need a few hundred parts to roll out – instead of the thousands needed in internal combustion vehicles. Simple works.

Trump and His Know-Nothing Party Declare War on LED Light Bulbs


Trump’s next great idea

❝ It’s one thing to oppose the grandiose “Green New Deal”…It feels like something totally other to oppose narrow regulations that could advance the campaign to swap out incandescent light bulbs for light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, a small, practical step that, multiplied into the millions, would passively remove a healthy chunk of energy-eating pollution over time…

Are all Republicans as stupid as Trump or simply more thoroughly owned by cretins who want to return to the days of coal-fired everything on Earth?

❝ A Washington Post editorial argued, “Swapping out all the old incandescent bulbs across the country would save an astonishing amount of energy, which would translate into big savings for consumers and less pollution over time. But Republicans stymied the Obama administration’s efforts to pursue this policy, which has no downside, and the Trump administration is now using its power over federal efficiency standards to extend the rollback.”

It was in 2007 that Congress mandated a shift toward the LED light bulb. As manufacturers invested in manufacturing lights that use these updated technologies, the prices dropped, the bulbs improved and consumers saw lower energy bills for doing very little.

❝ By 2020, all bulbs were supposed to be LEDs, including bulbs for candelabras, recessed lighting, heavy-duty applications and others added in the latter days of the Obama era. The Trump administration moved last week to eliminate those additions, despite the fact that the 2020 standards would have saved consumers billions of dollars per year and 140 billion kilowatt-hours in energy waste—the equivalent to the output of 45 coal-fired power plants—in 2025…

Sounds to me like the mostly correct assumption that Trump supporters are ignorant, prefer their ignorance over progress even if change would save money and aid a healthier lifestyle…governs the Republican boffins afraid of alienating the clods whose admittedly distorted votes put him in office.

Call it the ignoranus vote`

A Dead Man Was Cremated in Arizona, No One Knew He Was Radioactive

❝ In 2017, a 69-year-old man with pancreatic cancer went to hospital with abnormally low blood pressure. Sadly, he died only two days later, and his remains were cremated.

What nobody at the hospital or the crematorium knew, was that this hadn’t been the man’s only recent trip to hospital.

Just one day earlier, in fact, he had been injected with a radioactive compound at another hospital to treat his tumour – and when his mortal remains were incinerated, this radioactive and potentially dangerous dose of lutetium Lu 177 dotatate was still inside his body.

❝ This alarming case, reported in a new research letter this week, illustrates the collateral risks potentially posed by on average 18.6 million nuclear medicine procedures involving radiopharmaceuticals performed in the US every year.

❝ While rules regulate how these drugs are administered to living patients, the picture can become less clear when those patients die, thanks to a patchwork of different laws and standards in each state – not to mention situations like the 69-year-old man, whose radioactive status simply slipped through the cracks.

Phew! Gotta love states’ rights when the primary function only seems to be dividing the spoils for folks avoiding federal regulation for one reason or another. Or is it just our elected representatives doing as little as possible.

Tesla: case study on depreciation vs demand

Depreciation in the used car market is one way to read demand for a manufacturer’s vehicles. Vehicles that are more in demand depreciate less. To compare the depreciation of the Tesla Model S with competing in class vehicles, we collected data on used cars and constructed an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression model. Here are the takeaways:

  • After 50k miles, a Tesla Model S will have depreciated 28% vs the in-class competitor average of 38%.
  • A Tesla Model S holds 7% more value than its competitors regardless of variables like model year, miles driven, and initial sale price.
  • In a stable economy, the used car market is a proxy for new car sales. This study is a sign that Tesla continues to gain share vs. comparable in-class vehicles.

Of course, if you haven’t a clue about the value of your ride – and don’t care – there are plenty of Buicks available.

Everyone poops. Cardiologists are counting on it…


NOT an illustration of the actual device 🙂

❝ Engineers at Rochester Institute of Technology have designed a high-tech toilet seat that effortlessly flushes out data on the state of your cardiovascular system. The tricked-out porcelain throne measures your blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and the volume of blood your heart pumps per beat (stroke volume)—taking readings every time you sit down to catch up on some reading of your own. The engineers, led by David Borkholder, recently published a prototype of the seat in the open-access journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth.

❝ According to the inventors, the seat’s daily data dump could make patients and their doctors privy (har!) to early warning signs of heart failure, potentially helping to prevent further deterioration and avoid costly hospital stays. Moreover, the seat could ease in-home monitoring for heart patients, who often strain to consistently track their tickers with other, non-toilet-based monitors.

Makes great sense to me…if I had any sort of heart concerns. Apple’s HealthKit built into my iPhone made it a piece of cake for me to finally get round to integrating nutrition and exercise with other apps…lose weight, keep it off and get in better shape than a significant chunk of my [old geezer] age group.

Music isn’t made the same way, anymore

❝ It’s Grammy time, and as always, watching the awards ceremony…will include a subtext of cross-generational carping: “They don’t make music the way they used to,” the boomers and Gen Xers will mutter. And they’ll be right. Music today, at least most of it, is fundamentally different from what it was in the days of yore — the 1970s and 80s.

❝ Last year, the industry celebrated a sales milestone. The RIAA certified that the Eagles’ “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975),” was the best-selling album of all time…the album, released almost exactly 43 years ago, was the first to be awarded platinum status…an evocative reminder that songs were once commodities so valuable that millions of people would even buy them in repackaged form. It was also a taken as a quiet victory for people who believe that music today is too loud…

❝ By “too loud,” I don’t mean you can’t crank the Eagles, if that’s your thing. I’m talking about loudness as a measure of sound within a particular recording. Our ears perceive loudness in an environment by reflexively noting the dynamic range — the difference between the softest and loudest sounds…A loud environment in this sense is one with a limited dynamic range — highs that peak very high, and lows that aren’t much lower…Compression boosts the quieter parts and tamps down louder ones to create a narrower range…

RTFA. For there has been and continues to be a war over sound. The sound landscape has never been more varied – from the audiophile with big bucks and peers and who can only afford to supplement the CDs they still buy, radio stations they listen to streamed online — to walking around music fans from hip-hop to classical listening through earbuds.

Holiday photos, video, found in frozen seal poop!


Frame grab from seal poop video

❝ Scientists in New Zealand say they have found a USB memory stick containing holiday photos inside a frozen slab of seal poop.

The scat, valuable for studying the health of leopard seals, had been stored in a freezer for a year before it was thawed out for analysis, the researchers said…

❝ The stick was in good condition, “considering where it had come from”, and the researchers let it dry out for a few weeks…“The only clue to who might have taken them is the nose of a blue kayak,” the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said…

I’d like to know the brand of the memory stick. Great survival.