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  • Apple announces progress toward carbon neutral goal, new energy projects

    The problem with nuclear technology is that it uses the most toxic substances known to humans. They remain toxic for tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Longer than human civilisation has existed. It’s impossible to “safely” extract, use, and dispose of these substances. In fact, we know if no completely secure way to dispose of spent fuel.

    The second problem is that the costing of nuclear technology never fully accounts for disposal of the spent fuel. In other words, nuclear energy is “competitive” only if you ignore the cost of disposal of fuel and the reactors etc at the end of life. A nuclear reactor lasts about 50 years. All around the world, at nuclear power plants like Fukushima, the spent fuel is lying in pools, just sitting there. Why don’t they dispose of the fuel? Too expensive. What are they waiting for? The government to do something about it—in other words the taxpayer must pay to dispose nuclear waste in deep tunnels under the earth. Cost of disposal and securing? Incalculable (best guess), because you have to sit and watch over it forever. Many power plants are run by private companies with no intention of incurring the cost of disposal. Privatise the profits, socialise the costs.

    The third problem with nuclear power is that it is very dangerous and requires the support of a military industrial complex. In other words, you need a highly militarised and policed society in order to secure the nuclear industry. In other words we, citizens, are required to cede some of our personal political freedoms in order to afford such a dangerous technology in our midst. Nuclear power is looked on favourably by military industrial complexes or by totalitarian regimes. It is inherently secretive and security-obsessed, for obvious reasons. In contrast: solar and wind power, for example, have issues, but they have no equivalent risks, they can be implemented at small-scale by individual citizens in your backyard on your roof etc. They are inherently more democratic.
  • Apple to ask all employees to voluntarily report Covid vaccination status

    designr said:
    dws-2 said:
    However, it is _less_ likely that a vaccinated person would get sick and spread Covid.
    Is there any data on this?

    What I've read on this is that vaccinated people who get a delta-variant "breakthrough" infection seem to be more likely to be asymptomatically infectious.

    First, dws-2 is right according to CDC. Vaccinated people are less likely to get the virus. If they get it, less likely to get symptoms. If they get symptoms, less likely to require hospitalisation, etc.. And, crucially, they appear to be infectious for shorter time. 

    It depends on what you mean by “more likely.” More likely THAN what?
    More likely to spread the virus as ASYMPTOMATIC carriers, THAN if they were not vaccinated—because the vaccine reduces symptoms. —YES
    More likely to spread the virus, THAN the unvaccinated. —NO

    A good starting point for the lay person (like me):
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 review: Incremental upgrade and unexciting

    Without contradicting any of the opinions expressed here, I’d like to remind everyone of one important concept, something that Apple does better than anyone in the industry: ‘amortisation’—the gradual process whereby a manufacturer recovers the initial capital investment on a new product. The sums invested in setting up production lines or factories are staggering. Ideally, as with iPhones, that investment is recovered quickly because of the fantastic volumes sold. But in product models that don’t sell in such great numbers, the longer you can keep that production line going the more profitable it becomes. It is like an orange where, instead of giving less juice the more you squeeze, it gives more. If Apple’s margin on hardware averages 25%, then the more production lines that it has churning out older models the more profitable the company can be, because older models make 35–40% (guesstimate). Also, by limiting their product range, Apple can go to their supplies and say: “We want this component, we plan to order 2 million a year, for the next 7 years.” If you are a supplier like LG or Sanyo or Samsung, you cry tears of joy when you win an Apple order, because you’re guaranteed revenue for so long! E.g. imagine how many LG-manufactured 27" 5K monitors Apple has sold since 2015. Apple can use that fact to bargain and drive component costs down, which is why no company can match Apple quality, for the same price, while hoping to come anywhere near Apple’s margins.
  • Apple urging retail staff to wear masks again even if they're vaccinated

    Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of masks. There are many demonstrations on YouTube showing how masks of all types dramatically impede spittle and aerosols. Masks are obligatory in many situations industry, medical fields, and laboratories for good reason.

    A recent study in the UK showed that upgrading mask types in hospitals where nurses and doctors come into contact COVID patients had a huge effect. It’s important to note that they upgraded to the ‘correct’ type of masks, which met of a higher standard of protection than the cheaper masks mandated by Boris Johnson’s government.

  • 2023 HomePod review roundup: similar sound, same price

    Anyone who thinks that smart speakers are ‘hi-fi’ is deluding themselves. Neither the audio bandwidth coming through the internet is insufficient, (nor through Bluetooth for that matter) nor is the speaker itself capable of reproducing the full range of hi-fi sound. Hi-fi is for the audiophiles. They pay fortunes for top quality equipment and listen to vinyl records, for example. Three-hundred dollar speakers don’t qualify. The sound that comes out of Apple HomePod is ‘good enough’ for the rest of us. That’s who it’s for. 

    I have a pair on my desk. I like the 360 degree sound. The smaller HomePod mini can’t compete in sound. 
  • Apple plans to dial back mask mandate in U.S. stores

    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Have visited the Apple store twice in the last month will continue to wear a mask regardless  of the mandate easement.
    Agree with you. 
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 review: Incremental upgrade and unexciting

    dewme said:
    Alex_V said:
    Without contradicting any of the opinions expressed here… [snip] Apple can use that fact to bargain and drive component costs down, which is why no company can match Apple quality, for the same price, while hoping to come anywhere near Apple’s margins.
    That’s all fine and indisputable product development and supplier management concepts, which is all part of the Tim Cook mastery that has been executed within Apple with amazing precision during Tim’s time at the helm. This may have some bearing on the new M2 MacBook Pro feeling left-behind compared to its MacBook Air, but I think the reasons are a lot more diffused across a wider number of factors besides amortizing up-front, non recurring, and component supplier related investment costs.

    In my opinion, it’s probably a contributing factor, but not the primary one. I believe the primary throttle on Apple’s ability to move even faster is human resource limitations, as in getting enough people with the right skills assigned to its product teams. Apple threw down the gauntlet when they committed to Apple Silicon over Intel. To make everything more challenging they put a hard timeline around completing the transition, not simply starting it. This basically rewound every Mac product team back to square one and chopped the tail off of the ability to amortize the cost of certain components over a longer period of time. Fortunately, Apple’s profitability and war chest of funds allows it to absorb substantial unrecoverable sunk costs. 

    My opinion is that Apple isn’t putting older technology, like the Touch Bar, into products like the M2 MacBook Pro to “use up” their stash of Touch Bar assemblies acquired in great volumes, but rather that they lack the human resources to simultaneously redesign more than a couple of high demand new products at a time under tight schedule demands. If they could trickle out releases over an extended time frame things would be much different. But they set a tight timeline for the Apple Silicon transition so trickling out new products is not an option. 

    You are right “that it is all part of the Tim Cook mastery.” Thank goodness for that! Basically Apple manufactures products, and the more profitably they can do that, the better. Innovating is one marvellous way to make profit. That’s why it’s ‘all hands on deck’ to launch new iPhones every year—profit is healthy and volumes are phenomenal, which keeps the company in the black. I agree that Apple have limited personnel, and a precious few who can lead new product development (NPD) at the company. But, time and again, people moan about Apple not updating this or that product, or not adding this or that new technology. Tim Cook has to walk a fine line between innovative NPD which is fantastically expensive and time consuming, and incremental changes to old-model products which is much cheaper and more profitable. In a ‘just-in-time’ system there are no Touch Bars lying around. With the updated 13" MacBook Pro, they simply switch the processor and this or that part, and keep the production line going. Meanwhile existing components for that particular model get ever cheaper, so Apple can drop the price a little, yet still maintain their healthy margins. It’s like car companies having many different models—sedan , sport utility, compact etc.. Apple puts the product on the shelf, and so long as there is demand, they keep churning it out. Once demand dries up, they retire the product.
  • 2022 iPad review: Decent upgrade, bad lineup position

    ireland said:
    Kill this iPad, bring back last year's iPad Air, rename it "iPad" and lower the price. Keep home button iPad around as education bulk buy.

    iPad mini, iPad and iPad Pro. Give iPad Pro additional ports (three in total): SD Card, USB-4 and MagSafe 3.

    Yes, done!

    What you suggested is essentially what Apple did. 
  • Claris FileMaker Pro updated with Shortcuts support, more

    Filemaker is very capable and has a large customer base.  Far better than MS Access (not to mention cross platform).  If you haven't looked at it recently, it's worth consideration.
    You’re probably right. Still one million active users appears modest. I’m willing to stick my neck out and make a prediction: Unless FileMaker does something radically different, they’ll gradually get squeezed out of the market by the ‘no code app building’ guys, on the one side; and the ‘dumbed down database apps’, on the other side. 
  • Microsoft makes Outlook for Mac free

    My theory is that Microsoft still exists thanks only to Excel. The company rests upon that single foundation stone. Businesses around the world must have Excel because of the formulas and macros or whatever, that run their company spreadsheets. Over the last two or three decades, they have accumulated and rely on hundreds of old spreadsheets, refining and improving them. And because of compatibility issues, they cannot afford to change to something else. They must be able to open a spreadsheet from 20 years ago and it must work perfectly. No time to change formulas or debug etc. So for essential business spreadsheets, it has to be Excel. But Word, PowerPoint? Outlook?? Who cares? These are software appliances — like refrigerators, TVs etc, — a highly competitive market with low margins. For office, there’s Google for those who don’t mind being spied upon. Apple has free alternatives, there is open source, and a myriad of free and paid alternatives.

    Because a business must use Excel, they therefore buy the entire Office package, as Microsoft offers bulk-purchase discounts. Thus an entire organisation resorts to using the bloody programs as they have already paid for them. If someone wants to use an alternative, the IT guy will say: “Heck no, we’ve already got you a word processor (or whatever).” The same goes for cloud storage, and even the operating system — Windows is the only thing that will run all of Excel perfectly. So it has to be a Windows PC. Microsoft’s entire business rests upon that single foundation stone, once that foundation stone is undermined, good luck…  :#