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  • Mar 17th, 2012 @ 8:34am

    Re: storyteller? (as Bob Kerns)

    Wrong question.

    So, Mike... are you a storyteller -- or just a liar?

    There IS a difference, you know.

  • Feb 7th, 2012 @ 12:43am

    Re: NFL DCMA savvy?? (as Bob Kerns)

    Um, Warner is clearly DCMA savvy -- yet they have had to admit *in court* that they issued takedown notices for materials that not only did they not own -- that they had not actually seen.

    I doubt this is Google's fault, but we shall see.

  • Dec 12th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

    Re: DCMA (as Bob Kerns)

    Not nearly strong enough. Needs treble damages. Jail time if willful.

  • Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Dictionary Dirt Takeover

    Just for linguistic clarity: I suggest consulting Merriam-Webster, and taking the first definition for each term as how it is being used here. Also see for reference the first definition for the word 'innovate', ibid.

    I don't know enough about the Coalition to comment on your point there. And I did find something jarring about how they're using the terms -- but I can't quite put my finger on it, and it doesn't seem they're actually rewriting the dictionary.

    I certainly would agree that Dean Kamen is no fool!

  • Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    I didn't say "most people". Most people don't buy Segways, either. But 50,000 of them have been sold.

    I'd be willing to bet that more than that number of $5,000 bikes have been sold.

    I'm just saying the market exists. The market would certainly be a lot larger if the price were in the ballpark of $3500 -- which it was for a few days until yesterday, in a very short and not-well-publicized summer sale.

    But even if they cost $300, I don't know if they'd outsell bikes. We take them for granted now, but bicycles are a pretty cool invention, and have had about 150 years of innovation and refinement.

  • Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:07pm

    Not fast enough?

    It's fast enough that my odometer reads 2,386 miles. Never swallowed a bug in that time, though I've collided with a few butterflies. (They seem to fare OK, to my surprise).

    Cars are hugely expensive, and often hard to park, give you no exercise, are an environmental disaster -- but have their place.

    Bikes are a great option, but can't go in all the same places a Segway can. Often they're a better choice. If biking works for you, I'm all for it. But often people don't want to be all sweaty, or need to carry more cargo, or want to be free to stop and enjoy the sites or a conversation, or need to mingle with crowds. In these cases, a Segway will fare better.

    Bikes aren't much, if any, faster in these circumstances.

    And bumpy sidewalks? Segways do pretty well on them. The big soft tires really help. They do pretty well on gravel roads, and reasonably-well-maintained fire roads, and a lot of other off-road scenarios -- even the non-offroad version.

    And yes, even OK on 10 feet of hard snowpack. How do you think a bike would do? (Though I think most would prefer skis or skimobile...)

  • Aug 1st, 2009 @ 7:42pm

    Re: If You Can't Compete, Call in the Gov't

    You're misreading the situation, but at least you're citing sources.

    You state: "There's no legitimate purpose for those specific limitations and they're only there to restrict competition to the Segway." -- which clearly identifies your assumptions.

    Your assumption are wrong, however. There IS legitimate purpose, because a Segway is NOT the same as those devices. For example, in Federal Highway Administration testing, the Segway could stop much faster than these other devices. In fact, the only device that could stop in less distance was a manual wheelchair -- which is much slower, of course.

    Segways are more maneuverable as well, and are designed without hard projections, and with soft tires, specifically for safety around pedestrians.

    Now, you could make a point that the other devices aren't so dangerous as to deserve the blanket bans, and can be used responsibly. And I'd agree with you! But this is what the legislatures were willing to go with.

    Note that these acts do NOT ban the other devices. They were ALREADY banned. They just recognize that Segways are safe in this environment. This is not some evil act of Segway, Inc. One has to ask -- if Segway, Inc. could get these laws passed -- why couldn't the much larger, much better established lobbies for the other devices obtain similar results for themselves?

    The bicycle industry and lobby are much larger -- and have made major improvements in our non-automobile infrastructure. But for whatever reason, they either haven't targeted this issue, or they haven't succeeded. I suspect a bit of each, because bicycles AREN'T as generally safe in mixed environments. I don't think we need a ban, but I'm not making the rules.

    (Note that in some places, they ARE allowed -- Mountain View, CA, for example, allows bicycles but not Segways on the sidewalks).

    And yes, they did have someone in mind with this legislation -- but it is carefully written to NOT specify a brand, but rather general characteristics. The Segway top speed is limited to 12.5 to fit within what the government would accept in this environment -- they could go faster. I've heard 15 MPH was the original design speed, though I can't back that up with anything solid.

    In California, only the i2 (and similar earlier models) fit within the legal definition, the x2 (and similar earlier models -- the off-road models) do not, and thus do NOT fall under the corresponding exemption. This is due to a combination of Highway Patrol opposition to the slightly larger size, and intended purpose -- Segway Inc, didn't oppose the additional restriction because it isn't how they intended it to be used.

    So the CA specification specifies a maximum width just larger than an i2, but much smaller than an x2. Thus, the detailed description comes not from Segway, Inc. trying to exclude competitors, but from the legislative desire to:

    1) Not discriminate against others that might come along with similar characteristics.

    2) Exclude similar things with characteristics which might push the envelope more than the legislature was comfortable with.

  • Aug 1st, 2009 @ 7:02pm

    Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    Well, since I identify myself, and you can readily search for my name and identity on the internet--even back to the 1970's, and I even provide you a link to my personal blog... while you remain "Anonymous Coward", your charge of shill rings -- shrill?

    You'd rather willfully misunderstand so you can harass, rather than understand the point being made. Isn't that the mark of a troll?

    I know, I shouldn't feed the trolls.

    Because I have a Segway, I can do things that I just couldn't do before. It is replacing car trips, and trips not made, because of my condition. Therefore, it is not making me walk less. I'm doing more. I'm getting more exercise. Is that simple enough for you? I doubt anyone but you sees a contradiction there -- and I doubt you do either.

    Yes, I am calling you a liar. I think you just see a chance to make up a contradiction and harass, Mr. Troll.

  • Jul 31st, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    You can't optimize what you don't measure

    While anyone who has spent time working in Japan will see that it is different, and viewed differently than by workers in the US, I'd like to make a different point.

    You can't optimize what you can't measure. And the Japanese are very big on optimizing processes for quality. They took Denning's views seriously, while Detroit did not, and transformed themselves to the top of the heap in terms of industrial quality, and they're quite justly proud of that accomplishment.

    In order to do this, one thing that is required is to MEASURE the quality -- and everything that goes into that quality.

    So, if the COMPANY wants to know how they're doing, and to optimize it, if they have an object measure, that's good. If they're making their employees miserable, and it's affecting their happy appearance, that should show up, and they'd know they were going in the wrong direction!

    And likewise, the employees want to make the company successful and to visibly play a role in that success. So, to the extent it's a tool used to help everyone do a better job, it's a good thing.

    Of course, it could be used badly. But there's a deeper potential problem -- measuring the wrong thing. If they device measures the facial expression in a certain way, that's what they'll optimize -- making the software happy.

    That may not translate into making customers happy! A common pitfall is to measure the WRONG THING! That can be tricky.

    I don't know how this will work out. Probably the novelty of the idea will produce some good results at first, and any problems will only come to light later.

    But I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that it will produce unhappy workers. Done right, both in terms of the work environment, and what the software measures -- and in an environment that encourages feedback from workers about what works and doesn't -- it stands a chance of working out well for all concerned.

    But I hope they do some followup validation of the concept.

  • Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:23pm

    Darned Useful Device (as Bob Kerns)

    I have to Dean Kamen inventions which have changed my life.

    The first is my insulin pump. Yes, he got his start by inventing the first wearable insulin pump. No doubt patent protection helped him get enough money out of that to fund his later work, including the iBot wheelchair, and then derived from that, the Segway.

    I have a neurological condition that impairs my walking. For me, the Segway is life changing because now I can move around freely, doing most of the things y'all do, and some things better.

    Well, I can't skate anymore, and I can't climb rugged mountain trails, but you'd be surprised by where I CAN go, and what I CAN do.

    First, legality: There are no states where they are illegal. There are 45 states which have laws that classify you as a pedestrian when you use one. Some of those states allow local cities to regulate their use on the sidewalk, but they're not banned anywhere in the US.

    Second, utility: I live in Marin, and can get most anywhere in the SF Bay Area, with a combination of Segway and public transit. That's the mode they were really designed for -- local, and extended with transit. I was down on the Stanford campus yesterday, no car involved. Once I was there, I had my Segway for getting around.

    I put about 2400 miles on my Segway in the last year. It would be more, but I do have a young daughter I drive around; the Segway doesn't address that so well. (I can tow a wagon, but Caltrans puts puts barriers between me and anywhere that make that relatively impractical).

    It's a lot more fun, and generally a lot more practical for my surburban trips, than getting out the car.

    Finally, this "lazy" meme: This is just crazy talk. I hear it all the time -- typically from people sitting on their rears in a gasoline-powered SUV. In the meantime, here I am, standing -- got that, bicyclists, STANDING -- for distances far greater than most of you would be willing to walk. And I'm carrying a backpack, often with 50 pounds of groceries.

    People with Segways don't walk any less. I get MORE exercise now that I have a Segway, and I think that's typical. People with Segways drive less, or sit on their couches less.

    We're out there, interacting with other people we meet on the way. Bicyclists don't do that nearly to the same degree; it's work to stop, or detour, to talk to someone, and you have this bike between your legs. (But we're more alike than different, really, compared to the folks in the cars!)

    And we're out there with nature.

    Failure is a funny word. I'm sure the initial investors, investing on the basis of unrealistic projections of instant mass adoption, consider it a failed investment. Rightfully so, by their lights.

    Those like myself who actually OWN one, consider it a smashing success. As do those who try it. My mother (a 76-year-old great grandmother in a retirement community in a small town in the Ozarks) tried mine -- and went out and bought her own.

    Yes, there are difficulties. It does tend to attract attention. By far, mostly of the positive variety. The occasional knuckle-dragger comment does come my way, but can be ignored. But if you're looking to fit in and not stand out from the crowd, a Segway is probably not for you -- at this time.

    And where to put it? They do come with locks (as an option). And the key is electronic and coded, so stealing a Segway isn't going to get the thief anything he can use. Thieves have been caught, by trying to get a key made for a stolen Segway. So that isn't really as big a problem as it seems. (Sure, there ARE places I wouldn't leave one -- the same places I wouldn't leave an expensive bike locked up).

    To my mind, the biggest barrier to acceptance has been ignorant reactions. People look at it, don't understand it, and make all kinds of knee-jerk reactions. Like the SF City council assuming it would run out-of-control on their steep hills. Not true: I've stood on the steepest of SF streets, on my Segway, with both hands on my camera, capturing a photograph of one of those "Prevent Runaways -- Curb Your Wheels" signs. Segways do NOT pick up speed going down a hill. They can't -- you'd fall over backwards. They actually slow going down the steep hills!

    Or Ronit Bryant, Counilwoman of Mountain View, CA, which recently joined the SF City council in this sort of knee-jerk reaction. Provocation -- one Segway using the trails, no compaints, no incidents, no problems. But gotta stop the bad Segways. Meanwhile, bicycles are legal on MV sidewalks. Hello? A device designed for safe use in crowds gets canned?

    It is this sort of knee-jerk reaction that has deterred buyers. It's not surprising, the actual behavior of a Segway isn't obvious just looking at it of from a description.

    But I find that more and more people I meet have actually tried one, typically on a tour, occasionally they know somebody with one, and occasionally I'll encounter another Segway rider.

    Without fail -- these people are excited to see someone on a Segway, and eager to tell me how much fun they had and and how much they like them. And how easy it was to learn to use. And they want one. They may not be willing to shell out $5K, but they want one.

    So finally, there is the price. That problem is over-rated, but real. People DO spend $5K on a bike. They'll spend far more than that on a more expensive car than they need -- often $20K extra over the price of a new Prius, even. Nobody yells "lazy" at them -- I don't know why! Nobody ridicules them for spending so much money -- I don't know why!

    Yet, if economics is your primary concern, then at the current price point, a Segway only wins if you can replace a car with it. Or a wheelchair -- power chairs can be much more expensive, especially with similar range and speed.

    But when you look at the whole picture -- environment, exercise, connecting with people on the street, interacting with nature, ability to extend your range, and just plain fun -- the Segway comes out looking pretty good. I would consider mine a good investment, even were it not for my need for basic mobility.

    In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. That's success. Period.