While I think that Robocars will be safer than humans driving statistically, I do think they will be at fault at times. ILS is a perfect example. There is a very finite quantity of sensory data and response conditions. City driving involves other cars, pedestrians, animals, strange road conditions and other variables that are not easily quantified. This is especially true while there is a mix of autonomous and meat driven cars. Over time, the predictive code will become better, probably proprietary to each car manufacturer. Lawsuits will be everywhere with the algorithms scrutinized to a much higher level than in meat driven cars at fault. The difference between a driver at fault (low payout) or a car company at fault (high payout) will attract lawyers like flies to carrion unless there is some level of legal protection put in, as much as I hate to protect big business from legitimate carelessness suits.
To be fair to the government, they are heavily subsidizing the solar industry right now to get it moving. About half my costs were returned in grants and tax rebates. The plan is to drive the volume up to reduce manufacturing costs and slowly reduce the subsidies. A fine example of the government creating U.S. jobs, promoting clean energy and investing in the long term. Who would have thought?
The Zune is one of the few products from Micro$oft I've been happy with. The player is sturdy, great display, works well and has been well supported. When MS released the newer models, they updated the older models - both PC software and internal firmware for free. They added new features. How many times does that happen to a consumer electronic device? Plus, 1.5 years ago I bought 3 30GB Zunes for my family at $80 each. iPods were (and are) insanely priced compared to the competition. They should be giving oyePods away to addict people to oyeTunes.
I'm an old geek - I remember using punch cards and slide rules. Back then we only had 1's and 0's. And 1's were in short supply. Seriously, I've hand assembled code for 6809's, 68000's and other processors. For you whippersnappers, "hand assembled" means having the op-code list, looking up the hex codes, counting offsets, using a monitor program or putting hex code in EPROM and getting results on very basic displays or out of registers. I did an elaborate memory test on a 68000 memory card that I designed, maybe 150 lines of code that way. We all knew the ASCII tables without thinking. My hex math skills were better than my decimal. Try this - in college we took a memory card for the S-100 bus that used 4K static RAM chips and hacked it to take 16K chips - got a full 64K of RAM running CP/M if you loaded it from paper tape or cassette. Eventually I built a Heathkit H-19 ASCII terminal from a kit - I had 80 characters per line and was in heaven.
I used it with the Z80 computer I built (like with a soldering iron, not just putting together pre-manufactured boards) and it had 8" SSSD (90Kbytes each) floppy drives. It used to shake the table as the heads loaded and unloaded. But, it worked and ran DBase II and a bunch of other applications for me. And the OS took about 30K of disk space. I still do Geek Retro now and then. I love showing up at a meeting with a slide rule...and using it.
On adherence to programming standards:
I agree with your premise but sometimes we have to find outlets for the mirth. OK, obscure code references can be trouble. My personal outlet is pre-release product names. I am responsible for designing the Programmable Highspeed Ramp Output Generator (PHROG) and for silkscreening a memory board (RAMBOARD) so that it read as RAMBO. When no one had any ideas for a product name, I came up with an acronym HERPES, which I threatened to stick on the project unless someone came up with a better one. Not surprisingly, people were motivated rather than being "one of the HERPES team".
As a manager (a sometimes hat), I find semi-appropriate outlets for humor good for a team.
If someone in my group wanted to do a while (42), I would tell them to document it to be sure time wasn't wasted in the future, but would let it stand.
On eBook pricing going from $10/book to $12-$15:
Of course the copy protection on eBooks will be compromised. If people feel that they are being taken advantage of, I would expect eBook 'sharing' to occur at a large level. Then the publishers will be whining how pirating killed their industry. Meanwhile smart authors will realize that the value of publishers starts diminishing when small 'labels' can produce their books and distribute them.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
I think at issue here is that you and your sampling of friends and co-workers are not typical. In many areas, we have seen the progression from simple forms and ideas to complex inventions whose details are beyond our comprehension. Joe 6...-pint probably doesn't really understand how light switches work, never mind a cell phone or computer.
I know in detail how computers work. I've done hardware and software design for 30 years. Do I know what the hardware within an ethernet MAC/PHY chip works in my computer? No. But I know enough about the other "magic" to know that it is knowable if I choose to learn it. Our buddy Joe 6-pint may think a remote control is a magic wand. You and I know it is an IR LED pulsing very fast to send encoded information to an IR receiver at the other end. The pulses are decoded by a processor and interpreted as a command.
Personally, I think a tree or cat is much more magical than a computing device.
I design digital video cameras for cinema and this is a continuing problem in user interface. Very professional people know how to use their existing equipment, frequently working around issues that they no longer think about. Even if you provide a more versatile tool, it hampers them initially - frequently long enough to stop using it. This is especially true for people earning their money with the tools and project their 'air of professionalism' with their peers - fumbling around is not allowed.
I'm from the same photo background - loved my old Minolta SRT102. I came to peace with the aperture and shutter priority modes of my A1 but never really liked auto mode. Now I have a D40x (digital SLR) and took 3 days reading the manual and trying things. It is amazing. And I still programmed it for a few easy to use features, use the A&S priority modes and can't find many of the other features I know that are there somewhere. Those other modes (Sports mode - little swimmer icon?) probably would be useful for someone who doesn't know shutter speed vs depth of field tradeoffs I think.
This may be the thing that Microsoft actually got right with their user interfaces. When they release a spiffy new and confusing operating system, for basic functions like control panel they have a simple click to 'classic view'. Ah, comfort and familiarity. Let the youngins use that jazzed up interface.
'Not quite as old as a petrified dinosaur terd' Steve