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'[OT]: Why I Hate Marketing Departments (was PCMCIA'
2001\11\27@235551 by Dale Botkin

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On Tue, 27 Nov 2001, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:

> At 16:31 11/27/2001 -0600, Dale Botkin wrote:
> ><rant>
> >Why do manufacturers think the interface information for thir products
> >need to be carefully guarded like the crown flippin' jewels? ...
>
> It's probably because of the lawyers (once again... :)  If they publish
> that stuff and it doesn't do what they publish, somebody might sue them...
> and if they want to put an appropriate disclaimer on it, this might cost
> more than they ever make through it  :(

I don't buy that.  Manufacturers publish buggy, crappy drivers all the
time with no problem, and standard disclaimers cost no more than the ink
it takes to print -- witness the disclaimer printed on every single piece
of software you've ever bought.

No, I think this is more a case of "Someone might conceivably make a
nickel from our product (especially after we discontinue it next month for
the new model) and we won't get a cut, so we'll screw everyone to make
sure that's not possible".  Then you get the Legal department involved,
typically made up of people with absolutely not the faintest notion of
anything related to technology.  Anything they don't understand -- which
is pretty much everything -- must be eliminated.

It looks to me like the fine folk in Marketing, backed up by the even
finer folk in Legal, determine that they want Product X to meet the needs
of precisely *this* segment o *this* market, and not one iota more.  If
the exact same product can be used in *that* segment of *that* market,
well, then, there's a totally different thing, a new product, never mind
things like common sense or efficiency.  Grind all these parts labelled
"Product X" up and make a new batch labelled "Product Y".

I've seen this in action, and it's enough to make a simple-minded
engineering type want to start swinging a hammer, let me tell you.  The
first time was when I tried to get a UPS from a well-nown vendor to work
with my BSDI system.  They had software for (shudder) Windows, Novell and
SCO, nothing else.  Took six months and an iron-clad NDA to get a floppy
out of them.  Turns out the whole thing was a total no-brainer...  but of
course we were prevented by the NDA from telling anyone that.  Of course
this meant that MOST people with BSDI systems were buying UPS systems from
their competitors...  the fact never quite registered with them.  We quit
buying APC^h^h^h -- er, that vendor's UPS systems -- after that.

Dale

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2001\11\28@071356 by cdb

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Dale,

there there! Now take two Aspirin and have a lie down. You must be fair
whacked after that!

colin

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2001\11\28@134906 by Dale Botkin

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On Wed, 28 Nov 2001, cdb wrote:

> Dale,
>
> there there! Now take two Aspirin and have a lie down. You must be fair
> whacked after that!

<grin> OK, I probably deserved that.  It's just amazing to see this sort
of stuff happen.  I'm not even asking for driver source -- wouldn't do a
lot of good anyway -- just interface and operational specs.  It *seems*
like a pretty simple request to me, but I must just be way out of step.

Dale

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2001\11\28@184220 by Martin Wehner

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Hello Dale-

I know this is going further and further off-topic, but I couldn't resist
posting this message.

I myself am looking into purchasing a UPS system for my computers and wanted
to find out what brand you are using now.

Also: when did you have these problems with APC? I cannot find the information
now, but thought I had seen quite a bit of detailed information in (possibly)
a manual for one of their SmartUPSs?
Maybe they did catch the drift that people were going with the competitor's
product because of their lousy support?!

I would greatly appreciate hearing about your experiences with the vendor you
have chosen to go with.
Do they have better support for your OS? How do the UPSs compare to the ones
you used to have previously?

If you do not wish to post this information to the List, but would still like
to share your experiences, please feel free to contact me directly at
.....martinKILLspamspam@spam@cyclotomic.com

Thanks in advance for any information!

       Martin



On Tue, 27 Nov 2001 20:30:10 -0600 Dale Botkin wrote:
{Quote hidden}

-------------------------------------------
Martin Wehner

e-mail: <martinspamKILLspamcyclotomic.com>
web:    http://www.cyclotomic.com/~martin
-------------------------------------------

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2001\11\28@191053 by Peter L. Peres

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I think that you will find that the driver does 80% of the non-electrical
job so they consider it a part of the product. I mean things like
retransmit etc. Since a driver easily runs into 1000 lines of code the
price is not trivial.

When there will be a glut of 802.11b on the market then everyone and his
sister will have docs. Menawhile it is a 'novelty' and the priecs reflect
this. Dont't make me laugh by telling me that the innards of a $700
802.11b card cost more than $50 even with 120u gold plated everything.
Plus I understand that they are paying for the spectrum through the cards
(but I may be wrong on this).

Peter

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2001\11\29@125332 by Dale Botkin

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On Wed, 28 Nov 2001, Martin Wehner wrote:

> I myself am looking into purchasing a UPS system for my computers and wanted
> to find out what brand you are using now.

Our APC units worked well and lasted well, and we did eventually get them
talking to the servers.  We also had some Tripp-Lite, which were better
supported if you were not the Joe Average corporate user.  Those kind of
users were well supported by APC, just not people doing things the least
bit out of the ordinary -- like running non-SCO UNIX in '94.  I only had
them for a couple of years before the business was sold, so can't speak to
their longevity.

> Also: when did you have these problems with APC? I cannot find the
> information now, but thought I had seen quite a bit of detailed
> information in (possibly) a manual for one of their SmartUPSs? Maybe
> they did catch the drift that people were going with the competitor's
> product because of their lousy support?!

It was about 7 years ago.  The interface protocol has long since been
reverse engineered and documented.  Don't know if APC finally caught on,
but its a moot point with all the available software, both free and
commercial.

To be fair, I now work for a company that uses APC for the 1000 - 3500VA
systems and Tripp-Lite for the little ones for desktop PCs.  The little
ones die regularly, as is to be expected for a light-duty UPS that gets
abused and kicked around under a desk.  The APCs go through batteries like
popcorn, which is to be expected for lead-acid batteries used that way in
(usually) elevated temperatures.  The UPS systems aren't my
responsibility, but I haven't heard any complaints about either of the
brands.  For the data center we have (I understand) several MWH of UPS
capacity backed up by two Pratt & Whitney turbine generators.  THAT's
impressive.

Dale

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2001\11\29@125402 by Dale Botkin
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On Wed, 28 Nov 2001, Peter L. Peres wrote:

> I think that you will find that the driver does 80% of the non-electrical
> job so they consider it a part of the product. I mean things like
> retransmit etc. Since a driver easily runs into 1000 lines of code the
> price is not trivial.

It's not drivers I'm after -- it's detailed documentation on how their
product works.  What the commands are, registers, that sort of thing.  The
kind of thing that used to be a standard part of the user manual, then
moved to the technical manual, then moved to the web site, then somehow
came to be regarded as a jealously guarded secret.

> When there will be a glut of 802.11b on the market then everyone and his
> sister will have docs. Menawhile it is a 'novelty' and the priecs reflect
> this. Dont't make me laugh by telling me that the innards of a $700
> 802.11b card cost more than $50 even with 120u gold plated everything.
> Plus I understand that they are paying for the spectrum through the cards
> (but I may be wrong on this).

I think you are on that one point -- it's the unlicensed 2.4GHz ISM band,
no licensing required, only Part 15 approval, same as cordless phones and
microwave ovens.  And I'm sure those cards (from below US$89 here,
actually) don't cost more than $10 or so to produce in quantity, you're
right.

Dale

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'[OT]: Why I Hate Marketing Departments (was PCMCIA'
2001\12\01@013509 by Kathy Quinlan
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I think the most impressive UPS I have ever had to work on was an Asea Brown
Boveri <sp?> UPS system. This system backed up the Power Co computers in
Perth Western Australia and I would say half the building ;o).

The area it is housed in is a purpose built 3 story building, the lower
level (under ground) had a massive generator, the middle level (ground
level) had 2 UPS systems, each capable of 400A 3 phase (440Vac phase to
phase, 240Vac phase to neutral). The top level was the battery banks, rows
and rows of 2Vdc batteries (500Vdc buss) the main battery breakers were
around 1200 A (IIRC).

It was quite a feeling working on this system, I was working for the
security company, and we were providing (do not ask why ;o) remote
monitoring of the UPS and feeding the alarms into the security computer. All
the control circuits  were 110Vdc, and most of our interface relays were in
areas with bare 440Vac terminals inches away (ie on the transformers etc).
It was quite and experience.

The funny thing about the job was if I had of known anything about
microcontrollers back in 1989 it would have made my life easier, all the
logic to drive the remote lights for the UPS and generator was done in
relays. (quite impressive as I had only left highschool and had not yet
started my electronics apprenticeship) but I had the time to build the
interface box and test it in the workshop, and had some fun doing the
documentation the schematic for the relay logic was on A0 paper and the
symbols were not that large.



Regards,

Kat.

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