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Apple has for years been a premium brand that rarely, if ever discounted products. Every year, the company could raise prices on products, and consumers would not only happily pay, but stand in long lines for the privilege of doing so. From a report: So when Apple started putting misleading, but seemingly consumer-friendly posters in front of Apple Stores at the end of 2018 offering a new iPhone model for $300 off (with trade-in of your current phone), you know something different happened for the company this year. Consumers fought back. Many analysts have reported that in the wake of poorer-than-expected sales for this year’s crop of iPhones, Apple cut back on production, including on the $1,100 iPhone XS Max, the $999 iPhone XS and the XR, the “budget” model that replaced the previous entry-level new phone, the $349 SE. The price for the XR (the one Apple is hawking discounts for): $749.
“This should be a wakeup call for Apple,” says Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “They swung, and they really missed.” The prices on the new phones are “far too high,” says Terry Walton, a tourist from Auckland, New Zealand. He has an iPhone 7 and didn’t even consider any of the X-series iPhones because it still works just fine. Upgrading “didn’t enter my mind at all,” he says. It wasn’t just iPhones that got price hikes. Apple also upped the cost of the top-of-the-line iPad to $1,000 as well (or over $2,800 for a loaded model) and added $300 to the cost of the Mac Mini and new MacBook Air computers.
of this story at Slashdot.
For years, I’ve been running with a focus on pace and have turned in fairly consistent half marathon times. This year I am trying out power to see if I can set new personal bests. …read more
The Russian-built Tupolev Tu-144 beat the Concorde into the air by two months. But the supersonic plane would enjoy a far less successful career. …read more
Not that we don’t love Star Trek, but the writers could never decide if ion propulsion was super high tech (Spock’s Brain) or something they used every day (The Menagerie). Regardless, ion propulsion is real and we have it today on more than one spacecraft. However, MIT recently demonstrated an ion-powered airplane. How exciting! An airplane with no moving parts that runs on electricity. Air travel will change forever, right? According to [Real Engineering], ion-propelled (full-sized) aircraft run into problems with the laws of physics. You can see the video explaining that, below.
To understand why, you need to know two things: how ion drive works and how the engines differ when using them in an atmosphere. Let’s start with a space-based ion engine, a topic we’ve covered before. Atoms are turned into ions which are accelerated electrically. So the ion engine is just using electricity to create thrust exhaust instead of burning rocket fuel.
The downside is that the thrust is very tiny. The upside is that, in space, that tiny thrust adds up so that in a few days or weeks you can be moving very fast. With no moving parts, keeping an ion engine running constantly is no real problem. Keeping a massive rocket burning fuel for months is problematic.
So the MIT flyer uses the same technology, right? Sort of. Spacecraft carry around their own ion fuel in the form of xenon (although some older engines used mercury). Xenon is good because it is relatively heavy which provides more thrust and is easy to store.
So what if you clamped an ion engine to an airplane? Well, you’ll need to put the xenon fuel tanks on it, too, which is going to make the plane heavier. You also have two problems. You need a certain minimum amount of speed to get your wings to create lift. In addition, your tiny thrust won’t add up like it does in space because of things like wind resistance. If a spacecraft’s engine stops it just stops accelerating but keeps going at its current speed and heading. If an aircraft loses power, that’s not the case.
Obviously, the MIT engineers had to create a very light airframe that could generate a lot of lift at low speeds. The resulting plane had a 5 meter wingspan and weighed less than 3 kilos. But what about fuel? A spacecraft carries their own, but an aircraft can consume nitrogen which is everywhere in the atmosphere. Sure, it doesn’t have the mass of xenon, but not having to carry your fuel is a big plus.
So why won’t you be boarding that midnight ion plane for Georgia anytime soon? Scale. The video does a good job of explaining the trades, but in the simple view a heavy plane is going to take more power and you get in a vicious spiral where more weight needs more power, but more power adds more weight.
You can see MIT’s video about their solid-state airplane (we like that name) after the …read more
‘I was given a promotion for slacking off’
Who, Me? It’s New Year’s Eve and for many of you this will mean celebrating – but for some the prospect of manning the support lines or working overtime looms.…
Perhaps the most insightful piece that sums up why the U.S. and its allies are apprehensive of using Huawei’s products. Six reasons, we are just highlighting the pointers, click on the source story to read the description:
1. There could be “kill switches” in Huawei equipment.
2. … That even close inspections miss.
3. Back doors could be used for data snooping.
4. The rollout of 5G wireless networks will make everything worse.
5. Chinese firms will ship tech to countries in defiance of a US trade embargo.
6. Huawei isn’t as immune to Chinese government influence as it claims to be.
of this story at Slashdot.