Framing It: 12.23.2019

Brian Benchoff
Dec 23, 2019 · 4 min read

If it’s Boeing, it ain’t goin’. IP over Zigbee, but with Apple and Google. The RAZR was cool, and Holistic Engineering

A Slightly Successful Failure

The Boeing Starliner, in an orbit. Image Credit: NASA
  • Boeing launched an unmanned test of their Starliner spacecraft on Friday. Things didn’t go as planned.
  • The original plan for the mission was for the unmanned spacecraft to visit the space station.
  • Due to a software issue, thrusters fired either too long or at the wrong time. After this, the Starliner was unable to visit the ISS, and returned to White Sands Missile Range on Sunday.
  • This is a software issue for Boeing’s first attempt at their next-generation of manned spacecraft. This is not the failure Boeing needed right now, because:

Now Boeing is officially not manufacturing 737 Max planes.

Grounded 737 Max at TUI in Belgium. Image Credit
Thierry Monasse
/ Getty Images
  • Last March, under pressure from the rest of the world, the FAA grounded all 737 Max 8 and 737 Max 9 aircraft after two related crashes in five months. These crashes were the result of the MCAS system, a software fix for what is a hardware problem (the engines are too big for the rest of the plane…)
  • Since the Max has been grounded, Boeing has still been manufacturing aircraft. It still adds to the bottom line, after all, and airlines are expecting the planes to make it into service eventually.
  • Now, Boeing has suspended production of the 737 Max. In other words, the GDP of the United States will drop a tenth of a percent or so next month, simply because of a software glitch.
  • Pay attention to this, because the 737 Max debacle will be taught in business schools for the next century.

Apple, Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance are working on an Open Standard

  • Project Connected Home over IP is coming to provide connected devices. Already the Zigbee Alliance has Ikea, NXP, Samsung, and Silicon Labs on board. Now the big three of Silicon Valley are joining forces.
  • The goal of Project Connected Home is (apparently) to standardize on IP for communication across smart home devices.
  • That’s cool and all, but IP is only Layer 3 of the OSI stack. There are seven layers. How does this help? I dunno, and I don’t think anyone else does either. Oh, yeah, and you can already do IP over Zigbee somehow.
  • Nevertheless, the group is taking an Open Source approach to Project Connected Home.

The Motorola RAZR was the best phone ever

A RAZR with a foldable screen. Image Credit: Tom’s Guide
  • Motorola, the company that started the whole ‘cell phone’ thing, is releasing a new version of their classic RAZR phone with a folding screen. The problem is demand is too high
  • Motorola was expected to take pre-orders for the phone (a $1500 phone, by the way) on December 26, with deliveries happening in January. It’s a problem with supply, not manufacturing, and there’s no word when those pre-orders will be taken.

Manufacturing A Mouse

The Logitech MX Master 3 Image Credit:
  • Making the rounds on the Internet this week was a teardown of the Logitech MX Master 3.
  • This teardown compared the new mouse to the old version, the MX Master 2x. There are significant changes, and it shows how far you can push the engineering of the mouse.
  • The scroll wheel sensor is much smaller and much more integrated. Yes, this cost money to engineer, but the result is a better and lower-cost product in the end.
  • Holistic engineering! In looking at the design of the top plastic shell, Bolt found the new version used less plastic and, by itself, was a little flimsier. That’s fine, because you don’t judge the strength of the top shell by itself; when assembled, the flimsier shell is strong enough. It’s engineering a part to fit into the entire system, and that’s great.

Brian Benchoff

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Discussing the business of hardware and hardware manufacturing.

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