Every button, latch, and moveable part on that camera was rated to a certain number of presses and uses. A team of folks (which for one day that winter included myself) sat in a room pressing buttons and drawing notches on a sheet of paper until the product failed or qualified. It was kind of eye opening, actually. For weeks afterward I was nervous about whether the next button press on my tv remote was the last :)
I'm curious, 16 years later.. How much of this testing is remains so manual? At HP I think the number of products and rate of change in early development made building fixtures to do this sort of thing pretty costly compared to low wage human testers.
But one-off tests are still squarely in the territory of Ye Poor Intern. I remember interning at an auto parts plant years ago where I spent two whole days stuck in a windowless lab where I laser-measured the precise diameter of a batch of motor shafts because there was suspicion of a defect from the supplier.
It's the sort of mind-numbing repetition and boredom that threatens to liquefy your brain, and to this day gives me a greater appreciation for how good I have it writing code for a living :)
(the fact that I was using frickin' lasers to do my job was novel for only the first half hour)
Certain parts of automated testing are still manual too. In the aforementioned plant I was responsible for going into the oven and making measurements every few hours and measuring hundreds of things as part of the heat-cold cycle testing, even though the actual temperature shifting and vibrational stress was fully computer-controlled.
Good times. Glad I'm in software now.
"wooing consumers with short-lived products instead of forcing them (reminds me of STEAM)"
There might be a typo or I might just be not reading it right, but I can't seem to parse this, probably due to confusion about who/what "them" refers to and what action is being "forced". I want to understand it though because the comparison to Steam could be an interesting one! (Assuming that is Valve's Steam - another slight confusion, I'm not used to seeing it written in all caps so perhaps you're referring to something else.)
The documentary states that planned obsolescence was invented in the US, in wake of the stock market crash of 1920's. Some economists wanted to find a solution for the depression. Initially one of the economists came up with the idea that planned obsolescence should be controlled by the government. Check out Bernard's London paper on the right of this page:
The idea was that products would later be gathered and destroyed by a commission or something. A similar approach was used by Phoebus Cartel, which fined factories which made light bulbs lasting over 1000 years. According to the documentary, it still exists after multiple name changes.
I don't remember the exact details, but the documentary then proceeds to show many commercials and famous designers who promoted new goods with short life span. Instead of the government making people give up their stuff and destroy it once time is up, the focus was on "low quality" and advertising.
Here's the link to full polish version on youtube:
It's dubbed, but you can hear many interviewed people talk in english. I'm a native polish speaker. Treat it as a teaser :-). Points of interest:
- nylon stockings at 27:10
- at 16:10, an interview with a woman who met Bernard London. A few minutes later the section with commercials starts. "Planned obsolescence. A desire by the consumer to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary..."
The documentary doesn't mention STEAM, but I think it's similar. STEAM is DRM in sheep's clothing. It comes bundled with so many extras (I can live without) such as friends lists, IM, automatic patching. These days, people are asking developers to publish on STEAM. They are seduced.
As for games in general and planned obsolescence - after watching this documentary I think I know why so many games these days are linear, story-based and short.
It takes 10 seconds per iteration. My calculations say it would have failed after 4 days and 7 hours. I wonder what happened to the other 5 and a half days.
Very cool experiment. It's this type of testing that makes me feel reassured in mechanical engineering. It's about reassuring that a car air bag will work after years of inactivity, or a car seat belt buckle will not break under pressure in a collision. The only way to know is to test, test, test.
OTOH, if you repeat the (rotary) 70's era test with the linear actuator, that would be interesting estimate of whether a rotary actuation is better or worse for the brick longevity. Of course, you will still have a sample size of one, so your confidence interval will be meaningless. I can see this turning into a lifelong obsession... ;-)
I noticed that inconsistency as well.
But in all honesty, I've experienced this in other areas of my life -- writing, programming, cooking, guitar playing -- and can attest to what he's saying.
The guy could build anything from the scrappiest and unexpected of parts and appliances.
"So, who designed and built this?"
"So who's Dave? Is he an engineer or a roller coaster designer in real life? How did he know how to build it safely?"
"It's _Dave_ man! Dave can build _anything!_"
(edit) "Plastic" = "plastic used in Lego bricks that were included in Lego Space sets sold in the early 80s in Japan."
- changed shape slightly, some warping
- the colours faded
- they became quite transparent
- they don't bind at all or very very loose
The early ABS ones are about as good as new other than being dirty and a couple of scratches. No discolouration, they bind just fine, no warping as far as I can measure.
PS: One of those strange and seemingly random usage differences between British and American English is the latter's use of a plural, "Legos" (or perhaps more accurate to say, use of the word "Lego" to denote "a Lego piece" with resultant plural), which is never used in the UK and always sounds odd to my ear (British Lego being like sheep ...)
Also, depending on the particular American accent involved, I often find the pronunciation quite unusual. Sounds more like "lay-goes" than "leh-goes", similar to the way some Americans pronounce the word "leg".
Now I'm curious: how well do the lego knockoffs hold up?
Strangely perhaps some Legos from my childhood still snap well (and they are like 40+ yrs old). Kinda makes you want to figure out how the formula changed over time.
fond memories of disintegrating rubber and plastic from the 90s