[time-nuts] Beaglebone NTP server

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 11 10:33:09 EST 2014

On 12/11/14, 7:04 AM, Paul wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM, Chris Albertson <albertson.chris at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Your logic would disqualify EVERY computer made today.  What will still be
>> in production in 10 years?
> The ones you make yourself.  Or if you're a nation-state the ones you have
> made to your specifications which include N years of support, or the ones
> you make yourself.
> Most time-nuts are hobbyists who will buy used gear or repurpose things.
> That's not a commercial/governmental profile.

Most national labs are more like time-nuts hobbyists for many of the 
same reasons.

A big business (think cellphone provider) depreciates and amortizes 
their gear, so they cycle through in 3-5 years, and *build the update 
process into the budget*. They also buy in large quantities.

National labs are like hobbyists: they buy things and expense them in 
the year purchased and use them until they fall apart. They have a 
succession of independent projects which come into existence, then go 
away, generally without any provision for "sustaining engineering". The 
research is done, the report published, move on. They're doing things in 
small volumes and repurposing is a way of life.

The "support" is "original builder". And as long as it keeps working, 
things are great.  When it stops working, then you're hoping
a) the original builder is still working or alive
b) that you have a charge number to use

Much like a hobbyist.  The Z3801 GPSDO in the garage will probably run 
for a good long time. If my daughter needed the 10 MHz output for a 
personal project (unlikely, she's a molec bio person) and it failed her 
options would be:
a) Hope I'm alive and interested in fixing it. There's no substantive 
documentation on the power supply I used (surplus, of course) or the 
cabling (bare molex pin shoved into the connector on the Z3801) or the 
RS422-RS232 mod (jumpers inside the box).
b) Hope her budget allows buying a replacement and adapting to the 
replacement, or finding someone willing to fix it.

Even for things done in the context of a big mission, there's typically 
no mechanism for continuing support.  You built a nice phase noise test 
setup to characterize the oscillators for a space radio that's getting 
put into a Mars rover.  You've finished the oscillators and delivered 
them to the next higher level of integration. Your budget ends. Your 
test set gets put in a closet, left on a bench, passed on to another 
project, but whatever the case, there's no funding to improve, maintain, 
modify, update, etc.

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