Re: More on voting stations

From: Karl Auerbach <karl_at_cavebear_dot_com>
Date: Wed May 12 2004 - 02:33:44 CDT

On Tue, 11 May 2004, Alan Dechert wrote:

> > This stuff has to be ironclad -
> >
> For starters, it needs to be better and cheaper than what's out there.
> What's this talk about the enemy of the good?

The $3500/$5000 price range for "the competition" is a lot more than it
will cost to have a well built box.

The computer (not including things like a UPS) for a good box will cost
only a few hundred dollars per unit to produce, probably less. But decent
front-end engineering will be in the hundreds of thousands, if not much
more.

A typical PC has more holes and ports - all of which can be tampered with
- than we realize. My main development machine has 22 electrically active
ports on the back and several more on the front. A typical machine
generates a several hundred watts of capacitor, battery, memory, cdrom,
and disk destroying heat. And most UPS's contain lead-acid batteries that
can do great damage if they are badly abused or catch fire [which has
happened to equipment I've used more often than I like to know.]

We're fighting an uphill battle against well entrenched and well heeled
interests. And once printing DRE's are purchased come into mainstream use
it is going to be extremely hard to convince the authorities that we offer
something that is worth the extra price.

Coming to the marketplace with good software packaged in what appear to be
Used Yugos is not going to convince a lot of people who's main concern is
staying in office rather than taking risks.

We get one chance at this. This is a marketing campaign. Image is
critical.

The attraction of inexpensive, and even used, machines is there for after
the hook has been set. At the moment, we are competing in a very small
time window against boxes that have appearances of strong physical
quality.

Yes the perfect is the enemy of the good. However we won't get a chance
to demonstrate that we even have good unless we can create a perception of
being adequate.

We are working in a crisis of lost public confidence. Yes, duct tape and
bailing wire are often fine ways to fix things. But you don't try to
convince a person who has just been through a plane crash to fly again by
rolling-up an airplane in which every part says "cheap" or "used".

                --karl--
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:37 2004

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