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Comment: Re:So what? Feel free to move into a cave. (Score 2) 186

by Balthisar (#49626801) Attached to: The World's Most Wasteful Megacity

Actually, New York City has an excellent history of pre-planning. Wikipedia. While it's true it's not the 1700s, remember that the population was significantly lower then. And "New York City" as people know it wasn't even formed until the late 1800s when the four outer boroughs joined Manhattan.

But, yeah, infrastructure technology is hard to plan for.

Comment: Re:If i can't work on my car (Score 1) 292

by Balthisar (#49402409) Attached to: EFF Fighting Automakers Over Whether You Own Your Car

Most cars produced in 1992 would have been 100% metric, but you have a body-on-frame vehicle with a long "carryover" history, i.e., the cab and engine were new (and metric), but the chassis was a carryover, pre-metric design. Although in 1992, the sheet metal may still have been specified in mils rather than mm.

Modern chassis have since been redesigned, and it's doubtful that there's a car produced by any manufacturer in any country that's not 100% metric now.

Comment: Re:If i can't work on my car (Score 5, Informative) 292

by Balthisar (#49402395) Attached to: EFF Fighting Automakers Over Whether You Own Your Car

I happen to work for a very large car company as a manufacturing engineer. No, we don't do this deliberately, and as said below, we don't not do it deliberately, either.

Our number one goal is customer satisfaction, and if you Pareto it right, the vast majority of customers don't service their cars themselves, and have no interest in doing so. They're more satisfied with fit-and-finish, safety, economy, and features that will delight them. If it were the case that 80% of our customers valued home-serviceability more than these things, then designs would shift towards these things. It's simply not possible to make every, single part easily serviceable given the demands of the modern designs.

There's not a single powertrain engineer that says, "Hey, let's put this air intake over the number 5 cylinder so that the customer will be discouraged from changing the spark plugs himself at 160,000 km." Instead it's, "Bummer that this air intake is in the way of the number 5 cylinder, but I have to route it here because the cabin air filter, goes here, the oversized washer tank goes there, and I have to figure out how to package the rest of the components, too."

And modern cars require less service. I used to have to change the points in my VW when I was a kid, every 3000 miles if I recall correctly. These days as long as you change your oil and filter every 10,000 miles, you don't really have to do anything else. Home serviceability is still possible, if inconvenient, but it's more than offset by the larger service intervals.

For other routine, at-home-typical tasks, there's not a huge barrier versus the past. Brakes, filters, oil plug, are all nearly as simple today as they were in the past. Maybe the alternator or water pump is hard to get to, but then again, you're not replacing these every 50,000 miles like in the past, either.

Comment: Re:Disclosing Test Questions is a Problem (Score 2) 95

by Balthisar (#49264915) Attached to: Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References

Oh, I get that the testing companies want to prevent discussion, and that perhaps teachers are subject to an NDA, but the children are not. Perhaps they're subject to discipline on school grounds, but off grounds there's certainly no legal basis that prevents the children from discussing the contents of a test, whether it be face to face or electronically. I would suspect that the teachers' NDA is probably really a matter of disciplinary action from the administration rather than a signed license agreement, else we'd hear about a leak now and then. Did you actually sign an NDA? Was there an alternative, or was it akin to "sign this and so your job, or you don't have a job."?

Comment: Re:Disclosing Test Questions is a Problem (Score 3, Insightful) 95

by Balthisar (#49264175) Attached to: Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References

It's been a long time since I've taken a standardized test, but I don't remember ever signing a licence indicating my willingness not to divulge the contents. Given the quasi-mandatory nature of PARCC I can't imagine such a EULA having any real weight, if it exists.

Barring any mutual agreement via a license or other contract, we still have some amount of freedom of expression in the USA, and discussion of a fact, such as the contents of an exam, would fall within that right. Even verbatim copying of some of the questions would fall within the realm of fair use. One might argue that copying the entire exam is fair use, but that's probably not defined in the courts as it is for telephone books and recipes, so I won't make that argument (I will mention it for consideration, however).

Comment: Re:There is no engineering. (Score 3, Informative) 323

The difference is that electrical, mechanical, civil engineers, et al, all have governing bodies and licensing requirements.

Except that vast majority of the working engineers in the USA aren't PE's, and aren't subject to licensing or other regulatory requirements. Some fields -- especially various civil things -- only require engineers to be overseen by a PE, but makes no requirement for engineers who perform the tasks. In most consumer fields no PE requirement exists.

Comment: Re:But (Score 4, Interesting) 640

by Balthisar (#48802783) Attached to: Microsoft Ends Mainstream Support For Windows 7

I'm a Mac user primarily, and a Windows 7 user at work (rollout was completed late last year). Even I don't hate Windows 8.1 (Windows 8.0 did suck, though). It boots to my desktop, I set up my preferences, and I'm mostly all set.

My only gripes are minor: Hiding the Startup Items folder is bad. Not being able to manage files in a folder for a Start Menu is bad. I still can't find crap I've deleted from the Start Screen if it's not a real application (like, say, the Microsoft Store).

Although I don't plan to give up my Macs as primary workhorses (and HTPCs) any time soon, I'm a bit frustrated at all of the B*S* networking issues with Yosemite. Still not enough to make me switch, though.

Comment: Re:No African OT either...and NO rationalizations! (Score 3, Interesting) 327

by Balthisar (#48709485) Attached to: The Coming Decline of 'Made In China'

> "it's OK for a Chinese factory worker" to work in what we could consider to be inhumane conditions

I work for a multinational, and when I go into one of our JV plants, they're mostly indistinguishable from conditions in our Canadian, US, and Mexican plants. The only real differences are the prevailing wages and social security system which is not typically considered part of the wage, and in China, it's a huge additional cost because it's not just retirement social security but things like housing, etc.

They don't work much overtime, as our production and sales are predictable. Instead there are multiple shifts (more jobs for more people).

Google- and Apple-style transportation is free. Lunch is free (and quite good). Families are together at night and weekends.

While there are property bubbles in some of the famous big cities, one can still temporarily purchase a home in much of China are very low cost compared to say, middle America. Food is cheap. Consumers goods are cheap. Health care is cheap.

Life is good for these people.

Comment: Re:Old? (Score 1) 145

by Balthisar (#48690473) Attached to: Gmail Reportedly Has Been Blocked In China

I'm not sure SMTP is being blocked entirely. I can still send email between QQ and my Gmail and Google Apps hosted accounts. What's *new*, though, is that I can't access the IMAP servers without being on the VPN. Once the mail leaves Google, though, it's arriving at QQ, and once the mail leaves QQ, it ends up on Google's servers. I simply need a VPN to get to Google's servers.

Yes, Google services (which are primarily web-based or rely on ports 80 and 443) have been mostly blocked for about a year, now, but IMAP has always worked until this weekend.

As far as I can tell, Chinese email users and Gmail users can still communicate. But if you're in China, you need a VPN to send and receive Gmail and Google-hosted email. I'm not even sure if startpoint SMTP is affected, as Google may be checking for (blocked) POP or IMAP access before allowing SMTP access.

Maternity pay? Now every Tom, Dick and Harry will get pregnant. -- Malcolm Smith