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Comment Source code and calibrations (Score 1) 618

This is bigger than "the guy who wrote the code" because an ECU ROM image is comprised of two parts, really... the program code (which obviously had to be altered to detect the conditions for switching emissions controls in) and the calibrations - a symbolically mapped area of constants used to tune the controller for each individual platform and for regions that platform is sold in.

Calibrations are a checksummed block of the ROM image, mapped and edited through a calibration editors. I've actually architected one such calibration editor in the late 90s for GM (Cal-Link) and I've seen the competition (oddly enough, German-written "ETAS" software).

What has to be the case, is that there are at least two sets of calibrations - one for "emissions cheat mode" and one for "performance mode" - and calibrations involve a team of engineers, testing on a dynamometer, on the proving grounds tracks, or on the bench; at each phase, they are checking against emissions testing and performance parameters, tweaking and tuning until they get an acceptable, marketable product.

So to make this cheat happen, across not only individual product lines, but badges as well (Volkswagen AND Audi), you are talking a large number of teams working on multiple sets of calibrations - whose purpose must be obvious the first time they put it on a dynamometer. They are working with an ECU whose code was written by another party not even in their food chain (one controller, lots of products... and every car platform is tuned differently).

I have no idea how high this goes, but it has to be somebody with oversight of not only multiple product lines, but both badges, too.

Comment Apple buys Volkswagen's assets.... (Score 4, Interesting) 535

Apple buys VW/Audi and rebrands (since the brands will be taking a big hit very soon), and consumers forget about dieselgate. Apple gets the infrastructure to build cars, as well as an eager dealership network. They throw money at some new designers to oversee the existing engineers and make the vehicles they want to make.

Book it, done deal.

Comment Blaming American Engineers (Score 5, Informative) 301

In the German press, the CEO is already painting this as a bunch of rogue American engineers doing this.

One problem: If there was any engineering in the US, it was probably only to tweak the existing calibrations. It's pretty rare to see the actual source to ECUs, which is mostly unchanged over long periods of time. Most of the adjustments made are in the calibrations - a checksummed block of mapped constants in the ROM image file where the symbolic map has been exported by the compiler.

As somebody who has actually authored calibration tools used in the automotive industry, and worked on some of the software used to provide version control, I have a pretty clear idea of what is going on here.

In this case, the code itself - the algorithms used in the ECU, specifically disabled emissions controls (either by an alternative set of calibrations, or by skipping entire routines) when in Emissions Test Mode. If it's using an alternative set of calibrations... it still demands an answer to why it would need a second set of calibrations to begin with.

Sadly, the press and many of the investigators involved in this will probably not understand the techical aspects of this, and why this is a fundamental cheat that could only have been created by the team that engineered the ECU.

Comment Re:Start Menu is horribly broken (Score 1) 39

VisualStudio 2015 alone is worth 32 items in your install. MS Office 2013 is another 20+ items.

I'd bet the average developer has over 1500 items, and any gamer will also have over 1000, easily.

The only people likely to have under 512 items will be the most casual users, people who only browse the web and read their e-mails. Microsoft screwed the pooch on this. The fix is taking a while because they baked in the arbitrary 512 item limit into the search index database file that is created. I'm guessing the number of entries in the database file is fixed for every place that uses the database fie - i.e. if it goes over, things break badly. The developers who coded that need to be taken out back and put out of everybody's misery.

Full disclosure: Back in '97 I wrote my own ini file handler after discovering Microsoft had put an arbitrary limit of 64k on the size of the file, and it read our 3MB files (not my fault) without complaining, just truncating everything over that 65535th character. I did that in one afternoon. I guess Microsoft is still using developers who can't dynamically allocate space for data.

Comment Start Menu is horribly broken (Score 1) 39

The current Start Menu is horribly broken. Microsoft has known this for months, but has failed to produce a fix.

Currently, it is limited to 512 items. This also breaks Cortana's search for items in the menu.

Of course, that is separate from another issue with the Start Menu: The inexplicable "flattening" of the program files structure to a single folder level, which maddeningly produces menu folders with countless "Uninstall" and "Help" links in some cases. That was, apparently, a "design decision" by some idiot at Microsoft when they moved to the Metro UI in Windows 8, and hasn't been corrected back to the more realistic and productive way it originally worked (since Windows 95, no less)

Comment Re:What? (Score 3, Funny) 59

Sure, it might take a while to print it out, but they can always chill drinking their organic double mocha latte and reading on their iPad Air tablet while it prints

Now stop talking sense, you. Practicality and critical thinking gibberish have no place when hipsters are out to save the world!

Comment Re:Half the story (Score 1, Insightful) 213


I believe trademarks are where corporations should be able to protect characters of a franchise that is still being actively monetized.

Once the copyright expires on a cartoon... you should be able to copy it freely, of course, but that shouldn't mean you have a right to monetize it when it contains trademarked characters.

It is a simple fix to our current laws, but unfortunately, the people are no longer served by our so-called "representatives" in Congress.

Comment It fixes itself? (Score 4, Interesting) 203

Ideally not a true fix, but a workaround, at least.

At least it doesn't render the users' computers inoperable.

I got the update just fine... but the Start Menu Item limitation (512 menu items max) is still not fixed with this update.

Also, the Store and "Movies & TV" windows keep popping up randomly (I believe when I watch something with media player). Very annoying.

One more thing... why the heck is the titlebar/menu coloring a hot mess? All white? There is a theme out there called "colors" that kinda-sorta fixes the issue, but it won't stick the accent color I assigned. At least it makes the desktop less visually messy. It seems that every iteration of Windows has given users fewer and fewer options to change colors and details of the user interface... while making the supplied themes progressively worse. I should be able to make Windows 10 look like XP, if I want to (I don't want to, really).

For the most part, Windows 10 is fine... but annoying leftovers from Windows 8 and this interminable menu limitation is driving me nuts.

Comment Re:Award for menu that limits you to 512 programs? (Score 1) 249

Yup, Microsoft themselves are plenty guilty of this:

=========[Programs->Microsoft Visual Studio 2012]==========
    Blend for Visual Studio 2012
    Microsoft Feedback Client
    Microsoft Help Viewer
    Microsoft Test Manager
    PowerPoint Storyboarding
    Visual Studio 2012

=========[Programs->Microsoft Visual Studio 2012->Microsoft Visual Studio SDK]==========
    **WEB** Download Visual Studio Visualization and Modeling SDK
    **WEB** Getting Started with the Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 SDK
    **WEB** Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 SDK Documentation
    **WEB** Visual Studio Gallery
    **WEB** VSX Developer Center
    **WEB** VSX Samples on Code Gallery

=========[Programs->Microsoft Visual Studio 2012->Microsoft Visual Studio SDK->Tools]==========
    Reset the Visual Studio 2012 Experimental Instance
    Start Experimental Instance of Visual Studio 2012

=========[Programs->Microsoft Visual Studio 2012->Team Foundation Server Tools]==========
    Build Notifications

=========[Programs->Microsoft Visual Studio 2012->Visual Studio Tools]==========
    Developer Command Prompt for VS2012
    Dotfuscator and Analytics
    MFC-ATL Trace Tool
    Remote Debugger Folder
    Spy++ (64-bit)
    VS2012 ARM Cross Tools Command Prompt
    VS2012 x64 Cross Tools Command Prompt
    VS2012 x64 Native Tools Command Prompt
    VS2012 x86 Native Tools Command Prompt

25 entries... and I have several versions of VisualStudio installed. VS2010 has 33 entries. Uninstall entries are kind of annoying, because I'd rather just use the Programs and Features panel, and not have any accidental clicks on an uninstaller app.

Comment Re:Award for menu that limits you to 512 programs? (Score 2) 249

Well, for starters, the problem is 512 TOTAL apps, regardless of folder structure. The Start Menu also doesn't support more than one folder level, which in itself is rather dumb. It seems like whoever was in charge of architecting the Start Menu couldn't figure out how to organize the data internally to represent a multi-level tree, though it's a basic pattern every developer should be able to handle.

The limits aren't imposed by the registry (but thanks for playing), and Microsoft has a fix in the pipeline (as I stated, and as you could have read in the link I posted), but it hasn't dropped yet, at least not in yesterday's big update.

I've dealt with arbitrary limits in Microsoft's internals for a long time... going back to having to write my own ini file parser for a Win95 application that had a 3MB configuration file (not my fault) - at the time, the API could only handle 64k of text, and silently accepted larger files, just chopping off the remaining content. My parser handled the larger files with ease, and no arbitrary limits (there is always a limit based on available memory, disk space, etc...). More recently, I discovered Microsoft doesn't really have a strategy for a situation where writing to the registry causes the boot drive to run out of space, resulting in an unbootable machine (I was able to fix it booting PE and moving some files around).

Comment Award for menu that limits you to 512 programs? (Score 4, Informative) 249

What sort of morons put an arbitrary limit on the number of items your menu has?

Apparently there is a fix in the pipeline, but it's a bit stupid to have released this with a known issue that should be a simple fix. In this day and age, there is simply no excuse for an arbitrary limit on the number of items in your start menu. I easily have 1500 unique items (Microsoft being one of the worst offenders of dumping lots of useless entries into my start menu) in my Start Menu->Programs folders, so it's likely something important will be displaced by some application's web URL or an uninstall link.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra