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Comment Re:Flipped Classrooms (Score 1) 307

LOL: best group project I ever had was when I was taking an online class. I had a lot less difficulty interacting and interfacing with the other students in my group, ONLINE. At least through the planning phase. In the DOING phase, I was basically the only person doing any of the work. Which is okay, because I documented everything, and the teacher saw the outcome and graded appropriately. Other than that - great team! great experience! 10/10 would solo that group project again!

(okay, maybe my sarcasm comes off a bit harsh online. . . )

Comment Re:It's about fraud (Score 1) 494

A lot of people in states with tight emissions standards are going to be selling their cars to people in states where they don't check. That's my prediction. It's going to be a fire-sale. I wish I lived in a loose-emissions state, because I'd be able to look at autotrader in california, and find one of these cars cheap as hell.

Comment Re:Guess: Engineering told to do the Impossible (Score 1) 494

The PowerPC was twice as fast as the Pentium II. On some ops. On some ops, it was 20 times as fast. The problem was use-cases. Most software was never optimized for the vector units. And even when some was; these were particular use cases that were not common. Most UI responsiveness is based on integer math. Where the PowerPC really screamed was in multimedia, particularly ripping CD's (encoding MP3's). Before I decomissioned my G5 last year, the machine was 15 years old, and it was unbearable to use for most tasks (mainly because Apple abandoned OS updates for it; but also, the IO bus was shitty). But I could still rip a CD way faster than my brand new 8-core i7 desktop.

So; VW do have a great piece of engineering here. Just for the limited use-case of passing an EPA emissions test.

Comment Re:How long will the company stay up? (Score 2) 494

Much of the stuff that breaks on VW's breaks independent of mileage. For example: a Dual Mass Flywheel should NOT break after 30000 (mostly highway) miles. (compare that to a single-mass flywheel; which will basically last forever, because it's a solid hunk of steel or aluminum; there are clutch breakdown scenarios that will DAMAGE a flywheel to the point where it has to be resurfaced like a brake rotor, but single mass flywheels never had these sorts of problems - VW added moving parts to a component that didn't need to have moving parts, for what many car enthusiasts would consider to be no damn good reason).

A lot of the vacuum tubes, electrical relays, harness cables, and etc, break from age, and in VW's case, we're talking about 2-3 years.

IMO: the worst "reliability problem" VW's have, in the US, is their dealer network. They refuse to stand by their warranties, and they refuse to stand by their product. They charge outrageous rates. They inflate the prices of their parts. They void the warranty if you do your own oil change, because of "oil grade" issues: but their own service department sells oil NOT of the required 505.01 grade; and then the clerk would tell me "that's what we use in the shop" (to do dealer-service oil changes). In some diesel models, if you're not using the correct oil grade (or even if you are), your cams will wear in as little as 30,000 miles. That's not a cheap repair. I've read countless stories online of people with TDI VW's where they may still have $10k left on their car loan, then something breaks like the injection pump ($2000), or in particular, the particulate filter, where it grenades, and sends contamination up into the fuel system (because they burnout the filter by periodically injecting fuel), and this contamination will cause ongoing problems with operation of the engine until the ENTIRE fuel system is replaced, at an average cost of about $7000. They don't cover this repair under their shitty warranty. Then there's issues with ice buildup in the intercooler, which sends chunks through the inlet blades of the turbocharger. If you're lucky, those don't find their way into the cylinders and snap valves. But that's usually what happens. I've heard this happening to BRAND NEW cars, and at least those poor folks get warranty coverage.

This emissions fakery just seals the deal.

Comment Re:Single line of code? (Score 1) 618

Err, and exactly who is going to tell me I cannot continue to drive my car?

In california, if you don't pass emissions, you don't get your registration sticker; renewed EVERY year. If you don't have a registration sticker, the cops will pull you over, and if you're caught driving again outside the 30-day fix-it window, they'll impound your car.

Comment Re:Nail everyone? (Score 1) 618

The way I understand it; cars that go into multiple juridictions will have both different physical engine configurations, AND a different program on the ECU/DME. (I know quite a few BMW owners who live in states that do not have stringent emissions testing, and they have flashed their DME with the "euro" tune, which dials down EGR, and increases performance). It's a totally different bin image.

What VW has done here, is put two different programs on one ECU, and sneakily swaps one in when it detects testing. And it's not just a mistaken "shut off the traction control because you're on a dyno" switch. It detects the humidity, and steering wheel position and a few other elements to sneakily swap-out the performance tune, and run the emissions-compliant tune.

Comment Re:Nail everyone? (Score 1) 618


Sometimes my boss isn't even aware of when software is breaking the law (or violating customer contract terms). I don't argue with my boss. But when I implement code that is legally sketchy, I ALWAYS put a configuration option in there. I make it disabled by default. Sometimes I document it, sometimes I don't. (like; when it's just a momentary brain fart, and I know that in 2 weeks, he will forget he even asked for it; and if he remembers in 6 weeks, and asks about it, I say: sure - it's there. Just tell the customer to turn it on by setting this value in the .properties file. . . - this almost always shuts him up. Yeah - you paid for it, I did it, and if you want to use it, you've got the responsibility for turning it on).

Comment Re:The engineers knew what was happening (Score 1) 618

Two separate maps?

Honestly, that's a really cool feature. And I find it very hard to believe that it wasn't done intentionally to deceive. And it took quite bit of dliberate technical knowledge, and possibly complying hardware design, to accomplish. Then again, my experience with car computers is quite old, and I've only dealt with more primitive versions. For all I know, multiple maps is common-place now. But I doubt it.

Comment Re:easy. (Score 1) 165

"unnecessary" is a very squishy term.

Microsoft might think that it's completely necessary to collect your personal preference information, in order to provide ontological context for the desktop AI assistant. Or to give their developers more information when they're troubleshooting application crashes. It's offloading data from your machine, for "distributed processing" - data that is shared with applications running on their server, or even going to analysis by their developers. These uses may sound perfectly benign. And they quite possibly are. I think what most users (including me) are objecting to, is that the nature of this data, and that it is being passed outside of our physical possession (and legal control), is that we lose control over how that data is used or misused. Even if we "agreed" to it in the EULA - we're not being given a choice, or if there IS a choice, it's being made too difficult or obscure to opt out, and that unease is creeping further and further.

Comment Re:Lies (Score 1) 165

I welcome a broader definition that shames such behavior, /i>

Really? I don't see that as a new thing. I see this as an extension of the Computing Ethics class I took for my degree. It was required. I suspect that when you get Marketroids making Engineering decisions (as you very commonly see at Microsoft), you end up with people who haven't been required to take a Computing Ethics class - making UNETHICAL decisions.

All this data collection that has been going on since around 2000 or so, was deemed completely unacceptable in the 1990's. You didn't even need to discuss it, because everyone pretty much agreed that they didn't want their tools spying on them, and making their private information available to thieves or even industrial competitors. Somehow, the spying has now become acceptable (through EULA's), and even common practice. They said that the 1990's was the "wild-west" era of the Internet. Today's era must be the "dystopian" era.