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Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 502

It's not just that. When you're cruising on the highway, you're not shifting, so that part is taken out of the equation. But automatics all have higher highway fuel economy figures than manuals in the same vehicle/engine. It's because of gearing: they make the gears taller for automatics than for manuals, so at highway speeds the manual driver's engine is buzzing at 1000rpm higher. With an auto, you can afford to have the engine speed lower because it's so fast and easy to downshift when needed. They probably don't offer a really tall 6th gear for manual drivers because they'd complain about having to constantly downshift it on hills or for passing, or they'd be lugging their engines.

Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 502

An "autostick" transmission is just an automatic that lets you override the computer for gear changes. My Mazda3 has one of these. They're extremely common these days. They do shift smoothly, as you'd expect of an automatic.

What you're talking about is a "DSG" transmission. That's really different, and you're right, they do shift extremely quickly but more jerkily than a normal auto. Theoretically, they have better performance and fuel economy than normal autos, since there's no torque converter. They're also pretty rare: only VW-group cars and some Fords have them to my knowledge. There's been a lot of reliability complaints about the Ford ones.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 502

Oh for fuck's sake, are you really this stupid? Here's a fucking link:

$96.72. No, it's probably not the most expensive Hakko station. There's also this one:


At $236.40, it's still less than half of that mythical $500 Hakko. Hakkos have never been highly expensive. I got my first Hakko (a 936 IIRC) over a decade ago for less than $100 at Fry's.

You need at least 2 temp settings for two dif solder types, you need quick and intuitive airflow manipulation for rework.

There's no "airflow manipulation" on a soldering station. You're thinking of a "SMT rework station", which is something else altogether. A "soldering station" is a soldering iron that's temperature-controlled, and usually has a handy stand with sponge and/or brass mesh for tip cleaning.

Yes, the ~$200 rework stations are indeed Chinese and not terribly high-quality. However, they actually work just fine for hot-air rework in my experience. (The soldering iron side, on the other hand, is complete junk.)

Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 502

New cars don't even have keys to start, they have keyless push-button starting systems that are integrated with the ECU. I'd like to see you try to start one with push-starting. A 2000 Neon is seriously old; that's 16 years old now, things have changed a lot. I'm not saying it's impossible because I'm not one of the engineers who's worked on these things, but I'm seriously doubting it'd work because of the way these things are tied together now: I'm betting the ECU would simply not continue to run the engine because it never got a signal from the push-button start module directing it to start the engine.

Comment Re: Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 502

Yes, it's not steer-by-wire, it's just an electric motor bolted onto the steering shaft to provide assist. Otherwise it's a totally standard rack-and-pinion steering system. Remember the old days when small cars didn't even have hydraulic assist, and had completely manual rack-and-pinion steering? Now slap an electric motor onto the steering shaft close to where it connects by U-joint to the rack, and you have a modern EPS system. The whole idea is that you really don't need much (if any) assist at highway speeds, so it doesn't bother wasting power at those times, only at low speeds. Mechanically, the system is pretty simple; I'm sure the only reason they didn't do this before is because the motor control aspect was too difficult and expensive to do before; now with modern power electronics and microcontrollers it's not. Being able to electronically drive a motor in either direction in a very exact manner to precise angular positions, and for a price reasonable for a mass-market car, is actually a pretty new thing. It just wasn't possible 25 years ago, unless you were willing to spend a ton of money and have a huge box full of electronics.

As for feedback, that's probably due to design; they might have provided a bit too much assist or overcompensated for resistance from the wheels or something. Every car's is different of course. A lot of the early EPS systems were criticized for being too numb. The one in my Mazda seems to work really well, but I can see how a Chrysler probably isn't as driver-oriented given the target market.

Comment 7 and 8 are just guesses, but here is evidence: (Score 2) 229

A few of the many stories about backdoors in U.S. hardware:

D-Link: Reverse Engineering a D-Link Backdoor (Oct. 12, 2013)

Arris: 600,000 Arris cable modems have 'backdoors in backdoors', researcher claims (Nov. 20, 2015)

Juniper Networks: Juniper drops NSA-developed code following new backdoor revelations (Jan. 10, 2016)

Cisco: Snowden: The NSA planted backdoors in Cisco products (May 15, 2014)

Netgear: Netgear Patch Said to Leave Backdoor Problem in Router (April 23, 2014)

Windows 8: NSA Backdoor Exploit in Windows 8 Uncovered (Aug. 22, 2013)

Windows: NSA "backdoor" mandates lead to a computer-security FREAK show Quote: "Microsoft Windows OS vulnerable to hackers, thanks to National Security Agency requirements." (March 6, 2015)

Windows: NSA Built Back Door In All Windows Software by 1999 (June 7, 2013)

Hard drives: Breaking: Kaspersky Exposes NSA's Worldwide, Backdoor Hacking of Virtually All Hard-Drive Firmware (Feb. 17, 2015)

Is every backdoor the work of the NSA? There is no way of knowing.

Comment Re:User error (Score 1) 502

I'm not saying the differential between the automatic and the manual is all that much these days, it's not, but if you are on the highway the manual is going to be better.

You're 100% wrong, for new cars. Go look at *any* 2015-16 car offered in both manual and automatic and compare the highway fuel economy (and the city economy too, while you're at it). The automatic will *always* beat the manual.

There's a simple reason for this: modern automatics have at least as many speeds as manuals, and their tallest gears are taller than those on the manuals. The manual simply cannot get equivalent fuel economy when it's running the engine 1000rpm higher in 6th gear. And there's a simple reason for this: automatics are close to lugging the engine, but they don't dip low enough to cause problems because they just downshift when they need to, since they can do it in milliseconds. Manual drivers can't, so they make the gear ratios lower so a driver stomping on the gas in 6th when passing on the highway actually gets some throttle response instead of lugging the engine. Also, I think there's an assumption that manual drivers just don't care about fuel economy so they intentionally pick lower ratios (and final-drive ratio) for better performance.

Comment Re:I own one of these. . . (Score 1) 502

* I own one of these vehicles, and I can attest that the shifter design is awkward and confusing.

* The shifter paddles are another gripe...

* And the design fails are not limited to the shifter.

* All the controls in this vehicle are a user interface disaster.

* After owning mine for more than a year, I still find it awkward

* ...the touch screen interface for the infotainment and climate control still befuddles me at some times and infuriates me at others.

* And just to add an extra special touch of irritation,...

* The utter failure of the Jeep's user interface was really pounded home to me when I was loaned a Tesla Model S for a week and a half.

So why exactly did you buy this vehicle? Did you even test-drive it first? Please tell me that at least you were forced into the purchase by your overbearing wife or something (trust me, I know how that is... :-( ).

Comment My guesses about Microsoft: (Score 4, Interesting) 229

My guesses:

1) Basically, Windows is dead. Countries will have to move away from using Microsoft products, since Microsoft has shown it cannot be trusted in ANY way. For example: Windows 10 phones home (A LOT) even with all reporting and telemetry disabled.

2) Microsoft wants to make money in the Facebook and Google way. Microsoft plans to mine all user data on all computers connected to the internet and sell the information.

3) The reason there will be no more versions of Windows is that Microsoft will do what Adobe Systems has done: Force users to move to a subscription model.

4) Windows users will isolate Windows from the internet, and use Linux on a different network with a cheap 2nd computer to connect to the internet. (But how to allow information interchange between the 2 networks?)

5) In response to users isolating Windows from the internet, Microsoft will make Windows stop working after a few days of no internet connection. Adobe Systems does that, in my experience, with CS6. (CS6 is the last version before the forced move to a subscription model.)

6) Satya Nadella, the new Microsoft CEO, was chosen because he was the least annoying candidate. He is apparently not the real controlling manager, but only someone to advertise.

7) Microsoft has a contract with secret U.S. government agencies to make Windows into what users consider to be malware.

8) Because Microsoft often releases buggy software, possibly because it is paid to do so by secret U.S. government agencies, Windows 10, with its many ways to connect to the internet, is now FAR less secure than before.

Not a guess, because verified by others: Microsoft is shockingly badly managed. The cover of the January 16, 2013 issue of BusinessWeek magazine has a large photo of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with the headline calling him "Monkey Boy". See the BusinessWeek cover in this article: Steve Ballmer Is No Longer A Monkey Boy, Says Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The BusinessWeek cover says "No More" and "Mr.", but that doesn't take much away from the fact that the magazine called Ballmer Monkey Boy -- on its cover.

Slashdot commenters called Ballmer "Monkey Boy" for years before BusinessWeek called him that on the cover of its magazine.

Worst CEO in the United States: Quote from an article in Forbes Magazine about Steve Ballmer: "Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today." Another quote: "The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value -- and jobs." (May 12, 2012)

Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 502

For emissions purposes cars in Japan can't be driven past around 30,000 miles or so unless you give them a major overhaul, engine rebuild, etc.

I seriously doubt that's the reason. From what I've read, the reason they ship used cars out of Japan is because of the taxation scheme: unlike here in America where you're taxed based on the car's assessed (blue-book) value, making it really cheap to keep an old car if you ignore repair costs, in Japan the tax gets much higher as the car gets older, so it doesn't make financial sense to keep an older car. They might claim that's for emissions purposes, but that's probably a lie; it's probably just to stimulate the economy by getting car-owners to continually buy new cars.

Modern Japanese-made cars easily last well over 100k miles, and pretty easily 200k and up, at least the ones they sell here in the US. 30k is barely broken in: the car is probably making **more** emissions in the first 5k miles than it is at 30k. Modern cars don't even need any real service for the first 100k miles aside from tire rotations and oil changes (and even those are being stretched to 10k-15k miles). It's not like the Japanese carmakers are going to make their engines completely different for the JDM market, so it's not amazing at all that they're still going at 100k miles. They do that here in the US all the time.

Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 502

I like a manual because they're fun to drive, have better gas-mileage

This is incorrect on modern cars. Automatics, invariably, get better fuel economy than manual-transmission cars.

Before about 10 years ago, you were correct, but not any more.

Also, I seriously doubt you can roll-start a modern manual-transmission-equipped car. Old ones you certainly could, but with modern engine controllers, it's doubtful that's allowed.

Comment Re: Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 502

or the electrically-assisted power steering (which, contrary to popular belief, works just like traditional power-steering, just with a electric motor-driven pump instead of a belt-driven pump).

Nope, you're thinking of EHPS (electro-hydraulic power steering), which is an electric motor driving a hydraulic pump with otherwise regular hydraulic-assist power steering. These were popular in the 00s to improve fuel economy, but they're mostly gone now I think.

Now they just have electric motors directly driving the steering shaft (EPS: electric power steering) to provide assist. They didn't do this before because the motor drive electronics and control algorithms are a lot more complicated than EHPS, but with modern power electronics and microcontrollers it's not so hard. As a bonus, it's lighter and simpler than EHPS; you don't have to worry about hydraulic leaks, hoses, etc. Also much easier assembly since there's no hoses, just a motor bolted onto the side of the steering shaft.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 502

That's even worse than my Boxster, where they've locked the battery under a trunk lid that requires battery power to open...

I'm sure that's not a big problem. There's probably some terminals where you can attach a battery charger or jumper cables to power the car, which then lets you open the trunk lid.

If your battery is dead, that's not a problem: you just have the car towed to your Porsche dealership and let them apply this procedure to open the trunk lid and then replace the battery with a Genuine Porsche battery.

If you want to be able to just replace the dead battery in a parking lot with one you got at a local Autozone after being driven there by your buddy, you shouldn't have bought a Porsche.

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