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Comment Margin of error is vastly underestimated (Score 2) 210

For most studies of any kind, the margin for error is around +/-3%. For example, a study covering the United States population using a sample size of 1000 will yield a margin of error of 3.1%.

So a study says that texting while driving increases your risk of a fatal crash by 23 times. That sounds like a lot! But hold the phone...the overall rate of traffic fatalities is about 10 per 100,000 people, or about 0.01%. Multiply that by 23, and you get 0.23%. A big change, right? But that 0.23% is still well within the margin for error of most any study.

I'm not saying that texting while driving isn't dangerous. I'm just saying it's a lot harder to prove a link than it would seem.

Still, people are wowed by big multipliers, and news writers love to tout dramatic statistics, whether the subject of the study is economics, medicine, or traffic safety. But if you understand statistics, you know that most of these studies don't really tell us much. It's no wonder we keep getting contradictory study results!

Comment Just a language change (Score 2) 327

The leaders will still be there, they just won't be recognized as such. It's another way to be politically correct, just by not saying certain taboo words.

I'm reminded of a big soccer league in the Houston area, where they officially do not keep score in any of the games. They want everybody to just play for the enjoyment of the game, and no one to feel inferior to others. But the reality is that everybody not only knows the score, but they know the win-loss record of every team. They just aren't allowed to say it officially.

Zappos, I'm sure, has the same kind of thing going on.

Comment Re:Article is a load of rubbish. (Score 0) 153

Of course, it's unlikely that there would be a high level language available to engineers to make it quite so readable as above - but hopefully the code illustrates the point.

Actually, most embedded devices these days are programmed using C, C++, Java, JavaScript, or Python, so they probably did actually have a nice, high level language like this to work with.

Comment No additional hardware was likely needed (Score 1) 153

The author did a good job of explaining how EGR reduces efficiency. But it's not clear to me that additional hardware would have been required to make the cheat work.

Because emissions tests have (up to now) been done on a treadmill, it was necessary for many cars to have a "test mode" already, to prevent problems with electronic stability control systems due to two wheels spinning on the treadmill, while two wheels remained stationary. So test detection would have already been present, for legitimate reasons. Likewise, the EGR system would have needed continuous control for normal operation of the engine.

So while I agree with the premise that many people had to have been involved in engineering the cheat, I'm not sure that additional hardware would have been required.

Comment Why did they need his passwords? (Score 1) 399

If the phone was encrypted, I can see why they might need a password for it. But PCs aren't difficult to access without the password, for example, by using the built-in administrator account (which by default has no password), or by physically removing the hard drive.

Constitutional issues aside, this seems pretty inept. to me.

Comment So the government is cutting edge? (Score 3, Insightful) 109

The implication of the article is that government is better at figuring out where to go digitally than business. If you've ever been in a government office...say, a post office, tag agency, courthouse, whatever, you'll see just how up-to-date and visionary the government is when it comes to technology. This is not unique to the United States. Why would we want to hobble ourselves by having the government set the pace for our digital future?

Comment Cleaning cruft is dangerous (Score 1) 205

"Cleaning" anything in Windows can be dangerous, whether that's just your registry, or the OS. Cleaning methods sometimes snag items that aren't really trash, leading to an unstable operating system.

Are you really using so much space on your hard drive that you feel the need to clean house? Just leave it alone, unless you're prepared to wipe the hard drive and start over.

Real computer scientists like having a computer on their desk, else how could they read their mail?