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Comment Re: Why do they need ANY info? (Score 1) 413

I have friends in the automotive industry, including 2 that work for suppliers of in-vehicle entertainment systems.

The automotive companies isolate entertainment system modules from the rest of the vehicle to minimize legal liability for the operation of modules that are not part of the actual vehicle operation. Basically, they are treated as untrusted. Any vehicle status information gets to the entertainment system via a special gateway module. The information that is relayed is carefully reviewed for potential legal liabilities. The fact that a given signal is required to be available via the OBD port is not sufficient justification for relaying it to the entertainment system.

Even, for example, in vehicles where notification sounds are played through the entertainment system's speakers, the sounds are generated as a secondary function of a vehicle control module and provided to the entertainment system as an audio input. AND the sounds are also emitted by a speaker connected to the module providing the sounds.

Also, in vehicles where "driver information" is presented via the same display used for controlling the entertainment system, the display and it's user controls are part of the Driver Information System, which sends (among other things) commands to the entertainment system and receives (among other things) status from the entertainment system.

Comment Re:Why do they need ANY info? (Score 1) 413

why do they even need to know if the car is in MOTION at all just to play music??

So they can add features that could be distracting to the driver if used while driving the vehicle.

In theory, the entertainment system could use it's own sensors to detect vehicle motion, however, this puts additional legal liability on the entertainment system manufacturer. Also, the legal definition of "vehicle in motion" may differ from the physical definition. For example, any time the transmission is not in "park" might legally be considered as the vehicle being in motion. Simpler and less risky to use information already being determined by another module in the vehicle.

Comment Re:Science Requires Effort (Score 2) 246

When I was a kid, in my school's science classes, we did lots of hands-on stuff. Did we "re-invent the _____". Yes. So what? We learned how to "do science" by doing science ourselves. And I don't mean just mindless following directions. We started with describing things we "discovered" as we went through our days. Then the concept of doing simple tests to learn more about "every day" things. We were even encouraged to figure out how to test things, so were starting to do scientific experiments. Yes, some procedures had to be given to us. And, all the while we were doing this "fun stuff", the teachers managed to slip in lots of background facts. Guess what? We actually remembered - not just the things we did, but the background stuff as well.

Yes, all those facts facts we learned are important to have learned. And yes, we couldn't possibly learn more than a tiny fraction of them purely by hands-on science. By learning them along side the hands on things we did do, we could actually "connect" those facts with the real world. And, therefore, understand them.

Otherwise, they are just items of information to be coughed up on command.

Coughing up formulas from, for example, the "CRC Book of Standard Formulas" may be faster, but if you can't derive the formulas you need, how can you be sure you are using them correctly?

Comment Re:Engineers did the deed (Score 1) 569

Nobody ever said, "go forth and flaunt the law" maybe $Engineer did not even realize what he was doing violated the testing rules.

Ok... read this:

Specifically, VW manufactured and installed software in the electronic control module (ECM) of these vehicles that sensed when the vehicle was being tested for compliance with ....

You are trying to seriosly tell me an engineer responsible for this didn't know exactly what he was doing here? That he could design, impement, and test a clean running profile that was activated when and only when the vehicle thought it was running on a dyno under the conditions of an EPA test?

And that he also had sufficiently large rocks in his head to fail to suspect this would somehow be against the rules?

In one ECM, or across multiple ECMs?

Designing complex machinery, such as cars, is often managed using compartmentalization. The engine control ECM need not have been the only module involved with the cheat.

A single requirements engineer or manager (not all managers are stupid) at VW could have manipulated the requirements for several ECMs. Each piece of the cheat would be innocuous on its own, but together, when interacting with each other, accomplish the cheat.

Comment Re:They knew what they were doing (Score 1) 569

Probably ordered by management but executed and carried out by engineers who damn well knew or should have known

You seem to be assuming the cheat was implemented entirely in the engine controller.

Not all managers are stupid. Some are even very devious. It's very possible that a manager in VW's requirements department could have inserted extra specifications into the requirements of several control modules, each piece of the cheat seemingly benign and reasonable.

Comment Re:This wasn't an engineering decision... (Score 1) 569

Do these engineers have no morals or shame? There's no way you can argue that they didn't understand the impact of what they were tasked with designing.

You are assuming the engineers are seeing more than their little piece of the final product. Complex products are often managed by compartmentalizing the components and sub-assemblies.

Disclosure: I do software for electronic control modules. Not automotive, but I have friends in the auto industry.

Like other complex machinary, cars and trucks can have several electronic control modules (ECM). So a questionable requirements manager could insert extra specifications in the requirements for multiple ECMs to implement a cheat. A devious enough manager could even hide the purpose from the engineers writing the requirements documents.

The engineers designing and implementing the ECMs almost always see only the requirements for the ECM they are responsible for.

For example, the engine controller engineers would not know the message commanding a "special performance mode" was really a "special status" message from another ECM. And that ECM's engineers would not know their module was sending anything other than a special status message. And the test engineers would not know that any of the ECMs they were commanding to "not interfere with out test" was, in turn, "commanding" the engine controller to use a "special performance mode".

This would make Mr Gru proud of his protege at VW.

Comment Re:Things to consider (Score 1) 191

I would like to see better sand-boxing in Android. Even if an app has a legit reason to access x, y and/or z, the option to divert the access to a "fake" x, y and/or z would be very useful. And each app would have its own sandbox, so the fakes are not shared between apps. The fakes would act like the the real things. For example, fake contacts would contain a few "preloaded" default contacts. It could even allow the app to add a very few contacts to the fake.

Any app that refused to work because it detected a fake should not be allowed.

Comment Re:Before you go off the deep end.. (Score 1) 117

This settlement is less than a tenth of the dollar amount necessary to actually punish these companies more than they benefited. And if you are a regular who doesn't punish someone more than they benefited, you are explicitly endorsing their behavior.

Also, companies often pass along the cost of fines to their customers.

Comment Re:Translations (Score 1) 394

There are a lot of people who thing they have no internet if there's no big blue E icon on the desktop. The same goes for document editing. If there's no MSWord icon, they don't have any document editing software period.

I did an experiment once. Coworkers would look at my (Linux) PC's desktop and say "Other than FireFox, I can't find anything on your desktop." So, one day, I changed the icons to ones that looked very similar to ones on MS Windows. Those same coworkers were then able to understand my PC's desktop, many asking when did I switch to Windows. When I told them I had only changed the icons, they responded "Why don't Linux PCs always like a normal PC?"

I changed the icons back. And despite having seen, for example, my "start" menu button is in the same lower left corner their "start" menu buttons are, because mine has a penguin icon, not "Start" (nor the "Microsoft flag"), they can't find it.

FWIW, years ago, I read a review of Red Hat Linux (which was using KDE at the time) by a MS Windows user. One thing he said was "I like that it has multiple 'Start' menus."

Comment Re:Bank admits error? (Score 1) 96

For the life of me I don't understand why Chase, Capital One, or Bank of America have any retail customers at all.

They seem to be buying the small banks. At least that keeps happening to every bank I've been a customer of.

So I joined a credit union. but it is just a vassal of one of the mega banks. Found that out while reviewing a transaction summary from the web hosting company I used to use. My payments were listed as coming from one of the mega banks. When I asked at the credit union, they told me that the CU had a master account with the mega bank and all the members' CU accounts were actually accounts at the mega bank, managed as subaccounts of the CU's master account. I do get the benefit of lower fees as negotiated by the CU, but the mega bank still processes my payments and deposits the same as if I were a retail customer of the mega bank.

Comment Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 395

Oh really? My grandparents would say "sorry to drop by uninvited". Seriously. And they sure as hell wouldn't call at meal times - even on the phone (there was no internets when they were alive). I have no idea what my great-grandparents would have thought. No pre-teen pregnancies in my family that I know of.

Well, I know a co-op student, where I work, who has 2, still living, great grand parents. They are over 100. Her parents, grand parents and great grand parents were in their early to mid 20s when they had children.

They grew up in a time when there were 2 "snail mail" deliveries per day, so they could send/receive invitations for same evening - or the next day, if a reply was needed (they didn't have phones as those were a luxury back then). While unanounce/univited visits's to friend's homes was infrequent, meeting friends and other people in parks was routine. Visting people's offices unannounced/univited was also routine. The vast majority of their interaction with other people was "real time" and not pre-arranged. Even now, they talk alot on the telephone with friends and family. Also, they use email (with fullsized, high contrast keyboards) and voicemail. With the voice control feature, they can make calls from their smart phones, but that's their only cellphone use. They only send/receive text messages via an email/sms gateway.

Even though they use text/email messages, they still prefer non-pre-arranged, "real time" intereaction with other people. They neither like nor dislike this new etiquit. And they are not baffled by it.

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." -- Dr. Seuss