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Comment Re:Don't take yours in. (Score 3, Insightful) 411

If the car drove well while complying with emissions requirements, it's doubtful that Volkswagen would have risked an obvious legal violation for some marginal performance gains.

And since they're not going to give you a new engine when you take your car in for recall, it's safe to say that the performance will be reduced when you get it back. For the majority of people, a slight difference in emissions would be preferable to a noticeable drop in performance.

Comment Re:like GnuChess (Score 1) 95

Grandmasters can play chess at a high level because they can understand the position. Understanding the position is what allows them to efficiently prune the tree. For example, if all my opponents pieces are aimed at my king-side, I'm not going to consider king-side castling, or any combination that involves king-side castling. Also, if I know that in the Yugoslav attack of the Sicilian Dragon, exchange sacrifice on c3 is normal, I don't need to think 10 moves ahead to sacrifice a rook for a knight.

Computers are unable to understand positions. Take the final setup mentioned here -

Even a strong engine will analyze for millions of nodes, and believe that black has a definite win. Without identifying the underlying theme of the position - that if White leaves his pieces where they are, Black can never capture, there is no way to understand that this is a draw.

Comment There are actual teachers in India, you know... (Score 3, Insightful) 218

Your friend might not grasp this fully, but there are quite a few qualified teachers in India, who actually know how to use computers. A good first step might be to contact them, and see what they think, rather than asking a bunch of people on the Internet who haven't actually been to rural India. It's entirely possible that the teachers think kids should focus on basic subjects rather than learn Excel.

Barring that, ask your friend to get a copy of a book called "The Ugly American" by Burdick and Lederer. I'm about 95% sure that he hasn't read it.

Comment Re:If you ride a bike... (Score 4, Insightful) 696

That is horrendously bad advice. If I were actually invisible, I would ride on the sidewalk. For riding on the road, you want to stay far enough towards the middle that you don't blend into the surroundings. And when you stop at intersections, you generally need to assert enough room that cars don't squeeze past you. Both those things would be impossible if you were invisible.

Comment Re: Programming (Score 1) 616

You seem to be conflating the subject material being programmed, with the programming per se. As an analogy, it's possible to be an excellent writer without knowing anything about relativity, but you would obviously have to understand relativity thoroughly to write a book about it.

If you're programming wavelet analysis, of course you need to have advanced math skills. But for the overwhelming majority of programmers, math beyond 9th grade or so is simply not necessary. Those programming 3D graphics or physical simulations are exceptions.

Comment Re:Sounds like an ad (Score 1) 316

Yes, sure, let's compare those two ideas:

(1) I write up a RFP, we contract the appropriate programmers, license a development API for the helpdesk system, develop formal requirements, and spend around $100,000 for a feature that we will use maybe three times in the next year.

(2) I write a SQL query in 5 minutes that pulls the appropriate data, then spend another 15 minutes making the Excel spreadsheet work with it. I give it to my boss and leave for the day at 5pm.

Without knowing anything about our business environment, take a wild guess which method my COO prefers. I'll even give you a clue - he doesn't like spending huge sums of money.

Comment Re:Sounds like an ad (Score 3, Informative) 316

"Free" is how they sell the change to the public. In reality, the open suites simply cannot compete with MS Office on the basis of features. I've used Linux since 1992, and have used Open Office and Libre Office at home for years. But some tasks which would be considered simple in Excel are impossible in Libre. For example, I can create a dashboard in Excel fairly easily, that pulls tickets from the helpdesk SQL database, and gives me a histogram of ages. I have found no way to do that in Libre.

For home use, I would definitely recommend Libre for anyone who doesn't have a particular reason to choose MS Office. But businesses can easily paint themselves into a corner by getting rid of Access.

Comment Re:Sure... (Score 1) 262

No. It's certainly not "good enough". That's laughably optimistic - the Heartbleed bug is still fresh in our memory, and SSL is one of the most used libraries in the world.

The only that that's good enough is a mechanical switch that disables all changes to the firmware and operating software. If you want to get updates, you go to the car, flip the toggle switch by the ODBC port, and run the updates. As soon as you're done, you flip the switch off. With that switch in the off position, the car is capable of receiving GPS, and sending telemetry, but that's it.

I've been in IT for about 30 years now, and I drive a car that doesn't even have power windows or power locks. That's exactly how much I trust software engineers.

Comment Re:Paywall (Score 2) 154

I think you are arguing against yourself. For bricklaying, it seems like experience was much more important than years of formal education. And you are saying the same is true for programming - that experience writing programs is what is important. You don't need multivariate calculus or OS design to write programs, it takes 6 months to a year to learn the basics. But definitely not 4 years of university.

Comment Is this a joke? (Score -1, Troll) 143

Elon Musk is going through expensive hardware like Kleenex, trying to land a booster on a barge. SpaceX fails over and over, each time learning something, and relentlessly working towards success. The headlines use terms like "ground breaking" and "visionary", and 6 days ago they managed to get the booster to land, even though it tipped over.

Meanwhile, our taxpayer funded astronauts are doing cosplay in space, and inventing "space espresso" machines. Maybe it's time to completely defund NASA after all.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan