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Comment: Re:Minivans are practical but ignored (Score 1) 205

by bmajik (#47501367) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

I think VW might contract the actual manufacturing to Chrysler.

Indeed. The VW Routan was a Chrysler Town and Country with some different skins on the inside and out. It was so much not a VW product that the VCDS system (the thing you can use to do vehicle diagnostics on any VW, Audi, Seat, or Skoda product since the early 90s) doesn't even talk to it.

In the German market, VW sells Vans of all different sizes. None of them are currently imported to the US; the Eurovan was the last rest-of-world van that was available in North America.

Comment: Re: Hmmm (Score 3, Informative) 205

by bmajik (#47501143) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

We have 3 kids in car seats, and an Odyssey.

When we lived in town, it was great. Back then, my only serious gripe with the Odyssey is that if you are running a second set of wheels (e.g. for permanently mounted snow tires), and don't fit a 2nd set of expensive TPMS sensors to those wheels, the VSA (stability control) cannot be defeated via the console switch.

This is a problem because the VSA implementation sucks and is frankly unsafe when accelerating on surface transitions - for instance, when you are waiting on a gravel road and are about to pull onto a paved highway, the VSA system senses differing levels of wheel grip between the wheel on pavement and the wheel still on gravel, and cuts power, precisely when you need maximum power to quickly get to highway speed.

Last fall we moved to a rural area, and now poorly maintained roads (deep snow in the winters until I clear it, deep ruts whenever there are rains) has really shown me the shortcomings of the vehicle. My wife has gotten it stuck 4 times in our first winter.

The Odyssey needs 2 things to be superlative. Air suspension with adjustable ride height (it is a very low vehicle, for ease of entry/exit for small kids), and a proper AWD system.

My wife is now desperately wanting an AWD vehicle. But to get a proper AWD system (e.g. locking transfer case or at least a torsen differential), and the useful seating capacity of a minivan, you need to be looking at full-size truck based SUVs, like the Excursion or Sequoia.

I'm aware that the Sienna comes in an AWD version, but its particular AWD system and ride height doesn't inspire me that they will be foolproof enough to want to make the switch.

Sadly, my wife also refuses to drive a Mercedes G-wagen :)

As an aside, the Odyssey towing capacity isn't really sufficient. It's 3500lbs, and it requires upfitting the vehicle considerably with things that don't come factory - PS cooler, ATF cooler, hitch wiring, etc. (In addition to the actual hitch receiver).

When we were considering camping options, essentially nothing that had enough floor space for a family of 5 could be towed behind an Odyssey.

Comment: Re:Work Shortage where is the Wage Increases?, (Score 1) 529

by bmajik (#47491797) Attached to: US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Hi there. Been an engineer at Microsoft since 2000. Have interviewed hundreds of people at all skill levels.

Why do you assume that wages at Microsoft aren't increasing?

I understand the compensation model, and how it has changed in my 14 years. The comp packages we are offering to college grads these days are astoundingly lucrative. Every few years in my career, there has been a big compensation realignment based on market realities. Everytime something at work upsets me enough that I start talking to other companies, their comp packages (especially with cost of living factored in) aren't able to match what I'm getting now from Microsoft.

Lately, high comp packages are required to compete with Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc, who all have plenty of money, and, for younger developers, are often seen as cooler places to work than old stodgy Microsoft.

I just see no evidence that H1-Bs are a mechanism for the company to save money. Dealing with HB-1 hassles involves a lot of overhead and expense that are not applicable to domestic employees.

As I said earlier, I have interviewed many, many folks, for many positions. The hire rate is not as high as we would like it to be. It never feels good to have to turn someone down, and it is a waste of time for everyone when an interview doesn't go well. But the bottom line is, we talk to many more people than we can feel confident about making an offer to. There are lots of STEM graduates, foreign and domestic. But not all of them are someone we could feel comfortable hiring. I'm sure you've known people in your CS class who could get good grades but who couldn't code... those people count as "qualified STEM applicants" to people that are pushing the "H1B is evil" rhetoric, but we all know that just because someone has a degree doesn't mean they are employable in that field... and certainly not by the top organizations in that field.

I've also seen no evidence that Microsoft has a preference for hiring H1-Bs, or that there is any compensation disparity for H1-Bs. I have seen evidence that H1-Bs cost the company money that domestic employees do not. For example, the company has special lawyers and paperwork people that deal with H1-B and other immigrant-labor related problems. That's a cost. When H1-B engineers are dealing with this stuff (which is frustratingly often), they aren't writing code or analyzing tests. That's a hit to their productivity, which ultimately, is another cost.

Comment: Re:Diversity is not a virtue (Score 1) 265

by bmajik (#47326137) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

No, it is not bigoted or racist to assume that someone of a different skin color may have had a different upbringing than you

It is certainly racist.

You are using race as the determining factor to make a presumption about an individual human.

What other useful definition of racism could there be?

Comment: Re:And not an EQ above 50 among them (Score 1) 561

by bmajik (#47326023) Attached to: Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Counter-anecdote.

My dad was active in Mensa when I was younger and he was newly divorced. My dad is an unapologetic anti-democrat; I think Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan may be above Jesus in his world view.

As near as I can tell, his interest in Mensa was for social networking with people that had a chance of understanding him. He's brilliant, loyal, fair, judgmental, and not at all sentimental. He has great difficulty expressing himself emotionally. Only certain people "get" him, and that's fine with him as long as there's at least one.... He's a hardcore INTJ.

He has no desire to run the world or to run other people's lives.

I haven't bothered to apply officially for Mensa, but I think I'd be borderline for admission. I'm also NOT a technocrat and ALSO not a liberal democrat.

Comment: Re:Diversity is not a virtue (Score 5, Interesting) 265

by bmajik (#47324785) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

There is nothing worthwhile in diversity in and of itself

This is the attitude that needs to stop. Diversity may not be a value in your pantheon, but it's not social engineering to want an inclusive society. It's wisdom.

Why does it need to stop?

A huge problem -- that few people seem to speak about -- is that using gender, nationality, or, most frustratingly -- race, as a measure of "diversity" is implicitly bigoted.

The diversity that people _claim_ to want is one of perspectives, life experiences, etc.

The things that are relatively easy to bucketize - gender identity, race, socio-economic status, etc.... these things in and of themselves are not a valuable source of "diversity"

The implicit bigotry in the "diversity" argument says that, if you hire more black people, you'll get much different ideas than what you already have. Why? Because all black people are different from the white people you already have.

I've never seen a more stark illustration of _racism_ then that.

The conjecture here is that if a population distribution doesn't' look the way certain people expect it to, then there is some upstream social problem that needs tinkering with.

That conjecture is only ever true or false on a case by case basis. The real problem that needs to stop is for people to believe this conjecture in the general case; the real problem is that people don't even agree or are not willing to state what their expectations are for the "ideal" population distribution, but, are still willing to cry foul and to assert that a problem exists.

Comment: Re:Seems like a 180 from their previous views (Score 1) 193

by bmajik (#47308325) Attached to: First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

Well, not exactly a feature phone.

I use facebook, multiple account email, and Exchange calendar from my phone multiple times a day. Its just that, I'm usually at home or work, and both have WiFi.

Contract phone plans are absurdly expensive, and, I've been running a pre-paid SIM for over 7 years. I don't want to go back to a situation where I pay a high monthly fee for a limited selection of phones with phone company malware on them...

I am getting everything I need out of this smart phone WITHOUT a gmail account.

Comment: Re:Seems like a 180 from their previous views (Score 1) 193

by bmajik (#47307937) Attached to: First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

I'll tell you how I've landed on a Windows Phone -- one that I paid for out of pocket, and using a plan that I also pay for out of pocket.

(I mention this only because I'm an MS employee, and I want to avoid the problem of someone claiming that I am astroturfing here)

For the last year or two, I had been using a used iPhone 3G. I had to jailbreak it so I could SIM unlock it.

I never bought any apps from any appstores. Free apps, yes. Paid apps - no.

The basic problem with the iPhone series is that apple simply obsoletes its hardware too quickly. Most of the apps in the apple app store couldn't install on my phone, because my phone couldn't be updated to the newest OS. The phone was unbearably slow when browsing desktop-class pages.

I feel like apple is a premium-price for a below-average experience.

Regarding Android - every android phone I've seen has been completely different from the others. If I pick up an android phone, it always takes me a while to adjust to the quirks of that particular handset's UI. I'm attracted to the ease of "owning" an android device, but, ultimately, I want a phone that just works. I rarely want to tinker with it.

Finally, Android bothers me because I don't use gmail and I don't trust google. The people I've talked to claim that it is difficult to really make the most of an Android phone without giving your life over to your google account.

So, Microsoft finally comes out with the Lumia 521 -- a no-contract phone that is natively built for Windows Mobile 8. I really like this phone. It has a fast browser, and the 1st party apps are quite good. It is like $120 from Wal-Mart. The camera and photostitching apps are good, and it comes with a built-in Nokia mapping/navigation program that has complete offline capability. This is important for me since I don't have a data plan and I am often in places with no data service anyhow. The Nokia HERE DRIVE and HERE MAPS applications are fantastic.

The windows mobile UI is great. More consistent then Android, and better information density than iPhone.

Comment: Re:Microsoft has been selling Linux for years (Score 4, Informative) 193

by bmajik (#47307719) Attached to: First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

Microsoft has a long and interesting Linux/FOSS history.

I remember in the late 90s, Microsoft actually released a Front Page Server Extensions module for Apache on Linux, so people using FP could publish sites to Linux servers.

During the early 2000s, MS shipped a bunch of GPL'd stuff via the Interix/SFU product.

Currently, System Center (enterprise management tool) can also monitor and manage Linux machines along side windows (and Mac) machines.

As noted elsewhere, Microsoft has made Linux a 1st class scenario for Hyper-V on-premise and Azure hosted uses.

Microsoft has opened some its internal projects to the external community, with acceptable licenses, and Microsoft has also contributed to existing FOSS projects where it has made sense. Internally, "should we use existing FOSS" or "should we open source this?" are questions that are coming up now where in the past, they never did, and asking them would get you some funny looks.

In the future, you're going to see Microsoft doing a better job of meeting customers in mixed/heterogenous settings. We've got a new CEO that has provided this guidance to the entire company. The market changes have certainly become too large to ignore, but the bottom line is that we're adapting.

On the business side, getting some of a customer's business is better than getting none of their business.

As always, we partner with everybody and we compete against everybody. For example, I sit in a building where most of the developers here work on Microsoft's own ERP products, yet I worked on features that let Visual Studio talk to SAP.

Comment: Re:How does this help? (Score 3, Interesting) 128

by bmajik (#47288349) Attached to: Google Forks OpenSSL, Announces BoringSSL

Bugs weren't missed in mainline openSSL. Bugs were logged, sat around for years, and didn't get fixed.

The project management and software engineering practices for openSSL were/are simply not acceptable.

The code is salvageable. The people and processes that allowed the code to get that way are not.

"This code under new management"

Comment: Re:Double-standard and misunderstanding of politic (Score 1) 422

by bmajik (#47232097) Attached to: FWD.us: GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists

The party you are referring to exists - it's called the libertarian party - and it is mostly (but not entirely) ex-Republicans who think responsible adults should be treated like responsible adults -- e.g. left alone until they hurt somebody.

There _should_ be more liberals and democrats joining the libertarian cause, because the LP is much better than the dems on key issues dems claim to care about: anti-war, pro-civil liberties, anti-racism in law enforcement (especially the drug war), anti-corporatism..

So, I cannot tell you why there aren't more democrats who break ranks and join the libertarians.

One reason for that, I suspect, is that I simply cannot relate to democrats or understand how they came to be democrats in the first place. There are plenty of intelligent people who are democrats, but I've never been able to figure out how any of them "tick".

In any case, there are principled libertarians -- and that's how they've traditionally billed themselves. Principled in the sense that they think government morally/ethically should not do certain things.

Then there are pragmatic libertarians -- folks who figure government is _ineffective_ or even malicious at doing certain things, and therefore shouldn't do them. An example would be Gary Johnson.

The bottom line is that, if America were actually incredibly hungry for a fiscally conservative, socially permissive party -- that party has existed for decades. It has been getting more popular lately, but it's still basically a rounding error in most elections.

Comment: Re:Some Reasonable Arguments (Score 2, Insightful) 105

There are some great points in there

1) access to data without vendor approval/involvement.

2) interop

3) no "remote killswitch" on software

4) no strange privacy leaks

I think these are all fine requirements.

But it's not clear to me why closed software couldn't meet them.

For instance, how does Windows + Office not meet these requirements?

1) the Office XML formats are documented, open, and have reader/writer libraries on non-Microsoft platforms

2) As a result of the consent decree, and much subsequent engineering and doc work, its quite easy to interop with windows and office.

3) So far as I know, there are editions of Windows and Office that require no internet connection at all, and certainly have no provision for remote-kill.

4) Microsoft is actually pretty good about shutting off telemetry, either on a per user basis, or with centralized management tools -- because enterprise customers want this capability too.

Comment: I don't want any of that. (Score 1) 321

by bmajik (#47110157) Attached to: I Want a Kindle Killer

I have one of the older e-Ink, Wi-Fi only Kindles. Still has a physical keyboard, which I rarely use. My wife has the ad-supported one with no keyboard, and she doesn't seem to miss it.

The old e-ink kindle is great. I love it. They nailed the user scenario for me -- it is actually _better_ than a physical book. I can use it anywhere I'd use a physical book, I rarely worry about battery life. It's easier to read than a real book when laying on my side in bed.

I am completely uninterested in a color e-reader until it has the battery life and contrast of the e-ink display. And I don't want music, or apps, or multi-tasking, or anything else, because history tells me that adding them will detract from the basic experience of just reading a fucking book.

Here are the improvements I want out of a new kindle.

1) some kind of magical mystery charging. Maybe there is an inductive mat. Maybe its solar. Who knows. I said I _almost_ never worry about charging it. The next step would be I _NEVER_ worry about charging it -- and, I leave the Wi-Fi enabled and continue to not worry about it.

2) bendable/flexible - within limits. If they could make the thing so that it would reliably survive on the outside of soft-sided luggage; if I could put it in a pocket and not worry about it..that would be amazing. What's interesting about this is that the basic e-ink display technology can be flexible...

3) ability to easily -- and I mean easily -- send a book I've finished to my wife's device. Like, if me and her are in the same room, with both of our devices, I ought to be able to send a book on my device to her device. For free. Without any nonsense/bullshit.

Comment: Re:Money quote (Score 1) 688

by bmajik (#47066455) Attached to: Professors: US "In Denial" Over Poor Maths Standards

Sorry, I fell into the trap of using "right and left", but these mean different things to different people.

When I say "right", I mean "laissez-faire", "capitalist", "individualist", "deregulated"

When many people say "right", they mean "authoritarian" and "nationalist"

That's not what I mean at all. I detest authoritarianism.

There are many places that are more authoritarian than the US (but we're working hard to catch up! (grumble))

There are no places that are more pro-individual liberty than the US. There are a few places which have better pro-business environments, and more economic freedom, but they tend to have fewer civil liberties than the US.

fwiw, my ideas about individual rights may also not be what yours are. I think "hate speech" should be legal, and like any other speech, should only be prosecuted when it is threatening or slanderous. And I think individuals ought to be able to keep machine guns without any government knowledge of oversight. Finally, I think homeschooling is a critical way to pre-empt the historical evils of government indoctrination, and so support homeschooling and parental rights to an essentially unlimited degree -- not because I think all parents are good, but because I think most governments are bad :)

I take individual rights _very seriously_, and so for me, a nation that offers a high degree of individual liberty has the following characteristics: few laws restricting the content of speech, few restrictions on private gun ownership, few restrictions on how children are educated outside of state control.

The US ranks quite well on all 3 of these individually, and taken together, far and away better than anywhere else.

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