Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Wrangler reliability (Score 1) 370

I used to sell Jeeps. Never saw a car leak so much when new before. Every other unit leaked ... from the factory.

Not surprising if you are talking about the Wrangler. It's one of the least sophisticated, least updated, poorest made vehicles out there. It gets terrible fuel economy, is known for being terribly unreliable, loud, isn't practical for most people who buy one, is uncomfortable to drive or ride in, and it isn't exactly cheap either. Sure it can climb rocks and has great traction in sloppy conditions but that's about the only really genuinely good thing about it. And for reasons that elude me it still sells like crazy. Jeep dealers don't even discount it.

I used to work for Dana Corp and I've been in the factory where they make the axles and done some projects there. I've also been in the Toledo assembly plant. The Wrangler plant builds cars VERY fast. It's one of the fastest plants measured by time to assemble the vehicle. But I think that comes at a cost. Jeep makes little effort to improve the Wrangler because people keep buying them and not demanding that they get better. The axles on the Wrangler are about as low tech as it gets. Jeep has a product that people love irrationally like Harley Davidson motorcycles in spite of the fact that the product is objectively badly made and unreliable.

Comment Probably not... but maybe able to (Score 1) 76

Android fanboy here... just wondering - when Apple pulls an app from the store, does it force it to uninstall from your device(s) as well?

I've had one or two apps on an iPhone that were in the store and then got pulled for various reasons (nothing malware related). The app remained on my phone and functional. Whether Apple has the ability to reach in and remove the app I cannot say but it wouldn't surprise me if they did have the ability. We've seen Amazon do that with their Kindle and obviously it is technologically possible. I've not heard of them doing this yet and I presume it would be newsworthy if they did.

Comment Proving it was more than a few people (Score 1) 370

It's not a couple of software engineers, but proving that will be impossible

I wouldn't be so sure of that. I guarantee you that there is a paper trail here. NOTHING happens in an automotive company that large without a lot of documentation being generated. R&D, engineering, testing and management all HAD to be involved. If the government really decides to go after this (big if I know) I don't think it would be hard at all to prove that it was more than a few folks involved.

It's possible to get to the truth. It wouldn't even be that difficult; just arrest some engineers and file criminal charges. At some point one of them would cut a deal and talk. That won't happen, however.

It might if the right people are doing the prosecuting. It will take years however and the damage is already done. You are correct that even if they aren't willing to talk it wouldn't be that hard for a prosecutor to work his way to the real story.

Comment Some folks pretty high up had to know (Score 1) 370

Have you ever worked in a larger corporation?

Probably more than most people reading this and I've spent a good chunk of my career (several decades) dealing directly with large automotive companies. I run a small company that is a supplier to some of these big companies we are talking about.

There are quite a few layers of managers and worker bees, so the upper layers don't necessarily know what the lower layers are doing.

At least in the case of VW this wasn't some minor engineering decision. I don' t have a doubt in my mind that some folks pretty high up the food chain at VW knew. As for the other companies, we'll see. If it is merely a difference in real world vs test bench then that is one thing. If they intentionally did something different like VW then they should be spanked just as hard as VW. If they intentionally cheated then I hope they suffer the wrath of $diety.

So the managers may well have been in the dark about the "defeat device", because the managers are not engineers, and would not have seen that level of report. All they would see is a single bullet item on a PowerPoint slide: "meets EPA limits for emissions."

I doubt it went all the way to the CEO but I'm pretty sure more than a handful of middle management knew and there is a more than trivial chance the folks in charge of engineering, testing and/or R&D were well aware of what was going on. If they didn't then they weren't doing their jobs competently. Are you seriously going to argue that the head of R&D wouldn't know that it was impossible for a diesel engine without urea injection to meet EPA standards?

Or, as the old saying goes, "Never attribute to conspiricity that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Oh I think there is plenty of stupidity in play here. But I also think the people involved knew what they did was wrong. Greed and fear can make people cover up stupid decisions.

Comment Forfeit all revenues from sales (Score 2, Insightful) 370

Ok, if they want to cheat then they should have to forfeit 3X any revenues (not profit which is a much smaller figure) they made from the products they sold. Have the money fund the EPA or something similar or refund the customers. Any engineer or manager who signed off on or was involved in this should be liable for damages as well as criminal charges with no corporate protection since this was a fraud.

I've also read in the last day or two that VW is (predictiably) trying to claim that management knew nothing about the emissions and that "a handful" of engineers were responsible. While there were obviously engineers responsible I have NO doubt whatsoever that management requested and signed off on this. They're just trying to throw a few peons under the bus to save their own skin.

Comment Tracking and Bandwidth and Time (Score 1) 289

If all ads on the internet were simple, text based or at least not animated, didn't play sounds, didn't block the content I actually want to see, didn't use tracking cookies and didn't take up much bandwidth, I would be happy to switch my ad blocker off.

The ads bother me for three reasons.
1) Bandwidth - if they want to buy me a gigabit fiber connection then they can talk to me about taking up my bandwidth. Until then then can fuck off.
2) Tracking - What I do on the web is my business and not theirs. If they want to track me then they can pay me cold hard cash and a lot of it. I'm NOT trading my privacy for a bit of ephemeral news content or articles about kittens.
3) Time - They are wasting my time which is the most precious thing I have. I have countless better things to do that engage in a war with self-entitled advertisers over whether they have a right to spew their ads at me and track my whereabouts.

Comment So what? (Score 2) 289

Well, if you like going to those sites, it does become your problem as the more people who block ads, the less revenue they generate, and then their content will start to get worse, and eventually they'll disappear.

So what if they do disappear? I'll move on to something else. I have NO problem paying for content that I find valuable and I subscribe to several sites. The rest of them can dry up and blow away as far as I'm concerned. What they provide isn't valuable enough for me to care. I might miss a few for half a second but I'd get over it. If they want to PAY ME cold hard cash to look at their ads and track what I do then we can have a discussion about it. Until then their business model is stupid and I'm not about to give away my bandwidth and attention without what I consider adequate compensation.

Their bad business model is not my problem.

Comment A merger is just a euphamism (Score 1) 96

Ok, they don't have the cash or equity either to 'acquire'.

Sure they do. All they have to do is issue stock and have the shareholders of the other company accept that as payment. You can call it a "merger" if you want but functionally it will be an acquisition by one company or the other at the end of the day. One management team is going bye-bye and whose left will tell you who bought who. Chrysler merging with Daimler was a "merger of equals" but not really. Happens all the time.

Comment M&A can work fine but it's hard (Score 1) 96

Acquisition MIGHT be something which can be made to work.

There's no need to qualify that statement. Some acquisition activity is demonstrably beneficial. Berkshire Hathaway is a great example of a company that does lots of acquisitions. But the reason it works for them is that they are careful not to screw up what made the company they are acquiring great in the first place. (In fact they largely leave the acquired company alone aside from some capital allocation) Apple also is a pretty good example of a company that seems to usually do a good job with acquisitions. They get small companies for very clear reasons whose products are a clear fit with what Apple is trying to do. M&A can be a great way to cherry pick good new products and R&D. Pharmaceutical companies do this all the time with pretty good success. It CAN work but it's not easy or simple.

Other companies manage to screw it up royally. Daimler's merger with Chrysler. AOL with Time Warner. A big auto supplier I used to work for went bankrupt because they bought another big auto supplier in bad financial shape and couldn't digest the acquisition. Stock price went from $50 when I started to under $5 when I left. CEO made a deal literally on the golf course to try to grow the balance sheet top line but didn't do adequate due diligence and the bottom line went to hell.

Comment Acquisition and creating/destroying value (Score 1) 96

I would argue that acquisitions is more destructive than constructive.

Frequently that is true and there is plenty of academic research to support this thesis. It's not true all the time however. There are plenty of very successful acquisitions and it's not hard to find them. I've been involved with a few successful ones myself. It's not hard to find acquisitions that destroyed value though.

The ones that tend to work best are bolt on inquisitions between companies with similar cultures. Integrating two companies is hard but if the cultures clash it will almost certainly be doomed from the start no matter how promising other facets of the deal might be.

Comment Title IX and football plus budgets (Score 1) 110

As for the diversity issues they might as well not exist. As you said gaming is male dominated, but so is football, and at least in the case of football no one will do anything because there is too much money in it. Assuming (and I realize that my arguments rest on this assumption) that gaming can be as successful at the college scene as in the professional scene, the money will quash any significant action.

I'm afraid you are mistaken about the effects of Title IX. What would happen is that other men's activities (sports) would get pushed out to keep the gender balance. Football does that in men's college sports now. It takes all the oxygen out of the room for other men's sports. It gets something like 65 scholarships and there is no equivalent sport on the women's side of the ledger. Less popular men's sports typically get the ax to feed the beast. In my sport of wrestling there were something like 160 D1 programs 30 years ago. Now there are 77 last I counted. Most of these are casualties of the effect of football with respect to Title IX.

In addition its not like it would take much money to start the club.

More than you think if you want to do it in a big way. You'll need a travel budget, facilities to train, equipment to train with, insurance, etc. For comparison my sport is wrestling which is not a particularly expensive sport in D1 college and the typical budget of a D1 college wrestling team is around $400-600K per year. Some a bit less and a few a lot more. Usually the program exists thanks to alumni donations and the coaches do a lot of fundraising. Lately the big thing is to get an endowment for the program so that the funding doesn't come from the athletic department budget at all. I would imagine any esport program would end up with a similar sort of financial picture.

Comment Blow off classes? (Score 1) 110

Great, now we can meaninglessly give away free rides to college for people to blow off class and play video games instead of blowing off class and playing with some sort of equipment outside.

Don't know where you went to school but I was a college athlete and I didn't get to blow off any classes nor did I get a "free ride".

Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine