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Comment Re:Cultural? (Score 5, Insightful) 473

I need to agree. Germans take a lot of pride in Engineering as a culture. To say the German Engineers took short cuts just to pass US tests seems more unlikely than a strict Wink-Wink-Nudge-Nundge from the Bosses to the engineers with the side effect of or-else.

Completely agree. Not to mention that most engineers work to a functional specification. The software controlling what the emissions control computer reports is a pretty simple concept: pull readings from the on-board sensors and push them onto the output bus. Anything that deviates from that would need to have been driven explicitly by somebody. Code that detects emission testing equipment and conditions doesn't just get added by a couple of engineers on a whim.

I'm sure that a program manager was given the EPA requirements and told "You must meet these (by any means)." That PM passed them on to the engineering team with clear instructions that the limits must be met, one way or another.


Volkswagen Boss Blames Software Engineers For Scandal ( 473

hattig writes: Today VW's Michael Horn is testifying to Congress and has blamed the recent scandal on engineers saying: "It's the decision of a couple of software engineers, not the board members." However, 530,000 cars in the U.S. will need to be recalled for significant engine modifications, not a software fix. Only 80,000 Passats are eligible for the software fix. There is no word on the effects these modifications will have on the cars' performance, fuel consumption, etc. The BBC reports: "The issue of defeat devices at VW has been a historic problem, points out a Congress panel member questioning VW US chief Michael Horn. In 1974, VW had a run-in with US authorities regarding the use of defeat devices in 1974, and in December 2014 it recalled cars to address nox emissions."

Comment Re:Well if this is true (Score 2) 99

Then both those companies are shitbags.

Well, at least Verizon is telling people about it (albeit discreetly). Who knows how much sharing goes on behind the scenes?

There should be strict industry regulation of this kind of thing (ads, tracking, etc) a lot better than currently is.

If you even pretend to care about your privacy or reject this kind of advertising, it's better to just assume the worst. Block all advertising. Block all third-party scripts. Strongly consider blocking unknown first-party scripts.

And finally, next time someone in advertising or marketing whines about ad-blockers, consider following my wildly successful three-step program:

1) Explain that it's their own greedy-ass fault that people block this shit.
2) Punch them in the face.
3) Remind them that they should probably just commit seppuku.

Comment Re:Its laugh track is a crime against humanity (Score 5, Informative) 405

Um, they do have a live studio audience []

Yes, they make a big deal about their "live studio audience", but that doesn't mean it isn't annoying as hell. In fact, I'd prefer it if they used a laugh track, because at least then they'd adjust it so it doesn't sound like a bunch of inebriated hyenas. Of course, just because they have an audience doesn't mean it isn't rigged:

A friend of mine has been to a taping of the show. They spend 20-30 minutes getting the audience ready with a stand-up comedian and other fluffers. Their whole purpose is to get the audience excited and in a laughing mood. They really pile on the hype about their laughter making the show successful and how important the reaction is. They talk about the microphones needing big loud laughs. Etc.

When the show finally starts filming, it's a rare scene that's filmed in one take. Therefore when the show is edited, they will independently choose the "best" laugh and use that for final take. In that sense they do use an edited laugh track, it's just one that's created by the current audience.

Then there's the dialog pacing, which is constructed to suit the exaggerated laughing instead of the comedy. This awkwardly false nature can be easily seen if you take away the laugh track or (less subtley) replace it with a caricature laugh. This is a problem with a lot of sitcoms, but Big Bang Theory seems to be especially bad.

Now take a look at John Cleese's approach on handling audience laughter while filming Fawlty Towers. Here's an example from A Room with a View. Compared to that, Big Bang Theory feels stilted and forced, while Fawlty Towers has a more natural rhythm that's so much easier to laugh at.

Of course, it also helps that Fawlty Towers had good writing and actually is funny. Two things Big Bang Theory can rarely claim.

Comment Re:Let me recycle my joke from Reddit (Score 1) 257

Hey, at the risk of going against the popular opinion, fried SPAM is actually pretty good. I'm just saying.

"Spambled" eggs (scrambled eggs with diced fried spam) is fantastic. The salt in the spam seasons the eggs and the result is pretty delicious. Toss in some mushrooms, onion, pepper and whatever else you like in eggs and you have a meal.

Comment New Tab (Score 5, Insightful) 410

Firefox 41 also removed the New Tab URL preference (browser.newtab.url), telling people to use a third-party extension instead.

The reason? Malware can change the setting. Full stop. That's it. So, because someone's computer is already compromised, and that malware changed a Firefox preference (alongside doing things like, you know, running a keylogger), Mozilla decided to cause headache and grief for everyone else. And to top it all off, if you want to continue to configure the new tab URL, you should use an extension written by some random guy.

I just don't understand the mentality. Choosing the default URL for a new tab seems like such an obvious feature, yet it's getting ripped out too, like so many others that Gavin Sharp has pissed on. Fuck Mozilla.

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

But that's the thing about "ethical concerns": we all have different values, different tradeoffs we see as optimal

Yeah, and that's why we have regulations in place: so that a small group of greedy assholes don't ruin the planet for shortsighted gains. We're trying to avoid things like Bhopal and Love Canal, not encourage them.

both democracy and "might makes right" have proven poor systems for choosing between sets of values

Democracy might be a little slow to react sometimes, but it can work just fine.

Comment Re:00000-00000-00000-00000-00000 heh (Score 4, Informative) 354

Yep. 111-11111111 or something like that actually worked. There were other variants that were easy to remember at-the-time too.

Close! The format of those old Microsoft product keys was actually 000-0000000.

The trick to making up a valid product key was that the 7-digit field must add up to a multiple of seven. The easiest code to remember was 111-1111111 -- seven ones add up to seven -- which turns out is a multiple of a seven :)

Comment Re:It's a hacked Deja Vu (Score 1) 211

I don't know how that animated GIF was created, but when I looked at the font on my Windows machine I saw the pictures I linked in my original comment. If I left both font sizes at 10 points, Hack was taller than DejaVu. If I changed Hack to 9 points, it was the same height but narrower. In both cases, the a glyph has a curve on the top in DejaVu and is flat in Hack. Perhaps this is a quirk of how the TTF renders in Windows, or maybe the GIF uses a font size of something like 9.5.

I personally don't like the i because there's not much room between the dot and the little curve at the top of the lower line. I think DejaVu's i is a lot easier to immediately identify.

Comment Re:It's a hacked Deja Vu (Score 5, Informative) 211

It's Deja Vu Sans Mono with some questionable changes to glyph shapes, sizes, and spacing.

This is exactly what it is. Hack is nothing more than Deja Vu Sans Mono with some crappy amateur edits. For example, the line in the zero, the changes to the i and a -- all are horrible. I also don't like the increased vertical height, since the widescreen monitor plague has made vertical space a premium. I can only assume Hack came from someone grabbing the source for Deja Vu and messing around with it.

Here are some examples of commonly recommended programming fonts, if you want to compare (open in new tabs for easy comparison):

Deja Vu Sans Mono
Lucida Console
Anonymous Pro

I primarily use Deja Vu and Consolas, depending on what I'm doing. There's no way I'd switch either of them to Hack.

Comment The End (Score 4, Insightful) 192

Fuck Mozilla.

The extension ecosystem is the number one reason many people are still using Firefox. Amid all the "user experience" bullshit, the deprecated-then-removed features, and the asshats steering Mozilla, it was extensions that kept the browser usable.

And they're dumping them -- giving a giant "fuck you" to the thousands of developers who have kept their browser afloat. Some of the most popular extensions have been actively developed for the better part of a decade, such as NoScript (over 8 years) and Adblock Plus (over 9 years). And why? So we can have Chrome extensions which can't even do simple things like completely block Javascript or advertising. Gee, I wonder who likes that idea?

This was the last vestige of the Firefox that we knew and loved being ripped out and tossed aside. In 2-3 years Firefox will be nothing more than another shitty Chrome clone. I can only hope this absurd move leads to a serious fork of the browser that focuses on getting back to the original goals of Firefox.

"The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray." -- Robert G. Ingersoll