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Comment Re: Ahh, but you don't own the tractor (Score 1) 279

Fair point. But the way this farmer's situation is explained in the article, this particular tractor has sensors go out on a regular basis. Regular enough that he would want to take the time, effort, and risk to modify the software. Thus suggests that investing in a small inventory of sensors for this specific tractor would not be an extra expense. They would get used. And the reduced down time would improve his current production efficiency, not make it worse. Granted, I have no appreciation for how many different hydraulic sensor types there are on one of these tractors. You would know better than me. I know from my work manufacturing equipment for a different industry that you want to use the same sensor in as many places as you can because it simplifies inventory and reduces the piece cost, so I am going on the assumption that there is a limited number of different sensor models in the tractor. But either way, if this really is a frequent problem for this tractor, from my experience I would bet money that the same sensors are the usual culprit. Just poor reliability in the design. This limits the inventory he needs to handle the problem.

Comment Re: Ahh, but you don't own the tractor (Score 1) 279

None the less, no such law exists to create such a right to know. I am personally skeptical as to why companies should be required to divulge such information. Interesting point about copyright and the LOC though. At least with books, all applications for registered copyright require a submission to be cataloged with the Library of Congress. So if Windows is registered copyright, then I would assume the government has a copy of all the source code.

Comment Re: Ahh, but you don't own the tractor (Score 1) 279

Don't all cars have service repair manuals that detail exactly how to take the mechanics apart and rebuild them should there be a need to fix some part of it?

Those are after market manuals and they don't exist for all cars. Auto makers like to keep as much information as possible proprietary for their dealerships so that you have to go there. Third party shops can usually pay to subscribe to (not buy) repair info and software updates.

Comment Re: Ahh, but you don't own the tractor (Score 4, Insightful) 279

You have a right to know exactly what code is running in a machine you own, and how it works, down to every last freakin' instruction.

I don't buy that at all. Don't get me wrong here. I don't think it should be illegal to hack the software that resides on a device you own (though I would be curious if the farmer actually owns this tractor since they are usually purchased on long term loan agreements). But saying you have a right to know means that manufacturers have an obligation to disclose. I would be willing to bet that no one is willing to divulge to you in great detail how the mechanics of your car's engine runs, or how your dishwasher (lets say an old one not opperated by software) does what it does, or the hysteresis of your water heater. Nor do most people believe the manufacturers should be required to. Whether you could figure this out on your own or not is besides the point. And all this aside, I question the sensibility of what this farmer is trying to do anyways. He said it shuts down if a hydraulic sensor goes out and has to wait for days to get a new one. The more reliable solution would be to stock the sensors that go out most often. I would bet there is a pretty limited range of variants on the sensors. This is a lot safer than hacking the software of a multi hundred thousand dollar machine that would certainly void the warranty, probably violate the terms of any loan it is under, and possibly circumvent safety features.

Comment Re: I'm beginning to see a pattern here. (Score 1) 305

"The Waterfall method has not been successful for 40 years"

What?? Every successful company I have ever worked for used and continues to use waterfall. Even for software. Clearly they are looking for a scape goat or, maybe more likely, have no idea how the waterfall method works in practice.

Comment Re: There are good reasons for gvt bureaucracy, re (Score 1) 275

I remember being a lab manager for my college mentor when I was fresh out of undergrad school. The hoops we had to jump through for the most inane purchases were so obscene that we usually just worked to find a way around it. For example, we needed some electronic components. Oh but neither Digikey nor Newark are approved suppliers. They had looked into it before, but the school didn't buy enough from them for it to make sense. Oh but Allied Electrical and CDW are approved, see of you can use them. No, they don't sell the kind of crap we are always buying. So, you needed to show evidence of searching for each item at at least three approved sources to be approved to buy from an unapproved supplier, which usually amounted to printing internet search results. If there were a lot of components and it didn't coat that much, we would say screw it, buy it on our own dime and submit a reimbursement claim. Otherwise I would literally spend a whole day putting together the order and then wait a whole week for the office to process it.

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