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Comment Re:No One Owns Anything (Score 5, Insightful) 225

When I'm not wearing out keyboards I'm an avid "shade tree mechanic", and it just so happened I experienced a tangent of this type of stupidity yesterday working on a car I recently purchased for my daughter. As it turns out the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) in many GM vehicles of it's era were flashed with a configuration that would not allow the system to be reset + relearn the wheel sensors without an expensive scan tool (even these aftermarket ones are prohibitively expensive). I'm going to go to a dealer and beg them to fix the firmware so the product will function as the owner's manual states it should (there happens to be a service bulletin on this particular issue). In my case I simply do not allow anyone to work on my vehicles, so when I rotate the tires at every oil change I have no recourse to make the TPMS system functional and accurate once again except to take it to a tire shop or the dealer.

Thankfully there seems to be a possible workaround - removing the TPMS fuse and letting it "forget" all it's sensors so it doesn't work at all. But imagine if this wasn't the case, and car owners were unable to get their vehicle to pass an emissions inspection because the TPMS sets a malfunction code.

I'm generally not one to throw fuel on hyperbolic statements like "No One Owns Anything", but in this case I have to side with this sentiment. How far are we from the day when your car disallows you from driving over some ridiculously slow speed until you take it to the dealership for service? Those of us in states requiring emissions inspections are already beholden to the machines because in most counties of my state a vehicle with a MIL / Check Engine light on automatically fails regardless of whether the code is associated to an electronic ride control component, a burned out heated seat controller, or the catalytic converter efficiency monitoring.

To further complicate things, many of today's vehicles are equipped with autonomous braking systems and other "convenience" features such as park assist, etc. Who's going to be able to fix these systems when they malfunction, and more importantly who will be responsible for the deaths that will be inevitably caused by such?

For me, the solution is driving old junk and spending the extra time and money to maintain it until it is simply impossible to keep in a safe condition. I simply will not succumb to the perpetual car payment, rent-a-car culture that American society has all to readily embraced at it's own peril.

Comment Filters seem to be broken (Score 1) 115

The filters seem to be broken as I have anything tagged with "facebook" or "zuckerberg" set to go directly to the "I don't give a shit" folder, but it didn't work for this one.

All kidding aside, this doesn't belong on slashdot, it belongs on ET. The only Zuckerberg news I want to hear about is his obituary. Yawn...

Comment Re:automatically install firmware updates (Score 2, Insightful) 278

What could possibly go wrong with updates automatically installing themselves?

Least ways on a device "owned" by the benevolent Google that is also the choke point where all / most of your home or business' network traffic passes through? Doesn't sound nefarious to me whatsoever.

Now pricing it at $200 considering the value of the data they'll be able to mine from it, that's just pure greed. Shamey shame Google.

Comment Re:Why do SSNs persist? (Score 1) 390

In recent years there have been several failed attempts at creating a more secure identifier based on smartcards, etc. but they always seem to get shot down by two main factions. Those who liken more secure identifiers to having a barcode tattoo applied at birth and be done with it, and those who benefit from the pathetically trivial level of security the present system provides.

I'm of the mind that any new system can only be as effective / secure as the government that institutes it, and the voter polls have been giving those branches of government resounding F grades for a good while now.

It boils down to which social asset you value most. Privacy, security, or freedom. Choose one and move on to the cashier (IRS).

Comment Re:Follow up (Score 1) 205

The narrative outlined by FireFury is excatly why when I'm financially able to "semi-retire", it will be the last time I touch or talk about a computer for pay.

A scarce few have the ability to engage their reasoning modules, and the rest simply feel that once they tell you "it's broke" they are no longer responsible for participating in the problem solving process. I've always said that these types would be the first to starve to death in a zombie apocalypse.

Bring on the zombies...

Comment Linux bigot says why buy pre-installed w/ Ubuntu? (Score 1) 253

The best feel-good elixir you can acquire for your shiny new toy is to be aware of how much your deductible is for your homeowners / renters insurance, and encrypt any sensitive information. Anyone serious enough to steal a laptop knows a guy who knows a guy that can re-install a bootleg OS on one simply for the purpose of fencing it. If it does get stolen, you've only got a 50/50 chance the theif will NOT be smart enough to wipe it before connecting to the internet, so laptop lo-jack systems that run on top of the OS are a joke at best.

-5 pts for not purchasing it (cheaper) with windows pre-installed and then wiping the partition to install Ubuntu (or whatever your favorite distro is) yourself. Seriously, you're posting on /. Now I remember why I wanted to petition CmdrTaco to make attribution in some GNU project a prerequisite for membership here...

Comment Re:The body can affect the mind (Score 1) 522

imagine how your personality would change at least temporarily if you were an 80 year old man who was in chronic pain whose libido left with his prostate removal a decade ago waking up with the body of a healthy 21 year old with a libido to match. You very well might forget your moral compass for a few seconds and make a remark to an attractive member of the hospital staff that you would regret as soon as your brain re-engaged and overrode your new hormones.

Having it put that way, I think you can sign me up right now!

Moral compass... that's funny. I'm only 42, and I'd kill to have a 21 year old's body again. Literally. I could take so much better care of myself having learned the hard way (knees, back, diet, etc.).

Comment Re:Too late (Score 1) 480

It doesn't work that way in business.

That statement demonstrates the same sort of bone-headed mindset that's driven companies into the vendor lock-down the city of Freiburg was trying to escape from.

Do you really think Microsoft is going to blackmail world governments

Influence is delivered in many different shapes and sizes. Ironically, governments are machines that are almost universally fueled by influence. To think otherwise seems foolish.

Comment Why 13 years? (Score 1) 717

"What do Detroit, or Stuttgart, or Tokyo have waiting in the wings that will get to the Obama administration's target of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025?"

Detroit, Stuttgart and Tokyo already have the technology. What they lack, and to a great degree what the overwhelming majority of the population also lacks is the will. The "big secret" is to lessen the influence of big oil, both in Detrioit and Washington.

I own a car that is capable of 54.5 mpg - a 1999 VW Jetta TDI. 13 years and 305,000 miles on the odometer and it still gets me to work and back - around 600 miles a week, on 13 gallons of diesel. Yet I still hear the argument at least every other week that "diesel is more expensive than gas" and then the argument that their trusty old Chevy pickup burns (an order of magnitude more) good-n-cheap 87 octane gasoline / gasohol. This leads me to believe that we need to start making basic economics part of the educational system's core curriculum and not just an elective.

OTOH, don't confuse this for an endorsement of the Obama administration. If you want to pay more to waste more energy, the choice is yours. While Obama has been working hard to remove everyone's choices through higher energy prices, the cash for clunkers program, etc. the fact that they've given auto makers 13 years to meet a level we should already be at is evidence that big oil's influence has infiltrated both sides of the aisle to an equal degree.

This will never happen until we get serious about energy independence, and I fear it will take a global catastrophe to bring that about.

Comment Re:Salaries (Score 0) 886

You can train people skills too: you sit your problem employee down and tell him exactly what your expectations for personal behavior are, and what you need him to do differently. You be specific about what behavior is inappropriate or problematic, and tell him what you need him to do differently. If you start seeing changes in the right direction, you encourage it by telling him what he did right.

Are these encouragements in a monetary form? If not, the process of "sitting him down" has already alienated him, and he resents you.

I appreciate the role interpersonal skills plays in an office environment. All things considered, love me or hate me, they know it would take three such "socially acceptable" creatures to take my place. Given the choice, the bean counters would rather live with my "Asperger's".

Comment All politics aside... (Score 0) 1042

To distill this down to it's essence, the US federal government needs the ability to borrow money next month in order to pay the interest on the money it borrowed last month. If private individuals do that it's referred to as check kiting. If an investment company does this it's referred to as a ponzi scheme. If our federal government does this it's called business as usual.

Sadly, the only way things will ever change is if the few true fiscal conservatives in the house remain stalwart and force our government to face reality. The hard truth of the matter is quite simple, our liabilities exceed our gross national product. In business terms we're insolvent. Borrowing more with the justification of obfuscated spending cuts that will never materialize is just stacking another chair on top of an already precarious pile of furniture that we've built up over the past 30 years in hopes of poking our head above the storm clouds. Anyone who buys into the lie of "too big to fail" gets what they have coming to them. The foolishness needs to end, albeit at a tragic cost to everyone.

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I consider a new device or technology to have been culturally accepted when it has been used to commit a murder. -- M. Gallaher