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Comment Pathetic savings for major loss in privacy (Score 2) 73

Is it just me, or is 25% off car insurance not worthwhile for all the loss of privacy? I would only consider something like this if the savings were reasonably related to actual risk. I have frequently avoided driving on days where there were major traffic issues, or arranged to work from home (or very close to home) in bad weather, so my risk went to zero on a day that could have been expensive for the insurer.

Currently though, I get a 40% discount from a major insurer just because of where I work, and further discounts for having home insurance with the same company. These have no bearing at all on the actual risk of a claim, but add up to a much bigger discount than this new program and its invasion of privacy.

Comment Re:What happened to the constitution? (Score 1) 578

I had the same type of experience heading south on I-87 in New York.

Homeland Security and NY State Troopers had set up a roadblock on the interstate, and marked it as if it was a lane reduction for construction.

Once we got to the actually roadblock, they were asking for ID from everyone coming through. The car in front of us had a black family in it, and they had a Quebec plate on their minivan. The car was loaded up like they were going on a roadtrip or something. Somehow, the Officers speaking to them decided that these people were suspicious-looking, and proceeded to ask the family to get out of their van, remove their stuff and sent a sniffer dog through the van. Their young children looked pretty scared by the whole thing (it didn't seem like the kids understood much english - so they looked pretty confused by what was happening).

Once this family was pulled to the side and they and their belongings were out of the way, the officers waived us forward. I suppose Americans were able to show a driver's licence or something, but since I'm Canadian, and an Ontario plate on my car, they wanted to see a passport. Both of our passports were in the trunk, and we nervously told the officers that we didn't have them handy. He just looked at us, shrugged, and waived us through. Behind us, that family from Quebec was still behind harassed as we drove away.

For us, it was just a delay, but it was hard to watch how they treated the family in the minivan. Getting stopped at a random checkpoint by Troopers, with Homeland Security officers behind them with machine guns and Hummers really drove home how much the US has changed.

Comment Re:Floor mat, really? (Score 1) 1146

I can't provide an exhaustive list, but I can give at least one brand example - every recent VW/Audi has this. I may be wrong that the feature is widespread among other brands, but it certainly is a part of VW AG's products.

There is an article from IEEE Spectrum's Risk Factor Blog about the number of design faults that may have contributed to these crashes.

Comment Re:Floor mat, really? (Score 1) 1146

There are some other problems with Toyota's that seem to contribute to this problem. The most significant of which is that the models in question apparently lack a failsafe that shuts off the engine when both the gas and brake are applied simultaneously. Most other manufacturers have this, and it would immediately solve the problem (even if the root cause was the floor mats).

Also, the shifter layout of many current Toyota's makes it not entirely trivial to shift into neutral without looking at the shifter, as there are a couple of different stops in the shifter's travel to accommodate things such as manual shift modes. So, its not as simple as just dropping down one position from drive, and something that a panicked driver may not be able to do.


Submission + - Government Backsliding on Open Source Promises (

willdavid writes: "By Tash Shifrin (ComputerWorld UK): Parliamentary battle looms over failure to break proprietary software stranglehold. The Liberal Democrats have hit out at the government's failure to use more open source software, three years after it pledged to avoid 'lock-in' to proprietary systems. The government published a policy document, 'Open Source Software: use within UK government' in 2004, promising to consider open source alongside proprietary products in IT procurements."

Submission + - Microsoft management app to support VMware, Xen (

AlexGr writes: "By Peter Galli (eWeek): Microsoft is stepping up the pressure on virtualization leader VMware on the management tools front, releasing its System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 product to manufacturing. The Redmond, Wash., software maker also plans to support some third-party virtualization software, including VMware and open-source Xen, in the next version of the product.,1895,2180691,00.asp"

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