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Comment Re:It's the economy, etc. (Score 1) 150

A 2017 Ram 1500 base truck is about $26,500 MSRP,

Have you driven the Ram? There's a reason why it's the least popular truck.

A Ram Promaster 1500 (based on the large Fiat van chassis) is around $30,000 MSRP.

It is a complete fucking shitpile. Every review of every model of Fiat Ducato (by any name) shows that it is underpowered, handles like dogshit, and is the least reliable vehicle in the segment.

FCA is circling the toilet bowl for a reason. Expect them to get bought out by VW within the next five years, because VW is going to need a new partner.

Comment Re: It's the economy, etc. (Score 1) 150

It's really odd to blame Trump for the current state of the economy.

That would be odd. It's only due to your poor reading comprehension skills that you think that I'm doing that.

He has been in power for only 2 months.

So? He has already made sweeping policy changes and more to the point, taken credit for bringing jobs back to America which are in fact not coming back to America. If he wants to take the credit, then his athletic supporters can be reminded of the fact that he has done no such thing.

Democrats have been delaying the confirmations of his nominees for various administrative positions, too, which has limited what he had done and can do.

Yeah, they've managed to delay some Russian employees from being placed in our government. Good on them.

The current economic problems aren't because of the administration that has been in partial control for only 2 months. These are problems thst go back to the last two administrations.

Trump claimed that he would make deals with the automakers to bring jobs back to America. But the jobs are leaving America. Exactly the opposite of what he promised is happening. And some of them are leaving specifically because Trump has become president. Notably, trust in American services is at an all-time low, and people are being dissuaded even more strongly from traveling to the USA than ever before by his travel policies. It's not just these muslim bans, or the muslim laptop ban for that matter, travelers from many countries are reporting having their laptops imaged and the like. Trump is having a chilling effect on America.

Comment It's the economy, etc. (Score -1, Offtopic) 150

All the automakers are cutting production all across the USA because they have back inventory piling up, and heavy truck sales are down, two sure signs that the economy is tanking. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, nothing Trump has done has done the slightest bit to turn this around. Rather, he has accelerate the process. Amusingly, the only plants where production is up are in Mexico. So much for bringing automotive jobs home!

Comment Re:sunset mode (Score 1) 110

Every project goes this way eventually. Firefox is usually the other poster child, right after GNOME. For my part, I really miss avant-window-navigator and compiz+emerald. For me that was kind of the apex of eye candy and usability. I haven't tried to build that stuff recently, but last time I gave it a shot, it was a long and uphill battle with very little satisfaction at the end.

Comment Re:Finally, I can switch to Gnome! (Score 1) 110

Ugh, no. Nobody means CDE. Though frankly I'm not clear why anyone would use mwm when they could use fvwm2. It looks just as bad, out of the box it works pretty much the same way, but it has all the bells and whistles that we expect to at minimum be contained in a vaguely modern window mangler. I have used mwm without the rest of CDE — I forget what the panel was called, ISTR it had some long and descriptive name which is no doubt why I can't remember. But the panel was arse, whereas just good old mwm was still fine.

Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 251

This gets down to something that used to be a common UI design principle before software became so feature-ful it became impractical: manifest interface.

The idea of a manifest interface (which also is a principle in language and API design) is that if the software has a capability you should be able to see it. You shouldn't have to root around to stumble upon it. Tabs follow this principle; there's enough visual and behavioral cues to suggest that you need to click on a tab. The little "x" in the tab also follows this principle.

But context menus you access by right-clicking break this rule, which means that there may be millions of people laboriously clicking on "x" after "x", unaware that they can make all the extraneous tabs in their browser disappear with just two clicks.

This, by the way, is why Macintoshes were designed with one button on the mouse. But even Mac UI designers couldn't get by with just single and double-click, so you have option-click too, bit by in large you could operate most programs without it.

Anyhow, to make sure people know about this kind of feature, your program is going to have to watch their behavior and suggest they try right clicking. But that way lies Clippy...

Comment Re:Tractor investors, not breakers. (Score 1) 476

Part of the reputation for things going wrong in luxury cars is due to there simply being a lot more *to* go wrong,

That's why I bought the 300SD, and it's also why I bought the A8. The 300SD is as dead-nuts simple as it is possible for an S-Class to be. It has none of the fancy stuff they put on the gasoline models, except a sunroof. It does use advanced materials — it's got Aluminum hood and trunk lids, and it made early use of composite bumper pieces. This was a design completed in 1978! But it has extremely advanced driving characteristics for its age, due to the combination of its multilink front suspension and semi-trailing arm rear that provides controlled toe in response to body roll. When the springs and bushings are in good condition, the whole car completely cooperates with the driver even when pushing it past its limits. Without going into a lot of detail, the A8 is as close as you can get in a more modern luxobarge that has a slushbox, and there's a six-speed manual transmission available for it unlike, for the Mercedes. The AWD is based on a mechanical center diff, for example.

Another thing worth considering is cost/availability of parts...

That's why the W126 300SD has to go, and the D2 A8 is incoming. You can actually get parts for the A8. In fact, my 1998 is a "parts car" that I got for $300 which, except for the failed transmission, is actually nicer than my 1997 for which I paid... more. I hope to recoup some of the costs there by selling some of the more valuable parts from the 1997. The nineties were truly a time at which Audi really only sold one car but in different sizes, and there is a lot of sharing between the A4, A6, A8, and even the VW Passat. (Wikipedia claims that the B3 Passat was a completely distinct design which does not share parts with Audi models. Nope.)

Jaguar parts are easy to source in the UK and relatively cheap, but in other countries they can be difficult to find and expensive for instance.

For large parts, that's a problem. For small ones, I can reasonably source parts from the UK or Germany. I've done both, though I'm not sure I've done both in the course of working on the Audi. I certainly have for the Mercedes.

Comment Re:Tractor investors, not breakers. (Score 1) 476

The more ordinary Mercedes and Audi models are not especially expensive to maintain and they have a well-deserved reputation for high durability and reliability.

Yes, but they're just cars. If you take all the fancy kit out, all cars are at least decent. At least, anything you can buy in the USA. We're talking about depreciation of luxury cars, and their reliability or lack thereof.

There is something that makes ordinary Mercedes and Audi models expensive to maintain, though; the dealer's attitude towards parts prices. There are only a couple of Audi dealers in the entire country that do not rape you on parts orders, for example. For new vehicles, for which the replacement parts are not available through the aftermarket, this is a significant concern.

Comment Nonsense question (Score 1) 396

Until there is scientific evidence, it's a philosophic question and not a scientific one. From many philosophic standpoints, it's a bit of a nonsense question.

The basic problem that you're likely to run into philosophically is that, regardless of whether the universe is a simulation, it is our universe. There's no reason to think that it being a simulation would have any consequence for us, or that it would be detectable. Even if you were to find some artifact of the simulation, it would be indistinguishable from a weird quirk in physics. You could argue, for example, that the reason quantum mechanics is indeterminate is that the simulation doesn't actually calculate the location at particles at the smallest level until that level of accuracy is needed. It's a neat idea, but indistinguishable from "That's just the way physics works."

If this were a simulation, we have no access out to the larger "real" world outside of it, including the "computer" running the simulation, and therefore would have no grounds to make assertions about what that world would look like or how the simulation should work. We have no reason to think this supposed "real world" contains people, or creatures anything like what we've imagined. This supposed world might have entirely different rules of physics. The simulation might run on a "computer" that is not a computer, and is unlike anything we understand. Not only do we not know about these things, but we have no reason to believe the tiniest scrap of information about the supposed world is discoverable.

If we were to assume that our universe is a simulation of a sort that we know about, we should guess that the only way we would discover this deeper truth would be a revelation made by its creator. For example, there's no possibility of a character in Grand Theft Auto to learn that he's in a video game unless the developer programs the character to know it. Without the intervention of the developer to make this information available, the GTA character would have no way of figuring out whether the game is running on an AMD processor or Intel.

So given that, even if we assume for the sake of argument that we are in a simulation, we have every reason to believe that we can never discover evidence of it, and our existence in the simulation is indistinguishable from what our existence would be if we existed in reality. It's a distinction without a difference. Our simulated universe is still as real to us as the real universe would be to us if we were real. The whole thing turns into a broader philosophic question of, "What if the nature of the universe is actually unlike anything we understand, or are capable of understanding, and everything we think we understand is illusory?" It's a somewhat interesting question to ponder for a few moments, but it makes no sense to try to answer it. If it's the case that we're incapable of understanding reality, then there's no further use for inquiry.

Comment Re:Tractor investors, not breakers. (Score 4, Informative) 476

That's Jalopnik, a site that has decided that every single part of any German car will fail every five minutes and will cost $1 million to replace

They are essentially correct. Check out for example the typical longevity of and replacement cost for the vaunted S-Class air suspension. The parts are still too new to chance getting from third parties, so you have to go to the dealer. If you don't have a very good relationship with them, you're into thousands per corner.

despite the fact that their conclusions are mostly based on a small number of American-market models with a very shady service history and lots of aftermarket parts

You should be able to buy aftermarket parts. If the design requires insanely fancy-pants parts, it's not a good one. For example, the chain tensioners in the 40V 4.2 liter Audi V8. The 32V engine doesn't have VVT, so it doesn't have them, and it's considerably more durable as a result. Both have the same stupid Flennor/Gates timing belt with a 60k lifespan. California mandates that timing belts have a 90k lifespan, Audi said "sure whatever" and rated it for 90k. It's the same belt. Chains or gears forever. But that's apparently too noisy for luxury. I'd be better off with a LS motor, which has none of these considerations and yet is just as efficient.

in the real world, German cars tend to be the most reliable

They tend to be the most expensive. That is, they require a lot of dollars invested to make them reliable. I've got a full service history on a 1997 A8 Quattro to show how and why that is the case. In spite of that I've been going through an epic to transfer its transmission into a 1998 that I got as a parts car. It's got half the miles on it, and it's in nicer condition in general inside and out. If I weren't capable of doing this stuff myself, it would make more sense to just buy something else, because it would cost too much to have it done even by an independent mechanic to justify given the low, low value of the vehicle. And its value is in turn low not just because of its age, but because of the expense in servicing it.

The average person would love to be driving something like this around now that it's been handed down from someone who could afford to absorb the expense of its initial depreciation, but they can't afford the maintenance to keep it from disintegrating. It's two hundred bucks in crankcase vent breather hoses I worked around with silicone hose and a right angle fitting, and thirty bucks for a little y-shaped vacuum hose I went ahead and bought, and the headrests don't go up and down because the drive flex cable jacket stretched over time due to heat cycling and has to be shortened and the rear sun shade has come unglued and is catching on the rear parcel shelf and the arm rests tend to crack and Audi would like a thousand dollars for one but you can often pick up a pair of them from the facelift model for a couple hundred and the list goes ever on and on.

I've been talking about Audi for a long while, but I also own a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300SD (W126) and guess what? Mercedes is doing its level best to kill off the platform. You can get basically all the parts for cars which are older than the W126 from the Mercedes Classics parts program, but there are a number of parts for the W126 which you can no longer get new from anyone for any price. The primary example which is going to kill off these cars is the locks. Mercedes does not sell ignition locks at all any more, and an otherwise fully matched lock set will set you back painfully. No one is re-keying these locks or making fresh keys, either, but that doesn't really matter because while it had at the time the strongest column lock ever devised for a production auto, the lock itself is beyond flimsy. It also only took me about an hour and a half to figure out how to remove a completely failed and jammed lock and column locking mechanism from my car and then do it start to finish; with practice you could get that down to a few minutes, so it was really never actually any kind of useful theft prevention. But I digress. There are lots of other parts Mercedes doesn't supply any more, and the ones they do supply are now beyond outrageously priced. You can get new door seals, but you can't get new windlaces and those are falling apart and their fabric typically deteriorating. Etc etc.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading Jalopnik, but you have to take some things with a lot of salt. It's directed at an American audience and they have a lot of strange prejudices and many in-crowd jokes.

They're not wrong about used Mercedes, or luxo-barges in general. It is axiomatic that there's nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes. Indeed, I am finding Audi parts and tools to be much cheaper and more available than Mercedes ones, which makes sense because it's just a VW with nicer interior. Mine happens to also have a nicer unibody. If I weren't so enamored of Aluminum cars, I would probably have just bought a Nissan. They are easy to work on and their documentation is absolutely top-notch. Maybe supercharge a first-gen, lightest-weight 350Z. Or perhaps another Subaru. Sure the heads go wrong sometimes, but they're cheap and they're easy to work on if you stick with the four cylinder. I had a 1993 Impreza LS and I probably should have kept it, but it may have saved a life which is an unrelated tale.

Comment Re:Who is liable when your tv catches fire (Score 1) 177

The people inside a fully autonomous cars are passengers, not drivers.

Actually I put it into quotes in that instance because I was referring to the AI as the "driver". But an AI can't be fined or arrested, so someone else will need to be held responsible.

I don't think manufacturers will sell fully autonomous cars.

I agree that fewer people will buy cars, and that it may eventually become relatively rare for an individual to buy a car for their own personal use. Still, presumably someone will own the cars, and it may not be the manufacturer. You may have services like Uber buying cars from a company like Tesla. There may be companies that purchase vehicles for specific use, e.g. a shipping company may buy a fleet of autonomous trucks, or... I don't know... a hotel may want to buy a vehicle for their shuttle service. Though maybe you're right, and those will still be leased. I'm not sure how the economic and legal issues will play out.

Comment Re:Sunk cost fallacy (Score 1) 198

So, you're saying that censorship works?

Depends on what you mean by "censorship". If I don't post your views on my blog, am I censoring you? I suppose you could argue that I'm inhibiting your speech, but it's kind of a stretch.

But me refusing to endorse your views does "work", at least a little tiny bit, in terms of preventing your views from spreading. If enough people, or more specifically enough people who are influential enough, refuse to endorse views, and in fact oppose those views, then yes, it does "work" in terms of preventing those views from being enforced.

Twitter is not the only means of communication.

That's... kind of entirely my point. Twitter is a private company running what is essentially a blogging platform. They aren't responsible for stopping all violence, but they may be responsible (morally, if not legally) for the behavior their site enables. They are totally within their rights to say, "We don't want this kind of thing on our site," and it's not really censorship. It won't stop violence, but if they do a good job at it, it might stop Twitter from being a tool used to incite violence. If you don't like Twitter's terms of service, then use a different means of communication. As you note, it's not the only one.

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