Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Prius doesn't have torque in reverse?

On my way to the basketball court today, a man pointed at a car parked on one of the hills near my place and asked "Do you know whose car this is?" 

I said I didn't.  Then he proceeded to tell me that he was asking because he was hoping someone could move it.  It turned out that his Prius was parked behind the car and he did not have enough torque in reverse to back up the hill.  The Prius drifted forward even while giving it full throttle in reverse.  I proposed that we get a couple more guys and push the car on the frame around the doors while he jammed on the gas.  At that point I think he had potential liability lawsuits flash through his head and decided to call AAA instead and get them to winch or tow the car.

I found this really surprising about the Prius.  Granted, we live between the fourth and seventh  steepest streets in the city, and he was on the 27.9% grade part of that hill trying to back up.  Still, my four-banger Subaru has no problem backing up that same stretch of hill and it supposedly has less torque than the electric motor in the Prius.  I also thought those CVTs in the Priuses were essentially supposed to deliver the same power in reverse.

I found something on the net that said this was an older Prius problem, but his was a pretty new looking Prius.  At least a 2003.  Maybe in this case his batteries were low and the gas motor doesn't have enough muscle?  Or is this just a known issue?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Speaking of 80s songs....

Bruce Campbell covers Duran Duran...

80s songs dying for a metal cover

Ok, this idea is never going to come together for me to do because I'm not in a metal band (or any band at all for the past decade), so I might as well hope someone else does it.

I've always thought that the Go-Go's song "Vacation" would make for a good metal song. Take a listen to it sometime and imagine the chords through a lot of distortion, sped up, with an angry man singing the lyrics. It would work.

Thanks to the limitations of synthesizers at the time, most of these 80s songs have relatively simple keyboard parts that can be converted over to lead or rhythm guitar.

Here are other suggestions for metal bands looking for 80s synth-pop songs to cover:
  • "Uncertain Smile" by The The
  • "Pop Goes the World" by Men Without Hats
  • "More to Lose" by Seona Dancing (rare.. here's an mp3)
  • "Is it love?" by Mister Mister
  • "Dangerous" by Roxette
  • "Mad About You" by Belinda Carlisle (almost anything Go-Go related can work in metal form)
  • "The Promise" by When in Rome (Post-Napoleon Dynamite, I'm surprised it hasn't been done)
  • "The Point of No Return" by Expose
I saved the best for last...

A-ha: "Take On Me". That would rock people's faces off. I actually remember seeing A-ha on American Bandstand. That video was great:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Apple is the new Real Networks

Maddox had a really great point buried in his blog post "One thing PC users can do that Mac users can't" that shouldn't go unnoticed: Quicktime is the new Real Player.

You install it on your machine and the first thing that happens is it takes over all of your file associations in your web browsers. MP3s will start being handled by Quicktime when in Firefox, stuff like that.

But then you just start realizing that Apple has installed shit all over your machine that you don't want, while making it more unstable. Browsers start crashing when Quicktime tries to handle media. A Quicktime icon now appears in your Windows task bar (what purpose this serves, I'll never understand). If you were silly enough to install iTunes, you now have an iPodService running in the background on your machine. And suddenly you'll get an annoying popup for Quicktime updates that you don't care about -- which you then have to close all of your browsers and download a whole new EXE to install instead of having it install itself.

I'd extend Maddox's claim to say "Apple is the new Real Networks.":
  • They are pushing a proprietary DRMed format that no one else can license to play. (Though even Real has changed their ways on this, I THINK).
  • When you open their player just to watch a simple movie in their format -- which we don't want anyway -- a bunch of advertisements get thrown in your face for their products.
  • We get constant reminders that we need to pay for the "pro" edition, which until last week was the only way you could get full screen playback with Quicktime.
  • They aren't very good Windows programmers, so they make unstable applications that don't work adhere to the UI guidelines of Windows.
  • Their software is insane bloatware. QuicktimePlayer, on launch, takes 50 megs.
  • The only reason users tolerate any of this is because Apple currently enjoys their "in" with content providers to install this spyware-like crap on people's machines, or because they're unlucky enough to have gotten an iPod as a gift.
I'll take Windows Media, thanks.

I don't really understand why Hollywood wants to put trailers in Quicktime only format instead of Windows Media. Now there's a good idea: pass up the decent player installed on 99% of the world's computers for the crappy player that users have to install themselves. I'm guessing media providers do quicktime only because Apple supplies the bandwidth for HD content. I can't think of any other advantage from a marketing perspective.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mr. Chertoff

We don't need the press relaying your "gut feelings" that there's going to be a terror attack.

We need your department to do its job and stop the terror attacks before they happen and before I'm supposed to care. Lamenting in the press that you're worried about an attack doesn't help a thing.

Sadly, The Department of Homeland Security department was a needless department from the start. Intelligence can be handled by the CIA and the FBI can handle the rest. Now DHS is a $34 billion dollar organization that's become more of a pork outlet than any other department in recent memory.

All I've ever heard from DHS is terror level changes and all I've ever seen you guys do is take away shampoo at the airport. You guys couldn't even airlift some damn water to the Superdome for several days after Katrina. DHS is in control of the border and immigration and customs ... and I think we all can see how well patrolling the border has been going. They also control the Coast Guard, which confuses me because I always thought of the CG as a military branch.

Instead the DHS funds money to municipalities that don't need it. There have been tons of exposes on this. Look here, here, here, oh, and on a little show some like to call 60 minutes in a piece called "Handouts for the Homeland". Really, it's that bad. Millions of dollars are being squandered in tiny towns that have zero terror threat. If this was a business, the top executives would be under investigation and thrown in jail. But in government, hey, spend like it's other people's money. Oh wait... it is!

You may have noticed by now that our swell new Democrat congress isn't doing anything to stop this. No, they're pushing through $3 trillion dollar budgets. Democrat, Republican ... everyone loves pork, and DHS is one of the great Pork Stores.

Cue Ike:

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Priorities according to google

Global warming: 85,300,000 results
Iraq: 183,000,000
National debt: 56,400,000
AIDS in Africa: 68,400,000
iPhone: 190,000,000

Thought I'd let you know.

Dayvan Cowboy video

I really like this video.

I'm not sure if the falling footage is the real footage, but a guy named Joseph Kittinger did once parachute from a weather balloon at 102K feet.

The sad part about this song is that I bought it once on Yahoo Music, then let some subscription or login lapse, now I can't unlock the DRM to actually ever listen to it again. What a PITA. I hate DRM.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Inside the mind of a Mac Cultist

AT&T is so bad that your iPhone won't work... what do you do if you're a Cult of Mac™ist? You contemplate moving!

Check out this article in Slate.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

iPhone Redux

In yesterday's dramatic conclusion, I said I'm going to buy an iPhone.  It's true, I am.

I just never said when.  Ha ha!

I've made no secret of the fact that the problem I've had since day one  is that iPhone is only on AT&T.   And that continues to be the only reason I haven't bought one yet.  I mailed some friends today, if iPhone was on Verizon, I'd have one by now.

Whenever people ask me for cell phone advice -- a lot people do, since I've pretty much continually geeked out on the dumb things since 1997 -- I often say that the provider is more important than the phone.  "Never switch providers for a particular phone."  "If you're happy with your current provider, then don't switch."  "They all suck, but one of them sucks less for you in the specific places you travel."  I've said all of those many times.

Well there I was at the AT&T store yesterday, not listening to my own advice.  And it turns out that Verizon Wireless, my current mobile goon squad that sucks less, has a couple iPhone countermeasures waiting in the wings.

  1. The LG KS20, which is the non-Prada followup to the LG Prada.  This will reportedly be in EV-DO form on VZW by the end of the summer.  Wi-fi, memory card, EV-DO, the works.
  2. The HTC Mogul. This is one of those really thick and huge phones that has the slide out keyboard.  However, I might really want that keyboard.  This phone is on Sprint now and reportedly coming to Verizon soon.
  3. The HTC Vogue, also known as the CDMA version of the HTC Touch.  I think this is potentially the most interesting one to me.  It runs Windows Mobile, but HTC is providing a more interesting UI experience on top of it.

All of these are going to be the same price or less than the iPhone, and all except the Mogul are smaller and more functional.

So there you have it.  In 24 hours I've listened to my own (old) advice and I'm back to playing the waiting game.  Well... that's not the only reason.  I checked my contract and it's not out until November anyway, so switching to AT&T would be an expensive affair as it is.  I might as well hold on to a few extra bucks, see what Apple does to fix some of those iPhone problems, and check out these new VZW phones in the process.