Archive for July, 2010

Save the Manuals!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Car and Driver has started a new campaign: Save the Manuals!

As a fan of rowing my own gears I have to throw my support behind manual transmissions.

I’m a fan, but many aren’t. When I bought my last two used cars I had to cast a very wide net to find a manual transmission. They don’t have a high “take rate” and some vehicles don’t even offer a manual transmission to reduce development and manufacturing costs. I can’t argue with the manufactures logic – but I do have to wonder why drivers don’t want more control.

I know what gear ratio I want and far too often an automatic transmission doesn’t, and beyond that changes the ratio when its not wanted and not change it when its needed. Some vehicles allow drivers to use things like paddle-shifters to control what gear they are in, but the shift often takes longer than a second and that’s way too late.

Porche’s PDK and VW/Audi’s dual-clutch systems amongst others use a clutch and gearbox, not an automatic transmission, to remove the need for the driver to operate a cluch and have a computer control the it for you. Porche driver’s appreciate more control over their transmission than an automatic can provide, but they can’t be the only ones.

One of the most enjoyable cars I’ve ever driven is an 80s Ford Fiesta with three cylinder with a 5spd manual. I’m certain that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy that car as much without being able to ring all I could have out of the engine.

Long live the manual transmission! We let ignition timing and choke operation slip out of our hands – lets not give up the manual transmission too!

More at!-car_and_driver

Billy Corgan has a point

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Interesting and insightful comment from Billy Corgan while in Cleveland to kick off the Pumpkins latest world tour:

Do you go online to see what the fans are saying about the new tracks?

No, but I still get a vibe. If I read anything from let’s call it the “hardcore fanbase,” they are stuck in ’93. It’s 17 years [later] and I don’t know what they expect to have happen. It’s sort of beautiful because what they are saying is, “You so touched me in that moment, I want more of that.” But the thing that I find really insulting is there’s a deeper message there which is “You’ll never be better.” To try to tell a man that he’ll never improve beyond something he did when he was half-crocked on drugs or drama, that’s just not right. When I look at Johnny Cash or Neil Young or Tom Waits, those guys have proven that by remaining vital to themselves, that at some point they are able to burst through with another period.

As reported by “The Rolling Stone”

For the record, I’m aware I’m that guy and just because I’m not that excited about the new music does not make want the Pumpkins to start doing casino gigs “playing all of the hits you love”.

Billy’s an artist, he should keep creating art for any reason he wants and it’s his dedication to that pursuit that made me a fan in the first place.

That said, if CSNY&Corgan unite I’ll go to their concert anywhere no matter what they play!

“Tonight’s the night, Tonight’s the greatest night I’ve ever know?”

FaceTime Ads

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Apple always succeeds when they make it feel like their technology enables the best of human emotions and experience. It’s really hard to watch this video and at the end of the 60 seconds not feel like you need to buy the phone to feel this way again….. then you realize that you’d have to buy one for everyone you care about, and then you just watch the the video again.

Keep in mind:


Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Really good blog post by Shea Sylvia about her chilling experience with a FourSquare “stalker”. is a web site and mobile app that lets users “check-in” at locations. The social side that many enjoy is being able to discover your friends at locations, make new ones, and bring exciting elements of the internet to your physical spaces. Also, there’s “badges” like “Mayor” or “bender” people can earn for checking-in at a location enough times. People like badges.

I’m not a foursquare user, but I feel like I know enough about the service to understand its appeal and its danger.

Sites like made a joke to highlight the danger is publicly telling people where you are, “because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home.” Their goal is to scare both users and services like enough to address this issue.

Shea Sylvia had a much more visceral scare. She’s OK, but the experience clearly had an impact on her:

I also appreciate her acknowledgement that her mother will probably read her blog post. I know my mother’s the number one reader of my blog.

Update: BinaryParadox ( ) tipped me off about — uses camera EXIF information posted to twitter posts to get the location of the person posting the picture.

I’m a peaksaver

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Last summer we signed-up to be Peaksavers. In the middle of the summer of 2010′s first heave wave in Ontario I’m still keen.

Once we had signed-up Burlington Hydro sent someone over to install a new thermostat. The new thermostat allows Burlington Hydro / The Peaksaver program to send a signal to raise the temperature in our house by 2 degrees Celsius over 4 hours. Apparently the message is sent infrequently and only on weekdays and you can opt out twice a year. They sweetened the deal with a $25 credit on our bill.

One of the features we’ve made a lot of use of is the Online Control Centre. It allows you to program the thermostat via the web from anywhere in the world. For us it’s been a good way to change the temperature back to a livable temperature before we arrive home from being on the road.

I mentioned to the gentleman who installed the thermostat that I was looking forward to meters that account for time-of-use. He pointed out that it disproportionately affects the elderly and new mothers, as they are the ones that are home during peak-price hours. Fair comment. But I really feel that people need to pay the real price of energy and be responsible for the decisions that make about its use.

After almost a year I recommend the program to anyone in Ontario that can sign-up.

UPDATE – Tuesday August 31, 2010

Yesterday I actually snapped a picture of us “being PeakSaved”.