But in the back of my mind, there has been one big fear of high fuel prices: the end of air travel. No one likes flying on commercial airlines, but people do love what air travel does give them: far flung vacations, trips back home for the holidays, trips far from home for the holidays, face to face business meetings, Amazon prime and other next-day shipping.... The New Republic has an article on The End of Aviation, which discusses this very possibility. The author seems to think that greenhouse/carbon taxes are more likely to harm airlines than fuel prices, but anything like this is such a radical change to our way of life that who knows how it would actually shake out. If kerosene based fuels are really the only way to economically fly, would jets be the last thing we'd spend our "limited" fuel on? If we do succeed in creating cheap alternative energy, and use that for the majority of our transportation and other needs, would that actually cause the price of oil to drop as our need for it dried up? I'm sure that think tanks and policy houses can create scenarios and studies of whether these are possible.... I'm generally an optimist, usually in the "ingenuity" and "technology" category mentioned at the end of the article, so I'm not too worried about it happening.
I will say this, there is a very big opening for some real video conferencing solutions.
But... it violates one of the other precepts I like to have, which is don't modify the photo. Manipulating a photo file may break something, may lose existing data, make the photo not compatible with some software, etc. It also make the synchronization problem harder, by which I mean I have multiple computers, with my photos spread out amoung them. My wife and I routinely both upload the pictures from our phones, cameras, etc to our computers, and I try to maintain a central repository of our photos, backups, etc. Some of this is based on the photos keeping the same names, but names collide with multiple cameras from the same company, reseting camera counters, etc. The other thing that stays the same is the file size/checksum. Changing data in the file makes that more challenging, it means I have to do checksums or fingerprints based on the actual image data, and not the raw file data.
I could do a compromise, I could keep an archive of "original" files, and then have a separate or connected archive of "modified" files, that would allow me to keep the write once data, and the "updated" stuff, but that does double disk space... which is cheap, I guess, but our photo data is over 30GB now, its already getting a bit big for having a full copy on our everyday laptops... though maybe that's just an excuse to upgrade.
I need a better solution to the synchronization problem anyways...
I've mentioned this to friends in the past, mostly because there is almost never a good reason to drive on that part of Market St. Its two lanes in each direction, you can't turn left anywhere, and the interior lane is supposed to be for Muni only, and the right lane is often blocked by people attempting to turn right... who are held up by pedestrians. And then there are the delivery trucks/vans, and the cabs, which can block part of the right lane (or just pull up onto the sidewalk, even more fun).
I figure most of the cars on that section of Market are tourists or other people who just don't know any better, and then they're stuck on it, unable to get off.
Of course, closing it down presents problems, probably the largest is with deliveries to businesses along Market. I wonder if you could solve most of the problems just with signage, ie "No turns except Muni/Cabs/Deliveries" or somesuch. That would be helpful to those who don't know any better, though they'll probably just go WTF? It wouldn't allow you to transform the street, however... imagine turning it into just a single lane in each direction for Muni, for example.
Anyways, here's hoping that whatever comes out of this isn't a really bad idea... I'm guessing there's an 80% chance that nothing comes of this, and a 20% chance that something bad comes of this, that's about how politics in SF goes...
Oh, and there's only one non-putty ssh client related link on the first page of search results, for Putty World. This could be because I prefer putty the ssh client (I search for the download link probably a dozen times a year at least) and the "personalization"... but usually its from a new computer without being logged in, so maybe not. It could also be because the URL for putty is so non-memorable.. if it was just www.putty.org or something, I'd never search for it.
Current hybrid cars are amoung the most fuel efficient cars available, but a good diesel can generally do as well or better. They do cost more to make, and they often won't make back that cost in fuel savings. They involve more parts, and some eco-challenged materials like batteries. The batteries themselves are expensive and need to be replaced more often than similarly priced parts of the car. All of these are good reasons to think that hybrids are not the answer to the oil supply and global warming problems.
Instead, we get a Prius raced against a Corvette in the 0-60, and a packing challenge which makes it "clear" that a Prius can't handle a family of four for a driving vacation. A Prius is a compact car. Comparing its acceleration against other compact cars would be more reasonable. A Toyota Matrix, which is somewhat similar in size, has a 0-60 time of 9.5s, which is a full second faster than the Prius... but that's only about 10% faster. It only gets 26/32 MPG though, compares to the Prius 48/45 MPG. 80% better fuel economy for a 10% hit. I saw a review of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid where they actually "drag raced" against the non-hybrid version, and they both had almost identical times. This review shows the Toyota Camry hybrid with a 0-60 time of 8.6s, better than the 4 cylinder Camry (10.3s), slower than the V-6 Camry XLE (6.5s). Still, in an acceptable range.
As for the family of four vacation... its a compact car. In the US, a family of four has two cars: if they need to fit for vacation, it'd probably be the other one. Or they could rent something bigger. The chart here shows an average annual hybrid gas savings in the $500-$600 range, which would pay for a $75 rental for a week. Of course, then you won't make up the extra cost of the hybrid.
They do cost more, of course. Edmunds has an article on how long it takes the extra cost of a hybrid to break even. For a hybrid Toyota Camry (my personal choice if I was in the market for a sedan), its only 1.6 years at 15k miles per year (that's probably a little higher than average, so maybe 2 years). For other cars... 7, 12, 16 or even 69 years. Granted, the 69 year Lexus LS sedan is one of the "performance" hybrids, the point of the hybrid is better performance, not fuel efficiency.
So, unless you're an early adopter, or buying one of the cars at the top of the list, you're probably better off choosing a better mileage non-hybrid, smaller cars/suvs like the Civic, Golf, or even Rav-4.
I had initially figured I would convert the discs to H.264. I spent a lot of time playing around with settings for HandBrake, trying to get a "good" conversion. Basically, video conversion sucks. The setting options are amazingly complicated, and greatly effect how long the encoding takes... but the output almost always looks like crap. Another consideration is that a lot depends on the quality of the player. I found that VLC usually did a good job, even on "ipod quality" videos up-rezed to HD. On the other hand, the Quicktime players in both the AppleTV and MacOS were pretty crappy. I eventually settled on a "hi-res ipod" level that at least would be portable... but neglected to test it. I let my linux box churn for about 3 weeks converting around 100 DVDs, and would up with files playable by my AppleTV, but not by the ipod. I think newer HandBrake versions have an easy setting that should work, but I haven't decided to burn the processing time yet. I just decided to keep the DVDs online instead.
I haven't decided whether I'm going to rip all of my wife's TV show DVDs or not. A lot of space, and I'm not sure we'd ever watch them a second time...
Cell phones and cable might be at least partially specific to zip code, though Sprint (which prompted this rant) has always claimed to have a Nationwide network that I would assume is pretty uniform. Perhaps their rate plans aren't exactly the same across the country? Why don't these companies just use geo-ip data? Its available, it might not be as accurate all the time, but I'm betting a bunch of people just flat out lie when prompted anyways (90210 anyone?).
But the biggest offenders are the various car research sites that all want your zip code so they can try and shove you into a specific dealer. Yes, I'm sure you get a lot of money for lead generation, but I don't want to give you my zip code.
These types of sites lead to a more generic class of problems with sites: when its easier to find information on a specific site by doing a site based search on Google then by navigating/searching on the specific site. If this is the case, you're failing the #1 point of the web: if you said marketing and making money, you've failed. Its finding information, the point of your site is information, you make your site easy to use, contain useful information, and make it easy to find that information, and boom, you have users ... which is the biggest step towards monetization.
Or maybe I'm mis-using these car sites, perhaps they exist more form comparison shopping of cars by "exact" value, and comparison shopping deals for one car from multiple places.. but I'm always using them for information way before I care about the price. They should be helping me investigate cars, and when I've made my decision on which car I want, then maybe I'll be interested in finding the best deal on that car. Forcing me up-front to think about actually buying isn't going to help.
Oh, and on a semi-related rant, why is it that Car websites make it so hard to investigate the interior of their cars? Its easier for me to go to a local Automall and take in all of the available cars in a class then to try and one-by-one figure out what the interior space is like visually online.
Too bad for the Ford execs, back to buying Lincolns I guess.
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