wintergr3y: (priusbadge)
I'm reposting something I wrote this morning on PriusChat, arguably the preminant Prius website. It's a detailed essay on my initial impressions of my new 2010 Prius.

Since it was initially posted on PriusChat, it referrs to [personal profile] capricious_k  as "my girlfriend" and [profile] miss_emelia  as "my friend."

I've had my III w/ nav for a few days, and I'd like to share my initial impressions. Overall, I'm extremely pleased with this car!

Most of the review is behind this cut. )

Boy am I happy with this car! My last car was a 1995 Honda Civic which I purchased brand new and drove for more than a decade. Unless all of us early adopters discover something horribly wrong with the Gen3 Prius, I expect I'll keep this car for many, many years. By the time I'm done with this car, I hope the next generation of eco-friendly cars (plug-ins, fuel cells, cold fusion, whatever) are into their 2nd or 3rd generation and I'll move on to that happy and guilt-free.
wintergr3y: (squirrel)
Apparently this is what I missed at Friday Night Waltz last night:

wintergr3y: (priusbadge)
The first generation was cool and high-tech for its time, but kinda funky and new:

The second generation was refit, rebuilt, sleeker and better:

The third generation is the new hotness, the sexiest one that everyone wants; faster, more efficient, more high-tech, and even sleeker:

So for my new wheels, I dub thee: EXCELSIOR!

(And yes, before you start making cracks about how Scotty pulled the spark plugs, remember that Sulu kicked some serious ass with that ship, and the entire Excelsior class was still in service in NexGen. Thhhhhptt!!)

wintergr3y: (colossus)
Birthday greetings to you today, sir!
wintergr3y: (green lantern)
Not really, it's a fan-made trailer edited together from a lot of different sources. But it's still a lot of fun! Originally spotted at SciFi wire.

By the way, If you're unfamiliar with Green Lantern and are intrigued there's an animated movie coming out later this summer that will retell the origin story. Warner Brothers also have a feature film in pre-production.

wintergr3y: (Default)
My new Prius should be ready for pickup on Tuesday, and I'm getting really excited. I'm very ready for a new car. Bigger, better, greener, lots of modern amenities... all of these add up to something I'm very much looking forward to. If all goes according to plan, I'll probably keep this Prius for years and years.

But it was years and years I was contemplating earlier this afternoon as I was clearing out my 1995 Honda Civic EX, which I affectionately named Stormchaser (or Chaser for short). Chaser is a medium-shade gray with just a hint of purple. Chaser really glows in the rain; when that paint gets wet the purple gets iridescent and the color is beautiful. That car earned his name the first time I noticed the paint after a rainshower. We've been together for a long time.

Chaser is the 3rd car I've ever owned, but is my first "adult" car. I had one in high school and one in college, but Chaser was brand new right off the lot, and I paid for him with my own money after I negotiated a raise. I'd actually researched the Honda Civic the year before when my girlfriend at the time bought her first car. Even though I'd broken up with her, I realized that all the research I'd done applied just as equally to me as it had to her, so I went for it. With that history, though, there's always been a tiny association I've held in my soul between that car and that ex.

But Chaser and I had a life together for more than a decade, and I hadn't really realized how much until I was cleaning him out. Stuff that'd built up in the car for years, old dings and paint scratches, and that comfortable feeling of sliding behind the wheel... something I've done so many, many times over the years.

The very last things I took out of Chaser were a charm that Lindaloo made for me to keep me safe, and a Celtic knot that symbolizes my indoctrination into the local Celtic rock and Irish ceili scene, both of which hung from the rear-view mirror. As I took them down I thought about all the things I'd done with that car, all the places I'd been... the commutes, the vacations, the visits to friends and girlfriends, the drives back and forth to the Starry Plough, the trips to Tahoe (oh the many blizzards we've shared!), and just lazy drives through the hills I grew up in.

Those times have come to an end. Thank you Stormchaser, for everything. May your next owner have as fulfilling a life together as we have.
wintergr3y: (Default)
Ganked from Gizmodo, I give you... Han Solo, P.I.!

And here's how they did it, in a shot-by-shot comparison with the original:

wintergr3y: (Default)
I've been car shopping, and my heart is set on the 2010 Prius (aka Gen3 Prius). Everything the Gen2 has, plus better looking, bigger interior, and most importantly better mileage (average 50mpg). The local dealers all seemed to be selling them for the same price: exactly MSRP, no negotiating.

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from the Palo Alto Toyota dealer that they got 3 cars fresh off the boat that were available for test driving. So after work I dashed over there and took it out for a spin. It definitely drives better than a Gen2. Gone is the "mushy" steering, and the car now has a more responsive acceleration. It also has 3 alternate driving modes: EV (battery only for speeds under 25mph), ECO (reduced air conditioning, mushier acceleration so you don't burn gas by stomping on the peddle) and PWR (pretty much the opposite of ECO, useful when driving in the hills or if you have a guilty urge to burn gas in your hybrid). That nasty Prius blind spot is still there, but it's not as bad over the right shoulder (and is practically eliminated over the left shoulder).

Better mileage + better driving experience = time for me to commit. And since the Palo Alto dealer was more polite than the Sunnyvale guy, and he called me immediately after he got some in for test driving, I decided his dealership deserved my business. So I plunked down $500 to reserve a spot in line. I want Package #3 (cloth seats, smaller tires) with the nav system (no sunroof) in Winter Gray (squeeeeee the car comes in a color that's my favorite username!!!!).

Now I wait. All of the dealers are only getting a handful of cars every couple of weeks, and there's probably several people in line in front of me who want the same configuration. It'll probably be a couple of months before I get a car. In the meantime I guess I'll figure out how to dispose of my 14 year old Honda Civic, and keep pining away for the day I can christen it (I already have a name picked out).

But when that day finally comes, I'll be as cool as these guys:

wintergr3y: (Default)
A follow up to my post the other day about users using social engineering to strike back at the car warrenty robocallers. The Federal Trade Commision has gone to war with the two companies responsible for most of the madness.

"This is one of the most aggressive telemarketing schemes the FTC has ever encountered," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "I’m not sure which is worse, the abusive telemarketing tactics of these companies, or the way they try to deceive people once they get them on the phone. Either way, we intend to shut them down."

wintergr3y: (Default)
The Twittersphere's been all abuzz the last couple of days ever since Twitter announced they were making some changes to the way the @ settings worked. Users rebelled, and deluged Twitter with FAIL!!1! messages, demanding the settings be returned to the way they originally worked. Twitter "relented" after a day and returned partial functionality, but for a lot of the user who were complaining this change wasn't enough.

The tech blogs quickly fired off articles critical of Twitter's actions, and wondering if Twitter had a hidden motive for making the change. TechCrunch may have lead the charge, with headlines like Trouble Right Here in Twitter CityKISS FAIL. You Can Now See Twitter Replies Sometimes, Except When You Can’t., and Twitter’s Spectacularly Awful 24 Hours.

I think the real clue was in Twitter's second blog post about this, which stated: "The engineering team reminded me that there were serious technical reasons why that setting had to go or be entirely rebuilt—it wouldn't have lasted long even if we thought it was the best thing ever." It also states, "One of the strongest signals is that folks were using this setting to discover and follow new and interesting accounts—this is something we absolutely want to support."

Since I've been part of this sort of cycle a few times, I can see there are two perspectives here: users reaction and developer needs. From a user perspective, what they mostly see is "You gave me a feature, then you took it away. I want it back!" Seems like a reasonable request, right?

But look at things from Twitter's point of view. The engineers are saying, "Our current @ display system is working right now, but only barely. As Twitter grows, we're coming up against some serious technical limitations." Heck, for all I know Twitter's explosive growth has been straining the @ system, which wasn't designed to handle the sort of traffic it's been pumping out. As they said, " wouldn't have lasted long even if we thought it was the best thing ever." And to top it off, only 3% of their users actually used the existing system.

What's something worse than user backlash about the removal of the feature? The entire feature (or maybe even the entire system) coming crashing down because it collapsed under its own weight -- which would cause a lot more negative feedback and probably be a lot harder to fix. At least this way, they got to shut down the feature in a controlled fashion.

Twitter is also succeeding on this issue becuase they're not just taking the raw feedback at face value. People are saying, "We like that feature, keep it in." What they mean, however, is "We like a simple system for discovering new users, and we'd like to have one." Apparently Twitter is working on just such a system, but it's not ready yet. I can only guess that they estimated the @ system was going to break before the replacement system was ready, or that instituting the new system required the old system to be shut off first.

If Twitter made any mistakes, it was in not explaining this in detail up front. If they're first blog post had read "Hey everyone, we know you like our @ system, however it's got some severe technical limitations and is about to break so we've got to shut it down. We're sorry you won't have a simple discovery system for a while, but rest assured we're building a replacement system that will scale better. We'll get it out to you as soon as we can."

Even with that sort of up-front disclosure, I'm sure a lot of users would have stuck with "You took something away from me" and left it at that. Hopefully Twitter can get their replacement system up and running soon -- that'll be the best panacea #fixreplies.
wintergr3y: (Default)
Why? Well, all the cool kids are doing it these days. Edit: You can find me at

Also, I've found it incredibly handy for work. Want to know exactly how the public feels about the product I'm working on right now? Twitter Search always gives me the answer.

At least I can say I've been on FriendFeed since its inception. (Which reminds me, I still need to do that big FriendFeed post.)

Why have I said I hate microblogging? Frankly, I find the content mostly trivia. Even the content from my friends; I don't care what kind of sandwich you just ate or if your cat barfed on your living room carpet. But I'm going to give this a shot, at least for a while -- and I'll try to keep my personal trivia to a minimum. :-)

And while I'm on the subject, can any of you iPhoners recommend a good Twitter app?
wintergr3y: (Default)
 ...on the starship Enterprise, under Captain Kirk!

So I'm going to have to disagree with most of America. Although I enjoyed the new Star Trek film, I don't think it's the best one ever -- Wrath of Khan still has the top spot in my heart.

Don't get me wrong, it is very good. It does lots of things right, and is definitely worth seeing. It did a few things wrong, though, which kept it just short of the #1 spot. To talk about the details I'm going to have to spoil a lot of stuff.

Spoilers ahead, keptin! ) 

Live long and prosper, Trek 2.0.
wintergr3y: (Default)
Today's best Star Trek review comes from..... The Onion!

wintergr3y: (Default)
You know those robocalls that every single phone in America has recieved about how your car warranty is about to expire? Which is, in fact, a scam?

Someone on Reddit social engineered one of the offending company's phone number and eventually Reddit-ers figured out the entire extention tree at the offending company. This led to a deluge of calls by pissed off folks, drowning the phone lines of Auto One Warranty Specialists with such creative offers as extended warranty coverage for the computers the company uses.

One of my coworkers just tried calling the number. Unsurprisingly, it's been disconnected.


May. 5th, 2009 08:47 pm
wintergr3y: (Default)

Here I am celebrating Cinco de Mayo... At St. Stephen's Green.

Posted via

wintergr3y: (Default)
First it was this flashmob.

Now it's all of Trafalgar Square singing "Hey Jude."

wintergr3y: (khaaaaaaaaaan!)
 A Kindle2 and an iPod perform Star Trek 2's most famous scene.

wintergr3y: (Default)
Sleeping in on a lazy weekend morning, snuggling warmly in bed... eventually [personal profile] capricious_k  and I will reach for our smartphones and start roaming around the internet. It's the modern equivalent of reading the Sunday morning newspaper. After a little while I'll ask her, "So how's your internet today?"

It's a question that reflects that although she and I have similar tastes, our experience of the internet is somewhat different. Even though we're both avid Livejournal users, even our friends pages aren't 100% identical. She'll get all the latest news from Whedonesque, and I'll read PvPOnline's feed. We probably both start out by checking our email inboxes, but I think I'm more inclined to check Google News as my second activity than she is. And even if she does check Google News, we've both personalized it so we're getting somewhat different news.

Despite the fact that the internet is a vast ocean of ever-evolving data, each of us experience that ocean in a different way, and the way we experience it is entirely different and intensely personal. If you picked two random internet users from around the globe, odds are extremely high that they have no favorite websites in common -- and if they did, they'd probably prioritize them differently. You say, I say, although both are likely to display similar headlines.

One recent internet evolution that's helped shape this experience is the emergence of aggregators. You LJ friends page is an aggregator, a place that displays a personalized list of updates from all of your LJ friends. Google Reader is a great place to bring a lot of informational feeds together for at-a-glance perusal. FriendFeed is rapidly becoming one of my favorite internet destinations. (FriendFeed really warrents a separate post -- in short, please go use FriendFeed!)

Naturally, my favorite method of bringing my slice o' internet together in one place is iGoogle, where I organize my internet life according to tabs, and each tab has a different priority. My 'Home' tab includes a smattering of news, a feed from Slashdot, bookmarks of some of my favorite internet destinations, a Digg gadget so I can see what's floating to the top of the internet's gestalt consciousness, my Gmail inbox, etc. Then I've got another tab called 'News' which is a deeper dive into the world's best news agencies; one called 'Geek' which includes feeds from various video game and comic book websites; another called 'Tech' where I can scan headlines from places like TechCrunch, Engadget, Ars Technica, Gizmodo, and Techdirt; and finally a 'Google' tab that gives me an at-a-glance look at news about Google including a Google News search on the word [ Google ], a few of Google's official blogs, a few blogs that comment specifically on Google such as Google Operating System, and a couple of gadgets that bubble up what's popular on Google at the moment: Google Hot Trends, Google Insights for Search, and Google's What's Popular.

On top of all that, I keep a few different tabs open on my browser all at once. The mix is different on my home computer and my work computer, but they have some overlap. Every time I fire my comptuter up and launch a browser I'm presented with these tabs, which are organized just the way I want them -- my home tabs are biased towards home entertainment (including one tab that shows my Xbox Live friends page so I can see what Xbox friends are online at the moment) and my work tabs are optimized for work tasks such as reading my work email inbox, checking my work calendar, and the tools I use to do my job.This same principle carries over to my iPhone, where I keep about 5 windows constantly open in the browser, the ones I'm most likely to be interested in while on-the-go (or at least too lazy to go look at my home computer while I'm vegging on the couch).

All in all, my little slice of the internet is a highly personalized and optimized experience, and I'm sure that's true for everyone else, too. Aggregating and sorting these slices is becoming an increasingly important part of interfacing with the web. The tool of tomorrow will probably be some sort of meta-smart-aggregator, that brings together larger and larger slices of your internet in one place and intelligently surfaces new content to you, all through an adaptable interface that dynamically adjusts to the best way for you to experience that content. I, for one, can't wait.

So... how's your internet today?
wintergr3y: (jasper)
Two LED lightbulbs!

"We're also giving employees in most of our offices around the world next-generation, super-efficient LED light bulbs to encourage energy efficiency. (LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and 50% less energy than a CFL.) In the average U.S. home, lighting accounts for about 20% of the electricity bill. If every Googler changes out one incandescent light bulb for one of these LEDs, the combined impact would be the equivalent of taking over 4,000 cars off the road for one year!"

(In case you're intereseted, the bulbs come from
Lemnis Lighting.)
wintergr3y: (Default)
In case of apocalypse, read these stone slabs for instructions on rebuilding society.
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