g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, November 25, 2007
23:01 - Two companies, two philosophies
http://www.autoblog.com/2007/11/25/lamborghini-exploring-ways-to-reduce-co2-without-

(top)
More and more, Lamborghini looks like the more sensible of the two big Italian sports car companies. First they swoop in to snap up the market of perfectly well qualified buyers not willing to put up with Ferrari's snobby waiting lists; and now this:

Both Ferrari and Lamborghini's CO2 emissions right now exceed 400 g/km. The EU has set a goal of 120 g/km for a carmakers' fleet average by 2012. Last week, Ferrari said it planned to at least get down to 280-300 g/km by 2012, which, while still more than double the target, represents a 30% decrease. It said it would do that by exploring more efficient engines and different body panels to make cars lighter.

Lamborghini's response to the same issue, from CEO Stephan Winkelmann, came to a similar conclusion but in a slightly different way. Winkelmann said that the DNA of the brand -- "the design of the car, the sound of the engine, the top speed and the sprint from zero to 100 kilometers per hour" -- cannot be sacrificed, else they aren't really making supercars any more, which means they're not really making Lamborghinis. And that can't happen.

Also echoing Ferrari, Winkelmann said that Lamborghini owners really only drive their cars on the weekends, and they only sell a handful of them, so "If we look at the real impact, it is close to zero." From the sounds of it, Lamborghini has no intention of messing with the sounds or sizes of its engines, suggesting only (so far) that it will look at using lighter construction techniques, such as more carbon fiber. Take that, EU.

It's that level-headed, logical German ownership, I tell you. Go Audi.


Friday, November 23, 2007
18:30 - F-bombs on billboards

(top)
On the way down the East Bay coming back from Thanksgiving, I saw a billboard for McAfee that said in huge letters:

HACKERS ARE BAD. WE'RE BADASS.

I remember Lileks once saying something about how it's only a matter of time before we see F-bombs on billboards. I guess he ain't whistlin' Dixie.


Monday, November 19, 2007
01:38 - Too good an idea for Japan to not do
http://www.dailyhaha.com/linkout.asp?LinkID=4168&cat=news

(top)
I always thought it would be great if someone could make this work; but my far-fetched version of the idea, which would probably only work on roads with a speed limit of about 500 mph, was more like an 8KHz mono audio sample that says YOU ARE GOING OFF THE ROAD GET BACK ON THE ROAD YOU MORON WAKE UP HANG UP YOUR DAMN CELL PHONE or something.

But, eh—this is just as good.



16:58 - Do as we say, not as we do
http://img.worsethanfailure.com/images/200711/error'd/MsdnRss.JPG

(top)
Yes, but I'm sure they have a really good reason.

From the Error'd blog, which I believe I'll have to bookmark now, and via David G.



13:37 - Not funny

(top)
I've now spent every weekend of the past month trying to get the Lotus smogged, the last step in the now-about-seven-month process to get the thing into my legal name and driveable on public roads in California. You'll recall that the journey has taken me first through about four months of waiting for the dealership to unearth the title from the previous owner, and then to the some $4500 in taxes and fees to the DMV so I could get that red square sticker for my rear window with the giant "11" in it, while at the same time spending about two months futzing about with local shops trying to get the engine to stop throwing O2 sensor codes long enough to get it to pass the all-important smog check.

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, we'd been spending most of the waking moments of all the weekends in recent memory standing around fidgeting while a smog place in downtown San Jose—the only one open on Sundays—tried and tried to get the thing to pass. First it failed the actual emissions test, indicating that the catalytic converters were in fact all used up. Then (after I got the cats replaced with almost-new ones taken off someone else's Esprit at a local Lotus tuning shop) they couldn't get it to pass because they couldn't keep the engine at a fixed RPM long enough for it to get a reading. Then they were magically able to hold it steady, and the emissions were indeed clean, but the test failed because I'd too recently reset my engine codes and had not yet driven it enough or under the appropriate conditions to fire all the readiness monitors. And I knew that the moment I did fire the monitors, I'd get another O2 sensor code: first it was 160 and 161, which was the left side post-cat, and then after I swapped them it was always 159, which was right side post-cat. So it at least looked like that single O2 sensor was to blame, ruggedly custom-soldered for me though it might be. It was only about the third set of sensors that I'd put in this car in the past few months. What's replacing it with yet another?

That's why this past weekend I didn't even bother taking it to any smog places, because I had something more germane to do: hook up my brand-new Actron scanner and drive with it reading out real-time RPM and manifold pressure data at me so I could drive the car in exactly the ways it needed to be driven in order to fire the readiness codes. After several runs up and down Almaden Expressway, holding the pressure at 30-65 kPa and the revs just under 2000 and holding my arm out the window making "go around!" gestures at people passing by, I had gotten pretty good at clearing the O2, EGR, and evap readiness monitors. And, of course, throwing the ever-popular 159 code as soon as the O2 monitor fired. Which happened every time I tried it.

But yesterday I did one final experiment before my fallback plan was to go into effect (e.g. going to the supercar dealer with hat in hand and buy a genu-wyne Lotus-branded O2 sensor on a velvet pillow from a guy with a pin-striped suit and slicked-back hair and an indeterminate European accent for some ungodly amount of money). I swapped the sensors one more time, to ensure that the codes would go back to 160/161 (the left side), thus confirming that it's in fact that one sensor to blame, and not my car's wiring harness and not gremlins.

I reset the codes, then took it out onto Almaden. I ran it along until the monitors fired. And... I looked at the engine light, which was not on.

I reset my scanner and rechecked the monitors. They all said "ok". I looked at the light again. Still off. I looked at the scanner. It said "MIL STATUS: OFF." I looked again. Still off.

I didn't know to what to attribute this sudden change in my fortunes, or whether I could dare to hope that they would hold; but at least for that moment, in the frisson of giddiness that inevitably accompanies something as stubbornly concrete as a light that refused to come on, you can imagine how I effected the turnaround at the T-intersection of Almaden and Harry. (Hint: there were some roundish tire marks in the intersection.)

But I knew better than to think this was it. I still had that smog test to get through. For now, my readiness monitors were all good to go, and I had no engine light (though I did mysteriously have a 159 code again, which I'm going to have to figure out—apparently whatever failure is causing it does not necessarily travel with the sensor, and it does not always fire a Check Engine light, whatever the hell sense that makes, but I'm not about to ask questions just now). At least i know that my car blows clean thanks to the new cats. And there's a smog place—a Shell station—just a couple of blocks from my house. We've got a date Monday morning.

At 8:45 this morning I was there, waiting for them to open up the bays. At 9:00 some of the techs started to arrive, including the Vietnamese boy-racer-looking smog guy who had on one previous occasion looked at the car, looked at me, looked at the car, wrinkled his nose, and said, "No way"—not with the car smelling like a fuel spill what with all the unburned hydrocarbons it was spitting out. Now, though, we were old friends, or so one might think by his conspiratorial smirk when he caught sight of me. But he also said that the dyno would take at least an hour to warm up. An hour! I could leave the car there and come back, he said. 10:30 they'll be done and they'll give me a call. The place is within easy walking distance of home. I left after having summarily forgotten to give the guy a quick primer in the car's gamut of bizarre controls, like the hidden console-mounted gas cap release, the freako-latching collapsible door-panel-mounted emergency brake, the finicky hood cover latch, and so on, and I consigned myself to 90 minutes of agitatedly sitting in front of my computer and phone, waiting for the inevitable call to ask me how you open the door from the inside. (Hint: you latch the lock, then pull the handle in firmly, then lunge your shoulder against the door.)

The phone rang. It was the guy. "Your car's ready to be picked up," he said. ...And that was all he said. He didn't follow it up with any caveats. I gave him a good two or three seconds to say, "But, uh... it failed the emissions portion", or "It threw an engine light in the middle of the 25 mph test", or something; but he didn't.

I ventured: "So... it passed?"

"Yeah, dude."

He must have sensed the desperation in my voice, because he jokingly added, "You owe me!"

I just set myself up for these things, I know. It's impossible to resist screwing with me. I think I just project something that makes me an easy target for smartassery. But I'm still not taking any damn chances here, and I don't want to do anything to jinx it before I have the documentation firmly in hand. If that means being a douche with a car he doesn't understand and too much money, well, I suppose there are worse places to start.

On the brisk walk back down to the smog place, though, I couldn't help replaying in my head all the things that could still go wrong. Maybe he called me prematurely, I thought. That guy at the other smog place told me I'd passed while it was still modeming the codes to the state, and we were making post-coital small-talk when he got the printout and noticed that I'd failed because of the readiness codes. Maybe that's what's happened here. He just gave me a call as soon as he took it off the dyno. I'm gonna get there and find out it actually failed after all, or maybe the engine light came on while he was re-parking it. Maybe... maybe... maybe....

I'm great at parties, you can just bet.

I got to the station and went inside, where the smog tech was eating a Twinkie. He said something to me I couldn't quite make out through the shop noise and the cream filling; it sounded like "Mmmph ffld smog." I didn't get it the first time, so I asked him to repeat it. "MmmFFph ccrr FFFmg."

I continued to look confused, but assuming he was trying to tell me he needed to go over some paperwork details, I followed him over to the computer, making "It's all good" shrugging motions. When we got over to the computer, though, he held up the printout with its printed side toward him, and I tugged on the near corner of it fruitlessly. "Your car failed smog," he told me clearly now, the Twinkie gone.

"...What?"

"It failed, dude."

"But... but... what happened?"

"I dunno, man. You need a new car, or something."

"But you said on the phone—"

He relented, and a grin split his sparsely whiskered face. "Just kidding, dude. You passed." And he handed over the sheet. An unbroken column of PASSes.

I peered at him. He was enjoying this. "Yeah, I owe you, all right," I finally said. "I owe you a smack in the head."


He'll remember me, I know. I'll be a story he can tell his buddies for weeks to come. I guess there's worse things to be. But I'm gonna remember him, too. Wiseass.


UPDATE:


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© Brian Tiemann