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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Friday, December 18, 2009
05:24 - Oh VW, what happened to you? You used to be cool
http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Volkswagen_GTI/photos-interior/spee

(top)
Did they seriously do this on the 2010 GTI?



Look at the speedometer. Look what happens to the markings at the high end.

Yeah. The large labeled tick marks are at 10 mph intervals, up to 140 where they suddenly switch to 20 mph apart. 120... 130... 140... oh hey 160 180! No difference in spacing. Just a shameless relabeling of the car's top indicatable speed as 180. And since you'll never actually get the car up to anywhere near that speed, there's no way you'll ever notice that the gauge is totally inaccurate in that range (unless, of course, they actually made it so the gauge responds twice as slowly above 140 mph, which somehow I doubt).

I'm no VW hater, lord knows. But damn.

Honestly I'm kinda having a hard time deciding whether this is a travesty, or some kind of awesome. To do something that bald-facedómaking what amounts to an unverifiable and implausible claim about your car, then sticking it right in front of your face every day to taunt you... well, that takes stones. Or extreme tone-deafness. I'm totally unsure which it is in this case.

UPDATE: Let me be clear about what I'm saying here. VW could have done what Lotus did with the Elise:


...And made it so there's no secret about where the sensitivity of the gauge changes. On the Elise tach, it's immediately obvious that they're using two different scales; the tick mark density changes, the labels are much closer together, and so on.

VW isn't doing that. They're keeping exactly the same tick marks and labeling, but silently switching scale on you, so unless you're really alert, you won't realize there's any difference between the one region and the other. A lab instrument designed like this would be used primarily for pranks.

And note that Lotus apparently isn't doing the variable-sensitivity tach thing anymore anyway:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
17:47 - 'Tis the season...

(top)
Which season? Well, pine cone season, obviously!



At least they didn't say "celebrate a season".


12:11 - A few of my favorite things
http://nexus404.com/Blog/2009/12/02/2011-audi-a8-is-stacked-with-gadgets-new-audi-se

(top)
Whee! Audi's now putting Google Earth in their cars:

Are you in the market for a new car? Might I suggest the all new 2011 Audi A8 full-size sedan, that will come loaded, and I mean absolutely loaded, with tech toys (Iím sure thats what Audi calls them) for the German automotive connoisseur. These tech features include, a Google Earth navigation system, a 19-speaker sound system, and an internet connection and WiFi network. Thatís right, your car can be connected to the internet.

The internet connection is provided to the car via a UMTS (3G) connection, and the car then spits that out via a WiFi network, perfect for browsing your laptop while going 65 mph down the highway (also, ideally, perfect for browsing the web while a pal drives). The WiFi networkís usefulness doesnít stop there, as you can use it to wirelessly stream music from your MP3 player to the carís speakers. No contracts are required for the 3G connection (probably built into the carís price, similar to the Amazon Kindle and other things of that nature). The carís navigation system streams satellite pictures from Google Earth, giving you a (theoretical) preview of your surroundings, instead of the bland roads and streets that most GPS systems give you.

Only the A8 so far, so there's at least some passing plausibility of this feature being designed for the benefit of a passenger who's calling the shots, rather than used primarily by a distracted driver. Of course, when they start sticking it into the S5 and R8, then we know there's no going back to the age of innocence.

Speaking of Google Earth, I wonder how difficult it would be to create convincing-looking synthetic terrain and imagery data? I was just thinking how cool it would be to fly around a fully 3D-realized version of Tolkien's Middle-Earth with my SpaceNavigator...

UPDATE: And speaking of the S5 and R8... oh God.

Monday, December 14, 2009
11:08 - The comeback you never saw coming
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CELEB_HERMAN?SITE=OHCOL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPL

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Wow:

Pee-wee was shelved after Reubens' July 1991 arrest for indecent exposure in an adult-movie house in Sarasota, Fla., resulting in a small fine. Reubens, now 57, continued to act, playing characters other than Pee-wee, scoring successes as the Penguin's father in "Batman Returns" (1992) and a 1995 Emmy nomination for a recurring guest role on "Murphy Brown." But Pee-wee would ultimately rise again.

"Well, I went back and forth between wanting to do it and not wanting to do (the new stage show)," Reubens said. "I had a producer that was calling me every two months for two years. And every two months, I would change my mind. And then, finally, one day I woke up and decided, 'This is it, I'm coming back.'"

As with the original stage show, the new production spins around Pee-wee's desire to fly. The menagerie of "Playhouse" characters is back, as are some of the original cast members, including Lynne Stewart as Miss Yvonne, John Moody as Mailman Mike and John Paragon as Jambi the Genie.

What, he couldn't get Laurence Fishburne to come back to play Cowboy Curtis? He's not busy or anything lately, is he?

I'm sure most people in the modern age have either forgotten or forgiven his past escapades, which (as Tim Blair points out) seem "positively quaint" by today's standards. The biggest challenge these days is probably whether he can still convincingly do the character at age 57.

I'm sure he can pull it off.

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© Brian Tiemann