De omnibus dubitandum
8 Aug 2011
So Top Gear (a humorous entertainment show that some hapless morons confuse for a serious car programme) did a segment on electric cars, and a lot of people are very upset about it. (Exhibit A, exhibit B)
“Big, mean Top Gear,” they say, “they always pick on electric cars! The segment wasn’t fair! It made electric cars look bad!”
No, you whiney little twats, Top Gear didn’t make electric cars look bad. Electric cars do a spectacular job at sucking all on their own, they don’t need Top Gear’s infantile humour to make them look bad.
Because, right now, in the UK, electric cars only make sense if you live in a big city and have shitloads of money. Let me explain:
All these factors combined means that rich inner city toffs are the only sensible demographic for electric cars. And guess who’s doing the complaining about Top Gear’s ‘misleading’ electric car segment? Exactly.
The simple fact is that currently, as things stand, electric cars are not a valid alternative for cars with internal combustion engines. Electric cars only work in a limited amount of transport scenarios, and in nearly all of those public transport is probably a better option anyway (if only marginally cheaper).
The ‘controversial’ Top Gear segment in question contains no lies and no falsehoods. A few self-righteous environmental campaigners have taken it upon themselves to create a huge fuss about the whole thing (makes you wonder exactly who has an agenda here, doesn’t it?), but the facts cannot be changed.
On top of that, has anyone ever wondered where all that electricity powering those electric cars actually comes from?
So – instead of trying to re-invent motoring, create a whole new transport infrastructure to facilitate those grossly inadequate electrical machines, and generally keep on ruining the environment whilst generating all this electricity – why don’t we just skip the electric car phase all together and instead focus our energy (pun intended) on the thing that will really take transport in to the next century, something that doesn’t require us to radically change the way we approach transport, something that will literally never run out and will power humankind for all eternity?
26 Sep 2009
When I saw this bike today parked outside a pub in Belfast, I just had to take a picture. A Guinness-themed Harley Davidson bike:
9 Jul 2009
Remember PeerDrivetm? Well, either TomTom has stolen my idea and gave it a twist to make it work, or my idea wasn’t so new and revolutionary to begin with (pick your version).
TomTom has recently implemented a new feature in their GPS devices called IQ Routes. To quote:
“This new improved technology calculates routes based on the real average speeds measured on roads every day compared to speed limits. This uses historical data that TomTom users have been adding to over the years. It will always provide users with the smartest route hour-by-hour, day-by-day, saving them time, money and fuel.”
Pretty darn clever idea, even if I say so myself.
4 Jul 2009
Wired’s Autopia blog reviews the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport – the convertible version of the original Veyron. The reviewer claims it is the greatest petroleum-fueled car ever made. I agree.
The acceleration is so immediate you can feel your eyeballs deform under the G-forces. It’s a sensation of isolationist joy, an out-of-body awareness that you’re moving faster than the world can react. Bystanders vaguely remember seeing a flash of expensive paint a few seconds after you disappear over the horizon; entire generations of insects die on your prow.
The review is a superbly written piece of automotive otaku. Go and read it.
26 Apr 2007
I loved Cory Doctorow’s TunePay idea in Eastern Standard Tribe and it inspired me to an offshoot idea. Someone’s undoubtedly thought of it already, but I’m going to elaborate on it anyway: social GPS navigation.
Millions of cars have a GPS navigation system nowadays, whether it’s an external system like TomTom or an application on a smartphone or an integrated function of the car’s onboard computer. Navigation is handy. It saves you time and effort. But everybody who has one always complains about having to fork over cash for updated maps and lacking functionality for road construction and other short-lived route obstructions and no embedded warning system for speed cameras and the like. So here’s my idea: bring social networking to GPS nav systems.
Our cars are quickly becoming mobile personal networks anyway. Soon all our vehicles will be connected to us and to the world via Bluetooth, UMTS and who knows what next-gen protocol. So let’s connect these cars. Let cars talk to each other. Let us talk to other drivers through our cars.
Imagine driving along a particular road and suddenly an accident happens ahead of you and you get stuck in a traffic jam. Or you come across the early moments of a road reconstruction effort. Or a new road has just been completed and isn’t in your nav system’s map yet. Or you get your picture taken by a roadside mobile speed camera. Your GPS nav isn’t showing any of this. So, you update your nav. With a touchscreen and a stylus or perhaps a Bluetooth interface with your cellphone or PDA you update your nav map, marking the spot as an accident zone or a construction zone or new road or a temporary police checkpoint or whatever. Your car then beams this update to other nearby cars. They process the update into their own nav maps, marking it as a potential. Another driver on the same road makes the same update and this is also beamed to other cars.
The more people beaming this update as an original change request, the more validity the update gets in the GPS software, upgrading it from a potential to a probable to a definite. The nav software starts taking this change into account the moment it becomes a probable, at whatever threshold that is, and adjusts the route accordingly and/or informing the driver of it. Maybe temporary markers such as traffic jams and speed cameras get integrated after just one or two user submission, while new roads take half a dozen or more driver updates before they become a fact for your nav system.
Cars beam updates to one another continuously, everywhere they go, thus enabling a national or continental network of constantly updated nav maps. You could add a peer review system to it, giving higher credibility to route updates transmitted from reputable cars/drivers. The end result is that everyone drives around with the most up to date route navigation system possible. It makes buying route updates obsolete, as the new system doesn’t rely on the old map seller businesses such as Falk. Which is why I believe it’s not gonna happen anytime soon, those guys have too much to lose and too much grip on the market at this point. Not to mention that networked cars are still a minority these days, and nav systems are far from standardized on software.
But it’s gonna happen, sooner or later. And when it does, remember that you read it here first. Or second, or third, or four hundred and seventeenth, depending on how many others before me have had a similar brainfart. I call it PeerDrivetm. Maybe I should file a patent.