Sunday, July 23, 2006

Useless-O-Pic of the day

What Jesus can do I can now do better.

Ever person creates ripples in the flow of time.

I've just finished the masterpiece that is Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. Dreamfall is an action adventure game with the emphasis on adventure, with alot of cinematic flair. This alone isn't new, however the depth and richness of Dreamfall's multilayered story is extrordinary. In playing through the game each player litterally makes their own journey. Along the way troubling questions are presented to the player as well as real world lessons. I know this seems unrealistic and somewhat cliche but some of the in game dialogue was deeply insightful and gives another perspective to how we live through the day to day.

In the end Dreamfall is a very good novel the excellent graphics pale in comparison to the complexity and mulitfaceted nature of the story. Dreamfall reads like a book, a book that you will be dying to get to the next chapter through a sense of discovery.

And maybe if you just play Dreamfall with a open mind like me, you might just be able to find that Dreamfall has stopped being a game so much as a chance to live and learn some life lessons.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Finally A Non-Wimpy Electric Car

It took a long time but someone finally made an electric car that beat out my inital enthusiasm for the TZero from ac propulsion. It's called the Tesla and it's a serious electric car, it looks like one too however what's really impressive is that it can go 0-100km in less than 4 seconds and has a range of around 400km. I have to say that I don't care much for the first figure but the second figure is mighty impressive and if it were available I'd seriously consider it over a conventional combustion engine. What's more impressive is it runs about 2 cents / km. So let's compare with a modern econocar raitings.

The Tesla Roadster: $0.02 / km = $2.00 / 100km (Theoretical Max Range 400KM)

We'll assume the price of Gas is 100.0 / L even though it's currently 106.3
We are taking best case highway numbers as well to give the Gas cars an advantage and calculating the max ranges with an assumed 50L fill at those best case numbers.

Mazda3 GS 2.0L : 6.1L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $6.10 / 100KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 810KM
Honda Civic : 5.7L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $5.70 / 100KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 870KM
Honda Civic Hybrid: 4.3L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $4.30 / 100 KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 1160KM
Toyota Prius: 4.2L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $4.20 / 100 KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 1190KM

As we know sports cars are huge gas guzzlers so let's take a quick look at some exotic cars to compare:

Lamborghini Murcielago: 18.1L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $18.10 / 100KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 270KM
Aston Martin Vanquish: 13.1L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $13.10 / 100KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 382KM
Porche Carrera GT: 11.7L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $11.70 / 100KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 427KM
Bugatti Veyron (Highway): 14.7L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $14.70 / 100KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 340KM
Bugatti Veyron (City): 40.1L / 100KM @ $1.00 / L = $40.1 / 100KM
Estimated Max Best Case Range: 125KM

As you can see the specs look good if the Tesla delivers on what it says it'll deliver on paper it'll be the speed and range of a sports car, with the running cost of an econocar. As long as you can find a spare power plug every 400KM and can take 3 hours to charge it seems like a great deal, and a huge plus is no green house gases.

However part of the package for an exotic sports car is the looks and to me at least this one's got it.

The Tesla was designed by Lotus Elise engineers and it shows.

Low component count makes the Tesla mechanically simpler than most cars.

Notice the car only has forward and reverse, there is no gear changing since electric motors work well from 0rpm all the way to 13000+rpm.

Here's the car's powerplant, significantly smaller than a modern car engine and much less complex. The electric motor is infinitely more efficient as it is simpler than the internal combustion engine.

A few caveats though because the car uses laptop batteries after the first year the car will lose 20% of it's charge if stored at 100% charge level which is probably what everyone does if given a car like this. That means that after year one your range will go from 400KM to 320KM and after year 2 it's looking like 256KM by year 3 you will need a replacement since your now doing 204KM that's half the original range. So if you were going to own you must consider battery wear as a part of the cost, although everyone these days is a "right now" society and might just ignore this running cost.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The EBay itch

Ever wonder why people pay more for things on EBay? The way EBay is set it it's addictive, like many other's I've placed a bid that I thought later that I didn't really need and ended up praying to be outbid (luckily the prices were usually ridiculously low so I was out bid). The clever setup of EBay makes it reflect more of a gambling web site than a place of commerce. Ebay uses the words like Win, and encourages users to feel like they've accomplished something when you've outbid someone as metal rewards and reinforcement. With Ebay money is represented by strokes of your keyboard and seldom do users actually think of money, hence unlike a real auction when the users is upping his or her bid there's no guilt felt from the wallet. In the end the users that end up paying more than retail for items on Ebay will also be the ones that regard their Ebay experience as fun, entertainment almost, and that extra cost might as well be the price of fun.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Two types of computer users.

It has recently come to my attention that there are two major types of computer users. There are the ones that prefer the all in one suites and the ones that like lightweight applications. This was brought to my attention with a discussion on Maxton vs Firefox. For those that don't know Maxton, it's a up and comming browser based on IE rendering engine but incorporating many useful tools like tabs.

Maxton's design philosophy from what I can tell is the suite design philosophy. Bundle as much useful funtionality as you possibly can into this application for the user so the user never has to customize the application or get plugins because the popular ones will be integrated in the next release. From what I've seen suite users tend to be suite users for all applications, they prefer large "full featured apps" that try their best at doing everything. They also don't mind the idea that they start off knowing only 20% or less of what the application can do. These end up being the users that will prefer the full version of messenger to gaim outlook to webmail, and don't generally go to the task manager to check how much system resources a particular application is using. A general philosophy for these users is "a good application should predict and include all the tools I need without me having to go out and get them."

Firefox's design is quite different from Maxton's. Firefox has always gained popularity over it's suite program Mozilla by remaining simple and light. Firefox doesn't try and anticipate the functionailty from it's users but rather allows each user to go out and fetch plugins to extend the set of tools Firefox has on their own. As such Firefox attracts the lightweight users, or users that hate over bundling of functionality no matter how efficiently done it might be. The design philosophy behind Firefox seems to be, provide a very strong and basic core application, then allow the users to extend it any way they might like. Users of lightweight application design philosophy might use notepad as opposed to a heavier text editor just because "It's all they need". A general philosophy to these users might be, "just give me what I want with none of the bloat".

I won't debate the merits of either of these solutions because sometimes efficient bundling can cause the package to perform as efficiently as a non-bundled application. I'm purely pointing out these two divergent groups of computer users which I find intreguing. Being in the second group I can't understand the attraction towards the suite packages, but I cannot fail to acknowledge their popularity.