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Comment: Re: Tolls! (Score 1) 825

by BronsCon (#49744451) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax
As soon as I posted that, I realized I should clarify why I didn't compare only city mileage, given that you mentioned mostly city driving. It's simple though, really; the Prius got better mileage 5 years ago and the Corolla got worse, so it would have been unfair to the Prius to use 2015's city mileage numbers and KBB only provides the combined value. To be as fair as possible to the Prius, that is what I used.

Comment: Re: Tolls! (Score 1) 825

by BronsCon (#49744433) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax
Funny you mention dealer service for anything other than the battery (which is a dealer-only part that they will not sell you without installation). It's also funny that you can get a Corolla headlight for $80 at the dealer or less than $16 off the shelf at any parts store. There's a reason I didn't compare common regular maintenance; I had assumed those costs would be similar between the two models. Thank you for pointing out yet another way a Prius actually costs more over time.

You and he think he saved money. Just like I ignored the $4000 battery replacement (those batteries have a high-end working life of 1 decade), you're also ignoring that. A new Prius costs $7250 more than a new Corolla; let's find out what the difference is when they're 5 years old. So, let's assume he bought a 5 year old Prius today and I bought a 5 year old Corolla (LE since there is no 2010 L model) today, he'll spend $11793 on a vehicle that gets 50 MPG on average and I'll spend $9279 on a vehicle that gets 29 MPG on average (according to KBB, both cars stock and in "Good" condition). He's going to pay $2514 more for that Prius which, you're right, does cut the difference down by nearly 2/3. So, what's the payoff point? I won't ignore the battery this time.

Average miles driven per year: 13346 - Fuel for Prius: 266.92gal - Fuel for Corolla: 460.21gal

Fuel cost @ $4.00/gal - Prius: $1067.68 - Corolla: $1840.84

Prius fuel cost savings per year: $773.16

So, the 2010 Prius actually fares quite a bit better against the 2010 Corolla than the comparison between the 2015 miles, the Prius should have this one in the bag, right?


Payoff on that price difference is roughly 3.25 years (a few days longer, actually) and, assuming the Prius' battery holds up for the full 10 years of expected life (note: this is rare), the Prius actually will be ahead of the Corolla at that point. However, at the end of 10 years, when the Prius should be $1353.03 ahead of the Corolla, the $4000 battery needs to be replaced, putting the Corolla back in the lead by $2646.97. It'll take the Prius another 3.5 years to catch up to the Corolla at that point. That all assumes that the electric motors in the Prius last 13.5 years without replacement; remember, this is not common maintenance between the two models, like a headlight, but maintenance that is specific to one model, like the $4000 battery. At any rate, a 5 year old Prius will be 13.5 years old before it catches up, cost-wise, to a 5 year old Corolla bought at the same time; that's an 8.5 year payoff when you actually consider the battery, assuming no other Prius-specific maintenance is necessary in that time. While that is an almost 35% reduction from the original 13 year payoff, it's also unlikely that either vehicle will be kept for that duration. More likely, when the Prius needs a new battery, it'll be traded in for something new; after all, at the 10 year mark, the Prius won't be worth the cost of the battery anymore, anyway.

It does look a bit more favorable when you raise the price of gas to $5, though. The Prius will have a yearly fuel cost of $966.45 less than the corolla at that point, giving it a (pre-battery) payoff time of 2.6 years (plus a handful of hours), putting it $2319.18 ahead of the Corolla at the 10 year mark. Factoring in the battery, the Corolla is actually $1680.52 ahead at the 10 year mark, but the Prius does catch up after roughly another 1.75 years. If gas costs 25% more, the used Prius beats the used Corolla after 6.75 years rather than 8.5. It's still unlikely the Prius will see that new battery at the 10 year mark, though, when it's KBB value will be less than the cost of the battery in the first place.

The economics of the Prius just don't work from a financial perspective. When you consider what goes into producing, and disposing of or recycling, large lithium batteries, the environmental economics don't work either. Especially given the frequency with which Prius' seem to pass me on the freeway when I'm doing 90 and getting 32MPG, as compared to the 28 or so they have to be getting doing nearly 100 purely on gasoline (the motors disengage at those speeds). I always laugh when I see that, because I know they bought the car to burn less fuel, but there they are staring at the MPG readout on their dash and not giving a damn.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 1) 825

by BronsCon (#49740027) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax
I'll admit that I didn't RTFA (hey, I know where I am) and wasn't aware that it involved tracking; I can agree with that for sure. Why tracking? Seems like the tax is just an excuse to track, actually; odometer readings should work just as well, if not better. Tracking for this purpose is just idiotic.

That said, the gas tax is intended to pay for roads, so switching to a taxing method that better correlates to one's usage of the roads (as you admit, the current method does not) only makes sense. Why should lawnmower and chainsaw which never see public roads, or my boat and track car which only public roads on a trailer,which is taxed separately, be taxed for road usage? Simple answer: they shouldn't. Likewise, a car idling in my driveway shouldn't be taxed for road usage. Under the current system, all of that is taxed as though it is putting wear and tear on the public roadways; a mileage-based system (using odometer readings and not some idiotic tracking scheme), on the other hand, taxes only the miles driven.

It's still not perfect, as not every mile driven in a registered vehicle will be driven on public roads (which is the issue I think the tracking is meant to address) but it's no worse than what most municipal sewer/water providers do in assuming that every gallon of water dispensed from your faucet ends up in their sewer. Most even have provisions for second, outdoor-only, meters that do not count against your sewage bill; the analog for cars would be my track car, which is unregistered and never drives on public roads.

Now, if the gas tax was just that, a tax on gasoline intended to curb gasoline usage or fund environmental programs, I'd agree with you, the tax should stay where it is. I'll remind you, again, though, that the tax is in place to fund roads. If I buy a Prius and replace its hybrid drive system with a V8, it will use much more gasoline, but it doesn't put any more wear and tear on the roads and thus, for the purpose of a roadway maintenance tax, shouldn't be taxed any more than the stock Prius.

Further, I don't know any hybrid owners who bought the car to save money on gas. Sure, they bought it to use less gas, but that was an environmental concern, not a financial decision. Nobody is buying a Prius (Prius Two, $24200 base, 51MPG city, 48MPG highway, 49.5MPG average) over a Corolla (Corolla L, $16950 base, 28MPG city, 37MPG highway, 32.5MPG average) to save money. Look at it this way: the Prius costs $7250 more out the door, the average American drives 13346 miles per year (men average 16550 while women average 10142, I'm simplifying by splitting it down the middle). The Prius will use 269.62 gallons of fuel to travel that distance while the Corolla will use 410.65 gallons; at a price of $4.00 per gallon, the Prius will have a fuel cost of $1078.48 per year while the Corolla will have a fuel cost of $1642.60 per year. That means the Prius will save the average American $564.12 per year in fuel. That's almost a 13 year payoff, ignoring the $4000.00 battery replacement that will be necessary at least once within that timeframe.

At $5.00 per gallon, the Prius looks a little better I suppose, saving you $705.15 per year in fuel costs. That's still over a 10 year payoff though, again ignoring the $4000 battery replacement.

Anyone whose fuel purchasing decisions are price-based isn't buying a more efficient vehicle anyway, because they can't afford it. so, again, how will cheaper gas lead to less efficient vehicles?

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 1) 825

by BronsCon (#49738637) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax
How does it encourage less efficient cars? They aren't making gasoline free, they're just removing a tax from it and taxing the thing that should have been taxed to begin with. That means your lawnmower and boat gas will no longer fund roads, but your miles driven on those roads will. Gas still costs money and less efficient vehicles use more of it, thus costing more, dis-incentivizing their use.

Comment: Re:the inevitable (Score 1) 333

by BronsCon (#49727003) Attached to: Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine
Actually, yeast convert carbohydrates—starches and sugars—to alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. That article is about as plain-english of an explanation as you'll find; and yes, it even confirms that the starches are processed into sugars before being turned into alcohol and CO2. All the yeast can make from a simple sugar (which, aside from starches which the yeast breaks into simple sugars via enzymes, is all yeast can process) is CO2 and alcohol and, since sugar isn't pure carbon, if CO2 is being produced, so it alcohol.

Unless you've discovered a strain of yeast that can transmute matter at the atomic level, in which case you need to apply for some grants to further that line of research.

Comment: Re:OSS needs technical writers more than coders (Score 2) 244

by BronsCon (#49692015) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading
You nailed it with your last sentence. In fact, I prefer to start with good technical (why/how) documentation and code from that, commenting usage (which eventually translates into user documentation) along the way. With the theoretical and technical documentation out of the way before coding even begins, and the bulk of the user documentation written alongside the code itself (still needing to be compiled into a coherent document and edited, of course), all that's really left is to provide some usage examples, which can be done during final editing of the documentation.

Because the theoretical and technical documentation do not need to follow the program (it happens the other way around in this case), they become much easier to write. Coding becomes easier, as well, because the theoretical and technical documentation define everything (and if it doesn't, it gets kicked back to the author to be fixed while the developer takes a coffee break). That whole process just moves more smoothly and quickly, at that point. Having the developer detail usage in their code comments means the person who best knows how to use the code is the one documenting how to use the code; of course, a technical writer should compile those comments into a coherent document, then edit it. As a final test of that documentation, that technical writer should, while editing the user documentation, write a series of usage examples and have the developer verify that the examples are correct. Any corrections to the examples should result in similar corrections to the documentation, as well.

This seems to reduce the number of revision cycles while, at the same time, ensuring that the documentation and application are in sync.

I always tell my clients, if they're not willing to work with me to write the technical documentation before I begin development, my development quote doubles and only minimal documentation will be provided. I only have one client who chooses that option; they also prefer to pay me to maintain everything, so I guess it's a win-win.

Comment: Re:OSS needs technical writers more than coders (Score 1) 244

by BronsCon (#49690593) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading
Perhaps he isn't arrogant, but skilled in writing documentation? For him, then, it would not be hard, and never would have been. Ignorant, perhaps, of the fact that it might be hard for others, but not arrogant. The same can be said of coding, as well; I don't find it the lest bit difficult to write good and maintainable code, provided I'm given the time to do so.

That said, in both case it's actually almost impossible, because whoever you're writing the code and/or documentation for wants you on the next project tomorrow.

Comment: Re:On iOS platforms. (Score 1) 270

by BronsCon (#49685837) Attached to: Swift Vs. Objective-C: Why the Future Favors Swift
I'm sorry you can't tell the difference between the larger (and not used much on anything more recent than a PS3 controller) USB-mini and smaller (and user everywhere) USB-micro, but that's a you problem, not a USB problem. Remember, the opposite end of that lightning cable is USB, too; it used to crack me right the fuck up when I would hear someone claim that lightning was faster than USB.

Furthermore, the lightning port is no more or less sturdy than USB-micro. Personally, I've never broken either port, despite having owned more USB-micro devices than I can count over the past decade, and a handful of lightning (read: iOS) devices since that port was released. In fact, I don't know anyone who's broken a USB-micro port (though I did knock one partially loose by dropping something heavy on it as it sat hanging off the edge of a table, something that would have done the same, or worse, to a lightning connector), but I do have a friend who snapped the lightning connector right out of her iPhone. This is in spite of the fact that I know more people who own more USB-micro devices.

I'll concede that you may have better access to lightning cables within your circle of friends than I do within mine (despite my wife and two best friends being iPhone users and myself and my other best friend being iPad users), but that does not change the fact that a USB-micro cable can be had for $1 (literally from the dollar store) while a licensed (e.g. won't make iOS 8 devices complain and possibly refuse to charge) lightning cable can not. You surely could have purchased the correct cable while on your trip; even if you were broke, you could have found enough cash on the side of the road to buy the USB cable you needed, but I doubt you'd have been able to scrape together $5-10 that way for a lightning cable.

Regarding the 30-pin connector, there were plenty of unlicensed 30-pin connectors out there, which Apple didn't make a penny on; that's why the lightning connector includes an authentication chip, the absence of which makes iOS 8 devices complain when an unlicensed cable or device is plugged in. That connector actually was stronger than USB-micro, on top of also being more capable (having analog audio/video and control pins, on top of USB and Firewire). It was a proprietary connector that actually brought something meaningful and useful to the table.

Of course, then there's USB3, which neither the 30-pin nor lightning connector support. Plug either into a USB3 port and it falls back to USB2 speeds (another reason I laugh when I hear someone say lightning is faster than USB). USB-micro "A" doesn't support USB3 speeds either, but will plug into a USB-micro "B" (the wider one with extra pins) port and work with no issues. The design of the lightning connecter prevents that, which is why Apple recently adopted USB-C, rather than try and make that work. Expect the next round of iDevices after the iPhone 6s (which will, of course, feature the lightning port) to ship with USB-C. You know, because lightning is just so much better.

Comment: Re:On iOS platforms. (Score 1) 270

by BronsCon (#49674099) Attached to: Swift Vs. Objective-C: Why the Future Favors Swift

Both platforms are probably not equally easy to exploit

Consider that the vast majority of Android "malware" consists of games or toy apps that request every permission under the sun and the user has to agree to let that app have those permissions at install time. Now, consider that apps also request permissions on iOS but, rather than listing all the permissions they'll want at install time, they request them the first time they try to use them. It's a user decision in both cases.

both platforms probably do not provide equal returns

All you're likely to get from a phone, in any case, is a contact list, schedule (calendar), and some photos; you can grant full access to all of that on either platform. You can also send mail or text messages from an app on either platform, if the user grants those permissions. Android does allow full filesystem access (again, if granted by the user), but iOS also allows access to stored documents (including iCloud, so not just what's on your phone, which could potentially be worse). Neither platform allows system files, configuration, or application files to be overwritten unless rooted or jailbroken; and Android not only needs to be rooted, but also specifically configured to allow those behaviors and the app granted root access (which is not the default). I'm not positive about iOS but I don't recall seeing any way to manage root privs when I had my jailbroken 3Gs, which would make jailbroken iOS much more vulnerable than rooted Android.

(Obligatory apple users easier to deceive yet wealthier comment here)

I don't know about wealthier; as an Android user with a job, I've bought my unemployed wife her last 3 iPhones. As for easier to deceive, well, I wasn't gonna go there but... One of the two platforms is marketed to people who just don't want to have to give a shit about security. That's not an inherent flaw in the platform so much as it is a flaw in the marketing, though, and it's only the user's fault insofar as they tend to place entirely too much trust in a corporation that places profit over people. Google is no better in the latter regard, but at least they don't do the former; Android users (generally) have no illusions that their devices are any more or less secure than any other computing device.

Android and iOS are both fine platforms. Neither is perfect, neither is as secure as we'd like, but they're the best we've got at this point. I do feel that iOS is somewhat hamstrung by Apple's policies (NFC finally comes to iPhone, but only for Apple Pay? Proprietary connector that brings nothing to the table but the ability to plug in both ways and a new licensing revenue stream for Apple? No, thank you). As a result, will never own another iPhone; I've been using NFC for more than just payments for a few years by now, and think it's great that almost every rechargeable device I buy now uses the same micro-USB cable. Even iOS accessories. It's great, it really is, if I ever find myself needing a charge while I'm out and about; everyone has the cables, everywhere, and they're so cheap and plentiful that people don't mind lending them; that doesn't seem to be the case when my wife's iPhone runs out of juice. Mind you, I love my iPad, but it also doesn't leave the house all that often, so charging is rarely an issue, and none of the other restrictions that bother me when talking about the iPhone (an always-on-me device) seem to apply, either.

The person who can smile when something goes wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.