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Comment Re:User error (Score 1) 523

Locking Torque converters have been the rule for a LONG time, like since the 70's... With all due respect for the guys from Car Talk, this *helps* with the efficiency, but there still is some energy losses due to the necessity of running the automatic part of the transmission. You have to keep the shift clutches engaged, that takes hydraulic pressure which implies a pump is running someplace. You also must circulate the transmission fluid to keep the various things lubricated and cool, which takes some power too. Power consumption in the transmission means less power for driving getting to the wheels.

I'm not saying the differential between the automatic and the manual is all that much these days, it's not, but if you are on the highway the manual is going to be better. Now if you want to argue that it's unlikely that your average skilled driver would be able to achieve better gas mileage in a mixed environment of city and highway driving on their manual, that for 99.9% of drivers would do better on an automatic, I can only agree with you. However, just straight out driving down the road at highway speed, not shifting, that manual is going to be hard to beat, all things being equal.

As you said, the difference is minor, approximately 1 MPG if we believe the numbers from the manufacturers. Personally, I consider that a very minor advantage, if not a draw when it comes to comparing the two. However, if you listen to most manual transmission fans, you would think that the difference was 10MPG. Those days are long gone...

Comment Re:User error (Score 1) 523

"These days, manuals get crappy fuel economy; autos beat them every time"

Find me a non-hybrid that beats my 1987 manual transmission Tercel's 40+ MPG.

I have yet to see one at any dealership.

I severely doubt that you got 40+ MPG in an 87 Tercel. The Manual version was rated at 37 highway. Down hill on windy day, maybe... (grin)

But, for arguments sake, take a look at the Hyundai Accent. It gets 38 MPG for the manual and 37 for the automatic for highway driving.

There, found you a non-hybrid automatic that matches your Tercel... it even comes with Bluetooth, welcome to the 21st century... (grin)

Comment Re:Jeep? Not so much (Score 1) 523

One of the first things President Obama did after arriving in the White House was to steal Chrysler (the company that made Jeeps) from its shareholders, many of whom were middle class retirees, and essentially GIVE the company to Fiat. The price Fiat paid was essentially a token, and the President's team insisted the buyer be a foreign company. They company's "Jeep" brand had already been degraded during the Chrysler/Daimler years when a Euro-designed vehicle was re-branded as a "Jeep" (the The Jeep Liberty) and presented to the public as a newer better Cherokee (which it is NOT). The Liberty was bad enough, but the stuff rolling out now under the name "Jeep Cherokee" are just cars pretending to be SUVs and have little in common with what everybody used to think of as a "Jeep". As for a bad user-interface? It's a FIAT with the name "Jeep" stamped on it!

There wasn't anything special about those older Jeeps that you mention. Yeah, they looked more rugged, but that was about it. What has always differentiated Jeeps from other trucks is the 4WD system. All of the models that you mentioned have some form of the Jeep 4WD that are probably just as or more capable than the older systems. On top of that, Jeep continues to offer their higher end 4WD system on various trim levels (i.e. the Trailhawk). For example, I've seen many examples on youtube of people taking a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited (my car) off-roading and it holding it's own.

My thought is that you've never tested the capabilities of the modern Jeep and that it's the looks that you don't like...

Comment Re:User error (Score 4, Informative) 523

Correct for city driving. But this is a more recent development and it's not that much more. If you can keep the engine in the most economic sweet spot longer, you will get better gas mileage. It's hard to do that as effectively with a finite number of gears, even with flawless picking of the shift points by the driver..

However, if you are doing highway driving, the manual wins, every time.

Not true...

This used to be true because Automatics had torque converters with a slip system and Manuals didn't. Manuals lock into a gear and have no slip. Automatics have a slip mechanism that allows the car to stop at a light and not stall. This slip system also meant that there was some slip at higher speeds resulting in poorer fuel mileage in older Automatics.

However, modern Automatics have the ability to automatically "lock" the torque converter into a gear at higher speeds. This negates the advantage that manuals had at highway speeds.

In fact, a lot of the old arguments for selecting a Manual have dropped by the wayside as Automatic transmission technology has improved. There are really only two remaining arguments for get a manual, the first is that cars with manual transmissions cost a bit less and the second is that, for many, they are fun to drive... That last one will never go away...

Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 523

I hear ya... Who wants to steal a crappy car with a manual transmission anyway?

I buy the manual because it's cheaper and lasts longer and I'm only interested in getting to point a to point b for as long as possible as cheaply as possible. Nobody want's my car because it's a bare bones pile of loosely related scrap metal and used car parts for most of the time I drive it.

Actually... it isn't the transmission that deters thieves. It's the car. But keep telling yourself that.

Manual transmission BOXES last much longer than automatics. The clutches, however, vary with the driver. If the driver is good, then the manual is just as good as the automatic. If not, then the automatic's clutches will last longer.

I see that you didn't haul out the old "manual is better on gas" myth. It used to be true, but the newer CVT and 8/9 speed engines are better.

Personally, I can drive a stick shift. My first car had a manual transmission. The most annoying part for me was holding it on hills. I had no problems doing it, it was just annoying. One of the cool things is that you can start it with a dead battery by just pushing it or rolling down hill (It was small enough that I could push it myself). It was great in College when I didn't have money for a new battery.

Comment Re:Key Lock (Score 1) 523

My Kia won't let me take the key out of the ignition unless the shifter is in park. You're saying my econobox has more safety features than a luxury Jeep?

I believe that all of the Jeeps now have keyless ignition... No key to remove...

Plus, the article clearly says that many of these cases are when people are leaving the car running. In these situations, they wouldn't be taking out the key, even in the Kia. For example, when getting out of the car to throw something in the back, to pick someone up, etc.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 523

Should we hold back progress in to protect people from injury, should we penalize the RTFM challenged individuals, or something else?

There are two issues here. The first is new technology and the second is user training.

I have a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The shifter acts just like a joystick, changing gears with a bump instead of going into a mechanical position. This forces the user to have to look at the dash, which shows the shift position, or at the top of the shift stick, shift position is lit. This would be a transition for people who have never used joysticks and who are used to muscle memory to determine what gear the shifter is in.

The second piece is user training. The manual clear says that the driver should apply the parking brake every time they park the car. This not only ensures the driver's safety in case they have the shifter in the wrong position but it also takes some of the stress off of the drive system. Of course, a lot of drivers are lazy and never use the parking brake. And Yes, on the Jeep it's called a "Parking Brake" for a reason. It isn't an "emergency brake", though it doubles as one.

In fact, this is what the manual says:

PARK (P) This range supplements the parking brake by locking the transmission. The engine can be started in this range. Never attempt to use PARK while the vehicle is in motion. Apply the parking brake when leaving the vehicle in this range. When parking on a level surface, you may shift the transmission into PARK first, and then apply the parking Shift Lever brake.

It's easy to argue that using a joystick is design flaw or a step backwards. I agree that humans are built with muscle memory and that a mechanical shift position is better than an electronic one. The ideal would be an electronic shifter with mechanical gates. But that doesn't negate the requirement to apply the parking bake in this type of vehicle.

It could be argued that using the parking brake as intended is muscle memory. In fact, I'm at the point where I automatically apply it when parking and disengage it when starting the car. The problem is that most drivers have no idea what the parking brake is for, beyond an emergency.

A rambling way to say that the design is partially to blame, an electronic shifter with gates would be better, and the driver is partially to blame, not using the parking brake. I would say a 50/50 or 60/40 split.

Oh, and one last thing, putting a car in Park does not guarantee that it will not roll. There have been cases where the parking prawl gives way (in general, not specific to any brand). It's always safer to use the parking brake.

Comment Re:Surge protectors *must* be voltage specific (Score 1) 137

The problem is, 200 Volts on a 110V circuit is a surge and will fry a 110V power supply. So surge protectors need to be voltage specific or they become ineffective at lower voltages.

I would go another route: Make sure that your have spare/alternative ways to power or charge your equipment. For example carry a 12V charger for your laptop (also works on some airplanes). Only buy equipment (phones/tablets) you can charge from an USB outlet. Carry a spare USB charger.

This will get easier over time with the USB type C connector and USB power delivery, as modern devices get equipped with it.


Buy one or several power banks for your phone/tablet. Charge the power bank, not the device, and use the power bank to charge your portable devices.

I use a Kensington K33117 International All-in-One Travel Plug Adapter plus a Monster MP OTG400 BK Outlets To Go Power Strip when traveling. The Kensington travel adapter has a built-in ceramic slow transition fuse rated at 250v 2.5A plus a spare in the removable end. While it will take a grounded plug (i.e. the power strip, it's a tight fit but it does fit) it's not connected to anything, It's not a problem because none of my travel device plugs have grounded plugs, they are all two-prong.

I've never had the fuse blow nor experienced any problem with my devices during travel, so take the above with a grain of salt. Basically, I can't say how good the fuse is because I've never needed it.

This got me curious about how much power I am using for my devices as they have been upgraded since I got the travel plug adapter. Looking at my devices, the Surface Pro 4 tablet takes 1A input (~1.35A for a laptop), dual port 5V 2.1A USB adapter takes 0.5A input, and universal camera battery charger takes 0.2A input. So, a total of 1.7A when I travel for vacation and 2.05A when I travel for business @ 110v. If you are on 220V, the auto-switching power supply will use approximately half of the rated Amps. So, for me, a rating of 2.5A is fine.

Comment Re:What's the deal... (Score 1) 262

Why does cycling attract so much cheating?

You'd think that Bill Belichick were the coach...

If Bill were coach, you'd cheat and win though... wouldn't you?

Belichick is an intelligent coach who toes the line as the rules are written. People hate it when others are better than them. So, they call him a cheater. Did he get caught breaking a rule in one game? Yes. Has he been caught breaking any other rules. No...

Spygate was more about whether the NFL front office can change rules carte blanche (competition committee is supposed to do that) changing the video taping rule (taping from the sidelines vs a designated area) than about Belichick breaking them. This was a political fight which Belichick lost.

The whole eligible receiver thing wasn't against the rules, even though a couple of teams made a stink about it. Even the NFL admitted to this. Was this toeing the line, yes. But he never crossed it.

Deflategate: The science of air pressure changes with the environment shows that there were no deflation of footballs. Just do a quick search of the science of Deflategate.

Comment Re:The sticking point (Score 1) 69

Probably worried about our stategic reserve.

Seriously though, laugh if you want, but maple syrup is worth ~50x as much as oil per barrel. It's big business in Quebec and Vermont.


In 2010 Quebec produced about 8 million gallons and Vermont did about 1 million gallons. New Brunswick did about 200,000 gallons but, in my opinion, it's the best maple syrup you can buy.

Vermont maple syrup just doesn't cut it, it just doesn't have the robust flavor and tastes lighter. Maine maple syrup is similar to New Brunswick maple syrup (it should be, they border each other) and is what I buy when I run out.

Comment Re:Article paid by Apple to boo over it. (Score 1) 456


Again, just my opinion, but the UI is absolutely NOT the weak point for Microsoft. Apps are. That should improve if more well-known app vendors port to universal Windows 10 apps, since they would only need to tweak the desktop/tablet UI a bit for phones. MS needs to be much more proactive on getting app developers on board.

This... I replaced my old Android tablet with a Surface Pro 4. A lot of the apps that I used on Android are not available. Yes, the Surface Pro is a full computer and you can use PC programs and full web pages, which is what hides behind the apps. But most mobile apps tend to have a better UI for getting to information quickly.

Comment Re:Fuck Star Wars (Score 1) 203

Having watched all 7 movies this week, I've decided that the franchise really died after ESB.

RoTJ was mostly crap (Jabba's palace an Ewoks were equally as bad as Jar Jar), and the prequels need no further explanation.

Ep7 was so pathetic it's not funny. Lame characters, unoriginal script and plot, and massive holes in the story. I'll watch Ep8 when it comes out, but only because I found a new way to enjoy them, picking the shit out of their weak production.

Each franchise has good entries and bad ones. The bad ones in the Star Wars franchise overshadow the good ones. And it's not for lack of material, the people charged for doing the stories just can't wrap their heads around it. Why is it that the cartoons based on Star Wars are so much more epic than the fucking films ? ...

Because fucking George Lucas didn't have absolute power over the first couple of movies, and he only lent^H^H^H^Hsold his name to the cartoons and didn't get involved enough to fuck them up.

Disney? They're just milking it for the bucks.

But Disney makes the cartoons, at least now they do... Which I believe was the OP's point... If the cartoon writers have good stories, why can't they use them for movie ideas...

Comment Re:Star Wars should cease (Score 1) 203

On one hand there's a bunch of people exploring the universe, using teleportation to travel short distances and 3d printers to create food. On the other there's a bunch of people fighting with light sabers and using hyperdrive to run away from other spaceships. Both have aliens, energy shields, politics, fleets and a small band of heroes who do all the work even if there's thousands of people in their team.

Any subcategory you create to classify those two stories differently is phony.

Yeah, cause neither holds a candle to "The Expanse", a better space opera than Star Wars and a better SciFi show than Star Trek... so there....

and... that's my cue to duck.... (evil grin)

Comment Re: Trump just says stuff (Score 2) 875

Basically what it'd do is split manufacturing at best. US electronic manufacturing would pick up to avoid high tariffs, but the cost would be passed on to Americans as well. All other countries would continue the same with cheaper prices. I imagine there would be unscrupulous imports to avoid the tariffs, as well. It doesn't really solve a problem, either, as US profits are taxed in the US and foreign profits would still be deferred and could be used in manufacturing costs and thus avoid taxes, just like they are now.

The funny part is that this is already happening in certain industries. A number of manufacturers are moving back to the US. What is driving this is the complete automation of factory floors, keeping costs more inline with offshore production. When you get rid of the labor force, you're next biggest expense is shipping and logistics.

So, while I dislike Trump and feel that this was one of those stupid throw-away political lines, there is some validity in moving manufacturing back to the US while keeping prices relatively stable.

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