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Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 455

I like a manual because they're fun to drive, have better gas-mileage

This is incorrect on modern cars. Automatics, invariably, get better fuel economy than manual-transmission cars.

Before about 10 years ago, you were correct, but not any more.

Also, I seriously doubt you can roll-start a modern manual-transmission-equipped car. Old ones you certainly could, but with modern engine controllers, it's doubtful that's allowed.

Comment Re: Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 455

or the electrically-assisted power steering (which, contrary to popular belief, works just like traditional power-steering, just with a electric motor-driven pump instead of a belt-driven pump).

Nope, you're thinking of EHPS (electro-hydraulic power steering), which is an electric motor driving a hydraulic pump with otherwise regular hydraulic-assist power steering. These were popular in the 00s to improve fuel economy, but they're mostly gone now I think.

Now they just have electric motors directly driving the steering shaft (EPS: electric power steering) to provide assist. They didn't do this before because the motor drive electronics and control algorithms are a lot more complicated than EHPS, but with modern power electronics and microcontrollers it's not so hard. As a bonus, it's lighter and simpler than EHPS; you don't have to worry about hydraulic leaks, hoses, etc. Also much easier assembly since there's no hoses, just a motor bolted onto the side of the steering shaft.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 455

That's even worse than my Boxster, where they've locked the battery under a trunk lid that requires battery power to open...

I'm sure that's not a big problem. There's probably some terminals where you can attach a battery charger or jumper cables to power the car, which then lets you open the trunk lid.

If your battery is dead, that's not a problem: you just have the car towed to your Porsche dealership and let them apply this procedure to open the trunk lid and then replace the battery with a Genuine Porsche battery.

If you want to be able to just replace the dead battery in a parking lot with one you got at a local Autozone after being driven there by your buddy, you shouldn't have bought a Porsche.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 455

Push-button start isn't so clear-cut. It has real benefits: it keeps you from running the starter for too long, and it keeps you from screwing up and trying to start the engine when it's already running. That last one is easier to do these days because engines have gotten so quiet; someone with poor hearing (like anyone over 50) can easily not hear the engine running and try to re-start it, causing gear grinding. (It doesn't help that a lot of cars with ATs don't have tachometers any more, but you also can't really expect some granny driver to be that astute.)

The push-button start eliminates these problems, with the drawback that it's hard to turn off the engine in an emergency. And also, they're a bit of a pain if you want to just turn on the radio (in my car, you have to keep your foot off the brake when you press the start button to do this; you cycle between stereo-only, and power-to-everything-but-the-engine). In newer cars, they've tried to alleviate the emergency-off problem by making it so that either pressing-and-holding the start button turns it off, or pressing it repeatedly (as someone in a panic would).

What I'd like to see is a switch and a pushbutton: a rotary switch should let you select between "O", "I", and "II", with "O" being off, "I" being radio/infotainment-only, and "II" being full-power and ready to start the engine. Then have a separate momentary pushbutton for starting the engine. When you want to turn off the engine, you turn the rotary knob to "I" or "O". You would want to make the rotary switch hard to accidently bump though, so you don't wind up with a fiasco like what happened to GM. The rotary switch would make it easy to switch off your engine while leaving the stereo on. In my car, doing this requires pressing the start button while leaving the transmission in "drive", which isn't exactly intuitive.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 455

See, that's the way to do it: if you're going to change the operation of something that people are used to and is highly standardized, make it a big change so no one is confused by it, thinking it's like the old way. By making it totally different, the operator is forced to pay attention and learn the new method.

Leave it to Toyota to figure this out, and leave it to stupid Chrysler not to.

Comment Re:If it's "settled", it ISN'T "science" (Score 1) 496

Polar Ice Caps: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja...

Hurricane Lull: http://www.livescience.com/507...

Greening of Africa: http://news.nationalgeographic...

These are "facts", and the "speculation" from the "Global Warming" nuts is also clearly documented. Here are a few good articles on exaggerated claims that never panned out:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/201...

http://www.thenewamerican.com/...

http://dailycaller.com/2014/03...

Please go ahead and make excuses as to why nearly 97% of all Global Warming Projections are wrong : http://www.westernjournalism.c...

Or perhaps you'll simply parrot someone else who doesn't actually know anything, or continue to believe "consensus = Science"

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 455

They're not exactly "removing mechanical operation", I'm sure they did it to save money because a shift mechanism with multiple points (P, R, N, D) is more expensive to make than this thing which is really just a glorified rocker switch. It probably just uses standard microswitches (one on each side of the center neutral position), the same as in your mouse, and costs a fraction as much as the multi-position shifters.

As for electric steering, that's a BIG improvement. That's not to save money, it's to save fuel. Hydraulic steering was a major gas waster on cars because the engine had to drive the hydraulic pump constantly, even if you weren't steering and were just cruising on the highway and didn't need any assist at all (you don't need assist at higher speeds, only at low speeds). First they went to electro-hydraulic steering, with an electric motor running the hydro pump so you could turn if off or down at higher speeds, and now they've gone full electric with a motor driving the steering shaft directly to give you assist. It's not drive-by-wire: you're still turning the shaft that links to the rack and pinion and turns the wheel, you're just getting an assist from an electric motor bolted to the shaft. It'll probably be a long time before they change to full drive-by-wire for steering because of safety concerns.

As for hand brakes, I can only guess that's some kind of cost-cutting move (probably simpler factory assembly), or maybe to free up space in the cabin. It seems like a bad idea to me because the parking brake doubles as an emergency brake, and keeping it fully mechanical is a good backup mechanism, even if the rear brakes aren't all that powerful.

My 2015 Mazda has electric steering and it's excellent: it has great road feedback, and fuel economy is excellent. However it also has a traditional mechanical parking brake, and also the standard 4-position automatic shifter (not this stupid Chrysler rocker switch thing) with manual override and paddle shifters. Mazda's generally known for their driving dynamics and making drivers' cars, so they'll probably be the last to jump on some of these dumb ideas, if ever.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 455

WTF? I have one of the new Hakko soldering stations, and its UI is admittedly wonky, with only two buttons. You have to keep the instructions handy for setting anything because it's so non-intuitive.

However, if you paid over $500 for one of these things, you're a complete idiot. You can get them for under $100 on Amazon and from various other tool vendors. They're not expensive. It's the Metcals that are expensive, and those don't let you adjust the temperature at all; they just have an on/off button.

The Hakko works well once it's set up. You shouldn't have to adjust temperature in normal operation; the whole point of a temperature-controlled soldering station is to set the tip temperature and leave it, and it adjusts the power as necessary to maintain the temperature.

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Journal Journal: Nightmare on Slashdot

riaasux23 was finally relaxing. He'd made a pretty good impression, he felt, pushing back on some of the lies about global warming and vaccines on his favorite website, and was beginning to relax. Maybe it was time to kick back and watch Netflix? Or perhaps... he opened the folder on his PC marked "PHP". Time to take a little of the bad stuff? A little "code review" perhaps?

Comment Good job, now... (Score 1) 318

You guys should look into hiring some of the older /. and SF community members. Many of us actually remember when it was good here/there, and some would help you do it for cheap. Hell, I'll take minimum wage instead of my normal $75/hr consultation rates if you're willing to ask questions and listen to the bluntly honest answers.

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 455

No, it's completely impossible. The standard layout has been used for decades. They went to widespread usage of having the shifter on the floor in the center console area back in the 80s, and that was just moving the standard layout from the steering wheel where it used to be. You can't sue someone for look-and-feel for something that everyone's been doing for decades.

The reason they did this is likely to save money: the standard AT layout requires a shift lever in the center console that can be shifted, upon pressing a release button, into one of several positions: P, R, N, D (and 1 and 2 and maybe 3 on older cars). On older cars, the lever was connected by cable to the transmission and the position set some hydraulic valves or something (the transmissions used hydraulic "computers" to decide when to shift); on new cars, it's just an input to the transmission control computer. But because it has 4 different positions, lever-actuated, and maybe a couple more (+ and - for manumatics), Chrysler probably figured out they could save money by changing to what's basically just a fancy rocker switch, with a center neutral position and one momentary-actuation position on each side. The momentary positions are probably sensed with simple industry-standard microswitches. This is simpler and cheaper, hardware-wise, than the 4-position shifter, but it's less functional since you can't just change directly into the position you want, you have to go sequentially. But hey, if they can save $2 per car, that's worth it, right?

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