Reason #337 to love the Prius

Prius owners wave to each other when they pass.

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Recent Posts

post Write something, or I’ll shoot!

OK! OK! Geez. No need to get violent you know.

Things that have happened in the past nine days, in chronological order:

1) We found Ellie a great pre-school for when Sandy goes back to work, at a Montessori school. It only sounds expensive… it’s actually quite comparable to daycare or home care and without any of the BS like having to pay for holidays or vacations.

2) RBC continues to screw up various payments that I attempt to make to them, so I bitch them out and threaten to take all my business elsewhere. Still ongoing as I’m waiting for someone to call me about it.

3) Sandy’s grandma and husband invite themselves over to our house, proceed to be 2 hours late, lost. and in Pickering before I get them turned around and go and wait on Victoria St so they don’t pass our subdivision (Saturday morning)

4) ZOMG we bought a Prius! Yes, a Prius. And we didn’t have to wait to get it, either.

5) Ellie went to the doctor – 24″ long and 10 lb 15oz! Four weeks ago she was 22″ and 9lb 6oz. She’s doing great!

6) While trying to restore the firmware onto an iPod nano late last night, I instead completely screw up and trash the Linux file system on my laptop – in a very unrecoverable way! Who needs data anyways! The morale of the story: never use dd.


post How to take apart / repair a Sony Ericsson T310

I had to scour the ‘net for days to find this so here it is:

1) Remove the battery cover, battery, and SIM card.

2) There’s a small black rectangular plastic piece on the back of the phone – this covers the antenna. It has two clips which hold it onto the main case. The clips should be carefully released using the holes next to them – I used a jeweler’s screwdriver to go into the holes and bend the clips while sliding a credit card into the gap and prying up.

3) Under this there are two T6 screws – remove them. You do not have to remove the antenna (unlike other SE phones)

4) Now take your credit card and pry carefully between the two screen halves, starting at the top. About halfway down you will meet some resistance, so use the CC to pry the two halves apart and it should pop off. Repeat on the other side. There’s another clip near the bottom of the phone as well.

5) Remove the top casing and the keypad.


post Hall of shame #2: Adobe

I am running the Adobe Creative Suite 3 installation utility on Windows XP. It is consuming 180MB of memory. For the setup utility.

Software like this makes me want to cry.


post Online system hall of shame – first of a series

The first entry of what I hope will be a series of entries about online systems that don’t act like they’re supposed to be online.

My first victim is City of Oshawa Leisure On-Line. Signing up for recreation classes on-line seems like a no-brainer: avoid lineups, busy phone lines, and find what you want easily. But two things about this system make no sense whatsoever:

  1. Every time you visit the site, it assigns a unique ID to your session in the URL and in a browser cookie. The result being that if you send someone else a link to any page on the site, they’ll get a lame message that they are blocking cookies from the site. Nothing could be further from the truth! This means you can’t copy a link to a program and e-mail it to a friend.

  2. In order to sign-up for a class or program the very first time, you need to create an account. But once you fill out the registration form, you have to wait 48 hours for your account details to be e-mailed to you! So much for it being quick and easy – in those 48 hours it’s quite possible for the class you want to fill up and then you’re outta luck – and the only reason is that it’s your first time.

Punishing people for trying to use your system is a pretty bad idea. It seems to me like no one at the City of Oshawa actually tried this system out before pushing it down people’s throats.


post Fixing the hole in my wallet, I mean, gas tank

As gasoline prices have been going up, I have been thinking more and more about saving as much of it as possible. I already take the GO Train to and from work on a daily basis, but Sandy commutes with the car to whatever school she’s at, and we drive on the weekends to do shopping, visit friends and relatives and the like.

Our car is a 2005 Chevrolet Optra5. I will freely admit that at the time we chose it, fuel economy was not the most important thing on our mind. It was present, but as long as it was going to be an improvement over the old Cavalier, it would be a good thing. Plus the car was pretty cheap and had just the right amount of cargo space without being too big. The 2.0L 4 cylinder is a bit big, overseas they have 1.6L and 1.8L engines available, but the 2.0L is made by Holden in Australia and from the research I did is extremely reliable, compared to the other engines which are made by GM-Daewoo in Korea. Oh, did I fail to mention that this is a GM import? The Pontiac Wave/Chevy Aveo, Chevy Optra, and Chevy Epica are all made by GM Daewoo Automotive Technology in South Korea.

Anyways. When we first got it I kept track of the fuel economy from tank to tank, mostly to see how the initial break-in period on the engine was going. I kept this up until around the 10,000km mark. The economy started around 28mpg but slowly improved to 32 on average. Not frickin’ stellar, but better than the Cavalier and way better than all the SUVs and minivans that my neighbours insist on driving.

But now gas is over $1/L and it’s time to do something more than just buy a new car. After reading about hypermiling I realized that driving habits are the #1 thing you can change to improve fuel economy. The vast majority of people don’t even get the fuel economy that their cars are rated for because of this. We have bad habits and they die hard.

I’ve started to change my driving habits for the better. Coasting with the foot off the pedal, avoiding using the brake, and anticipating stop light patterns are important for city driving. On the highway, I’m taming my speed-demon habits and not driving over 110km/h. The way people drive on my local stretch of the 401, this is practically the minimum safe speed. Dedicated hypermilers do all kinds of other stuff like shutting off the engine and coasting which IMHO is pretty dangerous (in case you didn’t know, your power brakes and steering require your engine to be running to work properly).

I was doing some more research on the subject and came across this excellent forum post that has a nice short list of the best things you can do to improve fuel economy. As soon as I can I’m going to check and raise the air pressure in the tires too. This post is a list of terms as well as a busted/proven modification list. It will help you to sort out what works from what is snake oil, and as gas prices keep going up (and I believe now that they will) it’s only going to get worse. I especially enjoyed this test from metrompg.com where the guy saves 5% economy by blocking most of the front grille and adding rear wheel skirts to improve airflow. The grille blocking seems like a really good idea too, and I know where I can get some coroplast cheap as well…

I watch my brother-and-law and his friend build up their cars for performance and power and I can’t help but shake my head… in two years they’ll be paying through the nose just to drive a few kilometres.

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