2010-07-30

Help! My car is a douche magnet!

So when Honda and I weren't working out so well anymore, I was looking for a car that would make a fun but comfy daily driver which would also make a passable autocross car. My main criteria were:

  • That it be a true sports car, not a sporty compromise on wheels;
  • that it be a convertible;
  • that it be a step up from the S2000, to help me get over the loss.

That's pretty much it. The sad part was, that there really aren't that many cars that retail under 60K new that satisfy these simple criteria.

I wanted the few little creature comforts like heated seats and self-dimming mirrors all around, but those would not be deal-breakers.

So I found Bubba and we started puttering around town, doing our thing. Not racing anyone off the line, not revving the engine at the light, not even blasting loud music out of our stereo. Nothing really to attract attention.

Yet a strange trend established itself in very short order. The same kind of situation would play out over and over again. Here's approximately how it would go:

Me, sitting at a light, minding my own business. A car would pull up next to me and the driver would say something eloquent like "Hey girl!"

I would ignore the first one, yet his type is not to be discouraged easily, so he'd continue. If the red light would be long enough, I would finally look over, and he'd deliver another two syllables: "Nice car!"

"Thank you," I would say and face the road again, hoping for green.

"How fast'd it go? What's the quarter-mile time for this baby? How many horsepower? What's its zero-to-sixty time?"

I would answer, politely, but not encouraging any more conversation.

Interestingly, they would all end with something like this "Let me drive it, I'll show you some good times!" or a variation on it "I'd take that thing and drift it!"

Which truly perplexes me. I really can't parse the connection between them liking my car and their apparent assumption that I bought it for their driving pleasure.

Sigh.

Oh, it's green.

In suspension: TRX

I had lunch with a buddy at work last Friday, and she complained of being sore after her workout. I asked her what the workout was, and she said TRX.

Now, if you haven't heard of TRX, no big deal. I haven't heard about it either. Turns out, it's suspension training. Still puzzled? I was too.

So I took to the Internets to find an answer. And let me tell you, the company who holds the rights to the TRX brand knows how to market to me. The picture you see above is their default starting image for the series of three rotating banners.

If TRX means working out with men like this one, then sign me up!

I also watched some videos on the page and read a few paragraphs so I knew what it was about. But mainly, I ogled the guys.

So let me tell you how TRX goes.

You have two straps that get attached to something overhead, like a door, or a tree branch, or, if you are in a fitness club, a special suspension training frame.

At the end of each strap, there is a stirrup, and as you exercise, you can either hold on to the stirrups with your hands or stick your feet in them while supporting yourself with your hands or elbows.

At any given point in time, you will have some of your limbs on the ground and some in the straps, and you will use your body weight to work out.

So anyways, we went to that training together before lunch yesterday and in 30 minutes they wore me out something crazy! Today I am feeling the muscles a bit, but nothing tragic, should be good as rain for the Lotus autocross tomorrow.

2010-07-28

Farmville for car nuts: Car town

I was able to resist the temptation of playing most games on Facebook, including the Mafia Wars, Farmville, and Vampires. I succumbed briefly to vDream Racing, but got bored after two or three weeks.

I thought I was done with social games.

Not so fast.

Autoblog article got me intrigued enough to try it out, and I am hooked!

The premise of the game is that you run a car shop, work on cars, and build experience doing that. You also earn money that way and can spend it on expanding your shop, buying new equipments like car lifts, and of course parts for your own cars. As you earn experience points, you reach specific levels in the game, which allow you to hire more workers and earn points faster.

And of course you can race against friends. The races are actually dependent on your skill and your reaction times, not just what the computer thinks of your car.

For my taste, this game is much more fun than that silly vDream Racing or FarmVille. Even though it's exactly like FarmVille when you look at it.

I am surprised that nobody thought of this sooner, and it was all farms and fisheries, and restaurants and mobs till Car Town came along.

2010-07-27

Whatever that means

After nearly giving my boss a heart attack by saying the estimated cost for a one-hour session with refreshments and a projector was seven thousand instead of one thousand seven hundred dollars, looking the correct number up and correcting myself, I returned to my desk.

What the hell is the matter with me? It's not like I can't count, but when I need to retrieve numbers from memory, I might as well have a random number generator for a brain.

Well, and to be honest, I never could count without using paper or my fingers, or a calculator.

So there I was, sitting at my desk, wondering how I could mix up 7000 and 1700.

I heard of dyslexia, but if anything else, I have the exact opposite situation with language. I speak, read, and write in three languages, without as much as a spelling error. Words come easy to me, and if I have had a chance to see how a word is properly spelt, I would not have trouble remembering that.

Yet I can't even remember my own phone number, the one I have had for nearly five years, as a sequence of digits. I have to read it out loud to make sure that what I typed is right.

Where is a concerned geek to go but to the mighty Google? "Dyslexia but with numbers," I began to type and Google helpfully autocompleted my query. Guess it's not uncommon.

The results page suggested "dyscalculia" was the answer. How do you even pronounce this?

As I began reading through the list of symptoms, I began to recognize myself in many of them. Even my lacking sense of direction and my abject failure at learning to read sheet music fell into place.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. How I could never, not to this day, remember the multiplication tables, how I always mix up 6 and 8, how I can't perform even simple arithmetic mentally.

I guess I compensated well enough for this disability throughout my academic life for anyone to give it more than a passing note, and I made sure to avoid anything to do with numbers now that I am an adult. I function well, and I have learned to use my right brain wherever I can instead. I estimate very accurately, and have an arsenal of counting tricks available to me to figure how much to give as a tip at lunch or what the sales tax would be at the checkout.

Translating Imperial units into something I understand however is impossible. Even after looking it up and asking my friends countless times, I still can't remember how many inches to a meter and how many grams to an ounce. I gave up on kilos for measuring my weight, and thankfully 5'7" is easy to remember, even though 5 and 7 are kind of the same to me, but I know that 7 ft. would be an impossibly tall Alex.

And then there's technology. Navigation devices, calculators, self-serve checkout lines at the supermarket, so I don't have to deal with humans and change. There's the helpful online tax filing application, but doing taxes still gives me a mild anxiety attack.

When I bought my first TomTom in 2006, my mother disapproved: "This way, you will never learn to find your way!"

But mother, if I haven't learned to find my way till the ripe age of 30, don't you think it's time to accept that I never will?"

From what I can tell, there is nothing else to do but learn to compensate for mathematics disability with other parts of my brain or with gadgets, so there really is no point to this but to share the "ahah!" moment and to give you a glimpse of how different our all brains work.

Foiled!

So the week after I get all set up with the version control system and begin to follow procedure and go and want to check out some files and do my changes and check them back in again, is of course also the time when all the files I want are checked out--some by someone who's on vacation till next week, and others by someone who's left the company!

Harrumph.

EDIT: Took me a minute to figure out that I could check stuff out and in while someone else had it. Got it all done and am now a happy camper.

2010-07-16

It's coming together

Work has been busy lately. Good busy, and quite productive.

Last week was time for the quarterly metrics report, and most of the stuff that we care about either stayed stable or grew 5-10%. Like the number of posts, and the number of active community members.

We also saw a nice bit more traffic, so I think that my tweaks to the layout, usability and navigation are finally having an effect.

Two weeks after I joined, was the time for the Q1 report, which can be assumed to be virtually unaffected by me, allowing me to take it for the baseline to improve on.

Even though the daily race to get stuff done sometimes makes me forget the forest and see just a whole bunch of trees flying by at high speed, quarterly checkpoints afford a nice way to take a step back and evaluate what you've been doing, and adjust if needed.

Here's to a new quarter.

2010-07-12

Living with the Robot: Apples and oranges

So I have been living the open source life since converting to the Android phone, and you know what, I am liking it so far.

Here's an example. I discovered that the contact info management (address and phone book) on the Android phone is nice: Today I was able to log into my Google account and do all the managing I wanted to do there, and instantly the changes propagated to the phone. I mean, instantly. It was there as soon as I unlocked the screen to check.

No synching required. Definitely a step up from Apple and iTunes.

Gmail contacts has the "find duplicates" function, which handily merged all the contacts that got accumulated in the different places. Very cool.

Oh, and I also have discovered what happens when you pour some water on the soft buttons of the Nexus One.

I get so bored brushing my teeth fifteen times a day, that I have taken to read Facebook or news on my phone when I do.

So today I was not very cautious and a nice big splash of water hit the bottom of the screen where the soft buttons are today. And guess what? The phone just recognized it as a touch.

Very uneventful.

The water ran off, and after I wiped the rest with a towel it was all fine.

2010-07-11

Hmmm, do I know you from somewhere?

I know a knock-off when I see one. And I think I see one. The electric sports car Renault DeZir concept is liberally borrowing from the stunning R8. Have a look for yourself.


The impostor...


...and the original.

You can click through to the galleries on Autoblog to compare the two.