How Does My Prius Work, Really?

June 23, 2010

I’ve been driving a Toyota Prius for 5 years now and have had nothing done other than scheduled maintenance and the replacement of one headlight bulb. So I’m a satisfied customer and feel sorry about all the bad press the company has gotten this year.

The only unintended acceleration I’ve experienced has been the result of  my own lead-foot driving. I experimented once and found that simply by observing the posted speed limit in my town I was able to achieve 59 MPG! Though, of course, I could never drive like that in real life.

But when asked to explain precisely how my car works I’ve mumbled around a few general principles and jargon, like “regenerative braking.” Now I’ve found where to direct people who are genuinely interested in this topic, a series of linked articles on the How Stuff Works? web site. For specific info on the Prius, go here.

Men can “laugh women into bed” according to new research

June 15, 2010

I’ve known this to be true for a long time, based on personal experience. I was not blessed with rugged good looks, a hefty bank account nor did I ever drive a ‘cool’ car. I wasn’t on any athletic team and would’ve been safely placed in the geek-freak category by most people who knew me in adolescence. Yet I had a very active social life during the dating phase of my life (high school, college and post-college).

Part of this was certainly due to the time period, the 1970s and the pre-AIDS, pre-political correctness ethos of that time. Just as a young person coming of age in the 1920s would have a very different experience than someone coming of age in the 1930s. Still it remains a cliché of all those dating/mating sites, and their print precursors, that women value and seek men with a “good sense of humor.”  Now a British study reported in the UK Telegraph shows that what women are actually seeking is intelligence, which they believe is correlated with that GSOH.

The opposite appears to be untrue however. Men are generally not attracted to funny ladies. Sarah Silverman may be the exception that proves this rule. I can’t think of any other genuinely funny (sorry, Chelsea Handler) female stand-up who’s appeared in Maxim or Playboy.

Flash vs. HTML5 for video: Will the Designers Decide?

June 9, 2010

I agree with Steve Job’s position on Adobe’s Flash (see his Thoughts on Flash) primarily because of its resource hogging nature, long load times, vulnerability to malicious code explaoits and the fact that it causes my browser to hang  or crash.

The other reason is because I believe that Content is King and I always skip the whiz-bang Flash intro’s to web sites whenever I have that option. If I want animation, I’ll go to Pixar and Disney.

H+Jobs clearly favors HTML5 and here’s a nice page of Demos and Examples.

But clearly there is room for debate here. Peter Wayner of InfoWorld makes the case for Flash gives 7 good reasons why developers will stick with it, despite the word from On High out of Cupertino.

He positions the discussion differently than most who have weighed in on this debate by identifying the user base as the most important element in the continued use of Flash on the web: “The real battle,” he writes, “is in the hearts and eyes of the artists who are paid to create incredibly beautiful objects in the span of just a few hours. The designers will make the final determination. As long as Flash and its cousins Flex and Shockwave remain the simplest tools for producing drop-dead gorgeous Websites, they’ll keep their place on the Internet.”

‘Tip of the Tongue’ Experiences Explained

June 3, 2010

I first read about the research on ‘Tip of the Tongue’ experiences back in the 1980s in The Psychology of Anomalous Experience: A Cognitive Approach by Graham F. Reed.

The fascinating aspect to me was that clearly one part of our brain knew the correct answer because we’re almost always able to reject the incorrect suggestions. When we try and remember the name of that great Southern food restaurant on Great Jones Street we may be certain that it’s one word and starts with an “A” but we’ll know that Alias, Arno, Abbott’s, Apache, etc. are not correct. (The answer is Acme).

So it’s clear that our brain can store information that is (temporarily) unavailable to us and be able to tell us when we guess wrong.  New research on this phenomenon is described in this article the LiveScience site where it’s been found that people who use American Sign Language experience a similar ‘tip of the fingers’ effect. Go here to read about this latest study.