Today most large cities have focused on articulated buses to carry more passengers. While London (although they do have some bendy buses) has decided to evaluate new double decker designs. Good for them!
The main design dictate for the new London bus must be the open platform at the back because all the designs in this competition have it. The open platform forces certain mechanical restraints on the design: The engine can't be at the back because that's where the platform and stairs must go. And because the entrance is at the back, a conductor will be needed to collect fares.
In my opinion the design should also include a forward mounted drivers compartment with a bonnet for an unobstructed 180° driver's view.
Let's take a look at the 2 winners announced this month:
The AM/Foster. It imitates the look and function of a Routemaster worse than the way a new MINI imitates the old Mini. It's not bad. It's just too Toy Town. I can't immagine anyone being too happy about driving or riding in one of these.
However, I do like the curved rear of the bus. And since an open platform and stairs are the most essential parts of the design, the rear end of the AM/Foster night be a good starting point for a new bus design.
The Capoco Bus takes every element of the Routemaster design and smooths or rounds it. It's the Fiat Multipla(1998-2003) of buses. It's bug ugly. It might help a little if the windscreen (such a large piece of laminated glass is impractical anyway) was replaced with a proper drivers cab and bonnet. But now it looks a little bit like the LA:UK or the Welcome Back. And I like the Welcome Back much more than the Capoco.
Let's take a look at 2 of the runners up announced this month:
The LA:UK looks too much like a warmed-over Routemaster, and it would suffer in comparison.
The Welcome Back has taken the Routemaster and given it a stronger and more confident stance without changing the proportions. Nice! I say slap some round headlights on the Welcome Back. Fit the interior with cloth cushion seats. Ditch the vaguely Union Jack hubcaps. This is the best design. Not original, but the best.
The two winning designs will go to a manufacturer, yet to be chosen, who will have licence to include the best elements from both designs.
Photos from The Guardian
Thank you Dezeen
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Today most large cities have focused on articulated buses to carry more passengers. While London (although they do have some bendy buses) has decided to evaluate new double decker designs. Good for them!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
This is the famous Routemaster double decker bus (1959-2005). These are the first buses I rode, and they remain my favourite buses.
I was on holiday in London in 1976 when I rode them. The buses were very cozy. Smoking was allowed on the upper deck so I'd only ride up there if there were no smokers. The conductors had an amazing memory for who had just got on the bus. Never was I asked twice for the fare, and never was my fare not collected.
This was the newer DMS (DaiMler Standee) one person operated (opo) bus then used on some routes. The DMS design had the engine at the back. Passengers boarded at the front and paid the driver. It was comfortable, but slow and dull. I avoided them if I could.
I preferred the older open platform Routemaster buses because:
1) I could run for the bus as it pulled away or jump off when it slowed in traffic. I never did those things. It probably wasn't allowed. But I could have.
2) I could hear the City through the open platform.
3) I could get myself seated and put my bags down before paying.
4) There was a conductor to keep everything running smoothly and dispense information. I felt as if every bus had a guide.
5) The stop for passengers was shorter than with the newer opo buses.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The latest 30 minute Wallace and Gromit video is every bit as good as the others in the series. There's the usual 1950's British accents, innocence and charm. It takes me to a wonderful place and period that I never knew. Back to an innocent England that probably never existed. But for 30 minutes you'll believe that a very smart dog can prevent harm befalling his slightly dim master.
The bread van in the show is based on the Austin A35 van owned by creater Nick Park. Here they are together:
Park has since donated the car to charity.
The new video has only been shown on TV in Australia and the UK. So until it is released on DVD we have this quality BitTorrent download.
Photo of Park and A35 from AutoExpress
Saturday, December 20, 2008
You can buy uncut sheets of freshly printed US bills in $1 $2 $5 $10 $20 and $50 denominations. The suggestion is to use them as wrapping paper!
The sheets sell for more than face value, so you might want to steal this idea and use a photocopier.
This comment on the materialism surrounding xmas will surely bring delighted smiles to children on xmas day as they recognize and approve your savvy and insightful political statement.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
BBC programme Top Gear road tests the Tesla Roadster at Dunsfold Park, in Surrey, England.
The Roadster was quick in a straight line, but the Lotus Elise was faster through the corners.
Under harsh track testing the Tesla managed only 55 miles before needing a recharge. Is it possible that the Tesla could go 55 miles on a racetrack and still manage the promised 200+ miles in normal driving?
The test team generously compared the Tesla's lap time to other cars driven on a wet track.
Friday, December 12, 2008
And the fun begins! Here are my predictions:
Chrysler will disappear. They'll try to sell the Jeep and Viper brands, and then they'll mothball their assembly plants to sell after the recession is over. Possible customers might include VW/Audi.
General Motors will use voodoo financing to avoid bankruptcy. I can imagine GM selling off factories, machinery, brand names, assets, and then leasing them back. They'll try to renegotiate their UAW contract with no success. GM will then linger on like British Leyland did in the 1980's, until finally failing. Good riddance to bad rubbish!
Ford will be fine. They will inherit some of the market share surrendered by GM and Chrysler.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It is now time for the children who paid attention in school to take over this country from the Baby Boomers who have sucked it dry.
And by "Baby Boomers" I mean "Self-centred Pricks". It's more accurate. After all, a surge in the American population can occur at any time. But a sick generation of SUV Pit Bull Support Our Troops drive-through McMansion jetski large screen tv .... can only occur once, one hopes?
Sunday, December 07, 2008
(I don't fly much, but when I do fly one of my complaints is that I can't see much out of the portholes. Given that many large aeroplanes have individual video displays on the back of each seat, why can't one of the video channels be a live view straight ahead of what the pilots see?)
The first vid shows the preflight preparation. The second vid shows the takeoff. The Third vid shows the landing at SFO right up to the terminal and the pilot pulling on the handbrake!
Each video is almost 10 minutes long.
Thanks MetBlogs and LaughingSquid
Categories:San Francisco Cars Movies
Friday, December 05, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
From The Real Story of Thanksgiving by Susan Bates:
"In 1637 ... over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by ... mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared "A Day Of Thanksgiving" ...
"Cheered by their "victory", the brave colonists ... attacked village after village ...
"Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot ... the churches announced a second day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory ...
"The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. ..."
"To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day November 28 1986"
Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
Thanks for a continent to despoil
Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and
Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.
For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind the
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.
Monday, November 24, 2008
As usual, there was very little of interest at the SF Motor Show.
Chrysler had the best display of domestic cars:
They had the Dodge Sling Shot (four years after its American debut at the New York International Auto Show!) The Sling Shot is clearly based on the Smart Roadster, a car that is no longer made.
We also got the Chrysler ecoVoyager 4-door car that's just a concept ... a concept of what Chrysler thinks a modern Tatra would look like.
The electric Dodge EV would have been our first chance to see a Lotus Europa, but it was missing from the show.
In the exotic car area the lighting was low and the pickings were poor. We only got the run-of-the-mill exotics: Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Porsche. Nothing you haven't seen before.
Over in the European section I was delighted to see the Audi R8.
One of the more interesting cars at the show was a car we won't ever get to drive, but if we've very very bad we might get to ride in. It is a unique purpose built police car with suicide rear doors! It's called the Carbon E7. It appears to be based on the Dodge 300.
The most surprising thing about this years show was the embarrassingly low number of attendees. See for yourself. I used a toy camcorder to record the empty aisles.
Categories:Cars San Francisco
I was standing outside the Apple store on Stockton at Ellis waiting for the traffic light to change when I noticed these two tower buildings. From this angle they seemed to be in harmony. From any other angle the Marriott Hotel on 4th Street is hideous. The Marriott is no better on the inside either (although the toilets were clean).
The older building is the Humboldt Savings Bank Building, which was in the early stages of construction when the earthquake hit on April 18th 1906. The Beaux Arts Humboldt was redesigned, and it was considered one of the most earthquake and fire resistant San Francisco buildings when it was completed in 1908.
There are two dates on the font of the building. 1869 when the bank was established, and 1906 when construction of this building restarted after the Great Earthquake.
Categories:Architecture San Francisco
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The US considers subsidies by foreign governments to be unfair trade. I think a loan to GM fits in the same category and shouldn't be done. If we loan GM the billions they want, then they could still fail and we'd lose all. So instead of giving GM a loan, let the market decide what happens. And if necessary use the money to protect the pension plans and health care benefits of the workers.
I have no problem with GM Europe. Vauxhall and Opel are fine (they have such little in common with their American parent that perhaps they could thrive better on their own?). However, GM North America builds (mostly) tacky cars for people who don't know what a good car is like, or who can't get a car loan anywhere else.
And now GM NA sales figures are on a slide. Why is that? Let's ask GM president Bob Lutz (known in the industry as "Maximum Bob"). According to Maximum Bob it's not GM's fault that their cars and trucks are so poor. He says they were just building the cars and trucks that Americans wanted to buy. So Bob, that means that GM's problems were caused by the people who bought your cars and trucks? Bob, are you acknowledging both the poor quality of your cars and your contempt for the people who buy them?
At first it will be difficult for Americans to accept the demise of GM. But I think they can adjust to driving Toyotas and Hyundais instead of Chevrolets. They adjusted to watching Sony televisions instead of Zeniths. And they just elected a black man for president after 43 white men. They will adjust.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I'm hoping someone will Google the words in this heading, find this post, and tell me that there is an application to turn my iPhone into a mobile webcam.
The application should take photographs every x seconds and upload the image to a Flickr account over the mobile phone airwaves. From Flickr I can re-post the images to a webcam viewer that's visible in a browser.
There are applications that automatically upload photos to Flickr. These apps just need to add a "save image every x seconds" feature. It shouldn't be difficult for some enterprising programmer to write the code.
That's all I want. Until the next thing.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Maun Windsor Chair (2004)
The Maun Windsor Chair is designed by Patty Johnson and made by the Mabeo Furniture factory in Botswana. Normally $750. On sale at DWR for $375.
Except for the clumsy looking Windsor legs, this chair looks like a derivative of the Chinese chair (1945) by Hans Wegner:
If you're in the market for a chair like this then I recommend Wegner's Wisbone chair. It's as strong and as light as a skeleton:
Saturday, November 08, 2008
This week I've been driving a 2009 4 door Honda Accord. I have the base model four cylinder automatic which is well equipped with cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering, electric windows, and an excellent stereo. The stereo is a proprietary job, but that's not a problem because the sound and the controls are excellent. And the radio display is a large screen mounted high and far back on on the centre console where you can read it at a glance without refocusing your eyes from the road.
The air conditioning is powerful and the fan is quiet even at the highest of its multiple settings. I was surprised how quickly it could cool the interior without blowing cold air on me.
The rear window demister clears dew off the outside of the glass after a few minutes, but I miss having a rear wiper blade. I think all cars should have a rear wiper, not just hatchback cars.
The driver's seat is almost perfect. The seat cushion is long and provides adequate thigh support for my 6 foot frame. The side bolsters on the seat back held my upper body firmly in place around corners. The lumbar support was firm and pronounced.
Acceleration with the 4 cylinder and 4-speed automatic is strong enough around town and up to 50 mph. But don't expect it to sprint from 50 to 70 on the highway: The automatic will change down to D3, the rpm will jump by 2000, and there will be a strained engine sound from this otherwise refined car.
The suspension absorbs corrugations and potholes very well, but wallows over speed bumps. The spring rates are a bit soft, and the dampers and sway bars could be firmer. Having said that, this car can make reasonably good speed around corners. There's a lot of body roll, but the car doesn't understeer excessively. It almost feels sporty. It corners like my father's Hillman Hunter cornered.
The styling is a departure from previous Accords. It is somewhat BMWesque with a creased character line along the sides and those much copied BMW C-pillars. Which brings me to my main complaint: Visibility blind spots. The A-pillars are thick. The B-pillar blocks my offside vision. And those BMW-style C-pillars could hide a car on the nearside. If this was my regular car I'd stick convex mirrors onto the door mirrors.
In conclusion, I'd be happy to have the 2009 4-door Accord as my company car. But if it was my money I was spending I'd be looking for a used (get the depreciation discount) late model 3-Series BMW.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
During the Democratic primaries Hillary Clinton's speeches began to sound insincere and cliched. She should have heeded her own repetitive calls for "change" with a fresh script to read from. By contrast Obama was fresh, focused, and seemed to mean what he was saying. He deported himself well throughout the primaries.
During the presidential campaign McCain's speeches were filled with hollow appeals to "Americans" and "My friends" and "this great country". He was insincere from the start. He was patriotic. He was full of it. Obama deported himself well during the presidential campaign.
During Obama's victory speech in Chicago, Jesse Jackson was shown in the crowd. He was crying. He was crying for himself because there will be no more political opportunities for his kind. Along with MLK and Al Sharpton, Jackson was a pulpit politician. Talking in a stilted southern accented voice. Preaching his politics. Sorry Jesse, we prefer an educated sophisticated well-spoken black man who we all agree we can identify with.
Obama will be president, and very little will change. But it is my hope that when faced with a decision to invade another country, to veto a child welfare bill, to blocade Cuba, to invade Grenada, to fund Contras, to torture prisoners ... Obama will make the right choice.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Randall opened a FaceBook account. He said it would help him keep in touch with his friends and would I join? At the time it sounded like a good idea so I opened an account and examined the site.
FaceBook can nicely store all your notes/photos/videos/profile information in a one-blog-fits-all format. It seems to be a very good site for keeping informed about everything your FaceBook friends do. But I don't want to know everything my friends do. I want to be a little bit selective. I follow my fiends on Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, or Del.icio.us. Each of these sites has perfected its specialty. Each of these sites is advertising free.
If I used FaceBook I'd be clogging the tubes to my friends computers with strange photos and offbeat thoughts. They don't need to see that. And I don't want to censor myself. No FaceBook for me.
Friday, October 31, 2008
The 4 cylinder 2000TC was European Car of the Year in 1964. The P6 (P- post war) was produced from 1963 untill 1977 as a 2000, 2200, and 3500V8.
Here's a rare opportunity to buy a very original California Rover 2000TC with manual transmission and air conditioning! (That little chrome box on the grille is an ice warning device)
The Rover competed in the near-luxury market with the 6 cylinder Triumph 2000. Both Rover and Triumph became part of British Leyland, and there was only room for one executive saloon. Rover won. And the result was the new Rover SD1, which also became Car of the Year in Europe (The six cylinder versions of the SD1 used an engine developed from the Triumph motor).
This car looks surprisingly original and unmolested except for a few dings and dents.
More pictures here. Contact seller here.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The beautiful Bertoni styled Citroen DS (1955-1975) was transformed into a convertible by the French coach builder Chapron. Chapron's first conversions had an unsightly chrome strip covering the seam where the rear door skins joined the rear quarter panels. Later conversions commissioned by Citroen used single seamless panels, and they were sold by Citroen dealers. The DS Cabriolet is quite rare, but very rare in RHD.
Photos from Citroenet
Monday, October 27, 2008
I'm adding a new category to the Treough Blog: Hucksterism.
According to The Free Dictionary a Huckster is "One who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product" . Hucksters are con artists who know something different from what they’re telling their customers.
There have always been hucksters selling devices they promise will improve a car's fuel economy. I've seen their advertisements in Popular Mechanics magazine. Shame on Popular Mechanics.
With the high price of petrol and the downturn in the economy I would expect to see more of these devices offered. Here's one now. A $200 device called "Blade" that bolts to the end of your car's exhaust pipe:
That's $400 if your car has dual exhaust pipes.
The claim made for the device is that your car will get up to 34% better mileage and lower CO2 emissions.
The people selling "Blade" must have complete contempt for their fellow man to tell such blatant lies. These are the same people who sell exercise equipment on tv infomercials, and the same people who stole your lunch money.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
My new MacBook arrived Tuesday morning and I migrated all my files and
applications to it from my failing iMac. I used the Migration application and an Ethernet cable.
Then today I started using it... and then I noticed...
1) The display has a very narrow viewing angle.
2) The 13" display is small. I could only view one window at a time.
3) The bottom of the screen meets the keyboard at the hinge. I feel as
if my hands are blocking the screen.
If you're a notebook user you're probably wondering what I expected.
I expected a similar experience to using my iPhone.
The MacBook is beautifully made, just like my iPhone. But when I use my iPhone I get to hold it and touch the screen. It's a pleasant tactile interface.
With the MacBook I only get to touch the keys.
Perhaps if the MacBook was a tablet then I could enjoy it.
The display is much easier to read now that the sun has set and there are no annoying reflections on the screen. I'll try using the MacBook again tomorrow in the daylight. It's a good machine. I want to like it.
The MacBook has some tricks to get around the limitations of a 13" screen: Four fingers on the trackpad displays all windows. Two fingers scroll up/down and left/right.
The speakers aren't very loud, but the sound is good.
Click with two fingers on the scroll pad for a right mouse click. I'm starting to like the MacBook.
I adore the MacBook. The lack of FireWire has not been a problem because the MB will boot from an external USB HDD, and I use my Canon SD1100is for video as well as still photography. The test will come this weekend when I use my Mini DV camera (I'll use my old iMac to load the video onto an external HDD, then edit it with the MB)
All in all, buying the MacBook was a good decision!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
(Between 2 and 4pm on Sunday is when San Francisco realtors show houses to the public.)
I was walking down the street to The Beanery for a cup of coffee and a pound of grounds for the coming work week when I saw a sandwich-board sign for an open house on 10th Avenue. After leaving The Beanery with my coffee I turned west on Irving and I saw another sign for an open house on 11th:
This building reminds me of our old flat on 6th avenue, except this building is much bigger and in perfect condition. The back of the building has been added onto creating a top floor studio and extra bedrooms/bathrooms/closets. Everywhere I looked there were more rooms and storage space. Very nice! I'd be happy living here. There is a small garden in back. They want $M1.4 for the building. That's what our old building on 6th Ave sold for! I'm glad we didn't buy that bag of hurt.
I turned back to walk to my original destination on 10th Ave. That's when I was distracted by this open house on Funston across from St. Anne's elementary school:
From the street it's an unassuming family home. Hardwood floors, but white carpet (yuck!) in the master bedroom. Everything in the house was new, remodeled, modernized, or well maintained. This is typical of the houses for sale in our neighbourhood. Good for a family. But too much of a family home for us. I mean it has space we don't need and can't use. $M1.3
Next is the house on 10th Ave that I first wanted to see. It's next door to a house that is almost unique in our neighbourhood: A freestanding bungalow with a front and back yard, and 12 feet clear on each side:
Spacious and immaculate. Barely recognizable as having been built in 1924. Everything looks new. Nothing needs repaired. Large. Perfect if you like house guests. Lonely if you don't. $M1.85
I was almost home when I saw this place on Kirkham:
Double glazing and good insulation keeps the Kirkham Street noise out. Nice but not special. $1.2M
lastly there's this top floor flat on the last block before I got home:
Lani and I looked at this flat three months ago. Ugly colour but that can be changed. We liked it but for one thing: No parking. The insides of the flat have been partly remodeled by cowboys with an IKEA credit card. But we're not super fussy about details, and we liked the spaciousness, backyard, and sundeck. Also, the bedroom was away from the street noise. There must be something very wrong with this flat because it's been on the market 3 times in 3 months. This time it's reduced again in price to $575K
Categories:San Francisco Architecture
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
My iMac has been slowly dieing and I've been looking for a replacement. Found it: The new 2.4GHz 13" MacBook with 250GB HD, 2GB RAM, LED backlit display, and backlit keyboard. And the case is machined from a solid block of aluminium!
It should arrive in 3-5 days. That's enough time to get used to the idea of a 13" display (if I can write this on an iPhone then I can surely adjust to a 13" screen). And that's enough time to relocate the printer and scanner, and simplify my office-in-an-armoir. Actually sell the
armoir and free up that space for a comfy chair.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
I've always wanted to write a Motor-Trend/ Car-and-Driver/ Road-and-Track headline. Now that I have, I must take a shower.
Marcus Hays, founder and CEO of Electrobike, kindly allowed me to test ride this prototype for a new Electrobike Pi. The bike is clearly still in the final developement stage: The monocoque spar frame is the only major component whose design is finalized. And even it wasn't yet painted. Some components on this prototype were machined, or adjustable for testing: the chain stay is a one-off piece of machined aluminium that carries the bottom bracket and electric motor. The riding position is being worked out with adjustable handlebars. The design of the chain stay, and deletion of the seat post is the biggest visual difference between this and earlier Pi models. This test mule had an internal geared 4-speed rear hub that will be replaced with a single gear when the new electric motor is installed.
The prototype is designed within the legal constraints of the DMV's definition of a bicyle: The engine is at most 1hp, and top speed limited to 20 mph. Anything more than that and it would have to be registered as a moped or motorcycle. That's not to say Hays hasn't built an "unlimited" Pi. The 30hp Pi X gas electric hybrid Bonneville Racer is awesome.
So, how does it ride?
First, Hays adjusted the seat to fit me. The seat "post" is a parallelogram design that moves the seat down and forward for smaller riders. Nice. There's a keyed "ignition" for security. Below the key is a 12 volt outlet for accessories. The riding position is similar to a cruiser bike. The "throttle" is a small lever on the left of the handlebars, and the brakes are hydraulic discs (the front brake was still being assembled, so I couldn't test the stopping power).
I stepped on the pedals in first gear and the Pi moved forward. I then engaged the electric motor with my left thumb. The bike accelerated firmly with the low speed torque typical of electric motors. The bike was very well balanced and easy to control in slow turns. I stopped. Clicked it into second gear and accelerated again. It felt a bit sluggish this time. But remember this is not the production motor and gearing combination the public will eventually get. And the geared hub was probably there just to test various gear ratios.
Conclusion: While the Pi is worthy of an industrial design award, it is also practical transportation that is legal to ride anywhere a bicycle is allowed. The visual strength of the spar frame is as impressive as the light balanced handling.
25+ mile range
36-volt nickel metal hydride batteries
Recharges in 2.5 hours from a household outlet
Today I was able to examine the prototype's final design. The final components were in place. The internal hub gears in the rear wheel is an automatically variable item. Marcus said the gear range is equivalent to 10-speed cassette.
The front fork now has trailing arm suspension (designed by Martin), with the springs/shock cleanly hidden on the inside surface of the fork.
The parallelogram seat 'post' has been refined to perfection. There is a fine adjustment for the tilt of the saddle, and a quick-release lever to lock everything in place. The throttle lever is on the right of the handlebar.
The final design is for sale on the PiCycle web site.
It differs from what I thought would be the final design in that the motor is in the front wheel. I guess that change had to be made once the decision was made to use an internal geared rear hub on the production bike.
Cool name and it looks good.
Categories:Cars Design Science