HYBRID BOY NO MORE

There was a time when I totally believed my next new car would be a hybrid.  How could I see it any other way?  A small fuel-efficient gasoline engine that synergistically charges a battery pack that powers the vehicle all engineered and tuned to maximize power while minimizing fuel consumption.  What a neat, new technological wonder!

But then I started seeing the red flags.

These massive vehicle battery packs are a relatively new and unproven technology and application.  They have not yet stood the test of time.  Being someone who loves to buy a brand new car, and then drive it at least 200,000 miles, I became concerned when I learned about the battery pack lifespans.  Having to replace a battery pack at less than a hundred thousand miles for several thousand dollars did not appeal to me.

Then you have to look at the supposed gas mileage advantage.  When you were talking 40 to 50 miles per gallon for a hybrid, versus 20 to 25 for a conventional vehicle, perhaps you had an argument.  The latest advances in internal combustion engines and overall automotive technology are improving conventional vehicle gas mileage easily into the 30s and more.  Factor in the thousands of dollars premium on the hybrid’s sticker price compared to a conventional vehicle, and the financial incentives begin to evaporate faster than the gasoline you accidentally spilled on the pavement while filling your tank last week.

American consumers are increasingly waking up to these realities.  In 2009, hybrids commanded a 2.8% market share.  In 2010 that number fell to 2.4%, and last year it was 2.2%.

One of the things a person sometimes forgets, but always benefits from, is that technology tends to improve everything.  These latest refined gasoline engines are definitely holding their own and continuously improving.  The hybrid approach has a long way to go if it is to become an economically viable option for the average consumer.  As for me, I think I will have to stick with a purebred for the time being.







My Great Web page






VIRTUAL IS REALITY

A new study indicates a job candidate’s Facebook page is a better predictor of job-fit than the traditional standardized screening tests.  In ten minutes, a trained reviewer can identify indicators of the candidate’s personality, character, and red flags.  The study will soon be published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.  I can’t wait to read that one!

In this economy, companies want to be even more careful about each hiring decision.  The convenient truth is social media allows them to do exactly that.

Of course, for the candidate who sets Facebook’s privacy settings to something other than public, the reviewer may come up with very little helpful information.  For the candidate who does set them to public, it is an open book.  Sadly, too many SM users do not recognize the gravity and the opportunity of this situation.

Virtual is reality.

For the “party hardy” candidate with many embarrassing or otherwise inappropriate postings, going all public will potentially hinder his or her job opportunities.  On the other hand, for the serious, professional candidate who has nothing to hide, going all public will potentially enhance his or her job opportunities.

Let the user beware!  (Or, perhaps more to the point, “Let the user grow up!”)

 

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-02-19/business/ct-biz-0220-work-advice-huppke-20120219_1_facebook-page-job-success-social-networking.








My Great Web page






BEWARE THE EIGHTH OF MARCH?

A prophetic warning to Julius Caesar about the Ides of March turned out to be pretty important.  Shakespeare aside, although you likely don’t have to worry about the Ides of March, the date you may want to watch out for is the 8th of March.

On March 8, 2012, the FBI could possibly shut down a number of Web sites with the aim of finally killing off a serious botnet infection called DNSChanger Trojan.  As is typical with the FBI, it is not giving out excessive information about its attack plan.

The targets are malicious, infected Web sites.  Nevertheless, if you happen to frequent any Web sites that may unknowingly be involved, then your surfing to those sites may be curtailed.

In my ongoing research about this situation, I did not tend to find a highly consistent story from one source to another.  Given the range of technical options open to the FBI, my sense is no one is sure exactly what will happen.

PC World has a more detailed review of this matter that I found very helpful.  http://www.pcworld.com/article/250296/the_truth_about_the_march_8_internet_doomsday.html.





scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″
style=”border:none; width:450px; height:80px”>


DOWNLOADING THE BRAIN

Robert Knight is a neuroscientist who leads a research team at the University of California at Berkeley.  His team and others at Berkeley have been doing a good bit of investigation into the ability to use fMRI to “read” people’s thoughts.  The science revolves around the concept of programming computers to translate brain waves into words.

Some have postulated a wide variety of amazing applications.  For example, you might be able to rewatch your dreams on a PC.  Medical caregivers and loved ones might be able to communicate with patients in a coma.  A person who has lost the ability to speak normally now could speak virtually.  Although we have a long way to go before these benefits materialize, we are headed in that direction.  And what about involuntary participation?

As with every technological breakthrough, we as a society owe it to ourselves and the generations that follow to understand the good and bad applications and implications.  To use what we have discovered in an ethically appropriate manner is an indispensable calling from which we must not shrink.  Those ethical dilemmas may be upon us sooner rather than later.

One of the neatest films that touches on the potential of this sort of situation is Minority Report (2002, Steven Spielberg).  In that film, law enforcement is able to monitor people’s thoughts, thereby anticipating criminal behavior before it occurs.  Armed with this information, law enforcement (the “Precrime” unit) intercepts would-be criminals before the crimes are committed.

I had a science teacher in seventh grade who frequently said, “Today’s science fiction is tomorrow’s science.”  I think that concept was once somewhat difficult to grasp.  Today, it is becomingly increasingly obvious.  Hopefully, the cognizance of ethical dilemmas will be too.








My Great Web page






THE ALLURE OF A NEW OS

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned the current state of Microsoft’s OS support announcements.  These announcements can freshly prompt us to consider if a new PC purchase should be on our agenda.

As with so many things in life, the trick is in the timing.  Buy too soon and you might end up with an OS that doesn’t have all the major bugs exterminated.  I think this is what happened to many people who came early to the party with Vista.  Buy too late and you might truncate the useful lifespan of the unit.

Purchasing a new PC should happen at a prime time, fully assessing multiple factors.  The decision will always depend on business needs, technology needs, costs, benefits, and again, optimally timing the ongoing Microsoft OS development cycles.

I pay rapt attention to the early and ongoing OS reviews before diving in headfirst.  Once I have reasonable assurance the newer OS is a smooth, stable system, then I am in the zone for a new machine.  Factoring in the business and IT needs, and the associated costs and benefits of a new PC, then I might take the plunge.  So far, I have been quite successful in maximizing my productivity while minimizing my costs by following this strategy.

Do I always call it perfectly?  What do you think?

Well, at least I derive comfort from the fact it isn’t the first error message to which I’ve had to say “Okay.”








My Great Web page