My Toyota Prius, gas mileage and altitude
I've had a fascinating experience with my Toyota Prius in the last few months and am curious whether other Prius or hybrid owners have experienced similar: The Prius gets significantly better mileage in lower altitudes.
Here's the scoop: I live in Boulder, Colorado, at approximately 5300 feet elevation (just a smidge higher up than Denver, the "mile high city") and on average, we see about 39MPG driving our Prius around in town and occasionally to Denver or the Denver International Airport. Not too impressive and a far cry from the 60MPG that Toyota claims in its advertising.
I've even taken the car in to Toyota for a checkup. They've run a full set of diagnostics, checked all the firmware and applied all the latest patches, etc., but there was nothing they could find that indicated anything out of the norm. Their great solution? We were driving it in a way that was adversely impacting our mileage.
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Valleywag demonstrates why the blogosphere is a poor source for news
I am obviously a big fan of blogs and blogging, and spend an inordinate amount of time every week reading blogs, commenting upon blogs, writing original content and managing my own weblogs. However, while there are lots of great characteristics of blogs and, collectively, the blogosphere, I have always had reservations about blogs as a news medium.
With its recent, false story about a major power outage in a San Francisco data center being caused by an intoxicated employee Valleywag -- an avowed gossip site anyway -- really does demonstrate why blogs aren't a great place for news and why there might just be some value to journalists and their formal journalistic training in a completely digital age.
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Book Review: Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game, by Philip Orbanes
Right up front I need to admit that I am a big fan of the board game Monopoly. I own about a half-dozen different versions and as I learned the game on an English set, I am far more likely to think about playing the game in terms of Euston Road and King's Cross Station than I am to consider the original American equivalents of Ventnor Ave and Reading Railroad.
Not only that, but years ago I subverted the largest minicomputer at HP's Fort Collins Networking Operation facility on weekends to run Monopoly simulations so I could amass very large amounts of statistical data regarding which properties were most likely to be landed upon, which offered the best cost/benefit ratio, etc. This involved simulating dice rolls, the Chance and Community Chest cards, and even modeling the rules of getting into, and out of jail.
As I sit here and type this blog entry, I can glance up and see my (relatively rare) Express Monopoly card game, Monopoly Jr., a big hit with my kids, and a new "opoly" game called Horse-opoly, thematically tied into the world of equestrians where you're buying breeds, not property. I also just recently bought The Anti-Monopoly Game, an anti-establishment game from the mid 70s, after reading about it in Orbanes' book, though I haven't yet had a chance to play it.
Suffice to say, I'm probably the perfect person to read and review Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game and How It Got That Way by Philip Orbanes. I didn't realize it when I started reading the book, but I already have - and have compared notes and findings based on my analysis with - Orbanes' previous book, The Monopoly Companion, wherein he presents his own statistical analysis of the board and offers up some smart playing strategies. For the record, our findings are quite similar. :-)
When Da Capo Press sent me this book for review I admit I thought it would be interesting, but pretty dry reading, insularly focused on the evolution of the game within Parker Brothers. I was completely wrong. In fact, this is a fascinating book that spends far more time talking about the economic and historical situation during various points in the evolution of Monopoly than the nuts and bolts of the modern game itself.
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Why I don't think that Second Life has staying power
On a discussion board recently, someone asked me what I thought about Second LIfe and was a bit surprised when I responded that I thought it was interesting, but that it didn't really have staying power because of some fundamental architectural flaws in its design. Based on his response, I thought it would be interesting for me to post my message here too and solicit input from the general blogosphere on SL, virtual worlds and the challenges and opportunities of massively multiplayer online communities.
My initial comment in the discussion was thus:
"My take: Second Life is an evolutionary step, but unto itself is definitely overhyped. We will get interesting virtual worlds in the next few years that will offer opportunities for businesses, but SL is faddish and already seems to have "come and gone" with the popular press, bloggers, etc. The problem is that the network and computer software can't keep up with the demands of a true 3D environment where everything has to be downloaded on demand. Compare it to something like World of Warcraft, another huge 3d virtual world, but one where the avatars are custom and the landscape is created using a very small number of shapes and textures, and you'll see that SL is far inferior as a user experience."
I then expanded on my thoughts quite a bit...
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Why does Gmail on the iPhone suck so badly?
While I'm the first to admit that I'm not some sort of digitally enhanced road warrior -- in fact, I prefer not to travel -- I definitely have appreciated the nice Google Gmail mobile application that the company made available to us Blackberry users. Between it and Gmail accessed in a computer's Web browser, the two were in perfect sync and it was easy to keep an eye on my Gmail mailbox without trouble.
Switching over from a Blackberry Pearl to an Apple iPhone, however, the last thing I thought I'd experience was a completely dysfunctional Gmail client for the iPhone. Yet that's exactly what I have...
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Google Adding Content to AdSense Ad Blocks?
Just before the Fourth I was invited to fill in a "Google AdSense Publisher Happiness Survey": You might have received an invite to fill one in too. I always try to find the time because I find that you can get interesting glimmers of what might be coming down the horizon by reading the questions closely, and it's always fun to give feedback in a forum where they're expecting it too.
There were three areas I thought were interesting. The first was a question asking about whether I participated in any other advertising networks, a list that was interesting as much for its omissions as its inclusions...
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