Next step, Skynet…

Nova is a great show on PBS. They have the full episode about Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy playing computer, up on their site.

You should watch it.

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Who Made Who?

Another non-sequitur post title for you today.

The interior quality on my Mazda 3 is really top notch. It feels like a much more expensive car, except in the very few places where corners were clearly cut. Namely, the sun visor. It’s hard plastic – no soft-touch wrapping at all. Is it a lot stiffer and firm than my old car’s cardboard-wrapped-in-felt? Yes, but it’s so hard that I wonder if I’d bop my head against it and actually hurt myself.

The other very chintzy feeling piece is the silver trim piece on the bottom spoke of the steering wheel. It’s just silver-colored plastic, it’s hollow, and it just doesn’t feel right, especially compared to the rest of the wheel. For an interior that screams upscale, why would you cut a few cents off of these two parts, ones that people will touch and feel countless times during the lifetime of the car?

My advice would be to replace the silver trim piece with a leather-covered piece and actually put some kind of soft-touch material around the  sun visors.

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A Discovery

I don’t really have any material for tonight. Might I suggest watching Ricky play Talking Time Bros.? It’s very informative.

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Fixing Things

One thing I’ve been working on lately is doing a re-record and re-play of NES Bionic Commando for a new Let’s Play. The original one I did four years ago was in the first wave of video LPs. Tons of rough edges, problems, etc. So I decided to go back and just redo the thing from scratch.

It’s not too difficult to do that, obviously. Just re-record it, talk over it, done. It felt like a big chore, though. Will re-doing it really be that important? I think so, because one, the emulator I’m using now is a bit more accurate in terms of color/gameplay, and two, I’m less of an idiot when commentating. The playthrough is just all-around cleaner.

I’m going to need an all-new game to play through, though, and I think it’s going to be Wii A Boy and His Blob. Now, the difficult part is recording the Wii properly…

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Well played, Kenji Yamamoto.

Now this… this is how you reinvent a song.

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Dear Mazda…

WHY did you put such a wimpy horn in the 3? Why? How many cents did it save you? Not enough to offset the various complaints, I hope.

My mission, if I choose to accept it, is to make this thing louder. Angrier. We have the technology, after all. Now, the question is do we want an air horn, or do we want a Dixie horn from the Dukes of Hazzard?

Decisions…

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Albany Hawker

Citation

Hawker

Sony Alpha a700, Tamron 70-200 f/2.8.

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Dinnertime

Feeding time

Feeding time

Sony Alpha a700, Tamron 17-50.

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The Flash Bus

All I can say about The Flash Bus is that, perhaps, McNally and Hobby are not going to take Harry Potter’s place any time soon.

Apparently the Boston seminar sold out within days and I didn’t realize it. Now I can’t go. Wah. :(

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Mazda Maxims

Well, there’s not very many maxims to be had, here. It’s just a nice title for another post of car thoughts.

So far, after a week of having the 3, I’ve been quite happy with it. Is it perfect? No, and no car really is. But it’s handled nearly everything I’ve thrown at it with aplomb. I had the interesting fortune to buy a car right before a series of snowstorms hit. I read that the stock tires performed poorly on snow, but so far I made it to work in truly terrible weather with very little fuss. Plus, the stability control is very easy to learn. You pick up its reactions and signs very quickly, so predicting it is not that bad at all.

One thing that is not a problem at all with the car but more with its driver is that I’m relearing the car’s personal space and how it handles. The Firebird was a big car – 196 inches long. The Mazda 3 hatchback is actually a few inches shorter than the sedan version at 177 inches. That’s more than a foot and a half in length. I’m used to a long hood, short deck car, and now I’m in a short hood, no deck car. It definitely takes some getting used to. 75 inches of width for the Firebird versus 69 inches for the 3 means that the car fits easier in parking spots, too. Doubly so, since the doors aren’t as wide as a 747’s wingspan.

What about the brakes? Well, the brakes are fucking powerful, for one. They react totally differently from the Firebird’s brakes, which were always a bit on the spongy side on the outset. You had to put your foot into them, but they did brake admirably. This one? There’s much less resistance on the brake pedal. The grip is fantastic, and having bigger wheels helps too. It just takes a light touch, otherwise WHOA you stop faster than you expect.

I’ve also managed to learn the radio and the bluetooth handsfree feature. Bluetooth is one of those things that I wouldn’t have explicitly ordered on a car, but because it came standard, I figure “why not?” It’s actually really slick and works very well. Gotta give them credit for that. Is it as good as Ford’s Sync? No, but you are trading that geek toy for zoom zoom.

Speaking of Zoom-Zoom, the 2.5L engine, same as the Mazda 6 (and a few other Ford products, like the Fusion) is one stump-puller of an engine. Plenty of torque is waiting for you when you press the gas. With a few simple modifications (new intake, freer flowing exhaust) it opens it up even more. Given the drastically lower weight of the 3 hatchback compared to the Firebird, the thing already has plenty of get-up-and-go. Is the feel different? Absoltuely. The wrong wheels are being driven, for one. Two, the low-end torque bias of the 3.8L V6 has been more evenly distributed. There’s less off-the-line punch, but it actually felt more responsive at higher speeds to me.

Stay tuned for more car thoughts as I live with it for a while.

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