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Thu, 12 Nov 2009

Car stereo suggestions wanted

I need a new car stereo, cos the fancy detachable faceplate on the cheap piece of shit I've got right now keeps falling off, and so the music stops. Anyone got any suggestions?

Features I need:

  • it Just Fucking Works - is this even possible, or do they have stupid proprietary connections? It needs to plug into an 04 reg Toyota Hilux.
  • both bass *and* treble
  • no fucking disco lights
  • aux in so I can plug my ipod in
  • a USB port would be nice, but not essential
  • no fancy removeable bits to fall off and get lost
  • if it has to have slots for old media, it should be CD and not tape, but even that's not essential
  • DAB would be nice. If analogue radio, it must do LW FOR GREAT TEST MATCH SPECIAL JUSTICE and MW for the World Service. Not particularly fussed about FM, as that's just shitty doof-doof noises.
  • cheap
Posted at 20:01 by David Cantrell
keywords: cars | music | travel
Permalink | 0 Comments
Fri, 27 Jun 2008

How to Save The Planet, in one easy step

Hippies would have you believe that you can Save the Planet and your wallet by unplugging your devices instead of leaving them on stand-by. They are wrong. If we assume that each of twenty devices in my flat is wasting 2W for the 23 hours a day that they're not in use (all of which are pessimistic estimates), then that's wasting 3.3 mega-Joules a day. That sounds like quite a lot. It is, however, just under 1kWh (the unit in which electricity is metered) so costs about 10p a day, or £3 a month.

Here's a much better way of saving energy, emitting less "carbon" (carbon is in fact Just Fine, it's carbon dioxide that will destroy the planet), and coincidentally saving quite a bit more money.

Drive slower.

I recently took a round trip of about 500 miles, most of it on motorways and other fast free-flowing roads. By driving at 60mph instead of 85, I got 45 miles per gallon instead of my normal 33-ish. That means I burned 4 gallons less fuel, or 18 litres, or £24.50. Given that the energy density of diesel is about 38MJ/l, I saved 684MJ or 192 kWh. That is, in one weekend I Saved the Planet as much as I would in nearly eight months of unplugging the hifi, phone charger, etc.

And never mind how much my back thanks me for not having to do all that bending over to plug and unplug things.

Anyway, now let's see what happens if we apply my wisdom to the whole country. Let's conservatively assume that there are 1,000,000 cars, each doing 10,000 miles a year, and that they all normally do a quite good 50mpg. That means they burn 200,000,000 gallons of fuel, or about a billion litres. If everyone slows down by the same amount I did, that billion litres becomes 700 million litres, saving 300 million litres of petrol (which is cheaper than the diesel I use), or 354 million quid. That's also a saving of 12,000,000,000,000,000 joules of energy. Which is about the annual output of the Enfield power station.

What's really interesting about this is that Enfield is a very small power station, about a twelfth of the size of Drax. So while driving slower is a fuck of a lot better than unplugging your phone charger, it's also still not very effective at Saving the Planet. You should still do it though, cos it'll annoy the BMW driver behind you.

[updated to ignore engine efficiency - even if your engine is really inefficient you're still turning each litre into 38MJ of energy, just not very usefully]

Posted at 09:24 by David Cantrell
keywords: cars | environment | transport
Permalink | 2 Comments
Fri, 20 Jun 2008

The Science of Insurance

My car insurance is due to be renewed soon, so I've been ringing around to get quotes. With every company I've tried, I've given them the same information, and I want the same product. Now, those of my chums who work in financey companies assure me that there's lots of Science and Reasoning behind how they calculate all their stuff, and you would have thought that insurance, being a huge part of the financial industry, would be just as sciencey.

Well, no. If it was sciencey, then for the same inputs (things like what car I drive, what accidents I've had and when, how old I am, where I live etc) then the outputs would be the same. Except that, for identical policies, I've had quotes ranging from £900 to £1,650.

There is quite obviously no science and no rational calculations behind insurance quotes, they're just making shit up.

Posted at 10:19 by David Cantrell
keywords: cars | rant
Permalink | 4 Comments
Fri, 30 Jun 2006

The world has gone mad

I had to renew my car insurance, so I phoned the company that had given me the cheapest quote when I was ringing around, and told them I wanted to take them up on their quote. At which point they dropped the price.

I fully expect to see cats lieing down with dogs, group hugs in Jerusalem, and the pope saying "that Luther guy, he had a good point".

Posted at 21:30 by David Cantrell
keywords: cars | weird
Permalink | 1 Comment