Monday, February 22, 2010

What were they thinking?

When I walked in after work, the ABC Nightly News was on the TV. (it's Channel 8 here in Northeast Oklahoma) I'll be the first to admit I'm not a real big TV Watcher, and I'm pretty sick of hearing about this stupid Toyota mess, but this piece caught my ear/eye, and I stopped to watch the segment.

It's three and a half minutes, but just in case you'd rather read than watch, the TV News Reporter gets to drive a Toyota that a Professor has wired to recreate the electronic "shorts" that cause throttle malfunction. They also have a hand-held scanner which shows NO error codes in the electronic system, neither during nor after the incident.

Toyota says the computer system won't let it happen; but one second, they're doin' 20mph, the next second, it's tachin' 6500 and the brakes won't shut it down.

The whole thing bugs me in so many different ways...

Toyota has published video of a guy displaying a gas pedal with the electronic parts attached, he's got all the moving parts in his hands, everything that tells the car how far you're mashing that pedal is right there -- it sends signals through the computer system from there. No rods, no cables, just that round rheostat-looking thing attached to a computer system. Who designed that and what the hell were they thinking??? Have they not seen how difficult computers and computerized parts can be? Have they never lost a homework assignment (or a whole computer) to that oh-so-lovely "Blue Screen Of Death?"

More importantly, have they never had a throttle stick open on 'em? Surely I'm not the only one who's ever downshifted to third to beat a yellow light only to discover that the truck didn't rev down when I let up to shift back into fourth... Faster than my buddy in the shotgun seat could figure out what was going on, I got the clutch in, got it in neutral, and hooked my toe under the pedal to pull it loose before it could blow itself up.

That's how it's supposed to work; even though who-knows-how-many people drive around every day without knowing that's how it's supposed to work -- that's how it works. That gas pedal under your toes is connected to a rod that, through leverage and linkages, pulls a cable on a carburetor or throttle body, which lets air in to mix with fuel, which burns to make the car go. No computerized parts to short out and wreck things, just metal parts from your toes to your throttle. If you have the car running and the hood open, you can put your thumb in there and press on the spot where that cable connects and it makes it rev up just like if you had your foot on the gas. If you're a highschool boy, chicks'll think it's cool. If you're a chick, you can use that skill to shock a guy or two, or possibly an unsuspecting used car salesman. I know first-hand about shocking the unsuspecting used car salesman, it's fine fun.

Who puts digital shit in the middle of that? What's the point of taking chances with computers when rods and cables have been working just fine for all these years?

Don't get me wrong, computers have done helpful things for the automotive world. I'm sure "Limp Home" mode has saved lots of motor parts, electronic transmissions save gas, and that "oil change needed" calculator is pretty darn handy -- but a rheostatic control for the throttle? Really?? When I think of rheostatic control, I can't help but think of that vibrator with the malfunctioning rheostatic control that I ripped apart in a last ditch effort to, uhm, finish a task.

If you're fighting to control a car that's "floored" itself, you're not going to be able to crawl under the dash and rip things apart to touch some wires together and attempt to fix the problem.

I'm still not over the whole "Cash For Clunkers" thing. I still think a lot of people got screwed, and some of 'em don't even have a clue. Quite a few might be getting a clue as they struggle to regain control of their Toyota and start to miss the good ol' car they traded off to the boat anchor factory.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Debbie Does Current Events.

I try my best to avoid politics, but this whole Tulsa Police & Fire thing bugs me. I'm not going into the whole deal with the cops not stickin' together and then bein' mad and wantin' a second chance when the firemen did -- it's the "limited response" that bothers me most. The person who spoke about it on the news said that they were not responding to non-injury accidents or larceny calls; ie "Let's say you have a chainsaw in the back of your truck and somebody walks by and takes it..." Now, I'm not interested in snatching a chainsaw, but if I were, that line just kinda sounds like the police department is saying "Hey, Free Chainsaws!"

Drivers involved in non-injury car wrecks are supposed to "exchange insurance information and file a report on their own," so what about those assholes who don't have insurance? I'd say they're probably going to just leave; so what are the rest of us (who are paying for insurance and playing by the rules) supposed to do?

Here's my idea. Go out to your car right now and pop the trunk. Dig around in there 'til you find your lugwrench; it might be a stick with a bend in it with one pointy end and one lugnut-size socket on the other, or it might be an X-shaped one with three sockets and one pointy part -- whichever -- take it out of the trunk and stash it under the driver's seat. If you're involved in a wreck that appears to be non-injury, take pictures and then get out that lugwrench. Ask the other driver if they have insurance; if they say yes, put the lugwrench away, if they say no, let 'em know you're willing to use it. If they don't have insurance, it'd be wrong to let 'em leave, so if you can't disable their car with your lugwrench, injure someone so that the cops have to respond. If you really insist on taking the high road, you can injure yourself; but really, I'd recommend injuring the person who's not playing by the rules. If they drive without insurance, that's the chance they took.


Also, how'bout that "off duty Tulsa cop" who ended up in jail for waving his gun around in a bar... Did ya know he's on "paid suspension" right now? Tulsa can't afford to keep 'em on the job, dozens of officers are looking for work and wondering how they'll pay their bills, but that dip is getting paid while not working. Nice, huh? Let me have his gun, I'll make sure nobody walks off with someone else's chainsaw -- he's more suited to a job that involves a french fry basket than a gun anyway.


Tonight on the news, apparently some of the last few cops still on duty caught a man in the act of what could've ended up being a homicide. I'm glad to know that they stopped a crime in progress and most likely saved the life of a mom and her child; but then after they'd hauled this man to jail, supposedly he bonded out a little faster than expected. The impression that I got from the folks telling the story on TV is that they were puzzled as to where the "bad guy" came up with the nine thousand dollars to bond out so quickly.

I don't know if anyone else has pointed this out or not, but last night on the news, they told about a robbery of a grocery store where the "bad guy" made off with "about seventeen thousand dollars." Hmmmmmm... Think there might be a connection there?


More later... _\,,/

Labels: ,