Prius Personal Log  #140

August 17, 2004  -  August 22, 2004

Last Updated: Mon. 3/16/2009

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8-22-2004

When classic cars meet.  Check out the new photo Mary provided.  It's a state patrol configured 1930 Model-A, complete with lights & siren, with a Blue Moon Pearl 2002 Prius parked right next to it.  But the background was less than ideal.  So we changed it.  Cutting the two classic cars from the original photo, the background was altered.  These effects were each applied individually... blur, crystalize, pixelize, and speckle ...followed by the putting the original cutout right back where it started.  Then all four resulting composites were combined with the original to create a continually looping animation that transitioned from one to another.  It's really cool.  Check out all of that here... owner:  Mary

8-22-2004

Mirror Surprise.  Whoa!  I had no idea I would experience such a surprise today.  Backing out of my garage, which faces north, it went from extremely dark to overwhelmingly bright when the sun from the south hit the mirror.  That caused an incredible electrochromic effect.  The mirror adjusted from incredibly dark green to crystal clear within just a second.  Before that modification, I never got to see that.  It was pretty sweet!

8-21-2004

Electrochromic-Mirror Modification.  That self-adjusting technology is great; however, the actual implementation of it could be a little better.  I've had a few owners mention to me that they wish it would darken a touch more when close headlights hit it at night.  So, today I did something about it.  Understanding how it actually operates made that fairly easy.  There's a light-sensor on front (the mirror side, where the homelink buttons are too) that sees vehicles approaching and responds accordingly.  The brighter the lights, the darker it makes the mirror.  The catch is, it needs to know how dark it is outside in the first place.  Because during the day, everything is extremely bright.  Darkening then is not wanted.  That's where the second light-sensor comes in.  It's on the back.  The darker it is outside, the darker it allows the mirror to become based on the degree the other light-sensor tells it.  In other words, if you cover the one on back entirely, the mirror will think it is the dead of night (totally dark).  Obviously, that's too much.  So I just fabricated something to the effect of sunglasses for it.  I simply taped a piece of transparent blue sheet-plastic over it, without even having to remove the mirror from the windshield.  That works great!  From a distance, headlights at night have no effect on the mirror at all... since it is normally off then anyway.  But as a vehicle gets closer, the mirror activates and automatically grows darker.  And it's not passive like it used to be.  That modification seems to force the electrochromic reaction to be more aggressive.  So the headlights turn a funky greenish-yellow, rather than the subtle change like in the past.  It's pretty sweet!  I highly recommend all owners with that type of mirror give it a try.  Here's a photo showing the modification... photo album 80

8-21-2004

Isn't That Beautiful?  While parked in a quite scenic rural location taking Prius photos, an older couple in a minivan pulled up next to me and stopped.  I approached, turned around with my arm extended in a presentation manner, and exclaimed "Isn't that beautiful?"  The man replied "Sure is!"  I jokingly responded by saying "I meant the car, of course."  And to my surprise, he asserted "So did I !!!"  That wasn't what I had expected.  I honestly thought they were going to comment about the great location I has selected.  Instead, they wanted to ask me about the Prius.  Sweet!

8-21-2004

They Couldn't Resist.  My digital photo taking antics commonly draw attention.  But rarely do the on-lookers ever ask what the heck I'm doing.  At the park today, they couldn't resist.  An entire family went out of their way to walk across the parking lot to have a chat with me.  The unique look of the car had caught their attention, and all the attention I was paying to it with digital photos really got them curious.  So they greeted me with the how I would shed some light on the activity that had just taken place.  I pointed out that the car was a hybrid, currently running on just electricity.  Then I jumped inside demonstrated the silent propulsion.  None of them had any idea such a vehicle existed.  They were amazed!  I was a bit taken aback, not realizing there are some that haven't heard about hybrids yet.  I figured at this point we were now into the "explaining the different types" phase, not "introduction to the concept" still.  Apparently not.  Their excitement made learning that well worth it.  That was fun!

8-21-2004

10W-30 oil.  Why do some dealers use it, despite the fact that 5W-30 is actually recommended?  Answer: Because it saves them money, hence their comment about charging you more 5W-30 if you specifically ask for it.  They just squirt it from big bulk barrels, and have been doing that for decades.  Because no other vehicle (in the world!) offers a Multi-Display with detailed MPG data, it's highly unlikely that anyone would have ever complained about the minor MPG penalty that thicker oil causes.  But with Prius, owners do notice... and complain.  (10W-30 won't harm the engine, but it certainly doesn't make achieving high efficiency easy.)  This is the very same reason they have been careless about the fill level for oil too.  Since no one else has an easy way of noticing the problem, it is highly unlikely anyone other than a Prius owner would ever make a big deal about it.  Toyota wants HSD to become an option available in every vehicle they offer.  That means their mechanics will be providing service for a lot of smart vehicles like Prius.  To be successful, the mechanics have to be properly informed... even if that means owners have to provide the training.  Don't feel bad if you have to tell the mechanic what they need to do.  Just try to avoid doing it in a condescending manner.  They need to learn proper care for HSD somehow, and we all want technologies like HSD to be successful.

8-20-2004

Brake Lights.  They're pretty impressive on the 2004.  I like the effect the LEDs create.  So today on my morning commute, when I pulled in behind a Tideland Prius, I was quite pleased by the sight.  It makes having to stop so much more appealing.  Of course, my favorite color is red.  So seeing it that way is pleasing anyway.

8-20-2004

A word of warning.  I have found it intriguing from time to time to look up myself on a search engine.  As the popularity of Prius grows, so does the list of hits.  Unfortunately, that isn't necessarily a good thing.  Last night, I learned the hard way.  The result of clicking on a unknown link resulted in a flurry of pop-up windows and a few that tried to hide themselves from detection.  Needless to say, I couldn't make heads or tails out of what was happening.  There was simply too much variety all at once.  Literally pulling the plug on my compute would have been the best choice.  I didn't though.  This morning I discovered new links on my computer and a highly suspicious executable file.  The killer though was my dial-up connection.  The username, password, and phone-number had been altered.  Having noticed that, I altered the connection parameters back to the values I have originally setup.  Immediately after testing that, I witnessed those values changing back.  Clearly, my computer had been infected by a virus... despite the fact that my virus definitions were only 10 days old.  Thankfully, I had backed up that entire partition onto DVD just 3 days earlier and I was able to quickly dump a copy of my email onto a CompactFlash card.  So after just a hour, I was up-and-running again as if nothing had happened.  I didn't lose anything.  Phew!  Unfortunately, I fear for my friends interested in Prius now.  My online id has become popular enough to draw attention, giving those with evil intent another way to attack the innocent.  Bummer.

8-20-2004

Winter Driving Questions.  They are beginning again.   But this time, I don't have a whole lot to say, especially about the driving.  It's pretty simple at this point.  I'm look forward to Winter #5 for my Prius experiences.  Here in Minnesota, it is common to get lots of snow.  And it varies quite a bit throughout the cold season, sometimes wet & heavy and other times dry & light.  Depth is never a problem either.  They start plowing long before the roads get too bad.  So the most I've ever had to carve a path through is about 6 inches.  Years #1 & #2 were with the (standard) Potenza tires on my 2001.  They worked just fine.  Year #3 was with the (aftermarket) Allegra tires on my 2001.  They were even better.  Year #4 was with the (standard) Integrity tires on my 2004.  They worked just fine.  But then again, I took full advantage of the "B" mode and the VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) rescued me a few times.  There's the ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and TC (Traction Control) too.  So that's cheating through technology rather than just old-fashion rubber.  Anywho, year #5 will be with (aftermarket) Hydroedge tires on my 2004.  That should be fun!  They are a high-traction design that should definitely provide edge on snow & ice (no pun intended).  So I will most likely end up with an excellent all-season recommendation for people by the time Spring arrives.  On wet & dry roads they work fantastic.  Genuine snow tires are available too.  But I just haven't had the need for them, with any vehicle I've ever owned here.  In fact, I haven't even had the need for the high-traction tires either.  But I thought I'd give these a try anyway, since reduction of normal hydroplaning in the summer is always a plus and owners are always curious about what choices they have available.  This way I'll have firsthand experience to share... and will have fun gathering the data for that!

8-19-2004

Repeating History.  Although it would be better had it not happened again, isn't it amazing getting to witness history repeating itself?  All my life I've heard stories about how the Japanese automakers caught the American automakers totally off guard, where they denied the new vehicle would ever catch on.  Then suddenly, as if overnight, they were the thing to buy.  Their popularity skyrocketed, and Detroit found itself scrambling to catch up.  But by then, it was too late.  The rejection to change had been noticed by everyone.  Believe it or not, the very same thing is occurring as you read this.  I had no idea that was possible.  Shouldn't we have learned from our mistakes?  How's that saying go: "Fool me once..."

8-19-2004

Ever Changing Story.  I'm really getting tired of the stories GM is feeding us.  A few years ago, they totally condemned hybrids claiming they were nothing but a "stop gap" fix.  Then exactly one year later, they announced they wouldn't only be supporting hybrids but that they would also be the first automaker to delivery one million of them.  They even got specific, stating that would be in 2007 and the year before their Saturn Vue would be offered as a full hybrid.  Then the story changed, again.  Last year they downgraded the Vue to just an assist hybrid.  Now, once again, the situation worsens.  Their not-really-a-hybrid Silverado, that offers a 0 MPG (yes, zero) improvement on the highway, will only be available next year in 6 states.  That's it!  It makes me discount their credibility to "disappointing" at best.  Supposedly, they will be improving that 0 MPG later by introducing a cylinder reduction feature.  But I won't believe it until I see it.  And I won't believe the improvement until I see actual real-world data.  Whatever the case, it still doesn't count as a hybrid.  No propulsion is provided by an electric motor at all.  All they are doing is refining the engine-only design.  I wonder if the story will change again.  Hmm?

8-18-2004

EPA Trouble.  It's hitting the fan now!  At first, the controversy was just about hybrid ratings.  Now people are discovering the ratings for traditional vehicles are very misleading too, not at all representative of what to expect from real-world driving.  Imagine if automakers would have put MPG displays in vehicles decades ago.  People would have revolted long before after having learned the value they see isn't close to what the EPA value stated on the window-sticker.  Too bad more people don't read the words below those big numbers.  They clue you in that actual performance varies significantly.  And the detail the EPA provides online explains it all, pointing out that efficiency tests are performed under ideal temperatures and at much slower speeds than people really drive and with summer-formula gas and without the A/C and without ever having to deal with stop & slow traffic.  Needless to say, some owners know now; and they are not happy.  Having been mislead all these years is very upsetting.  I wonder what the heck will happen.  This is obviously a fantastic development for hybrids.  Hmm?

8-18-2004

Creating Jobs.  An article published today stated the reason for such a limited supply of hybrids from Ford initially, the production capacity they need isn't available locally (in the United States).  That conflicts directly with what our current administration has been claiming.  They say jobs will be lost as a result of the success of hybrids.  Ford is eluding to the extreme opposite.  Not having what we need here is the sound of opportunity knocking.  It provides us with the chance to create brand new jobs for the new need... ones that wouldn't have been available if it wasn't for hybrids.  I'm tired of politics using scare tactics, feeding on our sense of fear to prevent change.  Hybrids are a good thing.  Don't let them trick you into thinking otherwise.  Their "facts" just don't add up.

8-17-2004

Website Card.  Time for a new one.  And since I wasn't looking for a Winter photo, I decided to hunt through my collection of photos not published yet... something from this Spring.  (I wonder how long it will take me to catch up on my album backlog.)  Anywho, I really like the one I found.  Hope you do too.  As for the data on the card, filling up at 18,888 miles was an amazing coincidence.  It was time to get gas and that just happened to be what the odometer read exactly as I was passing the gas station I always stop at.  Really.  The reason I decided it was time for a new card was this particular tank put me into new territory for a Lifetime MPG value: 49!  So I really pleased, especially since it took much longer than expected due to the new tires.  Oh well.  Perhaps I'll reach a 50 MPG average before the cold season begins.  Here's the card I made... website card 9

 

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