Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thoughts from road-tripping

I've decided to try to get back into the business of blogging, but I'm mostly going to limit myself to bitching about things, because I don't really have the patience to write anything in-depth.

So, for today, I have two thoughts from road-tripping to ProgPower XV, and an additional thought related to my drive home from the gym tonight:

  1. I want the climate control system in my car to be smarter. To be fair, it's already much better than the old style in which you slide a thermostat labelled only with red and blue, and not connected to any actual temperature, and set a blower speed explicitly, and have to constantly adjust them whenever conditions change in the slightest so you can avoid burning up or freezing. At least my car lets me set a specific temperature by degree, which the car attempts to maintain for each of the two zones.

    The problem is that this isn't quite what I want. Humans don't feel temperature directly so much as heat gain or loss. What I really want from A/C is for the car to detect how much my body is warming up, and where, and direct more or less cold air to each spot (and I also want air-conditioned seats, but that's another issue). When I am driving into the sun, for instance, I'm going to feel a lot hotter than if I'm driving at night, even if the ambient temperature within the cabin is the same in both situations. What I'm forced to do now is to turn the temperature down (or hit "Max") when the sun is beating down on me, and then switch it back when the sun disappears behind the clouds.

    (First world problems.)
  2. When you are traveling 15 mph, you do not need to leave 10 car lengths between you and the car in front of you: I assure you, if that car comes to a sudden stop, even 1½ car lengths is more space than you actually need to stop safely so long as you are paying attention. This comes into play mainly at left turn arrows, where instead of the 15 cars that could make it through before the light turns red, only 4 do.
  3. Related to point 2, some will object that you don't want to be caught in the intersection if there turns out not to be space on the receiving road before the light turns red. And it's a good objection: instead of one constraint (maintaining something close to the minimum safe distance between cars), there are now two (also making sure there is space for you on the other side of the intersection before proceeding into it). I will politely suggest that if you cannot juggle two simultaneous constraints on safe and respectful movement of your vehicle, then perhaps it would be best if you were to leave the driving to other people.

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