The Ergosphere
Saturday, August 22, 2009

Evading Yahoo's irritating demands

I have what I believe is a way to get around the Yahoo Mail redirect which demands personal information for the password recovery. It is a simple process:
  1. Delete Yahoo cookies.
  2. Go to the Mail login page.
  3. Delete Yahoo cookies again.
Then enter user name and password as normal. This appears to go straight to the Mail page and I haven't been redirected yet.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dammit, Yahoo, can't you take a hint?

Aside from the total capitulation of the core of the business to Microsoft, Yahoo's fate appears to be sealed by the fact that they Just Don't Get It.

Take this impertinent quiz forced onto unwilling Yahoo! Mail users.  It asks a bunch of personal questions so that someone can get into the e-mail account.  Excuse me, but isn't that what the password is for?  What if somebody doesn't want to allow this backdoor method of access to their email account?  After all, it has been exploited against people before (notably including Sarah Palin).  Why should anyone be FORCED to allow social-engineering attacks against the security of their private data?  And why, oh why do you pester and bully people who obviously DO NOT WANT this mis-feature by redirecting them instead of just letting them log in and go about their business?  (With all the screwups in your "New, Improved" mail system, you'd think you had better things to do.)

Look, Yahoo!, I'm not asking for much.  All I want is for you to take this thing and NOT ASK ME ABOUT IT AGAIN.  If I want the "feature", you can put it someplace where I can find it.  Just let me log in on the first attempt and quit the bullying to answer personal questions you have no business asking, or I may be forced to take out an address someplace else.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

EPA economy ratings vs. the GM Volt: A square peg in a round hole

What a difference a number makes.

The projected EPA economy rating of the GM Volt has set off a storm of criticism across the Internet.  While a number of blogs played the story straight (1, 2), the Good Math blog attacked it as nonsense, which got picked up by Reddit.  Critics say that the actual fuel economy seen by drivers could be as low as 50 MPG, or as high as infinity.  So who's right?

Basically, they all are.  The EPA city-cycle measures the Volt's characteristics about as well as a square peg fits a round hole.  In this mess, the number you get depends how you trim the test to fit the car.

Green Car Congress gave a rather straightforward analysis:

Based on the same draft EPA methodology, the Volt would also deliver “triple-digit” combined cycle fuel economy along with combined cycle electricity consumption of 25 kWh/100 miles, according to GM. At the US average cost of electricity (approximately 11 cents per kWh), GM calculates that a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than three cents per mile.
From the data we’ve seen, many Chevy Volt drivers might be able to be in pure electric mode on a daily basis without having to use virtually any gas. EPA labels are a yardstick for customers to compare a vehicles’ fuel efficiency. So, a vehicle like the Volt that achieves a combined triple-digit fuel economy is a game-changer...The key to high-mileage performance is for a Volt driver to plug into the electric grid at least once each day.
—GM CEO Fritz Henderson

Since it's obvious that almost nobody would get that 230 MPG figure, or even ±10% of this value, it's worth asking:  what does the prospective Volt buyer need to know?  Off the top of my head, I can think of this:

  1. How much electricity they would use.
  2. How often they'd have to visit the gas station
    • using gasoline
    • using E-85
  3. Whether plugging in at work, or forgetting to plug in at night, would change those numbers substantially.
  4. Whether there are any electric rate plans which would make the car significantly cheaper to own.
  5. The overall monthly cost at various fuel prices and electric rates.
  6. Comparison with other makes and models.

This doesn't call for a flamewar.  This calls for an on-line calculator, perhaps integrated with a mapping service which can project energy consumption on the typical commute, errands such as shopping, and trip to the relatives or the beach.  But without adjusting for lead feet and hyper-milers, would anyone still get within 10%?  The battle over the numbers does not look to end any time soon.

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