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Andrew Pollock


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Thursday, 02 March 2006

Is MSN's crawler really this dumb?

I was having a quick glance over the most recent weekly HTTP download report for mirror.linux.org.au, and to my surprise the top downloader in terms of bytes was msnbot.msn.com, at 5.2G. Five gigabytes in a week!?

GoogleBots are the highest and third-highest downloaders in terms of requests, but only the highest one ranks in the top 10 downloaders by volume, in at number four with a paltry 613M. Seems like they know about the HEAD request. They might even know how to do an If-Modified-Since request. Whatever next?

[23:02] [tech] [permalink]

Why we bought a Prius

Fortune magazine's written an interesting article on the birth of the Prius.

There were some interesting quotes in the article, like this one from Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan:

"Some of our competitors say they are doing things for the benefit of humanity," he says. "Well, we are in business, and we have a mission of creating value."

That just smacks of capitalist greed if ever I heard it. I mean, what this guy's effectively saying is "Fuck the planet at all costs, shareholder value reigns supreme". I wonder how the shareholders might feel about that when the next hurricane Katrina wipes them off the map?

Anyway, why did we by a Prius?

Well, originally, a Prius in the US looked cheaper than one in Australia, however after we were forced to buy one with the more higher-priced options (with a lot of options we didn't particularly want) just to get the options we wanted, and on-road costs, I think it works out much of a muchness, price-wise, when you take into account the exchange rate.

So cost (compared to Australia) wasn't a big part of the decision in the end. The main reasons (for me) were:

  • an environmentally conscious purchase in a country that likes to guzzle gas like it's going out of fashion
  • a US Federal Government tax credit
  • the ability to drive in commuter lanes with only the driver in the car (normally you're required to have 2 or more in the car)
  • a bonus from Google (to help defray the premium of buying a hybrid over a conventional gas guzzler)

In California at least, these things are selling like hotcakes for the above reasons. The Prius is the iPod of cars at the moment.

The fact that we get reduced fuel consumption/better fuel efficiency is a really just a bonus. Petrol prices in the US are already a lot cheaper than in Australia. We filled up the (11 gallon/41 litre) tank today at $2.439/gallon (or about AUD $0.85/litre), and we're getting around 45 miles per gallon at the moment. Petrol in Australia is up around the AUD $1.20/litre at the moment, I'm told.

The other thing that makes the Prius cool is that it really is a geek's car. It has an engine management system that doesn't try to hide itself. It's got a very obvious computer in the middle of the dash with a touch screen. It screams hack me!. Third-party mods already exist (if only I could get the temperature to display in Celsius).

Sarah was initially fairly apprehensive about getting the car because of the initial cost, given the timing of it with all the other expenses of moving. It was pretty tight, but she really loves the car too, and we managed to scrape by. She was concerned about its fuel efficiency for highway driving, because reports had said that it was more efficient in start/stop city driving than on the highway, but as we discovered from our trip to Phoenix, the car did really well. I think we spent about $60 in fuel for the entire trip.

The fact that the cost saving in fuel doesn't necessarily recoup the extra premium paid for getting a hybrid is a total non-issue (to me). The fact that a hybrid isn't insanely more expensive than a conventional car makes it a justifiable expense on the grounds of environmental sensitivity. These cars are only going to get more affordable and more mainstream if people buy them.

[21:56] [opinion] [permalink]