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Andrew Pollock


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Saturday, 24 June 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Tonight Sarah and I went to see An Inconvenient Truth.

It was, as expected, quite similar to the talk that Al Gore gave when he visited Google.

From what I can figure out from IMDb, it doesn't look like this movie has been screened across the whole US, it's only had a fairly art-house screening outside of California. That's a bit of a shame really. It also doesn't look like it's going to get a mainstream screening in Australia either. Granted, it's largely aimed at giving America a wake-up call, and according to Gore, Australia only contributes 1.1% to the world's CO2 levels, but it's still worth seeing.

I'm curious as to how many non-Democrat inclined (i.e. Republican) Americans have gone to see it. I don't know if they wouldn't hear the message because of who was delivering it, or whether they'd still go along to give it a fair hearing.

It's certainly interesting to see the number of "make you think" movies coming out. (Fahrenheit 9/11, Thankyou For Smoking, and we saw a trailer for Who Killed the Electric Car? tonight). Good to see.

The word on the street is that Gore is going to run for President again in the 2008 Presidential elections, off the back of this movie. It makes me wonder if we're going to see a new political lobbying vector, where future Presidential candidates pitch themselves at the American public via the movie theatre...

I certainly don't think it's a bad thing if this movie thrusts the environment fairly and squarely onto the candidates' political agendas.

[22:43] [life] [permalink]

Voiding the warranty for fun and profit

A bunch of us Prius owners at work did a bulk purchase of the Coastal Electronic Technologies EV-only "hack".

It's not so much a hack as providing an interface to a feature that already exists in the car and has an interface in European and Asian models.

Anyway, on Friday afternoon, there was a small install fest in the car park, and I installed it in our car, under the guidance of master Prius modder, Thunder.

It was a fairly straightforward operation, albeit a bit fiddly. Apparently the cables were a bit shorter on our car, which made it all a bit more fiddly. You basically have to stick two vampire taps around existing cables, and connect in the module that comes from Coastal to the vampire taps, and you're done. The bulk of the work is just fiddling around dismantling a bit of the dash on the passenger side, and trying to disconnect a block of cables so you can fit the vampire taps (and then fitting the vampire taps) and the reverse the put everything back the way it was.

The other mod that I'm slightly curious about is the BT Tech Chassis, but it's a bit more more expensive, and I can't quite appreciate what it's going to do for us, so I'm not quite ready to race out and buy one.

Oh, and hopefully the warranty isn't really voided, it's not externally obvious that the EV hack is installed.

[01:07] [tech] [permalink]

I am finally a card-carrying, socially-secure alien

The other exciting thing that happened on Thursday is my Social Security card arrived. It's only taken me something like 7 months. Mind you, it's around 4 weeks since I applied for it the second time, so if it only took that long for Social Security to get their blasted secondary verification from the Department of Immigration, I'd love to know why I'm soon going to need my third temporary 120-day drivers licence from the DMV...

[00:55] [life/americania] [permalink]

Google Engineering Offsite 2006

So I went to my very first (and apparently the last ever in this format) Engineering Offsite on Thursday.

I somewhat foolishly, chose to cycle to it, rather than taking a bus, but that probably helped make it more memorable.

I was fairly stuffed afterwards, and so I didn't do a hell of a lot once I got there. I went on three of the rides back to back (the steel rollercoaster, the crusty old rickety wooden rollercoaster, and the Fireball, a nasty spinning, swing you side-to-side thing). In hindsight, that wasn't such a brilliant idea, as I spent the bus ride home feeling rather bilious indeed.

[00:49] [work] [permalink]

Biggest. Ride. Ever.

Yesterday I cycled from Mountain View to Santa Cruz. 50 miles (80 kilometres).

Why? Google had its annual Engineering off-site, and there were a bunch of people riding. One ride was a "no rider left behind" one, so I figured I'd give it a go.

We left Mountain View at about 6:50am, and 5 and a half hours later we finally arrived at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Man it was tough. I now have a much greater appreciation for the ride to Kosciusko that Sarah did, that one time, at band camp.

I was really grateful for the use of Sarah's 2 litre Camelbak, and even then I was amazed at how fast I ran out water. And steam.

Did I mention it was a tough ride?

One of the highlights of the ride was the fact that Alan Eustace came on it. Here you've got one of the Senior Vice Presidents of the company coming along with the mere mortals. Early on in the ride, one of the riders got a flat tyre, and he changed it for her. He changes a mean tyre. When we reached the summit of whatever mountain it was we were toiling to cross, we came upon a store, and had a breather. He shouted everyone whatever they needed from the store to keep going. That was really nice.

I was also really grateful to Richard, who saw me struggling at one point, and gave me a Power Bar to help keep me going. I really appreciated that. Just goes to show that eating only a banana for breakfast before embarking on a ride like this isn't such a good idea.

The other highlight was the downhill coast once we got over the mountain. That was pretty sweet. Made me glad I was taking the bus back again, and not having to cycle back up it.

Other than a lack of water and a lack of breakfast, I pulled up pretty well. I think I sat around for about an hour after arriving at Santa Cruz feeling pretty stuffed, but I didn't get any cramps or anything, and I cycled to work as usual the next day. I've got some funky sunburn on the backs of my hands where there's a hole in my cycling gloves.

Would I do it again next year? Dunno. Maybe if I've improved my fitness some more, and maybe if it's on a road bike rather than a mountain bike.

[00:41] [life/mtb] [permalink]