How the Web quells innovation

Posted on January 27th, 2007 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

One aspect of the Web which is seldom acknowledged is that it can stifle creativity and development. Huh? But isn’t the Web a place that encourages self-expression, allowing free reign of ideas that were once suppressed? Well, kind of. The trouble is that anyone with an innovative approach (that is, by definition one that has not been widely adopted previously) is likely to be ridiculed for it; to be told that it won’t work.

I’ve seen this happen in car modification many times, and in fact twice just this week.

Both were in discussion groups: that frequent scourge of progress. The first was in a Porsche discussion group. As I have said before, I don’t regularly read many discussion groups but I still get to see a lot by reading the AutoSpeed referrers’ listing. This listing shows the web pages that readers of our articles have come from – and these are often discussion groups. Someone in the Porsche group referenced one of our articles on the over-boost canister (see Killing Wastegate Creep) and asked if this would work on Porsches.

All the answers were negative: nope, it wouldn’t work; it was just like another type of boost control; it would cause boost spikes (duh!); it was of no benefit. Firstly, few if any of the respondents had actually read the article in any detail. Secondly, none (not one!) understood the purpose of the approach. And thirdly, the use of an over-boost canister will of course work on any turbo car – and its affect can be easily adjusted to suit personal preference or turbo/engine characteristics.

But the original poster gained from the group responses the idea that the approach was of no benefit.

A Rocky trip

Posted on January 13th, 2007 in Economy,Honda,Hybrid Power,Opinion by Julian Edgar

I write this after completing two 750-kilometre drives, each done in a day. The occasion was the wedding of some friends, and the location was the Rydges resort at Yeppoon, on the coast near Rockhampton in Queensland. My wife and son flew up from the Gold Coast where we live; I decided to drive.

The car was my 1-litre, three cylinder hybrid Honda Insight. But isn’t that a long drive for a little car? Perhaps – but so what? There’s plenty of cabin space (in fact, with the seat adjusted correctly, my left foot can barely reach the firewall) and I don’t have any problems with driving a low-powered car on the open road. In this era of very powerful base model Australian cars, people tend to forget that safety on the highway is much more dependent on driving skill than the acceleration available under the right foot. I didn’t have any problems overtaking a few semi-trailers or climbing hills at the speed limit – and I saw lots of very powerful cars that had near misses, simply through appalling driving.

The only changes I made to the car for the trip were to inflate the tyres to 37 psi (hot) and fill the tank with 98 octane fuel. I think as a result of one or both of these, fuel economy was even better than standard. Well, it would have been if I hadn’t run the air con for about 80 per cent of the time….

After resetting the trip computer fuel economy display at home, my first stop (the petrol station to fill the tank) showed a fuel economy of 2.2 litres/100km (most of the trip to the petrol station is downhill), followed by 2.7 litres/100km at the Gateway Bridge and 3.2 litres/100km at Gympie. Following that, I turned on the air and the road also became hillier: the consumption average then steadily rose to 3.5 litres/100km where it stayed for the rest of the trip, including the full return journey.

As I have said many times before of this car: that’s world’s best fuel economy.