AWD and Winter Driving

Last week I wrote about how winter tires will make any vehicle good for winter driving. A reader wrote in noting that I was quite dismissive of the benefits of All Wheel Drive (AWD) in winter and that a vehicle with AWD is objectively better if it has winter tires. He’s correct; however, I understated the benefits for a few reasons. In this follow-up post, I want to go over the benefits of AWD in winter driving, and then explain why I understated those benefits in my initial post.

Continue reading AWD and Winter Driving

The Best Vehicle for Winter Driving

Over the course of winters past, I’ve been asked numerous times by acquaintances, friends and family whether a certain vehicle would be a good choice for driving winter roads. I want to cover the topic once and for-all with this post. I will go over what makes a vehicle good for winter driving and then go into detail about what makes winter tires different from all-season or summer tires.

Continue reading The Best Vehicle for Winter Driving

Identity Theft, Credit Reports, and You

Patrick McKenzie, someone passionate about credit reports and the industry, has some good advice in light of the recent Equifax leak:

You should never call a CRA, ever. They have phone centers staffed with people whose only job is getting you off the phone. They have very limited availability to help, for the same reason that the phone center for Walmart does not have anyone who can help a shoe. You will deal with CRAs only in writing.

And:

Banks deal with lots of angry people, and are optimized to treat this like a customer service problem. Some do better and some do worse at this, but you never want identity theft treated like a customer service problem. Their CS department is scored on number of tickets resolved per hour, and each rep’s incentives are simply to classify you as something requiring no followup and get you off the phone.

Instead, you want to communicate with the bank in a manner which suggests that you’re an organized professional who is capable of escalating the matter if the bank does not handle it themselves. You do not yell – not that you’re ever verbally speaking with anyone, but you wouldn’t yell in a letter, either. You do not bluster. (“I will tell on you to my attorney” is, generally, bluster, and that’s bluster that is common to people who do not actually have attorneys.) You instead present as if you’re collecting a paper trail.

Actually, that last bit is great advice if you need to handle any problem with any company. Acting professional will get you much further than not.

Public Service Announcement: You Should Not Force Quit Apps on iOS or Android

John Gruber at Daring Fireball has the definitive post on why you shouldn't force quit apps on your iOS device (double-pressing the home button and swiping them away):

The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.

That’s not how iOS works. …[U]nfreezing a frozen app takes up way less CPU (and energy) than relaunching an app that had been force quit. Not only does force quitting your apps not help, it actually hurts. Your battery life will be worse and it will take much longer to switch apps if you force quit apps in the background.

The only reason you should force quit an app is if it is misbehaving, such as not responding. All of this reasoning and advice applies equally to Android, which operates in a similar way.

If you force quit apps to keep the app-switcher clean, know that you are hurting your phone's battery life and your experience. At the time of writing there is no alternative way to keep the app switcher clean.

What Football Will Look Like in the Future

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I highly recommend reading this story put out by SB Nation about what football will look like in the future.

It looks at the future of football…in the year 17776. Very creatively written and presents a number of philosophical ideas about the future of humanity. It also presents a future for humanity I hadn’t considered before.

Forewarning: it’s long (25 chapters), so I recommend reading it over a number of days. It was originally released one chapter per day.

Found via Daring Fireball.

Put down that cellphone; distracted-driving law is here

A new distracted driving law has come into effect in Washington state, making cell-phone, or any other electronic, use while driving a primary offense (meaning you can be pulled over for it). If you drive in Washington state, take note if you've been using your phone while driving.

The Seattle Times has all of the details, but here are the key points:

Q. What is banned?

The law forbids all handheld uses. Not just phone calls, but composing or reading any kind of message, social media post, photograph or data.

Drivers may not use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.

All video watching is illegal, even in a dashboard or dash-mounted device.

This is fantastic. If you are having to hold your device in order to do something, you shouldn't be driving at the same time (including stopped at a light, where people inevitably don't see the light turn green).

Q. What's legal?

Common built-in electronics, including hands-free phones, satellite music and maps, are legal.

Drivers may even turn on a smartphone that's mounted in a dashboard cradle, for limited purposes such as navigation apps, a voice-activated call, or music streaming. The new law allows the "minimal use of a finger."

Handheld phone calls to 911 or other emergency services are legal. […] Amateur radio equipment and citizens-band radio remain legal.

This is where this law shines. It recognizes that for many people, including myself, their cell-phone is their car's entertainment system. By allowing for "minimal use of a finger", my phone can be my music and navigation center, as long as it's dash-mounted.`This use is similar to someone using the factory entertainment system in their car, which has been legal since cars have had them.

I do question how enforceable this law is, but at worst it is a step in the right direction. We will see over time how effective it is.

Introducing “Mixer”

 

Congratulation to everyone on the Beam Mixer team for the rebrand and all of the new features launching today! Go check it out.

If you haven’t heard of Mixer before, I’ll let one of the co-founders, Matt, explain on the Xbox blog:

Mixer is livestreaming that’s actually LIVE, compared to the 10 – 20 second latency you typically get on other platforms. What’s more, viewers can actively participate in what’s happening on screen instead of just watching from the sidelines. With Mixer, you can influence everything from quest selection to tools to movement, mixing it up with your favorite streamers to create a new kind of gaming experience. The Minecraft team is experimenting with the interactivity that Mixer offers as a possibility for official game integration. And, some Minecraft community members have already created interactive experiences using this technology that allow viewers to do things like spawn in zombies or change the weather.

There’s tons of cool changes coming, including co-streaming, enabling “up to 4 streamers can combine their streams into a single viewer experience”; Mixer Create beta, “a new mobile app that enables self-broadcasting”; and Channel One, an always-on, moderated channel of content that lets you see what’s happening across Mixer.”

I’m working on the Mixer apps for iOS and Android, and can’t wait to help bring new features to the community.

iOS Storyboards Tutorial

I’m starting to learn iOS app development, so I wanted to learn the basics of the latest and greatest for iOS UI development: Storyboards. A quick search online lead me to this great tutorial at raywenderlich.com.

I found it was short, to the point and covered the basics well. It got me introduced to the interface in XCode and the primary concepts of Storyboards. I would recommend it if you’re jumping into iOS development.

Federal government to test ‘name-blind’ recruiting process

The CBC:

The pilot program will involve six of the government’s biggest departments: National Defence; Global Affairs Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

The project, which will hide applicants’ names from hiring managers during the initial screening process, will compare the results with outcomes from traditional applicant shortlisting. Brison said research has shown that English-speaking employers are 40 per cent more likely to pick candidates with an English or anglicized name than an ethnic one.

Credit to the Canadian government for this initiative. Usually changes like this start in the private, not public, sector. I hope the CBC follows-up with the results of this trial, as I think they will be illuminating.

It’s worth remembering that even if this is successful, name-blind recruiting isn’t a silver bullet when it comes to fighting discrimination in hiring. Once selected for an interview, a candidate still has to make it through an in-person interview where their minority status will inevitably be revealed.