Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Pretentious Rolls-Royce Designer Explains Why American Cars Are So Uncool Unlike Awesome European Cars

Man, American cars. They’re so uncool and lame and stuff, am I right? They don’t have good designs or performance like sweet sexy expensive cars from Europe. Europe is a place where people are more sophisticated and so their cars must be better, obviously.

If you really couldn’t tell, that was sarcasm. I’m of the opinion that when they put their minds to it, the U.S. brands can make cars as good as or better than anyone else in the world. But there still seems to be a ton of bias against American cars, and that’s kind of unfortunate.

Take Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor, who was asked by a Forbes reporter at the New York Auto Show why the U.S. doesn’t have competitive designs.

Frankly, I take umbrage at the premise of this reporter’s question. She asks Taylor this:

"I have seen very few cars in recent decades come from the United States that are competitive on design with cars from Europe and Asia. Why do you think that is? Is it lack of money? Is it lack of brain power? Basically I’m asking why can’t the United States make cars that look cool?"

Whoa, whoa, whoa. There are "very few" American cars that look cool in "recent decades?" Car design is always a subjective thing, but what the hell? I can think of a ton of great-looking American cars as of late, like 2014 CTS and the rest of the "art and science" Cadillacs, the new Camaro and Mustang, the Charger and Challenger, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the SRT Viper.

And how far back does "recent decades" go? Are we talking about the 50s, 60s and (at least part of) the 70s too? You’ll lose that argument so fast it will make your head spin.

I don’t care for the question. Here’s Taylor’s answer:

I know what you’re saying. I think there’s a pedigree and a heritage of European design which goes back to not only Rolls-Royce and Bentley but let’s say Jaguar as well where there was a fusion of engineering: The first companies were generally small, so the actual teams were smaller, and what you’ll find is that the design team worked closely with the engineering team to get proportions–A-pillar to front wheel–and the overall integrity of the proportions and the stance of the car was a more naturally attractive proposition.

He says the Euro brands like Rolls, Jag and Bentley have more of a "heritage" to their design because they started out smaller. I hate to break it to you, friend, but American cars have plenty of "heritage" too, and all three of those brands you mentioned — including Aston Martin as well — have had designs that are derivative at best or total duds at worst.

By the way, some of those brands have been cranking out cars that look pretty much the same for a while now. Jaguar is finally starting to branch out a bit with cars like the F-Type and the new XJ.

Taylor also says that part of the reason American designs don’t hold up is because U.S. car companies are volume builders and thus have to make too many compromises.

If I go to some of the American brands, you may find that there’s some models for cool design but ultimately the proportions are awkward because they base it off a Mazda platform because Ford owns Mazda. Or in terms of actually giving them bang for the buck globally they’re going to put [the new design on existing platforms] at Mercury, Lincoln, Ford or even in the past Jaguar. And I spent 14 years at Jaguar suffering from that.

Since he’s a veteran of Jaguar I don’t doubt Taylor knows what he’s talking about. That Ford didn’t put much money and R&D into Jag and Land Rover is a criticism I have heard before. But European brands are volume-builders too; just look at Volkswagen. It’s not like everything they design looks like it was handed down from God himself.

This isn’t to say that American designs are better than European ones or vice versa. I just don’t think it’s fair to make such a blanket statement.

What do you think of his remarks? Do the Europeans always do design better or does America hold its own?

Hat tip to Creative Accidents!

Weird Science thinks seven sexes is enough for anybody

Dance of the seven veils sexes. Tetrahymena is a single-celled organism that looks a bit like a microscopic ball of fuzz, since it’s covered with cilia. Despite its unshaven appearance, the cells can mate, although they’ll also simply divide asexually if there’s nobody around. (A Weird Science Fact: Tetrahymena has a set of chromosomes they carry around that are reserved for having sex. The rest of the time, a completely different set help run the cell.) Of course, that creates a problem: as soon as they divide, there is somebody around, but mating with a cell that’s genetically identical is a bit of a waste of time. So, the organism uses something akin to sexes to avoid this. If it divides, the two cells that result will be the same sex, and can’t mate.

All very sensible, until you get to one tiny detail: for no obvious reason, Tetrahymena have decided they need seven sexes. The new paper figures out how that actually works. In the chromosomes used for mating, they have a set of seven inactive half-genes, located next to a different half gene that will ensure that the protein made from it ends up on the cell’s surface. When mating occurs, one of the set of seven is selected at random, linked up to the other half, and converted into a functional gene. When the gene product is on the cell’s surface, that cell will not be able to mate with any other cell that has the same arrangement.

Now we’ll need an extra set of lasers. If you were to happen across this two-headed shark foetus, what would your first thought be? If you were a biologist, it would apparently be “I wonder if this is a case of the fusion of twin shark embryos, or if this is really a single embryo with two heads?” Fortunately, said biologists now have an answer: one shark, two heads.

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Swish Navigates SFTP Connections in Windows Explorer

Swish Navigates SFTP Connections in Windows Explorer Windows: Opening up a dedicated FTP client just to find a file or two is a pain. Swish integrates your SFTP connections directly into Windows Explorer to save you the trouble.

Swish will install as a Windows Explorer extension and show up as a mounted drive on your system. Within this drive, you can add SFTP connections, and navigate them within Explorer. You’ll need to put in your password the first time you connect, but it will save it thereafter to make navigation even faster.

Unfortunately, Swish only works with SFTP connections, not FTP, WebDAV, or cloud storage services like most FTP clients support. If that’s all you need though, this will essentially replace any need you have for a standalone client.

Swish (Free) via MakeUseOf

The Earth-Shattering DDoS That Wasn’t, Bill Gates’ Condom Challenge, Photoshop Jedi, And More

While there may not have actually been a Internet-threatening DDoS this week, there’s plenty more to catch up on. We’ve got soda-stealin’ tips, two flavors of photoshop magic, the reason you’ll wind up with a smart watch, Bill Gates’ condom plans, and all the people who suddenly owe Google $1,500. Check it all out below. More »


Whoa, Watch Magnetic Putty Completely Swallow a Rare-Earth Magnet Like a Mutant Monster

Think Silly Putty is just fun and games? Not always! Just watch this magnetic putty completely devour a rare-earth magnet. It’s not as instantaneous as this time-lapse video makes it seem but it still ends up engulfing the entire magnet. More »


Capsule Review: Logitech’s G100s, G500s, and G700s Gaming Mice

The dirty secret of gaming peripherals is that if they're good quality products in general, they're often going to be head and shoulders above hardware marketed toward the regular consumer. For whatever reason, high rent keyboards and mice just aren't marketed to consumers who'll often settle on an inexpensive wireless mouse and keyboard combination. This was strangely evident in Logitech's pre-G-branding era, and while the G branding is ultimately a good thing, some users are liable to miss out on some fantastic quality kit.

Capsule Review: Logitech’s G100s, G500s, and G700s Gaming Mice

The dirty secret of gaming peripherals is that if they're good quality products in general, they're often going to be head and shoulders above hardware marketed toward the regular consumer. For whatever reason, high rent keyboards and mice just aren't marketed to consumers who'll often settle on an inexpensive wireless mouse and keyboard combination. This was strangely evident in Logitech's pre-G-branding era, and while the G branding is ultimately a good thing, some users are liable to miss out on some fantastic quality kit.

Dunk City!

Dunk City!

Get to Know the DIY Project All Star Tools This Weekend

Get to Know the DIY Project All Star Tools This WeekendWe write about a wide variety of DIY projects, and through that process a few common tools and relevant skills surface that make so many of them possible. This weekend, get to know these all-star tools and the amazing DIY projects they can produce.

Soldering

Get to Know the DIY Project All Star Tools This WeekendOf all the DIY skills you can learn, you need to know how to solder to tackle many of the electronic DIY projects you’ll come across online. Fortunately, this little comic can teach you the basics. If you need a little more information, this introduction to soldering should do the trick. Just grab yourself a soldering kit and you can tackle fun projects like these:

Those are just a few examples. Soldering opens up several opportunities so you’ll be able to handle quite a few additional DIY projects after learning how.

Sugru

Get to Know the DIY Project All Star Tools This WeekendLike play-dough for adults, Sugru is a quick-drying rubber that helps you solve problems, fix broken stuff, and create plenty of other things. Here are a few examples to get you started:

For more, be sure to check out our sugru tag page.

Arduino

Get to Know the DIY Project All Star Tools This WeekendWhen you want to make your own electronics, you turn to Arduino. It’s just a $20 board, but you can make all sorts of interesting things with other people’s code (of course, you can learn to write your own, too). Once you’ve got a board, you can create fun projects like these:

For more Arduino-based projects, check out our Arduino tag pages.

Raspberry Pi

Get to Know the DIY Project All Star Tools This WeekendAlthough a bit of a newcomer, the Raspberry Pi already has an incredible force behind it. The little board packs so much power into a small space, you can do some pretty incredible things. If you’re new to the Raspberry Pi (or need help finding a board), check out our getting started guide. It’ll teach you to set up your board and install Raspbian, the standard operating system for the Raspberry Pi. From there, you can tackle a bunch of other awesome projects like these:

If that’s not enough, here are ten more awesome projects to try.

Have a great weekend!

How Many Peeps and Cadbury Easter Eggs Can a 50 Cal Rifle Shoot Through?

You probably never wondered this before but the Internet is always about answering questions you never knew you had. Like, how many Peeps and Cadbury Easter Eggs can a 50 cal rifle shoot through? Rated R on YouTube decided to give it a try and blasted through your favorite Easter treats so you don’t have to. More »