Winter Magic

The Horseshoe Falls in winterA lamppost by the falls encrusted in ice

If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls you should try to go, they’re incredible. If you’ve been but never in the winter you should try to go back in the winter. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before and if you are in the area it is well worth the trip.

Last weekend when I was in Toronto I took the time to drive down to Niagara Falls and see them again. I was blown away by the ice. It seems that the mist from the falls freezes on everything. There were tiny branches, less than half an inch thick, that had three or four inches of ice on them! Even the lampposts were covered.

Again I forgot my camera so these photos are from my phone, and I had the phone set to a small image size, but hopefully these photos will convince you to go see the falls in winter.

2007 Dodge Magnum

2007 Dodge Magnum XSTOver the weekend I took a little trip to Toronto and Niagara Falls. To get there I rented a car, (pictured right, it was cheaper than the train). The photos aren’t that great, I forgot my camera so had to make do with my phone. After reserving the smallest car possible online with Hertz I showed up and was told that the smallest they had in was a Dodge Magnum. That’s like a free upgrade to business class on the plane!

Once I had my great car I took the weekend to enjoy it, and the pleasures of Toronto and Niagra Falls. While driving though, I noticed several things about the Dodge Magnum that I would do differently and thought that this car is an excellent example of real-world design, (as opposed to the web-world of design I usually am immersed in), but had a few things that could be changed.

What I like

If you’ve seen a Magnum you probably already know the good. This car looks awesome. Whoever came up with the look of this car is a genius. They’ve taken a station wagon and made it really cool. My neighbours and girlfriend thought it looked like a mini-limo. The car looks fast, powerful, and aggressive.

The interior is great too. It’s spacious and has lots of storage space. My SXT, (not the top-end model), had a pretty decent sound system as well, and I could hook up my iPod to it.

Even though the SXT’s 250 horsepowerful engine is much less powerful than the top of the line HEMIs it provides enough power for highway driving with a slight load.

What I would change

Control levers on the left side of the steering wheelThe first thing that I noticed when I started to drive was that there is an extra lever on the left side of the steering wheel where I only expect to find the turning signal control, (pictured left). This is the cruise control and is quite annoying until you get used to it. I couldn’t see either of the two levers while driving and don’t feel I should have to look down to signal, and every time I tried to turn I would try to signal with the cruise control. When driving on the highway it was handy to have the cruise in such an accessable place but I suspect most people will spend much more time in the city than on the highway and will want the cruise put somewhere else.

Driver's side shoulder check viewWhen trying to do a shoulder check on the driver’s side of the car I found my view was mostly of pillars and I didn’t see much road, (pictured right). Visibility in general in the Magnum is not as great as it could be, however, this is a large car and with larger vehicles come larger blindspots.

One other thing I noticed about this car, although this isn’t a design issue, is the fuel economy. The SXT is powerful, but not extremely powerful, however it still uses a lot of gas. I barely made it from Montr&eague;al to Toronto on a tank of gas, which worked out to something like 514 kilometers on 63 liters of gas, not that great. I can’t imagine how much gas the high-end HEMIs must burn.

Overall, the Dodge Magnum is a great car, however I wouldn’t buy it because of the odd placement of the cruise control, the bad sightlines, and the bad fuel economy.

2.0 Outside of the Web

Sometimes a buzzword takes on a life of it’s own. The current example: 2.0. While not exactly a word, when you pair it with something else you get something like “Web 2.0” or, as I read about in yesterday’s Montreal Gazette, “Cemetery 2.0.” Cemetery 2.0 is a device attached to a tombstone that has a satellite internet connection and acts as a web terminal to allow grave site visitors to view the deceased’s surviving web presence, including things such as a Facebook profile and Flickr photos.

While the idea of having something more than a piece of stone to remember someone by is great, I’m really writing about the name here. Cemetery 2.0 is a bit too trendy of a name, an example of a buzzword going too far, and being taken to places where it probably shouldn’t be used. What happens when the Cemetery 2.0 goes into production and a second version comes out? Do we get Cemetery 2.0 2.0?