Joe Ganley
Writing code since 1979
I have been a professional software engineer for over 10 years. I have written many kinds of software, but my particular strengths are interactive graphics applications, compilers and interpreters, and algorithms.

I also enjoy writing, woodworking, and home improvement. Also this.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Off the beaten path

SundialSunday morning we packed a picnic breakfast and headed downtown to see the cherry blossoms. We figured that by arriving at 8am, we would beat the crowds. Wrong. The tidal basin was already completely jammed, and unfortunately it is structured in such a way that the only way out is through, so we had to spend a half-hour in traffic just to bail. We then made a bunch of blind turns, each time turning away from the traffic, and ended up at Thompson Boat Center. We had our picnic, and then walked around a little; there is a small boardwalk nearby, where I found this huge sundial about 20 feet in diameter. I have sort of a thing for timepieces, so I thought this was really cool.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

The people's car

Something I've long wondered about is whether it would make sense for a car manufacturer to make a car with the philosophy of the original Volkswagen: Simple, cheap to buy, reliable, and easy to repair. Every system would be as simple and reliable as possible; this probably means no electric locks or windows, perhaps a carburetor instead of electronic fuel injection, electronics only where they are more reliable than their mechanical counterparts. The body would be made of user-replacable panels made out of Rubbermaid-type material (I believe, but don't really know, that the body panels in a typical car are not structural). The only option available would be body color, which could be implemented at the dealer using those replacable body panels. It would be a small four-door hatchback, perhaps similar in size and style to the Toyota Matrix. The big questions are: Could you make such a car substantially less expensive than existing economy cars? Would people buy it? Clearly, this would be pure transportation: A family's second, commuter car, or a teenager's first car. How much do emissions and mileage requirements impact my goal of utter simplicity? It seems inevitable to compare this idea with the ill-fated Yugo, but I don't know whether that car's failure was due to the idea being intrinsically bad, or simply due to poor execution of that idea.

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Copyright (c) 1988-2004 by Joseph L. Ganley. All rights reserved except where otherwise noted.