Monday, July 04, 2016

Classics and a bit of the new stuff

Two subjects today !!!

I'm currently watching Top Gear from yesterday and it's got to the segment about reimagined classic cars. Chris Evans is currently driving an MG B Roadster, reengineered to have all sorts of modern touches. To borrow from the TG article, classic cars had a few problems :

Crash and you die;
Weak handling;
No mod cons;
General erosion and rust.

One thing to say about the reengineered cars though, they are no longer original. They have moved away from the classic. I don't think they can lay any claim to being authentic and therefore have no intrinsic value above the cost of reengineering them. It's not a car that would go into a garage, be pulled out occasionally and be admired for its place in history.

I've dabbled in being interested in kit cars over the years. These are another stage on from the reengineered classics. The redone classics are bound by the original material. The design, the chassis, the stuff that has to stay the same. Anything else is fair game, like engine, mechanicals and all that stuff. I've never had the facilities that would let me dabble in this though, so no Sleepycar for me.

But ... watching that article again makes a few old thoughts resurface. We've owned a classic car and it was beautiful. She was Chloe (from the registration plate), one of the forgotten classics :
(that's not our one, it's from Google a while ago).

That article of automobile beauty is an old Triumph Spitfire. We loved our one for her lines. Can't say that much for the rest of it but that body proved an old adage : Curves are beautiful. But the Spridget and the MG B got all the attention. There was a coupe version too with a bigger engine. But the Spitfire had one massive problem - corner hard and it would probably kill you.

The problem was swing axle back suspension. On a car, you want the wheels to go up and down to soak up the bumps. You don't want them angling off the vertical. On a rear drive car, this means two universal joints per side to get the power to the wheels. The Spitfire only had one, which meant the wheels would swing off the vertical quite drastically at the extents of their up and down travel.
There you go - picture from

Trust me - it's bad and it meant I refused to think about driving the car when I was old enough and had my licence. It had already been crashed by that point so that was kinda academic.

But if I were to rebuild the Spitfire like a modern car ? Here's what I would change :

Remade interior - but still with minimalist dials embedded in a characterful wooden dash. Because these cars aren't about climate control or air conditioning or even the kinds of toys in my Lexus. They're about being one with the car and enjoying the drive.

Beefed up engine - there's lots of room under that bonnet, I bet you could fit in a modern turbocharged 4 cylinder. Perhaps even some of the hybrid parts from my Lexus ? It's quite a bit bigger though and I doubt whether the hybrid bits would fit.

Let's see - turbocharged 4 cylinder around the 2 litre mark. But you would want to get something to match the rear drive. Most modern cars have the engine in front pointing from front wheel to front wheel (transverse). My rear drive Lexus has the engine pointing down the middle of the car (longitudinal). Kit cars sometimes sort this by putting all of the front engine bits behind the driver to make a rear engine, rear drive car. Yep, this would be the awkward bit.

Suspension - the Spitfire came with independent double wishbones at the front (this is a very good thing) and you really couldn't improve something like that. But the back end would need to be completely replaced, preferably with something matched to the new engine. Perhaps a 4 wheel drive solution ? Might work.

It'd be an interesting exercise to look up the possibilities. What would fit, what would work, could you make it even more special by adding hybrid drive mechanics.

This may occupy my thoughts for a while :-).

The other subject ? New stuff ?

I've been appreciating Windows 10, to the point where I'm now calling it an upgrade. I'd recommend it for machines, including those machines on earlier MS operating systems. And there are reasons ... which I thought about earlier today when reading some of the more rabid opinions of a pro-Linux commenter :

Adware and Spyware - do the research, turn them off.
2d Flugly - I actually like this after Windows 7, it's simpler, more readable and doesn't take up any more of your time than it should do. The old Win7 animations seemed to absorb time for no good reason.
Removal of customisation options - shrug. It's a computer, not a scrapbook.
Metro in general - meh ? Windows 8 was an abomination but they seem to have fixed the worst of that in Win10. I can get to my applications easy and the tiles let me set a few easy favourites.
Forced updates - yep, this is a problem. It actually knocked our Chrissa off the net the other day midstream, because it deleted her network drivers. Oops.
High bandwidth update downloads/uploads - again, do the research, turn them off.
Windows Logon - I haven't had to do this and have no intention of using their cloud services.

No clear performances over Win 7 - it's subjective but it feels smoother, faster and I haven't had to restart Waterfox due to resource leaks lately. Memory usage is currently 4.7GB used out of 8GB, it would be up to 6-7GB by now on Win7.
Feature removal - not noticed anything significant.
Start Thing vs Start Menu - I like the new one, allowing you to add most likely to use programs as tiles lets you find them quicker without diving through the Start Menu. Looking back, I don't think I was a fan of the Start Menu.
Customer QA testing - don't be part of the beta testing Insider network ...

Yeah, Linux Mint might be a better OS for web browsing and other activities but ...

You can't run games on it. At least, not a significant number of games. And that makes it totally unusable and unsuitable for someone like me.

I'd put my current hierarchy of OS's for new machines as :
Windows 10 - first.
Linux Mint (chosen due to those rabid commenter people) - second.
Apple MacOS X - sadly a long distant last now. This fails due to Apple moving away from supplying stuff that the customer wants, into a closed ecosystem driven by Apple for the benefit of Apple.

So if you're not bothered about compatibility with games or software like iTunes (again, an example of Apple making software for the benefit of Apple), then go Linux Mint. If you like the occasional game, Windows 10. And for something different, Apple is probably in the last iteration that anyone could recommend. It was the best (except for compatibility) but I think that's past now.

It's your choice though, my mind has been changed though by working with Windows 10 for a little bit and I actually like it. It's convinced me.

But it still won't talk to my camera. Grr.

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