In 1948, the first car with a fully automatic transmission was released. Since that time, automatics have taken hold of consumer demand over their trickier and more attention needing counterpart, manual transmissions. Most consumers don’t even bother learning the techniques of the stick shift in their entire life because they don’t need to. I was lucky because my parents got me a nice, cheap manual the winter I got my license. Well, they got it because I scorned stick and swore I’d never drive it and my father knew I’d have to learn if I didn’t want to ride my bike through two feet of snow everyday (my Dad in a nutshell). Still, I learned how to maneuver a manual at a young age and even regret not learning it sooner. That is not the way of the world, though, and automatics dominate the market to the point where stick is only used for racing or out of some undying habitual loyalty to the old age of automobiles. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other, does it? Well, I’m glad you asked (or rather I asked for you), because I’ve crunched the numbers and read the research. I can tell you which switch to itch or what gear to grind, but what I want to do is explain the key differences between manual transmission and automatic and let you decide for yourself. After all, it’s all what you are comfortable with.
The debate has raged on for decades and those more gear-head inclined seem to be savoring the flavor of the stick shift more than the average everyday commuter. For those not seasoned in the art of clutch shifting, all it really is is an extra pedal and a knobby thingy set in beside the driver’s and passenger’s seat that clicks the engine into different gears for different inputs of gas into the engine. Your vehicle needs to start at one gear (1st) and work it’s way to another or rather, can’t work at one gear (2nd) when it reaches a certain speed. It’s all about managing your torque, which is the thing that accelerates your vehicle. Each gear is designed for different set of RPMs (Rotations Per Minute) and that is what the torque is used to do. The more torque, the more rotations, the more horsepower used, the faster your car goes. When in a lower gear, your going to use less torque, but in 5th or 6th gear, you’ll be at your fastest so you’ll need a significant increase in torque for you’re car to run properly. Failure to shift will kill your transmission because you’re not applying the right amount of torque to the speed and output of your engine, so it won’t be able to sustain.
I hope that last paragraph explained standard transmission at least enough for you all to follow along. What you need to know about automatics is that the transmission is entirely different because you don’t have to shift and lock your tranny into a specific set of RPMs. It works by adjusting several gears within to deliver the best torque as you accelerate. The primary difference between the two types that an average consumer will notice is that manuals tend to expend less gas. They require less gear shifting because they lock in where as automatics constantly change. In a gas crisis this little fact could be enough to push those comfortable with stick shift in that direction.
Automatics are significantly easier to drive and provide drivers with the luxury of paying more attention to the road. Granted, by the time you master the art of manual driving, it will come almost second nature to you, but automatics are crucial in traffic because you don’t have to hold down the clutch every time you move an inch. Plus, manuals roll back when you let off the gas and that can be a pain when you’re stopped on a hill. Conversely, automatics do not give you the same control over your engine. Stopping is easier in a manual because you downshift back to previous gears which will slow you down gradually. They are good for bending turns and handling and whether it’s off the line or in transit, they offer quicker shifting for higher acceleration and overall faster speed. That is why all of NASCAR has a form of manual shifting and why all Paul Walker’s cars are too fast and too furious.
Automatics also cost more because manufacterers and dealerships know consumers don’t want to bother with shifting. Buying sports or performance vehicles, however, is a bit of a waste if they are automatic. Not enough grit or quickness to them. Paddle shifting is something that has become rather popular for those who don’t want to deal with a clutch but want to shift that fancy sports car. It basically does all the same things as a standard, just with a quick tap of a paddle built into the steering wheel. These are semi-automatic because you won’t need to clutch down and shift, you just shift, but you still need to shift. They are a more advanced form of manual in my book. One last thing that needs to be noted is that when your car battery dies in an automatic, you need to jump start it. For a manual, you throw it in neutral, push it, pop the clutch (throw it into gear) and fire the engine up. It’s a lot more hassle free.
It’s hard to say what is right for you if you only know one way. When I drove manual in my first two cars, I couldn’t wait to get an automatic and not have to deal with shifting. After years with an automatic, I miss the control a standard gives and the competitive feel from hitting those gears just right and receiving that little extra push. Manuals are downright fun to drive when you don’t have to deal with hills or traffic or traffic on hills. Automatics are carefree and simple. What it comes down to is what you prefer. I suggest you learn both and decide for yourself.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer
Owning a boat, like owning an RV or a motorcycle, is a lifestyle. Set aside the constant care and many seasonal procedures involved with owning a boat and get down to the grinding surface of it all. When you own a boat, despite what it takes to maintain and manage the vessel, there is a quiet disposition connected with the lifestyle of being a boater. As if, on some level, you made a silent pact with the sea to not just respect her but to represent her. You see, there is a dress code for owning a boat and it goes polo tee, docker khakis and slick shades with stylish lanyards. Of course this is just a silly stereotype made from 80’s films about regatta races to save rec centers, but somewhere down the line that actually became a prominent design for the way a boater should dress. One accessory that a boater should wear regardless of how they feel about this style is boat shoes.
Boat shoes are literally designed for walking the wet decks of a boat, or ship, or yacht. Out of all the stylized fashion fads and popular trending attire that associates with such water themed brands as Nautica, Bass or Sebago, only the boat shoe is the clothing option that had any practical value to it. Yes, life-jackets are essential and should always be warn while on a boat, but that’s just proper safety, not necessarily an outfit option. You put your cloths on and then your life jacket, you’re not going to wear it on shore or to a party. Boat shoes, however, have been somewhat popularized since the 80’s. They look like leather moccasins spliced with dress shoes, but in a good way. Even if they do look silly to some, they have an actual, practical use to them; preventing the wearer from slipping when wet. How this works is actually somewhat simple.
The shoes are cut and laced together with leather to be resistant against water. While this is not a necessarily life changing feature, it is nice to note that boating shoes will keep your feet significantly more dry than sneakers or boats would. The true revolution of the shoes comes from the soles of the shoes. The soles are created in a siping pattern, which means they are carved with many small, ribbed strips running across. This is for extra traction on slippery or icy surfaces and what better place to apply this added quality than on a boat, where you’re surrounded with water. In 1935, the inventor of these shoes, Paul Sperry, had observed his dog’s ability to run easily on ice and graded his shoes to mimic the dog’s paw. Since then, boating shoes have become a smart option for the nautical enthusiastic out there.
Sneakers don’t provide enough surface in their often rigid and complex cut-out soles. With sandals or shoes that may be worn and have a tread-less sole will have too much flat surface. This makes it actually worst for slipping because smooth surfaces create less friction or resistance from one another. Add in some water for lubricating the exchange and you’re not just sliding or slipping or losing your balance, you’re going to be feet up and falling on your back before you realize what has happened. Granted most boat decks are layered with a spray on sandpaper sort of coating that works in a similar way to the soles of boat shoes, but having the shoes is reduces your risk of injury significantly and therefore is the only boat themed attire with any actual purpose. The shirts aren’t that bad though.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer
As inevitable as it always was, Saab Automobile finally filed for bankruptcy this morning in Swedish courts. The car manufacturer was under debt protection for several months while it attempted to re-align it’s stars and scrambled to find funding to stay alive. They failed, due to a combination of things, and were forced to file bankruptcy as a result.
For those keeping score at home, Saab has been in trouble since they closed their manufacturing plant in April of this year. They were out of money to pay parts providers and wages to their 3,000 plus employees. They had plans in place to pay off these wages and developed a restructuring process that included finding foreign investors interested in purchasing the company, but missed deadlines, vetoed proposals and general disjointed communications has lead Saab to finally throw in the towel.
As it was reported in the Chicago Tribune this morning, Saab’s CEO Victor Mueller announced that he handed in the submission of bankruptcy himself. Since Saab’s deal to be bought by Chinese automotive company, Zhejiang Youngman was thwarted several times by General Motors, Saab lost the potential option for a buy-out as Youngman has to pull out of the deal. The reason GM, who still have priority votes in regards to any business deal Saab would want to make, denied the sale has to do with their concern that the technology they provide Saab with currently would be used against them by their Chinese competitors in the Asian market. Since GM didn’t see a way that the sale of Saab would benefit them, and rightly so, they couldn’t allow the deal to go through. It’s not clear if Saab every truly understood this, because they proposed several deals in the past month, but none of them really addressed GM’s concerns. With the veto in place, the investors had to give up.
Mueller is reportedly placing blame on Saab’s recently resigned reconstruction administrator, Guy Lofalk, for misrepresenting to the Chinese investors how much of the company could be sold to them. He claims Lofalk implied the Chinese could do a complete buy-out, which was never going to be approved by GM. It’s hard to say if this is true or not, seeing as Lofalk asked last week to be removed as the administrator on their restructuring because he didn’t see a way out for Saab. On the outside, at least, it looks as if Lofalk recognized the severe disconnect between what Saab thought they should get and what their realistic value was. He also petitioned the courts to end the creditor protection for Saab, siding that they had no legit plan to restructure properly.
Though we may never be able to verify the truth, it seems that Mueller and his board may be the real people responsible for Saab’s constant misfortune and eventual destruction. He was the one who turned down Chinese investors several times because he was afraid of losing Saab’s identity to outside companies. It was only after they had missed the deadline to present a course of restructuring to courts that Saab caved in and announced they would sell off their shares to the Chinese. Then, when GM stepped in and stated their position, Saab did nothing until they ran past the deadline to pay owed wages, in which they resubmitted a deal that would only give up 60% of the company to the Chinese. GM rejected that as well and here we are.
It is sad to think that the 3,000 employees of Saab, who have been on the edge, waiting for some good news, had to wait until the week of Christmas to learn they’re company would probably be chopped up and sold in pieces. When a company is so mismanaged the way Saab was, it’s hard not to realize where this was heading. Mueller’s company, Spyker Manufacturing, purchased Saab from GM almost two years ago with the promise to turn the company around in five years. A year and a half later, they ran out of money. Even from the start, many analysts saw a flaw in Mueller’s optimistic plan. The fact that sticks out the most is how Saab sold a company record 133,000 vehicles in 2006. Three years later in 2009, they reported sold only 27,000 vehicles. As plain as day, we can see how such a steep and brutal drop in sales would kill any resemblance of a profit margin.
Today, Saab files for bankruptcy, but the story doesn’t end there. The courts need to figure out how best to sell off their assets in order to pay debts. If they can find a buyer who will take the entire company as a whole, this may salvage the jobs of many employees. For now, however, nothing is certain except that Mueller and company will be out and someone else could be in.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer
( Source : Chicago Tribune )
It’s silly, but Swedish automotive manufacturer, Saab just won’t die. For months now, the world has watched the spectacle surrounding Saab as they desperately sought new investors, then denied them, then approved a buy-out, then GM denied them and so on in that fashion. Well, last week it was made clear to Saab that the Swedish courts would judge them by Friday. They had no money, their last submitted proposal for Chinese investors was rejected by GM again and they owed millions of dollars worth of wages to their employees. Today, however, Saab received a $5 million investment from Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, one of two proposed Chinese investors.
This move was to solve Saab’s immediate tax issue and according to an article on Reuters.com, Youngman is set to give Saab another 20 million euros by tomorrow. That money will go to paying the owed salaries of Saab’s several thousand employees. With that out of the way, Saab will be better positioned to face the courts come Friday. Still, Saab was almost entirely out of funds yesterday, so it’s hard to see how $5 million will make a difference. That is why, Yougman is reported to be handing over another 10 million euros by the end of December. That could, theoretically, keep them afloat until they can get GM to approve Youngman’s acquisition of Saab. The reason GM continues to reject this deal is because they feel it would hurt them in the Asian market and replace them the primary parts and technology provider for Saab.
It is fun to see how Saab continues to stay alive while constantly hanging in that place of business limbo. For those Saab is in debt to, the same cannot be said. Saab has failed to pay off their debts for some time now, shielded by court order creditor protection. That could end by this week, which would leave Saab circled by all it’s creditors with nowhere to hide. It seems, however, that Youngman Lotus has taken a keen interest in Saab and would likely prevent that from happening while taking hold of the company reins. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t engaged in where this story will eventually end up.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer
( Source : Reuters.com )
The Spot Delivery Scam
Who’s involved? – New and Used Dealerships
What is it? - The Spot Delivery Scam is a clever bait and switch style tactic involving either used or new dealers. The idea is for a preliminary deal between you and the dealer to be put into motion based on “on the spot approval” regarding your financing. The way it works is that they entice you to take the vehicle home with you based on the idea that the deal is done, it only needs to be processed the next day. Why they do this is to tie you to the car. By taking it home, you are considerably less likely to renege on your agreement, even after the original arrangement has been altered by the dealer. Even if you do want to kill the deal, you’ll be roped into legal trouble because the car is in your possession and has been driven by you.
It works in a number of ways. They will talk you into a sale, or comfort you into trusting them, but before you can get the financing or before a finalized deal can be in place, they will attempt to get you to sign incomplete or blank documents, promising to have their financial consultant handle the paper work first thing the following morning. The dealer will wait you out a few days, dulling your awareness to the switch and then call claiming the initial deal could not be reached. Now you’re liable for a larger down payment or a higher monthly rate and can do very little to simply return the car and walk away. After all, you’ve driven the product and made it used in the process.
How to avoid? – Avoiding this type of fraud tactic is easy; never, ever sign anything until financing has been officially approved. Also, never drive a car off the lot unless all the documents are in order. Dealers can’t pull off the switch if you haven’t taken the product off the lot. If they say something about how they’re financing firm or department is closed, that should be a trigger word to get up and come back in the morning. It’s easier to wait until a deal is in order and approved than to pay more later. Still, we suggest being pre-approved for financing from a trusted source before you ever enter a dealership. If the dealership can beat your pre-approved arrangement, then you can consider switching over.
Terms & Trigger words to avoid? – “Right of recession”; This is a term taken from a contract that if you sign, you agree to allow the dealer to change the conditions of the contract without consulting you. You should never sign something with these words in it. EVER!
A fire has risen from the dragon-skinned stomach of actor Alec Baldwin, who was removed from an American Airlines flight on Tuesday for refusing to turn off his phone and apparently throwing a tantrum upon request to do so from the flight attendance. Baldwin, star of NBC’s hit comedy “30 Rock”, has since expressed his side of the story on Twitter. All in all, it was just another day in the life of everyday airline antics.
Reported by CBS News this morning, Alec Baldwin was asked to turn off his phone while his flight to New York City sat idol at the gate. At the time, Baldwin was heavily engaged in a game of “Word With Friends” when a flight attendant requested for him to shut off his phone as per FAA regulations. According to Baldwin’s twitter account, he was “reamed” out for playing the scrabble-similar game while they “sat at the gate, not moving.” Mixed reports from various passengers claim Baldwin then stormed out of his seat and into the lavatory where he slammed the door. One person even claimed he was pounding on the walls within. Famed boxer, Oscar De La Hoya, who was sitting on the other side of the isle vouched for Baldwin, stating that he thought Baldwin was complying and powering down his phone, but lost his temper in the process. No matter who was right, Baldwin’s actions alarmed the cockpit and he was removed from the flight.
Since then, Mr. Baldwin has made it clear that he will not be flying American Airlines in the foreseeable future. The airline, who have backed their flight crew in the matter, have yet to make an official comment. They have made it clear that they respect the FAA regulation that stipulates the deactivation of electrical devices during take off. For those who have been following our blog, you’ll remember yesterday’s article on the online petition to repeal this very regulation. It would be exciting to see Baldwin joined up with the cause in the wake of this incident.
One thing is for sure, however. Alec Baldwin loves him some “Words With Friends”. As a spokesperson for the A-lister has stated, “He loves ‘Words With Friends’ so much that he is willing to leave a plane for it.” If that’s not a great opportunity for a marketing bit, we don’t know what is.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer
( Source : CBS News )
Tech savvy is a term for a person who is well versed in the mystical ways of modern day technology. Fortunately for the world, more and more of our everyday life is built around the understanding and application of technology. This of course has overloaded the world with tech savvy citizens almost to the point where babies are born with an ipad infused into their hands. It’s true, the world is fast becoming run by the digital youth. It is no surprise then that Gwaker.com reported on news yesterday that a petition has begun to repeal one of the most user-unfriendly airline policies, spearheaded by these young and gun gear-heads.
A New York Times Column last week issued a statement that has since rocked the digital debate of why electronic devices must be shut off during take-off and landing. According the Times’ writer Nick Belton, there is no true evidence to support a safety hazard to using your ipads, kindles and blackberries during that rise and fall period in the flight. This, of course, led to nerd outcries across the internet and ultimately an online petition to repel the sky law that prohibits the use of electronics during take-off and landing. The petition, available to sign at whitehouse.gov, currently has nearly 800 signatures in just two days. They hope to have 25,000 by the first week of January.
The old ways appear to be facing the digital gallows. The simple reason behind this is that information is too wide-spread and accessible now. We’re informed and empowered and our fingers type text messages at tremendously daunting speed. It could be said that if this FAA rule gets overturned, it could mean an awakening in a new revolution. A technological revolution engineered by a more adapted and vocal generation. At the very least, it could kill that fifteen minutes between runway and minimum altitude with a few rounds of Angry Birds. The world should be afraid.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer
( Source : Gwaker.com )
What started as a luxury car joyride amongst automotive enthusiasts ended in an expensive 14 car pileup on a Japanese freeway over the weekend. ABC News reported this morning on the accident as perhaps the most expensive crash in the world, estimated at $3 million (although the police have not issued the actual estimate).
The accident included three Mercedes-Benz, a Lamborghini and a staggering eight Ferraris. The driver responsible for the costly crash was one of the Ferraris drivers, who decided to accelerate past the pack in an attempt to take over the lead sled position. This led to the Ferraris hitting a median and losing control. The car came back across and hi the adjacent luxury cars in the pack. After that, it was bump, grind and collide as the expensive rides each either lost control or attempted to avoid the building collision. At the time, the cars were reportedly travelling at around 140 KPH or 90 MPH.
The crash shut down the Chugoku Expressway for a reported six hour stretch as cleanup crews and police worked to remove debris from the vehicles. Nobody involved in the accident was seriously injured; however 10 people were treated for cuts and bruises at a local hospital. The same cannot be said for the egos and wallets of those involved in the incident.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer
( Source : ABC News )
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