My Ford Escape Hybrid Review

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This weekend I had a rental car, a Ford Escape Hybrid from Hertz. I was actually pretty excited to try it out, even though I did not request it in advance, to see what it was like. Overall the experience was positive but I did notice a couple of interesting quirks.

First and foremost, the highway mileage is disappointing. I went about 90 miles of straight highway driving and used almost half a tank of gas. The capacity is 15 gallons so let’s say I used 5.5 gallons which means I was only getting 16 miles to the gallon. I think this has to do with the fact that I tend to drive between 80-90 miles per hour on the freeway (just ask anyone who has driven with me) and the Escape was working overtime trying to keep up. My car gets better mileage than this on the freeway and it’s engine is almost 2.5 times as large as measured by displacement and has 271 extra horses.

Around town the mileage story turned around pretty quickly and I calculated I was getting as much as 40 mpg around town. This is due to the fact that the electric motor works primarily at low speed while on the freeway the smallish powerplant is working full capacity plus some to move the small SUV.

Ford says the electric motors can move the Escape up to 25 miles per hour but I could never get it above 15 mph without the gas motor kicking in. At stoplights the car turns off, which can take a little getting used to but then you kind of like it because the car at rest is quiet and without vibration. What I had to get used to was turning off the car when it appeared to not be running… on more than a couple of occasions I got out in a parking lot only to be reminded by the car that the keys were still in the ignition and it was running even though it wasn’t “running” at the time.

Speaking of vibrations, I think Ford tried to cut down as much weight as possible in this vehicle to compensate for the extra weight the batteries bring. One area they certainly focused attention on was insulation as this car is noisy and “hollow” feeling compared to other similarly sized vehicles I have driven.

Performance wise this is not a race car but it does have some solid pickup from a dead stop but only to about 20 mph. It’s like how a golf cart has a certain “torqueiness” from a stop but doesn’t actually get going very fast. The other interesting thing is that it brakes really well because the power generation equipment kicks in and helps slow the vehicle, although it does emit a whining sound while doing so which is kind of annoying.

Overall, I would buy one of these as a car for around town use and not for commuting (aside from the fact that it didn’t qualify for the HOV sticker program in California, there are none of those left anyway). There’s plenty of space for putting stuff and it drives fine, plus the mileage in that scenario is great compared to other vehicles in it’s class.

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The Great Identity Wars of 2007

When I was with SAP Ventures we invested in Ping Identity with the very simple investment thesis that 1) identity technologies were on a path to identity federation simply to reduce the complexity that users have to deal with across systems, and 2) the line between consumer and enterprise technology was blurring as business users (consumers themselves) would ultimately demand the kind of convenience with their business systems that they were getting from consumer technology.

The thesis was and is still sound but we missed one important element, openness. I’ve been a fan of OpenID for a while, starting with my first experience with it when I signed up for a MyOpenID URI as part of signing up for a Zooomr account. Ping and Sxip are still great solutions for enterprise deployments, but how do I get an identity on Ping or Sxip and use it for my business and my personal use?

Sure, I can use Sxipper if I use Firefox, and get an OpenID to boot, but simply remembering passwords is not enough to be a convenience for consumers and business users alike, and neither is a form filler. More to the point, my identity information has already been created online, it’s in the bits and pieces that exists across all the services I already use. How do I vacuum up all these bread crumbs and present it in unified form as my identity, without asking me to recreate it as a deliberate act?

A drivers license is a universally accepted ID and it’s completely self contained, I carry it with me and whenever I hold it for display it is accepted as a bona fide credential. What is the equivalent of a drivers license on the web? It would appear that AOL is aiming to be an identity authority and given their footprint in the market I would suggest they have a credible shot at it. Yahoo! is also making a big push with BBAuth in an attempt to leverage the massive amount of user information they have in their database, but AOL’s embrace of OpenID is smart because it makes a bet that an open identity technology will ultimately be the one most adopted by websites and systems, and it doesn’t require them to develop a lot of technology from scratch.

I think it’s pretty safe to say we’re going to see all the major consumer players adopt similar strategies as a means of securing a corner at an important intersection in the market.

Why AOL Created 63 Million New OpenIDs:
How does it affect AOL/AIM users? With the OpenID integration, an AOL user will be able to login to a service provider that accepts OpenID, using their AOL/AIM username/password, without needing to create a new service-specific username/password. This is a great way for AOL to try and retain its once formidable (and still significant) user base, by providing an OpenID-based solution to the knotty problem of web single sign-on. So AOL user names will potentially be an entry into hundreds of different web sites and services, thanks to OpenID.

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