new Honda hybrids coming

Honda has been working on a Prius competitor, a hybrid-only family hatchback they hope to be selling by next year. They will be made in Japan with 100,000 or so intended for the North American market.

Honda FitWhat’s new is that Honda says it will also manufacture a hybrid version of the Fit subcompact, though probably not as soon as 2009. (The Fit is called the Jazz in some markets.) I might be interested in a hybrid Fit. The conventional Fit has been getting surprisingly good reviews—much better than the Toyota Yaris, its competitor in the small car segment, for which no hybrid plans have been announced.

Some people think it is foolish to create hybrid versions of small cars that are already fairly fuel efficient. GM and Chrysler seem to feel this way, but I don’t. I test-drove a hybrid Tahoe the other day and it was nice enough, but I just don’t find that kind of vehicle appealing. The Auto Beat Blog seems to agree with me.

The Telegraph reports that four new Honda hybrids are coming, including a two-door sporty car, but doesn’t actually say what the fourth hybrid model will be. Dare I hope for a hybrid minivan?


ANSI vs. ISO keyboards

ISO (top) and ANSI (bottom) keyboardsNorth America mostly uses ANSI keyboards. Europe mostly uses ISO keyboards. The layouts are similar, but ISO has a few extra keys. An ANSI keyboard usually has two keys between L and Return, while ISO usually has three. Also, ANSI places Z adjacent to the left Shift key, but ISO has an intervening key. To allow for this, ANSI has a wider left Shift key than ISO.

I own a couple of ISO keyboards. I bought them on eBay in early 2006 because they were the cheapest USB keyboards I could find at the time. I can’t really type on them, though, because my left pinky consistently hits the intervening key when it is hunting for the Shift key. (My right pinky also has some trouble with Return, but not to the same extent.)

The image to the right shows an ISO keyboard on top and an ANSI keyboard on the bottom. The ISO model is a Silicon Graphics SK-2502U. The ANSI model is an Inland “Windows 107-Key USB Keyboard” (which, at $4.99, just may be the cheapest keyboard for Mac Mini). Note the width of the left Shift keys and the relative location of the Z keys.

Now take a look at the European Dell Vostro 1310 keyboard shown below. Dell has inadvertently created a hybrid ANSI/ISO layout. This is no good because they have shifted all the letters on the bottom row one slot rightward from where a touch-typist would expect them to be!

Dell Vostro 1310 keyboardThe Z should be below A and S (in both ANSI and ISO) but on this laptop the Z is below S and D. Oops.

Dell admits its blunder and will provide replacement keyboards.

The Vostro keyboard error has received a lot of press on the web, but to my knowledge noone has mentioned the ANSI vs. ISO issue. It would seem to explain how this astounding error could have been made when the North American Vostro keyboard was adapted for European release.