My recent post on creating and using bump keys generated a respectable amount of buzz, and I'll like to say a few more words on the subject.
First of all, a few people have responded to me saying that I'm educating the criminals. That response was, of course, to be expected; but I don't think it's true. If someone wanted to know, the information is already highly available, much of it more complete than this. My target audience is the people who aren't looking for that kind of thing--the people who actually need to know but don't realize that there's a problem.
While the information in the video I created was presented as a "how to" guide, my primary intention wasn't to train people in this technique, but rather to emphasize just how easy it was to do. Many reports on the subject seem to suggest that some expertise is required: either the aid of a locksmith in creating the key, or some extra skill and expertise to make your own. My point was to show that it's possible for anyone to make their own bump key with no real skill to speak of, no assistance, and no prior experience.
What can you do?
A number of people have asked, with this new threat, how can you keep your house safe? Unfortunately, physical security costs money. And real physical security really costs money. There are safe locks out there, but you're not going to buy them at the hardware store. Furthermore, you're not going to be able to get your keys duplicated by anyone but a vendor-authorized locksmith, and only after presenting proper identification and a fair amount of cash.
Some examples of these high-security locks are the higher-end Medeco locks and the Schlage primus. These locks are not only bump-resistant, but also extremely difficult (nigh impossible) to pick, even for an expert. Some locks are more resistant to bumping than others; though I'm not nearly qualified enough to give out advice about which one you should use. See the "required reading" below for better information on this subject.
Another important consideration is to not rely on just a single mechanism for your security. Locking your doors and windows is important, but you should also have a monitored alarm system, store your valuables out of sight, and don't give thieves a reason to target you. Remember that most thieves prefer to hit the easy targets; that means they prefer houses in "safe" neighborhoods where people don't worry about security, and particularly go for tempting opportunities, like garage doors left open.
A few people have also asked what they can do to help improve the situation, and how to help push the lock makers toward giving us better locks. I think there's two parts to solving this issue. The first thing to do is to increase general awareness of the problem. As long as the public remains ignorant, companies like Kwikset will merrily continue to pretend that all is well; after all, these companies save a lot of research and development money this way. Tell your friends, tell your family; let everyone know. People have to understand that this is important. The second part of this solution is to let the lock making companies know in a way that they'll listen to: your purchasing decisions. These companies are in business not to make locks, but to make money; the locks are a means to an end. When Kwikset learns that people are, in alarming numbers, willing to spend ten times as much to buy a competitor's bump-resistant lock instead of their own classic lock, you better believe that Kwikset will start putting more money into high-security alternatives.
Did you say 10 times as much?
Yeah, that's probably a significant detail. With locks, you often get what you pay for: a $20 lock buys you about twenty dollars worth of security. What kind of valuables are you securing? Does $20 sound like the appropriate security investment to safeguard a $300,000 home? How about $100; does that seem like the appropriate investment? Better security costs more. However, the better known a given attack vector becomes; the more it will be guarded against. And of course, the more locks guard against that attack, the cheaper it will be to find one that does.
I'm no authority on this subject; I can't help you if your key doesn't work, I don't know enough to help you secure your house, and I couldn't give you much background information on this subject. But I can point you in the right direction.
Locked, but not secure (part 1) -- An explanation and history of bump keys.
Locked, but not secure (part 2) -- Which locks are vulnerable, which locks are not, as well as security and insurance implications.
http://www.toool.nl/bumping.pdf -- A lock picking organization's canonical explanation of bump keying.
http://www.crypto.com/hobbs.html -- Is it harmful to disclose this sort of security vulnerability to the public?
I noticed my computer exhibiting a strange sort of behavior today. I recognized exactly what was going on, but I decided to take a few screenshots and write about it because most people are unaware that this happens. Here's how it goes:
Confusion in the Task Manager
You notice that your computer is behaving as though it's under heavy load, but you can't find which application is hogging the CPU. You take a look at your task manager and see something like this. Look, in particular, at the areas that I circled:
Here, the process list shows that 7% of the CPU time is being taken by googletalk, while the remaining 93% is spent idle. Those numbers add up just fine. However, at the bottom, we see that 61% of the processor time is in use -- that's a whole lot more than 7%. So what's using the other 54%?
I know some of you have seen this before and probably thought something devious was going on. Could it be a virus? Perhaps spyware? I'm sure you've heard about rootkits--programs that hide their existence from the user. Could this perhaps be a sign of a rootkit?
Well, the reality is a whole lot less exciting. What we're really dealing with here is bad reporting. Once again, as in the case of the Sony rootkit fiasco, Mark Russinovich gives us the tools to see what's really going on. One of his free utilities, Process Explorer, gives us a more accurate view than the built-in task manager. Have a look at the following screenshot, and look, in particular, at the first three processes listed. This screenshot was taken soon after the previous one, so the numbers won't match.
This will all probably make a lot more sense with a bit of explanation...
Interrupts and DPCs
One of the primary responsibilities of the operating system is to schedule time for each process that requests use of the CPU. Most of a program's run time is spent waiting--waiting for you to type something, waiting for a file to open, that kind of thing. When a program is ready to do something, the operating system schedules it a time slot. Yet even on computers with over a hundred processes running, most of the time there isn't any process that's ready to run. The OS schedules this left-over time to process number zero, the "Idle" process. This special-purpose process sends the CPU a HALT instruction that tells the CPU to go into low-power mode and wait for something to happen (like a keypress, for example).
So, we've got X number of programs running, plus process number zero, the "Idle" process. Between these, we can account for all the time that's allocated by the process scheduler. However, this isn't necessarily all of the time that gets used by the CPU. The OS kernel itself also uses CPU time, but it doesn't ever have to wait in line for the scheduler. This code, which is usually hardware drivers (like for your video card), runs under a totally different set of rules.
Kernel CPU time is, for the most part, divided into two categories: time spent on interrupts, and time spent on Deferred Procedure Calls (DPCs). These are really two heads of the same beast; the distinction comes from what kind of code you're dealing with and exactly when that code has to run. The important point is that interrupts and DPCs aren't part of the normal process schedule, but do take up (some times significant) CPU time.
So, what we saw in the first screenshot was the result of the fact that DPC and interrupt time isn't reported by Task Manager. At the time of the screenshot, about 58% of the CPU time was being taken by DPCs and interrupts, leaving about 42% of the CPU time for the scheduler to use as necessary. Of that remaining 42% which the scheduler had to work with, 93% went unused and 7% went to googletalk. Some quick math (42% x 93%) tells us that the real time spent idle was only 39%. Googletalk only used 3% of the total CPU time, which was 7% of the time allocated to the scheduler.
Confused yet? Well, here's the executive summary: Windows' built-in Task Manager does a poor job at reporting CPU usage because it doesn't directly report the time that is used by the Windows kernel (drivers in particular). The per-process percentages are actually calculated based on the remaining time after the drivers have already taken their piece of the pie. This can lead to boatloads of confusion when trying to diagnose a problem, particularly when the real culprit is a driver. Process Explorer by Sysinternals does report DPC and interrupt time, thus bringing balance back to the universe.
If you want to find out more about DPCs, interrupts, and Windows process scheduling, check out Chapter 3 of the book Microsoft Windows Internals.
My wife asked for an Xbox for her birthday this year.
I would imagine that most of you won't get past that first line; particularly the men, who are wondering how I managed to find such a girl. But stay with me: this is a very serious essay about video games and wasting time, not about how "cool" my wife is.
This birthday request got me thinking. Unless you count flight simulators, I haven't really played video games much since I left college. Also in college, I developed an almost obsessive dislike of wasting time. The constant, oppressive weight of never-ending class assignments gave me a sort of persistent edginess such that I could only mentally justify avoiding what I had to do if I was still doing something productive. I still can’t sit down and watch TV unless I feel like I’m accomplishing something, like learning something on the History channel.
In looking around trying to decide what’s worth getting, I played a few of the games they have nowadays, and was surprised to find that I didn’t feel like I was wasting time at all. That’s kind of odd, because playing video games has been, for many years now, the quintessential time wasting activity. If anything is a waste of time, it’s video games, right? So why doesn’t it feel that way?
This really surprised and interested me. As hypersensitive as I am about using my time productively, I really expected to be as turned-off about the prospect of sitting in front of a TV controlling a virtual character as I am about watching Friends or CSI. What I came up with is that a well-written game has all of the intellectual elements of a "good use of time" that I have come to expect. These elements can all be boiled down to two basic principles:
First of all, and most importantly, these games are very intellectually stimulating. They make you think in much the same way as, say, fixing a broken radio would. Now, I’m not talking about games like Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, or any of the rescue-the-princess games we grew up with. Some of these newer games are complex puzzles with subtle clues buried deep inside intricate plots. A lot like a good murder mystery. Not all games are this way, but I’m not really interested in the others.
The other important element is that there is a sense of goals and accomplishment. This is a very common element, because games without it never become very popular. In order to spend much time with a game, you have to feel like you’re actually doing something. But that’s just it: when you turn the thing off, you realize that you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing.
So that must be it. If you haven’t really accomplished anything, you’ve wasted your time, right? Well, perhaps. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series was a great set of books; but after I read them, I had nothing new and useful to show for it. Everything I had learned from those books pertained only to a fantasy world that didn’t exist. No real-world knowledge at all; well, nothing that I hadn't already heard, at least. Furthermore it took a days to finish those books. I spent more time reading just those books alone than I did in all my video game playing over the past 8 years combined. And yet, how many parents tell their kids that reading the classics will rot your brain? No, of course not.
Video games, I think, have a certain stigma associated with them for a couple of reasons. First of all, early technology made it difficult to make a game mentally challenging but still fun to play. That, combined with a lack of imagination on the part of the programmers lead to a large divide between games like “Final Fantasy” and “Mario: Fun with Numbers.” Of course, kids do what they enjoy, and these simple but challenging games provided kids with the emotional feedback they craved by giving them simple goals which they could accomplish and feel good about. In fact, with video games, the noticeable accomplishment frequency, and therefore the reward-to-time-spent ratio, is much higher than any other readily available activity. These kids, if left to their own devices, will seek out the activity that gives them the most positive feedback—so they’ll play video games all day if they can.
Which brings me to my next point: if a child spends an inordinate amount of time at any activity, even reading, the parent will conclude that the child is wasting time. It doesn’t matter what the activity is; the child could be playing video games, watching TV, playing baseball, solving puzzles, assembling models, or even studying advanced calculus. If he fills the entirety of his free time with the same activity, the parent will be displeased. The kid will be “wasting his time playing baseball,” or “wasting his time with those stupid puzzles.” Video games are just too consistently entertaining.
I see no reason why a good game can’t be as beneficial as a decent book. It's a fairly new and novel medium that has yet to be fully exploited, I think. Most games, like most books, are, indeed, a waste of time (have you seen what passes as literature these days?). Others sharpen your mind like a good game of chess. Of course, I'm certainly not saying that Call of Duty, as educational as it is, should be used in schools to teach about WWII; but I think that we will eventually have games that will serve that exact purpose. What could better teach you what it was like than reliving the experience yourself? Oddly enough, true-to-life realism and historical accuracy are goals that the game industry is aggressively pursuing. The industry has a long way to go yet, but it also has some powerful potential that shouldn't be ignored.
I like RSS; I use it extensively to track intersting blogs, product releases, and now podcasts all using Thunderbird's RSS feed manager. It quickly became obvious to me that an email client really is the perfect match for RSS feeds, since the content so closely resembles an email message to begin with. I therefore couldn't come up with any good reason to use Firefox's RSS-powered "live bookmarks." That is, until now.
Like most of us, I suppose, I run into a lot of web content that seems really interesting, but I often don't care to read it at the moment. Perhaps I'm looking for something else, or perhaps it explains how to do something that I'm not working on right now. So that's what bookmarks are for, right? That may be, but it hasn't worked too well for me. I've been disappointed with my bookmark setup for a few crucial reasons.
The first is portability. I use at least 3 computers regularly, and what I bookmark here I want to be available anywhere. Using a bookmark service like Delicious solves that problem; but it also introduces my other problem: ease-of-use. Delicious is, in fact, about as easy to use as they could possibly make the site. But I want something that no website can offer; I don't want to have to go to their website. I want complete browser integration, like my bookmarks toolbar. I decided that the only solution was to write an extension to integrate Delicious bookmarks directly into Firefox. Then I observed--quite correctly--that I was far too lazy to do that. And then, and this is the cool part, I realized that Delicious and Firefox developers had already done the hard work; I just have to "turn on" the existing capability.
So, there's the background; here's the solution. This solution only works with Firefox, not Internet Explorer. It almost works with the new IE version 7, but Microsoft unfortunately left out some very critical pieces in their implementation.
Delicious will serve up your bookmarks either on their website, or in handy RSS form. This works very well with Firefox's RSS bookmark feture, allowing you to put a "Folder" of Delicious-served bookmarks right into your normal bookmarks collection, anywhere you might otherwise display your own browser-served bookmarks. That includes my old friend, the bookmarks toobar. So, here's what you do.
Go to your Delicious account (or Delirious -- same exact concept, but open-source), select a tag you want to add as a bookmark folder. (Did I explain that these "bookmark folders" are actually the tags you already use? Well, they are.) Now, do you see the little orange RSS icon in the address bar? It looks like this: . Click it.
When you click you get a drop-down list of RSS feeds to use. You want the feed of bookmarks, not the feed of tags. It will then ask you where to put the "live bookmark" and what to call it. You can pick whatever you want, but I'd suggest calling it something short (like the name of the tag) and creating it in the bookmarks toolbar folder. Go ahead and repeat that process of all the other tags you want quick access to. What you end up with is something that looks quite a bit like this:
Of course, there's no rule that says you can only use your bookmarks. It works just as well with anybody's bookmark collection. If you want to, you can create a normal bookmark folder (even on the bookmarks toolbar) and put any or all of your "live" bookmarks folders inside it. If you have a lot of computers to do this on, you can get one set up and then copy your "bookmarks.html" file to the others. If you want to do that but you have no idea what I'm talking about, contact me and I'll walk you through it.
One limitation that I haven't addressed yet is that each live bookmark collection only uses a single Delicious tag. This means that you may want to have a few tags that you use specifically for classifying bookmarks in your browser's collection. Since Delicious lets you specify any number of tags for a given entry, that's not a problem. Also, the other RSS feed that we didn't use, the feed of tags, is one that lists your Delicious tags rather than bookmark entries. This drops you off on the tag's Delicious page. This may be useful to you if you use a LOT of tags, of you want to link to someone else's tags collection. Another limitation is the number of bookmarks it will display under one tag. On my browser, it will display the top 31 and clip the rest--the others just don't fit on the screen. If you have more than that, perhaps you'll want to consider a more fine-grain classification system. There is no limit (that I've seen) on the number of RSS bookmark folders you can create, so go ahead and create as many as you deem necessary.
I hope these ideas help you make better use of your bookmarks collection. If you're part of that unwashed 90% who still use IE instead of Firefox, perhaps this will give you one more reason to upgrade to Firefox. Give it a try and you probably won't go back.
As a follow-up to my previous entry about flying cars, I'd like to take a little time to point out where, I believe, this technology has a future, and where it doesn't.
Flying Without a License
The first observation I'd like to make pertains to the popular concept of air travel for the masses. There seems to be a lot of hype about the idea of self-controlled aircraft that fly themselves from point A to point B using GPS or whatever, all without the aid of a qualified pilot. The tagline for this technology seems to be: "Getting a pilot's license is hard. Fly our plane and you won't need one."
Well, the concept looks good on paper... at lest to some. But imagine, for a moment, a freeway system where a good number of the cars don't have capable drivers behind the wheel. In fact, they don't even have driver seats, steering wheels, or brake pedals. See, technology is great, but technology can fail. When it works, there's nothing to worry about, but when it breaks, you want to have someone qualified to take over.
Getting a pilot's license takes a lot of training, but all but a few hours of it is dedicated to teaching you how to get out of situations that might otherwise get you dead. There's instruction about engine-loss, in-flight fires, severe weather, collision avoidance, and a good many other critical topics.
In fact, the pilots of the more advanced aircraft do the least work but have the most training. You'd be hard pressed to find a jet without an autopilot (and if you found one, you probably couldn't legally do much with it). They're not there to fly the plane. The plane flies itself. They're there to take control when things go wrong. And considering the sort of things some of these pilots have pulled off in an emergency, I'm glad that they're there. Truth is, flying will always require a license. Not only for the safety of the occupants of the craft, but for the rest of us on the ground, too.
Also, personal aircraft will never gain the same popularity as automobiles. Getting your pilot's license is quite a bit more difficult than a driver's license. While driving standards have been adjusted to place a driver's license well within the reach of even the least capable drivers in America, pilot standards are based on safety, not economics. And despite whatever propaganda you might have read, this isn't a step you'd be able to skip. (It's true that you don't need a license to fly an ultralight.... but you can't fly it around the city or at any significant altitude.)
Vehicles of the Future
The allure of a "flying car" is unparalleled convenience: door-to-door high-speed travel, never waiting at a security scan again, and best of all, no more traffic jams.
There are a couple of different details to consider when coming up with the flying car of the future. First of all, a vehicle that looks like a car does not fly very well. Sure, you can get it off the ground, but it wont be nearly as safe or efficient as it could otherwise be. Also, it's important that the vehicle be safe (with or without the engines). And while airframe parachutes are great, their track record is less than perfect; in other words, the craft better be able to glide safely to the ground should things go awful. The vehicle should be reasonably efficient: you shouldn't need 700hp worth of engine capacity to lift a two-passenger vehicle. Finally, it needs to be relatively simple. Every aircraft owner knows that the more parts you add, the more expensive the thing becomes to maintain--and that goes double for engines. Everything that flies needs to be maintained to a standard unheard of with road vehicles. The cost of doing so is directly proportional to the complexity of the craft.
Here are some of the points regarding existing designs that are commonly considered in this particular pursuit:
Aircraft with fixed wings (normal airplanes) are by far the fastest, but require a whole lot of ground space to take off and land. The whole concept of an airport is built around the need for a large area for planes to safely leave and return to earth.
All else being equal, airplanes are usually simpler craft that respond to mechanical failures fairly gracefully (i.e. safely).
Helicopters are quite the opposite of airplanes. They operate very well at low speed, takeoff and land vertically, and can never fly very fast. Helicopters are astoundingly complicated machines requiring extra vigilant care and maintenance. An engine loss in a helicopter doesn't necessarily lead to a crash, but it does require a direct return to earth following nearly the shortest possible path, which can be unnerving for all involved.
Autogyros, or gyroplanes (which, by the way, predate the helicopter by more than 10 years, not the other way around), are lifted by a rotor much like a helicopter, but use their forward motion to spin the rotor. This principle, called autorotation, is also what allows helicopters to safely land without an engine. Gyroplanes can't hover, but can take off and land in a very short distance--often within the length of the average driveway. "Jump" takeoffs (i.e. zero roll) are possible with many modern gyroplanes, but can be fairly tricky to execute.
The average autogyro is substantially more efficient than a helicopter, but not nearly as efficient as an airplane. The utility of this type of aircraft is severely limited; and it has therefore generally only been used by hobbyists and for special missions (like wildlife observation or cattle herding). When operated properly, an autogyro is exceptionally safe; however, it is subject to a number of pilot-induced situations that can be unrecoverable. Proper training is essential for safe operation, but because of the craft's simplicity, proper training is astoundingly rare. As such, the autogyro has often undeservedly gotten a bad reputation for safety.
Because autogyros don't require an airport to operate, and because they're much more simple and efficient than helicopters, this aircraft type is an ideal candidate for our flying car concept, provided the vehicle desired is for short trips where a 100 mph top speed is acceptable.
The world of autogyros stagnated for a good many years after helicopters became popular. Research and development has picked up in recent years, however, once it was realized that (a) helicopters will always be absurdly expensive, and (b) gyroplanes can do what we frequently use helicopters for. The world of personal point-to-point aviation (i.e. flying cars) is of particular interest to the autogyro community, as they see themselves as the best match for the purpose.
Since conventional airplanes are so fast, many attempts have been made to overcome their glaring weakness (the required takeoff and landing run). So far, all solutions, with one notable exception, have involved simply getting enough horsepower into the craft to drive it straight into the air. This method is effective, but immensely expensive.
The exception was to create an airplane-gyroplane hybrid. Such a craft uses a rotor for low-speed operations, but uses wings at high speed. There have been a number of craft in history to employ this technique. Most notably (and recently), the CarterCopter has been employing this tactic, while at the same time working to safely slow the rotor to reduce drag during high-speed flight. In general, a airplane-rotorcraft hybrid can't go as fast as a normal airplane. Jay Carter's company is working to change that.
There are two basic approaches to finding the "Flying Car" holy grail. The first is an attempt to create an aircraft that you can drive on the road. The other is an attempt to make an aircraft that will take you from doorstep to doorstep, so that you don't need a car.
Without going too deep into specific designs, I'll explain the basic methods people are using to try to reach these goals.
Automobile with Airplane Components
When you think of a "flying car," this is usually the image that comes to mind: an unassuming sort of automobile that allows for the attachment of specialized hardware to allow it to fly. Some of the earliest flying car designs followed this technique, it being one of the most intuitive solutions. The Aerocar (mentioned in Part 1) followed this design, as did the infamous getaway car in the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. The Aerocar 2000 project seems to be an attempt at picking up where Molt Taylor left off--we'll see if that gets anywhere. It's also quite popular to make some attempt at integrating the wings and other flying matter into the car itself, so as to not have to leave your wings at home. Doing so is a bit of a challenge, so seeing different solutions is really quite intriguing. The automobile-airplane hybrid is so common a technique that no design really sticks out in the crowd. The size of the crowd, however, is a marvel in itself.
"Powered Lift" is the official FAA terminology for an aircraft that can "power" itself into the air by directing its thrust downward. Aircraft in this category include the tiltrotor V-22 Osprey and it's smaller cousin the Bell 609, along with V/STOL fighter jets like the Harrier and the Navy configuration of the Joint Strike Fighter.
Moller's Skycar is the only (as far as I know) flying car design in this category. It's lonely here for a reason: powered lift aircraft have unimaginably huge engine requirements, and therefore unrealistically expensive fuel consumption rates. Also, of all aircraft designed for slow flight, powered lift aircraft are by far and away the least stable and most dangerous (and difficult) to fly. Furthermore, any loss of power in "hover" configuration for any and all of these aircraft is immediately catastrophic, and very likely unrecoverable. 
 "Unrecoverable" is an aviation engineering euphemism for, "You get real dead real quick."
Gyroplane - Motorcycle
Probably the most promising design--that is, the simplest, safest, and cheapest--is to make a roadable gyroplane. Another way to look at it is to create a 3-wheel motorcycle with a rotor and a propeller. Of all the personal flying vehicles in the works, this one seems to be seeing the most progress. Here are a couple projects of note:
- Spark Design's PALV
This project is still in the design phase, but if the company's claims are to be trusted, they've already created solutions to a number of thorny problems: a folding propeller and rotor solve the "where do I put these things" problem for when in "road" mode. They've also patented some system of allowing the three-wheeled vehicle to tilt into a turn like a two-wheel vehicle would. As far as I know, however, they haven't produced a prototype, putting them quite solidly into last place in this race. The pictures sure look slick, though.
- Sean Cooper's street-legal gyroplane
Sean works in Silicon Valley, and commutes 50 miles to work every day. He managed to get his homebuilt gyroplane registered by both the FAA and, (after some persistence) the DMV. He has to take the rotor off to drive in traffic, and it currently only has one gear for road driving. But it's a start.
- Larry Neil's Sky Cycle
Larry works for Carter Aviation Technologies, the creators of the CarterCopter. Larry's also got his own company, which been working on a vehicle he calls the "Super Sky Cycle." In a nutshell, it's his Monarch gyroplane converted into a roadable vehicle. Thanks to Harley Davidson's incessant lobbying, it's trivially easy to register your own homebuilt motorcycle with the DMV; which, incidentally, is exactly what this "chopper" is classified as. This vehicle also has a folding rotor design for road use, and seems to be progressing quite quickly.
Airplane - Rotorcraft
This design attempts to take the best features of the Airplane world and tie them in to a rotorcraft (either Gyroplane or Helicopter). The most notable hybrid in history past was the Fairey Rotodyne: a remarkable 40-passenger craft with full hover capability but no tail rotor--instead it had tiny jet engines at the tips of each rotor blade. It had a top speed of about 190 mph; quite an achievement for its day.
In recent years, Carter and company has picked up the ball and created a hybrid gyroplane-airplane. Their purpose was to make such craft faster by slowing the rotor during cruise. Unfortunately, the CCTD craft crashed a few months back because of some lose bolts or something. While the pilots where fine, the craft was severely damaged. The company has decided, therefore, to focus their attention on the Monarch autogyro (the base design behind Larry Neil's Sky Cycle) because of funding reasons.
If Carter's experiment taught us anything, though, it's that the advantages of both rotorcraft and fixed-wing crafts can be effectively combined without serious side effects. You can take any of the previously-mention rotorcraft and add small wings to get better high-speed performance.
You might expect, assuming that we only use present-day technology, that the flying car of the future will be a roadable aircraft that uses a rotor to take off at low speeds, and a small set of wings for lift at high speed. You might also expect the "AutomoRotorPlane" to have collapsible telescoping wings and a folding propeller and rotor that store out-of-the-way for road use.
A 2 to 4 passenger model would probably do about 80 mph on the freeway, and about 220 mph in the air, all on an engine that burns about 10 gallons of normal automobile fuel per hour. It wouldn't look like a car, but you'd be the envy of all the neighbors as you back out of your driveway, pull onto the street as the main rotor slowly spins up, then gently lift off and turn toward downtown. You could smile to yourself as you zip 1000 feet above the Monday morning gridlock on your way to the office. A one-and-a-half-hour commute reduced to 8 minutes. Yeah, you can live with that.