ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 30, 2010

Wi-Fi signals leading to auto breaking

Car Burglary
Wi-fi signals from laptops and iPhones helps to access many things while moving but it also has the possibilities of attracting burglars.

According to Credant Technologies devices like iPhones and particularly laptops that use Wi-Fi require up to 30 minutes before going into "sleep" mode. During this time, burglars detect using a specific scanner which just costs about $50.
A group of people were caught recently for stealing laptops in this fashion. Hence better take some time to turn off your Wi-fi, every time you leave your laptop, iPhone or iPad in your car.

It may look improbable that your automobile will become a target because of an open laptop, please be cautious to switch off the Wi-Fi signal before leaving your vehicle for long periods of time.

Auto Shipping Insurance

Car insurance
People never buy vehicles without insurance. When you are relocating and you need to ship your car to a different country or state – your vehicle might incur scratches or damage. Your car might not be damaged during shipping but you have to be prepared if it happens.
Please check these steps to ensure that you are receiving proper insurance:
  • Get every detail in writing.
  • Check if the company has an up-to-date insurance certificate. Ask questions such as: Will your car be covered for any damages while shipping?
  • Does auto insurance cover the vehicle both during loading and unloading? Will the coverage be the same even the car is in transit?
  • Do not load any personal items on your vehicle as they will not be covered for damage or theft in transit.
  • Before the vehicle is shipped, the shipper will thoroughly check it and you should be available there to debate any inconsistencies. Please don’t forget to thoroughly check your vehicle before signing the condition report once it’s delivered. Once you sign the report, the shipper will be relieved from any damages if you find later. If you’re receiving your car during night, be smart to inspect the car in a bright area because some damages might not be visible during nights.
  • If you find that any damage had occurred during shipment, mention it in the bill of lading and ask the driver to sign it. Inform the auto transport company about the damage and start claiming the damage reimbursement process.
  • If your auto shipping company does not pay your damage claims, you can contact Better Business Bureau. You can even contact the Department of Transportation for filing complaints and get a court judgment against such auto shippers.

You can notice that licensed and bonded car transport companies will definitely carry proper insurance to reimburse damage claims. Please note the above mentioned steps while you are looking for car shipping.

For more information, please visit:
auto shipping | car shipping | car transport.

My Solution To WikiLeaks

If I was POTUS, the guy who runs WikiLeaks would be snatched, tried before a military tribunal as a material supporter of terrorists, and then sent to prison.

And if I couldn't snatch him, I would cause him to have a tragic accident.

Espionage is an act of war, and leaking military documents could actually cost the lives of our soldiers or our allies.  

How to prepare your vehicle before shipping?

Auto shipping is an act of transporting a vehicle from one place to another. However, certain factors have to be taken care before shipping your car. Whether you are an expert, there are still things to consider when preparing your vehicle.
Most important factors:
  • Completely wash your vehicle
  • Clean inside your vehicle
  • Some carriers may need to move your car, hence fill a quarter of the gas tank atleast.
  • Don’t insert any luggage or personal things on your vehicle before shipping
Optional factors:
  • Disable your vehicle alarm.
  • Secure your vehicle’s customized accessories
  • Choosing enclosed car shipping for certain things so that moisture doesn’t go inside.
  • Check your vehicle’s condition to ensure that it’s in good condition
  • Let your career know the defects in your vehicle

For more information, please visit:
auto shipping | car shipping | car transport.

Important tips before shipping

car transport
Car Transport
Car transport is an act of shipping a car from one place to another. However, there are many factors in shipping a car that many are unaware of. Whether you are new or a seasoned expert in shipping your car, there are still a lot of factors to be noted in the car shipping process. One such factor is the last minute car shipping tips before you start shipping.
Important tips before shipping your car:
  • Budgeting- Budgeting is the most important step to be noted before shipping. When finding the best auto transport company for lesser dollar value, your need to focus on finding a trust worthy company. Please allocate some time to conduct a research on the web and consult with your neighbors and friends. Please, make sure that you have all the information needed before asking questions.
  • Vehicle Preparation- Preparing your vehicle is the second important step before shipping. Whether you may be relocating to a new home or moving on a long vacation, avoid trying to insert items into your car. Many auto shipping companies put an extra charge for vehicles that weigh above a predetermined weight.
  • Shipping Date- One of the most important aspects of the car shipping business is to know that your vehicle will be arrived on the date promised. All car transport companies guarantee our pick up so that you need not wait for your vehicle to arrive.

For more information, please visit:
auto shipping | car shipping | car transport.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 29, 2010

More Volt Math

The comments to my previous post, Some Volt Math, had some very astute observations.  Obviously my little calculation was based on lots of assumptions, and there are many ways to make the economics worse for the Volt.

For example, if you add the cost of a 240V home charger, professionally installed, it could add thousands to the cost.  On the other hand, it may be partly offset with tax credits.

Sales tax on the difference can be significant, 7% of $8,500 is $600, or 9 months of cost advantage gone.

12c/kWh electricity may be a rosy assumption for some, such as Californians.  What if you had to pay 15c/kWh, or in Hawaii, 27c/kWh?

On the plus side, the alternative to the Volt might not be a 30mpg vehicle, it could be a 25mpg vehicle.  But then again, it could cost $20,000 instead of $25,000, adding another $5,000 to the payoff barrier!

I have also read stories on forums that some Chevrolet dealers are planning on charging thousands over MSRP.  This won't last long, they are just going to make extra money on the early adopters, and will have to make deals when demand collapses at those prices.

I think I need to make a spreadsheet.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 28, 2010

"Sponsored Post" WTF?

Over at LeftLane News, I read a glowing review of Toyota safety features.  I wondered why they were basically repeating Toyota's new marketing campaign, until I saw the tag "Sponsored Post".

Guys, write your own stuff.  It is bad enough that readers have to wade through banner ads, side panels, and on some sites, popup ads.  If they have to learn to ignore parts of your main feed, they'll get annoyed and start to tune out.

I don't have massive readership, but for the few readers I do have, I can promise this: any posts you read on here were written by me, with some thought.  There will be no sponsored posts.  No ghostwriting.  

What is car shipping?

 Car Shipping

car shipping
Car Shipping
Car shipping is an act of transporting a car from one location to another. However, there are many issues in shipping a car that many are unaware of. The first would be the idea of shipping your car on an open carrier or in an enclosed carrier. Open carriers are giant trucks with six to ten slots for vehicles. Enclosed transport is when your car is loaded into a container that protects it from weather and different road hazards. Typically, your car will be safer on an open carrier, and most car shipping occurs on these trucks.

Another major issue in car shipping is door-to-door shipping or terminal-to-terminal shipping. Door-to-door shipping means the truck will come to your house and pick up the vehicle, right in front of you. The most preferred option is door-to-door shipping and it is by far the safest and most convenient method to ship your car because you can see the vehicle loaded onto the truck, unless in terminal-to-terminal shipping, you need to drop your car at a place and leave your car there until a truck comes and pick it up.

Car shipping is a simple process once you knew the terms involved. The two terms which we discussed here are the most important terms you need to know before shipping your car. Open carrier, door to door is the most preferred method and most of the companies offer it. Check the car shipping quote and shop before ordering a shipment and check for the reliability of companies before booking an order.

For more information, please visit:
auto shipping | car shipping | car transport.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 27, 2010

Truck Driving Championships - Alabama

auto transport

The Alabama truck driving championship is an exciting family event which is held each year in May at the Bessemer's Debardelaben Park. This event brings trucking industry's best drivers against one another in a test of road knowledge and driving skill.

The championships recognize the association's best drivers in eight different classes, and each company can send up to two drivers in each class. To compete in this championship, a driver must be accident-free for the past 12-months and work for an association member company.

The competition is scored by points given in each of four different areas. A written exam can earn up to 40 points, a personal interview is worth a maximum of 10 points, a pre-trip inspection earns up to 50 points with 10 bonus points available, and the all-important skills course is worth a maximum of 300 points. Contestants earning the most points in each class are declared champion.

Winners in each class who qualify can then go on to represent Alabama in the National Truck Driving Championships sponsored by the American Trucking Associations in August. Classes include straight truck, twins, three-axle van, four-axle van, five-axle van, sleeper birth, flatbed and tanks.

Some Volt Math

Today's big news is that GM will charge $41,000 MSRP for the Volt. (Question for GM: how will you keep dealers from adding a "market adjustment"?)

Assume you can get the $7,500 tax rebate, so your actual price is $35,000, plus applicable local taxes. And suppose that a comparably equipped vehicle of similar size, in a non-hybrid flavor, can be had for $25,000 (a premium compact like a VW Jetta, Volvo C30, or a Subaru Impreza).

For $8,500 premium, you get a 40mile all electric range. That represents 80% of the 16KWh battery, or about 13kWh. At 12c/kWh, if you can drive all electric, 15,000mi/year will cost you about $585. Very nice.

If your premium compact gas car gets an average of just 30mpg, 15,000mi at $3.00/gal will cost you $1,500.

Under these assumptions, best case (all electric Volt miles), you save $915/year driving the Volt. To gain back your $10,000 price premium, you will have to drive the Volt for 9.3 years, 1.3 year longer than the battery warranty.

Now suppose you can't run your Volt 100% electric, but you need to rely on the gas generator engine for just 33% of your mileage. 10,000 miles electric will cost you $390, and 5,000 miles at 40mpg (assume) will cost you $375. Running a Volt 66/33 electric/gas will cost you $765. The payback time for your $10,000 premium is now over 11.1 years, 3 years longer than the battery warranty.

My point here is that at $41,000 MSRP, the Volt is not a great deal, except for people who are passionate about not using much gasoline. In order to even come close to making sense for the average consumer, the Volt needs to be priced for a payback of about 5 years, or about $29,000 out-the-door, or $36,500 MSRP, with the $7,500 tax credit.

Update: fixed my math error.

2011 Explorer Reveal

So yesterday was National Explorer Reveal Day.  I won't re-write what you have no doubt already read from many other source.

Here is a nice slide show of the reveal in Dearborn, from the Examiner.  Apparently, worried that people would get the idea that the new Explorer is an on-road machine only, Ford constructed a 30 foot high dirt hill (very well groomed) which they used to unveil the new Explorer.  

I think the vehicle looks great, inside and out, but it is a definite departure for Ford.  It is no longer PC to sell a truck which over-capable, primarily targeted at suburban families, who won't really ever drive it on off-road trails or tow anything heavier than a jet-ski trailer or pop up camper.   Ford looked at who was buying the old Explorer, and made a vehicle that appeals to a majority of those customers.  This will however alienate the few people who actually used the old Explorer as a heavy tow vehicle, or benefited from a real locking 4x4 system.   

Vehicle registration plates of Alabama

Alabama has issued license plates for motor vehicles which were operated on highways since 1911. Some municipalities issued their own license plates motor cars as well as for horse-drawn vehicles prior to that date. The earliest surviving example was a bronze plate, "No. 1", which was issued for a two-horse dray for the city of Bessemer.
Later, the state issued plates of 4 and one half inches wide and not more than 12 inches long, with the letters "ALA" arranged vertically on the left and 3" tall numerals with 1/2" strokes.
Later in 1916, Alabama switched its license plates from porcelain to stamped tin plates. In 1917 the issued year was stamped on the plates and in 1919 the plate’s size was increased by 6" x 15". A code for the vehicles weight class was added in in 1922.
In 1942 Alabama started using a code for each county and assigned numbers 1, 2, and 3 to the most popular counties like Jefferson, Mobile and Montgomery and numbering the rest in alphabetical order. During the World War II in 1943, the state issued window decals alone due to metal shortages. In 1951 a heart shape and the phrase "Heart of Dixie" was added to the state's license plates, adopting a slogan which was created by the Alabama Chamber of Commerce. The law has never been replaced, and the symbol still appears on all standard-issue plates though it may be small.
Since 1980, Alabama uses a registration system based on the first letter of the registrant's last name and registrations starts from January and expires in November.

Image First issued Design Slogan
1971 Black on reflective mint green with embossed 72 Heart of Dixie
1972 Red on reflective white with embossed 73 Heart of Dixie
1973 Black on reflective white with embossed 74 Heart of Dixie
1974 Black on reflective yellow with embossed 75 Heart of Dixie
1975 Blue on reflective white with embossed 76 Heart of Dixie
1982Red on reflective white Heart of Dixie
late 1987Blue on reflective white Heart of Dixie
January 1993 Blue on reflective white Heart of Dixie
2006 God Bless America and Heart of Dixie
January 2, 2009Reflective with Alabama Gulf Coast graphic Sweet Home Alabama and Heart of Dixie

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 26, 2010

2011 Ford Explorer Aside

Old Henry was not known as being particularly friendly to the Jews.

Today, Ford is showing off a major redesign of one it its signature products, the Explorer.

In this video, project manager Julie Levine shows Mark Fields some of the new features of the 2011 Explorer.

They're both Jewish.  

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 25, 2010

Freight transport in Alabama

Alabama Freight Transportation

Freigh transport
Freight Transport
Since Freight transportation fuels the state’s economy, the Alabama Department of Transportation has started a study of freight transportation to identify the opportunities for improving the public road network and to facilitate freight movements and improve operations and safety. Private sector freight operators are important users as well as priority clients for the State’s road network.
The committees which were organized earlier have been working on Freight Study, with appropriate modifications and representation. The Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) plays a very important role in providing information and comments reflecting the opinions of special groups that use transportation.

For this study, the SAG was reformed to include members from the private and public freight companies, development and regulatory agencies and planning organizations which directly involve in freight transportation. The SAG has strength of 70 members which will meet at specific times to review the results and comments on the items important for freight transportation.
Highway Emergencies
"*HP" is a cellular telephone network which provides direct access to Alabama’s state trooper posts. By dialing "*HP" (or *47) for Highway Patrol, motorists can contact Alabama’s state trooper posts to report about accidents, highway emergencies, suspected drunken drivers or other major hazards.

Alabama state troopers have brought this valuable highway safety initiative to Alabama with the cooperation of cellular phone companies at no cost to the caller. The “*HP" network provides a faster method of reporting highway incidents and hence the response time of the troopers are reduced and emergency action can be taken in a more timely manner.

For more information, please visit:
auto shipping | car shipping | car transport.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 23, 2010

Ford's Explorer Tease Campaign

Ford is running a teaser campaign on Facebook for its new unibody Explorer.  You can see spy shots here.  I have been following it to see the teasers.  The official reveal will be Monday.  Since they met their goal of 30,000 friends, they will be giving away a new Explorer.

I am amazed at all the people who say basically "if it isn't a truck, I don't want it!"  The days of the body on frame, rear wheel drive, V8 powered SUV are long over.  All the big players have basically left the market except for Toyota, which sells the 4Runner, and of course Jeep.   Oh, and you can't get a V8 4runner.  And Xterra doesn't have 3 rows. GM's Trailblazer and Hummer H3?  Dead.  Even the Jeep Commander, which was unibody, is rumored to be going out of production.

From Edmund's, here is the list of top 5 selling mid-sized SUVs:

Only the Wrangler is a body on frame rear driver.

Aside from niche vehicles like the Wrangler, Xterra, and FJ Cruiser, the mass market is moving towards lighter, more fuel efficient "crossover" type SUVs.  People want a little bit of offroad capability, but they also want good fuel economy and handling.  The sweet spot here is clearly mid-sized unibody designs like the Chevrolet Traverse.  

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 13, 2010

Spotted: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Out and about today, I spotted a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee pre-production car (manufacturer plate) parked out in public. I didn't have a camera with me so I can't post pics, but I can share some overall impressions.

The design is handsome up close, with generally taut body work. This is a much better styled vehicle than most of what Chrysler has released lately--it looks like the excesses of the Sebring/Caliber/Compass are behind us. The interior looked nice also, with tasteful use of chrome highlights, faux wood, and grained surfaces.

This example did have some problems, though. The hood alignment was off, creating sloppy looking panel gaps and poor seam alignment. The a-pillar seams were not well aligned, bad enough to be noticeable. In other words, it was put together more like the "old" Chrysler. I wouldn't take this too seriously yet, since this was a pre-production vehicle, but Chrysler needs to have world class fit and finish if they hope to compete.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 12, 2010

Black Box Video Recorders? No.

Intel is showing off a concept for an Event Data Recorder (EDR) which records in-cabin video as well as vehicle network data and GPS coordinates. (Story here)

This is not going to happen any time soon, unless of course Congress passes a law to require it, which they won't.  

The privacy advocates won't agree to video recording, and the expense of adding the hardware to the EDR module will be a strong deterrent to automakers, who will also lobby hard against it.  The trial lawyers will also try to kill it, because a video recorder would be typically be a witness against their plaintiff customers.

To encode video into a reasonably compact form, a standalone video processor chip would be required, such as are packaged into DVRs.  A ballpark price for one of these is probably in the $20 range.  In addition, enough flash memory would have to be added to store the video streams in addition to the vehicle data.  90s of video at reasonable resolution and quality would require several megabytes of flash, easily several more dollars per vehicle.

I also question the utility of recording GPS data.  A vehicle typically has a fairly accurate on board velocity estimate, which comes from the ABS wheel speed sensors.  Unless a driver is involved in a hit-and-run, it will be pretty obvious to accident investigators what the path of the vehicle was, based on external evidence and the on-board inertial signals which would normally be recorded in an EDR.

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 11, 2010

Review: Sony KDL-32EX308 LCD TV

I have been using a CRT TV with a DTV decoder box since the digital transition, but finally, I decided to join the world of true HDTV, and decided to shop for a modestly price LCD HDTV. My main requirement: it had to work well with OTA viewing, since I refuse to pay money for TV service.After some digging around, a clear winner came out: the Sony KDL-32EX308. This is a 32" 720p unit which has a price around $430 from SonyStyle.com. I am convinced this is the best modestly price TV for OTA use out there.

  • Ethernet port and free wi-fi adapter. Automatically updates firmware.
  • 2 HDMI ports, plus USB for music and photo playback.
  • Internet video functions like Qriocity, Amazon, Netflix, and Youtube built in
  • Internet radio from Pandora, Slacker, NPR, others
  • TV Guide populated from internet download
  • DLNA client built in -- you can stream video from your PC, even Windows Media Center
  • Decent OTA reception (about as good as my Zenith DTV box)
  • Nice integrated Favorites menu lets you assign inputs, internet functions, and channels to the favorites bar
  • Nice XBM menu system
  • Massive deal at only $430
  • Good remote with redundant power button underneath (where your fingers go)
  • Nice basic understated design
  • HDMI link lets you control Sony branded stuff from the TV menu, without changing remotes.

  • Advanced features take longer to "boot up" than basic TV function on a cold start (can be remedied by setting up quick start mode, but this uses more power)
  • DLNA client needs MPEG2 video to play, so you need a DLNA server which can transcode to MPEG2 on the fly. Windows Media 7 seems to work fine for most formats this way, with some loss in quality.
  • TV Guide startup delay of about 5s after you press the guide button.
  • Sluggish response to some menu navigation commands, slow response to direct channel input.
  • Can't add channels manually, must scan then delete
  • Lots of "fluff" (craplets) in internet sources like Ford Models channel, which apparently can't be manually removed.
  • Narrow viewing angle--colors begin to noticeably wash out if you move just 45 degrees off center.
  • No support yet for Hulu, ABC video on demand, and some other sites.
Even if it didn't have a built in DLNA client, and didn't do Youtube, the TV Guide function alone would be worth considering.

Screen Shots:

Excellent picture when viewed close to head on.

The favorites menu overlays on top of your current activity, this is the best way to get to things you frequently use.

XBM Menu is quick and attractive.

My main reason to buy: the TV Guide which is fed from internet data or OTA data. Cons: delay before it comes up, slow response to inputs, advertising.

Useful channel strength and information display.

Pandora Radio interface.

YouTube frontend.

YouTube fullscreen with navigation controls. They go away after a second if you don't need them.

Remote details. Nice quick access buttons for major functions, redundant power button on the back of the remote.

Close-up of display for display geeks.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 9, 2010

Ford Teases 2011 Explorer

Ford is dribbling out little bits about the new Exporer, which will be a major redesign (new platform, unibody, FWD/AWD) for the product. This is a neat video which shows some aerodynamic testing in a wind tunnel using a clay styling model. Even though Ford hasn't officially shown the Explorer, the clay model gives a lot away, assuming it is accurate.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 6, 2010

Fix: Missing DVD Drive Letter On Windows 7 64Bit

I am running Windows 7 64bit on a Dell desktop machine. Mysteriously, my DVD drive disappeared from Windows 7, and going through the hardware manager to re-install it did not work.

It turns out that iTunes (effing Apple! "it just works", hah!) puts in an ASPI driver from Gear Software.

To get my DVD drive back, I followed the instructions in this Microsoft KB article. It involves going into the registry using Regedit (don't forget to do it "run as Administrator") and deleting the UpperFilters key, which to the GearASPI file.

Problem is, if you update iTunes, you will have to do this again (I did).

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 4, 2010

Happy Birthday USA!

There are few countries in the world I can think of that I would rather be a citizen of than the US of A. There are other countries which are great, and powerful, and free. But none of them are such good combination of the three.

I get a rush every time I read our founding words. Pure poetry:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...