ಬುಧವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 30, 2011

How To Reset Your Garmin

I needed to reset my Garmin 1390 GPS unit, before giving it to a friend, to erase all of my personal data.  I found out there is a nice factory reset function which will clear all user data.

To factory reset your Garmin:
  • Power off the unit
  • Press and hold the lower right corner of the screen
  • Power on the unit.

I also found that if you do the same thing but press and hold the upper left of the touch screen, it will re-calibrate the touchscreen.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 28, 2011

NHTSA: Volt Battery Pack Post Crash Risks

NHTSA posted a press release on its web site which explains its recent test results with Chevy Volt batteries.

In an effort to recreate the May test, NHTSA conducted three tests last week on the Volt's lithium-ion battery packs that intentionally damaged the battery compartment and ruptured the vehicle's coolant line. Following a test on November 16 that did not result in a fire, a temporary increase in temperature was recorded in a test on November 17. During the test conducted on November 18 using similar protocols, the battery pack was rotated within hours after it was impacted and began to smoke and emit sparks shortly after rotation to 180 degrees. NHTSA's forensic analysis of the November 18 fire incident is continuing this week. Yesterday, the battery pack that was tested on November 17 and that had been continually monitored since the test caught fire at the testing facility. The agency is currently working with DOE, DOD, and GM to assess the cause and implications of yesterday's fire. In each of the battery tests conducted in the past two weeks, the Volt's battery was impacted and rotated to simulate a real-world, side-impact collision into a narrow object such as a tree or a pole followed by a rollover.

So in short, NHTSA is crashing Volts with  very specific protocol--a narrow pole, which will cause severe deformation/penetration of the body structure, followed by a rotation to simulate a rollover.

The batteries aren't catching on fire right away, rather they seem to take some time to build up heat.  

I don't think there is anything to worry about, yet.  First, this is a very specific and severe type of crash, and second, it takes hours or days before the battery self-heats to the point of fire.  As NHTSA and GM both point out, no on-the-road accidents are known to have caused battery fires.

However, GM apparently was late to the game, by not developing beforehand a procedure to discharge (and render safer) the Volt battery.  They are now rolling this procedure out to first responders, who need to know how to neutralize a charged lithium ion battery after a severe accident.

Finding the Best Piano Moving Company

Piano is one of the wonderful instruments to keep in your home. This instrument cannot be simply picked up and moved. Since it can incur severe damage, much care has to be taken while moving a piano. Even a slight damage can be too costly in having the piano fixed. In some cases, severe damage might lead to replacement of the piano. The only solution for this would be by hiring a professional piano mover who knows the difficulties in moving a piano. Lets have a look at the various things which are to be considered while moving a piano.

How to choose a professional piano mover?

Lot of people might have the doubt of why to choose a professional piano mover for moving a piano when lot of home movers are available. The main reason is that most of the home movers wouldn't have sufficient knowledge and experience in moving a piano properly. Piano's are available in different sizes and their value depends mainly on their model, make, condition and age. Most of the times, the piano need to be moved through a small space and in few other cases, it has to be disassembled and moved. Its always better to choose a mover near your location to minimize the charges you incur. Hence for moving your belongings in Chicago, its always good to hire a Chicago Mover to reduce your costs.

How should pianos be moved?

When hiring a professional Chicago mover, you can expect atleast 2-3 people arriving at your home with all the necessary equipments in order to move your prized piano safely. Special techniques has to be employed to move your instrument and once the piano is moved to the truck, it will be fastened inside to avoid damage during its transit. When you choose someone who is not a professional piano mover, the necessary safety guards might not be applied. Preferring a professional piano mover might not completely stop your piano from getting damaged but it will reduce the chance of getting damaged.

Just remember to choose the best piano mover and ensure that they have all the information to offer 100% satisfaction .

ಗುರುವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 24, 2011

Review: Davis CarChip Pro

This is a review of the Davis Industires CarChip Pro . 

The CarChip is a small device which plugs into your vehicle's OBD-II port, and acts as a datalogger.  It can record vehicle speed every second, and up to 4 other items at a slower rate of one sample every 5 seconds. Retail prices are around $80.

The device is simple to configure.  Once you install the software (which worked fine on Windows 7), and plug the CarChip in with a mini-USB cable (included), a step-by-step configuration walks you through the initial setup.

For example, you can choose to record 4 parameters at every 5s, from a choice of several standard OBD-II parameters, including engine speed, throttle position, engine coolant temp, engine load, air flow rate, spark timing, air/fuel ratio, battery voltage, and oxygen sensor voltage.  You can also set audible alarms, to have the device beep at you if you exceed a top speed, or a max accel/decel rate.

For my testing, I plugged it into my 2007 (which would be using CAN OBD-II), and drove a few trips.  I also induced two powertrain diagnostic faults: I loosened my fuel cap, and for a short time, disconnected my intake air temp sensor (IAT).

After removing the device and downloading the data to my PC, I was able to use the software to plot the recorded channels, and the device properly logged two DTCs, one for evaporative emissions (P0456) and one for the IAT circuit test failure (P0113).  By clicking on a menu choice, you can tell the CarChip to clear the codes next time you plug it into your vehicle.

Overall, I liked the CarChip, and I would recommended for several use cases.  A hobbyist or fleet owner who wants a low-cost way to log mileage, driving style, fuel economy, etc. would do well with a CarChip if they don't mind plugging into it every so often to download the data.  It could also be useful to someone who wanted to program it as a "trainer", to teach themselves (or their kids) not to accelerate too hard or brake too abruptly, to teach a high fuel economy driving style.

However, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this as a primary diagnosis tool, for example to debug DTCs or do performance tuning, because of its offline nature.  Someone who wanted to quickly determine why they have a Check Engine lamp, and perhaps check some of their engine control sensor values as part of the debug would be better off with an interactive scan tool.  Also, the relatively slow 5s sampling rate may cause users to miss some aspects of the engine performance, such as sudden lean fuel excursions or speed fluctuations.

My advice to Davis, to improve this product, would be to add a "live mode" which pulls the OBD data in real-time via the USB, and to add some sort of wireless interface so that the data can be monitored and downloaded via bluetooth without having to plug into the unit directly.

  • Simple to use software, easy setup
  • Ability to set speed/accel/decel alarms
  • Fault code logging and clearing
  • Small, unobtrusive
  • Data can be easily exported
  • Slow sampling rate (5s) on user-configured data channels
  • No apparent "live mode" to look at data interactively, while connected
  • No wireless transfer mode (bluetooth or wifi).
* Davis provided me with a sample unit, however I recieved no compensation for this review.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 22, 2011

You Walk

Saw this hilarious billboard on the outskirts of Pontiac the other day.  Rough neighborhood, I guess.

3 Important Moving Tips to Consider

Professional movers are often not considered because they are expensive. You should be smart enough while choosing a moving company. You can still receive professional help and lower your costs by concentrating on three important tips.

Price quotes

When you are considering to move, you need to contact several companies and get an estimate for the moving process and the distance that you are moving. It is always better to know the amount of material that you are moving. Example, a two bedroom flat with appliances will cost more than a single bed room flat with appliances.


Packing on your own helps you reduce the costs. If you choose a professional moving company, then the cost might be much higher. It may also be time consuming to properly pack your items.

Some might wish to purchase boxes from the moving companies. However you can rent boxes for cheaper prices. You can even try for companies that rent trucks. These companies might rent items that you need to pack.


Some might also look to store your things. In that case, you can save a lot of money if you do it yourself. Most of the professional moving companies offer storage services while moving your things. Once its moved they will store the things in a secured place. However you need to pay an extra charge for the storage.

If you need to store things, you can choose a rental truck however if you don't have more things, you can choose a truck for moving alone. Check the charge for storage but it would be much cheaper if you do it yourself. It's always a good idea to compare costs. If the costs are not too higher, you can hire the work from a professional piano movers rather than doing yourself.

For more information about our services, visit Chicago Movers.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 18, 2011

Coda: Does Anyone Care?

The Coda is an all electric sedan built on a Chinese copy of a Mitsubishi compact sedan chassis, stuffed with batteries and electric motors.  It looks cheap.  But it will cost $40,000 like the Focus BEV, Chevrolet Volt, and Nissan Leaf high trim model.  

Does anyone really want one at this price?

ಗುರುವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 17, 2011

New Fiat 500 Abarth Commercial


Translation from a YouTube viewer:

What are you looking at? Uh!?

What are you looking at?! (slap)

Are you undressing me with your eyes?

Poor guy…you can't help it?

Is your heart beating? Is your head spinning?

Do you feel lost thinking that I could be yours forever?

(by the way has a slightly non-italian accent)

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 15, 2011

Smelly Anarchists Begone!

NYC has finally had enough of the Occupy Wall Street crowd in Zuccotti park.  A judge has denied a lawsuit for a restraining order against NYPD, on the grounds that

To the extent that  City law prohibits the erection of  structures,  the use of  gas or  other  
combustible materials, and the accumulation of  garbage and human waste in public places, 

enforcement of the law and the owner's rules appears reasonable to permit the owner to maintain its 
space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable by the City or  others 
for  violations of  law, or  in tort.  It  also permits public access by those who live and work in the area 
who are the intended beneficiaries of  this zoning bonus.  
The movants have not  demonst rated that  they have a First  Amendment  right  to remain in 
Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion 
of the owner's reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access 
of  others who might  wish to use the space safely
. Neither have the applicants shown a right to a 
temporary restraining order that would restrict the City's enforcement of  law so as to promote public 
health and safety.

Presumably, now the NYPD will begin moving the squatters out of Zuccotti park, so that the damage can be repaired. 

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 13, 2011

Opera.2 Crossover Coupe Unveiled by Vygor

Opera 2 Crossover Coupe

It's now time for the Opera.2 which is launched by the Tuscany-based operation. This is not a replacement for the Opera.1 but it offers a different design from the hideous cartoon-bunny front end in the Opera.1. Now, it looks like a Chinese Concept Car.

The mechanical details has been borrowed from the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. Its reported that the turbo four is available with 300, 350 or 420 horsepower, propelling this 3,500-lb mess to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds and on to a 155 mph top end.

The pricing starts at $192,000. You'll also be thrilled to know that a third design is apparently in the works with a broader range of style choices.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 10, 2011

EVs Should Be Loud

Today, while crossing a busy grocery store parking lot, I was really startled by a silent Prius driving accross my path.  Since I didn't hear a noise, I didn't expect to see it moving near me.

I'm coming down on the side of noise pollution here.  EVs (BEVs or HEVs in electric mode) should make some sort of noise, loud enough for a pedestrian to hear within about 15 feet or so.  Silent cars are not as safe.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 7, 2011

The End of Saab (Again)?

This might be the be the end for Saab.  GM is stating that it does not support the sale of Saab to two Chinese auto companies.  Without financing, Saab is likely to be liquidated by the Swedish courts, a process that was suspended when Saab made a deal to sell itself.  

I have friends who own Saabs, and I wonder what will happen to them as far as vehicle service and replacement parts go.  Perhaps someone will step up and buy the parts inventory, if there is money to be made in service.  Some Saab models are really re-badged GM or Subaru vehicles, so those likely can be serviced at those dealerships.  

Prius Smugness Run Amok

Smug Prius owner goes apesh*t because a guy is idling his diesel pickup in an adjacent parking spot.

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 6, 2011

BMW's M3 Competition Edition for U.S.

BMW's M3 Competition Edition

BMW launches a special M3 Competition Edition to celebrate its 40 years. Only 40 Coupes will be shipped to U.S. This edition will feature with a Frozen Silver exterior paint, black M3 GTS 19-inch wheels, dark chrome exterior trim and dark exhaust tips with its interior complemented with Black Novillo leather upholstery with Palladium Silver accents, an Alcantara M steering wheel and M logos.

It's also more expensive than the standard M3. The Competition Edition M3 cost $81,060 with destination and handling, or a hefty $20,000 more than the base car. Since BMW is has dubbed this M3 the "Competition Edition," the automaker is also encouraging its U.S. dealer body to compete for the chance to sell one of them.

Lotus, Renault and Virgin F1 teams change names for 2012

formula1 teams

The battle, as you may recall, involves two outfits - neither of them directly owned by Lotus. One is based in Malaysia and licensed the name from Lotus' parent company, Proton, before subsequently "acquiring" the name from a third party that laid claim to it. The issue was further complicated when Lotus itself teamed with the Renault F1 team, resulting in two squads called Lotus-Renault.

The two operations have now reached a compromise. The green-and-yellow Malaysian outfit known until now as Team Lotus be named Caterham in 2012, while the Renault team will be cleared to use the Lotus name.

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/

ಬುಧವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 2, 2011

EVs Are Expensive!

Ford today announced the pricing for the electric Focus, $40,000.  Facebook and blogs are howling at the price.

Truth is, the price is not unfair.  Li-Ion batteries are running around $600/kWh these days.  If the Focus matches the Leaf's 24kWh battery, then it is carrying about $14,000 in batteries.  A nicely equipped Focus goes for around $23,000, which gets us to $37,000.  

I suspect that Nissan is losing money on the Leaf, and calling it a marketing expense.  At a price of $32,000, the Leaf only allows for a base vehicle price of $18,000.