Tag: cars

We really are living in the future

so the other day I noted my card wouldn’t work on Amazon. Called the bank apparently the old Chinese problem occurred again. This time they expressed me a new card. But it’s funny when I spoke to the rep at the bank she mentioned their phone app. I told her I was downloading it as I spoke.

And once I had the app logged in I did something, I scanned a check in. You just scan in the front and back, put in the amount and press submit. Nice!

Now the card – they aren’t the standard magnetic cards anymore. Sure they still have that big wide mag-stripe on the back. But they have a few more interesting features. Like the chip – that once is a 21st century thing, plus the fact that you can just wave the card in front of a payment terminal. That last part gives me the screaming heebie jeebies though. But then I realize you have to be VERY close to the payment terminal for it to work. It’s essentially RFID.

But it gets better. Because I’m signed in to google it automagically linked the new card to google pay. It really has gotten very cool.

Now we’ll move onto cars. They are a FAR different beast than they were even 20+ years ago. The fact that every month I get a report on all the systems in the car via email I love. Of course I do know that the connectivity for it do that is cause for some concern. I mean a nefarious or rogue actor could have some real fun with that.

And I keep getting emails from Sirius – why on earth would I even pay $5 a month when I have spotify on my phone and the phone hooks up to the car quite nicely.

Plus we have to remember the entirety of the car is controlled by a computer these days. From electric power steering to the fact the brakes and gas pedal aren’t connected via mechanical means but via a wire. That one fascinates me. Because it also means the car is hackable.

A Discourse On Fashion

So as you might have guessed one of our favorite past-times is to be openly appalled at peoples choice of wearing say pajamas in public etc.

Last night someone saw something I missed and commented. I explained you don’t see people put on a fancy dress or a suit to go to Wally World. And then it hit me, his sense of fashion is still rooted in a woebegone time. It was the period from the 1950’s to the 1960’s when everything changed.

You see myself – I’ve made six figures dressed in jeans, khakis, t-shirts and polos. Someone hates that I don’t have to wear a suit and tie. But we’ve moved on, society in the U.S. at least has become more casual in dress. In my field at least it’s what you know, not your fashion sense.

I for one am happy with that. Look there’s nothing better than a t-shirt and jeans with suede Reeboks. Because that’s my definition of casual.

Meanwhile someone was dressed exactly as I was a t-shirt and jeans. You can’t be that openly critical of someone elses fashion when you’re wearing the same get-up. Because like it or not, the days of wearing a blazer and slacks to do gardening isn’t coming back.

This is even evident in our cars. Recall vehicles from the 1940’s through the late 1950’s had high roofs. The reason to accommodate the hats people wore when driving. No thanks! It’s why cars for the most part are teardrop shaped and low to the ground.

 

Why I absolutely love the Volkswagen Golf TSi

So I’ve driven a number of different cars with my Zipcar account. And I have to say it, hands down my favorite car is the Volkswagen Golf TSi.

I should explain why. I’m a fairly confident driver. They say drive defensively, I aim for offensively.

And the Golf TSi – the perfect car matched to my abilities. It’s an awesome car, 0 to 60 MPH in around 7 second. All I now is at the top of the ramp to I-95 south near me, I’m doing maybe 30MPH and half way down the ramp I’m at 60MPH and I can hear the turbocharger kicking in. Nice.

Just last night, I was able to avoid an accident with an idiotic driver – the handling on the Golf is superb. The short wheelbase makes it a blast to drive too.

The only fault I have with the car, it’s the stupid decision by Volkswagen to not put a USB port in the car and instead that abortion of an iPod connector. Look, some of us don’t want to use an iPod. I suppose if I bought one I’d hack in a USB port – after all that dumb iPod connector has to have a 5 volt rail on it somewhere. Even if it didn’t, pretty easy with an LM7805 ┬ávoltage regulator and a few other components I could even fashion one that I could tuck into the dashboard.

 

Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSi

So as you well know I’m a big Zipcar user. One of the things I like about it is I get to drive the latest versions of all sorts of makes and models.

Today it was a brand new 2015 Volkswagen Golf Tsi. Let me put forth that I love German engineering. I’ve driven Volkswagens and BMW vehicles and have to say, they have that OOMPH on the highways.

The Golf I drove today was bright red. Looked good on the car. And it’s actually a small car so handling is lively.

The TSi is a feature pack I think. Power everything and in the middle of the dash was a big screen for the media. The bluetooth implementation met with my approval too. Intuitive too.

Now one thing that baffled us for a short time was how to get the hatch open. Most cars there’s a lever or button near the drivers side that will pop open a trunk lid or hatch. No such on this Volkswagen.

I go to the rear of the car – search around for the ubiquitous button found under the trunk of hatch lid on other cars. No dice.

Then I noticed the VW emblem on the back seemed loose – so I pushed in at the top and wonder of wonders it hinged inward. Then grab the bottom edge and pull the hatch up. So simple even an idiot could figure it. Me with oodles of I.T. experience had to probe it and figure it out. Ah well.

Fun car to drive – very lively on the road. There was one part that had me doing 90MPH in the left lane and it barely moved the tachometer above 2K revs per second. Nice!

If my heart weren’t so set on a BMW X3 of my own I’d definitely consider a Golf.

The idiocy of car pricing

So I’ve said before I’d love to find a BMW X3 for the cheap but they seem to be hard to come by so I expanded my horizon a bit.

I’m looking at either a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda CRV. But I noticed something – I searched on Craigslist and an curious thing happened.

An new Toyota RAV4 will run you about $21K. But a 2006 RAV4 has an ask of close to $10K, for a car that’s 8 years old. Insane.

Why do I say it’s insane – a Honda CRV is about $5K to $6K for a 2006. So why the $5K premium for a Toyota?

Cars, Cars, Cars

So I’ve been driving a variety of cars under Zipcar and I have to say they recently introduced the 2011 Ford Focus into the mix.

The ones I’ve driven so far have been speed limited to 80MPH. And I have in fact pushed it to the limit. I’d like to drive one that’s opened up because the speedo does go to 150MPH and I know she handles well at 80MPH. Yes, I’m a bit of a speed freak, always have been. I’m the guy in the left lane flashing my high beams at you screaming “Get the fuck out of my way!”
I actually have to say it, I like the Focus. First of all it shares something in common with every vehicle. The entire interior is plastic. But the Focus makes up for it with buttons and gadgetry EVERYWHERE.

The steering wheel has the cruise, phone, volume, and all vehicle menus right on the wheel. That’s REALLY nice.

I definitely like the Sync features. I also like the temperature controls being separated for each occupant. That’s pretty cool but sort of pointless in such a small space.

And there is one other thing I should mention. At low speeds the transmission feels a little strange. From what I’ve read it is a six speed automatic transmission so maybe I’m not used to that many quick gear changes when getting up to full speed.

Always had sort of an affinity for Ford vehicles. My 1981 Escort with the 1.6L engine was fun to drive but because of those aluminum heads, it ate both the heads and the gaskets at a fairly regular interval.

My 1993 Tempo, that was a 2.3L engine with the timing CHAIN and cast iron heads. It would run forever had it not been stolen.

But I do like Ford none the less. They were in fact the first to mass produce passenger vehicles with the Model T. You could have it any color, so long as it was black. And in the most recent financial debacle they were the ONLY U.S. manufacturer not to accept bail out money. That means they’re well managed.

So now I have a choice to make, buy used or plunk down a $7,000 or $8,000 deposit and finance $12,000 or so. I really don’t want to commit to a monthly car payment. I’d prefer to pay out cash and then put money into an interest bearing account for the time I own a used vehicle. That way I’ve got a nice pad when maintenance and repairs are needed. Decisions, decisions. What I do know is I’m getting tired of public transit again. It happens, I’ll tolerate it for a couple of years or so and then my general hatred for it bubbles up and overflows.

Probably buy something in the spring. I’m leaning toward a Nissan Maxima, around the 2003 or 2004 model year. I like the styling on those better than the slab fronted versions that kicked in around 2005.

EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses

At long last we’re seeing a culmination of the Clean Air and Water Act from the mid 1970’s. How is it that it has taken the better part of 40 years to go from the act, and all the court challenges to this?

It does make me very happy though. As I said to a friend, we both grew up during the environmentalism movement in the 1970’s, so too did President Obama. The baby boomers are dying off, and we that straddle the Baby Boom and Gen-X got a full dose of civil rights and environmental protectionism. It makes me incredibly happy to see this happening in my lifetime.

The gases in question are carbon dioxide (Cars emit both CO and CO2) as well as hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafloride.

Of course the perfluorocarbons and carbon dioxides (CO and CO2) primarily come from burning petroleum products.

But sulfur hexafloride is interesting. It’s used by the utility industry as a dielectric in high voltage switches, breakers etc. But the arcing in those devices breaks it down into very toxic chemicals. So now the electric industry is moving toward vacuum breakers. This after moving from PCB’s to sulfur hexafluoride.

But back to the carbon products – this is going to mean big changes for the auto industry. It always amazed me that even after the gas crunch of the early 1970’s we slowly broke away from economical vehicles. But now I see it as the true crunch time, we need more hybridized vehicles, start with the big rigs then trickle it down to passenger vehicles.

Move toward purely electric vehicles. Tesla makes electric cars, more to the point very NICE electric cars that can both blow the doors off anything with an internal combustion (IC) engine as well as getting ranges near the 250 mile mark. It’s just that the prices are a bit too high.

So with that in mind, I want to see massive government subsidies for both the big rigs and the passenger vehicles. Make it economically feasible to purchase the first one.

First off you’d reduce oil and gas consumption. That’s a big plus because as part of that you’d also reduce emissions of the pollutants being regulated by the EPA.

Naysayers always like to point out that the electric grid couldn’t handle all electric cars. So to allay those fears, massive investment in green energy is necessary. Just where I am I get plenty of sunshine in the spring/summer, and lots of wind in the fall/winter. Solar panels and turbines would pretty much do it here.

It’ll be interesting to see how hard the entrenched energy and auto industries react to this latest move.