I rationalize my ongoing purchases of comic books as a way to keep my inner child entertained. Downunda (in Australia), McDonald's has a rather different (albeit somewhat creepy) view of one's inner child. Thanks to AdRants...
Well, now that tax day is behind me, I decided that a little gift to celebrate my tax refund was in order. Now, I've already documented my interest in cool phones, so you might ask yourself, "How many phones does Adam need?" Well, let's face it--"need" is a relative term.
I generally shy away from clamshell phones; more often than not (and I started with a Motorola StarTac years ago), when the phone rings, I'll fumble with it long enough to get the phone partially open before it slams shut, thus hanging up on the caller. The PEBL (or "pebble") gets around this with two tricks: magnets and springs. The way it works is to use your thumb to slide the upper section down to release the magnetic lock, so that the spring can flip the clamshell open--not unlike (I'm not embarrassed to admit) with the original Star Trekcommunicators.
I bought the unit unlocked on eBay, so I was able to pop in my AT&T/Cingular card and get it going. Overall, I've been pretty pleased with the unit so far; the display is quite nice, if hampered by a somewhat clunky interface. Having a browser is useful, but I've discovered a number of pages turn up with "The page cannot be displayed"; fortunately, a site called Small Sites helps handle the basic navigation. The ringer is refreshingly loud, and the included software allows me to take any MP3 tune and turn it into a ringtone; the same software will also let you transfer a video for viewing on your phone (like a walkaround tour of my Mini). The nicest part, of course, is the exterior, which you can't really pick up with a photograph; the soft-touch paint is delightful to hold, and it's both grippable and fingerprint-proof. Another interesting feature is the voicedial capability; like a couple of other phones I've had, the voicedial will actually use voice recognition to pull names out of your address book, which is pretty handy. The only odd part is the fact that the prompting voice is a British female, and the voice which pronounces the names is barely understandable. Nevertheless, it's a very useful feature. Overall, I'm a reasonably pleased customer.
Meanwhile, the evil geniuses at Slashnot offered their own take on Motorola's peculiar branding strategy, with such spinoffs as...
HAXR - includes BT, WiFi, 1xRTT, EvDO, CDMA, GSM, USB, and 14 other acronyms
GAZR-Small enough to be clipped to grommet hole in ear
PLYR-Second phone book and photo storage that can only be accessed by secret code
GEZR-extra large LCD display, sudden fall sensor automatically dials 911
BOMR-has convenient alligator clips from speaker for easy remote signaling
TAZR-DTMF tone for # causes phone to deliver 50,000 volt shock to owner
FUKR-extra loud speakerphone only with annoying ring tones built in.
"The weather here is gorgeous. It's mild and feels
like it's in the eighties. The hot dog vendors got confused because of
the weather and thought it was spring, so they accidentally changed the
hot dog water in their carts." (David Letterman)
And spring also means, more or less, the conclusion of the auto show season with the New York International Auto Show. In the old days, when new cars were launched in the fall, NY wasn't all that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. But now, when cars are launched when they're darned good and ready, NY is a nice launching pad for summer and fall launches. This year was chock full of world debuts, and one interesting concept. As always, my somewhat nontraditional take on this year's festivities... No Oscar for you! I think I've spoken before on the problems inherent in having to sit through a German OEM's press conference. Perhaps the Germans have been reading my blog, and tried to...er...spice things up a bit. Problem? The German executives' acting abilities are even worse than their public speaking abilities. The Mercedes exec interrupted his speech at the sound of...well, thunder, I guess...to say, "Oh! I think the E Class wants to get out!" And the Audi executive attempting to carry on a casual dialogue with a fashion designer was even sadder. Memo to German OEM communication directors: if you don't want to send your execs to Dale Carnegie, then make a cool video and let the product speak for itself. The light fantastic... Scion followed up last year's t2B concept with the equally avant-garde Fuse. As the only real concept in the show, the Fuse offered a host of innovations, many of which focused around light. The wheels featured embedded LEDs which functioned as turn signals, and the seats featured what appeared to be fiber-optic piping which lit up bright red in contrast to the bright upholstery. Who's a dirty boy? Once again, Chrysler takes the award for the most outlandish press conference. To celebrate the new four-door Wrangler--a/k/a the Unlimited--Jeep buried their new baby in mud and had a squadron of NYC firefighters train their high-powered hoses on the pile until the water was washed away. Big brother is watching... Creepiest new idea? The new Lexus LS 600hL flagship (try rolling that off your tongue three times fast) that goes on sale in about a year features a sophisticated collection of cameras and millimeter-wave radar to help prevent accidents. The radar and external cameras not only detect other cars, but also smaller, softer objects (e.g., pedestrians). An internal camera monitors the driver; if an object is detected, and the driver is not facing forward, the car will begin applying the brakes and quicken the steering ratio so the driver can react. The $64,000 question: is there a hard drive recording this data, and can it be used in court...? Studies in contrast... Every year, the show floor gets re-arranged, for whatever obscure reasons. This year, VW--having apparently ticked off someone (perhaps by resurrecting the Rabbit badge)--got moved to the basement level, while the first floor offered the odd juxtaposition of having the ultra-hip, ultra-small Mini display parked next to the megabucks Maybach exhibit. Ah, the mysteries of life...
For as long as I've known my partner, he's been not only a Ford loyalist (since his dad worked there for decades) but a Lincoln enthusiast. For a while, he had been interested in finding a 1961-63 Lincoln Continental (the suicide-door variety, first-generation), preferably a convertible. However, the scarcity (relatively speaking) of the model in question, as well as concerns about reliability, drove a change in focus--to a 1977-79 Continental (similar mechanically to the 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis he once owned).
Well, fate shined on him a month or so ago, when he stumbled across a pristine 1979 vintage on eBay, in his favorite color scheme: white exterior, red (velour) interior--also known to some as "whore's drawers". The good news is that it looked great, it had only about 25,000 miles, with one owner (who had very good eBay feedback); the bad news is that it was in Portland, Oregon. Fortunately, it turns out I know someone in Portland; she and a car-guy friend of hers checked in out and pronounced it a 'sweet ride.' As I had both an eBay and Paypal account, I took care of the bidding; unfortunately, the auction ended while I was on a plane headed to Geneva, so we had to figure out ahead of time how much the maximum bid should be.
After winning (for quite a bit less than our maximum), Rich arranged to have the car shipped out, for a reasonable $1200; the costs for airfare, gas, food, and lodging would probably have been comparable, not to mention having to burn up a week of vacation, so it worked out. Originally, the thought was to name her Audrey (as in Hepburn), but we both agreed that this vehicle was not as lithe and nimble as Miss Hepburn, so instead she was named after the Bewitched character--and let's face it, this car is at least as over-the-top as Endora ever was.
So, I put together an 'announcement', and you'll note there's a new photo album posted, and I'll be adding some photos once we get some nice, sunny weather around here; in the meantime, Rich is tweaking her a bit (replacing the hood ornament, having the brakes looked at) and we now have a delightful elegant long-distance cruiser in the house.
Every year, the Society of Automotive Engineers holds their annual 'congress' in Detroit--a combination trade show/seminar, with educational sessions and exhibits from automakers and suppliers showcasing the latest technology. And, every year, a different automaker takes the role as key sponsor; this year, the role went to BMW. As part of the celebration--and to commemorate SAE's 101st anniversary, BMW worked with Motor City Mini (our local Mini dealer) to organize a cruise of (ideally) 101 Minis to drive from SAE's headquarters in Troy down to Detroit.
Well, as skeptical I was, it was a blast. A total of 103 Minis turned out--four classic models (including my own) and ninety-nine new-generation models. The local and state police cooperated to clear a path for us, which included temporarily blocking the I-75 freeway to let us enter en masse, and once downtown we were treated to a swanky brunch at Comerica Park's Tiger Club.
The only glitch? As it typical in Michigan--where the state tree is an orange construction barrel--there were work crews along I--75, which at one point narrowed to a single lane (which created a bit of confusion, direction wise). Fortunately, Mother Nature also cooperated; although overcast and chilly, the rain managed to avoid the area.
Overall, a fun half-day, with the opportunity to catch up with some old friend and make some new ones. Now all we need is some nicer driving weather...