April 29, 2015
Looking for contributors
We're looking for a few demented contributors to fill the ranks out a little bit. First off, we need more people to send us links to articles / sites / products / events we should cover. Second, it would ne nice to have a few more contributing writers to help take up my massive slack. If you have what it takes, and I think you know what I mean, shoot us an email. If not, sit there and enjoy all my hard work...
It's in there
I feel like I'm looking at a modern art piece and someone expects me to tell them what I think it means. I honestly don't know. Blaupunkt has always made cool car stereo stuff but I'm not exactly sure how a $100K+ fiberglass and neon light fast and furiouser acura drives their marketing message. If you know, please educate me. I like to get my learn on.
A friend sent this link to me. I am pretty sure I see a computer in there but its hard to tell as the interior has more lights than that stock footage of Tokyo you always see in movies. I did notice the transformer stickers on the interior so I am guessing that it's a 130db boulevard shaker at night and a crime fighter during the day. Ok, cool, glad we worked that out. Phew, I was worried for a minute that the car didnt make sense.
Ipod Onkyo Home Hookup
Although it's not a car related gadget, its a good example of a company listening to what the consumer wants rather than telling them what they should buy.
Onkyo has already released receivers that have ethernet ports on them. No, not "for future use" they WORK. Yeah, I know, whou would have thunk it? AND to top that, it can stream your MP3s over the network and play them. I swear, its like they're LISTENING (not subtle nudge here to some other mfgs we will not mention).
What more can I ask for? Oh, well how about a USB port so you can config it, or even have a built in web server with streaming software so you can, you know, stream any channel off you receiver? Ok, thats asking a little more than average. Even so, a little web server? C'mon tiny HTTPDs have been around for a while.
I digress. Mad props to Onkyo.
Megatron would be proud
As much as I want there to be a NEED for more blue LEDs and EL lights, sometimes it takes away from the, je ne sais qroix of a project. In this case, I think EL lights would have ended up looking better. With so little space I wonder how he got it all in there. Too bad all the images are missing...
MacMini Power Hack
When people tear stuff apart to make other stuff work, I have to smile. I spent my misspent youth tearing thing apart. Most of those things went back together with a neat little pile of "extra" parts.
April 21, 2005
No Car PC eh? Build one, ya hoser
Canadian Car PC
Our quiet neighbors to the north are getting in on the action. What does one do with pelnty of indoor time during the winter months. Canada has 11.5 months of winter). A couple of blokes after my own heart decided to cobble together a nice little car pc.
GTi Mac Mini Install
Mac Mini GTi
Dont get me wrong we didnt become MacMiniHacks.org all of a sudden. I just wanted to find a few good examples and we will go back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Mac Mini Dock Redux
I know this is old news but we just HAVE to include it in our archives and if you've not seen it, its new to you so settle down.
This guy needs to sell that jobbie. He'll make sick bank. Ok why am I talking like that. Done. Sorry.
EVDO Stomp Box
I've been racking my little brain for years, how do I allow multiple people in my vehicle to have Internet access? I had images of WiFi bridges, routers, switches and whatnot dancing in my head. Well, not having a degree in anything that matters, I am unable to make resistors do anything other than hang together to make a nice kids necklace. Fortunately for us, there are still people with engineering degrees, and those people tend to make stuff that improves out lives. For example, where would be be without the singing trout?
Moving on, the how-to gives you a pretty easy way to make a moving t-mobile access point. Without T-Mobile or that Catherine Zeta character. Did you know she was Welsh? Yeah, not even proper english. I wont make a sheep comment here where you know I would and should.
In my little head, I wonder how difficult it would be to add hot-spot commerce software to that rig? Why not make some money off other drivers on your cross country trips.
Breaker 1-9, this is rubber duck. I think we have a convoy.
Vauxhall and I
Vauxhall Mac Mini
As the first entry into the MacMini section of the site, I wanted to point out a new project starting in the UK where a Vauxhall will be the proud recipient of a smiling little Mac. I am excited not only because does wife hails from the UK but I find that peeps in other countries often put a different twist on things. I just want to see more pictures of cars with the steering wheel on the wrong side. Wow thats weird to drive like that.
April 18, 2005
Hot Chipped Penguin Raodster
In Dash PC
The mere mention of Linux can cause average computer users to run out of the room screaming. Perhaps it's the history of being a hackers OS, something only installed by those with CS degrees who enjoy writing obscure device drivers. Others may asy that command line junkies are the only ones keeping it afloat. The truth is Linux powers a lot of things we take for granted. I wont scare you with a list but you may want to look a little closer at the next touch screen something you have to interface with. My bet is it aint XP.
The idea of an embedded linux (actually its on a memory card the PC sees as a hard drive) powering a single DIN in-dash computer is rather advanced. It has all the trappings of a kiosk without the bad graphical UI. No spinning HD to fail, less heat, less space needed, you see where this is going.
Is it windows or XP? No, its not. Then again, we must always ask ourselves what we want out of an in-car computer. Net everyone needs to read a PDF on the way to a dentist appointment, and for that matter it cant be that hard to get a PDF reader installed in the PyCar interface, can it?
What I do like is that it plays DivX, XviD, DVD right out of the box. Mp3 and all that noise is standard too, natch. What else do you need? Well, you're not limited to Linux, you could install 98SE which can fit into 150MB. I'm not sure running 98 would make for a truly modern in-car computer but I'll assume you could get a much larger memory card and load some trimmed down version of XP or even embedded windows?
The options are pretty limitless. The single DIN barrier for modern porcessors has been broken (Xenarc had one but its a MMX266 al-la 1996). I expect to see more micro-ITX boards stuffed into even smaller spaces. Where is IBM's little dime size HD already?
I swear, I need to go down the road to big blue and kick some ass.
April 15, 2015
Mac Mini Install - On the road again
Mac Mini Install
The Install is pretty cool but once again I am being called upon by the fabrication gods to design a mac-mini single din mount only to have it copied by a Taiwanese firm who will make its cheaper and have Crutchfield sell it. I am crying for the future. Ok, fine, I'm getting the welder out. Hey Damien, I need a sheet metal break and shear. I only need... about 6K. I'll wait by the mailbox.
Someone loves us
I love it when we get a little press. I'd love it a little more to get big press. Press on.
In Car Computer Interfaces
Asside from costom fabrication requirements for in-dash installs, the other developing technology is about the UI. A clean, smart UI that lets you use the touch screen to access all functions and sub-menus is critical in having a fully functional in-car computer. Using a mouse and keyboard while trying to avoid angry soccer-mom and her on-board honor student may be too much for most of us. In fact, trying to avoid cell-phone blabbing, no-turn-signal using, road monkeys is hard enough without navigating display property sub-menus. There will be a perm-link to the discussion board covering this but I also wanted to cover it here. Here are the current UIs of note.
In Car Terminal
Mobile Media Center
I3 (Mac Application launcher)
If you have another one to add, please email us.
How the Mac Mini may rule the auto world
In a very short amount of time, the Mac Mini has proven to be a nearly perfect platform for in-car computing. I know I've been going on and on about it but as each day goes by, more and more home DIYers are slamming those little boxes right into their dash. Since it fits almost perfectly into your single din opening, its only a matter of time before someone comes out with a proper single din mounting bracket made just for it.
Installer.com covers a wide range of brackets. One of them should make the install easier. I have a good mind to design one if I can get out from under all this moving in stuff.
What ever way you want to go, weather its a Mac Mini or a PC based solution, the prices are falling and parts are simpler to come by. Gone are the days where you need to be a computer expert, car stereo installer and custom fabricator in order to have a computer in your car. Still, it would help.
Tom's Hardware Article on in-car computing and a great interview with Damien Stolarz of CarbotPC.
April 11, 2015
Don't Blame Windows When The Car Won't Start
TBox Loaded Into Fiat
It looks like the time and effort MS has put into developing and marketing its automotive specific OS has paid off. Fiat will be using the pared down OS to provide hands-free calls, music, driving directions and, of course NAV.
Microsoft has been dying to get their automotive OS installed stock, but the irony of having it in an Italian car may be too much. Lets hope the OS proves to be more reliable than most cars from that part of the world.
How does it go, I dream of a world where the chefs are Italian, the politicians are English...
Book Plug - Carhacks
A new book on Car Hacks is coming out from Orilley press written by none other than Damien Stolarz, the well heeled financier of this hallowed site. I did my part by providing some technical editing so I get mad print props. If you want the straight dope on some foshizzle (what does that mean exactly) to do to your ride, this is the bible.
Get your read on at a book store near you. Real soon like.
Crazy Internet Taxi Hits Frisco
Ok, I know people from the BAY AREA just HATE it when anyone says Frisco but the reaction is just too funny.
Bay Area folks now have an opportunity to get lots of ads for things they may or may not want flashed at them because the price of cab fare seems not to be enough to free you from being deluged by advertising. Then again, it does have movie listings, maps, places to chow and some other stuff to do while you flirt with death in the back seat of a car with 300,000 miles on it.
I harken back to days in NYC when you got into a cab and had various B listers tell you to buckle up. That was as well received as rat in a punch bowl. I'm not poo-pooing this. It's a good implementation of Embedded XP (There has to be a way to get admin access through the interface..hack hack hack) and the UI seems to cater to people who need big YELLOW buttons.
The proof will be in the puddin. I think if they dont slam you with too many ads and just soothe you with movie trailers, pretty pictures and some illusion of Internet access, you might like it.
That said, $3000? Whats that about? Embedded XP in a small bare-bones PC and a flat touch screen can't cost more than $700 total. I have call boulmiche on the price tag. I dont want to hear any lip about RUGGEDIZED flat screens to cope with angry passengers, Polycarbonate squares are about $5.
Interactive Taxi Home
SF Gate Article
April 09, 2005
Get Your OnStar On
I have OnStar in my 2004 Yukon and I RARELY ever use the service except to report accidents on lonesome highways or, well, um, thats pretty much it. On my way back from Florida last month I called them for roadside assistance when my trailer tire went flat. They told me thats not covered. Fortunately my tire exploded right next to a boat dealer so they were nice enough to sell me 2 wheels, retail. The black box that is the OnStar system in my car always held some sort of far off primise. Today it came true, A hacked OnStar box is now out for the world to see. I'm e-hugging that dude right now. Is that weird?
April 02, 2005
Mac Mobile Gooey
Mac users LOVE macs for a simple reason, the UI is simple, well designed and its darn cute. The folks at Apple Ivory Tower know just how to make people *heart* their stuff with simple things like neato color progress bars and rainbow pinwheel wait icons. Who can get frustrated while staring onto a pinwheel? Certainly not me. All of that UI fuss has made development of a mobile-mac UI more than some cobbled-together hash of buttons. People are taking it VERY seriously, as well they should. Sloppy UI makes a whole product, well, suck. Ok, I said it. (See MS BOB)
i3 Team took some time to put together a nifty UI and even threw us some sinkz for that custom feel. I suspect that if you dont have a Z car, you might have to whip out that LEGAL copy of Photoshop. Mac fans might have a leg up on PC in-car systems with the simple fact that they are spending their cycles tweaking the interface.
Not Your Father's Scion
Jalopnik Covered the new concept t2B containing "projection TV, information ticker and Internet hub". My first instinct was to become apropriatly excited, do my little dance and return to my desk to find more stimluation. Instead, I was met by my best friend and colleage, cynicism. Cyn, as I call him told me to look deeper. It didnt mention a PC or a Mac, it mentioned an "information ticker and internet HUB". I did my best Keanu Whoah! and saw the light. XM, Sirius, Cablevision, InsertMultinationalConglomorateHere is going to use these pre-installed "hubs" to sell their own programming, in bits sizes they determine, blocking out access to competitors and reforming it into a branded portal similar to the MSN set top box but possibly ad driven and much more narrow. Oh Cyn, how you get me into a commie lather about corporate greed! Then again I could be getting overly excited about nothing and the Scion will have InternetExplorer just like God and Bill Gates decided.
Carbot Minivan - Digital Mom
CarBot at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego
Soccer moms dont have much to swoon about these days. Higher gas prices, sprawling burbs and exburbs, karate, balet, scouts, PTA and Pilates have the modern Hausfrau in the care more than a New York cabbie. The lil-ones may be a hand-full but stocking the family truckster with a full blown PC might help with the devilish details.
The Carbot in the minivan seems to makea lot of sense for the minivan, perhaps moreso than a coupe or sedan. Having the ability to get traffic overlays on the GPS and movie entertainment in the backseat should get mom there faster and with less mid row sib fighting.
Finding uses for in-car computers is not the barrier to entry, there are good UIs, purpose built systems and plenty of apps. The hard part is getting people who have a hard time with a normal computer to embrace the little buggers.