November 30, 2015
Wireless Telcos Have Opportunity While Onstar Snoozes
British Telecom AKA BT is launching a service that takes the LoJack concept, smacks the 80's LoTech out of it and shoots it into space. Track your stolen car by satellite.
Satellites are up, GPS antennas are cheap, wireless communication is ubiquitous and technology is ready. OnStar can do the same thing but their pricing scheme keeps a lot of people from signing up. OnStar also doesn't market the theft recovery part of their service. They want to be a concierge. That's nice for them, wanting to be all high-brow and junk. If they were smart, they would sell a stripped down version of OnStar that just allowed sat tracking and sent an alert to the Mother-ship when it senses a crash. But no, they want to tell you where the Opera is... Whatever.
BT on the other hand is far more pragmatic. They assume you already know Opera is elitist and quite boring so you'd not need them to tell you where it is. They know that you're most likely to need their service when you're trying to find your car in car park after the Man United game and it's gone.
What's to stop T-Mobile, CIngular, Sprint and Verizon from doing the same thing. They have the technology and would only need a manufacturer in Korea to come up with a transceiver that can be installed in your car.
November 26, 2015
HK's Musical Pal
I've looked at a LOT of different music-into-your-car-interface things in the last year. So far a lot of them, in fact all of them get an input into your car. After that they tend to either shine or crash. Harman is an interesting group that makes (through it's various brands) some mind blowing technology. Rather than give you my pat I-didn't-touch-it-but-here-is-my-opinion-anyway, I've put out a feeler to someone I know at Harman to see if I can get my hot hands on a demo unit. Until then, check out what Engadget tells us.
Just so you don't get worried, Carhacks will get some new posts very soon now. We're still recovering from family, overeating, and did I mention family?
Just so you don't have to go completely without any joy, I've got a little nug here from the MS vs. iPod battlefront. It seems that Apple wants to keep a death grip on their funky iPod dock port technology rather than being cool and making something everyone can use. Yes, even other players. God forbid! I don't want to get off on a rant here but... It's in the consumer's best interest to have options. If GM decides to jump into bed with Jobs and make their new cars with an iPod dock, that's great for people with iPods. What about people with other players? The market share stats that show iPod having 90% of the mp3 market is wildly exaggerated and only serves to stifle competition. Speaking of fair play in the marketplace, here comes the boys from Redmond waving a penalty flag on Apple. The irony is so thick I could spread it like Vegemite.
What's wrong with USB? I thought we all decided USB was cool and could hang. I guess Apple wants to hog the ball a little while longer. Keep acting like that and no one is going to want to play with you.
I wanted to give some deserved cred to the Google toolbar spellcheck that corrected my spelling of Vegemite. Kinda cool they have that in there.
November 22, 2015
NASCAR Computer Goes Fast, Turns Left
We here at Carhacks love the convergence of cars and computers. It's sort of what we, you know, DO. Although this isn't strictly a car computer, it's a close cousin, the co-branded Seagate NASCAR PC.
I've heard of Ferrari branded Acer PCs, which left me wondering what the point was but a NASCAR PC? I guess the logic is that NASCAR fans are a rabid lot and tend to spend their paychecks and social security benefits on every variation of #3's officially licensed beer koozy so by extension, they would go out and buy a NASCAR computer. What leaves me a little puzzled is that up until now I didn't think NASCAR fans could read let alone use a computer. Life never ceases to amaze me.
November 19, 2015
I Pity The Fool That Doesn't Turn Right In 200 Feet
Navigation seems to be one of those things where you're so happy to have it, you never give it a second thought. Get in, enter an address and some studio recorded voice guides you to your destination. If you're lucky enough to have a fancier car, you may get a posh English accent that informs you of a missed turn in the most dignified way possible.
It once did occur to me that voice options would be cool but I never hacked into a navigation DVD to see where the sound files were. It appears that someone else was wondering as well. And did something about it.
Wanderlust Media in L.A. (nach) is now offering up Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds and, of course, Mr. T. as your voice alternatives. The premise is that their voices will keep you paying attention to what they say. There could be a whole genre of voice types depending on what you prefer or just respond to. Imagine it, having the directions dictated to you
Ok, I think I get it. That said, here is a list of a few celebs who could add value to this space or at the very least make the ride more amusing.
People Who Should Do These Voice Overs:
Benecio Del Toro doing his Fenster voice from The Usual Suspects.
Brad Pit as the Piker from Snatch. I suspect this would only be useful for people who live in their caravan.
Bob Goldthwait a-la Police Academy
Angie Harmon - Nice low raspy southern drawl
Boomhauer from King of the Hill
Stewie from The Family Guy
50 Cent & Flava Flav as a duo
Hugh Grant - I know for a fact he was just giving that poor girl a ride home and he had no idea she was a "pro"
In the end I have two voice picks that I would pay top dollar for. I guess I have to choose so my second fav would be Sean Connery and my very first would be R. Lee Ermey who you would recognize from Full Metal Jacket as the drill Sargent or on his TV show on the History Channel, Mail Call. Hey, I gotta plug the Gunney.
Not one to leave out the ne'er-do-wells, We'll end on a different kind of list.
People who should not only not do these but should be banned from speaking, ever:
Anyone from The View
Maggie Wheeler (The girl who played Janice on Friends, see Fran Dresher for voice similarity)
Gilbert Godfried. Nuff said
Andy Rooney - Unless you want an old codger prattling on and on about stupid things no one cares about.
Downtown Julie Brown
Jacko and or OJ
If you're reading this and think I'm a big old meany check out the knowledge being dropped over at the FUG.
My father once said to me "I cry no tears for the pain felt by millionaires". Tru dat.
Thanks for the link Eri
November 18, 2015
CappuccinoPC is now offering what I can only call OHMYGODTHATSDOPE. Motorized touch screens are so Pimp My Ride yet so simply useful. They don't stop at a simple touch screen, they give you an Emeril BAM! with a 1600X1200 screen resolution and support for multiple inputs. Sadly its $449... Wait a second, that's pretty damn cheap... OK, well, this might be a first but I cant find anything but nice things to say about it. You wanna fight about it?
November 16, 2015
Angry Screed By Someone Else
I love a good rant. It's even better if its bitter and nasty. Since I'm on the road and my laptop makes writing anything longer than 8 words a huge chore, it's a score to find someone else's angry frothing. The comments are great too.
Big Brother UK
Thanks to Terran Brown for this one. I may have to run into the garage real quick to fetch my aluminium hat. That's the only way to block the signals the NSA is sending to the chip they implanted in my head.
Gatso 2: Big Brother Will Be Watching You
Source: The Register. Well it looks like George Orwell's Film 1984 is going to be a step closer to reality very soon. According to an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) strategy document leaked to the Sunday Times, the 24x7 national vehicle movement database is now being built and will log every movement on the UK's roads and retain the data for at least two years.
The system, which will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), and will be overseen from a control centre in Hendon, London, is a sort of 'Gatso 2'
network, extending, enhancing and linking existing CCTV, ANPR and speedcam systems and databases.
Whilst I am can see the benefits of such a system in catching uninsured drivers and untaxed vehicles I wonder (and worry) what else this system could be used for?
November 14, 2015
Set Up For Podcasting / Video BLogging
Carhacks is now set up to provide Podcasts and Videoblog enclosures by using a nice little Perl script that renders RSS2.0 index.xml files that iTunes, Fireant and other RSS2.0 complient readers can grab. Do we have some for you? Well, just one post so far but like that guy said, every journey starts with a single step.
More On Gabby Cars
Auto IT has more on the car-to-car comm chatter technology that seems to remind me of the endless network whittering that AppleTalk was so famous for.
Where's The Beef?
Some of you are wondering where the posts are. Good question! Damien Stolarz and I are at Streaming Media West doing some speaking and promoting the book we're working on.
We should be posting a few things during our little trip but it might be here and there.
That said, we're looking for more contributors so don't be shy, send us links, images, articles etc. Get your name / product / site out there.
November 11, 2015
The idea of cars being able to sense and communicate with each other is a little creepy. That said, it's also very cool and could end up saving lives. Until the day when robots and humans can no longer co-exist and the Great Robot Wars begin. Must save John Connor...
Traffic Ouija Board
Traffic.com, the leader in all things having to do with gridlock and road-rage mitigation has announced an upgrade to their site. Now, it's been a while since people cared about website upgrades (see Internet money-wasting boom) but this one is rather significant. (queue spooky lights and fog machine) They'll be predicting the future. At least the near future of traffic in areas you care about. Now before you so "Well duh, we all know the 405 / 101 interchange is going to suck from 5-7PM every weekday" it's going to be a little better than that, or even a lot better.
If you're really tired of traffic, you could always just move away from the city. Just don't get all conservative and Intelligent Design crazy" out there in the sticks.
More Car PC Players
Sumicom is the newest dealer on the corner, slangin the car-PC rock. Nothing terribly mind-blowing about the specs and it uses the same case Xenarc has been using for more than a year now. Consider this just an FYI.
November 09, 2015
Phatnoise rear video
PhatNoise, well known for their in-car MP3 players, has a full system in cars such as Chevy's Uplander that allows for front and rear seat entertainment including games, commercial Viacom/Nickelodeon content, and user generated DivX movies!
I've excerpted a piece of an advertisement about the product here:
The content you see above from Nickelodeon is apparently preloaded onto the 40GB hard drive, as opposed to being actively downloaded from the Internet. You simply pay money to unlock the content. I've heard this described as the "roach motel" model of content delivery - the content gets in, but it doesn't get out.
Because it plays DIvX/XVID/MPEG4 movies, you can convert your own content to upload to the device. Like many Mpeg-4 "standard" playback devices, you have to give it the right MP4 content. A good forum post on how to do this can be found at videohelp.com.
Posted by dstolarz at 04:15 PM
November 07, 2015
Engadget posted some photos of the computer that's built Ford tough. Looks like a cop computer. Not that it's a bad thing but it does sort of have "steal me" written all over it. I hope they locked that sucker in there good.
Auto IT has an interesting post on a new thing from Hitachi, biometric door handles. It was bound to happen. I mentioned a while back that car keys are WAY past their usefulness.
They don't seem to like the idea. I get that, I hate having to run my fingers across those devices over and over again. Still, keys suck. Back to the drawing board.
More Proprietary Technology For Cars - Bad For Consumers
Autoweek has a nice article outlining how more and more automakers are opting for Apple-centric technologies for mobile music. Does no one else see how silly this is?
Electric Sports Car. I don't think those words have ever been put in that order.
To make matters weirder, add WiMax (see vapor) to the mix. I don't know quite what to make of it but it will make a nice museum piece in a few years. About the time when WiMax comes out.
November 04, 2015
SEMA - Serious Food Tools
I just had to post this. Stuff like this will appeal to a select few people who are going to go completely nuts. See Nascar fans.
I got a freebie from the booth at SEMA. My wife looked alarmed, thinking I was about to replace all the silverware. Ah, that was very funny to see.
SEMA - CarChip - Diagnostic Spy
The CarChip EX made by Davis can either get you in or out of trouble, depending on who installed it. Teens will have to account for that neutral-drop and 12 second quarter mile when dad pulls the chip out and goes over the log. On the other hand the Davis web site tells a tale of it being used to fight a ticket. So it has a dark and light side.
The sheer amount of data and the length of time it covers (300 hours) will be very useful for everyone from fleet owners to race car drivers to over-protective parents. At $175 its a bargain compared to other OBD II devices. I think the software is included.
SEMA - Spray On Chrome. Oh Yes I Did
I checked out the live demo. I have to say it looked very cool. The stuff they coated was, for all intents and purposes, chromed. And not just silver chrome, no no no, blue, pink, yellow, green. These folks are also looking for distributors. If you've always wanted to make stuff shiny, here's your chance.
November 03, 2015
SEMA - Get Lit
A pretty cool add-on for your SUV / Pickup / Enzo with tow hitch. White Night makes backing up a lot safer with two rear-facing super-bright bulbs. What makes this so clever is that it is tow-hitch-centric. It mounts over the hitch receiver, plugs into the tow-plug and even acts as a pass-through allowing you to use it in conjunction with a trailer.
SEMA - Gigalumen HID Kit
HID "style" kits have been all the rage since the kits to convert your car to HID have been prohibitively expensive. During my Bataan style march through the 3.5 million sq/ft of SEMA show floor I came across a small but extremely bright booth for Gigalumen. The very nice duo had a dark, almost welders lens dark shade over a bulb. So what do I do, crane my neck around the shade to see the bulb. It was a bad idea. It was superfreakinbright. The bulb in the other side of the booth was submerged in a fish tank.
They told me that not only does it plug right into your existing bulb sockets, it's street price will be about $300 for the kit. Compared to the $1200 kits out there now, this might blow the other sellers out of the water. They're looking for American distributors. firstname.lastname@example.org
SEMA - Pot Pourii
Well, I'm putting together some good stuff for ya. Before we get to the good stuff, lets take a moment and gaze at the "remarkable" stuff at the SEMA show.
When people have more money than taste, things like this happen. It also acts as a warning to others that someone very tacky is approaching.
I like 4 door crew cabs. They make sense. 6 doors seems like a natural progression. In practice it looks more like a locomotive rutted with a clown car.
I like the Tourag (sp?) but the name has left me wanting. The Toereg...Toureg... Whatever, at the show was a whole new take. Slammed and slicked out, the R-GT version blew me away. I was seriously coveting this honey.
There were quite a few widgets vying for my attention. One was a cup-holder cum french-fry holder gadget. We're going to be nothing more than a country of morbidly obese people in no time flat. A tool to hold fries in your car because you cant wait five freaking minutes to get to the office? Seriously? I'm so disappointed.
I'm not sure what this booth was selling but the camo trim on this truck made me vomit, just a little bit, into my mouth.
I'm a tool freak. It's true. Very rarely do I come across a tool that I've not either bought, decided I didn't need or found too expensive. When people say there is nothing new under the sun, they were flat wrong. This little gadget connects to any drill, cordless or not, and nibbles. I saw them demo it on exhaust pipe, 12 gauge cold rolled steel, flashing, all sorts of stuff. It had a little pivot head that you could steer to make CURVES. It was super dope.
I'm not a fan of remakes but the General Lee they made of the new Charger ended up looking pretty cool.
SEMA - Office Mobile F-250 Style
Microsoft will get their foot in the American automotive market with a mobile office option for F-250 Super Duty trucks. It appears that the general contractor is the first segment targeted for their mobile toys. Sorry, not toys, job stuff.
The option will be about $3K which may end up being a little steep for the market they're targeting. I would have thought they would target the mobile executive who has more money that he knows what to do with but hey, what do I know.
November 02, 2015
SEMA - Real Life Tonka
It's not car tech but it's so cool you just have to know about it. International, makers of big-rigs has adopted their "light" truck platform to a pickup. Yes, a pickup. Their RXT line starts at $70K. Now before you freak out about how much that is, a loaded Escalade from the dealer is just about that price and Range Rovers are more as are Mercedes G-Wagens. The CXT version, a bigger, more truckier size up starts at $110K, whick I think is about what a G55 Mercedes SUV would cost, so dont get all road warrior on us, or actually, with this you can go ahead and do just that.
I'll be in the Mobile Electronics area today. No free Internet on the show floor so it may be a few hours before there are more posts.
SEMA - There's Your Sign
This was in a booth as a demo, not for sale. I did ask if they would make more of them.
"well, a lot of people are asking us for one"
"It's kind of tacky dont you think?"
"If it sells..."
SEMA - Protecting Your Gat & Bling
The glove box (glove?) is no place to keep your Glock. First, officer Friendly might jam you up for having it in the passenger compartment, then you'll have to go to court to get it back. Lets also remember that Junior could find it and thats never good. We'll also mention that there are people out there that break into cars and take stuff. Not good. Unless you have a very secure trunk (not sure what makes a trunk particularly secure) your stuff is at risk in the car.
I came across the Console Vault at the show. Now it's not a sexy video screen or communications device but it does serve a very important function.
SEMA - Under Hood Welder
I've been lucky. This is one of those trade shows where I know someone with a booth which I can use are a base of operations. I helped them build their Hemi powered Jeep Wrangler. It came out great, more photos later on that.
Another Juup up the row (no Hemi in this one) did have a pretty cool add-on for those who are pretty rough on their gear; an alternator powered welder. Yep, a stick welder that works at idle.