The Edge of the Road Podcast (general)
All about the Gadget on Wheels formerly known as your car.


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EOR 32 Listening to Podcasts

Since I imagine some of you are listening to The Edge of the Road in your car, I thought I would explore the way I listen to podcasts in Henry, our 2012 Ford Focus who turns one year old today. In this episode I will discuss playlists in iTunes, information available at SyncMyRide, and the options for listening to podcasts by Bluetooth or USB connection in the car. 

If you also listen to my Kindle Chronicles podcast, you will probably enjoy this On the Media special titled "How Publishing and Reading are Changing." 

If you would like to share your work flow for listening to podcasts in the car, please leave a comment here or email me at PodChronicles AT Gmail DOT com. 

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: EOR_32_Podcasts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

EOR 30 Live from a MyFord Touch Upgrade Installation...

I'm happy to report that the Performance Upgrade that arrived on a USB stick and SD card for my 2012 Ford Focus has renewed my faith in the technology, and I am hereby continuing the podcast. Phase 2 begins with a real-time recording of the installation, complete with a surprise visit from my friend Tom half-way through.

Did Tom abort the installation by opening the passenger's door? Will the upgrade improve the speed and reliability of the system enough to convince my wife Darlene that all's well with Henry? Listen in to this episode, and you'll find out.

If you do your own Performance Upgrade installation, I recommend that you bring something to read, or a tablet computer of some kind, because it will take nearly an hour for the installation. The audio system needs to be on and the car needs to be running the entire time. So don't do it in a place with poor ventilation!

If you have your iPad or Kindle Fire with you, here are a couple of links to helpful Ford videos in which Gary Jablonski, product development manager, tells tech expert Paul Hochman what's new about MyFord Touch as a result of the upgrade: 

What's New and What Remains

Improved Voice Recognition and Touch

Enhanced Navigation and Map Views

In two weeks I will bring you my detailed first impresssions of how the performance upgrade performs. Stay tuned!


Direct download: EOR_30_Update_instal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:49pm EDT

EOR 28 Reluctant Sabbatical

With this episode, I am going to take an extended break from the podcast.

My frustrations with MyFord Touch have reached critical mass, leading me actually to consider selling our 2012 Ford Forcus and looking at a Volvo or Lexus. I had such high hopes and expectations for this pioneering technology, and that may have been the problem. In any event, I heard from Ford today that the major update for MFT is undergoing final employee beta testing, and they are refining the software for production and distribution via USB sticks "in a couple of months." Ever the optimist, I can imagine that the update will overcome all my frustrations with the software, especially how long it takes to reboot the system every time I start the car. If that happens, I will gladly resume regular episodes of the show and begin Phase II of the adventure. 

Thanks to Kes Woodward for helping me think this decision through. Click here to see his amazing art. 

Meanwhile, this episode discusses the pairing of two iPhones with our Focus and includes a more positive experience of iPhone audio quality on a MFT-equipped Focus from Dick Teschendorf. 

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: EOR_28_Reluctant_Sabbatical.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:33pm EDT

EOR 27 Phone Home

For this episode, I have included an NPR story about the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation of a total ban of cellphone use while driving. (I want to thank Gene Izsak for the link.) Also, NPR created this video showing off its new app for SYNC AppLink. Since AppLink is not available yet for the Focus, I won't be trying the NPR app soon. It looks pretty slick, but it does, I suppose, go to the issue of "cognitive distraction" mentioned by the NTSB.

And finally, you'll hear what Darlene hears when she talks to me in Henry our Ford Focus via the hands-free MyFord Touch phone system, paired with my iPhone. By comparison, my brother-in-law Rod in Omaha says his wife sounds great driving and talking via Bluetooth and her phone in her new Lexus IS250. Ah well. 

Direct download: EOR_27_Phone_Home.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT

EOR 26 Back in Denver

After driving a low-tech borrowed Volvo for a month back in Cambridge, I return to our 2012 Ford Focus named Henry with a sense that I drive more safely when I'm not glancing at a screen inside the car. I have thought that familiarity with MyFord Touch would lessen the distraction of the system, and I still think that will help. But there is a basic issue here which I'm pondering. I'm also eager for the update to MyFord Touch, and I can't wait for AppLink to be available on the Focus. So there's no turning back!

I see complaints about the audio quality on pnone calls from MyFord Touch cars, as mentioned at the SyncMyRide web site. Darlene has complained about how I sound when I call her from the car, so this seems to be an issue. 

If you have comments or questions, please leave them here or email me at PodChronicles AT gmail dot com. 

Direct download: EOR_26_Len_Catchup.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:59pm EDT

EOR 23 Waiting for the Update

Gene Izsak of Toledo, Ohio, asks if I would still recommend a car with the MyFord Touch SYNC system, given the reliability problems I've experienced and that have been reported elsewhere. The answer--especially for someone who describes himself as "a big geek," as Gene did (and I'm in the same category)--is a qualified yes. I'm willing to put up with some inconvenience, because I love being at the front end of new technology, whether for a car or a reading device

Gene linked to this AP Story that reports Ford is listening to customer concerns and plans to send out a flash drive early next year with a major update to the MyFord Touch system. Engadget also covers the story.

Darlene and I will be here in Cambridge, Mass., till the end of the year, borrowing an old Volvo wagon from my parents. Henry, our 2012 Ford Focus, is back in Denver. This means I'd really love to hear your comments, to keep the podcast going during this period of NOT having our Focus available for tests and experiments. Also, if you'd like to visit with me by Skype or phone for a conversation about car technology, please let me know at PodChronicles AT Gmail Dot com, and I'll see if we can schedule it for inclusion in a future episode.

Direct download: EOR_23_SYNC_update_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44pm EDT

EOR 22 Mile High Chat

Four topics are on my mind today in Denver:

1) How to make peace with the time it takes for the Navigation system to boot up and become operative. How do YOU avoid frustration when it takes a few minutes before your car is ready to pull away from the curb?

2) Tips for driving a MyFordTouch-equipped Ford Focus 2,000 miles from Boston to Denver.

3) Why I decided it was worth an extra $44 per year to add SIRIUS Traffic to my subscription. Click here for traffic-information coverage maps.

4) Given my frustration that the new iPhone 4S does NOT support SYNC's text messaging, I was surprised that Ford lists the iPhone as the "Best All Around" phone for SYNC. Click here for the PDF of a comparison of three phones and their ability to access features of SYNC.

Direct download: EOR_22_Mile_High_Chat.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

EOR 21 SYNC Meets Siri

As soon as I left the Apple Store in South Portland, Maine, Friday morning with my new iPhone 4S I paired it with our 2012 Ford Focus to see if the TXT Messaging would work. Sorry. No go. Very disappointing. In this episode I've got the details on why not from Alan Hall of Ford.

Siri, the new iPhone's personal assistant, a robot with style and clever responses, can speak through the speakers of my Focus, but the interface is, let's be honest, not designed for hands-free or eyes-on-the-road operation. Too bad, because Siri could teach SYNC a thing a or two about natural speech. Click here for a video posted by a SyncMyRide forum member, Nightline 562, about running Siri with SYNC.

Also, a follow up from Dick Teschendorf on his successful update to the 2.11 version of SYNC on his car.

Direct download: EOR_21_SYNC_Meet_Siri.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

EOR 20 Sorry, Mac Users - But Wait!

UPDATE: (10/6/11) - First of all, my apology for getting the month wrong in the audio. It was recorded on OCTOBER 5th, not September. Secondly, the SYNC rep had it wrong.  Today I was able to install the 2.11 update using my MacBook Air running Lion, and all is well.

I want to thank a listener named Dick for his account of installation problems with the SYNC MyFordTouch update, from 2.1 to 2.11. I hope things turned out okay for you with help from the dealer. This evening I was planning to install the update in my Ford Focus and talked with Bob via Sync Agent chat, who said to give it a go.  He didn't mention that the update is only downloadable if you have a PC, not a Mac. And if you click here you'll see the SyncMyRide web site indicating things should go fine with Chrome on a Mac, which I have. But another SYNC agent said, Sorry Charlie, or Len, or whatever your name is. Very frustrating.  Rather than take up a morning or afternoon getting an appointment at a Ford Dealer, I'll probably live with 2.1 for a while, even though the update seems to be a useful one. Ah well.

I was looking for an unhappy Mac logo, and tonight that turned out to be an easy get, as the sad news broke of the passing of Steve Jobs at the age of 56. R.I.P., one-of-a-kind changer of the world.

Direct download: EOR_20_No_2.11_for_Mac.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:27pm EDT

EOR 17 How to Get Home

This morning, thanks to help from a smart SYNC phone support tech, I figured out how to back out of a Navigation session with a single press of the MyFord Touch screen.  Up till now, I've had frustrating sessions, usually when Darlene is in the car getting irritated at the entire whacky tech features of the car, trying to back up from the menu layers of a Nav search for, say, a Thai restaurant near Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  Does the "Back" voice command work, to retreat to an earlier menu? No. Does "cancel" do anything?  Actually yes, but it's more like a pause button. When you press the Voice Command button on the steering committee, the MFT voice will resume her demands that you choose which line you want for a specific Thai restaurant.

It turns out there is a Home button on the touch screen. Right at the bottom, in the center. Hard to miss.  When you want to exit from one of the four MFT applications, you simply press that button and you're home. Brilliant. 

Also this week, I have advice on something you received two of with your new 2012 Ford Focus or comparable car.  I lost mine, and it the replacement cost me a pretty penny at Prime Ford in Saco. BTW, I'm very impressed with the professionalism and service I received at Prime. Unlike the Watertown, Mass., Ford dealer, where I was treated like an illegal immigrant when I called seeking a replacement key and they found out I had purchased the car in, gasp, Colorado, Mandy and the folks at Prime today were friendly and very helpful.  Henry and I were both very impressed.

I'll be continuing a bi-weekly schedule for this podcast for a while.  See you in two weeks!    --Len

Direct download: EOR_17_How_to_Get_Home_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT