Tue, 5 October 2021
Colter and Jaego Short are my guests for this episode of the podcast, emanating from Bozeman, Montana. We leave tomorrow for the 2,500-mile drive to Maine in the Model Y. Stay tuned!
Direct download: EOR_54_Bozeman_Boys.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:57pm EDT
Tue, 28 September 2021
Today's drive in the Model Y from Longmont, Colorado, to Casper, Wyoming, was undramatic compared with yesterday's challenge downloading and installing the new operating software. That made it possible to enjoy every mile of the prairie scenery and to enjoy Grace's very smooth ride. In the photo, she gets a quick boost of juice at a Tesla Supercharger in Wheatland, Wyoming.
Direct download: EOR_53_Big_Wyo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48pm EDT
Mon, 27 September 2021
Greetings from Colorado! I picked up Grace, the new (used) Tesla Model Y, today in Boulder and thought I would have an easy time downloading the last software and installing it in the car. As it turned out there was some drama involved, at a McDonalds. Tomorrow Grace and I will head north to the Cowboy State en route to reconnecting with Darlene later this week in Bozeman, Montana. Onward!
Direct download: EOR_52_Meet_Grace.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm EDT
Sat, 25 September 2021
In two days I will pick up Grace, our 2020 new (used) Tesla Model Y at a Toyota dealership in Boulder, Colorado. Very exciting, especially because a major new software update from Tesla is offering owners the chance to request the Full Self Driving Beta. My ace sales guy John David Herbert at Larry Miller Toyota is going to download and install the software update and tap on the request button for FSD. Much appreciated, John David!
Direct download: EOR_51.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30pm EDT
Wed, 15 September 2021
A lot has happened on our Tesla adventure during the two years since the last episode of this show. In this recap, you will hear why we traded in Tess for a Model Y named Yoshi the Bitmobile, and what happened on August 22nd in Lyman, Maine. Stay tuned for future episodes of Edge of the Road, as we return to the Great American West for the next chapter.
Direct download: EOR_50_Grace.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT
Wed, 1 May 2019
This is the view out my window here in Cambridge, where we are visiting for a week before heading back to Denver. This gives me a chance to catch up with the latest system update on Tess, which adds autopilot on navigation capabilities. Also, the automatic parking seems to be improved, or I am getting more used to it. This month marks a year of Tesla ownership and 12,000 miles of electric joy.
Direct download: EOR_49_Back_in_Cambridge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54am EDT
Sat, 26 January 2019
My cousin Kevin Tighe and I compare notes on our Model 3's. His, a blue number like the one shown above, arrived two months ago. Ours is parked in our neighbors' yard in Cambridge while we are in Denver. Kevin and I connected today by Skype and agreed--we love this car!
Direct download: EOR_48_Kevin_Tighe.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 10:44pm EDT
Fri, 26 October 2018
On the Road to Maine
I'm sorry for the long hiatus without uploading an episode of this show. Life has been complicated lately.
But here we are, riding in Tess up I-95 to Ocean Park in the off season, a beautiful time of year to be in Maine.
You will hear a list of minor problems that have developed since we last spoke, and why they don't in any way diminish my love for the Tesla Model 3.
It's the future on wheels.
Direct download: EOR_47_Minor_Problems.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm EDT
Mon, 6 August 2018
It's been almost three months since I took delivery of our Tesla Model 3. Last night was the first time my wife Darlene has driven it, and I recorded the historic event. She says she wanted me to have time to learn the complexities of the car, which I may have over-emphasized. Behind the wheel, her first reaction was "What's the big deal?"
My cousin Jim, by comparison, went into orbit with delight when I took him for a test drive. You'll hear both of them in this episode.
My apology for the poor audio quality of my recording in the car. I'm not sure why my Zoom HD 1 did such a poor job, and I trimmed as much of the distortion as possible.
If you have questions or comments, please email me at PodChronicles AT gmail DOT com.
Thanks for listening!
Direct download: EOR_46_Darlene_and_Cousin_Jim.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09pm EDT
Sat, 21 July 2018
I finally received a wireless update of our Tesla Model 3's software today. Version 2018.26.1 includes the Summon feature, which enables me to move Tess forward or back using the Tesla app on my iPhone. This is a very weird experience, because you feel as if you are operating a toy car with a remote control, except the toy car is suddenly huge--a real car that's acting like a toy. It goes very slowly, and you have to keep your finger on the Forward or Reverse button the whole time.
Also in this episode, I will tell you what I learned on a round trip drive to Boston and back from Ocean Park, Maine, this week. Short version: driving with AutoPilot features is simply less of an energy drain than unassisted driving, especially if you find yourself driving into a major city like Boston during rush hour.
Direct download: EOR_45_Summon.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 6:35pm EDT
Thu, 5 July 2018
On the way to Ocean Park for the Fourth, Tess and I stopped at the brand-new bank of superchargers at the Kennebunk service area on the Maine Turnpike (I-95). They're fast!
Also in this episode, why AutoSteer sometimes tells me to put my hands on the wheel when they're already there, the brotherhood of Tesla owners, a couple of fails for autopark, and a new wall charger for Cambridge.
Yesterday's Fourth of July parade here featured a crowd favorite, the Ocean Park Marching Kazoo Band. I've participated in this musical troupe for several years now. Nothing says you love your country more than marching in a parade with a Kazoo in your mouth energetically humming "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Anchors Aweigh."
Direct download: EOR_45_Fourth_of_July.mp3
Category:Tesla Model 3 -- posted at: 5:40am EDT
Sat, 16 June 2018
Photo: Steve my Tesla repair technician installs a new taillight on our Model 3, parked near our home in Cambridge Mass.
Well, that was something different! I've never had a car dealership send someone to my home to repair a car. But that's what happened when I called Tesla to report a problem with a taillight. You'll hear about my first Tesla housecall in this episode.
Also, something I'm learning not to love about AutoSteer, the challenge of smoothly transitioning from AutoPilot to drive it yourself, a quibble about windshield washer controls in the latest software update, an unsettling Adaptive Cruise Control incident this morning on the Maine Turnpike, and my Do It Yourself fix of a minor interior panel problem.
Kes Woodward and Jeff Freedman emailed me wonderful comments that you will hear in this episode. If you have thoughts or questions or your own Model 3 experience to share, please email me at Podchronicles AT Gmail DOT com.
Direct download: EOR_44_Housecall.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 10:03pm EDT
Wed, 6 June 2018
I drove our Tesla Model 3 to Maine for the first time on Sunday, in a driving rain. She had no trouble following the lane markings with Autosteer.
When I arrived at Ocean Park, Maine, a brand new Tesla wall charger was waiting for us. It works perfectly, adding about 35 miles of range during an hour of charging. Thanks to Steven Corey for installing it with help from Mark Gustin!
Also in this episode, I will share what I've learned about how hard you have to hold the steering wheel for Tesla to recognize that you aren't napping, when to override Autosteer on a two-lane road in Ocean Park, which exit ramps Tess understands and which ones confuse her, and more.
I'd like to tell you about another podcast that is now on my must-listen list. It's Tesla Tidbits, a daily dose of news all about Tesla. It's a crisp, informative digest of interesting stories--highly recommended. Here is the iTunes Podcasts link and here is the show's Patreon page. The host's name, which I didn't know when I recorded the audio of this show, is D.J. Harbaugh.
Direct download: EOR_43_Tess_in_Maine.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 4:14pm EDT
Fri, 1 June 2018
Much to my surprise, bumper-to-bumper traffic turns out to be the life-altering use of the Tesla's autopilot capability. Darlene and I drove for nearly an hour in order to cover just 11 miles between Cambridge and Boston the other night. This gave us a chance to settle into the ease of driving offered by Enhanced Cruise Control and Autosteer. What a difference it made!
When the autopilot mysteriously stopped working for about 10 minutes, I noticed how my anxiety level increased noticeably. The burden of knowing exactly when to slow in order to stay a safe distance away from the car in front of us was back on my shoulders, and I didn't like it. When Autopilot came back on, the driving was better. No question about it.
Also in this episode, you will hear my wife Darlene's first impressions of Tess, not all of them favorable.
I finally have learned how to use autopark, for parallel and perpendicular parking.
If you have comments or questions, please email them to me at podchronicles AT gmail DOT com. Thanks for listening!
Direct download: EOR_42_Bumper_to_Bumper.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 2:59pm EDT
Mon, 28 May 2018
The Yorkie Claire accompanied me to a Supercharger today in Hadley Massachusetts, conveniently located just a mile from the Paradise City Arts Festival, a favorite event of my wife Darlene's. Fun for everyone.
We drove about 100 miles from Cambridge to the festival, near Northampton. This was my longest drive yet, and it gave me a good chance to settle into familiarity with AutoSteer, automatic lane changing, and enhanced cruise control. At one point I realized that I was driving less well than the AI could. Not always, and not in every situation. But on a stretch of road without exits that puzzled the Autopilot, with average traffic--that's when the Autopilot seems safer than my own driving.
I also met a guy Miles Andrew Chilson at the charging station who is an administrator of the Tesla Owners New England group on Facebook. My application to join is pending.
Direct download: EOR_41_On_the_Road_Again.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:20pm EDT
Fri, 18 May 2018
Our Tesla Model 3 was briefly plugged into a 110-volt outlet in my parents' garage in Cambridge, Mass. But after about a day of charging, I received a notification on my iPhone via the Tesla app that the charging had ended.
We turned to ace electrician Pat Flaherty, who has looked after my parents' electrical equipment for decades, to figure out what happened. His diagnosis suggests that if you are going to charge a Tesla in your garage, you should set up a separate circuit for it, lest the combination of the car and, say a garage door opener or two, might trip the breaker.
I had fun popping the front trunk from 2,000 miles away, so Pat could put the charging cables away when we determined they wouldn't be needed in the garage for the next week while we're in Denver.
The app shows that, without the charging cable attached, the car lost 5 miles of range the first day and 2 miles the second. So that's close to what the Tesla guy in Dedham had predicted--a drain of about 1 percent of the battery's range for each day it's unused and unplugged.
Direct download: EOR_40_Unplugged.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:59am EDT
Tue, 15 May 2018
In this episode, we go looking for the Tesla Supercharger station in Cambridge, Mass., and learn there is a charge for topping off the battery on a Model 3.
Also, a friend of mine in Maine suggests Kennebunk's new Supercharger station, now under construction, may contain even faster next-generation Superchargers. Here's hoping!
I am in Denver for a couple of weeks and left Tess charging from a 110-volt outlet in my parents' garage in Cambridge. This was working well until the outlet tripped itself off with a built-in circuit breaker.
Also, how come Tess would not unlock the door when I approached with the Tesla app on my iPhone the other day. Naturally, it happened during a downpour. I figured out that I needed to wake up the phone for it to send a Bluetooth handshake to the car.
If you have comments or questions, please email them to me at PodChronicles AT gmail DOT Com. Thanks for listening!
Direct download: TKC_39_Supercharged.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:57pm EDT
Fri, 11 May 2018
Above: Tess, our Model 3, this morning at St. Camillus Church in Arlington, Massachusetts.
In this episode I consider a lapse in my attention this morning on the way home from a meeting.
Tess was moving me through stop-and-go traffic, inching along safely, stopping when appropriate, then waiting for a gap before resuming forward motion. I might have been inclined, if driving a traditional car, to take advantage of the low-risk driving conditions to add a few favorites to the radio stations list. But with Traffic Aware Cruise Control and AutoSteer running, I noticed that I felt a little safer paying a little more attention to the radio than to driving. This set off a flashing yellow light in mind that I want to remember as I become increasingly confident in Tess's ability to take over tasks I've been doing myself for 50 years.
How will I recalibrate my level of attention as a result of this new technology? I don't think it makes sense to pay exactly as much attention as I did when everything in the car was controlled by me, the driver. That would be like demanding the same mindfulness watching a Cuisinart food processor slice carrots as you'd employ slicing them manually with a sharp knife, right?
That said, I don't want to train myself to apply "just enough" attention driving the Tesla. I want my normal driving to be based on quite a bit more mindfulness than necessary. Where is that level of mindfulness? To be determined.
If you would like to share your experience with a Tesla or similarly equipped car, please email me at podchronicles AT gmail.com. Same request if you have any questions about the car or something I've talked about.
Direct download: EOR_38_Mindfulness_Lesson.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 9:30am EDT
Wed, 9 May 2018
My grandson Jake, 4, helped charge the Model 3 this afternoon at a ChargePoint charging station in Watertown, Mass. In about 20 minutes we added about 12 miles of range to Tess. It cost $10 to set up an account with an iPhone app, but the electricity was free.
Also in this episode, I will try to explain what it feels like to drive in an entirely new way using AutoSteer. The car's steering wheel moves to track the road at low speeds and during highway travel. My hands hold the wheel just as they have for 50 years, but now they move where the wheel moves itself. Except--and you need to be VERY ready for exceptions--when the car decides to exit the highway before you intended. It's all fascinating to me, and I hope you will enjoy this episode all about a day when a couple of notable firsts were experienced thanks to our new Tesla.
Direct download: EOR_37_A_Day_of_Firsts.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 6:41pm EDT
Tue, 8 May 2018
Today I picked up our Tesla Model 3, named Tess, at the dealership in Dedham, Massachusetts. This episode captures the orientation session I received from a very sharp Tesla rep who used to work art Apple, as well as my observations at the end of the day after driving Tess to Cambridge.
I have not yet tried the auto-driving features, self parking, and other capabilities. But I love the way the car handles and the magic-carpet silence and power of the ride. If I could wave a wand I'd eliminate the sunroof, which has just one filter setting that lets a lot of sunlight into the car on a sunny day like today. But that's about my only quibble.
Direct download: EOR_36_Meet_Tess.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 8:32pm EDT
Sun, 6 May 2018
A Tesla Model 3 we saw in a Boston showroom in January
After a six-year hiatus, I am dusting off this podcast in order to share with you our experience with the Tesla Model 3 that I will pick up on Tuesday, May 9, 2018, in Dedham, Massachusetts. Darlene stood in line outside the Denver Tesla showroom on a cold day in March two years ago, which put us in line to receive one of the first non-employee Model 3s to be delivered.
I am studying a Model 3 Owner's Manual that I found online and watching YouTube videos created by enthusiastic early owners of the car.
Direct download: EOR_35.mp3
Category:Tesla Model 3 -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT
Wed, 23 May 2012
Three topics from our 2,000-mile drive from Denver to Cambridge, Mass., last week in our trusty 2012 Ford Focus named Henry:
1) If you leave the car running and walk off with the smart key, can someone else drive the car away? We have actually done this a couple of times, most recently at the parking lot of Scooters coffee shop in Omaha. The word from the SYNC support center is no, someone who attempts to drive the car away without a key on their person will not be able to make it go anywhere. Good news. Note to self: turn off the car when you leave it!
2) How we used Bluetooth to listen to An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer on Audible..
3) How to load your destination for the next day's drive from your computer at the hotel to the car, via Google Maps and SYNC Services. Very cool!
Direct download: EOR_34_Drive_East.mp3
Category:Tips -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT
Tue, 8 May 2012
This past Sunday morning, which happened to be our 28th wedding anniversary, Darlene and I and the Yorkie Claire drove to a quiet residential neighbohood of Denver for a parking-assist marathon. Since I drive Henry, our 2012 Ford Focus, a lot more than Darlene does, I've had a chance over the past year to get very comfortable with the technology, which helps you ease into a tight parallel parking space with no hands on the wheel. To achieve mastery of parking assist, I recommend lots of practice on streets without traffic. You want to get so this new driving tool is second nature. You want to trust it as much as you do the steering wheel. When you turn the wheel to the right, you trust the car will move to the right. Now, when I see a good parking space, I trust the car to maneuver its way into it flawlessly.
One key point we learned: When using Parking Assist, leave your foot on the brake the entire time. You control your speed in small increments with varying pressure on the brake. Also, look for your target parking space with your eyes and spatial judgement; you don't need to depend on the car's sensors and beeps to find the space. Turn control of the car over to the technology once you know which space you plan to park in.
Parking on the left side of the street is possible on a one-way street, if you activate the left-turn signal while approaching the space.
What other tips have you learned about parking assist? Please leave a comment here or email me at PodChronicles AT Gmail DOT com.
Scott Monty of Ford tweeted me a link to this fantastic video titled "The Parisian Pinball Park." It highlights the problems of NOT using Parking Assist. Ford is going further, indeed!
Direct download: EOR_33_Parking_Assist.mp3
Category:Tips -- posted at: 2:13pm EDT
Wed, 25 April 2012
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
Thu, 12 April 2012
It turns out you can name favorite destinations with MyFord Touch SYNC, as I found out on our 2012 Ford Focus with help from a SYNC agent in a chat session last night. From the home screen, press the Navigation corner in the upper left right. Then press the Destination button. Press Favorites and you will see a button to add a favorite, and you can give it a name, like "Doctor's Office." I had this wrong in the last episode of the podcast, so this is a correction.
Category:Tips -- posted at: 10:54am EDT
Wed, 11 April 2012
For this episode, my wife Darlene joined me in our 2012 Ford Focus named Henry for a chat about the Performance Upgrade that I installed two weeks ago. As usual, she gives a candid reaction to both the problems with the original MyFord Touch SYNC system, and the upgrade. Does she like it? Listen in for the answer.
She also offers a warning about not backing out of your parking space before your navigation destination has been entered and started, and we detail a few things still missing from the car's much-improved technology.
Direct download: EOR_31_Darlene_on_Update.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 7:09pm EDT
Wed, 28 March 2012
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:
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
Sun, 25 March 2012
During my time at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, I ran into Scott Monty, Ford's head of social media, who was introducing an event that Ford set up at Stubb's Bar-B-Q. Scott and Ryan Dauzet, design engineer for SYNC and MyFord Touch, took me out to a 2013 Ford Escape in the parking lot to show me the latest version of MFT and to let me hear a wicked good 10-speaker Sony sound system in the car.
My Performance Upgrade for MFT arrived in the mail this week, and I can tell you it makes a big difference in how quickly the system boots up after starting the car. So I'm looking forward to Phase II of this podcast and plan to resume biweekly shows on Wednesday, March 28.
Video of Scott Monty demonstrating the Escape's clever Hands Free Lift Gate. In the thumbnail photo for this episode, Scott is looking up at the tailgate as it starts closing. He was using his hand to demonnstrate the location of the sensor, which is not the way you'd take advantage of the feature in real life. All you have to do is place your foot under the bumper and the gate opens, because the car senses that you're carrying the key. Very cool.
Video of Henry, our 2012 Ford Focus arriving last year at the Union Pacific auto yard.
Direct download: EOR_29_Ford_at_SXSW.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 4:53pm EDT
Wed, 25 January 2012
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
Wed, 11 January 2012
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
Wed, 28 December 2011
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
Wed, 14 December 2011
For this episode I visited with a real-llife car shopper in Toledo, Ohio. Gene Izsac is an emergency room pediatrician at a hospital in Toledo. His daily commute to work is 2.8 miles, but that is enough for him to have developed a habit of listening to podcasts, audiobooks and non-radio music in his car. He's currently driving a 2009 Nissan Altima with an auxiliary audio in port, and he uses a cradle for his iPhone that plugs into the car's power outlet. I spoke with Gene by phone and Skype on Monday, December 12th. I plan to keep in touch with him as he concludes his search for a new car with appropriate, reliable consumer electronics capability.
Click here for the CNET video interview which Gene brought to my attention. It's with Julius Marchwicki, a Ford product manager involved in the SYNC technology platform.
Direct download: EOR_25_Gene_Izsak.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 8:58pm EDT
Wed, 30 November 2011
I spoke today (November 30) with Gary Jablonski, Ford's product development manager for infotainment systems, including SYNC. He provided details of the major MyFord Touch update coming early next year, emphasizing that it will be included in 2013 model cars and available to existing MyFord Touch vehicles like my 2012 Ford Focus. This is great news, and I can't wait to get my hands on the USB stick drive that Ford will be sending me with the update.
Click here for a Ford video showing how the screens will be improved on MyFord Touch and here for a 2008 interview with Gary Jablonski which provides good background on the entire SYNC project.
UPDATE on 12/1/11: Today I received this message from C.J. Macklin, who coordinated my interview with Gary Jablonski: "We wanted to clarify one thing from our interview yesterday. Ford’s application processor is in the A8 family of ARM processors, not A9. More specifically, we wanted to provide you with the following from our site:
Processor, Memory, and Storage
Freescale i.MX51 SOC
Core CPU: ARM Cortex A8 @ 600 mHz
2D/3D graphics controller
2GB NAND flash memory
Direct download: EOR_24_Gary_Jablonski.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 7:51pm EDT
Wed, 16 November 2011
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
Wed, 2 November 2011
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
Wed, 19 October 2011
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
Wed, 5 October 2011
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
Wed, 21 September 2011
I spoke today - September 21, 2001 - with Dave Gersabeck, Ford's Manager for SYNC Services, about the company's decision to make Live Operator Assist a standard feature of SYNC Services. This follows a successful beta test of Operator Assist, which Dave discussed with me in July on EOR 14. Click here for yesterday's press release on the topic. Correction: In the audio, I mistakenly give today's date as August 21.
Dave provided lots of background on the beta test and how Ford designed the pricing and availability of Operator Assist now that it's an established feature of SYNC Services.
We also discussed when AppLink, the next generation of SYNC, might be coming to the Ford Focus and when my iPhone might be able to take advantage of the TXT capability of SYNC.
Dave alerted me to a terrific feature of SYNC Services, in which you can, using your computer, find a destination in Google Maps or Mapquest and send the directions wirelessly to your car. This happens using the mobile phone number of your SYNC Services account, and when you get in the car you need to call SYNC Services. You'll be asked if you want the directions to be loaded to your car's navigation system and presto! What you searched for at your computer at the house or office is now loaded into the nav system. Very slick.
Have you tried Operator Assist yet at SYNC Services? If so, I hope you'll leave a comment here or e-mail me at PodChronicles AT gmail DOT com.
Direct download: EOR_19_David_Gersabeck.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 9:57pm EDT
Wed, 7 September 2011
In our first four months of owning Henry, our 2012 Ford Focus, I have not had to perform a hard reset. Until today, that is. A problem connecting to SYNC Services did not resolve itself after a master reset, so I followed directions from a SYNC tech for removing a fuse, waiting two minutes, and replacing it. The good news is that this solved the problem, and my connection to SYNC Services is restored. The bad news is -- well, the user friendliness of this hard reset process is disappointing, to say the least. Darlene took the photo of me reaching in from the passenger side of the car to find the fuse box. Fun!
In other news, SYNC Services now has an official Operator Assist feature, so the beta test was apparently successful. When I first heard the service mentioned after connecting to SYNC Services several days ago, I learned I had 60 Operator Assist sessions. Now I have 59, and when I use up all the free ones I'll have to purchase one of three packages of Operator Assist calls. You can buy 10 sessions for $19.99, 50 sessions for $44.99, or 100 sessions for $79.99.
Thanks to Allen and Dick for your great comments on topics mentioned on past shows!
Direct download: EOR_18_Hard_Reset_final.mp3
Category:Tips -- posted at: 8:07pm EDT
Wed, 24 August 2011
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
Wed, 10 August 2011
In this episode, recorded while parked near the Atlantic at Ocean Park, Maine, I try to figure out what difference it makes if you turn Confirmation Prompts on under the Voice Command Settings of the MyFord Touch SYNC system. Same with Media Candidate List and Phone Candidate List. I couldn't readily see what those settings accomplish, so I called the excellent SYNC help line for some insight.
I also pass along the benefits of quickly turning to SYNC Services if you're having difficulty finding an address with the built-in database of your navigation system.
Darlene and I are enjoying our annual sojourn here on the coast of Maine, and to take fuller advantage of it I'm going to a bi-weekly schedue for this podcast and my other weekly show, The Kindle Chronicles. They will be on alternating weeks until Labor Day.
Direct download: EOR_16_Ocean_Park_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:09pm EDT
Wed, 27 July 2011
I have not had any serious problems playing my iTunes media with SYNC MyFord Touch on our 2012 Ford Focus, except that sometimes the indexing seems to take longer than I'd like. But I'm always game for a software update, so I tried downloading SYNC My iTunes from the SYNCmyride Support page. There is a version for Mac and one for PC. I tried the Mac one. It opened up without difficulty and modified my iTunes library items for optimized play on SYNC. I didn't notice any big improvement in playing my iTunes library in the car, but it didn't crash it, either. So I'll call it a qualified success and let you know if I detect any advantages to going through this process, other than the fun of doing so.
Direct download: EOR_15_SYNC_My_iTunes_final.mp3
Category:Tips -- posted at: 10:36pm EDT
Wed, 20 July 2011
On Monday, July 18, I had a chance to visit by Skype and phone with Dave Gersabeck, Ford's product manager for SYNC Services. He filled me in on the recently launched trial of Operator Assist, a new feature that adds the ability to connect with a live operator when you need one.
I also asked Dave to explain some of the interaction between the onboard navigation system of my 2012 Ford Focus and the offboard nav resources offered with SYNC Services. All in all, I learned a great deal and have even more appreciation for the range of information and services that I have within the sound of my voice while driving the Focus.
You'll find detailed information about the Operator Assist trial at the Owner-to-Owner forum on SyncMyRide.com. You'll need a username and password to participate and leave feedback.
Direct download: EOR_14_Dave_Gersabeck_final.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 10:33am EDT
Wed, 13 July 2011
Ford this week announced beta testing for a new Operator Assist feature for the cloud-based network of SYNC Services. I gave it a try and am impressed with it. When the normal SYNC Services automated system can't figure out where Dickson Brothers Hardware store is in Harvard Square, you can simply say "Operator" and within seconds you'll be talking to a human who is not driving, so she can safely mouse around looking for your information. And if the operator finds what you're seeking, he or she can zap the directions to your navigation system on MyFord Touch, which is very cool.
In another safety-related story, Ford made news by being the first automaker to back federal legislation banning use of handheld cell phones while driving. The cheeky gurus at the MarketFoolery podcast pointed out that this move makes very good business sense for Ford, because the legislation would allow hands-free systems like SYNC. Chris Hill and the Fools also discussed the Active Park Assist technology, which we have in our 2012 Ford Focus, aka Henry. I, too, think it's great, but I'm still getting the hang of using the system to parallel park on a crowded city street.
Direct download: EOR_13_Safe_Driving_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15am EDT
Wed, 6 July 2011
Two master resets in one week do not a happy 2012 Focus driver make. So this episode is a mild-mannered rant modified with some self-doubt. Am I doing something wrong? How come Henry's SYNC MyFord Touch system is so unreliable? Even after I did a master reset on Tuesday, yesterday the clock went haywire, jumping around from one hour to the next on a random basis when I was trying to figure out if we were late for supper at my daughter's house.
I didn't have time to include this comment from Allen MacDiarmid regarding my Navigation problems, so I'll post it here:
Al, I tried your suggestion, and it did work. I was able to go into AUX mode by pushing the start button without pressing my foot to the brake. So that might be an idea, to fire up the tech system before we plan to leave on a drive. BTW, the best gas mileage we've seen on the Focus so far has been about 36 mpg, during our cross-country drive from Denver. So I look askance at all of the touting Ford's doing of the 40-mpg highway performance. I haven't seen it yet, even at sea level here in Boston. My Denver dealer said the mileage is not so good at mile-high altitude.
I hope I'll have a more upbeat report for you next week!
Direct download: EOR_12_Unhappy_Camper_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32pm EDT
Wed, 29 June 2011
As I was mousing around the Ford SyncMyRide forums I noticed a topic titled "Sirius Voice Command Update File" in the category "SYNC Announcements." I'm always eager to update my computer equipment, so I downloaded the file to a thumb drive and took it out to Henry for the patch. It didn't work the first time, and I'll tell you why so you don't make the same mistake.
The text file didn't say what the patch fixed, and the SYNC agent I chatted with online may have had the wrong info when he said it was an update of SIRIUS's channel lineup. Before the patch and afterward I had 141 channels, so no extra ones were added. I haven't had time yet to see if the order of the channels has changed somehow. Anyway, the update worked fine, whatever it did.
Also in this episode, I'll tell you how to interrupt the Voice Command woman any time you want to, which is especially handy when she goes on and on with commands you could have said if you hadn't made some boneheaded mistake by saying an incorrect command. And you'll hear a little soothing crooning from a famous singer whose permission I don't have to use the clip on the podcast.
Direct download: EOR_11_A_Sirius_Update_final.mp3
Category:Tips -- posted at: 5:00am EDT
Wed, 22 June 2011
My wife Darlene has been highly critical of the GPS navigation system in our 2010 Ford Focus, part of the MyFord Touch technology. I thought she was just refusing to give it a chance, and it drove me crazy when she'd place our old Garmin Nuvi device on the dashboard, just above the built-in touch screen. But yesterday I was late to an appointment in Arlington, Mass., because it took so long for me to get the Ford system oriented with the GPS. Today I did a head-to-head test of how long it took for the Nuvi to pull up a map to the destination, compared with the built-in navigation, using voice commands. A later test using the touch screen instead of VR was inconclusive and actually took longer than the Voice Recognition, for reasons I won't go into because it was so frustrating. In any event, listen in for this unscientific test of two ways to get from A to B.
What's YOUR experience with the built-in navigation system, which is made by Xanavi? You can email me at PodChronicles AT gmail.
Direct download: EOR_10_Shootout_at_the_GPS_Corral_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:54pm EDT
Tue, 14 June 2011
During our brief stay in Dearborn Michigan this week, I had a chance to visit with Jim Buczkowski, a Henry Ford Technical Fellow and director of all things electric and electrical at Ford. He spoke of the early days of the SYNC technology, how it's working now, and what's ahead. Fascinating stuff, straight from a 32-year Ford veteran who was there at the beginning.
Click here for a handy list of smartphone apps for road trips like the one Darlene and I are on, from Denver to Boston. It will take you to an episode of the New York Times Tech Talk Podcast.
If you'd like to follow along with the non-tech side of our road trip across America, click here for my general blog.
Direct download: EOR_9_Jim_Buczkowski_final.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 10:16pm EDT
Wed, 8 June 2011
In this episode I explore the Vehicle Health Report made possible by the SYNC system in our 2012 Ford Focus, now named Henry. I was disappointed in the level of detail, but impressed at how the system could take real-time information from the car's running engine and, using my cell phone, transmit it via the Internet to a report viewable at SyncMyRide.com .
I got some help understanding the process from a Sync Agent at the call center, and more by email from Alan Hall, Ford's communications manager for technology research and innovation.
Also this week, I take a look at reports in the news that occasional glitches on the MyFordTouch screen are making folks at Ford uneasy, all the way to the top, as indicated by quotes in a Bloomberg story by CEO Alan Mulally. Consumer Reports continues to express concern about the MyFord Touch system's steep learning curve and how it can be confusing and distracting for new users. Point taken, but I still think this is a very promising system, and the more I learn about it the better I like it.
Ask me in 2,000 miles if that's still the case. Darlene and I leave tomorrow morning for our eastward migration to Cambridge, Massachusetts. I call it "Travels with Henry," and I'll let you know how it goes.
Direct download: EOR_8_Henrys_First_Checkup_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33pm EDT
Wed, 1 June 2011
This morning in Denver I recorded my thoughts about Active Park Assist, the most gee-whiz bit of tech on our 2012 Ford Focus. It really is amazing to see the wheel spin one way and the other, expertly guiding the car into a parallel parking space. But there turn out to be finer points to using this powerful tool, and I've made some rookie mistakes, none of them costly.
Click here for a video walk-through of Active Park Assist by Ali Jammoul, Ford's chassis chief engineer.
On the way home after the parking demo, the SYNC MyFord Touch system grabbed the touch screen for an apparent reset that I hadn't requested. I pulled over into a bank parking lot to record what happened next. Back home, I called the MyFord Touch call center at 888-270-1055 and was told that an update of the MFT software at the end of June might make these disconcerting episodes less frequent. I certainly hope so!
Direct download: EOR_7_Free_Parking_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18pm EDT
Wed, 25 May 2011
Thanks to George from Tulsa for sending along a great response to Bill Gates's alleged comments about how great a car would be if the auto indusry had kept up with technology as well as the computer industry. Does Ford's SYNC MyFord Touch system have eerie similarities with the satiric view supposedly prepared in response to Gates by GM? You be the judge...
Also, how to load a photo into your MyFord Touch system so it becomes the wallpaper for your touch scree and my plan to keep my fingers off the touch screen or my iPhone when we take a long trip next month, listening all the way to great podcasts.
Direct download: EOR_6_He_Who_Laughs_Last_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:16pm EDT
Wed, 18 May 2011
It's going to take a while for me to get used to the idea that I may need to reboot my car as often as I do my laptop computer, iPhone or Kindle. But that seems to be the case so far in our first three weeks of owning a 2012 Ford Focus.
The latest episode, captured in an iPhone recording I made, involved a frozen touchscreen as Darlene and I were driving Interstate 25 south from Casper, Wyoming, to Denver. There was no danger. I simply turned off the highway at the La Prele exit so I could shut off the car's engine. When I restarted the car, I was glad to see the SYNC screen shown in the photo, and when the pretty turquoise bar crawled all the way across the screen, we were back in business, listening to SIRiUs, giving Voice Recognition commands to the MyFord Touch lady, and watching the nav system detail our progress home.
How often does this happen? Have any of you had to pull out a fuse for three minutes to reboot your SYNC system? Will later generations of this software be more reliable? If you have thoughts on this or any other topic, please drop me an email at PodChronicles AT Gmail.
Also, Bob Rich of Novi, Michigan, has another good comment about all things USB and audio.
Direct download: EOR_5_I-25_Reboot_Blues_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44pm EDT
Wed, 11 May 2011
If you are new to the MyFord Touch voice recognition system, you have probably dialed a few wrong numbers with your paired smartphone by now. In this episode I'll share a couple of tips to minimize the times this happens and, most importantly, walk you through how to hang up a mistaken call BEFORE your caller ID makes it onto the person's phone at the other end.
Thanks to Bob Rich of Novi, Michigan, for the first comment e-mailed to the podcast. Click here for the CNET podcast he mentioned, which contains a review of the 2012 Ford Focus.
If you have tips for avoiding wrong calls from your car, please send them to me at PodChronicles AT Gmail, or leave a comment here.
Thanks to Alan Hall of Ford for guiding me to the menu selection where you can hear how MyFord Touch thinks an item in the address book should be pronounced. This enabled me to come up with a proper robotic intro for the podcast, compliments of the sultry voice of the computer. BTW, have you named her? If so, please let me know, as Darlene and I are still looking for a name that seems to fit.
Direct download: EOR_4_Avoiding_Phone_Faux_Pas_final.mp3
Category:Tips -- posted at: 7:16pm EDT
Wed, 4 May 2011
Five days after picking up our new 2012 Ford Focus, I recorded my initial thoughts about the MyFord Touch system while driving back to Denver from Buena Vista, Colorado. Based on my sometimes frustrating early days using the technology, I want to pass along these two suggestions for new users:
1. Have the numbers for the SYNC support team loaded into your smartphone or on a Post-it in the car. The hours are Monday - Saturday 8:30 a.m - 8 pm EST. In the U.S. call 888-270-1055. In Canada, 800-565-3673.
2. If the system begins acting really strange, you can reset to factory default, or simply reset, by pressing the Menu button on the touch screen, then going to Settings, then System. If you scroll to the end of the System options, you'll see a reset option. After I did it, helped by someone at SYNC support, I had to re-pair my phone and add my address book back into the SYNC system, but the reset solved the problems I was having with Voice Recognition not recognizing even the simplest commands, like "Navigation."
The car drives like a dream, and I am sure my frustrations this first week have had at least as much to do with operator error as to glitches in the system itself.
If you are a new MyFord Touch user, please share YOUR suggestions for fellow explorers of this powerful new technology. You can leave a comment here or e-mail me at PodChronicles AT Gmail DOT com.
Direct download: EOR_3_Novice_Tips_final.mp3
Category:Tips -- posted at: 6:00am EDT
Thu, 28 April 2011
On my way home from Big Mike Naughton Ford yesterday (April 26, 2011), I stopped for a few minutes on East Colfax Avenue in Denver to adjust my recorder and lapel microphone, the better to record some impressions of the 2012 Ford Focus on its maiden trip. Shortly after resuming the drive back to LoDo, I noticed flashing lights on a Denver Police cruiser, pulling me over. Oops. What could this mean?
As I listen now to the recording, I wonder if the officer wasn't looking for a pretext to find out more about the Kona Blue 2012 Ford Focus. It turned out that he knew enough about the car to know it was unusual to see one on the streets already. That led to a friendly conversation, once he determined that my lingering in front of the Lazy-C Motor Lodge had been more innocent than it may have seemed.
Photo courtesy of Google Maps street view.
Direct download: EOR_2_Lazy-C_Motor_Lodge_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:19am EDT
Wed, 27 April 2011
Mickey Naughton (in photo), sales consultant at Big Mike Naughton Ford in Aurora, Colorado, walks me through an overview of the MyFord Touch system on our new 2012 Focus. Darlene and I picked up the car at Naughton yesterday, April 26th, and so far it's a big hit. As we sat in the car at the Naughton garage, Mickey showed me how to pair my iPhone with the car's computer system, and we tried out a phone call with Darlene, who had driven back to the apartment in the rental car. One thing I'm very disappointed with is the fact that the iPhone does not work with the Text-to-Speech system for listening to incoming TXT messages. I'll be looking into that problem in a future episode of the podcast.
The Focus drives like a dream and actually feels very much like our Volvo S-60, which is a bigger car, so it's surprising the Focus would feel as substantial.
I want to thank Dan Floyd, Mickey and all the crew at Naughton Ford for making our purchase of this car a pleasure.
The journey begins!
Direct download: EOR_1_Meet_the_Focus_final.mp3
Category:Interviews -- posted at: 7:14pm EDT
Tue, 26 April 2011
The 2012 Ford Focus that we ordered from Big Mike Naughton Ford arrived in Denver by train from the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, on April 22, 2012. Thanks to the hospitality of Union Pacific management and crew, I was able to see our car roll down the ramp from the rail car, and then I had another surprise.
Direct download: LenEdgerly-Our2012FordFocusTakesTheTrainToDenver836.m4v
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24am EDT
Wed, 20 April 2011
Today, April 20, 2011, I interviewed three future drivers - Jack, Jamesie, and James - in the back seat of the Ford Flex that we are renting this week. I asked each of them to tell me what they hope a car will be able to do when they are old enough to drive. For Jack, that will be four years from now. For Jamesie, it will be seven years, and for James, eleven years. So their views of future driving technology are worth listening to.
As for our 2012 Ford Focus, it is on the train and due to arrive sometime next week.
Direct download: EOR_Probe_G_Boys_of_the_Future_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT
Wed, 13 April 2011
Our 2012 Ford Focus is not here yet. But I did manage to make contact with the manager of the Union Pacific railyard where it will arrive by train to the outskirts of Denver from Michigan. Once I get the train car number from the shipper, I will call the yard manager. He will know when the train car will arrive, and he will escort me into the yard so I can maybe get close enough for some video of The Delivery. The problem is that the car has not even been put on a train yet, and once it does get loaded in a train car it will take 7 to 10 days to get to Denver. I'm not worried. I was warned that the scheduling of the assembly of the car was not a precise thing, and it stands to reason that the transportation has its complexity, too.
That said, I was slightly unnerved to across this very negative review of the MyFord Touch system in the Focus, written by Jason Cammisa on April 7. His blog post included the graphic of a "Performing Scheduled System Maintenance" screen that he said appeared as the system crashed. Even more troubling was this comment posted to the blog by a guy named Matt: "I went in to a dealership looking for a Focus last week and the salesman said they were having 'problems' with MyFord Touch and were not shipping any cars with it right now..." I have my doubts about this rumor, but I'll be checking it out in the coming week.
Direct download: EOR_Probe_F_Waiting_Game_Final.mp3
Category:Probe -- posted at: 11:52pm EDT
Wed, 6 April 2011
I sent the following tweet early this morning: "@FocusDoug - Psst. How'd you like to lose @FocusJohn & do your own interview today for my http://TheEdgeofTheRoad.com podcast? Follo & DM me."
Alas, I didn't hear back from the would-be famous orange puppet and Ford Focus mascot in time to post this episode of the podcast, but he probably keeps a full schedule and I may hear from him or his partner, @FocusJohn, sometime in the coming week. Meanwhile, you can sample some of his promotional, funny work at the FocusDoug YouTube Channel.
We thought our 2012 Ford Focus might arrive at Mike Naughton Ford this week, but I heard via the train shipping agent that it's not showing up in his computer system as even being on a train yet, so that means we're at least seven days from seeing it in Denver. I'm doing my best to get access to the train yard, so I can shoot video of the car's arrival in Commerce City. There will have to be some help from Union Pacific Railroad to get me close enough to even see the car, the shipping guy, named Jeremy, told me. Naughton's sales manager, Dan Floyd, has been helpful in tracking down contacts for my preparation for The Arrival of the Car.
Direct download: EOR_Probe_E_FocusDoug_final.mp3
Category:Probe -- posted at: 8:55pm EDT
Wed, 30 March 2011
Ford created a social media reality road show extravaganza to create buzz around the 2012 Ford Focus, introduced by this ad during the Super Bowl. It was called Focus Rally America, and I wish I'd known about it while it was under way, because there were lots of entertaining ways to follow along on-line. Six two-person teams competed for a cash prize of $100,000 and a 2012 Focus for each winning team member. The Gray Team finished first, but close behind them were Clayton Early, left in photo, and Adam Lustick, comprising the Blue Team. I spoke with Clay and Adam on Monday, March 28, 2011, by Skype and phone, reaching them in New York City. That's where they are members of a comedy sketch group named Harvard Sailing Team. Click here for their YouTube channel. As befits the general reputation of my alma mater, their comedy is upstanding, PG rated, and very entertaining.
Clay and Adam in our conversation described their impressions of the Focus -- it's like driving a laptop, they said -- and gave a behind-the-wheel look at the making of a big-budget social media reality show.
Darlene's and my 2012 Focus may actually arrive here in Denver by the end of the week, or early next week. So my next Edge of the Road episode may be the one that offically behinds our ride in a gadget on wheels. I hope you'll accompany us!
The podcast's iTunes listing is now live, so you can subscribe there for handy listening on your portable device. If you have the time, please consider leaving a comment at iTunes, where most people find the podcasts they listen to.
Direct download: EOR_Probe_D_Focus_Rally_America.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:29pm EDT
Wed, 23 March 2011
I spoke with William Cramer, a sales associate at Mike Naughton Ford on Tuesday, March 21, 2011, for an update on the arrival of our 2012 Ford Focus. It's been delayed and is now scheduled for delivery on April 4, 2011. William gave me the rundown on how the new car will travel from the assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, and what the orientation session will be like when it arrives.
Direct download: EOR_Probe_C_William_Cramer.mp3
Category:Probe -- posted at: 10:00am EDT
Wed, 16 March 2011
I reached Dominic Colella, Ford Sync Systems Integration Engineer, by phone and Skype on March 13, 2011 in his office in Dearborn, Michigan. As it happened, our 2012 Ford Focus had its build date scheduled for that same day, so it might have been rolling down the line eleven miles away at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, even as we spoke.
Click here for a video tour that Dominic did of the MyFord Touch system. Thanks to Christine Vu, who arranged for the interview and provided this detailed description of MyFord Touch, and to Ford's Scott Monty and Alan Hall for putting me in touch with Christine.
I heard from Mike Naughton Ford in Aurora, Colorado, today that our Focus may be delievered to Denver as soon as the week of March 28. Very exciting!
Direct download: EOR_Probe_B_Dominic_Colella.mp3
Category:Probe -- posted at: 5:00am EDT
Wed, 9 March 2011
On my second shakedown drive for the podcast -- recorded on Monday, March 7, 2011, in Denver -- Darlene is at the wheel of the OccasionalCar hourly rental, and our Garmin GPS system, whom we call Mona, gives directions which are seldom followed.
We are looking for a tag line for the podcast, but the task is complicated, because the focus for the cast is not entirely certain. My original idea was to concentrate on the new technology in the 2012 Ford Focus that we have on order, but until it arrives I'm quite interested in learning what it's like to live in downtown Denver without a car. So the Edge of the Road might be a place where we explore the MyFord Touch system, other innovations in driving, AND life in a major American city without an owned car. I'm feeling my way here, and will call these initial episodes "probes," as suggested by my media-savvy friend in Paris, Jean Remple.
If you have any thoughts on how to steer this emerging podcast toward something you'd like to listen to regularly, please leave a comment here or e-mail me at PodChronicles AT Gmail DOT com.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to learn more about the MyFord Touch Sync technology, check out this video. In it, Ford Sync Systems Engineer Dominic Colella demonstrates the system in a 2012 Ford Focus. I'm going to see if I can arrange for a telephone interview with Mr. Colella for next week's show.
Direct download: EOR_Prequel_A_final.mp3
Category:Probe -- posted at: 5:00am EDT
Wed, 2 March 2011
This is the pilot show for a new podcast I plan to develop all about technology and driving. These will be short episodes, about 11 minutes each, recorded in the car, dealing mainly with Ford's new MyFord Touch system, which will be in installed in the 2012 Ford Focus that we've ordered for delivery sometime during the next month.
Direct download: EOR_0.MP3
Category:Introduction -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT