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


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June 2011
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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 25 Gene Izsak

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

EOR 24 Ford's Gary Jablonski

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

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 19 Dave Gersabeck

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

EOR 18 Hard Reset

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

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

EOR 16 Beach Tips

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.

Happy Summer!

Direct download: EOR_16_Ocean_Park_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:09pm EDT

EOR 15 SYNC My iTunes

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

EOR 14 Dave Gersabeck on SYNC Services

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 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

EOR 13 Two Stories About Safety

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

EOR 12 Unhappy Camper

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:

Len, I just finished listening to the podcast where you took over 4 minutes to get going on the Nav.  Was the engine running the whole time you were doing that?  Could you have come down and set it up without the engine running for a later departure?  On my Prius if I don't touch the brake when pushing the start button it goes into AUX mode, just like not turning the key all the way in an old fashioned car.  BTW, what kind of mileage did you get on your trip?

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

EOR 11 A Sirius Update

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

EOR 10 Shootout at the GPS Corral

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

EOR 9 Jim Buczkowski on the Creation of SYNC

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

EOR 8 Henry's First Checkup

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 . 

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

EOR 7 Free Parking

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

EOR 6: He Who Laughs Last

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

EOR 5 The I-25 Reboot Blues

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

EOR 4 Avoiding Phone Faux Pas

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

EOR 3 - Two Tips for Novices

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

EOR 2: The Lazy-C Motor Lodge

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

EOR 1 Meet the Focus

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

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. 

We're scheduled to pick up the car tomorrow, April 26th, and I plan to record the orientation session about the MyFord Touch system for this week's Wednesday show.  Stay tuned!

Direct download: LenEdgerly-Our2012FordFocusTakesTheTrainToDenver836.m4v
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24am EDT

EOR Probe G: Drivers of the Future

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

EOR Probe F: The Waiting Game

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

EOR Probe E: Waiting for Doug

I sent the following tweet early this morning: "@ - Psst. How'd you like to lose @ & do your own interview today for my 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.

Stay tuned!


Direct download: EOR_Probe_E_FocusDoug_final.mp3
Category:Probe -- posted at: 8:55pm EDT

EOR Probe D: Focus Rally America

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

EOR Probe C: William Cramer

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

EOR Probe B: Dominic Colella

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

EOR Probe A: My Kingdom for a Tag Line

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

EOR 0 - Getting a New Podcast on the Road

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