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


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April 2012
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EOR 34 Driving East

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

TKC 33 Darlene Learns Parking Assist

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

EOR 32 Listening to Podcasts

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

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

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

EOR 31 Darlene on the Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's New and What Remains

Improved Voice Recognition and Touch

Enhanced Navigation and Map Views

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


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

EOR 29 First Look at MyFord Touch Upgrade

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. 

Links mentioned:

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

EOR 28 Reluctant Sabbatical

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

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

EOR 27 Phone Home

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

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

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