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


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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 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 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 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 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 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 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