Steve's Ramblings


Taking the Dave Morin test

Filed under: Apple — steveriggins @ 6:46 pm

Path’s Dave Morin was interviewed and damn if he doesn’t come off as a douche. When asked about which ringtone he uses, Dave answered “I don’t use a ring of any kind on my phone. This is so that I am always on offense and never defense.” Really?

So I decided to take the test myself and see how I’d do:

Phone: Black iPhone 5

Ringtone: Old Phone.  I like the nostalgia it brings, and it is easy to hear.

Case: None.  No scratches since launch day.

Background: Stock.  I never got around to changing it.

Last Text: To my wife.

Last App I Used: DirecTV, to record 30 for 30.

Currently Obsessed with: Will Apple offer a retina mini this year or not?

Last Download: AudioNote, to demo to someone taking classes at PSU.

Most Surprising App on Home Screen: Hue. Amazing to think that I can control the color and brightness of my lights from my phone.

Text or Call? Text.

Remaining Battery: 69%



Apple and Chevrolet need to go out to lunch

Filed under: Apple, Chevy Volt — steveriggins @ 7:37 pm

Apple iPhone engineers and Chevrolet Volt engineers need to go out to lunch.  The Chevy engineers will pick the Apple engineers up at Infinite Loop.  They’ll drive to San Francisco for this lunch.  I’ll pay.

I’ll pay, as long as the engineers try to accomplish the following:

  • Pair the iPhone to the Volt via Bluetooth
  • Try to use Siri from the home button on the phone to play a song that is in iTunes Match
  • Use the iPhone for directions and try to hear those directions while listening to AM radio

Seems simple enough, but the iPhone and Volt work so poorly together that only the pairing works.  Nothing else works without either endangering my drive or just flat out not working.  Here is what I have experienced:

  • Press Siri button, Volt switches to bluetooth, but all I hear is the Siri tone for “You didn’t say anything” as Siri disconnects
  • Press Siri button again, sometimes it works, sometimes it kills Siri until I:
    • Go into and out of Airplane mode
    • Turn off and on the Volt radio
    • I’m not even joking
  • When I do get Siri listening, tell it to play a song:
    • Siri starts playing, but no audio on the Volt
    • Switch to Bluetooth source using the terrible Volt controls on the Steering wheel that go to Bluetooth, but Phone interface, not Music.
      • Have to now touch the touchscreen on the center console
    • Still no audio
      • Pull over and stop/start music on the iPod app.  Sometimes this makes audio play, sometimes not
        • Curse at Apple and Chevy
    • Give up.  My iPhone is useless for listening to audio over Bluetooth in the Volt
  • When Siri does not work, try it manually
    • Same experience when I do get Siri to play the song

Do not even get me started with using the controls on the Volt console to try and control an iPhone that is set up for iTunes Match over Bluetooth.  It is flat out terrible.

What about Navigation?

  • Start Navigation via Siri or Manual
  • No audio via Volt speakers, because I am listening to AM sports radio
  • Pull over to side of road
    • Unlock iPhone
    • Tap Navigation app
    • Tap “bluetooth” icon
    • Switch to “iPhone” audio (not “Chevy Volt”
  • Continue drive
  • Notice one minute later that iPhone has switched back to Bluetooth audio, so no more directions are heard

I love Apple.  I love my iPhone.  I love my Volt.  I loathe how they work together.  It is embarrassingly bad.  Terrible.   Unusable.

Get together folks.  Have lunch.  Make life on the road safer and possible to use your products together.


Voltland USA – Week 1

Filed under: Chevy Volt — steveriggins @ 7:57 pm

UPDATE: Service Parking Brake issue resolved.  Dealer upgraded the software on the parking brake module and calibrated the brake.  There is a service bulletin for this, and it is an easy, quick (<1h) fix.

It has been one week since I purchased my 2013 Chevy Volt!  How have things been going?

Pretty damned well, I must say.  There are glitches, but nothing to be worried about.  The parking brake is reporting an error, but I have since met three other 2013 users with this issue and the fix seems to be to replace the parking brake module.  The brake works, it just reports an incorrect code sometimes.  I will know more next week when I take the car in to get checked out overnight.  A bit of a pain for a new car, but I am giving GM a lot of leeway given how new and complex this technology is.

I learned that the Volt’s run-flat compressor is also a normal air compressor!  This is spiffy and works well.  I also learned how to jump the car, or jump another car, should I ever need to.  This is interesting because the Volt has two sets of terminals, one under the hood and one in the trunk.  That’s because the battery is in the trunk!  They suggest jumping other cars with the rear terminals as that avoids the fuses and other electronics in the vehicle.

I’m averaging over 300 miles per gallon.  I still have not used a drop of gas.  I may burn half a tank at some point soon because we have switched from summer gas to winter gas.  If I were to go an entire year without using gas, the Volt would force me to use the gas until most of it was gone, just to get rid of the old gas and lubricate the engine.

I spent some time on a drive the other day testing the acceleration, which is really fun.  This is no sports car, but the pickup is instant and fun to experience.  It throws you back in the seat for a good while.  I tried this at street speeds going up a hill, and at 60mph to pass a tanker truck.  Both times the Volt responded instantly, drawing between 70 and 90 kW.  This is quite substantial compared to the normal 15-25 I use normally, but it is great that the speed is there if you need it.

I used the cruise control for the first time today.  I skipped reading the manual and the system was very easy to figure out.  I really like that I get a message stating the speed the car is set to, and it is very easy to notch the speed up or down by 1 mile per hour at a time.

I have become a fan of driving in low.  For city driving or stop n go/slow traffic, I rarely use the brake when in low gear.  I regenerate enough electricity to not even come close to using half of the battery’s capacity to drive 17+ miles.

I had a nice call with Chris from 3D Electric.  He will be installing my 240v charger.  Sounds like it will be an easy install and we will be able to put it where I want to.  Sweet!

That’s it for now.  The car is fun to drive, super quiet, very efficient, and I am still learning new things about it.  So far, super happy!


Chevy Volt – Labor Day 2012

Filed under: Chevy Volt, Review — steveriggins @ 7:42 pm

So today was a fun day in Voltland!  I spent less time driving today, but we did go drop off some stuff at Salvation Army and then headed down to Walmart to pick up a shower head.  While at Fred Meyers, Elizabeth noted a super sweet plush throw for $6.50, in the exact black as my cargo fabric.  I picked one up to toss over whatever might be back there just to make it that much harder to see inside.  Looks great.  The following two photos are looking through the Volt’s “rear window” which is on the back of the hatch:

Looking into Volt rear 1 Looking into Volt lower rear 2

Then I noticed red chewing gum near the brake pedal. NOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Le sigh.  I used some gum/tape dissolver on the floor mat (after testing on a part of the rear mat that lives under the seat) and got most of it out.  It had melted in the heat pretty well.  You can’t see it and I highly recommend Mötsenböcher’s #2 tape remover.

I then learned that the 2013 Volt controls how much amperage it draws from the charger, whereas with the 2012s and earlier, the 120v charger decided.  On top of this, the car defaults to 8 amps instead of 12 amps.  On top of that, the car resets to 8 amps each time the car is put into park.  The consensus amongst forums is that people want GM to change this, but also agree that this is likely to help reduce chance of fire when plugged into a shoddy outlet, or at the least, tripping an overloaded circuit.  Today is my first test at 12 amps and I will be keeping a hand on the outlet to see if it gets warm.  The car is predicting that it will charge up 58% of the battery in 7 hours when using 12 amps.  With 8 amps, it was taking 12 hours to do about the same amount.

I played around in Sport mode a bit more when getting onto the freeway and it sure is fun.  You can watch the kW drop but if you need some pep, it’s just two taps of the Driving Mode button away.

I got Pandora to work via USB but it is not all that great.  It works, but sometimes it’ll ask you to unlock the iPhone, which is pointless when driving.  The bluetooth audio streaming is fast and works well, but it cannot cause iTunes Match to download new music, and it does not see the playlists on the phone.  When using iPod as a source, I can play all of my playlists and I believe download the music, but i need to test that more.  What I could not figure out how to do was how to shuffle the playlist.  It always starts at the top and then I have to go back a few menus to turn shuffle back on.  I wonder if Apple patented putting “Shuffle” at the top of a menu.

The Bose audio system is fantastic.  Sounds really nice and as Elizabeth mentioned, with no engine noise, it sounds that much better.

We got to experience the RKE alarm today.  Elizabeth got out of the car but left her purse inside. As soon as she shut the door, the Volt started chirping the horn to let us know we were about to lock the RKE inside.  Very nice feature.

Black trim around the car shows dirt very quickly. 🙂

This is a sweet car and I hope GM can get back to being solvent and not losing money on each one.  This does seem to be the future, driving electric and augmenting with fuel until we come up with a better solution to oil.  Won’t that be the day!

So I bought a Chevy Volt

Filed under: Chevy Volt, Review — steveriggins @ 12:37 am

I’ve known for awhile that I would have to start searching for a new car.  My 1997 Taurus SHO ran super well until this year when it started idling rough.  That lead to repairs and more repairs and then it died.  It was repairable, but I was done spending money on it.  So I went looking.

I considered a Toyota Camry LXE Hybrid, a Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and the Chevy Volt.  After a week of creating spreadsheets in Numbers, running lease vs. buy predictions, and a lot of research, I bought a 2013 Volt.

This car will not pay for itself in gas savings.  This car is for early adopters.  This car is pretty awesome.

The pickup for an electric is really nice.  It is like riding on a roller coaster with magnetic propulsion, except slower.  What I am finding interesting after two days of ownership is that I am starting to drive like an old person, and that is a good thing.  The Volt is very good at letting me know when I am braking too hard.  Why am I braking too hard?  Because I sped up too much when there is a red light ahead.  The Volt regenerates electricity when you coast as well as brake, so you can let up and even “coast” up a freeway offramp, putting electrons back into the battery.

The Volt is a heavy car, topping 3700 lbs curb weight.  Much of this is the massive lithium-ion battery.  The battery was the #1 thing that slowed me down from buying earlier.  At 8 years/100,000 miles, I am still wary of the battery, so I may sell it in three years as an affordable commuter to someone, if the tech has gotten better by then.  If you live in one of the States that adopted the California PZEV Emissions Warranty, then you’ll get a 10 year/150,000 mile warranty on the battery, which is nice.  Washington only elected to adopt the non-PZEV portion of California’s standards, so I got screwed. Thanks, Olympia.

My car came with the rear safety package, which includes a camera and object alert system.  The camera is awesome, and even has a light at night.  The car also came with premium interior, including leather seats, and a Bose “low power” radio system.  I did not want that at first, but now am glad I got it.  I may have to sign up for XM/Sirius.

The dash consists of two screens, one in the center console, which runs all of your climate and entertainment systems, and one where you would normally have your dials and gauges.

The center console is a hot mess.  The screen is a touch screen, but much of the UI is not touchable.  The buttons on the console are touch sensitive, which means you trigger them when you did not mean to, or sit there pressing hard because they don’t react like normal buttons.  Some buttons have cryptic labels.  It took me 4 hours to figure out how to set the temperature.  I just did not see the red/blue arrow buttons until it was night and they lit up.  I kept tapping the “72” on the screen to no avail.

The climate system is designed to save power.  You can run it in fan-only mode, eco mode, or comfort your sweaty ass mode.  We’ve been running in Eco mode and it is not bad.  However, if you happen to hit a climate control button by accident, say the fan speed, then it ignores the temperature and it’ll waste energy as well as not cool you down.  If fan speed gets set to manual, the only way I have found to make it auto again is to make everything auto with the magic Auto button. Le sigh.  I have to make sure that “Auto” is always lit *on the console* as the touch screen has 5, count them 5 things that can be auto or not: Left heated seat (part of the premium package), right heated seat, circulated air, which vents to use, and fan speed.  

The UI for the console is terrible. I think it was designed by some engineering committee of people who like large ugly buttons.  I’d love to sic our designers on this thing.  But once you figure it out, it is usable.  You can switch radio stations, radio bands, XM, Pandora, look at the energy going to/from the battery, see how efficient you drive, what the lifetime stats of the car are, etc.  It’s a regular video game on wheels.

Ok I have been complaining a lot for a 40+K car, why do I like it?  Well….

It’s freaking high tech.  I drove 39 miles today, all on electric.  250+mpg yeah.  I did charge a little in between one trip, but seeing as I have the slow charger (120v) it wasn’t much.  My charger takes about 12 hours to do a full charge.  I’ll be having SPX come out and hopefully get the 240v outlet and charger installed for $300 out of pocket, which takes advantage of the Ecotality/DOE program containing a free Blink charger and $400 rebate on the install.  They claim that the government has them do hours of paperwork and hence the $700 quote for install, but I do not have a hard number on just how much this thing will cost me.  Once installed, a full charge will be a scant 4 hours.  Awesome.

I am not a green nut.  I recycle when I can, turn in old computers, try to be good to the environment, but I do not grow my own food and I drive around unnecessarily just because I can.  The Volt interested me though because if I could save some gas, that has to be a good thing, right? And I get a car that connects to my iPhone.

So OnStar.  I got 3 years free.  It’s a great concept if you don’t mind them knowing everything you do.  You can get help in an emergency, or ask them for directions and it’ll come down to the car.  They also include an iPhone app to get information from the car, start it remotely (to start climate control), etc.  It’s cool but either my car has a 300 baud cellular modem or their system is slow.  It can take 45 seconds for the car to respond to a command or send data back.  I guess there is some connection lag, and it mostly works, but I did have it reject my connection a couple of times.  And it won’t let me update my alert notifications.  Ugh.  They need some better iOS engineers, as the app feels like a web app wrapped in a UIWebView with a UITabBar at the bottom.  I did get 3 years free of OnStar and I have to say it’s pretty nice.  They will inform you if the car fails any aspect of the monthly check, in addition to the onboard alerts.  They can help contact the dealer for service, or find the closest Chipotle. Pretty neat.

The dash – There is so much to cover, but basically you have a super easy to read speed indicator, a battery charge graphic, a fuel left graphic, an indicator that tells you if you are accelerating or braking too hard, then a widget in the bottom middle that you can change with a dial.  The widget can show you how many kilowatts are flowing too/from the battery, what your oil life is like, tire pressures for all four tires, messages from the car (like “charging has begun”), navigation, two trip computers, and a tutorial.  There may be more, the car is overwhelming.

The rest of the car is basic, wipers, signals, horn, and even has a pedestrian horn which is a nicer way of telling someone “I’d coming up on you and you don’t hear me because I am BATMAN SILENT!”  The car has a normal stick for the transmission, including Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Low.  Reverse turns on the rear camera.  Low is useful for stop and go traffic, or so I am told.

The parking brake is electric.  I assume this is so the car can turn it on when you charge, and likely other reasons.  One scary thing I read is called Torque Lock.  This is where you park on a hill, and if you put the car into park, and then turn on the parking brake, you risk locking up the electric drive.  If this happens, you will need a push up the hill or tow to get the drive unlocked out of Park.  The solution is to stop with the brakes, then put on the parking brake, then put the car into Park.  I’ve been practicing this on normal parking, because I don’t want to have to call AAA if I do not need to.

The Volt has all sort of other cool stuff.  Remote Keyless Entry means I keep the fob in my pocket and the door unlocks for me, and I start the car with the press of a button.  It will alert me if I leave the fob in the car.  The unlock range is short, less than 3 feet.  We tested this by having me walk up to the passenger door.  Elizabeth could not open the driver’s door, but i could open the passenger door.  This is really slick.  If the key battery gets low or dies, I can pop out the key and plug it into a hidden port on the dash to get headed to buy a new key battery.

My car also came with an auto dimming rear view mirror.  The car has sensors to detect humidity and will auto defog the car, as well as auto defrost.  Seeing that the climate system can use up to 26% of your charge if run inefficiently, I think it is nice that the car detects situations and heads them off before they get too bad and would need even more energy to correct.

The car rides really nicely.  Super silent and handles quite well.  I do not know what the exact turning radius is, but it is shorter than my SHO.  I really like how it feels going around the corners, and it has StabiliTrak should I get into a traction compromised situation.

Comfort is ok.  I was spoiled by my SHO’s seats with lumbar support.  I have plenty of headroom and my legs are comfortable.  The back seats are more cramped, or so I am told <g>, but they do well most passengers, unless they are tall.

Being a hatchback, it is fairly easy to see into the cargo area, especially since there is a rear view port for seeing out the back.  I may have the entire car tinted at some point. 

The blindspots suck on the Volt.  The A/B front pillars are large, as are the C pillars.  When you glance over, you see a lot of nothing and small, sloping rear window.  However, when researching this I found a technique that bucks how I have set up mirrors for 28 years.  Check it out at your own risk, but I really like it.  Basically, you set the mirrors so the edges of the side mirrors overlap the rearview mirror slightly.  You can no longer see the rear of your car while sitting normally, but you see everything to the sides.  There are several sites, wikihow and cartalk that discuss this system.

This review was a bit of a ramble, but I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with all of the research, both on the car and financing, as well as reading the owner manual (thanks Google!)

I’ll post more here as I log milage and track any issues I have with the Chevy Volt!



Filed under: Uncategorized — steveriggins @ 5:18 am

This is page one


Steve Jobs

Filed under: Apple — Tags: — steveriggins @ 5:14 pm

Steve Jobs



Lion Tips #1

Filed under: Apple, Mac — steveriggins @ 5:57 pm

Lion Finder Tip:  Select several items and choose New Folder With Items from File Menu

Lion System Preferences Tip:  You can sort preferences alphabetically, instead of those categories

Lion Desktop Image Tip:  You can drag the system prefs window to another desktop (via drag to edge of screen, or in Mission Control) and set different desktop pics per desktop

Lion Tip:  Check out Apple Menu-> About This Mac->More Info.  You can get all sorts of system info, warranty and support help there now.


Getting Ready for Lion

Filed under: Apple — steveriggins @ 1:34 pm

Mac OS X Lion (10.7) is going to be released soon.  Are you ready?  If not, I suggest you wait for 10.7.1 to be released.  Let others find the bugs and issues.  In the meantime, make a list of your printers and other peripherals, then research their Lion compatibility before upgrading.

Another great resource to help prepare you for Lion is Macworld’s Article on Getting Ready for Lion.  Be sure to check it out before considering upgrading to Lion.

Whatever you do, create a full clone backup of your hard drive before installing Lion.  This will allow you to revert to a known working system should something go awry.


If you own Pixelmator 1.0, you might as well buy it again

Filed under: Apple, Mac — steveriggins @ 11:10 am

If you own Pixelmator 1.0, you might as well re-buy it now in the Mac App Store for $29.99.

2.0 is coming and the upgrade for 1.x owners will be $29.99.  By re-buying it from MAS, you get a free upgrade to 2.0, and also the advantages of MAS (install on your Macs as often as you like without effing with licenses)

It means NEW customers are only paying $29.99 for BOTH versions, where I paid $75 for both (1.x was $50) but the Pixelmator Team are kinda screwed in how MAS operates.  They want all customers to move to MAS as it makes their distribution model simpler (even though they make 30% less!)  Not having to deal with customer license issues a big time saver for indie developers.

These are wild times, but if you like Pixelmator, pick up a new license from the App Store. Pixelmator – Pixelmator Team (affiliated link)


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