Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Car is Here

Meghan and I picked up my new car in SC. It's awesome!

Here a shot of the odomoeter before we put 500 miles on the car driving it back. It only had 1.3 miles on it (rounded to 2 on the left side) when we got it!

Also the Performance Center doesn't drill the front liscence plate in for you upon delivery (like they are required to do here in Ohio). Which means so far... no front plate.

Read all about the Performance Center Delivery in the next blog to be posted below (soon)!

BMW Performance Center Delivery!

If you are thinking of ordering a new BMW, The Performance Center Delivery (PCD) is a must! It is the same price as having the car delivered to your local dealer, but you get a day of driving on the courses at the BMW Performance Center in a car similar to the one your ordered. The most important thing they told us to remember was NYC - Not Your Car! So we beat them up pretty good. Our instructors were Donnie and ray and they were awesome.

The events include:
1) Driving an auto-cross style course
2) Testing the Dynamic Traction Control on a wet skid-plate
3) Testing the ABS brakes while learning to steer at the same time
4) An off road course in the X5
5) Delivery of your Vehicle in your own showroom

Typically there is also a tour of the factory there, which makes all of the x5s and the Z4s for the world, but it was closed as they switched over to some confidential build. We also had a tour if their Museum there which was fun for a bit.

1) Driving an auto-cross style course
Probably the best part of the whole trip was that Meghan got to drive all of the courses as well and she loved it. She said it released her inner race car driver! In this video you'll see Meghan driving part of the course, the instructor is talking to her over a walkie-talkie. He is not in the car but in the middle of the course switching between all of the drivers in the course giving them tips.

2) Dynamic Traction Control on a wet skid-plate
Dynamic Traction Control is pretty amazing. When it is turned on, no matter how much you try to accelerate on wet roads or ice, the car will only go as fast as it can while still making the turn. This exercise involved taking a few turns without DTC on and skidding out, then taking a few turns with on.

Without DTC

With DTC
I guess what was most amazing to me is you can still try to floor the car but it won't let you get out of control with DTC

In the car with Meghan - no DTC
Here, Donnie is trying to help Meghan correct a skid by steering into the skid when you don't have DTC.

In the car with Meghan - DTC
Now the car won't spin out no matter what you try to tell it to do.

Reverse Spin Out
Just for fun Donnie had Meghan do a spin out in reverse for the crowd, I wish I got this video from outside of the car! You will see he wanted everyone to think Meghan was driving that way, so he steered but then told Meghan to put her hands back on so everyone would think she did it!

3) Testing the ABS brakes
This was a lot of fun, each driver got 4 or 5 trips down and we kept increasing speed up to 50 mph, and Donnie kept sending us deeper and deeper into the sharp turn. It was a great way to learn how to lock your brakes up and still steer. Your instincts are to do one or the other!

Driving School
In addition to the Performance Center Delivery, this site lets you come down for a full day of driving (regardless of whether out bought a car or not). Here is some video of the other school going on. They had M class drivers there as well as an intermediate class. What you can't appreciate in the video is how fast they are going on this wet turn!

Donnie then took all of the couples for laps on this track. he drove an M5 with 500 hp and it was amazing! One women ditched her husband and went with us again because she had her eyes closed the 1st time she went! It was intense! I even thought we'd die, but since Donnie has even done "counter-terrorism" training on how to stop a moving car by ramming it, I figured we were fine. He even took us through a J turn where he starts off going really fast in reverse and whips around and goes forward without really slowing down!

4) An off road course in the X5
Then they took us off road in the X5. The car is amazing! They took us on a course that ended up putting the car up on 2 wheel, the front-left and the back-right (diagonal). Then the instructor rocked the car up and down to show that even in this extreme stress on the frame, nothing creaked or rattled, and all of the doors opened. Also through all of the course maneuvers, they have never cracked a sun roof, which is 2-3x larger than the normal sun roof (it starts in the front seat and goes all the way to the back seat)!

Other cool maneuvers included going through 20" of water!

Going over some crazy steep hills that included huge trenches (you were supposed to have some wheels off the ground and learn how to keep going)!

On the steep hills, they showed us how "hill assist" works, which is awesome for a manual transmission. If you come to a stop on a hill, you can take your foot off of the break and the car will stay put for 2 seconds. This gives you time to get over to the gas and the clutch without going crazy. Also there is a button for hill descent, which will control all of the breaking for you to go down hill, you only have to steer. This would be awesome for a slippery steep hill in winter, or driving down Mt. Washington without destroying your brakes (or going out of control)!

We also drove on 2 wheels which puts the car at an almost 45 degree angle!

It's weird to look out the sunroof and see land!

5) Delivery of your Vehicle in your own showroom
Then you spend 2 hours with a specialist going through all the features of your car. I said the same thing you are thinking - 2 HOURS! But it actually went by really fast and we both learned everything about the car!

This is the cleanest my rims will ever be, unless Warren invents that new product!

Museum Tour
We also toured the Zentrum Museum there, it was a self guided tour and we were ready to get the car on the road so we flew through.

Here's my car outside of the Museum, the special parking place they had for us was to drive and park on the sidewalk!

The best part of the museum was that I found a BMW that looked like my Dad's triumph. Since I was a kid I have always liked my Dad's car, but I couldn't keep up with all of the worked it would need, so maybe a new BMW that just looks like a triumph would be in my future!

I also found a BMW model for Mike and Jen. Maybe the can rebuild one of these and add it to the collection!

I have to say the whole day exceeded my expectations, mostly because I went there thinking Meghan was going to wait in the lobby while we were out on the track, but not only did she go with me, she even drove her turns AND enjoyed it. The only bad news is that I think Meghan is sold on the X5 as her next car, so I better pay this one off ASAP! The whole experience was top notch, they really made us feel like it was our special day, and we had a lot of fun!

Not sure why more people don't do this when they order their BMW.

Fun Car Facts
Other quick fun car facts. The car has a rain sensor to automatically run your wipers, that's not that cool, but the same technology is used to determine if your brakes get wet (either in a puddle or in the rain) and the brake pads slightly tighten on the brakes to dry them and you never notice! Always having dry brakes will be awesome! Also the comfort access is awesome. You can walk up to the car, it'll unlock, and you can start it without taking the key out of your pocket, it just has to be near the car for it all to work!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

70 mph blog!

Reason #143 why the iPhone is so amazing - I am blogging on the road while going 70 mph somewhere in Tennessee. No easy feat while driving! Just kidding - Meghan is driving. I also love my Garmin GPS. "Jill" is skillfully navigating us. What a wonderful world!

Monday, November 05, 2007

iPhone... therefore I am

iPhone Review

OK. I got the iPhone. In a word it is - Amazing. It's not the perfect phone (keep reading) but it certainly exceeded my expectations.

I knew it would have the internet on it. The REAL internet, as you'd see it on a computer. And that fact alone was more important than I ever thought. The fact that anywhere I am I can keep an eye on my fantasy football team (without a laptop) is amazing. The fact that I can be playing poker with my friends and we can find an obscure song lyric. Or the fact that you can quickly show people a youtube video on demand. An unintended fun part of the phone, while I have always enjoyed reading a business magazine in the bathroom, now I have the whole internet (CNN, ESPN, it's endless). Also imagine getting google maps driving directions while on the road! It's amazing. Plus the iPhone web browser can keep multiple pages up at the same time, so I can have my fantasy sports team, ESPN scoreboard, CNN home page, and Yahoo Finance all sitting open at the same time waiting for me to check them out. This is ideal for an open office environment at work. Also I will not be travelling with a laptop to Boston or to Costa Rica anymore because of this phone (yes I will have wi-fi in Costa Rica while in the house, but no phone service).

Because it is a phone (and a speaker phone) the speakers let you play audio. From youtube videos to your itunes MP3's, all of them can be played without headphones, just not very loudly. Which brings me to my only complaint about the phone (day 2). The volumes on the iPhone leave something to desired. It is certainly the most common complaint on the internet and something that must be addressed for the next version. The speaker phone volume is ideal for a library, challenging for a noisy drive, and forget about it in Fenway Park. The volume of the phone speaker when used normally (not in speaker phone mode) is also not as loud as you'd want. Ideal for a library, just ok for the car (thank goodness for bluetooth in the car!), and forget about it in Fenway Park or a room full of kids. In fact the ringer itself is not that loud. Just plan to have all of these volumes on MAX and still want some more from your phone.

That being said I am really excited about the phone. Sure it's not the best actual phone, but the total package with the internet plus the slick interface and cool look makes it worth it in my opinion. Plus with integrated email accounts (mine is from yahoo), it's like a blackberry for your personal life!

The 8 GB size (the only version now) is as small a HD as you'd want. It's passable for an ipod (about 2,000 songs) but once you get into video you start getting crammed. I have 400 songs and 20 episodes of the office and I am 1/2 full. I might only have room for a couple full length movies and it's full. In the future I have heard rumors of a 20 GB version and that will be plenty. 8 GB is fine for now. Also the phone is a bit heavy and a bit large, but not as bad as I thought it would be. It's slightly bigger than your video ipod but fits in your pocket quite well! I was surprised. One minor issue is that during normal browsing you do not get all of the plug-ins on pages (like flash). I understand that some people have unlocked their phones so they can download 3rd party plug-ins but I am not there yet. Youtube is the exception since it is built into the phone as a menu option.

If you are into text messaging (I am not) it is really easy because the entire screen is touch sensitive, so a full keyboard pops up for any inputs.

The other cool points about the phone is that it has a button on the phone (where your ipod power button would be) that instantly locks you phone, so you can slip it in your pocket. Also there is a toggle switch that instantly silences the phone, so if you are in a movie or a meeting you don't have to fumble through menus to do so. Also the interface is very smart (on equity with apple and the ipod). The touch screen and the zoom in and out is intuitive and not cumbersome at all. The fact that what you are looking at rotates as you rotate the phone is not only really cool, but very practical. Some web pages are best read portrait while others are landscape.

Overall I am really glad I got the phone. Basically just buy it, then go home, plug it into your computer, and iTunes asks you a few questions and your phone number is transferred and your previous carrier is notified that you have left them for AT&T. Don't think of this as an expensive phone, even though it is at $400, but really it's like a laptop on the go, and for someone like me or Dale it keeps us in touch with the internet while not looking as nerdy by carrying our laptops to a football party. So really it's a reasonably priced internet browser (laptop) / ipod / phone all for $400. Having said all that I think the price cut on the iPhne will make it sell like hot cakes this christmas as soon as more people see them and begin to appreciate the value for your money. It's not for everyone, if you are a business person on the go or in sales, you might be disappointed with the phone's performance from the whole volume issue. If you are a normal person, you'll be fine. And if you are an internet-aholic, it's a must have!

Now go back to the top and look at the picture of my iPhone viewing this blog entry! How awesome is that! How is that possible?