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"Let me tell you about the engineers.  They are different from you and me." - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
"Let me tell you about the engineers.  They are different from you and me."

(Other than changing "very rich" to "engineers," that is the actual Fitzgerald quote.)

Learning a new car- and my first-ever foreign one- brings home that truthyism as much as anything.  It's been eight years since my last purchase, and the Focus had provided most of the then-standard amenities we'd often passed on in previous cars- power doors and windows, keyless entry, digital odometer- but things have moved way beyond those toys in the years since.

Like the Mafia Staff Car I'd been renting, Kermie is all full of computery features that probably exceed the onboard computing power of the Apollo moon lander.  Toggly monitors tell you how much range you have on a tank of gas, what your average speed and mileage have been, and there's even a whole manual devoted to the "ECO" function that tracks and even grades your fuel efficiency after each shutdown.

All very Jetsons, to be sure- but try to find a place to put your stuff:P


Engineers have been fighting with drivers, and sometimes each other, for decades over this kind of thing.  Legend had it that cupholders were at the heart of a culture war between the Daimler-Benz and Chrysler carmakers once they were forced into their ill-fated, short-lived merger:

Americans demand a lot of their cupholders, and there had better be plenty of them. German engineers, who focus squarely on the driving experience, couldn’t understand the Americans’ preoccupation with beverages. In the end, they compromised with one token cupholder–a technical marvel that springs from the center console, spreading its tiny arms. “It might hold a can,” quips Lawrence Achram , Chrysler’s vice president of advanced vehicle engineering. But not a Big Gulp.

That's all before the lawyers got involved. Our first new car after moving to Buffalo was a Ford Taurus, which was named Dorothy because it nagged me more than even my mother ever did. Bells and whistles aplenty, and, you guessed it, an utterly useless slide-out tray for coffee cups that couldn't fit anything bigger than a small styrofoam one. WARNING- COFFEE MUGS CAN INJURE YOU IN AN ACCIDENT- SOFT CUPS ONLY!, cried the not-so-fine print.  By our more recent acquisitions, Henry Ford had surrendered to Starbucks, and all the cars (and the one truck) had enough room for a venti latte and then some. Still, there are design fights in which the driver, passenger and/or their stuff, all come out behind- or at least behind the times.

Take the ubiquitous smartphone.  Beginning with Iggy, and now continuing with Kermie, our cars have had input jacks for music coming from an iSomething or any other external player of your choice.  (The Smart car takes it one step further- there's  not even a CD player, but a USB port allows Eleanor's mp3 player- but not my iPhone- to be controlled through the car's radio panel, complete with display of track names and numbers.)  Both cars are enabled so the iPhone audio can run through their speakers, with the phone itself controlling the selection of tracks; they share jurisdiction over volume.

Ah, but where to put it?

On the Focus, I had an aftermarket place for my stuff, picking up on a gizmo Emily had ordered for her previous car:

a simple device, that stuck by suction cup to the dashboard and then allowed you to slide the phone into the holder, manipulate it up down or sideways as needed, and have access to the phone's screen to control tracks and volume, and maybe even do other things in a much more hands-free way.  So I ordered one for the Honda and it came in yesterday.  Simple instructions, if badly translated from the native Korean:

it stick to any glass surfaces as well as none curved dashboards

Assuming that "none" means "non-," the problem immediately presented itself. There is no fully flat surface on this car's dashboard at all. The curves are subtle in places, but they are wholly and completely there.

In the end, I found just one place that met the definition:

Yes, there is a flat surface under the dash, in front of the two cupholders, with enough room for me to mount the sucker upside-down and swing it into position so I can hang and see the display.  It kills use of the left cupholder when the phone is deployed, and it's gonna be a pain getting the jack needed to use it with either earbuds or the sound system, but at least it's there.

I presume that next I'll be getting warnings from the ECO system reminding me not to text, or if I do, to do so only in front of a soft coffee cup:P


Oh, and that little glimmer of white behind where the phone hangs? That's my EZ-Pass.  It's been almost four weeks since the accident and I haven't managed to acquire the windshield mounts for that yet. You can buy new ones, with the mounts attached, for $25 at a variety of retailers, but none of them have the mounts available separately.  You'd think, maybe, they would provide them to collision shops (which, unfortunately, I've had to pay visits to recently). They do not. Your recourse is to order them by mail from the state, or to drive by your friendly neighborhood EZ-Pass service center. Friendly, maybe, but neighborhood? Hell no- the only two upstate are near Syracuse, where I have no reason to be, and on Grand Island, closer to here but requiring a bridge toll to get to the place.

Maybe I can just jam it permanently into the now-useless cupholder....

This entry was originally posted at http://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/175832.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
5 comments or Leave a comment
puppy_ciao From: puppy_ciao Date: December 11th, 2013 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
The grand island office actually closed down I think. Pablo's mom works for ez-pass and she sent me a few after I totaled my car- they'll send them for free if you feel like calling customer service and dealing with the annoying automated system...
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: December 11th, 2013 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Got any extras? I've got to come down to Transit around Broadway/French sometime today or tomorrow, and I'm not above outright bribery;)
puppy_ciao From: puppy_ciao Date: December 11th, 2013 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
...I actually lost them so mine is still sitting in my cupholder, haha oops!!! -_-
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: December 11th, 2013 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll order Just ordered mine, plus some extras:) Without speaking to a single human being:)

Edited at 2013-12-11 03:55 pm (UTC)
liddle_oldman From: liddle_oldman Date: December 11th, 2013 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Everything exceeds the computing capacity of the Apollo lander, which had, you remember, about 1966 computer technology. Hell, your iPod probably out-performs the Space Shuttle, also desperately obsolete.

My new(ish) Korean car has an iPod input, but we've never been able to make it work. :(
5 comments or Leave a comment