Food magazines are usually about food. Gun magazines are usually about guns. Computer magazines are usually about computers. Some of them creep over into “lifestyle” territory, but not as far as many car or motorcycle magazines. Mags like Cigar Aficionado are clearly about the lifestyle its readers would like to be living, making only a token effort to actually discuss cigars.
What brought this on? Yesterday, my mailbox included a stiff brown envelope containing the latest issue of Lexus, a free magazine sent to Lexus owners. The contents are equal parts lifestyle and advertorial: organic oysters in Scotland, what to do in the Maldives, concept Lexi, titanium bicycles, overpriced gadget “reviews”, wine-making classes, etc.
But the best part was a non-ad for one of the cooler features in new Lexi: the backup camera. Since they already had a color LCD display in most of the new models for the GPS navigation system, they went ahead and added a small digicam just above the rear license plate, to transmit video to the dash when the car’s in reverse. Very handy for getting in and out of parking spaces.
But how do they lead into the “story”?
Anyone who's ever backed up over a hand-made Italian racing bike left casually in a driveway knows that awful crunchy sound, and equally awful feeling.
Just in case the table of contents had left me with any doubts, this confirms that I am not in their target demographic. I’m not sure which aspect of their opinion of their readers is worse: that they’re prone to conspicuous consumption, or that they’re stupid enough to leave a “hand-made Italian racing bike” behind a parked car.
This is my latest toy, a GPS-based pedometer with calorie counting, lap timers, pace and distance alerts, interval training support, basic waypoint navigation, and even an animated “virtual partner” to compete against in a session. It tracks up to two years of workout data, with daily and weekly breakdowns, runs for up to 15 hours on a charge, and can be connected to a PC through the supplied cable.
I’ve been using Hunter QuietFlo HEPA air purifiers around the house for a while. They’re really only quiet at the lowest of the three fan settings, but they work quite well on dust, pollen, and “unpleasant household odors,” and unlike some other brands, they sit flush against the wall. Replacement HEPA filters are in the $75-$90 range, which is a significant percentage of the cost of the unit, but they’re good for about a year of full-time service, and the activated carbon pre-filter that you replace every three months is much cheaper.
I’m not as convinced that the Hoover SilentAir 4000 is worthwhile as a replacement. There’s a suspicious lack of air-quality test results in their packaging and FAQs, and a quick smoke-test suggests that it’s not particularly efficient at quickly removing particulate matter and odors from a room. The lack of a fan is touted as an advantage, but if incense and cigar smoke produced two feet away can linger in the air for hours in a closed room, I don’t see how it’s purifying my air. [note that both of these odor sources are normally banned inside my home, and were introduced purely for test purposes]
I am enthusiastic about my Fellowes PowerShred DM15C. I can’t link directly to a product page, because there isn’t one. Apparently the only place in the world that sells it is Costco, and they don’t list it on their web site. It’s a medium-duty confetti-cut office shredder that can handle CDs/DVDs, credit cards, and up to 15 sheets of heavy paper at a time (with staples and paper clips). And it’s on wheels. About a third of my snail-mail goes into it unopened, neatly disposing of all those unsolicited mortgage and credit-card offers.
I have mixed feelings about my Olympus DS-330 digital voice recorder. I do my best thinking while walking or driving, and voice memos are definitely the way to capture that, but the people who design these things are emulating the standalone tape-recorder user interface, and PC integration is a check-box feature added as an afterthought. The only reason I bought this model is because they ship software for both Mac and PC.
It’s not great software, mind you, and their failure to make it a mass-storage compliant USB drive means Linux users are SoL until someone figures out its interface, but at least its not Windows-only like the new VN-240 PC. If you can live with that limitation, though, the VN-240 PC looks like a good deal: half the price of the DS-330, twice the capacity, and a better control layout.
I’d love to spend about an hour locked in a room with Olympus’ design team so that I could explain to them how a modern voice recorder should work, but I may have to settle for blogging it. I’m trying to resist the temptation to pass my ideas on to the folks up north; while we have the power to make a kick-ass recorder, I fear they’d miss the point and turn it into a full-fledged CE device with wireless MSN service and DRM.
Officially, my Weber natural gas grill (Silver B) is defective. They even came out and replaced the guts of it once, to try to bring it back into spec.
The problem? It’s too darn hot. Fantastic for steaks, miserable for anything that requires “low and slow”. The built-in thermometer gave out on medium, and with all three burners on high, I didn’t own anything capable of recording the temperature of the cooking surface. I just knew that it regularly burned the seasoning right off of the cast iron grates.
So, I picked up one of those spiffy non-contact thermometers, which even comes with a small laser sight to tell you what you’re measuring (toy alert! toy alert!). A friend came over yesterday for lunch, and just before we slapped the t-bones onto the grill, we took a few readings with it: 780° Fahrenheit.
Every time I think about having Weber come back out and fix it, I grill a steak, and change my mind. Who needs “low and slow,” anyway?
Just got back from another long trip in my self-navigating Lexus (to Bellingham, WA and back; sadly, I didn’t think about setting up a photo shoot with Lauren along the way until I was already halfway home).
I was surprised that the Hotel Bellwether wasn’t in the car’s database, until I learned that the place hadn’t existed until August 2000. Lexus gives out free update discs (when they’re in stock), so this is a problem I can correct sometime soon.
It’s been about eighteen months since I bought my new car, a Lexus RX-300. It was basically a storage-and-comfort upgrade from my eight-year-old Camry, but what technophile could resist upgrading to the DVD-based GPS navigation system? Certainly not me.
It’s an interesting mix of pros and cons, features and limitations, but on the whole it’s proven to be both useful and entertaining.