Archive for November, 2007

A Spy Car for young Bond Fanatics

November 29, 2007

Before graduating at the Massey University in New Zealand, engineering student Tom Yu Guan submitted the Smart Eyes robot in exchange for his diploma. His creation is a remote-controlled car assembled with a video phone in which any information or image stored can be accessed by anyone with a phone anywhere in the world.

Mr. Guan claimed that his design is first of its kind with its long range flexibility. Using coverage of cellular phones which is found almost in every corner of the world, the car could be driven and anyone could gain video access to it.

Testing the wide coverage of his invention, Mr. Guan claimed that he had used the device from 712 kilometers away and he expects that it will also work intercontinental like in Europe where he is due to visit next year.

“What better network is out there than cell phone towers.”

The young inventor is already in his last school days at Massey University and according to him, he had been offered several employments from huge companies and decided to accept one which is a “very major technology company”.

With his name suggesting that he is a foreigner in New Zealand where he had been staying for twelve years now, his car carries a Chinese flag. It is an exceptional way of giving his native country a tribute.

According to Janina Mazierska, head of Massey’s Science and Technology Institute, the device of her student can be of several uses. She cited that the Smart Eyes robot can be used for checking an elderly relative and viewing home safety while abroad.

“Remote sensing is not a new issue and not a new development. The novelty is to employ wireless technology in a mobile phone to certain applications.”

The device can be possibly applied for measuring blood glucose levels for diabetics via the mobile phone.
According to Tony Lowe, a private investigator for 20 years, Guan’s device can be a revolution in the spying field.

“We’ve gone from having no cellphones to having the big block Telecom telephones that first came out and that was a huge advantage, being able to make a telephone call from anywhere.

“It would obviously be very attractive to people who are heavily involved in surveillance.”

The best car audio systems for Audiophiles

November 27, 2007

Admit it, one of the best comfort amenities ever invented are vehicle audio systems. A long boring drive can be a musical with you as the star singing your national anthem. Askmen.com ranked the best vehicle audio systems in the world.

See the list below:

10. Bose Media System
Available in: Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
Soundtrack: The Best (Farewell Tour), Luciano Pavarotti

Some sports car purists insist a Ferrari’s sound system begins and ends with its engine. Ferrari has even hidden audio systems behind retractable covers in some cars. The 612 Scaglietti is less sports car and more really fast 2+2 GT, so even the

9. Boston Acoustics/Kicker SRT
Maranello faithful shouldn’t be too upset with the addition of the Bose Media System.
Available in: Chrysler 300C/Chrysler 300C SRT8
Soundtrack: Aja, Steely Dan/Exclusive, Chris Brown

Chrysler recognizes the broad appeal of the 300C and wisely offers systems to satisfy multiple generations. If you’re more inclined to drive the mild-mannered 300C editions, you’re more likely to appreciate the optional Boston Acoustics package. Rarely do 368 Watts, seven speakers and a subwoofer produce such full sound.

8. Rockford Fosgate Audio System
Available in: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution*
Soundtrack: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters, Mitsubishi’s Lancer and Rockford Fosgate have each been dismissed as being more exuberant performers than precision players in their respective fields. However, this is not true, especially in this setup. The 650 Watt, nine-speaker system includes an enclosed 10-inch subwoofer in the trunk and is surprisingly adept at handling crisp highs without sounding hollow.

7. THX II Certified Audio System
Available in: Lincoln MKX
Soundtrack: Graduation, Kanye West

The theater experience in the Lincoln MKX crossover is based on more than just the rear-seat DVD player. The optional THX II Certified Audio System is the best auto-based representation we’ve heard of inventor Tomlinson Holman’s standard.

6. Dynaudio Audio System
Available in: Volvo S80
Soundtrack: ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits, ABBA

It doesn’t have a universally known manufacturer’s named attached, but the Volvo S80 features a setup built in collaboration with Danish firm Dynaudio for an impressive package of 12 speakers — each with its own filter — and 650 Watts (truth be told, they did work with Dolby Laboratories to fine tune the surround sound). You can’t help but be impressed by the reproduction, regardless of where you’re sitting.

5. Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound System
Available in: Cadillac CTS
Soundtrack: Synchronicity, The Police

Cadillac has gone from being the punching bag of the luxury car industry to a force that’s reclaiming a healthy share of its former glory. This is due, in no small part, to the revamped CTS model. There are highlights everywhere you look, but for our purposes we’ll concentrate on the Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound System. Its 10 speakers may come up short of other systems in quantity, but don’t equate that to the quality.

4. Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 Digital Surround Sound System
Available in: Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
Soundtrack: Symphony No. 5, Beethoven

One Mercedes-Benz that clings to its old-school character is the exclusive CL-Class coupe. For the privileged few who will pilot these $100,000-plus machines, Beethoven’s beautiful, inspiring Symphony No. 5 sounds its best on an uninterrupted drive while played through the CL’s Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 Digital Surround Sound System. The precision-tuned package delivers 600 Watts and features 14, perfectly placed speakers.

3. Bowers & Wilkins System
Available in: Jaguar XF
Soundtrack: Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

Three British icons, Bowers & Wilkins, Jaguar and Pink Floyd, come together for our No. 3 best system. Say what you will about the controversial Jaguar XF design, it is a stylish and contemporary replacement for the outdated S-Type. Anticipating XF buyers would appreciate the effort, Jaguar is offering a Bowers & Wilkins 440 Watt, surround sound system with 13 speakers, plus a subwoofer.

2. Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound Audio System
Available in: Lexus LS models
Soundtrack: The Four Seasons, Vivaldi

With total harmonic distortion (THD) of less than 0.1%, the 19-speaker, 450-Watt Mark Levinson Reference (7.1-channel) Surround Sound Audio System is a compelling reason to let someone else drive while you close your eyes and experience the concertos of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. You’re not likely to miss a single note because the system has a range of 20 to 20,000 Hz — beyond the hearing range of some people.

1. Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System
Available in: Audi A8
Soundtrack: Time Out, The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Ward’s Auto World gave the Audi A8’s Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System top honors at its 2006 “Interior of the Year” awards. The impressive setup consists of 14 speakers (including a 12-inch subwoofer), each with its own amplifier. And yes, we’ll confess the pair of acoustic lens speakers atop the dash are just plain fun to watch as they extend and retract. Altogether, the remarkable system produces nearly 1,100 Watts. The car’s cool character and the system’s strengths play well with Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, here sounding as fresh as ever.

Chrysler and China’s Chery Automobile partnership needs some time

November 21, 2007

After the break-up with Daimler AG early this year, Chrysler LLC has found a new alliance. China’s Chery Automobile and Chrysler LLC’s partnership are on the process but product cars of the collaboration may reach dealerships and showrooms not that soon according to one Chery executive.

Chery’s General Manager for international Operations. Lin Zhang said that their alliance with Chrysler LLC has just started and he refused to give information on when Chery-built Chryslers will be displayed in U.S. showrooms.

“We don’t have any kind of timetable yet for entry into the U.S. market,” Lin Zhang said. “We won’t come until we feel we’re ready,” he added.

In relation to the quality of Chinese made vehicles being questioned, Frank Klegon, Chrysler’s executive vice-president for vehicle development said that the vehicles do not yet meet the tough crash standards of U.S. authorities. Klegon added that the car to be built by Chery will need close supervision and assistance by Chrysler LLC.

“It will be a whole new vehicle,” he said. The smallish B-car from Chery will give Chrysler an entry into a growing market around the globe, including the U.S.

According to one Chrysler official last summer, Chrysler is hoping to sell almost 100,000 Chery-made vehicles in North America and Europe within three to four years. On the other hand, Lin Zhang said that Chery is on the process of constructing a 240,000-square-meter engineering center in Wuhu, China. Chery’s new facility will have a state-of-the art crash-test center which will go on operation by next year. According to the plan sketched by Chrysler and Chery, Klegon and Zhang suggested that it will take 36 months before their alliance to be in complete operation.

“It has very strong leadership and a very strong workforce,” Zhang said.

Locally, Chery had been recruiting 20,000 engineers and still going the extra miles to be China’s largest domestic car maker. With additional quality work force, Chery is proving that talent is one of their greatest strengths.

“It has very strong leadership and a very strong workforce,” Zhang said.

Saleen introduces the Extreme S302E

November 17, 2007

The 2008 Model Year product lineup was already released by Saleen Automotive, North America’s premier specialty vehicle manufacturer. The forceful “Extreme” with six other Saleen models arrived first at the runway of the retired El Toro Airport of Southern California.

Saleen’s S302E series boasts ultimate performance along with style and control. First for 2008, the auto commonly known as the “Extreme” brags a 302 cubic inch engine intercooled supercharger improved by a Saleen patented twin-screw. This “Saleen built” engine produces a majestic 620 hp and 600 ft.-lb torque.

“We believe that we are in the process of creating a legendary new car. It’s thrilling,” says Saleen President and CEO, Paul Wilbur. “It seemed to make sense that as we go into our 25th Anniversary as a manufacturer in North America that we make our best and most powerful car yet.”

When it comes to engineering, the Extreme also belongs to the long line of vehicles with great hardware. The S320E series is composed of high performance parts that reflect performance automotive engineering.

“This place represents a kind of automotive ‘mecca’ for me. We are making limited volume performance vehicles for people who really love cars, by people who really love cars. I cannot think of a better place to put my 35 years of OEM engineering history to work,” says Vice Chairman and Chief Technical Officer Chris Theodore. Theodore is best known as being the father of the Ford GT while Vice President of Advance Product Development at Ford Motor Company. “Now I am helping build great Saleen cars in the same factory that I architected for the legendary Ford GT.”

“This is the best motor that we have ever done,” says Powertrain Engineering Lead Rob Simons. “We have really benefited from having Chris (Theodore) around. He brings perspective and experience to the company unlike anything that we have known prior.”

Defensive Flying Tips for the Holiday Travel

November 14, 2007

The holidays are the best time to travel to visit family & friends, and to go somewhere to celebrate the most celebrated festivities of the year. AAA, America’s largest travel organization helps holiday travelers with their defensive flying tips to save them from airline fuss.

“Clearly airlines, airports and federal agencies can all do a much better job of helping to prevent flight delays,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “However changes will not be fast or easy and we should not be surprised if this trend continues. This holiday season, travelers are at risk of weather delays and other unforeseen mishaps. Americans need to practice Defensive Flying if they plan to have a pleasant and stress-free flight.”
• KNOW THE LIMITATIONS ON YOUR TICKET. The airline’s contract of carriage does not require it to provide passengers with any additional services when flights are delayed or canceled due to bad weather. This is different from situations where flights are delayed for mechanical or other reasons.

• GO ONLINE BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME. Check the airline website for delays before leaving home and sign up for e-mail alerts from your airline. When planning a trip, travelers can check up-to-date airline performance using the Air Travel Consumer Report Card at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/reports/index.htm. Also, check with the Transportation Security Administration for the latest airport security rules at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers.

• PACK DEFENSIVELY. Flight delays are a fact of life for travelers. Come to the airport prepared for a delayed flight. That means bringing portable entertainment such as books, music or video games. In addition, make sure you have prescriptions, credit cards, your travel itinerary with flight numbers, driver’s license and/or passport, glasses, various electronics chargers and toiletries in a carry-on bag. In order to expedite the process of passing through security, remember the Transportation Security Administration’s 3-1-1 carry-on policy: Three-ounce bottles or less; one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; one bag per passenger.

• DON’T SHOW UP HUNGRY. Eat before you go so you are not waiting in line at the limited number of airport eateries. Also, bring food you can carry on and eat on the plane if you are stuck on the tarmac.

• USE YOUR CELL PHONE TO SAVE TIME. Program numbers for your airline, hotel, car rental company, or your travel agent into your cell phone. In case you need to change your flight, you can call the airline directly rather than waiting in line at the ticket counter. Make sure you have the phone number for whoever is waiting for you at the airport so you can keep them posted about your situation.

• TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TIME–SAVING SERVICES. Printing out your boarding pass at home from the airline’s Web site and using curbside check-in and ticket kiosks can save time when you are in hurry to get to your flight.

• TAKE THE EARLIEST FLIGHT. Flight delays often ripple through the system, so the first flight in the morning is less likely to be delayed. If the first flight is delayed, you will have a better chance of catching a flight scheduled later the same day.

• SOMETIMES SMALLER AIRPORTS ARE BETTER. You can get processed through security faster and have a much shorter walk to the gate as a result of smaller airports having fewer flights and fewer travelers.

• REMEMBER TO ASK ABOUT AMENITIES. During extended flight delays, airline staffs on the ground have the discretion to provide food and hotel vouchers, phone cards and snack boxes, so make sure to ask.

• KNOW WHERE TO COMPLAIN. Travelers who have service issues with an airline should contact DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Female Fast Lane

November 8, 2007

Choice of hot rides does not depend on sex, or gender to be more precise. Like Manolo Blahniks and Dolce and Gabbanas, the hottest rides are also of preference by women in the higher echelon of the society.

R.L. Polk data says that women over 45 buying mid-sized sporty cars have grown dramatically since year 2000 to 277 percent. That’s almost three times more.

“Close to a third of women now out-earn their husbands,” says Sandra Kinsler, editor-in-chief of WomanMotorist.com. “And there are a lot of successful single female executives and entrepreneurs. These people aren’t going to turn to their spouses or boyfriends for car advice. Besides, when a high-level businesswoman is hanging out with the guys in the boardroom, she wants to be able to say, ‘I drive a Porsche, too.'”

Now, the question is, what are the rides to match the most driven women of the 21st century?

The James Bond series had been a world epic making his car buddy a world icon too. James Bond wannabes are no longer men alone, because the Aston Martin DB9 Volante made it first on our list. It’s the most gorgeous car I’ve ever seen,” says Nanette Iggulden, a Los Angeles real estate agent and avid Formula One racing fan. “I love fast, exciting cars, so I splurged on a really cool one.” The Goldfinger car carries a shining tag price of $180, 600 for the V12 engine running the speed of 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds. Very cool indeed.

The second runner up is the 195 mph Bentley Continental GT with a wallet frosting price of $196, 285. It is an exotic jet-like ride making the 38 percent of the R.L. Polk study. “In 2005, 10 percent of Bentley registrations were to females,” says David Reuter, manager of public relations for Bentley. “And that’s gone up with the launch of the GTC.” Adds Sandra Kinsler of WomanMotorist.com: “Women grow up design savvy. They really appreciate a beautiful car.”

Before, Dr. Barbara Pacholec, founder of the Central Pasco Weight Loss Center in Lutz, Florida was a typical minivan mom. “With three kids, I was Little Miss Minivan,” But as her kids grown and her business giver her more cash, the minivan mom is now an owner of the big cat, a Jaguar XK convertible. The jag roars a 300-horsepower with its $81,500 base price. “It’s a work of art. I love the speed, the wind in my hair. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give it up.” added Ms. Pacholec.

Fourth in our car shopping list is the stellar Mercedes-Benz CLK class made available with engine choices and hard or soft tops. This $46,975 worth Benz sells more to the female population. “About half of CLK buyers are women,” says Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications for Mercedes.” An CLK550 owner Koji Shadanloo, a mortgage broker living in shiny Beverly Hills said, “Now that my two girls are married, I decided I deserved it. It’s as pleasurable as wearing great jewelry.”

The Porsche 911 is most men’s apple of the eye, some women joins them gazing at this sweet adrenaline-seeking ride. “Since 2003, we’ve seen a notable uptick in female 911 buyers, from below 10 percent to 12 percent,” says Tony Fouladpour, Porsche manager of corporate communications. “Like men, women are purchasing Porsches as rewards for their success.” The 911’s base price is $73, 260, much of success is really needed for this trophy.

Detroit’s weakest link comes to terms with UAW

November 6, 2007

Among the big three automakers of Detroit, Ford is considered the most financially ill and as it follow the track for its return to profitability, the United Auto Workers recently cleared its way. Last November 3, 2007, Ford Motor Co. came into terms with its labor force by coming up with a new four year deal to cover its almost 54,000 workers.

As the tentative agreement will have to undergo the rank-and-file ratification, the UAW has not yet released the specifics of the contract. However, Ford’s deal with UAW is expected to follow the pattern of the General Motors and Chrysler deal as a totality. The General Motors contract was done in September and was completely ratified in October. On the other hand, the negotiations with Chrysler ended last month and the ratification was done until last week. For Ford, the approval process is expected to begin next week.

According to Ron Gettelfinger, UAW President, the contract was reached at 3:20 am last Saturday after a two day round-the-clock negotiations.

“Our bargaining committee came through for our active and retired members,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

“We face enormous challenges and we also have enormous potential,” said UAW Vice President Bob King, who directs the union’s Ford Department. “Our goals for this contract were to win new product and investment, to enhance job security and protect seniority and we made progress in all these areas,” King said.

Since 1995, Ford Motor Co. continuously lost its market shares and last year, the automaker announced that it lost $12.6 billion. As part of its restructuring program or the “Way Forward” plan, Ford already laid-off 19,000 of its workers. The company expects that they have to return to profitability as early as 2009. As another part of the plan, Ford is expected to announce the closing of its six U.S. plants.

To generate its needed cash, Ford had been diminishing its empire significantly its Premium Automotive Group (PAG) which includes Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. Aston Martin had already been sold for $931 million and Jaguar and Land Rover are gaining big bids from several interested car makers and private equities.