Dodge Grand Caravan 
Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 00:37
Posted by Administrator
I need to move a large amount of computer hardware from one location to another. By "large amount" I mean that it weighs a total of 900 pounds. Needless to say I can't fit it in a Honda Civic, and the puny 1.3L engine in the hybrid would probably come flying out of the car if I could. So, I did what anyone with a vehicle too small to move large boxes would do: I rented a larger vehicle.

Enterprise has several choices for hauling things around. They have cargo vans, pickup trucks large and small, SUVs, and minivans. I chose a minivan because I know what Enterprise offers: Dodge & Chrysler. I've already rented a Town & Country from Enterprise before, so I knew what to expect when I went to pick it up this morning. When I got there I was presented with the key to a 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan with 504 miles on the clock.

When I sat in the driver's seat I was presented with the Town & Country's dash, but a little more bold. This one didn't have the non-navi touchscreen; it had a regular ol' radio with aux input and MP3 playback capability. Driving it off the lot I felt the same sort of power as the T&C: smooth, quiet delivery of 283 horsepower to Roosevelt Rd. The 6-speed auto shifts smoothly, but it feels like it hunts for gears when going up onramps. It's easy to hit higher speeds in the Grand Caravan and not even notice it -- it absorbs choppy roads really well. The audio is pretty good for a stock system, but it's quite bass-heavy when the bass is set to 0.

The Stow & Go seating is a cinch to figure out. I've never used it and was able to fold the two middle-row captain's chairs and the rear bench into the floor with ease, but I had to move both front seats forward before I did. Once everything was in place the Grand Caravan swallowed all of the cargo with zero room to spare -- an impressive feat for a minivan considering it's 8 pallets' worth of computer equipment. The engine behaved about how I'd expect it to with that much cargo: the tachometer showed me that it was working harder, but it wasn't any louder or rougher than when the back is devoid of cargo. Speaking of being devoid of cargo, the engine really wants to go when the vehicle is empty -- you can floor it and get up to 60 without even noticing. Sorry, Landmeier Rd.

An interesting thing to note is that, like the Town & Country, the Grand Caravan has an "econ" button. This pretty much instantly raises your average fuel economy by 3MPG, at the expense of power delivery. It feels like the transmission shifts to higher gears sooner when the vehicle is in econ mode, but if you're cruising on the highway and nobody else is around this is the perfect way to extend your range. Some of you may remember my chief compliant about econ mode on the T&C: the first-to-second shift was unnecessarily rough. Not so in the Grand Caravan; you feel the shift much sooner than in standard mode, but it's equally smooth.

I liked the automatic sliding doors and liftgate. I used the power liftgate when loading a couple of PDUs into the back -- they're significantly larger than power strips so being able to open the vehicle without putting them down is a good thing.

I have two complaints. First, the thing has manual mode. Really? It's a minivan, there is absolutely no market for that in the US. It's implemented pretty stupidly too: with the transmission in D, the driver needs to slide the gear selector to the right to upshift and the left to downshift. The gear selector is sticking out of the dash next to the steering wheel -- it's impossible to do this without looking and feeling like a massive tool. The second thing kind of ties in with the first: the buttons on the back of the steering wheel have zero to do with the transmission's manual mode. They are redundant controls for the radio, cruise control, etc. Why? Come on now ... if you're going to put a manual mode in a minivan, at least make it less tool-ish by giving the driver paddle shifters, even as buttons on the back of the steering wheel.

So ... overall it's a pretty good vehicle. No squeaks, creaks, or loud noises to speak of, but it's not without its issues. I hear the front brakes warp very quickly but I have no evidence to back that up, given that I rented it less than 12 hours ago. If Julie wanted this vehicle I probably wouldn't have any issues getting her one, to be honest.

One thing I forgot to mention: the Grand Caravan fits in my garage where Julie's 2-door Civic normally sits. Pretty impressive.
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Facebook won't import notes anymore. 
Thursday, 10 November, 2011, 14:12
Posted by Administrator
So Facebook has decided not to import notes anymore, starting November 22nd. There is a rumor out there that I don't give a damn, and let me be the first to confirm its truth. I'll find other ways to get people to read what I post.

I'm participating in Movember this month, which means I am growing a moustache. I can't tell if Julie likes it because she asked when I'd shave it off, and then she asked if I really had to shave it off ... so yeah. Not sure what's going on.

I'm also going to get to play with a quarter-million dollars' worth of hardware at one point this month. That's going to be awesome. I'm almost a bit scared to take it to the data center because it's so bloody expensive.

That's about it for now.
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Spammers can eat a bag of asses. 
Friday, 21 October, 2011, 00:35
Posted by Administrator
I've got a spammer running through and making bullshit comments on my site. Time to stop that shit cold. Kind of pissed off ... it was in French and Italian, among other languages. Didn't think my site would attract that sort of garbage ... so I apologize to the legitimate commenters.
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The Machine 
Tuesday, 11 October, 2011, 23:00
Posted by Administrator
Recently, I upgraded my home PC from a Core 2 Duo E6850/P43 machine to a Core i5-2500K/Z68 beast. This thing is quick. That Microsoft commercial in which they build a store in the lady's house seems much more realistic now.
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Forward Motion 
Friday, 19 August, 2011, 12:02
Posted by Administrator
I never really understood the concept that a house is perpetually under construction until I bought one myself. After all, how is it that a house, a building that has been completed, that has been signed off and left by the crew that assembled it, can still be under construction?

Well, now I know. Granted, I'm not doing everything myself. Given my limited knowledge there's really no way I could do it myself; I have friends and family to help me.

By the end of my laundry list of projects, though, I will have an impenetrable fortress that will shield me from all but the most severe zombie apocalypse. We're talking an alligator-filled moat, high-powered laser turrets mounted on the roof ... okay, maybe not. But it'll at least be more liveable.

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