Monday, June 29, 2015

Nissan Frontier, Xterra, Pathfinder, Titan Headlight Retaining Ring

Finally tracked this little sucker down.  After using a bit of duck tape to hold in the passenger side headlight for a couple months I picked up a couple of these tonight.

I was afraid I might have to buy a whole light assembly for like $200 to correct the issue but that is not the case.  I had lost the retaining ring/clip somewhere and now I will have it back in working order.  Kind of an obscure part.  Diagrams show only the whole light assembly but not this ring.

The part # is 26029MB and should be applicable to all the '04-'15 F-Alpha platform vehicles.  Courtesy Nissan out of Texas sold me mine, they have been great to me for well over a decade in finding parts and getting them out to me in short order.  Don't let your dealer tell you they can't get it!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

2015 Nissan Sentra vs. 2015 Hyundai Elantra vs. 2015 Ford Fiesta

So I've had a chance to drive all three of these in recent weeks on various business trips.

The Fiesta (a hatchback, auto) I drove around Key Biscayne, FL for four days, the Sentra around San Francisco for a week and the Elantra around New Hampshire for a week.  At the end of the period I'm shocked at what a difference there can be between such budget minded vehicles.  I would have thought that the drive to cut costs would have homogenized the experience across brands.

The Sentra was by far and away the best of the three in nearly every capacity.  While none of the three were particularly quick or sporty the engine on the Sentra is at least willing, capable and dependable.  The CVT in the Sentra is acceptable given the good MPG it returns (30 and 38 I believe in city and highway driving) and its 130 HP is well managed.  The transmission does have a "sport" and "eco" mode but neither one made any noticeable difference to the performance of the vehicle.  The engine in the Elantra was just there...a bit loud, though the whole car was loud compared to the Sentra with seemingly far less sound deadening included.  The Fiesta was the real disappointment.  Like the Sentra it had a "sport" mode but whether in Sport or regular mode the automatic transmission had no idea what it was doing.  Hit the gas and the car didn't respond right away.  Then when it did respond it behaved like a drunk looking for his next bar--up, down, high, low, over revved, under revved.  Truly the engine management was a complete disaster.  There were numerous times during my week with the car that my wife and I thought it was going to break down and cease running because the engine performance was so erratic.  A massive disappointment.

Interior and overall looks wise the Sentra again takes the win by a large margin.  From the outside the Sentra looks like a baby Altima or Maxima.  Enough curves to give it a  sporty appearance without making you look like a boy racer.  Interior on the Sentra was also well done with quality interior components and a well laid out dash and comfortable seats.  Again the Elantra's interior was seemingly just there.  Nothing different, nothing noticeable, nothing to really remember...functional.  That is except the radio/speakers.  The audio performance of the Elantra was so ungodly bad that I thought there should be an 8-track player in the dash.  I've never heard an audio system sound so cheap...cost cutting gone way too far...tissue paper woofers and tweeters shouldn't exist these days.  The Fiesta's exterior was nice and was the only hatchback of the three.  Its dimensions made it easy to maneuver wherever we went and I wasn't COMPLETELY embarrassed to drive it...just a little bit.  The Fiesta's interior though is a complete disaster.  I've never seen so many buttons in all my life, nor in such a horrid layout.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the positioning, only a desire to completely overload the driver/passenger and to try and impress upon them that this is a "high tech" car...it doesn't work.

Easy grading here...Buy the Sentra...ignore the paid shills who have been reporting over the past two years that the Fiesta is a great, sporty little car...the platform may make a decent rally car once its been gutted, caged, engine reworked or upgraded, in the ST version, etc.  As it comes on a dealer's lot in its stock form?  Its a dog...And the Elantra?  Forgettable...which might be better than my impression of the Fiesta...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Alternative to Project Loon and SpaceX and others...

There is a lot of effort from various hi-tech companies (SpaceX, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Virgin, etc.) to bring access to the internet to the great unwashed of the world.  Whether you believe this is being done out of philanthropy, as a way to build communications systems for off planet enterprises or out of economic greed it is certainly an ambitious effort.

Google has Project Loon which works via balloons broadcasting LTE coverage over 40 square KMs (a REALLY dinky area) from their position floating in the stratosphere.  Elon Musk wants to put micro satellites in very low Earth orbit to handle this same task (so low that they are going to be built with the intention that they burn up after a very short lifespan).

I'm sure that someone smarter than me has already thought of this and must have a million reasons why it wouldn't work but...why not use already established, cheap, technology to solve the vast majority of this problem by ship...

More than 40% of the world's population lives within 60 miles of the coast and is growing bigger all the time.  An even higher concentration of the world's wealth lives within that coastal zone.  So rather than spending the money and effort on space or near space efforts to reach 100% of the world's population, why not part some boats in international waters with satellite connections to the free world's internet system and broadcast that signal inland...Hell, if you want to spend money of the effort, make the ship a nuclear one so it can sit there and provide coverage indefinately.  It makes these ships a major floating target for beligerant militaries but...its seems to me to be an overlooked option for these companies looking to tap new markets quickly and cheaply...

Edit to add:  After thinking about this for a couple days...why bother with a ship?  How bout just lay a cable across the ocean floor, chain a floating transmitter to the ocean floor just off the coast of Akra and call it a day?  Seems like a lot simpler solution than thousands of micro-satellites in constantly decaying orbits...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Back Under Power...

This took place a few weekends ago.

For the first time in about a year I actually raced the "race" truck.  It was up at the Team O'Neil Rally School in Dalton, NH where the SCCA put on its first stage rally race in some ten years.  Many of my fellow entrants were racers I've known for years through the SCCA Rallycross program, including a couple of my prior codrivers.

The weather conditions were fantastic...it was dry and warm and my codriver this day was Tim Meunier who also ran as a driver and codriver in my little Mexican adventure last year.  I was admittedly dramatically out of practice and my times showed it.  I was pleased by my constant improvement from stage to stage and by then end of the day I felt like some of my pace had begun to return, though far from where I would want to be.



The mileage run on the day was pretty minor--under 20 miles--but it was a good shakedown for the truck to ensure that everything is still up and running and working properly.  For the day we finished 20th out of 25 and finished every foot of every stage which would place me 16th on the day if the stage DNFs were viewed as true DNFs and not just a time penalty.  Regardless, its a good first step to getting back and used to driving at speed.  We'll see what's next.













Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pearl Jam then, Eddie Vedder Now...

So Eddie finished up the musical performances on the David Letterman show last night by playing a "solo" version of Better Man.  Seeing their performance from back in '96 and seeing Ed now makes me realize how I've aged right along with the band.  Awesome to see them still together and playing music after this long, some near 30 years in.  Beatles didn't do it, Stones and Aerosmith had turned into shells of themselves to the point of parody and laughter.  As PJ and Ed Ved would want, the only comparable to their longevity and relevance is Neil Young.  Enjoy the comparison and contrast between the two performances below.

The second performance is from Eddie's first visit to the Letterman show which occurred after weeks of Letterman making fun of the final chorus of Black and Eddie's "do, do, do, do, dutta, do...do, do, do, do, dutta, do" singing and where he comes out to sing just that part with an exceedingly/overly long hold of a single note...its not a serious performance but you can see the shyness in Eddie that is rarely (ever?) present today.



Women of Off-Road Racing...

I saw the original article a while ago and now they have come out with Part 2.  While I love women in bikinis (who doesn't?) it was cool to see this article with all of these hard core women in off-road.

I have actually met two of these women personally--Judy Smith and Nicole Pitell-Vaughn and both are extremely impressive in their own rights and accomplishments.

Both articles are worth reading for realizing the depth and breadth of female competitors in off-road sports/racing.  I just with they had included perhaps a female stage rally racer in here as well--perhaps Nathalie Richard?




Women of Competitive Off-Road Racing Part 1...

Women of Competitive Off-Road Racing Part 2...

I'm Back...

Holy crap its been a while since I've posted or linked to anything but a new job will do that to you.  Also have decided to focus more on slightly different things than I have previously.  It will be a subtle change but a change nonetheless.  I will also be posting less as I simply don't have the time I did previously...We'll see what we can do...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Film Review: Chef

Streaming Netflix is both a blessing and a curse.  On one hand it makes it easy to watch an endless amount of media.  On the other because of its limited menu (covering only a limited number of top flight films vs. the mail version of Netflix) you end up scouring the internet for "Best .... on Netflix".  Best horror films, best scifi, just "best films", best "new" films, and on and on and on in an attempt to try and find something worth watching...

So when something like Chef ends up on a number of "best of new films on streaming Netflix" you end up trying it.

While Chef isn't a bad film, it doesn't live up to its billing and certainly not its casting.  Here you have Jon Favreau, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.  With a cast like that you would expect a great film with great performances.  Not so.  What you get is a film that will likely show up on TNT or TBS or the like and be run several hundreds of times due to its positive and completely inoffensive nature.  Seriously, this is like a movie you show to kids in fifth grade to put them to sleep on days when you have a substitute teacher.

Its not completely boring--I could watch Sofia Vergara dust a single mantlepiece for two hours and find it entertaining but, the film tries so hard to be positive and carry a "things will be a all right if you just try hard enough and are a good person" that it is sickenly saccharine.  Take that and the fact that the film ties itself in to so many current "trends" like food trucks, cooking being a metaphor for life, etc. that it plays like a hipster's mishmash of ideas--something Favreau who wrote, directed and starred in this film, should be too old for.

A completely forgettable film, if you're on an airplane feel free to take it in.  It won't offend your neighbor and it might put you both to sleep.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

If You Aren't Following Classic J-Tin on Twitter...

You're missing out...



Especially if you have an interest in potentially purchasing a classic piece of Japanese automobilia.  It appears to be a Twitter account that searches Craigslist ads across the country and then posts some of the best and most interesting Japanese vehicles.  I never imagined the variety of vehicles that are still out there waiting to be bought, loved and restored.  The best thing is that since these are from Craigslist you generally aren't talking about $50,000 spotless masterpieces.  These are often rusty, broken, used and most importantly--cheap.

If you like classic Zs, Celicas, Supras, Datsun trucks, old Landcruisers, 35 year old Subarus, etc.  This is a great account to follow.

Classic J-Tin Twitter Profile...