Toyota iQ


Toyota has a great car that you can buy in Europe right now (if you can afford a new car). It’s the iQ.

It’s just 10 inches longer than the Smart Car*, but it has a rear seat! (Admittedly, anyone over 5 years old would only be able to survive a 2‐mile journey back there. But it’s probably bigger than the back seat of my buddy’s Porsche 928.) *In the picture, the iQ is on the left, and Smart is on the right.

I know you are thinking, “What a quick way to die!” Not true. It earned a 5‐star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests.

Toyota could have been more original with the name — “iQ” and “Smart” — notice any similarity?

So yes, since I’m a lover of small cars, I want one.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the photos; I shot these from a magazine sitting in my lap, as part of the bookstore findings series.)


What was once valuable…


A few Saturdays ago, I enjoyed some time at a car junkyard. (The visor on our old Mitsubishi died. It would no longer stay up. So $2.50 later and the time spent finding the right donor car meant a working visor.)

On my way to find the donor Mitsubishi, I saw this Cadillac hubcap center laying forlornly in the dirt. I remembered how much the car it came from was worth at the height of its glory — a lot more than it is worth now!

Takeaway: as you think about buying that shiny new whatever, just remember that it won’t be shiny forever.


Death of the Rocky


February 27th was the day Denver’s second newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, was put to rest. In my book, it was not a big deal, as the Denver Post was owned by the same company — so they were essentially the same voice. I am sad, though, for those who lost jobs in the shuffle.

We bought the final newspaper. Above is a spread featuring every masthead design from Day One until Day Final. I thought that was cool. It’s a nice tracking of how visual design reflects changes in culture. Naturally, I didn’t save the newspaper, but I do have a full‐size image of the mastheads spread available. If you want to see it, leave a comment, and I’ll email it to you.


Throw it away


So I got this lip balm for free.

It was schwag from a concert I went to, almost two years ago. In dry Colorado, everyone needs lip balm, so I grabbed it.

Well, I used it a few times before I realized it stung when I applied it. But I kept it because I appreciate the company that gave it away. Finally, it sunk in — why am I keeping this is if doesn’t work right?

Takeaway: what do you need to throw away today?


iPod Shuffle 2009 Review


Yes, Apple just came out with a new iPod Shuffle. As always, it’s cool. As always, if you’re into tech stuff, you want one.

+ Very cool size — smaller than ever.
+ Voice Over feature, where you can hear what songs you are listening to. This is by far the biggest innovation. Funny enough, if you have a Windows computer, it speaks to you in a female voice and male if you have a Mac. (An “alpha” thing?)
+ 4 gb capacity (2 gb was the previous high).

— 10 hour battery life. (The current Nano has 24 — and the $29 Shuffle I’ll mention in a minute has 12.)
— You can only use the Apple‐provided headphones, which don’t fit every set of ears. (They don’t fit mine!)

Suggestion: Buy a 1 gb Shuffle from the Apple Refurb store for $29 or $39, depending on availability. Get a great set of headphones and sing all the way to the bank. (Update: Now there are 2 gb models for $39, if you keep checking back.)

Big users’ tip: always leave the headphones plugged in. If you take them out, this puppy is so small you’ll lose it within minutes.


Things of beauty


There’s a whole shop window filled with old Mac towers. It’s Denver’s Mac Outlet.

I used to work on one of those. I say “on” — as I took it apart to add memory, put a new hard drive in, add a video card, etc. I learned a lot about hardware that way. In comparison, changing out the hard drive to my MacBook Pro was like brain surgery. I remember how easy it was to just pop the side off, do the deed, and put it back together. No more.

I am reminded of growing up. We had a series of Volkswagens. My dad was always working on them. His bedside reading was How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. He let me and my brother “help”. That is something I have struggled with as a dad. Thankfully, car repairs have been minimal, but house repairs (or projects) seem to be an on‐going part of life. Our house was built in 1965 or so, and things just wear out.

So my challenge has been to teach my boys how to do repairs. I usually take the lazy way out and do it myself. Bad me! Laziness is rarely the best way forward. As you know.


Drink responsibly?


I have a habit of picking up aluminum cans to recycle them. Why? “Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to keep a 100‐watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours.” (Source. I heard that somewhere else too.)

So I’ll just pick one up, if I happen to see it in a parking lot or while I’m riding my bike.

Anyhow, I came across this flattened can. Joose. It is basically kool‐aid with 9.9% alcohol. My question is, does anyone drink Joose responsibly?

By the way, the Joose can is so big that recycling it saved five hours of TV electricity time.


More bookstore findings


Another magazine I looked at was Car. Or maybe it was Top Gear. Anyway, there was a comparison text of Honda Accord‐sized sedans.

I was greatly saddened.

Ford makes a fabulous car for Europe in that class called the Mondeo. GM has an equally brilliant offering called the Insignia. These cars go 130–135 mph and yet get about 49 mpg! (In US gallons, that’s about 41 mpg.)

The reason for the big car manufacturer bailouts is simply this… they believed America wasn’t sophisticated enough to buy such cars that they build elsewhere. And now that fuel prices are lower, Ford has considered not bringing the wonderful Fiesta* to America. Sigh. There is no hope.

* The current Fiesta is not anything like the one from about twenty years ago!

Update: Ford is definitely bringing the Fiesta to the States. There is hope!