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Showing posts from January, 2007

Getting my music back

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Ever since I picked the R up with 34 miles on the odometer I'd noticed that one or two of my CDs would reach a particular track and stop--without fail--and be automatically ejected. I originally assumed that the R's CD player was having a strange reaction to some type of copy protection and while this gave me the initial impetus to purchase a 6-disc CD changer other than that I left it alone.

More recently the stock CD player has completely gone kaput. It won't recognize any CDs it had played previously. I stick the CD in, the player spins uselessly, Error 1 appears, and the CD pops back out. At first I shrugged my shoulders and let it go. I have my CD changer, right? But as time went on the inconvenience began to bother me. I keep my current favourites in the changer, but for a change I find it convenient to use the player in the headunit. I did some research, mainly on vwvortex, and discovered that others with similar problems had had the entire headunit replaced …

Subaru STI: One year fuel-consumption data

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STI at Night
Originally uploaded by istargazer. I finally got around to entering my fuel receipts into the spreadsheet I have for the 2006 Subaru Impreza STI. The STI actually hasn't seen much road time since last September when the Honda Odyssey took over main grocery-getter duties (including chauffeuring the kids to their martial arts lessons twice a week). Intoxicated with the new-car smell of the Odyssey's leather interior and distracted by shiny electronic trinkets like voice-activated navigation, I'm sad to admit that I had no need to fill the tank in the STI at all for the entire month of October.

Thank goodness for the snow! The fluffy white stuff that causes many drivers to shudder uncontrollably, put a huge grin on my face. Using the DCCD to lock the center differential meant that the STI handled even the worst conditions with total confidence--and a little flair ;0)

After getting a call from Rob Tang last week, I've actually been driving the STI more--especia…

Panasonic vs. Sony: And the winner is... LG!

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Well, it finally happened: we bought a new TV. This is definitely not a common occurrence because the last TV we bought was a 19" Toshiba I picked up from London Drugs about 8 years ago.

The reason for this momentous occasion is the (imminent) death of the main TV set in our living room: a 32" picture-tube Panasonic GAAO. In it's glory days, it was a wonderful set and it's definitely seen a lot of use. Being at least 15 years old, it has probably outlasted it's lifespan. I noticed for awhile now that the sound coming from the set was getting harder and harder to hear. I would turn it up louder, but I still couldn't understand what was being said. I thought there was something wrong with my ears. I turned it up so loud that the garbled noise filled the entire 3 floors of our house. The problem finally visualized a couple of weeks ago when the screen started to sputter and pop for a few minutes whenever we turned the TV on.

Now I think that 15 years is a pretty …

Sony PSP Homebrew

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I've meaning to post about this for a little while but I wanted to make sure that I got everything working first. Last week, the last item that I ordered from the Best Buy's online Boxing Day Sale finally arrived. It was a San Disk 4 gig Memory Stick Pro card that had been back-ordered.

I bought the 4 gig memory card to use in the other thing I bought myself: a Sony PSP! I didn't know much about the PSP until someone I knew showed me theirs. It looked pretty good so I got interested and when I saw the basic console on sale, I decided to get it.

It wasn't until I got the PSP in the first shipment that I started to research more about it and I discovered a whole new world of Homebrew and downgrading. When Sony first introduced the PSP, it had the ability to run "homemade" software and people took advantage of that to write programs and games and share them with others. With subsequent firmware upgrades, in addition to adding new features, Sony has removed Homebre…

VW R32: Missing center cap

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A while ago I'd been making my customary circuit around the R when I saw the rear passenger wheel was missing its center cap. Ugh. Serendipitously I had time that same day to stop by a local Volkswagen dealership to purchase a replacement (Part No.1J0-601-171). It wasn't as expensive as I'd feared and installation was a snap... literally. It pushes straight in.

Before...

and after...

Anywhoo, more pics here, but really, not much more can be said.

BlogShares: The Fantasy Blog Stock Market

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Lately I've been spending a lot of time over at BlogShares. It's an online stock market game that I find quite fun. I first found out about the site one day while I was Googling myself (hmmm... that sounds kind of unsavory...). I had no idea what it was all about--stocks and bonds and P/E ratios all sounded too complex for me. But I was pleased that my blog had been entered into some kind of directory.

For several months, I would check back once in a while to peek at what was going on, but I never got curious enough to sign up until after R32Argent posted about BlogShares on his site. That was it. I decided to sign up myself and learn about the game.

In BlogShares instead of trading shares of companies, you buy and sell shares in blogs. Blogs are sorted into "industries" (like categories) that simply describe what the blog is about in the directory. It works much like a stock market where trading in shares can affect share prices and your net worth. Unlike a real stock…

Most drivers are unprepared for winter

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2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI in snow
Originally uploaded by istargazer. Last week we got another dump of snow just in time for the morning commute. Of course, it happened to be on the day that I had a 7:30 am appointment in south Vancouver. It normally would be a 40 min trip, but it took me almost 2 hours to arrive--most of it simply trying to get out of Coquitlam and New Westminster.

Because of the additional snow on top of the deep freeze (-11ยบ C overnight temperatures) a few days before, the roads were very slick. Not that we had any problems in the Subaru. Back-ups were caused by people who were slipping and getting stuck simply because they were not prepared for the weather.

But I mean, really, shouldn't have these people known better? I saw one person in a BMW X5 with their wheels locked sliding down a very slight incline unable to stop. There was no danger because it was were sliding at a pedestrian pace toward the curb, but that person was holding up traffic for blocks behin…

Envizio Wheel Wizard

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http://www.wheelenvizio.com/
Beng posted this link over at Odyclub and I thought it was amusing. It's a wheel selector that allows you to customize your vehicle by choosing size and type of wheels as well as colour and suspension height. Then you select a background (unfortunately there are only 3 available) and you can pan, tilt, and rotate until you get the look you want. Once you are done, you can render the image and email it to anyone. It's pretty nifty, although the rendering of the STI came out kind of dark. I also wish there were a better selection of wheels available.

Note: You do have to install a plug-in to get it to work, but it's small and fast and works fine in Firefox (I don't use IE).

Where I spend a lot of my time....

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I updated my website with some interior pictures I took this morning. But I thought I'd save everyone the trouble and post some here. :o)

The R32 has great seats (from Koenig) with large bolsters that provide great support and hold you in place during quick turns. My R has the only option offered for the 2004 VW R32, leather seating.


The rear seats are nice, too. The R comes with three full-sized head rests in the rear, but I removed the middle one because I found it distracting. The seats fold down for extra storage space.


I love the R's thicker steering wheel with thumb cutouts. I just can't say enough good things about it. It’s really comfortable to hold and the shortened rack is wonderfully responsive.


The 2004 R32 only comes in a 6-speed manual transmission (for the United States, anyway). There's torque just about everywhere, and shifting feels great. The R32 already came stock with a shortened throw, but early on I had installed a short shift from EIP that…

Out with the old....

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There’s the saying, “out with the old, in with the new”, well, recently I said my final goodbyes to something old—a white 1988 Toyota Camry. It was the first car I ever drove and it was mine to drive for 5-6 years before I moved overseas.It’s been sitting in my parents’ garage for the past 10-11 years collecting dust but the Camry is finally moving on to a new owner.

I don't have anything really new, so I'll just go with this: R32 fuel consumption 2007.

2006 Honda Odyssey - 3580 km - Winter tires mounted

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With yesterday's snowfall I finally decided that today was the day to put the winter tires on the Honda Odyssey.

Actually, I didn't make my final decision to do it until noon today when I went outside with the intention of shoveling the driveway. Overnight, the melting snow iced over and everything was frozen. The messy slush that created pools of water everywhere was now replaced with hardened snow and black ice. No chance in me even attempting to shovel the driveway.

Swapping to winter wheels on the Odyssey in the middle of all this snow and ice was not a problem because there was plenty of clearance inside my garage. Also the jacking points were very easy to find and access with the floor jack.

What a difference the Hankook Ice Bear winter tires make. My previous encounter with snow in the Odyssey with the stock all-seasons had me immediately stuck half-way in my driveway. The winter tires had no problems in today's icy conditions.

I weighed the stock wheels and tires and …

Surprise, Snow!

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Surprise: snow!
Originally uploaded by istargazer. We got more snow today than the forecasters predicted. After dropping my wife off at the train station this morning I meandered my way back home.

R32 personal fuel consumption

Here's my R's fuel consumption data for 2006. I think one of my New Year's resolutions will be going to Shell less often. :o)

Fuel consumption: 2004; 2005.

How do I spell relief?

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Despite the amount of food I gorged on during the holidays, I'm not talking about Pepto Bizmol. While I definitely enjoyed my holidays, I also missed driving--though my angst was somewhat alleviated by a chance to drive Stargazer's STI. :o) During the flight home I became increasingly anxious about in what condition I would find the R. Well, I was relieved to find my stressing had been a waste of energy. It's dirtier than it was, but that will be solved as soon as it warms up enough to wash.

2006 Honda Odyssey Navigation Screen Hack

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Honda Navigation splash screen hack
Originally uploaded by istargazer. UPDATE: 2008 Honda Odyssey Navigation Screen Hack

I received this information from Brian who was successful in completing this mod on his 2008 Odyssey:

I was able to Hack my new '08 Odyssey Navi with help from your blog and other sources. I used the new DumpNavi "bysin.exe" http://guicide.com/cars/2006civic/nav/hacks/Bysin.zip instead of CEbin.

The '08 has a couple other bmp files you have to modify to match your picture. I had to modify move and match these four files:
Navi_Title.bmpHonda_emblem.bmpOpening1.bmpOpeningBase.bmpJust thought I'd leave that bit of information for anyone else trying with an '08.

ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS:

I originally posted my success with modifying the startup splash screen on our 2006 Honda Odyssey navigation system here but I never actually put down all the steps in one place. Until now :0)

My thanks go out to the people at OdyClub and AcruaZine whose threads I follow…

Spotted!

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Black and blue
Originally uploaded by istargazer. A popular topic on a lot of automotive forums is a "Spotted!" thread. It's usually organized by different regions and this is where local enthusiasts announce when and where they've spotted, beeped or waved at, or otherwise acknowledged another driver in the hopes of finding a fellow enthusiast. These are often accompanied with full descriptions of the vehicle and or driver. It's amazing how much detail (complete with type and brand of mods) a car nut can gather in even just a fleeting glimpse.

There can also be multiple sightings of the same vehicle especially with a close-knit car club in a small area like the Lower Mainland. Obviously, the more mods a car has, the more it gets spotted. Following one of these local spotted threads you can't help but go through range of emotions from loneliness-- "How come I never get spotted?"--to paranoia/horror--"I can't go anywhere without someone stalk…

20 Seconds of Kendra

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20 Seconds of Kendra
Originally uploaded by istargazer. Our youngest daughter has the habit of putting on a strange forced smile (like the one in the top left corner of this mosaic) whenever she poses for a picture. That's for family shots. Forget trying to coax a smile out of her if you're a stranger. She refuses to smile or grin for any of her pre-school photos or even for photos with Santa. We always have to assure the photographer that, yes, it's OK, you did a good job because that's the best expression you'll ever hope to get out of her.

In reality, our little 4-year-old is a bit of ham when she doesn't have to sit still and pose. And I'm sure that anyone familiar with young children will know that it's very difficult for them to sit still. I have to resort to doing silly things that Dads do and pressing the shutter on the off-beat to bring out more of her true character.

Thus, this picture is 20 seconds of Kendra.

Kerosine Flamestance. by ~MorbidRealityDesigns

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Kerosine Flamestance. by ~MorbidRealityDesigns



Blue sky clouds - Part 2 in HDR
Originally uploaded by istargazer. A cloud picture I took was used as part of the background for someone's artwork. I'm flattered!