Sunday, October 28, 2012

Steve Jobs' Yacht

It's been a little over a year since my hero passed on, but the work on the yacht he started designing in 2009 just wrapped up. The yacht was christened "Venus" after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. The yacht made it's first public appearance just a few days ago in the Dutch city of Aalsmeer.

The look of the super ship is all Steve Jobs....sleek, elegant and simple. The yacht is made of lightweight aluminum and measures 80 meters long. The Jobs family was there for the unveiling and took it out for it's maiden voyage. A trip to the bridge reveals that the ship is operated by six, 27" iMacs. Steve is smiling up in heaven right now.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Quadski

This is one of those products that I label as "an answer in search of a question". A company by the name of Gibbs has combined an ATV with a jet ski. Powered by a BMW engine, this Frankenvehicle goes on sale in December for a mind-boggling $40,000.

Now keep in mind that for less $20,000 you could buy a dedicated ATV AND a jet ski.  So why would one possibly drop 40-large on this monstrosity? Go figure.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Porsche has just rolled out its new Shooting Brake concept, the Panamera Sport Turismo, at the 2012 Paris Auto Show. This concept moves the Panamera from a 5-door coupe to a wagon...a much more useful configuration.

This particular Panamera is powered by  a hybrid engine, with electrical and gas motors combining for 416 horses. Porsche is rolling out the car to gauge public perception. By my reckoning, a 2-year old can pick between a butt-ugly coupe and a stunning Shooting Brake. So let's get to it know what you need to do.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Buy 3rd Party Lightning Cables for iPhone 5

It seems everyone got their undies in a bundle when Apple switched to the new Lightning cable. Apple has a long history of embracing new technology and leaving the old you just have to get used to that.

But when you get that new iPhone 5, do not be tempted to buy cheap cables from a 3rd party manufacturer. The cables are proprietary to Apple, and to keep them that way, Apple has placed an authenticator chip in all of their Lightning cables. The authenticator chip is also proprietary to Apple and cannot be duplicated.

What that means is that 3rd party cables will fit your new iPhone 5, but they will not work. Without the authenticator chip, the cables are unable to transmit power or data. Caveat emptor.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why I Love CrossFit

Three years ago I began CrossFit and it changed my life. Thanks to CrossFitMN, I am in better shape at 60 than I was at 30. It is hard. It is brutal. But there is a dedicated group that shows up every day at noon and thanks to them, I learn more every day. Check this out:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nike Free Inneva Woven

When it comes to shoes for CrossFit, I'm a huge fan of Nike Free Run. They're lightweight, unbelievably comfortable and a great all-round shoe for the different exercises that pop up in the WOD. My only ding on the shoe is their lack of lateral support.

Enter the Nike Free Inneva Woven. The  nylon-woven shoe fabric and the laces are integrated so that the entire shoe can be adjusted for lateral support. I can't wait to try these on. Launch date and pricing to be announced shortly. Check this out:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPhone 5

Here's the important stuff from today's intro:

• 4" screen
• 18% thinner, world's thinnest smartphone.
• 20% lighter
• 16:9 aspect ratio for movies
• LTE world phone, data transfer is higher speed than most cable modems
• New high speed WiFi, up to 150 Mbps
• 2x faster processor than iPhone 4S (new A6 chip). This really matters. This phone has the highest performing processor in the industry, meaning Apple has leapfrogged them all.
• New camera: 8 megapixel, low light capable and new Panorama mode
• 1080p HD video
• New audio: 3 microphones
• Noise canceling ear hole
• New earbud design, called EarPods
• Lightning connection cable: high speed transfer and charging
• iOS 6 with new 3D mapping, turn-by-turn nav and real-time traffic
• New improved Siri
• On-contract pricing: same as iPhone 4S ($199, $299 and $399)
• Pre-order September 14, ships September 21

EarPods, from my September 2 blog.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sony 4K Bravia KD-84X900

Sony's 84" 4K TV is available for pre-order today. (4K offers nearly four times the resolution of today's 1080p high resolution TV's.) You will need a fair amount of pocket change available as this little puppy will set you back a cool $24,999.99 (only the marketing geniuses at Sony could make this seem so incredibly appealing and desirable by discounting the price by a penny). This is a $3,000 premium over the 84" 4K TV that Samsung rolled out just this past summer.

So here we are at the brink of a new shift in TV technology. The drums are beating louder....4K is coming and it is going to suck all of the oxygen out of the room for 1080p. Are you in?

Monday, September 3, 2012

GoWatchIt iPhone App

Last December I wrote about new software called GoWatchIt:( It is a fabulous program that lets you keep track of movies you want to see. I used to use Netflix for that, but since they have abandoned new releases, their queue is basically worthless. GoWatchIt actually tracks all of the movies in your queue across all of the distribution channels and notifies you when they become available on each.

I'm a big fan of foreign films, so I find the software incredibly useful because most foreign films are just quietly slipped into distribution....without GoWatchIt I would not know that they are available. Plexus Entertainment created the software, and now they have brought it to the iPhone. Their new GoWatchIt app for iPhone has all of the functionality of the original software in a really easy to use iPhone format.

It's a very elegant app. When you come across a poster of a movie you want to see, you just hit the camera icon and the movie automatically gets entered into your queue. Then GoWatchIt tracks your movie and notifies you when it becomes available on each distribution channel: movie theaters, Fandango, Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Hulu, YouTube, SnagFilms, Sundance Now and movies on demand for cable and satellite.

I just love this app and the best part is that it's absolutely free! If you are interested, head to the iPhone App Store and search for GoWatchIt.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New Apple Earbuds?

Apple fanboys have their tongues wagging about the latest Apple rumor...that the earbuds you see above are the first major redesign since the launch of the original iPod earbuds. This design and photo surfaced in Vietnam where they are supposedly being manufactured. Will they accompany the new iPhone 5 and iPods? Stay tuned for the big Apple announcement on September 12.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac

I find Google Maps amazing. I could spend hours exploring the planet via Google Earth. Now the good folks at Google Maps have gone and created a special map that is tracking Tropical Storm Isaac. You can check it out here: Make sure to click the boxes to the right of the map on and off to see the various features of the map.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


This iPhone app is absolute magic. It uses incredibly innovative software, along with the camera from your iPhone, to measure your heart rate. And get ready for's accurate to within 3 beats per minute. That's right....a completely touchless system that lets you toss that ridiculous chest strap you used to wear.

You simply pull up the app, aim the iPhone at your face and within a matter of seconds it reads your heart rate, displays it and then stores it. It uses the light reflected off your face to convert the data to RGB channels. Their algorithm then determines your heart-beats-per-minute based on reflectivity.

The app is available from the App Store and costs $4.99. I've been using it for a week now to measure my pre and post CrossFit workout heart rate. It's incredibly interesting...except for the bizarro readout that gives you your life expectancy. And that of an unknown cougar.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jeep Pickup?

Chrysler execs have said they are considering producing a Wrangler pickup truck. Given that a new Jeep Wrangler is tentatively scheduled for a 2015 launch, we may only be a couple of years away from seeing that. Pictured above is the Gladiator concept that Jeep previewed at select car shows a couple of years ago. That is one sweet looking truck. While you are at it, Chrysler execs, please consider doing one with a diesel engine.

If you want a Jeep pickup now, there are two ways to get that dream realized. The first way requires you to have your own two-door Jeep Wrangler. Then you can head to your favorite Jeep dealer and order the Mopar JK8 kit to convert your Wrangler to a pickup. The kit costs $5,499 and does not include assembly. The final product is quite striking, although I find the bed too small to be really useful:

But my favorite way to get a Jeep pickup in 2012 is The Brute from American Expedition Vehicles. They are taking the four-door Wrangler Unlimited and converting it to a crew-cab pickup. Pricing has not been released yet, but production is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. This would be my choice for a pickup truck:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Under Armor ColdBlack

I love CrossFit. I'm there five days a week with the rest of the noon crew taking on some of the toughest workouts around. Thanks to CrossFitMN, I'm 20 pounds lighter and a helluva lot stronger than when I first walked through their door three years ago. You can check them out here:

One thing that happens at CrossFit is that you sweat. A ton. During the heat of last July, you could easily lose 5 pounds or more of water weight in a single workout. You start sweating the minute you walk through the door and don't stop until about an hour after the workout.

First, there's a warm-up that could pass for a full workout at a big box gym. Then there's a strength component, which usually involves heavy Olympic lifting. This is followed by the WOD (Workout Of the Day), which is typically a very intense metabolic conditioning regimen.

There's no air conditioning at CrossFitMN, so moisture management is a necessity. The last thing you want to wear is a cotton t-shirt. You need a synthetic fabric that will wick away the moisture and stay dry next to your skin. So this summer, I decided to pit two industry leaders in head-to-head competition for moisture management: Nike Dri-Fit and Under Armor ColdBlack.

As you probably surmised by the title of this blog, Under Armor ColdBlack was my hands down favorite. Yes, the shirt is more expensive, $34.99 compared to $24.99 for the Nike Dri-Fit, but you feel the difference immediately in the fabric. The ColdBlack fabric feels much more expensive. It's feels like a fine-knit cotton and wears like one, too. See how nicely it drapes in the photo above.

The Nike Dri-Fit feels like a synthetic fabric. It's rough to the touch and does not hang as nice as the Under Armor. While they both are on equal ground when it comes to moisture wicking abilities, the Under Armor wins because it just feels better. It feels softer and lighter in weight.

There's also an added bonus for the Under Armor product. It uses the patented ColdBlack technology on the fabric. Fabric that has been treated with ColdBlack reflects infrared and heat rays. So when you wear a black t-shirt that has been treated with ColdBlack in the feels like you are wearing a white shirt. It's really remarkable stuff.

After wearing both shirts extensively this summer, I have become a huge UnderArmor ColdBlack fan. In fact, I just ordered up four more shirts. They come in a huge variety of colors. Check them out here:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

3D TV: Meh

When my Sony Projection TV died at the end of June, I decided to go for a major upgrade. My AV gurus,  The Wire Masters, set me up with a JVC DL-RS55U projector. This projector features a resolution of 4K, nearly four times the resolution of 1080p. While the amount of native 4K material is few and far between at this point, the projector up-converts a 1080p picture to 4K. Playing Call of Duty has become a whole new experience.

What took my video game room to a new level was the addition of a Black Diamond Zero Edge screen from Screen Innovations. Unlike previous generation screens, which require a completely dark room, the Black Diamond screen is so reflective that it can be used in a well-lit room:

So when I upgraded, I went all in and added 3D capabilities as well. While I love every 1080p and 4K experience I have had with the new equipment, the 3D experience is a big, giant meh. I have tried 3D video games, 3D television and 3D Blu-ray movies. While it was indeed a novelty the first time I tried them, the fun and excitement of 3D viewing wore off in a big hurry. Here is the enemy:

There are two types of 3D glasses, active and passive. I have active glasses, which must be charged, but do actually deliver a better picture in 3D than passive glasses. But the problem is they are glasses. I already wear glasses, so now I have to wear two pair of glasses to see 3D. That is a deal breaker. The 3D glasses are heavy compared to my regular glasses. Even if I could get by with just the 3D glasses, I still do not like them. They are just too big and clunky.

The next problem for 3D TV viewing is the lighting. 3D TV is darker than regular TV. Noticeably it's a strain to view the picture. When I just spent the money for a 4K projector and a super-bright screen, using it for dark 3D images does not make a whole lot of sense.

The next problem for 3D TV viewing is the resolution. Going from a 4K picture to a 3D picture is like going from 1080p to 480i. In 3D, the images are soft and of the same quality when we used to watch all of our TV on a CRT. There are exceptions to movies from Pixar and DreamWorks look beautiful. But how many kid's movies do you want to watch just because they look cool?

And there's the final nail in the 3D coffin. After I watch a 2-hour movie with active shutter 3D glasses, my eyes are ready for a 30-day sabbatical. You cannot believe how tired your eyes feel after 2 hours of straining to see a dark image with soft resolution through two pairs of glasses. Stick me with a fork...I'm done.

So I'm here to tell you that 4K resolution and the Black Diamond screen are the greatest things since sliced bread. It makes for the most incredibly immersive video gaming experience I have ever had. Watching movies, TV shows and sporting events (especially Formula One races) becomes a real treat. But if you are giving thought to adding 3D viewing capabilities to your household, take a pass. 3D is not ready for prime time. It's a's a compromise...and it's no fun after the initial ten minutes of "oh wow" viewing. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Webcasts About Nothing

I'm a big Jerry Seinfeld fan. Love his stand-up comedy. And I loved his smash TV show about nothing. Jerry Seinfeld also happens to be a huge car fan, just like me. Unlike me, he has over 100 rare and highly desirable Porsches in his stable.

Jerry has taken his love of cars and and created a new series of webcasts about cars. Once you view them, you realize there are cars in the webcasts, but the content is really about nothing. He'll pick a car of interest...a fellow comedian of interest...and take him out for coffee...and then he explores nothing.

He has made two webcasts so far. They truly are about nothing...but they bring a smile to my I watch them. The series is called "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee". If you have nothing to do and want to spend that time on nothing, check it out:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vans Sneaker iPhone Case

My son Sean really needs a case like this. He's on his fourth new iPhone since February 1. He goes through them like crap through a goose. Each iPhone ends up getting smashed. Gorilla glass cannot stand up to the rigors of life of my 17-year old. If it were not for the iPhone AppleCare program, he would be phoneless.

Vans, maker of iPhone cases, understands my son. In order to maximize the grip that one can exercise when holding an iPhone, Vans has created a waffle case, just like you would find on the bottom of a sneaker. Made of gum rubber, the case is available in white, black or pink. The case sells for $28 and you can check them out here:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jaguar Shooting Brake

The trickle of manufacturers introducing Shooting Brakes has started to turn into a torrent. Pictured above is the new Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Based on the midsize Jaguar XF sedan, this latest addition to the Shooting Brake population goes on sale in late 2012. As of this writing, there are no plans to bring the car across the pond.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

WeatherBug Elite

I love this iPhone app. It's beyond useful and of all of the apps I have installed on my iPhone, it's the one I use the most. I'm a bit anal when it comes to the weather and I have no less than six weather apps on my phone....but WeatherBug Elite is heads and tails above all of the others.

I walk a couple of miles each morning and this gives me incredibly detailed and precise information as to what's going on at my location. It starts when I crank the app up. Using the iPhone's GPS capabilities, it pinpoints my location and then adjusts all of the data accordingly:

On the main screen, I get a readout of the current conditions and a brief forecast:

When I click on the next screen, I get a detailed forecast:

And I can click once more to get an hourly breakout of the weather:

But the live radar is, by far, the best feature of Weatherbug Elite. I can get an up-to-the minute snapshot of radar/precipitation/lightning in my area (or for the whole country). There is also a time lapse button that lets me see the exact direction and speed of the storm:

This feature has proven to be invaluable on my morning walk, ensuring that I don't get stuck on the far side of the lake when the storm hits. It's also been extremely useful for my son Patrick's baseball games...I can plainly see in advance when a game will get called due to weather. And I was also recently at a classic car show when the skies started to darken. A lot of the car collectors were getting nervous and I was able to warn them that a hail storm was imminent. They were able to get their cars out of there before the hail started crashing down from the heavens.

Weatherbug Elite has a ton more features...too many to go into here. But suffice it to say that it is the most useful and most used app that I have on my iPhone. And at $1.99, I think it's the bargain of the century. There is also a separate iPad app with more elaborate functionality. And while I have that, too, I think the most important weather app is the one you have in your pocket. If you spend any amount of time outdoors or have a kid involved in outdoor sports, you really need this app. Get yours at the Apple App Store.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Brief History of the Shooting Brake

Back in the 1920's, there were no SUV's. So if you were a hunter, with an ample collection of guns and dogs, there weren't really any vehicles to serve your hobby. For those wealthy enough to afford it back in the 20's, there was a solution: The Shooting Brake.

Back in that period, the term "brake" meant chassis. And shooting meant just that...shooting. So a Shooting Brake was a specially made car designed to carry guns and hounds. But no one made such a thing back then. If you wanted this special, purpose built "estate wagon", you had to commission a coach builder to make you one from an existing car.

The earliest Shooting Brakes were made from fine motor cars like Rolls Royce. The car shown at the top of this blog was originally a touring saloon. A custom coach builder took the car apart and then custom fabricated the panels to turn it into a Shooting Brake.

The early shooting brakes were either 2 or 4 door vehicles. As station wagons started to appear on the scene, the term "Shooting Brake" was primarily applied to 2-door versions. Even Chevrolet jumped on the bandwagon, rolling out their version, the Chevy Nomad, in 1955.

The aristocrats kept the Shooting Brake term alive in the 1960's by commissioning bespoke versions of very high-end cars. One of my all-time favorites was this 1965 Aston Martin Shooting Brake:

The concept of the Shooting Brake languished for many decades. But then in 2011, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Ferrari shocked the automotive world by rolling out  a modern-day Shooting Brake, the Ferrari FF. The two "F's" stand for Four passengers and Four-wheel drive. The design is truly remarkable for a modern day production car:

I firmly believe we are at the beginning of a rennaisance of the Shooting Brake concept. Mercedes just introduced the CLS Shooting Brake. Porsche is rumored to be working on a version for the Panamera. And the upcoming Audi A9 is rumored to be a Shooting Brake version of their flagship A8. It's a great time to be a Shooting Brake fanboy.

Porsche Panamera Shooting Brake?

Ferrari started the re-birth of the Shooting Brake with their incredible FF model. Then, if you caught my blog last week, Mercedes stunned the automotive world by rolling out their astonishingly beautiful CLS Shooting Brake. That got the attention of the folks in Stuttgart...and the rumor mills are awash in whispers of a Porsche Panamera Shooting Brake.

The Porsche Panamera is, perhaps, the second ugliest German sedan after the BMW 5 Series GT. It looks like a pregnant beluga whale and the owners apologetically explain it is an extraordinary sedan....once you get past it's looks. If Porsche could put out a Panamera Shooting Brake that looks anything like the rendering above, they would have a bona fide smash hit on their hands.

Such a change to the vehicle improves the utility by about 25% and improves the appearance by 5,000%. The rumor mills are suggesting we will see the concept car at the car shows this October and it will roll out as a 2015 model. Be still my heart.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

3D Blu-ray Rentals

I made the plunge and put a 3D AV set-up in my game room this week. In doing so, I also discovered the total dearth of 3D viewing material out there in the world. Direct TV has a handful of stations broadcasting in 3D, but there's not much in the way of compelling content.

The best way to enjoy the 3D experience at home is with 3D Blu-ray discs. Amazon has  a fairly large library, but I have little interest in owning movies. I want to watch a movie and then move on to the next one. Buying Blu-ray discs is a very expensive proposition and that's not where I would like to invest my dollars.

Netflix does not rent 3D Blu-ray discs. But thanks to the law of supply and demand, a small company has set up shop that is offering 3D Blu-ray rentals. The company is 3D Bluray Rental and they operate the exact same way that Netflix did in it's infancy. You go online and pick out your movies, which run from $3.99 to $5.99 per rental, and the rental fee includes free shipping. The site mails your movie to you and you have 7 days to watch it. Then you just drop it in the mail and you are done. Late fees apply if you miss that 7-day window.

They have an enormous library of 3D Blu-ray discs...far bigger than anyone else. They take great pride in their selection of hard-to-find 3D titles. If you have a 3D TV, this site is really worth the visit. If you are thinking about 3D, this site gives you a really good idea of the 3D Blu-ray content available to you. Check it out here:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake

I love German station wagons. They are all the rage in Europe. Not so much here in the US of A. The "station wagon stigma" is an unfortunate holdover from the baby boomer era and it has made the station wagon an endangered species here. Voting with their wallets, Americans routinely buy SUV's and ignore station wagons...or "estate wagons" as they are called in Europe.

I am perplexed by this phenomenon. A station wagon gives you all of the cargo-toting capabilities of a SUV, the handling capabilities of a car and much better gas mileage. Yet people opt for SUV's with their high ground clearance, which gives the vehicle a much higher center of gravity, compromised handling and a higher propensity for rollovers. And we Americans keep buying them by the millions.

Audi has withdrawn their A4 and A6 wagons from our shores. The only thing to satisfy the wagon urge for Audi fanboys is the stunning A4 Allroad. BMW withdrew the 5 series wagon and replaced it with the ugliest car of all-time, the 5 series GT. What in the hell were BMW's designers thinking when they penned that monstrosity? Perhaps they were giving Pontiac Aztek owners something to aspire to? On the bright side, BMW just announced that they will be bringing their new 3 series wagon stateside.

Mercedes has fought the tide by continuing to offer their gorgeous E-series wagon. And then they shocked the automotive world by creating the drop-dead beautiful CLS Shooting Brake you see pictured above. This is a wagon variation based on their popular CLS sedan (which is inexplicably marketed as a "four door coupe"). It goes on sale later this fall (price TBD) and will be available in both rear and all-wheel drive.

If you are in a hurry, you can opt for the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake. The monster, twin-turbocharged V-8 puts out 550 horsepower and will rocket the car from 0-60 in just 3.8 mind-warping seconds. Those kind of numbers give me thigh sweats. Just as I was getting all worked up for this beauty, Mercedes announced that the CLS Shooting Brake will only be available in Europe.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sayonara Sony!

Back in 2006 I purchased a 60" Sony SXRD TV (pictured above) for my video game room. State-of-the-art at the time, it featured a 1080p picture rendered in incredible detail by Sony's new technology, Liquid Crystal On Silicone. The picture was jaw-dropping beautiful. Sony marketed the set as the longest  lasting TV set on the market. Replace the projection bulb every 3,000 hours and your set would be immediately refreshed to factory standards.

I did that. Replaced the bulb at 3,000 hours and sure enough, that fabulous picture was back again. Well, it was back again until the 4,000 hour mark. It's at that point that the screen turned green. Happened just last week. The sharp picture is still there, but the TV set is now monochromatic. Everything is displayed in various shades of green. This is a horrible way to play Call of Duty!

Thinking I just needed to re-calibrate the set, I started monkeying around with the color. Note I said color, not colors. Just green...only green....all the time. So I went online to get some background. And boy did it get interesting.

Sony stopped making SXRD TV's back in 2008. But by that time, they had sold $8 billion worth of SXRD TV sets worldwide. That's billion...with a B. Why did they abandon the technology? All of the TV sets failed...typically between the 4,000 to 6,000 hour mark of viewing use. There was a piece called the optical block that failed as a result of the high heat conditions in the set.

In the beginning Sony replaced the failed optical blocks. But that did not fix the heat issue, so the new optical blocks they put in also failed. So Sony quit replacing the optical blocks for any set out of warranty. If your TV was out of warranty, you were SOL.....Sony was telling their SXRD customers to stuff it. If you were in warranty, they would replace the optical block...but it, too, would fail, but by then the SXRD set would be out of warranty.

Well, there were some 2,000,000 people out there with SXRD TV sets and this did not make them very happy. They started screaming bloody murder. So to appease them, Sony quietly extended the warranty  of SXRD sets through 2009. If you screamed loud enough, they were offering a free 46" LED TV set as a replacement. I know if I had had my issue back then, I would be really unhappy giving up a 60" TV for a 46" TV. Free or not, going backwards in size sucks...especially when playing video games.

So here I sit in 2012 with my all-green Sony and I have absolutely no recourse. The Sony replacement program ended three years ago. Anyone who suffers the green death of their SXRD TV set has to settle for swinging in the wind. Sony will do nothing. Remember that claim about there longest lasting TV set? Sony dismissed it, saying that was just "marketing puffery". Their own words..."marketing puffery". How's that for a stand-up company?

So sayonara, Sony. Never again will I let one of your products grace my doorstep. I am done with you. I have no choice but to get rid of the SXRD TV set, but at the same time I am purging my home of that steaming mess of a game console you call the PS3. There's a reason, Sony, that companies like Samsung, LG and Apple are eating your lunch. They care about their customers and understand the importance of loyalty for the future of their brand.

While I am really displeased with having to toss my SXRD in the junk pile, there is a silver lining. In the last six months, there's been a trickle of new devices into the consumer electronic marketplace that feature 4K technology. This 4K technology is the latest and greatest and offers a picture that is four times higher in resolution than 1080p. So that is very exciting and I am taking delivery of this new technology the week of July 9th. And the brand? You can bet your sweet ass it's not a Sony.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Caterham 7 CSR for Sale

I'm a huge fan of Lotus cars. Lotus was founded by Colin Chapman, whose all-consuming philosophy for building cars was "add lightness". His earliest car was the Lotus Super Seven, which he introduced in the 50's.

Lotus continued to make the car into the early 70's. It was then that Colin Chapman sold the rights to the design and name of the car to Caterham. To this very day, Caterham continues to pump out a full line of Super Sevens over in England (

You can still get a Caterham in the United States. But because of Federal regulations, it can only be sold as a kit and must be assembled  by the owner or a mechanic of his choosing.

Caterham's top-of-the-line is the Caterham 7 CSR. The car weighs in at a minuscule 1,268 pounds and is powered by a 260 horsepower Cosworth engine. With numbers like that, it goes from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds. By comparison, a new Porsche 911 (350 horsepower) requires 4.6 seconds to cover the same ground. This is understandable when you consider that the 911 weighs 1,800 pounds more than the Caterham

I follow the cars on a web site called USA7's ( One of the members on the site had gone full in...purchasing a Caterham 7 CSR and spending $95,000 to realize his dream. He drove it, enjoyed it and tried to sell it through the web site. I believe he started in the $80K's and it did not move...which is understandable when you can find used Caterhams all day long in the $20K-$40K range.

So now he's trying to move it through Park Place LTD, one of the largest exotic car dealerships in the US. The starting price was $68,950, but they are now offering it as a web special for $59,950. That is the bargain of the century for what is one of the most remarkable and rare automobiles on the planet.

Would I love to own this car? But of course. But unfortunately, this Caterham is simply a used car. It will continue to depreciate. I'd rather spend $30K to $40K to get one of the early Lotus Super Sevens...and watch it appreciate. Check out this gorgeous 1959 Lotus Super Seven:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nespresso Pixie Single Serve Espresso Machine

I jumped on the single serve coffee machine bandwagon back in 2001 when Senseo rolled out their first machine. It was a great way to get a fresh, perfectly brewed cup of coffee every time. But Senseo had a limited number of coffees available and their dark roast was just not dark enough for my palate. So I migrated over to the Keurig world, using a Breville Single Serve Coffee Machine along with Double Black Diamond coffee capsules from Green Mountain Coffee. Fabulous stuff.

But I still missed having an occasional espresso. While I have a closet full of old burr grinders and espresso machines, I was not going down that road again. Once you switch over to the capsule world, you get spoiled. It's just so fast and easy to make a delicious cup.

So I started exploring the capsule world for an espresso machine. The online reviews kept directing me to Nespresso, which makes a full line of espresso machines and espresso capsules. I was looking for a really small machine, one that would take up very little real estate. The smallest one on the market was the Nespresso's only 4" wide X 9" high X 13" deep.

I got mine online from for $179. And I am here to tell you that it makes a cup of espresso that is absolutely to die for. It's right up there with the best I've ever had from a barista. Nespresso offers 16 different flavors of espressos for their machines. My favorite is Ristretto, a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans. It's deep, dark and rich....and has such a pronounced roasted flavor that one sip is sufficient to make all of your toenails fall off.

If you are looking for a single serve espresso maker, I strongly recommend Nespresso. While the machines are sold at many different retailers, I found and Nespresso to be the cheapest. There are a fair number of people selling Nespresso capsules. All of my research to date shows that the Nespresso web store has the lowest price (60¢ per capsule).  Check it all out here:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The End of Mowing Your Lawn?

For those of you that ditched the Hoover for the iRobot Roomba vacuum, the same sort of technology is headed to your lawn. John Deere has introduced the Tango E5, a Li-Ion battery powered mower that will mow your lawn for you. Hit a button, grab your favorite pale ale and put by our feet up while the Tango E5 does a full Vidal Sassoon on your lawn.

Underground wires set the mowing perimeter while built-in sensors keep it away from trees and shrubs...and hopefully Samson, your pet Chihuahua. When the battery starts to run low, the Tango E5 takes itself back to it's charging station for a full helping of juice. It's a mulching mower, so you never have to worry about collecting those grass clippings.

Right now this product is only available in Europe (where it does not have to deal with sprawling, suburban McMansion lawns). Across the pond, it's selling for the equivalent of 3,275 US dollars. That's riding mower territory, so you've got some hard decisions to make on your favorite venue for quaffing that pale ale.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Most Expensive Car in the World

In the spring of 1994, our new company, Gruggen Buckley, landed it's first blue chip client, McCaw Communications. McCaw Communications, owned by Craig McCaw, was at that time the largest cell phone provider in the United States.

AT&T was not a player in the cellular phone industry back then. They were all about long distance telephony. Recognizing that the future of telecommunications was going to be mobile, they decided that they had to be a player. So they coddled up to Craig McCaw, whispered sweet nothings in his ear and tenderly slid 12.6 billion dollars into his right front pants pocket.

Fortunately, Gruggen Buckley was kept on by AT&T for a glorious 11-year run. Craig McCaw rode off into the sunset. But 12.6 billion dollars gives you a lot of freedom. With money like that, you can buy a 325 acre private island and create your own paradise off the coast of Vancouver. And you can also become one of the greatest car collectors on the planet.

If you are a serious car collector, you must sign up to hunt for the holy grail...the Ferrari 250 Gran Turismo Omologata. Ferrari only built 39 of these cars between 1962 and 1964. They were race cars, through and through. Produced for homologation into FIA's Group 3 Grand Touring Car category, this super lightweight car had a V-12 engine that put out 300 horsepower.

If you wanted a Ferrari GTO back in the day, it would cost you $18,000 and you had to be personally vetted by Enzo Ferrari. That was a huge pot of money back comparison you could get a new Shelby AC Cobra for $5,995 or a new Corvette for $3,957.

There are only 39 men in the world that own a Ferrari GTO. It is considered the pinnacle of the car collector market. Ralph Lauren has one. Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason has one. Craig McCaw did not have one. But remember, you can't be at the top of the car collector food chain unless you have one.

As of May, Craig McCaw is now at the top of the food chain. The car pictured above is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that was made for Sterling Moss (the light green color was his racing livery). It is now parked in Craig McCaw's garage. And the price he just paid for it makes it the most expensive car in the world.

To get to the top of the food chain, Craig had to shell out $35 million (the last GTO sold went for a paltry $31.7 million). While $35 million may seem like a lot of money for a car, it represents just 0.2% of the money that AT&T paid him to go away.

Ferrari 250 GTO. That's what I call riding off into the sunset in style.

Craig McCaw