I take a lot of close-up pictures of very important things.
Old iPhone. And this is not any spam. This is spam from Montreal, so it’s French-Canadian spam!
To get total iPhone news coverage, click here.
My buddies at Audi loaned me a Q7 TDI (turbo diesel injected) for a few months. This is the first diesel that Audi has brought to the United States since the 1980s. It’s a fifty-state car. One of it’s most compelling features is that it looks mean, not like the typical boxy SUVs.
The Q7 is approximately nine inches longer than the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne.
The Q7 has low-profile tires for a SUV. Who goes offroad anyway?
Sorry, Audi: a stone jumped up and chipped the windshield.
Where I live, diesel is cheaper than gas, and a car theoretically goes 25% further per gallon of diesel compared to gas. Sounds like a deal to me. Finding a diesel station isn’t too hard, but you do need to plan ahead.
Over the course of the few months that I had the Q7, my mileage was approximately 19-19 miles per gallon. I do 75% stop-and-go around town driving. Audi sponsored a long-distance drive for journalists, and they achieved approximately 25 miles per gallon.
This is the Q7s. engine. It has a 3.0 liter displacement. It puts out 221 hp and 406 lb-ft torque. The Q7 goes 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds.
If you’re old enough to remember when diesels were slow, noisy, and stinky, you’re an empty-nester, so you don’t need a seven-passenger vehicle. If you’re not old enough to remember this, don’t sweat it. In any case, other than having to use a different pump at the gas station, you’ll hardly notice any difference if you buy a diesel vehicle these days.
(If you don’t need a seven-page vehicle, you should check out the Audi A3 TDI which apparently gets 40 miles per gallon in the real world. Check out this review.)
I have to say that cupholders aren’t a strongpoint of the car.
On the first try, the Q7 linked with my iPhone, and I was able to access my address book and the database of recent calls.
The circled area lights up when a car is in the blindspot on the left side. If you turn on your lane-change signal, and there’s a car in the way, a yellow light flashes.
This is a video of showing how the front speakers pop out of the dash when you start the Q7. I don’t know if it sounds any better, but it’s sure cool.
If you like looking at the sky, you’ll love the Q7’s sunroof.
It has a two-piece sun visor system that shields your eyes from the front and the side.
It easily passes the “can it our carry hockey gear?” test. Carrying bags and three players is no problem.
I think the switch to close the hatch is on the wrong side of the car. The driver always walks to the left to get into his or her seat, but the switch is on the right side of the hatch.
If you need to drive two very tall people, you can put down the second row of seats. This provides ample legroom for basketball players.
If you put down the second and third row of seats, there’s really a lot of room. I should have tested it with a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood, but I never buy plywood, so I don’t care.
The third row works for kids, but only tiny adults.
To get into the third row of seats, you enter from the behind the front passenger seat.
Or, you can use the patent-pending “Kawasaki run-and-jump/enter from the back” plan.
I had to give the Q7 back a week ago, and my entire family misses it. Most interestingly, my teenage boys liked it more than the Audi R8 that I had for a week. Even my wife told me to buy one (prices start at $50900). Other vehicles can have these “modern” features, but I don’t own a real “modern” vehicle. This is a list of what I miss the most:
Cool design. Coolness is in the eyes of the beholder, and I think the Q7 is the best looking vehicle that can carry seven people.
Diesel engine. Diesel is the new hybrid. It’s simpler than hybrid technology, and it doesn’t require the creation and disposal of batteries.
Smart-key system. Not having to put the key in the door or ignition is so convenient. The Q7 detects the presence of its key and unlocks the door. Then you can press a button to start it.
Bluetooth integration with my iPhone. I’ve never owned a car with Bluetooth. It’s so great to just get in a vehivle and be able to make and receive calls through the vehicle’s sound system
Lane-change warning. I loved having the added safety of the vehicle warning you not to switch lanes.
Backup camera. With lots of kids and their stuff around the driveway, this was very useful and reassuring.
If you’re looking for a vehicle that can carry seven people, gets good mileage, and looks cool, the Q7 TDI is something to consider.
If you’re an Audi fan, you’ll love this aggregation of Audi websites and blogs.
At Photography.alltop, all the top photography websites and blogs are in one place. The selection includes sites that review equipment as well as offer tips. It’s Alltop’s second most popular topic. Check it out by clicking here. There’s no easier way to stay on top of photography.
Over at the American Express Open blog, I posted a story called “The Inside Scoop on Design: Ten Questions with Hartmut Esslinger.” Hartmut was instrumental in the design of Macintosh. If you’re into industrial design, you’ll enjoy this interview. Please mark it “found useful” if you did.
This is Thanksgiving, so I’d like to show some gratitude for ten tiny apps that I use almost every day. If you’re a writer, blogger, speaker, or entrepreneur who uses a Macintosh, please give them a look because they will make you more productive.
Adjix. Adjix is the best way that I’ve found to post links to web pages on Twitter. It shortens the URL of the page, enables you to edit the tweet, shows you the ever-important character count, and renders a preview of the page you’re linking to so that you can be sure of what you’re tweeting. Price: Free.
BBEdit. BBEdit is admittedly overkill for the HTML editing that I do. However, it does a great job of formatting text into XHTML, and it houses the SmartPants UNIX filter that I use to smarten quotes and dashes (see below). Generally speaking, if BBEdit can’t do what you want to text, it probably can’t be done. Price: $125.
Foxmarks. I use Firefox on three different Macintoshes, so I need to synchronize your bookmarks across them all. Foxmarks enables you to do this as well as create a backup of them. I wish other programs did synching so cleanly. Price: Free.
MarsEdit. I use MarsEdit to write my blog postings for my blog, the Alltop blog, and the American Express OPEN Forum. I compose in MarsEdit because of the built-in HTML markup features and then finish the writing in BBEdit. What would make me even more thankful: MobileMe synchronization of drafts. Price: $29.95.
Preview. Preview is simple application to open up graphics and text files. I use it to resize screenshots and to annotate them with circles and comments. It can also send your photos to iPhoto for storage. Skitch is another application that does this if Preview doesn’t have enough power for you. Price: Free.
SmartyPants. I hate dumb apostrophes, quotes, and dashes but replacing them is not simple because HMTL links must contain dumb quotation marks—for example, href=”http://daringfireball.net/projects/smartypants/”. However, in regular text, I want replace a dumb quotes with smart ones. SmartyPants knows that HTML links should not be smartened while apostrophes, quotes, and dashes should. Price: Free.
TextExpander. This is a utility that expands abbreviations to full text. For example, it expands “gk” to “Guy Kawasaki.” I use about ninety of these abbreviations. I’d be even more thankful if it didn’t sometimes paste the clipboard not the desired abbreviation. Incidentally, I love a competitive product called TypeIt4me, but it cannot synchochronize my abbreviations across multiple Macintoshes via MobileMe like TextExpander can. Price: $29.95.
Tweetdeck. This is a front-end application to Twitter. I have to stay on top of many terms in Twitter such as “Guykawasaki,” “Guy Kawasaki,” and “Alltop” as well as private and public messages to me. It is the best way to use Twitter that I have found. Price: voluntary donation, so I sent $50.
Twittelator Pro. I use this iPhone application to access Twitter. In a sense, for me it’s Tweetdeck on a phone. I’d be more thankful if I could customize the menus structure, but it’s still the best iPhone application for Twitter that I’ve found. Price: $4.99.
Yojimbo. This is my catch-all for things like passwords, invoices, travel confirmations, and bills—basically all the stuff you know you’ll need someday but don’t know how to store. You “print to Yojimbo,” and this creates a PDF of the document and stores it in the application. Then you can do a freeform search for any text to find the information later. Price: $39.
Update: Several readers told me to look at Evernote, and they are right. This is a cross-platform application and service that enables you to synch information across Macintosh, Windows, and iPhone. I’ve been using it for a four days, and it’s very good. You should check it out.
There you have it: my favorite tiny applications that make me more productive on a Macintosh. As you can see, a few bucks goes a long way these days! My heartfelt thanks to the men and women who created and support them. Happy Thanksgiving!
No matter who you support in the upcoming election, you will appreciate the cleverness of customizing videos to get your friends and relatives to vote. Click here to see what I mean. Many companies could use custom, viral videos for their products and services. I would love to do something like this for Alltop.
I've been to many interesting places, but nothing compares to my twenty-four hour visit to the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier. I was a guest of the Navy who operates this program in order to bolster recruiting, retention, and overall awareness of what it does. I hope that you enjoy these pictures and videos. I would be overjoyed if you spotted someone you know in one of them.
Incidentally, this is probably the longest posting in the history of blogging. It contains over 130 photos (I lost count) and five videos. You might question the wisdom of posting this many pictures (here's one person's reaction). After all, I could create a slide show so that people who were really interested could click through the pictures. There are three reasons why I didn't:
First, I can't figure out Flickr.
Second, I want folks to click and scroll through all the pictures and videos so that they can see how people serve our country.
Third, if one parent, spouse, or child sees a loved one in the picture, it's enough reason to present the pictures this way. Thousands of people in the armed services are putting their lives at risk, so the least you can do is download five megabytes of images.
If you enjoyed this posting, you'll probably find Military.alltop. and Defense.alltop interesting too. When I'm not landing on aircraft carriers, I try to help people find the latest and greatest news about many topics--including the military.
The day started with a briefing in this building on Coronado Island in San Diego, California.
That door at the end of the hall is the commander's office.
First stop: a briefing about the Navy. This guy had interesting PowerPoint slides, to put it mildly.
Then it was on to the terminal at the Naval Air Station, North Island.
This is the person who took us through the orientation period.
A little pre-flight briefing to scare the shiitake out of you.
Then you suit up.
And you get into a C-2, affectionately called a COD (carrier onboard delivery).
This is a video of getting on the COD and getting to the ship. It's jerky, disorienting, and unsteady because getting to an aircraft carrier by COD is a jerky, disorienting, and unsteady process. I don't have a video of the moment that we landed because I choked. (Shot with a Flip Mino)
However, this is what a COD landing looks like from the outside.
When you get off the COD, you enter another world. It's like you're a caterpillar, and someone drops you in the middle of a beehive--sort of like the movie Bug's Life. Click here to read a description of the organizational requirements of a carrier (thanks JCD)
The colors depict what type of function the person serves. For example, green shirts hook aircraft to catapults and handle arresting wires; yellow shirts direct the movement of aircraft, red shirts handle weapons and ammunition; and white shirts handle safety related jobs.
The ship is named after Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi. He served in the Senate from 1947 to 1988. The length of the flight deck is 1,092 feet; the total area of the flight deck is 4.5 acres. The height from keel to mast is 244 feet. The displacement is 97,000 tons. When the ship is fully loaded for combat, there are approximately 5,000 people on it. Its nuclear reactors can drive it one million miles before they require replacement.
My favorite part of the history of the Stennis is that the ship's mantra is two words long: "Look ahead."
This is the area for "distinguished visitors" area.
This is a room for two visitors. I once stayed overnight in a World War II submarine, and it wasn't nearly as nice. (This was after WWII, and I was an American.)
There were even mints on the pillow. That's the good news. Here's the bad news: the room is right under the catapults that launch planes. To get an idea of the noise level, turn your speaker on to the highest level and then play this MP3. These launches happened every few minutes until the wee hours of the morning.
Shower user interface on an aircraft carrier. Not bad.
This is the Admiral Mark A. Vance's chair. He is the commander of Carrier Strike Group Three.
This is the view you get sitting in the admiral's chair.
This guy runs the air operations. You've got to love how the Navy names positions.
The top part of this table depicts the planes and equipment on the deck. The bottom part depicts what's happening in the hangar below.
This is the carrier air traffic control center.
This is the sign to enter Vulture's Row. It provides a great view of the deck.
This is what you can see from Vulture's Row. (Shot with a Nikon D90 using a SanDisk Extreme III SD card.)
The fact that these planes can land in about 300 feet is mind boggling.
The wire is about six inches off the ground.
This will give you an idea of how big the wire is.
Down in the ship the wire goes to this room. Here is a teenager who is controlling the lives of pilots and $30 million airplanes. The only thing that's more impressive than the hardware on the ship is the software--that is, the crew of young, talented, and dedicated people.
The wires go through this gizmo.
This is a video of what it's like when a plane catches the wire. (Shot with a Nikon D90 using a SanDisk Extreme III SD card.)
This is how close you can get to a landing. Don't try this at home. (Shot with a Nikon D90 using a SanDisk Extreme III SD card.)
At least one helicopter circles the ship while planes are taking off and landing in case a plane goes overboard.
After a while, the smell of jet fuel gets mildly exciting. You definitely know that there's action when you smell it.
This is the "meatball." Pilots line up with these lights to figure out if they are coming in at the right angle and height to land. Here's an explanation of the landing process.
There are these little control rooms for two on the runway where "shooters" sit.
This woman is a shooter. I think shooters control how much force the catapult provides.
This is a fireman.
I don't know what these folks were doing--perhaps some kind of management offsite.
Brown shirts means they are plane captains. That is, they are responsible for individual aircraft.
This is a picture of my Breitling Emergency watch. I took this picture because Breitling watches are made for pilots, so I thought my buddies at Breitling USA would enjoy it.
The ship has a mall on it.
Where you can buy stuff like this.
Only ten people are allowed in the store so these folks had to wait outside.
You don't see signs like this very often in hotels.
This is the coolest plane I've ever seen: EA-18G Growler.
You've got to love the call signs. I was told that call signs like "Maverick" and "Iceman" are strictly Hollywood. More likely, a pilot's call sign is something derogatory like "Butthead."
I think this is part of the emergency firefighting crew.
Lt. Commander Ed Fox flew this F/A-18C and shot down a MIG 21 in Iraq in 1991.
This is the ship's chapel.
This is the very articulate Chaplain LT Martie Johnson, Jr. Listen as he explains the difference between a chaplain and a chaplain assistant. (Shot with a Nikon D90 using a SanDisk Extreme III SD card.)
This is the ship's library.
This is where my books should have been. Perhaps people had borrowed them all.
This is an Internet café. Performance seemed to be in the 500K/second range.
Of course, I showed her Alltop. An evangelist never rests.
Some of the mess staff. These women were recent high-school graduates. The ship serves approximately 18,600 meals per day.
The food was far better than I expected.
More folks from the mess staff. The chef on the left is from Hawaii.
Even the tables stand at attention.
This is the ship's bakery.
This was some kind of meeting outside the mess area.
Looking out from the rear of the ship.
This is the control room for testing jet engines on the stern of the ship.
This is where the engines are repaired.
This is how a jet engine is packed. It would make a great unboxing video.
This is a spool of nylon rope that's used to tow targets for planes to practice shooting.
Check out this "Read me!"
This is the original bar that the traditional bottle of champagne was broken on when the Stennis was christened.
There's a little museum that commemorates Senator John C. Stennis. These tiles are from the U.S. Senate--apparently the British gave these tiles to the U. S. after the Revolutionary War.
This is a U.S. flag that was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attack.
This is one end of the anchor system. The anchors weigh thirty tons each.
This is the other end.
This is the middle. It is one of the cleanest rooms I've been in--to think that this is where the anchor chain terminates. Each link weighs 360 pounds.
A line for random drug testing. Everyone gets tested for drugs from the captain right on down.
These guys manage the ammunition on the ship where ammunition is defined as bombs, missiles, and bullets.
To get to an ammo room, you go down these steep stairs.
And you enter a room full of "hardware."
You might wonder how the ammo is moved around the ship. The crew uses these elevators.
This is inside the elevator looking up.
The ammo team gave us a very unusual souvenir: the tags from bombs and missiles that are removed just prior to take off. The back of mine says, "West Pac 2007 Weapons G3 USS John C. Stennis CVN-74," which means a plane dropped the weapon on Afghanistan.
This is the X-ray room of the ship's hospital.
One of the treatment rooms.
Inside the ward. Note that the space is for rehabilitation as well as sleeping.
This is the chief dental officer of the ship.
Her "practice" has seven chairs.
These guys run the RIM-7 sea sparrow missile system.
This is the back end of the system. These covers are blown off when the missiles fire.
This is the front end of the system.
This clumsy looking thing is a Phalanx close-in weapon system. It's used to shoot down anti-ship missiles.
This is the business end of the gun. You never want to see it pointed at you. It can fire 4,500 twenty-millimeter rounds per minute.
The Combat Direction Center manages combat operations for the carrier and its air wing, communication throughout the rest of the strike group, and defense of the ship.
This is the ship's captain, Joseph Kuzmick, receiving a picture sent by the Governator.
A group shot with Captain Kuzmick.
This is Commander David L. Burnham, the ship's executive officer.
This is Command Master Chief Joseph L. Powers. This means he is the primary liaison between the officers and the enlisted sailors. This translates to "biggest bad ass on the boat."
Our host for the visit, the ship's public affairs officer.
These two fun people gave us much of the tour.
Along with this fine gentleman.
This is what it's like to take off from the outside. (Shot with a Nikon D90 using a SanDisk Extreme III SD card.)
And this is from the inside. You don't get nearly the sense of shock and speed of catapulting from 0 to 150 mph in two seconds from this video. Trust me, it's a rush. (Shot with a Flip Mino)
Baggage handling after we landed. "Hey sailor, there's a Macbook Air in that bag!"
What a perfect, TopGun-esque ending: there was a Ducati parked in front of the terminal building. I would have cried if there were nothing but Priuses there.
This is Dennis Hall. He is the director of employer events for the Department of Defense committee of Northern California, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. He manages the program and is the person who made this adventure for me.
Thanks to the folks at Fixmyphotos for enhancing these photos. The equipment I used includes a Nikon D90, Flip Mino, and SanDisk Extreme III SD card. If you enjoyed this posting, you'll probably love the PBS documentary called "Carrier."