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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Irregular update 

So I haven't been posting enough here, partly owing to my yeoman work at Metroblogging Vancouver and partly because I have been busy with projects.

Right now, just for fun, I'm keeping secrets. Maybe you'll get to hear some of them later, maybe not.

Here's a good one: if I had recently learned of a tool that made my ability to search obscure eBay auctions much more effective, should I share it?

The answer is no. So there's one secret for you (though it's not much of a secret if you read digg.

Oh, here's a nice non-secret project:
VAG-COM at work

What you're seeing is The Lovely One's laptop connected to The Good Thing, our occasionally evil New Beetle. I'm using a cable bought online to read the trouble codes off the car. This was cheaper than getting the dealership to do the same thing. Problem is with my secondary air injection system, an annoying emissions component. Guess I'd better fix that.

Oh, and here's something bugging the azelea in our front yard:
flowerfly
insecting it, really. But then it will fly away.

Comments:
When I saw that laptop sitting in the car, I thought you were undertaking PC Mag's homebrew wired car project. It's actually pretty spiffy. If I owned a car and needed to work on the road a lot (and let's hope neither is necessary), I'd definitely consider it.
 
Do you have a link to that project? Sounds fun.

I don't think the car is likely to get any more wired, but I did buy an inverter so I could power the laptop (the battery on this 2-year-old unit is rather short of breath nowadays). Maybe that means I should borrow my brother's ScreenPad and play video games in the car. That would be a great use of technology.
 
I saw it in the paper version first, but this is the story.
 
A vag-com?!?! Man, i've been wanting one of those for years but the inability to run the program on a mac has kept me sidelined. On that same subject, would you have any leads on older cheap laptops that I could purchase perhaps for this particular diagnozing purpose? Would also come in handy if I ever decide to go through with my power-tapping aspirations.

Cheers,

Jonny
 
Jonny: there is actually a company that makes Mac software for the Polar. At $40 it could be cheaper, but there is a free demo.

Regarding laptops, Ross Tech's software is very lightweight. If you go for the serial-port cable, it will work on laptops so old that they're essentially free. (100 MHz Win95 machines). Even the USB cable works on a 500 MHz xp machine, and that is pretty close to free, too.

There's a fair chance that Virtual PC could help here, too.

The cable is fairly fun, because it's semi-universal. Although VAG-COM is optimized for VWs and Audis, and it speaks their special protocols, the OBD II connector is standard, and in theory this system will pick up OBD II codes from any vehicle.
 
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