When I first started IT Consulting in August 1999 I encouraged clients to keep dynamic content on websites to drive traffic. I tried to follow my own advice by writing daily journal entries until 2002. Over time my "blog" entries became less frequent collection of thoughts while traveling as an SAP Consultant.
Thursday, 19th of May, 2022
Good For: Yoga, meet X1. I have been using Thinkpad Yogas as my primary machine for over 6 years now. This year, our IT department has switched us to the higher end X1 version of the Yoga form factor. The X1 difference is immediately noticeable, with a higher definition 14" touch screen that runs much closer to the edge, offering more screen space without increasing the unit's overall size. I've never enjoyed watching videos on a laptop this much. Thinkpads have had a high standard of durability over the years, and I anticipate that the newer aluminum housing found in the X1 will continue that tradition, but with a more premium feeling to it.
Compromises: The built-in SD card reader has been removed in the X1, but the cheaper X13 Yoga still has it. This is relatively insignificant compared to the other X1 upgrades, however. The Insert key has been re-inserted into the keyboard, but this is a chanage that I've dealt with before.
Overall reaction - Two thumbs Up: Lenovo has done a good job of keeping the Yoga updated. Many of the improvements over the old Yoga 260 this replaces are shared across the entire Yoga line, such as the physical camera shutter and the USB-C power adapter. The speakers have great stereo projection, and are noticeably louder and should handle noisy environments better, but they still have the narrow response range that you find in almost all laptops.
Good For: Small empty box on wheels. Compared to a passenger car, the function of a cargo van lies not with what has, but what it doesn't have. Mechanically the drivetrain and two seats up front resemble a normal car, but behind the seats everything has been stripped out to a hollow box of empty space. There are no windows, sound deadening, or carpeting. The NV200 is a narrow city vehicle, but the cargo area extends almost 7 feet long. The car chassis has a low floor, so you can pile quite a bit of stuff into it from floor to ceiling. Hooks are built into the exposed, bare metal chassis, allowing you to strap things down. I didn't fully appreciate how tall this van is until I started backing it into the garage, and found myself getting out to double-check that it would clear the garage door. It's sits almost as tall as full-size SUVs. But the cargo doors swing out, which work well in tight spaces, and you don't have worry about the hatch colliding with garage doors.
Compromises: Despite being a purpose-built work vehicle, the NV200 seems to lack consideration that a person might spend all day working out of it. While the Ford Transit Connect has the thoughtful overhead storage area, the NV200's storage slots are few and slim, and the overall driving experience resembles a base Versa. Seat comfort is austere, and while the standard audio system has USB ports, the speakers have poorer range than my 24 year old truck.
Overall reaction - Thumb down: Compact van heaven would be a useful mix of big cargo capacity with the civility of a car-like driving experience, serving the function of a super versatile wagon. Vans like the Ford Transit Connect seem to nail this. But the NV200 messed up the recipe, and feels like a 7/8th scale alley van missing any car features that make it tolerable as a daily driver.
Good For: Outback Impreza. When Subaru started the "Crossover" trend in the 1990s with the Outback, they didn't just do it with the Legacy wagon. They also offered an Outback "Sport" which shared the body of the smaller Impreza, rather than the Legacy. Today, that offering is the Crosstrek, which shares the same body dimensions as an Impreza, but the packaging is now a bit more exclusive than just the cosmetic upgrades that we got 25 years ago. The Crosstrek itself now has its own pallete of trims, with the very fancy Hybrid Touring at the top, which is the one I drove. In addition to all the nice things like leather, sunroof, and navigation, it has the distinction of being the only Subaru offered with a hybrid powertrain. In the first generation Crosstrek the hybrid is a mild "parallel" system that gains extra efficiency in city driving with regenerative braking and shutting off the gasoline engine at traffic lights. The newer, current generaton hybrid advances into plug-in charging capabilities and sustained electric-mode driving.
Compromises: The crossover market boomed, and like the Outback, Subaru marketing spun the Crosstrek off as a separate model, where it outsells the Impreza by at least 2:1. But between these two 5-doors that share the same dimensions, I'll just take the Impreza with the 5-speed manual in Sport trim.
Overall reaction - Thumb up: Among Subaru's current offerings, the Impreza platform is the one that feels most like the fun, rally-inspired cars that I've grown to love in the brand. The Crosstrek doesn't have all the turbo rally equipment that the STi does, but the spirit of the Impreza's size and handling can be felt while driving the Crosstrek. The mild suspension lift over the Impreza is true to the original spirit of the crossover, applying some of that rally heritage towards practical utility for when you want to do a little exploring off of pavement. The Outback Sport lives on, in the form of the Crosstrek.
Nissan Pathfinder (4th generation R52)
Good For: Crossing paths with minivans. Nissan has historically done a fairly good job of not confusing the SUV with the crossover, giving us solid truck-based off-road offerings like the Xterra and Pathfinder, while the Murano and Rogue were created for those that wanted a more car-like driving experience. However, for the 4th generation, the Pathfinder took a turn off of the 4x4 route and was redesigned as a unibody crossover. The advantages of this path for growing families are obvious when you get inside, as the low floor provides a lot more room on the inside for all 3 rows, and it generally feels like sitting in a minivan. The front-wheel-drive-based CVT drivetrain is also impressively efficient for such a large vehicle, beating out minivans, while retaining the solid sounding VQ35 V6. It is no wonder that the Quest was discontinued, as the Pathfinder is a clear replacement for it.
Compromises: By turning the mid-sized 3-row SUV into a minivan, Nissan has joined other manufacturers in forcing those that want a true 4x4 into their larger, more expensive offering, the Armada. But the market is now trending back towards rugged SUVs, and while the new 2022 Pathfinder has squared off styling, underneath it is still this same crossover that I drove.
Overall reaction - Thumb down to Nissan for essentially killing off their 4x4 offerings, and turning the Pathfinder into a minivan.
Monday, 5th of July, 2021
Thursday, 1st of July, 2021
Friday, 11th of June, 2021
Monday, 4th of January, 2021
Tuesday, 15th of December, 2020
Saturday, 12th of December, 2020
Tuesday, 15th of September, 2020
I used to have a preference for San Antonio because you can walk right in from the covered intermediate parking garage, and having 2 separate terminals gave it less of a “big airport” feel while still serving the same destinations. Austin just completed a nice new daily/intermediate parking garage, so both airports have that perk now, plus AUS rental car facilities are on site vs the off site shuttle ride for SAT.
Over the last 10 years AUS has built up a lot more destinations and increased frequency of flights - it used to be not such a difference from SAT. SAT also used to be generally cheaper, but because of the expansion at AUS with new carriers the competition has really driven down prices as they jockey for certain routes.
Based on price and schedule I usually fly out of AUS now. Also, the fuller flight schedule is an advantage if you encounter delays or cancellations, because it gives you more alternative flight options. Once my SAT morning flight got cancelled and everyone got rebooked for the next day because that was the only flight of the day. Before Covid-19 changes, AUS was on track to be like the best airport ever. I loved the direct flight to London.
Tuesday, 8th of September, 2020
Sunday, 6th of September, 2020
Friday, 4th of September, 2020
Thursday, 3rd of September, 2020
Wednesday, 2nd of September, 2020
Tuesday, 1st of September, 2020
Youtube Video - We took the fast track north through Fort Worth - Chisholm Trail Parkway to the I-35W express lane. A bunch of UP locomotives are still sitting in a line at the rail yard.
Friday, 17th of July, 2020
Tuesday, 10th of December, 2019
Monday, 9th of December, 2019
Sunday, 8th of December, 2019
Saturday, 7th of December, 2019