Visiting the OnStar command center

Matt Kelly, who is working for PodTech doing the very cool NextGear channel for us (all about technology used in automobiles), has been writing me all evening after hearing I bought a Saturn telling me that his tour of the OnStar command center was the highlight of his week at the Detroit Auto Show. On that page is an interview with Chet Huber, OnStar’s president.

OnStar is a service started by General Motors that is being built into tons of cars in North America now. All I have to do is hit a little button on my mirror and I am talking with an operator, who can do a variety of things for me, including that she can send navigation directions to my car stereo.

This is a mondo cool service and I’m so jealous of Matt cause he got to see inside how they manage all these calls.

Google Reader behind?

Steve Bryant, over on Google Watch, says that Google Reader is behind, and is slower than, Bloglines.

Um, that’s like saying that personal computers were behind mainframes in 1977. Yes, they were, but that isn’t what matters.

Instead, look at the growth rates of both readers. Google’s growing a lot faster here.

Regarding speed? I use Google Reader with Firefox 2.0. It’s slower on IE. I wonder which browser Steve was using.

I read more than 29,000 items in the past 30 days with Google Reader. If it’s fast enough for me, it probably is fast enough for you. Not to mention that Google Reader lets me share RSS items with all of you on my link blog.

And, the keyboard shortcuts that Google Reader uses are wonderful. Some tips, for new Google Reader users. “J” key goes to next post. I can’t believe I’ve hit the J key 29,000 times in the past month. Whew. “K” goes backward. “Shift-S” shares an item on your link blog. “U” gets rid of the navigation stuff. Make sure in preferences to set Google Reader to read all items by default. That way when you visit http://reader.google.com all you’ll have to do is start hitting the “J” key to go through every new post that you’ve subscribed to.

What do you think? How does Google Reader stack up in your feed reading behavior?

Stowe’s right: kill the social media press release idea now

Stowe Boyd speaks out against social media press releases and other lame ideas. He’s right. I hate that idea too.  Just give us a damn demo of your product and tell us about it. That’s why I usually do two videos with companies: one’s an interview, usually about 30 minutes or so (sorry Loren, it’s long, but then if you want the facts about a new product, you gotta spend some time) and the other is a demo, hopefully about five minutes or so.

I really don’t get why society needs a stupid press release. Oh, OK, I guess we need to pre-write stories for bloggers and journalists since they can’t write their own opinions or reports down, right? Sigh.

Why not use a blog? I have no idea. Oh, I remember Jonathan Schwartz telling me that there’s government rules that says he has to send stuff to major newspapers in a press release done by one of the major press release firms. I should have asked him that on camera.

Space Wars start with Chinese killer satellite?

My dad used to build military satellites. One thing they were worried about was if the Russians would start throwing nukes up into space and blowing up stuff. Seriously. They worried about that stuff.

Well, now China has tested a satellite killer. Oh, great, they are gonna take down DirecTV right before the SuperBowl. Funny. Or is it scary? Think about how much of our lives depend on satellites.

Sigh. Anyone smell another trillion dollar military program starting up? I do.

I like trains too…

Rick Selby writes on his blog: “I like trains.” He better, he’s helping to build another version of Microsoft’s Train Simulator.

I remember first seeing Microsoft’s Train Simulator back in the late 1990s at a train show.

Maryam, tonight, was telling my dad and my step mom how I took her to Tehachapi Loop on the way to Las Vegas on the trip I asked her to marry me. “He was chasing trains,” she said.

Oh, give me a camera, and a train to catch.

By the way, I blame this on Steve Sloan, my former boss at San Jose State. He’s a far deeper train freak than I am.

It’ll be a load of fun hanging out with photo and train geeks on Sunday. Can’t wait.

And can’t wait to get the new Train Simulator. I thought the coolest thing was being able to put my own photos and logos on trains. Here’s one I did for Scripting News.

One thing I hope Microsoft lets me do is to run Train Simulator in a Window. If you’re really a simulator freak, you want to load up a big train and then head across country. That’s pretty boring as game play goes, but it sure makes killer eye candy. Put that up on Vista’s sidebar and watch everyone rave when they pass by your cube!