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Off On A Tangent

Steve Garfield's weblog on pop culture, wine, beer, travel, food, politics, golf, cars and technology as seen in TIME, BusinessWeek and the New York Times.

Last Build Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2017 11:55:15 +0000


Mercedes-Benz connects to Amazon Echo: Alexa, ask Mercedes me to start the car.

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 13:05:00 +0000

Image: Alexa Mercedes Me Skill Page

Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa

This is cool, Mercedes-Benz just added an Amazon Echo skill to connect to your car, via mbrace.

Steps to connect your Mercedes (2016 and newer) to Amazon Alexa

1. Enable the Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa skill.
2. Connect the Amazon Alexa skill to Mercedes mbrace.

Image: Mercedes me iPhone App screen

Alexa Mercedes Me Skill Description
With Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa, you can access your Mercedes-Benz from the comfort of your couch. In order to effectively use the Mercedes me skill, you will need an active Mercedes me account and an active mbrace subscription.*

The Mercedes me skill allows you to:

Remotely lock the doors
Remotely start your engine**
Send an address or point of interest to your in-vehicle navigation
Manage multiple vehicles

After linking your Mercedes me account to the Mercedes me skill, you can ask questions or give commands, such as:

"Alexa, tell Mercedes me to lock the car."
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to start the car." **
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to send an address to the car."
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to find Starcoffee near me."
"Alexa, tell Mercedes me to update my primary car."

* Select mbrace services are free for five years with any new Mercedes-Benz.
** Available on select 2016 and newer model lines. Check with dealer for details. Features subject to network coverage.

Please note:
• The Mercedes me skill on Alexa currently only supports users in the United States;
• The Mercedes me skill on Alexa will send remote service commands to your vehicle, but will not currently confirm the completion of those commands. However, in the case of remote start, you will receive a remote start status text message to the phone number that is linked to your mbrace account. If you update your phone number linked to mbrace, you will also be required to update your primary car in Mercedes me in order to continue receiving text messages;
• You can manage multiple cars within Mercedes me. However, you can only operate one car at a time via Alexa i.e. the primary car that you set via the Mercedes me skill. In order to change/update your primary car, simply say "Alexa, ask Mercedes me to update my primary car.";
• For Mercedes me customer support, call +1 800-367-6372

A Weekend in Cleveland

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 20:06:00 +0000

Here's a fun itinerary for visiting Cleveland and seeing all the highlights. Here goes! A post shared by Steve Garfield (@stevegarfield) on Oct 9, 2016 at 6:54am PDT Alternatives Google WiFi System. style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//®ion=US&placement=B01MAW2294&asins=B01MAW2294&linkId=009f7efd5a1f8e5bdef6089a0ae65b50&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true"> Netgear Orbi. style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//®ion=US&placement=B01N76QTYB&asins=B01N76QTYB&linkId=4137e52cf44a043218d72ed891dd7436&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true"> Disclosure: I received eero WiFi system with TrueMesh for free in return for my honest opinion. This review reflects my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experience. UPDATE: I gave this eero system to my cousin who was experiencing weak signals in parts of his house. Here's his report. "Had some weaker areas that weren't totally dead but they're regular speed now." Speed test: [...]

Natalie Gelman | The Lion | Official Music Video

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 20:26:00 +0000

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2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 with Apple CarPlay

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 15:06:00 +0000

My Mercedes-Benz Dealership, Mercedes-Benz of Burlington, gives out loaner cars when you get your car serviced. I asked for an E300, while my C300 was in for it's B service. I got a 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300. What a sweet car. It's a little bigger than my C300 and does away with the semi-floating 8.4-inch screen, replacing it with an inline 12.3-inch high-resolution central display. Display The 2017 E300 also has a USB plug in the cupholder section. After I plugged my iPhone 7 Plus in, the car detected it and asked me if I wanted to connect to Apple CarPlay. "A new Apple CarPlay device has been connected." I accepted "Automatically" and the CarPlay display came up. It's impressive.  The colors are vibrant and details are very pronounced. I saw Pandora on there, so I scrolled over to it using the COMAND system with touchpad controller. It was easy to scroll around my artists. I selected Paul McCartney & Wings. Next, I selected Maps, and chose to browse local shopping, and my supermarket came right up, so I selected it, and navigation led me there. The final thing I'd like to share is the 64-color LED ambient lighting. This was fun to play with and decide on a color. A network of LEDs can create not just a soothing ambience in the cabin, but one you can alter to suit your mood, or even create one. An incredible 64 selectable colors and adjustable brightness let the driver control the atmosphere like never before. Edge-lighting glows from beneath the "waveform" dash trim and door armrests, and from behind the instrumentation screen panel. Even the footwells, door handles and rear overhead assist grips are bathed in a soft glow. Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz of Burlington provided me with a 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 as a service loaner. I have a financial interest in Mercedes-Benz of Burlington. I was not asked to write anything about the car and was not provided any other compensation of any kind. All opinions I express regarding the Mercedes-Benz E300 are my own. [...]

PhotoScan from Google Can't Beat a Scanner

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 19:54:00 +0000

PhotoScan iOS and Android App for scanning photos, makes it easy to use your smart phone to scan in old photos, but it can't match the quality of a flatbed scanner.

Here's a test I did with an old wedding photo:



Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner (affiliate link) with Color Restoration

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The Shure Documenter MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:31:00 +0000

The Shure Documenter MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone joins the landscape of new microphones that utilize the iPhone Lightning connector providing a greater confidence that recordings will sound good, as opposed to using the headphone jack. In all my tests, the MV88 worked well, without any problems. As you add on external devices to help you record, you usually add in the possibility of technical failure. Not with the MV88. I was confident to use it each time. The sound quality was very good and I appreciated the ability to modify the direction of the audio capture depending on the environment. The app was easy to use. Here are the features of the mic, some video examples recorded directly to the camera and through Facebook Live, some of my suggestions for the next version, and some photos. Features• MFi certi ed compatible with all iOS devices equipped with a Lightning connector • Matched cardioid and bi-directional 1 cm cartridges for best-in-class audio • Mid-side architecture for a phase-perfect, clear stereo image • 5 DSP preset modes (Speech, Singing, Flat, Acoustic Instrument, Loud) • Automatically adjusts EQ, compression and limiting for optimal results • Innovative hinge/rotation design supports multiple recording angles, including video applications • All-metal construction engineered to withstand the most demanding recording conditions System Requirements iOS 7.0 and higher: iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus; iPod touch 5th generation; iPad 4th generation, iPad Air, iPad Air 2; iPad Mini 1st generation, iPad Mini 2nd generation, iPad Mini 3rd Generation ShurePlus™ MOTIV™ App Featuring: –24-bit/48 khz .wav (uncompressed) recording –Control over DSP mode selection, microphone gain, stereo width, raw mid-side adjustments, wind reduction, capsule selection, Left-Right Swap, 5-band EQ and compression/limiting Buy on (Affiliate Link): style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//®ion=US&placement=B010W6W8OW&asins=B010W6W8OW&linkId=f6cae450e9bdec5b03d6f2e3d43e32fe&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true"> Testing: iPhone 7 Plus Recording src="" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"> iPhone 7 Plus Facebook Live Stream of Christmas Car Tree Review ASSEMBLE src="" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"> INSTALL ON CAR ROOF src="" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"> A few notes that I would pass on to developers: 1. I would like the mic to be able to be adjustable 180 degrees. So it can both be pointed at an interviewee or the person recording. 2. OR All the microphone to twist so that the side pics work while in landscape mode, allowing both mics to work at the same time for interviewer and interviewee. 3. I’d like the mic to have a daisy chained lighting port on it so that I can plug in another lightning cord to power the phone while using the mic. 4. I’d like a longer lightning connector so [...]