RSS Feed Now Live

On this wonderful Thanksgiving day, dcmini has now gone live with its own RSS feed. Feel free to link us up and get live updates. Courtesy of feedburner

for both the RSS and non RSS capable:

And to all, have a great holiday.

UPDATE: I have deleted the previous link because it seems that was only for RSS Safari web browsers and would do funny things then clicked using a older version of Safari. Sorry about that. The other link should work fine, otherwise use what ever other method you like to access the live feeds. Foxfire has a nice way for the RSS feeds to display in the side bar.

p.s. Being a non work day, I've been busy clearing out my draft posts. In case you missed them here are the links:
Rubber Mats
New Mini Accessories


Rubber Mats

My dealer had a service clinic a couple of weeks ago and I was invited by my SA to come and tour the tech shop. It was very cool to see where the minis are worked on and actually meet some of the technicians. I actually took a look at the underside of a mini as it was raised up on the lift. They pointed out where the stock front sway bar and oil filter were located which I kinda knew but had never seen it from that perspective. Over all it was a great time.

Anyways, at the end of the clinic, I decided to pick up the mini cooper rubber mats with the mini logo on them. Just in time for any winter debris, this should prove to be a very smart move.

I actually went back and forth over what rubber mats to get, the "S" mats or the "mini logo" mats. In the end I chose the "mini logo" mats for a more classy and subdued look. The "S" mats, I think, were too sporty for my liking. But other than that, they look really cool and I almost took those with me.

So for while now mini dee smells like a new pair of sneakers. Its great to sit in and just soak in that new smell. But what I did notice is that these mats do attract and display the slightest little amount of dirt. The carpet mats I have seemed to hide this very well so once winter is well off, the carpet mats will come back.

We have not had a major winter snow yet and I plan not to drive mini dee in the snow but just in case, the rubber mats are highly recommended and look and smell great.

FYI, the difference between the second and third image was just the flash of the camera. Having the flash on really zeros in on how much dirt there is but the second picture is more realistic... I though I'd include both images just to compare.

The rubber mats are available from outmotoring.com or at your local dealer parts counter. I just bought the front mats because no one goes in the back seat anyways.


New Mini Accessories

I have not received the official 2006 accessories brochure yet but sifting through miniUSA, there are a couple of new items that caught my eye... For the wrong reason I might add. Needly to say these are two options I will not be adding to mini dee.

The first was the bluetooth phone integration kit that takes advantage of those two buttons on my steering wheel.
The perfect marriage of mobile phone and MINI. Send and end calls with the multi-function Steering Wheel controls. Check caller ID and phone entries on your BMW stereo system display. Use voice-recognition dialing. And integrate your phone into your center armrest with a custom docking cradle that charges your phone and connects to an external phone antenna for enhanced reception. (Vehicle must be outfitted with armrest if not already equipped).
This item fits years: 2003 – 2006.
Separate Snap-In Adapter required for retrofit

Sounds good, right?.. well if you had $1250 to throw away... oh and don't for get the $250 arm rest if you don't have it. I actually passed on this option when I ordered mini dee. MiniUSA just started offering it for March builds back earlier this year, so when I specced mine out, there was not a demo to be seen with the armrest. If fact, I did go to the Chicago auto show just to check it out back in February and found it to be rather flimsy and cheap. So I opted not to add it.... anyways.

In addition to all of that, there is the "snap in" phone holder that is within the armrest...Add another $125! That brings us to a whopping $1625! Andd that with just parts. There's another three hours minimum of labor which could bring the total cost to about $2000! Ouch. Buyer beware, bluetooth earpieces are just about $50.

The second item that caughtt my eye was the 'power modul' speaker upgrade. Basically, it just swaps out the existing speakers for some a bit better..Which is good but again the cost is $1650 which, if you go with aftermarket speakers, could get you an entire quality system installed.

Designed for the MINI, this hi-fi system delivers unparalleled power, sound quality and style, courtesy of a Class-D digital amplifier, liquid-cooled tweeters, a 160mm front woofer, and 6x9 rear coaxial speakers.
Item # 82 83 0 392 52

Again buyer beware. Mini is a premium car but its not supposed to be completely out of reach for a great majority of mini owners.


MPG Widget

There's a new widget available for your mac os 10.4 as a free download from the apple website. Its already made it to the top downloads list so its seems that mpg is on the minds of a lot of people. It seems to calculate other data like cost per month and cost per year but given the fluctuating price of gas, that seems to be a bit unnecessary. And given that you just document the miles traveled per fill up, then mpg is easy to figure out. What would be nice is to figure out the actual cost per month/year but a quick glance at my credit card bill would do that. But these widgets are cool anyways...

Here's a quote describing the application:

Finally....The world seems to be taking notice of the waste of precious natural resources. How can you keep track? With this, the Miles Per Gallon widget!

My MINI Cooper gets an average of about 34 mpg.....How does your car fare? With this widget, you can calculate how many gallons of gas your car uses.

I calculated my mpg the old fashioned way back when I took the trip to the dells then again when I went to visit my girlfriend in Kentucky. I averaged 35 mpg for highway.



Surfin' the Web

I have done some snooping around and I have listed some other mini blogs of notable interest. Be sure to check them out as its a lot of fun to read about other mini owners and what they are up to.

Some blogs I visit a lot are gbmini.net and mdsbrain.com because they also have MCSa's.

If you have a blog or know of a good one and would like it to be added to my list, just click be added and send me your link.


I Gotta Wave More!

I have noticed that of the handful of minis that I pass on the road, many don't particularly make an outstanding effort to give a nod or wave in another mini's direction. I am guilty of this myself, but in my defense I usually am focused on the road ahead and not on oncoming traffic. If I come across a mini traveling my way, I am sure to throw a huge wave at them. And I am getting better at spoting minis from a distance.

On my trip to Kentucky I came across five minis traveling in the opposite direction and one mini traveling in my direction. There might have been more that I didn't notice due to the extra wide interstate and such distractions as fluffy clouds and vibrantly colored trees. Of the ones I did notice, I was sure to throw a big wave in there direction.... And I only got two waves back!

I saw two red/white copper and no wave.... an indi blue/black cooper and no wave... a yellow/white cooper and no wave... Of the six coopers I saw, the two that waved back were both pepper white/black cooper s'. The first was traveling in Kentucky on I-24 in the opposite direction when I was headed down to visit . Being a major divided highway, the other cooper went out of his way to wave and flash his lights. The gesture put a huge smile on my face.

The second one was on my way home, somewhere in Iroquois county in Illinois, and a pepper white/black cooper s pulled onto the on ramp when I was passing under the overpass. I continued to cruise at the same speed but I spotted him in my rearview mirror not too much later. He eased up on my left side and gave a huge flap of the arm, to which I returned a happy wave. He then zoomed passed but I certainly enjoyed the camaraderie of coopers on the open road.

So, the pepper white/black coopers certainly got their waving down. But I try to do my part and give the dark silver/black coopers a good name and wave as much as I can. I guess I gotta wave more often and keep a keen eye out for others as well.

happy motoring!


AUX Input Issue

I did some quick internet searching for known issues about the aux input, that is available as an accessory from the dealer. I did find some threads describing a similar problem with having the aux input temporarily ceasing function.

My Setup:
I currently have the aux input that I was so inclined to install myself. The install is as easy as it gets, just plug it in the back of the head unit and that's it. Anyways, with the aux input, I typically use my third generation ipod. I keep the volume set at about 80 percent and the aux input level at positive 3. This setting is made on the head unit itself once the aux input is plugged in. Every once in a while, I charge my ipod with belkin ipod car charger or the griffin power pod. My set up is not very complicated and it get the job done. I am very happy with the sound quality and its relatively inexpensive.

The Problem:
Apparently the power going into the ipod via the car charger is a bit too much at times. In fact after the 7 hour drive to KYI pretty much tried every possible culprit it definitely is the charger that charges the ipod. It only happens when the ipod is being charged and it has more than about 30 percent charge. The reason I say that is because when I had a fully charged ipod, not connected to a car charger, the aux input worked flawlessly. As soon as I connected the charger it would cut out and the aux option on the head unit would not appear temporarily. I then tried it with a completely drained ipod that was connected to the car charger and the aux would work fine for about 40 minutes. Then it would give out again.

My Guess:
I'm no electrical engineer but my mind tends to seek a logical cause to a given problem. Given the results of the numerous little tests I conducted over the long road trip, my conclusion is that the ipod, after being charged from the battery being dead to about 30 percent, can no longer absorb enough current and therefore spits out the excess out the audio jack. It seemed to be consistent when I would play certain tracks with the battery fully charged and the car charger connected that the aux would cut out. And later with the ipod recently drained and connected to the charger, the aux would work fine while playing those same tracks.

The Solution:
According to the threads the solution is adding a grounding loop, readily available at radioshack. I will give that a try and let you know how that works. It is certainly annoying that I cannot charge my ipod to full capacity without the aux cutting out. But at least there is a good solution already known.

The aux input is available from outmotoring.com


Doin' a lil tinkerin'

Judging by the title of this entry, it seems I've spent a little too much time in 'Tucky. I hope it wears off soon. Anyways, I've been messing with the color schemes of the blog, so bear with me as I pretty much am learning as I go. I think I like the monochormatic look. After all, mini dee is dark silver w/a black top and I think it matches better than the magenta I had before.


Home on the Range

While I was out in Kentucky, it was rather hard to find something interesting to do. After all there is not as much man made amusement as there is here in Chicago. So after a short time we thought what better thing to do than enjoy the natural environment and take in the local wildlife... This time I don't mean the people but actual wild animals.

One of Katie's friends at college (who was a pleasure to have met) has this healthy preoccupation with buffalos. In fact, it's a rather fully developed obsession, complete with posters on the wall, plush bison on her bed and various other buffalo paraphernalia. And being such a nice person that she is, everyone decided to treat her and take her out to the local bison/elk range... As a surprise.

So we all hopped in the car for the short drive to the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) and headed to the bison range. And boy did we see a lot of bison. I guess there had to be at least forty of these giant animals. It was quite a sight. Katie's friend was utterly shocked as well. She said the last time she went to the range, all she saw was elk and no bison. This time there was a ton of bison, but no elk. That's ok because they had one stuffed at the visitor's center.

The range itself was basically just a 3 mile paved road that went through a natural preserve that was home to both a number of elk and a large heard of buffalo. Although, there was no elk to be seen, the buffalo were out in the open and easily spotted at the beginning of the trail. They were fairly close to the paved trail, grazing along, but the real close up views were to be had just outside the fencing that kept the bison in. So we thought we might get a closer look, get out of the car and steal a quick picture or two. Well, it didn't take long for the LBL ranger to heed us a warning not to get too close, because the bison have been know to charge through the rather inadequate fencing. We certainly did not want to go head to head with these animals so we snapped our pictures from where we were and headed on our way.

And what a great time of the year to enjoy seeing these animals. Most of the leaves had turned, which made for a rather impressive landscape and the weather was perfect, a 70 degree autumn day.


Goin' South

Back in October, I had the opportunity to take mini dee on a trip to the dells, which was the first time I had taken her for a long drive. But I did not get a chance to fully document the important details of how mini dee handled the long trip. Other than the semi frequent ride into Chicago, mini dee has not had many chances to test her endurance for the long haul... Until this weekend!

My girlfriend is currently going to college in Kentucky (don't ask why because I am not sure either) and I was planning to go visit her and to see how she lives it that tiny little dorm of hers. I requested Friday and Monday off from work so that we could spend the better part of the weekend together. And knowing that she would be swamped with homework, I used the down-time start writing this up and gather some details about the drive down.

Right of the bat, this is probably the best statistic that most people care about for those long drives. I did attempt to calculate the mpg to the trip to the dells, but I estimated that I did about 30 mpg with my top speed cruising just below 70 mph. On this trip, I attempted to go a bit faster, hovering at about 74 mph, to see if my mpg would be dramatically less. Well, big surprise, it did. On the way down, the OBC registered 28.3 mpg and at the pump I calculated 28.05 mpg.

This trip would ultimately tack on at least a thousand miles to the odometer so I was careful to keep track over every mile. On the way down I had to stop for gas once, having driven only 311 miles and needing a fill-up to make it the rest of the way. So on the way back home, I decided I would try to make it on one tank. That's 429 miles from gas station to gas station. This time I just reduced my cruising speed from 74 mph down to 69 mph. And what a difference! After the entire trip, the OBC registered 35.1 mpg and I calculated 35.06 mpg.

On Board Computer Accuracy:
I was concerned a bit that the on board computer (OBC) would spit out some numbers that were not at all too accurate. After reading some commentaries on the subject, it seemed that the OBC was not as reliable as the good ole fashion gas receipt and trip meter. Just to be safe, documented both what the OBC stated and my calculations at the pump. And to my surprise these figures were right on target with each other. The average mpg was within .2 mpg which is certainly acceptable for my standards.
Since I have had the car, I usually keep the digital readout at the tachometer set to the current speed, eventhough I have the very large analog speedometer in the middle of my dash. And the readout between the two sources have always been right on. I am happy to say the average mpg readout is very accurate as well.
As for the other readouts of the OBC, in my mind, they are simply for novelty. I have no way to test their accuracy but its is nice to see the average speed, range, and continuous readouts for mpg. But using this info seems to be primarily for show and not for accurate readouts. After all I have driven quite a distance with my range number at zero... Although I do not recommend it due to the high stress it evokes.

The Next Day:
After seven hours for constant driving and about an hour of local driving, mini dee needed her rest. There was quite a collection of road bugs that were sacrificed as well. So I let her rest over night. The next day while in Kentucky, I turned the ignition and she gave a little sputter. I think it has to do with the fact that I have the two 10" subwofers in the boot and having the music blasting for so long might have taken its toll on the battery. But the next time I turned her on, she was fine. Even when I got home, after the 8 hour trip back, I let her sit overnight, the next day she was ready to go, no sputtering.

The Locals:
It didn't take long to get a feel of what daily life was like in Kentucky. Being from the Chicago area, it was rather odd to see a number of buggies, dirt bikes and atv's roaming the streets as regular transport vehicles. There was also an overwhelming number of pick up trucks, with the token farm dog in the bed.

And being smack dab in the middle of the bible belt, cars like this were all too common. This purple el camino (Spanish for 'the road') was particularly depressing. It had the obnoxious windshield decals spelling out 'plum crazy' in the front and a Chevy logo with a cross in the back. I wouldn't be surprised if a purple clad bible would be found in the glove box. And of course, this guy lives in the same building as my girlfriend. But you gotta love the south and all their deep fried goodness. :-)


I've Been Spending Time with Mini Dee

Please excuse my absence. I have been away on a rather long weekend on the road with mini dee. I will prepare a full write up shortly. I went out to Kentucky, visiting my girlfrend at college.... Boy I miss college life. I had a blast spending the better part of four days living in the girls dorms. That was awesome.