Obama Boosts Your Tab 58%



A Countryman in the City

Through some artful negotiations (and a lack of available cars), I was able to rent a Mini Countryman from Budget at the Detroit Metro Airport. I was excited as I learned to drive on the original Minis of the 1960’s and the last Mini I drove was several years ago. So here are my impressions.


A telltale sign of my rental experience was my first interaction with the car – where is the hatch release button in the car? After looking around a bit, I gave up and just used the trunk release button on the key fob which is a curious, circular affair. The trunk was a little bigger than I expected but don’t expect to take a crew of five on a long weekend jaunt without packing extremely light.


It was a little hard getting the proportions right when I sat in the seat until I learned the next day that there was a height adjustment that made the seating position better. But it still didn’t fix the compromise that the Mini shape imposed on trying to see traffic lights at an intersection. I often had to bend over just to see the lights.

Getting out onto the highway I thought that someone had pumped double the maximum air into the tires because the car wandered all over the lane. Turns out, it was just following the grooves in the highway. It seemed to settle down once the grooves ended. What didn’t end so quickly was the constant on/off personality of the engine/transmission pairing. I could easily cruise with traffic but slow down 10 mph and you had to floor the gas pedal and zing the engine just to crawl back up to traffic speed. Part of the problem was that the transmission was slow to downshift. And I didn’t want to be constantly having to row the automatic in sport mode. Ten minutes of this had me wishing for the Countryman S with the boosted engine and a manual transmission or anything else.

I was able to pair my iPhone 5S with the Mini but apparently this model didn’t allow music streaming. No problem, I’ll just plug into the available USB slot. Up popped a warning that the Apple cable was not supported. Hmm, is this car optioned so that it’s slightly behind the curve?

ImageThe HVAC controls were not the most intuitive but they followed the same curved arc theme that pervaded the car’s styling. So while I was looking for my next hotel I discovered a Sport switch on the console. I thought twice about the effect on ride if I stiffened the suspension on Michigan’s winter ravaged roads but my third thought flipped the switch.

Suddenly, I am driving a new car. Downshifts are quick and smooth. The vehicle accelerates smartly and I was able to attack some corners with enthusiastic enthusiasm. Cornering is flatter and it feels more nimble. And I’m pleasantly surprise that the ride doesn’t seem to have suffered at all.

ImageWould I buy this vehicle? No. The seat bottom cushion made me think that I would get numb butt after an hour (although it didn’t after 90 minutes of driving), the steering is still too twitchy and I just felt awkward driving it. And my bottom line question that I often ask when buying a car is “Would I drive this car halfway across the country?”

This is unlike my experience of driving a regular Mini a few years back where the sharp handling matched the lower seating position and car height, not to mention I find the Countryman’s headlight styling to be strange. Hopefully the refreshed Countryman that is forthcoming will fix some of those ills and update the electronics to better support our smartphones out of the gate.

However, I’m glad I rented this vehicle unlike the soul-less cars that too often populate rental car lots.

Open Guessing Season on Mac Office 2014

One Microsoft exec has already spilled the beans that a new Office for Mac is coming later this year. But no features were announced. Well I have a couple of guesses and wished based Microsoft OneNote and some of the moves that they have been making.

1. The new interface will look like One Note for Mac and more in line with Office 2013 for Windows (on that note, I wish OneNote could sync with Exchange instead of requiring an Office 365 account for corporate users).


Image2. It will have better SharePoint and Office Integration. No more Microsoft Document Connection. SharePoint 2013 has already promised better Safari support. A new Office could provide even more of a SharePoint tie in that would be Mac only.

3. Integration with Mavericks Notifications. It just makes sense to do that.

4. A basic API. It’s about time the Microsoft re-introduce an API that will allow third party applications to interact with Office at a code level.

5. Integration with Microsoft Dynamics – at minimum it would be great to be able to send and email and have it associate with a CRM account so that Outlook users can also view it.

6. Outlook needs to be able to view a shared another’s shared calendar without requiring the person to share details. And be able to propose new meeting times. And be able to vote. And display some HTML emails properly (like the reports that come from Microsoft SQL Server Report Services). And don’t tell me it’s the fault of Webkit because the same emails display properly in Apple Mail.

There are probably more but these are the ones that I’m thinking of as a daily Office user in a corporate environment that would make it that much better and homogenous an experience.

Of course, Microsoft may deliberately want Office for Mac to be behind the PC version to slow down it’s desktop OS erosion. Embracing the future, rather than hanging onto the past is a much better long term strategy to stay relevant. Microsoft is still licking its wounds from the beating it took in the mobile space because they hung on to the past.

When it comes to Microsoft’s two crown jewels, the market has shown they are more interested in Office anywhere rather than Windows everywhere.

A Fly in the DNA Ointment


Remember the fruit fly that evolutionists love to talk about? Well, it turns out that its DNA is far more complex that earlier thought. If we cannot imagine a software application comprising of thousands of lines of code randomly coming together, then it’s impossible to even think of DNA which is far higher order of magnitude.

Thanks to Wintery Knight for researching and posting this.

Two families fighting for their religious liberty at the Supreme Court

Like a dog suddenly finding himself at the end of a chain I hope that this country’s lurch to the left has ended.


The Heritage Foundation reports on the cases that will determine how far the Democrats can go to undermine religious liberty.


In less than two weeks, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases challenging an Obamacare mandate that is trampling on religious freedom. The Hahn family and the Green family will be at the Court on March 25 asking for respect of their religious liberty and the freedom to continue offering their employees generous health plans.

Let’s meet these families and what they’re fighting for.

A Christian Mennonite family, the Hahns have run Conestoga Wood Specialties near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for nearly 50 years. A second-generation family business, Conestoga employs almost 1,000 individuals to produce quality wood products.

The Hahns have always run their family business in accordance with their faith, including offering an employee health plan that aligns with their values. Under the mandate, however, Conestoga Wood could face fines of…

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