Finally was able to dust off the DSLR and shoot some photos. I remember when I would shoot 1000 photos a month, now i’m lucky if I get 100 a year. Between growing PixelBit, family activities and other hobbies, I never have time for photography.

After working out some kinks in how to shoot in low light, I was able to capture some pretty great photos. Here is one of them:

BMW in the rain

Shooting in less than ideal conditions (rain in this case) really can yield some great results. I love how the reflections and water drops glisten as the sun was setting.

Hope you enjoy. If you want to see more, head over to Flickr.

I have also been doing some quadcopter photography and will be posting those results soon, but here is a teaser.

BMW M3 from above



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Photo Credit: Jesus Mendez

The following is a series of tips, tricks and observations i’ve noted from my previous autocross events. Note, I am a novice and have TONS of room to grow, i’m basically providing this insight as I progress and hope it helps others.  I will continue to provide more as I attend more events. The key piece is to keep an open mind, always be open to learning more and just have fun!

This past season was my first in autocross. After learning about some events run by the Boston chapter of the BMWCCA I was hooked. I’ve made some great friends and met a lot of very helpful instructors. I’ve even seen a personal improvement (shaved 10 seconds off my last run).

Tips from previous runs

  1. Constantly keep talking to fellow drivers/visitors
  2. Don’t be afraid to approach the veterans, many are VERY open to chat
  3. Talk less and listen more
  4. Do take an instructor along for most runs, but also run some solo
  5. While working the course watch the cars lines and actions
  6. Get as many ride-alongs as possible at each event
  7. During ride-alongs watch drivers inputs and basic line, but don’t mimic.
  8. First run of a course should be about exploration, not speed or times
  9. More speed requires faster inputs and more room for error
  10. Slaloms require smooth wheel movements, maintain speed
  11. Most courses don’t require shifting, get into desired gear and use acc/brake only
  12. Turn off driving aids to learn your car, but be safe.
  13. Smooth out your inputs as you progress
  14. Practice the right habits, bad ones are hard to break.
  15. Bring a GoPro, it makes for some great footage!

Things to bring

  • Shoes for driving (Puma makes some great ones)
  • Sunglasses & sunscreen
  • Helmet, if you have one (some events have loaners)
  • Clothes appropriate for the weather and change of clothes
  • Raincoat, umbrella or poncho for course work and standing around
  • A folding chair (fold up campers chair works best)
  • Lots of water in a cooler with ice
  • Lunch or cash to buy lunch from the events (varies)
  • Cooler for lunch, beverages or snacks
  • Notebook and pencil to write down all advice and sketch course for review
  • Good tire pressure gauge (can find one on Amazon for short $$)
  • Portable air tank or compressor (plug-in or gas powered)
  • Chalk or white shoe polish to mark the tires (remove after event to prevent marks)
  • Numbers or painters tape for numbers (usually needed to be 8-10 inches high)

As some of you know, earlier this year I bought one of my dream cars (ultimate is F430, that will have to wait a while!). A space grey BMW M3, 6 speed manual with the competition package. This was the culmination of working hard for 10+ years, foregoing some other luxuries and having an amazing wife that let me spend a good bit of money on something frivolous.

This wasn’t my first German car, in fact my very first car was a 2001 VM Jetta. I bought it from my family and overall it was good. However anytime it had to go into the shop it got expensive quickly! I was not excited to go through this again, but was told BMWs are more reliable and especially the M platform.

After a few months of internet searching, contacting dealers 1500+ miles away and even talking to transporters, I found the car! Oddly enough in my own state, which was very convenient. After the dealing and key retrieval I was ecstatic.. for about 100 miles. Then I heard a weird noise while turning the wheel to full lock. After some time spent on e90post and m3post, I figured out the problem was dirty differential fluid. I took it to the dealer and a few hours later was handed a printout that totaled $700!! However, one thing I didn’t mention was, this car came with the BMW extended warranty.

Since that initial service, the car has been to BMW Sudbury at least 3 times for other minor things (albeit the diff fluid is NOT minor). Let me just say that if you ever do buy a car, any really, opt for the warranty. If its nearing its expiration on the original warranty and you intend to keep the car, extend it. Especially on a higher end car with lots of gadgets that like to break.

Now, as I am sure all of you are wondering, what is my impression of the actual car..? That’s simple to answer. Amazed!!

Before I continue, lets take a break and show off a few photos from delivery to just a few days ago. You’ll notice something special, at least for me, with cars/bikes.

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bmw-m3-front bmw-m3-interior

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Did you see it? I haven’t modified this car at all. Aside from the LED interior bulbs ( I had to do something ). You may remember that 8 days after I got my TSX, 3 years ago it was modded. Days after I got my bike, modded. I am deciding to do something different with this one. I will of course mod it, I have a pretty extensive list in fact, which includes:

  • Tint
  • Wheels
  • Exhaust
  • Headlights
  • Carbon fiber lip and Diffuser
  • Euro bumper (remove US reflectors)
  • Brake kit
  • Spacers
  • ECU Tune
  • Carbon fiber trim pieces
  • Front/rear cameras
  • etc…

 

However, this time around I will slowly mod the car. Adding a piece here/there, hopefully enjoy it a bit more. I intend to keep this car for many years and will take great care of it, so it lasts. It will be driven (hard at times) but never abused. I will post various updates along the way and hope to do much of the work myself, with some exceptions, for safety reasons.

Now back to the car. Another cool element of this purchase was it being my first manual car! Some people thought it was nuts to get a car such as this with a manual if I couldn’t even drive it off the lot. However, with the help of my father-in-law I was able to get it home and every day would drive it a little more. Now about 3 months in, I still have a bunch to learn.. but its never too late to learn. I recommend everyone drive a manual transmission at least once in their life, its amazing.

As far as performance figures/facts. I could spout all the data from BMW, but that is all online. My impressions of this car coming from an i4 (4 cylinder) were it was amazing and can be scary, if not handled properly. I’ve taken it on a few spirited drives on desolate roads and next month i’ll be attending an autocross.

So, hopefully you enjoyed this life update. Key things to take away from this are: Always work for your dreams, never give up. Don’t write off an entire car line/country for one bad experience and buy a BMW. Trust me on that last one, you won’t be disappointed.

Want to see more?? Subscribe to my Flickr, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Earlier this morning I was looking for a way to filter explicit/non-explicit content in Spotify, figured I wasn’t the first to ask about this. Sure enough after a quick Google search I found hundreds of listeners asking for the same thing. I then stumbled on an OS developers blog, Jason Singh. He had developed an app Beep which did exactly this! Yes! But wait…

Turns out when he finished the app it was rejected by Spotify for being “too niche” while there are literally hundreds of comments and requests for this sort of functionality. Maybe not everyone would use it, but why should that matter? If we only were allowed to develop apps that EVERYONE would use, there would be no apps. Well, aside from Clash of Clans, Angry Birds and fart apps.

The problem here is Spotify runs a more controlled app pool than Apple themselves. Not only do you need to develop an app, have it approved but apparently appeal to some imaginary list of “useful apps” that of course is not published.

I would recommend developers not waste their time writing apps for Spotify, only to have it rejected.

Alas until this complex app ecosystem is better defined we’ll all have to hear edited songs or worse, lots of F words on a global playlist while the family is listening…

Just like previous years i’ve created a public goals list. This one doesn’t have any long term goals, just things i’d like to accomplish this year. I got some pretty good feedback from this in the past, so lets hear it.

What are your thoughts on public goals lists? Do you think being held accountable helps you achieve your goals?

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