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Very impressive! Flickr received a massive overhaul today, and immediately, my inclination to post there has increased many-fold. There’s the 1TB of storage space (not that they expect everyone to use it, of course), full resolution photo support, no more paid subscription required to display more than ~100 photos and a nicer, although still somewhat clunky, photo viewing experience.
But more than all that, it’s resulted in a lot of buzz, and hopefully a rejuvenation of the audience on the social sharing site, as a result. After all, posting camera-phone photos to Facebook isn’t because it’s the best photo sharing experience, but rather due to the fact that it’s where everyone is already during their online time.
Feel free to take a look at my album, and expect new photos to appear in short order. Large photo backlogs from trips to Grand Canyon and Death Valley await.
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I recently took a new 2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring out for a test drive. I’ve been looking forward to this car, since it was unveiled at the Moscow auto show last year. My Volkswagen CC lease is coming due in a few months, so I thought I’d get an early start at checking out the options.
- For right around $30k, the car is well-equipped
- Bi-Xenon headlights + LED running lights
- Heated leather seating
- 19″ wheels
- Blind spot monitor, rear view camera
- On the inside, the thick, small-diameter steering wheel with paddle shifters indicates its sport character
- The interior is gigantic. Although only 2.5″ longer than the CC, the wheelbase is nearly 5″ longer. The result is much more rear legroom. Also, because the roof isn’t as sloping front to back, or side to side, there’s more rear seat room, enough for 3.
- Both the gas and brake pedals have pretty linear response
- That means the brake is far less grabby and boosted compared to my CC
- The gas is a bit twitchier, likely because the CC takes quite a bit of throttle before ramping up the RPMs
- The white leather seating surfaces were gorgeous to look at, brightening up the interior significantly. Unfortunately, I’m not sure they’re practical, with so many opportunities to short any speck of dirt.
- Bluetooth music streaming works with my Lumia 920 and a friend’s iPhone. If you have a Pandora app, you can even hook that up!
- On the road, the car is balanced, and although there’s road noise from the lowish profile 19″ wheels, it sounded no worse than the CC’s 17″ wheels. The larger wheels didn’t rattle my teeth any more over uneven pavement, either.
- The suspension feels significantly more taut than the CC’s. I’ve found that the CC, for all its “sporting” design has an awfully wafting suspension tuning. Going over speed bumps at any speed results in multiple oscillations before returning to neutral. The Mazda 6′s suspension tuning is much closer to what I’d like in my next car.
- Straight line performance gives up a little compared to the CC. The Mazda 6 is down a little power and torque along with a turbocharger. The CC is quicker off the line. I could feel some difference, when merging onto the highway. The CC is effortless, with oodles of torque at low RPMs, while the Mazda definitely had to rev. I’m guessing the CC does 0-60 in ~7 seconds while the Mazda 6 does it in closer to 8 seconds.
- Gas mileage is likely significant better than the CC. Mazda rates it at 26/38, while the CC is rated at 22/31. Around town, around 50/50 local roads and highway split, I get in the range of 22-23MPG with the CC. During the test drive (albeit shorter in duration than is needed to truly make a determination), the Mazda 6 achieved just over 32MPG is the combined local and highway loop.
- The suite of safety technologies are welcomed. This isn’t a small car, so having a backup camera to fit into tight parallel parking spaces is helpful. The blind spot monitoring system flashes as a car comes up beside you on either side. It then beeps if you signal in that direction, say to change lanes.
- The Mazda 6 grabbed my attention due to its exterior styling, in the first place. There are a couple too many swoops than I would ideally like; however, it’s easily offset with the steady stance, long bonnet lending it a RWD appearance, aggressive front end and longer wheelbase. I’m a fan.
Without question, at roughly the same price as the baseline VW CC is today, the Mazda 6 Grand Touring is far better equipped, rides better, and I prefer the appearance (especially after they toned down the CC in the recent model year). The Mazda 6 stays on the list of contenders!
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Another holiday break draws to a close, as I prepare myself to wake up at the ungodly hour of 4am to catch a flight back to Seattle. The break has accomplished its goals. I feel well-rested, itching at my unproductiveness over the past 1.5+ weeks and eager and energized to get back to work in earnest. These have become the closest thing to a summer holiday, since high school for me (I never get to experience them again, due to co-op through university), and I’ve truly forgotten what it’s like to wake up naturally for an extended period of time. Even still, my body is telling me with no sleep deficit to make up, 8 hours is sufficient and natural.
Coming home (I still call it that, after 2 years?) is all about seeing family and friends. My university years are such a huge part of who I am today, and the people I met and interacted with there are the elements that guided my flow through that quarter of my life, at the time. We’ve all grown up, but it’s nice to be able to fall back a little bit into the days of yore, picking up just about where we left off, and generally being nostalgic (speaking of nostalgia, I found out that Red Alert is now freeware! http://redalert95.tk/)
It’s also an opportunity to drive my parents’ BMW 528xi, which I thoroughly enjoy. It also reminds me that despite my Volkswagen CC’s claim to be a 4-door “sport coupe”, it in fact is saddled with body roll and imprecise steering out the wazoo. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have a well-damped response to hitting a bump in the road. I’m very excited to test out the plethora of choices in the automotive industry, later this year.
I best be going to sleep now. I have a long day of flying and time change (gain 3 hours, yay!) ahead of me. I’ll write again, soon.