After using Drupal for many years, I’ve decided to switch to WordPress as my Content Management System. My hosting company, MacHighway, uses cPanel to manage user sites, and it provides a default version of PHP and its associated modules, which I don’t have access to change. It seems that recently, Drupal has changed their system requirements to require additional PHP modules, which are not installed, so I have not been able to upgrade to the most recent releases. I found the FG Drupal to WordPress plug-in, which can migrate the content from Drupal sites which work quite well, so I’ve migrated this site to WordPress. I’ve done a few updates already, but I’ll try to review each of the pages to make sure that the graphics are there, etc.
One of the most noticeable changes when switching from the Touareg to the Canyon was the headlights. The Touareg had really nice self-leveling High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps. By comparison, the OEM halogens in the Canyon felt like driving with a flashlight… I found that this was a common complaint discussed on forums like ColoradoFans forums and took one of the recommendations.
It surprises me that for a high-end pickup that GM builds it with such crappy headlamps, when more modern, brighter LED headlights cost under $75 retail. GM could certainly have done better for very little difference in cost. I was also surprised to find that even aftermarket HID conversion kits are only about $250, much cheaper than the $1,200 that many manufacturers charge for upgrading to HID lights. I went with the LED for simplicity, as well as cost, since the HID lights require an external ballast, so they are a little more involved to install.
I ordered a set of Sealight X1 from Amazon, which were only $70 for both low and high beam. I ordered them on Friday morning, and they were delivered early this morning. It took about a half hour to install, and was fairly easy. The hardest part was getting under a rubber cover on passenger side, which I think directs cold air into the air filter intake.
Even in the daylight, I could tell that they were brighter, mostly due to the 6000K color temperature being bright white instead of yellow. I’m going to go for a drive tonight after dark to see how the beam pattern and throw looks.
After trying them for a few weeks, I decided that while they were brighter, that they didn’t project very well, so they didn’t really help me see any further down the road. At the end of February, I replaced them with the Sealight S2 series also through Amazon, and returned the X1’s. The S2 do a much better job of lighting further ahead.
The lease on the VW Touareg is about up, so we decided to start looking at our options. I was considering buying out the Touareg, as it’s been a very comfortable vehicle, it’s big enough to tow the trailer, but small enough to fit into the garage. We had to go to a VW dealership to get the details on the buyout, since we’re within 90 days of the end date. The residual was about $25,500, but the “deal” that McDonald VW presented to me had about $6k in fees and crap added to it, making the cost over $31k. Their “offer” for me to buy the vehicle that I’ve been driving and paying for the past three years was about $500/month with $4K down! I quickly realized that I could get something brand new for that much…
I had been looking at options for SUVs that could tow over 7,000 lbs. and there isn’t much that isn’t full sized, or over $75K. I thought that if I wasn’t going to be able to fit it into the garage, and was going to have to pay that much, I might as well look at another pickup truck. My last pickup truck was a 2005 GMC Sierra K2500HD Crew Cab Long Bed with the 6.6L Duramax Diesel, which would cost over $65K now, with similar equipment. In my search, I discovered that GM has a smaller 2.8L inline 4-cylinder Duramax Diesel that they offer in the Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon mid-size pickup since 2016. The small turbo-diesel only makes 181HP, but 369lb/ft of torque, which is 100 more than most of the V6 gas engines, including the Touareg. The 4WD Crew Cab Short Box with the 2.8L Duramax has a towing capacity of 7,600 lbs. which is more than enough for our 27′ Highland Ridge Ultra Lite. And it’s a bonus that even in a higher trim level, the price is under $50K.
We stopped at the Autonation Buick GMC near Park Meadows to check them out on the way home from the VW dealer. They didn’t have any of the Duramax Turbo-Diesel models in stock, but had an SLT with the gas V6 that was similar to a diesel that was available. We took it for a test drive, and were pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was, and how smoothly it rode. Autonation said that they could get the Duramax model that I wanted by Monday, so we made the deal.
Of the 2.8L Duramax models available in the area, the one that caught my attention was a 2019 GMC Canyon Crew Cab Short Box with the All Terrain package, in Dark Sky Metallic. This Limited Promotional Option package is built on the SLT trim level, and includes the Z71 off-road suspension package and Z82 trailering package with integrated trailer brake controller, automatic transfer case, Eaton locking rear axle, with 31″x10.50″ Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac off-road tires on 17″ alloy wheels, leather seats (with red stitching), 3″ black tubular side steps, spray-on bed liner, and all-weather floor liners. It also had the upgraded “infotainment” system with Apple CarPlay. Several of the other vehicles available were Denali, but I don’t really care about all of the extra chrome. The All Terrain has better equipment for towing and off-road, and is a couple grand less expensive.
It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that I had on the Touareg, but I’m OK with that. It doesn’t have pushbutton start and keyless entry, but it does have remote start. It’s only a single zone thermostatic temperature control, where the Touareg was dual zones. It doesn’t have the adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. It does have almost 40% more torque, and will get much better fuel economy, especially when towing the trailer. Also, when in Tow/Haul mode, it uses the variable geometry turbocharger as an exhaust brake to help maintain speeds downhill and to assist when braking. I think that it’s going to make an excellent towing vehicle.
OK, I haven’t posted much for a while, so I thought that I should provide some updates. I have resolved the previous upgrade issues that I had with Drupal 8, and also had MacHighway move me to a CPanel server that was running PHP7, which seemed to have helped.
After continuing to have trouble with my old 2011 17″ MacBook Pro, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a new machine. I tried replacing the RAM, but it still won’t boot up. I concluded that it probably wasn’t the memory or the drive, but maybe the CPU or Logic board is failing… Rather than spend more time and money trying to replace the SSD, I figured that it was time to replace the MacBook Pro, after 6 years.
I surveyed my options on Apple.com. The new MacBook Pro’s only come in 13” and 15” now, with the Retina display with high resolution but high pixel density as well. None of the laptops have optical drives any more, so I still think that there is not much advantage in carrying around a laptop vs. my iPad Pro. When I have travelled that past few years, I have only taken my iPad with me. Also, the 15” MBP costs nearly $2,800!
Having realized that I don’t really carry my laptop around with me, I checked out the options for iMacs. They have a 21.5” model, and a 27” with a 4K or 5K screen… Since I will likely be keeping this machine for another 5-6 years, I really wanted the 27” 5K screen model, which also has a faster 3.8GHz i5 processor, and a 2TB “fusion” drive, that is a hybrid small SSD with a larger conventional hard drive. The system is supposed to keep frequently used files on the SSD, and less frequently used files on the hard drive, to optimize the performance.
The new iMac is a thing of beauty! I love the big screen, and the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse use up less space on my desk. I have ordered a 16Gb memory upgrade to bring it up to 24Gb, which I think will work well. I had 16Gb in the MBP.
We have still had our 27″ Gulfstream fifth-wheel up in Buena Vista, CO, at the Snowy Peaks RV park, which has its own storage lot. Since I don’t have a pickup truck to move the fifth-wheel, the RV park moves the trailer for us when we go up for the weekend. It’s been very convenient, and less expensive than paying higher storage rates in Denver, and burning up the fuel to haul it up into the mountains.
We discovered an unintended consequence of replacing the Jetta with the Touareg is that it has a 7,000lb. towing capacity! I had not imagined that an SUV that size would be able to tow that much. This got us thinking that if we replaced the fifth-wheel with a conventional travel trailer that we could tow with the Touareg we could travel and camp again.
After exploring some options online, we started checking out some options at local dealers. We wanted to go to Camping World in Fountain, and stopped at a few places in Colorado Springs as well. One of the first places that we stopped was Pikes Peak Travelland, where we saw the 2016 Highland Ridge UT2710RL Ultra Lite. Surprisingly, despite being 27′ was only about 5,500lb. empty weight, well within the towing capacity of the Touareg even when loaded. This seemed to suit our needs, was well laid out, and nicely finished. I especially liked the recliners at the back of the trailer, which are incredibly comfortable.
We looked at a few other trailers at other places, but we kept comparing them to the Highland Ridge, and ultimately that is what we decided on. Pikes Peak was able to work out an acceptable trade in deal on our Gulfstream, including picking it up from Buena Vista.
Thanks to the diesel emissions scandal, and the uncertainty of what kind of “fix” would be required to meet emissions, this seemed like the best time to try trading in my 2011 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI. While I have loved the Sportwagen for it versatility, and have loved the 2.0L turbo-diesel for its power and fuel efficiency, we had been thinking about getting an all-wheel drive vehicle so that my wife wouldn’t be snowed in while I’m traveling.
In order to take advantage of the trade-in opportunity, we limited our search to Audi and Volkswagen. I wanted something with similar storage to the Jetta wagon, about 66 cubic feet, which eliminated the Q3 and Tiguan, leaving us with the choice of a Q5 or Touareg. We decided that we would meet at McDonald VW, drop off the Jetta so that they could do an appraisal on it, and we could go to Applebee’s for some dinner.
While I was stuck in traffic on the way there, my wife arrived at VW. She talked with the salesman a bit, and made some headway toward making a deal. She wasn’t sure how it would work out, so she suggested that I stop at the Audi dealer on the way there. While I was working with the salesman at the Audi dealership, they took the car down the block to the VW dealer, so the guys at VW knew that I was talking to the Audi dealer.
In the end, McDonald VW was able to make the deal on the Touareg, a 2016 Volkswagen Touareg V6 Lux with 4MOTION, fully loaded. It’s Flint Grey Metallic, with Anthracite Black Vienna Leather interior. It has heated and air conditioned front seats, heated steering wheel, dual-zone thermostatically controlled temperature, touchscreen radio with navigation, backup camera, parking assist, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, etc. on and on… It has a 3.8L V6 gasoline engine, with 18mpg city, and 22mpg highway, so I won’t be getting 42-54mpg any longer… It is all-wheel drive, and very comfortable.
New Horizons launched in 2006 and it is finally closing in on some of the farthest reaches of the solar system. It came out of hibernation last week on December 6, 2014, and is now in active mode. It will make its closet pass by Pluto next summer.
Check out this story on 9news.com: http://www.9news.com/story/life/2014/12/15/new-horizons-spacecraft-to-give-clearest-look-at-pluto/20432895/
Here is a link to the mission page as NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/
And the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Horizons
Continue reading “New Horizons spacecraft to give clearest look at Pluto”
I’ve been offline for a little over a week, after a botched Century Link DSL upgrade at home. I’ve moved to a GoDaddy web hosting plan, and have gotten all of my websites back up and running last night. I still have some fine-tuning to do, but the basic content is back up now.
As reported in “Deadline” and other sources, actress Madisen Beaty, who played Joaquin Phoenix’s first love in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-nominated “The Master” last year, is the first cast member to sign on to indie drama “The Measure of a Man”, according to Deadline. Terry Loane will direct the adaptation based on the novel “One Fat Summer” by Robert Lipsyte.
“Measure of a Man” follows Bobby Marks, a chubby and often bullied teenager, who finds spending the summer at a family lake house sheer torture, until he transforms himself into a confident young man. Beaty will take the role of Michelle, Bobby’s sister who’s used to the spotlight and getting her own way. David Scearce adapted the coming of age novel for the big screen.
The eighteen year old actress may be best known for playing Doris Solstad in PT Anderson’s “The Master” opposite Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams, but Beaty made her feature film debut under the direction of a different auteur in David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” She recently wrapped up indie “Jamie Marks is Dead” with “Shameless” star Cameron Monaghan and has a recurring role on new ABC Family drama “The Fosters.”