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December 23,2006

Still have some last minute shopping for that DIY guy on your list?  Need some suggestions on useful tools?  You should just get yourself over to the nearest Sears store and just wander around.

One of the newer product you may come across is the Craftsman 7-pc or 14-pc Hex Key Set.  This set with it T-handle is perfect for those tough job which requires just a little more torque.  Click on the images to get a closer look at the other features.

This new set will complement another set which we had picked a few years back.  The Husky set is compact and quite portable.  The keys may be inserted into the handle for when extra leverage is required.

Both sets are fine and will last a long time.  One thing about Craftsman tools is they carry a lifetime warranty against defects... something many other manufacturers do not offer.


November 26,2006

For those of you who have been asking how well the homemade Porsche wheel center crests held up after six months...  We didn't take any particular care of them over the Summer and Fall.  They were cleaned everytime we washed the car.  Other than that, we did nothing special to keep them in good shape. 

After six months of daily driving, brake dust, and Boston weather, we were quite impressed with how well these crests held up!  We purchased extra crests expecting that we would need to replace the current ones after a season, but we don't need 'em.  Even after six months of constant use, all the current crests needed was a quick rinse and they were as good as new. Not a bad Do-It-Yourself alternative to the OEM center crests :-)

Even though it was unseasonably warm this weekend, we thought better of going into December with Summer tires on the Boxster.  Summer tires do not perform well at all when temperature drops below 45º (they get "stiff"), and New England storms have a habit of dropping in unexpectedly this time of year.

After being in storage, we should have checked the tire pressure before mounting the Winter tires.  The first one we put on looked quite low on air once we dropped the jack.  A quick check with the JNC Air showed it had only about 15 psi of pressure.  The JNC had it pumped back up to 30 psi in only a few minutes. 

This was the first time we had a chance to use the air pump feature of the JNC Air.  The pump was easy to use and ran very quietly.  We continue to be impressed with the quality of this device.

If you want to read more about what else we did to get this Boxster ready for Winter, just click here or on any of the images.  The ironic thing was our mailman came by just as we were finishing up.  He commented on how nice the car looked and how great it must be to get in some more top-down days... since the forecast for Monday is suppose to be over 60º!


November 24,2006

Today is the Friday after Thanksgiving (known as Black Friday).  It is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.  The guys here at the RainyDayGarage are not what you would call "shoppers."  Oh, don't get them wrong, they LOVE a good deal, but they don't actually like the physical act of "shopping."  So to actually get them to go visit a store (and on Black Friday no less) to purchase something, the deal has to be pretty good.

This story started when they realized the torque wrench in the RainyDayGarage needed to be replaced.  Just so happens Sears is having a 50% off sale for the exact model they needed.  Also on sale was a bunch of other stuff which they didn't need, but would be nice to get.  A few of them left the office around 8:30 on their little Sears shopping adventure.  They were hoping to beat the crowd... we didn't have the heart to tell them some folks have been shopping for hours by now.

Anyway, they came back empty-handed, muttering something about "bait and switch" and "who reads the text," followed by a vivid description of "shoving" of things which we will not repeat here.  Apparently, there was a "difference" in the photo of item in the flyer and the item which was actually on sale.  The photo above is the actual Sears ad.  The images below are of the torque wrenches in question.  Which one would you have thought Sear's was talking about?

The item code (#44593) in the Sears ad is correctly referencing the shorter torque wrench... which we are sure is a fine tool and a good sale at $38, but the photo in the ad is not what is actually on sale.  So unless one checks the item codes before heading out to the store, there will be disappointment at the checkout counter.  Sears sells many fine products and this is probably just an innocent mistake, but we thought they should still have honored the sale price... especially since both items were priced exactly the same.  Unfortunately they wouldn't.  So Sears lost the sale of not just one item, but a bunch of other impulse buys as well.

Got your own Black Friday stories (good or bad)?  Drop us a line.  If we print them, we'll send you a little something from the pile of swag in the corner.  


November 15,2006

It has been raining most of the week here in Boston.  When it is damp out, electrical systems in older cars will have a tendency to act up... such as difficulty in starting.  This will often be due to corrosion on the battery terminals.

The JNCAir can be a lifesaver in these situations.   It certainly came in handy this week when one of our editor's car wouldn't start because of of the exact problem described.  The RainyDayGarage guys cleaned out the terminals, clipped on the JNCAir, and got her going in no time. 

The JNCAir is small enough to fit anywhere... even in the front trunk of our Porsche Boxster.  With two jumps, the unit will have paid for itself in tow truck costs.  You can't beat value, dependability, and peace of mind like that. 


November 4,2006

The Porsche Boxster is a really fun project car.  Things are very accessible and its general construction is fairly simple.  Most of our projects on the Boxster have been to its audio system.  Today, we decided to tackle a problem we have been putting up with for about five years... the dreaded peeling door lid covers.

This "bubbling" is generally thought to be caused by the interaction of chemicals in sunscreen and the rubberized coating on the surface of the lid.  What is amazing is that this problem was never properly addressed by Porsche.  One would think they would expect people to wear sunscreen when driving around in a convertible :-)

The first step to this project is to remove the lid from the door.  When we had the lids replaced a few years ago, it took the dealer a better part of an hour to do it. 

The "official way" to remove the lid is to take the panel off the door, but many on PPBB have found that it was much easier to just push the pin out of the hinge.  We had no problem following this advice.  The only thing to watch out for is the grommets (red arrow) have a tendency to pop out.  There is also a spring at the back end which must be disconnected before the lid can be removed.

To cover the unsightly bubbles, we decided to do it with leather.  The piece was purchased on EBay for $15.   The 15" by 24" sheet is more than enough to do 2 or 3 sets. 

One potential issue with buying the leather piece on EBay was we couldn't tell how well it would match the Boxster's black.  Fortunately, the grain and color match was almost perfect.

We won't go into details on all of the steps today.  For now, clicking on some of the images will give a closer look.  Suffice to say the project turned out to be a lot easier that we had anticipated. 

Since no one here had any experience working with leather, we weren't sure what to expect.  Most of the steps we came up with we made up along the way. 

The basic steps to making the new cover was to cut it to size, apply a spray adhesive, and lay the leather piece over the lid.  Of course, there were a lot of smoothing, stretching, and clamping.  The details will all be in the RainyDayGarage project write-up.

The entire project took about an hour and a half from start to finish.  It will take us longer to write it up than it was to do.  There were some tricky parts... especially with getting the leather properly glued to the edges of the lids without bunching up.  We took a lot of photos detailing the entire process and will have the project article available in a few days.

Those of you out there with unsightly lids ... take heart in knowing that there is now a $20 solution to your problem :-)  Oh, if only the world's problems were so easily solved!


October 27,2006

This week just flew by!  A lot of gear have been coming into the RainyDayMagazine office.  We hardly had a chance to get out and enjoy the last tastes of Fall.  Ever since the interns went back to school at the beginning of September, we have been feeling their absence.  It appears they were actually doing something around here after all :-)

As promised, we are going to wrap up the Dual XDVD8182 BenchTest series with a look at how to connect up a live video feed to the unit.  The most useful application is probably to use the video connection to hook up a rearward looking camera to eliminate any parking blind spots, especially if you have a large SUV type vehicle.

We would love to add a IR camera for night vision applications, but active IR cameras are quite expensive.  Still, one of the projects on the books is to see if there is something we can do with a good CCD camera and an IR source.

The RCA connector to for the VideoIn is clearly labeled...nice!  In fact, all of the RCA connectors' functions are labeled.  This really will be a big help come installation time.  We plugged in the camera, powered up the unit, selected the video, and we were live!  Wow... that was painless :-)

The picture from the videocam was surprisingly bright on this Dual's screen.  We had tested this camera with our current touchscreen and found it to be quite a bit dimmer.  Click here to see a clip of the camera in action.

Besides showing live video, this unit also has a built in CD/DVD player which will handle pretty much any format currently available.  The brightness and response time of this LCD panel appears to be much better than the unit currently installed in the project car. 

Playing a DVD while the car is in motion is not allowed by law in many states.  The Dual unit has circuitry to detect if the hand brake is engaged (if appropriately connected).  We bypassed this connection for the sake of this BenchTest.

Having a touchscreen is really convenient for accessing the DVD functions.  Just tap and go :-)  Video playback is crisp and clear.  There are two separate VideoOut connectors in case you want to pipe the signal to the rear passenger's LCD panels or other displays.

If we had one feature we wish we could added to this unit, it would be to be able to use this Dual for both the car's audio and carputer application.  Unfortunately, this Dual can only handle a composite video signal, thus will not be able to take a direct VGA signal from a computer source.  I guess we'll just have to have two separate screens in the car for the time being.

After a full week of playing with this unit on the bench, we are eager to get it wired up for the Boxster!  We still have to do a sound check and some other tests (remote control, VideoOut, etc...)  We hope you have enjoyed this brief overview of the capabilities of this Dual XDVD8182 unit.  Drop us a note if you have any questions. 


October 26,2006

Frequent visitors to our RainyDayGarage section of this magazine would be familiar with our many iPod to head unit projects.   In just a years time, we have gone from hacking together a cable and using the Aux-In to the Boxster stereo, to an external controller of the Harman Kardon Drive + Play, to a dedicated iPod connector built into the Dual XDVD8182.

Connecting the iPod to the unit was very simple.  There is a white connector at the rear of which will connect to supplied iPod cable (also white).  All versions of the dockable iPods are supported.

The unit powered up on the first try without problems.  The front panel showed there is an Aux In device, but that was just the mode the unit was in when we powered off.  To access the iPod, just push the Mode button unit it cycles to the iPod setting.  Another way is to bring up the touchscreen and access it directly.

With the touchscreen activated, to select the iPod as the signal source, just tap on the iPod icon.  The big icons will be a big advantage over the Mode button for making selections while driving.

The screen on the iPod itself changes to show a Dual logo when in iPod mode.  This is small detail is a nice feedback to let the user know that the devices are successfully communicating:-)

Scrolling through and selecting a song from the Playlist is pretty obvious.  We'll have to see how well this interface compares to the control knob of the Drive + Play when we are driving.

All of the iPod screens are supported in this interface.  There is a side scroll bar for navigating up and down.  Making a choice is done by tapping on the item.  We should mention that there is also a remote control for this headunit.  We have not played with it much yet, but will have more to say about it in the next series of article.

Tomorrow will be the last segment of this BenchTest series.  We'll take a look at how to connected up a video camera.   There will also be a quick look at the DVD playback features of the unit.  The next series on the Dual be focused on installation of the unit into our Porsche Boxster Project Car.  There are a lot of configurations and options this headunit will support.  We'll start of with a basic installation and expand on the system over time.  It should be a fun series of projects.  We hope they will inspire you to give it a try!


October 24,2006

When driving a car, most folks don't have time to fuss with the tiny buttons on a car's stereo headunits.  This problem is less of an issue with the controls on touchscreen panels... the on-screen virtual buttons are usually quite a bit larger.

The Dual XDVD8182's 7" TFT touchscreen is retracted when the unit is powered down.  The screen will slide out of the unit with the push of a button.  Push the "OPEN" button in the image to see the video clip of the touch screen opening and closing. 

When the screen is in the open position, the entire surface becomes active.  To select a choice or function, just tap it with the fingertip.  The angle of the screen can be tilt for optimal viewing.

We'll go into more detail on the various screens over the course of the week, but here are a few of basic setup screens for sound and picture.  Click on any of them for a closer look.

The transport mechanism of the unit sound quite a bit smoother than the other unit we have.  All of the components are made of metal.  No plastic gears or slides here. To see side-view videos of the unit opening and closing, click here and here.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at how easy it is to connect an iPod and video camera to this Dual XDVD8182 unit. 

Oh..."Save the cheerleader, save the world." Spread the word.  While you are at it, tell a friend about RainyDayMagazine!


October 23,2006

This week the folks at the RainyDayGarage will be taking a closer look at the Dual XDVD8182 headunit.  They have been working with another motorized display unit as part of the Mac Mini Carputer project.  This Dual combines a many of the features of the carputer project and the Harman Kardon Drive+Play iPod controller.

Before the guys install anything in the project car, they always bench test them using a 12V power supply.  It is an easy way to test all of the functions and hook up without having to crawl around underneath the dash.

Another technique they often do to make the hook up easier is to get a specific wiring harness to connect to the car's wiring.  This way, none of the car's wires need to be spliced to the wires from the headunit... it all becomes just Plug-N-Play!

Following the wiring diagram, it was not difficult to wire up the unit and to get it functional.  Once the power supply was properly connected, we got a nice greeting and the unit sprung to life. 

Tomorrow we'll take a look at the motorized display and the touchscreen functions.  Clever readers can get an advance look if they manage to push the right button.


October 18,2006

This may look like any old Fiat, but the owner has made some modifications that make it just a tad different.  Check out the video to see what they are...


October 12,2006

Ever wonder who are the suppliers to the various components in your car?  If you car is a Porsche Boxster, here is a graphics we came across while surfing around on PPBB which will tell you :-)  We are not sure what it is good for, but we found it pretty interesting... so here it is!


October 5,2006

Car stereo tuners have advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few years.  It wasn't long ago when units with retractable screens costed over $1000.  The folks in the RainyDayGarage installed a unit last year for around $500.  That unit still required all of the supporting gear (amp, tuner, DVD player, etc...) for it to be functional. 

On September 19, Dual announced an amazing new piece of in-car entertainment gear... the XDVD8182.   This new unit is powerful, jam-packed with features, and designed with connectivity in mind.  If you are thinking of upgrading the entertainment capabilities of your vehicle, start with the Dual XDVD8182 as the nerve center and build around it.

The Dual XDVD8182 delivers 200 watts of power (50Wx4 channels), has touchscreen controls, and will play/connect to pretty much anything currently out there in gadget-land.  We'll have a lot more on all this head unit soon.

Just how much stuff can be attached to this head unit?  Click on the images above to see connectors up close.  If you want a more detailed description, check out the wiring diagram :-)

Our plan this Fall is to have a series of "How To" articles on the installation of this head unit into our Porsche Boxster project car.  The follow-on series for the Winter will be to see how we can max out the possible connections with all kinds of cool gear.  This should be a fun project :-)


September 18,2006

We had mentioned the JNC Air a few weeks back.  The weather this weekend was perfect for the RainyDayGarage guys to take this unit out for a FirstLook.  

Power from the unit may be tapped via the cigarette lighter style port.  This is handy for using the JNC unit as a power source for various portable electronics gadgets...assuming you have the appropriate 12VDC adapter for your device.

The other side of the unit is the air compressor.  The air compressor is a powerful one.  It will fill a completely flat typical passenger tire in about 4-7 minutes.

The small compact design allows the JNC Air to fit perfectly in the space in the front trunk of Porsche Boxster right next to the spare wheel.  It replaced both the jumper cable and the foot pump.  Go check out the details of the JNC Air here.  We'll have a FirstUse when we do the Winter prep routine later in the Fall.


September 10,2006

We attended the PorscheFest at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum yesterday.  Folks arrived early to setup and do some final detailing.  Things were already buzzing by the time we arrived.

It was great to see Porsches from a wide span of years represented.  The turn out was tremendous.  A lot had to do with the beautiful grounds of the Auto Museum, but a good part of it may be the incredible weather...high 70's and clear :-)

The sunshine really made all of the Porsches in the competition sparkle. Click on any of the images to get a closer look.  There were a lot of different categories...we didn't paid too much attention to since we were there to stroll around and see if we could get some interesting shots.  Go here if you want to see more images of the PorscheFest.

August 25,2006

The guys in the RainyDayGarage have a rule about tools they may not need everyday..."when you need it, it has to work".  Our 1988 Pathfinder is starting to show its age.  With a little bit of work, it has always served us well in the New England Winters.  Even though the RainyDayGarage is pretty well equiped, we thought we should have some portable gear if we ever needed to service it on the road.

So when the guys went looking for a portable battery jump starter, they went straight to Clore Automotive.  Sure there are less expensive portable power sources out there, but would you care when you are out somewhere and your battery needs a jump or your tires need air?  No...you just want your gear to work. 

Clore Automotive tools are used by professional...so you know they are built to take the abuses of being in a shop.  However, they are actually very affordable for the home garage.

The JNC AIR unit is a jumpstarter, a portable power source, and an air compressor in one compact unit.  The unit is about 25lbs, but it is surprisingly easy to carry thanks to the balance design and curved handle.

The battery of the JNC AIR is what differentiates it from the less expensive units.  The JNC AIR's PROFORMER battery has very high peak amps (1700 A) and can deliver enough current to jump start quite a few times before needing a charge...especially important when it is cold out!  We'll have a FirstLook of the JNC AIR in early September.  The FirstUse review will be when we do our Winter prep routine later in the Fall.


August 16,2006

Tired of the paint on your car fading?  You wouldn't have that problem if it was gold-plated.  One of our RainyDayGarage fans forwarded this little gem to us just now.  Yes...it is a gold-plated Porsche Boxster!

Some Porsche owners are very picky about where they park for fear of getting dinged...we can just imagine how far away from other car they would have to park this to feel safe :-) We don't think we'll have a DIY project similar to this effort anytime soon. 

If you want an electric car, but still want the performance of a sports car, then Tesla Motors' Roadster may be just the ride for you. This $100K sports car is 100% electric, goes from 0-60 in about 4 seconds, can get from Boston to NYC on one charge (about $2.50 in electricity compared to $37 in gas!)

The only problem is if you want one, you will have to wait until the next production run.  The first 100 cars have already been spoken for!

Most readers know that we have been testing some Bluetooth speakerphones for use in the Boxster.  Our problem was when the top is down, most hands-free cell phone answering solutions have been less than adequate. 

We have been testing the Jabra and the BlueAnt Bluetooth speakerphones on several long trips.  Both units worked quite well when the top is up, but still was not really adequate when the top was down. 

Wind and road noises were the main problem...even with the devices built-in noise reduction signal processing capabilities.  The volumn on the speakers themselves were also occassionally not loud enough to be heard over the interior noise.  We think both of these units would be great for most cars, but for a convertible with the top down, we will have to continue to look for other options...perhaps something like these options below?

Can anyone tell us the difference between the two sunglasses and headphone pairing shown above?  It is a bit subtle, but does actually make a difference.  If you think you know, tell us via email with the subject line "Stick It In Your Ear."  We'll randoming reward a winner tomorrow with something that they can stick wherever they like.

We reviewed the Oakley O ROKR and felt that it was a good first attempt at integrating a few often used pieces of gear into one unit.  There were definitely some design and UI improvements should the Oakley folks decided to pursue this product line further.

A less expensive version showed up at the office today.  This unit does not have Bluetooth for connecting to a cell phone, but does have a built-in MP3 player and ear buds.  This Brando unit felt every bit as well made as the Oakleys, but at about a third of the price.  We'll load up some tunes and see if the sound quality is comparable.  Dog The Bounty Hunter can definitely carry off the look, but we are less intimidating and looked a bit over-powered by these glasses.  If you think you have the stature to do these MP3 sunglasses justice, then pick up a pair here.  We'll have more on them shortly.


July 28,2006

StickyPod has released a heavy duty update to their incredible videocam mount for directors looking to shoot their own version of Fast&Furious: Tokyo Drift.  BTW...major points if you can spot our girl Junko in the movie.

The StickyPod Director is composed of three StickyPod platforms, legs, and all necessary accessories to securely mount a professional video camera on a moving vehicle... all at a price that is about a third of the competition.  We have been using our StickPod for all kinds of stuff here at the magazine.  If you need to shoot from an odd angle or from high up looking down, the StickyPod is SO much easier to use than a traditional tripod.  


July 26,2006

There have been many different records set for crossing the English Channel.  Rinspeed just did it today with a bit more flair...in an experimental amphibious vehicle appropriately called the "Splash".  Check out the complete story here on the Rinspeed site!


July 21,2006

We don't really like to speak on the phone when we are driving, but sometimes we do.  In those instances, we still like to keep both hands on the wheel.  It is just crazy to try to drive with one hand on the wheel and the other holding the phone.

The idea of a hands free speakerphone is attractive, but the ones we have used in the past just didn't work that well in the convertible.  Often we can hear the call just fine, but the party on the other end would have a difficult time due to all the wind noise.   We are hoping this new crop with noise-reduction technology will fare better.  We will be testing two Bluetooth hands free speakerphones this weekend.  We'll be comparing the Jabra SP500 and the BlueAnt SuperTooth2

The major criteria will be how well they perform in the open cockpit of the Boxster.  The Jabra have more mounting options than the SuperTooth, but we'll be comparing them first using the visor mount.  We'll then try different positions to see if we could see if we can optimize the sound quality.

The cell phone we'll be using for the test is the new Motorola PEBL.  We have been using this phone everyday for the past 2 weeks and we LOVE it.

The display is bright and crisp.  The phone can be opened using just one hand, is easy to grip, and all the corners are gently curved.  Of all the Motorola phones we have used to date, the PEBL is definitely our favorite.

Many of you have been asking about the status of the Boxster.  We picked up the car from Gerardo's this morning.  The guys at Gerardo's does great work at extremely reasonable prices.  We take all of our work there when we don't want to get our hands dirty. 

The problem was what we had thought...the water pump.  A piece of the blade had broken off and in general that is a bad thing.  There was a slight delay because the pump does not come with the gasket.  Porsche claims the gasket may be reused, but why would anyone ever do that?  Hey Porsche, it is a $7 part ... throw in the gasket with the pump and save everyone the hassle.


July 17,2006

Some of us were suppose to be in NYC this week to meet up with friends visiting from Bermuda, but a coolant leak on the Boxster forced us to turn back to Boston.  Not only did we not get to see our friends, we have to fix the car, and it is really HOT...hence this whole "Blue Monday" thing. 


July 19,2006

Ever get the urge to sell everything and go on the road?  Photographer Rob Gray did, but first he built the RV to his specs before hitting the road.  Him and his wife did sell everything because the final tab for the vehicle came to $350,000.

However, they now have a new view whenever they want, don't have to put up with noisy neighbors, or worry about mowing the lawn.  Go check out the entire construction process here.


June 10,2006

Spring is over and we wanted to move into Summer with a clean office.  With the rain keeping us all inside for the past week, we took the opportunity to do some much needed cleaning. 

There are a few furry creatures (no...not the interns) running around the RainyDayMagazine office.  Getting their hair out of the office furniture has always been a challenge.  One of the easiest product we have found for getting cat hair off the office sofa is called StickySheets.  They measures a large 23" x 35" and come three sheets to a package.

All you have to do is unfold a sheet, peel back the paper, press / lift and you are done.  Each sheet is good for a few "pressings." 

We also discovered, because of its large size, the StickySheets were perfect for quickly cleaning lint off the Porsche Boxster's convertible top. 


June 1,2006

The guys at the RainyDayGarage also got a new toy to play for this weekend.  The guys always wanted to add a backup camera to the Boxster.  This last Memorial Day weekend, the local MicroCenter had a sale on their Swann digital security cameras.  The price?  Normally it is $50, the sale price was just $10 after rebates!  Even if it doesn't work out as a rear view cam, it will still be good for lots of other RainyDayProjects!  The sale ends today... so there is still time is you hurry.

This tiny device is a color video camera.  It came with an AC power adapter, 9V battery adapter, and two lens (45º, 90º).  We'll let you know what the quality is like once we get it hooked up later today.

The RainyDayGarage guys did get a chance to hook up the video camera to the Boxster today.  The task was pretty simple since they had already ran a video line out from the retractable LCD screen when it was installed for the Carputer Project.

All that was needed was a coupler and a battery and they were good to go!  They didn't bother to hook up the audio (the camera also has a built-in mic) for this test.

The camera came on right away.  They had to manually adjust the focus, but the image was not bad for a $10 video camera.  It will certainly be fine as a backup camera.

Conveniently, there was an unused magnetic mount already on the dash.  It was originally for a speakerphone, but that thing has long since died.  We had been meaning to remove the mount, but I guess it will stay on until we have a chance to cut a proper camera mount in the rear bumper.


May 18,2006

We had removed all of the chrome wheel bolts and replaced them with the rusty ones before bringing the tires to the installer to get them flipped around (see Porsche Puzzler).  Then it rained for a week.  Today was the first chance we had to put them back on. 

We thought it would be a 10 minute job...six hours later, we are finally finished.  What happened???  Well, we were down to the last three bolts when the SoftSocket we were using failed.

It failed in such a way that the top piece of the socket became firmly wedged against the wall and the head of the bolt.  We could drive it in this condition with no problems, but if we ever had to take the tire off, it would be impossible.  There was no way we could leave things in this condition...go here if you want to find out how it all ended.


May 14,2006 (SportsSunday 10:46AM)

There was no winner to last Saturday's Porsche Puzzler.  Quite a few came close, but nobody got the major problem so we decide we couldn't give away the set of Silver Porsche Wheel Centers just yet.  There will be another chance at some point.

Porsche Puzzler Answer: There were two problems with the rear tire.  The first problem was the installer had put the front rim on the rear tire.  This was the reason why the new rear bolts (left red arrow) were protruding so much further then the old bolts (right red arrow).

Most readers were closer on the second problem, but nobody got it exactly right.  Quite a few answers suggested the tires were "unidirectional".  We asked Pirelli and TireRack (where we had purchased these tires) and their answers were ..."The Pirelli tires that you purchased are NOT directional. They have an asymmetric design .... The tread design may appear to be running backwards on one side of the car, but this is the way the tire was designed." Thus, putting them on the other side of the car would not have fixed the problem.  All four tires were mounted with the inside facing out...they had to be remounted.  The installer was quite embarrassed when we went back and showed them the problem.  They did remount and re-balanced all four tires free of charge.


May 7,2006 (Weekend Edition-5:35PM)

After we replaced rusty wheel bolts on the Porsche Boxster with the Boothe Design chrome wheel bolts, we couldn't just ignore the rusty ones :-)  Instead, we said..."Hey, what a perfect chance to try out the new Dremel Stylus!"

This is not a quick job.  It took about 15 minutes to get all the rust off the head, polish the anti-seize collar, and buff one bolt. It'll probably take a few days to finish them all.

NOTE: For the folks who have sent in answers to yesterday's RainyDayPuzzler, we have added a new clue.  If you want to submit another answer...you will not be disqualified:-)


May 6,2006

 Others will be detailing the Boxster and getting it ready for the first top down ride of the season.  We started replacing the rusty wheel bolts with the chrome beauties from Boothe Design yesterday.  The wheel hanger was a HUGE time saver!

The front went on with no problems, as did the rear.  However, when we completed the rear, we noticed something odd.  It took us a little while to realized what the problems were. 

To solve the RainyDayGarage Porsche Puzzler of the week, look closely at the photo above.  If you can identify ALL the problems (yes...there is more than one) with the the REAR wheel in the photo, we'll send you something from the RainyDayGarage guys' bin of tools and toys :-)  This one is a little more difficult than our usual puzzlers...so don't waste you time just guessing.  Since our interns have been a little overwhelmed lately with the puzzler responses... they kindly request that you put "RainyDayPuzzler" in the subject line of the email and just ONE answer per person please, additional answers will be discarded unread by our interns.  We'll post the answer next weekend.  If there are more than one correct answer, we'll have a drawing for the prize.

NOTE: The RainyDayGarage guys wanted to give you one clue... there is NOTHING wrong with the bolts from Boothe Design, they are perfect.


May 4,2006

Even though it is May, we have not had a chance to put the summer tires on the Boxster yet.  One problem is on most nights the temperature still drop down to the mid 40's.  We didn't want to put the summer tires on until the temp stayed above 50º.

The other problem is our wheel bolts always get REALLY rusty over the Winter.  We clean and paint them every Spring, but can't seem to keep the rust from coming back.

This year we decided to try something new.  We have decided to replace all of the rusty bolts with these gorgeous bolts from Boothe Design.

We got a shipment of chromed wheel bolts from them yesterday.  The guys at RainyDayGarage were amazed at the quality of the bolts.  These bolts are so nice we are going to have to clean the car before we can put them on :-) BTW, if you can tell what else we got from them and how much, we'll send you a little token for your efforts.

UPDATE:  We got Noah Lambert's email (timestamped 3:22AM) correctly identifying the other Boothe Porsche goodies as the SoftSocket and Wheel Hanger

The socket is so we don't scratch the bolts.  The hanger makes it a snap to align the holes when replacing the bolts.  Noah asked for a 997 Turbo as his prize.  We are going to send him one, along with everything Porsche is selling in '06.

Another task the RainyDayGarage guys perform every Spring is cleaning the convertible top and protecting the interior of the Boxster with some kind of UV screen.  In the past, they usually use ArmorAll and Scotch Guard, but this Spring some readers asked them about a company called 303 Products Inc.  

We didn't know anything about them so we checked out their site.  Apparently, 303 products does not contain any silicone oils, waxes, glycerin or petroleum distillates.  Those additives, while giving a shiny coat, can actually damage synthetics and vinyl by leeching out plasticizer. 

303's claim is their product is the "only effective UV screening treatment for vinyl".  We are going to give these product a try.  Check back in the Fall to see what we think of them.

Tom (Powell, OH) on PPBB posted this little gem on what it means to REALLY detail a car.  Think you know how to detail a car?  You know NOTHING!

Paul's car care program has 61 steps and ends with a hand applied wax finish that is harder than concrete and will last about six months.  His handiwork is not for everybody.  If you have $10,000, Paul will be happy to wash and clean your car with the best products on the PLANET :-)  Paul will also go to wherever you are to clean off any bird droppings should you be so unfortunate...we are sure there is a fee for the follow up service.


April 26,2006

Most folks don't need a bus-size SUVs like the hulking Dodge Rampage we saw at the NY Auto Show.  Most want transportation options which makes sense.

A little over a year ago we did a quick blurb on the Zap SmartCar.  At that time, the price of gas was about half of what they are today.  Daimler Chrysler at that time saw no good business reasons to bring these cars in to the States.  The smart folks at Zap saw the future and decided to import these cars on their own.

The upward pressure of gas prices has caused management at Daimler Chrysler to revisit this missed opportunity.  Ahh, the benefits of 20/20 of hindsight.   Look for a decision some time this May. The guys in Detroit need to get the head out of the sand and start moving their feet rather than just their tongues.  All we can say is ....IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!!!  Until then, give your business to Zap.

Think you know how to trick out a Porsche?  Well, check out what the folks at Rinspeed Design did with a Porsche they called the zaZen!  This Porsche is just one of more than a dozen incredible vehicles created by Rinspeed.

The one piece all glass roof is just one the amazing item of this modified Carrera S.  More zaZen photos here.

However, if you think the zaZen is incredible, you will be blown away by the all electric WrightSpeed X1.  The X1 will leave the zaZen smelling its fumes (if it had any).  The X1 seats two and can go from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds!

The X1 is a limited production vehicle with a price tag of about $100K.  However, the exciting part for us is that the idea electric vehicles are slow, boring, and for tree huggers are now banished forever!  The X1 EV can kick serious butt on the track and will slam you against the back of the seat a lot cheaper than the $450K Porsche Carrera GT.


April 25,2006

Some of you have pointed us to Boothe Designs.  Apparently they are the only licensed Porsche Wheel Crest makers in the US.  Go check them out, they have a HUGE selection of Porsche Wheel Centers.

If you do decide to tackle a Porsche Crests Wheel Centers project, make them for yourselves, because you are not allow to sell them.  Ours won't be for sale, so don't send us any emails asking.  However, it did get our creative juices flowing...what other non-proprietary designs could one create using a blank wheel center???  Send us your ideas...if we like any, we'll send you a little token for your efforts!


April 24,2006

Apparently Dave's little two person protest outside the LA dealership generated quite a vigorous and spirited discussion on PPBB over the weekend.  The guys from the RainyDayGarage decided this was a good time to post the progress (little as it may be) on the Boxster Convertible Top Repair project.

We purchased some replacement plastic (marine grade) to see if we can do our own repairs.  Ideally, we would like to come up with a solution where we can put in a new piece in the future without having to sew it in (velcro, zipper, zip-lock, snaps???).  So far, we have not had any brilliant insights as to an alternative.  If you do, send it to us...we promise you fame and...well, mostly fame, and the gratitude of pre-2003 Boxster owners everywhere :-)


April 21,2006

We were all done for the day and was rummaging around on PPBB when we came upon this entry by Dave R...

Boxster owner Pasha was invited to the opening of the new Porsche dealership in downtown LA.  She has a very amusing entry on her Boxster blog about a little protest happening outside...check it out here.  If you end up having this roof problem, hopefully we can show you how to repair it on your own soon.  It is one of our project at the RainyDayGarage this season.

Hey Dave and Pasha...if you email us your mailing info, we have a Porsche Media Kit for you.  The guys in the RainyDayGarage called their friends in NYC and got you a little something for you from the New York International Auto Show.

We gave our media kit as a prize to somebody last week, but they managed to wrangle two more just because they thought you two deserved it :-)

Many of you readers with Porsches have sent comments regarding the Porsche Wheel Crest project and asking about purchasing the set we made.  We bought enough to make two sets, thinking we would give one away as a prize here:-) Keep a sharp eye out for the question that may win you this set.

Also, go check out the update on the new silver version using the horse as the center point.


April 20, 2006

We finished the first part of one of many Spring 2006 RainyDayGarage projects on our plate this morning.  Yesterday, we posted some write-ups on the progress of the Porsche Wheel Crests ProjectOne of the slightly troublesome part of this project was how to properly center the crest on the cap.  We decided to do it a little more precisely than just "eye-balling" it. 

We came up with a way, but if you have a better way...drop us a note.  If we use it, we'll send you a  little something for your efforts.

Today we washed the Boxster and mounted one of the caps to see how it looks on the wheel.

Some of the aftermarket caps protrude when mounted.  We liked the flush look of this cap when mounted.  We still have another spare cap.  We are going to make one with a Silver crest to see which we like better. 

When we have time to surf the web we usually click over to Make: to see if there is anything interesting.  This morning we came upon this great little retro bit about a company called Turbonique Inc.  Fun stuff...jet engines in a car!!!

The New York International Auto Show is still in full swing. Today, we'll show you a few tricked out vehicles from the show.  Customized cars are both on the main floor and out in some of the secondary tents next to the Javits Center.

With three screens in front and a large screen in the rear, this tricked out Toyota Matrix is the ultimate rolling PlayStation2, just make sure you keep one eye on the road while going for the slam dunk.

Out in one of the external tents, Five Axis is showing some of their creations.  They have taken a Scion and gave it a few options not available from the factory.

For those looking for a little more room in their ride, a Hummer is one way to go.  Of course, if the stock wheels are not large enough, Pirelli has 30" tires for your H2.

When you are walking around the show, make sure you find time to check out Davin Wheel's offerings.   They have a huge selection of wheels and are of superior quality.  If you are in the market for some quality wheels, these guys should be on the top of your list.

Gamers were not left out neither.  Subaru has a full 3 screen Gran Tourismo setup with hydraulic platform for true motion gaming experience!

Dodge folks have a projection screen competition racing installation which will let you and you buddies scream around the course in the actual vehicle while going nowhere :-)


April 19, 2006

Many of the RainyDayGarage guys are frequent lurkers on the Porsche Pete's Boxster Board.  One of the projects often discussed on PPBB is how to upgrade (paint, add crests, etc...) the factory wheel centers.

We have decided to tackle such a project for Spring.  We purchased a few blank wheel centers from FVD.  We also got some Porsche crests on EBay to add to the wheel center. 

We got enough of everything for two different projects.  One project is to make a set of wheel centers with the crest embedded.  Another project is to create a set where the crest in the center will rotate in such a way that it is always right side up even when the wheels are turning.  If you want to see what we are talking about, check out the video here.

We plan on using our new Dremel Stylus for this project...how?  Check back in a week or so and we'll show ya :-)  As a small incentive to keep you thinking more about this project, we have a little something for the first person who can tell us what is wrong with the picture above.  We may also give a set of these crests away when we are done or we may just put them back on EBay...we'll see.

The temperature in Boston is starting to stay above 45º.  This means it is almost time to change back to summer tires for the Boxster.  We better get going on this project!


April 15, 2006

Convertible sports cars were designed for weekends. Some convertible owners like to test their driving skills with them in autocross events. Others like to personalize them and show them off at gatherings. Most are content to find a twisty country road, put the top down to feel the air and the sun on their faces, and just drive.

The new offerings in the convertible sports cars category (Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice) are making it easier for many to enjoy top-down driving without breaking the bank.

The Saturn Sky is a roadster with all of its benefits (2 seater, convertible) and its limitations (2 seater, little storage). What it offers is the opportunity to get on the road with just the essentials (a friend, an overnight bag) and enjoy the basics (engine roar, open air, etc...). With the Saturn Sky, you can do all this for around $25K!

The Pontiac Solstice starts at under $20K. It is a beauty that will not look dated if you manage to keep it long enough to pass it on to your kids.

The interior is pure sports car. The dials are easy to read and the controls are all within reach. The shifter is comfortable and short. The entire soft top retracts into the rear and disappears. If you live in Southern California, you may forget this car even has a top!

Pontiac does offer a removable hardtop and some aerodynamic options for those who may have difficulties keeping the rear glued to the pavement. If the gold color is too much, the Solstice also comes in a sunny yellow.

If you want more "ummph" to the Solstice, Mallett will put in a 400HP V8, larger brakes, and tighter handling. All that work will bring the price up closer to $59K.

The Corvette convertible starts that high up on the price ladder. It comes with a 400 horsepower V8 6.0 liter engine. The new Z06 has 505hp from a LS7 7.0-liter engine.

If you don't want to work a stick, Corvette now offers an electronically controlled 6-speed Paddle Shift transmission with three different driving modes - Drive, Sport, and Paddle Shift.

We'll leave you with one last car...Saleen Parnelli Jones Limited Edition Mustang. This car was designed with a lot of input from Parnelli Jones, the famed race car driver. It was unveiled at the NY Auto Show on Thursday.

There will only be 500 of these limited edition Mustangs made by Saleen (a tribute to Jones' 1963 Indy 500 win). Each will be around $55K. It is a fully modern Mustang with lots of touches from the BOSS Mustangs of the '70s (side skirts, 1/4 window, rear wing, sports slats, racing gauges/paddles, and working hood pins).

The retro looking Mustang is a sheep in wolf's clothing. We have a feeling buyers will treat them more like garage queens, but this Mustang is built ready-to-race (Saleen racing suspension, 14" brakes, 302cc normally aspirated engine, 370 HP, 370 ft-lb of torque, 5-speed manual). Each will be individually serial numbered.

NOTE: The numbers on the side are made of static cling vinyl so they can be easily applied or removed as the situation demands :-)

Tomorrow we will move up to the Porsches, the Ferraris, and Astin Martins.


April 14, 2006

The difference between yesterday's concept cars and today's fantasy cars is that concept cars are not for sale at ANY price. Fantasy cars are available, but if you have to ask how much, you can't afford them :-)

Mecedes Benz is a name known to most. They offer vehicles in a few price categories. At their top end is the McLaren SLR. This car is truely stunning in person. The photos here can not even hope to convey the quality of this car.

The $450K starting price tag should give you an idea of what kind of quality you can expect if you are considering putting one of these in you garage. Just what kind of options ARE there when a car starts at $450K???

Saleen is a company that builds limited edition "muscle cars" for discerning individuals. Some of their hand-tuned cars are affordable, and some will stretch the budget a bit more.

Spyker has a head turning black Spyder that will flatten you against your seat as it goes from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. It will also set you bank account back about $270K.

BTW, we did manage to track down a Mazda representative who informed us the name of their concept car was called the Kabura.

The Kabura has what Mazda termes a 3+1 interior. The seats fold flat to accommodate a variety of active lifestyle situations (shopping, sports, etc...)

Also, congrats to Trevor Hiller. Yes...it is a Nissan Urge.

Trevor will be getting a copy of the Saab AeroX Media Kit (DVD and collector booklet).

This kit is not available anywhere and it was one of the hottest items given to the media out of all the NYIAS press events!

There are still other unclaimed prizes just waiting for anwers to questions we have strewn about in our ramblings. Careful readers could be handsomely rewarded :-)

Tomorrow we will take a look at some AFFORDABLE sports cars (Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice, etc...). We were surprised at how much sports car can be purchased for $20-30K! Here are a few pics to get you excited. There will be more in tomorrow's SportsCarsSaturday edition of RainyDayMagazine.

Of course, if you would like a V8 in your Solstice, Mallett will add that and a few other upgrades for another $30K. It will more than double the price of the car, but you will end up with one SWEET ride!

We are just about done fighting crowds for the day. It is time to head back to the Press room and hit the buffet table! We'll have a more detailed write-up of everything next week when we get back to the office.

The NYIAS runs from April 14th to April 23rd. So if you have a chance to come down to NYC's Jacob Javits Center and check it out, we highly recommend it! One tip...TAKE public transportation. The garages and public parking lots around the Jacob Javits center are charging around $50 for event parking.


April 13, 2006

Concept cars are the ultimate "teasers" of auto shows and there were quite a few at this year's NYIAS. We will hightlight a few of the ones that caught our eye.

RainyDayGarage had a chance to chat with Anthony Lo (right), Director of Advance Design GM Europe, about the Saab Aero X. This concept vehicle brings together the latest in Saab's research in biofuel, body design, and advance materials.

The Aero X has carbon fiber body panels, a polycarbonate wrap around windshield, and a 100% ethanol burning biofuel engine.

The light weight materials enabled Lo's team to design a mechanism which allows the roof and side panels to "unfold". We'll post some videos of the "unfolding" later.

Nissan also had an interesting 3 seater on the floor. We posted a few pics of it yesterday. Here is a couple more.

The Reflex is Ford's view of the future. Instead of soft leather or foam cushioning, the seats are made of a webbing material like those of the Aeron chairs. In the rear is a "sling" passengers or a child seat.

Rear hinged gull-wing doors provides easy front and rear passenger access...just be sure there is sufficient over head room before opening the doors!

We weren't able to find anyone at Mazda who could tell us anything about this vehicle...including its name, but we post it here because we know you would want to see it :-)


April 12, 2006

Today Bentley unveiled their new Convertible GTC to the press. The RainyDayGarage folks, of course, had a front row seat at the event! Not that we had that kind of clout, but we were over at the Nissan Press lunch and decided we were too full to go anywhere after. So we camped out in front of the rope line for 20 minutes.

Here are a few videos of the Continental GTC. If you are at a lost for a birthday present for your significant other, this may just be what you have been searching for. The new GTC has 552 horses under the hood, tops out at 195 mph with the top up and 190 with the top down.


The RainyDayGarage folks are reporting live from the Jacob Javits...so if there are things you want them to check out, just drop us a note!

Porsche has all of their new models on the floor (Cayman, Cayenne, BoxsterS, and the Carrera GT).

We have not been able to locate the 997 yet, but as soon as we can get one of the Porsche folks to actually acknowleged us, we'll ask :-)

Who can tell us what this cool 3-seater is? First one to give us the name and the company gets a little something in the mail!


April 11, 2006

Some of the RainyDayGarage folks are heading to NYC for the New York International Auto Show.  We asked them to take some of the new gear we just got in and see how they perform on the road.


March 28, 2006

When we watch a car commercial today, we expect most of the precision driving to be the work of the digital special effects department.

This was not always the case.  In the days before FX (like in the 1980s), real drivers with skills were used to pull of amazing trick driving stunts seen in commercials like the one from Isuzu.


March 6, 2006

Want to make your own supercar?  Just follow the steps outlined by these West Philly High School kids and build you own biodiesel (50 mpg) supercar (0-60 in 4 sec) out of a Honda chassis! 

The guys in the RainyDayGarage are all excited about it, but somehow I don't think they are going to get the OK to do the same thing to the Boxster.


February 22, 2006

An exotic sports car for less than $70,000?  Well...that is the base price (no engine or transaxle).  When fully optioned, the car will run closer to $100K.  However, it will do 0-60 in less than 3 seconds and tops out at 180 mph!

This beauty did not come out of the RainyDayGarage, but from Mullen Motor Company in LA.  If you are going to be in NYC on April 14, you can see one at the NY International Auto Show.  Look for us :-)

While not actually in the "Supercar" category, the British car make Lotus is making their vehicles "emission friendly" for the American roads.

How?  By putting in the Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine.  Surprisingly, the Lotus Elise will only be around $45K!  Of course, you will lose a few seconds going from 0-60 compared to the Mullen, but you can get two Elise for the price of one Mullen.  We know, we know... sometimes it is not about the price :-)


February 12, 2006

This Saturday was the first New England Boxster TechFest organized by the folks from RainyDayGarage and Bentley Publishers.  The event was host by Bentley Publishers at their office in Cambridge MA.

RainyDayMagazine provided the Boxster.  Soheil Zendeh and Charles Burke from Bentley Publishers gave an informative series of technical talks and demonstrations (brake pads and rotor replacement). 

Wan Chi Lau from RainyDayMagazine gave a brief talk on Harman Kardon's Drive+Play iPod controller.  We met a lot of great folks from PPBB.  We already started thinking about doing this again in the Spring!

Now we need to get on the road and get down to Mohegan Sun in Conn before the monster snow storm turn the entire New England area in a giant snow bank.


February 6, 2006

The next step in RainyDayGarage's Carputer project is to create a DC power connection for the Mac mini computer.  The benefit is the computer can be trickle fed some power even when the car had been turned off...leaving the carputer in "sleep" mode.  The carputer can then instantly start up without going through the lengthy boot process.

The problem everyone has at this point is not how to power the computer, but how to get a hold of the weird little power connector for the Mac mini.  Some have decided to cut the connector from the AC power adapter which came with the Mac.  Others have decided to just stay with the DC/AC inverter.

We decided we would buy another AC power adapter and remove the cable at the source.  It was also an excuse for us to take apart the adapter to see what was inside :-)

We are hoping we'll have time to hook everything up so we can show it off on Saturday at the New England Boxster TechFest!


January 26, 2006

A while back we got the CarChip from Davis Instruments for the folks in the RainyDayGarage.  The CarChip is an OBD-II reader/recorder that is both easy to use and very informative.

As it happens, one of our Contributing Editor, Carolyn, was having trouble with her car so we gave her the CarChip to see she could figure out her Camry's problem.  Go here to check out her most amusing view on automotive care...the guys in the RainyDayGarage have since made her one of their honorary mechanics.  They, however, still won't let her drive the Boxster :-)

A few months back we showed the Boxster Carputer running with a Mac mini and a LCD touchscreen interface.

It was fine for GPS navigation, but the 800x600 screen resolution was not optimal for the passenger watching a DVD.

We finally got our act together and got Apple's FrontRow running on the Boxster Carputer.  We have also set up a custom 800x480 screen resolution for the retractable LCD.  Videos now look MUCH better.

We have not had time to write all this up yet, but it's coming :-)  We are still working out some technical problems with controlling the FrontRow application without a physical keyboard.  Hey...that just all part of the fun, isn't it???


January 19, 2006

RainyDayGarage installed the Neo iON into our buddy Toby's Volkswagen R32 a few weeks ago. 

Toby does a LOT of driving around for his high-powered sales job so he was a perfect candidate for testing out this Neo iON car stereo/iPod connector.  Toby just filed his FirstUse report... check it out here.


January 10, 2006

We received a copy of the new Porsche Boxster Manual in December for review.  We got to talking with the folks at Bentley Publishers and thought it would be great to get some New England Boxster owners together for a little Tech Session.  Bentley Publishers have graciously agreed to sponsor and host the first...

New England Boxster TechFest

We are hoping the Boxster TechFest would give folks a chance to check out the Boxster Service Manual, meet some of the great people at Bentley Publishers, and to put some faces to some of the online "handles" on the PPBB!

If you like to join us...there are still a few spots available.   The event is FREE, but space is limited and pre-registration is required.  You can sign up for the event by sending email to us here.


January 5, 2006

We have been using GPS devices for about six years now.  The earlier devices were hard to use, had little in the way of features, and were expensive.  The newer devices (Navman, US Globalsat, Magellan) are much easier to use, have a lot of different viewing options, and are a lot cheaper.

The ALK folks have always been at the head of the pack when it came to GPS software, so when their CoPilot Live 6.0 version was released, we decided it was time to take a look.  The FirstLook review will take a quick look at the CoPilot Live 6.0 package and what we'll need to get it working with the iPaq 3850 PDA.

In this series of reviews, we will take you through the steps (upgrading the iPaq to PocketPC 2003, adding the Belkin Bluetooth card, installing the CoPilot software, loading the data, etc...) needed to get this GPS to work with an iPaq 3850 PDA.


January 3, 2006

We are starting the new year with a few car projects.  The first is an upgrade to the Carputer project we have been working on for a while now.  We had designed a CPU mount for the Mac mini and it worked OK for a few months. 

We finally decided to look for a better solution and found the BEST mount was one designed by Jeremy Hubbell of Hubbell Automation.  Go take a look at the RainyDayGarage guys' new Hubbell Mac mini mount installation project here.

We have been playing around with adding the iPod to our cars since the player first came on to the market.  It was simple enough to add an AUX cable and get the audio signal to the headunit, but it was not possible to have the headunit control the iPod until the Neo iOn.

We have to say this Neo iON installation was VERY simple.  The prep time (making the radio removal keys, tapping the ground wire) was more time consuming than the actual installation. 


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