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mp3Car News

  1. August 8, 2008 - Nick's post

    by , 08-11-2008 at 11:20 AM
    My name is Nick or Reno91011 on the forums. I'm a summer intern with Mp3Car. Before hearing about Mp3Car through my brother, I had no idea of what was possible with an in-car computer, but after reading through a large amount of the forums during my research, I found out how creative one can be with a simple starting point. I was hired primarily for my software knowledge and to be a dedicated person to develop and analyze the online content of Mp3Car. I spend most of my days working in front of 3 monitors with headphones on and editing HTML, Javascript, PHP, MySQL, and vBulletin code. Much of the smaller and larger changes in online content in the past few months have been my work, such as this blog.

    After starting working for Mp3Car, I have since begun work on my own car computer and am hoping to get it installed by the end of the summer. It will pretty much be an AOpen miniDuo 945-X, 512mb of ram, 80gb hard drive, a 7" non-touchscreen monitor, and a customized XP installation. I know that nearly everyone on the forums will ask "Why go with a non-touchscreen?" I have two reasons for this 1) I am cheap and the more money I invest now in a car with nearly 150,000 miles, the worse I will feel when it dies and 2) I like an extra challenge.
    Coming from a purely software background, I will eventually design a lightweight front-end to do all of the things that only I think are necessary. Since I don't have the time to spend in development, and I wasn't really impressed with any of the options for free frontends, I'm going to go with the most complete application for video and mp3 playing available that I can find. I am currently looking at Moraff's Freedom Player , well described by the simple sentence "If a typical media player is a kite, Moraff's Freedom Player is a 747!"

    I spend most of my free time playing video games and coding/learning new languages. I actually got involved in computer science due to my interest in video games, but after two internships in the field, saw and experienced the difficulty involved in game creation. Aside from schoolwork for my senior year as a computer science major, I am also involved in two startup companies and do a little contracting on the side to help pay for my computer purchases. My next big buy is an ATI Radeon HD 4850.

    Well, that's pretty much it for me. Expect another post pretty soon from me or one of the other staff here about the next few addons that I'll be making for the site in this last stretch before college starts up again.

    Updated 10-20-2009 at 06:09 PM by Heather

    Categories
    mp3Car News
  2. August 5th - Who is Heather?

    by , 08-07-2008 at 10:58 AM
    Hello. I am Heather, or armine on the forums. I started working at Mp3Car last fall, putting a hold on my work in international development. I used to spend my time backpacking through Latin America to find new cultures and learn Spanish, or working with Ukrainian non-profits in the Peace Corps. Now, I spend my days in cyberspace on the Mp3Car Store to support customers and on the Mp3Car Forums and my iGoogle page (Engadget, Techdirt, How Stuff Works, Future Tense) to find out who is innovating in car computing, what products are new, and how we can get involved.

    Why I wanted to work at Mp3Car is really best described in this Charles Leadbeater TED Talk about the inventors of the mountain bike. They were young bikers, frustrated with the bike selection available, who hacked together parts of the standard types of bikes on the market and created a new product that would not have been created in any other way. My personal goal at Mp3Car is to try in whatever way I can, to support innovators on the forums that create stuff people really want and need, perhaps products which no corporation would have thought of, or be able to create.

    My role, in general, at Mp3Car is to make sure that we are focused on the right goals, as a team. However, there is too much to do, so I have a whole bunch of daily tasks and my picture shows it. The large screen shows the orders of the day which I am processing. You cannot see the other tabs in Mozilla - but they are the forums. I have the calculator out because we are adding a new product and I am trying to see if the vendor price is fair – I do all the financial management. I’ve got business cards falling over – why can’t people just use vcards? There are some product returns on my desk, already processed, that need to go into stock. And, I have the Ethiopian coffee that we buy from a nice family-run coffee shop in DC (all fair trade), called Sidamo, to get me through the day, and the iPhone which I use at night to add new places of interest to the Nearby App- a great concept, but a little flaky and not getting too much support in Baltimore.

    I may be in contact with you if you have a customer service issue as I manage most of these, if you are a new customer and I want to call to say hello, if you are a vendor and need to get paid, if you are a vendor and we would like to sell your product, if you just signed up for the forums but mistyped your email address,or if you just have an idea and I wanted to thank you for it. Or I may have seen something you said on the forums and sent you a PM.

    Feel free to let me know if you have a great product to sell, a good idea for us, or think something at Mp3Car could be improved. You can always post an idea for the store in the Customer Service Forum or the forums for new product suggestions , and for ideas and changes to the forums there is the subforum, called Suggestions/Comments or you can email [email protected].

    Updated 10-20-2009 at 06:08 PM by Heather

    Categories
    mp3Car News
  3. An Mp3Car story

    by , 08-07-2008 at 10:56 AM
    Posted by ecog in In and Around Mp3Car

    I started my career at Mp3car in the spring of 2005 right after I finished my Masters degree in Computer Science. One of my best friends, Mike, was working with Rob at the time and he mentioned that Rob’s startup company needed some help packing boxes. I figured why not make some extra money while I am looking for a Software development job. It wasn't something I was thrilled about, packing boxes, but it was a job and it paid the bills.



    My first day on the job, and my first responsibility, was to organize the new inventory that was piled up in the middle of the smallest room in the basement (about 12x12). The room reminded me of the pantry room we had in our house, you know, the place where you would keep groceries, dishes, etc...so I started calling it the Pantryroom. We've since moved out of there a long time ago, but my work machine is still called the Pantrybox.



    Anyway, so this room had a whole bunch of Lilliput boxes piled up in the middle of it along with some Xenarc products, M1-ATXs, OPUS products, CarNetix regulators, startup-shutdown controllers, and shelves fresh off of Home Depot. So I assembled the shelves, put them up along the walls and organized the products the best I could since I had no idea what most of them did.

    The hardest part of the job at first was learning the products and the accessories that came with them. Most were (some still are) not shipped to us in what you would call "retail packaging" so it is very easy to miss an accessory part unless you know the products very well or they are organized very well. In addition to this, creating the shipping labels was a very time consuming, error prone, and inefficient process. The store software and the shipping system were not interlinked so I had to copy and paste every single address line to two separate shipping systems, UPS and online USPS, and sometimes I had to fill out forms by hand whenever we shipped to military addresses. So what should have taken 5 minutes or less to ship a box, took 10 to 20 minutes or more.



    At the same time I was trying to figure out what all of these products did and how they fit in the big picture. Nat Wilson, who was my boss at the time, was a tremendous resource on this and I can safely say what I learned about how computers fit into cars, I learned from him. But for the more esoteric and wacky stuff (when Nat didn’t have time for my pesky questions) I frequently used the search function on the forum and I wasn’t disappointed since I could find my answers most of the time.



    About 3 months went by since I had started packing boxes and learning about the new world of mobile computing and I found myself spending less time looking for a software development job and more time learning about DC-DC power supplies and startup/shutdown controllers. In that time I learned a few things and one of them was Mp3car was a ship without a mast, paddling in an unknown sea with a collection of spoons as paddles and heading towards land that is somewhere ahead, albeit a long ways away. “Spooning” our way there wasn’t going to cut it, but towards the end of the summer I decided I wanted to stay and hopefully have a hand in building proper paddles, a mast, sail, a compass and plug the holes in the ship. Looking back at the decision what I really decided was to throw away the comfort (and nice salary) of a software development job and throw myself in the startup business with an unpredictable sea, a Kraken underneath and brewing storms overhead. Knowing what I know now I wouldn’t change the decision, but I would’ve done things a little differently.



    The way I really got to know the business was in September of ‘05. Rob and Nat took a month long scouting trip to Asia to meet with a few vendors and find a new monitor supplier. That left me in charge of store operations and our accountant...in charge of accounting. Trying to meet the company’s ends (order processing, shipping, phone and email customer service, phone and email tech support, inventory management, shipping supplies management, fraud screening) made for very long days, gray hairdo, and a boot camp on priorities management, multitasking and efficiency. The result of that fiasco was hiring Matt to help out with shipping and after a while support. He was smart, worked very hard and was a lot of fun to work with during his time here, but as it often happens people move on to bigger and better things.



    Since that September of ’05, my main role here has been with store operations. Just making sure the store runs in one capacity or another. For a while I was processing orders, fraud screening, inventory management, shipping and shipping supplies management, consulting, building hardware, some small internal software projects (like moving data from the old store to the new one), online store maintenance and a few other things that cropped up unexpectedly and at the most inopportune times.



    After a couple of years of doing that things were getting a little stale around here. However, things have changed recently since Heather came on board and I’m pretty excited about where the company is headed. There have been some changes in the past 8 months and a lot more to come.



    What I do these days is mainly techy stuff. I do the tech support and RMAs for Mp3Car, the hardware builds (although Scott is doing a lot of them these days), Project Management (hardware and software) for large clients, hardware consulting and systems design, and a few other things that crop up at the most inopportune time. I also take care of the CarNetix forum and tech support (email and forum), and manage the CarNetix inventory.



    In my free time I try to fix my car and I religiously follow the Green Bay Packers. I really hope something happens today and the Favre fiasco gets resolved one way or the other. I really don’t like drama and I’d much rather know whether Aaron Rouse is making his way in the starting lineup over “butterfingers” Collins (seriously dude, you’re a good solid player and I like you, but make friends with the jug machine or use glue or do something to hold onto those balls that keep slipping through your hands). I’m glad we got Grant back though and I am looking forward to the Vikings on opening night. They’ll be tough and the schedule looks brutal the rest of the year, but if you want to be the best you gotta’ beat the best right?



    Oh…my name is Goce and I’m from Macedonia. Did I mention I like football?

    I started my career at Mp3car in the spring of 2005 right after I finished my Masters degree in Computer Science. One of my best friends, Mike, was working with Rob at the time and he mentioned that Rob’s startup company needed some help packing boxes. I figured why not make some extra money while I am looking for a Software development job. It wasn't something I was thrilled about, packing boxes, but it was a job and it paid the bills.



    My first day on the job, and my first responsibility, was to organize the new inventory that was piled up in the middle of the smallest room in the basement (about 12x12). The room reminded me of the pantry room we had in our house, you know, the place where you would keep groceries, dishes, etc...so I started calling it the Pantryroom. We've since moved out of there a long time ago, but my work machine is still called the Pantrybox.


    Anyway, so this room had a whole bunch of Lilliput boxes piled up in the middle of it along with some Xenarc products, M1-ATXs, OPUS products, CarNetix regulators, startup-shutdown controllers, and shelves fresh off of Home Depot. So I assembled the shelves, put them up along the walls and organized the products the best I could since I had no idea what most of them did.

    Updated 10-20-2009 at 06:08 PM by Heather

    Categories
    mp3Car News
  4. August 2 - Scott Introduction

    by , 08-04-2008 at 02:31 PM




    Hello, my name is Scott. I am an intern at Mp3Car. Prior to my employment here I spent a lot of time on the forums doing research and dreaming up the perfect driving machine. Unfortunately, I lack the funds to move my dreams to reality in a timely fashion. But, thanks to Mp3car I have made a lot of progress in the past few months.
    Here at Mp3Car I spend most of my time preparing and shipping orders. I get to see everything that goes in and out. The coolest part of my job is that I can see what people order and imagine how they are going to make it work in their car. If you had a problem with your shipment, I’m sorry; it is more than likely my fault. Aside from all that, I take time to read the latest forum posts and test products new and old.
    In the future, I hope to give you all more insight on news and products related to the hobby. Keep up the good work guys! You all continue to impress me more and more each day.

    "The difference between what the most and the least learned people know is inexpressibly trivial in relation to that which is unknown" - Albert Einstein

    Updated 09-17-2009 at 03:51 PM by ecog

    Categories
    mp3Car News
  5. July 31, 2008 - Self Wrapping Split Braided Sleeving

    by , 08-01-2008 at 09:52 AM


    We added TechFlex's 1/2 " Self Wrapping Split Braided Sleeving- Fire retardant Wire wrap to the store. This is great for organizing the messiest of car computer installations.

    Check out the demo movie here.