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PCBD-Sept2015

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8 The PCB Design Magazine • September 2015 by Andy Shaughnessy i-COnneCT007 THE SHAuGHNESSy REPoRT Car Talk column My girlfriend Rita doesn't like to drive in traffic. As an Atlanta resident, this is a problem for her, because Atlanta has some of the worst traffic jams in the U.S. (I think it's worse than Los Angeles; I've never sat for three hours in the same spot in LA.) So, after her last motoring miscue, she bought a new Mazda 3—the cheap- est car Mazda makes—but it's tricked out with every anti-collision feature available. Now, it's almost impossible for Rita to trade paint. Hit the turn signal when another car is passing, and all kinds of alarms go off. If you drift over and touch the yellow line on either side, the car starts beeping like crazy. If the car ahead of you slows down when cruise control is engaged, the car applies the brakes automati- cally and keeps you a certain number of car lengths behind Mr. Slowpoke. And if the reverse video doesn't do the trick, the car starts beeping if you're about to back out in front of a vehicle that you can't see. Yes, I poked fun at Rita for having all of these countermeasures beeping and pinging, but they work great. You can even turn them off, which I would do if I had to drive her car for any length of time. Plus, the entertainment system has a great GUI; you feel like you're sitting in your couch at home, flipping through the channels. You barely have to take your eyes off the road (or the handy speedometer in the heads up display) to find another CD on your phone's Bluetooth, which is the point. All of these electronic features come at a price, though: about $5,000, in this case. But we're willing to shell out extra cash for features that will make us feel safe, or offer us greater convenience or entertainment.

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