Sunday, October 09, 2005

Autoblog owns up

After a day of having several incensed readers posting comments related to the deleted ipod nano contest on all of their top articles, Autoblog eventually posted this message to say "oops, we never meant to make anyone suspicious by refusing to announce the winner and deleting all of the entries and posts related to the contest." I'd say that at the very best, they are quite naive about people's response to a perceived scam. At this point I will wait to see them post the URL for the winning blog before I decide what I finally think about it all, but at least they've admitted they made a mistake in deleting all trace of the contest in a peremptory fashion.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Autoblog contest scam

Well, I wanted to give Autoblog the benefit of the doubt, since I know that delivering on commitments can sometimes take longer than estimated. However at this point I have to believe that have perpetrated a minor fraud on the automotive internet community. Several weeks ago they announced a contest to give away an ipod nano to the blogger who created their favorite page of links to the blogger's 10 favorite articles on Autoblog.

Now, it was obvious that their intention was to increase links to their site, and it seemed to me to be a quite legitimate means to do so... it got people to dig through their archives to find articles they liked and link those articles with commentary on their respective blogs... nothing wrong with that, right?

During the contest, Autoblog posted several updates, listing the count of unique entries, etc. This indicated to me that it was a serious contest and the contest they had announced to the public was legitimate. On the announced end date, they posted an article stating that they had received 100 unique entrants with the last one being right before the midnight deadline, and would have all the autoblog writers reviewing the list and posting the results by the "middle or end of the week" which I believe all the entrants took to mean around the 30th of September.

Another week has passed since then, and I for one have posted several queries to their "contact Autoblog" page to find out why there has been no announcement of a delay, of a tie, of cancellation of the contest... no notice at all. Several people (including myself) had posted comments to the contest-closed blog entry asking why there was no information forthcoming, and a few were speculating that the contest was created in bad faith from the beginning.

Now Autoblog has removed ALL trace of the contest from their site... from the original announcement to the final contest-closed (with the incriminating queries from various contestants.) This smacks of bad faith. Whether it was the case from the beginning or one of the autobloggers fell in love with the nano I cannot say, but I for one find it inexcusable that no message has been sent to the entrants or posted on Autoblog's website, and I intend to see that they are excoriated in online forums for their dishonesty.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How many gadgets are too many?

I watched an hour-long show about the Frankfurt auto show on Speed recently and one of the vehicles that figured prominently in the show was the upcoming S-Class from Mercedes-Benz. Now don't get me wrong, I like German cars, and I'd love to have so much money that I could convince myself I needed an S-Class. At this point, though, I think I'd buy an older one.

The new S-Class has gone all BMW on us... the odd bustle trunk style like the 7-series BMW (though of course Mercedes cites the Maybach as their trunk inspiration) and the dreaded iDrive. I know, I know, it's COMAND and it's totally different and better and has dedicated buttons for things. Still, I don't see the need for a mouse in my car. Call me old school (I edit with vi, so I guess I am) but a mouse between the seats controlling a display that distracts people from the road is not a positive development.

Car manufacturers' lawyers will tell us that these systems are intended to be used when the car is not in motion, but then newspapers are also intended to be read when one's not driving a car, and I've seen numerous people doing just that. I'd like to claim I've seen someone doing the crossword puzzle, but I can't quite swear to that... I'm sure it happens, I just haven't witnessed it yet.

Do I think we should go back to the AM radio? Hell no! I think steering-wheel-mounted controls for the stereo are a great innovation, a gadget that makes it EASIER for people to drive well, since it offers a simplified set of controls for primary functions in easy reach without releasing the wheel. Navigation systems are a great help to the map-challenged, and some of these have usable voice activation and confirmation to help people watch the road instead of the pretty map display.

I guess it's strange for a gadget guy who's a gearhead to complain about too many gadgets in the cars, but that's the source of Mercedes' recent quality issues, and it's just plain excessive. I must be getting old, and waxing nostalgic for a simpler time.