Friday, February 17, 2012

Audi news

Audi has been busy announcing stuff lately. Lots of new cars, for me the RS model line is the most exciting of course. The one I am most interested in is the RS4 Avant. I love our trusty A4 Avant, it is in many aspects the perfect car for a small family like ours. Now drop a 450hp V8 in it, kit it out with the usual RS brakes, suspension and other goodies and you have one ridiculously amazing family hauler. Too bad this RS4 is only destined for Europe. Maybe this is a good thing lest I be tempted to do something completely silly like replace the current A4 with this RS4 monster....

Then there is the RS5. I think the current A5/S5 models are beautiful, the S5 menacing and gorgeous looking. Now there is the RS version with the same 450hp V8 as the RS4. And this one is coming to North America. Not a contender for my TT-RS though. It is still faster and sexier :-)

On a more realistic and practical level there is the re-introduction of the Allroad. This is as close to a SUV as I would ever get and if I would ever want to replace the A4, the Allroad would be the only option since Audi is not bringing the A4 Avant to NA anymore. Nothing wrong with the A4 allroad, it is the same platform and engine configuration as the current generation A4 which is just fine. Looks a bit more butch with the fenders and other off-road-ish gear. Perfect for adventurous Vancouverites!

Then there is the bigger version, the A6 allroad:

I think I prefer the A4 version, although the new A6 is a sumptuously luxurious car. I drove them at the Audi Driving Experience last summer and certainly enjoyed that.

There is also the TT-RS plus, which gives the Europeans the same engine spec as the North Americans. So 360hp.

Audi is certainly keeping up the exciting car news. So far I see myself driving Audis for a long time to come.

Later today I will be picking my TT-RS, I had a 3M film protection applied to the front. This means I can go out this summer on the dusty BC back roads without the car coming back looking sand-blasted. I cannot wait!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Today as I was enjoying a bit of an indulgent semi-lunch at Bel Cafe consisting of a hazelnut danish, a Macchiato and a special hot chocolate creation, I started thinking about simplicity. This was prompted by the complex flavors of the chai infused hot chocolate with hazelnut oil scented whipped cream, sprinkled with granules of caramelized honey and garnished with peppermint leaves. It looks nice:

Now think of chocolate in its (almost) purest form:

I have to admit I prefer the latter. The hot chocolate was good with some very interesting flavors but when it comes to food, I prefer simplicity. A piece of 83% dark chocolate can be supremely flavorful and just simply taste like chocolate. The hot chocolate I enjoyed at Bel was good, the Chai flavors very comforting with the bright whipped cream and mint leaves complementing things nicely. Complex can be good, but simple usually is better.

My other favorite example are potato chips. A well made chip, the combination of good potatoes, high quality oil and sea salt can be delicious. For some reason however, people like to kill that flavor with vinegar or a plethora of chemically induced flavors. Sour cream and onion? Ketchup? Really?

I like to stick with the plain ones, Miss Vickie's being my favorite. The concept of simplicity goes a lot further, when I see really complicated and long menus at restaurants, I become a bit wary. The best places usually have a short menu, 5 or 6 items per section and dishes have short lists of ingredients. One of my favorite desserts to make at home is called a Tarte Tatin. It is a delectable combination of fruit, caramel and pastry. It has exactly four ingredients, sugar, butter, fruit (apple or pear usually) and flour. The end result however, of fruit stewed in a combination of caramel, butter and its own juices sitting on top of pastry that has been baked golden brown on one side and soaked in caramel and fruit juice on the other is gorgeous.

Simplicity also applies to what I do at work. Over the years, pragmatism and experience have led me down a path of least complexity when it comes to designing and implementing software systems. Engineers sometime like to build beautiful but complex systems that are hard to understand, have multiple failure points and can be impossible to maintain by others. Simple elegance however usually results in systems that are easy to understand. Combining these simple building blocks can still lead to complex results. Look in nature, a single ant is a very simple little insect. A few million ants together can build incredible structures and exhibit very complex behaviour.

So yes, simplicty. Something to strive for.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Some Audi admiration

As said before in this blog, I am a bit of an Audi fanboy. Having two of them makes that pretty obvious.
I still look forward to driving the TT RS every time and had a really nice drive last Saturday to Blaine, Washington to pick up a couple of items from a depot where you can have things shipped to if shipping to Canada from the US is too expensive or simply not possible. With Nexus in hand, this is something that takes about two hours tops. I do love that car, so civilized on the highway, purring along at 120km/h but also ferocious when opened up, the 5 cylinder sounding magnificent and the 340lb/ft of torque generating fantastic acceleration. I am very much looking forward to the first BC interior drive of the season, hopefully late May/early June on a sunny day, involving the Duffy Lake Road.

Last night the trusty A4 started complaining about a broken headlight so that needed looking after. I took it to the dealership first thing this morning, given our busy schedule it was either that or next week sometime. The north shore Audi dealership (Capilano Audi) always has nice cars on the floor but this morning was a treat. The center piece was an absolutely astounding matte silver R8 GT. This car is incredible to behold, with the unique paint finish absorbing light while the many carbon fiber accents gleam softly all around. Massive 20" rims, ceramic brakes, fixed spoiler, what a car. 560hp, 398lb/ft of torque and 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds. Sigh. If there was ever something to covet and covet very badly...
It had a big 'SOLD' sign on it, so somewhere, some very lucky (and rich, the sticker price for these is around $220K) person will be driving this car soon. I sure hope it gets driven as opposed to parked in some trophy garage somewhere!

So much to admire...

There also was a STaSIS tuned S4 on the floor, very impressive looking with 19" rims, massive custom exhausts and impressive numbers, 410hp and 370lb/ft of torque. This must be quite the ride as well. Maybe I should add the STaSIS tuning package for the A4 to my 'I covet' list...261hp and 305lb/ft of torque? Hmmm....I wonder what Connie thinks :-)

Finally, the white TT RS that has been sitting on their floor has sold as well. I wonder how many TT RS cars are in Vancouver right now.