Review: Automatic – Connected Car Adapter

Track your driving and miles with Automatic
Easy Trip Tracking

I bought the Automatic device exactly one year ago and it was the best ~$100 I have spent for my business. The Automatic is a small device that plugs into the OBD-II port, which is the small diagnostic port under every car dash in the last 20 years. They give you some pretty simple instructions to get it installed, you then download an app to your smartphone, connect the two and you are ready to go.

What the Automatic does:

  • It Automatically (see what they did there?) tracks your mileage, which you can access in the app or via a web page.
  • When your vehicle gives you a check engine light or other alerts, the Automatic app will give you info on what is wrong and you can reset the warning.
  • You get a driving score each week based on excessive speed, fast accelerating and hard braking.
  • They can alert someone if you are in an accident (poor man’s OnStar).
  • There are also several third-party apps and home automation devices that can be integrated with the device (think lights turn on when you pull into driveway).
  • There are also some extra features that can be used for teen or new drivers.

Why I love it:

  • I am horrible at tracking mileage for my business, this does it automatically. For my 2015 taxes I logged into the website, downloaded an excel file of all mileage and deleted all non work mileage. Boom, done, no log books or Google Maps searches.
  • My 2004 Honda CR-V has a pesky engine light that comes and goes. The Automatic app told me exactly what the issue was and a mechanic friend said that it is nothing I needed to worry about.

The Bottom Line: This is a no brainer if you have to track mileage for any reason. If you don’t need to, it still has some great features. It is currently about $100 on Amazon and there are no monthly fees. It can pay for itself with just one Engine Light Warning that you can make go away if it isn’t something serious and you don’t have to take the time and money to go see a mechanic.

It is available with Amazon Prime and they have a really great page with tons of information, reviews and answered questions. Go to the Amazon Automatic page and make your life easier!

Episode 17: Batteries Included


Due to Nate’s Walking Dead induced absentmindedness in the last episode, he has some more spring cleaning resources. Then after some other follow-up and Amazon heavy news we get into something near and dear to everyone’s heart – smart phone battery life. We have some tips, tricks and strong suggestions (Insert 10 minute Reddit rabbit hole here) to keep your device’s battery happy.

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Episode 12: Popcorn Foraging Hobo Bears


We start off talking about how NPR and robots are taking over our board games and the world. Obama took over SxSW and Nate wonders how anything is secure anymore. After that we talk apps, apps and more apps, from pro tips on going to the movies to making yourself look like Leo DiCaprio.

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McDonalds Sweden is making Happy Meal Virtual Reality Goggles

25343010026_26434565af_zEarlier this week we discussed Virtual and Augmented Reality on Episode 10 of the podcast. I really feel that these technologies are going to get a lot of attention in the near future, there has been talk of virtual reality for a long time, but the hardware and software has developed to the point where a great experience can be achieved. So I can’t say that I was totally surprised to see that McDonald’s is getting into the game.

This last Monday, McDonald’s Sweden announced that they would be doing a special two weekend event in which the popular Happy Meal boxes would convert into virtual reality viewers. The concept is not new, in fact it is very similar to the Google cardboard viewer that I own. They are also releasing a special 3D virtual reality skiing game called “se upp i backen” (in English that means watch out on the slopes) to go with the device.

The product does need a smart phone, but that is the great thing about this entry-level option, there is a good chance you already have a smart phone which can take care of the needed computing power, you just need a device to format it in an immersive experience.

From the press release:

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Happy Meal in Sweden, McDonald’s Sweden has developed Happy Goggles. By re-folding the Happy Meal box, customers can create a pair of Virtual-Reality glasses which makes it possible to experience Virtual Reality with a smart phone.

McDonald’s continually tests new ideas and, with Happy Goggles, Virtual Reality (VR) becomes available to everyone. Happy Goggles are a test designed to modernize the Happy Meal and provide a digital experience in addition to the physical toys usually found in the box.

On the Happy Goggles website they also say that they are only being tested in Sweden now but plan to roll them out to other countries soon. You can watch the video explaining the project below:

I just read an article Dave sent me today that says two-thirds of consumers don’t realize this technology exists. I think with projects like this that will change very quickly. Have you tried Virtual Reality? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.