The Self-Parking Car Drives Into The US

Someday cars will have no steering wheels, because they will drive themselves. Spooky, huh?

You may think that is just a fantasy, but self-parking cars have been in development for a few years. Now it looks like Toyota may be the first manufacturer to hit the market with a real, no fooling, self-parking car. Even better, it is a hybrid so it will even drive right by gas stations – most of the time.

I can’t tell you exactly how the Toyota system works, but the Car Parking Aid system being developed at Roke Manor Research combines information from a number of on-board sensors to help execute parking maneuvers quickly and accurately.

The system uses millimeter wave radar sensors and advanced image processing algorithms. This sensor fusion approach enables parking spaces to be measured more accurately and robustly than would be possible using either technology alone. I don’t know exactly what all that means, but then I still can’t program my VCR.

Intelligent Parking Assist is an entirely different system. It is the new $2,200 option package for Toyota’s Prius gas-electric hybrid car. Now every driver will be able to parallel park blindfolded. Come to think of it, with so many drivers influenced by too much NASCAR TV, driving blindfolded is not such a bad idea.

Intelligent Parking Assist relies on a built-in computer and a steering sensor. A tiny camera is located in the car’s rear and a dashboard monitor displays what the camera sees. The driver just pulls up near a parking space and shifts into reverse. Then computerized lines materialize on the camera display monitor. Next to the lines there are arrows pointing up, down, left and right.

The driver uses the arrows, to move the lines around on the display monitor until the lines define exactly where you want the car to be smashed…err, I mean parked. (You better take your blindfold off for this!) Now that all the preliminaries have been taken care of you just push the “set” button.

It is here that the owner’s manual says to “Keep your foot lightly on the brake pedal”, and the car will start backing up. The steering wheel will move as if the car is being driven by the invisible man. The car will magically ease into the parking space you’ve chosen with the computer display.

The car’s smarty pants computer senses when it’s time to turn the car’s wheel and the ride is over when you hear a computerized voice say “The assist is over.” (Then you can uncross your fingers?)

This new technology has already been available on Toyota hybrid models in Britain and 70 percent of the car buyers paid the $700 for the self-park feature.

In Japan about 80 percent of Prius buyers jumped at the Intelligent Parking Assist option. It’s a well known fact that Japan has one trillion people and only 8 parking spaces, so drivers may never get the opportunity to use the new feature.

I love technology. Cars now have automatic climate control. satellite guidance systems, surround sound, security sensors, cruise control and now self-parking. I can hardly wait until my car will be able to make its own monthly payments!

Are Sneakers a Fashion No-No in Paris?

Are American sneakers a fashion don’t in Paris? The Senior Editor of online magazine Paris Eiffel Tower News addresses the issue from a bilateral viewpoint.

I can’t count the number of times travelers who asked me: ‘Should I wear sneakers in Paris?’ and other variations of the same question. American tourists especially are concerned about ‘not fitting in’ with inappropriate shoes.

That attitude is remarkable indeed. Dressing so as not to shock the sensitivity of the locals: how much more considerate can you get? I can only give kudos to all of you who ever asked the question or thought about it!

Paris, French fashion, sneakers

Paris-bound tourists are often of the opinion that French women are die-hard fashion victims. This claim is definitely exaggerated, though access to stylish clothing is heavily facilitated in Paris where women magazines such as ‘Elle’ and ‘Figaro Madame’ dictate what’s fashionable and what’s not.

In my humble opinion, perennial tastes look very much alike in Paris and New York City. Globalization tends to homogenize fashion, making work-a-day wear similar in large cities.

No matter, the sneaker concern remains valid. Sneakers are now such a commodity in the US, how is it in Paris?

The generally accepted business dress code in France usually bars sneakers from entering the corporate environment, except for low-level positions. Thus the Parisian woman wears good-looking city shoes to go to work, unless the business which employs her cultivates a sporty image in which sneakers find a natural home.

Yet sneakers have become design icons in their own right. Adidas, Puma and Nike each have their own Parisian stores, and crank out more models a convincing fashion-victim could easily shake credit cards at. Adidas recently teamed with iconic fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto to create Y-3, a new line of dress-up sneakers. Stella McCartney also has her own Adidas line.

What major difference in shoe-attitude could we identify between American and French she-consumers? The latter will wear sneakers as design items, not as workaday shoes. Sneakers won’t be bought for comfort, but will find an easy way into a tight purse when they compliment dress-down pants and make their owner look good. The She-Parisian loves sneakers which make her feet look thin, small, and classy.

A mere glance at the types of sneakers most commonly seen on women’s feet in Paris is telling: you won’t see any wide, cushy, comfy-looking, plain vanilla sneakers. You will see small, thin-looking, flat-sole, designer sneakers.

For the same reasons, a pair of Stephane Kelian or Robert Clergerie shoes will almost always be favored over a pair of good-looking Pumas. Shoes are a fashion statement, and the more understated it is, the better.

That’s another major difference between French and American women. Understatement is a cardinal rule in French fashion. Anything that is too visible is considered garish. This is why the little black dress is such a fashion icon, and why Audrey Hepburn will always be remembered as The Quintessential Fashionable American Woman.

Tourists and sneakers

Does all this mean you can’t wear sneakers when you travel to Paris? Of course not!

First of all, sneakers can be comfortable walking shoes. And walk you will, in Paris. The very best way to discover the city is to walk along its streets. Wearing shoes in which you feel comfortable walking 10 miles a day at a leisurely pace is a majorly important decision for the general mood of your stay in the French capital.

Do not back off from wearing sneakers if these are your best walking shoes. And if you have even better walking shoes, pack them, even if they make you look like you are on a trekking trip!

Frankly, you should not ask yourself this question. Who cares about how you look in the street? Don’t be self-conscious, just be comfortable in your shoes. You are a visitor, these are your vacations, this is your very own time! Jeans and sneakers are international. People won’t be offended by your looks. Unless you dress in pink tops and electric blue pants, with golden sneakers and Jackie-O shades, nobody around will have any second thoughts about your attire.

And if they ever notice your jeans, LL Bean trekking shoes, and Patagonia jacket, well, push come to shove, they might think you’re American. And so what? In all likelihood they will appreciate your visiting Paris.

Dining out in sneakers

Does it mean you can wear sneakers everywhere, on any and every occasion? Not so.

For instance, can you have dinner in a restaurant shoed with your brand-new white sneakers?

For the sake of it, let’s imagine you are strolling along in your Levi’s jeans and Lands End boots. It’s now dinner time, you are hungry, and scanning the landscape looking for a promising restaurant. There is it! The menu displayed outside is appetizing, prices are within your comfort zone, the place is not so crowded… Ah, but guests are dressed smartly. Will they let you in? Will you fit in?

I have yet to see a door sign indicating ‘No Sneakers Allowed’ in Paris. Some high-brow places may expertly leave you at bay: “Do you have a reservation? Sorry, we are full tonight”. But beside those rare snobbish places, no restaurant will refuse to seat you because you wear casual sneakers.

Therefore the right question is not ‘Will I be allowed in?’, but ‘Will I feel comfortable entering a dressy place in sneakers?’ I venture that you probably would not. And the problem is that being self-conscious is a surefire way to kill your meal. Your attention should be in your plate and on your food, not on your shoes and garb.

My practical rule is ‘Dress according to the lieu’. If you intend to dine out at expensive, dressy restaurants when you are in Paris, just bring your Pradas. Better yet: pay a visit to Stephane Kelian’s and Robert Clergerie’s boutiques in Paris, and buy yourself gorgeous-looking footwear by these Parisian designers.

Other places and sneakers

There are other places where sneakers just won’t cut it.

The Opera House is definitely one of them. But who would be so foolish as not to dress up for opera night? The sneaker point is moot.

What about a cabaret? I would say it is much better to dress up when you have dinner at a cabaret like ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘Lido’, and ‘Paradis Latin’. Though only the stage is well lit in these places, the fact is people around you will usually be dressed up. You will feel much more comfortable in some more formal wear.

How about the boats on the Seine? If you are boarding a boat for a dinner cruise, don’t wear sneakers. This is a romantic experience, you will want to make the most of it. An evening dress is ‘de rigueur’. On the other hand, if you simply want to cruise up and down the stream, sneakers are fine.

Museums? Forget style, wear very comfortable shoes. Nobody will look at your shoes, art is on the walls. But walking down the Louvre galleries is a tiring experience: so much too see, so many galleries, so slow the pace. The good doctor’s advice: go with cushion and comfort.

Art gallery ‘vernissages’? Style is your cue. Art galleries are small, vernissage evenings are short. Evening dress, black preferably, nothing flashy, and good-looking design shoes. No sneakers.

Wrapping up

Dress for the place you go to. If you are unsure about the dress code, you may call in advance to get appraised of it. Pack a dressy pair of shoes, or buy one when you are in Paris. Bring a discreet, understated evening dress.

But don’t back away from sneakers for other not-so-formal occasions. Wear them shamelessly in the street. You will blend just fine if you harbor a pair of jeans and a pair of sneakers. Nike is an American brand, and it is very popular in France. Levi’s, Diesel, and Calvin Klein are American brands, and they rule the French jeans scene too. In fact, I can’t quite think of any domain in France where American culture did not leave a mark — except maybe cuisine.

So be comfortable in your sneakers, and enjoy the view.

Video Marketing For More Webtraffic!

Video marketing is a big thing online. It is underused by many marketers and very profitable for those that do use it.

Most marketers are not using video marketing only because they don’t know how to start making videos. As you get the hang of it, you will find it shockingly straightforward to do.

You can get lots of traffic if your videos go viral. Video is very much the in thing with the search engines currently. Any search will often return a selection of videos in the top 5 rankings.

Creating a video is not really complex. You can create a live action video using your mobile phone or digital camera, or if you live in the dark ages, a webcam.

With software such as Camtasia you can capture the screen to demonstrate a website. These types of video are very effective since people can see the end result of their purchase.

Promotional videos can be created by Windows Movie Maker, which is a component of most Windows XP and above computers or with a website such as Jing or Animoto. You can quickly make some excellent videos to use as adverts.

Your video needs to be concise, to the point and entertaining. You want your viewers to be captured so they want to find out more.

You must know your tags before submitting your video. This means doing some keyword research. The Google External Keyword Tool is favored by many people, but you can use any keyword research tool.

You may well manually submit your video to various video directories, but this takes a lot of time. You could outsource the submissions, which will get costly, or you could use a tool to automate it. There is a no cost alternative in the form of the TubeMogul website.

This automatically submits your video articles to a handful of video directories . Once you have produced a number of videos and have established yourself on their site you are able to apply to submit to more video directories.

Once the videos are approved (and some sites will turn them down) you can then sit back and watch your videos spread all over the Internet. They will be picked up by websites and other directories that feed off these main sites, giving you more of an audience.

A Google Alert will enable you to see just how many sites pick up your video. So long as you have put your URL in the description and in the video itself, then you will get some traffic from this.