Sunday, September 14, 2008

Prius Easter Eggs

Some video games give you "Easter Eggs;" funny little extras that the game programmers put in for amusement. Easter eggs usually require that you do something unusual--some combination of moves and buttons that aren't ordinarily something you would do. The reward varies, but can be a video clip, an unusual inventory item, you get the picture.

In the Nancy Drew games by Her Interactive, the Easter eggs are really Easter Eggs that just sit in your inventory and sparkle.

Apparently, Toyota has some game programmers on their staff, because recently, I have had to do some pretty unusual things to change settings on my Prius to make it work the way I want it to.

The things I want to change are pretty innocuous--most recently, it occurred to me that my Bluetooth connection would be more useful if the person on the other end of the call could ACTUALLY HEAR ME. I mean, it's not terribly driver friendly to answer a call and then have to stick my mouth right up to where the microphone is hidden, just to be heard. Especially since I don't know where the microphone is hidden, so I just direct my voice toward the speaker from which I hear my caller, and TALK REALLY REALLY LOUDLY.

You could work yourself up to some road rage that way, having to holler until your neck veins stick out trying to make yourself understood.

"The word is 'flat.' FLAT. FLAT!!! F as in flag, L as in little, A as in apple, T as in table--you know--straight across! Horizontal! FLAT!!"

Yes, that was an actual conversation I have had from my car.

So, maybe, there's a way to increase the volume on the microphone? You know, make it so it picks up my voice better? That seems like a natural kind of thing--you change the volume on the radio, you can raise and dim the inside lights, you should be able to adjust the microphone as well.

So, clever me, I go to the MFD. It actually stands for Multi-Function Display, but sometimes we call it something else with the same initials. Anyway! I pull up the Information screen, get to the Phone screen, and tap the Settings button.

No sale. I can change the volume on the ring. I can change the volume of the caller. I cannot change the setting for the microphone. So I go look in the Owner's Manual.

First, I look in the index for "microphone." Nothing. Then I look up "BlueTooth." Yes! I go to page 272 and start to read. And turn the page. And turn the page. And turn the page. You are getting the idea, aren't you. There is nothing about the microphone--location OR settings--in the Owner's Manual.

Well, I'm not to be thwarted! No sirree! If there is even going to be a point to having BlueTooth in my car, I need to do something about this damn microphone. So, I go online.

Of course, there I find the answer. Answers, actually. I can find information and videos on how to install a second microphone. I can order a BlueTooth headset with attached mike, so I look like Britney Spears In Concert when I make a call.

And, bless their geeky little hearts, I find the answer on PriusChat. All I have to do is go turn on the car, hold down two buttons on my MFD and turn the headlights on and off. Three times. This will give me a new diagnostics screen on my MFD that will allow me to adjust the mike settings.

Of course, this is ridiculous, isn't it? Turn the headlights on and off three times in order to get a new screen on my in-dash monitor? Who would ever think of doing that? I don't know, but DANG! if that didn't give me exactly the tool I wanted. Factory setting for the microphone is "0" on a scale of 0-10! No wonder I sound like I'm living in the bottom of a tin can!

I wonder what would happen if I opened and closed the gas tank hatch three times?

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