One Final Silverado Accessory

November 4th, 9:15am

As my time with this fantastic vehicle is coming to a close, I thought of another thing that I would upgrade on my Silverado. I was listening to one of my new favorite albums, Be My Thrill by The Weepies, and one particular song was causing the speaker’s bottom end to distort the top end (meaning the bass was so strong, it was causing the higher pitched vocals to vibrate). The song is Empty Your Hands and the stock speakers just can’t handle the chorus.

Basic speaker

Before I go any further, I should explain. I’m not just a run of the mill music listener. I didn’t major in music in college, but I did learn more than one instrument, spent six years of my primary education in band, and took a music theory class. Certain harmonies in certain situations give me goose bumps, but you can’t really feel the music unless it fills the space you are in.

If you ask the wife, she says (ok yells), “IT’S TOO LOUD! Turn it down!!” I, on the other hand, have it at a volume in which the space is filled with the music. It doesn’t hurt my ears, but I can hear all the tops, all the bottoms, and every middle tone quite clearly. Just means you have to turn it up a little bit.

That said, I have had a few situations where the stock speakers just won’t perform. Keep in mind, many entry-level stock speakers in any vehicle  are going to have this issue for me, and I would always opt to get a better speaker than the basic one. With the fantastic audio options that the sound system offers (XM, Bluetooth, iPod integration, Auxiliary audio jack, 36 available presets, CD), you need something additional to make the sound really jump.

This weekend is RACE WEEKEND! I’ll do a final Silverado post after that last lap is run.

From “Heard It” to “PLAYIN’ It!”

November 2nd, 9:05am

One of my favorite features of the Chevy Silverado is the integration with the iPhone/iPod. The Bluetooth integration makes for safer driving with both hands on the wheel, and the audio is surprisingly good. Sure. the caller on the other end can tell you are in the car, and I wouldn’t use it for a conference call unless I was playing the Mute-On, Mute-Off game, but for one on one calls it is perfect.

But take that integration one step further and plug it into the integrated iPod jack. Now you can play back any kind of audio that you would normally listen to with your earbuds over the car! You can do this two ways. You can control the device directly through the radio and play music loaded on the device, or you can plug it into the auxiliary audio jack (takes a normal 1/8″ audio plug) and listen to Pandora or other programs that generate audio.

I’ve been playing with this feature almost every time I get in the truck, but I wanted to take it a step further.

iTunes with Truck from Branden Williams on Vimeo.

I decided to go from identifying a song to, buying and downloading that song, to finally listening to the song in the truck. I drove to one of the many Starbucks by my house and used Shazam to tag and identify the song that was playing in the store. Shazam identified it, and gave me an option to buy it on iTunes. $0.99 and three minutes later, we were listening to it in the truck! No more writing it down on a napkin and forgetting to buy it when you get home.

Instant gratification to the max!

How Big is that Bed?

October 28th, 9:53am

One of our missions as a Weekend Warrior is to load up the bed of the Chevy Silverado to see how much stuff we could fit into it. I headed off to Cabela’s to see just how much I could get in there.

How Big is the Bed (part deux) from Branden Williams on Vimeo.

OK, before I go into the list of things we fit in the back, how cool was that flyover? I couldn’t have timed that ANY better. I joked that I paid the Alliance tower controller $20 for the delayed start, but of course, that was not entirely accurate.

Now on to the cargo—that’s an impressive list of stuff! Here’s what we got in the back:

  • Not one, but TWO kayaks
  • A deer blind
  • Sleeping bag
  • Coleman stove
  • Truck Tent
  • Deer decoy

That’s quite a bit of gear to take with you on your next hunting or camping trip! The bed easily held all this gear, and could hold quite a bit more. You could even put the gear on the bottom and kayaks on top, strapped down to the bed of course.

Having this much cargo room is dangerous on the pocketbook!

I lost my truck!

October 26th, 9:47am


It happens to the best of us, right? You rush to the airport and have every intention of writing down where you parked, or taking a picture, or making a song about your parking spot.

(Sung to Beethoven’s Fifth): Here is my caaaaaaar!  Near Gate C Eleveeeeeeeeeeeeen.

And of course I have NEVER done anything like that. Ever.

So here I am, leaving the Silverado somewhere on the second level of Terminal D, running to catch a flight. Usually I write my parking space down right away, but this day I didn’t. It became Future Brando’s problem.

Two days later I arrived back in Dallas, cursing Past Brando (that guy is a JERK), preparing myself for the long search for a white Silverado that my key starts. I decided to use the “Find My Truck” feature, also known as the “Press-The-Panic-Button-to-make-Car-go-BEEP” feature. One thing that I like about Chevy’s version of this feature is simply pressing the button (instead of holding it down) will make the vehicle beep and flash three times. Much less intrusive than the long beeps that you can never seem to stop, even standing right next to the car.

I lost my truck! from Branden Williams on Vimeo.

As you can see from the video above, once I got in range of the truck it dutifully told me exactly where I could find it. One thing I have found so far is the remote has a tremendous range. Other vehicles I have driven tend to be within about 30-50 feet before they start working, but I’ve been a good 100 yards, line of sight, to the vehicle and had it respond.  In that video, I am about 35-40 yards away when it started responding.

It’s a time saver!

Talking about Trucks

October 22nd, 11:59am

As part of the weekend warrior fun, I got to go with one of my fellow warriors to the WFAA studios to record a quick segment on the Silverado! Here’s the clip:

Some fun notes:

  • Watching the hosts transform from their first cup of coffee to morning host was cool!
  • When I arrived in the green room, the Today show was on (oops)
  • We got to see Danny Boyle (director of Slumdog Millionaire) from the green room, but he didn’t come in and say Hi.
  • I did not eat any of the scrumptious food that was just off camera.
  • The boot camp out in the plaza looked scary.
  • The hosts were AWESOME.
  • We didn’t get to take the trucks on the plaza, but we really wanted to.
  • Even on a show like GMT, there will still be someone in the green room acting like a grumpus. It wasn’t me.

Check back soon for a post on how I found my truck at the airport, and another feature you need!

How to Accessorize a Silverado

October 19th, 6:49am

So far, I love having the Silverado to drive around town. It feels safe, comfortable, and the kids love it. While we didn’t get the crew cab to drive, it turns out that the extended cab gives us plenty of room for our family. The Silverado we have also has the Texas Edition package on it, which includes an upgraded engine, 20″ wheels, among several other upgrades. If I were to add accessories, here’s what I would add:

  • Leather package: unless it was strictly a work truck. In that case, I’d stay with the cloth seats.
  • Chevrolet Wi-Fi: making your car a hotspot is pretty sweet and convenient for those occasions where you are not near reliable, free Wi-Fi.
  • Rear-view camera: for safety. If you go on the Silverado website, there is a version that is integrated with the rear-view mirror.
  • Running boards: My wife is not very tall, and she would love a step.
  • Crew cab: the extra room can be useful!
  • ONLY if I had the crew cab, I would go for the optional center console.
  • Power sliding rear window: seriously, how could you go wrong here?
  • Lockable sliding toolbox: If you own a truck, you will often find yourself in a situation where something needs repair. A waterproof spot to keep some of your tools and roadside assistance kits is a must.
  • For colors, definitely the Imperial Blue Metallic exterior with the Light Titanium interior to keep things cooler in the Texas summer.

What about things that might be nice like a bed liner? I am truly on the fence here on this one. If this was strictly a work truck, I would probably not bother. That said, a bed liner does come in handy when you are worried about scratching that paint or putting dings in the bed with a heavy haul. It also helps to keep cargo in the same place as you drive around town.

Me and the eldest squid enjoying the Silverado!

This certainly “Ain’t yo’ Daddy’s truck!”

Just looking over the downloadable Silverado catalog makes me salivate.

One note, I did find a bug in the software of the audio system as it relates to the iPod jack.  It made for a rather humorous situation, and I know exactly how to reproduce it. I was on the phone with my airline on the way to the airport, and was using the Bluetooth audio feature. I have an iPhone 4, and when you have lots of activity going on (on the phone, forgot to turn off Wi-Fi, screen backlit, Bluetooth enabled and in use) the battery can drain in an almost comical fashion.

I was about halfway through the call when the agent put me on hold, and I figured I would plug in the phone for a bit to top off the charge before hopping out at the airport.  When I plugged in the iPhone, I noticed that the hold music suddenly sounded different. I’m listening closely and I think I can hear some Third Eye Blind under the New Age Muzak. Surely my airline didn’t all the sudden feel like a cool ’90s kid.

When the agent came back on the phone, her hold Muzak was gone, but Third Eye Blind was still playing under her voice. Thinking it might be something with the bluetooth, I turned it off and brought the iPhone up to my ear, and was greeted with some classic Stephan Jenkins vocals so loud that I could not hear the agent any more. I wondered if the vehicle had just said “tell that fancy thing to PLAY” when I connected it, so I unplugged the iPhone and the music immediately stopped.

So until a patch comes available, be sure not to plug in your iPhone in the middle of a call made on Bluetooth.

In the meantime, ENJOY this beautiful Texas fall weather we are having!

Off to the Fair!

October 15th, 8:13am

Love those Silverados!

Going to the Texas State Fair was a tradition in my wife’s family that she talks about every October. Ironically, we’ve known each other for more than ten years and this year was our first trip as a couple (with two kids in tow!) to visit Big Tex, the Midway, the auto show, the vendors, the livestock, and of course, Fletcher’s Corny Dogs.

We used OnStar to get us to the gate1, and pulled in to park. For all the great things about the Silverado, one thing I’m still getting used to is driving a vehicle with such a long wheelbase.  My Tahoe was the last vehicle I regularly drove with a long wheelbase, and I’m still getting used to the dimensions of the Silverado.  After all, I don’t want to return the beauty with a scratch on it!

Silverado Guts

Many of the parking spaces in Texas are wide enough to accommodate a truck with its doors open, but the parking at Starplex2 at Gate 10 certainly was not. Even still, we were able to get into the back seat without too much trouble and with zero dings to the car and truck next to us. I definitely could not open the back door all the way, but I was able to close the front door and had plenty of room to get the squids out.

Chevy was a BIG sponsor of the Fair. Right after walking through the gate, we were greeted to the Chevrolet Town Square, where we learned about child safety (do you know how long your squid needs to be in a booster?  Or the back seat?), looked at more Silverados (look at those sexy vehicles!), and could test drive any number of Chevy vehicles.

Look at that interior!

Just look at this interior! Our Silverado is not quite this nice, but only because we don’t have the wood trim, leather seats, and that center console. This layout looks more like a Tahoe or Suburban than a pickup.

We spent a good thirty minutes at the Chevrolet Town Square before heading into other areas of the Fair.

We were a bit early to the gate to both avoid the crowds, and accommodate my work schedule. I was worried that we would be standing around, but with all the activities at the Town Square, we had plenty to do!

After that we walked through several exhibits and ultimately to the auto show! Looking at all those new cars was quite a bit of fun, and Chris is becoming partial to the Buick Enclave.

Soon it was time for lunch, and then time to head home! Payton LOVES turkey legs! While I was gnawing on mine, caveman style, she kept looking at me saying “Please? Bite? Please? Bite?” For a little squid, she sure did eat quite a bit of it!

  1. Check back later for a video of this. []
  2. I don’t care what you call it, but I know it as Starplex! []

Being a Good Samaritan

October 13th, 2:43am

I like to believe, in general, that people want to help their fellow man. In stark contrast to this humane underpinning of our being, we’re in a hurry. Constantly rushing from place to place to check off all of the things on our To Do list. Add to that the number of good samaritans (or their children) that have given their lives for others when stopped on our busy Texas highways.

OnStar Emergency Button

Enter OnStar’s Emergency Button! When I had my demo of OnStar at my North Texas Chevy Dealer, I learned that the Emergency Button isn’t just for when you spill your coffee1, it’s also for lending help to your fellow man when they need help. I’ve now used this button twice, and aside from it feeling good to help out my fellow man, it is incredibly easy to complete the report.  In the video below, you will see that the entire conversation takes less than ninety seconds!

Being a Good Samaritan. from Branden Williams on Vimeo.

While this report was relatively minor in severity (a stalled car is not normally a big deal, but in a construction zone where you have two lanes and concrete barriers it can be deadly), the other report I reference in the video was much scarier.

We were driving on 121 South where 820 and 183 join in around the North East Mall (Hurst), and as we crested the hill from the southbound 183 ramp, we noticed that one of the overhead lights had fallen and was sitting in the roadway.  Normally, an obstacle that large would be easy to avoid, but it was sitting in the road RIGHT over the hill.  Drivers only had seconds to react before crashing into the massive kettle reflector.

Calling in that report was my first use of the Emergency button, and just like in the video above, I reported what I saw and how far behind me it was. The only way it could have been easier is if OnStar was implanted directly in my brain.

  1. Seriously, don’t use it for that. []

The Silverado Extended Cab… uh… CAB!

October 5th, 8:14am

Greetings everyone!  This is my first post as a Chevy Weekend Warrior. Read my bio here, and check out my videos here. Now, on to the fun!

When I got the Chevy Silverado Extended Cab, I must say I was a little worried. When I started this adventure, I wanted to make sure my family got to take it with me. I opened the doors at my North Texas Chevy Dealer, and there was hope!  The rear-hinged back doors that are on both sides of the cab opened very smoothly and more than wide enough to move car seats in and out.

So I gave it a shot!

We loaded up the car seats, and headed out to dinner with PLENTY of room for all of us. In fact, the next night I piled three other adults in the cab and those sitting in the back were plenty comfortable!

But on to the car seats. In the video below, I loaded up both kids in the back seat so you can see how much room they all have:

Silverado Cab from Branden Williams on Vimeo.

I have yet to fill the cab or the bed up, but that’s for a future adventure to Cabela’s!

The Chevy Weekend Warriors campaign is being sponsored by your North Texas Chevy Dealers who gave me a 2011 Chevy Silverado, Texas Edition, to test drive for five weeks and blog about my experiences using the truck. The North Texas Chevy Dealers have given me some fun missions to go on and have provided me with gift cards to complete the missions.

For more information on the Chevy Silverado, check out the Silverado Website. Follow the Gotta Love Chevy DFW Facebook group, and check out Twitter at @chevydfw. Finally, follow all of the Chevy Warrior adventures by tracking the hashtag #chevywarriors!

AIF, 84.6 hours (1.1 hours last flight)

August 2nd, 4:44pm

Tie down!

Just a short one this time, but that’s what currency requirements do to ya! My next flight will most likely be my biannual check, sometime in the next few months. For this flight, just Garrett & I went for a ride.  It was extremely hot, so we just did a couple of rounds up at Gainsville and came back.

It was PRETTY busy at Gainsville, and there were numerous light aircraft between KDTO and KGLE.  I think this may have been the busiest airspace I navigated outside of a Class B so far.  Garrett enjoyed himself and grabbed the yoke once (don’t do that, please).

Pretty uneventful.  After my biannual, it will be off to see Springfield at F46!

AIF, 83.5 hours (2.1 hours last flight)

June 1st, 9:29am

It was time to head back to Stephenville for some Hard 8 BBQ!  Boy, it was a hot one on the ground on Saturday, but a pleasant 55 degrees at 8,500.  I got to fly N12180, which while recently back from the paint shop, had some pretty significant electrical problems that didn’t fully make themselves known until we were flying inside Class Bravo airspace.  No two flights are the same!

Takeoff from KDTO was uneventful, though I input the tower frequency incorrectly so it took a double check on the radio with ground to make sure things were working well.  I received a report from ground initially that I was having audio issues.  Anyway, takeoff, and hand off to regional approach.  From there, cleared into Class Bravo.

On the climb out, two things started happening that derailed us a bit.  The first was an electrical problem that caused our Garmin 430 to go on the fritz.  The backlight was not working, and it also housed our primary navigation and radio control.  I quickly switched that off and went on backups, so no real issues there.  We did have some feedback issues with the primary radio, so I completely turned it off (as opposed to keeping the mic on COM2 and listening to audio on COM1/COM2). While this felt like a short or grounding issue, it also popped the main alternator breaker which basically stopped it from charging the battery while in flight.  While the ammeter was indicating a slow drain, we had most of the electrical systems off and it wasn’t until we were doing some radio transmitting (outside of Class Bravo) and flap adjustments that I noticed how serious the issue was.

A quick pop of the breaker back in and careful monitoring of the electrical systems showed that things were at least operating within tolerances, so we left it.

The second issue was carburetor icing in my climb out, which I have experienced only once before.  Yes, icing can occur in a carburetor when the temperature is as high as 70 degrees and it is humid outside.  We had both during our climb.  So we had to halt the climb while I turned on the carb heat to melt the ice.  It melted, we resumed our climb, and didn’t have any more problems once at cruise.

The landing at KSEP was by far my smoothest landing, ever.  I call it luck more than skill, but wow.  We parked and had Hard 8 pick us up.  We had a tight timeline, so it was a quick lunch and then back in the air.  Thankfully we the engine was not too cold and we had sufficient power to crank it over.  Takeoff and the return flight was uneventful.  TOO quiet.  I even called a normally busy regional approach controller just to make sure my radio was still working—a frequency that is usually very busy was dead quiet for a good ten minutes.

Landed and had the thing turned off with a good ten minutes to spare!  Though, crippled.

AIF, 81.4 hours (2.5 hours last flights)

May 6th, 2:31pm

Pretty lame of me to be flying and not posting!  I got a little bored and decided to go flying a couple of times over the last few months.  The first flight was with a friend on Feb 20 where we took 80508 up for a spin around the north end of Tarrant county.  Had a little scheduling snafu, and someone else (who was LAZY AND MEAN) took the plane I reserved, so we stayed local.  Having personal limits is important, and I’ll be damned if I am flying in or around Class B airspace with only one functioning radio (with no standby frequency and a manual clunky-chunk turn).

Wrapping up!

Regardless, had a good time and logged three landings and .8 hours.

Next, my kick ass right seat warmer James was back in town, so we took 8348M from DTO up for a spin around down town!  The airspace was pretty congested, so this was the first time I had to hold over White Rock Lake.  Like just do circles.  WHEEEE.  That was a nice 1.1 hour flight.  Just before that, I needed to get re-current with this rental facility and logged .6 hours with an instructor.  He was VERY happy with my proficiency, and pulled an engine out on my downwind.  Stuck the landing. Total of four landings with those two flights.

I have some video from our downtown trip, so when I get some time I’ll edit that together for you guys.

Turkey is on!

April 24th, 5:40pm

Where’s the Moblog?

March 31st, 3:15pm

Where's the Moblog?

Been a while since I posted anything on the Mobile Blog, hasn’t it?  Well, as per the usual, I was totally ahead of my time.  Then Twitter and Facebook exploded in popularity and mobile usability.  I don’t like doing things twice, so now all of my mobile pictures end up getting posted to my Twitter feed or Facebook page.  Those of you that were big followers of the Moblog know how to find me in those areas, so just expect to find them there!

AIF, 78.9 hours (.9 hours this flight)

January 7th, 4:31pm

Well, I’m kinda late posting this one.  I didn’t fly today, I flew on December 10 with James!  Had a fun time in the Diamond DA-20. After flying that one a few times, I really have come to love how easy and fun it is to fly.  I’ve not been in a Cessna 172 in a while, but the next time I go, that’s what I’m going to take up.  Figure it would be nice to get back to a normal yoke vs. this fancy stick thing I’ve been doing.

Course, I won’t feel like a fighter pilot either, but oh well.

Anyway, easy quick flight.  Did a tour north of Alliance and came back to land.  We both had stuff going on that afternoon so an extended tour was not an option.  Here’s a video of me on final!

James & Brando and the DA20! from Branden Williams on Vimeo.

AIF, 78 hours (1.3 hours this flight)

November 6th, 7:34pm

Diamond DA-20

Today was a quickie to get checked out on North Texas Aero’s new DA-20!  I went with an instructor to learn all about this fun little aircraft.  It’s larger than the SportStar, but smaller and faster than the Cessna 172.  It also has a center stick like the SportStar, but was much easier to fly.  It has a few quirks in the mechanics of how it flies, but nothing that was not easy to conquer.

We did the standard maneuvers, including slow flight, steep turns, stalls, and engine out procedures.  I made my field quite nicely, though traffic made us cheat a little bit.  We had to continue past where the instructor wanted to do the engine out, and wouldn’t you know he had me set up on a HUGE green field.  It’s not uncommon to find farmland, but it is uncommon to find such a large patch without any obstructions.

Then it came time to practice landings.  There was a 10kt, 20° crosswind component gusting to 19kts.  Now, those of you that have flown with me know that I do well in high wind situations. Today was no different.  SMOOTH AS GLASS BABY!  I promise you, if it was calm air I would have botched them for sure.

Odd quirk about my piloting skills.

Anyway, did a few of those, dodged all of the 172s pulling banners over the Texas Motor Speedway, a few helicopters, and headed back home.  Pretty solid showing today!

AIF, 76.7 hours (1.8 hours this flight)

November 6th, 7:25pm

Yep, I’m late with this one.  I actually did this flight on July 20 with Cayce!  This flight included a run from 52F to KAFW then to KXBP (Bridgeport).  Have a GREAT video below.  Pay special attention to the 4 minute mark where a big ass bird goes flying probably 50 feet in front of us from left to right.

Flying with Cayce from Branden Williams on Vimeo.


October 17th, 4:44pm

Want to buy pumpkins from this guy?

October 8th, 8:26am


September 18th, 8:39pm