Friday, January 6, 2017

Verizon Wireless' LTE Advanced technology

A few months ago, I saw a press release from Verizon Wireless saying that they supported LTE Advanced (true 4G) in two cities near me, giving much, much, much faster speeds.  You know how they were ridiculing Sprint for being good around Kansas City, and all that?  Then, they started using technology that was even better than what they had to trounce Sprint.

I've been using a Verizon Wireless hotspot for over two years, after the previous hot spot couldn't connect to Sprint for more than 6 hours--something Sprint couldn't explain--but my phone on Sprint was working perfectly.  Back around May, I got the latest, greatest hotspot from Verizon that would support LTE Advanced, XLTE, and allow international roaming.

I was in Modesto, CA today, waiting for someone, and I decided to download something to my phone because iTunes app updates are limited to 100MB over the air.  Beyer Park has a tower and Sprint's service is the best there, of all Modesto.  I hoped that it would work out that way with Verizon--only much bigger.  I regularly get 40-50 Mbps with Sprint there.  I'm sure I read that Verizon Wireless was suggesting hundreds of Megabits per second.




I was so disappointed.  I do better at home without LTE Advanced.  I tested it with three apps and my download of 1.2 GB took a very long time, unfortunately.

I'm guessing that it's similar to when Verizon Wireless was first implementing LTE.  A friend lived in a small town that they claimed had LTE.  She tried to show me something.  After a few minutes of churning and getting nowhere, it dropped to 3G and instantly the results were shown.

Does that make it a lie or an exaggeration?  In advertising, I believe it's known as fraud, but it looks like an overstatement to claim a city name without covering the whole city.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Zhong Yi Mitakon 25mm f/0.95 in my bag

I got this about 24 hours ago and it's been raining, so it was hardly a good environment to try.

I've considered a lens with a maximum aperture f/0.95 but the Leica Noctilux series were anywhere from US$6000 - $10,000.  Voigtländer produces 4 lenses with this maximum aperture and with a micro Four-Thirds mount, not electronically connected.  These are generally less than US$1000.  All of these lenses are manually operated.

While I have used lenses manually more recently, they've always been electronically connected to the body.  Being totally without a backup system will be like being in my teens again with my original Fujica SLR and two Pentax-screw-mount lenses.

This Mitakon 25mm f/0.95 looks a bit as it's trying to emulate Leica.  It's rather heavy, being metal and all.  For US$400, but with a $50 discount, I felt it was okay for a good experiment.  It seems perfectly sized for the Panasonic GM5 but it is somewhat heavier than the camera body.


It seems quite sturdy and seems better on the Panasonic GX8.  The box was somewhat unusual.

If you're interested in a test of the lens, you should look at this one.

It has a click-less aperture ring, something quiet for video but a bit annoying for still photography.  It definitely reminds me of a number of lenses from the 1970s with the Depth of Field scale and all.

I mounted the lens to the GX8 and took it out around 3:30 p.m.  I kept the aperture around f/8.0, to remind me of earlier days.  Besides, it was a bit bright for f/0.95.  I popped the EVF into the vertical position to remind me to keep an eye on the aperture ring.











Lens flare is an issue.  The coatings obviously weren't meant to deal with a lot of sunlight, but who would have thought that someone would use it that way?  I found the lens to be good but a bit odd.  You'll see from the photos that it takes care of direct sunlight in a most unusual way.

Next, I need a warmer evening, so I can take some photos outside at maximum aperture.  That may be a few days from now, as Northern California is getting rain and a cold front.

Update 2017.02.25: I took a little trip to the Golden Gate Bridge overnight and got some photos.  We've had a deluge of rain and flooding but it's been relatively dry the past couple of days, giving me a chance to use the lens outdoors.



I've noticed a small problem--it doesn't seem to focus to infinity and this isn't surprising.  After I got the lens, I was warned by someone else who had the problem.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

GH5 soon? GH4 with me for over two years

I was thinking that I'd only had the GH4 for a little more than 1 year, but it has been 2.  Strange how time seems to pass.  It's been almost 5 years since I started with micro Four-Thirds, with the GH3 and 35-100mm f/2.8 lens.

In about 36 hours, Panasonic will announce the GH5.  So far, the rumors have indicated very little.  It's getting a higher resolution sensor.  It's getting a higher resolution EVF and a higher resolution rear display.  It will be able to record at higher bit rates, including 4K at 60p, and possibly 120 fps or 180 fps for 1080p.  There is a new hotshoe-mounted interface device.

The 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 lenses are to be revised.  Hopefully, they'll fix the pathetic OIS unit in the 35-100mm f/2.8.  The stutter in video was just as bad after the firmware fix.

Speculation is everything now.

I have one big wish--that the AF be tremendously improved.  Whether I'm recording video clips and the AF suddenly goes away or I'm trying to take a still photograph of someone and it locks onto the fence or wall behind the person, I need improvement.  Supposedly, they've divided the AF areas to provide a more granular set but it didn't feel as the number of CDAF areas were the problem.  It was that the camera body became too busy to be bothered with AF.

It's odd that I can be sitting and I point the GH4 in a slightly different direction and I can hear it working on AF, but if I need it to take care of it while doing the half-press on the shutter release button, it's off in lala land just enough to be a problem.

I've still had problems with the EVF blacking out while I'm wearing non-polarized sunglasses but that isn't really a problem for me.  Muscle memory helps me get my shots.

Since Sony and Canon have stepped up their game, Panasonic must arrive with much better technology and I'm not enough of a brand fanatic to believe that they have.  I believe whatever Venus Engine processor they use will be better but it always comes up a bit short.  They've become better at removing chroma noise, but not enough to make anything over ISO 3200 usable for me.

To me, they should have the same sensor with 121 cross-type AF PDAF and CDAF points that the E-M1 Mk II has.  This would solve many problems, if used correctly.  Panasonic told us that they didn't need PDAF and that using pixels for PDAF degraded image quality.  I suspect that they didn't use the best technology.

Whatever comes, they will likely underestimate demand and eek out a few units, so that people will wait months for their camera body to arrive, even if they receive a boatload of pre-orders.

I hope that Panasonic overwhelms us with good news about the GH5 and the 35-100mm f/2.8 replacement.

What, no PDAF?  Are they stupid, cheap, or both?  For the price, PDAF should be included.

I'm underwhelmed.  Yes, it's better than the GH4, but it would be difficult to not improve on the GH4.  Apparently, the sensor outputs at 1.7x the speed, they say, but isn't 480 2.0x 240?  Hopefully, the replacements for the 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 are up to full speed instead of lagging.  They aren't--the same 240 fps that the originals did.  I'm wondering if they fixed the OIS in the 35-100mm f/2.8 or just re-did the exterior, as with the 20mm f/1.7 lens.  At least, they reduced the price from the maximum of the original.

I was unimpressed with the 35-100mm when I used it on the E-M1 instead of the GH3 because it was so much slower.  It's slow on the GX8 also, but of course, not on the GH4.  In the revised version, they say 240 fps, which seems the original figure, but it never seemed to work well, for me, on anything but the GH3 or GH4.  It was slow on the GX8 and E-M1, for me.

At least, the GH5 finally has 5 axis image stabilization, and hopefully, the new routines in the Venus Engine 10 image processor will help them keep up.  Its speed improvement was less than impressive, considering that the GH4 was overwhelmed at times and didn't keep up.  It almost feels as though the new one was good enough for the GH4.

It's both brilliant for the film maker, and brilliantly flawed for the rest of us.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2015 Hyundai Accent GS

This is not my dream car but I needed to make an adjustment because of Volkswagen's diesel emissions mess.

I looked at a lot of used, errr, pre-owned cars before the Hyundai Accent GS showed up.  It was about US$2500 more than the cheapest car that was available, except that the car was apparently sold just before I had the money.  A Nissan Versa was the most likely car, but in my county, Honda, Acura, Toyota, and Nissan cars are most often stolen.  I'm not sure a Versa would be worth it to steal, but who knows why someone would steal a Honda Civic, either.  (Honda has sent me two advertisements for their cars and I didn't really consider their cars but the Fit is somewhat interesting.)

This Hyundai Accent GS has 137 hp @ 6300 rpm and 123 lb-ft @ 4850 rpm, which is quite a bit for a 1.6 liter engine.  Coming from the Volkswagen Golf 2.0 liter TDI with 236 lb-ft of torque, the Accent isn't quite as forceful but it's not bad, especially for a smaller engine.  It seems to scream like a motorcycle engine when pushed.  I've had it up to around 85 mph so far.  The skinny tires keep me wondering how much stress they'll take.  Finding performance tires in 14 or 15 inch sizes is impossible.  I've been averaging about 31 mpg.  That's better than the 1999 Golf GLS 2.0 liter at 27 mpg and less than the 2012 Golf TDI with 37 mpg.  However, at a little over 11 gallons of capacity, the fuel tank seems restrictive.  Thankfully, more filling stations have gasoline than diesel fuel.

I'm slowly adjusting to a car that isn't a Volkswagen.  The company seems to make the least of their cars ready for a race, even the diesel.  This Accent hatchback isn't completely different, in spirit.

It has a trip computer that assesses miles per gallon, remaining range, miles traveled, etc.  The button is not lit, so finding it in the dark is a matter of muscle memory.  Something that surprises me is that it works with miles but the temperature that is displayed is using Celsius.  I tried to erase the information, but not everything collected for the trip computer was erased.

There is a pseudo-manual mode for the automatic transmission, labeled Shiftronic, where you can shift up and down through the gears, similar to the TDI, but it lacks the paddles behind the steering wheels.



The Accent is slightly shorter than the Golf but isn't nearly as heavy.  It seems to me that even my 1985 VW GTI was heavier than the 2015 Hyundai Accent GS.  This one seems to handle bumpy roads much better than that one or the 1986 GTI did.

The materials used aren't as great but the seats are good.  The dashboard looks as though it was made for an SUV or a minivan.  It's not cheap but it doesn't give an air of high quality.  Years ago, VW looked at ways to make a cheap car seem expensive, and they achieved that.  If Hyundai would use matte plastic instead of the shiny stuff, it might go a long way toward the perception of high quality.  At around 40,000 miles, the driver's seat fabric is not as tight as it should be.  However, the foam is quite good and the seats are comfortable.


I had the factory stereo replaced today and the speakers are surprisingly good.  Apparently, the car was made for a typical Double DIN head unit and the Pioneer unit I bought went into it much easier than the old one came out, according to the installer.  With a Metra branded installation kit, it looks as though it belongs.



The good sound makes me forget about the narrow wheels and tires, mostly.  It's surprising that it is using the same speakers.

Naturally, a few things stick out:

The door locks have physical buttons, something my latest Volkswagen did not have.  There are also key holes on the frontmost doors.  Volkswagen has one but it's hidden.  Giving thieves an easy way into the car is not acceptable.  I'm betting that I can lock my keys in the car, which is extremely difficult to do with any Volkswagen.

There is an automatic opening (auto down, as they say) control for the driver's side window.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work for the other windows and it doesn't work for closing the window, either.  It was very convenient in the TDI to put all of the windows up while parking.

The lighting is on a stalk, except for the dimmer.  The other evening, I left the lights activated and the next morning, it let me know but it had deactivated the lights instead of letting my mistake drain the battery.  Now, I check the stalk every time I get ready to exit the car.

A little Volvo, a lot of Dodge, not much view out

The car has huge blind spots, as it comes with a high waistline and a big slot for a rear window, as though it was designed by Dodge.  I'm getting used to it, but I need to be more careful.   I was thinking about cameras all around the car--they can feed my stereo, if I can find a switch to show each.  I managed to jump a curb while turning into a parking lot where I've been hundreds of times.  Thank goodness for steel wheels but the poor (apparently metal) wheel cover looks like Pablo Picasso had some extra time on his hands.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Switching Car Brands

I've been driving for quite a while, legally, and a bit before I was legally able to drive.  My first experience in the driver's seat was in Sunnyvale, California on El Camino Real, a road I use occasionally.  I must have been 3 the first time and I broke the turn signal lever as I moved it wildly.

I got my first car Christmas Day 1976, a 1967 Pontiac Firebird with a lot of little problems.  In those times, we had a lot of huge cars.  My mother had a 1970 Lincoln Continental 4 door with 7.7 liter engine.  It wasn't as pillow-y soft as other huge cars on the road, but it wasn't a race car either.  My driving instructor was surprised to see it.  We needed to inform my mum that I was driving that day, so we stopped next to her and told her.  As we pulled away, my instructor said "You're going to drive that?"  Of course, I already had driven it.

I've owned the following cars:

1967 Pontiac Firebird, 3.8 litre I-6, 3 speed manual
1974 Mazda RX-3, 1.1 litre 2 rotor, 4 speed manual
1980 Ford Mustang, 2.3 litre turbo I-4, 4 speed manual
1985 Volkswagen GTI, 1.8 litre I-4, 5 speed manual
1986 Volkswagen GTI, 1.8 litre I-4, 5 speed manual
1990 Volkswagen Corrado, 1.8 litre supercharger I-4, 5 speed manual
1985 Mazda RX-7, 1.1 litre 2 rotor, 5 speed manual
1999 Volkswagen Golf GLS, 2.0 litre I-4, 5 speed manual
2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI, 2.0 litre diesel I-4, 6 speed automatic

The two American cars were not exactly ready for the road.  I remember my 1967 Firebird being passed by a Volkswagen Beetle back around 1979.  The Mustang had a Pinto engine with what seemed a 10 minute add-on turbocharger rigging.  It would go to 130 mph but it took (almost) all day to get there, and when I got rid of it, it had 5 cracks in the cylinder head.


Since the Golf TDI has been returned to Volkswagen, I've been looking for a suitable car.  The most likely brand would be Mazda, but the previous Mazda 3 hatchback is what I like and they're difficult to find, and other than the Mazda 2, they don't really fit me.  Subaru would be interesting, but they're too expensive, as I'm trying to get as close to US$10,000 as I can.  (Sadly, I'm coming from a US$27,000+ car, so nothing will really compare.)

I narrowed the list to cars available from the current dealership or those from the same company, since I know what to expect from their service departments.  Since I'm not willing to get another Volkswagen, it came down to Nissan and Hyundai.

The Nissan Versa Note, which sounds like a collaboration with Panasonic on a notebook computer, is a good size for me, and not horribly expensive.

The other choice is a Hyundai Accent hatchback.  It's about the same size outside but with a compact car rating, not subcompact because the interior is a bit more roomy.  I considered an Elantra, which is bigger, and a few with the boot/trunk are less expensive, but the model seems bigger than I want to go.

There is one of each that is a bit about US$12,000.  I would have preferred the least I could spend but getting a car with a warranty is important.  Getting something I like seems somewhat important also.

These cars are about the same size as my 1999 Volkswagen Golf on the outside but not so much on the inside.  When I drove the Elantra, it seemed wider, but it may be that you sit down and the windows are short.  It's sort of Dodge-like, especially with the slit for a rear window.

The driving experience was very Toyota-like.  Look at that list of cars.  Do you see a Toyota, Nissan, or Honda?  In my view, Toyota is like General Motors and Nissan is like Ford.  Honda isn't so dissimilar to Chrysler, except in reliability.  I'm not saying that everyone should have a car that wants to go fast around curves.  Some people might not be able to handle that.  When I first took my 1990 VW Corrado on my usual 10 hour trip to visit my parents, it only took 8.5 hours.  I didn't have to slow down much.

This Hyundai Accent has 14 inch wheels.  This will be a first.  The last time I contemplated 14 inch wheels would have been in the 1970s or maybe, the 1980 Ford Mustang.  I ended up with the TRX package with the 390mm wheels and tires.  I'm not sure but I feel as though I should change to 16 inch alloy wheels with H-rated tires.  It might not help, though.  The car also has rear drum brakes, something I have not had since the 1980 Mustang.

It could keep me out of trouble, though.  No more 90-100 mph, unless I'm on the back of a transport going that fast.  The Active Eco contraption has a switch, so it might be interesting to see how much the personality of the car changes.  However, it's still not going to have 230 lb-ft of torque as the Golf TDI did.  Of course, if they fix the emissions control on those vehicles, the TDI might come down more than a few.

Having a more passive car should be frustrating, but maybe, it will bring peace.  Then again, I might spend some of the money on enhancements.


Update 2016.12.20: I've got the 2015 Hyundai Accent GS.  It's not awful but it's not great.  I'll learn to like it once I get my phone charger in there and set my radio stations and find some way to play the music from my phone.

I'm a little uncomfortable that the rear windows don't have extra tint.  When I drive with bags of photographic equipment in the bag seat, it's better I don't let people know.  Most of what I have, they probably wouldn't recognize anyway, and would have trouble selling, but they might break into the car anyway.

Tax, of course, wasn't cheap, and the dealer wasn't flexible on the price.  They do a search around the area and try to find a good price.  They saved me going to the DMV and that was practically worth any price.

The stereo isn't very good and Best Buy had a number of capable Kenwood models for under US$200, but fitting them properly may add a lot to the cost.  $200+ for parts and installation?  It's odd that all of the Kenwood, JVC, and Pioneer models they have support Chinese but not Japanese.  My Volkswagen was similar.  iOS and Android-compatible models start at about US$500.

The car, having the narrow tires on steel wheels, feels like an SUV ready to tip over during a turn.  I may come to a calmer experience with it but for now, I will be too reactive to avoid disaster.

Update 2016.12.22: I filled up the Accent for the first time yesterday.  It was an odd feeling because the filler door is on the driver's side and there is a release next to the driver's seat and I haven't pumped gasoline for almost four years.  The fill up only took something like 4.4 gallons--it was around half on the gauge.  I think the tank has something like 11.2 gallon capacity.  I drove a bit and it moved away from full rather quickly.  I saw the instantaneous mpg rating at 37 mpg for a moment or two, but it wasn't like I could hold that in normal traffic.  It seems 30 is about all it will do, even though the Active Eco system is engaged.

Update 2016.12.23: Driving in the rain was less dangerous than I thought it would be.  It wasn't confidence inspiring, either.

175/70-14 tires aren't exactly great in the rain when they're geared for low rolling resistance.  However, the traction control wasn't activated on slick roads.  It was activated last night on dry roads when I accelerated too quickly.  I'm looking for a better solution to the tires and wheels but it won't be easy to find a strong and low cost solution.  At 75 mph, it feels nervous.  Well, if I must, it feels nervous at 55 mph.  The engine screams like something from Suzuki, but the tires definitely don't feel a good match.

When I updated my insurance, I was surprised.  My payments went from roughly $112 to $125 each month.  I'd think a South Korean car would be much cheaper to repair than a German car that was made in Germany.  Is Volkswagen so much better that a ~$27,000 2012 car would be cheaper than a ~$15,000 2015 car?

Update 2016.12.24: I went for fuel again.  Filling up took a bit longer but not long.  31 something mpg was all I got so far.  I turned off the Active Eco technology.  I'm not noticing much of a difference in performance or economy, although it waits for less pressure on the pedal to shift to the final gear.  Using the pseudo-manual Shiftronic mode could make things even better with some control of the process.  Unfortunately, this car doesn't have the shift paddles behind the steering wheel, as the TDI did.

Got my rear half of the car windows tinted.  It was relatively inexpensive at $179 something.   They did great work on my TDI.  However, I notice that the previous 20% and the current 20% seem quite different.  I suspect that they used 5% on the TDI.

Update 2016.12.29: Filling up lasted a bit longer.  I went for a drive to San Jose, which is about an hour's drive in itself, and then, all the side trips took a bit out.  During the trip up the foothills, I didn't push it quite as much as the TDI, which I usually let go at 90 mph.  I'm still not sure about the skinny tires on the Accent, but it handled 75-80 mph fairly well and 85 mph here and there elsewhere.

With Active Eco off and the extra trip, I got 32.91 mpg versus 31.20 mpg with it enabled.  It's by no means conclusive, but it is interesting.  I'm probably acclimating myself to the quirks of the engine and gearing.  They really should have put a Continuously Variable Transmission on the car to get the most out of it, but at least, they put a 6 speed automatic in there instead of 4 or 5 gears.

I don't believe I saw a quick 37.x mpg as I did with the Active Eco, but it didn't seem to make a noticeable difference anyway.  I've enabled the technology again to see if it actually helps.

It's odd that the trip computer button has no light on it.  I suppose you might only want to find it in the daylight but I suspect that on a trip, you might want to find it at night.  Still, having a trip computer at all is surprising at the price point of this car.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Imaging Resource: Olympus E-M1 Mk II COTY

Camera of the Year seems a big choice.  How do you choose?  There are so many things to consider.

Imaging Resource has decided on their choice: the Olympus E-M1 Mk II.

It's quite shocking, especially since I use micro Four-Thirds equipment every day I shoot.

I had a year with the Nikon D7200 and I ended up getting rid of it because the differences were negligible.  With the right lens, I could shoot at ISO 4000 and get images that were similar in image quality to ISO 3200 on micro Four-Thirds.  I say "with the right lens" because the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 barely worked when it was dark.  The D500 is better than the D7200 in many ways, as well as the D300 and D300s, but it is more of the same in many ways.

In my opinion, humble or not, the FujiFilm X-T2 is the camera body that FujiFilm should have introduced as the X-T1.  The only reason the X-T1 seemed to catch on is because a lot of people in the 20s had never seen a camera with so many external controls.  They didn't really care what it could do, they were having a cameragasm.

That said, any of the choices were good, and it's a shame that the Pentax K-1 wasn't in the list.  I had the K-50 for a while and it was a very agreeable piece of equipment.  No one could say that it was way up there, but it competed at a level much higher than its price would suggest.  The K-1 does this also.  Its poor continuous AF is the only reason it hasn't been awarded.  Given that it has a 135 Format-sized sensor, I'd say C-AF is of little interest to those who have been chanting "full frame full frame" for years.  Their flowers and kittens will look fine with the K-1.

With all that, I'm still surprised that the E-M1 Mk II is Camera of the Year at Imaging Resource, but I value their opinions.  They really try the equipment and don't make petty remarks to suggest that they're brand fanatics.  If this had been DPReview or even the current What Digital Camera without Nigel Atherton, I would be skeptical.

I'd love to replace my E-M1 with the newer model.  It seems every bit the E-5 replacement that I wanted, without all the drawbacks I have found in the E-M1.  The one drawback is the price, and that has to come with a sensor with the 121 cross-type focus points, CDAF and PDAF.

Update 2016.12.13: Well, the Pentax K-1 did make it into the Best Professional and High End Cameras article, behind the Canon 5D Mk IV.

The Olympus E-M1 Mk II got Best Professional Mirrorless, solidifying the anger against it, especially from FujiFilm fanatics.  Sony was nowhere to be found.

Monday, November 21, 2016

My Volkswagen diesel controversy is almost finished

After months of speculation, perspiration, and anticipation, I've finally received a final offer from Volkswagen on my 2012 Golf TDI.  I feel the first relief that it will be finished soon.

About a year ago, I filed for the Goodwill package in November.  I also filed for it in January, because it never arrived.  I never got the package, even though they said it had been sent.

I could swear that I sent the information about the car months ago.  I went back and forth about whether to receive the buy back or just select a repair for the emissions control.

It was more recently that they asked for the legal documents.  It seemed an eternity to get a response, even though it was supposedly a ten day window.  Thankfully, uploading photos of the documents speeded the response.

Today, I received the final offer letter.

It was necessary to print, sign, have it notarized, and send it back as a .pdf format file.  Once again, uploading will speed the process.

The next step seems to be the exchange of money and the car.  They are offering to electronically send the funds, which is quite a bonus.  It would have been quite a walk from the Volkswagen dealer to the bank and then, to look at cars.  Funds availability is my question.  Hopefully, they'll be available nearly as soon as they will have been received.

Update 2016.12.02: Got a notification to schedule an appointment to finalize documents.  There is no word of payment to me.

The first appointment was on the 17th of this month, which suggests to me that the buy back will happen ever further out, maybe in January.

Update 2016.12.17: Finished with the appointment very quickly.

The designated person from the dealership worked the software, took photos to confirm everything, and took my car and information.

There was no check or EFT, and being that it is Saturday, I guess I shouldn't expect anything until Monday.  After that, I will still have to wait 2-3 days for availability most likely.

Someone from the dealership was nice enough to drive me the 15 miles back to my city, since there is no public transportation between counties.

Volkswagen has taken receipt of my car, and I have nothing.  I just left a review on Yelp for the headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI.

Update 2016.12.19: This morning I was disappointed to not find an e-mail telling me that money was on the way.  I called the phone number related to the court settlement and the hard to understand woman was kind and reassuring, but she couldn't help much.  She told me that once I responded to the e-mail with my banking details, it would take about 24 hours for the money to be deposited.  Then, it would be 2-3 days for it to be available.  This didn't help my emotional state.

It arrived this afternoon, 27 minutes after the 5 p.m. EST this-will-be-processed-tomorrow deadline.   I might have money Thursday but I should have money Friday.  If it comes too late, Christmas Eve arrives, and the Egg Nog hits the fan.  Two days without a car has been enough.

Update 2016.12.20: It's finished.

When I checked this morning, the money was in the account.  It didn't say pending, but I wasn't 100% sure and I called the toll-free number to check.  The available balance included the money from Volkswagen.

I contacted the salesperson from Saturday and he picked me up and we finalized the transaction.  I now have a 2015 Hyundai Accent GS.  It's a step down, to be sure, but it's not a bad car.  It's just not the car I wanted as my final car.  I've been kicking myself for weeks, thinking that I should have bought an inexpensive used car and driven across the country, traded it when I bought a new, California-compatible car, and I'd still have that.  Oh, well.  It's done.