Lost your vehicle OEM FOB? This company can help.  Product/Technology review of Car Keys Express.

If you have ever lost your OEM FOB you know what a hassle it typically is to get a replacement from the dealer and to get it programmed properly, let alone the steep cost you incur.

While there have been non-OEM FOBs available for years, most don’t end up working or require you to still go to the dealer to get it properly programmed, again at a significant cost.

Enter Car Keys Express.[1] Their byline elegantly sums it up: Replacing car keys is simple and affordable again.™  Founded in 2006 by CEO Mark Lanwehr, no not in his garage 😊 but on the dining room table of his one room apartment.  By 2006 it was the first online retailer of automotive keys and keyless entry remotes.  Two years later Mark started offering his services to dealerships and fleet owners and now serves over 3,000 cities in the US and Canada.  Along the way they added self-serve kiosks and remote optical scanners for dealerships.  They are now the largest key/key FOB replacement company around.

In their booth at AAPEX 2021 they had samples of their products including their ROKS    or retail optical key scanner, their Keys Now, their Simple Key, the Universal EZ Installer™ and the EZ Installer™.  The ROKS is stand alone unit that you insert your existing key for scanning.  Then they send you the key completely cut.  Their FOB to use with the key can then be paired up with your car using their Universal EZ Installer and a free phone app.  The process saves you about 70% of the cost as compared to going to the OEM dealer.

Simple Key (a kit premade for each specific OEM) comes with the EZ Installer.  Costs vary depending on the OEM and vehicle, but ranges from US$99 to $149 versus if you went through the dealer where you would pay in the range of US$300 to $500 or more.

The difference between the Universal EZ Installer™ and the EZ Installer™ is that EZ Installers are designed to only work with one OEM, such as Ford, GM, Mazda, etc., while the Universal will work with about 95% of OEMs (and since this is a brand-new product, they are working refine its software to work across all OEMs).  Once purchased the Universal EZ Installer or the EZ Installer and connected to the owner’s vehicle via the OBD2 port, the imbedded software becomes linked to the VIN.  This means the owner can make multiple duplicates but only for that specific VIN.  It can not be used after that on another vehicle.

Options for the end user currently include purchasing a kit from them online, locating and driving to one of their Car Keys Express locations in your city, having their mobile service scheduled to come to you, and a priority option of having them come within 24 hours.  The respective pricing ranges from about US$99 if you drive to them  $169 for a scheduled come to you and $315 for 24 hours service.  All well below the hassle and cost of getting it done through your OEM Service Dealership.

In my discussion with Kirk Stewart, Retail Marketing Director of Car Keys Express, he told me that it takes about 18 months on average for them to reverse engineer an OEM FOB, and develop their own proprietary software and chip design, extensively test it out before selling them.  They design their units to exceed the OEM in terms of quality, latest electronics, and durability.  The finished product is waterproof to 30 feet (OEMs are not) and have better battery life as well as range of operation.

Here is a link to one of their videos explaining how their FOBs exceed OEM quality https://player.vimeo.com/video/492057627

They currently have their circuit boards made in China to their proprietary design, but are looking to bring that phase of the process to the United States. Car Keys Express design, engineer, load their own software on the boards, and package all of the units in the United States (Louisville, Ky).  They guarantee their products for 3 years (parts and labor) versus the OEMs’ ninety days to one year.

[1] https://carkeysexpress.com/

Great Apes- close up and personal.

© JwDaum (1 of 21)I just returned from a Silverback Gorilla trek and a Mountain Chimpanzee trek in different parts of Uganda.  After a friend reviewed the images, she reminded me of Ansel Adams statement that “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” Whenever I record an image I wonder about how my presence impacts the outcome… In this case, the Great Ape across from my lens.  The image above and these directly below, are Silverback Mountain Gorillas.  They live in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.  It is a UNDESCO World Heritage Site.  [Each image can be clicked on and enlarged- if you click it twice, it will go to full size.]

The picture below and the following matrix of pictures, are Chimpanzees living in the Kibale National Park in the rain forest of Uganda. © JwDaum (14 of 21)

For more images of the Gorillas please visit my photography web site and the Gorilla Gallery.  For more images of the Chimpanzees please visit my Chimpanzee gallery. Please share your thoughts in the comment area below.  Thank you!


Fabulous flowers

Flowers are found almost everywhere.  Typically they add color, and often fragrance, that help them standout in our visual landscapes.

Frequently we just ‘breeze’ by them as we pass from here to there, and as a result miss the stunning nuances they are waiting to share.

Here is a sampling from my travels around the world:

Hope you enjoy!  Please feel free to share your thoughts.


Highlights of St. Petersburg, Russia

My travels have provided me the opportunity to experience more than 60 amazing countries and cultures.  A friend recently challenged me to try and provide a visual summary of one of my trips in a five minute or less ‘tour.’  [I am not sure but think the motivation was so they did not have to sit through one of my Blu-ray shows, that often run about an hour or so production…]

At any rate, I thought it an interesting challenge, and this is my first response.

This is an overview tour of highlights from St. Petersburg, Russia.  As you come in from the sea, you past the Lenin era massive housing projects.  While these buildings are showing their age, there is new construction of equally massive housing going up nearby.  The city is comprised of stunning buildings lining the streets along the Neva River central waterway.  Next stop is the ornate Cathedral of Peter and Paul.  On from there to the opera house for Swan Lake.  Next is Catherine’s palace followed by the State Hermitage Museum.  This magnificent museum has your head swiveling in an attempt to take it all in- the magnificent palace easy ‘competes’ with its rooms that house amazing art works.  Hope you enjoy! (It may take a couple of seconds for the slideshow to load)

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Please feel free to comment.  I may even be encouraged and do more ‘mini’ tours!

Cars as moving sculptures

As automotive enthusiast (yup, in case you haven’t guessed it I fall into that category), we tend to go far beyond thinking of cars as simply a ‘means to get from A to B.’  Since the start of car production, designers got involved right alongside engineers in an attempt to differentiate one model from another, to blend ‘art and science,’ and in many cases, to result in cars seen as moving sculptures.

There are many variations in attempts to come up with THE list of top designers.  Admittedly there shouldn’t be just one list as beauty is ultimately in the eyes of the beholder.  One of the lists I like as a jump off point is Chris Perkin’s (of Jalopnik) “The Ten Greatest Car Designers Of All Time.”  His list includes Ian Callum (Aston Martin DB9, Jaguar F), Paul Bracq (Mercedes, BMW), Bill Mitchell (GM, Sting Ray), Georges Paulin (Peugeots), Franco Scaglione (Alfa Remero Tipo 33 Stradale), Harley Earl (GM Buick Y, Corvette),   Batista Pininfarina (Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider), Malcom Sayer (Jaguar C & XJ13), Marcello Gandini (Miura,Countach), Giorgetto Giugiaro (Ferrari 250, Berlinetta Bertone).

Of course, I anticipate many recent design greats like Ed Welburn (Corvette Stingray C7), Peter Brock (Sting Ray Racer, Cobra Daytona Coupe), and Grant Larson (Porsche Boxster) will find their way onto updated variations of the top designer lists.

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As you (hopefully) are thinking about who would be on your list, prompted by the names here and/or images, please comment at the bottom and share your input!  Thanks.

Image vs equipment and software

When I started in professional photography my equipment consisted of Nikon Fs (F, F3, Photomic, etc.).

Here is a comparison of my first professional camera in the center, with my first digital with a Leica lens on the right, and my latest digital Nikon on the left.


Evolution (or Nikon on steroids).

I tend to add new equipment when I feel the technology offers a significant improvement.  For example, the small Leica was my initial move into the world of digital.  It was considerably smaller than my film cameras, and offered the ability to immediately confirm I captured what I wanted.  It also allowed me to learn how to shoot in digital since, in my experience, it required somewhat different skills than film cameras.  Framing and composition were still the same, but how digital captured light has subtle but important differences to my eye as compared to film. [ Much like digital audio equipment sounds different when compared to tube based equipment. ]

While I still occasionally shoot with negative professional film using my older Nikon equipment, nearly all of my images today are shot with my full frame Nikon digital cameras.

From my earliest days as a photographer, my approach was to capture what interested me just exactly as I saw it in my ‘mind’s eye,’ so to speak.

Initially all of my work was done on black and white professional negative film, that I developed in my lab.  Developing of film was done by the ‘book’ without enhancing the image.  Slowly I experimented with color negative film but my concern was that it was too easy to get an interesting picture simply because of the colors as compared to black and white.  For example, this shot of spices from India is really only interesting to me because of the colors as compared to shooting it in black and white.

This approach still reflects my technique today, except I normally only shoot with an eye to the colors and how they interact with the composition.

And certainly, many images rely totally on color for dramatic impact:

I trust my ability to see and capture what I want without coming back and spending time using readily available software (today’s equivalent of chemicals in the lab and development times when I started) to modify the image.  I don’t think there is anything wrong enhancing images using post shooting software, but believe it reflects more of a philosophical difference.  I consider myself a ‘naturalist’ photographer verses an artist/photographer producing a final photograph with software.

When you look at photographs do you wonder if it is reflective of reality or enhanced?  Does it matter to your enjoyment of the photograph?  Look forward to hearing from you!  Please feel free to comment below.