Monday, September 25, 2017

Don't WhatsApp /SMS when driving

This morning, we received news that one of Jane's classmate passed away after fighting for her life for 4 days. She was cycling in her Ara Damansara neighborhood - just taking a ride to a friend's house around the corner - and she was knocked by an incoming car. I am not sure if the driver was texting while driving or if he was speeding .. but the point is that a 8 year old girl died because of an accident with an incoming car who was not able to stop in time. She had a concussion to the head and was in coma. The doctor know that her brain had blood clot and swelling but because she was not responding, they were not able to operate on her. And so the family suffered through 4 days of anguish waiting - praying for her to respond, so that they could operate on her .. and on the 5th day, she stopped breathing.

I don't pretend that I am an angel here - I did text before behind the wheel.. but incidents like this served as a REAL reminder to me that I should not. THAT TEXT IS NOT WORTH IT. Any messages CAN WAIT. IT. CAN. WAIT.

And as a reminder, please turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving in iOS 11. With this turn on, when the phone detect that you are in motion, it will not buzz when there are incoming SMS/text ... I think any notifications will not ring - so if you have incoming Whatsapp, Twitter, eMails, the phone remain silent. This is a good feature that should be the default in ALL phones!

Friday, September 15, 2017

My opinion on iPhone X

I'm a huge fan of everything Apple. And yet, I don't have the latest Apple gear. I'm not that rich to buy every Apple gear there is out there. I don't have the latest iPhone (I'm still using a 6 Plus), I don't have a MacBook with TouchBar (using an Air) and I don't have a iPad Pro (using an Air 2). And yet, I do go and take risk on new Apple tech - when they launched iPhone 3G, I was in line for it, then when they had the new, all glass design of iPhone 4, I was in line as well. iPhone 6 Plus was their first big screen iPhone and I jumped on it. AirPod was new and I bought it out of faith.

So, now the iPhone X is in totally unchartered territories for an iPhone - new form factor, new OLED screen, Face ID, no home button nor Touch ID. Unproven battery life. Wireless charging, etc etc.

Without Touch ID, many of my existing apps may not work, especially the banking ones. There will be immediate impact on existing apps.

Will I take the leap?

I would, if it's $3000. I might even bite at $3999. But at almost $5000, it is a hard bullet to swallow. I don't want to be carrying an equivalent of a new state of the art custom built PC with GTX 1060 graphic card! There is always a risk of losing the phone, dropping it (and thus cracking the all glass of enclosure). Is it water proof this time? I'm not even so sure of that.

I've never lose a phone in the 10 years of owning iPhones so I'm pretty careful but even then, I'm wary of holding a $5K device.

Cool tech, super beautiful phone, but the price just ain't right. Sighhhhhhh....

Sunday, September 03, 2017

5 weeks with the 2017 CRV

Now that I have driven the new 2017 Honda CRV for 5 weeks, complete with an outstation trip to Ipoh with 4 adults and 2 kids, have my impression of the car changed one bit? Actually, I am more pleased with the car after a full 2-hour drive up North. Firstly, the car is so quiet when travelling the freeway at 130km/h. At 110km/h, the RPM was around 1900RPM and at 130km/h, it is just 2700RPM. The engine didn't feel like it was roaring. And I don't even know I was going at 130km/h! Pick up for overtaking, with 4 adults and 2 kids, plus luggage at the boot, was excellent. The car is powerful and effortless in just zooming past other cars.

Fuel consumption was good, around 16km/litre which is 15sen per km (I am using RON97, so that's like $2.44 per litre as of this writing)

Apple Maps and Foursquare was a great combination to look for places and CarPlay was able to get us to any place in Ipoh. I believe Apple hada partnership with Foursquare. I like that when I was searching for something in the Foursquare app, and then I switched to Maps, Maps automatically showed me my recent Foursquare view. And within Foursquare, clicking Directions allow me to have the option to open in Apple Maps. It looks like Waze is not the only accurate GPS in the market.

On the way back, we met with a storm. Heavy rain and strong wind. This was the day where Jalan Kuching in KL was hit with flash flood and there was a video that went viral, of cars stuck on the highway. Anyway, the storm hit PLUS highway too but the CRV handled the storm and the rain pretty well.

The comment from adults at the back seat was that it is very spacious and lots of leg room for them.

Truly a great car in terms of it's exterior design, interior furnishing and the turbo engine are really great differentiators. Honda have a winner here that will last for years!

Monday, August 21, 2017

What are the advantages of CarPlay over traditional Bluetooth?

Readers of this blog knows that I am a die-hard Apple fan - so much so as even appearing cultist and fanboism. They also know that the reason I delayed my car purchase and chose the current car is somewhat related to waiting for Apple CarPlay to arrive in Malaysia. After one month of driving the car and using CarPlay, I am afraid I have to ask the hard question of "why bother with CarPlay?"

The current CarPlay in all models of Honda is the wired models - meaning there is a lightning-USB cable that goes from the car into the iPhone. Once you plug that in, the whole infotainment system turn into one giant iPhone screen. Very responsive, very beautiful.

With the iPhone plugged in, I could say "hey Siri" and Siri is turned on and I could ask Siri to call the wife or play this playlist or play songs by Adele or even send someone a message. And with the integrated Apple Maps, I could have turn by turn navigation. No Waze yet, unfortunately - a BIG unfortunately, actually.

But you must remember to plug in the cable.

Consider the alternative - get into the car, start the engine and drive off. The iPhone automatically connects to Honda HandsFreeLink (seriously, it is super smooth connectivity, no waiting, no lag - it just connects without you having to do anything). Your finger goes to the button on the steering wheel and just click to call someone in your Speed Dial or start playing music.

And if you had music that was playing before you stopped the car, the music continues where you left off. Sure, CarPlay does that same but you HAVE TO PLUG IT IN! With the Bluetooth, it connects and play automatically where you left off, even when the phone is in your pocket, without having to take out the phone!

So, why bother with CarPlay?

I, uh, I am afraid, I can't answer that!

I could just grab an excuse - Apple Maps! coz you can't get turn by turn navigation from Honda infotainment otherwise - sure.. but Apple Maps is no Waze! All I need is a RM$50 hands free magnet thingy and I will have Waze on the iPhone on the windscreen. Why bother with CarPlay?

I find it disturbing that I waited so long for CarPlay to only realize that it is no big deal .. except it's beautiful .. but that's about it. There is no practicality over connecting via traditional Bluetooth way.

P.S. This article is an excellent complementary write up on this subject.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Economy is bad?

Have you noticed that it is very difficult to get home improvement work done these days? My roofing (pergola, to be exact) had some problem and needed replacement. The sales guy came and took some measurement but told me that I have to wait 4 weeks before they can get someone to install. Just two months ago, we install a mosquitoes screen on the door and window. I also have to wait for 4 weeks before they are available for installation. Plumbing - a few days. They say the new CRV have to wait two weeks. Want someone to service your aircond? Wait a few weeks. Have a ceiling fan need to be replaced and need an electrician? Good luck looking for one because they don't want to do small jobs like this.

So if economy is bad, these guys should be very free and available. Or hungry for jobs. But it seems that they have lots of jobs waiting for them! Hmmm....

So, if you lose your jobs one day and you are willing to work hard, you can't "die of hunger", as a Chinese saying goes.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Using an iPad as a secondary monitor

the iPad is running at 60fps

How about extending the display of your Windows 10 PC or MacBook into a secondary display without needing to pay for a second monitor? That's provided you have an iPad around. With DuetDisplay (RM60 iOS app, desktop app is free), you can do just that! And a secondary display is something that once you have it, you can't live without it. And using an iPad made it so much practical to carry around another display on-the-go, with your MacBook, to work! Try it out!

DuetDisplay just requires an iOS app, a desktop app that's super easy to install and the normal Lightning charging cable that came with the iPad. Connect the cable between the iPad and the USB port of the PC/Mac and you get high resolution, 60 FPS (!!) secondary display that DOES NOT LAG at all.

P.S. and if you connect to the Mac, the iPad can be used to display a TouchBar - you know, that nice new row of icons you can punch on your keyboard to do different things? Very nice!

2017 Honda CRV in Malaysia! An owner's review

After years of driving an old car, I finally decide to change. And having a small family, I was eyeing a SUV. Last year, we were considering a Mazda CX5 because of its exterior look but after inspecting it in a showroom and then sitting on a Honda CRV, we have no doubt that Honda was the choice to go. Our decision was simply based on how spacious the interior cabin of the CRV is compared to the CX5.

Symbolic - inside a new CRV, looking at a billboard about the new CRV

And so, we have to decide whether to get one early this year or wait for the new CRV which was supposed to launch in May 2017 (well, that was before Honda Malaysia decided to delay the launch date after Raya). What made me wait for the new model was that the sales agent told me that the new CRV will have a new engine and Apple CarPlay! Being an Apple fan, as you can tell from this blog, I definitely wanted CarPlay. We dropped a deposit with the showroom sales agent in April.

I waited patiently and when Honda finally launched the car on 12 July, the wife and I went to the showroom for a look. What a beautiful and gorgeous car! On the frontal view, the car has a "fierce lion" look.. very sporty and very "garang"! From the back view, it has a much more pleasant symmetry as compared to the previous generations, likely due to the fact that the tail lights span across to the back tail gate.

We immediately told the sales agent to processed our "application" and we chose the 1.5 Turbo Charge variant. In less than two weeks, we collected our car! There are a few key differences between the 4th gen and 5th gen CRV - it comes with a price, of course - almost RM$20K difference mainly because Honda had a sale for the 4th gen where they gave an additional $8K discount.

So, what does the extra $20K get you?

1. a new turbo charge engine! A 1.5TC has a 193 horsepower vs the old 2.0 engine which gives you around 180hp. This itself is worth the price differentiation, to be honest. A state of the art engine technology - fuel efficient, powerful, low litre (so, roadtax is cheaper)

2. a digital dashboard behind the steering wheel. You see a digital speedometer and RPM. You also get a preview of your engine condition, fuel efficiency, current songs playing, who is calling you on the phone. I have always envied Civic's digital speedometer when it was first introduced a few years ago and at that time none other Honda models have this. Even last year's Accord didn't have a digital speedometer, if I am not wrong.

Oh ya, did you see the curve white light above the RPM? The first outline in the photo below? It turns green when you are driving on a highway to signifies fuel efficient driving. It is now white because I have been accelerating and decelerating (in traffic) and that means it is not efficient fuel consumption (cool, right?)

My digital dashboard is set to display song name and album art.
Not sure if you can see the pretty songstress, Beverly Craven.
The Dashboard is fully configurable. I like how minimalist I can make it by removing everything - even the tachometer.

3. CarPlay... omg! You gotta really see how beautiful 7" screen is with all the familiar high res Apple icons! This is a retina equivalent display of a car infortainment system that I have ever seen. Even 4th gen CRV's display screen feels like a low res, non-retina ready screen! With CarPlay, you get Siri, Apple Music, your Contacts and calls, Apple Maps (ugh! Not good), Podcast of your choice (mine is Overcast) and Audible.

Note: there is no CD player, so some might be disappointed. But there are enough USB ports around for you to plug in a USB stick with thousands of songs to play.

Note again: there is also no Garmin navigator built in, which the previous gen CR-V has. Plus 1 to previous gen! They expect you to use Waze (Android Auto) or Apple Maps (CarPlay). 

Seriously, who did not think that CarPlay is an eye grabber?

4. 18" rim and wheels. That's already a very impressive set of Toyo wheels. Oh, even the spare tyre is not something low end. The spare tyre is also a Toyo 18" just like the four ones that driving the car. Some say that 18" is going to cost you a bomb.. ok, that is true.. but Honda recommend to change tyres every 4 years (in their manual), so 4 years to save up, I guess :) After a week of driving around and just seeing the car as compared to other SUV, I think the 18" made the 2017 CRV more sporty, very presentable and feel like a Cayenne-like class of SUV. I believe Honda made a great choice to go with 18" tyres for the CRV.

5. Both the driver and passenger seat has those cool motorized latches that adjust your seat's height, move it forward and backward and leaning. The 4th gen CRV only provide this for the driver seat while the passenger seat is still manual.

6. Walk Away Lock - this feature took some getting used to but after two days, I am totally comfortable with it. It's as simple as once you exit the car, you hear a beep, which means that all doors are closed properly. As you walked a further 150cm away, another beep happened, which means that the car auto locked! You don't have to worry about locking. Of course, if you needed to lock manually, a light touch and hold to the door handle will trigger a manual lock.

7. Automatic Brake Hold - I am not sure if the 4th gen CRV have this feature or not, if anyone can help verify, that will be great but boy, another super quality of life feature that I have been missing. This feature is very useful in Malaysia especially if we get stuck in traffic jam or our route has many traffic lights. When this is turned on, when you reach a traffic light and you stopped, you can relief your leg by taking it off the brake pedal. The Automatic Brake Hold will hold the car. And when the light turn green, you press accelerator and just go. No need to engage the parking brake. And when you stopped again in the next traffic light, you just let go of the brake and the system will hold the car again. Super convenient.

When turned on, the dashboard showed the message briefly and them it disappear. An indication on the lower right (beside the fuel indicator) will lit up, showing that Auto Brake Hold is in place.

8. Front sensor - ok, most modern cars have the back sensor and video when you reverse park. This 5th gen CRV has two front sensors to detect if your front will hit any object when you are near them. While there is no video for the front, the warning, in the form of a outline of a car, does show up side by side to the reverse sensor video on the 7" screen (when you are reverse parking, you also need to watch your front) or .. if you are just going forward to park, the front sensor took up the whole screen.

The front sensor in action. The cone of coverage is quite large.
The second bar from the left is red because of a leaf from my plant in my flower pot

The reverse camera. In addition though, it has the outline of the car (to the right)
which will also alert you of anything behind and in the front of the car. Excellent design choices!

There's also the usual stuff that both gen CRV have - auto cruise, LED headlamps, rear view video (for reversing), spacious trunk, 5 seater (he he he), lots of compartments for drinks on all the doors, 6 air bags (nice!!); buttons on the steering wheels for cruise controls, infotainment and phone calls; Econ button for economy driving which will automatically adjust your engine and climate; And god knows what else!

Seriously, this car is going to be a best seller for Honda. I agree with the sales agent when he told me that Honda didn't skimp in this gen CRV. They gave all out especially on the interior. It's easy to to think that way, that it is all interior add-on, but don't forget that the 1.5TC engine is a major thing as well. I am just not a technical driver to tell you what is so great about the engine but I feel that this is as good as a new tech engine you can get, aside from Hybrid - but yeah, it is a major thing for Honda to also change the engine in this gen.

Learned a new tip - the volume switch on the steering wheel is touch sensitive, meaning you can slide up and down on it with your finger to increase or decrease the volume. Nice!

Don't WhatsApp /SMS when driving

This morning, we received news that one of Jane's classmate passed away after fighting for her life for 4 days. She was cycling in her A...