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!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fun Times @ SK Taman Megah (SKTM)

I have championed about my girl's public school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Megah (SKTM) before. Read here and here. But I just would like to talk about how fun this school is just based on an incident two days ago.

Last Thursday was the last day of school before Hari Raya. In the morning, as I bring my girl to school, walking up the road towards the gate, we both could here loud music blaring from the newly constructed Multi Purpose Court. It was festive songs from Hari Raya. The nice and upbeat music caused both of us to look at each other, curious of what's going on.

When we reached the gate, I could see children, teachers and parents gathering at the Court, with music playing. Jane was delighted and bounced into the school.

She later told us that the school invited Boboi Boy to perform for the children. Her details were sketchy but she told us that later the parents volunteered to tell stories during every Tuesday and Thursday's Jom Cerita and Mind You Language were all there to celebrate with the teachers and when the session ended, the parents sprayed with kids with confetti. Jane had lots of colourful ribbons on her hair and face and she and her friends shrieked with delights at all these surprises.

One parent shared with us that last year, during the final day of school in December, similar fun stuff happened. The children were gathered in the assembly and awards were given out for the Standard 6 students who did their UPSR. And at the end of the ceremony, the teachers surprised them by spraying water from the hose. They were all wet but happy and grinning - I think the kids didn't expect their usually stern teachers were such fun group.

I didn't expect the school to run these activities during a school day. I don't remember my school doing stuff like this. I mean, I bet these are memories the young ones will remember fondly of their schools. Kudos to SKTM for creating a fun and positive environment for our children to grow in. It's truly one of its kind in Malaysia and I am thankful that my child has a chance to study, make friends and grow up here.

P.S. my girl recently told me that she and a Malay friend had a shared diary which they wrote things in every day. The Malay friend is her BFF. She also have another BFF, an Indian friend, whom she hang out with during break. I don't think you can find such a great Muhibbah group other than in a Sekolah Kebangsaan such as this. The innocence of kids and how they can just make friends regardless of race and colour, is what we should be cultivating in Malaysia. Thank you agai, SKTM!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bofe Eatery - one superb and honest restaurant

We went to this place for lunch - it's called Bofe Restaurant and it is sort of a western/fusion cruisine. It's located opposite New Paris, same block as Mungo Jerry in SS2. Food was great, especially the Might Breakfast set which has these two gigantic sausages, half boiled eggs pulp and toast (plus two drinks). Anyway, this is not a review of the food. I just wanted to compliment the staff for their honesty! After lunch, we left the place, not realizing that we left our iPhone 6S in the place. We only found out about it 4 hours later and got panicked as we called the phone. The helpful owner picked up and told us they were waiting for us to call. If it were any other restaurant, we can kissed our less than one year-old iPhone goodbye! Great service, honest staff.. it's rare to find honest people in Malaysia these days, so we were extremely grateful to them. Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Buying a new car

I'm planning to get a new CRV. After almost two decades of driving an old car, I think I deserve to indulge myself a bit. But this got me thinking of the sacrifices parents go through for their kids. Often, the question of "is it worth it?" crossed my mind. On the other hand, if there's no kids, then what's the use of the fortune we amassed? Sure, we could probably enjoy driving that Audi but to what ends? I salute all parents who sacrificed for their children!

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 reaso...