Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Four Driving Conveniences Helped Out by the Mobile Phone

Last year was the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and as you look back at the older versions you suddenly notice how technology has advanced in the past 10 years. The phone and its features improves leaps and bounds every year. Initially the gap for every new iteration was about 2 years and then more recently a new model comes out yearly. With phones being more within the reach of most consumers it's quite easy to notice the small nuances in their improvements.But with cars you it does seem a bit more subtle for the regular person. These technologies from mobile phones may not be directly lifted but you see how it helps out the modern driver and his commute and how slowly these features from the phone found its way to our cars.

Here are some improvements that have changes throughout the years that improved our driving experience.

1. The ability to connect to external music players.

This probably started out when the iPod came along where auxiliary connections were added to accommodate the old iPod. But now most modern car audio equipment come either with a usb port or a bluetooth to connect with your mobile phone for music. The younger ones will no longer remember CD changers to ensure you have a continuous music for those long out of town drives. How about casette tapes?

2. The backup camera

The days of looking at the rear of the car when backing up will soon be over. With most new cars you'll just need to look at the screen at the center of the console and see where you're backing into. With the size of the camera lens getting smaller as the technology advances so now these can be installed at the rear of the car to leave manual depth perception to an actual view with grid lines to help drivers back up into spaces. Now drives would need less skill to back up into those parking spaces.

3. Screens

Probably the biggest influence of the smartphone technology to driving is the touchscreen console and the mobile phone connection. This has opened up a lot of conveniences for the modern driver. From visual guides via the GPS to backup cameras to better infotainment systems. There are now a lot more information that can be shown for the driver. For the newer cars the screen has already changed the dashboard. You can have different dashboard layout options and for the real high-end cars it can show an image of the road via infrared cameras to give the drive better vision at night.

4. GPS / Mobile Navigation

Most top spec car models would have built in GPS system in them but for those who don't get the high end models there's always the option of using navigation apps such as Waze and Google Maps. Gone are the days where you need to ask for directions to unfamiliar places. Now you simply input in on the phone or GPS. It even provides you with the most optimal routes to avoid the traffic. With the proper internet connection it will let you know before hand when to make those turns towards where you want to go.

These are just a very small sampling of the new technology being packed in the modern automobile. Driverless cars are the target to totally alleviate the cause of most accident which human error. Because will live in digital world where we have grown accustomed to it's pace we take for granted the incremental benefits of these new technologies have brought to us.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Car Reviews and Websites

I don't consider myself a car guy but I like reading about cars. Just like any guy who knows how to drive and is somewhat into cars BBC's Top Gear would probably come to mind as the best car review show ever. The the show with its original hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were very creative when doing their car reviews. The show set a bar that no other show can reach. Those with car shows or sites with much less resources should not even try to emulate the program. The number of cars to review and their British wit and creativity can never be matched. But others should not be faulted for trying but those who follow must find a better angle and not just follow some of the commentaries you hear from the show.

The term "plasticy" comes to mind when describing car interiors. Jeremy Carkson often used this term but he had a wide array of cars which he reviewed and when he comes across a high end car with "plasticy" interiors it would be proper to critical of the car where you'd expect better. But locally with sub 1M cars or even some sub 2M SUVs this is par for the course. I daresay majority of these cars would have interiors made of such materials. I think it's just a nice way for local car journalists to critique a car since almost 90% of the time they will not say a bad thing on a car review.

That being said though, after reading a couple of car sites it would be difficult for writers to indulge the senses of the readers in describing how a car drives. Aside from the shock being stiff and the engine giving a lot of pull it would be hard to me to imagine how a car steers outside of the cars I normally drive or have driven.

But what would I like to see on a new car review? The writer will give his nice intro and I'll tolerate and often it will include the price but there are things they omit in the basic details which I'd like to see:

For new cars
1. Price and cost of each variant - maybe pros and cons of getting each
2. Gas mileage - unless it's a company car or you're really rich this matters
3. Maintenance costs and after sales service reputation (I doubt writers would write about the after sales though but it's part of ownership) - I saw a Facebook post which complained about the cost of the repair of a Peugeot, buy a high end car expect high end maintenance costs.

Value for money used cars should also be featured. Given the limited roads in the country, readers should be encouraged to buy second hand cars instead of new cars given how efficient cars are made. Cars are now more durable and reliable compared to years past. I'd given go as far as suggest a new buyer buying a low end car to get a better second hand car at the same price.

This last suggestion of mine should be given a lot of focus. Aside from the sheer number of cars, I feel one of the biggest reason for the traffic is the lack of discipline of our drivers. Top Gear Philippines, AutoIndustriya, James Deakin should make more of an effort to promote road courtesy. It's quite obvious that some of these site lack content given they recycle old car reviews regularly.They should instead write about the proper road rules and driving courtesy to help improve our traffic mess.

Just look at some of the comments on on those dash cam Facebook Pages and you'd see how some (if not most) are ignorant of basic road rules and driving courtesy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NBA is a Business

Last week the Golden State Warriors with their newly acquired super star Kevin Durant won over Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers to be the 2017 NBA Chamions. Soon after, this old article from July 2016 criticizing his transfer started being shared again on the internet. I don't really know why people like to throw people down and look for bad stuff just after winning. Social media has exposed sore losers on the internet.

Unlike in Philippine collegiate basketball where I am a hardcore fan of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, having been brainwashed from an early age, I do not particularly follow any teams on professional leagues, I however, have teams which I like and teams I dislike but it's not because I have particular disdain against them or any of their players. I was initially a fan of Lebron until his "decision" to move to Miami, while there is some dis-like, his greatness can not be ignored. He will go down as one of the greatest NBA players ever. Given this, I essentially dislike any Lebron team also because I usually for for the underdog. After writing this I realized I like most teams in the NBA except for the Clippers and any team Lebron is on (after his "decision"). Ultimately though, you'd need to dislike one team to enjoy sports, not rooting for a team sometimes is boring.

Kevin Durant essentially moved to the team who beat them in the conference finals. That was a big no-no for old school players. This was part of most NBA talk shows heading to the finals. Players from the 80s to the early 2000s collectively said they would not do what he did but they said that times have changed and they understood why he did it.

From a competitive standpoint, it was definitely a bad decision. But while basketball is a sport the NBA is a business. Outside looking in nobody has the right to criticize his decision - it was his to make. He was a free agent and there was a better opportunity to enable him to reach a goal. For the Warriors as an organization and a business it made sense to make a strong team even stronger. It's all about setting an objective and reaching that goal, and they did.

The environment in the NBA is ripe for the situation and this was only magnified because of 1) how dominating the Warriors are 2) how good a player KD is and 3) the fact that KD lost a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors. The Miami team of Lebron and the Champion Celtics of 2008 essentially can be seen as the precedent to this shift. From big two's to big three's and now this super team.

KD made a decision for himself and Warriors wanted another championship it made sense for both to get together and they won. The NBA had a trilogy (maybe a tetralogy next year?) and they had one of the highest ratings so it was win for everyone.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Some things I just find cool: La La Land

We watch movies for entertainment value, it's a time where you suspend your reality and accept the imaginings of the writer or director of the movie. A movie to a certain extent expands your experience in life, it involves you in the characters you watch making you feel what they are going through. I decided to write about La La Land because I felt it made me experience the beautiful art of movie making which I don't often notice because I get too engrossed in the story or I just don't care. But this movie made me look.

From the way the camera panned during a scene or during a dialogue from the murals used as the background. Everything had been placed there for a reason. The combination of the visuals, the music, and dancing made a lot for the entertainment value. While I saw criticism online about the choice of actors, I felt the choice was both for the box office success and the undeniable chemistry Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling had. More talented actors with better voices and dancing chops may not have the rapport these actors had on screen.

The movie is an ode to old Hollywood and has that innocence of the era, but shows some new age couple issues. My favorite scene was when Mia, Emma Stone's character was looking for Seb in the movie theater. The movie projectors light showed Mia's face while an old Hollywood film was showingin the background. The dreamy musical sequences divide the romance and the reality. Where there were troubles music was just on the background and the musical was used to uplift the audience.

Maybe it's just another love story of dreamers in Hollywood. But the movie was artfully done. Colorful costumes and murals with LA as a backdrop and Jazz giving it the rhythm.