• Automotive

    So Much For German Engineering

    Having the chance to drive around many many many foreign cars, I am willing to say that I am not going to spend any of my own money on a German car, be it a BMW, a Mercedes, or even a Porsche.

    A quote from a History Channel program about the German Autobahn somewhat encompasses the whole attitude towards cabin design in German cars.

    “You don’t need cup holders for your drinks when you’re supposed to be watching the road”.

    This kind of attitude trickles down to the smallest knobs and buttons in the cabin, thus making the stereo erupt on full blast when you need directions on the GPS.

    The user un-friendliness of the systems on the console of German cars are ridiculous. Recently, I’ve been rolling around in an Porsche Cayenne and I am ready to switch it out with a Toyota Corolla.

    • Cannot turn on GPS without turning on Audio
    • Cannot turn on Reverse Camera without turning on Audio
    • Audio turns back on at engine restart if muted with volume dial before engine shutdown
    • Track forward/back, Station up/down buttons on steering will not work unless screen is on Audio
    • There is no single OFF button for the AC
    • Jog dial does not jog beyond last item or job back beyond first item
    • No touch screen, very low resolution, no pointer system (think Etch-A-Sketch)
    • Side-view mirrors will not readjust to Reverse peeking mode if Heating

    I mean, yes, it’s a great piece of road tearing machinery, but it’s a consumer car. I think the engineers at Porsche could have done better… much better.

    It’s one thing to be watching the road, but having to take one’s eyes off the road because of bad design is another. If I can change the temperature setting, search for music, and program the navi without taking my eyes off the road then I’ll reconsider.

    *Please, if you know of how to circumvent these problems, let me know via Twitter. I have the car for another few weeks.

    Small things that some other car makers do that I find intuitive

    • You know which side of the car the gas cap is on indicated by a small arrow on the fuel gage
    • Standard Play, Stop, FF, REV, EJECT icons as seen on cassette players
    • Console screen works independently for audio, video, navi, temp, info, camera, etc. according to priority of current activity. That means the rear-view camera takes screen priority over temp control when driving in reverse
    • OFF button for all AC temp control
    • Audio control on the steering works any time as long as audio is on
    • Emergency flasher button is a BIG RED BUTTON
    • Heating for front, rear windshield, and side view mirrors are in one place
  • Sidetracked

    Magpul: Art of the Tactical Carbine

    I wouldn’t know anybody that would use an M4 assault rifle for home defense… how big is your house?

    Magpul Dynamic’s The Art of the Tactical Carbine 3 disc DVD set is an exciting collection of carbine rifle manipulation lessons. As the title suggests, the lesson is not about being “tactial” but more about the “martial art” or mindset of handling a lethal weapon. If you’re looking for CQB techniques and battle theory, this is not it.

    What I took away from the DVDs were that the M4 assault rifle systems jam and foul up quite frequently. Three days of training, a dozen rifles, and how many double feeds were there?

  • Sidetracked

    Shields Never Used

    Oakley Thump 1.0 Black

    This afternoon, I was looking for some USB cables in my closet and found a blue card stock box with an Oakley logo on it. It was the box to a pair of original Oakley Thump sunglasses.

    Oakley was the first premiere sunglass manufacture to release this abomination of a product and make it look cool instead of nerdy.

    When combining tools, the advantages of integrating devices must outweigh the cost and the annoyances of individual feature failures. For example, a DVD TV combo would still function as a TV when the DVD player failed, but you’d have to give up your TV while the DVD mechanism was being repaired. This would suck big time.

    If the MP3 player feature failed on the Thump, you could still use it as a pair of sunglasses. If the lenses failed, you’d look pretty stupid wearing them while listening to your tunes. Nevertheless, replacing the lens is a quick fix at most Oakley eyewear dealer and you could probably live a few weeks without these particular pair if you had to send them in for repairs.

    Any way, for me, there weren’t much use for them. I think I’ve only used them the day I got them. So the glasses sat on my vanity in the Oakley microfiber bag for almost  a decade without being used.

    Today, I took them out of the bag, reloaded the factory settings, cleaned them, and put them back in the box.

  • Sidetracked

    So called security issue

    United Gate Information ScreenJournalists and photographers are usually turned away from sensitive materials, as their products are meant to be dispersed to millions of people without dissemination and classification. In a country where speech is part of its citizens’ freedom, it is quite impossible for anybody to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of exercising such powers. So the policy goes, “deny the gathering of information”.

    This was such a case, when one of the gate information screens at Chicago O’Hare International Airport was paused from an unintended right-click. The photographer’s intention was to demonstrate that the gate info system utilized Adobe’s Flash for its slide shows. Unfortunately, what this photograph uncovered was that United is using an out-of-the-box product to connect to its servers that stored flight information, scheduling, seat upgrade priorities, and customer names. It also divulged that this system’s access terminal was somewhere in a room where humans could enter and touch the mouse without much thought.

    So although it looked innocuous, and although thousands of passengers walked by and may had a glimpse of this paused screen, the gate agent took the correct action by turning away this photographer.

    Hopefully, United’s IT department has corrected this problem by now.