# Monday, 16 September 2013

I got a new car!! It's a Nissan Serena S-Hybrid... as if the title didn't already give it away.


This not being a auto enthusiast site, and me not even REMOTELY qualified to talk about a car's stats let's not talk about stuff like that. I'll just mention a few things that should be interesting to people.

First of all is the Hybridness of the Serena S-Hybrid, while it has two batteries. Orange arrow is pointing to the main battery and the blue arrow is pointing at the secondary battery.


(For the pic above I wanted to remove the air filter to take a shot of the batteries, but it's a bitch to remove and it felt like I was gonna break something while doing it, Heck I'm wondering if I even reattached it properly!?) The secondary battery is used to power the main electronics like the radio, air conditioning and the sliding doors. Unlike other hybrid cars, the secondary battery isn't a slab or what not, but rather your normal deep charge capable battery.

The secondary battery will also be used to give the engine a slight push when coming back from idle stop. This is how the Serena's primary method of saving fuel. The engine stops when you stop the car at traffic lights, or traffic jams. And the moment you start moving again the engine start back up quickly. They even include a nice display of how long you've been stopping during the current trip.


While it's a nice and interesting way of saving gas, one of my friends remarked about the long term viability of such idle stop mechanisms... hmmm... interesting. There is one caveat in the idle stop system though. You must have the brakes applied FIRMLY for it to work, the moment you let it loose to a point where the car feels like it's going to move the engine starts back up, with practice I should be able to feel where's the sweet spot so I don't need to jam my foot down on the brakes in extending traffic jams. It will go into idle stop if you apply the parking brake though. Another thing to note is that the power steering motor is also killed in idle stop and fidgeting with your steering will cause the engine to start back up again.

Now let's talk about the auto doors, the rear doors are powered so they open and close with a simple push of a button. When it was neat and all, I totally forgot the question to ask until my wife actually asked me "What if someone gets caught in the door as it is closing?" That's a good question!! It's time FOR SCIENCE!!!

Ok, so the door doesn't actually have a dump sensor like on elevators, it's more a force detector, if it feels like it needs more force to push the door in one direction it'll go in the opposite direction. The door isn't going to squash your kid into pulp but you probably want to make sure that everyone's clear of the doors before it closes or opens.

Let's talk about the passenger cabin, the 2nd and 3rd row seats are on tracks and you can shuffle them around like you usually can on MPVs. And there's the problem, the tracks look like this.


On a closer inspection, there's quite a gap between the rubber flaps which attempt to block little things from getting into it.


When I first picked up the car I thought to myself.. I better get something to cover those tracks up lest some crumbs or stuff drop in and jam the tracks, but it can wait. Then at night when my wife got in for the first ride in the new car, since she needed to strap in WH in the child seat she threw her purse on the neighbouring chair and it's coin pouch promptly EXPLODED, SPRINKLING COINS EVERYWHERE!!! I think I managed to find all the dropped coins..

Like most van like vehicles, you get very little trunk space in the Serena, but one neat thing which they provided was a little luggage compartment which you can access by lifting up the the flooring.


It's big enough to fit a medium sized adult body but you might need to hack the legs a little... don't ask how i figured out this out :P

But one thing you might be wondering, if there's a giant rear compartment at the back, then where's the spare tyre then? Well... that's because it DOESN'T come with a spare tyre! Instead, you're provided with an emergency tyre repair kit which consists of an air pump and a bottle of sealant... Lets hope i never need to figure out how well those work, or get caught in a situation where I NEED an actual spare wheel!

And finally, we come to the in dash entertainment center.


It *seems* to be an Android based device which does what you expect it to do

  • Radio
  • Rear view camera
  • GPS with some format that's not supported by MalSingMaps
  • Media Player

Regarding the media player, this is what I'd call Ye Typical Media Playing Appliance, which means from a video point of view. You get to play most WESTERN media fine, H.264 works, MP4 and MKV containers work. But as is typical of appliances like this, it can't play RMVB files, it can't handle H.264 Hi10P video streams, and it has spotty subtitle support for soft subs.

And.. I guess that's it, the all important gas milage question will be answered after I go through a few tanks of gas.

Here's the follow up post regarding gas mileage.

Monday, 16 September 2013 14:19:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 12 September 2013

Two years ago, I reviewed the Microsoft Touch Mouse which failed the all important Wife Acceptance Factor test. And also made me aware that ALL touch mice are usually handicapped with only a singular button due to technical constrains.

Surprisingly, in the 2 year anniversary of that review. A mouse that can claim to have BOTH proper BUTTONS (instead of a BUTTON) and also support touch gestures for those of you who just have to stroke the surface of your mouse has appeared!

The Microsoft Sculpt Comfort is the mouse that bears such a claim, and here's a short review.

Thursday, 12 September 2013 17:53:10 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 07 September 2013

So I finally got a Microsoft Surface Pro about 2 weeks ago, and as I mentioned way back when they first announced it. That attaching the pen via magnets where a stupid thing to do. I actually type up a whole draft of the source of my hatred but.. a video might be better!

Saturday, 07 September 2013 22:44:00 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 17 August 2013

Let’s follow up on my PC Gaming adventures. First of all here are the specs of my rig.

  • Intel Core i5 2.8GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • ATI 5700

It’s nothing too special, other than the fact that it’s plugged into a TV


Now if you’re wondering why there’s a disc taped to the front of the system, when you have a little infant who finds daddy’s screams of terror when he accidentally shuts down the PC funny, you too would want to make sure it’s not that easy to push the power button!

The primary game controller used is of course the Razer Sabertooth.


It’s really nice that most PC game developers understand the need to support the XBox Gamepad, an added plus is that when you run Steam in Big Picture mode, the guide button becomes the Shift-Tab hot key which you’d usually press on the keyboard so you can still access most of Steam’s functionality with only the Gamepad, neat!

Then I needed to handle the fact that I’d want to use my Turtle Beach PX5 on the PC.


I wanted to use the Optical Jack on the PC, but then I realized that I’ll have to remember to toggle quite a few settings to get the sound piped through the TV again. And that’s not good for one simple reason.

My Wife!

This is because my office room is also the room my wife uses to placate little WH if he wakes up and refuses to go back to sleep at night, so she’ll come to my room and use the TV to try and get him to sleep again. At this time, WH is usually, crying, screaming, squirming, etc. etc. Basically everything that would piss off and stress out a mommy who have just been woken up. Imagine how would she feel if upon turning on the TV and playing some videos and no sound comes out of the TV to soothe WH?

So I had to look for an alternate solution, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro


Yes, this is basically a USB sound card. And more importantly, it’s a USB sound card with an OPTICAL PORT


So why does this help my situation? When you set a USB sound card as your default sound device in Windows, the moment it is disconnected Windows will automatically pipe sound back through your internal Sound Card, and whenever you plug the USB one back in, it becomes the default sound device again. This makes it very easy for me to switch between output to the TV or to my headset, all I have to do is plug the USB in and I’m good.

Of course I’m quite aware that USB audio cards might have latency or other performance based issues, haven’t felt anything noticeable for now though.

As I started playing Payday 2, I realized I needed to get voice chat working or I’d never be able to play effectively. I tried all manner of cable converters to plug the PX5 Xbox 360 connection into the X-Fi’s mic jack, but none of them seem to work the way I’d like them to. Until I got fed up and just plugged the jack into the Sabertooth, at which point Windows made the familiar Hardware Inserted sound and… *poof* a new mic input device appeared for the headset of the Sabertooth…


And it works exactly like intended, just like on the Xbox 360! The driver support package which MS gave the Xbox 360 controller is amazing!!! In fact, you can even set your PC sound to output through the XBox 360 headset. Though it’s at a VERY VERY poor bitrate though.

The Journey Continues…

Gaming | Gear
Saturday, 17 August 2013 23:46:30 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 20 July 2013

I recently dove back into PC Gaming, there were 2 main factors that influenced this decision.

First of all was the XBOX One was announced to have some severely crippling controls that would spell certain doom for parallel import players like me, and even though they decided to revert back to the current XBOX 360 control model, I can’t help but be slightly shaken by that.

Secondly was The Walking Dead, when I bought the Humble Bundle for Telltale games SPECIFICALLY to get The Walking Dead, I didn’t realize that it was Steam ONLY. Therefore I had to go back to using my dormant Steam account, one thing lead to another and I ended up with some more games in my Steam account.

So here’s what I feel so far after a few months of PC gaming.

The Good!

Cheaper Games! If you’re not chasing to play games immediately on their launch date, you most likely can get it cheaper after a few months, most likely on Steam. But a good site to keep tabs on stuff is through CheapShark.

More Variety! There’s a nice thriving Indie game scene on the PC, you’ll be able to find a lot of strange, quirky, and possibly entertaining games to play. But these games are not without their problems, for one thing, some of them might lack a lot of the iterated polish you’ll see in a proper retail game, this might make the game very unfriendly to newbie players or casual gamers who are not familiar with typical gaming tropes. One of the worst problems you might find if you’re unfamiliar with this is ending up buying a game that’s partially complete in which the developer swears they’ll constantly work on and improve it, you just gotta give them some faith and time. I’m not saying this is a BAD thing, but this might give the wrong idea to people unfamiliar with such a concept.

XBOX 360 Controller Support! The gold standard for a controller, thankfully most of the PC developers realize that they need to support the XBOX 360 controller which makes it much more comfortable in most scenarios. If you’re going to game on a keyboard though, it’d be highly recommended that you go for a keyboard which allows you to press multiple keys at a time since most normal keyboards will only detect about 3 or 4 simultaneous key presses.

The Bad!

Hardware Compatibility/Peformance Problems! While this is much less of an issue than it was a few years back, one thing that you must always be aware of when playing PC games is hardware compatibility and performance issues. At times you might run up with issues where games might not work properly because of certain hardware configuration in your PC, or maybe there’re some driver issues, or maybe it’s just your processor. Unlike a console you can’t just start a game and hope that it works perfectly all the time, you must be prepared to search for solutions and maybe even get your hands dirty to hack at some system settings just to get it to work. And most importantly, please don’t expect ANY system to be able to play ANY game, if your PC wasn’t spec’ed for game playing purposes you most likely won’t be able to deal with most big name titles.

The Ugly

Region Lock! I always thought that the PC gaming world was a free market, and yet the other day I was meant with a message from Steam saying I couldn’t enjoy the super cheap offer on Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition because the offer was not for my region..

Saturday, 20 July 2013 20:57:44 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |