Monday, January 28, 2008

Worries about the I Drive system.

Recently I noticed that everything these days have some Windows style interface and even cars seem to have them. Recently I tried the new Audi Q7 and it too has an ‘I’ drive style setup with menus and sub menus to set the radio, suspension, lights, etc. whatever that can be controlled by a mouse like toggle can be interfaced with this setup. Although I am told that the Audi version isn’t as ‘I’diotic as a BMW ‘I’ drive, it still seems to be too gadgetry for its own good. Yes, I suppose it de-clutters the dashboard making it have less switches and toggles but somehow going through menus and sometimes sub-menus are a little bit tedious. Sometimes you’d wish for the good old days when starting a car requires a key (and maybe a start button). Now, you need to wonder whether your door was locked in the first place as you approached your car and found the door unlocked as you have the keyless entry system. While you are aware that this function allows your car to be locked outside of the receiver’s range, you’ll still be paranoid and think whether you have locked the car or not. This little bit of paranoia isn’t healthy as living in the world today is bad enough with suicide bombers, kidnappers, crazed politicians all around you.

Also imagine going into your new BMW 790iL and finding out that to start the car you have to scroll as follows through the ‘I’diotic Drive.

Start Menu – Select – Password – Password Approved – Enter Menu – Menu – Select – New User – Enter password – Select Start –

Suddenly the screen blinks and a guy in a paperclip (like the Microsoft Help guy except here he is a spanner) says “ do you need help? If so click on the screen” – you then click “do not show help again”

- Start Menu appears – Selection – Cold Start – Hot Start – you choose Cold Start

- the engine decides to do a Pentium Duo Core processor system start up before actually cranking up the engine 5 minutes later like your Acer notebook. And you’re off….hours after you’ve got into your car. Imagine if you wanted to be somewhere in 5 minutes, you’d only make it in 10.

Do you actually notice that if you were to drive your car all you actually need is a key, you turn it, drop the hand brake, select gear and you’re off. But in these new models, you may have to sit through it like your notebook. This is something I don’t wish for it to happen. Somehow, the old system of having a button for everything makes perfect sense. As in the first place, you don’t need so many buttons at all. You don’t actually need all the gadgetry in the first place. You just want to have them so that you can brag about it with friends. You have actually no need for gadgets and extra meters in your vehicle. What is given is sufficient and you know it as the only stuff you need is a radio with 6 preset channels, the petrol gauge, the speedometer, Rev Counter and a water temp meter. The rest is purely optional as if you’re taking a nice reasonably drive through the countryside, that is all you need, and the sound of your engine purring nicely.

Imagine the opposite of this concept. We now go forward to the year 2020 and Mr Waldo Zutchovny, a former Grand Slam Tennis Champion from Ukraine who recently started the new automobile brand HIRONDEL, which gets its name from the fictional vehicle the Saint uses in Leslie Chateris’ The Saint novels. Mr. Zutchovny unveils its latest creation, a back to basics grand tourer modelled after the GTs of the 1930s. The Hirondel GT-SOT (Strafford on Trent) named after that famous English District famous for, being very British I suppose. The car is fully made from aluminium, having a aluminium spaceframe and an engine, rims, fascia made out of magnesium alloy. It has an engine that you start with, by heavens, something called a key. It has windows that move up and down by using your fingers and arm to turn a knob that goes round and round. Those from the 1970s would remember such a device. But what a tactile feel the mechanism has, as it is made from magnesium and is warm to the touch. The car is devoid of anything electrical and everything interacts with the driver manually. It is a car from a bygone era and Mr Waldo Zutchovny must be proud of taking motoring back to its roots.

“It doesn’t even have Sat Nav! How are we going to drive it around town?”

“My dear fellow, that’s what the map in the glove box is for! And that’s what your eyes are for; looking at street signs!” Said Waldo, to the crowd’s surprise and horror!

Will such an event happen? Or are we going to be more ‘thankful’ for Microsoft’s contribution in motoring? The ‘I’ Drive style setup. I mean really, if it wasn’t for a Windows style interface, such things wouldn’t have happened. Can we go back in time to assassinate Bill Gates? Or should we just try searching for the clever guy who wanted to interface that setup in all BMWs in the first place? Then again, I think I could live with it, as there is a bigger and more irritating thing about BMWs, the head of design Chris Bangle. Maybe we should go in time and get rid of him. But this is another story altogether. But if you also don’t like Chris Bangle as much as I do, go to this link:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's 2008...and nothing's really changed! Except the craze for donuts and the Lancer

Yes my's a new year and this is my first posting. We start the new year with the same ol' stuff actually; work, sleep, play, drink and eat. No new year's resolutions as they're just worthless talk and promises that no one will seem to keep. We have a new Proton Saga finally, and hopefully it won't last more than 250 years of production, which is how long the old one was in production. I'd like to see a new chassis every 8 years or so per model Proton, is that so hard to achieve? When the industry standard seems to be between 5 to 7 years, it shouldn't!

Anyways, I've got so many ideas in my head that isn't being translated to the blog right now and some may be new, some may have been discussed with a few friends and some may stay hidden. One of the strangest non-automotive trend that has hit Kuala Lumpur is standing in line for donuts...yes folks, Malaysians have a real big sweet tooth. J.CO. donuts recently opened up a store in Pavillion Shopping Mall recently and everyone seems to think it is okay queueing for donuts. This is a pretty pointless activity as you do not need to to queue for a piece of dough with a hole in the middle. You already queue for stamps, bill payments and other stuff, so I suppose it's alright for you to queue for donuts. There are better tasting pastries out there in the world. A fluffier donut does not mean you have to queue for it. There are better things to do other than queue. Furthermore, since its so popular, all you have to do is wait for more outlets or brances to be opened. Is that so hard? I mean, those donuts aren't going to be sold over the black market at a premium price. For example;

While queueing for a donut, Aishah (not her real name) is approached by Amin.

" Yo Sis, psst!"
"huh. apa dia?"
"Awak nak donut? Tak payah queue punya"
"RM10,00 for one"
"RM10.00? mahalnya"
"expensive abit la sis, but you don't need to queue"

This my friends, would not happen. It's a donut, not a ticket that can be scalped. The moral is, don't queue for something like a donut, queue for limited items, like a Mitsubishi Lancer GT, you pay the booking fee, then you can actually make a profit as the car can be sold with a RM6,000 premium over the retail price as demand is there! Amazing. This is because Mitsubishi cannot keep up with the demand of the new Lancer. This is a car that is better than a donut. You put your booking, wait 6 months (that's how long the waiting list is) and then, 3 months down the road you can talk to your sales rep and ask him to offer your car to a desparate customer for RM6,000 premium. It does not get better than this! With the money, have a nice high-tea at the Equatorial Hotel in K.L., the pastries taste so much better and there's actually no queue!