Here’s Some Driving Related Features In iOS 11

Posted in Tips with tags on September 22, 2017 by itnerd

There are three new features in iOS 11 that are focused around drivers. One that everyone around the world can use to be safer while driving. The other two will be of interest to US, UK, and Chinese readers of this blog, but hopefully will impact drivers in other parts of the world eventually.

The first feature is called Do Not Disturb While Driving. It’s designed to block incoming calls, texts, and notifications while you’re driving. The idea is that if you don’t see notifications and the like, you’re not going to be one of those distracted drivers. Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Do Not Disturb.
  3. Scroll down to “Do Not Disturb While Driving.”
  4. Tap on “Activate” to choose how you want Do Not Disturb While Driving to be turned on.

Now here’s where you have to make a decision. There’s three settings that you can choose from:

  • Manual basically gives you the option of turning it off and on when you feel the need to do so.
  • When connected to car Bluetooth will only activate it when it connects via Bluetooth to your car.
  • Automatically activates this feature whenever motion is detected. This can be inconvenient if you’re a passenger, so you’ll need to turn it off and the quickest way to do that is by tapping the persistent Do Not Disturb While Driving popup at the top of the display to let the iPhone know you’re a passenger. Plus this activated for me when I was out on a bike ride. The thing is, I tend to want to hear alerts while out for a ride just in case I need to respond to something.

Personally, I would set it to only activate when the iPhone is connected via Bluetooth.

One final point before I move on. If you use Apple CarPlay in your vehicle, none of this applies to you because CarPlay suppresses app notifications and handles texts and phone calls in a way that is less distracting. Now if you want to learn more about this feature, Apple has a very good support document which includes a couple of other handy tips that might interest you. Including how to use this with the teen driver in your home.

Now there are two other driving related features that appeared in iOS 11, but for now are only usable by people in the US, UK and China. The first being Lane Guidance. With this feature Apple Maps will always let you know what lane you should be in at a turn, exit, or a junction point. That way you don’t go the wrong way by being in the wrong way. However the only people who can leverage this feature at present are people in the US and China. But I hope that it comes to other places soon as this is a feature that Apple Maps desperately needs.

The second is Speed Limits. This feature puts a speed limit sign on the top left corner of your Apple Maps display to let you know how fast you should be going. This is handy in the US where you can get a ticket in some places in the US for being just a couple of mile per hour over the speed limit. But this feature is limited to the US and UK for now. As this is another feature that Apple Maps desperately needs, I hope Apple quickly brings this to other countries soon.




Review: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Ultimate – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on September 22, 2017 by itnerd

So I’ve come to the end of my week long review of the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Ultimate. It’s main competitor is the Volkswagen GTI, but you could toss the Ford Focus ST and perhaps the Honda Sport Touring Hatchback into the mix as well. But I believe that the Elantra GT Sport Ultimate best defines what a hot hatch is. It has a lot of go and it’s easy to live with as a daily driver. Add to that the slick transmission, the technology that’s included, and the styling that is very Euro hatchback makes the Elantra GT Sport Ultimate a winner in my books.

My final fuel economy was 7.8 L/100KM’s which is pretty impressive considering that I made liberal use of the 1.6L turbo and sport mode while driving in a mix of city roads and highways, not to mention rush hour traffic.

You can expect to pay $30,499 for the trim level that I drove this week. But you can get a Elantra GT Sport starting at $26,999 with a manual transmission. Quite simply, it lives up to its hot hatch label. If you’re in the market for this sort of vehicle, head to your nearest Hyundai dealer and test drive one. I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed.

Alison Launches Diploma In Information Technology Management

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 22, 2017 by itnerd

Alison is one of the world’s largest free online learning platforms for workplace skills. Widely recognised as the world’s first MOOC, Alison is a for-profit social enterprise with a goal to drive the cost of all education and skills training to zero.

The Alison course Diploma in Information Technology Management is a free online course that explains why managers must understand how Information Technology plays a fundamental role in both the structure and control of the modern business. A successful manager must have an excellent grasp of the functionality, capabilities and effects of the technology that he or she must implement and manage.

The course is ideal for those who would like to learn about the central role of Information Technology in today’s workplace and for management professionals who wish to gain an in-depth understanding of the management of Information Technology in the modern corporation.

This free online course presents an array of the core concepts of Information Technology management: corporate frameworks, software, databases, information systems, communications and management of personnel in relation to technology from the point of view of the business manager.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses 8 VPN Myths

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 22, 2017 by itnerd

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are going mainstream – for example, NordVPN has seen a 300% user increase this year, mostly due to new Internet regulations and restrictions in various countries around the world. New regulations include current government surveillance techniques or additional geo-restricted content. In addition, due to an increase in hacking incidents, VPNs are becoming very popular tools to protect Internet users’ security.

By using a VPN, one’s Internet traffic gets encrypted into a secure tunnel between two points: the computer and a VPN server. Therefore, no one can access the data that passes through the tunnel – it becomes invisible to ISPs, government snoopers, identity thieves and hackers.

However, there are still many myths surrounding VPNs and how they can be useful to an average Internet user. NordVPN lists some of the major misconceptions and clarifies a few major issues that users have with VPNs.

  1. No matter what they claim, all VPNs log user traffic. Some VPN providers actually don’t have a choice – they must log their users’ Internet activity as required by law, depending on the country where they operate. VPN service providers based in one of 14 Eyes or 5 Eyes countries usually must log user traffic. When user information is logged, it could be easily shared with the government or any third parties. However, if a VPN operates from a country where traffic logs are not required by the government, it will delete user activity after each session – and then there are no obstacles preventing the organization from running a log-less service.
  2. Free VPNs offer the same level of protection. A VPN provider which offers a free service must earn money somehow. Server maintenance is expensive, not to mention the salaries for the staff and other expenses. Usually, a VPN provider that is offering a free service will be using other ways to earn money – and it’s usually through selling user data. A safe VPN will have a price. Paid VPNs will also usually offer faster speeds and other advantages.
  3. VPNs slow down Internet traffic. Since VPN works as an encryption tunnel, it can sometimes slow down the Internet. However, the slowdown shouldn’t be significant in most cases. If it is, than means the VPN might be having some temporary technical problems, or it’s time to switch to another provider. If a VPN provider is a paid service, they will usually offer a larger selection of servers to connect to – so when one is heavily loaded and slow, it’s easy to connect to another one.  Connecting to a server that’s closer geographically might solve the slowdown issue.
  4. VPN is a tool that works equally for anyone. In fact, VPN connection quality depends on great variety of factors. Different network environments, ISPs and the way they handle traffic, VPN server load and distance between the user and a datacenter, device, plays important role in service’s behavior. Not to mention additional software installed, configuration method and so on.
  5. All VPNs offer the same level of encryption. In truth, VPN encryption protocols can differ, some of these protocols being more secure than others. Users should avoid the PPTP protocol, which was one of the first security protocols introduced – however, it is now considered to be weak and insecure. The safest VPN protocols are OpenVPN and also IKEv2/IPsec, which employs very strong cryptographic algorithms and keys.
  6. Proxy is the same as VPN. Some users make the mistake of confusing proxies with VPNs – at the expense of their online security. Proxies do not protect from government surveillance, data tracking or hackers. Those who are not concerned about keeping their Internet traffic safe, and only want to stream a movie, can use proxies. Otherwise, in order to protect security and privacy, a VPN is recommended over a proxy.
  7. It will work on all platforms. Not all VPNs work on every platform – some might operate only on Apple devices, for example. A well-established VPN functions across different platforms, including iOS, macOS, Android and Windows.
  8. VPN is only for technically savvy people. There are still some VPNs with clumsy websites and hard-to-find buttons. That’s because when VPNs entered the market, they were initially used mostly by technology geeks. Currently, many VPNs have updated their user interfaces and are easy to use by anyone who goes online. For example, NordVPN only requires turning the ON button. It offers apps for macOS, iOS, Windows and Android, and can quickly connect a user to the desired destination by simply clicking on the country name. NordVPN apps contain many user-friendly features, including kill switch, detailed server list, access to SmartPlay technology and more.


Emergency SOS In iOS 11: What It Is And Why You Should Care

Posted in Tips with tags on September 21, 2017 by itnerd

There’s a new feature in iOS 11 called Emergency SOS. The intent of this feature is to ensure that you can call emergency services if you cannot safely dial 9-1-1, 9-9-9, or whatever your emergency number is. But since iOS 11 has appeared, it’s created a lot of noise and controversy. Take for example this Tweet from the Toronto Police Service:

Clearly some people are not using this feature as it was intended. That’s a #fail.

The purpose of this article is to explain what this feature is and how it works. But to do that, let me go back to and explain where this feature came from because it isn’t a new feature. Apple first introduced this SOS feature in iOS 10.2. That likely came from requests from India to meet India Department of Telecommunications requirements for this feature. Since then this feature made its next appearance on watchOS last year. Now we’re seeing it on the iPhone. Here’s how it works.

First of all, it’s always on and you cannot turn it off. But you can change how it works. By default, when you press the sleep/wake button on the iPhone five times on a device running iOS 11, it brings up a slider menu that allows you to quickly slide a finger against the screen to place the emergency call. That’s designed to stop you from somehow activating this feature accidentally. However, you can change this behavior to make it completely automatic. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to “Emergency SOS.”
  3. Toggle on “Auto Call.”

What this will do is dial emergency services after a three second countdown that gives you enough time to cancel the call if it’s placed accidentally. This matches the behavior of the Apple Watch.

Now you can also send a text message or iMessage to people that you define as emergency contacts who will get a message from you and it will include your location. Emergency contacts can be set up in the Health app by doing the following:

  1. Open the Health app.
  2. Choose Medical ID.
  3. Select “Edit” in the top right corner.
  4. Scroll down to the Emergency Contacts section.
  5. Tap the “+” button to add an emergency contact.
  6. Repeat step 5 to add additional contacts.

There’s one other thing that this feature will do. It will temporarily disable TouchID if you actually make an emergency call. But if you cancel dialing emergency services, TouchID still gets disabled. In either case, you will need to enter a valid passcode to re-enable TouchID. This is handy if you want to discreetly disable TouchID as it leaves no visual indication that this has been done.

I should also note that when the iPhone X comes out, this feature will work a little bit differently. Emergency SOS will be activated by pressing the side button and the volume up button simultaneously, rather than pressing the side button five times. It will also disable FaceID since the iPhone X will not come with TouchID.

This is a great safety feature and I encourage you to read this Apple support document for the Apple Watch, and this Apple support document for the iPhone to get more information on this key feature. Just don’t needlessly try it out. Trust me. It will work if God forbid you need it and emergency services have better things to do than answer your test call.


Review: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Ultimate – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on September 21, 2017 by itnerd

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Ultimate is a small car packed with a lot of technology in it. Let’s start with the safety aspects of the vehicle:

  • It has blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alerts. The former is great because it doesn’t just warn you about vehicles in your blind spot, but it generates those warnings based on the speed and relative distance of the vehicle in your blind spot. That adds an extra layer of safety. The latter makes sure that you don’t crash your Elantra GT Sport into anything or anyone when you are backing out of a space at Home Depot and big pick up trucks are obscuring your view.
  • Headlights are of the LED variety which are not only very bright and fill the road with usable light, but also have a feature called high beam assist which flips the high beams on automatically on dark roads, and turns them off automatically when the car senses oncoming traffic.
  • It has a back up camera with excellent clarity and a great range of vision. It also has lines on the screen to help you to position your car when backing into a parking space or parallel parking. However, I will note that sensors to warn you when you might be coming too close to an object are missing.
  • You get a very advanced cruise control system that adapts to traffic conditions in a couple of ways. Not only will it slow down and speed up relative to the car in front of you, it is also capable of dealing with stop and go traffic to the point that it will come to a complete stop and then start itself up again. Once I learned to trust the system, I found it to be very handy in terms of dealing with the traffic that the highways of Toronto tends to have.
  • You get autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection which will bring the Elantra GT Sport to a stop if it detects a car or a person in front of it, and you take no action to avoid said car or person.
  • You get a lane departure warning system which not only warns you when you drift out of your lane, but it’s capable of automatically guiding you back into your lane by correcting your steering for you. The system has three settings and when set to normal, I found the system to be subtle when correcting my steering to the point that I wouldn’t notice it if I were not looking for it to be doing its job.
  • The Elantra GT Sport also monitors how you drive the car and suggests when you should take a break. This is very handy in avoiding driver fatigue on long drives. I’ve reviewed cars with this feature, but never at this price point. Thus this is a bit of a game changer.
  • Seven airbags are standard including driver’s knee airbag.

The only thing that is missing from all this safety tech is tire pressure monitoring. While not required here in Canada, it is odd in 2017 to see a car without it.

The Elantra GT Sport also comes with a lot of technology to make life easier for you:

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included along with Hyundai’s own navigation and infotainment system. They’re all displayed on an 8″ screen which is extremely sharp and viewable in all lighting conditions. The key thing about this is that Hyundai has given drivers the choice of three different systems that allow them to use the infotainment system in the way that fits them. Plus any car company that doesn’t have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is going lose sales in this day and age. One thing that I noticed was that the infotainment system was significantly faster than ones in other Hyundai products that I’ve tried recently.
  • There’s a seven speaker Infinity audio system that sounds great. Everything from The Pet Shop Boys to Origa sounded great on this stereo.
  • Besides having a USB connector for your phone, there’s a wireless charger that uses the Qi standard. That means that any Android phone that supports wireless charging, or the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X will work with the wireless charger.

But the key piece of technology that you should be aware of is BlueLink which is new from Hyundai Canada and it’s making its first appearance in the Hyundai Elantra Sport GT. It’s a cutting edge telematics system that gives you everything from remotely starting the car from an app on your smartphone, local search, checking on the health of your car, to automatic dialing of emergency services if you get into an accident. I did an In Depth repot on BlueLink here and I encourage you to read it so that you can see how useful BlueLink is. Another data point is that America’s version of BlueLink was ranked by Consumers Reports as the number 2 telematics system that’s out there. I fully expect that Hyundai Canada’s version will rank just as high if not higher. It’s free for five years and once you see it, you’ll want it in your Elantra Sport GT.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my closing thoughts on this hot hatch. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

Volkswagen Canada Raided By Ont. Ministry Of The Environment Because Of #DieselGate

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 20, 2017 by itnerd

If you thought dieselgate was done. Think again. The offices of Volkswagen Canada which are just east of Toronto were raided by Ontario’s Ministry Of The Environment because of their emissions cheating activities:

A team of 24 officers, including computer experts from the Ministry of Finance, arrived at the Volkswagen Canada campus in Toronto’s eastern suburbs at 9:30 a.m., seeking evidence to support a newly laid charge against Volkswagen AG, the automaker’s German parent company, for violating Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act.

When asked if the company was co-operating with the warrant, ministry investigator Warren Korol said: “I’m not certain yet, we’re still searching.”

As of noon, they had not removed anything, but an agent could be seen carrying a large cooler into the building, and a ministry van was parked by the reception door.

“In any search warrant, there’s always a list of things we’re searching for, and if we find those things, yes, we’ll be seizing them,” Korol said.

The information to obtain the search warrant, which includes details of what the investigators were seeking, is sealed to the public until it has been fully executed. The raid was not co-ordinated with other jurisdictions, nor were there simultaneous raids, Korol said.

The timing sucks if you’re Volkswagen. For any car company you’re aggressively trying to move any 2017 models that are on dealer lots. Plus you’re bringing in 2018 models to sell. Volkswagen is trying to do this while trying to make sure that potential customers don’t think of the dieselgate scandal. However, this news puts dieselgate back in the public eye. Which in turn is sure to affect to affect sales in the short term. Sucks to be them. Now no charges have been laid, but even just being raided is not good news for a company that’s desperately trying to change the channel from this scandal.