Archive for February 6, 2020

Spend Family Day With Sonos

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 6, 2020 by itnerd

Since Family Day is right around the corner, I wanted to share the perfect soundbar to bring your family movie nights to the next level in case you’re planning to cozy up for the long weekend.

Sonos Beam is a 3-in-1 soundbar that delivers brilliant sound from your TV and all the music you want when your TV is off. Plus, Beam is equipped with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, so you can set a timer for the pizza in the oven or ask for fun facts about your favorite characters.

Available to $499 CAD, Beam is the perfect way to up your streaming experience, and make the most of all the newest shows available on Disney+, including a childhood classic, Because of Winn-Dixie (releasing on Feb. 14) and more Marvel greatness —Marvel’s Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United (releasing on Feb. 16).

Apple Imposing Terms On Independent Repair Shops That Are Unbelievable

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 6, 2020 by itnerd

Last year I wrote about Apple starting up a program to give third party repair shops the right to repair iPhones using genuine Apple parts. At the time I said this:

So is this a step in the right direction? Maybe. We’ll have to see how this plays out. But make no mistake. Apple isn’t doing this because they want to do the right thing. They are doing this because they are more afraid of being forced to do the right thing.

Well, on top of my thinking that Apple is only doing this because they’re being forced to, comes this story from Motherboard. In the story, some of the contract terms that Apple makes makes third party repair shops agree to are mind blowing. Take this for example:

In order to join the program, the contract states independent repair shops must agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple, which are intended, at least in part, to search for and identify the use of “prohibited” repair parts, which Apple can impose fines for. If they leave the program, Apple reserves the right to continue inspecting repair shops for up to five years after a repair shop leaves the program. Apple also requires repair shops in the program to share information about their customers at Apple’s request, including names, phone numbers, and home addresses.

According to multiple individuals with knowledge of the program, businesses receive this contract after signing a non-disclosure agreement with Apple.

Clearly the non-disclosure agreement didn’t work because we’re talking about it now. Then there’s this:

While businesses that wish to join the IRP Program must be “Apple certified” too, they are required to display a “prominent and easily visible written notice,” both on their storefront and website, informing customers that they are not Apple authorized. Furthermore, IRPs must obtain “express written acknowledgement” from customers showing they understand they are not receiving repairs from an authorized service provider, which, as Nathan Proctor, a right to repair advocate with the US Public Research Interest Group put it, “is like going to a normal repair shop except one that advertises against [itself] at every possible moment.”

Talk about a chilling effect. Anybody who sees the notice and is shows a document like the one that is described that they have to sign to get repairs is going to turn around and leave. Likely to the nearest Apple Store where I am sure that they will be pressured into buying a new iDevice rather than repairing their current one.

Finally, there’s this:

The contract also states that repair businesses need to obtain written consent from their customers acknowledging that Apple won’t warranty the repair. In another section, Apple also disavows warranties “unless otherwise specified in the Independent Repair Provider Manual,” a separate document laying out the nuts and bolts of the program in more detail. In a copy of that manual shared with Motherboard, Apple indicates that it will allow businesses to return parts within 90 days if those parts are defective upon “first use out of the box.”

My head just exploded while I was reading that last paragraph as that is simply insane. And here’s the icing on the cake, Apple doesn’t deny any of this. Make what you will of that little factoid.

It seems to me is that Apple wants the terms of the contract to be so bad and so unpalatable that few independent repair shops will sign up for the program. And for the few that do, no consumer would ever utilize their services. Clearly Apple isn’t the least bit serious about giving the users of their products the right to repair said product if they so choose. Thus this whole program is nothing but a deflection strategy with the goal to deflect any sort of bad press regarding their stance on the right to repair. Which Apple is known to have lobbied to kill said legislation in Ontario among other places. I hope legislators all over Hell’s half acre are watching this and are preparing to not only hold Apple’s feet to the fire over this, but also force right to repair legislation down the company’s throat.

Review: 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on February 6, 2020 by itnerd

If you’re looking for technology in the Mazda CX-30 GT, you’ll find that there’s a lot of it on board. Some of it which is really different.

First let’s start with the driving experience. You get a proximity key with push button start. Thus all you have to do is press a button on the driver’s door handle. Well, it’s not a button. It’s more like a touch sensitive indent on the front door handle.

Once you get in, hit the start/stop button and drive away. When you’ve reached your destination, press the start/stop button to turn off the car. Then get out of the car, and walk away. The car will lock itself a few seconds after you close the door. You never need to pull out the key fob to do any of this. But the key fob does have the ability to lock and unlock the doors and it has the ever useful panic button. As an added bonus, it has a backup key inside the key fob should you need it.

Let’s go to the safety technology:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring: This system keeps an eye out for cars in your blind spots so that you don’t hit them when changing lanes. It works well as the area of detection was large enough to keep me safe, but not so large that it created false positives. One cool thing is that unlike a lot of systems which only work when the car is above a certain speed, this system seems to work all the time for an extra level of safety.
  • Lane Departure Warning With Lane Keep Assist: If you cross over into another lane, this system will buzz you on either the right or the left side. The buzz really gets your attention I must say. You can also set it to vibrate the steering wheel. And it gets really loud if you’re too close to a car and you’re in danger of hitting it.
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert: If you back out of a parking space in a busy shopping mall and you have limited visibility to your left and right, you’ll love this system as you will be warned of any cars that cross into your path.
  • Rear Backup Sensors: The Mazda CX-30 has sensors that help you to revers into a spot without hitting anything. And the Mazda CX-30 is capable of stopping itself if you are about to reverse into something.
  • Adaptive Front Lighting System and High Beam Control: I wrote about this previously and I have to admit that on some of the back roads that I drive at night, this feature comes in handy. I was always able to see what was in front of me clearly. One thing that I really appreciated was the fact that the LED headlights were very bright.
  • Radar Based Cruise Control: I really liked this feature as you can set the speed you want and the distance that you want to have between yourself and the car in front of you, and you can pretty much let it slow down and speed up depending on the conditions. It’s very handy on long highway drives.
  • Smart City Brake Support: Let’s say that you you do not react in time to a car that panic stops in front of you. This Mazda is capable of coming to a stop on it’s own, or slowing down to make the impact less severe. You can get more details on this system here.
  • Rear Backup Camera: The camera is a fisheye camera that has an impressive degree of clarity. You can see anything and everything that is behind you when you’re backing up and the camera is insanely clear. One thing to note is that the camera is exposed so that the potential exists for dirt to obscure the camera.
  • You get anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and electronic brake force distribution. Plus you get hill launch assist which keeps you from rolling backwards when you’re on a hill.
  • Finally, you get dual front air bags, dual front side air bags, dual side air curtains and knee air bags.

The next piece of technology that stood out was this:

BDEFE510-AAEA-4279-9697-B6327A44078F

The Mazda Active Driving Display is a heads up display that places everything from speed and blind spot monitoring info, to navigation and warning for the lane monitoring, and how close you are to the car in front of you. On top of that, the car is capable of reading speed limit and stop signs so that it can display them on this heads up display  in color. It works very well with the only thing that I should mention is that polarized driving sunglasses will filter the display out. Thus choose your sunglasses carefully.

Mazda has a new version of Mazda Connect. Here’s a look at the screen which is an all new 8.8″ super sharp widescreen, which for the record is not a touch screen.

8C2CB525-15EB-4E6C-85D1-F65CF1DF332C

The interface is clean and easy to understand. As you can see there’s a list of functions that you can scroll through. And it takes one only minutes to figure out. Another feature is that you can set up either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to pop up automatically when a phone is plugged into the system. That’s a very cool feature as there are some who will just want to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead of Mazda Connect. And Mazda has fully leveraged the screen real estate for both Apple CarPlay as displayed above or Android Auto.

The screen is not touch sensitive as mentioned earlier so to interact with Mazda Connect, you have to use this:

F187DE9A-DD0B-459D-86E1-2675022DD5EC

This is the HMI (Human Machine Interface) Commander Switch. It’s been redesigned and feels a lot better in the hand and becomes second nature to use after only a few uses. The logic behind forcing you to use the HMI Commander Switch rather than a touch screen is that it is way safer than a touch screen. And I would agree with that as I didn’t realize how distracting a touchscreen in a car is until I started using Mazda Connect. I say that because touchscreen usage while driving takes my attention from the road. But using the HMI Commander Switch for me is far less distracting.

One other thing. this new version of Mazda Connect is fast. It’s fast on startup, it’s fast in terms of navigating it, it’s fast in terms of how the screen responds. It’s just plain fast. I was impressed as it was one of the fastest car infotainment systems that I have ever seen.

Mazda Connect comes with SiriusXM which include the following:

  • More room for song/artist/genre metadata.
  • Album art display.
  • Channel logos on Now Playing and Station List screens.
  • New SiriusXM features: TuneStart, TuneScan, and TuneMix.

On top of that, SiriusXM Traffic Plus is now onboard and it includes the following features:

  • Live Traffic: View traffic flow and incident information directly on the Mazda Navigation map. This feature is available in 20 different Canadian communities. It ties into the on board navigation system to allow it to better route you.
  • Weather: View Forecasts, Radar Maps, and Severe Weather Alerts.
  • Fuel Prices: Find the lowest fuel prices or the closest fuel stations and see the available fuel types.
  • Parking Information: Find parking locations, pricing, and hours of operation.
  • Sports: Follow your favorite teams sports with play-by-play details and game/event schedules.

SiriusXM Traffic Plus is free for five years. This is separate from the three month trial SiriusXM audio subscription.

A 12 speaker Bose audio system is on board. It impressed my wife who usually isn’t impressed by many car stereo systems as she is a classically trained pianist and takes audio seriously. I was impressed because the sound that came from the system was insanely great. For example, I was picking up details from the song “My Head Is A Jungle” by Wankelmut & Emma Louise that I had never heard before. If you care about audio, you want this audio system in your Mazda CX-30.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my final verdict. Watch for it tomorrow.