Sunday, November 30, 2014

Planning your day at the LA Auto Show

After going to the LA Auto Show for a few years, here's some tips I picked up.

1. The best days to go are weekdays. 

These days are the least crowded.  That means there's less waiting for you.  For 2014, the Auto Show ran from November 21-30.  I went on Monday the 24 and waited no more than 10 minutes for anything.

2. Prepare to spend all day there.

To get the most out of the Auto Show, be prepared to spend all day there.  If you scored free tickets, go multiple days.  Bring a backpack for snacks or medication.  Thick socks and gel soles for your feet.

3. Get there early.

The best part of the Auto Show is getting to test drive cars.  I arrived at the Auto Show this year around 2PM and missed a few brands.  In order to test drive at least once from every car manufacturer, you probably need to get there when the show opens at 10am.

Start at the main entrance at Pico and Figueroa and walk south towards Venice.  Find Figueroa Drive and there will be some test drives there.  When you finish, walk back to the entrance and then towards the overpass on Pico, there will be more test drives.  Next walk towards Staples Center.  You will find a lot of cars to test drive here.  For the last test drive, walk between the Convention Center and Staples Center.  Walk down Chick Hearn Court a bit for the last test drive from Ford.

My favorite drives from this year's show were the Fiat 500e electric and the Ford F150.  The F150 has massaging seats that blew my mind.
Test drives end at 5PM.  With a break for lunch, you should be able to finish all the test drives by sundown. Go have dinner and then buy your tickets to go inside.  That's right, you've had a full day and haven't bought tickets yet.  Test drives do not require admission, just your license.  You could go home and come back another day to go check out what's inside.

4.  Enjoy the show.

At this point of the show, I walk around and take pictures of cars.  Depending on the car and if there's a large crowd, I'll hop in a car to try the seats.  I love the interactive exhibits.  My favorite for 2014 were the booths that had an Occulus Rift setup. Don't forget to pick up free bags from Toyota and Hyundai for your groceries.  If you have any time left, go downstairs for the customs and exotics. 

Here are my photos from this year's show.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's almost 2015 and I'm still using a Symbian phone

Well, not as my main phone.  For now, that's a Nokia Lumia 925.  However, my Nokia 808 Pureview is still raking up mileage.

Obviously, the camera is still its main use.  Most of the photos and videos on this blog were shot with it.  I found the Lumia 1020 too much of a lateral move from the 808 to purchase it.  Looking forward to the 1020 successor.

I prefer to use twitter on my 808.  Gravity is (thankfully) still being updated and I find it the easiest way to browse my multiple accounts and lists.  Windows Phone still has no app that can match its ease of use, speed and features.

The 808 is still amazing when it comes to GPS.  I drove for an hour yesterday with no cable plugged in and my battery was only down to 75% .  If I use my Lumia 925, the battery would have drained in 30 minutes.  Even plugged in with my old 1amp car charger, it still ends up dead after 3 hours.  Never had a problem with the 4-5 hour drive to Vegas with my 808.

GPS on Symbian works great.  Route commands come through the phone's speaker.  This is great on the 808, since the speaker is quite loud.  Route commands will only use the car stereo if I am connected in BT Audio mode and have music streaming from the phone.

Car navigation on Windows Phone sucks in my car.  It connects over bluetooth to my car stereo very strangely.  Route commands break the audio and use my car stereo's BT Phone mode.  This means the audio quality takes a major nosedive.  It is a really jarring experience because route instructions are delayed about 2 seconds.  Half the time, the route instruction doesn't even play because of that delay.  Even connected in BT Audio with music streaming, the route instructions still come over BT Phone mode.  Maybe it's my car stereo's fault this experience sucks.

If I only have the 925 on me when driving, I shut down its bluetooth connection and just use the phone's speaker.  This isn't too bad.  I can use Cortana and get directions to where I want to go easier.  Cortana over my car's bluetooth can never hear me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Depeche Mode - live at Staples Center

September 29, 2013.  My second depeche mode show in a week after seeing them a couple of days earlier in Chula Vista.

I got downtown early enough to look for Seven Grand.  I had heard that this bar serves a proper Mint Julep, my favorite cocktail.  After a bit of walking around, I found the bar's upstairs entrance.  I had gotten there a bit early and had to wait for it to open.  I was happy to see it was prepared in a metal cup and packed with ice.  However, the cup was a bit small compared to the last one I had had and it left me disappointment. 

I walked over to Staples Center and checked out the merchandise table.  I bought a really nice and comfortable hoodie, but you could barely tell it was branded.  What I really like about the hoodie is that the pockets are really deep.  My keys or phone never fall out.

I went to find my seats and was pleased to find that two rows in front of me were empty.  For a short person like myself, I was in heaven.  No shoulders to look over or heads in the way.

Here's some videos from the show recorded with my Nokia 808 Pureview.

Walking In My Shoes


Behind the Wheel

Sooth My Soul

A Pain That I'm Used To

Enjoy the Silence

Just Can't Get Enough

This last video is interesting.  One of the band members fucked up and they had to start the song over.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Proposed Lumia naming scheme

I don't like the current Lumia naming scheme.  Right now, there's a mix of three digit and four digit names that make no sense.  I propose a new name scheme for 2015.  The four digit name scheme from Nokia's early days needs to return. 

Let's start with the Lumia 1000.  This would be the equivalent to the current Lumia 520.  It should cost $50-$70 and have the basic needs for your parents or a kid or anyone on a tight budget.  Next would be the Lumia 2000.  This would be the equivalent to the current Lumia 635.  Same as the Lumia 1000 but with LTE.

Next would be the mid-range series.  The Lumia 3000 would be equivalent to the current Lumia 735.  Skip the 4000's because that's bad luck. The Lumia 5000 would be like the Lumia 830, minor spec bumps from the 3000 series.  The Lumia 6000 would a mid end phone with a giant screen like the current Lumia 1320. 

Next would be the Lumia 7000.  This would be equivalent to the Lumia 930.  Top end specs with a normal size screen.  The Lumia 8000 would be like the Lumia 1020.  Throw in whatever huge camera or other new technology from the Microsoft Mobile labs.  Finally, the Lumia 9000 would be the top end Lumia with a giant screen like the Lumia 1520.

Simple and logical.  Please steal my ideas, Microsoft.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

I built a PC

The day before I left for San Diego Comic-Con, my PC died. 

Back at the Comic-Con in 2012, I scored an AMD A8 3870 K APU at a Geek and Sundry Felicia Day signing.  I remember it rained that day.  It's been sitting in the box with a bunch of other SDCC swag.  I decided to build a new PC around this APU.

My old PC was an HP M9400f.  It was heavily damaged in shipping, so I got it a new case.  Here's a list of upgrades I made to it:

Rosewill mid tower
Mushkin 128GB SSD
Seagate 3TB hard drive
DVDR drive
Thermaltake 500W power supply
Coolermaster Hyper 212 fan
Asus GeForce 210 GPU

I bought the fan to help quiet the PC down, which it did immensely.  The old fan was caked in dust.  The HP power supply needed replacing.   I bought the graffics card because the original had sound issues.

I figured the motherboard was dead, so I took it apart.  I had planned to upgrade my PC eventually and had already made a list of parts I would need.

Asus F1 A55-M motherboard
Crucial 8GBx2 DDR3 PC1866 ram
Asus Radeon HD6450

It took me about 2 hours to take apart my old motherboard and install the new parts.  I made two mistakes here.  At the time of purchase, my budget was tight.  The motherboard I got doesn't have HDMI out.  For a second mistake, the ram I bought have heatsinks that get in the way of the CPU fan. 

This is an optimal configuration for the fan, going from right to left:
Exhaust <--- CPU Cooler <--- Fan <--- Air
My set up works like this:
Exhaust <--- fan <--- CPU Cooler <--- Air
The cooler is still cool to touch, so I'm not worried.

I changed the GPU from GeForce to Radeon just to keep the drivers all lined up.  The A8 APU comes with a feature called Crossfire.  So with the Radeon I got that feature and HDMI out.  The Crossfire feature is kind of lost on me, since I don't play video games much.  The drivers took a few days to get stable, but I eventually found the right settings.  Only problem is that my computer gets cranky when it comes back from sleep and the Windows taskbar stops working right.  Reboot takes like 30 seconds so not a big deal to me.  I remember when computers took 5 minutes to reboot.

CPU performance has been stellar.  Moving from 8GB to 16GB of ram has been nice.  No slowdown at all.

Note: This post was drafted in July of 2014.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

November backlog

It's November.  Which means I should attempt to write something every day.  I have barely touched this blog all year, as I've been on tumblr posting junk there all the time.  This will be hard, since I'm in the middle of a move.  There's a ton of stuff in my draft folder from product reviews to event recaps I'll be posting.

Enjoy these ducks and stay tuned.