Over the last 10 or so years I’ve acquired various notebooks and tablets to use as navigation aids for our Cruises after digital mapping became available and affordable, but I’ve always had an issue with mounting these devices on the dash of my Patrols. The problem is that with ever more curved and aesthetically pleasing interiors provided in modern 4WDs, there are fewer and fewer places and means by which to attach accessories to a 4WD dash, or elsewhere for that matter. Given that the use of electronic navigation devices by 4WD owners is almost ubiquitous, it’s odd that no manufacturer has really given much thought as to how 4WD owners could mount such devices and provide suitable mounting options. So it’s always been Heath Robinson to the rescue.
When the very first LED lights came out, they were usually available as a fairly simple torch; that’s what I remember anyway. The light was bright enough, but nowhere near as good as a regular globe and the only benefit was that the battery would last a lot longer. Back in those days I never envisaged that things would improve so significantly and so rapidly (one prediction that I got wrong). Such was not the case and those early, dim, LED lights transformed into something quite different indeed and almost overnight. Not only have they improved, they have taken over every aspect of lighting that you can imagine, from home lighting, camp lighting, car lighting to photography lighting and then some. And this story is a bit of an extension of an earlier story that I wrote a few years ago.
After I bought up my current common rail diesel (CRD) Nissan Patrol in 2008, one of the first modifications that I planned was the installation of a diesel chip. Diesel chips are piggy back Electronic Control Units (ECU) that can be programmed to override some functions of the factory ECU and improve engine power, torque and fuel economy. I’ve had experience with ECUs from my previous Di Patrols, which improved overall performance and fuel economy to some degree, so there was no reason why the same would not apply to the new CRD. The Di Patrol ECU only altered fuel delivery, so they weren’t overly sophisticated and sometimes introduced their own problems, and the CRD diesel ECUs were no different, as they too only adjusted fuel delivery. But then a new ECU came out offering much more and I was asked to do a test and review, which was something that I couldn’t refuse.
I more or less had the basics sorted out with the Android phone, so was it worth the angst, should I have just allowed everything to remain in their default configuration? No. Firstly, the whole idea of Android is that it is configurable (it’s not an iPhone), so why not use that ability to make it work like you want and not what someone imposed on you (sound familiar)? Secondly, as I pointed out, in its default form, Android simply allows apps far too much control and access to your life. Everything that you do and store on your phone is potentially open for any app to access and use for their own purposes, especially advertisers and marketing companies, and this is quite deliberate. You should be concerned and you should shut all of these entities out of your life, unless you deliberately invite them in. Thirdly, security is an ongoing issue that seems worse than was ever the case with the much maligned Windows operating system and anything to limit such issues is a must.
So the Android phone was now pretty much set up and it was time to put it to regular use. There were still things that I came across that I wasn’t happy with, but worked my way through as best as I could and I’ll write more about what I’ve found in Part 3 (it’s getting to be a long article), including the good and the bad. My initial impressions, despite the initial setup issues, is that the Android phone isn’t that bad and for anyone that doesn’t care about the things I wrote about in Part 1, they would happily use the phone right out of the box. Whether I hold a positive view in the long term is another thing. I have to admit that I’m not a prolific mobile phone user and my life doesn’t hang in the balance whether I have a mobile phone or not, as it’s more of a convenience thing and is why I don’t have a plan that gives me unlimited calls and data for however many dollars per month some people pay.
As I’ve posted previously, I’m an avid DIYer and if I can fix something that’s not broken, I’ll always give it a try. Over the years I’ve ‘fixed’ a number of things on my Nissan Patrol that aren’t broken, but which really have needed improvement and perhaps one day I’ll write about those. That said, one of those ‘not broken’ things is the tail light assembly (or assemblies) in the rear bumper bar of the Patrol. No matter what I’ve tried, they would always go on the blink (or not blink) on one side or the other. The issue with the tail lights is that, due to their location, they are always exposed to mud and water, which invariably leads to one or other globe not working or working intermittently. Even though the globes have seals where they connect to the light assembly, it doesn’t seem to make any difference when it comes to mud and water, it gets in. So finally I’d had enough of this and decided to do something about it.
Do androids dream of electric sheep? I don’t know, but I’m sure Microsoft has Android nightmares. As anyone who is into mobile phone technology knows, Microsoft’s Windows phone has been on life support for some time and it looks like it’s getting closer to the time when the plug will be finally pulled. The Windows phone has seen many iterations since it was first conceived around 2002 as the Pocket PC 2002 Smartphone and followed by a number of not so successful versions until Windows Mobile 5 arrived in 2005 and finally Windows Mobile 6.5 in 2009. But it wasn’t until Windows Phone 7 arrived in 2010 (followed by versions 8, 8.1 and 10) that Microsoft had a platform that could potentially compete with the iPhone and the newly arrived Android phone. However, despite initially receiving a lot of praise for the operating system (OS) and user interface, it failed to capture more than a small part of the market and rapidly began to slide into obscurity.
Living where we do and having only electricity connected, the price of which keeps rising insatiably, I get very frustrated when reading about all the supposed benefits of renewable energy, which never seem to eventuate. Once upon a time Australia had the cheapest energy in the world, but then things changed. For several decades now, we have heard how renewable energy is (or will shortly be) competitive with or even cheaper than traditional energy sources such as coal, gas or hydro, but we never see any tangible evidence of this happening. But what we do see are ever increasing power bills as cost effective sources of power disappear. Every year more wind and solar installations are approved, sustainable only due to taxpayer subsidies, yet no one seems willing to say enough is enough and that it’s time to exist without subsidies or admit that it’s not cost-effective and simply a boondoggle.
Nearly every day I come across another story about some new contraption that will allow you to ‘connect’ to the digital world, thereby making your life easier and so much more fun and productive. Being ‘connected’ means that you can organise your life 24/7 and rely on your devices, usually managed through your mobile phone, to become part of a world where you and everyone else can also be ‘connected’. But is life actually better, easier, safer and more fun with all of this new ‘connected‘ technology? Now don’t don’t take this question as coming from a Luddite, as I love technology in all of its forms, even down to its base levels, but I often cast a questioning eye on developments and ponder the value of many, especially when older and reliable is replaced by supposedly newer and better.
Yes, suffering, not surfing. One of the ever present dangers for those running a blog, or any website for that matter, is that it can become compromised due to a hack or a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) or other attacks. A hack is usually a direct attack on your PC or the server where your website is hosted and an MITM basically involves someone ‘listening’ in to your web traffic, notably when you’re logging on to your site and intercepting your username and password (amongst other things), taking over your connections, and using that to their advantage. A hack can occur at any time, but can be avoided (to a large extent) using appropriate procedures, security software (depending on your website) and ensuring that all of your software is up to date, amongst other things. To that end, this story is about my trials and tribulations of setting up security for my blog (avoiding the gory – highly technical – bits), as getting clear help for someone that’s not experienced in coding was like the Labours of Hercules and most of the time it felt like I was working in the Augean Stables with a brush and dust pan.