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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Test-drive of two small SUVs (Mazda CX-5 Touring and Honda CR-V EX-L)

I test-drove two small SUVs yesterday to see for myself if the everybody else's reviews match with mine. They are:
- 2014 Mazda CX-5 Touring
- 2015 Honda CR-V EX-L

I was mostly looking forward to driving Mazda CX-5 to see that zoom-zoom character that everybody is talking about.   

Mazda CX-5 Touring:

The first test-drive was Mazda CX-5. I was impressed with the handling and steering feel. Now I can see what they mean by "zoom-zoom". It felt more like a sporty sedan in mid-range driving and cornering. On the other hand I was a bit disappointed with throttle response and I know it is all computer controlled. They programmed the throttle response so when you press the gas pedal at the beginning, there is not much response. I know why it is done this way; that's how you can save gas and meet the advertised MPGs. If you are not an aggressive driver, then this will work in your favor and you will be able to achieve  the expected MPGs. However, if you are getting quick response off the line, you will need to press that gas pedal more and then your are in a way getting non-linear acceleration; the computer thinks that you are trying to race. 

When you switch to manual mode with this automatic transmission, then you have the full control and the throttle response is controlled better by keeping the RPMs in the optimal range. 

When it comes to practicality and space, this car is good enough for a family of 5 as long as kids are out of baby seats. The trunk space is good.

Overall, since this car is not giving you any luxury or interior elegant feel, this car is for drivers who care about how feels in your steering wheel and how connected you are to the road. 

2015 Honda CR-V EX-L (leather interior):

I was not expecting much from Honda CR-V going into this test-drive, and I was surprised. Maybe this is because of the bad picture I painted in my head about the old CR-Vs from 10 years ago. 

I picked the EX-L model with leather interior. As soon as I started driving I realized that I like the initial throttle response from this engine and CVT transmission and how they programmed it. In mid-range driving, the CR-V seemed to have better pickup compared to CX-5 when driven in automatic mode. The suspension was in this CR-V was slightly softer than the one on CX-5, but I kind of liked it because this CR-V was not trying to beat CX-5 in its game. Honda did their own thing and made this CR-V feel more like a luxury SUV by having rich interior and properly tuned suspension that lets you feel the road but cushions it a bit to provide that luxury feel with not much noise in the cabin. To be honest I was never a big fan of CVT transmission in the early days, but Honda tuned this one nicely. 

Overall, this CR-V is not a vehicle that you want to take mountain driving, but it is a great small SUVs for urban and long-distance driving with luxury feel that you would typically expect from a fully loaded Honda Pilot or Acura MDX. 

What is the verdict?

There is no verdict here. Yes, everybody puts these two mid-size SUVs in the same category and compares them directly. They are both good in their own way and you need to decide for yourself what fits you. 

- almirsCorner.com - 

#cars #testdrive #Honda #HondaCRV #Mazda #MazdaCX5 #driving #handling 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Encoding/Decoding - A simple fun example to start teaching kids the importance of information security

Teaching kids about information security is very important today because the social network websites and applications are blurring the line between what should be shared securely and what not.

Everybody is busy over-sharing the good, bad and ugly over the internet and in the process of doing that forgetting the basics of information security or never taking the time to learn it. Or is it that nobody is introducing these concepts in school? It is something that needs to be introduced in our education systems from early days.

Do you remember the days when we used to send those short messages on a piece of paper in our classrooms? Some encoded those messages because you did not want another person in the middle to open it and understand what it says. How were those messages encoded?

The simplest example is: You create a simple mapping for each letter and number in the alphabet. Then you encode your message and write it on a piece of paper. Then the person on the other end decodes this message knowing the mapping because you shared it with them secretly.

Here is an example of mapping:

Separator between characters is ;;;
A is 0
B is 1
C is 2
D is 3
E is 4
a is 100
b is 101

Then if you want to encode "Do you want to play tennis tonight?", you would write the following:

The person on the other side would be able to translate this message into English as long as you previously shared the mapping with him/her. Obviously with the technology these days you would not be using paper and translating this; you would be using a software tool. I quickly put together an example in a simple web page using Javascript where you can plug in some sentences and it will use the exact same mapping as I explained above.

Example: HTML page where you can try this

The example above is a very simple mapping. If you want to use a slightly more complicated mapping, here is another example:

Example: Encoding/Decoding example in Javascript

The above algorithms for encoding/decoding are simple and can be figured out by experts very easily but they are relatively complex for novice and average computer users. These examples are just a way of introducing these concepts and encouraging you to teach your kids the importance of security.

These examples are easy to try and have some fun with them. You can save those examples as HTML files on your local computer, then edit the file and change the mapping at the top of file to what you want. Then in some secure way share that HTML file with your friend. From that point, you can send encoded messages to your friend in an email. The receiver can decode the message by copying and pasting the message into this simple HTML page and decoding it :)

Let's use this opportunity to do a quick security gauge of your security habits and if you have kids/nieces/nephews, teach them. Here are few comments/questions for you:

  • If you are using the same password across multiple accounts, you should change this.
  • If your passwords have names of cities, countries, or any word that you can find in a dictionary, you need to change this habit very soon.
  • If your passwords are not long enough and complex enough, then you need to do something about this. Details on what "long enough" and "complex enough" can be found on internet and the best way to deal with this is to use well respected tools for this. 
  • Are you using two-factor authentication for any accounts that support this?

- almirsCorner.com -

#InfoSec #encoding #decoding #programming #programmer #code #coding #software #softwaredevelopment #InformationSecurity #SecureCommunication 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Legoland Trip - April 2015

Legoland trip was fun yesterday. Here are some pictures for lego enthusiasts.

Link to full album.

A preview with a few pictures:

- almirsCorner.com -

#lego #Legoland #legos 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Is It Complex?

If you don't understand something and you as a leader/manager are directly responsible for delivering it, it is complex.

If you don't understand something and you as a leader/manager are NOT directly responsible for delivering it, all of a sudden you are less understanding and this "something" is less complex.

Great leaders balance these two extremes well. 

Learning never stops.

- almirsCorner.com -

#leaders #managers #techlead #professionals #learning  

Blue tape, duct tape, and electrical tape - how to use these?

Blue tape, duct tape and electrical tape are great for prototypes. Electrical tape is good to make your prototype a bit more complete. 

The most common example is when I get a steering wheel cover for my car and it ends up too big. Then I cut it, shorten the diameter, put it on the steering wheel, duct tape it and polish it up with a good choice of electrical tape. It blends in nicely.

- almirsCorner.com - 

#prototype #products #almirsCorner #bluetape #ducttape #electricaltape

Friday, April 3, 2015

Information Security advice for this week - Sites emailing you your old passwords?

If a website (during forgot login journey) emails you your old password, you need to stay away from that site.

That means that they are storing your password in clear text or they are just encrypting it and it is reversible which is not good at all.

- almirsCorner.com -

#InfoSec #security #passwords #IT #webdevelopment #programming #coding