Saturday, January 04, 2014

TOP Gear PH's 2013 Car of the Year

An open letter to Top Gear Philippines:

As a long, long time reader of your magazine, I read with interest the article “2013 Car of the Year” in the latest issue. While the myriad views of the 15 man panel were both fascinating and enlightening (and whole of a lot more refreshing than simple fan voting which can be rigged) I must respectfully disagree with the final outcome.

Of course, I don’t get to test drive various makes and models of cars, much less write reviews about them, so in the grand scheme of things, I don’t really know much about cars, except for the precious few that I own or get to drive, and from what I read from various motoring publications and websites, so my opinion is just that, an opinion from an average Juan, albeit, perhaps, a well-read one.

To cut to the chase, if it were up to me, the distinction of 2013 Car of the Year ought to belong to the Hyundai Accent Hatchback CRDi. Simply put, out of all the cars which came out this year, the Accent Hatchback CRDi is the only one which gives the best balance of affordability, utility, style, safety, features, economy and performance, and in fact leads the class with the latter two considerations. Starting at P768K for the manual version, you get a turbocharged, intercooled, common rail direct injection diesel engine that outguns anything in its segment, and most of the variants of the segment above it. You’d be hard-pressed to find another brand-new car with more performance for the economy for less than P1M, and the entire package is backed-up with a 5 year/100,000 km warranty.

As for the other cars your article has mentioned, while I agree that all of them are indeed splendid cars in their own right, dubbing any of them “Car of the Year” might be a tad too generous for the following reasons:

The Toyota Vios – other than the outstanding new styling inside and out for the new model, there isn’t really much going for it, with the mechanicals virtually the same as the old model. What it has going for it is the fact that it’s the jack-of-all-trades, master of none player in the local car market, plus the perceived plus value and reliability of the Toyota brand. It’s a model that revels in being completely average, hence its suitability for the masses. This will, without a doubt, mean that this will sell the most units, but volume alone shouldn’t make it worthy of the title. Being average means the Vios is a good, perfectly adequate, satisfactory, and sufficient car. But not an excellent car. Certainly not “Car of the Year”;

The Lexus IS350 – This without a doubt is an awesome car, if perhaps for no other reason than it’s a Lexus. It has all the appropriate checkboxes ticked: 3.5L V6, 306hp and 376Nm, 8-speed AT, and “aggressive elegance”. But with a price ranging from P2.548-P3.058M, it’s too expensive to sell in significant quantities, making all its fancy toys such as TFT instrumentation and touch-sensitive electrostatic switches just novelties accessible to the wealthy. Lexus as an upscale brand deals with exclusivity and luxury, things that hardly mean much to the average working Juan, much less the masses. One can conclude that this is the anti-thesis of the best-selling Toyota Vios with its (the IS350’s) limited audience. It for sure “raises the bar” but it hardly “changes the game”;

The Honda CR-Z – A sporty hybrid that is neither “sporty” nor fuel efficient. Its only claim to fame is the Honda lineage (Type R anyone?) and its to-die-for styling, even though it’s retrofitted on a Jazz/Fit platform, including the mundane drive and suspension design - FWD with MacPherson struts on the front and torsion beam at the rear. Its 1.5L engine with IMA Hybrid Assist System churns out 133hp and 172Nm which barely tops the Ford Fiesta Ecoboost’s 125hp and 170Nm (which costs less than half as much) not to mention the Hyundai Accent Hatchback CRDi’s 126hp and 260Nm (which is even cheaper than the Ford Fiesta Ecoboost). The asking price is P1.95M, and for that you can get a Toyota GT86, a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, or a Subaru BRZ if you’re into performance, or for a little more a Toyota Prius if you’re into economy…or even the aforementioned Ford Fiesta Ecoboost or Hyundai Accent Hatchback CRDi, if you want similar horsepower and comparable fuel economy but not willing to break the bank;

Mazda 6 – Again, another awesome car. I certainly don’t question this car’s credentials for getting into the top five. Skyactiv 2.5L engine with direct injection producing 185hp and 250nm, 6-speed AT, impeccable exterior and interior styling, a price that is within the realm of possibility for a middle class Juan if he works hard and saves up (P1.705M). To expect it to dominate this segment may be too much though, though, as it goes up against the comparable Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and even the Hyundai Sonata. Reviving this segment is probably all the more too much to ask, considering that if I had a 1.7M budget, I’d probably be looking at a SUV, and methinks most people would be too. This would be my first runner up.

So to conclude, I’m with your Off-Road Editor, Robby Consunji on this one. My top contender for 2013 Car of the Year is also the Hyundai Accent Hatchback CRDi. Great article nonetheless.

Disclosure: I just bought a Hyundai Accent Hatchback CRDi AT, and I’ll be paying for it for the next few years, so I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

In a couple of hours it'll be 2013.

Here's wishing everyone a meaningful New Year's eve, and a happy and prosperous 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Looking back at the year that was....

About a year ago I was hoping that 2012 would turn out to be a better year that 2011. With five days left, well, was it really better?

I suppose it was, though it was not the home run I had been wishing for.

Embroiled in a lot of work though, and got to travel more than I usually do, which to be honest, seemed rather meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

I did a lot...but it really didn't seem as if I accomplished a lot if you know what I mean.

Like a hamster in a hamster wheel.

Life has apparently made me insensitive to the simple things...simple things that once, I guess, brought me uncomplicated joy, but now are simply set aside as an eventuality of life.

People come, people go.

The days pass into weeks, which passes into months, which passes into a year.

And a year doesn't seem that long anymore.

Holidays come and pass...Christmas and New Year's eve rolls over again.

The Mayan calendar has ended, without much as whimper from the world which is supposedly near the end of its days.

Material possessions hardly matter as much as they once before, yet I still pursue them, if only for lack of anything else to do.

There is still the abstract pursuit of truth, the abstract pursuit of trying to do the right thing. But it doesn't seem to matter.

Perhaps inconsequentiality is our fate.

We can aspire for the highest things, the greatest good, and we can delay the onset of futility, but only for so long. Then we find ourselves existing, but forgetting how to live.

The fundamental truths that I thought I knew haven't turned out to be so true after all.

Bad things happen to good people.

Good deeds are not always rewarded.

Bad deeds have as much chance to reap rewards as much as good deeds apparently.

And the truth? No one apparently really seems to care about it all that much, content to exist within the illusory veils surrounding their own lives.

Am I depressed? Perhaps. Maybe just a case of holiday blues. But I meant everything I typed in this post.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up on life...on the things I believe in...if only because they have been so ingrained in my existence I can't shed them even if I wanted to.

Going back...2012, how was it?

It's okay...and I'm thankful for that.

I am grateful to the Creator for giving me all the blessings that I have received, and for watching over those who are close...and perhaps not so close to me.

I pray that my obsession with futility will not determine the choices that I make.

That I still stick to the right thing, no matter how seemingly inconsequential the right thing may appear to be.

Life is a continuous pursuit of...pursuits...which we decide to undertake for ourselves, for others, or for some surreal goal that perhaps is only understood by ourselves.

So here's to continuing the pursuit,  because as I am so fond of saying, life's a trip, not a destination.

In 2013, we soldier on, as we have always done.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all of you.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Commonwealth Ave. lot for Lease

For lease, 261 sqm commercial lot near east-bound lane (going to Fairview) of Commonwealth Ave. Quezon City, between Tandang Sora and Ever Gotesco, directly opposite PNB. Accessible via 50m access road. No improvements on said property. For inquiries call 09228692272 or email ronallandottk@yahoo.com

5-E

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tips for protecting yourself, your information, and your identity in the mobile age

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  1. Set up and turn on the PIN option on your SIM card. It's a measure of defense to ensure your phone bill doesn't rack up charges if it's stolen and later turned off, or someone uses it in another phone, and it will buy you time to call your network and have the SIM deactivated;

  2. Set up the security code of your phone. Yes, with the right tools it could be defeated, but why make it easy for thieves to use or sell your phone?

  3. Look around before using your phone or tablet in public places. Some places are safer than others;

  4. Set up the PIN or pattern lock of your phone or tablet. If you use your phone for Facebook, Twitter, email, etc., your account information is stored on your phone. Anyone who comes into possession of your phone and unlocks it can potentially masquerade online as you. They can also have access to your photos, messages, email, etc.;

  5. Don't leave your phone or tablet unattended. You could be a victim of casual theft;

  6. If your phone or tablet uses Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and up, you have the option of encrypting your entire device. Consider full encryption if your device stores valuable information;

  7. Secure your PC or notebook with a password, and lock it whenever you leave it unattended to discourage potential snoops;

  8. If practicable, secure your notebook if unattended with a Kensington-type lock. It's a deterrent against casual theft;

  9. When setting up a wireless network or a portable hotspot, secure it using WPA2 or WPA. Don't use WEP. WEP can easily be cracked with downloadable tools;

  10. When looking for a wifi hotspot, be wary of free, unsecured hotspots. These could be baited hotspots which could potentially steal information from your notebook or mobile device;

  11. Whether you use a PC, tablet or mobile phone, install an antivirus/antimalware program and keep it updated. There are lots of good free antivirus/antimalware programs on the web so, you don't have to spend to protect your devices. Some malware can potentially steal your personal information;

  12. Don't open email attachments from people you don't know;

  13. Don't open email attachments even from people you know if the email doesn't seem like one the person you know will send;

  14. If you receive an SMS telling you you won something, it's a scam;

  15. If you receive an SMS from someone pretending to be a relative abroad and the number used is his/her new roaming number, it's a scam;

  16. If you receive an email telling you you won something, it's a scam;

  17. If you receive an email telling you inherited something, it's a scam;

  18. Pretty much consider any email you receive from someone you don't know a scam, especially if it seems to good to be true;

  19. When entering login information to any site, check the address bar to make sure that site is really the site you're logging in. Otherwise you could be a victim of "phising";

  20. When using a public computer (such as in an internet cafe) or a shared office computer, never forget to log off from any social networking site, email account, etc. you've logged on. The next person using the computer could tamper with your account.


I'll add to this list when I think of more tips.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Methinks blogging has lost its charm....

It's been more than two months since I last posted a blog entry. For some reason I just couldn't be bothered anymore.

I've been blogging for almost eight years now. It used to be a lot of fun. Now, It just seems like a lot of work, when I can easily express myself with a few keystrokes on Facebook or Twitter.

I don't get as much visitors as I used too. No surprise there though...seems like everyone is into social networking sites.

Perhaps...for me at least, blogging has lost it's charm.

It's not that I don't have anything to blog about, quite the contrary.

I've been reassigned at work to something with a little more ooomph. Though it still remains to be seen if I went from the frying pan to the fire.

I've been out of the country a few weeks ago.

I just moved up to a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.

And those are not the only things.

I've given up on online gaming, particularly an old favorite of mine, Cabal Online. After my account was hacked several months ago, I couldn't in good conscience give any more of my hard earned money to e-Games who botched up my perfectly good account. I still have a pending complaint with them and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), no results yet though.

In the middle of playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It's a fabulous game, but I haven't been playing it much lately. I must be getting old, or at least the gamer in me is.

My son moved out several months ago. It's just as well, it wasn't working out for several reasons.

The point is, my life hasn't been static the way this blog is, and yet, I'm not driven enough to blog about this stuff anymore.

I don't see myself quitting though. But I don't really see myself going back to how I was during the early days, posting almost every day.

I guess I've changed. Maybe a lot. Some things still remain the same though. I still have a lot of frustrations. I still hate summers. And I'm still stuck in my mid-life crisis.

Well, maybe the charm will find itself back to me.