Chong Pong

Jul 052011

I don’t know if this is true or not but I’ve noticed that I’ve picked up a lot of bad driving habits ever since purchasing my new Sonata and I believe it stems from watching my fuel economy.  Back when I was driving around in my sports car, red lights meant “alright, let’s race”…  Now that I’m driving a grown up car, it seems like red lights cause me to curse because now I have to slow down or even stop.

Why would that upset me in the Sonata and not in the MR2?  One word… well, more like an acronym…  MPG.  Ever since setting my gauge cluster to display my fuel economy, I’ve been obsessed with getting it lower (I think it’s because the Sonata’s fuel economy isn’t as good as I thought it was).  I’ve read a few hypermiling forums to see what some of the tips and tricks are to lower your L/100kms (I’m Canadian) and have applied them for a few months.  During these few months, I noticed that I’m a lot angrier when I drive.  One of the main techniques to increasing your fuel economy is slow acceleration and maintaining your momentum.  Where I didn’t used to yell and shake my fist at red lights, pedestrians and slow moving traffic… I do now.  All of those things cost you fuel economy, if you have to slow down, you will have to get up to speed again…. at a snails pace because rapid acceleration is bad.  I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing stupid things to maintain my momentum like tailgating, running late yellows, not slowing down before a turn, etc…  All of which are dangerous and I never did before I gave a crap about fuel economy….

I think I’m going to try this eco driving for another few tanks and go back to driving like I used to.  It’s a lot less stressful…  I mean is 12L/100km really that bad?

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Jun 232011

What should I do with my MR2 Turbo….  that’s been bugging me since I purchased my Sonata.  How did I end up with a Sonata?  Well, that’s pretty easy to explain.  Back in February, about a eek prior to my trip to Hawaii, the alternator was starting to die in the car.  I knew the tell tale signs, the battery + oil lights were on together.  Scary thing is that I first noticed it back in January when I landed back in Bellingham and fired my car up after it was sitting for a few days.  I thought my belt was just slipping because it had been raining a lot.  The car was fine for about a month after that day then it started acting up again.  Then one day, on the way home from work, the lights came on and stayed on.  I knew then that the alternator had finally bit the big one.  I thought… no big deal, I’m off to Waikiki in a few days, I’ll spend a few evenings tearing the alternator out of the car, order an alternator while I’m in Hawaii and pop it back in when I get back…

Everything went according to plan, alternator went back in without a hitch and the car was running like it’s normal self again….  for a bout a month anyways.  I was driving to work one morning and all of the sudden, my “check engine” light comes on.  Of all the things that went wrong with this car, I’ve only had the “check engine” light come on once and it was for the O2 sensor.  When I got home that evening, I checked the car for error codes and sure enough, it was the O2 sensor again…  I know it’s something small and easy to replace because I’ve replaced it before but it just pissed me off.  Instead of going out to purchase a new O2 sensor, I went to the automall that weekend and came out with a new Hyundai Sonata 2.0T.  I had seen the commercials and I looked into the pricing, the car looked perfect for me.  I had pretty much decided on the Sonata anyways, the 84 month 0% financing was pretty much just icing on the cake.  It’s a bit of a step down from the Cadillac CTS 3.6 that I originally wanted but there considering the Hyundai is just as fast, just as big and has more stuff for half the price; it’s not such a bad compromise.  (I will be trading the Sonata in for a CTS-V once my stocks take off tho.)

So now that I have my grown up car… what should I do with my sports car?  Until recently, I’ve driven an MR2 almost every day for the past 10 years so selling it wouldn’t seem right.  I’ve decided to do a full restoration of the car to “new” condition but I don’t know which engine to use.  Should I stick to the restoration route and put in a factory 3SGTE or should I go the 2GRFE route?  Once the car is restored, I would love to take it on long road trips to Las Vegas again.  The thing I don’t like about the 3SGTE is the lack of low end torque, I found the 5SFE powered MR2 to be easier to drive in the city.  Because of the torque, the gearing on the transmission is short and as a result, it’s not the best car to use on a hwy.  I did a few trips to Vegas in various MR2’s and at 80mph, the engine’s at 4000rpm.  That makes it difficult for the passenger to sleep.

I’m leaning towards a V6 right now because the extra torque allows for taller gearing in the transmission and I’m hoping at 80mph, the RPM’s would be closer to 2500.  On the other hand, a completely factory restoration might be worth some money one day so I’m a little torn between the two.  Which ever route I go with the engine, the rest of the car does need to be restored as well…  the interior, bodywork, paint, suspension, stereo, etc…   I think I’ll start this long weekend by installing those motorized folding mirrors that I’ve had in my closet for several years now.

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Jun 142011

Yeah, I know… everyone’s probably wondering why I posted a teaser of my Nook on XDA Developers and then leave it at that for so long.  What can I say, I’m a procrastinator and I’m easily distracted into doing other things.  Hell, it took me 2 weekends just to complete the theme itself.  It looks complicated but it’s actually fairly simple.  I’m using ADW EX Launcher with Desktop Visualizer.  If you’ve used Desktop Visualizer before, you’ll know that it allows you to use images as icons on your Android desktop.  What you’ll need to do is create a background that fits the Nook screen and create the icons in a way that they line up.  Here’s some quick instructions on get your Nook Color to look like the PADD of Star Trek fame.

This is what a PADD from Star Trek looks like in 2373

First off, you’ll need a Nook Color from Barnes and Noble that’s been modified to run an aftermarket ROM.  Personally, I’m running Phiremod.  I’m not sure if the stock ROM will allow you to run other launchers or not because I didn’t play with the stock ROM much.  In fact, because I’m in Canada without a US credit card, I can’t get past the initial setup screens so I’m not sure if just rooting the stock ROM will let you run other launchers.

Once you have your Nook hacked, you’ll need to install ADW EX Launcher and Desktop Visualizer.  Desktop Visualizer is free and you can download it from the Android Market.  ADW EX however is not.  I think it may work with the free version but it’s been so long since I’ve used it that I’m not sure what features from EX are missing.  The reason why I’m using ADW and not something else like LauncherPro is because ADW allows you to hide everything and allows you to lock the desktop in place.  Android users will know that if you hold something too long, you’ll drag it somewhere by accident.  Also, what I mean by hide everything is you can hide the status bar as well as the dock.  After installing ADW and Desktop Visualizer, you need to go into ADW Settings and change a number of things


Under UI Settings, Main Dock

Main Dock Style = None
Dock Background = None (Doesn’t really matter since the dock’s turned off anyways)
Desktop Dots = Off  (Mine is grayed out anyways)
Main Dock Size = Whatever
Advanced Settings = Doesn’t matter what’s in there

Under UI Settings, Screen Preferences

Desktop Columns = 9
Desktop Rows = 10
Show Desktop Indicator = unchecked
Home Orientation = Portrait

Nothing needs to be changed in Drawer Settings and under Hidden Dockbar, just uncheck Dockbar

Now here’s what you’ve been waiting for… download the theme here….  Link. Extract the contents to a folder on your SD card

Set “PADD Background.jpg” as your wallpaper.  Make sure that when you’re on the resize screen, you drag the box to the bottom of the image and stretch upwards.  My background image isn’t exactly perfect so if the box is in the wrong place, the theme looks off by a bit.  Apply the background

Create 8 Desktop Visualizer widgets on the desktop.  Two of them should be 3×1 in size and the other five are 2×1

Tap on one of the widgets you just created and you will be greeted with the Desktop Visualizer screen.  Hit Select Icon and select Image File.  From there, select the appropriate image for the button from where you extracted the theme files and hit OK.

Next hit the Select Action button, select Launch Application and select the corresponding application from the list

Make sure the Label field is clear otherwise, you’ll have text on your button.  Now hit OK and your button.

Continue with the other Desktop Visualizer widgets until you’ve done all 8.  After you’ve done all 8, you’ll be almost complete.  All you have to do now is to create the App button and choose your widgets for the two blank areas.

To create your app drawer button, you need to long touch the desktop for the Add to Home screen.  Select Launcher Actions instead of Widgets like you normally would and select Open/Close App Drawer.  Create two of these buttons and move them to the bottom so that they cover up APPS.  Now long touch the button until a menu comes up.  Hit Edit and another screen should come up.  On the left, press the button and hit Select Picture.  Select AppButton.jpg from the theme location and hit OK.  Repeat for the other App Drawer button you created.

By now, your LCARS theme is pretty much complete and you just need to select your widgets for the blank spots.  I personally like to have Beautiful Widgets running in the top spot and a calendar in the bottom but it’s up to you.  If you can, find a widget that has a black background because any other colour really clashes with the Star Trek colour scheme.

Once you’ve selected your widgets, the last thing you want to do is hit the menu button, select More and Lock Desktop.  This prevents things from being moved around.  Also, feel free to edit the buttons, wallpaper whatever.  Grab a copy of Photoshop or GIMP and have at it, you just need to find the LCARS font somewhere on the internet which isn’t to hard to locate.

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May 262011

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I picked up a Nook Color from Barnes and Noble.  As a lot of people already know, the device can be easily turned into a very capable 7″ tablet and it only costs $250 + tax!  As a Trekkie, I immediately thought, “That thing is the perfect size for a Star Trek PADD!”  After a few late nights of Photoshopping, I finally have it.  I won’t go into details of how I did it at this time because I’m punching this blog up at work, I’ll save that for another post.  I’ll also put the wallpaper and buttons up for download with the instructions as well.  Here’s a preview….


Barnes and Noble Nook Color disguised as a Star Trek PADD

Barnes and Noble Nook Color disguised as a Star Trek PADD

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Oct 272010

I was recently browsing Revscene and came upon a thread about nice cars in Vancouver.  A lot of people were posting pics of Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s that they’ve spotted on the streets of Vancouver.  There sure are a lot of nice cars here but I think my F1 sighting takes the cake.  It was about 10 years ago, I was driving across the Iron Workers bridge at night to visit a friend when I heard an engine unlike any I’ve ever heard.  Out of the Hastings street onramp comes an orange exotic.  As it was right beside me, I couldn’t immediately tell what it was.  I was able to tell from the sound of the engine that it was a V12 and Lamborghini had just released their new Murcielago so that’s what I first thought it was.  As it pulled ahead of me, I could recognize the doors and was immediately able to tell that it was a Mclaren F1.  One of the rarest and most expensive cars in the world.  When it was new, it cost about a million dollars and for nearly a 10 year period was the fastest production car in the world.

I quickly started fumbling around for my digital camera and kept up for as long as I could to snap this one pic before it disappeared up the cut.  I’ve seen a Bugatti Veyron and Lamborghini Reventon up close and personal in a showroom but having a Mclaren F1 rip it beside you is something else.

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Oct 202010

We went to some city built on water that was like an older version of Venice.  There were cats carved everywhere…  After that, back to the bund where we were yesterday.  The overcast skies actually cleared up today and I could see blue!  After some picture taking, we went to dinner in a mall and back to the bund afterwards for some night pictures of the most famous spot in Shanghai.  This was the last day of my trip.  Unfortunately, I had to fly back to Vancouver the next day and hopefully not be jet lagged for work.

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Oct 202010

Went around town checking out the local attractions.  Well, mostly checking out the Bund.  The architecture is very diverse.  Some of  you may know that Shanghai is an international business city.  The population is diverse and the the buildings reflect the different peoples that live here.  You’ll probably notice that many of the buildings are very european… that’s because they built them long ago.  I didn’t think the humidity could get any worse but today, it was raining when we stepped out.  When the rain stopped, the sun took over and all the rain that was on the ground started to vapourize.  It was trying to breath over a pot of boiling water.

After another day of walking, I noticed that my feet were really swollen.  They were like really plump, retaining a lot of water.  Must be the humidity…  For dinner, we went through these old alley ways that were transformed into hip urban shops.  I can’t believe the crazy amount of white people hanging out at the bars in this area.

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Oct 202010

Day 12 – Another day at the Expo, visited Canada’s pavilion.  Once again, misty throughout the day and poured again by the end of the day.  The air just can’t hold that much moisture I guess..

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Oct 192010

We’re finally going to Expo 2010!  There was basically only one way in and that was via subway.  The Expo pass also doubled as a subway pass, there were a number of stations that brought you directly to the convention site.

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Oct 192010

Nearing the end of the trip… well, there’s still 4 more days to go.  On day 10, we traveled via plane back to Shanghai for the World Expo 2010.  We spent the morning flying and landed in the afternoon.  In Shanghai, we stayed with my cousin Susan in a fairly big condo.  A condo that would probably cost somewhere in the million dollar range in Vancouver. There’s a view of the river and the riverboats.  Anyways, after we got settled into the place, we went off to a market, had a late lunch of KFC prawn burgers and went back home.

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