Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why I'd Buy a Subaru Impreza over a Civic or a Mazda 3

As I've written before, I was fixated on buying a recent Mazda 3 hatchback. Such a beautiful car, available with my favored manual transmission. Zoom zoom. However, Mazda has been promising for years to support CarPlay, and I have stopped believing them.

So, I cast about for a hatchback, with CarPlay, and a manual transmission.

Well, what about the new Civic? I've driven the same Civic for 14 years; I like Honda. However, unless you include the pricey Type R model, Honda will not sell you a Civic with both a manual transmission and CarPlay. Plus, I think the current model is angularly ugly, filled with faux touches. Nor, do I like the added mechanical complexity of a turbocharger.

My co-worker who owns a 2017 Civic, loves it, and I understand why you need an automatic for the collision avoidance features.

I spent more time in the Edmunds app looking at cars, and on YouTube watching review videos. Seems as though most people say great things about the 2017 Subaru Impreza hatchback, which in its lowest trim, the 2.0i, has both CarPlay and a manual transmission. If you go up the trims, you will end  up with a larger screen, but I'm not going to spend thousands of dollars for a bigger screen. For once, the base model has everything I really want. And while the CVT transmission might give better gas mileage and have more safety features, nobody who reviewed the car said they liked the CVT, and I have to believe it will be less mechanically reliable than a manual. Plus, this will likely be my last gasoline burning car, and I want to enjoy the anachronism.

As a big plus,  all wheel drive is a great match for driving in New England.  I am already visualizing putting a couple of kayaks on the roof rack and heading out into nature with my family.

So, early in the new year, as soon as I muster up the cash, I intend to buy a used 2017 Impreza hatchback. Maybe.

CarPlay Drops? Try Shortening Your USB Cables

I have not been a happy CarPlay user for the last couple months. I'd started getting the occasional loss of connection with my previous 3rd party receiver, and it had just gotten worse when I switched in a new one. I'd connect my iPhone 5S, it would work for a few minutes, sometimes as long as half an hour, and then CarPlay would just disappear. Replugging it in would usually work, but typically for a shorter time. I'd taken to just listening to podcasts over Bluetooth.

Things I Tried

  1. Switching from a 3rd party Lightning cable to an Apple original.
  2. Putting the phone in low power mode (maybe it was a charging problem)
  3. Just using Podcasts, avoiding Maps or Phone.
  4. Turning off Bluetooth (I drove the half hour to work once without drops when I forgot my Apple Watch)
  5. Updating to the iOS 11.1 beta.

What Worked

Replacing the 40 inch Lightning cable with a 4 inch cable. The phone might have been hanging from the USB socket, but it didn't drop over several days of commuting. 

I had installed the receiver myself, and had purchased a cable with a USB-A male to flush mounted USB-A female. It looked nice, mounted on the dashboard, but 6 inches would have been as good or better than 6 feet.

A 6 foot USB Auto Cable
All, I really wanted, the flush mounted socket
To sum up the cable run: 
  • Cable embedded in receiver: 3Ft
  • Flush mounted cable: 6ft
  • Apple Lightning cable 3.5ft
So a bit over 12 feet. A quick googling indicates that USB 2 has a maximum length of between 3 and 5 meters (10-16 feet), so 12 was starting to be a bit marginal, coupled with 3 separate cables, my oldish phone, and I could see where it might not be reliable.

Long term solution

I pulled out the overlong cable and replaced it with a 3 foot version. Fingers crossed; I've fooled myself into thinking I'd solved this a couple times before.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Apple Has A Second Chance at the SEx (iPhone that is)

There's an old story that when Apple was getting ready to release the fast version of the Macintosh SE, their naming convention should have resulted in a Macintosh SEx, but they demurred and gave it the tamer name Macintosh SE/30.  I can remember desperately wanting one, one of the most legendarily future proof machines ever to come out of Cupertino.

And now, I'm waiting impatiently for the rumored new iPhone SE with a modern A11 Fusion chip to replace my rapidly slowing iPhone 5S. And what would you call an iPhone SE with the same processor as an iPhone X?

The Legendary SE/30 (via Wikipedia)