Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Flight of Fantasy

... Or rather 'Drive of Fantasy'. The last few posts have been quite serious and formal, so I've decided to break the tense and deliver something more eye-pleasing.

Welcome everyone, to the first Gran Turismo 6 photo entry. Gran Turismo 6 (GT6) is a PS3 racing simulator, so it isn't in the same league as the other car games. Notice how I said simulator? It's because this game simulates the laws of Physics virtually, and all the details aren't misplaced. In this game, when you approach a bend/corner, you need to brake adequately - like in real life - then downshift a few gears, execute the turn, then gently apply the throttle. Basically you apply what you do to a real life car in this game. I was quite surprised when I took an in-game photo inside the cabin of the BMW M4 and it turned out very, very familiar to the one in real life. I felt frankly at home with that shot.

These are some random shots I've done and snapped around. Some of them are drifts and slides. Now keep in mind, drifting in this game isn't like those of Need For Speed or Burnout anyhow. Well since this game is a simulator, all the inputs are close to real life. To execute a beautiful drift like this, you don't tap the brake then stomp the accelerator. In this case, you need to switch off the traction control - that's a system that avoids wheelspin, which is what you want in drifting but not in daily driving - then search for your power band, it's usually the low gears, the BMWs do well in the 2nd to 3rd gear. Next approach the turn, and press on the throttle. Throttle control is important here. Then apply some counter steer. That's the basics, easier said than done.

Without further ado, here's the photoshoot, cars driven by, and pictures taken by Your's Truly.

(Click for a bigger pic, rollover for captions)

And a real BMW M4 for comparison

I know my friend Qays is a fan of Beemers and I'm certain that somewhere in his wish list is owning an M5. I can imagine the following situation as his calm evening escape around The City Of Arts and Science in Valencia. Perhaps with his significant other, who knows?

The following scene would portray Peeq and Faiq on their business trip around Ronda, Spain.

The sight of an R8 even a mile away would cause the little child in us to experience an explosive squirm, so I've had a go with this one.

This is Ayep's dream ride, I could imagine him picking up Nick from a fancy walk around Piazza Duomo, Syracruse.

And there I am in the Nissan GT-R, affectionately known by many enthusiasts as Godzilla, picking up my future date.

I've never liked the R8 before, too over-rated, too conventional, but after I took it around Bathurst in New South Wales, Aussie. I kinda like it's quattro handling. I might give it a chance.

 And I took a McLaren 12C down the long highway, acah-acah balik kampung. 

That's about it for now. I might do another photoshoot in the future. We'll see. Hope you enjoyed the gallery.

'Till then.

Friday, 16 May 2014

An Ode to Camaraderie

1st of June marks my registration in UiTM Melaka, thus begins then a new chapter of the story we call Life. It has been a long, winding journey since the days of MCKK and surely many memorable events has come and passed. Even then, there are an abundance of memoirs and people left engraved in my heart. Most of them are from the alma mater, but I've met a lot of interesting personalities along the way.

The past few months spanning from the arduous days of Asasi till this very second I'm breathing has been an emotional and spiritual rollercoaster ride. Only held onto the ride by my faith to Him, and a helping hand from my comrades, I was able to survive and thrive to this moment. Well at least I can finally say, I couldn't have done it without you guys.

Stepping into the new chapter, the anticipation of new challenges are unavoidable. Three years plus another four for degree and a few more for Masters, but that's another chapter waiting to be unfold in the future. Even then the path ahead lies with a cornucopia of ups and downs. There is no speck of doubt that an impetus is paramount in plowing through this obstacle.

I was blessed enough to have good company in this course of life, and I cherish those who I've met along the and are always close, and they have become my impulse to succeed in this future studies.

From left: Nurzam, Yours Truly, Rifqi, Nasir, Faiq, Azim, Aiman, Safuan, Izzat
These are the people who ignited the spark. The drive. The energy. This is the Editorial Board of '12 (minus Izzat on the right). These are fantastic people to be with. For instance, Nurzam, our graphics designer, one of the best there is, always a good friend and classmate. Affectionately known as Hamster by our colleagues. Then there's Rifqi the coffee enthusiastic lead photographer, also SIC. Very good musician. Drove me once to Chief's because I had no transport after the MUET test. Some say his body burns coffee like a combustion engine and that he thought that Star Wars was a documentary. All we know is he's Rifqi Ghazali. The next man on the list is Megat, or better known as Chief, simply because he's the chief. More on him later. Faiq is the imported character in this story. The one photographer from Thailand. His head is literally harder than diamond, after so many ordeals with the goalposts and the 'longkangs'. The next bloke in the lineup is Azim or Qays as most of them know him, the most successful financier since the inception of this A-team. He raised 50k from scratch in half a year. Highest collection of all time. Also worth mentioning he's a BMW fan as well. Aiman is the person that never lets you down. He's the always-dependable person. The wacky one in the group, he never fails to entertain the company when all is going tight. Then comes Safuan aka Sapu aka Benny aka Jimmy Hopkins aka Vega aka Sapudor. Yep, all those nicknames are valid. Toughest cameraman on the block. He auditioned for Hulk recently but got turned down because the female crew kept hitting on him. And there's Izzat Zalis, or Jack. Those in the debating circle would already recognize him. He was featured in the school's magazine in '12. He's always there for me since his enrollment  in '11. Technically legally a hotstuff. Girls, I have his number feel free to ask for it  :P

What were we looking at?
Where were we? Ah, yes the man himself. The brain of the team. He's Megat Nasir. The man is two-parts-Tony Stark-to-one-part-Nathan Drake. Nothing could describe him better than The Prodigy. A person with relentless pursuit towards knowledge, he's the one calling the shots during the development of our magazine. A distant brother and a great friend. We have always said our minds were linked with Bluetooth. He's always there when I was at my lowest. No matter what the conditions were, he never failed to lend me a hand when I slipped and fell. Especially when I failed my Chemistry paper, and was dismissed. I will always remember his support throughout this journey.

Looking young
This almost-nose-picking bloke is Khan Hamidy. We call him Khansdos. He's the first person I knew back in MCKK as he registered the same moment as me, so we got to know each other in the office before making our way to the dorms. Very funny guy. Plays rugby thus the very bulky physique. He's just completed his Engineering foundation at PALAM.

From left: Adib, Aidil, Khan
One of our memorable moments is when we registered at the same day, then five years later after so many exams and tests, we said our farewell to the alma mater on the same day and headed off back home at the same moment, because I hitched a ride in his dad's car. It was as if we were destined to come and go at the exact same time.

There's the shades
Never without his shades is Mag Malik, the wise one. He's the inspiration towards going through Masscom. The one with the advice. He's the matured one among us. Probably because he's slightly aged than me but that doesn't matter, he's still young inside, full of energy.
I often turn to him and Mr. Dad to ask for some of their invaluable opinions on certain choices in life. Still undergoing degree in TESL. he has very high knowledge in the language background, namely linguistics.

He's not a hitman
To me, he's like a brother whose always there with his never ending support. An eccentric writer himself and a massive fan of Youtuber TheRadBrad, he aims to put Malaysia on the map where Let's Plays are concerned. I'd like to join and become co-presenter as well, but that fantasy would take a lot of years to become true.

And there's the sage of life skills, Redzuan. Pardon me for the dated picture but he still looks good. A master in FIFA, he's the brother with the tips whether it be in FIFA or in life. Once called me a hobo for picking me up in the middle of nowhere. I promise you, it was literally in the middle of no where! Blame RapidKL for not following its prescribed route.

My time in Asasi wasn't time wasted.

A1 up to A5 in its entirety
This is the whole lecture hall with our Physics lecturer Prof Hj Ahmad, who reminds me of Dad. It's been a while since I've met these people. Heck, the last time I've met them was the final time I met them when I said my good byes and signed my resignation forms. It was a forlorn moment as I knew meeting these people again would be next to impossible. Even if we had our misunderstandings, we got back together closer than before. These wonderful people have already received their results last week. I pray that the future is bright for them, and I'm certain it is paved with success, especially for the likes of the front row usual, Mas, TJ, the boys and all the other students in this picture. Even though I didn't had the chance to get to know all these people long, I knew these people are close together, like a huge family with a colorful background. I had the opportunity to be deskmates (?) with Johan, awesome genius that bloke. There's also Suraya whom I knew because she's always at the front end of the hall, where Johan and I sat especially during Chemistry. Not forgetting the Class Reps, we have Izzat from A1, then former Class Rep of A2, umm, me, then there's A3 whom I haven't recognized. From what I've heard A3 doesn't have any singular Rep, as they have each for every subject. Might be the case, if not plausible. Then there's the most approachable leader in the hall, representing A4 is Najib Khaidir. His remarkable leadership skill is most likely because he shares the name with the Prime Minister, or because he's a natural leader. Most likely the latter. A5 is represented by Dan, which I usually chat on our PSN accounts.

From left: Front row: Zahid, Din, Ikhwan, TJ, Fydo, Acap, Paeh
Second row: Mekjah, Lia, Jaja, Miss Sabrina, Liyana, Tina, Sandy, Tykah, Sh Husna
Third row: Mizz Nina, Alynn, Damia,  Sab, Mas, Ainaa, Atim, Zue, Azuin, Hajar O, Ecah, Diyana, Idayu
A few weeks left before I head off to UiTM Lendu, I would just like to thank all of the people who was there by my side. Hope we will meet each other again in the future.

'Till then.

Pictures credit in order to Rifqi Ghazali, Khans, Mag and Farah Asyiqin.

Friday, 9 May 2014

A Glimpse of the Future

Every time you drive your car, how often do you ponder on the small things that work in unison to drive you and your vehicle forwards? It’s the oily bits, the engine and the lot under the hood that’s doing all the mojo, which can be quite complicated for the uninitiated, but you don’t need a college degree to know it runs on petrol, or diesel if you drive a truck or lorry. Those who drive on a daily basis should know that it isn’t cheap filling up your tank with petrol, and with the increase of petrol prices and the high cost of living nowadays, it is imperative that an alternative, cheaper if possible, source of energy is needed, and that in itself is the conundrum that I personally think we are facing in the current status quo. A sustainable, relatively cheaper energy source to run our vehicles so that we won’t empty our pockets simply to ferry ourselves to work.

The Japanese automobile industries, namely Toyota, have taken a step forward in reducing the consumption of fuel in our everyday commute by introducing the hybrid technology in 1997 with the zippy family car, the Prius. After several improvements to the hybrid drivetrain over the years, the Prius is the most popular family hybrid sedan, in the world, though it has received so much resent from the petrolhead community for much unknown reasons. Other popular hybrids on our roads today are the likes of the Honda Insight, the famous sports hybrid Honda CR-Z, Jazz hybrids, Civic hybrids, a range of high end Audis mainly A5 onwards, a few BMWs with the ActiveHybrid badge.

Hybrids work by coupling an electric motor with a normal car engine to work hand in hand. At low speeds normally around 30kph, the internal combustion engine shuts down completely and the car cruises, or rather crawls around by the power of electricity. A battery feeds energy to an electric motor that spins the wheels, thus saving fuel and in turn, saving money! Another advantage is, during acceleration from a stop, where a normal combustion engine would guzzle a lot of fuel to get things going building up torque as the gear rises, the hybrid would start to drive forward using the electric motor with instantaneous torque, and when the car is at a suitable driving speed, the combustion engine kicks in taking over the drivetrain. A combustion engine takes in so much fuel during start-stop traffic like those in urban areas such as Kuala Lumpur that it severely reduces fuel economy. Plus, to add to the reduced fuel economy, start-stop traffic is highly strenuous to the parts of the engine.

So, why don’t we just switch off the combustion engine and just run on electricity? We could, and that could ultimately save a lot of our petrol cash, right? Well, sort of, because there’s a catch, it doesn’t last long. A typical hybrid could last around 30km to 40km per charge before the batteries dry out and the combustion engine takes over while charging them. A sub 40km range is sufficient for urban driving and it saves considerable amount of petrol cash, and it gives off less fumes too.

I’ve learned that short drives and cold starts are a factor of fast degradation in engine performance. Believe it or not, a 30km drive on the freeway is more economical and easy on the engine compared to a 5km journey to your office. I’ve done a small survey out of ten people around my area on the ranges they drive daily and the number of cold starts. Cold starts are when you first start your engine in the morning and drive without warming up the engine first.  Six out of ten reportedly drove below than 10km every morning simply to buy groceries, breakfast or simply sending their children to school. A short drive is very harmful to the internals of your car. Fuel economy would be the least of your concerns. Plus, have you ever had the thought of 1.5 tons of steel just carrying one person around? Doesn’t it sound like a waste of petrol, especially when one travels short distances just for relatively trivial errands?

Some readers might have already realized a few paragraphs earlier that the hybrid technology isn’t the silver bullet in reducing your petrol expenditure by much, but it might save relatively a lot for those short range drivers. So, what could be the next step to solve all these problems of trying to curb fuel expenditure and such?

It’s closer to you than you think, it’s coursing through your room, powering up all your devices. Yes, it’s electricity. Welcome everyone, to the future.

“But Syazwan, I thought you said electricity wasn’t reliable?”

Yes, I agree but to some extent. An electric car works almost similar to a hybrid; just without the petrol engine and it has a larger battery for more juice. There are a few prominent electric vehicle companies around the globe. The most prominent would be Tesla Motors. We have the Nissan Leaf on our shores, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

“How much would one of these set me back?”

Looks decent to me
Oh God! Who designed that?
Uhm, right, it’s around above RM100,000. Without insurance. Yes, it might sound ludicrous but if you consider it as a long time investment, it suddenly doesn’t sound so absurd. Consider this, charging up a flat battery to full, which gives you a maximum range of approximately 150km, costs you about RM3.50. A conventional petrol car, say a Golf GTi, needs around 12 litres of petrol to do 150km, and that costs around RM25 per fill at the current price. Imagine doing that for a year, how much you would save if you often travel around town and back. Let’s say, you charge it up every night, so RM3.50 x 30 x12 which gets you a yearly cost of RM1260. In comparison, you would fill your car, let’s say around 3 times a week. That would be RM25 x 3 x 4 x 12. Your yearly fuel consumption would be RM3600. You wouldn’t save much but it shows promise that you could cut costs. Plus, because it doesn’t have an engine, it has less moving parts, and your yearly maintenance costs are reduced. No cylinders, no filters, no pumps, not tailpipes, no exhaust fumes. You only need to change the brake fluids and the tyres. Road tax is charged by the lowest price possible, which is a frugal RM10, and the insurance is priced based on a 660cc engine. See, so there’s still some compromise between buying an electric car and a conventional petrol car.

All electric five-door sedan, Tesla Model S.

Let’s be realistic here, electric vehicles generally aren’t the most eye catching car on the roads, though the Tesla Model S looks very futuristic. It isn’t the most reliable vehicle for long distance driving. It isn’t as big as the other hatches. So, you might be wondering what might justify even a thought to buy one of these oversized golf carts.

In the future, technology would surpass all these cars we see now. Man will find more efficient ways to utilize energy, but before we reach that stage, this is the first leap into the future. We are the pioneers of the future automotive technology.  

The first all-electric supercar from the chaps at Affalterbach

Rewriting the meaning of sports cars
In the distant future, I am certain this EV tech could be perfected. You might not be saving much, but you’re actually saving much more. You are saving Mother Earth. But what’s more important is, when you buy an electric vehicle, you also buy a promise. 

A promise that even when there’s no other option, when the fuel sources are too expensive, too hard to find, the electric vehicles does at least show us cars will live on in our lives.