It’s been years since I’ve gone to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, so had considered doing so this year as I could grab a cheap airfare or would likely just drive there as I’m only 4.5 hours away! With other commitments I found myself unable to go to CES, so this morning I went on the hunt for good videos from the show, and came across ones from CNET at their dedicated CES website.
As much as I was delighted to find that site and it is filled with excellent videos from the tens of thousands of products at CES, I must admit that I’ve got a love-hate relationship with CNET though, even though I fully realize they (like most media companies) are struggling to find the sweet-spot on making money vs. pissing off their visitors to the point they’ll stop visiting:
- Their websites are a nightmare of popups, snarly ads, and visual noise which are especially bad when reading on my iPad.
- For years their “CNET Downloads” site saw near-malware installation on PCs and Macs and I spent many hours cleaning (or helping clean) people’s systems who inadvertently trusted them.
So even though their dedicated CES website is organized very well and it’s easy to find specifically what might interest you, instead of the website you might want to go to CNET TV channel on YouTube instead.
If you don’t want to go poke around their site, embedded below is their “Best of CES 2020” recap you’ll likely find interesting:
Today is Saturday, November 16, 2019 and my wife, son and I were going to take off for a family luncheon event. I went in to the garage to move the Honda Clarity so they could climb in easily, and I was stunned to discover…
…that for THE FOURTH TIME SINCE JUNE the Clarity would NOT START!
The dealer, Rancho Santa Margarita Honda, has had the car for a total of 15 days at their facility since I purchased it, they’ve gone through the car at length, and cannot determine what’s wrong.
After the last time it didn’t start at the end of October, the Service Drive Manager, Doug Jezowski, promised me he’d contact Honda and have a field service engineer (FSE) come out to examine the car. I dropped it off on Tuesday, November 5th so they could perform the 10,000 mile service a bit early, and so the FSE would have time to do his magic diagnosis.
After having the car for four days, Doug called me on Saturday the 9th to tell me that “the FSE can’t come out just yet and it might be another two weeks or so” and that I could come over and pick up the car.
To say I am filled with rage is an understatement!!!!!!
I don’t trust the car. Can’t count on it starting or, after this happened three days after I bought the car, my wife won’t drive it and I’m leery of the car and its performance. But the car not starting is a fucking joke for a car that retails for nearly $38,000.
Here is what happened each time my car won’t start:
Lemon Law Attorneys
On Monday I’m going to pull together all paperwork and formally engage with a Los Angeles law firm that specializes in California lemon law. At this point I just want Honda to buy the car back since they do not seem to give a shit about whether or not they fix the car.
Other Honda Clarity Complaints
Here are others having the same issues:
- National Highway Transportation Safety Administration complaints about the 2018 and 2019 Honda Clarity PHEV
- InsideEV forum on Honda Clarity problems
- Honda Clarity forum on problems
My Own Fault for Trusting Honda
Then there’s this old clip from the movie Animal House which sums up how I’m feeling … and identifying with Flounder as fraternity rush chairman, “Otter” (played by Tim Matheson), puts his arm around him and says this:
This was amusing and thought you’d like to watch it … especially if you get flummoxed with technology!
Last Friday afternoon I hopped in to my car to run errands after not having driven the car for two days (I’m heads-down on a project so didn’t go anywhere). Pushing the Power On button did … nothing. “Oh shit!” I thought, “the Clarity is dead again!”
So for the second time in the month of September, I contacted Honda Roadside Assistance and they dispatched a tow truck to give me a jump. As it was nearly 5pm the dealer, Rancho Santa Margarita Honda, couldn’t see the car until Monday. It is now Tuesday afternoon and they need to order a part (the “battery charge monitoring system”) and will keep the vehicle until Wednesday.
This is getting ridiculous. My wife won’t drive the car after our first incident, and now I don’t trust the car being able to start if it sits for more than a day. Also, my confidence in the dealership is low, as-is my belief in American Honda doing the right thing and fixing this car.
I’m doing three things to go forward:
- Working with Honda Customer Support who has assigned a Regional Case Manager so we’ll see if that individual can finally be effective and take some action.
- Contacted Tesla to see what they’d give me for a trade-in on the Clarity for a Model 3 Long Range.
- Contacted the Ana Brown, Customer Relations Manager at American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
So we’ll see what happens next.
Admittedly I’m a technology snob. I’ve always purchased relatively good DSLR cameras, high end computers and devices, excellent microphones and sound editing gear, and have tried to find the sweet-spot of best quality vs. price.
When it comes to cameras, however, I’m always torn about taking a bag with the camera, two lenses, and a tripod with me to shoot photos. It’s too much bother and fuss, even though the images I can capture are outstanding!
A few years ago we went, as a family, to Italy. I wanted to enjoy the trip and knew that it would be hot and I would not want to carry a big bag with lenses, or even a single, big DSLR camera with one “walking around lens,” an 18-200mm one that would cover what I’d likely need on our trip.
Instead I purchased the best small travel camera on the market at the time (and arguably still the best travel camera as Sony just released version 7), the Sony RX100 M2. While the “reach” of this camera’s lense was not what I wanted, the photo quality was unbelievably good and I got some good photos on the trip.
So with upcoming trips in 2020 — and no desire to carry my big Nikon on any of them — I decided to purchase the Sony RX100 M7 which now does have a better lense, microphone input and other great features. I even had it in my Amazon cart with all of its accessories and the cart total was close to $2,200.
THE IPHONE 11 PRO MAX
Then I watched the Apple September 2019 keynote where the new iPhone 11 series was introduced and I made my decision: I would preorder the iPhone 11 Pro Max with 512GB of storage and NOT buy the Sony RX100M7.
Wait just a dang second Borsch … what!?!
For quite some time I’ve been watching the acceleration of computational photography and have realized we are at (or very close to) the tipping point where smartphones will supplant every kind of photo capture device except for truly high-end, professional cameras.
In fact, check out this paper and the video on this page about 3D rendering and creating a “Ken Burns effect” from *a single image* as it shows what’s possible computationally with photography.
One could argue we are already there, what with camera company sales down trending dramatically, according to a brilliant tech analyst and writer Om Malik. Om wrote this post about the down trending of camera sales and included this graph:
One of Om’s reasons for this decline is the acceleration in smartphone sales and the “good enough” quality of images shot on these devices. While I recoil at the thought of millions of muddy, not sharp, bad color photos being shot by hundreds of millions of us around the world, this is the future of photography whether we “prosumers” or “pros” want it or not.
Having heard this (possibly apocryphal) response by a professional photographer to a novice who had asked, “What’s the best camera I should buy?” and the pro’s response was, “The one you have with you” have made me realize how many times I’ve been somewhere when a great photo opportunity has presented itself.
Yes, this is a glib response to a legitimate question, but one thing is clear: If you don’t have your camera with you, you are unable to take any kind of photo and almost all of us have our smartphones with us all the time. I know I do.
So when I saw the computational photography capability of the new iPhone 11 Pro Max, I knew that I’d have to buy it and not buy the Sony RX100 M7.
By the way, I still often go out with my sole intention of taking photographs and schlep all of my gear with me. But now that I have tripods and a gimbal for my iPhone (and have had them for some time), now that I will be able to take better quality photographs I’ll use these accessories even more.
Food for thought…
Thought I’d write a quick update as a full post, rather than update yesterday’s post here.
Since the battery was dead in my Clarity so I couldn’t start the car, I called Honda Roadside Assistance. The tow truck driver did jump the car and it started, but there was something obviously wrong so I had the car towed to my dealer, Rancho Santa Margarita Honda, on Tuesday in the early afternoon.
Finally, after TWO DAYS of repeated calling and talking to several of the service advisors to find out what was going on with my car (there were seemingly multiple advisors on my car and no one returned my phone calls promptly or had answers) I picked up the car late yesterday after calling-in to talk to the general manager of the store to get some action.
The punchline? Is the car fixed? I have no idea but suspect it is not. Why? Because there is NO explanation as to why the battery was completely dead. Or why the check-engine light was on four times in July and August with the same error codes. Forget about any explanation on all the other issues I’ve had like this dangerous one after only a few days with the car.
The fix? Basically the service tech “reset” the car by clearing the codes, reset the steering and braking sensor system, but apparently did not identify any root problems with the control systems in the car. There were no software updates required (or performed) and apparently no aberrations or issues uncovered, even though there were several error codes and all of them show that there is some issue with the car’s internal communications system (likely bugs in the software and/or problems in the communication bus within the car itself):
- P1D00 – All CAN Malfunction Battery Condition Monitor Module – CAN is the bus and it talks over the powertrain control module (PCM). My guess all along is that there was some kind of fundamental bug in the software control system which is spawning errors.
- U0100 – Lost Communication with ECM/PCM “A” – More of those “lost” communication problems.
- U1204 – Invalid or Missing Data for Steering Column – The Transmission Range Sensor (also referred to as the PRNDL input an/or neutral safety switch) tells the transmission control module (TCM) an the engine control module (PCM) that the transmission is in park, reverse, neutral, drive, low, 2nd, 3rd etc.
- U1600 Reverse Input Circuit – The reason for a U1600 error is to cause the service tech to check system wiring, connectors, or other electrical components which are subject to failure. Another reason why I think there is a computer system malfunction within the car itself.
In my printed receipt, here is what they gave me showing what they found and the action they took to “fix” my problems:
After reading this Inside EV forum thread about others with goofy Clarity electronic issues, my level of confidence in the Clarity is at an all-time low, after only three months with the car and 4,600 miles.
I’m going to give it two weeks and, if there are continued problems, I’ll ask Honda to buy back the car or I’ll sell it on the secondary market (or likely trade it in on a Tesla Model 3).
To be continued…
My Honda Clarity is dead.
No, this is not a post about the fact that Honda has pulled back the Clarity PHEV from multiple states to only California. It’s also not because my confidence in the Clarity is low after owning this car for only a few days and then this happened. Or that my wife says, “Just so you know, I am NEVER driving that car!”
Instead the reason I’m saying the Clarity is dead is because, after a long Labor Day weekend with it parked in the garage, I went out two hours ago to run errands in the car and NOTHING on the car worked!
Sigh…I verified it has a fully charged 17kw battery from being plugged in while we were away but I couldn’t get anything on the car to work. Once I unplugged the car and shut the plugin’s door, even THAT would not open. The 4-way flashers were dead. I couldn’t even put the car in neutral to move it out of the garage. There was no charge in the car at all and, like a desktop computer with a bad power supply, the car was not going to “boot up.”
Called Honda’s Roadside Assistance and they arranged to have it towed to the dealership from where I bought the car. That gave me time to read several forum posts about others who have had this same issue, but people said it’s due to dealers not keeping the 12V battery charged up on their lots caused the battery to drain and die. My car had just come in days before I bought it, so that’s highly doubtful.
Adding to my frustrations with this car is that the check engine light comes on frequently and the dealer sees no error codes or anything wrong when I have them look at it. My only conclusion is that this is one poorly engineered automobile.
First car I’ve owned in all my decades on this earth that I haven’t been able to just get in and drive, all while ensuring I maintain it properly. I’m constantly fretting over the Clarity and am wondering when the next issue will appear … but I didn’t expect this on a brand new car with just over 4,000 miles on it.
Unfortunately American Honda’s escalated customer service folks have been no help at all with any of these issues (and are likely instructed to ‘admit nothing’ to ensure Honda isn’t opened-up to any liability). The dealer is great, but they just shrug and say, “Ah…we don’t see anything wrong.”
Guess I should have bought that Tesla Model 3 after all.
In just eight months I’ve had three pair of the $250 (now $199) Bose Sleepbuds. The first pair ‘lost’ connection in the right sleepbud after a few months. I brought the complete product back to the Bose store in the Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, CA, and the staff not only didn’t bat-an-eye when I asked if I could exchange them, they glanced at each other and one of them immediately gave me a completely new shrink-wrapped complete product.
I was surprised but pleased. But that super-easy return made me immediately suspect that Bose knew they had a big problem with these sleepbuds and just gave away a new product to anyone who complained.
Two months later I had to do another exchange and get a second new pair and I’m now on my third pair of Bose Sleepbuds which are now unusable. Sigh…
So I joined the Bose Community to see if others had the problem and if there was something I’d not yet done to fix it (as a techie I know to run updates, reset, delete and redownload the mobile app, etc. which I’d already done … multiple times). Nothing would fix it.
Then I posted this as a new thread for discussion and to get some help:
As a techie I am overly careful with devices like my noise-masking sleepbuds (and case) while ensuring that they are clean, charged properly, updated immediately (e.g., case firmware), and otherwise handled with care. I adore what these sleepbuds do for my sleep, but have since learned that they only work for a couple of months.
So when, some months ago, my few-months-old sleepbuds saw that the right bud stopped charging fully. I brought the buds, case and all pieces to the Bose store in Irvine Spectrum Center (Irvine, CA). Told the guys what happened and they instantly returned it and gave me a new one! I was surprised, but quite pleased that they did that.
Less than two months later the exact same thing happened, this time with the left sleepbud. I updated the case firmware and both buds, and everything was fine for a week or so. Then it happened again with the right bud not charging. I took it back to the Irvine Bose store and you guess it … they replaced it *again*!
It’s now been six weeks or so and two days ago the left bud would only charge to 38%. It didn’t get me through the night, but was still workable as I could get to sleep. Did you guess that it now is only charging to 1%? Yep…so my third pair of sleepbuds have stopped working.
This is SO frustrating for a gift my wife gave me that cost her $300. It’s the only Bose product I’ve ever owned that I’ve not been consistently over-the-moon and also a product that lasted years.
I’ve read this community forum frequently trying to figure out what I might be doing wrong, but when I handle this device gently, keep it updated and clean and it still doesn’t perform, I can only surmise that it is just plain bad engineering.
If anyone from Bose is reading this and has any suggestions — and please don’t give me links to support docs since I’ve done EVERYTHING in all your troubleshooting guides — then I’m open to real solutions. Otherwise I guess I’ll take them back to the Bose store AGAIN and have them replace them for me so I can get another 6-8 weeks to find another, reliable solution.
So what did Bose do? One of their “community admins” (moderator) merged it with another thread that supposedly contained the solution … one that did not work for me so I still have an unreliable product.
They did NOT offer me any kind of personal response. There was no link to a post in the private message the “community admin” sent me. I tried to reply to it with a copy and paste of his message to me, but the HTML in it was refused and my 2nd attempt to message did not go through and resulted in an error message that I was “over my private message limit”. Holy shit this is poorly managed.
There is a “Phone Free” mode which seems to make the sleepbuds function … but I lose the alarm and other phone-connected functions (and the right sleepbud still disconnects) so that’s not a great solution.
So I think now my only course of action is to pack up my current sleepbuds and drive half an hour over to the Bose store to return them … this time to get our money back vs. exchanging them. My wife bought them for my December 2018 birthday and it’s been less than a year, so they definitely should refund us.
So Bose … if anyone bothers to read this post, you’ve got to step-up your game and learn how to perform customer support. I know this isn’t a huge sale at $250, but I’m about to go out and buy a sound bar for my expensive Sony 4K TV, and I will not be considering Bose because of this incident and how you handled it. Perhaps it’s time to bury your remaining sleepbud inventory in a landfill.
President Trump tweeted this morning that “Apple will not be given Tariff waiver, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China. Make them in USA, no Tariffs!” Perhaps he doesn’t know that every time he does something like this we all laugh at him?
Unfortunately, Trump’s basic understanding of technology — and which country has the manufacturing capability to even make the required components for the new Mac Pro — is laughingly ignorant.
According to CNBC, Trump says Apple will not be given tariff waivers or relief for Mac Pro parts made in China:
Apple asked for waivers on tariffs on the Mac Pro. Apple said it wanted to be exempt on some parts it uses for the new Mac Pro, including a power supply unit, the stainless-steel enclosure, finished mice and trackpads and circuit boards.
“There are no other sources for this proprietary, Apple-designed component,” Apple said in a filing.
Apple said in June that tariffs on its products will reduce its contribution to the U.S. economy. In a letter to U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, Apple said tariffs would “also weigh on Apple’s global competitiveness” since Chinese companies compete with the products Apple builds. Trump met with Apple CEO Tim Cook in June to discuss trade.
Just a suggestion, @realDonaldTrump, but before you tweet would you at least ask someone in the White House — who has above a grade-schooler’s understanding of technology, manufacturing, and who can even make certain stuff in the USA — what is feasible and what isn’t?
TechCrunch reported today that US attorney general William Barr says Americans should accept security risks of encryption backdoors and this idea is a very, very bad one. There is NO FUCKING WAY that I will allow my devices to have a backdoor in them … ever … and please note: this is NOT about me maintaining my social media, email or chat privacy. This is about protecting MY data and MY personal and client accounts.
If the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Medicaid, Army, Office of Personnel Management, Department of Defense — and companies with their business and reputations at stake — can’t keep hackers out of their systems, how will the government protect a backdoor?
Check out this list of breaches on Wikipedia which starts out with this in the opening paragraphs, and scroll down to see how many companies and governmental organizations have been breached:
It is estimated that in the first half of 2018 alone, about 4.5 billion records were exposed as a result of data breaches. In 2019, a collection of 2.7 billion identity records, consisting of 774 million unique email addresses and 21 million unique passwords, was posted on the web for sale.
If a backdoor is legislated to be put in our smartphones, tablets and computers, I can absolutely guarantee that it will get out in to “the wild” and be used by blackhat hackers, regardless of what NON-TECHIES like Barr and Trump spout off about in rallies or articles.
Like CGPGrey has said, “There’s no way to build a digital lock that only angels can open and demons cannot. Anyone saying otherwise is either ignorant of the mathematics or less of an angel than they appear.” I submit that most leaders are not only ignorant of both the math and why it is not technically feasible to put a backdoor in to encryption, they only care that we can keep governmental (and hacker!) prying eyes out of our most sensitive information.
One glance at my iPhone shows that there are numerous apps that could destroy me financially and potentially provide access to my LastPass password manager … allowing subsequent access to nearly 2,000 passwords for clients and every website I’ve signed in to in the past. For example these apps being compromised:
- Charles Schwab with access to my entire portfolio
- Wells Fargo with access to my wife and my accounts
- My Bitcoin wallet
- My Apple Wallet with multiple credit cards and Apple Store cards with money in them
- Signal communication app — which protects our communications when my wife, kids or myself are traveling overseas
- My LastPass app with connections to my password vault…
- …and too many more.
I could go on and on but let me have John Oliver amusingly inform you about the realities of having the government put a backdoor in and defeat encryption: