So anyway..

Just wanted to publish a post to let the 2-3 people coming daily know that this is not an abandoned blog. I’ve been pre-occupied the past couple of years (don’t ask me with what because I don’t know either).

On the photography front, I shot drifting for a few years. I don’t post my images much because I can never decide on which images to post.. and when I do, I have to post process them (everyone PPs, don’t lie to yourself), then I need to post them around (tracksyde.com, flickr, here, Facebook, etc) and then it just all starts to weigh on you.. like having the responsibility to care for your neighbors cat or something. Since my friend’s team is no longer drifting, it kind of took the fun out of it.. so I haven’t been shooting much drifting. I have been trying to get into landscape and stuff like that, but I haven’t actually gotten around to doing it (but I sure talk about it and think about it a lot, does that count?).

On the car front.. not much has changed.. I still think about putting my RX7 back together, but time is scarce. My G35 is still running strong.. not sure if I mentioned it before, but I’ve been rollin’ on KW Variant 3 coil-overs for the past few years. They are the G35 Coupe set.. for you G35 owners with Sport suspension, just let me say that my KW V3s ride better than the stock Sport suspension.

Oh, also something I been meaning to get off my chest.. I’m on my 3rd set of tires now.. I had Falken FK452s.. then Hankook V12 Evos.. and now Yokohama S-Drives.. the Falkens were whatevers.. I think they were loud and didn’t wear well (I only got like 10-12k out of the rears).. the Hankooks were the same as far as wear, but they were quiet, rode well, and handled well. The Yokohamas have lasted me 20k so far and I think I can still get another 7-10k out of them. They’re a little loud, but I’m much happier with these tires simply because they last a hell of a lot longer.

Anyway.. thats all for now..

Canon EOS 1n, 5D Mark II, and 7D Water Resistance

Reading various photography forums, you might believe that 90% of digital SLR toting photographers love to spend time shooting pictures in the rain. It seems to be one of those features people always claim to need. Additionally, whenever a manufacturer makes the claim of “water resistant”, the same people are quick to dismiss it as “weak” or “not good enough”.

I’ve seen rumored “specifications” thrown about. For example, some people perpetuate the rumor that a Canon EOS 5D Mark II can withstand 3, 5, 10, etc “inches of rain per hour”. Personally, I find that a very subjective measure (after all, what is rain? what size of rain drops are we talking?) and find it hard to believe that a company like Canon (or any company for that matter) would use such a gauge. It sounds like something a sales or marketing guy tossed out at a photo show once and has since perpetuated itself to become “fact”.

So in reading 5D Mark II and 7D marketing materials, they mention something to the effect of “weather and environmentally sealed like the Canon EOS 1n”. I have no idea what a Canon EOS 1n is. Film never did anything for me, so naturally, I never gave a crap about film bodies. I did find one “rumored specification” regarding the Canon 1n and the famed “rain per hour” though. It was on Photo.net in a Canon 1n review. The writer said that he heard the 1n could withstand “1/3 inch of rain per hour”. Now, that sounds more likely, although I’m still not believing in the whole “rain per hour” thing.

Digging a bit more, I found that the Canon EOS 3 was made with the same level of weather resistance as the Canon 1n. Since I couldn’t really find much about the 1n’s weather resistance, I wondered if I’d find anything about the Canon EOS 3. Although this is anecdotal, I did find this review of the Canon EOS 3. In it, here is what the author said in regard to weather sealing:

Weather Resistant Design • The body sports water and dust seals and is build to the same durability and sealing specs as the EOS 1N. For example, all buttons and dials use rubber gaskets to block out water droplets. The back door has a seal as well. Important electrical contacts are bipolar and gold plated. I’ve been caught in tropical downpours many times with my EOS 3 and A2. Not once did the EOS 3 jam or lockup. It just kept on tickin.’ The A2, in a similar downpour, ate it. Luckily it rose from the dead after drying out for a week! If you frequently shoot in wet or dusty conditions this camera should be able to take it. [emphasis mine]

Additionally, I found (at the Canon Camera Museum) that the Canon EOS 1v (the successor to the 1n and grandfather of the 1D digital bodies), was “required to be completely resistant to water, sand, and dust.” Completely resistant. Pretty strong words. Now, again, that was for the Canon EOS 1v, not the 1n, which is supposed to be the level of sealing for the 5D Mark II and 7D.

But I think its pretty safe to say that the 5D Mark II and 7D are undoubtedly “weather resistant”. Now, maybe you get caught in a flash tropical downpour (like the EOS 3 reviewer) or maybe its a light shower. Either way, I’m confident that the 7D (and the similarly sealed 5D Mark II) would be able to continue functioning.

Now, if you’re talking about standing out in a typhoon or hurricane, trying to get images of the eye of the storm, then that may not be the case and you should perhaps invest in a Canon EOS 1D or 1Ds body.

What I wonder is, all these people thinking they need “true” weather sealing and water resistance.. do you guys carry a raincoat with you where ever you go? Is the cell phone you carry equally water resistant?

Another One Bites the Dust: Sport Compact Car Magazine is no more..

Wow.. one after another.. Sport Compact Car has now joined the ranks of Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance Magazine. Poof, just like that.. 115 people laid off by Source Interlink. I guess with a stock price of $0.17, everyone should’ve known it was coming.

I still have one of the original issues of Sport Compact Car, before it was bought by who ever bought them back in the early 90s. Back then, it featured a lot of So Cal local cars that frequented the street races.. three that come to mind are Shoreline Racing’s (local street racing crew) 1985 Mugen Honda CRX (complete with Mugen widebody), Sammy Ho’s 1986 or 87 Honda CRX Si with 16″ SSR Neos and the legendary 1988 Toyota twin-charged MR2 (I want to say his name was Dean, but I dont think that’s right..). Around 1993, I was personally on-hand to witness the twin-charged MR2 smoke the crap out of a motorcycle (of course, the motorcycle gave the MR2 a “flying 10 car” start). I’ll have to dig it up sometime and scan some pages for old time’s sake. I never really read SCC after they were bought out (the first time).. so I can’t say I’ll miss it.

In any case, now the import automotive performance community is left with Super Street, Modified Magazine, and of course, our favorite, DSPORT Magazine.

Acura Honda Navigation (Black) DVD Update v2.50.. My Impressions


We’ve had our 2003 Honda Pilot since it was new. We bought it December or 2002 from Gardena Honda (which sucks, by the way). I really wanted an Acura MDX, but since they were essentially overpriced Honda Pilots, I couldnt bring myself to part with the money. Instead, we opted for a fully-loaded Honda Pilot. It was our first experience with GPS navigation.

I find that I love to use it. Even if I don’t need it, I have to hit the ‘OK’ button and when I get a chance, I often find myself watching the little red arrow navigate around the line drawings of the map. I’m always looking for opportunities to use it. Call me a geek, but for $2500 or whatever it costs, I’m going to use it as much as possible.

Anyhow, through the years, our maps on the navi DVD have gotten old. If you live in an older, more developed part of the country, its probably fine and you could probably continue using the same map from 5 years ago. However, since I live in Orange County, CA (closer to the southern end), new roads and housing developments were popping up every year. Its actually pretty frustrating to look for a non-existent address, knowing you paid $2500 for a GPS based navigation system that you can’t use.

I had often looked into purchasing the DVD from Alpine/Acura/Honda, but couldn’t bring myself to part with the cash. Each time I’d convince myself that I didn’t really need it. In more recent times, I convinced myself that it would be OK to even use my portable GPS in the car in those times when I knew we would be heading to “uncharted” territory.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend bought the new navi DVD for his Nissan Armada. I didnt think it was worth it since his navi DVD was only 2 years old. But to my surprise, it had maps for many areas that always bothered me about my 5 year old navigation DVD maps. Not only that, but the points-of-interests (POIs) were all updated too. Now you could actually find stores, restaurants, etc that were built in the past few years. So I finally broke down and did it. I bought the Acura/Honda Navigation DVD v2.50 (my original DVD was v2.05b). This is the infamous BLACK DVD. Honda thought it would be cool to color code their DVDs.. so there’s Orange, Blue, and White. Unfortunately for me, the black navigation DVD was only used over a span of about 4 years, starting in 2002 in some Acuras and ending in 2005 in the Honda Pilot (I think the Odyssey even got the Blue DVD in 2005).

If you’re looking for a comprehensive review or to find out if the street you live on in Kansas is in this update, I’m sorry for making you read this far before telling you that it ain’t gonna happen. What I will tell you, however, is that the maps are much more detailed. At the normal zoom level (2nd from the closest zoom), there are more street names that appear on the screen. I think at that zoom level, you also see more street level detail. I also noticed you see much more “green”. Large roads are more detailed in that it shows the left side and right side of the street (shown as 2 parallel lines). The navigation unit also responds much faster. Let me say that again THE NAVIGATION UNIT RESPONDS MUCH FASTER. If you don’t need the maps, thats great, but everyone needs the damn firmware update. Too bad Alpine/Acura/Honda makes you spend $180+shipping to get it.

All in all, I find it to be a worthwhile upgrade. In fact, after using it this evening, I couldnt help but to wonder why I didnt buy it sooner. If Acura/Honda were better about explaining the differences, I probably would have.

You “computer types” will also be happy to know that upon receiving my new Acura/Honda Navigation DVD v2.50, the first thing I did was to make a backup. I have my original stored in a safe place and the back-up DVD is working fine in my navigation unit. If you need help backing-up your Acura/Honda Navigation DVD, drop me a comment here with your email (email addresses aren’t shown to the public) and I’ll get back to you (hint: it involves a dual layer DVD+R, Verbatim if possible, and an ISO of the disc). If you have specific questions related to the Acura/Honda Navigation DVD v2.50 (Black), then drop me a comment and I’ll try to test it out for you.

I’m doing this because I couldnt find the damn info myself and I know how much that sucks.

Update: I get a lot of requests from people who would like to test out a newer navigation DVD.. I’ve tried to make more back-ups and I don’t know if its just my nav DVD unit, but it seems my back-up discs are a little hit-and-miss. What I mean is, I may burn 5 DVDs, and 3 of them work great, 1 maybe not so great and 1 maybe not at all. I only bought a 10-pack of the dual-layer Verbatim DVD+R discs when I tried to make my backup. So it could be any number of things or a combination of the following:

1. The navigation DVD player in our Pilot has gotten old and finicky as to what DVDs it likes to play.. I should also point out that now, when I put in the original disc, it seems its a little finicky sometimes too.. so the navigation DVD player is a strong culprit

2. My DVD-RW drive just isnt cut out for burning dual-layer Honda Navigation DVDs.. I think I have an LG.. I never tried burning it on another one of the many other DVD-RW drives I have at home (laptops, other desktops, etc).. the disc image is on my desktop, so I always tried burning with my desktop

3. I got a bad batch of DVD+R DL Verbatim discs.. probably small chance.. but who knows.. maybe the batch I have doesnt like LG drives.. maybe it doesnt like the software I’m using.. who knows

4. My technique isnt right.. its not really rocket science, is it? Its data that takes up like 8GB of disc space.. so I really dont put much weight on burning technique.. but from what I’ve read, some will swear by writing at max speed (4x I think), others claim writing at 1x is the most sure-fire way. I think I’ve tried both and although I didnt write down my process or observations, from what I recall, one way wasnt any better than another way.. but thats not to say technique may not figure into the grand scheme of things.. maybe it will matter, but with a combination of other things (like right temperature, phase of the moon, etc)

A number of you have reached out to me to test my theories.. and since I’m not as inclined to test any further, I may be able to help provide a disc image that you can try to perfect your technique. I asked you guys to drop me a comment.. which is probably the best way, but I get so much spam in the comments its hard to filter out.. and it makes me lazy to check comments, so I dont do it very often.. so if you’re in a hurry, you might want to look else where.. sorry.. if you’re not in a hurry, then leave a comment

Updating my theme.. Done

I had been using the same theme for.. oh, I dunno.. 4 years? So as WordPress has been updated, my theme has worked, but it was missing some of the added functionality that newer versions of WordPress offered.. so I’m updating my theme.. I went to WordPress Themes and picked out a few I liked (mainly 3 column layouts).. I played with a couple which didnt really work, then I tried to modify my AdSense and I think I screwed something up.. so although I’m working on it now.. if its not fixed by the time you read this.. you know why..

Update: Its usable.. I still have some edits to make, but for the most part, it looks OK.. I dont really follow WordPress development.. but with the release of v2.3 or maybe v2.2, WordPress will notify you via your admin screen when you’re due for an update.. so on the rare occassion I sit down and update WordPress, I’m always amazed at the WordPress community and all the plug-ins and widgets that people create.. this theme is based on WuCoco designed by Mike Lococo. Thanks, Mike.