Review: 2014 Mazda CX-9 GT AWD – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on October 22, 2014 by itnerd

The interior of the Mazda CX-9 GT AWD combines a luxury feel with the need to carry multiple people.

IMG_0524The driver and passenger seats are power adjustable and heated. They are also bolstered, but the seats are on the wide side for me. For a female perspective, I brought in my wife and she loved the seats.

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The controls for the windows, mirrors and doors are on the drivers side door. Not the chrome and wood accents which really adds an upscale feel to the CX-9.

IMG_0516To the right of the steering wheel are controls to turn off the safety systems as well as to open the hatch and control the dash lighting.

IMG_0517Two things about the footwell stand out for me. One: There’s a dead pedal. Two, there’s a mechanical parking brake. Bonus points to Mazda for having both.

IMG_0548The steering wheel is leather wrapped and has redundant controls for the infotainment system. I found it to be slightly too thin. For a female perspective, I brought in my wife who found the thickness to be fine.

IMG_0518The gauges are clear and easy to read. Though you cannot see it here, it will also show what gear the six speed transmission is in. Nice touch!

IMG_0519The first time I started the CX-9, I couldn’t find the start button. Instead, I used this knob to start the crossover. I thought that it was dumb to not have a start button, until I figured out what Mazda was up to….

IMG_0544…. If you remove the cap, you can use the redundant key in the keyfob to start the CX-9. The use case is that if the batteries in the keyfob go dead. You’re not stuck someplace unable to drive. Clever!

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The center console is interesting. At the top is a display (in red which is a bit of a trademark for Mazda) that show left and right front passenger temperature, clock, and fuel economy. In the middle is the infotainment system and below that are the HVAC controls which are dual zone.

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Below that is a classy looking shift lever and a pair of cupholders…

IMG_0540….That you can see hold my Venti Starbucks coffee without an issue. You’ll also notice on the right that there’s a door to cover the cupholders.

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Behind the cupholders is a decent sized storage area with a 12V, USB, and 1/8″ jack.

IMG_0523The glovebox is on the small side though.

IMG_0525The second row seats split s60/40 and can slide forward to give those in the third row more room, or slide back to give themselves more room. Pulling the handle at the side of the seats….

IMG_0528Allows quick access to the third row. It’s big enough that you could have adults sit back there in a pinch and not complain as long as the second row passengers co-operate by moving their seats forward. Another note: The rear doors open wide for easy entry and exit.

IMG_0527The second row has this flip down tray with a pair of cupholders and some storage that you can use if you don’t need to seat three people.

IMG_0526Second row passengers get their own HVAC controls.

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Third row passengers get cupholders on each side of the CX-9.

IMG_0545Audio for all passengers is provided by Bose.

IMG_0530Cargo capacity is a big selling point of the CX-9. With all the seats up, you get a decent amount of space…..

IMG_0531…. But put the third row down, you get even more space…..

IMG_0553…. And for some context, here’s what our weekly grocery haul looks like. As you can see, there’s tons of space left over.

IMG_0535There’s also underfloor storage that will prove very handy for most.

IMG_0532Plus there are cargo hooks spread around the cargo area…..

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…..Along with a 12V outlet that is handy to have.

IMG_0537The rear hatch is motorized and has a button to close it as well as a handle in the location it should be in to keep your hands clean.

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There is a moonroof for the front passengers as well.

The surfaces that you touch are a mix of hard and soft materials. Plus the fit and finish is excellent. Everything that the driver could possibly need falls easily to hand as well. In short, everything interior wise is well thought through.

In part four of this review, I will cover the technology in the car. Stay tuned!

Apple Releases Support Document To Combat Chinese Man In The Middle Attack

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 21, 2014 by itnerd

Yesterday I posted a note on a Chinese based man in the middle attack that was harvesting iCloud logins and passwords. Apple has responded by posting a new support document on how to protect yourself from this sort of attack. It details how to verify that you’re logging into iCloud rather than a fake iCloud server via your web browser. It’s written extremely well and I believe that any user should be able to follow these directions. If you have an iCloud account, I strongly suggest that you look at this document on top of using two factor authentication to keep yourself safe.

WiFi Problems Persist On iOS 8.1

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 21, 2014 by itnerd

Yesterday I installed iOS 8.1. At the time, I noted that my iPhone 5s was better able to connect to my 5 GHz network. Prior to iOS 8, if it connected to my network at all it would connect to the 2.4 GHz network. So the behavior has changed. What hasn’t changed is that my iPhone 5s still has difficulty connecting to networks with marginal signal strength. Something that I first reported here. Thus my impression is that Apple has made some steps forward, but work still remains in terms of getting WiFi under iOS 8 to the level it was at under iOS 7.

Review: 2014 Mazda CX-9 GT AWD – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on October 21, 2014 by itnerd

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This is the 3.7L V6 that motivates the CX-9. You read that correctly. It’s a V6 and its the only one in Mazda’s line up. It puts out 273 horsepower and 270 pound feet of torque. All that power goes to an all-wheel-drive system that shunts power between 100:0 and 50:50 to deliver optimum drive power to each wheel. A six speed transmission helps the engine get the power to the wheels. This combo performs very well. It’s quick to get up to speed and has lots of power to get around slower moving cars on the highway. If power is what you’re looking for, the CX-9 has plenty of it.

For a big 7 passenger crossover it feels like it’s anything but that. It feels sure footed and handles well. It feels on the firm side with some compliance over bumps and the like. While it isn’t a MX-5, turn in is sharp and direct. Though I will note that the weight of the steering wheel is lighter than other Mazda’s that I have driven. Though, I do not think that most will complain. The only thing that makes it way into the cabin in terms of sound is very low amounts of wind noise at highway speeds. Tire noise seemed very well muted. You’ll hear it if you go looking for it, and quite honestly you will be more likely to hear the “thump” of expansion joints on the road rather than hearing tire noise. The exhaust note is a somewhat muted growl under acceleration. That’s a very nice touch. Visibility is also excellent from the drivers seat as there was nothing that impaired my vision in any direction. I wasn’t expecting that and that meant that I could back up without having to use the backup camera if I so choose. I should also mention that side mirrors are big and really makes it easy for me to see what’s around me.

The only thing that could come close to being a negative is the fuel economy. I am currently getting 13.7L per 100/KM. While I do admit to driving in mostly stop and go rush hour traffic which is a great way to hammer fuel economy, I was hoping to do better. I am thinking that this will improve as the week goes on. I should note that it does use regular gas which means it is wallet friendly.

Tomorrow, I will look at the interior in detail. It’s got a lot going for it if you carry a lot of people or stuff on a regular basis. Stay tuned!

China Behind Man In The Middle Attack On iCloud

Posted in Products with tags on October 20, 2014 by itnerd

If it wasn’t clear that you should enable two factor authentication on your iCloud account, here’s a very good reason. The Chinese have been accused of being behind a man in the middle attack where they would intercept user names and passwords. Here is a link to the details including the fact that this coincides with the launch of the iPhone in China. The purpose of this attack is unknown. But it cannot be good. Thus you should take precautions.

iOS 8.1 Relased To The Planet…… So Far, So Good.

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 20, 2014 by itnerd

As promised in last week’s Apple event, Apple has released iOS 8.1 to the planet. In my case, the download was 177 MB but required 2.2 GB of free space to install. That meant that once again I had to zap a ton of stuff to install it as I have a 16GB iPhone 5s. But other than that annoyance, the install was uneventful.

One thing that I noticed immediately is that my WiFi issues that had been plaguing me since going to iOS 8 appear to be gone. My iPhone 5s would connect to my WiFi network and stay connected without a hassle. That is a very welcome improvement. I can’t find anything wrong just yet. But I will let you know if I do.

Key additions and improvements include:

  • Apple Pay support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (U.S. only)
  • iCloud Photo Library as a beta service
  • Camera Roll album in Photos app and My Photo Stream album when iCloud Photo Library is not enabled
  • Adds the ability for iPhone users to send and receive SMS and MMS text messages on from their iPad and Mac
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent connections to Bluetooth hands-free devices
  • Fixes bugs that could cause screen rotation to stop working
  • Fixes an issue in Safari where videos would sometimes not play
  • Adds an option to select between 2G, 3G, or LTE networks for cellular data
  • Adds AirDrop support for Passbook passes
  • Adds an option to enable Dictation in Settings for Keyboards, Separate from Siri
  • Enables HealthKit apps to access data in the background

I’m currently looking for any other changes from iOS 8. If you spot any, please post a comment below.

Review: Apple OS X Yosemite – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on October 20, 2014 by itnerd

Now that I’ve got OS X Yosemite installed, I can speak to the key improvements and features that most users will notice right away. One thing to keep in mind is that as far as I can tell, there is no performance penalty that I can discern which is a good thing. Now, to the key improvements and new features:

  • Continuity is my favorite feature in Yosemite. I can start an e-mail on my iPhone and continue it on my Mac. Or I can answer a phone call that is coming into my iPhone on my Mac if my iPhone isn’t at hand. I can even start surfing the web on my iPhone and continue surfing on my Mac. This makes the Mac and iOS devices one coherent unit as opposed to two separate devices, which I think users will appreciate. Yosemite now has a iOS 8 look and feel to it which will help that coherent feeling.
  • A new feature is Dark Mode which turns some aspects of the OS a much darker shade of grey, to make it more comfortable to use your Mac in dim lighting. Seeing as I use my MacBook Pro on planes and trains often, this is a handy feature.
  • For the first time, you’ll actually have a reason to use Notification Center. This iteration has a Today panel that is just like iOS 8’s Notification Centre. It displays your Calendar appointments, the weather, world clock, and other elements you choose. And it supports third party widgets too.
  • Spotlight has been vastly improved. Besides helping you to find whatever is on your hard drive, you can type in the name of a movie and you’ll get a thumbnail image and a plot summary with credits courtesy of Wikipedia. If you type in the name of a restaurant or hotel, Spotlight will display a  map along with details of the establishment and reviews from Yelp. Handy!
  • The new Safari seems minimal at first, but there’s a lot of change that makes Safari a lot like what you would find on iOS 8. Ditto for iTunes. Users of iDevices will feel right at home. Users who have never seen an iDevice may be in for a bit of an adjustment.
  • Mail doesn’t look any different. But it is. The first way it’s different is Mail Drop which allows you to send attachments up to 5GB in size to anyone via iCloud. The second way it’s different is that Mail now supports third party extensions so that you can add additional functionality.
  • Calendar looks and feels like its counterpart in iOS 8.
  • You can FINALLY use AirDrop to transfer items from say your iDevice to your Mac. If they could get this functionality to work with PCs, it would be amazing. But I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to happen.

And the best part of this is that this is a FREE upgrade. Thus there’s no reason not to upgrade if your hardware supports Yosemite. I think that it will be quickly adopted by Mac users because of the features it brings to the table.

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