David Artiss

The new Mazda 3 – first thoughts

I've had the 2017 model of the Mazda 3 for little over a month now. It's easy to talk in bold brush strokes about the driving ability, etc, but I thought I'd write up about the little niggly things that annoy as well as the small things that delight. For the rest, read the professional reviews – it's an excellent drivers car, well built but is a little noisy on motorways.

Niggles

  • There’s no connectivity in the back of the car. Even my old Focus had a cigarette lighter socket, so that USB connectors could be added. Other Mazda models have USB sockets, etc, in the rear arm rest but the Mazda has nothing.
  • If a door is not quite closed, it doesn’t tell you which one. My Focus would show a diagram of the car and highlight the door in question. The Mazda doesn’t.
  • The car idles high when starting from cold, making it quite noisy initially.
  • The boot only has an interior handle (for closing) on the right-hand side, making it a nuisance for left-handers or anybody with something in their right hand at the time.
  • Bugs in the ‘infotainment’ system prevents DAB radio information from being displayed and the HUD from showing SatNav information (although the latter can be corrected by switching the settings off and then back on again).
  • The springs on the driver’s wiper shine through the SatNav when the sun are on them, looking like a row of bright LEDs, causing a minor distraction.
  • There’s no quick way to pause music playback when driving – you need to use voice controls or the joystick to select an icon on the far opposite side of the screen.
  • I have an annoying rattle coming from the driver’s door. I suspect some of the trim is loose and will be bringing this up with the dealers. Equally, the boot is a bit stiff to close properly and, more than once, I’ve got in to find the ‘open door’ light is on as a result.
  • This is a general annoyance with a lot of modern cars, and my Focus was no different. The Mazda has a number of external lights using LEDs, including the headlights, but not all. Most (if not all) the rear lights are traditional bulbs. Why? Not only that but all the interior lights (ceiling lights, visor lights, etc) are non-LED as well. As well as having a longer life, they don’t get anywhere near as warm and use a lot less power.
  • Searching for locations on the SatNav via postcode is more hit than miss and you often resort to using street addresses instead.
  • Using the SatNav requires a special SD card to be used – it’s minor, but this takes away the use of the SD card slot for your own music, etc. You can use the USB slot instead though.
  • Too much of the dashboard, for my liking, is the cheaper, hard plastic.
  • The controls on the steering wheel are awkward to use, particularly when trying to find the correct button whilst driving.
  • It would be nice to be able to adjust the HUD other than up and down. I sit, I don’t know why, at a slight angle in a drivers seat so it would be nice to adjust the horizontal, angle, for instance, to better suit my position.
  • The lighting controls appears over-complex. The dealer set it up so that it’s pretty automatic but I’ve accidentally adjusted the stalk and I have no idea now what it’s set up to do. I also have no idea, for example, how to flash my lights now. When it goes back to the dealer next, I’m going to ask them to talk me through it.
  • Like pretty much all car manuals, the one for the Mazda tries to cover off all models, which makes it painful to get through sometimes as you try and find the specific setup for your model. It would be nice for manufacturers to provide specific manuals for your car (or is that maybe asking a lot?).

Delights

  • When a DAB signal is too weak, and the station has an FM equivalent, it will switch to that. There is a delay between digital and analogue radio, due to the time it takes to decode the digital version. With my Focus, when it switched from DAB to FM or back that delay was obvious – with the Mazda, they've synced the signals so there is no difference. It's not quite perfect, though, as they haven't equalised the volumes – FM is a lot quieter.
  • The HUD is really good to use and I find myself using that all the time, and not the main dashboard instruments. Which is a shame, as the white on black display is really very nice.
  • The automatic light dimming works great. You put your lights on full beam and it automatically dips and even moves the lights around anything approaching.
  • I have issues with touch-screens in cars and the fact that they're insecure – you have to physically look at a touch-screen, rather than feel for a button, which makes it unsafe for drivers to use. Mazda have made it so that the touch feature is disabled when the car is moving – you have to use the physical controller instead. This is a great solution.
  • When you set a speed limiter, the car is not restricted below that speed. Let me explain – if you set a limit on my previous Focus, it would restrict power as you approached the limit. If this was set to 30, say, then the car felt very sluggish accelerating up to this. I can understand why – I guess they didn't want people dashing up to 30, only for it to suddenly stop you. I don't know how Mazda have done it, but they've found an absolute sweet-spot – it doesn't suddenly stop me when I hit the limiter but, equally, I don't find any sluggishness on the acceleration up to it.

I know this seems overly weighted towards 'niggles' but that's because the big over-arching features of the car – the driving, comfort, etc – are excluded. This is the minor stuff and it's usually the annoyances that you notice. For my the "delights" are things that are good that didn't initially attract me to the car in the first place.

The new Mazda 3 – tips for a new owner

4 years ago I took possession of a new Ford Focus and the post I wrote about it became one of the most popular on this site, covering various tips for any owner. Now, the Ford has gone and, in its place, the new, 2017 model of the Mazda 3. So, let’s do the same…

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BT and their bizarre attitudes to security

Since late last year I’ve been going through a process of adding complex, long and individual passwords to all my online accounts. I’m still doing it, albeit the less important accounts. Today I looked at bt.com. I don’t use them but still have an account set up from when I used to use them.

Now, by default, I try and use a 50 character randomised passwords, complete with numbers and symbols, which is generated by 1Password. Some sites have length limits so this, sometimes, need adjusting. The BT account page lists no such limitations, so what could go wrong?

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Now that the WordPress plugin README supports a minimum PHP level, I thought it was time to dust down my guide to the data that you can add to the README and the plugin header. This also documents how to extend this further, adding additional fields easily to the plugin meta displayed upon installation.

Please, take a read and let me know of any feedback you may have.

Diary of a Family Holiday in Amsterdam

For this year’s family holiday we decided to go to Amsterdam. It was my idea, actually, as I’d once visited there with my mum and sister when I was a child.

For this we went ultra-modern – chauffeured car to/from the airport in the UK, UBER to get around in the city and AirBnB as somewhere to stay. Our AirBnB, in this case, was a 3 bedroom house in the south of the city, in a quite suburb. As with our trip to Germany last year, a lot of the holiday would be just living the life of a local – padding out the shops and eating at ‘home’.

The journey started (just) on Monday morning…

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Can you imagine a popular expression being said so badly it no longer makes sense? Well, one such example, really grates with my wife.

The original expression is “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. However, people keep shortening it to “the proof is in the pudding”. But it’s not. The proof is in the eating. Not the pudding itself. By shortening it the way they have they’ve made it now make absolutely no sense.

And, if that wasn’t bad enough, here’s a photo I took in a recent gift shop. My wife loves it (not).

MZD-Connect – navigating with co-ordinates

So, you have a Mazda with MZD-Connect and Nav but the address you’ve tried isn’t found. What now? Well, you can enter co-ordinates but doing so isn’t as straight forward as you’d expect.

Here’s how to do it…

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John Williams and the modern movie soundtrack

Recently, the BBC showed a special 2-hours Proms programme, dedicated to the music of John Williams1. It was a mixture of his most and less-known music, with some odd choices and omissions (Rey’s Theme and no Imperial March? No Home Alone or Jurassic Park?).

I love movie music but I find some of the older composers, such as Williams, a bit “samey” at times, albeit they know how to do a cracking tune. And then there’s the question of sexism…

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  1. I would have embedded the video into this page but, although the BBC allows it, their videos are not SSL, which causes errors on this site – sorry, but the BBC need to gets its act together[]

I don’t think I’ll ever understand insurance

When I got my job at Automattic one of the added perks that I was looking forward to was decreased insurance for both my home and car.

Well, as you can probably already guess, it didn’t work out that way and, even now, I have no idea why.

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Beware of customer reviews retailer websites!

I think most people are getting savvy to the customer reviews these days on the sites of retailers but if you’re still naive to it, here’s an example.

My Facebook timeline recently sported an advert for a pay-monthly toothbrush service – the Uber Sonic Club (no relation to the taxi service). However, reviews aren’t good.

Uber Sonic isn’t the answer to your dental woes.

Basically you get a cheap (and from the reviews ‘cheap’ appears to be accurate in all respects) sonic toothbrush for £19 and then new brush heads monthly (bear in mind that monthly replacements are way to regular). And all for just £54 a year.

If you then look at the Uber Sonic Facebook page, a response to the first post stands out.

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