Electronic Driving Aids

Cars are becoming safer and safer thanks to the numerous technology advancements that are being introduced. anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability program (ESP) and traction control (TC) are almost standard in new cars. While the operation of these systems might not be noticeable by drivers, they nevertheless play an important role during emergencies.

I consider myself a very safe driver. I’m easy on the throttle, I don’t do sudden braking and I don’t drive fast during rainy days. Even with the absence of ABS, ESP, and TC on my car, I have never been in a situation where I cannot control my car properly. But however safe a driver can be, no one can foresee an emergency situation. And during those times, reaction speed is very crucial. During those times, even a trained driver may not be able to properly control the car. That’s why we need help from these systems.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS):

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ABS.


ABS senses the speed of the wheel using a wheel sensor. This sensor tells the computer how fast the wheel is spinning and the computer calculates if the wheel is going to lock up or not.

ABS is probably the earliest form of driver assist. ABS prevents the wheel from locking up under hard braking. It does this by sensing the speed of the wheel and releases brake pressure when it detects the locking of the wheel. Locking up the wheel will induce skidding and will cause the car to be uncontrollable, not to mention increasing the distance the car needs to travel to come to a complete stop. ABS is almost standard in new cars. The operation of ABS can sometimes be felt by the pulsating of the brake pedal.

Traction control (TC):


Without traction control, you might spin your tires under hard acceleration.

Traction control is important on slippery surfaces. Traction control can also prevent the wheels from spinning when a lot of throttle is applied. Traction control works by reducing engine power when it detects a wheel slipping due to lack of traction. This prevents slipping and improves handling on slippery roads. The lack of traction control on powerful cars may cause the car to be undrivable.

Electronic Stability Program (ESP):


The basics of ESP.

ESP is an advanced system that maintains the stability of the car during emergency maneuvers. It prevents understeering and oversteering by applying brakes to individual wheels. It keeps the car traveling at the direction the driver wants it to. The system gets the required information from sensors detecting the movement of the car and the intended direction of the driver.


Demonstration of ABS, TC and ESP by Fifth Gear.

With these systems becoming more and more common, accidents will no doubt be reduced as drivers are able to be in control of their vehicle even in an emergency situation. That being said, even the most advanced driver aid will not prevent accidents if drivers do not practice safe driving styles. Remember, safety on the road starts with you. Continue reading

Q & A

Q: What is the closest thing similar to a woman’s period?
A: Your salary, it comes once a month lasts about 5-7 days and if it doesn’t come means you are in big trouble.

Q: What three things are common between the sun and woman’s underwear?
A: Both are hot, both look better while going down and both disappear at night.

Q: Why do men ask for a woman’s hand in marriage?
A: Because they are tired of using their own.

Q: What’s common between men and video?
A: Both go backward… forward… backward… forward… backward…. forward… stop and eject.

Q: What goes in dry, comes out wet, and gives warm satisfaction?
A: A teabag.

Q: What is the similarity between men and rats?
A: Both keep searching for new HOLES.

Q: What’s the difference between biology and sociology?
A: When the baby looks like his dad, then it is biology. When the baby looks like the neighbour, then it is sociology.

Q: Girl friend & boy friend go for a movie. In the dark, a mosquito enters the girl’s skirt. Guess where it would have bitten?
A: The boy’s hand.

Q: Tarzan and the animals went to the river to take a bath. Tarzan removed his clothes. All the
animals laughed. Tarzan asked “Why”?
A: The animals told him………..”Your tail is in the front”.

Got these from Kenny Ng’s blog. Continue reading

Optical Image Stabilization

Optical image stabilization (OIS) is a feature built into almost every consumer camera today. Different companies have different names for the OIS technology; for example: Image Stabilization (IS – Canon, the first to produce an OIS lens), Vibration Reduction (VR – Nikon), MegaOIS (Panasonic and Leica), Super Steady Shot (SSS – Sony), Optical Stabilization (OS – Sigma), Vibration Compensation (VC – Tamron) and Shake Reduction (SR – Pentax). This is not to be confused with “anti-shake” as advertised on some cameras because all they do is ramp up the ISO to achieve a faster shutter speed and therefore reduce the effect of hand movements.


Top: VR off. Bottom: VR on.

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Nikon VR enabled lens.

This post will mainly focus on Nikon’s VR technology. Nikon reduces image blur due to hand movement by moving a lens element inside the lens. The disadvantage of moving the lens element is that every Nikon VR lens needs to have a VR module in it. Cost of the lens will be higher. But that also means that the VR can be tailor made for different kind of lenses. They can have a different VR module for telephoto and macro lenses. Some cameras like the Sony Alpha series move the image sensor instead. This means any Sony or Konica-Minolta lens can benefit from their Super Steady Shot without the need of a separate module inside the lens.

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Nikon’s VR mechanism. This mechanism is available in their VR lenses only.

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So how does VR works? First, it must detect the movement of the camera. This is achieved using 2 angular velocity sensors (also know as gyroscopes) which will detect the pitching and yawing movement. There will be a circuit inside the lens that will get the signals from the sensors and output an error correcting signal to the Voice Coil Motor. The voice coil motor works in the same principle as a loudspeaker. The deflection of the lens element will be determined by the error correcting signal sent by the circuit. In short, if the camera moves, the lens will compensate by shifting the lens element and therefore keeping the image on the sensor steady.

Nikon-VR
Nikon has a site dedicated to explaining VR.

To learn more about Nikon’s VR, head over to this site and marvel at how ingenious the VR system is. To learn about other forms of image stabilization, head over to Wikipedia’s Image Stabilization page. To see why IS and VR is important, go over to Ken Rockwell’s Image Stabilization page. While you’re there, see why digital killed the tripod. Continue reading

21: The Movie

I was going to rant about how important ESP and ABS and TC is to a car, but that will have to wait another day.

21 is a movie based on a true story of a group of MIT students who developed a card counting strategy to beat casinos at Blackjack. They reportedly earned millions from casinos in the span of a few years. You can learn more about card counting here.

If you’ve watched the Rain man (it was also mentioned in the movie), the character Raymond Babbit counts through 6 decks of card. He was able to memorize each and every card on those 6 decks. In real life however, not many people can do that and card counting does not require a player to memorize the card sequence in the deck. All they need to know is how many high (10, J, Q, K, A)and low (2-6)cards are present in the deck. If there are more high cards, they have a higher chance of beating the dealer. If not, they’re better off playing at another table with higher chances of winning.

The catch is, you need to be at the table for some time in order to work it out. After a few rounds have been played, you’ll know which cards have been given out and you’ll have a rough idea of your chances of wining and you’ll know whether or not to place bigger bets.

Very simple. Genting next weekend anyone? Continue reading

The New Beginning

I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve just finished watching the movie “The Stand” which is an adaption of the book written by Stephen King. The story is based around a group of survivors who survived the “super-flu” while the rest of the population of planet Earth died. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do because it’s good. If you don’t like reading, you can always just watch the movie.

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I don’t exactly like to see everyone dead, but the struggles and challenges the survivors have to face appeals to me. With everyone dead, most likely you won’t survive long unless you stick in a group. But the good thing is, food will still be available in stores and canned foods won’t expire until in a few years. In that time, you and your group of survivors can at least try planting food and rearing cattle. And you get to own anything you want. How cool is that?


Post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Image courtesy: pinktentacle.com

Another reason why I like the post-apocalyptic themed world is because of the great cleansing effect. The world is so complicated with so many problems so when a plague or nuclear war wipes out most of the population, a new world is established, hopefully better than the last one. But of course, humanity will be plunged back a few decades. Probably for the better because we’re causing too much harm to ourselves and the Earth anyway.


Post-apocalyptic amoured vehicle. Be prepared for rebels who might want to take over the world when everyone is gone. Image courtesy: surbrook.devermore.net

Notice I only like post-apocalyptic fiction? I won’t want to imagine this world really ending and having a fresh start. How am I going to get my daily dose of the Internet? Or fresh clean water and electricity? People I know may be dead and I won’t even know it because even Celcom won’t follow you into the post-apocalyptic world. Even basic necessity might be hard to get. Though I think I may be able to survive for quite long if I have the whole “Giant” supermarket to myself. It will be quite boring and lonely in the post-apocalyptic world.


This post probably explains why I love the Fallout series. Can’t wait for Fallout 3 to be released end of this year. Image courtesy: joystiq.com

But then again, I can pump petrol for free! Continue reading