Thursday, October 16, 2008

VW Tiguan launch in Malaysia

What: VW Tiguan launch in Malaysia

When: 16 October 2008

Where: Volkswagen Group Malaysia HQ, Bangsar

Heidi Klum and what’s-his-face with their Tiguans

People will often tell you, “stick to what you’re good at” or “you’re already so good at what you’re doing currently, why would you want to make things more complicated?” There are many of us who will actually heed all these warnings and crawl back into our little shells known as our comfort zone. And there will be the select few who will throw caution to the wind and just do it! Because for these few, not doing something is far worse than the prospect of failure in the process. As they will all tell you; from failure is where you reap the most knowledge and experience to succeed.

This little anecdote brings us to my subject of the day, which is the new Volkswagen Tiguan. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 12 months, this is VW’s first foray into the midi SUV or “soft-roader” category. A segment of which much as in Western Europe as it is in Malaysia has been traditionally monopolized by the Japanese in the form of the Honda CRV and while not so much in the case of Malaysia the Toyota RAV4. The RAV4, due to the fact that it is a CBU from Japan and thanks to our hefty tax and duties levied on non-ASEAN CBUs basically priced this car out of the segment in our shores. In Western Europe however, 1 of every 4 midi SUVs sold is the RAV4 and the fact is even more impressive when you consider that last year alone, the midi SUV segment constituted about half a million units.

This is when VW jumped up and said “We want a piece of that pie too!” (or more likely “Ich möchte pie abessen” or something like that; excuse my rubbish German) The name Tiguan is actually a play on the word “Tiger” and “Iguana” in German, and for the first time ever, VW actually had a poll in a popular motoring magazine to let the public decide on the name of this car. I am personally very relieved that we’ve ended up with Tiguan, for the runner ups were Nanuk, Namib, and Rockton (*cringe).

The right size

Let’s get right down to the car itself. The Tiguan is based on the current Golf platform, which is actually a good thing considering it’s high structural rigidity. At 4457mm it’s about the same length as the current VW Jetta. Against the competition, its sized right smack in between the Honda and the Toyota, with the CRV being the biggest of the lot.

Dimensions: “Sports & Style” (top) and “Track & Field”

Seal and Heidi

The Tiguan comes with 2 different fronts, much like the transgenders you find in the dodgier streets of Thailand. In the UK they call it the “S/SE” and the “Escape”, in other parts of the world and in Malaysia we would be referring to it as the “Sports & Style” (obviously for the stylish urban version) and the “Track & Field” (for the off-road version). What this basically means is that the city cruiser will be coming with a lower angled nose (18 degrees to be exact) and the terrain blazer will be coming with a 28 degree nose, designed to improve the approach angle so as not to get stuck the moment you want to climb a mole hill (or in the case of Malaysia more likely trying to park on top of a curb in Bangsar/Sultan Ismail on clubbing night). In the international advertising campaign, VW is using Seal (of “Kiss from a Rose” fame) and wife (yes I know God isn’t fair but it’s true) Heidi Klum (of the fact that she’s just so uber hot fame) as the ambassadors for the Tiguan because like the couple, the Tiguan represents two polar opposite ends; the stylishness vs. everyday, glamour vs. conservative,

The “Sports & Style” (left) and “Track & Field”

Off-road mode

In Malaysia, Volkswagen Group Malaysia (VGM) will be exclusively offering the “Track & Field” version. The reason behind this is said to be due to the fact that they wanted to offer a thoroughbred off-roader and hold a unique positioning against its “soft-roader” competition. Besides the different nose, the “Track & Field” version comes with and “Off-road” mode. This in theory is supposed to change the Tiguan into a different animal at a touch of a button. First of all “Hill decent control” is activated, this system provides easy control when descending steep gradients. All you have to do is steer the car as the speed and braking of all 4 wheels will be controlled by the ESP hydraulics. Next the accelerator pedal characteristics are adjusted to allow finer modulation of engine torque using smaller accelerator pedal angels in low gears. This is key in off-road situations because you would want finer control of the vehicle’s torque at low speeds, while on the flip side less sensitivity in the pedals is desired when you’re going fast and flopping about in the rough terrain. The electronic differential locks (EDL) are activated at lower slip values and the ABS is also adjusted to work better on loose and constantly changing surface conditions. Gear pre-select gives you optimum engine braking effect so that your automatic gearbox doesn’t jump about when needle is all over the rev meter. Finally you would get creature comforts in the form of the parking brake auto release (or Auto hold) function where it automatically activates the brakes when you’re stationary on an incline and deactivates when you touch the accelerator pedal.

Look ma’ no hands!

Also coming as a standard feature in Malaysian Tiguan (it’s a £450 option in the UK) is the Parallel Park Assist. This is purportedly the first SUV in the world that is fitted with such a system. When activated the system basically scans for parking lots with its ultrasonic sensors mounted on the side of the car. It can perform both right or left sided parallel parking and the system will know which side the driver intends to park based on the direction of the indicator signal (Malaysian read: you signal right or left lor).When a parking lot that it could fit in is found (it must be at least 1.4m more than the length of the car), the driver just needs to put the gear into reverse and control the accelerator/brakes. The system will steer the vehicle into the parking lot minus the stress and periodic cussing of the car behind you within 15 seconds. For safety reasons at any moment if you put your hands on the steering wheel or accelerate above 7km/h, the system will cease and the driver is given full control of the vehicle.

New engine

The Tiguan for Malaysia comes with the new EA888 1,984 c.c. (2.0l) Borg Warner K03 water-cooled turbocharged direct injection 4-pot petrol engine. Just like the one featured on the Audis, this new inline 4 boasts 147kW/200PS at 5,100 rpm and 280 Nm at 1,700-5,000 rpm. New features include a two-stage valvelift inlet valve lift variable control, timing chain (previous EA133 was belt), and six-hole injectors.

4 is better than 2, I think

As expected from any self respectable SUV, this 4X4 actually comes with 4X4, or in the VW world, 4Motion. This system bears more similarities to the Golf R32 rather than the Touareg. This is because just like the Golf the power is distributed by a Haldex clutch instead of a transfer case found in most 4X4s. For a start this system is more cost effective than the former system, and since the Clutch pack coupling system is located at the rear axle it also means you don’t have to leave generous space between the gearbox and the prop/drive shaft. Basically less cost, less weight and less space consuming ultimately means the less your wallet will be hurt in case something goes wrong. Power distribution is 90%-10% (Front-Rear), which is achieved via the intentional slippage of the clutch plates. The reason behind this front-wheel-drive minded set-up as opposed to the “true blue” SUV 50-50 set-up of the Touareg or the sporty 38-62 Porsche Cayenne is because this gives the Tiguan the opportunity to reap the benefits of front-wheel-drive cars such as better fuel efficiency and better tire wear and tear.

…and I’d like to thank the Academy

So far the Tiguan has already been voted the No.1 Off-roader/SUV and given the Auto 1 Award early this year by more than 40 million readers of Auto Bild group.

So what’s it gonna cost me?

To enjoy this innovative marvel of German technology, one will have to cough up just under a quarter of a million ringgit or RM249,888 to be exact. Of course we all know that more than 50% of this goes into the Tabung Mengkayakan Negara (a.k.a. Customs Excise Duties). So with all things equal, you do get quite a package in this Tiger-Iguana from Wolfsberg.

The lowdown

Price: RM249,888 (without registration and insurance)

Engine/power: 2.0l 200PS turbocharged petrol in-line 4

Transmission: 6 speed Tiptronic

Wheels: 235/55 R17

Sweet extras at no extra costs:

  • Off-road mode
  • Parallel Park Assist system
  • Advanced Front lighting System (bending cornering lights)
  • Bi-Xenon headlights
  • Servotronic steering system
  • RCD510 Touch screen infotainment system
  • Front, curtain, and side (front only) airbags
  • Vienna leather seats
  • Cruise control
  • Rain sensor

Friday, October 10, 2008

Peavey Wolfgang goes to the workshop

What: My Peavey Wolfgang Special goes in for service
When: September 2008
Where: PJ

I recently sent my beloved Peavey Wolfgang Special in for a service and re-stringing. I sent it to Simon Liew of Guitar Pro Shop ( at Damansara Perdana. He comes highly recommended as he is one of the few guitar repair specialists in the country (that I know of) who was actually formally trained and didn't just picked up a guitar and start messing around with it. Besides getting your guitar up to ship shape he'll often share stories of his many adventures while learning his trade in places like Austin, Texas and San Francisco.

Some pictures that Simon took during the restoration.
Strip tease: my baby getting her hardware removed

Peavey/Floyd Rose® licensed, double locking tremolo with patented and factory installed D-Tuna® and Tuners are Grovers.

Grovers tuning pegs are removed from the headstock

After polishing, the pegs look as good as new

and the Floyd Rose .......

Completed .... strings and intonation are tweaked and ready to rock.

Ahh my baby...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Line 6 TonePort UX2 Review

What: Line 6 TonePort UX2
When: September 2008
Where: Home studio

Since by birthday was fast approaching I wanted to respect my annual tradition of splurging and getting myself a gift. This year I decided that it would be the TonePort UX2 USB interface by Line 6. This sweet little gadget (about the size of a A4 pice of paper, dimension wise) packs quite a punch in terms of hardware and software bundle.

Scouring through the internet I found quite couple good reviews in the cakewalk forum and Harmony Central. I also discovered that the sole distributor for Line 6 products is CK Music (in Jalan Imbi). At first I was checking around for online offers to see if I could get a bargain deal. But alas the offer CK Music was willing to offer me was far better that any online store (including local based stores that do not charge for deliver since you pick it up from various meeting points in the Klang valley). The best online deal I could find was about RM710 plus shipping, CK Music was retailing it at RM780 and was willing to let it go for RM620. Without a second thought I hopped over to Jln Imbi and coughed up the moolah. UPDATE: I was told yesterday that CK Music is having a sale now and I feel like a jackass cause there like selling it for just shy of RM500. Fuck!

OK back to the review, the bundle comes with:

Hardware which features:
  • USB studio recording interface
  • Sample rate conversion: 16 and 24 bit at 44.1, 48 and 96 kHz
  • 2 XLR inputs with mic preamps and +48V phantom power
  • 2 Guitar/Bass Inputs – use the Pad input for guitars and basses with high level pickup outputs, or the normal input
  • USB Bus powered (2.0 or 1.1 compatible)
  • Stereo Digital Output S/PDIF via RCA
  • VU Meters assignable to input, record send, output and monitor levels
  • Tone Direct™ monitoring - unique, full tone low latency monitoring regardless of recording software's buffer size
  • Works with leading recording software on Mac® and Windows®
  • Gearbox amp and effects modeling software for Guitar, Bass and Vocals includes:
23 guitar/bass amp models with 29 cabinet models
6 vocal mic preamps for amazing, studio-quality tracks
29 stompbox and studio effect models, including Overdrive, Delay, Reverb, Wah,
Flanger, Chorus, and more
  • Includes Ableton Live Lite - Line 6 Edition recording software
Setting Up

Out of the box, to hook it up, its quite idiot proof. All you need is the USB cable to connect to your USB port on your PC/laptop. There is no need for a separate power source as it the UX2 is powered by th 5V from the USB. Next you have to install the Gearbox software that is basically your control panel for your UX2. The bunddled Ableton Live Lite, as its name suggests is the "lite" version of the Live 5 software. If you already have anything by Cakewalk or Cubase. You'd be etter off sticking with what you are already workign with.


I would very much agree with Craig Anderton's review that all interfaces these days have the same bottom line: They're not for everyone, but for some people, they'll be exactly what's needed. I guess that's why there are so many! (Those who want an even less costly package, and are willing to give up some features, can check out the TonePort UX1—the UX2's "little brother.")

So who's the ideal UX2 customer? Here's the checklist:

  • Sings and plays guitar
  • Wants great guitar and vocal modeling effects in a box that works effortlessly with desktops or laptops
  • Hates latency
  • Doesn't need to do re-amping
  • Appreciates the extra features like SPDIF digital out, line ins, and phantom power
  • Can be either MIDI-ignorant or a MIDI whiz and still get full use out of the box
  • Likes to tweak sounds and take advantage of the many processing options

If you fit that description, you are going to flip over the UX2. It's an intelligently designed interface that delivers far more than expected; it's simple enough for the beginner, but has so much going on beneath the surface it can satisfy hardcore pros as well.

Let's Make a Memory

What: Let's make a Memory
When: September 2008
Where: My Bedroom (PJ)

Listen to it on Channel V's AMP

Waking up next to you, is something I wanna do,
cause it makes me happy, you're here,
Tipping toes in the rain, hold you close to keep you from trembling,
cause it makes me happy, you're here

Let's take a step, Let's make a memory,
We'll have it all, if you just trust me,
Let's take this step, We'll make a memory,
Just wait and you'll see,

Waking up next to you, is something I wanna do,
cause it makes me happy, you're here,

Let's take a step, Let's make a memory,
We'll have it all, if you just trust me,
Let's take this step, We'll make a memory,
Just wait and you'll see,

Day will come when I know that I wanna spend the rest of my life with you,
I'll get down on my knees and the tears in your eyes let me know that it's true,

Let's take a step, Let's make a memory,
We'll have it all, if you just trust me,
Let's take this step, We'll make a memory,
Mark my words you'll see,

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Gathering of Angels

What: Gathering of Angels

When: October 2007

Where: Jerez de Frontera, Spain

The fine granules of pepper white sand squeezes through between my toes, walking along the playa (beach in Spanish) de Jerez and taking in the soothing Andalusian breeze, you just can’t help but be caught in the moment like a gathering of angels.

This riff is actually an old one, I came up with this when I was a bigtime Pearl Jam fan in the late 90s. I remember Mike lovin it, and saying that I should write the lyrics based on something about life. Didn’t really have anything that really worked, until now;

There are things that I didn’t tell you that I wished I did before,

Like the magical quilt that I see in your eyes as you walk in though that door,

It’s the color of inside, at the moment I’m in,

It’s the lost conversations trapped deep within,

It’s the color of moonlight and stars up above,

It’s a gathering of angels tonight.

Often times when we least expect to have the strength to weather on,

We reach deep in ourselves and we pull out the faith that’ll forever change our song,

It’s the color of inside, at the moment I’m in,

It’s the lost conversations trapped deep within,

It’s the color of moonlight and stars up above,

It’s a gathering of angels tonight.

Jangan Lupa

What: Jangan Lupa

When: July 2007

Where: Phuket, Thailand

Watching the sunset on Patong Beach after a day lazing around reading a good book is an experience everybody should be privileged to. Yeah, that’s what I thought until I realized that I was the only lone duck on the entire beach, it’s pretty pathetic really. All around me there were couples either waking hand-in-hand by the shoreline, or just sitting in the sand enjoying the sight of the golden sun going down. Was suddenly emo as I also realized it had been just slightly more than a year ago that we agreed to go our own ways.

Biarkanlah air mata yang kian menitis,

Wajah indahmu takkan kembali, ke pangkuan ini,

Engkau memang, tiada tandingannya

Engkau memenag, tetap terpahat di mindaku,

Jangan lupa janji yang dikotakan,

Kata-kata pahit yang memisah dan,

Menembusi setiap saraf Ohh ohhhoh

Sampai saja perjalanan yang kian merunsing,

Ungkapanku yang tidak menjadi, hasratku sendiri,

Engkau memang, tiada tandingannya

Engkau memenag, tetap terpahat di mindaku,

Jangan lupa janji yang dikotakan,

Kata-kata pahit yang memisah dan,

Menembusi setiap saraf Ohh ohhhoh

Engkau memang, tiada tandingannya

Engkau memenag, tetap terpahat di mindaku,

Thursday, September 25, 2008


What: Miracles
When: Mid 2002
When: Living room (Kuching)

Listen to it on Channel V's AMP

I just watched “Fly Away Home” on HBO, the opening scene was shot in skipped frames and in slow motion with a barely audible commotion in the background; it slowly unveils a scene of a motor highway accident. In the midst of the chaos is little girl who is visibly in shock. Her mother lost her life in the accident; she herself is lost.

This inspired me to write a song to give a voice to her mother looking down from heaven to guide her little girl who is lost without her.

In time when the saints and sinners are gone,
We’ll be singing through the fray, the same song,
Watching you from here, things we’re never clearer to me,
If you find yourself alone and strayed,
Just remember to say,

I believe in miracles,
I believe the stars I see in your eyes, will take me away

Take care, it’ll be over soon enough,
All the riddled stricken signs are scorned out,
Watching you from here, things we’re never clearer to me,
If you find yourself alone and strayed,
Just remember to say,

I believe in miracles,
I believe the stars I see in your eyes, will take me away
I feel so alive, cause I feel the pain, cause I feel it, cause I feel