Monday, October 31, 2011

New Ford Focus PART II

Ford DAB Navigation System

Satnav doesn't come as standard, although it can be added to the Zetec for £750 and to the Titanium and Titanium X for £550. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a modern satnav, with clear voice prompts, easy-to-search maps and clear directions displayed on the screen. However, it's also very expensive and doesn't give you anything extra that a handheld satnav will do for a fraction of the price. Unless you want the neatness of having everything integrated, this is one option to ignore.

Adaptive Cruise Control

A £750 option on the Titanium and Titanium X, Adaptive Cruise Control uses a long-range radar to detect the distance between you and the car in front. By setting a minimum timegap using the dashboard controls, you can follow the car in front safely, with the Focus automatically adjusting its speed to ensure that there's always a safe gap.
If the road ahead clears, the Focus will accelerate back up to the pre-set speed automatically. It's effective and simple to use, removing some of the annoyances associated with using speed-only cruise control.

The other part of this system is the Speed Limiter, which lets you set a maximum speed for the car, helping you avoid speeding tickets. It prevents the car from breaching this speed, by automatically adjusting the fuel intake. However, if you floor the accelerator, it disengages, allowing you to make emergency manoeuvres.

Standard equipment

The packs are great, but we also tested out the standard equipment installed in every Focus, regardless of engine capacity or trim. DAB radio works as you would expect; even in rural Scotland (where Ford invited us to test the car) we could pick up all the major radio stations. Another great inclusion is Bluetooth; we paired our iPhone 4 with the system in just a few steps and could instantly make calls using the buttons on the dashboard or steering wheel to browse the list of contacts. Ford has taken the technology one step further than making phone calls, as you can now use Bluetooth to wirelessly stream the music stored on compatible devices to the car stereo.
The option was automatically enabled when we connected an iPhone 4, but you still need to use your handset to change tracks. Sound quality was fantastic; we can see this technology quickly replacing in-car connection kits. A USB port will still let you play your music if you have an unsupported phone or media player, albeit using a cable plugged into the socket inside the glovebox.


There's no doubt that the new Ford Focus is technologically impressive. It’s incredibly good value given the number of gadgets included as standard, while the add-on packs give you all of the gadgets and gizmos of a luxury model for a fraction of the price.
If you're buying a Titanium or Titanium X model, the Driver Assistance Pack is well worth the £750. In fact, we'd go so far as to say it would be mad not to buy this option with a new car. The Convenience Pack gives you the funky trick of letting the car park itself, but unless you have lots of difficulty parking, the City Pack with parking sensors is a more sensible choice for most people.

 Thank you for reading !!!
Med it

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Ford Focus PART I

The Ford Focus has long been a favourite in the UK, with its decent price, reliability and safety record all contributing to the hatchback's massive success. With the New Ford Focus, the car has undergone a major revolution in terms of the sheer amount of technology that's been put into it. To put it another way, the kind of tech you can get on this car is similar to, or even better than, that on many luxury cars.

 The good news is that these options don't cost a fortune and we'd even consider essentials on a new car. In this review we're taking a look at all of the new technology and option packs in the Ford Focus. To see how the car drives and feels read the Ford Focus review on our sister site, CarBuyer.

Driver Assistance Pack

The Driver Assistance Pack is an optional extra that costs just £750 on the Titanium and Titanium X models. It's designed to make driving safer, providing the driver with more information and safety aids that can help prevent accidents, or at least reduce the damage involved. It's comprised of several different systems.

Traffic sign recognition

A front-mounted camera is used to constantly scan the road ahead, looking for traffic signs. The system currently recognises both speed and overtaking signs, and displays both prominently on the dash.

The speed limit sign recognition is particularly useful, as we've lost track of the number of times that we've been driving only to realise that we had no idea what the current limit was. It's particularly useful when you're driving to an unfamiliar location, as you can focus on driving, while the car scans the roadside for important information to keep you safe and your license free of penalty points.
We found the system was very responsive, with updates appearing on the dash the instant that we'd passed a sign. It was only occasionally that the system confused signs on side roads for changes in the speed limit on the road we were driving on, but this was rare. Driving round an unfamiliar town in Scotland, the system meant we were always aware of the speed limit even when we hadn't seen the speed limit signs themselves.

 The notifications appear large on the dashboard screen, but they can be shown in the top right corner should you want to look at another part of the trip computer. In order for you to notice new signs appear, the symbols appear in colour then slowly fade to grey, so when the speed limit changes it’s immediately obvious.

Low Speed Safety System

One of the stand-out safety features of the Driver Assistance Pack is the Low Speed Safety System, which is known as Active City Stop in the US. This is designed to automatically step in to prevent low-speed collisions that can occur with urban driving.

To start with it pre-charges the brakes, to shorten the stopping distance should you need to hit the brakes quickly. However, it is how it deals with the threats you don't see that's really impressive. A forward-facing infra-red laser beam mounted next to the camera in front of the rear-view mirror scans the distance to an approaching reflective object. If the car senses that you're getting too close and will have an accident, it hits the brakes for you.

Ford claims that at speeds less than 10MPH, it will completely stop the car with no driver intervention. At speeds between 10MPH and 20MPH, it will slow the car down and reduce the amount of damage done. It does not operate at speeds above 20MPH because of the working distance on the sensor.
Testing it out by driving towards a set of bollards was a strange feeling, but we were incredibly happy when the car pulled sharply to a stop before we collided with it. It should mean that you're immune to accidentally running into the back of a car when you're stuck in slow traffic commuting through a busy city

Friday, October 28, 2011

Soon: FORD FOCUS serie

With 64-bit ARMv8-based X-Gene, AppliedMicro demos clean-slate approach to cloud computing

Hot on the heels of ARM’s announcement of the 64-bit v8 instruction set architecture (ISA) today, Applied Micro Circuits Corp. demo’d X-Gene, the world’s first 64-bit arm Linux running on the world’s first ARM 64-bit hardware. (See X-Gene demo video here).

The demonstration of the core functionality on an FPGA platform was three years in the making, with AppliedMicro having been a strategic partner with ARM on the development of the v8, 128 of which will be on X-Gene when it starts sampling in the second half of 2012, running at 3 GHz.

The goal of AppliedMicro’s entry into the cloud computing server space is that it recognized an opportunity to fundamentally change server design due to a disparity between the tasks data servers were originally designed to do, and what they’re doing now. That disparity is causing havoc with the total cost of ownership (TCO) which is not just based on capex, but also power consumption, and is rising at an incremental rate of $95 million - per day.

At the demonstration, Andrew Feldman, founder and CEO of SeaMicro, framed the disparity best, by describing how data and server needs have gone from internally oriented approaches where staff is told to wait in line, to customer-oriented cloud computing, where wait states are not tolerable. “The work changed, but servers didn’t,” he said.

The wait states are a result of the bursty nature of Internet traffic which can overload servers, while at the same time, the down times mean servers are still consuming vast amounts of power, in idle mode.

Feldman sees a need for small, simple CPUs to improve computation-per-unit power. His company currently uses Intel’s Atom, but is now shifting to the v8. “We will shrink the motherboard to the size of a business card, and then connect them.”

X-Gene will help with that move, with AppliedMicro’s demo team believing it is, “on the cusp of something beautiful.”

The enthusiasm may be well founded. The processor tackles the problem from three angles: improved efficiency, hardware utilization and improved latency. From a hardware point of view, this entails higher integration, efficient out-of-order cores (read: v8) and virtualization support.

The integration is impressive. It will integrate the 128 v8 cores running at 3GHz with all the networking and I/O, including PCIe and 10/40/100-Gbit/s Ethernet, all connected via a coherent terabit fabric and an 80 Gbyte’s memory throughput.

Software support includes Lamp, MySQL, Stack, Apache Server and of course Linux. “The cloud is synonymous with Linux,” said Paramesh.

The expectation is the ARM-based “Server-on-a-Chip” solution will take a 30% chunk every year out of the server farm’s total cost of ownership (TCO). A tall order: I’m looking forward to seeing it happen.

For more, see the video demo, as well as:

AMCC demos 64-bit ARM server chip

Monday, October 17, 2011

CMU Researchers Turn Any Surface Into A Touchscreen

Soon you, too, will be able to talk to the hand. A new interface created jointly by Microsoft and the Carnegie Mellon Human Computer Interaction Institute allows for interfaces to be displayed on any surface, including notebooks, body parts, and tables. The UI is completely multitouch and the “shoulder-worn” system will locate the surface you’re working on in 3D space, ensuring the UI is always accessible. It uses a picoprojector and a 3D scanner similar to the Kinect.


The product is called OmniTouch and it supports “clicking” with a finger on any surface as well as controls that sense finger position while hovering a hand over a surface. Unlike the Microsoft Surface, the project needs no special, bulky hardware – unless you a consider a little parrot-like Kinect sensor on your shoulder bulky. While obviously obtrusive, the project is a proof-of-concept right now and could be made smaller in the future.
So far the researchers have tested drawing and “crosshair” interaction with the system and it has worked well on arms, hands, notebooks, and tables. We’re obviously looking at a research project here so don’t expect shoulder mounted Xboxes any time soon, but by gum if this isn’t the coolest thing I’ve seen today.