2018 Tesla Model 3 – driving for Lyft for fun

This post is kind of lenghty, but I think well worth reading. I split it into subsections:

Introduction, Model 3 on Lyft, Lyft driving in general and the conclusion. 

Introduction

I am no stranger to teslas performance and autopilot, we replaced our last gas car end of May 2016 with a Tesla Model X, after the last time teslas stock was recovering from being artificially suppressed by lots of ‘creative news’ about car fires (despite gas cars having more such), or about how they are never going to build model x etc, and I had just kept buying on the downturns including some options. So in a way you could say tesla shorts paid for my Model X, which I also justified as a means to validate my investment.

You gotta live with it to really know its potential. And so after being wowed by owning the Model X, and my mind blown by Elon’s presentation of the Model 3, I had the hopeful expectation when I reserved my Model 3 that this still holds true, even at half the cost of a comparable model S. But I have to admit I was somewhat concerned that the economy ‘model e’ would have sacrifized some of its tesla appeal in order to get to that price point.

I can now confirm, the ride in the Model 3 is legendary and no downgrade, especially if you like dynamic, sporty driving.

So when I got my Model 3 in January, I did expect it to be more fun than the 2015 VW eGolf it replaced, but I had no idea how much more fun. I ended up putting more than 6000 miles on the car in just a few months and found myself tooling around in the mountains and playing with cornering, hugging the apex, learning how to use autopilot driver assist to my advantage in dynamic driving, enjoying different seat settings while in stop and go traffic etc, loving the streaming of about anything in highest audio quality. Autopilot is really a god-sent in stop and go traffic, turns a commute nightmare into a relaxation opportunity. Check out this small video from my commute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aB_uGz_6gI

And eventually I realized, I am spending an hour before work each day just having fun driving around, which seemed like a waste somehow. So I was ready for my next adventure: Signing up to drive for Lyft. 

           

Obviously this pays a lot less per hour than my day-job, but the idea is to do this only for fun and when doing unproductive car fun-time anyways. If I am already spending extra time in the car, I might as well pick people up and bring them to where they need to be.

It took me about 3 days from the idea to giving my first ride, which is pretty amazing IMHO, the longest wait was for DMV and background check, which took about a day to show up checkmarked in the app.

Since I drive this car so much, its uniquenesses seems normal to me now, but to have passengers that mostly never have seen one before is an interesting way to look at it with fresh eyes.

Model 3 on Lyft

I love how I can just put my personal belongings into the frunk and have an empty clean trunk for my riders,  most important when picking up from the airport.

The door handles and controls however are definitely not intuitive for a first time rider.

Almost every single passenger is confused at first about how to open the door, both from the outside as well as from the inside, there was exactly one that just figured it out right away.

My quick intro is ‘push the bigger piece of the handle with your thumb’ and then they say ‘oh wow, cool’ and it works.

When they want to get out, there is confusion again. I tell them ‘push the little switch with that white line’ and point to it. Again you would think that would be annoying as an experience, but somehow they find it amazing again, they somehow like how the door pops open and they just push it out. And maybe also because of the rest of the experience.

Another point of confusion is the window control. Nobody opened the door yet by accident, but especially when driving in the dark it is not obvious at first on how to control your window, and I often just do it for them. I learned how to turn on the lights in the back for them from my screen, and that helps.

A definite plus however is performance, looks, quality of the music streaming and voice control.

I usually ask them if they want to listen to music, and if they have a favorite artist, then use voice control to start for example like ‘play phantogram’. 

Often they say: ‘I listen to anything’ and so I challenge them a bit with bassnectar, and let them know they can change their mind anytime. Turns out they more often than not actually like it.

Also I get to listen to cool music I didnt know about before, and get delighted responses like somebody asking for coldplay and it happens to pick their favorite song. I get comments from audiophiles how unexpectedly excellent the sound quality is.

My favorite new song I am super grateful for learning about is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98bi0dxJGGc 

People are generally wowed by the quality of the ride:

‘I must have gotten a silent upgrade, normally its priuses or something’

‘this car really has pickup’ 

‘this feels more like riding in a train, I mean the road bumps you still feel but there is no vibrating and shaking, its like gliding really’

‘wow, I didnt notice that all-glass roof until now’

So far have been able to maintain a clean 5.0 driver rating, probably in part because of the unexpectedly awesome car  🙂

LR Range is more than enough for me, since I don’t drive all day, and the car is super efficient since I drive a lot more conservative and mindful about comfort when I have passengers.

I end up using less than 220 Wh/mile on my rides. When I have fun between rides I can consume closer to 270Wh/m 🙂

One sunday night I wanted to see how far I get with a full charge, filled it up to 310 mile range, and started driving at 8:30pm. By 1:30am and 11 rides later I had enough fun, and still 180 mile range left, and headed home, parking with 144 mile range in my garage, having driven 134 miles and consumed 36kWh of energy, which thanks to home solar I can recharge for free, but at the californian supecharger this would cost me $9.36

Lyft driving in general

People are generally very friendly and reasonable. Most don’t tip. The ones that do surprise you.

Driving late at night means driving more drunk people which carries the risk of soiling your car, but also results in more interesting stories to tell at parties (no names mentioned obviously) but so far so good. Driving before work is better than driving at night.

I now also always carry some water with me, that people are really thankful for, i.e. when they come from a long sunny day in the city and are all dehydrated.

Lyfts driver app has a red overlay of areas with surge pricing in effect. I spent a few hours taking screenshots every now and then to log when they start showing up and going away. 

Chasing the red (surge rate areas) was often not useful for me, typically evaporated before I arrived, and I get reasonable amounts of rides wherever I am in the SF bay area. I talked to another new driver and he had a similar experience. 

I don’t think I average more than $20/h, especially factoring in driving to pickups etc, last sunday night I did average $26/h thanks to more tips and surge pricing than usual.

I usually use destination mode on my way to work. It’s rare that something comes out of it. The controls for it are not easy to use, and if you correct it too often then they lock you out of using the feature with ‘you used it six times today, try again tomorrow’.   One time when returning from a Palo Alto trip back into the city with destination mode it routed me through the airport to pick up a family with luggage. He said he also has a Model 3 on order and was thrilled to be in the front passenger seat. 

By default the app is set to NOT use the bluetooth for the traffic dirctions, but still tunes out the music on bluetooth you are playing from your phone, then only announces its directions on the internal phone speaker which means you can’t hear it very well. I changed it in the app settings, but the voice quality is a lot less pleasant than the tesla one, so I am considering turning it off and asking people for the destination address and put that in with ‘navigate to’ voice command to demo the capabilities better.

Also a pity that the app is not integrated into the big screen, it is kind of annoying to look far down below the screen where the phone dock is. I wish tesla would get us a webbrowser like in the model S/X, maybe the touchscreen web interface of lyft driver would be sufficiently supported that way. It appears the app is halfway a webapp anyways, i.e. when I switch to the dashboard. I ended up buying a hands-free magnetic phone holder to have it higher up at the b-pillar so as not to block my view, but am concerned that it may be in the path of an airbag in case of a bad accident. Have to find out more about this.

Conclusion

I am super thankful for this opportunity to help people get to where they want to be while getting them interested in electric driving (if they ask). I love meeting all those different types of people, having good conversations, learning about new music and seeing the excitement when they get their first ride in a tesla. They give a consistent 5.0 rating and positive feedback all around.

Share the Love – if you want to sign up too, consider using my referral code https://www.lyft.com/drivers/WILL53406 and get the same bonus as me ($1.55 for every ride you do in first 60 days, capped at $775)

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iphone5 review – verizon LTE rocks

I finally switched from Android to the apple iPhone5 with iOS6, and I am loving it. I was eyeing the iphone 4s for a while but it’s internet speed was just so ridiculously slow compared to a state of the art android phones that it was out of the question. Well that concern has been lifted with the iPhone5, I got 30Mbit down and 10Mbit upload on Verizon the other day. Of course that means I burn through my shared 6G dataplan quickly if I don’t watch it, i.e. uploading 150 birthday party photos in one swoop to facebook 🙂

Battery life is excellent, especially compared to my my HTC G2 and my wifes myTouch. This morning I intentially let the iphone run to 1% after not charging it for 1 day and 8 hours, with 8 hours talktime. A friend of mine had issues with short battery life and identified the google voice application as the culprit. I have not been using that so I am fine, even with intense facebook / email / web browsing. Maybe because at home as well as at work I am close to a wifi network, unless I want to leverage the LTE speeds for downloading or uploading large amounts of data in a short time. 

The maps problems I have not run into yet, maybe living in California makes that easier to be accurate. 

Siri is excellent, I use it all the time from dictating SMS’s while in the car to starting music, navigation, initiating FaceTime… facetime is fun, like skype but better quality and easier to get going. Also it does not use the voice network, so it does not interrupt data on the verizon network.

Video recording and picture taking is awesome, I so hated it on my G2 that by the time I got the photo app going and pressed the button to the time that the shutter action actually got executed, the subject already walked away.  Or all the mafunctioning moments.  On the iphone it’s so perfect and so immediate, that I am actually able to use it happily rather than just try and hate.  

And the screen is fantastic too, colors are true, unlike the Samsung S3 that I had toyed with before the iphone5 came out – I am surprised that not more people seem to care, but when I tried it in the t-mobile store, photo and video on the S3 had way wrong colors, even watching a movie on netflix would be affected. I guess the specs are great but the color representation makes it look broken to my eyes.

And the apps are just awesome, and they are the same I am having on my ipad already, without extra effort they just got synced on and work. 

Airplay of my music to the living-room stereo while making breakfast in the kitchen is another highlight of how I enjoy it. 

 

So what do I not like? 

Email notification does not seem as immediate as I am used to from Android. I miss swype as a keyboard method, but not as much as I thought I would, since the predictive correction method is actually highly effective on the iPhone). I slightly but not really miss USB mounting the phone SD card as a usb drive. Since I use itunes on a macbook I am actually happy about the ease with which I get to carry my recent music with me via syncing rather than having to manage files or deal with the offline/online google music stuff.

Really trying hard to think here, but I guess one downside to the great games and apps is that my kids constantly ask for it 🙂

netflix price hike – I was quitting – now I am back

When netflix increased their prices to $15 from about $10 or whatever it was for having unlimited streaming plus 1 DVD out at a time, I was in with all the others saying NO WAY and canceled my account.

I was feeling strongly that $10/month for entertainment is enough since I may probably only watch 2-3 movies a month, sometimes less. So if I do pay per view on iTunes / amazon / youtube video rental, I should not have to pay more than what I was used to pay for netflix. In fact I had canceled comcast (an outrageous $100/month for internet and tv) many years ago and found that I was fine with using netflix and other sources and did not miss TV at all…

And while consumption wise I was right, content library wise I was not. Multiple times I knew exactly hat what I was not able to find would have been available on netflix. And I missed the user interface that allows me to browse, drill down on actors / directors / genres, and discover new movies.

So I paid for amazon prime, just to discover that the free instant view was only for a subset of movies, and that even the ones I was then still willing to pay for where not available when I had something specific in mind.

Long story short – I reactivated my netflix account for streaming only ($8/month) less than 2 months after I had quit and probably will turn on the 1 dvd out per month for a total of $15/month once I find more movies that are not in the streaming lib (already had the issue a few times).

Now get the movies that are DVD only into the streaming library please!

PS: Tempted to buy an $100 Wifi-enabled BlueRay player with netflix+amazon+youtube interface…  so far I just connect my macbook to the overhead projector in the living room 🙂

My first day with the Google Android G1 phone – yeah I did it!

It’s not as if I had not given it plenty of thought 🙂 I even owned the first generation iphone for about a week before dropping back to my treo 680 – and if having full enterprise email access (via goodlink service) would not cost me $240/year in fees on top of the wireless internet plans on the 680, I might even still be ok with that.

So finally after hesitating for almost a year, I jumped ship, knowing that I won’t have my enterprise calendar/email for a while longer but at least have a decent internet phone, I bought it through costco to get the extra bluetooth piece and car-charger for almost the same price, and I am happy and very impressed !

First notable impressions (I already read all the reviews beforehand and knew what to expect for the most part, won’t mention those things here)

1. I could mount the phones storage through usb on my linux system and just copy over the images and mp3’s that I wanted to take with me. Take that, apple/iphone! Yes I own the content that I import, not you. And I will plug in a larger micro-SD card as soon as I got it from tigerdirect.

There was however a weird thing that the partition on the storage only showed up once I selected ‘mount though usb’ on the G1 phone side, but once I had googled that tidbit of information it worked like a charm, and Fedora 9 mounted it for me automatically.

2. application marketplace

Holy moly more than I care to know about.  So I used search to find what I was most interested in and had heard about, and tried out some of the featured apps as well. I did not see any for-pay apps yet.

Interesting that before installing you are asked to read multiple pages of license stuff that all is very uninteresting for a user. I wonder if that can even be legally binding if they hide something in there that actually matters – most of it talks about rights to copying software, how does that relate to a phone user downloading it through the marketplace that the company provides it through is beyond me.

Also interesting that before installing it tells you what the application requests to get control over, i.e. your address book, your wifi connection, your gps location, for-pay services like SMS…  and just like with Windows XP AntiVirus/AntiSpyware systems you have to OK all those things anyways to get it to work. But at least you are warned 🙂

With all those services asking for a signup I am surprised that we don’t have automatic fill-in of first-name last-name into the signup forms…

Here are the 8 apps  I installed on my first try:

– ShopSavvy (not ShopSawy 🙂 )- point your camera at a bar-code and it tries to identify the item, get you prices and locations. At first I was real impressed, I tried it with a book and it found it right away, quoted me three different prices and locations to buy it at, and with two clicks I got my gps telling me how to get there from where I currently was. Very cool. It also quoted a cheaper online price, did not pursue that.

So I thought, yeah this is as cool as I read about it before. My wife came home and I tried to impress her: I tried it with two vegetable cans and it could not grasp the barcode – probably since it was round? I tried a cereal box and it read the barcode then said it found nothing. Mhm, so maybe not that much stuff in the database yet…

– pacman – looks like the original. You can use the accelerator method to navigate it, which means instead of pressing keys you tilt your phone – almost like a wee control 🙂

– bonsai blast – nice color game, not tried to really play it yet

– imap weather – does what it needs to do plus more. Fails to find my location sometimes and then crashes. Not impressed.

– Wertago – ‘where to go’ nightlife guide application, kind of like yelp but yet-another-social-network-thing. I did not bother to create the account but found the crowd kind of wierd… however this is probably the kind of thing that is going to be really useful once there are more reviews in it.

– Meridian Video Player – I hoped to be able to play my eve online trailers (mov/wmv), but it did not work. Oh well.

– cab4me light – finds phone numbers of local cab companies. Nice…

– imeem mobile –  an internet radio station but tailored to your taste. Wow, just typed in Metallica in the search and now get all those metal songs from all those bands. Nice, have not listened to Manowar in a while…

3. Access to wireless

It was really simple to setup (select wifi station from list identified, enter WEP code, done) but I was surprised that web browsing still seems as slow as over edge/g3. Mhm…

4. what am I going to miss form my treo 680

– real good keyboard – the g1 is not terrible but far from being as good.

– uploading pictures straight to facebook off of the sd card ejected from my digital camera – the workarounds could be getting a microsd in sd adapter and take pictures to that (supposedly much slower than sd though) or even better to get a wifi enabled sd-card (eyefi) – then I would no longer need to eject the card.

– faster/earlier rendering of my most frequented websites in the web-browser.

– superefficient email/contacts when paying the $240/year goodlink fees. but not gonna anyways.

– reasonable low resolution video

5. What I am not going to miss from my treo 680

– call dropping or going on hold right after accepting the call when I fumble the ringing phone out of the pocket

– always out of battery when I needed it the most – lets see how the G1 fares on that 🙂

– real bad (i.e. unusable) mp3 player, harsh electric interference noise when it transmitted data and playing music at the same time

– low resolution photo camera

save flickr – save yahoo mail

Microsoft is going to attempt to incorporate flickr and the other yahoo services into its portfolio.

http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2008/02/what-would-micr.html

 http://wow.jules.ca/jules-dot-ca/2008/2/4/microsoft-and-yahoo-what-happens-to-flickr.html

 http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/what-happens-if-microsoft-buys-yahoo points out that multiple important open source projects that are directly competing with microsoft technology like YUI

 http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/flickr-users-consider-their-potential-microsoft-overlords/

What can we do to prevent that?

Everybody buy yahoo shares to make it go up to $40 and vote against the merger?

Everybody pull their content out of flickr when the purchase happens?

If you have a creative and smart idea, please comment…

Discovering WordPress

Today I decided to try out wordpress – I have been reading blogs for a while and found that I express some of my ideas and thoughts in all those disparate web 2.0 / social networking style entities: yelp, flickr, linkedin, studivz (german equivalent of facebook/myspace), …

So here are my two main concerns

1. ‘personality striptease’ ?

These websites tend to make you publish too much personal information. In particular facebook/studivz are ‘greedy’ for any bit of personal info since they aim to monetize it by targeted advertisement.

One way to address this is to have multiple identities, a professional one, a private-public one, a private-friends one, and ideally they are under pseudonyms with minimal overlap in published content to make it hard to identify them… Of course this makes the second point even worse:

2. manageability

I have to keep all those accounts and passwords straight – wouldn’t it be nice if we had a strong central authentification mechanism?

Since flickr is part of yahoo I liked the fact that I did not have to keep a separate identity for my email and my photos since they now are under the umbrella of the same provider – thats great. But cross-provider would be even better, albeit more dangerous…

facebook and the like try to offer this, to consolidate different social networking providers into one view – while I think that is great for the owner of the view, it is undesireable to publish the joined view to the public or greedy data collectors.

So here I come, creating yet another username account, and linking together at least three presences: wordpress, flickr, yahoo email. Lets see how it goes… – WordPress has something called OpenId that seems to do what I want, but none of the sites I currently use are listed on their https://www.myopenid.com/directory