2017 coming up – two years of electric driving review 2015 VW e-Golf, 2016 Tesla Model X 90D

May 2016 we finally switched to all electric driving, after realizing that we put most miles on the short distance electric car and the 2014 Honda Oddysee was collecting dust for anything less than 150 mile distance.

Our gas station is our home 🙂 looking good freshly painted under a rainbow…

Why 150 miles ? Because that is about twice the distance of the eGolf on a single charge (84 miles) and charging once in the middle of a trip was preferable to hobbling around in even a fairly new gas car, because of the electric drive being so smooth it is closer to gliding, acceleration with instant torque, and a feeling of efficiency even when driving it without regard for consumption, knowing that the solar panels on our roof produce more than we would consume.

 

modelx_snow

First snow in Tahoe was creating a mess. Thankfully with all wheel drive and lots of energy to keep warm and comfortable, we did not need snow chains for our 20″ continental LX m+s tires that we use all year round. Loving how the falcon wing doors form an umbrella to keep the snow out when we got in and out of the car to throw snowballs while legacy gas cars stopped in front of us for hours to get their snow chains on, get towed to the side when they ran out of fuel idling for hours or slid around on summer tires. Thankful for having all those superchargers on the way so we did not have to worry about range, despite the cold and heating while standing taking its toll.

 

So in May 2016 we traded in our 2014 Honda Odyssey 8 seater which we had loved until we discovered electric driving. Suddenly when going back to driving it, everything feels wrong, it smells bad, hobbles and wobbles, unevenly accelerates. You get spoiled by electric driving so quickly. So we loaded the Odyssey with luggage for its last partial vacation trip, drove it down to Fremont, and traded it in for a Tesla Model X 90D. We moved the luggage and went on our first vacation trip into the Sierras, about 400 miles round trip. There was a slight feeling of regret that we got the 6 seat version instead of the 7 seat version because that meant a 3-people family that was going to the same destination had to take their Volt instead of riding with us, but since it was a long weekend it may be all for the better. And we prefer the faster getting in and out of the six seater compared to moving seats forward and backward to access the last row in the 7 seater.

 

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Topping off on a standard electrical outlet gets us 20 miles over night added. Not really needed since we filled up on the supercharger along the way to arrive with good range left, but definitely a plus.

We have done many road trips since then, some more far than 1000 miles round trip. Supercharging makes it easy to go the distance and knowing that it is already all paid for makes it easier to pay a meal at Harris Ranch Restaurant while filling up for free 🙂

So far the car has been nothing short of amazing. And my wife finally lets me take the eGolf again 🙂

Highlights:

  • never again make time to drive to a gas station, oil change or smog check appointments, just plug in at night and full in the morning
  • preheat car cabin in the garage, start from iphone while having breakfast or when arriving close to parking lot, no poisonous fumes emitted. Works on both cars.
  • silent gliding smooth ride with superb acceleration and excellent traction control in adverse weather conditions
  • long distance trips much easier thanks to autopilot taking over micromanaging tasks while I focus on the overall traffic situation and adjust speed or advise it to do a lane change for me. feels like half the distance driven on arrival

Downsides:

  • don’t forget to plug it in over night 🙂 Thankfully the phone app sends notifications on charge start and stop so if you set it to start charging at 9pm you can set an alert in your calendar to double check that the notification 0f starting came in
  • tesla model S and model X are still very pricey, this will only change 2017 when the Model 3 comes out.
  • makes you realize how bad gas cars are in comparison and you are spoiled forever, the idea of going back to gas cars is like handing in your iphone for a rotary phone  landline.
  • You get annoyed when driving the non-tesla and the driver door does not close for you aut0matically
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What if… cars moved people, objects, energy on demand

What if a car driving a person was just a side effect, one of its on-demand purposes fulfilled.

What if you did not own a vehicle but it would be available anytime like über from close by, and when not driving you or anybody else, it will function as a receiver and giver of energy, drive to a charging station, when fully charged drive and park at a building that needs more power as a power building block. It can fulfill energy, people and object transportation needs.

It will never sit idle uselessly, just moving to where it is useful.

Idea published by Michael Will March 15th, 2016, feel free to use, don’t patent it as its already published.

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 🙂

Software patents are anti-competitive – wake up !

This has been going on for too long – when will software patents and their misuse finally be abolished?

– android mobile phone customers pay $5 per mobile phone to microsoft because of software patents they bought. Microsoft has their own windows mobile system and has contributed NOTHING to the android infrastructure, yet we have to pay them when we decide against their product?
– microsoft was at least temporarily stopped from selling microsoft word because of XML patents. XML is an industry standard. How could you possibly punish them for finally using standards instead of proprietary methods that keep competitors out more?
– patent cartell buys nortels patents for billions of dollars, smaller competitors that are not in on the cartel will suffer. What does the SEC have to say about that? Apparantly nothing. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nortel-announces-the-winning-bidder-of-its-patent-portfolio-for-a-purchase-price-of-us45-billion-2011-06-30
– study shows that software patents are detrimental to the industry as a whole. What a surprise.
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1868979#%23 with similar results already expected in 2008: http://researchoninnovation.org/dopatentswork/

And still I get ‘software patents are necessary to incentivice innovation’. No, they are just a means to keep smaller inventors from succeeding and feed a multi billion dollar litigation and cartel building machine. Software patents need to be abolished.

One year macbook pro – issues after upgrade to 500G travelstar hitachi drive – solved

I was happily surprised to find that the 500G hitachi travelstar 7200rpm / 16M cache costs only $99 at amazon.com. Since I had been wasting too much time deleting old stuff on my 250G drive to make room for new photos and videos, I tried to upgrade.

For that I did some google research first, and most people recommended an extra (free) software called superduper that allows to clone out the existing installation onto the (external USB chassis assumed) new harddisk before swapping the two out for each other. This was a good tip, as it made sure the cloned disk was also bootable. The process took about 5 hours, using an external usb drive bay device which I picked up for $25 over lunch at Frys.

Since I had a fairly new macbook pro 15″, it was very simple to replace the existing drive, a 5 minute job.

The first impression after swapping out the two drives, was that I almost doubled my read speed, very impressive, however then also the problems started: hangs with the colorful beachball waiting for some timeout before the app would react again.

Especially using slideshows with iphoto now provokes the problem. A disk test with the diskutil claims the drive is fine.

Turning off the motion sensor that autoparks the drive via pmset was not the solution to the problem, so I turned it back on.

This is very annoying, and I have spent hours researching all the different speculations of people on what it could be. The root cause turns out to be that the EFI upgrade to allow 3Gbps SATA speeds that apple rolled out in support of their SSD’s does create this problem for normal SATA drives that support 3Gbps. Some people seem to be able to downgrade from EFI 1.7 to 1.6 to fix the issue, and some report it does not work for them.

Others mention ftool from hitachi’s support website, which allows to disable the 3Gbps / SCC support, which was turning out to be the fix that works for me. Of course the boot image you download is useless when booted on the intel mac, for some reason the keyboard is not working, and attaching an external keyboard did not help either.

The PDF with the documentation for ftool of course only talks about how to use the tools interactive menus, but I suspected there must be a way to use it with command line parameters instead.

So I ended up copying the iso-boot image to a linux machine, mounting it, using ‘strings’ on the ftool.exe executable to discover that the command line parameters I want are: ‘/ALL /SS LOW DISABLE’.

Since you can’t just mount the iso read-write and modify it, I had to use a different opendos boot floppy image that that fits into the floppy boot area of a cdrom, and then recreate the iso with mkisofs. This caused me quite some grief and after 2 hours of trial and error between trying to get real work done  and 4 coaster cdr’s later, I finally got it to work. Funny enough the keyboard works when booting that opendos image, but only until you start ftool, then the menus again are not navigable.

And after typing it in, it adjusted the drive firmware settings and it all works now !

A dd read/write of a 10GB file about in the middle of the platter performed with about 64MB/s write, 73.6MB/s read. Not too shabby, I think the 5400 rpm drive I had in earlier was reading with more like 40MB/s.

Finally live is nice again, iphoto presentations play without interruption, and I can stop worrying about it all.

Review Nexus One (N1) comparison to G1 android phone

What I like better on Nexus One (N1) compared to my G1

+ faster cpu and more RAM make web browser and switching between apps much more responsive. However, once you do your day to day things you will notice that some of the apps depend on remote resources and those will be as slow as the network, i.e. Where, so more CPU+RAM is NOT a cure-all for performance. It is now easier to open lots (15+) of web pages in the browser and leave them open in the background.
+ reading files (i.e. importing images from the phone) from SD now is 12MB/s instead of 5MB/s. Writing is the same 5MB/s.
+ battery life twice as long (not measured)
+ flash on camera actually works, it is finally possible to take pictures while clubbing. However whitebalance is expecting flash, so if you take without flash then the colors look off. As usual having more megapixel does not improve the picture quality which depends largely on other factors (light sensitiveness, sharpness, color truthfulnes)
+ android 2 features like facebook / contacts integration is nice
+ can take backside off and battery-out much easier than on G1
+ normal audiojack, but thats not only a plus, see below

What I don’t like on Nexus One (N1) compared to my G1

– some apps are not ready for it, i.e. commodore 64 emulators who would direclty benefit from faster cpu only use a small portion of the screen as their framebuffer size is hardcoded. (tested two of them). Moxier Mail (enterprise quality exchange email) just force-closes while authenticating and is not useable.
– no hardware keyboard. While the onscreen keyboard does work somewhat nice it still is a major drawback when trying to type larger amounts of text or while doing other things… it just consumes more percent of your attention to correctly enter text.
– voice dictation not a real substitute yet, integration into keyboard only available in some apps? Sometimes loses connection to servers while waiting to upload data for interpretation and aborts, does not work offline. Quality varies, between garbage and suprising accuracy.
– no hardware keys for phone pickup/hangup. You now actually have to navigate through the touchscreen keyboard to hangup a call when you navigated to say the contacts to look up or take down a new phonenumber.
– oversaturated colors
– new screen technology (better viewing angles) does not have as natural colors?
When comparing photos displayed on g1 and on n1 then the g1 ones look a bit desaturated and the ones on the n1 looks overly saturated in a bad way. Maybe I have a bad engineering sample, but if it is representative then I am less excited about it then everybody else.
– connector for charging now no longer standard micro USB, means you forget the special cable and you are out, but at least when you forget your special usb2audio cable you can now use it without the in-line microphone and accept/hangup/skipsong button from HTC.

Overall I am less excited than I thought I would be and will probably hang on to my G1 until I get something drastically better.

Josh sold his first picture on jmatz.etsy.com

Maybe I have to look into doing the same thing, my friend Josh today on his blog reported he sold his first photo through etsy.com:

“Well, there it is. My first sale. And my first positive feedback. I sold a print titled “Daybreak at the Lake” this week and the buyer loves it. (For that matter, so do I!) I’m putting a bit of effort in up front to get some traffic into my Etsy site, and hopefully that traffic will amount to more and more sales. If was great fun to post things to flickr and get all the feedback there, but actually producing something that someone will have hanging in their home is a whole new thing. If you haven’t visited yet, stop on by http://jmaz.etsy.com/ and see what’s up on the block. Thank you! JMaz”

Here is the photo he is refering to:

Congratulations, Josh!