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Comment Re:I call BS! (Score 1) 266

One thing you're missing: For any of those cars to make those 0-30 times as posted they will be making rather aggressive "why yes, Mr. Cop, I'm flooring it!" acceleration sounds. One must be a little judicious in deciding when and where to do those jackrabbit starts. With an EV you can accelerate like that every single time and Officer Friendly won't even bat an eyebrow (unless you're on wet or poor-traction surface and squeak your tires a bit during takeoff).

It's nice being able to use all the torque every time and enjoy how it feels without anybody having that "wow, what a jerk" reaction or worrying about aggressive driving tickets.

Comment Re:E-arrogance (pay for my fuel, or else) (Score 1) 554

Here's the problem: the actual cost of the electricity to charge any one car is very minimal. I don't think any employee would mind in the least having to pay the whole whopping $0.35-to-$1.50 it'd cost to charge their car. Hell, carve a 100% profit off of it for the company, it's still not bad.

The problem is the cost to install the chargers in the first place is relatively high. If they're just wrapped into the cost of construction of the building and/or parking lot, it's not terrible -- so it makes a lot of sense to go ahead and do it while creating new facilities. But retrofitting it into an existing parking lot requires trenching, new electricity distribution and a lot of disruption. Either way -- do you pass that on to your employees? If so, how do you do it equitably? Howabout the rest of your facilities built out --- should employees also pay for the electric wiring to their desk where they plug in their laptop (they could have charged at home! What, it doesn't last all day? buy a real laptop you millenial!)? Howabout the circuit for the microwave where they heat their lunch? (just buy lunch at the nearby McD's, you hippie! Trying to look all 'green' by actually packing a lunch and then being such a hipster as to want it 'hot'...)

Some companies do have chargers with accounting systems on them (such as Chargepoint) and can indeed charge employees for the power they use. At that point it becomes a matter of it being a perk or not -- can having chargers attract better talent from a wider pool of applicants? -- and how equitable that kind of benefit is. That's worth arguing.

Comment Re:What usability problems really look like (Score 1) 554

Just FYI: The cost difference between a Level III charger ("30 minute charging time" like you state) and a Level II charger (1 to 8 hours, depending on on-board charger type, battery size and charge level) is anywhere from 10:1 to as high as 40:1, especially when you take into account the much higher costs of the high-amperage/high-voltage electric circuits required for Level III charging.

On top of this, only a subset of EVs can use Level III chargers -- and of those, the standards differ. There are three primary ones: CHAdeMO (leaf, soul, others), SAE Combo (supposedly 'the standard' but barely in use) and Tesla's proprietary one.

My company makes do at a 2.5:1 ratio (cars:chargers) of Level II chargers, which is annoying but workable. If we could add one or two CHAdeMO Level III chargers, the largest segment of our users (Leaf and Soul drivers) could easily quick-charge and clear the spot, which would take a lot of the load off. But wow, the cost to get those suckers installed...

Comment How it works at our office (Score 1) 554

I work at a tech company campus in Palo Alto. I was the company's first EV driver, and at our first startup-warehouse office (before we had the campus) I jury-rigged a charger using two 110v circuits and a combiner (with HR and Facilities' permission). It was a hit, and the 2nd and 3rd EV owners and I traded off as needed.

When we moved into the campus, at my urging, they finally installed a bank of 12 chargers. It took us three years, but now we have about a 2.5:1 EVs:chargers ratio. We recognized early on that this would be a high-demand, limited resource, so we started an internal email list for sharing chargers. It doesn't help that the rest of the campus is about 110% full on parking, so giving up an EV spot means possibly having to park off-campus and walk a good distance, making people not want to give up their chargers unless they truly have to.

Luckily all these issues came up and were talked about company-wide on those EV lists, and we've been able to come up with some decently polite practices; no charger rage so far, though it is still high competition. A hierarchy was established to help solve disputes: charging preference goes to small-battery EVs (Leafs, Fiats, etc) first, then large-battery EV's (teslas), then plug-in hybrids (volts, prii, etc). Within those categories those who have an actual charge need vs. those who just want to top off covers most of the rest. Since the chargers have access cards even though they're free, a user risks losing their access card if they're a jerk about it. It's been decently accountable so far.

My only real complaint is that facilities cheaped out and went with chargers with simple yes/no card controls. I really wish they'd used Chargepoint or something similar where we get visibility into who is using which station when, and we can charge for time, power or per-use access if we need to start limiting use. That would also permit public use (for an appropriate fee) on the weekends and evenings when the chargers are empty, though that's not a big thing. (Like most tech campuses, it's stupidly empty all weekend and not near anything the public would want or need to park at.)

The earlier poster who mentioned a 2:1 sweet spot has it right, and we're past that We're still all polite and finding ways to get around resource contention, but it's more effort than it should be. Facilities knows this and wants to expand, but our overall parking lot has usage issues and losing more spaces to dedicated EV isn't an option right now. That's a bigger problem in general than parking stations that I really hope they solve.

FWIW, 90% of our EVs are of the small-battery-only type (leaf, fiat, focus, soul, etc). Most of our employees commute from somewhere on the peninsula which means they don't have to charge; it's more of a convenience than a need. But there's at least a dozen who commute from the far-south bay area or across the bridges that only squeak by without a midday charge, so it removes charge-anxiety. And for at least three of us, we often have to drive between the two main campus sites and the two datacenters around the bay and having midday charging means we can use an affordable EV (I'm no exec, I can't afford a Tesla!) to great effect. At this point I only have to drive the gas-burner on weekends, which has been a huge cost savings. Plus the use of the carpool lane to get through the gridlock of the south bay freeways is a great benefit... though within the last year or so the carpool lanes are just as crowded as the regular ones, at least during prime time.

Comment There can be ads without monetizing. What then? (Score 3, Interesting) 239

I've got a drone video (shot at BurningMan before the anti-drone restrictions) that has over 700,000 views. Being it's from BurningMan I did not monetize it. However, I did patch in music I liked and "acknowledged third party content" once YouTube's systems identified it. The copyright owner on the music caused ads to appear. I don't see a cent of it, and the 'monetize' checkbox is turned off on that video.

Still, I gotta wonder if now I'm going to get an FAA letter too, as they'll see a high-viewer-count "drone video" with ads on it.

(edit: the link to the vid: )

Comment Re:Still ugly (Score 1) 164

Racing bikes / drop bars are for the spandex clad assassins who'd view any EV assist modes as 'cheating' and the batteries/motor as unnecessary weight. Normal humans who happen to ride bicycles (instead of 'bicyclists') are quite happy with sit-up-comfortably-and-be-able-to-see postures. This is why the Electra Townies and their ilk are so popular with the casual bike commuter set. The SRS BZNS bike commuter types who want the monkey-humping-a-football position aren't the target market here.

Comment Three, not six (Score 1) 489

NorCali -- SF Bay Area (starting from about Monterey/Salinas as its southern border), Humbolt, Lassen, all the way up to the OR border.
SoCali -- Coast south of Monterey all the way down to Mexico border, including all of the LA basin, San Diego and the Mojave area
Joquain -- The central valley from Redding to Bakersfield, and the Sierra Nevadas along the NV state line

Tech biz/hippies/redwoods, hollywood/flakes/deserts, then agriculture/rednecks/mountains. Each one would have its own special economy to live on and is a much better social/attitude split.

Comment Range. That's #1. (Score 5, Informative) 810

The three year lease on my Nissan Leaf is over in a few months. I absolutely adore the car. It's been the best commuter vehicle I've had in all ways but one -- range. This is the biggest complaint of all those I've shown it to, as well. Many of the co-workers and friends who have ridden in my car over the years want one! Then they hear what the range is like and they lose interest.

My daily round trip (+lunch) comes in at just under 50 miles. With the highway speeds in my area (75 and up) and putting slightly better tires on it instead of the no-traction-in-rain stocks that I went through all too quickly, my real-world run-until-empty range is about 65 miles (When new with the super-eco tires and driving 65 on the freeway, I could get closer to 80-85 miles of range). This means that by the time I get home I can go back out to shop and return, and that's about it. I cannot use the Leaf for longer weekend runs, road trips, or even for the once every three weeks that I have to commute from San Jose to San Fran (about 120mi round trip). Therefore I have to have a second gas-powered car.

Being that I work in Silicon Valley, owning one gas car and leasing an electric car alongside is feasible. With how much I save on gas the lease is nearly 75% covered anyway. With my office soon installing chargers at work my range will extend considerably. But for most of my friends having more than one car is out of the question, budgetary-wise, and the limitations of a car that can only go about 65 miles before it has to charge for 5 hours (my usual L2 charge is 4h:40m or so, overnight) are just too restrictive. With L3 chargers being few and far between, and often having a cost associated with their use, they don't help much. So, no EV for them.

When my lease is up I'll probably try to get a Toyota RAV-4 EV. It supposedly has a real-world range of over 110mi - nearly double my Leaf. It's more affordable than the Tesla models, and more important to me, I can fit in it (I'm very tall-torso and short-legged; I simply can't get in the sports-car-low roof line of the Model S, and no Model X's exist that they will let a consumer sit in to see if they fit!). I'm bummed that Nissan hasn't found a way to 2x the range of the Leaf, or I'd gladly stick with that model. The Tesla-drivetrain RAV4 is still more expensive than I like, but it'll fit my EV driving needs far better.

When battery technology increases enough that 150+mi range EVs are Leaf-level affordable _then_ you will see sales take off in the urban areas. Any advancements in fast-rate (L3 or better) charging will help that too. Until then, for all of their benefits and wonderfulness to drive, they'll remain a niche for packed-urban-area dwellers who can afford to have a second, dedicated commute car.

Comment Re:OUCH (Score 2) 479

In the linked video he's flying a QAV400 -- a small quadrotor that uses anything from 7" to 11" props, in a hand-held sized frame. While the propellers can still cause lacerations, they're far smaller and lighter than a full RC helicopter (especially the kind mentioned that killed him). Landing a few feet from your face is still not wise, though.

There's definitely a question of scale to be considered in all this debate. Someone screwing up and dropping a lightweight A.R.Drone atop someone's head is a world of difference from that idiot covering the bull run with the monster octo-rotor dangling 20k of video equipment. I fly some of the ultralight models that can barely hoist up a tiny GoPro camera. While the prop tips can still cause some road rash they're not going to be lopping anybody's head off. Yet I'm sure I'm going to get regulated against / yelled at / sued etc just for owning it, thanks to the flying-lawnmower "look at how much money and power I can put in the air" mega-aerial-video types.

The RC community needs to work on smaller, lighter and safer models for purposes of filming. The flying dSLR cranes and high-power-acro-but-it-can-film-too models need to stop being near people.

Comment Own the Hue setup. (Score 1) 235

I've had the Hue system in my bedroom for the last six months. Were they worth the price? Probably not, considering the starter pack price. Even so, I like them and I'm glad I bought them. Buying overpriced gadgets is a bad habit of mine anyways, so they weren't out of my norm.

The three bulbs are set up with one in the master bath overhead, one in a torchiere base by the bedside table, and the third in another torchiere on the far side of the room. The bulk of the lights in the master bath are on a separate switch (and are all LED, just single color white on/off instead of 'smart' bulbs). So when you're in there doing your morning thing and need lots of white light, flick a lightswitch for the regular bulbs.

As normal lights the Hue work just fine. The only annoyance is if you enter the room and don't want to have your phone out to switch things, you have to turn the main lightswitch in the room off then on again. This brings up the main bulb on that switch in a normal, soft-white mode, just like turning on a regular lamp. To toggle to a color-scene you have to pull out your phone, which isn't too much of a problem since like most modern geeks mine is always with me or nearby (usually on the nightstand charging), but is still slightly annoying. When they release the standalone controller they show in TFA's slideshow that will be a huge improvement.

The color scenes are surprisingly handy. I only have a few basic ones: Bright warm light for doing work at the desk (biased so the room light is brighter than the bedside), soft warm white for reading in bed (biased so the bedside light is brighter than the room), a blue/red/orange soft color combo for when I'm brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed (very relaxing), a "aaugh, the pain, I'm up dammit" super-white (they call it 'energize' mode in the app) which turns on automatically in time with my workday morning alarm, and the "gotta pee" mode where only the master bathroom light turns on to gentle, kind-to-the-night-vision red. The rest of the modes are all the usual "ooo lookit I can make the whole room /blue/" type of goofing off which almost never get used.

I thought the novelty would wear off after a while, and it did... for the 'goofing off' modes. But after refining into the work/read/go-to-bed/get-up/night-pee modes (which took a month or so) I really don't want to do without them. They're something I'm used to and actually miss when staying away from home. Having a room only be 'very bright' or 'no light' isn't enough of a choice any more. Yeah, I'm spoiled. But isn't that what this kind of gadget is for?

For those who are very particular about how warm/cool your normal light should be, Philips chose a good color engine for that; you'll be happy. The downside is that it can't do true green. Outside of goofing off, though, it's not often I'd need a solid green lit room.

If they'd come down notably in price I'd install them all over the house. All my house interior lighting is LED already, but it'd be nice to have similar 'color dimming' abilities throughout the abode instead of just in my room. But at $50 a bulb? Naaaah, one room is enough.

Wish list: The aforementioned controller (in various tabletop and wall-switch-mount formats). Higher maximum brightness. Slightly more green hue -- just a little. Lower cost.

Comment We run them in-switch (Score 1) 320

My datacenter uses Arista gear for top-of-rack and core switching. It's a large cloud-style environment with each rack acting as its own "pod" with self-contained services, so any one pod can be moved to any zone of any of our datacenters with minimal fuss.

Small services like NTP, in-pod DNS, sFlow relay, monitoring, puppet (some of it anyways) and small unixy management tools we just run in the Aristas themselves. They're Fedora-core linux based switches that will run those things happily and do a great job feeding those services to their pods.

As far as NTP, the core pair on the main backbone gets their own GPS inputs, then all the top-of-racks sync to the core pair. Works out quite nicely.

Comment Re:Can the car control the cable if the battery di (Score 1) 212

Don't forget: on the Leaf, not only does it have the 12v battery, but it has a small solar cell (on the SV model) located on the rear spoiler. So if even the 12v 'control' battery was dead, just leave it in the sun for a bit. Then it'd have enough juice to control the main charger and activate it once plugged in.

Comment Re:This isn't really new, (Score 1) 67

Downside to the SPOT solution: It only allows for 41 character on-the-fly tweets (you can do longer if they're pre-defined but those are much less useful). It also goes through their custom gateway and slaps extra formatting and geo-tagging to your tweet that you may not want. So while functional it's of less value than a native 140-character tweet-via-shortcode like TFA talks about. Globalstar (and their SPOT division) need to step up and provide the same functionality, IMHO.


10 Worst Evolutionary Designs 232

JamJam writes "Besides my beer gut, which I'm sure has some purpose, Wired is running a story on the 10 Worst Evolutionary Designs. Ranging from baby giraffes being dropped 5-foot during birth to Goliath bird-eating spiders that practically explode when they fall from trees."

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