The Hourlings Podcast—Episode 5: Happy Hour

For fun, we decided to make our fifth episode about chewing the fat and spinning some yarns about what we write and how we get our ideas. Then again, maybe that sounded pretentious. After all, here I am talking about how I love #CO2Fre, my Tesla #P三D. But then, what folks don’t know I spent over a decade writing about electric cars on the Affordable Electric Car NOW site. I struggled and even had to quit my job to afford the car I drive now. It was through a lot of pain and suffering that gave me the chance to drive my dream car—or, more to the point, have my dream car drive me.

Of course, that’s all non-fiction, and these days I prefer to write fiction. Indeed, I’ve been writing published fiction since 2013, and I have so much more left to write.

Another Finely Structured meeting, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, have a drink with us, be it beer, whine, spirits, tea, or just plain Hydrogen Hydroxide, also known as water. Stay thirsty my friends and see you next week.

Tesla OS 2020.16.2.1

Finally!

TeslaFi had been spamming me with news about TeslaOS 2020.16 for a while and I’ve been itching to see what, after giving us the amazing stop at a stop sign in the last minor update.

Turns out, not much. I am mostly unimpressed by Tesla with this update, though nonetheless very appreciative. Autoformatting a DashCam drive—I wonder if it supports 2TB yet—and a better layout for Easter Eggs are, after all, improvements, even if the Easter Eggs aren’t really hidden gems anymore.

The coolest new feature, though, is the new SuperCharger filter, allowing the driver to only see Version 3 stations and filter out all the slower ones. I love the fact that I have free, lifetime SuperCharging, and one of these days, I’m gonna cross the continents with that perk.

Overall, I’m not disappointed despite being underwhelmed. And one rumor is that this, or a soon to be released version will add V2G to the Tesla. I can’t wait until that rolls out as the Tesla Battery Pack may make for a new, mobile Powerwall. Mind you, even if #CO2Fre could do V2G, my house isn’t equipped for it anyway. So, even if it doesn’t have V2G, it’s still a cool update!

Tesla OS 2020.16.2.1
Tesla OS 2020.16.2.1 adds a new toy box interface, a SuperCharger filter, and auto-formatting of DashCam media. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Gentle reader, if you have been keeping up with me since 11 February of this year, you know that I have been posting once a day since then. As such, today marks a hundred days of a hundred daily posting. Through that, I’ve shared with you exciting electric car news, updated to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, my struggles to get the Equal Rights Amendment to be our Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, written about my many works of fiction, and the many books of nonfiction I voraciously read to be a better scientist. I’ve shared with you my cosplay adventures, and my love of Doctor Who, my love of games, and a bit of my speaking in tongues as well as delivering speeches and singing to my heart’s content. I’ve talked about international travel and how I love to fly there in my own plane, discussed my acting and my dietary needs. And most of all I’ve told you I’m an excellent coder who is always keen for new work. Thanks for riding with me as we cruise upon the cloud to another one hundred posts!

What it costs to NOT run #CO2Fre

During the entire month of April, I only went for a drive a few times. Once was for my Earth Day demonstration. On that day, according to TeslaFi, I drove 6.01 mi / 9.67 km, using 2.64 kWh and reducing #CO2Fre‘s range by 11.11 mi / 17.88 km.

The other drives were when I took #CO2Fre to the Tyson’s Corner Service Center to have them investigate a squeaking sound when I turn in the rain on Tuesday, 31 March. I dropped of #CO2Fre and couldn’t pick her up for a week, which is why #CO2Fre didn’t charge from 1–7 April. The drive there took 12.32 mi / 19.83 km and used 3.14 kW. On Wednesday, 1 April, the service people test drove #CO2Fre for 6.00 miles / 9.66 km, using another 1.72 kWh. I could finally pick up #CO2Fre on Tuesday, 7 April, and burned another 2.74 kWh on the 10.84 mi / 17.45 km trip home.

Other than that, I didn’t drive anywhere and apart from testing, and testing, and testing my DashCam, I didn’t even approach #CO2Fre.

What’s more interesting is the amount of vampire power #CO2Fre uses. For the entire month of April, which is to say 23 March–22 April, which is my billing cycle, I used 39 kWh of electricity. Since the driving only used 10.24 kWh, at least 28 kWh was burned in idle usage and the occasional climate control.

Though this may seem mysterious, I do know exactly where and when #CO2Fre is drawing current thanks to Dominion’s smart meter. I have over ten years of data, in thirty minute increments, collected in a Google Spreadsheet.

Day01:0001:3002:0002:3003:0003:3004:0004:3005:0005:3006:0006:30Super-Off PeakOff-PeakOn Peak
Mon 23 Mar0.30.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.30.00.0
Tue 24 Mar0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Wed 25 Mar0.02.60.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.02.60.00.0
Thu 26 Mar0.30.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.30.00.0
Fri 27 Mar0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00,20.00.0
Sat 28 Mar0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Sun 29 Mar0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Mon 30 Mar0.50.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.50.00.0
Tue 31 Mar0.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Wed 1 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Thu 2 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Fri 3 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Sat 4 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Sun 5 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Mon 6 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Tue 7 Apr0.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.0
Wed 8 Apr5.75.84.60.00.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.016.30.00.0
Thu 9 Apr0.60.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.60.00.0
Fri 10 Apr0.50.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.50.00.0
Sat 11 Apr0.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Sun 12 Apr0.00.20.00.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Mon 13 Apr0.00.20.00.00.20.00.00.20.00.00.20.00.60.00.2
Tue 14 Apr0.40.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Wed 15 Apr0.40.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Thu 16 Apr0.00.20.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.20.00.0
Fri 17 Apr0.80.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.80.00.0
Sat 18 Apr0.40.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.40.00.0
Sun 19 Apr5.72.20.00.20.00.20.00.20.00.20.00.28.50.20.2
Mon 20 Apr3.10.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.03.10.00.0
Tue 21 Apr2.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.00.02.00.00.0
Table 1: Time-Of-Use Data for the month of April 2020

However, even with this low fuel usage, I still get a bill every month from Dominion Virginia Power. This is because, even if I used no electricity, I have to pay Dominion for my Time-Of-Use Smart-Meter. This allows me to charge between 01–05 in the morning for dirt cheap electricity. The base rate for this service, in a two meter household, is $2.73, so my fuel always costs at least that, even if I don’t use any electricity.

The final tally was for all that was $5.42 for just 35.17 mi / 56.60 km of driving.

I hope to spend more kWh cruising upon a cloud again soon.

Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1

Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1

As I went to bed last night, I decided to check #CO2Fre to see if there were any Tesla Operating System Updates. TeslaFi sends me emails when a new TeslaOS is found in the wild, so I had a feeling I might be due for another update. I was not disappointed. Just before bed, I set #CO2Fre to update. After the update finished, I had Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1, and the 01:00 charge began.

I was eager to see what the new TeslaOS would bring. Alas, technically, it was nothing new. I’m guessing it may be internal improvements to Stop at Stop Signs, but since I can’t test that—or the DashCam viewer, it’s kind of moot. Nonetheless, pretty cool to get a new TeslaOS.

Stop at Stop Signs
This is the same message from Tesla OS 2020.12.5 and it’s unchanged in 2020.12.11.1. Still, can’t wait to try out the automatic stopping at stop signs and stop lights. © 2020 Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Overall, I was happy with the update and I want to share a screen capture of the release notes, even if they’re unchanged. I then wanted to share version number page just to confirm I was upgraded. I didn’t think much of it but then I was startled by a field I hadn’t noticed.

Tesla OS 2020.12.11.1
New Tesla Software, version 2020.12.11.1. The release notes are unchanged. Note though, the Premium Connectivity! Yes, I purchased #CO2Fre in Bergen, Norway, on the tram, at 10:59 AM 24 May 2018, meaning I have Premium Connectivity for Life! © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

I never noticed before that I also had the Premium Connectivity package. I was unsure what that was, so I looked it up. And that’s when I was astounded.

You see, I purchased #CO2Fre in Bergen, Norway. I was on holiday and was checking my email as I was waiting for the Cable Car to the top of the Ulriken. I had delayed ordering #CO2Fre despite getting the option in April, because I wanted all-wheel drive. So, that morning, I spotted an email from 01:48:06 local time, which was 16:48:06 Pacific Daylight Time, and, nine hours later, I was seeing it.

I didn’t hesitate. I clicked the button to order and elected every premium option. I waited this long, I wanted #CO2Fre to be fully loaded. When I was finished, it was 10:59:16 local time, or 01:59.16 Pacific Daylight, Thursday, 24 May. Ironically, I ordered the car, in a sense, minutes after receiving it when adjusted for time zone.

In any case, the point is I ordered #CO2Fre before 30 June, 2018, meaning, it seems, I qualify for Lifetime Premium Connectivity.

That’s awesome, as that means I can watch as much Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and RiffTrax as I like on Twitch, ready for anytime I’m stuck at a Free V3 SuperCharger. And when I’m done with filling up on lifetime complementary fuel, I can get back to cruising on the cloud.

Bessie with #CO2Fre

Twice the Electric Car Fun

Today, I attended two, virtual Electric Car events. First, my friend Mark Czajka hosted the first MDVolt virtual meetup. We met Tom Moloughney from InsideEVs. Unfortunately, I was multitasking though this meeting as I also host the Loudoun County Writers Group (LCWG) on Saturday mornings. Normally, I would skip my writing group on Saturdays for one of Mark’s MDVolt events, but this time, I could cheat and attend both, because they were both virtual.

I haven’t spoken much about the Mini-E — so far only in my EVSE installation post — but this car has been on my mind a long, long time.  When the leases were announced for 2009, I jumped on the chance to get one of the 500 East Coast orders.  But alas, my region wasn’t one of the privileged ones, so there was no Mini-E for me.  On the bright side, at least I saved over $800 per month for the last 2 years!

Two Years and 119 Cars! (Today)

I’m so jealous Tom got one of those Mini-Es. I was very desperate to get one back in 2011, when I wrote about it on the Affordable Electric Car Now site, as you can see from the quote above. Tom and I have both been writing about electric cars since 2009 so it’s nice to hear from a kindred spirit. One of these days, I hope he invites me to one of his barbeques.

It was also wonderful seeing my friend dear friend Vanessa Thomas at Mark’s event. She was nice enough to come to my virtual demonstration of #CO2Fre and it was wonderful seeing her here, even if it was hard to see anyone on my tiny phone—LCWG got the computer. Fortunately, Mark uploaded to YouTube, so I could finally the event and focus fully on the content. Check me out in the Pinball video.

Pity I couldn’t show off Bessie with #CO2Fre.

Bessie with #CO2Fre
Picture is #CO2Fre with the Doctor’s car, Bessie © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Mark and I agreed we’d not embed the video here, but if you’d like to watch it, you can find it here.

Electric Car Event Number 2

Then, in the afternoon, my friend Charles Gerena from Drive Electric RVA hosted an event with Phil Englander at Hart Nissan in Mechanicsville. Phil gave a great walk-through of the latest Nissan LEAF. Great presentation, Phil and great seeing you again Vanessa. She and I were the only people to join both events!

Phil Englander at Hart Nissan in Mechanicsville walks us through the newest iteration of the Nissan LEAF, which has been sold globally since 2010.

Posted by Drive Electric RVA on Saturday, May 2, 2020

So nice to talk about electric cars since it’s been far too long for me since I was able to cruise on the cloud.

DashCam Fail Code

TeslaCam, Tesla Can’t, 2.0

I really wanted to have my DashCam fixed by today. I really did. But then the hypochondriac got involved, called Tesla, and have them tell me some least common denominator information information that they wouldn’t accept there was a problem with my Tesla unless I tested it with a USB Key [sic]. As I didn’t have any USB Sticks handy, I ordered one that was Tesla branded, as well as a faster, High Endurance MicroSD Card and new adaptor.

The USB Stick won’t arrive until later in the week but the flimsy excuse from the hypochondriac threatened to call the police if I didn’t cancel my service request and wait for my USB Stick order to arrive. She said some lawn care folks would be here today but of course they didn’t come, so I ended up cancelling my appointment for nothing.

However, not wanting to give up, I got my MicroSD Card and tried it in #CO2Fre. It was formatted as exFAT so I formatted it as FAT32 and plugged it into #CO2Fre. Nothing.

I did some more research and realized that most drives come formatted with an MBR to allocate its partitions. I pulled the SanDisk Extreme SDD #CO2Fre and it too had an MBR. Since Tesla recommends using a GUID Partition Table, I opened up DiskUtility and reformatted the entire drive with a GUID Partition Table and a FAT32 File System.

GUID Drive
This is what DiskUtility shows for the SanDisk Extreme SDD 2TB Drive. Under the heading, you can clearly see the drive is formatted as a GUID Partition Map, as requested by Tesla

This went quickly and in the end I had the system correctly formatted as per Tesla’s specifications. The drive was formatted with 2TB of free space.

FAT32 Partition
This is what DiskUtility shows for the one partition on my SanDisk. The Partition is called TESLACAM as FAT32 only supports uppercase names. Below that, you can see the format is indeed FAT32, as requested by Tesla

Finally, I added the TeslaCam folder.

Drive Contains TeslaCam Folder
This is the root folder of the SanDisk drive. You can clearly see a TeslaCam folder in the root, as required by Tesla

With the drive reconfigured to Tesla’s specifications, I donned the rubber gloves and tried the SanDisk SDD in #CO2Fre. Finally, I got a camera in the toolbar. Only there was an X on the Camera and a warning label. When I clicked the warning, #CO2Fre gave me a mysterious UI_a078 error,

DashCam Fail Code
Despite doing everything right, using an externally verified SanDisk Extreme SDD with a GUID Partition Map and a FAT32 filesystem with a TeslaCam folder, this is what #CO2Fre tells me. I was unable to verify what the UI_a078 message means and more conversations with Tesla recommend I schedule another appointment

Because the hypochondriac doesn’t want them to come to my house to fix #CO2Fre, she insisted I call Tesla’s tech support. I reiterated the issue to the support staff, including the note about UI_a078, and told him about my problems obtaining a USB Stick, and he recommended I make a new appointment as the Tesla Mobile Team Member would have a USB Stick he or she could use to test the USB ports of #CO2Fre.

Of course, the hypochondriac vetoed this idea and instead she ordered a couple, cheap USB Stick that should get here by Sunday. If they don’t work, I may be able to get support to come out next week to help me finally resolve this most vexing issue.

Alas, until then, I won’t be cruising on the cloud.

Happy 50 Years of Earth Day

Today we celebrate fifty years of our beloved planet Earth; it’s Earth Day. Many celebrations are occuring today to celebrate half a century of environmental movements and cherishing a planet we’ve taken for granted in our 100,000 years of evolution. Even the Sierra Club is celebrating in tandem with the the Electric Auto Association and Plug-In America with a live Facebook event earlier today.

Now, as you may remember, I was giving a demonstration of #CO2Fre on Saturday with Drive Electric RVA. Unfortunately, we didn’t even get a dozen folks to watch #CO2Fre go from 0–70 practically in the blink of an eye and show you all the cool features of my ride—sans Summon or my DashCam.

Happy Earth Day, y’all and hope someday soon you can cruise upon a cloud with me in person!

TeslaCam, Tesla Can’t

I haven’t been able to use the TeslaCam since 27 July 2019. That’s because, around TeslaOS 2019.28.1, Tesla broke most USB Sticks used for Dashcam functionality, because, it claimed, they were too slow.

Not having a DashCam and having such a mysterious and incomprehensible error—my USB stick was fast enough—I was afraid to buy a new USB stick to see if I could get it working again. For months I dithered on the issue, totally unsure what Tesla wanted, and wanting so badly not to waste money on a device that would fail with Tesla.

Compound that with, in December, 2019, thanks to an AutoPilot, #CO2Fre failed to stop when a vehicle with California plates cut me off by jumping into the exit lane ahead of me at the last minute, causing $4,000 worth of damage I can’t remotely afford to pay. The scratches, therefore, remain to this day. And as no solace, I don’t even have the Dashcam video to go over the details even if I wanted to make an Insurance claim. So, I have scratches but still no Dashcam.

Then TeslaOS 2020.12.5 came out, which added support for watching Dashcam videos within #CO2Fre. Since I had the time off thanks to Covidapolis, I decided to try again with the Dashcam, and found this neat video:

Thanks to that video I decided to buy a 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD drive, a SamSung SXDC UHS-I EVO Select Card, and a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

I didn’t have access to my car because of the hypochondriac until the day of my #CO2Fre demo. I plugged in the SanDisk drive with its USB-C to USB-A adaptor and… nothing. I had the drive plugged in, but no camera was showing, and I couldn’t show off any of the Dashcam features during my entire presentation, including Dashcam footage of the speed test on the main screen after I parked, despite having the drive plugged in. The demo still went well, but I’m annoyed how hard I tried to get this working and still failed.

No Camera Icon
Sometimes the Camera with an X appears, but usually there’s no camera icon whatsoever, as can be seen here. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

Afterwards, I tried to play around some more. Doing so requires me to go through decontamination because, for some reason, the hypochondriac thinks #CO2Fre has SARS-CoV-2. Meaning, I have to keep changing my clothes every time I go to the car because sitting in my car contaminates my clothes.

The drive was exFAT, so I reformatted it as FAT32. The drive did flash on the screen after some cord giggling, but it said it wasn’t formatted properly despite having the TeslaCam folder and being named TeslaCam. Since I’ve read that Tesla supports exFAT, I formatted it back as that, and it sits now, unable to connect.

2TB SanDisk
I have a 2TB SanDisk Solid-State Drive USB 3.1 compatible 10GB/s Drive plugging into #CO2Fre with a USB-C connector and a USB-C to USB-A adaptor hooked into #CO2Fre, yet #CO2Fre can’t see it! © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

I also tried my MicroSD chip with an adaptor. Originally, the chip was supposed to be part of the Raspberry Pi, but I wanted to test to see if it could be used as the TeslaCam directly. No dice. I’d hook up the Raspberry Pi and try with that, but I have to finish updating my Résumé and fix my broken Zone File updater for Reston Writers first. I just have too much going on to worry about going any further with this nightmare of Tesla‘s.

The way I see it, the drive works in a PC, the drive works in a Mac, it just doesn’t work in #CO2Fre. When you’ve tried everything else, the simple answer it so blame Tesla. So, I made a Mobile Service Request and they should be here Friday morning.

Why must Tesla make this so hard!?!?

In any case, unless I find another set of clothes to wear, even without my Dashcam, I shall very much miss cruising on a cloud.

Join Me Today to see #CO2Fre in Cyberspace

I’m excited to show off #CO2Fre to all of you today on Zoom. My friend Charles Gerena has organized an exciting event where I will be lecturing on the advantages of EV ownership and my love for cruising on a cloud.

I love showing off #CO2Fre for Drive Electric Week and I love working with Charles. Each year, Charles organizes an EV Event in Richmond during the main session of the General Assembly of Virginia and 2020 was no exception. I was down there on Tuesday, 14 January showing of #CO2Fre to everyone who cared to stop by.

I was very happy to give a ride to Delegate Joshua G. Cole that day. He is someone we’ve been following for years, hoping to see him in office. I was so happy when he was finally, fairly elected to represent Fredericksburg. VA. He’s also a great singer!

2020 RVA Drive Electric Day in Richmond
On Tuesday, 14 January, 2020, I was back in Richmond to show off #CO2Fre to the various staff, Lobbyists, and of course, when opportunity arose, Delegates and Senators. 2020 was no exception and this year I gave a ride to none other than Del. Joshua Cole from Fredericksburg! He’s someone we have been fighting to get into office for years and it was so great to see him on his first year serving us as Delegate!

I was so happy to give Joshua a ride in #CO2Fre that day. That day was bright and sunny and although this day has started out with dreary rain, I’m hoping to have better weather when I show you around #CO2Fre and show you what #CO2Fre can do!

Join us on meetup and follow our Facebook event for updates and a video of our event, to be posted after we finish.

I look forward to cruising on a cloud with y’all, today.

Electric Cars from near and far

At today’s EVA/DC meeting, we used Zoom to connect with our fellow Electric Car enthusiasts both news and old. I’ve been part of the EVA/DC for ten years and there have been many friends I’ve made through my time there. It was great seeing so many longtime friends once again thanks to the EVA/DC Zoom chat.

Some on Facebook complained that using Zoom for the EVA/DC meetings was insecure. But, as I’m literally a professional white hat hacker, I knew all too well the early and unfounded FUD against Zoom and what it is and is not appropriate for, and how it’s improved. Though I’ve written about it at length, the short answer is: secure enough for EVA/DC, not secure enough for COMSEC TS/NOFORN. Nobody is talking about issues of national security, so please, come join us on Zoom!

My good friend and fellow Eclipse enthusiast, Scott Wilson, shared with us an invitation to the Drive Electric Earth Day event with Plug-In America. The Drive Electric Earth Day Tribute: EVs Making a Difference will occur on 22 April, at 14:00 EDT / 11:00 PDT. You can RSVP here. I should put a disclaimer here that I have asked to be nominated for Plug-In America’s Drive Electric Awards this year, but to be honest, I don’t think anyone nominated me so no worries about a conflict of interest.

Then my longtime friend Eric Cardwell in Tennessee showed us his burgeoning Drive Electric Tennessee page and his new logo. Of course, we wish him well and hope when he’s got it set up to maybe attend one of his meeting on Zoom. Your logo’s looking sharp, my friend!

But the pièce de résistance has to be seeing my longtime friend and first Smart Electric Drive (Smart ED) owner in the US, LTC Mindy Kimball. She shared with us this classic clip from Dan Rather Reports.

Brava Mindy! Was wonderful seeing you again and getting a glimpse of this blast from the past. And you know, though it’s not exactly the same Smart ED owner, her current Smart ED is now driven by the young man in the videos. Look how far we’ve come!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t invite all of you to join me this Saturday on Secure Zoom where I will be presenting #CO2Fre. Please, come cruise the cloud with me.