Friday, May 29, 2015

Tesla 6.2 Update arrives

I was all excited this morning when I saw the update notification. I was hoping for autopilot as a delivered feature. 

Not nearly so exciting. Primarily an update around charging planning (ie to reduce range anxiety) and minor updates to improve blind spot warnings and automatic cruise control (and collision avoidance). 


Saturday, May 9, 2015

No Ubers in Vancouver

I had the awkward experience of taking a taxi to the airport last night. First I had to ask if the taxi took credit cards. Then I had a horrible drive experience while the taxi driver yelled at some of the other drivers in traffic. Then when I went to pay for my taxi he told me he didn't take American Express (had he told me that upfront, I would not have gotten it in the taxi). And then when I went to pay him he told me that most people tip more than 10%. 

Is there any one in the Taxi industry who really thinks this is a better experience than an Uber?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Traveling with the Amazon FireTV Stick

We headed off in our annual skiing trip over Spring break this year and I thought I would try bringing the Amazon FireTV Stick with me. In previous years I brought along the our Apple TV, but that was difficult to disconnect from the home entertainment system and did not carry the same range of content we were used to at home. Our last attempt with Google's ChromeCast did not go well mostly because of the requirement to talk people through how to use it. 

Both TVs I tried in the house offered easy access to an HDMI port and USB (for power). Setting up wifi was also relatively easy. No training was required for the families who joined us (the concept of a remote is pretty universal) and for those wanting to use their own Netflix or YouTube accounts, they were able to "cast" from their device to the FireTV stick. 



I think in terms of providing the familiarity and convenience of home entertainment while traveling (in the US), this is now a complete and effective solution. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rebooting your Tesla

A few days ago I noticed a few anomalies with the music system. At first I thought it was an encode error on some of the TED talks I was listening to, but it started happening on other news and music as well. Then when I put something in the Nav system, it would say "navigation system initializing" but stay on that indefinitely. I had assumed when I turned off at night it would "reboot" when I started the next day - but that is apparently not the case. 

So today I had Will Google how to "reboot" the main screen and the driver screen. Holding the top right and left buttons on the steering wheel reboots the drivers console. Holding the right and left scroll buttons on the steering wheel reboots the main center screen. I of course pulled over to do this but am pretty sure it does not affect the main systems (have seen both reboot on their own while driving before). 




It seems to have solved the problems with the audio system and with the Nav system.  Problem solved!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How low can the Tesla battery go?

While not really on purpose, I had the opportunity tonight to run the Tesla down to 3% tonight (9 miles of range). The alerts in both the Nav system and the energy console were helpful. Was very happy to see the battery drain at the predicted rate in the Nav screen (taking your destination into account along with your average driving and the coming terrain / elevation). I did notice that it was very accurate on the last drive back from Las Vegas - much more so than before the v6.1 update. 



Now if I could just get the battery in my iPhone and Mac to behave the same at single digit percentages of remaining life....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2 Weeks with Tesla's Traffic Aware Cruise Control

I have to admit - it was not easy getting used to letting the car slow down for me as I approached other cars on the LA freeways.  I think the mistake I made in the beginning was keeping the "relative distance" setting quite low (ranges from 1-10, 1 being closest).  However, the more I used the feature, the more I became a fan.  I think the tipping point for me was the stop and go traffic during rush hour where the Tesla TACC can slow you all the way to zero and then pick up and eventually get back up to 75 mph without real interaction from the driver.



There is a caveat of course that the car may not slow in time.  A "collision" warning sounds, giving you time to hit the break and help the car slow even quicker--but truth be told, it took a lot of tries to get to the point of bravery to test this out.

But all of that effort paid off tremendously as I took my 2nd road trip (this time to HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Spring, CA).  I was able to be on conference calls the entire trip (in the HOV lane) without focusing very much on the slowing and speeding up of traffic in the various highway choke points, allowing the car to do the work for me and focusing on keeping in the lane (or changing lanes when appropriate), but also having the confidence that the car would keep an appropriate distance from the cars in front.  I found that using a setting between 3 and 5 on the relative distance (based on time to the car in front of you, so more distance at higher speeds) worked the best for me.  I found that at higher settings, too many cars in traffic would try to "squeeze" into the open space, creating a traffic risk of its own, and that lower than 3 made for too many exciting decelerations when traffic suddenly came to a grinding halt.

By the way, the new Tesla Supercharger in Cabezon, CA, was great.  Next to an outlet mall and a McDonalds and of course with 10 charging bays.  Very conveniently located right off the exit on the 10 East Bound before the LA Metro Highway area.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tesla Software Update 6.1

I still can't get over the concept that a car gets regular updates to improve features. Like Preston Tucker from 67 years ago, Elon Musk is definitely changing the industry for the better by delivering monumental changes. 

I got notified Friday evening that my Tesla P85 was ready for an update. It auto-scheduled it for 2.30am on my home wifi, but gave me the option to change. The update was estimated to be 100 mins long and the car would be inoperable during the update. 

The next morning I read the release notes. Took the car out for a spin to test the active cruise control and lane passing. The changes to park assist are helpful, but not yet as Elon described last November (ie parking for you). Active driving in a lane is also not yet ready. However, there were lots of improvements to the apps, media system, auto high beams, automatic climate preparation, etc. The "charging planner" is an intersting feature that would have been nice on my last trip to Vegas (CES in January, 2015). While I wouldn't say I had range anxiety with 3 super chargers along the 250-mile journey and a station in Vegas, it is nice to know that future trips have a charging planner butyl in to the Nav. 

Looking forward to full autopilot and real auto valet parking.