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. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Culver City, CA SuperCharger and my first "real" commute in LA traffic

Much different than the Hawthorne SuperCharger experience. 12 bays in a mall parking lot just off the 405 near Culver City. Easy access. A short walk to the mall yielded lots of opportunities for coffee, food, etc. 

However, the best part of today was my first full traffic commute in LA traffic using the HOV lane. Probably saved me 30 minutes x2 today and the experience between the smooth ride and the seamless phone and Internet podcast integration made everything almost enjoyable.  And very productive. 

Loving this Tesla. Wednesday I am planning to drive it to CES. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My First Tesla SuperCharger Experience

I picked up my Tesla from Van Nuys, CA, on NY's Eve, so the opportunities to get out on the road to put some mileage on the car have been slim. However, my daughter has a volleyball tournament today about 2 miles from the Hawthorne SuperCharger location (near the Space X facility) which provided the perfect opportunity to try it out.

First, it was not easy to find. It is literally in the middle of the industrial Space X complex. Even the sign by the guard shack told me to take a different entrance, but the guard thankfully came running out before I could reverse to tell me to come thru anyway.

I had some trouble getting the Supercharger nozzle into my port (turns out I was just pushing strong enough), but it gave me the opportunity to try to roadside service number. The person on the phone was extremely helpful to the point of even suggesting nearby places to eat, etc.

The weekend guard (it is Sunday) opened up the facility a little late (about 0920), but was friendly and courteous. Clean bathrooms, Tesla merchandise, the Tesla Model X on display, and a vending machine for drinks. It looks like there would be coffee but the guard says that is only during the week (odd decision).

The charger was pushing about 180 miles of rated charge per hour, so I only need to kill about 20 minutes before I was ready to get back on the road (enough time to right this blog and check my email on my iPad).

While I think they experience can and should be better, I am pleased. Looking forward to trying the one near the mall in Culver City next week...







@ChuckParkerTech

Location:W 126th St,Hawthorne,United States

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Streaming 4K - is it ready?


I find it fascinating that the first 2 "network" options I have for watching 4K content are from Netflix and Amazon. DirecTV has announced a 4K channel in the future,

Netflix announced their capability sometime ago and even though I bought a 4K TV a few months ago, it was only a few weeks ago that I tried out the capability. 

I have to admit I spent some period of time trying to figure it out. I could not get the 4K option work on my XBox One or FireTV, etc, and then finally read up and realized I had to use the Netflix app in the   Samsung TV itself to see the content options. 

Netflix looks gorgeous in 4K. There is a dedicated "row" of content options for 4K. However, despite the fact that I have 45 Mbps of bandwidth, it does buffer and crash the app...a lot. 

Amazon, which announced their option only 2 days ago, is a much bigger challenge for content discovery.  I cannot find a 4K area on the UI, but was able to search for content on my phone. Ironically, looking up a CNET article was the best source for finding available content. There was a lot of rebuffering, though unlike Amazon, it did not crash the app.

I did a bunch of comparisons to 2K content on the Xbox and was hoping the 4K upscale would be nearly as good, but it wasn't. 

So I am glad the shift to higher quality content has started, but we are a long ways from this being a viable, main stream content option. 



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Home Automation - WeMo WiFi Bulbs

I wanted something to be able to automatically control the garage light settings as well as the front porch. Already had a few WeMo switches for lamps and light switches for bed rooms.

Easy install. Took about 4 minutes total. 
Functionality is great. Of course, unlike with a switch installation, you need to leave them "on" so this really only works in places where you aren't wanting to turn on the lights at other times (without getting out the app). 

Bought a few of the Sylvania IQ bulbs to go with this (front porch). Also very easy to add to the app.

You can get all of this on Amazon with this search.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Casting for Second Screen Continues to Improve

If you read our research a few months ago, you noticed that casting via the Google/Netflix API driven capability has continued to improved across a multitude of apps.

However, a recent review of YouTube and Netflix in my own digital living room (yes, not the average home) reveals that the pair of apps continues to update their list of capable devices in a pretty aggressive fashion. In the image below (Netflix) you can see they have added Amazon's FireTV, the Xbox One, and the latest Samsung TVs (at least). Full disclosure, I don't have a PS4 to test against. It did not detect my Roku. My Amazon FireTV stick requires the user to select a casting mode before the apps will detect it. 

Of course the "rest" of the casting apps (HuluPlus, Flixster, etc) still only detect the Chromecast device itself. A likely scenario is that Google and YouTube will continue to push the envelope (they require new apps to enable casting to get onto their device) and others will follow. 

The other likely result is that the value of casting as a feature for sharing 2nd screen content will grow but the value of the Chromecast device itself will diminish over time.