• A friend of mine, Clark, is really impressed with my EV. He's been telling all his friends about it.

    One of his friends runs RubeLab, an environmental invention club. When they put in their solar charging station, I really wanted to be there, but I couldn't make it: they're all the way in Eustis.

    Apparently, they're having an EV rally on March 20th. There will be a 15-mile scavenger hunt, with charging at the stops. The director called me at home to ask if I could attend.

    I accepted, of course! Now I just need to get a hitch on my van so I can tow Silent E there!

  • Yesterday was not a good day for Silent E. We were stopped in the bumper-to-bumper single-lane rush-hour line inside UCF when she quit on me altogether.

    Oh, did I mention it was raining?

    As I gently pressed the pedal to start creeping, I heard the contactors open and saw the "check engine" light come on.

    I never wired the check engine light to anything. Clearly, the car was mocking me.

    Luckily a policeman stopped to help out before the traffic backed up behind me became violent. We pushed it up a nearby driveway. He wanted to give me a jump-start. I assured him that none of the things that work for a gas car would help me and that I would be fine. Then I called Eri to explain that I would be late for dinner. Before calling AAA for a tow, I broke out my trusty voltmeter and started debugging.

    Continue reading "Judebert's EV Conversion Diary: Shakedown Breakdown"

  • Yesterday, Apple announced their new device, the iPad. Since it runs the iPod operating system, it's easiest to think of it as a gigantic iPod Touch.

    Frankly, I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping for gaze tracking. But it's not just the lack of "new" that bothers me; it's that I have to carry around yet another device. What in the world would compel me to carry more junk, when I just got my PDA and cell phone combined? And how would I carry it, anyway? Over-the-shoulder strap with the iPad on my hip? Fanny belt?

    It's not all bad, of course. I like the idea of a full-color eBook reader that can embed video. I'm not willing to pay $15 when I can get a paperback for $7, though. But it could be extremely useful for textbooks. I'd feel better with my daughter carrying a single iPad instead of a 50 pound backpack.

    It could also be very useful for doctors. A doctor could take notes and pictures on an iPad. (Of course, I'm assuming Apple realizes their mistake and adds a camera.) These would be immediately available to the reception desk, eliminating a good deal of waiting that normally occurs while papers are shuffled around. Better yet, the iPad could provide augmented reality. For instance, by holding it up to your arm, the doctor could see the x-ray she just took overlaid on top.

    In fact, augmented reality would be a great application for the iPad. Mechanics could get step-by-step instructions, and what that part looks like under all the filth. Inspectors could have pictures of the last visit to compare against. Heck, you're carrying around a window; use it to find product recommendations, directions, even imaginary portals into other realities.

    I'd develop an alien detector. When you hold it up to somebody, you get a picture of their true appearance, like the glasses from They Live. You could see a normal human, a Gray, or an Obey zombie. Other iPads are immediately recognized as normal humans.

    You can only imagine the horror I went through to create this image. I work hard for you people.

    Better yet, let's work on that fanny belt idea. You strap the iPad on, and its built-in accelerometer detects its position. It presents the celebrity derrière of your choice, moving in sync to your stride.

    For men, you can move the iPad around to the front. Free version only provides a censor bar up to 4 inches long. Paid version allows for unlimited length, and provides pixelation for more realistic movement.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present the pinnacle of modern civilization; a new twist on old classics such as the codpiece and the bustle; for your edification and enlightenment: the iLoin.

    Maybe there's a reason Apple didn't include a camera!
  • I gave blood today. Apparently I have no center veins, so they had to use my right arm outer vein.

    Which rolled out of the way. Stung like the dickens, too.

    My nurse called over another nurse, who successfully stuck the vein without even pulling the needle out. Then I stopped bleeding. The same thing happened to me a few donations ago, but it was the other arm. And it took that nurse 8 or 10 tries, with significant bruising, before she managed to stick the vein. No idea what the problem was: clotting, piece of skin, whatever... that side was done. They wrapped me up in a white bandage.

    I had them try the other side. Only an outer vein there, too. This time we got it on the first try and managed to miss all my nerves: it barely hurt at all. I was done bleeding in under 5 minutes. They wrapped me up with a blue bandage.

    With my red shirt, white right arm bandage, and blue left arm bandage, I'm feeling very patriotic today. :-D


  • My, it's been cold here in Florida. Cold for Florida, anyway. This week of sustained freezing temperatures makes me feel like I'm back in North Carolina. The cold is bad for my range, too.

    Y'know what's great about an electric car, though? It's got an electric heater. That means I don't have to wait for the engine to warm up; I just flip the little switch and get a waft of hot air. Unfortunately, that reduces my range, too.

    This morning, after using the gas car to drop off my eldest daughter at her bus stop, I did something clever. I plugged the EV in, turned on the heater, and cranked up the charger so I was replacing all the electricity the heater used up.

    By the time I was ready to leave, the frost had melted off the windows and part of the roof. The whole car was toasty warm.

    I think I have to start a list of The 10 Best Things About Owning an Electric Car, and this goes on the top. I'm definitely doing it tomorrow!