The Tesla S hype has me interested. So now I’m curious, what does it really cost to run per mile? The Tesla site has a decent calculator, here’s some numbers derived from it.
Tesla says they get 283Wh/mile. Electricity in San Francisco costs $0.35/kWh. So that works out to $0.10/mile in a Tesla. Tesla compares itself to 22 MPG cars. Gas in San Francisco is roughly $4/gal, so it’s $0.18/mile in a gas car. By that math, a Tesla is roughly half the cost of a gas car in San Francisco.
San Francisco has outrageously high electricity costs. At the national average of $0.11/kWH a Tesla is more like $0.031/mile, or six times better than a gas car.
On the other hand, batteries wear out. Tesla is offering to replace the battery after the 8 year warranty at a prepaid cost of $10,000 – $12,000. Assuming 12,500 miles a year that adds $0.10/mi to the cost of driving a Tesla, dwarfing the cost of the electricity! The Tesla ends up being $0.13 – $0.20 / mile compared to $0.18/mi for the 22 MPG gas car (and roughly $0.12 – $0.20 / mile for gas cars in general).
Update: Ken points out the battery lasts another 8 years, so battery replacement really adds $0.05/mi. Our SF Tesla then is $0.15/mi. Also Dan asks if some part of drivetrain maintenance should factor in to gas car operating costs.
If you think of the battery as another form of “fuel” that needs replacing every eight years, then the Tesla costs about the same per mile to drive as a gas car no matter what electricity rates you pay. But maybe the battery will last longer; no one really knows. Also, I suspect most Tesla customers think of the battery cost as depreciation and not a consumable.
Another argument for Tesla is that electricity is somehow more environmentally friendly than gas. Not really; a Tesla is metaphorically spewing 44% coal emissions out its tailpipe. It's 20% nuclear though, I think that's a win.
I finally made good on last year’s New Year’s resolution and transferred domain names away from GoDaddy (registered via Google) to Hover. Hover is a humane registrar, the evolution of Tucows, and they have a good service. Getting out of the clutches of GoDaddy is not easy but Hover has put a lot of effort into helping you. Their docs are thorough and the webapp is good. Even so, I was starting to wish I’d used their free valet service. The steps are roughly:
Step 7 has a race condition; Hover has to have received your domain name before you’re allowed to edit the name server authority in the whois data. And various things cache whois and root DNS information for minutes to hours. My site was offline for about 10 minutes while this sorted itself out. The right thing would be to edit the name server authority for your domain first, before initiating the transfer. Hover seemed happy to provide DNS service before the transfer was complete, I just couldn’t update the whois info.
Another glitch was that some of my names weren’t registered directly by me, but instead via Google Sites or AppEngine. That extra step causes a big mess; here’s a detailed description of the solution. In brief, you have to go to Google Admin Control Panel. That has a link for Domain Settings / Advanced DNS settings that gives you login credentials at GoDaddy that Google made and never told you about. There’s a “Sign in to DNS console” link right there that leads you to GoDaddy management, you can unlock the name and get the authorization code there. But that site has been broken for a year and you can’t disable domain privacy with it. Instead log in to this other GoDaddy site; you have to recover the username (a different random number), but the password Google gave you will work. The “cancel private registration” button works there. It’s almost like GoDaddy doesn’t want this transfer to be easy.
Yahoo shut Delicious down. (Well, they sold it to a new owner who made a mess of it.) A bunch of Delicious users jumped ship and signed up for Pinboard which was a lot like Delicious only better, cleaner, faster. It costs $10 (once!) and now Maciej is making a nice living running this little service for his loyal users. He’s not rolling in VC dough, he doesn’t have a staff of hundreds, I’m guessing he grosses roughly $100,000 a year. But he runs a great service for a dedicated, smart community. Pinboard is a success.
Before Google Reader dominated the scene there were a lot of competing feed readers that were little one man shops. But then Google launched something really excellent, and free, and that was the end of the feed reader market.
Now Google is shutting down Google Reader. It doesn’t make them the hundreds of millions of dollars they measure products by. There’s a large, vocal community of distraught users who are looking for somewhere, anywhere to go. There’s a few products that might fill that niche. Commercial products, cost a few bucks, could pay for the living of a couple of developers. Google Reader shutting down may be the best thing that could happen for them. It could make them a success.
Well I rewrote the easy parts. I left out the zoom, although that would be pretty straightforward using D3 transitions. And I left out the color transitions; the simple way I’m doing this in SVG it’s too slow to animate. I should rewrite it using Canvas to match the speed of the 2004 Java applet.
D3 makes this kind of visualization very easy. Particularly the projection; Ben’s online example uses a janky Platte Carrée, I imagine because he didn’t want to do the math. (The version in his book is more georesponsible.) I don’t want to do the math either, but with D3 I can just use the provided AlbersUSA. The source is on GitHub and is quite readable, I think.
I had a bit of email drama this week; Gmail started classifying half of my incoming legitimate email as spam. I got some great help from Gmail support who explained the problem and taught me how to properly forward email.
In detail, what happened… I get all my email to email@example.com, which I forward via procmail and SMTP to my gmail account. For some reason monkey.org recently got branded a possibly spammy domain. Because of my forwarding Gmail was under the impression that all my email was coming from monkey.org, so a bunch of it started getting marked as spam. The Gmail UI is a bit buggy in this circumstance; it was misidentifying which domain was the problem, telling me “we’ve found that lots of messages from gmail.com are spam” and the like when the real problem was monkey.org.
I fixed the problem by forwarding my mail properly. Gmail doesn’t just use the From: email header to identify the sender, it also uses the (normally invisible) From⎵ SMTP envelope. And because I misconfigured procmail, that header was always being set to firstname.lastname@example.org (since I was sending the mail). You can spoof the envelope too via -f, you just have to set it up that way. (Which makes me wonder why the spam filter pays any attention to it.)
It's a subtle problem; I only noticed it after several years. If you use procmail to forward to Gmail, you may want to look into your configuration. I believe most more ordinary forwarding mechanisms don’t have the envelope problem. Procmail is weird in that it’s generating new emails, not forwarding existing ones.
The zero width space is a useful Unicode character. It's white space but renders with zero width. Useful for hinting where a line break could go if a browser needs to wrap a long line. It's also good for faking out Twitter's annoying URL rewriter; if you stick a ZWS in the middle of a domain name then Twitter won't rewrite your text with a t.co redirect.
The zero width space is Unicode character U+200B. (HTML ​). It's remarkably hard to type. On Windows you can type Alt-8203. On Linux you apparently can type Ctrl-Shift-U 8203. On a Mac you need Character Viewer; search for "zero" and double click the invisible character on row 4, column 1 to insert a ZWS.
ZWS >< ZWSOr you can just cut and paste it. I put one up there for you, between the left and right angle brackets. Of course being zero width you can't easily select it; best bet is to copy the angle brackets too, all 3 characters. Then paste and delete the brackets. You can verify the ZWS is still there by using the arrow keys to move the cursor; it should get "stuck" on the ZWS and require two movements to pass.
I love this graph. JUPOS, a crowd-sourced astronomy program to track atmospheric features on Jupiter. Specifically it's a graph of the width and center of the Great Red Spot since 2010, taken from observations from hundreds of astronomers. The project was started in 1975 by an East German astronomer. Over time they've collected historical data back to 1785 and built a network of observers using webcams (!) to take pictures of Jupiter. This graph is a quick view of a well known feature, they also track much more detailed numerical data about Jupiter's atmosphere.
The router is the most important computer in your home but most consumer routers are junk hardware with terrible software. For years my Linksys WRT54GL + Tomato firmware has been doing me well but Tomato hasn’t had an update in two years and the WRT54GL doesn’t do 802.11n.
The modern equivalent is an ASUS RT-N16 running Toastman’s Tomato build. Good stuff. The RT-N16 does 802.11n well and is overpowered hardware. The Toastman builds have all the goodness of stock Tomato along with nice features like USB drives and file serving. And my favorite feature, per-device network monitoring; perfect for figuring out what the heck is using all your bandwidth.
The stock ASUS firmware is garbage. Replacing it is a bit tricky; your choices are using their weird Windows software, installing a signed DD-WRT build first, or doing it by hand with tftp. I did the tftp trick and it worked fine. Unfortunately Toastman distributes his builds on a server that requires a login, but it does actually work. I used build tomato-K26USB 1.28.7500 4MIPSR2Toastman-RT-Ext.
Some alternatives.. The ASUS RT-N66U is fancier hardware that does 5GHz 802.11n for more wireless speed. But it’s about twice the price. The Shibby Tomato builds are also under active development and popular. And some people like OpenWRT or DD-WRT firmware; I prefer Tomato’s simplicity.
This recommendation mostly comes from Jeff Atwood
The elections are over and the visualizations of the vote have come out. The red/blue maps, the warpy cartogram maps, the pointillist map, and the eye searing purple map. All well intentioned, many with awful colors.
Above are eight options for red / blue color scales. The top 4 interpolate between the sedate party logo colors (from NYTimes), the bottom are fully saturated red to blue. Each set of 4 bars represents four different interpolation functions: the simplistic RGB and HSV scales and the perceptual LAB and HCL scales.
Which is best? It depends on your goal. But RGB and HSL interpolation are almost always wrong, they’re very misleading. And for everyone’s eyeball safety, please don’t use fully saturated colors.
My new house in Grass Valley really makes me miss wired broadband. I’m only 3 miles from the middle of town but there’s no wired broadband options, no cable or DSL. So everyone uses wireless Internet.
Fixed Wireless is the new hotness. Remember all those nerds throwing WiFi over a mile with Pringles can waveguides and Yagi directional antennas? Fixed Wireless is that idea made commercial with hardware like Motorola Canopy. It’s a peer to peer network; my house has a directional antenna pointed north with an always on 900MHz link to some other house. That house links to another house, which in turn links at 2.4GHz to a tower with wired bandwidth.
The good news is the latency is very low, about 30ms before I reach the edge of my ISP. Compared to satellite’s 250ms+ that’s terrific. Bandwidth is not great; I’m paying $70/mo for 768kbps download. That’s about twice the price and one tenth the speed of my sonic.net DSL, but given the limitations of wireless it seems reasonable. Here’s a roundup of ISP prices in western Nevada County; fixed wireless comes in the middle between DSL/cable and cellular service.
The big bummer is the peer to peer network with houses sharing bandwidth. It’s like a return to party lines! My ISP heavily manages things. My 768kbps is actually more like 2000kbps but only in a burst for the first 15 seconds; just perfect for loading web pages and other quick interactive stuff. I also have a monthly download cap of 15GB. That seems terribly restrictive and I don’t like it, but they tell me they need it to manage shared bandwidth. It’s too bad, a single HD movie or game download is about 5GB. So I’m closely monitoring usage and doing things like bringing my Mac back to SF just to upgrade Xcode.
Internet access is such a vital resource for our culture and economy, bringing good broadband to rural areas is important. There is a fiber backbone project being built now that will bring a lot more bandwidth to Grass Valley mid-2013, but the last mile problem is real. And getting worse; AT&T has actually removed service in Nevada County and Comcast isn’t even trying. It’s not profitable for them to run cable to customers, so they just don’t bother. Wireless seems to be the only option for the future, but there are fundamental limitations that mean it will never be as good as wired broadband.