Canada Waking Up To The Potential Of EVs

“So far, electric vehicles — small cars packed with expensive technology — are not a big money-maker for the car companies. They prefer the profit margins on thirsty SUVs containing technology paid for decades ago.
No wonder Canadian electric car sales remain low.
According to BNEF, a trend to improving battery technology and falling costs, combined with higher costs for diesel and gasoline cars, will mean electrics will match the cost of internal combustion engines by about 2025.
As is usual with such long-range predictions, the exact dates can only be an estimate, but the direction of the trend is clear: People are going to be using less gas.”
See OPEC can’t stop the slow, painful death of the oil economy
This may be news to some but many of us have figured it out long ago, ICEd (Internal Combustion Engine) cars are a bottomless pit of money: sticker price, taxes, insurance, registration, fuel, oil-changes, service, repairs, replacement parts and labour. Consider my current car, for example. It cost about $25K used. We’ve had it about 10 years now and it costs $1600 per annum for fuel, $200 per annum for oil-changes, $1500 per annum for repairs to keep it going, $1000 per annum for insurance (based on the as-new price…), and $200 per annum for wear on tires. I rotate my winter/summer tires in my garage. I won’t count the repairs we haven’t done because some luxurious feature quit… We’ve spent $4500 per annum for the privilege of supporting Big Oil. Some of these costs would be similar with an EV but fuel costs would drop 80% or more, oil-changes would disappear forever, fewer moving parts would mean fewer repairs/replacements. I figure a Solo EV would be a better buy instantly because of the lower sticker price, having only 3 wheels and being much lighter in weight. Surely it would cost much less over five years. Even offsetting battery replacement every decade against engine replacement, I would be way ahead because the Solo EV has only a small battery compared to some EVs. On top of this, IT’S MADE IN CANADA! On top of this, it emits ZERO CARBON. Wake up, Canada. The solution to your transportation problems is imminent. You don’t have to wait until 2025. The government of Canada wants you to wake up by 2018.

Posted in family, politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Names, Logos, and License Plates

All over North America, license plates are required on automobiles allowed on the public roads. This helps identify vehicles/people for police, buyers, suppliers, etc. The usual plates are some random string of numerals and letters. However, my province, Manitoba, allows “prestige plates“. Since I’m going to proudly drive around in my bright red Solo next year, I thought it only fitting that I should have a special plate, front and back.

The application process involves filling out a form and paying a fee of $100 CAD. There are of course restrictions. The plate must not offend public decency, or be more than 7 letters and numerals, or resemble the stock licence plates which have a form AAA NNN. One can submit three choices in order of preference. I’m terribly poor at making arbitrary choices. Perhaps readers can help…

Currently, some of my ideas include:

  • ELECTRIC (one too many characters)
  • SOLO (might work if I happen to be the first in Manitoba)
  • REDRIDER (again, too many characters)
  • SMALLEV (that could work)
  • ELECTRA (yes)
  • 16KWH (the capacity of the battery – probably not OK)
  • J1772 (the plug-in standard, probably not OK)
  • EV1 (probably not OK)

Well, you get the idea. What should I have on my plates?

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Debian Stretch Is Imminent

“On 2017-06-03 at the latest, we will tag all remaining RC bugs with either stretch-ignore OR stretch-will-remove. Packages that have RC bugs tagged with stretch-will-remove will be removed the weekend before the release unless they have been fixed in testing prior to that. Please note that the automatic removals are still in effect and may remove packages before that deadline.”
See Planned release of stretch on 2017-06-17 and the last weeks up to the release
I’ve been slow this year. I have five systems running Debian 8 and I have only one virtual machine running 9/Stretch. Dist-upgrade worked for that. I guess I will start dist-upgrading the lot this weekend if I ever get caught up with my planting and the weeds and watching the Trump-train-wreck…

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments


Yesterday I got serious about planting my seedling onions. It’s a hard job, not to be done standing at a long handle or some noisy machine. I spread some good loam on a patch of garden, cut small trenches with a trowel, untangled the roots of the seedlings crowded in a flat, and laid the seedlings gently in the trough before covering them. This is all done in a humbling kneeling position which is hard for me with my big belly and too much weight… Finally, I hoisted myself up and watered the patch with a garden hose. I will finish this task today, if I don’t die first.

There are rewards for this effort: salad greens, tender baby onions, and big fat storage onions full of pungency and a sharp green odor. I love onions, sliced, diced and cooked in soups and pizzas. I love them raw, cooked and dehydrated. The weather is cooperating, with occasional showers, moderate temperatures and some clouds after setting the tender plants out. This gives the roots time to adjust to the change and pump life-giving water and nutrients towards the bulbs and leaves. It’s all good.

I had enough planting later in the day and took out the new rototiller to give an infestation of dandelions for a spin. It was fun… Next on my radar: planting a few more tomatoes, beans and corn and a Hell of lot of flowers. With luck these will be visible from space. Oh, yes, I’m also going to plant a few square metres of grains: wheat, oats, barley and millet, just for fun. Next year I will be able to produce my own birdseed.

Posted in technology | 38 Comments

Trump, Here’s The Right Way To Help Excoalminers

“the American arm of Goldwind, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer, announced the free training program. More than a century ago, Carbon County was home to the first coal mine in Wyoming. Soon, it will be the site of a new wind farm with hundreds of Goldwind-supplied turbines.
Goldwind sees the ex-miners as a font of the sort of technical knowledge—mechanical and electrical engineering, on par—with the experience of working in difficult conditions required to run and maintain a wind farm. Adapting coal-mining skills to wind farming seemed a natural fit. “If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the workforce today, I think that it can be a win-win situation,””
See US coal miners are training to be wind farm technicians, thanks to Goldwind, a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer
Yep, education, not political slogans, is the answer. Excoalminers don’t have to stick to coal mining. They can do other things. Keeping them poor and in the dark in order to further your political ambitions is a cruel joke. Wind/solar are growth industries. Why shouldn’t the poor/dispossessed in USA have opportunity rather than more poverty on their horizons?

Posted in investing, politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Dealerships Growing For Electra Meccanica

Electra Meccanica Vehicles is working towards certification and distribution of EM EVs in USA. According to the page linked below, they’ve 9 deals pending and 1 dealership sold in USA.

See Dealership Inquiry – Electra Meccanica

HQ is in Vancouver, but there’s also a pending deal for Calgary in Canada. I’d drive that far to pick up my Solo but EMV says they will deliver. Officially, the nearest dealership will be Calgary, but Kansas City, MO, is about the same distance, albeit more complicated, with an international border between. BC wants to charge me $3.15 for crossing the Fraser River at Vancouver… It’s all good… I’ll get my Solo one way or another.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , | 50 Comments

Another Monopoly Is About To Go The Way Of The Dinosaurs

“No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.
This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries.
Seba’s premise is that people will stop driving altogether. They will switch en masse to self-drive electric vehicles (EVs) that are ten times cheaper to run than fossil-based cars, with a near-zero marginal cost of fuel and an expected lifespan of 1 million miles.”
See All fossil-fuel vehicles will vanish in 8 years in twin ‘death spiral’ for big oil and big autos, says study that’s shocking the industries
Yes, whether or not we believe in climate change and that EVs will save the planet, it is smarter to drive electrically. “Drive smart. Drive electric.” is the slogan of Electra Meccanica who sell the Solo EV. The Solo makes so much sense: efficiency of energy utilization, use of renewable energy, small size, nearly zero emissions, low maintenance costs, low operating costs… It’s just silly to depend on fossil fuels, even at the pinnacle of internal combustion engine and control-system development when one can be transported five times cheaper electrically. The world cares more about costs and convenience than they do about saving the planet, but that’s enough. Driving electrically and saving the planet are aligned unlike depending on fossil fuels.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Armageddon, M$-style

“On May 12, hackers hit more than a hundred countries, exploiting a stolen N.S.A. tool that targeted vulnerabilities of Microsoft software. The attacks infected only machines running on Windows operative system. Among the victims are public administrative bodies such as NHS hospitals in the UK. Investigate Europe spent months to investigate the dire dependency of European countries on Microsoft – and the security risks this entails”
See Why Europe’s dependency on Microsoft is a huge security risk – Investigate Europe
Thanks to software developed by USA’s NSA and which was allowed to get into the wild, the world is being held hostage. Well, the world of users of M$’s OS I call That Other Operating System, or TOOS, for short, was put at great risk because millions of PCs in vital roles in government, industry and personal use were vulnerable at the same instant to the same malware, a vulnerability in some of TOOS’ friendly list of overly complex features, must-haves…

There is a simple solution, FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software. With it I run my computers, City of Munich runs its computers, and folks who care about security run their computers with no fear of such widespread vulnerability. I use Debian GNU/Linux, LibreOffice and FireFox web browser. I don’t need TOOS for anything and you don’t either. What’s holding you back from the good life when using TOOS could make you hostage to any kid or criminal who can write a bit of software?

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Roto-Tiller IV

Well, yesterday I bought yet another roto-tiller after the beast from China proved useless in tight places. This time, it’s a Troy-Bilt Super Bronco. It’s a rear-tined tiller like the Chinese monster but it’s four or five times lighter and a lot smaller for ease of use in tighter places. First impressions:

  • the box needs handles… at nearly 200 pounds it’s just hard to get fingers under it or to take hold of corners,
  • the assembly instructions don’t match perfectly. My machine was free-wheeling in the box,
  • handles are a little flimsy for the weight of the machine. One needs to take care in manoeuvring,
  • gasoline engine is pretty standard except no priming bulb can be seen,
  • one dangerous step in assembly involves control-cables which are colour coded but the manual is black and white and the manual spells out the words. I checked the part numbers just to be certain, and
  • it was shipped with oil in a bag. I will check all fluids to be sure.

Today’s adventure involved two steps: getting the box out of the SUV and onto a utility cart. I used a rope to slide the box out as far as I could and then pried it up to put a couple of 1-inch boards underneath to slide it further. When it was near the tipping point, I rolled the cart up close and blocked the wheels. The box easily tipped onto the cart. I then slid the box further out on the cart. At the end I lowered the heavy end of the box onto the cart and slid the box back a bit on the cart. I probably should have used a different method for lowering the box as it was rather hard on my back… I assembled the handles and controls after removing the cardboard from a wooden platform and reading the fine manuals. There were no surprises except for a lack of “zoom”. The PDF is out there

I’ll record the model and serial numbers for future reference as the one on the shroud is likely to be defaced sooner or later. Most likely, I will fire this thing up this afternoon. I doubt I will have the five hours of break-in on it this planting season as I mostly have 10000 square feet of garden to do. The rest of the yard was done in previous years by the Chinese tiller.

Posted in family, food, horticulture | Tagged | 5 Comments

Very, Very Soon, We Go Solo

Everyone’s holding their breath for Solo’s release into the wild is imminent. The first units will be delivered in the Vancouver region this month. The rest of us have to wait a few months more. It’s not so bad. When I ordered my Chevy pickup back in the days of gas-guzzlers, it took 3 months and they had routine production going. Electra Meccanica is just taking off in a pay as you go mode. It’s all good. It’s made in Canada, as much as that can be said of anything these days. At least much of the brain-power is Canadian. My brain is Canadian too and I can hardly wait.

UPDATE EMV had an interactive session on FaceBook this evening. The mic cable seemed to break and they had a big drop in volume but they moved closer to Jerry and it improved. Next month, they will have him wear a mic…

There’s some news…

The cars delivered this month in British Columbia will be certified for BC only, one at a time, just as InterMeccanica gets its classic models certified. It will be shortly that the Solo will be certified for USA. Canadian certification will come near the end of 2017.

Production is painfully slow indeed. The first two are just rolling off the assembly line now and will soon be delivered, but it’s just a few per month rather than a few per week. That’s not because they can’t produce more faster but that they are still debugging things. Eventually, they expect to get a few per day cranked out of such assembly lines and replicate them. They are dealing for a 500K square foot assembly space. When that is rolling they could easily make 100 per month. This puts my Solo back a few months in 2018. So, I will take delivery in summer instead of winter.

On winter, they actually had a lot of snow in Vancouver this year and found the Solo handles nicely in snow-packed and slippery conditions. Chalk it up to half the weight being on the single drive-wheel on the centre-line of the Solo. Also, they confirmed regenerative braking is working well. They descended a mountain over 16km and gained a few km range. Good. I have one minor valley in my planned travels with Solo.

Jerry thinks range is not an issue and does not emphasize Solo for longer trips. I know technology and I believe Solo is perfectly suitable for longer trips provided charging stations are available. It’s great efficiency is the key. I’m retired. If I want to travel slowly Solo, I can. Solo will get me where I want to go eventually. I don’t even drive ICEd vehicles anywhere near as fast as most folks, simply to save fuel. That technique is perfect for Solo. I know my routes. I know my traffic-patterns. Solo will do just fine.

So, things unfold as they should. I’m a little disappointed at the ~ one quarter slippage in delivery but I guess Canada is not as high a priority as the larger USAian market. That’s Jerry’s choice. It works for him. It will work for me if I live long enough.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments

USAian Political Power Modelled After Animal Farm

“They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And they fired James Comey, the very man leading he investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence,” Schumer said shortly after the announcement, calling for a special independent prosecutor into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin.
“Any person who he appoints to lead the Russian investigation will be concerned that he or she will meet the same fate as Director Comey”
See Preet Bharara, Sally Yates and James Comey: Fired while investigating Donald Trump
See where this is going? Trump is not shy to obstruct justice. He has the power to do that but will the other two branches of government allow that? Will Congress impeach Trump? That’s the only solution short of violence.

Certainly Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanours. That started before the campaign of 2016. Now, he’s doing it from the Oval Office. On the list so far: sexual harassment, bullying, racial discrimination, multiple breaches of the Constitution, and treason, facilitating Putin’s influence to affect the USAian government. The only higher power is Congress. I would bet every Democrat would support impeachment. I would bet at least half the Republicans would. Make it so. Do it sooner rather than later before Trump stirs up an uncivil war between his loyal followers and decent people, paralyzing USA and permitting Putin to assert global power.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Canada Now Firmly Headed For The 21st Century

“Two-thirds of Canada’s electricity supply now comes from renewable sources such as hydro and wind power, the National Energy Board said in a report released Tuesday.Renewable energy production jumped 17 per cent between 2005 and 2015. The portion of all electricity in Canada generated by renewables is now 66 per cent, up from 60 per cent a decade earlier.”
See Two-thirds of electricity in Canada now comes from renewable energy
Yes, Electra Meccanica’s Solo EV is right on schedule, as 2/3 of Canada’s electricity comes from renewable sources. It’s cleaner, it’s cheaper and it’s the way Nature intended…

If I plug my red Solo into the grid next year, I’m confident it will run on renewable energy, mostly from solar but partially from wind. Sun evaporates water which falls to Earth upstream of our dams and runs to the sea turning many hydroelectric generators. Sun and the rotation of Earth causes the wind too. So, thank you, Sun. When I set up a few solar panels and a wind turbine on my property, I will be certain my Solo EV will run on renewable energy. That and a swing for the grand kids and the grounds will keep me busy for one more year, all good reasons to go on living.

Posted in family, horticulture, technology | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments