Electric dreams

Earlier this week the UK Government brought forward the deadline for a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to 2030. This is a jolly good thing.

The resulting media coverage has mainly been about whether or not it’s possible. My recent experience makes me think it is. We switched from a plug-in hybrid (Audi e-tron) to a full electric (Tesla Model 3) about three months ago. We don’t have a charging point at home for complicated reasons (the freehold of our building is currently being sold) but it’s been very easy to keep it charged up via local public charging points (often free) and the brilliant Tesla superchargers for long distance trips.

I will also say that full electric is a better experience than a hybrid. I’m no Elon Musk fanboy but Tesla are way ahead of their legacy auto sector rivals. The whole experience and business model is just better thought out than any car I’ve had previously. I’m not sure the difference can justify the market cap without them selling many millions more cars but I pity the short-sellers on that one.

It’s also made me think that the transition to zero carbon transport is going to be a lot faster than people currently imagine. When people try this generation of electric cars, they won’t go back. The uptake will also drive a huge amount of change in the wider energy system. With millions of batteries around, flexibility in the grid becomes a much greater possibility and renewables become even cheaper.

As a side note, I also think the market for electrified classics is going to grow quickly as the price of components comes down. It’s going to be much cheaper and easier to maintain an old car once you rip out the internal combustion engine and associated gubbins and replace them with the simplicity of batteries and a motor. Just check out this video on Fully Charged of a converted Ferrari.

Moving my blog back from Medium to WordPress

I got a bit fed up of Medium. There’s something about the format that encourages long articles structured in a particular way. I found it very limiting and realised it was stopping me from writing anything at all. It also started to feel very click-baity to get people to pay the monthly subscription and I wasn’t finding anything worth reading. So I’ve moved everything back to WordPress.

In case you’re thinking of doing the same, I found that the best way of migrating all my posts was to open a free account on WordPress.com and use their Medium importer. I then exported everything from there in WordPress format (actually in two goes because the maximum file size is 2Mb) and then used the WordPress importer on my own installation of WordPress here. Took me a while to work out but I think everything has moved successfully.

Retro computing — Amiga 500

amiga

I was surprised that it worked, but it did. Dad and I cranked up the old Amiga 500 yesterday. The power supply is bigger than many of today’s desktop computers and it needs a strange set of cables to get it connected to a TV but other than that, it looks like a pretty modern machine — everything built into a space not significantly bigger than the keyboard.

I immediately remembered the familiar tick when there’s no disk in the drive and when you do put one in, it sounds like it’s being ground up like coffee beans rather than read by delicate electronics. The first game we tried — Shadow of the Beast II — didn’t work, I think the disk had degraded.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/INDfzMiA-F4

But Mig-29 Soviet Fighter loaded up without a hitch and was very playable. The Amiga mouse is also a lot better than I would have expected — they haven’t improved that much over the years.

I’d assumed Commodore was a European firm but originally they were Canadian and later moved their HQ to New York. By the time I was using the Amiga the company was in trouble in the US due to competition from PCs, but they kept on going in the UK during the 1990s because it remained a strong market and the UK arm apparently nearly bought out the whole outfit.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of stuff online about all the games and the electronics inside the Amiga — it was a very well loved machine. A second hand Amiga can cost you about the same as a second hand Playstation 3. I’m very glad it still works and I think it deserves to be used so I’ll bring it into the office at some point.