Monday, October 12, 2015

A Brief Moment of Insanity - AKA Tesla is Awesome!

Usually when you go on a family trip and you find yourself going insane, it is a “bad thing.” On a recent family trip, I was blown away to find out how good of a thing it could be.

We had been driving in our Tesla P85D for about 7 hours on a road trip to Disneyland. Traffic was actually moving well in LA, probably because it was late in the evening. We were on the freeway in the carpool lane and the minivan in front of us slammed on the brakes and started to fishtail around. Unfortunately, I could not see through or past the minivan. Without knowing what was ahead, I tried to slow down just a little bit faster than they were able to slow down. After a few seconds, the minivan managed to stop just to the right of the wreck. I could finally see what the problem was. There was a car smashed into the center divider, with no lights on, in the dark, blocking the entire carpool lane and shoulder. The wrecked car looked like they had hit the concrete center divider really hard and it had probably spun around since the car was facing diagonally towards us. We were heading straight towards the driver’s door, fast.

Naturally, I slammed on the brakes. I am very glad for the traction control systems on the Tesla that helped me come to a stop before hitting the wrecked car and the minivan in front of us. We managed to come to a full stop in the lane. At this point, I realized I had a bit of a problem. The minivan started to slowly and cautiously go around the wrecked car and its debris, blocking the lane to the right. The car behind me, did not appear to have been paying attention and had not yet spotted the wreck. They still appeared to be going about 65 miles per hour, racing towards impact. My first thought was there was no way out and I was starting to worry about what’s going to happen to my family, my car, my trip, etc. My second thought was to keep looking for a way out. I am glad I did. While I was scanning around me to get us out of what seemed to be an inevitable crash, the minivan almost cleared the wreck and was starting to move to the left, in front of the wreck, which meant that I had a potential window of opportunity to get my family out of this mess. I quickly looked back and noticed that the next car coming up in the lane to the right was about 150 feet back, giving me the potential to squeeze myself out of the lane I was in if I moved very fast

I started to accelerate to the right to make my exit. I saw some debris in the lane that looked like a decent sized chunk of bumper from the wrecked car. I am always mindful about running over any debris, because I had an unfortunate episode years ago when I punctured the transmission of then my “SUV” when I had to run over a rock on the road to keep from going off a cliff. I quickly remembered that I had a metal plate on the bottom of my Tesla that could crush paving stones ( I stomped the gas, launched the car, and avoided being turned into a car sandwich. At this point, three things happened. One, my car got out of there really really fast with insane mode acceleration. Two, the car behind us (which was not a Tesla) was, unfortunately, not even close to being able to stop in time and slammed into the wrecked car. Three, every item in our trunk, which was packed to the brim for the road trip, shifted toward the back of the car with a loud “thunk” with the insane acceleration.

We got out of there in the nick of time, because that “thunk” we felt when our luggage shifted coincided with the “crash” we heard when the car behind us that was unable to stop in time and hit the wreck. If we didn’t vacate that spot, as fast as we did, we would have been sandwiched between the wreck and the car behind us. 

We were incredulous and in awe that we managed to escape that brutal accident unscathed. We stopped as soon as we could find a safe place and made sure the police and ambulance were on the way. We also looked over the car from top to bottom, front to back for any damage. The people, the car, and the luggage were all fine. 

I must confess that some members of my family were not big fans of my Tesla when I purchased it. They thought it cost too much to pay for “just a car” and all the bells and whistles along with the incredible speed and acceleration were impractical and unnecessary. They were confused on why would anyone want or need a family car to go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds? One child was even pouty at the start of the trip because they wanted to drive the other car to Disneyland. After this incident, they are well aware that if we were driving any other car on the market (this was before the “ludicrous” mode), things would have ended a lot differently. The “Insane” mode of my Tesla afforded me the precious few seconds to get us out of the impact zone and drive away without a scratch. The steel bottom plate of the Tesla is a nice bonus that insured us against a ride in a tow truck. 

Needless to say, every member of my family is now completely and absolutely appreciative of my Tesla and all of its “bells and whistles”. It is not “just a car” anymore, it’s a peace of mind as well as almost an incredible advantage that affords you that few extra seconds that can make all the difference between ending up in a hospital or at your desired destination. 

I have loved Tesla since they were working on the roadster, when I started hearing tales of their trials, tribulations, and successes. I love the fact that they are an American car, the lack of emissions, the lack of exhaust pipes, the great thought that went into safety, and Tesla’s assistance in pushing forward electric cars and clean energy. I also, love to accelerate it.

I am happily waiting in line to upgrade my car to ludicrous mode.

Thank You Tesla!

TLDR; Going "Insane" for a little bit in my Tesla P85D saved me from a becoming a car sandwich with my wife and my two children in the car.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to Lend Books on Amazon Kindle

There is an excellent writeup on how to lend books on Amazon Kindle over at mashable:
Kindle Lending How To.

Previously I have discussed sharing books on amazon kindle. Now lending is finally out. Yay!

I find it unfortunately that you can only lend each book one time, you have to use their website to lend, the person lent to has to use their website to return the book early.

Somehow, I would much prefer a solution to share books in person or that allows you to share more. I applaud this first step into the world of sharing though.

I would love to be able to take my Kindle, bump your Kindle, and have transferred a book.

To the Future!

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Don't Know What is Worse...

  • The Picture
  • The Hats
  • Or The Fact That There is Obviously a Serial Killer on the Loose...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Share Books on Amazon Kindle

A common question I get is how do you share books between more than one Amazon Kindle? There are two basic answers to this question. First, the setup that I use:

It turns out that I have 7 Kindle like things in my life. Two of them are literally Kindles, the rest are mobile phones or computers. If you trust someone, say your spouse, and want to share books with them, there is an easy way. You just have to tie the Kindles to the same Amazon account. All book purchases made through the device will be to the same credit card. This approach has a few pros and cons.

First, you must truly trust the other person. While this is typically easy for spouses, it gets a little bit harder for people that are less closely related. What about a really close friend? What about a book circle? For myself, I chose the wife only option and have not regretted it at all.

Second, the really cool background sync feature may start to work against you. If the two of you happen to be reading the same book, either together or one after another, it will keep asking to sync to the furthest page read. Amazon is setup to read through a book just one time. They don’t, to my knowledge, allow you to restart your book. Their system also occasionally makes mistakes:
If you can deal with these issues, it is possible to build a much more robust library than one person would alone. It is also easier to enjoy books together. Since, at this time, Amazon does not allow transfer of Kindle books between accounts, the key action is to setup your Kindle on the same account from the get go. Any books you purchase on the other account will only be accessible if you re-register your Kindle back to the other account. According to the Kindle support forums and eHow Share books between Kindle accounts, you can keep the books on the device after it is deregistered. That means you can flip over to someone else’s account, download a few books, and flip back. Book copies are limited to around 5 devices.

The other option is far simpler, just wait for Amazon’s soon to be released Kindle lending feature. With the first solution, two or more people can be reading at the same time. With the Amazon solution, it looks like you will give up your rights to the book for up to two weeks and someone else will gain them. Also, not all books will be available for lending. This is where the paper book analogy starts to get me. I can do this with paper. They have a new cheaper distribution mechanism, which they sometimes charge more for, and they are taking away capabilities from their customers. Grrr… For what it is worth, my book, Leading and Managing in Silicon Valley, should be able to be read aloud and shared (if not, let me know).


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Netflix, Please Stop Offering my Toddler Dexter

Dear Netflix,

I have been using your service for a long time now. I love your prices. I love getting little red movie envelopes in the mail. I love your scalable model. I love the fact that I can have a huge queue of movies and not have to start the decision process over again every time I walk into the store. Recently, I have also been enjoying some movies or TV shows on demand. Your streaming service is excellent.

Over the years that I have been using your service, my family has grown. I now have two kids. My toddler loves watching shows streamed from you. Since both I, and my toddler, love watching shows on your service, I have a problem.

Dexter, specifically, is my current problem. He is crafty. He plans ahead. He shows up in the recently viewed list right along side shows full of animated diggers and back hoes. 

From reviewing your site, I only see the option of blocking myself from watching movies above a particular rating. This is a nice feature, but cutting off the ability to watch instant shows does not feel too good. Any chance of offering a streaming account for kids? Just another set of credentials for a customer that already has unlimited access already? Having visibility into the account to only show shows that are rated appropriately based on who is currently signed on would be awesome.

Your Loyal Customer,
Jacob Taylor

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot, Father of Fractals

Goodbye to the Father of Fractals | Inside NOVA | PBS

I was very sorry to hear about this. I am not sure which article referenced it, but I found a YouTube video dedicated to him. I particularly like the shot at 1:43 which reminds me of some of the Hubble deep space shots.

I wish they had raced along the separator at 0:46 or 1:23 for a bit. The idea of following a shrinking thing forever without hitting the bottom is very appealing.

I'm not sure about you, but I grew up looking at this algorithm and wondering what was possible. We would make changes to the position and wait quite a while to see the outcome. It is nice to be able to see a video exploring the depths.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Invited to "Waiting for Superman"

I follow Tim Ferris. A few days ago, he sent out an invitation to Waiting for Superman. I have been heads down building my new company and I figured this was actually part of the Superman franchise. I watched the trailer. Yikes!

I need to see this movie. According to the trailer, the US is near last among the industrialized nations in many areas (math being one.) The one area where US is the top: Confidence. Ouch. It is too easy to correlate what people say with the results these days. Confidence without follow through is a recipe for disaster.

Worried for the future and our children.