Friday, December 11, 2015

Tesla P85D Driving Review

Or wrzzzzz and takeoff. Really, the only thing the Tesla Model S is missing are wings.

The fine print, I do own a small amount of Tesla stock in a retirement account. I own as I believe everyone should have access to a great electric car, that is better than an internal combustion engine (abbreviated as ICE in the rest of this article) car. I’ve been behind the wheel of a few Teslas, an early 2013, a pair of 2014s, and now a 2014 P85D. Prior to 2014, I wasn’t 100% happy with the performance of the Model S. It was fun, and great driving experience but still something was missing. It couldn’t hold it’s own in the curves compared to an ICE car. The way a Ferrari develops torque and transfers to the wheels as horsepower is familiar to most drivers even if it’s radically more intense than your average car and is missing on the pre-2014 Model S. The apparent center of gravity on the prior 2014 Model S was actually too low, leaving the handling seeming eerily unnatural. When a pre-2014 S in a straight-away accelerating, you’d hardly notice a difference. However, when swiftly driving through the turns it’d feel solid but as if something was off. It was as if your lower body would surge forward carried by the car, while your head took an extra fraction of a second to get there. I pushed it a bit further on some harsh acceleration in a turn and it responded by squawking.

In late 2014 I was behind the wheel of a 2014 P85 (non-d). The acceleration, when all battery saving modes are off, (regenerative breaking set to low, sport mode enabled), was pure direct acceleration. The slight under surge was gone, all of you, was just left with the feeling of be connected to an electric motor, pure torque, nothing in way, just unencumbered acceleration. That drive was complete bliss. No more squawking, the 2014 Model S felt like a more solid, faster version ICE car.

This time, I was out to try out the recent D model. The P85D has been out for a little over a year. I booked the P85D for three hours from Getaround. Given the traffic and my inability to take it to a track which is definitely excluded in my Getaround contract, I wasn’t able to fully test the dual motor, unfortunately.

I took the car to Panoramic Highway and back. Panoramic Highway is well suited for driving. However, there are some road hazards such as slow moving vehicles gawking at the gorgeous views and cyclists both of which can seemingly appear from nowhere, due to the tight corners and variable lighting from the forest canopy. I preceded quickly with caution, all of which resulted in going not as fast as I’d had hoped. On the earlier 2014 I was able to take some swift turns as the road conditions were more clear. On the middle of a Sunday afternoon, I wasn’t able to be sure the road was clear, or would stay clear enough to allow to test for a very fast acceleration. A true speed test will have to be saved for a track.

Despite being not fully stressed the car didn’t disappoint. On the few of straight aways and curves I was able to fully go from very slow (10-15 mph) to in 30s blindly fast. The acceleration to get there was in, I’m guessing just under a second or around a second, given I didn’t have all the sport modes enabled and I was driving on a live road.

I had it in normal regenerative braking mode, which meant it wasn’t going to launch to speed the way it can. With regenerative braking, the moment one lets off the accelerator, the car starts to regenerate power. Additionally, I had it in normal battery mode for half the trip. On the way back I activated maximum battery mode. It isn’t on by default and takes a short while to prime the batteries to deliver maximum current.

For those of you that haven’t seen or heard a Model S 'take off', when the rear motor spins up, you hear a very audible whine like to a small jet turbine. The seats seem beefier than the early 2014, intact the entire car felt heavier and stiffer over the early 2014. In low regenerative braking mode, the 2014s (plain and D) still feel more fun than a F430. Yes, that’s an opinion, I’ve arrived at the sheer absolute responsiveness, acceleration and precision handling tested by taking turns taken at speed.

Even for electrics and previous models, it’s stiffer and heavier. In ICE engines the weight and stiffness would cause the car to battle inertia. When an ICE goes from a dead stop there’d be some milliseconds delay then smooth increase to acceleration. With all sport modes enabled, regen to low, and max. battery, both electric engines launch you, and given the stiffness, you don’t feel any jerking or lurching. A driving experience without the inertial battle of the ICE engines, nor jerking, lurching or regen-braking hesitation. Instead the P85D feels like the moment you step on the accelerator, the car intuits your desired velocity and launches to the correct velocity per moment.
I stepped on the accelerator, and I was launched. The D intuited speed. It was simply more immediate over any car including the older 2014 Model S P85. This held true under any condition, straight, flat, uphill, downhill, or in a turn. Un****** unbelievable. Pure acceleration. Absolutely velocity. True handling. I’ve had fun on a track behind the wheel of an F430, I think if I could get the P85 to a track I’d be astounded.

All of this wants me to get a P85D and get a logger on the millisecond scale to calc the acceleration and and force, and take it on a track. Sigh, not enough time in the day.

The funny part was the Getaround employee explained auto-pilot. I didn’t engage the auto-pilot.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Imposter syndrome and tactics

I attended a Womens in Operations brunch recently for a equality-centric social network company. I was struck at how all of us had actually experienced imposter syndrome (a syndrome where you believe you don't deserve the benefits of hard work despite how you actually put in the hard work), and that it was still relevant to junior engineers. I was so baffled. I thought my experience was isolated and not current. I thought we had solved this problem, simply read LeanIn, practice  emotional self-regulation, talk to colleagues and we're all good. Sadly no, we haven't solved this as junior engineer was asking about it 2015.

More on the syndrome see the nice write up at Psychology Today and LeanIn.

Here's a tactic to defeat the syndrome and one of it's underlying causes not well covered online. If you're feeling the effect, a way to stop the effect is remember and vocalize your passion. Dive into your expertise and explain the aspects that you are most passionate about, the how and why the system or components work the way they do: in short geek out over your expertise. This will put your brain back into problem solving mode, as well as let you reaffirm all the reasons why you know the system or components, thus proving to yourself that you are an expert. Additionally since you've done the work, you do deserve it's benefits.

I've noticed that sometimes colleagues exacerbate this syndrome inadvertently or deliberately by ignoring or silencing female colleagues and their ideas. Unwinding why other colleagues may have ignored female colleagues or their ideas, could be because the idea wasn't conveyed in an expert and firm manner, or body language undermined the delivery and showing collapse of confidence. If that's a case, the TED talk by Amy Cuddy that explains body language and how to build or re-establish confidence.

With knowledge applied, we'll stop having the imposter syndrome preventing people from achieving their goals and dreams.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

about moi

This is my personal blog on random science, facts and funzies. My background is in UNIX system administration. I'm a science nerd from way back.

I'm from the Bay Area. I've traveled a bit to some of the worlds great museums - Louvre, British Museum, VA, Museo di Roma, Musei CapitoliniGalleria, dell'Accademia di Firenze, Uffizi, British Science Museum, California Academy of Sciences and Exploratorium. 

I'm working on a smart wearable that combines deep learning and hopefully much smaller hardware to make other wearables less intrusive.

I'm interested in audio hardware, deep learning, physics, math, chaos, sound, optics, wearables, getting tech to be less intrusive, green tech, global warming, entrepreneurship, women in STEM, all things STEM, and equality.

If you're in the Bay and want to talk about any of these or SDC/SmartOS, email.

Staying foolish and hungry. Never the same river once,