Category Archives: General

Renault Zoe: The Electric Car Lie

1st of January 2015 I started working in Oslo, Norway. About 124 kilometres from where I live; Sandefjord.

I started off with taking the bus. Did that for a couple of months and found it to be sub-optimal with trying to work on the bus on the way in and back, seing that it was constantly crammed going back. I swapped to train to try if that would be more optimal. Sure, the comfort was way better – but had the downside of me walking to take the bus to take me to the train. Ended up being an end-to-end travel of about 3 hours each way. Compared to 2.5 hours with the bus (including walking to the bus and to the office from the bus), which was still a lot. We only had one car at the time and my wife needed it during the days.

In with the electric

We have a pretty good insentivised deal in Norway for electric cars. There is no sales tax on them, making them a better deal than their carbonfuel based counterparts. In addition we have other good deals with free parking on public parking spaces and also no toll for toll based roads. I therefor started thinking about buying an electric. Did the math and figured a car loan would in fact be cheaper than taking the bus or the train. In fact a whole 1000 Norwegian Kroners (about 130 USD or 110 Euros). And the best part, I could save a lot of time. Another benefit is that electrics can drive in the bus-lane – meaning you don’t have to get stuck in traffic. There are some local changes to this, but its a question about timing – when you drive, but still in place. With all this upside, what could possibly go wrong. <>Having absolutely no experience with electric cars, but have owner a bunch of regular gas and diesel based cars over the years – I jumped into it with the wrong goggles. I didn’t look too much around as most cars really didn’t have the range I needed, except for Tesla – but even in Norway these are very expensive. I know people argue they aren’t, with all the benefits – but a car half that price is still half that price with the benefits on top. So I set out to find something not Tesla with enough range to get me one way. I was counting on being able to charge when I was at work – giving me a full 8 hour charge. Seeing that the infrastructure was in place in Oslo, I was willing to take this gamble.

After reading a bit about a few cars, I found the Renault Zoe to be the most interesting from a range perspective. Unlike the competitors, it had gotten reviews claiming the range to be accurate to what they were promising; 240 kilometers on one charge. I even stumbled upon this article, claiming it had almost unnoticable drops in performance in -25 degrees celcius. Everything was pointing towards it. They even had a deal were you could get it with a home super charger included in the price.

I had my testdrive of the car on the 28th of April 2015. Found the car a nice drive, but found it weird that I had to stop for a 45 minute charge halfway to Oslo. The battery had dropped to 20%. I charged and drove it in, parked it for charging for the day. Called the dealer and explained my situation and the salesguy told me to drive it in ECO, which would prevent the car from going faster than 96 km/h. This is were I go; OK and then WTF.. But willing to do what he said when I drove back, I managed to get back – but the display said there only was 15 kilometers left on the battery. Sure, it was a bit confused since its averaging. At this point I knew little about the car and was willing to except that it might be displaying wrong information due to me not driving ECO in and then ECO back. Messed up the statistics, kinda. Did point this out, and the salesguy was surprised.

I was skeptic, to say the least. But had the car for a couple of days for test driving, this time only driving ECO and proved a couple of times it would make it all the way in. So I decided to buy one.

Got the car…

13th of May 2015; super excited. Picked up the car. The installer of the super charger thingy came the day before – all set. Since I was going to charge in different locations, I did order the car to come with a transformer that was able to transform from regular 240 volts to the 400 volts the car needed and also convert whatever it needed to convert. This was not ready from the manufacturer and I was promised to get this in August. Which was perfectly fine for me, as I could charge on the way home if I couldn’t find a charger that was compatible in Oslo and still save time on my travel in comparison to the bus and train options. The compatibility question is related to the volts but also the fact that it needs 3 phase charging and the plug being a Type 2 plug.

A week later

I don’t travel the distance to the office every day. Some weeks 2 days, others 3 and occassional 1 day a week. So I didn’t get into trouble straight away, due to this fact. 19th of May I drove the car in and found a public charging pole and plugged my car in. Shortly after it said “Battery charging impossible” in the display.

Pretty non informative message to get, and it didn’t help to drive to a charger I knew worked. Same message. Anyways, I ended up having to get the car and me picked up by a dealer in Oslo. They plugged in the car to their charger and the message went away. Apparently this happens from time to time. The car then needs to reset its software (turn off the car and wait for a minute or so).

First death

Yes, you read that right; first… The car died on the 29th of May. Not full two weeks after I got it. They had it for almost a full month, claiming to have swapped out the engine and had visitors from France and what not. That may very well be true, but a full month. Really. For a brand new product. Impressive. They hadn’t really found the problem, just swapped out everything. I use the car till I go on my holiday on 11th of June.

Second death

Yup, there was a second one. Got back from holiday and went on a work related trip to the US. I drove the car to the airport, which is farther than Oslo – so I had to charge on the way to get there. Parked it at the airport. Got back from the trip on the 3rd of August. Drove the car to the nearest super charger. It didn’t work for some reason. Drove to a second, got the famous message. Drove to a third, still – same message. Tried “resetting” the car. Googled for help – nothing. I had enough charge to drive to the Oslo dealer, did so. No magic charge could wake the charging unit to life.<>This time it took 5 weeks in the garage. But now they had found the reason for the car dying, some condensator internally not withstanding the type of power we have in Norway is what I’m being told.

Now what

At this point I’m beginning to really become desperate and annoyed. While waiting for the car during its second death. I contact the dealer on the 17th of August to hear about the transformer thing that was supposed to show up during August. Figured I had to have some dialogue with them and try to get my own mood better. The message back is; it will be delayed for another 2-3 months.

A year has passed…

… and then some, since I bought the car. It has not died on me since its second death. But it does occassionally say “Battery charging impossible”. And its just completely random. <>I still have not gotten my transformer. But I have a massive brick with me that does the job, almost.

It weighs in at 27kilograms. So not a lightweighter.

And it does only support 10 ampére charging. Which makes it take some 16 hours to charge when I drove it winter time and had just a few percent of charge left in the battery.

The range lie

Lets bring the story back to the title. Ok. I’ve been messed with quite a bit by Renault and the local car dealer; BilService here in Sandefjord. I’ve been served lies upon lies related to both the performance of the car, range, delivery dates and all. But the biggest of them all is related to the range. And that was actually what got me started on this. I got an email yesterday with an advertisement for Zoe from the local car dealer. Again promoting the awesome 240 kilometers of range of the car. This time with a * next to the 240 kilometers. Me hoping that meant they were going to be more honest, but no.. They actually pointed out that it was 249 kilometers according to the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle). The ad is in Norwegian, but it shouldn’t be hard to get the gist of it.

Having an experience were I see the range be more in the line of 150kilometers on a sunny day with high temperatures and next to no wind resistance and on a winters day with sub zero (celsius) its more in line of 110-130 kilometers, depending on air moistness and all. Added on top that I get the summer range if I drive in ECO with maximum speed of 96 km/h and for the winter range I have to stay at maximum of 90 km/h – there is something really fishy with how these cars are at least being marketed. When I buy a car, no matter what car, I’m not expecting it to be driven in a magical way to get from A to B. I also don’t expect it to have imaginary performance numbers in the lines of “if you drove the car off a cliff and fell for 240 kilometers, you would be able to make the range”. If I were to ever make that range, I think I would have to drive the car at a speed of 50 km/h. I think this is a big fat lie. Renault has yet to come with any excuse to me as a consumer of their products.

The best part, I think… I asked the dealer about the transformer; again… Almost 3 weeks ago, with a more annoyed tone from me. The answer I got was that he could see that I was on the list for the following week. Now, 2 weeks later – I’m just writing down on the “keeping score card” – another lie.

Fantastic.

And its a shame, the car is a nice drive. But if I could turn it back in I would – in fact I was in dialogue with the authorities; Norwegian Consumer Advice – they basically said it was hard to do anything with the situation, just based on the fact that the manufacturer has responded and done “… what they can…” to help me out. I’m now stuck with a product I kinda hate. And the awesome part; the battery quality will deteriorate – lithium based batteries has a tendency to go to 70% capacity after 1000 charging cycles. So that is brilliant when I was hoping to almost make close to one full cycle per day traveling rather than 2. All my math based on a lie, and I’m the one having to pay for it. Thank you Renault. Guess I won’t be your customer for long – nor the local dealer; BilService. Its the worst consumer experience I’ve ever had – I hope you don’t run into this.

 

 

Edit: I don’t do these kinds of posts – and trust me, I would’ve preferred not to this time either. But I don’t really know any other way. I’m frustrated, I’ve got a product that is not delivering on a promise, a manufacturer who is not in dialogue mode at all, a car dealer who is just trying to push the problem away, authorities basically saying I’m stuck. I know this is not the ideal way to deal with these things. I could “lawyer up”, but that can easily become expensive. So I don’t know.

New blog – different focus

A couple of weeks ago, we started a new blog that you can find here. The focus over on that blog will be very different than I’ve been having on my own personal blog here. It will be more in the lines of our perspective on software development, what we think is important, values and how to do things. Not so much about specific technology, but rather techniques, processes, patterns and such.

I will still be blogging on this blog with different focus than on the DoLittle blog.

So, who are we

At the moment, we’re 4 happy chaps, doing software development and we share the passion of thinking we can always get better. The guys involved are as follows :

Pavneet Singh Saund – @pavsaund

Niclas Bergquist – @niclasbergquist

Michael Smith – @WolfieBhoy

Einar Ingebrigtsen – @einari

Without getting into very specifics about what we will be having a conversation on, we can say this much that we think have something interesting to say and hope you’ll be watching this.

New blog – different focus

A couple of weeks ago, we started a new blog that you can find here. The focus over on that blog will be very different than I’ve been having on my own personal blog here. It will be more in the lines of our perspective on software development, what we think is important, values and how to do things. Not so much about specific technology, but rather techniques, processes, patterns and such.

I will still be blogging on this blog with different focus than on the DoLittle blog.

So, who are we

At the moment, we’re 4 happy chaps, doing software development and we share the passion of thinking we can always get better. The guys involved are as follows :

Pavneet Singh Saund – @pavsaund

Niclas Bergquist – @niclasbergquist

Michael Smith – @WolfieBhoy

Einar Ingebrigtsen – @einari

Without getting into very specifics about what we will be having a conversation on, we can say this much that we think have something interesting to say and hope you’ll be watching this.

Moving to WordPress

In an effort to consolidate the different sites and domains I have, I’ve recently gone through a bunch of moves and most recently my personal blog. Finally managed to get it off of the BlogEngine.net solution it was running on that I had done some customizations on and got it hosted on WordPress.com – for my needs, this is perfect. I just want a service that runs and works. 

But it proved to be far more challenging than I had originally thought. First of all, the format that BlogEngine.net, at least the version I was running, could export to was BlogML. A format that WordPress.com could not import out of the box.

But lucky enough, asking on Twitter pays off, as it normally does. James Paulp came to the rescue.

NewImage

The article basically describes the process of exporting to BlogML, installing WordPress locally, installing a BlogML import plugin, import it into that and then export it into a WordPress XML format and put that into WordPress.com. 

A process that seemed simple enough, but you would have to do any media or attachments for yours posts manually. Meaning that you would need to upload these and sort out the URLs manually by search/replacing your way through the XML before importing.

Again, pretty straight forward, except for one fact – a lot of my older posts were still pointing to images that was still being served from a Community Server installation I used to host my blog on earlier on a different domain. So now I had two sources of images, and of course it had to take me like 2-3 imports into WordPress.com to discover this. 

Finally, everything in place, all resources mapped as they should and uploaded to WordPress.com. Bam..  No images displaying still.

Turns out, WordPress.com is case-sensitive on the filenames for media, and when you upload media they are being turned into lower-case. Fantastic when all your stuff is mixed case. In addition it turns out that it also switches any dots in filenames of your media around to be an underscore.

So a C# snippet later, most of my content is fine – I just need to fix a couple of older posts manually. Fine, and not the end of the world – so I’ll just walk through my posts and do it by hand.

NewImage 

Moving to WordPress

In an effort to consolidate the different sites and domains I have, I’ve recently gone through a bunch of moves and most recently my personal blog. Finally managed to get it off of the BlogEngine.net solution it was running on that I had done some customizations on and got it hosted on WordPress.com – for my needs, this is perfect. I just want a service that runs and works. 

But it proved to be far more challenging than I had originally thought. First of all, the format that BlogEngine.net, at least the version I was running, could export to was BlogML. A format that WordPress.com could not import out of the box.

But lucky enough, asking on Twitter pays off, as it normally does. James Paulp came to the rescue.

NewImage

The article basically describes the process of exporting to BlogML, installing WordPress locally, installing a BlogML import plugin, import it into that and then export it into a WordPress XML format and put that into WordPress.com. 

A process that seemed simple enough, but you would have to do any media or attachments for yours posts manually. Meaning that you would need to upload these and sort out the URLs manually by search/replacing your way through the XML before importing.

Again, pretty straight forward, except for one fact – a lot of my older posts were still pointing to images that was still being served from a Community Server installation I used to host my blog on earlier on a different domain. So now I had two sources of images, and of course it had to take me like 2-3 imports into WordPress.com to discover this. 

Finally, everything in place, all resources mapped as they should and uploaded to WordPress.com. Bam..  No images displaying still.

Turns out, WordPress.com is case-sensitive on the filenames for media, and when you upload media they are being turned into lower-case. Fantastic when all your stuff is mixed case. In addition it turns out that it also switches any dots in filenames of your media around to be an underscore.

So a C# snippet later, most of my content is fine – I just need to fix a couple of older posts manually. Fine, and not the end of the world – so I’ll just walk through my posts and do it by hand.

NewImage 

Webinar for Typemock on BDD

I’m doing a live webinar on BDD and how it fits in with your general application development and can help you focus on getting your business needs covered and increase your general software quality.

The webinar is brought to you by

Typemock

 

For more details and to register for the webinar, please go here.

 

Update: Video and slides has now been released here

Embracing change

As I wrote in this post, back in September 2008, I used to be a Windows guy. In fact I was borderline fanboy of Windows. But decided that I wanted to try out this Mac thingy that everyone was talking about and all the alpha-geeks were using.

Now, some 3 and a half years later, I’m still on the Mac – in fact, It turns out that what I mentioned in that post; of minimizing the need for Windows has been a true goal of mine and something that I’ve accomplished quite good. Some would probably call me a Apple fanboy now, with the amount of Apple devices I’ve acquired since my small start in 2008. I can’t blame them. But I’m not preaching it!

Ever since I started that branch of my life, I must say that the operating system has become less and less important, although I now have my preference going the general direction of away from Windows. But I think doing a switch like this has had a very positive effect on a number of other things, especially my perspective on software development. Around the areas of how I work, what I think is important when writing software and such. One could of course argue that I would broaden my mind naturally, without going to the extreme of doing my work on a different platform. But I beg to differ. The reason for that is that I think, no matter what platform you’re on, that your mindset is colored by the culture on the platform, and if that platform is a commercial one driven by a company, you’re also likely to be colored by the values of that particular company.

I think by constantly seeking out new things, changing platforms every now and then, or just trying out things in general, will make you a better and more reflected person. There are so many things one is missing out on if you believe in one truth, and from my experience, there is also a lot of truths that people will tell you about the competitor – from people belonging to the community surrounding a platform, this applies to most platforms.

To me, it has been an awesome journey switching – I’ve learnt so much from just doing that. It has opened my mind to things like Ruby, and crazy ass rocket science things like HTML, CSS and JavaScript (Sarcasm applied). I’ve grown in productivity at the expense of simplifying my tools – no longer need Visual Studio, nor Resharper to accomplish being productive in .net. I demand more of myself, more knowledge, more precision, higher velocity – as a result.

So, if you’re sitting there – stuck on a platform and haven’t really tried out anything else. Go crazy, try out something else, go to a user group – if available, representing that parallel universe. Chances are you might learn something, expand your horizon and become a better you. Go and embrace change – trust me, you’ll hate me the first weeks but thank me in the long run.. 🙂

 

Wazzzzup ??

Its been quiet on this page since April, in fact – since 2007 this is the longest period of time that has gone by without any posts on the blog. The reason behind my quiet period has been that I’ve basically been working way too much. I’ve had quite a few things on my plate and really haven’t had the time to blog at all, hardly had time to tweet even.

This is about to change. I’ve started clearing up my schedule quite a bit in order to focus more on the things I love; blogging, open-source and being social on the usual suspected social medias. Time to go back to the roots and rediscover the fun.

That being said…
For those of you who have been following my work on Balder have seen the occasional commit, but not at the pace you might be used to from me. I’m very committed to bringing back to life Balder – there are a few things I need to be doing to the library before I’m comfortable, but I’ll be posting about that later in a separate post.

Another project that is dear to heart is something called Bifrost, something that has been getting a lot of love the last year and will get even more love moving forward from now. Also a project I will be blogging more about and sharing some of the experience from building with you.

 

Concluding this post with; I’m back and I will be focusing more on the blogosphere and the open-source community moving forward.

PC manufacturers – get a grip…

First of all, this is not a religious post. Its not a PC vs Mac post, I’m just fed up with the quality of hardware the PC manufacturers are putting out there.

2.5 years ago I switched from being a “PC guy” to my first Mac, and I was really impressed with the quality of the hardware and how it felt. It just felt solid. At that point I was very frustrated with the quality of PC hardware and constant trouble with both desktops and laptops I had bought for home use, but also at work. And I figured it was time to try something else. I was very happy with my switch.

About 2 months ago I decided to go out and buy a PC. Basically I needed it for Windows Phone 7 development, as the emulator for WP7 doesn’t work with my virtualization software on the Mac, and also being out in the field doing quite a bit of work for Microsoft, I grew tired of having to have my MacBook Pro taking so much attention.

I researched quite a bit, I wanted a PC that looked nice, had the right spec in terms of performance and memory and also I was looking for one with similar keyboard as on the MacBook Pro – separated keys, as I find that type keyboard to be very efficient to write on. After a long look, I settled in on the HP Envy 17″.


Looks nice, felt nice all the way from the packaging. Specs was awesome at the price they are selling it for. Got it and was really psyched (I LOVE HARDWARE). Turned it on; it was realllllly slow and the fan was going completely mad. Figured it might be a software issue, reinstalled windows looked for firmware updates, but didn’t work out at all. Sent it back and got a new one within days. The new one was silent and very snappy, I was happy.

Since the PC will not serve as my main computer, I didn’t get to use it much and it took a few days before I discovered an issue with it. Turns out that the keyboard was not mounted properly, so it was sticking out on one side and looked really bad (at least after one discovers it). Since one of my criteria was esthetics when buying a new computer, this drove me insane. Discovering this, I really started to look at the rest of the computer and really compare it to my MacBook Pro and I found more annoying things with it, not flaws, just things that annoyed me. Firstly, why is it that the screen on my MBP is about 1cm (half an inch) thick and on the Envy it was about double of that. Why did it weigh more than my MBP. Why wasn’t it a unibody design. Plastic feeling.. Arghhh.. I was really annoyed with it. Sent it back, and got my money back this time. Didn’t want to try out a third HP.

Went back to my research and looked for a day or so, looked at Dell – they had a few nice ones, but not in stock and frankly I wanted the hardware NOW. Settled in on what I really wanted to buy before I bought the Envy; a Sony Vaio. It looked nice, fit the pricerange, had almost the specs I wanted.


What could go wrong. Well a lot, it turns out. The hardware seems quite OK, the build is not too shabby, very plastic, but I could learn to live it. But still, too thick monitor.
Turning it on, booting into Windows, doing all the necessary initial settings for Windows and a Vaio wizard. First thing I started noticing, the screen – its really not bright as I expect. The Envy was really bright and crystal clear, this was dimmed. Figured it must be a setting. Nope. Then I started getting really annoyed with all the stickers I have to remove from the computer. It looks like a christmas tree. Flashy intel sticker, nvidia, windows, big fat Sony Vaio F-Series sticker, bluetooth and what not. Then I started noticing the fan constantly working – even when completely idle. Don’t know why, can’t figure out why. Sometimes it turns off, but for the most part you can hear it. I’m not used to that.

Getting over the fact that the hardware does not feel solid, and clearly lacks the production quality that I’ve grown used to from Apple, there is one more thing that really bugs me with PC manufacturers. Why are you putting all that crappy software on the machines. They come preinstalled with something like 50 apps, and they are mostly crappy. I can see why Microsoft wants to get them to realize they’re ruining the Windows experience, because they really are! And most users don’t necessarily know how to get it off their computer.

One of the arguments I hear from people about Apple computers, are that they are so expensive. This is something I don’t quite get. Going on my quest to find a PC I was aiming around the price range the MBP 15″ is at. Sure, both the Envy and the Vaio have a few more features (a ton of connectors on both sides). But when the quality is so bad and their products aren’t coming across as solid work – I really don’t get it. For the most part I will not be needing all those added features (eSATA for one). I’m more than happy to add $100-$200 on the price if that means I get a computer that just works. You’d probably argue that Apple has their problems as well, sure they have. They’ve had bumps in the road for their hardware as well, but compared to PCs for my sake at least, I’ve not had anything but bumps in the road buying PC hardware. I’ve bought 5 Apple computers in 2.5 years and not had any problem with any of them. In the same timeframe I’ve bought 4 PCs, and had issues with all of them. So in my book thats pretty bad!

My comment to the PC manufacturers; GET A GRIP. Start delivering quality hardware, stop creating bad user experiences by putting a shitload of software on them. Focus on the end-user!!

I will be sticking with the Vaio, not because I want to – but I really don’t see a good alternative, at least not for the type of design I want for my computer (I don’t want a Lenovo, because I think they look like crap).


Contact me on my blog – working again

For probably more than a year now, submitting an email to me on my blog hasn't worked. I've looked at the settings a bunch of times but without figuring out the problem. No error messages to be found anywhere. Well, turns out, there was a small typo in the email adress and it has been sending to an inbox that doesn't exist.So, if anyone has been trying to contact me through the contact page, I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you.