Orlando-Richmond :: A 1600 mile Tesla story

After a 1600 mile roundtrip journey in my Tesla, I have fallen in love with road trips again, even with the overhead of charging.

I have just completed a 1,600 mile round trip from Orlando, Florida up to Richmond, Virginia.  Up on a Friday, back down again on a Sunday, with each trip taking approximately 15hrs.   While I have had my Tesla Model S P85D just over 2 years now, the longest journey I had done to date was Orlando to Key West with my son and cousin at the new year (which is a whole different story for another day).

One of my dreams is to put my hand in the Atlantic ocean, then drive over to the Pacific ocean and put my other hand in that – the great American road trip.   So while I build up to that, I decided to do a run up and down to Richmond Virginia, to see how well things worked out.



There wasn’t much pre-planning that was required, aside from charging up phone and loading up my tablet with YouTube music videos and audiobooks.   I have done this journey a number of times in a conventional gas powered vehicle, taking anywhere from 10hrs to 14hrs depending on traffic, with usually only 2 stops for filling up the tank.

An electric car is a different animal – I have a maximum range of 253 miles when fully charged and it takes just shy of 2 hrs to reach that level.   So a quick back of the envelope calculation (800 / 253 = 4 charges required) it is looking like an extra 8 hrs to the journey.

That said, depending on your driving style (Vin Diesel vs. Mrs Daisy), air-con temperature, auto-pilot etc, your effective range mileage will vary.  This all has to be factored in when planning your journey.  Fortunately Tesla makes this a complete breeze.

Tesla provides a whole network of what they call Supercharger stations.  These are dotted all over with more being added weekly.   They are free to use for people that purchased their Tesla prior to 2017 (aka me!) and are approximately every 120-150 miles apart on the major highways.



Using the in-car Google powered navigation, you tap in your destination and then the route is calculated to go via the necessary supercharger station to get you easily to your destination.  There is a little magic to be sprinkled here.

So when charging a Tesla (or any battery for that matter), you can charge the battery quicker the emptier it is.  In other words, you can throw more power at an empty battery and as it fills up, you reduce the power as it reaches 100%.   Tesla can recharge your battery up to approximately 60% full, at a supercharger station, in approximately 20 minutes.

Instead of the route navigation assuming you are charging up to full battery each time, it only calculates how long it needs to charge you to get you to the next supercharger station.   This is genius and saves a lot of time.     In my instance, it calculated I needed to visit at least 5 supercharger stations, with only a 20-30 minute wait at each one.

Fantastic – no impatient waiting for hours at each stop.

Charging Stations

I took a small cooler case with water and grapes, filled up with ice and started on my journey.  First stop was 2 hrs away at St Augustine, which was 5am by the time I reached there.


The location of the supercharger stations are usually within a mile from the main highway.   Sometimes they can be a little further, Savannah airport one was 6 miles off the beaten track.   They are usually tucked in the parking lot of a mall or a hotel.  They are very easy to spot with their 2001 monolithic white rectangle standing guard over the parking bay.


You simply reverse in, get out, plug in, and you are now charging.  Nothing needs to be done.   The onboard computer knows you are plugged in and takes over all the know how.  No credit-cards, no keying in, no buttons to press, it couldn’t be any easier.

I have not yet had the situation where I have had to wait for a bay to become available, though I suspect this will be more congested once the Model 3 hits the roads (though those users have to pay to charge, so that may keep the usage down a little).


When the supercharging first starts it goes through a series of tests to see how much juice your battery can tolerate at once.  To that end, it initially throws out some wild estimations as to how long it needs to charge, but give it 5 minutes and it will settle down to what the navigation system predicted.


Now, as noted before, this is not an exact science.  So if your next charge point is say 120 miles away, it will give you at least a 170 miles in the tank, just incase.   This buffer amount is generous and I frequently rolled into the next charging station with at least 50 miles on the clock.


If I was brave, I could have disconnected the charging earlier than the dashboard prompted.  I kept an eye on it and I noted I could have reduced my charge time by 5-10 minutes at some stops.   But I wasn’t, so I didn’t.

At first I thought the charging would frustrate me.  It turned out to be a small blessing.   It broke down the journey into segments of maximum road time of 2.5hrs at a time.  This afforded me the luxury of getting up and walking (I managed to still get in my 10k steps even with a 15hr road trip), restroom visit and general movement.  One of the nice side benefits of stopping is talking with fellow Tesla drivers, trading stories and wishing them the best on their next stop.  You play the game of looking at their tags and marveling at how far they have come.  I met a number of far flung drivers and traded a few minutes of good will chat.

If you do take a walk away from the car, you can keep an eye on your mobile app that will tell you when the car has reached its charge.   This feature cannot be overstated.  It was extremely useful for the times I was sitting in Starbucks checking email to know when to pack up and head back.

I arrived more refreshed than I have historically on my gas-powered trips.


The drive

Enough of the charging, let us talk of the drive itself.  This is no ordinary car you are driving.  You are driving a car that every other automobile manufacturer is attempting to catch up to.   Much has been talked about on the Auto-Pilot of Tesla and let me tell you on the open highway is where it excels.

20170716_122416Adaptive Cruise Control

The first toy in the box is adaptive cruise control.  This is where you set the speed you want to drive at, and then it will drive at that speed, adjusting the speed depending on the car in-front.   In other words, if you set it at 70mph (and why would you ever set it any higher!) and the car in-front slows down to 20mph then you will slow down to that speed and then speed back up again when it is safe.

This works very well, especially in highway traffic when there is a tendency by hot-heads to cut in front of you.   The car slows down accordingly, lets the hot-head in, and then speeds back up when the safe distance has been met.

There was a very heavy thunderstorm in Georgia, where visibility was next to nothing, I couldn’t even see the car in-front.  However, my car could see (presumption using radar) and by using the adaptive cruise control, I could confidently be kept a safe distance from the car in-front, even though I couldn’t even eye-ball it.

I can’t tell you the amount of times this feature saved an accident, whether it was heavy rain, or assholes cutting into spaces they shouldn’t, or people in-front suddenly stepping on the brakes.   While you do keep an eye on the road, you do have a tendency to daydream on long journeys.   You know the state – you are looking at the road, but you aren’t really paying that much attention.

Another great usage of this feature is when traffic gets snarled up and you have to crawl forward at a snail’s pace.  You don’t have to worry moving the car forward and then hitting the brakes.  It does all this automatically.  This was beautiful.


So the next step up from adaptive cruise control, is auto-pilot.  This is where the car will do the steering and stay in the lane, automatically steering for you.  At first it takes a little getting use to, allowing the car to steer itself.   You sit there, feet off the pedals (because the car is controlling the speed), and hands off the steering wheel (because the car is steering), it takes a lot of faith that it is going to do what it needs to do!

Now, Tesla doesn’t want you to disengage completely.  So it will prompt you to touch the steering wheel every so often.  If you fail to do that, then it will disengage the auto-pilot and you will be punished by not being allowed to re-enable it until such times the car has come to a complete stop for a few minutes.

In reality, this just takes a little nudge.  I found if I rested my elbow on the side of the door and rested my hand lightly on the steering wheel at the 10pm position (you know, the cool look) this was enough to fool the software into thinking that I was in control.   Usually it was around every 1-2 minutes it would prompt me.

A nice feature that works very well is lane changing.  If you decide you want to change lane, then you simply indicate your intention, and once the car has determined it is safe, it will change lane for you.  This is extremely unnatural at first, but once you have faith, you will discover it is the best feature you could possibly ask for.

So a large part of my drive, was simply indicating to change lane.   That was as much thinking as I had to do.   Keeping up with traffic streams was a breeze.

Now the biggest benefit of letting the car control the speed, was the efficiency of power usage.  Tesla has a number of displays, so you can see when you are pressing the accelerator (using more power).  You do this far more than you realize, resulting in a lot of small surges that are not really necessary.   Lot of battery wastage.

By letting the car do the speed, it will not be heavy on the right foot.   I did a few experiments and discovered I could never drive as efficient as what it could.   In a given 2hr segment this could mean up to an extra 20 miles in the tank.

Onboard Entertainment

A quick note to the on-board entertainment.  The car is connected to the Internet under its own bandwidth (no piggy backing on your phone’s network).   So in addition to the basic FM/AM radio, and USB playback, you have streaming from Tune-In/Streaming and of course bluetooth.

I listen to a lot of BBC content and it was nice to tune into BBC Radio 2 in the UK.  For the times I didn’t do that, I would listen to a podcast (via the car), and after that, I would resort to listening to YouTube videos from my tablet via bluetooth.

Keeping an eye on the cops

So we all know the only reason people use Waze is to be notified of upcoming speed traps.  As you may know, Tesla come with a full web browser.  One of the coolest and most useful websites is https://tesla-waze.excelsis.com/

This is basically a view of Waze designed for the Tesla web browser, updating in real time for any upcoming hazards or police cars that happened to be parked at the side of the highway.   I had this up all the time at the bottom of my screen, with the navigation on the top.  Let’s just say, on the whole 1,600 mile journey, Waze never missed a single cop.


I arrived in Richmond, 15 minutes before the navigation route estimated some 15hrs ago.  I hit traffic, I hit some roadworks, I hit weather.  I was impressed.

I was describing the experience to a friend when I arrived, and I likened it to flying when you get the bonus of having the seat beside you free.   In a plane you are cramped, and when there is no one in the seat next to you, you get to stretch out your legs into that space and feel human again.

When the car is in auto-pilot mode, your legs have the chance to move, to stretch.  With no central console, you can easily stretch your legs into the passenger’s space.   This little act of expanse can make all the difference in a long journey.

Overall, I was surprised at how painless and easy the journey was, even with the extra overhead of charging time.  I arrived far more refreshed than I thought I would.

Driving a Tesla is an honor.  Even after 2 years, each time I get in, I still feel a sense of excitement that I am driving something very special.  The car receives software updates approximately once a month, further improving the experience.   The car I bought in March 2015, is not the car I am driving in 2017.

I now have the confidence to start planning my coast-2-coast trip and take my trip around the USA, seeing this wonderful country, for $0 fuel cost.  It would be a crime not to do the trip.


I loved my trip.  It was an experience that I would not hesitate to do it again, choosing electric over flight.

My advice to you – if you get the chance, do it, you will fall in love with road trips all over again.


Last Week’s Top 8 Tech Stories – 14th Nov

The week that was gave us another 8 interesting stories, including this year’s biggest software hack, how you can easily hack with your laptop, VW embroiled in another emission software scandal, Amazon gets into the car business, Tesla into the sun business and how users can no longer hide from Skype calls!

The week that was gave us another 8 interesting stories, including this year’s biggest software hack, how you can easily hack with your laptop, VW embroiled in another emission software scandal, Amazon gets into the car business, Tesla into the sun business and how users can no longer hide from Skype calls!


  1. AdultFriendFinder is the winner of the years biggest hack with 412M users
    chrome_2016-11-20_19-21-06Barely a week goes by when we don’t learn of a hack of some sort, but this one takes the prize for the largest number of users affected in 2016 at 412M users.   This haul included passwords, in both clear and (weak) hashed format.  The issue here is of course that the vast majority of people repeat their email/passwords combinations, opening them up for not only blackmail, but identify theft.

    Interesting tidbit; LeakedSource did an analysis on the passwords and found nearly a 1M people still use the classic 123456 as their password – no sympathy for those people anymore.

  2. Give a man one laptop; and he can bring down major pieces of the Internet
    chrome_2016-11-20_19-27-32When we hear of Denial of Server attacks, we picture 1000’s of independent machines infected with a piece of malware that saturate a servers infrastructure.  Well that may not be the case anymore if researchers from TDC Security are to believed.

    Armed with a single laptop, that has access to a fast network, you can use BlackNurse, a new technique that bombards network equipment with malformed ICMP packets.  So forget the foreign nationals trying to hack us – all it takes is a pissed off employee!

  3. VW are still caught in the emission cheating scandal with Audi
    chrome_2016-11-20_19-34-19.pngWith all the news this week about fake news stories on Google and Facebook you would think you can take solace that something as mechanical as a car won’t betray you.  Think again – those pesky German VW software engineers have been caught with their compilers down again – this time with the Audi brand.

    The US EPA are investigating Audi about discrepancies in their reports with particular attention being applied to the software.  This whole scandal is just ridiculous and I hope a single developer is not fired over this; management had to know, their heads need to roll.

  4. Do you want to Amazon Prime that new Fiat car?
    chrome_2016-09-24_05-16-50Yes, Amazon are getting into the automotive business, by offering 3 Fiat models on their Italian website.  If you recall they announced a few months ago, Amazon Vehicles that was more like a Wikipedia for cars, so this is a logical step to start selling cars direct online.

    This will be an interesting to watch and see how customers react to this model.  Personally, I think it will be a big hit, as the likes of CarMax (and Tesla) demonstrate, as people hate haggling and dealing with car salesmen.

  5. Tesla and SolarCity are now a single entity after 85% shareholder approval
    chrome_2016-11-20_19-49-48With Amazon getting into the car selling business, Tesla is now in the solar business after shareholders overwhelming approved the acquisition.  All gone crazy!  At first blush, a car company buying a solar panel maker makes absolutely no sense.  However, to understand this you need to buy-in to Elon Musk’s vertical transport energy company (car + battery + solar).

    This is a bold move and their stock took a bit of a beating on the official confirmation.  If Tesla can produce the Model 3 in the numbers this will be just a bump in the road as this journey is just starting out.

  6. Russia bans LinkedIn
    chrome_2016-11-20_19-56-57.pngWhat is a Russian recruiter to do now?!?   Russia has added LinkedIn to the list of foreign sites that are no longer accessible to the average Russian user.  LinkedIn has  succumb to that law that dictates that any company storing personal Russian citizen data need to have those servers hosted within Russia.  LinkedIn does not.

    LinkedIn are not the only sites to fall foul of this – YouPorn and PornHub are also in this list.  WikiPedia was also banned for a few days, and Facebook/Twitter are also on the cusp of being banned after repeated warnings.

  7. Skype no longer requires a username to call someone
    chrome_2016-11-20_20-03-06File this under, #finally.  Skype is a great service, but requires both parties to have a Skype account to really benefit.   Not any longer.  Microsoft have finally relented and can offer Skype call sessions via a web browser, single unique link experience.

    There are some limitations, but at least you can now call your Linux friends who have been holding out on you.

  8. Sssh … can you hear that?  Is that an electric car approaching?
    chrome_2016-11-20_20-08-02.pngDang naggit the US DoT has gone ruined one of the best bits of fun you can have in an electric car – that is sneaking up on runners in your neighborhood, dogs also fall into that category.   They now want all cars that can run silent to emit a sound while they are under 19 mph.

    Now details are a little sketchy here as to what type of sound we are talking.  I really hope Tesla allow me to upload my own MP3 – maybe the fun hasn’t been ruined after all.


… and this week’s soundtrack was brought to you by Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice.  Christopher Walken dancing I could watch all day – every time I press the elevator button this is what goes through my head!

The next AWS? Tesla, GM or Ford

Amazon outflanked the computing industry with their cloud offering; it will happen again, from another unlikely source.

Hands up who would have guessed that the online book reseller, Amazon.com, would turn out to be the enterprise cloud mammoth it has become.   If your hand is up then I don’t believe you.  No one seen them coming, no one predicted that cloud computing was so ripe for the taking.  Just as Microsoft completely misread the importance of the Internet and allowed the likes of FireFox, Google, Yahoo establish a foothold, Amazon completely stole the world of cloud computing from under the noses of the computing establishment.

By comparison, everyone is playing catch-up to Amazon’s meteoric cloud growth.  But if it happened once, could it happen again?   It would be churlish and shortsighted to assume it couldn’t, and just as Amazon out flanked the whole computing industry, there are a number of players quietly working that could pop up and surprise us.

Amazon never set out to be the cloud provider they are today – they were simply solving an internal problem which was to keep the lights on for their e-commerce site and be able to scale quickly and easily through peak period times of the day and the year.  Fair to say they achieved that goal and more, to the point where they could start selling off spare capacity in their data center and create a whole new business line out of it.

chrome_2016-09-24_05-16-50So the question you have to ask yourself, who else is busying solving their own problems and building out huge amounts of processing and storage scale that could one day benefit others if repackaged?

I offer up the automotive industry as likely candidates.  People like Tesla, Ford or General Motors are all working on far more innovative computing problems than most give them credit for. The modern day car has a huge amount of processing power contained within, collecting data from a whole range of sensors.  That is before we even get to the self-driving revolution – but they are preparing themselves for that scale.

So why aren’t they simply using cloud providers like Amazon, Google or Microsoft?  They probably are in part, but it is in their best interests to build out out their own.   Cars stay in circulation for a very long time, and even though the car passes from owner-to-owner, the data is still being collected and analyzed.  This data is too valuable to hosted on a 3rd parties data center.   The security implications alone is too much to simply trust to another.

As drivers we demand that our cars are not vulnerable to any attacks.  We demand a closed ecosystem that is secure and immune from the noise that the Internet can sometimes generate (imagine if you will your car going down as a result of the Internet going offline because of the DNS attack a few weeks ago).

This is why Tesla and others are busy building their own closed secure systems that can scale dramatically and continually.  These are the same sort of problems that IoT (Internet of Things) companies will be looking to solve as their devices go online and live perpetually for many years.

In addition, due to the very large volumes of historical event data grows, so will the need to innovate tools to pour over and analyze these data sets.   This is another area I believe the likes of the automotive companies could outflank the traditional data companies.  I would also put Uber into that category; the sheer amount of data they are collecting and processing would make you blink.

Amazon caught the industry off guard and redefined the whole landscape while they were still arguing over whether or not the business model was viable or even serious.

It will happen again and from a quarter we least expect it from.

Weekly Top 8 Tech Stories – 24th October

A big week in the world of tech where Google, Apple, Tesla and Microsoft had big product announcements and Amazon had its quarterly earnings report.

A big week in the world of tech where Google, Apple, Tesla and Microsoft had big product announcements and Amazon had its quarterly earnings report.

  1. Google redefines the whiteboard at $6,000
    Googlechrome_2016-10-29_18-33-16.png announced the Jamboard, a very rich interactive whiteboard that integrates deeply with their recently rebranded Google Suite (formerly Google Apps).  This puts it in direction competition with Microsoft’s Surface Hub 55″/80″ line.

    On this 55″ whiteboard, you can have ‘jams’ with your fellow colleagues, with a huge amount of interactivity bringing in content from all over.   Gone are the days of whiteboard inked hands and taking photos of creations.

  2. Microsoft announces its first ever desktop PC
    chrome_2016-10-29_18-39-39For a company that shaped the PC industry it is a little baffling they are only getting into creating their own desktop PC nearly 30 years since the desktop revolution began.  But the wait was worth it.

    In addition to their Surface laptops getting major updates, they introduced the Surface Studio, a $4,000 desktop that is not like anything we’ve ever seen, including a very cool input device, called the Surface Dial.  Move over Apple, there is a new cool kid in town now.

  3. Apple announces the new MacBook with the touch bar
    chrome_2016-10-29_18-45-37While Microsoft was putting its vision of the non-tablet world forward, Apple is trying to redefine the laptop with its latest MacBook, with the new interactive touch bar.

    Instead of the usual row of function keys, they have replaced it with a OLED touch bar, that will change context depending on the application you are in.  Function keys have become ingrained in our brains for various things.  First it was the 3.5mm audio jack, now the function keys – is nothing sacred?  Qwerty layout next?

  4. Tesla announces near on invisible solar roofs and a large power pack
    chrome_2016-10-29_18-52-55Ahead of the shareholder vote later in November about the Solar City deal, Elon Musk took to the stage to announce a new revolutionary solar panel for residential homes that is near on invisible to the naked eye – no more unsightly big silver boxes on the roof.

    In addition, he announced that Tesla have doubled the capacity of its Powerwall product while keeping the price at $5,000 and throwing in an inverter at the same time.  Running your house off-the-grid just got way more affordable and real.

  5. Twitter kills off the 6.5 second video service Vine; 300 people lose jobs
    chrome_2016-10-16_10-37-48Twitter is desperately trying to make money, but while it figures that out, it is killing off the Vine service it launched under 3 years ago.  As part of this cost restructuring 300 people will be losing their jobs.  With all the free media publicity Twitter gets, especially with this years US elections, they still can’t make money or find a buyer (though rumor has it that Disney maybe sniffing around again).

    Though not all may be lost, never wanting to miss an opportunity, the popular adult site, PornHub, has said they are willing to buy it from Twitter, because as they said it, “6 seconds is more than enough” – and they have the data to prove it!

  6. Slack may be in for some serious competition, with Microsoft Teams
    chrome_2016-10-22_10-56-16Microsoft is expected to release next week it’s version of Slack, called Microsoft Teams.  There was a desire internally to buy Slack for $8B but Bill and Satya weren’t for having it.

    Microsoft have been here before, when they bought Yammer in 2012 – the Facebook for business as it was billed.  The leaked photos of Team looks suspiciously close to an updated Yammer. Slack has found a lot of love with its users, so it will be interesting to see if teams are willing to move away.  Pricing could be the key.

  7. Amazon releases weaker profits, stock takes a dive
    chrome_2016-09-24_05-16-50As part of its quarterly report, Amazon announced its profits weren’t as strong as they had hoped, but still profitable, 6 quarters in a row.  However that isn’t enough to appease the stock market who punished the stock by taking nearly $70 off its share price.

    Amazon for so long operated at a loss and now it is profitable it doesn’t seem to be enough for some, who had pegged the stock to break the infamous $1,000 stock price.  AWS was up 55% year-on-year, showing that their grip on the cloud market is showing no signs of letting it up.

  8. Need some sleep on the move?  The OstrichPillow may be what you need
    chrome_2016-10-29_19-17-23.pngWe’ve all been there, schedules get pushed around and before you know it, you are grasping for some sleep whenever you can.   Except you can’t just get comfortable.  Anyone of my fellow air warriors will know the pain of trying to sleep on a cramped plane.

    One company, Studio Banana Creations, may have the solution for us, with their new flexible pillow that transforms from a discrete scarf into something that is well, not discrete.


… and this week’s soundtrack was brought courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.  I particularly love his ‘I need never get old’ track.  Excellent album check it out.

Weekly Top 8 Tech Stories – 17th October

This weeks top tech stories for the week of the 17th Oct. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Tesla, IoT and Indiana Jones.

For those that missed out this week, here are the stories in the tech world that was making the headlines in the week of the 17th October.

  1. Apple iCar isn’t going to happen
    chrome_2016-10-22_10-11-56It was a long standing rumor for many years that Apple was getting into the electric car business, competing head on with Tesla.  Bloomberg announced this week that the project that headed up this initiative has been dismantled with many lay-offs coming.

    One wonders if Tesla/Ford/Mercedes will welcome back those that defected.  Oops.

  2. Tesla announces cars rolling off their production line can self-drive
    chrome_2016-09-24_05-21-25While we are on the subject of electric cars, Elon Musk teased the internet for a week about a big announcement and this Wednesday he held a press conference and demonstrated a Model X driving by itself from home to the office.  The video is extremely impressive and worth the watch, complete with Rolling Stones theme.

    This in the same week that Germany have asked Tesla to stop using the term Auto Pilot as it is confusing the poor Germans drivers.

  3. First it was Samsung’s Note 7; now Apple’s iPhone 7 bursts into flames
    chrome_2016-10-22_10-25-13While Samsung are figuring out how to rebuild its reputation Apple’s latest flagship handset, the iPhone 7, has had a couple of reports of it bursting into the flames.   They haven’t officially commented on this, only to say they are investigating this thoroughly.

    This could seriously rock the high end handset market if both market leaders turn out to have handsets that can light a campfire quicker than Bear Grylls!

  4. Nintendo announce its new handset, the Switch
    chrome_2016-10-22_10-31-16The king of gamers for the masses have set the standard again with its latest Switch device. Just as the Wii appealed to everyone, Nintendo are hoping to capture that same family appeal with the Switch.  Think of the Wii and the 3DS and then put that in a portable, multi-player handset and you have something that could catch on.

    Nintendo are entering a very competitive space now, with smartphones accounting for a large amount of mobile gaming (assuming they don’t catch fire!).  They are missing the Christmas buying period by launching it March 2017.

  5. Internet for North America goes offline this Friday, due to IoT devices
    chrome_2016-10-22_10-42-35The previous week, we had DNS provider, hover.com, go offline due to a massive DoS attack on its servers.  This week it was the turn of Dyn who were the target of the same attack that knocked out many of the big players, including Twitter, Amazon and Spotify.

    Insecure IoT devices such as routers, printers, cameras, etc were at fault again.  These devices are very easy to take over due to default username/passwords that most people don’t even know to change, though some can’t be changed anyway.  This problem is not going away anytime soon.  The ISP’s may have to step up and start firewalling these devices.

  6. Amazon looking to provide you with Internet
    chrome_2016-09-24_05-16-50Amazon is looking to become an ISP, in Europe initially, and start to offer that as part of its Prime service.  This may not be as big a leap considering how big and expansive their AWS cloud computing is.

    Amazon have repeatedly said that their Prime membership is where they make their money as members are more likely to buy from Amazon.com instead of going elsewhere.

  7. Microsoft’s SalesForce competitor, Dynamics is selling very well
    chrome_2016-10-22_10-56-16This week Microsoft’s stock was at its highest after a very good earnings call this week detailing that all its subscription services are way above expectations, with the enterprise suite Dynamics getting most of that attention.

    Microsoft have successfully redefined itself away from relying on just Office and Windows revenue as it looks to things like Azure, Dynamics and Office 365 (an online subscription service).

  8. Indiana Jones, Ark of the Covenant, now on display
    chrome_2016-10-22_11-00-51The real big news of the week, was that a real piece of movie history, the Ark of the Covenant, went on display at Walt Disney World Hollywood in Orlando.   You can view this legendary prop while you are queuing for the Great Hollywood Movie Ride, though you will be forgiven for just queuing and not making it to the ride.

    Hurry before Disney decide to put it back into the huge warehouse!


… and this week’s soundtrack was provided by Norah Jones new album Day Break released this month.  Good to see her back to releasing under her name.

Tesla Motors: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool, and Sparked the Next Tech Revolution

The inspiration behind Tony Stark’s Iron Man business man persona, Elon Musk, is truly a fascinating and intriguing character.   I will confess that my first impression of Musk, was an eccentric rich play boy, who craved the lime light with no real substance – the technologies Paris Hilton.


I couldn’t have been more wrong in my initial view of Musk.  The man, immigrated from South Africa, cut his teeth in the early 90’s technology boom, first creating and selling Zip2 then more successfully, founding and selling PayPal.   The theme so far, Musk was a disruptive business man, challenging the conventional wisdoms within a particular industry sector.

He wasn’t finished yet.  The car industry, the space race and the worlds energy producers are all in his cross hairs and he’s making significant progress with each.

This book tracks the history of his motor company, Tesla Motors Inc., a company that has redefined the auto-mobile in the modern day age.   The media can’t heap enough praise on the infamous, “insane” Model S.   What made a company that just barely celebrated its 10th year, leap frog and leave every established manufacturer with their pants down?

The book retraces the steps, from the humble beginnings of attempting to create an electric car with the sexiness and practicality of a high end luxury car, shaking the classic “golf cart” view of an EV car.

You are taken through the various milestones of what it takes to create a modern day mass scale automotive company.   Musk has a 3 step program that is so far on course.   First create a limited run (expensive) car, to prove the market, shake out the initial findings and create a media buzz.   The Roadster (loosely based on the British Lotus Elise) was that first car that had a 2500 production run.   The next is to create a high end sedan, to compete with the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Lexus, and to use that to show case just precisely what an EV can do while catering to a practical and demanding audience.  This car is to bring the company to profitability and maintain a positive cash flow.   The Model S (originally named WhiteStar) more than ticked that box.   Finally, to create a mass appeal car, in the $30k price bracket, that can be bought by the average motorist; the Model X coming later (hopefully) in 2015.

Musk involved himself at every stage, micro managing some of the design elements, including the infamous reclining door handles.   He wanted a car that not only redefined the auto-mobile for the 21st century but had the performance of a super car, such as a McClaren F1 or Ferrari.   His cautionary tale to his team was to say: “DeLorean looked great, but had shitty performance”.

Tesla while an American built car, is more international than probably most realize.  The Roadster had a lot of help from Lotus (British).  Daimler (German) and Toyota (Japanese) are major investors and customers of Tesla, while Panasonic (Japanese) supply the batteries and a partner in the GigaFactory project.

But the story is far more interesting and intricate than quick sound bites.  Musk’s legendary energy (he apparently works 100hrs a week; saying he can do in 4 months what most people can only achieve in a year) affords him the ability to be active in not just one disruptive high tech company, but three; Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity.


This book is well written and very pacy in its narrative.  I completed the book in just two sittings as each page I turned, I was marvelling at the complexity of what it takes to bring around a revolution.   What Amazon done for shopping, Tesla is redefining what it means to design, build and deliver the next generation of automotive transportation.   But to limit Tesla to just cars is doing them a huge injustice; they are an energy company with many of their innovations in the world of battery power management.

Musk believes in the greater good, proving this, by open sourcing (a common term in the software industry from which he came) all of Tesla’s patents, for any company to come along and kick start their EV program.  Inspiring.

I came to this book to learn more.   I am the recent owner of a Tesla Model S car, and it literally takes my breath away each mile I drive.   When you drive the Model S you know you are sitting in a time machine, 20 years in the future.   Never did I think I would be driving a car daily, that can do 0-30 in 0.7 seconds, beating nearly every super car on the planet, with no production car getting anywhere near that.  

I had to know more on the story of this revolution and this book filled in a lot of the gaps.  I am far more appreciative of the sweat and effort it took to bring this car to the market.   I feel I am no longer driving an EV car, but taking part in a crucial part of history that will change how we view and interact with what we know today as the humble car.

The story is still unfolding.  The book goes up to the summer of 2014.   That is nearly a year ago now, which in Tesla years, is a lifetime away.   Much has delivered a lot since then, and Musk shows no sign of slowing down.

Looking forward to reading the follow up to this story.

Tesla Motors: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool, and Sparked the Next Tech Revolution