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Chevy Volt – What I Like About It

I decided to lease a Volt after having driven a Nissan LEAF for about 2 years. I could have leased another LEAF at a discount as a repeat customer, but the Volt had a strong case for me to consider.

The LEAF gave me 70-80 miles on a full charge, depending on the season; winter months lower battery range, and 70+ miles is what I could drive on a full charge on cold days. The Volt promises only about 40 miles on a full charge, but it can run on gas. When the battery runs low, the gasoline generator kicks in, and produces electricity that the car runs on. A full tank of gas is about 9.3 gallons, and the MPG is about 35-40 miles on the Volt. So with a fully charged battery, and  a full tank of gas, you get a range of about 370 miles or so, which is a pretty long distance to drive.

So if your typical daily commute is less than 40 miles, then you can drive on the battery through the week. On days when you need to drive more, you have the gas back up. And if you really want to go on a long day-trip, you can drive it like a regular gas car, and keep filling it up as you go. That’s a big advantage if you really want an electric car for most of your driving, but want to have the capability to go long distances without being limited by the battery range.

Besides that, the Volt is a lot sportier than the LEAF. It rides low, and feels a lot like a sports car. The handling is nimble, and it is fun to drive.

I have had the Volt for about 8 months now, and have really enjoyed it.

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Nissan LEAF Driving Modes – ECO, B/D

The Nissan LEAF  offers some driving to optimize for power, economy and degree of regenerative braking.  These selected by the driver using a combination of the economy mode, and the drive mode which is either ‘regular’ or braking’. What do they do, and how do they work with each other?

Having driven the 2014 Nissan LEAF for almost a year, here are some of my observations. How are these controls organized?

The economy or “ECO” mode is selected with a push-switch located on the steering wheel. Using this, you can put the car  in the ECO- , 0r the non-ECO-mode. As the name suggests, driving in the ECO mode optimizes for longer range at relatively lower power.

And then there is the drive mode where you can be in “B” or “D” (non-B or regular) mode.  What does this do? The regular mode is similar to the “D” mode in any car with an automatic transmission. The “B” mode enables higher regenerative braking efficiency, which can be useful to charge the battery while braking in stop-and-go traffic, or while driving downhill.

So, using these two independent controls, you could be driving the LEAF in one of four possible drive mode combination:

  1. Non-ECO Mode and D Mode combination
  2. Non-ECO Mode and B Mode combination
  3. ECO Mode and D Mode combonation
  4. ECO Mode and B Mode combination

Let us try to analyze what each of these mode combinations offer, and see when these combinations would be a good choice.

 Non-ECO Mode and D Mode Combination

This is the combination in which you expect to get the highest torque from the motor. That is because both the ECO option and the higher braking option are deselected. So the motor would be able to perform at its highest power, and without any “extra” braking enabled. This is the combination that would typically be the most “fun-to-drive”. So if you are trying to quickly merge on to a freeway, pass a car, you would find it easier with this combination.

Non-ECO Mode and B Mode Combination

In the case, the motor would still perform with the highest torque, but since the enhanced braking mode is selected, it also means that whenever you take your foot off the accelerator, the car would tend to slow down due to the braking. If you are driving in stop-and-go traffic where you also need quick acceleration, this might be a good combination.

ECO Mode and D Mode Combination

This combination activates the ECO mode, while leaving the drive in D mode, which means that the motor operates in economy mode, and braking is at normal level. For fast driving in ECO mode, this would be a good combination. I use this mode when I am driving on freeways and fast city roads, when I don’t need any extra accelaration.

ECO Mode and B Mode Combination

This mode makes most sense in city road driving where you expect to drive at low speeds and also stop frequently at traffic lights and stop-signs. Since you will be using the brakes a lot in such driving conditions, using the LEAF’s enhanced braking mode helps in recovering some of the kinetic energy to recharge the battery due to regenerative braking. It will also reduce the amount of braking that you need to do, thereby minimizing kinetic energy wasted in regular braking, as well as wear-and-tear on the brake liners.

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Nissan LEAF Driving Modes – ECO, B/D

The Nissan LEAF  offers some driving to optimize for power, economy and degree of regenerative braking.  These selected by the driver using a combination of the economy mode, and the drive mode which is either ‘regular’ or braking’. What do they do, and how do they work with each other?

Having driven the 2014 Nissan LEAF for almost a year, here are some of my observations. How are these controls organized?

The economy or “ECO” mode is selected with a push-switch located on the steering wheel. Using this, you can put the car  in the ECO- , 0r the non-ECO-mode. As the name suggests, driving in the ECO mode optimizes for longer range at relatively lower power.

And then there is the drive mode where you can be in “B” or “D” (non-B or regular) mode.  What does this do? The regular mode is similar to the “D” mode in any car with an automatic transmission. The “B” mode enables higher regenerative braking efficiency, which can be useful to charge the battery while braking in stop-and-go traffic, or while driving downhill.

So, using these two independent controls, you could be driving the LEAF in one of four possible drive mode combination:

  1. Non-ECO Mode and D Mode combination
  2. Non-ECO Mode and B Mode combination
  3. ECO Mode and D Mode combonation
  4. ECO Mode and B Mode combination

Let us try to analyze what each of these mode combinations offer, and see when these combinations would be a good choice.

 Non-ECO Mode and D Mode Combination

This is the combination in which you expect to get the highest torque from the motor. That is because both the ECO option and the higher braking option are deselected. So the motor would be able to perform at its highest power, and without any “extra” braking enabled. This is the combination that would typically be the most “fun-to-drive”. So if you are trying to quickly merge on to a freeway, pass a car, you would find it easier with this combination.

Non-ECO Mode and B Mode Combination

In the case, the motor would still perform with the highest torque, but since the enhanced braking mode is selected, it also means that whenever you take your foot off the accelerator, the car would tend to slow down due to the braking. If you are driving in stop-and-go traffic where you also need quick acceleration, this might be a good combination.

ECO Mode and D Mode Combination

This combination activates the ECO mode, while leaving the drive in D mode, which means that the motor operates in economy mode, and braking is at normal level. For fast driving in ECO mode, this would be a good combination. I use this mode when I am driving on freeways and fast city roads, when I don’t need any extra accelaration.

ECO Mode and B Mode Combination

This mode makes most sense in city road driving where you expect to drive at low speeds and also stop frequently at traffic lights and stop-signs. Since you will be using the brakes a lot in such driving conditions, using the LEAF’s enhanced braking mode helps in recovering some of the kinetic energy to recharge the battery due to regenerative braking. It will also reduce the amount of braking that you need to do, thereby minimizing kinetic energy wasted in regular braking, as well as wear-and-tear on the brake liners.

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Overcoming resistance to change

Nice animation to illustrate a point

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NTSB recommends full ban on use of cell phones while driving

Distracted driving is undoubtedly the prime cause for most accidents. Hand-free or not, talking on the phone takes your attention off the road. Texting is way too dangerous. So this news should not be surprising.

But doesn’t this (see below) defeat the purpose somewhat?

It would apply to hands-free as well as hand-held devices, but devices installed in the vehicle by the manufacturer would be allowed, the NTSB said.

Perhaps technology could provide some effective solutions:

The safety board also recommended the electronics industry develop phones that would discourage their use by drivers, but could identify a car occupant’s location so that passengers could use the devices.

 

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Worst Passwords in 2011

According to the Mercury News article Is your password one of the worst 25 of 2011?, the following are the worst 25 passwords that were used in 2011:

1–password
2–123456
3–12345678
4–qwerty
5–abc123
6–monkey
7–1234567
8–letmein
9–trustno1
10–dragon
11–baseball
12–111111
13–iloveyou
14–master
15–sunshine
16–ashley
17–bailey
18–passw0rd
19–shadow
20–123123
21–654321
22–superman
23–qazwsx
24–michael
25–football

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Nice Video: Dogs in Cars

Dogs in Cars from keith on Vimeo.

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Google creates “Plus” To compete with Facebook

Google+ or “Plus” is Google’s new social networking application. Right now, it is exclusive to only those who have been selected to give it a test drive.

Based on early reports, Plus would allow users to download their data from their profile to allow them to export it to other platforms – something that Facebook doesn’t seem to support.  Google Takeout is the app that allows you to download your data.

Looking at the way Google has implemented Gmail, Google Docs and Picasa Web, Plus definitely sounds very interesting.

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Biking With Your Photo Gear

Biking is my favorite form of exercise. I get bored with indoor exercise equipment like treadmills. I find biking on trails quite refreshing and relaxing. One of the things I plan to do this summer is to carry my DSLR camera backpack when I go biking on some nearby nature areas.

It would also be good if I can take my regular tripod, rather than a miniature one. I have been exploring options to carry a regular size tripod on a bike and found basically three options: attach the tripod to the camera bag; attach it to the frame bar; or attach it to the utility carrier above the rear wheel.  I am leaning towards the third option for now.

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Audio Books Keep Kids Entertained On Road Trips

On a recent road trip,  I played one of Dr. Seuss audio-book from Audible.com and it worked like a charm and kept my daughter entertained for hours!  If others grow tired of it, you can use your car audio’s “balance” and “fade” controls to localize the audio to a particular position in the car, or better still give the kid a pair of headphones.

So the next time your kid gets tired of the drive and asks, “Are we there yet?” you can be truthful and say “Not quite – we have a long way to go, but how about listening to this story?” and play the audio-book.

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