Friday, August 12, 2022

Friday Links 22-26

Two weeks worth of links. This time with a comics extra instead of leadership links. 

Lots of good environment and urbanism articles.

And the most surprising podcast about how rescuing people from cars is changing

Engineering 

A Deep Dive into Memory Leaks in Ruby  - part 2

CPAN - This Day In History [Podcast] - when I switched from Perl to PHP, CPAN was what I was missing the most 

Backblaze Drive Stats for Q2 2022 - also available as raw data!

All You Need to Know about EdgeDB - first time I hear about this one

The Best-Selling PC of All Time: Commodore 64 Turns 40 - I never had one, but all my friends did

Work

Malcolm Gladwell slams working from home: ‘What have you reduced your life to?’ - great hair, weird opinions. I am not a WFH zealot, but this piece seems to be wrong in so many ways. Especially if you check how he works.

Environment

Rhine close to running dry in German energy nightmare - this is fine 

Source of River Thames dries out ‘for first time’ during drought  - also fine

Bitcoin mining operation Riot Blockchain earns more money in July by - look at that thing! 

Sostenibilidad del Consumo en España [Spanish, PDF] - impact is moving outside of Spain, food & mobility have the biggest impact 

A fine or a nudge? Charging for plastic bags works and is an interesting behavioural case study - "The average shopper in a UK major supermarket now uses just three plastic bags per year, compared to 140 back in 2014."

No more glaciers in Catalonia as climate change melts Iberian Peninsula's last ones away   - I didn't even realise there was one, and now it will be gone in 20 years 

Spain puts limits on air conditioning and heating to save energy - this also makes life in the city nicer

Spain warns heatwave threatens olive oil production - we have olive trees and only the ones in the shade of the house have olives this year

Urbanism

Ten futuristic cities set to be built around the world - none of these will ever be built

Brussels breaks up with the car - "If you look at the numbers, only 20 to 25 percent of the people who live or come to work here use cars,"

La revolución peatonal de Valencia [Spanish] - I haven't seen these plazas open yet, but this looks great. Valencia is brilliant anyway.

Paris halves street parking and asks residents what they want to do with the space - “We can no longer use 50% of the capital for cars when they represent only 13% of people’s journeys,”

The Car-Replacement Bicycle (the bakfiets) [YouTube] - definitely more useful in cities, but I love my cargo bike  

The political economy of car dependence: A systems of provision approach [Paper] - " Through uncovering the constituents, processes and characteristics of car-dependent transport systems, we show that moving past the automobile age will require an overt and historically aware political program of research and action."

SF traffic cops issue just 10 citations a day - this sounds like every city 

Fare deal: Ireland joins Europe-wide efforts to coax people out of cars - cheaper public transport will help, but you have to be patient 

Bicycle Theft Barcelona 2021 - one of the big problems for cyclist in Barcelona 

UK heatwave: Weather forecasters report unprecedented trolling - lets just pretend it doesn't exist 

How far can you go by train in 5h? - pretty far if you are in Paris or Switzerland, the network in Spain has lots of big holes 

The city that pioneered Europe’s car-free future - Pontevedra still doing fine "Instead of driving out to malls on the periphery, people shop in the city center: The city is our mall."

Comics

xkcd-excuse.com  - make your own excuses 

How to Enjoy Your Own Geekiness - not me! 

Inflation - ouch

Sprints - this sounds familiar

Random Spreadsheets

Excel Esports: ALL-STAR BATTLE [YouTube] - Yes, the spreadsheet 

Is it time for a complete overhaul of car wreck rescue techniques? [Podcast] - apparently we never stop learning. This is amazing and not obvious at all. 

"Men have no friends and women bear the burden” [Podcast] - I have trouble with making friends. Time to join some local clubs.

Opinion Why does the IRS need $80 billion? Just look at its cafeteria. - this is beautiful and makes me feel better about all weird processes

The End of Manual Transmission - can't come early enough.  If you like it so much, then also go back to rotary phones. Your steering, throttle and brakes are probably already by wire. I wonder if "sport"-car companies will add fake stick shifts to future cars just for these weirdos who like to feel "to be in control".

People are blowing cinnamon on their front doors – wellness experts explain why - what?

Stray review – cats get the cream in slinky, post-apocalyptic fantasy - five stars 

Other Links

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Friday Links 22-25

Photo of the classic R5 Turbo rally car
Some good long reads today: The classic "Give Away Your Legos", how to slowly kill your org, Why Spotify Squads are a Failure and Bicycle Graveyards.

A few podcasts, the one about agile is definitely worth it.
 

Leadership

‘Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups - classic article 

190 Brilliant Examples of Company Values - so many values, so similar. The ones from Build-A-Bear a fun.

The manager’s guide to slowly killing your org - helpful!

How a Leader Made the Interview Process More Collaborative - setting expectations for all interviews upfront is key 

Team Topologies Distilled - Elite performing teams are long lived [YouTube] - small long-lived autonomous teams with a shared purpose  

Jonathan Frakes Asks You Things [YouTube] - 1:1 starter questions :-) stolen from somewhere  

Why Spotify Squads Are a Popular Failure for Product Teams - don't copy them, but take the good parts and adapt to your environment 

Screw SCRUM: Guide to Building a Truly Agile Organization [Podcast] - going back to the principles and thinking bigger than just the teams 

Engineering

How to Track Down Memory Leaks in Ruby - painfully, you do it painfully 

Locking Engineering Principles - about kernel locks, but applies more widely: "Make it dumb; make it correct; make it fast"

Programming languages endorsed for server-side use at Meta - look at this the next time you want to add something to your stack, then think of the size of Facebook and don't do it

Technology

New integrated email marketing tools for Gmail - Google gets into the spam sending business

It’s time to leave the leap second in the past - they want to remove all the fun of time keeping!

Environment 

Why tech workers are quitting great jobs at companies like Google to fight climate change - because someone needs to

Plant based promises, rise of the plant based burger [Podcast] - at the start of pandemic we switched to mostly plant based. The variety of plant based replacement products definitely helped with this. 

Wildfires continue to burn across France and Spain - we had the first rain for a while yesterday, so this will improve a bit 

Barcelona school and residents create solar energy community - nice solution for cities

Urbanism

Bicycle graveyards: why do so many bikes end up underwater? - because we can't have nice things

Three new Maps updates to help plan your next adventure - new bicycle routing! Suggesting bike lanes and quieter roads 

The deadliest road in America  - I complain about European roads, but the US has completely lost it

Random Cars

R5 Turbo - Renault has a website dedicated to their classic cars!

We bought the most boring electric car - alright, that is from me

Steff goes home and needs help Let's help rebuild Ukrainian homes destroyed by russian army. - Steff is riding for a good cause


Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

We bought the most boring electric car



Most of the current electric cars are either very fast, very fancy or very cute. Ours definitely isn't any of these.

We would have loved to get a cute small one like the Honda-e. We certainly didn't want an SUV. There are some electric dream cars out there, like the Rivian R1S, but this isn't available yet and also out of our price range. 

Because of our large collection of dogs, we needed something with enough space for them. Ideally something robust and easy to clean as the dogs are currently nibbling at everything they get their hands on. 

Range is not so important as most of our trips are local.  A round trip to Barcelona or the beach is maybe 100-150 km. If we do a longer tour, we can use our Land Rover Defender or rent a more suitable car.

ë-Berlingo

In the end, we settled on an ë-Berlingo. The Berlingo is a very common car in Spain. There are family and van versions driving around everywhere. It is also rebranded as Opel Combo-e Life, Vauxhall Combo-e Life, Peugeot e-Rifter, Toyota ProAce City Verso Electric, Fiat e-Doblò and probably more in the future. They are all the same cars, only with a different front and slightly different configurations. 

There are two different lengths, the M and the XL. We went for the XL, which has slightly more boot space and is 20 cm longer.

Buying 

If you are spoiled by buying everything online, having lots of option that you can easily configure, you will be very disappointed with buying a car. 

I obviously first went to the online configurator. There are a lot of options that conflict with each other and are different in different countries. 

I wanted to select every option, but this was not possible. This is what I got in the end:

  • version XL with Feel pack 
  • Dark grey
  • Green interior 
  • 16" wheels 
  • wireless mobile charging
  • two zone a/c for the front
  • grip control (for different surfaces ... pretty useless)
  • children pack (shutters for the rear windows and a mirror to watch the "kids")
  • parking sensors, 180 degree rearview camera, automatic parking system
  • blind spot notification 
  • GPS navigation system

This is what I wanted, but couldn't get:

  • tow-bar (apparently not available in Spain)
  • head up display (just for the M version?)
  • wireless mobile charging (wasn't delivered because of the lack of chips)
  • adaptive cruise control (just for petrol/diesel cars?)
  • a/c for second row
  • middle console  (just for M version?)

Anyway, the car is still good enough without some of these questionable toys. 

And then you have to sign a 100 pages long contract to buy the car. With a pen.


 

Charging

We don't have a charger at home at the moment, which is quite annoying. 

This means going to a public fast charger once in a while. We have our favourite, but I charged at a few others while travelling.
 

The car buying experience might have been annoying, but not quite as annoying as the charging infrastructure. I now have about ten different mobile apps installed for different networks. The machines and the apps all have a pretty bad user experience.

I don't understand why I can't just go to a machine and pay with my credit card, like with everything else in the world too. 

The network in Spain can definitely be improved too.

Carrying

This car is made for carrying stuff. I used it for a bicycle trip already, and we did a few trips with all the dogs.

I added a separator between the loading space and the rear seats and rubber mats everywhere to make it more suitable for the mess the dogs make.

 

It is getting in the way when loading a bicycle, but it isn't too bad. With more bikes, it probably makes sense to remove the separator. 

I think you can easily fit three bikes and luggage while still having enough space to sit three people. 

The rear door is annoyingly big, and two normal doors would have been more practical. At least you can open the window separately from the outside.

Driving

This only the second electric car I have driven myself, after a quick spin in a Zoe.

It is not a fast car. It is fast enough and comfortable enough for my taste. If you drive faster than 100 km/h you will use a lot more electricity. 

Compared to the Land Rover Defender, it is pure luxury. 

I always hated manual gears and see them as something which should have been replaced by automatic gears a long time ago. Electric cars bring this to a whole new level. 

Running it so far is at least half of the costs of the Defender. This doesn't factor in maintenance costs yet. 

Real life range is 230 km on an 80% charge or 270 km on 100%. This changes quite a bit on terrain. Driving to the mountains reduced it, coming back from the mountains felt like it would last forever. 

The multimedia screen and digital gage cluster works well. As a nerd, I would love more customisations. Though this probably would reduce the reliability. 

The build in navigation system is pretty awful. You would expect an electric car to have fully integrated routing with support for charging on the way. You would be wrong in this case.

I use Google Maps via Android Auto most of the time, which works better and also has no support for routing with charging. There are some third party solutions out there, I am going to try for longer trips.

Summary

This car is pretty perfect for us. It has all the space, was reasonably cheap, and is basic enough to not worry about all the dirt the dogs and bikes bring in. It is also more reliable than the Defender. 

Once we have easy charging at home, we are probably not going to worry about public charging any more for 95% of the trips.




Friday, July 22, 2022

Friday Links 22-24

Screenshot from the game Stray. A cat sitting in front of a desk with ancient computers.

A few good articles about how to be a bad leader. 

And some depressing environmental news. 

Play Stray to cheer you up!

Leadership

Hierarchy of Metrics - this is a nice happy land of metrics and probably not happening in the real world 

A Checklist Manifetsy - an Etsy checklist for new features and about checklists in general

How to get helpful, actionable feedback from your colleagues - good ideas to improve me asking for feedback

TBM 31/52: Why Does Our Strategy Keep Changing? - "You are witnessing tactics masquerading as strategy."

How Leaders Get in the Way of Organizational Change - great summary. There is probably a long list I could add.

Engineering Manager vs Scrum Master - personally, I quite like the EM being the SM. Better than the PO being the SM anyway.

Engineering

The Deadlock Empire - fun deadlock coding game

Hard Drive Life Expectancy - by now I don't even know why I follow this

Work

1 HOUR - Forced back to work at the Office Ambience | Relaxation [YouTube] - this is just a great channel 

Glassdoor ordered to reveal identity of negative reviewers to New Zealand toymaker - time to delete my Glassdoor account?

Environment 

We’re Not Going to Make it to 2050 - cheerful 

Analysis: Which countries are historically responsible for climate change? - Go Germany!

City heat extremes - satellite picture analysis by the ESA

Urbanism

89. Distracted to Death [YouTube] - car displays are growing and killing people 

Holland Is Not A Dense Country, But An Empty City - interesting perspective 

Why Swiss Trains are the Best in Europe [YouTube] - that is an amazing amount of trains for a tiny country

Spain announces free rail journeys from September until the end of the year - this would be even better if I would still commute

Random Cats

Stray - play this now 

Stray review – press paws for adorable life as a post-apocalypse pussycat - cute hero

Make A Plan - the recent close wildfire prompted me looking into go bags and plans in general. The pandemic and climate warming (and maybe age) turns me into a prepper

Will you be prepared for the next wildfire? - probably not

Tesla announces they sold 75% of their Bitcoin - with a loss

Resum de l'episodi de simultaneïtat d'incendis forestals - 15 al 23 de juny del 2022 [YouTube, Catalan] - summary of the June fires in Catalonia 

Other Links

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Friday Links 22-23

Small wooden sailing boat

Lots of good news and videos in Urbanism this week.
I also enjoyed the podcast with Marshall Goldsmith.

Leadership

When there's a Re-org [TikTok] - not funny!

Screw SCRUM: Guide to Building a Truly Agile Organization [Podcast] - don't actually screw scrum 

TBM 30/52: Why Don’t We Have a Strategy? - "The problem is that there are disincentives to thinking strategically." 

A Customer-Focused Approach to Tooling - platform teams should treat their output as products with a focus on developers as customers

Visualize team-code alignment: reverse engineer your organization from version-control - a great idea ... I am slightly worried what this would show though 

#142 Marshall Goldsmith: The Essentials Of Leadership [Podcast] - Great insight on leadership and life. He is a bit too proud of himself at times. I would like to read his books now though. 

What are your company's anti-values? - very good point. What are we not doing when we focus on something. I think the agile manifesto also gets this right.

Work

What It’s Like Working a Four Day Work Week and How We Spend Fridays Off - spoiler: it's nice

Panel interviews don’t work - because of stress and groupthink. I think sometimes they are also just used as a time saving solution

Environment 

Extreme heat around the world in videos, photos and graphics - we are in fire season again and it is too hot to leave the house during the day

Urbanism

The big idea: should cars be banned from cities? - not that big of an idea :-) 

Spain to fully subsidize Renfe train tickets from September to December - I wish they would think about something more sustainable and also increase the network instead.

I'm A Car Enthusiast That is Starting to Hate Cars. Here's Why. [YouTube] - "Cars are actually terrible"

Wales set to reduce default speed limit to 20mph in residential areas - nice 

The Plan to Change Amsterdam [YouTube] - interesting ... thinking about the whole area as one city 

Why Barcelona Looks Weird [YouTube] - I didn't realise that the blocks should have been openings on at least two sides  

Brussels Government approves first version of Good Living - this seems to be utopia. How will they get this past the NIMBYs?

Does Anyone Actually Cycle in Switzerland!? [YouTube] - more and safer infrastructure -> more cyclists

Random Ships

Lifestyles - cool story. The goal and incentives are the same, but the outcome is very different. I also love the last quote:

“Everyone else can stress out about outperforming each other,” he says. “I just like Europe.”

Ableton Co-Founder Robert Henke Says It’s Time To Reconsider ‘Underrated’ Compact Disc Format - what about USB sticks? 

‘Europol ploy’: mass phone scam defrauds Germans of millions of euros - the called me too

Google One now has premium Google Workspace features - nice ... when it arrives in Europe

Other Links

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.