ARTICLES

Tesla And SolarCity Powered An Entire Island With Solar Energy

NOVEMBER 25, 2016

After getting the approval from their shareholders last week, Tesla completed its acquisition of SolarCity on Monday morning. And to give us an idea on what’s possible in combining forces, they powered the entire island of Ta’u in American Samoa. A remote island with power supply problems that relies on diesel generators for electricity.

The project accomplished 5,328 solar panel installations from SolarCity and 60 Powerpack rechargeable batteries from Tesla. These technologies will supply almost 100 percent of the power needed by the entire island with nearly 600 residents in the area.

To boast, Ta’u island can stay powered for 3 full days without sun, and can recharge back fully with just 7 hours of sunlight exposure.

From start to finish, the Ta’u’s microgrid project was completed within just one year. It was funded by the American Samoa Economic Development authority, the EPA, and the Department of Interior. The project is expected to offset the island’s previous use of 109,500 gallons of diesel per year, plus the expensive shipping costs that comes from high volume quantities of fuel that needs to get there (obviously).

tau-island-with-solar-powerOn my previous ‘linked’ article, I stated: “I can smell the huge benefit of this deal for both companies, and more importantly to the world’s “green future”. Hopefully”. And this is exactly one of the pictures portrayed behind those words. Another one is the recent solar roof unveiling, along with the Powerwall 2, all of which fall under the Tesla’s ‘Mission Plan’. Great implementation indeed.

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Quick Recap on Apple’s ‘Hello again’ Event

OCTOBER 27, 2016

Today, Apple announced three new important updates: a significant update to Final Cut Pro X, the new TV app for Apple TV, and the ‘groundbreaking’ New MacBook Pro.

I would like to draw the attention though to last one mentioned, which is the main course of the event. The notable change of the redesigned MacBook Pro is what Apple calls the ‘Touch Bar’, it replaces the traditional row of function keys, and it’s made up of Retina-quality Multi-Touch display.

Since this is a quick recap, I think the better way to tell you more about it is through these sweet videos:



Also, Apple CEO Tim Cook started the event by talking a little bit about Accessibility, on how Apple believes that technology should be accessible to everyone. But before Cook took the stage, a touching video was presented about how a person with disability uses Apple products and how they benefit from them. Here it is:

You can preorder the New MacBook Pro today and it will be shipped within 2 to 3 weeks (U.S. only). Other countries will take a few more weeks.

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On Tesla and Apple

OCTOBER 4, 2016

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Last Friday, I was about to post a linked article about Tesla’s Autopilot version 8.0 best new features, but while reading some related stories on the web, I stumbled upon Jack Stewart’s Wired article.

What caught my attention about Stewart’s piece is my relevant view on Tesla as a company. I don’t own a Tesla by the way, but what interests me about the car company is its Apple-like quality on details and approach. From the hardware and software, elegant design, the user experience, the marketing, and the over the air updates of its software.

Here are some of Jack’s comments that stood out for me:

You may not have bought an iPhone 7 on launch day, but if you’re an Apple user, chances are you upgraded to iOS10 and got a bunch of new features that make your old phone feel newer. The auto industry is slowly moving toward the same model, with Tesla leading the pack. Because Elon Musk’s Model S sedan and Model X SUV are always connected, they can actually get better with age.

Maybe the most remarkable thing about the update is that it simply shows up on the car, like an over-the-air update to your smartphone. No visit to the dealer, no wishing you’d waited to buy your car until the latest version hit the market. This means your car gets better over time, and recalls get way easier.

The ability to remotely improve the software that increasingly governs cars is a tantalizing new revenue stream for automakers, and affords customers the ease of use they’ve come to expect from their smartphones.”

That’s still a few years in the future. But if you’ve got a Tesla in your driveway, the future’s here now. Just give it an hour to install.

Earlier rumours suggest that Tesla was in talk for a possible acquisition, partnership or merger with Apple. During a phone interview with Bloomberg’s Betty Liu last February, Tesla Co-Founder and CEO Elon Musk discussed his meeting with the Tech giant’s acquisition chief but dismissed the rumour and said that a sale is very unlikely.

Whether these rumours are true or not, I think Tesla on its own is doing excellent work. It may be true that the company is struggling with its ambitious production targets for its Model 3 mass market car, my simple and quick assessment on this though is probably because Tesla is confident in foreseeing more customer demands in the future.

Final Thoughts

Being a new player in the automotive industry, no one expected that Tesla would change the game and by far lead the innovation on creating the car of the future. Even the Germans who are known for their expertise on building cars, overlooked and underestimated the California start-up’s capability. The recent headlines that are popping up on the web like this one and other similar articles prove that the company’s dominance is evident.

And if Apple joins the race,1  Tesla is going to be a tough competition.

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On Bose Soundlink Mini II

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016

I recently replaced our old Logitech speaker system in our bedroom with a Bose Soundlink Mini II.

If you aren’t familiar with Bose Soundlink Mini II, it’s a small and light Bluetooth speaker with a beautiful sleek design that you can carry with wherever you go.

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Bose is well known for its professional audio systems and speakers, impressive sound quality, and as for the Soundlink Mini II, despite its small size, you’ll be blown away by how good it sounds.

Design and Specs

If you ask me, I would say the device is Apple-like in many ways. From its look and sound quality. The body of the speaker is made of single piece aluminum that looks both attractive and compact. It weighs only 1.5 pounds and you can hold it in one hand, but being as tiny as it is, you can’t fit it in a pocket because of its brick-like dimension. It is small enough to put into your bag though.

As I mentioned above, despite its tiny size, the Soundlink Mini II sounds great. Bose has this to say about its sound quality:

You might not expect sound this rich from a speaker this small, but the SoundLink® Mini speaker II is something new. You don’t have to sacrifice performance for portability. Proprietary technologies and an innovative driver configuration combine to deliver full-range sound—including deep lows—in an ultra-compact package. It lets you take your music to places it’s never been before.

When it comes to connectivity, the speaker connects wirelessly to your smartphone, iPad or other bluetooth device. Pairing is fast and easy. By pressing the bluetooth rubber button on top, voice prompts talk you through pairing process. You can pair two devices at once and it can remember the most recent eight devices you’ve used.

The built-in rechargeable battery delivers up to 10 hours of playtime. And the unit comes with a charging cradle where you can charge it via metal contacts of both the dock and the speaker, making the charging process hassle-free. Charging using a micro USB cable is an option though.

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You can buy the Bose Soundlink Mini II at Amazon.co.uk for £169. Available in Pearl and Carbon color.

Conclusion

Sure there are plenty of cheaper rivals out there, but if you’re after a beautiful design, easy operation, and a better sound quality — in a tiny box, the Bose Soundlink Mini II is worth its asking price.

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The Switch to Kindle

AUGUST 24, 2016

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Last month, I wrote a news article about Amazon’s new Kindle base model. I preordered one, but surprisingly, my wife Anna bought it for me.

It’s my first time to own a Kindle device. Most of the time I read ebooks via Apple’s iBooks app on my iPad and iPhone. I only use Kindle app when the book isn’t available in the iBooks store (one of the limitations of traditional publishing).

After using the device for a week now, I decided to move my entire book library from iBooks to Kindle. Why? It’s about features. Here are the top three:

Word Wise

Word Wise shows you synonyms and definitions which are displayed inline above unfamiliar words while you read. So if you’re reading a challenging book, Word Wise will help you understand it more quickly. So the inconvenience of having always to look things up in the dictionary is over. But of course you can still do that if you need to.

You can check here to see which compatible Kindle devices and Kindle reading apps has this feature.

Vocabulary Builder

This one is a biggy. While Word Wise makes it easier to understand difficult words more quickly, to master them though is another story. Vocabulary Builder is the place where all the words that you looked up in the dictionary are stored. To review and practice them, just tap Options (the three vertical dots) in the upper right portion of the Home menu and select Vocabulary Builder.

You can sort them by Words or by Books. In Words, you’ll see all the words of each book in your library that you looked up in your dictionary. While in Books, you get to choose a specific book in your library and show all your looked up words in it.

You also have the option to review the words through flashcards. Just tap Flashcards at the bottom of the page to bring them up and select See Definition or See usage — whichever option you need. And if you think you’re already confident and can move on with the word, you can mark it as Mastered. Kindle then will transfer the word from your learning pile to the mastered pile.

Currently, this handy feature is exclusive on Paperwhite (2nd generation) and later.

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