When you’re making the perfect blog post there are a lot of moving parts. It would be easy to forget one or two pieces of the process as you go about putting it all together. I think it’s a good idea to have a list of all that needs to be done and to use it. In this video I show you how to use Shortcuts, the app from Apple to automate making your list in Reminders. It would also be possible to change this shortcut to send the list into something else like Omnifocus, things or one of the other GTD applications. I like using this method of making the list because it allows me to choose which of my blogs I am working with. It lets me decide if I’m going to do the full Monty which includes audio and video. All I can just create a blog post using just text, text with audio or text with video.
Within this shortcut we used the list method of choosing from two items and created variables based upon the choice. I also used a menu to give me a set of four choices and the shortcut builds it all from there. I needed to add a couple of dates. I needed the date for today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and for one week. This allowed me to set the reminders with a due date. It’s possible then to look into reminders and see what is scheduled. This way you can plan out your day or even your week.
It’s quite satisfying to have a list of tasks to be completed and to see the list becoming smaller as you get the job done. The first part of this shortcut puts together the list with regard to the creation of the perfect blog post. The second part of the list adds three more reminders to cover extra social network posts to tell the world about your blog post.
You can follow this recipe for making a similar, more personalised version of the shortcut. Or you can download the pre-made shortcut to your iOS device, make minimal changes to fit your purpose.
If you don’t want to use an automated way of creating your list of tasks you can also use something like Drafts and use a simple list syntax. This gives you a very simple list to work with and no dates. There is also the notes application which you can create a list, but again you don’t get any due dates. The good thing about using this automated list creation as you see in this video is that it is free. You can download the Shortcuts app for free and reminders is already installed on your system. If you don’t mind paying for some software you might look at Omnifocus. I might make another version of this shortcut which sends the list into Omnifocus instead. I already have a Drafts action which takes a list and sends it into Omnifocus. The Shortcuts way of doing it is preferable because it allows you to choose which parts of the full list are relevant to the project you have in mind.
There is that story going around about the mythical guy who automated everything with his job. He was a coder and went to extreme levels of automation. This even went to the point of an automated email message being sent to his wife if he was still hooked into his terminal at work at a certain time of the day. He added a made up excuse to go with it too. I suppose the message said something like he was going to be a little bit late for whatever reason. I hope the automation also included a countdown timer to kick him off his work computer and tell him to go home. The automation should also include a call to the mobility company so a car would be waiting for him to get into the train station or bus stop. Maybe he had a car which performed autonomous driving to the point of pulling up in front of the offices ready for him to jump in. The car would drive him home and send another more up-to-date email to say exactly what time he would be home. He did all of this to avoid work and do other stuff instead. Probably played computer games.
He wrote a script that waits 17 seconds, then hacks into the coffee machine and orders it to start brewing a latte. The script tells the machine to wait another 24 seconds before pouring the latte into a cup, the exact time it takes to walk from the guy’s desk to the coffee machine. And his coworkers didn’t even know the coffee machine was on the network and hackable.
If there wasn’t a significant other waiting for him at home there should be automation to have the house at the right temperature for his arrival. As the car arrives to your house a geolocation trigger would turn on all your lights ready for when you walk inside. The music system could be playing your favourite music. Or the television could be ready to go with a playlist of a movie or a TV series episode or two ready to go. There would be a food delivery ordered, or the food in the microwave would be cooked to perfection five minutes after his arrival back at the house. Enough time to change into something more comfortable and settle in. A certain amount of planning would have to go into this. He’d have to have the food ready in the microwave. He would have to give himself reminders before leaving for work to do that. Or he’d have a slow cooker which was possible to turn on at a specific time. If the time of return was difficult to nail down then you’d need to at least have a way of remote control for the cooker. Thank goodness for the internet of things. There will manual steps to make all of this happen for some time to come. Who knows for the future?
That Guy again
The guy wrote one script that sends a text message “late at work” to his wife and “automatically picks reasons” from a preset list of them, describes Narkoz. It sent this text anytime there was activity with his login on the company’s computer servers after 9 p.m.
If you want everything to be automated you would need to have a fairly structured life. Or you’d need an automation system in place which took into account the possibility of your changing your mind on things during the day. There are all sorts of things which can put a spoke into the works. Perhaps there is an accident on the road going home and the detour means you’re 15 or 20 minutes late. How will the automated cooking arrangements take into account any delays. Perhaps a friend or a member of family turns up unannounced. Will there be sufficient leeway in your automated system to allow for such eventualities?
Is the automation going to be deep automation which uses artificial intelligence or machine learning to do your bidding during the day in the most efficient way possible? Or can we only expect automation to take place where we use manual triggers to set things in motion. In this scenario we press a button or say a phrase to the voice activated assistant to get things into motion. Perhaps what we really need is to have a combination of levels of automation. Some aspects of our life could be the artificial intelligence reacting to actual triggers. Some of it could be where the machine learns you like to do a specific thing at a specific time. It has things put in place ready for you to do or to use. Another possibility would be for our computers to prompt us and ask us questions. “Hello computer user, at this time of day on a Friday you like to do this. Confirm by saying yes if you want to go ahead?”
Programming in random possibilities into our lives
We don’t want to turn into a robot ourselves. We don’t want to be a controlled by a strict timetable which doesn’t allow for serendipity. What about if we were to tell the automation to throw in the occasional curveball. Make life less boring. Our intelligent artificial assistant could helpfully suggest something out of the ordinary. It could go on the basis of getting us to do something we’ve never really considered. Or it could recommend something based on what other users of a similar type have chosen to do. He could be as simple as recommending a tasty dish to choose in a restaurant. It could be as drastic as coaxing us to go and do a parachute jump and get some exhilaration into our lives.
Connected lives and systems
There’s going to come a time when elements of automated personal transport will all talk to each other. You will jump into your car and say where you want to go to and the car will take you there. As the car drives along the road it will let other vehicles know of its presence so it can just slot in to the flow of traffic. As it gets to the junction just simply pull out and go on its merry way. The gap in the traffic where it was is closed up so the traffic is moving along the roadway in the most efficient way possible.
In the same way that traffic worked, the interaction of people could be similar. Your personalised artificial assistant will keep you productive at work. It could also recommend downtime. This could be a gentle reminder to go and visit your old mum if you haven’t seen her for a while. In order to keep your mental health on track it might even suggest you’ve been working too hard. The system would tell you it’s time to go watch a movie or go and socialise. Perhaps it could even set up a blind date for you if you’re getting too wound up in life and you really need to go and get laid. Funny if the AI brings the two people together for the blind date and doesn’t let on what’s going on and you think it is just kismet.
Everybody is different with individual needs
There are some things about life which are universal. The need to feel a sense of belonging and being a part of a group. This is alongside other basics such as the need for shelter, warmth and food. Surely much of this could be automated and optimised. Optimised based upon the needs of the individual as well as optimisation for the external influences. Influences such as the ability of society and the earth to provide. It’s true to say algorithms are already influencing our lives. Mostly this is down to advertising and what is being offered to us by large corporations. Would you like one of these, your friends have shown interest or bought items such as this. Will you put in your order and buy one? We keep getting nudges to get us to do things.
The nanny state and legislation
What if the nanny state decides what’s best for you in terms of diet. Would you be happy to let machine learning and your personal artificial assistant decides your menu for the week. We already have chosen to use things like the Apple Watch which will recommend we’ve been sitting down for too long and it tells us to stand up. It gives us nudges and encouragement to do a minimum amount of exercise and burning of calories during the day. How how far could such a system go? Can we trust algorithms and technology to know what’s best for us? There could come a time when the rebels are the excessively fat people. There will always be the person who chooses to have the extra two or three donuts and chooses not to do any exercise either. Can an artificial intelligence cope with all the randomness of people? Will people just more and more annoyed at an overbearing machine learning system which supposedly has our best interests at heart. It kind of depends on who controls the controller. Or will the machine learn from the worst of humanity instead of the best of humanity.
How will the future look?
I’d like to be optimistic and expect technology to bring benefits to the lives of all humans around the world. Human society varies so much from the really bad to the really good. Will algorithms mash a wide rainbow of life and living into a boring grey uniformity? Let’s see what happens.
I’ve got a cup of tea in my hand and I’m wondering what I should do for the day. There is a little puzzle I would like to solve. This is an iOS or Mac automation problem. Each month I get an email in about the English-language films on in Platja d’Aro and I would like to have a way of automating taking the name of the film and the date and creating a calendar event. I’d like to do this with the Shortcuts application.
What would be good is if I could just send the text of the whole email to the beginning of the automation. Shortcuts would find the relevant information I want and take it to the end of the process. It will add the location information for the cinema and also add the travel time to the event. If it was just one film per month it may be a little bit easier. However, it has to find two film titles and dates in the text.
My first idea
My first idea was to select the name of the film and the date manually and copy it to the clipboard. I would then share that to a shortcut which will do the rest of the job.
I was wondering if I could use Regular Expression to find matches for the text. The films always are on a Thursday and that word is the first word of a line of text in the email. Could be a way of getting my code to find the date in the email. It should also be possible to use regular expression to find text which is a date. More difficult to find titles because each month they vary and don’t stand out from the rest of the text in a meaningful way.
When I have this information the next trick will be to put it into a calendar. It’s possible to use the Add New Event calendar action, but I think I’m going to have more luck with using Fantastical and probably using the X-Callback URL encoding to get all of the details into the event I want to create. I’m sure it will take much trial and error to make this work. It’s amazing what you can accomplish though when you persevere.
I might also have a look at doing this automation on the Mac too. On the Mac I can use Keyboard Maestro. The good thing about using that application is I can get it to record my keystrokes as I make them. The automation then is the playback of that recording. It would be pretty good to have both ways of making this automation. Sometimes I’m sitting at my desk in front of my iMac when I see this email. Other times I’m with my iPad or my iPhone.
Banging your head against a brick wall
That’s what it feels like sometimes when you’re trying to work out how to do some coding. Especially when you are not a coder. To some extent I was doing quite well using Shortcuts on the iPad and iPhone. I could get the correct blocks necessary to make the shortcut kind of work. It seemed as though there were always just a little niggling problems to annoy me. I found Fantastical worked best when I had the title on the first line followed by the rest of information on subsequent lines. The problem came about with the information being presented with the date first, followed by the title. It then didn’t put all of the title into Fantastical. Getting more complicated by the minute.
This led me to find ways of automating getting the two parts of the data onto separate lines and in the right order. I looked at ways of doing this within the Shortcuts app. Then I tried to get that same job done in Drafts and I also ended up working out how to do it in Editorial. It got quite confusing going from one app to another trying to get the same thing done. Had to deal with different notation for the actions in each app. My preference was still to do everything within Shortcuts in order to make it as simple as possible. On the other hand, I was able to get Shortcuts to send data out to Editorial and to bring it back in again after it had been rearranged. Still not working right for me though.
A twist in the story
When I was trying to work this out I did try to use a date which was in the past. When I did this, Fantastical wanted to create the event in the following year. It makes sense because why would you want to create events for something which has already taken place. Even so, I did spend some time adding things into the code to try and stop that from happening. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Waste of time because I will really only do this with new emails containing dates in the near future.
I couldn’t work out why on some occasions it shows a completely different date to the text being given. Fantastical he supposed to be good at using plain language to extract the data to create events. What with the title having to be first, followed by the date and then I had to put in the proper address for the location, it’s clear Fantastical needs the data to be presented in a specific order. Had to throw things out of my automation and try again multiple times.
Appending to the clipboard
What I have found works efficiently is to grab the title which is supposed to be on the first line. That goes into the clipboard first. Then there is a shortcut I found and installed into Shortcuts which will take the date which I have selected and put it on a line after the title already placed in the clipboard. The actions within the shortcut I have been making takes the data and then adds the address for the cinema and throws it all into Fantastical. It works, but still is not as automatic as I would like it to be. Not the final solution as it was not automatic enough.
The road to success for my automation
I didn’t give up, but I did put the problem to one side for a day. Sometimes it’s good to do this to come back fresh and with new ideas. I went out for a drive around Barcelona hunting charging points for my electric car. In the evening time I relaxed and watched television, including the movie ‘Walk the Line’ which was a biopic based on the life story of Johnny Cash. I successfully put the automation problem I’d set for myself right to the back of my mind.
New day and new ideas
I found it was possible to throw in a big lump of text which included two lines which had my data into the beginning of the automation and extract just those two lines. I did this using Regular Expression. There is an action within Shortcuts which will match text and you to use a regular expression to get what you want. I had to do a bit of reading on a website which has all the information and tutorials on using Regex. To be honest it was quite complicated leading to a good bit of head scratching. In the end I was able to adjust one of the examples and try it out in an application called Expressions on my Mac. I had the text pasted into the search area of the application and I kept changing the regular expression until it selected everything I required. I got there in the end!
Working with the captured text
So now I had the text within the shortcut application but I still had the problem of getting the title of the movie in front of the date. If I didn’t do this the automation only put a couple of words into the title area for the event into Fantastical.
I found an action in Shortcuts which would split the text. The first option within this action I used was to split the two titles with dates into two lines. I didn’t need the word Thursday so I had the automation delete that word. I then split the text again using a custom search term. So this put the date on one line and the title on another line. I ended up with a list of four items.
I tried every which way I could think of to give each item in this list a variable. This would allowed me to put the two pairs of title and date together in the right order. Each time I tried the shortcut just kept getting confused. I was getting very confused myself at times. So I decided to try and split the automation into separate parts. This is a good plan because you can have a shortcut run other shortcuts. During my trials of ways to split up the text I found I could use the action ‘Get Item from the List’ to give me each of the four pieces of data. So I duplicated my shortcut so I had four of them. Each shortcut provided one of the four data points.
Bringing it all together in a controlling shortcut
So each shortcut gives me a piece of text. I started a new controller shortcut bringing in to film titles and two dates. This was easily done by running the shortcut for each data point to an action Get Text from Input and then setting a variable. I could then use each of these variables to put the text in the right order for adding an event into fantastical.
My first attempt was to use X callback URL for sending the data to fantastical. I did it this way to add an address for the cinema to the calendar event. It didn’t work the way I wanted it to. It wanted me to confirm by tapping on the add button in fantastical for each movie.
So what did instead was to create a text output by combining three variables. Two of them from the shortcuts running in this controller shortcut and the other variable was the address of the cinema. This worked the way I wanted to work because there is a switch to turn off the editing within Fantastical. At the end of all this the shortcut runs perfectly without any extra input from me.
My shortcut automation in use
I use the email application Airmail 3. There is a small amount of automation available within this app. I created an action in Airmail which sends the content of the email to my newly created shortcut in the Shortcuts app. It all runs in the background and I don’t need to do anything else. We have a winner!
For the most part, I enjoy having time with my screens. I always like having something to read and I get that with Twitter and Facebook. I keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world. I have the latest information on areas of interest I follow. I know what’s happening with all of the big stuff in world politics. I think it’s important not to be ignorant of basic world events. It doesn’t seem to be a good idea though, to be too well informed on all of the bad stuff going on. Following all the bad news too closely can be bad for your mental health. I often wish the news outlets of the world would spread more good information about what’s going on in the world rather than focusing on the awful. There could be more in the news about how technology is improving the world. However, a lot of the news seems to be about death and war. Sadly, too much airtime is given to religion and religious influence. That’s just the way that the BBC works, it seems.
Keeping up with the family news
One of the reasons we follow things in social media is to see what our families are getting up to. I like to hear what’s going on with my son George and his bicycle shop. I feel like I’m supporting him by commenting and sharing his posts about cycling. One of my nephews and his wife put up quite a few posts featuring their children. It’s great to see the kids growing up even though I haven’t met them in person yet. I’m not sure I agree with children being exposed too much on social media because they can’t give their permission. It is possible that the sharing can be kept within the family, so long as the parents of the children know how to restrict the permissions. I still think it’s better to have something more direct like a photo album, only shared directly with specific people and outside of social media. Something like a shared photo album in iCloud or Google photos is better than putting everything onto Facebook.
It’s never-ending – It just keeps coming
Sometimes you can feel like you are chained to social media. I like to keep an inbox zero with my email. When I open up the email application I delete, archive and even reply so the inbox is kept empty. If I don’t have time to deal with the contents of one of the emails directly I will snooze it until a moment when I’ll have time later. The email will pop back into the inbox and hopefully I will be able to deal with it when I next look at it. Sometimes snoozing an email is a chance ,to have second thoughts and leads me to make a decision to only ignore and delete.
Constant Stream of Junk
Same thing with Facebook. There is a constant stream of mostly junk. It seemed most of the rubbish is American information – sport and politics, of which I have no interest. If someone I’m connected to keeps putting stuff up like that, I just unfollow them. I don’t need to see whatever they think is important about some stupid American football game. I usually leave them as friends, but take their stream of consciousness out of my eyesight on the Facebook wall.
On Twitter I will unfollow people if I see too much rubbish I’m not interested in. If they are following me then sometimes what I will do instead, is to just mute or muffle their output so I don’t see it. I can always tap on the muted tweet and have a look to see something I might be interested in. It’s the fear of missing something that keeps me hooked and looking? There are some mornings when I can’t be bothered to look at the couple of hundred tweets since I last looked. I just tap the button at the top to get to the end and leave it at that. Sometimes it feels like that story in the TV series ‘Lost’ and the character had to keep watching a counter and press a button to stop the world from blowing up. He was imprisoned by this activity. Is social media becoming like this?
How to deal with this problem
In the latest version of the https://goodandgeeky.com/new-iphone-automate-ios-siri-shortcuts/Apple operating system for iOS devices there’s an option to limit your screen time. I don’t like the idea of cutting myself off from using my iPhone or iPad. On the other hand, I’m starting to think it would be a good idea to limit myself to having to one hour at some point in time during the day. Not a limit to access the whole of the phone but just a limit to social media. This would allow me to concentrate my efforts more on creating digital content rather than being a receiver of digital content. Instead of wasting time looking at videos on YouTube, reading tweets or posts on Facebook, I could be working on my next book, creating my latest podcast or making a video. I also consider spending time reading books as more worthwhile than reading short tweets et cetera. Even though it is still me consuming content, it is more valuable to me because I’m learning about writing as well as enjoying a story.
During my time off over the winter I could just simply say I have to begin creating at 9 o’clock in the morning. So even if I’ve been looking at social media before that while having breakfast or doing whatever at 9 o’clock I begin work. The idea would then be to disallow myself from looking at social media until I’ve finished my creativity for the day. Only when I’ve written a sufficient number of words for the day can I allow myself time to do non-important stuff.
For this to work I might have to turn off notifications coming in from my email application and the socials. It could be necessary for me to use the new system of regulating access to social media on my iOS devices. It’s possible for me to set specific times and also to limit the amount of time for this activity. I could create for myself a good habit. I would expect to give myself an opportunity to override my settings. It will be annoying to be locked out at a time when I have a good reason to be jumping into social media.
You have to have a good reason to restrict yourself
My reason for wanting to do this is to give me more time for being creative. It’s to stop me from wasting time going down a rabbit hole of looking at one video after another. Save myself from getting to a point in time two hours down the rabbit hole and feeling I’ve just wasted some valuable time. I don’t think it’s a good idea just to do this for the sake of it. Just because you have read somewhere that too much screen time is bad for you. If spending time on social media interacting with other people is what you like to do, then why not do it. It’s your life.
Setting up Screen Time
The first possibility is Downtime. This is to schedule a time away from the screen. I don’t want to do that. This is where you allow only certain apps and phone calls during a specific time period. The default setting is from 10 o’clock at night until 7 o’clock in the morning. I’m going to be asleep for most of this time so that’s not going to work for me. I could set a period during the daytime where I was only allowed to use productivity applications. That’s something I might try later.
The second possibility is app limits. I have set this one up to limit social networking to 2 hours per day. Two hours is probably too much. One hour would probably be better, but let’s try two hours first of all. There are other groups of applications you can also set. You could restrict the amount of time you spend on games, entertainment, creativity, education, reading or All Apps and Categories. It’s also possible to create combinations of these groups. So you could allow yourself one hour for games type applications and two hours for social network.
Another section within this Screen Time part of settings for your device lets you to choose apps which are always allowed. By default you get Messages and FaceTime included with the phone. Maps is also in the included list. I have added my password manager, Airmail, PlugShare, Waze, WhatsApp, TwistedWave, Anylist, Books, Day One, Drafts and few other applications which I don’t want to have any restrictions applied to. I could add more applications to this if at any time I’ve been told by the phone I can’t use a certain application due to the settings I’ve put in the Screen Time settings within iOS 12.
Bypassing the settings is possible by setting a Screen Time pass code. I don’t want to have to go into the settings to mess about with things just to be able to use an application. For this reason I’ve set up the pass code which will allow me to momentarily get past the blockage.
Content and privacy restrictions – This doesn’t really affect me in the slightest because I’m the only person who uses my phone. I won’t be switching this on because it’s not necessary. Within this area you can create your own restrictions to allowed applications, content restrictions, various privacy restrictions and decide if you want to allow changes to certain other settings. I see the iPhone as a totally personal device and I would never share my phone with anybody else. I find it weird and probably silly for these parents who allow their children to use their expensive personal mobile computer devices. Give them a toy to play with or buy them their own phone, but don’t give them yours to mess with.
Let’s see how we get on
So I set up these basic restrictions on my iPhone which will also look at how I’m using my iPad. I’m not sure if it includes what I’m doing with my Mac. Right now I’m wondering if it also includes what I do with my Apple watch. I’m guessing it could be a bit of an eye-opener to show me how much time I spend with my Apple personal computer devices. I don’t expect it to be a big surprise. I know already I spend a lot of time looking at the screens. It’s for this reason I thought it worthwhile spending so much money on buying the latest iPhone XS Max. It’ll be interesting to see if I can be more productive by limiting the amount of time I spend on social media.
I’ve driven over 8000 km in my Nissan Leaf. I have enjoyed every single one of them. It’s been a voyage of discovery in a good and geeky way. I’ve been learning how to manage travelling long distances with regards to the charging. Lots of fun to be had, planning and driving my Nissan Leaf road trips. Most people, for most of the time, will not have any difficulty with charging an electric vehicle because it will be charged overnight at home. Generally, it’s not that often we tend to do the long trips where we have to use public chargers. In my own case, this will be true except having a new electric vehicle made me want to do more kilometres than I would normally. So far in one third of the year, I’ve driven about three-quarters of the distance I would clock up in one year. So this shows I love driving an electric vehicle and going long distances is no problem at all.
Experimenting and learning how to charge
One of the things I’ve noticed is there are a number of different models and types of electric vehicle chargers. Not only that, there are lots of RFID cards, apps and ways to activate a charger. The other variable is finding the chargers. Finding the position of the chargers with applications such as PlugShare, NextCharge, ElectroMaps, PlugSurfing, ChargeMap, NewMotion as well as others specific to a network.
Usually the chargers don’t have any information about how to activate the charging point. When there is information, often it is quite basic. A bit of head scratching needed to work out what to do. So far the applications for finding charge points don’t include information about how to activate the charger. So I have been taking trips specifically to hunt for charge point to try them out. Or I have modified my journey so I could try out a different charger than I would have used otherwise.
On one of my latest journeys driving an electric vehicle, I went to Tossa de Mar with a plan to plug-in while walking around the town. First of all, the GPS sent me in a wrong direction. I think the address must have been incorrect in the PlugShare app. It wasn’t too difficult to go round a one-way system to get back to the correct route to the charger. I was pleased to see the charging point wasn’t occupied either by an ICE vehicle or another electric car. There was a place on the charge point to scan RFID cards. I tried all of the RFID cards I own and none of them worked. The next step was to use my phone to read the QR code on the charger. This took me to a website where I could register or sign in. When you register you get an email to let you know you’ve been successful. You then have to re-scan the QR code which takes you to a website which allows you to activate the charger. On this occasion that didn’t work. I did see on this website there was a link to download an app. So the next plan was to download the app and to log in using the password already set on the website. When this was done it was easy as pie to activate the charger and start downloading electrons. I’m a person who will persevere with this sort of activity, but I suspect other people would have given up. Other people might not have been in a position to give up, due to being more desperate for electricity for the battery. I can see where it would be extremely annoying having to go through all of the steps or to have to spend time ringing around to find out where the problem was. Depending on the time of the day it might not even have been possible to get help. It’s this sort of difficulty which could lead some people to dismiss the idea of getting an electric car altogether. I just see it as part of the fun.
Other electric car charging fun
A few times lately I’ve tried to find chargers and to use them, finding them already occupied. It might have been a matter of seconds such as when somebody pulled in to the charger just in front of me. It could also have been car was there for some time, who knows for how long. You have to decide how long you’re going to wait and whether you’ll just go hunting for the next available charge point. Yesterday on a trip to Girona I drove past one charge point which had an older style Nissan Leaf charging. I went to the next charger and both of the Type 2 sockets were in use. With these slow chargers, I could expect a fair bit of waiting time for them to become free. I continued driving to the parking place where there is another rapid charger. When I pulled in, it was also being used. That could have been a 10-minute wait or it could have been 40 minutes. I wasn’t worried as I had plenty of juice in the battery and I planned to walk around the town. When I came back later there was a different car plugged in. We still had enough in the battery for driving all the way home, but I wanted to get in some free charging while out. So I headed back towards the first charger spotted earlier. It was available and so I plugged in to take advantage of the free electric vehicle charging. I still had one other option in the town, another rapid charger at a Nissan dealer. The only problem with the Nissan dealer chargers is often they are locked away behind a gate. This means you can only use them during opening hours. Not as good as the game plan you have with Tesla which has built up a proper public network. A public network which is available 24/7 and I believe Nissan should rethink its charger network policy.
It’s early days yet for electric cars in Spain
During the last two weeks, I’ve seen a couple of notices to let us know there are networks installing charge points around the country over the next 18 months. In the meantime, we are going to have to grin and bare it. There are some journeys you just couldn’t make with the Nissan Leaf, due to the combination of the vehicles range and the available infrastructure. For example, I would have to take a circuitous route to get to Madrid from where I live. Or I would have to make phone calls to information centres in towns on the way to ask for help. Maybe they’d be able to recommend a restaurant, a bar or undocumented available plug socket. As I said, it’s all part of the fun of driving an electric vehicle.
Happy to be doing my bit for the climate
One of my reasons for getting an electric car was for environmental concerns. I don’t need to be burning dinosaur juice and releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Electric cars are the future and I like to be at the forefront of technology. Of course, that’s true because I am good and geeky.
Electric transport equals easy driving
There are other advantages to owning the Nissan Leaf or other modern electric vehicle. The smoothness and the silence you get while driving an electric car is absolutely marvellous. The fantastic acceleration you have available at whatever speed you’re travelling is just brilliant. yet, I love the more relaxed driving experience I get because I’m happy to drive a little slower overall. It feels good to use use the energy of the battery as efficiently as possible. This is combined with up-to-date technology such as the Pro-Pilot Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control. It means I tend to arrive at my destination less tired than I would have been when driving an old-fashioned car. Due to the size of the battery and the range of the vehicle, I do have to stop more frequently on a long trip. This also means relaxed travelling. I’m happy to have proper rest and recuperation when I stop to charge the car. It isn’t really much longer than I would stop anyway. It’s just that the battery circumstances are such that you have to stop. You’re not tempted to keep on driving an electric vehicle when you should really be taking a break.
It’s a good time of year to be good and geeky we will get iOS Siri Shortcuts as well as new phones. Possibly an expensive time of year, but good all the same. Apple have just announced their new iPhone and you can’t help but want it. I work on the basis of having an iPhone for two years so that when I sell it there’s enough value left in it to donate some cash to the next iPhone. I sometimes wonder it might be a better idea now that the iPhone iterations are only small, to keep the phone for longer. The plan then would be to start saving for the next phone as soon as you have just bought the latest and greatest.
Spread the cost for the next iPhone
The idea would be to decide your next phone will be in three/four years time and you make a guess at how much you’ll need to pay for it. This can be a little difficult given the steadily increasing prices of the new Apple iPhones. Who would have thought we would be prepared to pay between €1000 and €1500 for a new iPhone when buying the iPhone 7. So if I’m going to wait for 36 months for the next iPhone and I’m going to pay €1500 and I need to divide that total by 36. The plan would involve buying Apple gift cards each month to the value of between €40 and €45. If after two years there’s a new iPhone that comes out which is unmissable, at least you have a good lump of money to put towards it.
It’s not all about money – It’s software too.
At the same time as the new iPhone comes out we get the new operating system. We are now moving on to iOS 12 and some of the features only work in the iPhone X onwards. Some of the new features are just frippery. Some of the new features are worth having and inform ones decision to buy a new phone. One of the features I’m particularly looking forward to is the Siri Shortcuts application which is taking over from Workflow. This is going to make a huge difference to how we use our phones. All we have to do is to work out those things which we do over and over again and use Siri Shortcuts to automate the process. I think the operating system will also do machine learning and will give us clues as to things we might automate.
The system should be able to look at things we do over and over and suggest – “Why not make a Siri shortcut to complete this action or set of actions.” Hopefully after getting the suggestion we will only need to open the application and half the set up will be already done for us. To get the best from this we need to understand a little bit about how to make the Siri Shortcuts work for us.
It’s not that easy to learn how to use iOS Siri Shortcuts
There are some programming concepts to get your head around in Siri Shortcuts. Variables, IF statements, Dictionary values and other flow controls. You don’t need these in the simple shortcuts you can make when you start using the app. On the other hand Apple are trying to make it simpler by allowing us to load blocks of actions. You only have to drag the block into the shortcut and maybe fill in a couple of parameters. For some of these automations the best way forward is to take a Shortcut someone has already made and pull it apart. Examine it to see what information the action needs to make it work. Maybe add extra bits or remove actions and not worry about breaking it. A process of trial and error will let you learn how it all works.
How to learn iOS automation
There are a few websites where you can see tutorials to help you learn the necessary skills for iOS Siri Shortcuts. Some do it with explanations and photos showing step-by-step of what needs to be done. A particularly good way to learn is to use video tutorials. At least you can watch them multiple times and pause the video when you need to follow along with some of the steps. Many of these tutorials are free to watch and learn from. You just need to be prepared to stick at it until it starts to make sense. Make a few simple shortcuts/workflows to get into the swing of it and work from there.
What can we get done using automation?
Remind me at work
Asks for input – what do you want to be reminded about
You put in the address of work
Add a Reminder – Asking for input again and you say how close you have to be to work to get the geo locating reminder.
Log Caffeine intake
Choosing from prompts you get to add data to the health app.
Choose the drink and the size – you have already inserted numbers for the caffeine for each option.
Plan Your Day – 3 main tasks
You answer 3 questions for the important tasks of the day. Can have default answers if you want.
The end of the automation is to share the results to where ever you want to. You might send to Day One journalling app or set it up as a Omnifocus project.
Send a message to your significant other to say you will arrive soon
Add a ‘Get Current Location’
Text block – What you want to say with the variable of Current Location
Send message block – Choose the names you want to send it too.
How to use these iOS Siri Shortcuts on your iOS devices
One way of using these automations is to open the workflow or Siri Shortcuts application.
Tap once on the tile for the shortcut and then press the run button which in the middle at the top. Tap once, is also the way to get into the automation/workflow if you want to edit it.
Do a double tap and it should start running.
You can start a shortcut working from the today widget.
Make your shortcut available on the Apple Watch.
Add the shortcut/workflow to your home screen.
Add the shortcuts/workflow to the Launch Center application.
Make the shortcut/workflow available as an Action Extension. This allows you to run it from share sheets inside other applications.
Have the automation activated by using Siri, as soon as we have iOS 12 and the Siri shortcuts app available.
Which of these options you use depends upon the way you use the workflow/Siri shortcut. It is possible to make more than one of these options available. All you have to do then is to remember you have the automations and to use them. I sometimes think that we only get to use a small percentage of what our powerful computers are able to do. Often because we forget to either set up or to use what we have already set up in terms of automation. Sometimes you have to be quite dedicated and particularly good and geeky to get the best from your technology. I am positive it is definitely worth doing with iOS Siri Shortcuts.
My favourite automations
I work in a campsite during the summertime and I need to know the reservations for places for the next week or so. I worked out a way to export this information from the computer. I then was able to get it into a spreadsheet on my iOS device. I copied all of this data into the clipboard. Next I used the application Editorial to automate bringing the data in so I could use it. I was able to convert the text from capitals into title case. I did a search and replace on some text which wasn’t required. I did a search and replace with some text turning it into emojis, this made it more visual for me. I was pleased to have a number of steps completed with just one quick text trigger.
I have my directions to home available to me on my home screen of the iPhone. It knows where I am using GPS and where my home is and suggests a route. this says me a number of button presses and is much quicker in operation.
We’ve got a number of Homekit devices in the house and some of the lights are operated using motion detectors. Some of the a devices I operate using Amazon Echo. For example I can turn everything off at night time a by just telling Alexa “night night”.
One of my favourite application is Drafts – This is a text entry application with automation built in. I can capture text and decide after capturing the idea or whatever the note is, what I’m going to do with it. I might send something to the social networks, add some more to it and send to my journalling application Day One. I might even set up a new sheet in Ulysses or Scrivener. I can even send stuff into one of my get things done applications, like Omnifocus or Due. Can’t wait to get my hands on iOS Siri Shortcuts.
The world keeps changing and technology is always being updated. So there are always lots of ways to keep on being good and geeky. It’s not limited to just messing around with a computer, fooling around with code, fiddling with electronics or playing with gadgets. One of the ways I’m being a geek these days is with my electric car. Mind you, you could say that having an electric car is owning a computer on wheels which you can drive. You can certainly see this is the case with the Tesla cars and the way they get their over the air updates for the operating system of the vehicle. Volkswagen are also moving towards improving their cars with software and sending it wirelessly. No more need for electric car owners to go to a service centre or a dealership to get the latest update. I’m hoping Nissan will follow the lead so I can see new capabilities in my Nissan Leaf on a regular basis. Onwards and upwards with tech.
In order to be good and geeky you just have to have an eye on the future. You need to have a desire to use the newest technology to improve your life. Have a willingness to try out new stuff to see how it fits in with your wants and needs. My mother is good and geeky at the age of 79 because she’s trying out the Amazon Echo, wondering about buying a new digital camera or whether her iPhone is all she needs for her photography. I like to geek with voice controlled home technology. I’ve added motion sensors to turn on lights for me. I’ve connected the Amazon Echo system to the lights and also to the socket for the television. I like to be able to turn on the television by uttering a command to the lady who lives in the network. Hey presto and the job is done.
What geeky things am I looking forward to?
It’s the time of the year when the new iPhone will be announced soon. I’m thinking along the lines of upgrading my iPhone 7 to the latest and greatest. A two year old iPhone still has sufficient residual value to offset the cost of buying the new one. I’ll have to change from the fingerprint security I have now and go with the face recognition instead. I suppose I’ll get used to it and perhaps it will be improved with the next version of iOS and iPhone.
I’m very much looking forward to the next version of iOS, iOS 12. This is due to the addition of Google Maps and Waze to work with Apple Carplay. I adore using Carplay in my Nissan Leaf and it sometimes seems quite futuristic. It’s particularly good if I want to send a message to somebody while driving. I can get Siri to read my messages to me and I can reply without taking my eyes off the road. It’s safe as well as being something you might expect from the Jetsons. I don’t tend to make a lot of phone calls but that’s another good thing within Carplay and my electric car. If I want to make a phone call it’s easy to do so just by asking Siri to call a number for me. You only have to press the on screen button to start Siri and then it’s all voice controlled after that. I should be able to say the magic command “Hey Siri” in the car too.
Personalised transport of the geeky kind
On a recent visit to a shopping centre I spotted a place selling single wheel Segway type transports. I had a little go and I’m sure I could get used to riding one of these round fairly quickly. This one had plates you put your feet on either side of the wheel and you controlled it with your balance. Leaning forward to go forwards and leaning backwards to put on the brakes or to go backwards. It seemed fairly safe although I expect quite a bit of practice would be needed to become an expert. There are also the hover board style of two wheel personal mobility scooters. The small children seem to do well with these, I’ve seen them flying around the campsite where I work. You can also get these with a support in the centre you can grip with your knees. Like a short Segway. You get extra confidence with this type of hover board. At the moment I’m deciding whether I should get one of those electric scooters. I think I would be safer on it than I would be on an electric skateboard. I’ve even considered getting one without the electric motor, just to put in the back of my Nissan Leaf. I know in the past they were considered just for children to play with. These days it just seems like a good way to get around when you’re visiting someplace or other, kid or not. Park the car and grab the scooter from the boot of the car for the last kilometre or two of the journey. I can get one without electricity for about €100 and could spend about €700 for a decent one with a motor.
More goodies with iOS 12
It’s really good and useful as well as good and geeky to use automation. I have a number of automation applications on my iPhone and iPad. I don’t really use them as much as I could do, but I like to have them there. With the next version of the operating system, the application Workflow is changing to Siri Shortcuts. This adds Siri automation to what was Workflow. I expect one or two things will get lost in the first iteration of this new application. On the other hand, having the voice control with the automation combined and infused into the operating system alongside the application Siri Shortcuts, will give new and improved automation possibilities. Just by using a single command you’ll be able to complete several tasks all in one go. All you have to do is to identify and be creative with how you can put together a number of tasks to make your life better in a good and geeky way. It can be hard to notice what you do repeatedly which could be automated.
To a certain extent many of the iOS improvements are tweaks and minor enhancements to options already present. There are also the silly little items like Memoji and some of the things you can do with ARKit. Make your own little avatars you can use wherever within the operating system. Have things show up on your screen which are not really there, but they are in a virtual reality sort of way. Fun things which make being good and geeky a great way to run your life. Why stick with the old-fashioned and outdated way of doing things when there’s something new and fun available?
Good and geeky photographic fun
One of my favourite things to do is to create 360° photographs. One of the ways to do this is to use the camera on the iPhone and use the Street View application from Google. You stand in a spot and spin around taking photographs in 360°. The software puts these photos altogether into a single image which you can scroll around and up and down to see all around you. It’s like a fully enhanced panoramic view. I did buy a 360° camera which does the job with just one click. It’s faster and fairly easy-to-use. The only trouble is I have to take it out of the bag, connect it to the iPhone and fiddle with the software to take the picture. If my iPhone is inside my heavy duty case it can be just too much trouble to get started. The camera I bought doesn’t have quite sufficient resolution either for the pictures to go to Google Maps. There are other 360° cameras which are better although they are more expensive. The photos app is going to be improved when macOS Mojave and iOS 12 become available in autumn of 2018. Photography is important to us geeks.
Digitally Recording Your Life
One of my favourite applications is Day One. This is a fantastic application on Mac and iOS which synchronises across the platforms. Sometimes I record a post using DragonDictate into Scrivener. I use a Keyboard Maestro automation to copy and paste all of it into Day One. This is for when I want to do something with a lot of words. It’s nice to have the option of creating quicker posts using iOS or even using my Apple Watch. I open the application on my iPhone daily to create a quick journal post. In the standard application you can add up to 10 photos along with your text. In the premium version of the application you can also add audio which is new in version 3. I don’t really need to add audio and I can use Siri dictation rather than the Day One transcription. So I’ll stick with the version I’ve been using up until now. I don’t really need to spend €25 per year for the added extras.
One of the features I particularly like with Day One is when it gives you a notice about what happened on this day over the years. I’ve been using Day One for over five years now so I often see a notice telling me I’ve got between five and ten journal posts for that date. It’s cool to look back and see what you were doing two, three or five years ago. Day One is the easiest way to keep a diary and it is most definitely good and geeky.
The video of my life on YouTube
With my new electric car, the Nissan Leaf I’ve been keen to do road trips on my days off from work. While going on these trips I’ve been creating YouTube videos. Not only is it good for sharing with my YouTube subscribers, but I aIso have a record for myself. It’s good fun even though it does take some time to put the videos together if I want to have them look fairly professional. I’m enjoying using Final Cut Pro for the editing process. It’s all marvellous, clean, good and geeky fun
Are you going to be good and geeky?
Do you find it easy to keep up with the new technologies as they become available? Are you finding it fun to use software and hardware in combination get things done? What’s your favourite new, good and geeky thing?
I usually prefer to go to an Apple Store to buy. Or I buy it off the Internet and have it sent to me. Today I went to the MediaMarkt shop in Girona and they had what I was looking for. I did think about using the one with the sports wristband but they didn’t have it available. I had the choice of the standard aluminium colour or the space grey. Good to have something different for a change so I went for the space grey. I waited until I got home before ripping open the box. I was pleased to see that the boxes of the same high quality as the box that came with the first Apple Watch I bought. The plastic inner box wasn’t there this time, but otherwise it was just the same. I already have a buyer for my first Apple Watch which took the sting out of buying a new one. Considering the use and utility I get from having the Apple watch on my wrist every day it’s well worth the money. I’m looking forward to the new facilities available to me now. Obviously it’s going to be faster with it being three years newer. I think there is GPS included within the watch which has its uses. I’ll have to read up and find out what those advantages are.
Changing from the old watch to the new watch
It didn’t go completely smoothly. When I paired the watch it was supposed to have made a backup on my phone. I did have a message to say there was a problem, but I didn’t realise it hadn’t made the backup. I did have some backups available but they were older backups so I decided to set it up as a new Apple Watch. I’ve just realised I will probably lose my health application data going this way. This way I can get to choose which applications I move to the watch. I like to have the notes application on there, Drafts. I will have a voice recorder on there as well.I’ve just given drafts a try and I was very impressed with how well it works. It worked much better than the last time I tried it using the old watch. I was pleased with how fast the application can be available on the watch. Having a faster processor is definitely a worthwhile upgrade to have and use.
Siri now talks to me on my Apple Watch
I found it useful to have feedback in a audible format from the watch. When I asked Siri a question she came back with the answer and the volume was pretty good. Apple must have replaced the old loudspeaker with a pretty good one.
Setting the watch up
I only had to put my phone near to the watch and open up the application on the phone. That’s weird image came up on the watch and the phone recognised and paired really quickly. It did take some time for all of the applications to be downloaded from the phone to the watch.
The next thing I did was to arrange the complications on the watch face as I had set up before. I like to have the modular watch face. In the top left-hand corner I have access to alarms. The large space in the centre is where I have the day and the date. The bottom left-hand corner I use for a timer because I regularly set up timers during the day. On the bottom in the centre I have the Drafts application so I can quickly take a note of any sort with a tap on that icon. In the bottom right-hand corner is where I have the activity rings. I like quick access to how my exercise and activity regime is going during the day. Today is not going to be very good because the first four or five hours of being awake were missed. That’s because I waited until I got home before setting up the watch.
Banking on the Apple Watch
When you press the button on the right side of the phone which is below the Crown you get access to the dock. I’ve just been trying out the N26 application and although it takes some time to login to the bank server it is quite neat to be out to see my bank transactions directly on my watch. The thing I shall see most often is the last playing screen. This usually comes up when I open up the watch because I have it set to automatically show the last thing I was using. I’m always listening to podcasts and often need to stop or start a podcast using the screen on the watch. There are only ten applications you can put into favourites and is easy to arrange them in the watch application on the phone. Another useful application to have been the favourites is the Authy app which gives you your one-off time sensitive two factor authentication passwords. I’m definitely impressed with how fast the new watches able to do these tasks for me.
The Apple watcher and electric car charging
I added the PlugShare application to the Apple Watch. First of all it worked okay show me nearby electric car chargers. Then the screen went blank and now it’s showing anything at all. I’ll give it a try again later to see if I have more luck with it.
Apple watch and a data connection.
As I live in Spain I’m not able to buy the watch with the cellular data connection. Even if it was available I don’t think I would buy it. It would just add another monthly expense and not give me that much more in terms of functionality.
Apple Watch and the Apple AirPods
I can connect up the AirPods easily, but to use the music app I need to have a subscription to the Apple music service. I don’t think I’m going to do that. I have enough monthly payments going out to Apple as it is. I pay for extra storage for my data backups. I also have a couple of subscriptions going out for applications like I Translate. I’m going to try and send a couple of podcasts to the application Watchcast and see how that works out. My attempts at the moment to get the podcast transferred is working very slowly indeed. I’m also installing Pocketcasts on to the watch and I’ll try that out too.
Nissan delays of the Leaf causing loss of government incentives
It’s not just here in Spain where the production delays are leading to customers having orders put back by up to a month. In France there is a customer who was supposed to get his car in February and the date was changed to March. That would have been okay except it was then changed again to a date in April. The French government are giving a cash incentive to people getting rid of diesel cars of €4000. The last date for this incentive is the end of March. Unless Nissan can get the car to the customer before the end of March he will lose the cash incentive.
Give with one hand take with the other
I have heard from two different sources when you do your tax declaration it is likely the Spanish government will take away as much as half of your incentive money. I saw this proved already when buying my previous car. There was a €1000 incentive for taking an old car off the road. That €1000 was clawed back by the government in the tax declaration. I suppose it will depend to a certain extent on how much money you earn during the year. I expect it’s the case that if you are earning less money, then less of the incentive money will be taken back. Even so, I’m not impressed. An incentive amount to buy a car means nothing if they’re going to take a large proportion of it back. You don’t know how much you’re going to lose and so makes it difficult to plan finances.
It’s all about the timing
My own specific problem with the incentive is this. I first ordered my car on 13th of December and I was going to buy the launch model. I went into the dealership on 10th of January and decided I was going to change to the Tekna version. I had a couple of reasons for doing this. The first reason was for the colour as I was not really impressed with the Spring Cloud. Sometimes I look at it and I think it’s okay and other times I don’t like it at all. When spending a significant amount of money on a car why go with something less than optimum? The same goes for the extras you get with the Tekna. The other extras were the better sound system, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel and LED headlights. For the life of me I can’t understand why LED headlights are not standard as using halogen is expensive in terms of energy usage. There is also the leather seats which are better to look after and keep clean. I do wonder if they might become a little sticky or hot to sit on during the hot weather.
With regards the timing of the order and the date for the delivery will it go with the original date or the date in January. I’m expecting to get my turn for delivery based on making the order in December. Nissan in their bureaucracy might have other ideas. The salesman at the dealership says he is fighting for the timing to go with the December order. This is important because the car needs to arrive within 120 days of the date the government incentive was confirmed. I don’t think it’s possible to reset that date to the same date Nissan might be going with. There is the possibility my car is delivered and I will have run out of time for the incentive money. Even if the government are taking back half of the incentive promised it’s still going to make the car more expensive than was expected. I’ll be telling the Nissan garage to cancel the order and I don’t know if I’m going to have to start again. I don’t know if there are any incentives scheduled for this year. I don’t know if those incentives if they are coming are available now at the beginning of the year. It’s all a huge mess.
Driverless autonomous cars and the future of transport
I’ve just been listening to a podcast in which a journalist/author is commenting upon driverless cars and autonomous cars. His name Christian Wolmar whose book is called ‘Driverless Cars and the Road to Nowhere’. He has a lot of negative things to say about autonomous cars and the future. In the podcast to me he sounded like an old guy with no imagination with regards what could be possible. It was the total opposite of the hype and to a certain extent nonsense we see coming from some technology companies. These technology companies come up with predictions for the future with unrealistic dates for when autonomous cars might be ubiquitous on our roads. There are people who seem to think we’ll be getting driverless autonomous cars within the next two or three years. That’s just crazy talk. The technology is nowhere near ready with even just the basic abilities. The truth of the matter is somewhere in between the two extremes. We will be getting autonomous vehicles, but probably not in the form expected by either of the two ends of the prediction spectrum. We may never get to a point where there are only autonomous vehicles and drivers are not allowed. There will always be circumstances where a driver will be required for one reason or another. On the positive end of the proposed future for autonomous cars I think we can agree there will be vehicles whizzing around in which there will be no driver.
Autonomous vehicles in the future
The change to autonomous vehicles will arrive both quickly and slowly. In as much as it will depend on the geolocation as well as the technology. There will be situations in some towns and cities where a combination of available technology and city transport planning will come together. It will be like a perfect storm of conditions for autonomous vehicles. Many city centres around the world will ban cars with drivers. You will arrive to the cities by public transport or by semiautonomous vehicles and change to whatever system is in place. The method of transport within the driverless zone will be the equivalent of trams, buses and trains as well as new smaller pod type vehicles. Of course there will also be the self-propelled and self-propelled but assisted by electric type of vehicles, bicycles, scooters, unicycles, Segways and even the skateboard with a handle type of scooter. Whichever type of vehicle you use will depend upon where you’re going, your age and physical ability. There’ll be a number of possibilities and we don’t need to put our thinking into the straitjacket of present-day thinking and technology. There are bound to be things possible in the future we can’t even conceive of yet.
Christian Wolmar on the podcast interview seemed to think there was only one way forward with autonomous vehicles and he couldn’t see it working. Some of the points made by Christian Wolmar did have some validity. There is still going to be some car ownership because we like to have our own personal space. We don’t necessarily want to get into a generic vehicle because it’s not going to suit our purpose. As individuals you might want to carry around equipment or goods and it could be difficult to put that into an autonomous driverless pod you don’t own. It is good to be able to cary things around you might need in your car and you don’t want to have to carry them around. Maybe you would have to lock the pod off from other users if you have personal property in the vehicle you wan tot leave there.
The cleanliness of shared vehicles could leave something to be desired. Who would want to get into an autonomous vehicle in which someone had recently vomited or otherwise made a mess of on a previous journey. A dirty vehicle like that is not necessarily going to be a huge problem. It is something which could be easily solved. There could be sensors within the vehicle which sent it off to be cleaned before it continued in service. Or if the door opens and it looks or smells disgusting inside, you don’t get in and use an app on your smart device to have the vehicle sent to a service area. There would be a sufficient number of these vehicles available within the area so you wouldn’t have to wait more than a minute or two for a clean, fresh vehicle.
Autonomous vehicles overcoming problems
There’ll be a mixture of technology and legislation to bring about the future of autonomous vehicles. At the moment the technology finds it difficult to detect bicycles on the road. The solution to this could be a requirement for bicycles to be fitted with a transponder of some sort. All autonomous vehicles and maybe even vehicles with drivers would have technology able to read the signal from the transponder. The car or the driver would be alerted to the presence of a bicycle or whatever. This could work in a similar way to the way that intelligent cruise control works. When I’m driving in my Nissan Leaf using the Pro Pilot Assist there is radar at the front which will alert when there are cars in front of me. If the car in front slows down the Nissan Leaf will also slow down. There are sensors in front of the Nissan as well which give you an alert and will stop the car if a pedestrian walks in front. You would think if a system can inform you there is a pedestrian in front it’s not a big step to be able to detect bicycles. You don’t usually tend to get a bicycle all by itself. Basically, I think we can be assured that the technology will rise to a suitable level so there is sufficient safety for pedestrians and bicycle users. We expect transport safety and I expect the technology and policy making element to deliver. There may still be accidents happen but overall it will be much safer to travel on our roads.
So what can we expect in the future?
As a society we want to have the best possible transport and that may well be provided by driverless cars . Autonomous vehicles will cut out the majority of accidents which are caused by human intervention. There will for many years to come be a mixture of present-day cars driven by humans as well as a slow increase of autonomous vehicles. The in between period will not be pretty and there is much for us to learn. On more tightly controlled stretches of road such as motorways there are more options for the cars to take over the driving. There are fewer opportunities for unforeseen happenings due to the absence of pedestrians and slow-moving vehicles like bicycles. City centres will be banning the legacy vehicles starting with fossil fuel burning cars. It’s not going to be a huge leap for city centres to take advantage of autonomous vehicle technology to provide smaller personal transit methods to work alongside trams and buses. Autonomous vehicles are not on a road to nowhere as claimed by Christian Wolmar in his book. At the same time the route to autonomous vehicles is longer than some people suggest at present. Neither will we arrive at a situation where we have zero vehicles with actual drivers. There will be many special cases where a driver is necessary. Some cities and countries will go further and deeper into the realm of vehicle autonomy. It will all depend upon the politics of the region and the available technology. It is an exciting period of change we have in front of us over the next 20 to 50 years.