New iPhone – Automate iOS Siri Shortcuts

It’s that time of year again – iPhone Xs Max

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 has 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.

iOS Siri Shortcuts

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 with 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.

Learn More about making Shortcuts

Workflow siri shortcuts

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.

How to be Good and Geeky

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.

Charging the Nissan Leaf in France

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.

Good and Geeky

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?

Bought a new Apple Watch – Series 3

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 Leaf 2018 Selling Like Hot Cakes

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.

Nissan Leaf 2018

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.

2018 Nissan lef Group on Facebook

Autonomous Vehicles Future

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.

personal transport

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.

Pro-Pilot Assist - Nissan leaf

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.

Find electric charge points with What3Words

In a few of the videos I’ve seen on YouTube with people looking for a place to charge their electric vehicle it seems it sometimes can be a little bit difficult. On the map it shows the charger as being at a specific address, but when you arrive there in your Nissan Leaf you have to do some searching. Is the charger at this end of the car park or the other end of the car park? Would you have a better chance of finding what you’re looking for if the position was specified down to a resolution of 3m x 3m? Probably… The other problem could be the charger you’re looking for hasn’t got an address. There are no names for the roads and maybe not even any buildings to use as a reference. Do you want to type in those Long. Lat. numbers to find your electron pump? There’s a solution for these problems. It’s a system called What3Words.

Dividing the World into 3m squares

The benefits of What3Words

This system has divided the globe into a grid of 3 m x 3 m squares. Each of these squares in the grid have been assigned a unique three word address. These words can in a choice of languages and will still point to the right place. It would be tedious to input a whole load of seemingly random numbers with longitude and latitude to pinpoint a location. Words are more memorable than numbers and therefore easier to use. I’d like to see this system integrated into the applications like Chargemap, PlaceToPlug, OpenChargeMap and PlugShare. It would be so easy to find any charge point to the nearest 3 m. It’s even possible to give a What3Words address for each individual charge bay. What3Words would be brilliant to use as a locator for anything at all. When you want to dig a hole in a forest in the back end of nowhere to deposit your pirates chest full of gold and jewels, What3Words is just the job.


An Address per Charging Bay

Use the What3WordsApp

There are applications for What3Words on iOS and Android. It’s easy to use to pinpoint exactly where any place is on the earth. Share a three word address to whoever by using the application sharing options. Or send the What3Words 3 word address to mapping applications you use on your device. Whether that be Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze. A great way to get the directions to the treasure X marks the spot…

Share the What3Words Address

Share the What3Words Address

What3Words in Use

Send to a Maps app

Send to a Maps app

Use the Mapping app to get directions

What3Words to get directions

Show me the Way there

Crowd-sourced information

So if you’ve found a charging point difficult to discover you could add the three word address into the feedback in the system. Many of the applications to help you find charging points for your car allow crowd-sourced information. This will help other electric car drivers find the charging points. If enough people do this is better for all of us. There’s also a chance that the makers of the charger finder apps will add this functionality once they see how useful it is.

2018 Nissan Leaf Charging Options – Europe

Waiting for the Leaf

I keep wanting to know more about the car I’m buying and so I scan all of the reviews and reports coming out about the new 2018 Nissan Leaf. I wonder how it’s going to be with longer journeys using the fast chargers while travelling. I hear stories that you get to a charging point and find it isn’t working. There are also tales of when you get to a place there’s only one charging point and somebody else is using it. It’s also possible somebody using an internal combustion engine (ICE) has parked in the electric car charging spot. This is what’s known as being “Iced”. So I’ve been seeing what I can do to have more charge points available when I do have the car and I want to go on a longer road trip. What about connecting to Type 2 chargers? I’ve been checking out electric vehicle charger maps and there are one or two services to choose from. I signed up prematurely with ChargeMap. Gives me a change to test out planning for the long drives to places. Also got a card from IBIL which has a couple of chargers in petrol stations around Spain. A wee bit of due diligence and testing things out.

Trip to France

The trip we do regularly is to a place in the French side of the Pyrenees. The usual route takes us towards Perpignan and there we turn west and go towards Les Angles and Matemale up in the mountains. The last part of the journey is quite a climb and I was wondering how we would cope with the 2018 Nissan Leaf. It’s true when you’re going uphill using an electric car, or any car for that matter, you use more fuel. There are not too many hills in the first half of the journey from Perpignan but some of the energy would get used. Would it leave me having range anxiety on the last part of the journey? What would be useful, would be to have somewhere to plug-in before just before we start climbing the mountain. Looking at ChargeMap there were not too many suitable chargers along that route. I had filtered down the chargers that would connect to a Nissan Leaf. The good news is that I found out today the 2018 Nissan Leaf is equipped with a Type 2 charging socket. The previous versions were type 1 and I hadn’t seen any details anywhere saying that the Type 2 Menneke was now installed. So I went back to the ChargeMap and found there are a number of chargers along the route I could now use. These type two charging spots will not give me a fast charge, but if I stop for an hour and put in some kilometres it could make all the difference.

Cables for charging a Nissan Leaf

It’s good I have to wait before I can install my home charger in the garage. If I had got ahead of myself and put in a type 1 charger I would be kicking myself. I need to wait until just before the car is due to leave the showroom to come home with me to get the mostly free installation of an EVSE – Electric Vehicle Service Equipment. Nissan will be paying up to €1000 for this installation. Now I can ensure that the charger will have a Type 2 connection. The only thing is getting an electrician who will do the job when I want it done and quickly. Got to have the job done properly.

I’ve also been looking at cables I might need while travelling on a road trip. Having a cable which will plug into a normal mains European socket (Shuko) is useful. Such a cable comes with the Nissan Leaf this will allow me to charge up just about anywhere. It might take a long time, but useful nonetheless.

Seeing as I can connect up to Type 2 charging points I’m wondering if it might be useful to have an extension lead in case of “Icing” (blocked by a ICE car). If the cable tethered to the charging point is not long enough I could still get a charge even if I can’t get as close to the charging post as I would like. Initially I had been looking to see if it’s possible to buy a conversion from type 1 toType 2 when I thought that the Nissan Leaf was equipped with a Type 1 socket. It is possible to buy these cables, but I don’t need one now. It was while searching the EV Cables web site I found the information about Type 2 socket on the 2018 Nissan Leaf. Hunted for the info on the Nissan site and found nothing at all.

Best charging options

Nissan Leaf Charging Europe

The CHAdeMO connection point will be the preferred charging point while on a road trip. 40 or 50 Kilowatts is bound to be quicker isn’t it. Plugging into a Type 2 if necessary will also be useful though. The Type 2 will only go at a maximum of what’s allowed by the charging capability of the car which is around 7 kWh. This is even the case where the charging point goes up to 22 kW. I really can’t wait to get out on the road and get a few kilometres under the belt to see how it all works out. So I’m looking forward to becoming an electric car owner and driver. It is just murder having to be patient while Nissan cranks out the vehicles from there Sunderland production plant.

First impressions of the 2018 Nissan Leaf

The 2018 Nissan Leaf is an incredibly solid car, sweet blend of design and tech! The Japanese know us tech heads like to have lots of buttons to play with The seats are highly comfortable as well as heated. Not all models have the heated seats. The driving position is higher than in my Renault Clio so it felt like I was driving a van or an SUV. Great viewing all around and that’s nicely enhanced with the rear camera. I’ll be able to see clearly when reversing and the sensors also give extra warnings for things coming up behind. When I was driving the Leaf I noticed the warning the car gave for the frontal collision avoidance. It didn’t put the brakes on for me,(It didn’t need to) but it is supposed to do that if needed. I wasn’t that close or not close enough for the car to need to save itself. The salesman when driving it went across a lane marker and the car beeped at that too. No sleeping and driving in the 2018 Nissan Leaf.

2018 Nissan Leaf

I would have liked a longer test but the boss at the garage called the sales guy back. Apparently the car wasn’t supposed to leave the showroom. I am so glad I did get the test drive though and he enjoyed taking a spin too. Not enough time to see how the Pro Pilot Assist worked. I pressed the blue button and something came up on the panel in front, but I needed to concentrate on getting used to a new car on roads in a town I didn’t know at all. It’s not as easy to put into cruise control as the Clio. I use the cruise control all the time and I’m looking forward to the Intelligent Cruise Control in the 2018 Nissan Leaf. The Leaf 2018 intelligent cruise control would have come in very handy when we were driving home in the Clio and the traffic was a bit mad. Stop and go traffic with the car doing the work of keeping the distance with the car in front will be really cool on the Leaf.

Buttons all over the place

Mostly with buttons sprinkled liberally though out the interface like this you only use them infrequently. You do have to have the muscle memory of where they are so you can hit as required when engaged in driving safely. It seems like the steering wheel is absolutely festooned with buttons. The ones on the left control what you see in the panel in front an behind the steering wheel. In the 2018 Nissan Leaf there is a full set of navigation buttons in a cluster making it like a joystick with an OK button in the middle. I was able to change the language of the panels in the car from Spanish to English easily. I would get used to Spanish but nice to explore everything in my mother tongue first.

2018 Nissan Leaf 2

Seems to have some effect in the main screen when going through menus there. I need more time with the Nissan Leaf 2018 driver interface to learn all it can do. I might even need to read the manual. The audio controls are on the left too. Buttons for audio track navigation and volume control. Will take time to get used to the layout so it is not necessary to look of give more that a glance while driving.

Analogue Speedometer – Retro or What?

There’s an analogue speedometer. I hope that one of the screens will show a digital display of the speed too. I prefer digital for showing the speed it will seem strange to rely on seeing where a needle is pointing on a gauge to see how fast I’m travelling.

I could set in the system menus which was the preferred or default display to show on that drivers information screen. Will need time to see which one is the most useful to keep front and centre most of the time. When I looked it was the Pro-Pilot Assist which was the default. Could that be an omen or a notice from Nissan as to what is going to be most important to drivers of the 2018 Nissan Leaf?


The cluster of buttons on the right side which control the Pro Pilot Assist I need more time with. There’s a button to use to control Apple CarPlay with voice. Didn’t get to set that up because it needed the lightening cable to set it up. I had my phone connected by bluetooth, but it wasn’t enough for the job. I had thought the BT connection for Apple CarPlay had been sorted out in a recent OS update? It will be cool to have my Apple iPhone / CarPlay details on the car screen. The Nissan comes with GPS mapping and I hope to also be able to use the Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps if I have to. Apple Maps are pretty rubbish and therefore my last choice for navigating. There is also software in the Leaf to show where chargers on and info about how you can incorporate them on your route. I’ve seen videos showing the car informing the driver that there’s not enough juice in the battery to get to a particular charger chosen by the driver in the 2018 Nissan Leaf.

Overwhelmed by the controls

Whatever the vehicle, the first minutes or even hours can be confusing and hard to get the measure of in terms of displays and buttons. There’s a plethora of information in the two screens and more so with an electric car. It’s necessary to see data about the battery level and kilometres left in the car. You want to see how your driving is doing in terms of regeneration of power too. There are lights in the dash to show when you have the e-Pedal engaged and when the car is in Eco mode in the 2018 Nissan Leaf. This is on top of all the other warning lights you usually find in a car. I would love to get my hands on a user manual for the 2018 Nissan Leaf to see how everything works. I expect after a time, a couple of days of high use or a couple of weeks you would feel comfortable with all the bells and whistles.

e-Pedal Bliss of the Nissan Leaf 2018

The e-Pedal is a driving pleasure. It’s not necessary to touch the brakes in normal driving when using this single foot control. Foot down to go and foot up to brake. I tried out the stopping on an incline a no handbrake was needed. The car holds it’s position until you press the accelerator pedal again. When pulling up to a stop sign in the road it is easy to use the pedal to come to a halt in exactly the right spot in the road. It’s almost like magic. The brake pads are going to last a very long time in this 2018 Nissan Leaf.

The planning of long-distance journeys

When I was a young fella with a car and enjoying the novelty of having my own transport I loved the planning part of journeying to places. I had an 1959 Austin Cambridge A55. It was a cool car with fins at the rear and leather bench seat inside. Back in those days we didn’t have GPS and it was necessary to look at maps on paper. I had the book of maps in the car, but I preferred to work out beforehand which towns I needed to go to along the route. I would make a list of the road names required to get me to the towns along the way. All I had to do then was to find the road signs as I drove going in and out of the town. It worked pretty well back in those days. It’s a big jump to the systems we now have available. We rely on a disembodied voice in the car to tell us which exit we need to take off the roundabout. It’s lovely to think that we are now living in the future even if we don’t yet have flying cars.

2018 Nissan Leaf

French Pyrenees and back in the 2018 Nissan Leaf

It’s not really been necessary to do much planning while using GPS to go to places in an ordinary petrol driven car. Changing to a battery-powered electric car is going to change that. Despite the larger battery of the 2018 Nissan Leaf there could still be occasions of range anxiety on long journeys. It’s going to be necessary to take note of various charging options along the way. I see that many drivers of electric vehicles will take the opportunity to put in a few kilometres whenever they can. If they stop at a service station or a shopping centre with a charger for just a few minutes they’ll put the car on charge just to add the extra small bit of range which might just save them. It could be when they get to the next planned stopping point the charger isn’t working and having to go with a plan B. There’s a journey I plan to do from home to a small town in the French Pyrenees. I’ll need to stop in Perpignan in France to grab some electrons. There is a Nissan garage close to my normal route. This will tie me down to getting there at opening times of the garage. I’ll also have to hope that the charger hasn’t been iced or blocked in by someone else. With the CHAdeMO charging points I can get from 0 to 80% in about 40 minutes. If someone is in there first I could decide to wait until they finished. In such a situation it’s probably going to be okay that the person will only stay as long as they need to charge. It’s not going to be like at a shopping centre where someone might plug in and go into the shops for three hours. There’s a whole load of new electric vehicle drivers having to learn the etiquette of using electric charging points. Including myself I suppose. Whichever way you look at it there will be challenges to overcome with running an electric car. I am looking forward to that, it will make things interesting and be the bearable cost of getting cheap kilometres.

Not all about low cost motoring

I really do have an idealistic desire to do my bit for the environment by buying a 2018 Nissan Leaf. Many years ago I visited places like the CAT – Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. In those days over 30 years ago the prices of solar panels was prohibitive and not at all mainstream. In 2018 there is more of a concern for the environment and the need to get off fossil fuels. Just looked at prices of photo-voltaic panels and I could afford to buy some. I still have to work out how to do it while the sun tax is still in place in Spain. What a regressive backwards government here in Spain. We should all be encouraged to add solar panels to our houses. I feel like doing some civil disobedience in relation to the solar panels. Get the panels up there on the roof and hope for the best. There is Som Engergia which is a collective used by people here to get around the Sun Tax.

Crypto Currency Security – Precautions to Take

Bitcoin, crypto currency wallets and security

I spent the morning looking into the best way to store crypto currency. I have a small sum in Coinbase which is a wallet and an exchange. It’s convenient to have the crypto currency in the wallet where you bought it but the purists would say it’s better to look after your own currency. There are various wallets to store bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin or whatever. If you do take responsibility for the security of your crypto money it’s essential you know what you’re doing. There are stories of people with a large amount of bitcoin, worth thousands or even millions who have lost all of it. Maybe they didn’t have a backup of the hard drive which contained the bitcoin wallet. They might even have just thrown the computer away and forgotten about the bitcoin stored on it. These sorts of stories have occurred in the news more than once. So what can you do to ensure your crypto currency wallets are safe as they can be?

Safety and security of software/hardware crypto currency wallets

Make sure you’re using a trustworthy wallet for your currency. Get the one to use on your desktop computer or on your mobile device as recommended by trustworthy sources. Have a look at the well-known crypto currency exchanges and see what advice they have for you. Check out the webpages for the currency itself such as Ethereum, Bitcoin or Litecoin. You’ll find recommendations or even download buttons so you can get the right crypto currency wallet for your digital money.

Import a Wallet into Trust App

Step Two

Choose a Keystore or a Private Key

Another way to check out wallets to use with your crypto currency would be to look in the app store for your device and read the reviews. There are a lot of crypto currency wallets to choose from and you might need to look at a couple to find out if they suit your specific needs. For example, I needed one which would allow me to import a wallet already created for Ethereum. I had created a wallet on the web and I needed something which would let me import by either scanning a QR code or inputting the private key for a wallet. I had to try out two or three different wallets before found one with the right trust level and the facilities I needed.

You must have multiple backups

With normal computer files on whatever sort of computer you need to work on the basis of having three backups. The first backup can be a copy or a clone of the necessary file on the same computer. The second backup will be stored off the computer on a second separate drive. The third backup will be stored encrypted in the cloud. If you are really paranoid you can also have another backup you keep on a separate drive and not on the same site. One way to do this would be to copy the file to drive and store it at your mom’s house or whatever relative or friend you choose.

The reason for all this backup is because hard drives fail from time to time. You don’t want to be pulling your hair out and hoping beyond hope to retrieve data from a failed drive. It’s an expensive process and often it doesn’t work. My preference for backups on my Mac is to use Time Machine as the first line of defence. I also make clones of the system hard drive and the drive I use for data using software called Superduper. Not only that, I save a copy of important files to cloud storage. I must be completely paranoid!

Use a Paper Wallet

This morning I spent quite a bit of time researching how to use a paper wallet with Ethereum. There is a website called myEthereumwallet and it’s really easy to create a paper wallet. What it does is to give you a QR code for the public key used to send money to the wallet and a private key for the security. It really is a paper wallet as you print this onto a sheet of paper. So long as you keep this sheet of paper safe you have no chance of losing the funds contained within the wallet. The crypto currency doesn’t have to be stored anywhere online. It doesn’t have to be stored in a software wallet on your computer which could be accessed if your computer was hacked. It is one of the safest ways to keep your crypto currency safe and secure. Put the piece of paper into a bank vault or into a secure locked safe in your house and you can breathe easily.

It was a simple process to create the paper wallet through the website. Make sure you’re using the correct website you wouldn’t want to be caught out by a phishing scam. That’s where somebody puts up a fake website which looks like the original in order to steal your passwords and private keys in order to get at your money. Be careful when you’re clicking on links sent to you in emails or by other means. Store the correct website in your bookmarks in your browser. Double check everything by making sure the URL is as it should be when you go to login.

After I made a paper wallet to try out I thought it would be a good idea to check how you use the currency stored in the wallet. There’s no point in it being so secure you can’t use it. You can go back to the website you used to create the paper wallet. By using all of the security features by having a good password and also two factor authentication you can get back in again. From there you can convert it to other currencies or send it to either a currency exchange or to an app you can use to spend it.

I then was wondering what would happen if the website used, myEthereumwallet went off-line. It isn’t a wallet which stores your money or has access to your crypto currency in any way. So your funds are safe in that respect. So what I looked for was an application I could use on my iOS device I could use to import the paper wallet. I was hoping to find one which would let me scan the QR code printed on the paper. I didn’t find one that did the scanning using the iPhone camera, but I did have the option of importing using a key store JSON file or a Private Key with a password. I found the easiest way to do it was to use the private key and of course I have a very good password. Don’t forget you need to have a way to keep your passwords safe too. I use the application 1Password. The application I used on my iPhone to do all this with the paper wallet is called Trust. This application also connects up with Coinbase which is what I use to buy and sell crypto currency. You also have the necessary capability of sending Ethereum somewhere else such as buying something from somebody who accepts the currency as payment. You can also bring up a QR code and the wallet address to allow somebody to send money to you. Trust is a simple application which also gives you a list of transactions so far for that wallet.

Bread Wallet to import an Existing wallet

Importing a BTC wallet

In my testing of the paper wallet I sent two small amounts to the paper wallet. I also did one transaction going the other way. It’s no good putting the money into the account and not being able to get it out. It all worked incredibly smoothly. I’m happy to have worked out how to use paper wallets for security of crypto currency. It super that it’s easy to get the money into the wallet and also out of it, providing you have the required crypto security in place.

Hardware wallet

If you’re really serious about the safety of your crypto currency you could use a hardware wallet. On the bitcoin website they recommend four different hardware wallets. Digital Bitbox, KeepKey, Ledger Nano S and Trezor. The last two of those will also work with Ethereum and were recommended by MyEthereumWallet. I haven’t got one of these at the moment but I’m probably going to try one out at some point in time. This is an actual hardware device which you load up by connecting to your computer device. Obviously, when it’s disconnected it is going to be safe from hackers. You just have to put it away in a safe place such as a safe or a bank vault and you’re golden. The Trezor device costs €89 and would be well worth the money if you’re working with large sums of crypto cash. Make sure you don’t lose it or break it!

Trezor hardware Wallet

Trezor Hardware Wallet

Good to know your Crypto currency is Safe

With this information you should be able to sleep safe in the knowledge your money is safe. Take these precautions with which ever method you use and you’ll be golden.

  1. Use good passwords and store them in a password manager
  2. Use 2 factor authentication
  3. If you use hardware/software wallets always have multiple backups
  4. Use a paper wallet to store crypto currency if you are worried about getting hacked.
  5. Consider getting a physical device for a hardware wallet and keep it safe.
  6. Read thoroughly so you know how these things work. There are so many ways you can trip yourself up if you’re not careful.

Quote from

In simple terms, cold storage refers to keeping your bitcoin completely offline. Cold storage, also known as a cold storage wallet, is the opposite of a hot wallet where your bitcoin is kept online. Since Bitcoin is a digital asset, keeping them online increases your risk or attack surface for having your bitcoin stolen when kept online using a custodial service. By keeping your bitcoin in cold storage, your attack surface is greatly diminished.

It’s all Very Up and Down

Since writing this the price of bitcoin has dropped, losing a proportion of the fantastic gains over the month or so. My portfolio has dropped in value by 30% in a couple of days. This is normal behaviour of Bitcoin. It will surge and drop before regaining its correct level and then do the same again a while later. You never know when this might happen and it is always a good idea to take a long view with crypto currencies. I reckon is it a great idea to take out your seed money when the value is high and you will not be so upset if the value drops. Besides when the price is low it is a brilliant opportunity to buy more of the currency. I do follow my own advice and I cannot lose money as I have the original money back in my bank account and some profit too. If you bought high don’t panic. You just have to be patient and wait for the next massive rise.

Nissan Leaf vs Tesla Model 3 – Going Electric

Vehicles have become complicated. In days of old when knights were bold I used to be a motor mechanic cars were so much simpler. This was in the days before electronic ignition and the firing of the engine was controlled by a distributor with a set of points inside. The mechanical switch, when it opened made a spark occur in the engine to light the fuel. Terrible things to work on and needed adjusting frequently. The points switch itself would also spark and create a bad connection, the parts used to wear out and the gap would need to be reset. Honestly, it was a nightmare to work on these things. Now we have cars which have computers in them. They are so much better made and have technology loaded up the wazzoo to make them computers on wheels. It is getting even better with the change to electric cars now we have batteries making it possible to ditch fossil fuels. It’s getting extremely exciting in the realm of electric transport. The Good and Geeky thing to do now is to get an electric car, so Nissan Leaf vs Tesla Model 3?

Dream on

We can dream about getting a Tesla and it could be more of a real prospect with the new Model 3 coming. Or you can go for one of the other electric cars coming out of both established car makers and new ones just getting in to the car making business. It’s going to be all about the software. Maybe that’s what Apple have been working on rather than a whole car. Cars receive software updates over the air and can even be attacked by hackers. The car software engineers know this and put in as many safeguards as they can. Wouldn’t be funny if you told your car to take you to Barcelona and it set off in the direction of Madrid instead. The whole idea of using cars as a personal transport is changing. Even more so with artificial intelligence controlled self driving cars on the horizon. It’s amazing how fast change is happening, it may and come to a point where we are not allowed to drive cars ourselves because it’s too dangerous. Not only will it become safer to let the vehicles drive for us, but we’ll have better things to do anyway. While we’re travelling we can read a book, watch movie or talk to our friends without having to keep our eyes on the road. It’s with this in mind I’ve been considering upgrading my car to the latest Nissan Leaf 2018. Not fully autonomous but does have some driver assistance built in. A light touch of the hand on the steering wheel and the car will drive itself on the highway. Tesla cars can have more capability for autonomous driving if you pay for the extras.

The new Nissan Leaf 2018 electric car

There are already some of these cars on the road in Japan and other right-hand drive countries are following pretty soon. Left hand drive models for Europe and United States will be hitting the streets in March or April 2018. There’s an offer available from Nissan at the moment to preorder one of these Nissan Leaf 2018 electric cars. The offer is a top of the range version of the car with a couple of thousand knocked off the usual price for that level. Unfortunately there are only two colours available at present, Spring Cloud and Black. In the videos I’ve seen from Nissan showing the other colours they have available I do like the look of the blue one. I’m tempted to wait even though the cost will be more.

Autonomous driving

The level of autonomous driving in the new Nissan Leaf 2018 is interesting. For starters, I’ve been looking forward to having a car with intelligent cruise control. It’ll be cool to set the speed to the maximum desired on the highway and then let the car keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Even if the car or lorry in front starts to slow down. The same technology will also give frontal crash protection. If a vehicle in front stops suddenly, the Nissan will stop and the crash will be avoided. Someone behind could still run into your rear I suppose. I hate it when drivers run too close behind me. Driving will be made safer and easier by having the car keep itself within the lane on the road. Keep a light touch on the steering wheel and the car will be doing all of the work for us. The Nissan Leaf has cameras and sensors around the vehicle so if a pedestrian stepped out in front of the car or behind the car, the driver gets a warning. Not only will it be safer for people around us, but we’ll have fewer scratches and bumps on our cars too. There’s a feature on the car which will do the parking manoeuvre to get itself into a parking spot alongside the road. In the videos showing this feature the car goes very slowly and is so cautious you’ll probably want to do it yourself instead. Still cool though!

Finally we have cars with Apple Carplay

As you may have read in previous blog posts I’ve been wanting to use Apple Carplay for some time. I was hoping to install it into my Renault Clio and I was highly disappointed when it wasn’t possible. With the Nissan Leaf 2018 Apple Carplay is available as standard. When I tried to talk to Siri when the iPhone is connected to my Renault Clio it gets incredibly confused and just tries to make a phone call. I can’t wait to see how well this works with Apple CarPlay in the Leaf. When I use Siri at the moment sometimes she understands and sometimes she doesn’t. Siri is always improving behind the scenes though. A quiet electric car is better with less background noise than a car with a combustion engine engine. I wonder if there is a microphone connected to the native Nissan information and entertainment console. It would be nice to control that device by speaking to it. Asking the computer to set a route for wherever we’re going to for example. It’s often going to be necessary to use the in car software to give us information about where the next charging station is. It would be lovely to inform the computer to change to a specific screen to give us the information we need. This could be information about the state of charge of the battery or how many kilometres we’ve got left to get to the next charging station. This Nissan is aware of traffic lights ahead. I don’t know if it will let you know if they are on red or green, but it knows they are there.

It’s all getting automatic in cars

There’s a fancy 360° camera which somehow gives you the impression in the screen as if you are looking down from above the car. So you get a full view of what’s going on around the car in the centre console screen. There are sensors for when it is raining and the car will turn on the windscreen wipers by itself. The lights are also automatic so when it’s dark enough they will turn on as if by magic. This gives you main beam as you are driving and will automatically turn to dipped lights when there’s a car coming in the opposite direction. I suppose if that’s the case it should also notice if there is a car in front so you don’t blind the driver through the rearview mirror.

Range Anxiety or the fun of planning?

One of the things people worry about in the first instance with regards electric vehicles is how far it will take you on a charge. For 90% of my driving it will not make any difference to me whatsoever. When I’m working I drive about 25 to 30 km each day and I’ll only have to plug in once a week. It’ll get to be more fun when I need to take a trip to Barcelona airport. It will be extra interesting when I go to a holiday destination which is 300 km away. We go to a place in France and I think it’s going to work out okay. We have the use of the chargers at Nissan garages with the Nissan Leaf. There is a Nissan garage in Perpignan with a charger, there’s also a charger at a nearby shopping centre. Probably also a Renault garage where I could plug in. More and more electric vehicle charging stations are being installed and something we are not really going to think about too much in the future. The Nissan rapid chargers will get a car up to 80% in around 40 minutes. Usually after I’d driven 150 km I am more than happy to stop for a break. Chilling out for about half an hour to stretch the legs and have a nature break is necessary on long journeys anyway. It’s not going to increase the time needed to travel long distance by much time at all. Nissan are claiming it’s possible to do 378 km on a single charge, but that will be unusual in normal driving circumstances. Depending upon the roads travelled and the style of driving it’ll be more reasonable to expect around about 300 km. I reckon I could get to Barcelona and back on a single charge. The really nice part of driving around the city in an electric car is the knowledge of not using any fuel while sitting in a traffic jam. Electric vehicles are perfect for driving around town.

Definitely Going Electric

I have already made the decision to go electric for my transport. I have withdrawn from my bitcoin wallet a third of what I need to pay for the car. I now have a larger limit with Coinbase so I can withdraw the rest of what I need in one go. All I have to do is to go into the Nissan showroom and hand over the money.

Nissan Leaf vs Tesla Model 3

It did cross my mind to hold out for a Tesla model 3. There are a couple of things which make me want to have the Nissan Leaf instead. First off, the Model three will not be arriving in Spain until 2019. If I was to put in an order now I could expect a wait time of around 18 months. I could be enjoying driving an electric vehicle in three months time if I go with the Nissan. Secondly, the price of the Tesla with the autonomy features necessary to be better than the Nissan Leaf level will add about eight or ten grand to the base price of €35,000. That makes the Tesla to expensive for my wallet. Thirdly, Nissan have been making cars for a long time and they make a quality product. Even though the Tesla is exciting in terms of the technology in the car I couldn’t justify spending the extra. The Tesla cars are known to have some quality control issues. Tesla are also known for doing a good job of looking after their customers so I wouldn’t be too worried about the overall fit and finish of the car. The self driving capabilities in the Tesla Model 3 are probably more than I require at this present time so I’ll be happy with what I get from the Nissan Leaf.

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