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.

iPhone Scrivener – Write and Edit on the Move

I had to get into Scrivener and update some of the files so they were native to Scrivener 3. Pleased to see part of the file update procedure included a backup copy was made first before altering the file. Everything went fairly well with getting the files ready for working with the new software. I still don’t particularly like the synchronisation through Dropbox. It seems I’ve got to tell Scrivener to do the synchronisation when I’d prefer to not give it a second thought. I like the synchronisation to take place in the background and simply work. I hadn’t used iPhone Scrivener very much. With all of the changes to the files on the Mac everything needed to be synchronised. It was taking ages and three or four times the application on the iPhone crashed. I decided the best thing to do was to remove the application from the iPhone, go to the application on the Mac and have everything as tidy as possible. I didn’t want any unnecessary files downloaded to the iPhone. To be absolutely sure I decided to delete the app and then re install after I had sorted it all out on the Mac. Then I let it do the synchronisation.

iphone Scrivener

Using Scrivener 3 iPhone Application

I like the interface in Scrivener for iOS. One of the things I like is the extra row above the keyboard. There is a sliding row with a few handy extras you might need as you work on your document. This gives you extra keys to move through your document one character at a time or one word at a time. There are also up and down arrows to help you navigate in the text. There’s a key for deleting a character to the right of the cursor. Isn’t that nice to have at your fingertips? If you don’t like using the keyboard as a trackpad or using your finger on the screen in the text area to select words, use this set of keys to select what you want. It’s really very handy.

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Keyboard Extras in iPhone Scrivener

iPhone Scrivener keyboard

In iPhone Scrivener you have another set of keys to the right-hand side for you to bold, italicise, underline or strike out what you have selected. There’s a key for putting a highlight colour on your selected text. The two keys to the far right are extremely useful too. One icon which looks like pencil, you can use to insert a link, a comment, footnotes, annotations, images or just to insert the date and time.

iPhone Scrivener Inserts

The icon that looks like a paintbrush in iPhone Scrivener brings in an dialog area to choose character styles and paragraph styles. There are other formatting options such as copying and pasting of formatting. From this slide in dialog you can assign a paragraph style or character styles. It’s also easy to use this area to add a list, either an ordered list or an ordered list.

iPhone Scrivener Formatting

Working With Your Text In Scrivener On Your iPhone

Getting the text into the document via the keyboard and making it look the way you want it to look is easy and productive using Scrivener. The developer of the software has made it easy to add quotation marks, commas and a couple of other characters you normally have to hit the numbers key to get at. One less key to hit to get what you want.

iPhone Scrivener Fonts

Also in the styling area of iPhone Scrivener you can set the justification of the text, set indents, spacing between lines and spacing before and after paragraphs. In this same dialogue there is access to a font chooser. It gives you a set of recommended fonts, but you may also choose from others available on your device. It might seem like there’s so much in there it must be complicated, but it’s all tastefully done. Mostly when you write in Scrivener on the iPhone it will be more about getting the words and ideas in there, but it is cool to have the extra options.

Making calls with the Amazon Alexa application and the Amazon Echo

I’m really pleased with my Amazon Echo Plus. I haven’t yet used the hub built into the device, but I got that for future accessories. Today I logged into my UK Apple account on the App Store and I updated the Alexa application. With this update to the application I was able to set up some routines. I can now say “Night Night” and the routine will turn everything off in the house. I set it to turn off all the lights and the television as well. I’ll set up another routine so I can shout out “I’m home” when I get back in the house and the Amazon Echo will turn on a few things for me.

Amazon Echo Pro

Calls through the app and through the Amazon Echo

I also have a new icon to press at the bottom of the screen in the application. This is one for doing messaging and calls. It also does a thing called Drop-In. It has connected up to my contacts list and it now gives me a list of people in my contact list who have an Amazon Echo. If I allow it on a person by person basis, these people can make calls to me through the device. We can also send audio or video messages to each other, depending upon the hardware available. Obviously to be able to make the video calls you need to have an Amazon Echo Show. I’m not planning to get one of those at the moment. They look a bit ugly and I’d rather wait for the Amazon Echo Spot to be available on this side of the pond. It is possible to make video calls with the Echo Spot.

Amazon Echo Spot

My mum has an Amazon Echo Dot, I bought it for her as a present. She likes to talk to it and ask questions as well as using it for turning on the television. Like most old ladies living on their own, the television is on all day long. So she only needs to command Alexa to turn on the television in the morning and she’s done for the day. I suppose she uses it to turn it off as well before going to bed.

So it’s only natural to use my mother as a guinea pig for the messaging and calling through Amazon Echo. It took us a while to get things working absolutely correctly. First of all we sent messages through the application on our iPhones. This worked out okay and my mum worked out before I did that it was possible to ask Alexa to play any messages that had come through. I think my mum was just pressing all the buttons in the application and made a call to me to my Amazon Echo Plus. The only problem was I didn’t know how to answer the call. I had to look in the help to find out I needed to use either the word “answer” or “ignore” to deal with the call coming in. In fact, I think it’s necessary to say “Alexa answer” to accept the call.

Messages in the Alexa App

So between us we got the system working and we can now keep in contact using our Amazon Echo devices. So this will be in addition to using the Messages app which is our usual mode of contact. The system also transcribes the audio but doesn’t do a great job of turning the speech to text.

Using the Amazon Echo to start the day

I have my iPad on the nightstand next to my bed and in the morning I like to say “Hey Siri” and ask about the weather and if I have any new messages. I’ll also ask if I have any appointments for the day. The only thing is that Siri can be quite annoying and not answer me. I don’t know if it’s because my voice is a little bit gravelly first thing in morning or if I don’t say it loud enough. The good thing about using Siri is that I get the weather based on my location in Catalonia. If I ask Alexa to give me weather information she would only give me information based upon the address I’ve given it in the UK. It’ll be nice when the system becomes available in Spain. I only wonder if I’ll have to start speaking to her in Spanish in order to get the information I’m looking for. I’ll be able to do most of morning the things I want to do using the Echo Dot and I’ll just open the window to find out what the weather is looking like for the day. Using the voice computing first thing in the morning is just the job because my eyes are not quite ready for looking at a screen. It’s nice to be able to do all this with my eyes still closed.

Falling in Love with Scrivener 3

Scrivener 3 or Word?

The thing about Scrivener is that it’s full of so many good things to the point where it seems complicated. Many writers are so mentally insecure in that they need to create some sort of writing environment which is the equivalent of blinkers. This is to stop any other distractions from interfering with the brainwaves that create the stories and so on. This can go to levels where a writer might even choose to use pencil and paper or an old-fashioned typewriter rather than take the benefits you gain from using a computer. You still have writers like Lee Child for instance who are technical numbskulls and are still using Word to create full-length novels. I listened to him in a podcast explain how he didn’t know how to use templates properly. What he does is to take the same document he was working on before and delete everything in it so he has the same writing environment as he had before. It’s all part of the same malaise where writers play the primadonna claiming an inability to write unless the muse takes them. Many writers choose to use a plain text editor as their window into their creative world of writing. This stops them from the urge to fiddle with how the text looks on the page and anything else that might distract them. Scrivener 3 is so much better than office software because it is made specifically for writers/authors.

Scrivener 3

Writing And Writers Discipline

Proper writers are disciplined and have a set time during the day when they sit down and start writing. Writing is work. It might be necessary to get into the required frame of mind or thinking for the story. This can be done by reading your creative writing from the day before. Getting into the story by reading what’s been done already is often enough to get the creative juices flowing again. Sometimes what I like to do is to spend half an hour writing in my journal just to get into the writing mindset. Scrivener 3 is a fantastic writers digital environment. Sit down in front of the app and unload the ideas. Be disciplined with your writing work.

Outlining Or Writing By The Seat Of Your Pants

Organised writers don’t write by the seat of their pants and will have a long list of chapters and scenes to be written. Writing with your computer isn’t a question of staring at a blank screen with a blank space in between the ears. Your session in front of Scrivener or whatever writing software you use will merely be a choice of choosing which scene to write from the list you have in front of you. With Scrivener you can split the screen up to have your character notes on one side of the screen or whatever the piece of research you need for what you’re about to write. The other side of the screen will be the area in which you put your words and your ideas. The author only needs to think about what is going to happen in that scene. What does the protagonist want? How is the antagonist going to try and stop that from happening. It’s more productive to be thinking along the lines of how does this scene take the story forward than is to be worrying about your writing software.

Outlining in Scrivener 3

Do You Need To Learn Everything In Scrivener?

I have seen writers complain about Scrivener being so complicated. Complicated to the point where they use inferior apps and miss out on the benefits of software specifically designed for authors. People really do worry about the silliest of things. With Scrivener all you need to do is to open up the Scrivener project, create a new text document in the binder and start typing. It’s not necessary to think about all the bells and whistles offered by Scrivener. It’s even possible to clear away all of the tools for organisation and concentrate on your writing in a fullscreen experience. Have the digital blinkers on even with a fully featured authors software like Scrivener 3. It would be a bit like being scared to drive a Ferrari because it could go at more than 200 mph. It isn’t obligatory to drive at full speed in a super sports car and it isn’t obligatory to know about every single tool within Scrivener. Open the app and start writing, learn about the rest later when you need it.

Getting Past The Learner Stage With Scrivener

When you’re still using the training wheels you can have one single document within your project and put every single piece of text within that one document. If it’s a short document that’s all you’ll ever need. When the project gets longer you can split the single document into separate scrivenings. With the text split up into individual discrete parts you can organise your work to your hearts content. You have the choice of moving things around within the binder to get the work into a coherent, readable document. Or use keyboard shortcuts to move things around or you can do the drag-and-drop using the trackpad or the keyboard. If you’re more of a visual sort of person then jump into the corkboard. Within this view you can see cards representing each item and they are further visually enhanced with colour coding. The colour coding can denote a character point of view for the scene or chapter. There are also labels to attach to the various parts to tell you at what stage you are at with that piece. Use yellow when it is a first draft, orange when it has received its first edit and green when it is finished and ready to present. Using tools like Scrivener 3 is just what you need to make you treat your writing professionally and in a businesslike manner. You still have to be the same type of creative person to make your unique stories. Using a writers software like Scrivener is not going to make your work just the same as everybody else’s. I suggest you will be a better writer when using software fit for purpose.

Scrivener 3 Cork board

Setting Targets And Getting Work Done

It makes me laugh when I see writers struggling to get out 500 words in one day. People like this I don’t see as being professional writers. Professional writers get the work done and this means writing thousands of words. If you only write 500 words per day is going to take a long time to write a novel. The more writing you do the better you get at the job of writing. The more words you put on the page more chances you have to learn the craft of writing. The first stage is to get the basic ideas on the page in a first draft. It is in the editing and the polishing where the real work is done. Within Scrivener there are plenty of tools for helping you to keep track of your writers work ethic. Set a target for the whole of the manuscript, set targets for the words you expect to have in a chapter or a scene. I love the new capability in Scrivener 3 to see the writing history for the project. Find this in the menu and you’ll see the dates you worked on the project and how many words you added on that day. It’s even possible to export this data out to put into a spreadsheet if you really want to get nerdy.

on target

Great For NaNoWriMo

One of the excellent features within Scrivener 3 is the ability to set a target date for your draft to be finished. Then go into options and say which days of the week you expect to be writing. The software will tell you how many words you need to write during the session for the day so you can hit your deadline. You put a tick into the checkbox for – Automatically calculate from draft deadline – Scrivener works the rest out for you. There are a couple of choices for when the session count is reset. The easiest one to choose is for midnight each day. It’s this capability which makes Scrivener the perfect choice if you’re going to compete in Nanowrimo. It’s just one of the great things about Scrivener which makes it the best authors, writers choice for any long form writing work.

Other Goodies In Scrivener

  • A place to put all of your research.
  • Useful templates for various types of writing.
  • Excellent compiler options.
  • Three different types of outlining tools – Outlining in the binder, the corkboard, and the outline view.
  • It works great with DragonDictate.
  • Use of keywords to help you organise your work.
  • Project bookmarks – Place a bookmark to help you find places within the work you need to go back to to finish or change things.
  • Snapshots – Keep records of your work at various stages and see what changes you’ve made.
  • Use a synopsis for each text document – This helps you to identify what’s going on in addition to the title to help you when you’re organising. Especially useful in the corkboard view.
  • Place images in your text and have controls for the size of the images when compiled.
  • Easy to split a large document into smaller parts using keyboard shortcuts.
  • Scrivener scratchpad – another way to keep notes relevant to the project.
  • There are iOS versions for iPhone and iPad – Synchronise and work anywhere.

Keeping It All Together In Scrivener

In other writers software I use I get to have everything all in one file. I split that into an area for fiction writing and another area for blogging. I then have another section for a writers diary. It is super to have everything all in one place like that. With Scrivener it is project file based where you have a project for each distinct piece of work. I suppose you could have a project which is for all of your blogging. Then just have separate Scrivener projects for each novel. If you’re prone to jumping around from one thing to another, this project approach could be an advantage. It’s possible to have more than one Scrivener project open at the same time. You could keep a project used for collecting ideas for stories and using as a writing diary. If an idea starts to look good and worthy of more attention it could break out into a project of its own.

My Personal Verdict On Scrivener 3

I’ve been using Scrivener for a very long time. For many years I’ve been aware that it’s professional quality writing software for authors. I have been using Ulysses as my default daily writing software because I like the simplicity of the interface. I like being able to use markdown for my writing. Ulysses has a simple but powerful way to organise the look of the interface. There’s also a similarly easy and highly useful way to export work out to a variety of formats. I also prefer the use of iCloud for the synchronisation of work between the Mac and iOS. After spending a couple of days using Scrivener 3 I can see myself getting back into using it instead of Ulysses. Scrivener feels good to use in version 3. I’m not going to miss Markdown because I have super fast keyboard shortcuts to set styles. I can probably live with the Dropbox synchronisation. There’s just so much to love in the new Scrivener 3.

Compile Is Excellent On The Mac, Not So Much In Scrivener For iOS

With Scrivener 3 I like the way the compile settings have been simplified. It’s really useful to have the ability to compile directly for the Kindle format from the Mac version of Scrivener. I’d like to see that available in the iOS version along with export to EPUB. There are only four compile options in iOS Scrivener and it’s not enough. When compiling from Scrivener on the Mac I do like the way that you can set it to open up in an application suitable for the type of file you are making. Have your new Kindle file open up in the Kindle app as well as being exported to a folder. Same thing with an EPUB file and choosing it to be opened up in, for example in iBooks.

Scrivener For Dictators

I write using dictation using the software from Nuance called DragonDictate for Mac. If I’m using Ulysses I have to dictate into TextEdit first and then copy and paste it into Ulysses. When using Scrivener I can dictate directly into the application. I like having one less step in the writing process so that is a definite thumbs up for Scrivener. Dragon Dictate seems to be more accurate while using Scrivener for the dictation and isn’t getting cranky if I need to use the keyboard in the same document.

I Shall Never Be So Organised As I Will Be With Scrivener

I just found out it’s possible to use a keyboard shortcut to move a paragraph up or down within a text document in Scrivener. This organisational facility in Scrivener is a cherry on the cake considering everything else Scrivener can do for your arranging of a long document. There is a definite workflow possible using Scrivener for maximum creativity. I have my own template for novel writing based on a well proven three act structure. It’s a good start to take this template and use it in the corkboard view of Scrivener. Use the synopsis area to tell the basic story. Then it’s just a matter of going into the various parts and adding the scenes. It’s a case of going from the broad strokes of the story and working towards the details in a logical fashion.

Written In Scrivener Of Course

Obviously I have used Scrivener to write this piece for the blog post. I have to say I’m extremely happy to be using Scrivener. I’m impressed with the changes made in this version of Scrivener and it’s a delight to use. There are a lot of menus and settings to help me do a good job of writing using Scrivener 3. At the moment I’m not feeling overwhelmed by the interface even though I know there are more things to learn to get the best from this software. There’s a lot of love gone into making this top authors software and it shows in the quality and capability in it.

Just set up the new Amazon Echo Plus

I can easily understand how a complete novice to this sort of technology could get to the point where they would want to pull their hair out. It took numerous attempts for me to register the device. The way it is supposed to work is, after switching the device on by plugging it in, you open up the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device. You then connect your phone to the Wi-Fi of the Amazon Echo Plus and then return to the Amazon Alexa application to continue the setup. I must have tried this four or five times before it finally registered the device over the Internet. It takes quite a lot of time to do this because you have to wait for two or three minutes for it to do its thing with every attempt. I knew I was doing it correctly so I just kept trying over and over until it did what it was supposed to do. Someone who hadn’t done it before and was completely new could have started to swear blue murder by this time. I was tempted too. There were a couple of times when I thought I had it set up because Alexa was talking to me, but when I looked in the list the Amazon Echo Plus was not there. These are just first world problems and I was prepared to persevere.

Setting up lights and accessories

The lights I already had set up with the Amazon Echo Dot were already in the Alexa application and were ready to use. I just bought extra Philips lightbulbs, five of them for the living room light. These are just the plain white light bulbs. It would be nice to have the full colour versions, but I’m not too bothered to be quite honest. The messing about continued with the Philips Hue application on my iPhone not recognising any of the lightbulbs. I made sure that the electric was turned on to the lamp sockets and tried again. One of the bulbs was recognised by the system. All of the rest of the bulbs needed me to put in the six-figure code found on the bottom of the bulb in order to have them recognised. Light bulbs which had been found by the Philips Hue application were also available in the Alexa application and in Apple Home.

I put the five bulbs into a group so I could switch them all on and off at the same time with one command. I did this in the Amazon application and also in Apple Home. I also just fitted Philips Hue wall plate switches as you can see in the previous blog post. I added the scene of the five bulbs together to be switched on using one of the available switches on the Philips wall plate. This turned the newly setup living room light on. Then I needed to go back in to the settings and use the other available switch to turn the same lights off. Job done.

Maintenance of the security and home automation system

The Elgato Eve door and window switches all require a battery. It’s an odd sized battery and I recently bought five of them to replace the ones that had run out of juice. I have now used all of those batteries and I still need one more as a battery in one of the windows which has got very low. The switches can be used for proper home automation along with motion sensors. I have a motion sensor in the kitchen which turns a light on for me after sunset. I also have a setting so that when motion is not detected it will turn the lights off. I’ve also got the Philips Hue wall plate switch so it can be switched off almost manually at the wall. Using these Wi-Fi enabled wall switches means the lights are still available for the home automation with Siri with HomeKit and Alexa with the automation settings inside Amazon and its app. The whole system is all coming together and I added another motion sensor by Philips Hue and so far I find it to be a better motion sensor than the one from Elgato Eve. It also has a temperature sensor and a light sensor. The light sensor gives me a reading in Home App. This light sensor can be used to turn lights on automatically when set from the Philips hue app. The automation with this sensor is not very sophisticated. When the ambient light goes below a certain level it will switch all the lights on in a room you choose. It doesn’t seem to be able to choose just a single light or group of lights from within that room.

Extending the home automation

I would like to buy a couple of room sensors and a weather sensor. The room sensors test and keep a log of temperature, humidity and air quality. With the sensors I would get more knowledge and with that information I could make decisions to keep things just right. With the air quality it able to sense volatile organic compounds. If you have too many of these then it can affect your health. Knowing the information means you can address the problem sorted out simply by opening a window. It’s one way to avoid the sick building syndrome.

The Eve weather is a wireless outdoor sensor which senses temperature, humidity and air pressure. I do have an old-fashioned thermometer on the wall outside already. What you get by having the electronic version is that you get records shown in the graph in an application on your iPhone. Some people are fascinated by the weather and suppose it could be interesting to see how the air pressure and humidity change over time. Low air pressure can signal coming storms and I wonder if it’s possible to set up alerts. This Eve Weather device works with HomeKit. It would be nice if automation could be set so that if levels went above or below a certain requirements appliances could be switched on or off. Something as simple as turning on a fan in a room or turning on the air conditioning.

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