Infinite Scrolling

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The move towards Electric Vehicles: from conventional to hybrid to full electric



I recently bought a hybrid car.

The dealer cautioned me not to get a surprise when the vehicle switches itself off when you halt at a crossing awaiting the lights to turn green. Even so, when the vehicle automatically stopped for the first time, force of habit made me reach for the ignition key!

A few times of driving the hybrid with the automatic stopping and starting made me get used to it. Quite quickly. And later when I was driving my other vehicle I would want it to also stop and start automatically. I was tempted to switch the car off manually!

We seem to adapt to new technology quite quickly.

A fully electric vehicle would be interesting to drive. I have yet to experience this. But the other day we had guests who had come from America and they shared their stories. Of electric vehicles and their amazing self driving features!

The conventional automobile, it seems, is morphing into an electric vehicle in front of our eyes. From gasoline driven to hybrid to full electrical.

One big advantage of an electric motor over the internal combustion engine is the way in which the electric motor produces torque over a speed range.

Torque is the rotational force the engine applies to turn the wheels of the vehicle.

This torque has to be highest when the car starts from rest. This is why we have to strain the most initially when we try to push a vehicle. Once the vehicle starts moving lower torque is just fine for propelling it.

This is exactly how the electric motor produces torque. And what is more an electric vehicle is able to produce this torque, high at start and low at higher speeds, over a big speed range.

An internal combustion engine on the other hand is rather constrained in its torque producing characteristics. A diesel engine is more constrained then a petrol engine. This is why we have to have a gear box with many gears, more for diesel engines then petrol.

In an electric vehicle we require only one gear!

The complicated internal combustion engine gets replaced by a simple electric motor generator. It drives the car and also charges the batteries which power the car. The gear box is super simple. The number of parts in an electric vehicle, therefore, are much lesser. It is a simpler vehicle.

The only hurdle is the battery. It needs charging which is time consuming. On the other hand the fuel tank of a conventional automobile can be filled in minutes.

The other hurdle is the distance the electric vehicle covers between charging.

With time technology may over come these hurdles and together with charging stations becoming as numerous as filling stations we may see the dawn of an electric vehicle era.

The internal combustion engine is likely to remain with us for a long time. But over time more and more of the vehicles on our roads will become electric vehicles.

When we visit our car dealer in the future, technology will give us the option of choosing between a conventional vehicle, a hybrid vehicle or an electric vehicle. This will become a real choice when the costs of electric vehicles comes down and the charging infrastructure becomes robust and common place.

(also see my blog post 'E rickshaw the ubiquitous vehicle')

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Fitbit blaze not charging and not setting up: how I resolved this issue

'Fitbit blaze not charging and not setting up'.

I did an internet search for this issue and found many solutions on the various community threads.

None of these were able to help me solve the particular problem I was facing.

The issue was resolved, to my great relief, when my son suggested that I do the initial charging of my Fitbit Blaze directly from the charging adapter connected to the mains instead of through the USB of my laptop.

I am sharing this blog post to help any one else who faces a similar problem.

Photo of the charging method which did not work for me is given below. Here the initial charging when the initial setup was being attempted, was being done by connecting the Fitbit Blaze charger to the USB of a laptop. This method did not work for me even though I kept trying for a few hours. I kept getting the message from my Fitbit Blaze that the setup could not proceed as the battery charge of the Fibit Blaze was very low. So I was in a situation that the Fitbit blaze was not charging as for charging to happen the setup had to be completed, however the setup could not be completed as there was no charge in the Fitbit Blaze battery!



Photo of the charging method which resolved my issue is given below. In this the Fitbit Blaze charger has been plugged in to my smartphone charging adapter. Luckily the smart phone adapter I have has a built in USB socket which allowed the Fitbit Blaze charger wire USB plug to be plugged in.



Please note, though, that once the initial setup is completed, the Fitbit Blaze charges from the USB drive of a laptop as well.

Having solved this issue I find that the Fitbit Blaze is a wonderful and useful device. I was using a fitness app on my smartphone earlier. Having a device which is like a wrist watch and gives prompts, which help in enhancing fitness, is a new experience for me.

I find it very useful. It becomes a friend of sorts.

Technology which is really helpful.


Monday, 12 February 2018

Digital markets: when the computers decide






Algorithms take more decisions then ever before, in this emerging information age.


Algorithms are a set of rules which when processed come to or assist in making a decision.

Brilliant humans write these algorithms and program them into computers. Powerful computers run these algorithms in a flash. Decisions are made in a flash.

We have witnessed a tumult in the stock markets in recent days. A story about how many decisions during this tumult were taken by computers and how many were taken by humans would make interesting reading.

PS. also see the following blog posts
Digital domino effect: the present day stock markets
Window to the world: digital access as an enabler
Digital calm: settling of the stock market

Friday, 9 February 2018

An idea becomes reality and starts taking hold: the increase in electric vehicle ownership


E rickshaw ride on a street in India

An idea becomes a reality and starts taking hold when people start adopting it.

This has started happening in the ever increasing electric vehicles to be found on Indian roads.

The catch here is that these vehicles, the ones which are really selling, are the simplest ones of them all.

These are the e-rickshaws (see my blog post 'E rickshaw the ubiquitous vehicle').

Recently while driving along a road in Delhi I spotted a sign which said pay Indian Rupees 35000 and take an E rickshaw home! This is just USD 545. Really cheap. I did not stop to see whether the E rickshaws on offer were new or refurbished. However, the point is that these machines are available at very reasonable prices.

This is so because the technology for building them is within the capability of the common man. There is no need to set up a manufacturing plant.

These E rickshaws market themselves, as they are inexpensive and a good means for earning a lively hood, as they meet the every day need of  last mile connectivity.

Low tech, inexpensive and immediate usefulness through earnings are the lines which define the space.

The space in which the sales of these vehicles are growing.

We are seeing established automobile companies moving towards designing and manufacturing high end expensive electric cars.

These big companies are developing technologies to over come the distance barrier. To replace a petrol or diesel vehicle the electric vehicle must be able to charge itself quickly and travel much further than it is able to do now.

However, in the space defined by the lines of low tech, inexpensiveness and immediate usefulness there is another electric vehicle. The golf cart!



If we were to have a golf cart designed as a light car, with better suspension, seating and safety. If it were to be made legal to be able to drive these vehicles on roads.

If we were to amend our building bye laws and allow high amperage charging points in all public and private parking spaces. Then we may have a solution for an electric vehicle which may sell.

It may meet the usefulness criteria for those who use their vehicles for short commutes.

Such a vehicle could have the potential of becoming as ubiquitous as the E rickshaw is in India.


Thursday, 8 February 2018

Your phone your identity: shopping is now linked to the phone number







Stores would offer sales coupons to regular customers. This was till a few years back.


They then started issuing credit cards linked to the store's brand. Use of this card gave you credit points which could be redeemed later. This has now moved on to normal credit cards. These regular cards have tied up with stores and brands and offer redeeming of points for goods and services offered by these brands.

Off recently I have noticed that more often than not the billing clerk asks for your mobile telephone number. Your phone number has become your identification number. Your name appears magically the moment your phone number is typed in the billing clerks computer.

Two people can have the same name.

They are unlikely to have the same mobile number.

In so many stores now, our phone is our identity. (also see my blog post 'The ever changing telephone')

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Digital calm: settling of the stock market


The previous two posts (see my blog posts 'Window to the world' and 'Digital domino effect') talked about the upheaval of the world stock markets and the digital waves which buffeted our stock market here in India.

Today there was relative calm.

The American stock market had a recovery of sorts. And was still choppy.

The stock market here settled a little lower. And was still choppy as well.

The bigger the market, it seems, the greater the impact on the other markets.

As the larger digital waves settled the local conditions created their own ripples.

An interconnected world no doubt but local conditions prevail in the absence of major upheavals.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Window to the world: digital access as an enabler



In my previous post I mentioned that the stock market in India fell today morning.

It is the evening of 6 Jan as I write this post. As the value of my shares have taken a strong knock and have fallen I looked at news about markets in Europe. This was also not encouraging. The also have fallen.

It is late evening here in India and morning in America.

I decided to look up the Dow Jones Live on my tablet. The screen of my tablet, the window to the world, is showing that having opened lower than yesterdays closing value has now recovered somewhat.

This ability to see things live. Things which are happening on the other side of the world. I find this fascinating. And in this case a relief.

Stocks go up and down.

The experience over the last few days has made me realize, I am new to investing in stocks, that changes in stock indices in one place affect indices in other places.

On this occasion pretty drastically. Being able to see live data of far off stock exchanges, though considered obvious at this date and time, is quite fascinating for me.

Fascinating, even though I have self taught my self (see my blog post 'A way to learn') and kept abreast with emerging technology.

In the time I have taken to write this the Dow Jones has again fallen some. It is fluctuating.

Real time updates are keeping me informed.

Technology again to the help here.

I keep my fingers crossed. Hope that the Dow Jones recovers.

If it does then the domino effect (see my blog post 'Digital domino effect') may help our markets here in India.

We really live in an, ever so increasing, interconnected world.


Digital domino effect: the present day stock markets


As the sun came up from the horizon stocks crashed around the world today.

Starting with the American stock exchanges the free fall of stocks rippled through all the markets of the world.

I invest in the Indian stock markets. (see my blog post 'From paper to pixels' ).

The possibility of the falling wave reached our digital shores in advance. A sense started coming through the digital media. As if one could hear the roar of the crashing dominoes. 

Then it happened.

Earlier before the digital era only a few, who were members of the stock exchange, could sense this change in financial weather.

Now thanks to technology the investors are having a window, the screens of their computers, through which they can see this change of financial weather happening.

Even a normal investor can take knowledge based calls in such a choppy financial time.

Technology has become an enabler here, as in so many other things in life.