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“So I bought a PHEV…” Update

Seven months ago I wrote a blog post with some of my initial thoughts and reasoning behind buying a Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV. I have been keeping detailed fuel economy records since December 8th, in attempt to quantify and understand its gasoline usage over time.

A spreadsheet with fuel economy data from December 8, 2021 to May 23, 2022. 

The highest reading is highlighted in red: 13.4L/100km, recorded on January 24th, 2022.

The lowest reading is highlighted in gree: 2.5L/100km, recorded on May 20, 2022.
All My Data To Date

Above is the screenshot of my spreadsheet. Due to COVID travel restrictions and continued work from home, the majority of this data is running errands inside the city. Two exceptions being two trips to Riding Mountain Nation Park, at the end of December and the weekend of the 20th.

During the winter months, I was having mixed feelings about my decision. As things have warmed up, I’m getting more optimistic.

Mysterious Algorithm

The algorithm that determines when to engage the gasoline engine is confounding.

Below -20C the engine always engages, in fact the system displays a warning message informing you that it’s too cold to drive in electric mode. I suppose this makes a certain amount of sense since battery performance is very poor at very cold temperatures, as well the engine needs to warm its oil if it’s going to run at all. So I suppose it is “priming” the engine and providing additional heating during these times.

Above roughly +15C the engine never engages.

At temperatures in between, the engine status seems highly dependent on whether or not you’ve got the cabin heat on. The heat seems to be drawn from the engine like a traditional car (and not from a fully electric heat pump, like I was hoping). In temperatures, above -10 or so the engine does eventually stop once enough heat has been built up.

But there are other times, that the engine engages seemingly at random. It’s quite frustrating. Even turning off the heat won’t guarantee that the engine will turn off.

Sometimes when the engine is running for no apparent reason (i.e. relatively warm outside, no heat needed inside) turning the car off and on again seems to kick the car into EV mode. But not always.

As frustrating as that is, even during these periods the batteries are propelling the car, the engine only runs at an idle. So fuel usage is still low.

In fact, the engine almost never goes above idle RPM, except in “sport” mode or if you floor it.

Cold Weather Fuel Economy Sucks

Winnipeg experienced on of the coldest winters on record this year.

You can see this reflected in the data above. The worst fuel economy was mid January at 13.4L/100km. While this is utterly disappointing for a car capable of full EV, I’d expect this is not worse than a non-hybrid Santa Fe during similar temps.

The interesting thing about the characteristics of the EV algorithm is that at these super cold temps, your fuel economy actually increases the further you drive. I think this is due to the fact that the engine is mainly idling so it’s burning a constant amount of fuel while you’re continuing to drive further and faster without using any more fuel.

Warm Weather = Full EV

Based on what I’ve seen in May (if we didn’t take any road trips) I wouldn’t expect to buy more than one tank of gas this entire summer.

At temperatures above 15C the gas engine stays off 98% of the time. It does still randomly engage occasionally for short periods of time (perhaps to charge the DC battery?). And also sometimes when getting up to speed quickly.

I am very pleased by this warmer weather performance.

Conclusions

I fully expect the summer driving on electricity to outweigh the poor performance during this extremely cold winter. If next winter is closer to seasonal I’d expect to say below 9L/100km even in January. The fuel savings should only add up over time.

If you need a vehicle, a PHEV is a great transitional vehicle while the electric infrastructure gets built out. Even in the coldest Winnipeg winter.

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Is Modern Web Development Too Complex?

As someone who has been in the industry for nearly as long as the industry has existed, the trajectory of modern web development is concerning. Oftentimes the “modern” tools seem overly abstract, interdependent and complex. The “modern tools” I’m referring are a range of technologies designed to improve development processes: dependency management (NPM, composer, etc), frameworks (react, laravel, etc) and “DevOps” in general (docker, AWS soup, etc). Slot in any trendy solution of the day.

Or to put it another way…

It’s not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with any of these tools. It’s more that I’m concerned that they are hurting our approach problem solving.


Early this week a Hacker Noon article — Understanding Kafka with Factorio — from a few months ago made it’s way into my work slack.

This post is a prime example of the way of thinking that concerns me the most. For starters, comparing a web development problem+solutions to Factorio — one of the most complex and difficult RTS’ to date — is very telling in and of itself.

The author starts by setting up problem that should be familiar to many developers.

Let’s say we have three microservices. One for mining iron ore, one for smelting iron ore into iron plates, and one for producing iron gear wheels from these plates. We can chain these services with synchronous HTTP calls. Whenever our mining drill has new iron ore, it does a POST call on the smelting furnace, which in turn POSTs to the factory.

So, we have 3 services that depend on each other in a linear fashion. If any one of them fails, the entire system breaks. There appears to be zero fault tolerance and that could be bad.

Enter Kafka…

With Kafka, you can store streams of records in a fault-tolerant and durable way. In Kafka terminology, these streams are called topics.

With asynchronous topics between services, messages, or records, are buffered during peak loads, and when there is an outage.

Neat.

But hang on. Now we have four points of failure instead of three! In fact, we’ve now introduced one single point of failure. If the Kafka layer fails the entire system fails.

Why should we trust Kafka more than we trust the 3 microservices, we built? Are there ways to make the individual microservices more fault tolerant?

Why not both? The author of this post seems like a solid developer who knows what he’s doing. Perhaps the underlying assumption is that our microservices are already as fault tolerate as they could possibly be and we should add Kafka as an additional layer of fault tolerance.

We’ve introduce a fourth complex and specialized technology into the stack. Now we need a Kafka specialist on our team…


This post is not meant to be an analysis or critique of Apache Kafka.

It’s meant to provide an example of the way modern web developers tend to solve problems. We tend to build or implement complicated systems that provide an abstraction layer above problems, without adequately addressing the root problem.

I’m quite concerned that we’re fostering a generation of web developers who are building houses of cards on top of houses of cards, to solve problems that don’t fully understand, without properly addressing those problems.

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Good Morning 2002

Why not spend your morning engrossed in the sounds of a giant PC tower next to your head, like it’s 2002:

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Thanks hacker noon.

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On internet success

What is it about the nature of The Internet that makes internet success seem so attainable?

Is it the open/egalitarian nature of the internet? Literally anyone can start an open source project, youtube channel, blog, store, whatever.

Is it the fact that, as developers, we know the inner workings of the tech behind the latest hotness? Theoretically we could build them ourselves, right?

Is it the humble and approach demeanor that internet-successful people need to maintain in order to become and grow their personal brands? Being able to tweet at (or email) someone with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers and getting a reply (sometimes in real time) is incredible.

A few years ago, I found out that a successful podcaster that I’d been following from her earliest days as a podcaster, actually has an agent helping her to land podcasting gigs. I really wonder how often comparable machinations are happening behind the scenes of internet success?

 

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Links for Today: Blunderyears

I thought about calling this one “nostalgia” but these links are just too embarrassing.

29 Raw Images Of The 1990s Rave Scene At Its Zenith

Despite sometimes occasionally listening to a happy hardcore mixtape, I had almost entirely forgotten about the existence of “kandi kids.”

r/blunderyears

Redditors, posting embarrassing photos from their childhood.

Chip & Pepper’s Cartoon Madness

I don’t even…