Hack my ride

Just before Christmas, I had the pleasure of collecting my new car – a Tesla Model S! This is something I’d been lusting after for months since it was announced, and finally pulled the trigger on an order back in September. I can honestly say that I have never waited so impatiently for something in my life, and was absolutely delighted to finally take ownership on Christmas Eve – a rather extravagant early Christmas present! The driving experience is absolutely sublime, the ability to effortlessly transition from cruising, to having your insides re-arranged by the breathtaking acceleration, is something that has to be experienced to be believed!

Sadly my first week of ownership didn’t go as smoothly as hoped – I drove the car up to Manchester on Boxing Day to visit my parents, where I discovered that the supplied charging cable wasn’t functioning properly, something that’s fairly critical for a fully electric car! Due to holiday opening times I wasn’t able to get this replaced as quickly as I would have liked, but to their credit Tesla did replace the cable without hassle when I was actually able to make it to a dealership. Still, this left a slightly sour taste about the whole experience, and curbed my enthusiasm somewhat – until this week, when I’ve had time to enjoy the car some more!

Putting a few more miles on the clock quickly reminded me of why I’d bought the car in the first place, and then I started to delve into the possibilities of the API that’s unofficially offered by Tesla (their Android & iOS apps use it). There are a variety of services that take this data and will turn it into nice graphs and stats for you, however I was more interested in how I could integrate this into my blossoming “smart home” setup. My first venture has been creating a script that scrapes Google Calendar for events, and then will set the auto-conditioning on the Tesla at a set time before each event, meaning that the car is toasty warm/nicely chilled when you set off for work! I’ve put the source code on GitHub for the world to laugh at and hopefully improve!

This is definitely only scratching the surface of what’s possible with the Model S – I’m thinking of future scripts including:

  • Turning on home heating when leaving work
  • Estimating driving distance based on the days events, and setting the charge limit accordingly
  • Monitor power draw while plugged in, for cost estimation

What other car manufacturer gives you access to so much data to nerd out over?! I’m enjoying this car without even having to sit in the drivers seat!

To kill a… Fiat Punto?!

Picture the scene, me driving happily up the M6 on Friday evening on my way to the Network Gathering in Windermere this weekend, when all of a sudden – disaster strikes!

*Dun dun dunnnnn*

Warning lights on the dashboard, engine starts to make funny noises, so I pull over into the Lancaster services. And then the car dies. Turn the key: nada. Its deceased… steam pouring from under the bonnet.

Some very kind gentlemen offers to lend me a hand pushing the car (I was blocking the slipway!) when to my embarrassment – the Highway Patrol pull up! Being pushed into a parking spot followed by a jeep with lots of flashing lights on… nice.

Anyway, 40 minutes later the AA pull up, the guy shoves some water into the engine, and off I toddle again. Make it about 2 miles down the road when it happens again! This time he decides its the head gasket that has gone, so off I go again, only this time being towed!

Arrive back in Poynton late on Friday night, and end up abandoning the car in the seediest part of Poynton Industrial Estate because the sodding garage is locked up for the weekend!

Cut to today, car goes into garage, I get told it’ll cost £550 to repaid. Plus the insurance is due up – another £1100. Bye bye all my money for uni for next term!

End of exams (roadtrip!)

Anyway, now that I’ve finished twittering, my life story over the last few weeks…

Had exams for a long looooong time back, but they’re finally over 😀 I had my last exam on Tuesday afternoon, and then went out drinking. Well, not straight away.

Myself, Dom and Taylor had been told in no uncertain terms that we had to go to Cheshire show, but we couldn’t get on the coach due to everyone else leaving whilst our exam was on. Problem. Me driving to Cheshire show (fast) after the exam – solution!

It all started well, plugged the GPS in and off we went. Passing through Didsbury (I think), Dom spots an off licence.

"OOOH! STOP! I’ll be 2 minutes"

And out he jumps, returning with what can only be described as a bucket of beer, and a six pack of cheap lager. Right, off we go.

Going along towards the M56 (not the quickest way, but the satnav told us to!), and we end up at a junction.

"Erm… M56 north or south?"

At this point, satnav battery dies, Dom is mid way through drinking from the bucket, and Taylor doesn’t have a clue what is going on. So I foolishly go North, bad choice.

I’ll omit the next part, due to large amounts of swearing etc etc.

We end up on the M56, 4 junctions north, but heading south. Gooooood! By this point, we have another 45 mins left to get there, and the queues are horrific. Ah well… more beers to be drunk by everyone but me.

Anyway, end on on the A556 going towards the show ground. The A556/M6 junction is a HUGE roundabout, and the show entrance was on the wrong side of a dual carriageway, on the same road as we entered the roundabout. So we queued right the way round. But first time – I missed the turning. So we went ALLLLL the way around again, after some rather dodgy manoeuvres including pulling a U-turn across 4 lanes of dual carriageway. Less said about that the better.

Right – so we’re now approaching the showground. By this time is is 4.25 – 5 mins until we’re PLAYING – actually ON STAGE! They’ve also reversed the traffic cordons, so we were pulling up behind police cars, asking nicely to be let round. 4.28 – we reach the site.

No clue where to park, so Dom & Taylor bail out half way across the site, I keep my head down. I have no idea how I came to be driving across the actual site, it’s usually locked down for all vehicles. I was pushing people aside with my bumper!!! Ended up ditching the car next to a toilet, and running before anyone found me.

We made it, just. To be honest, there wasn’t much point. I was shaking too much to play, Dom was hammered, and Taylor was half-way hammered as well. Ah well!

Getting back was a whole other story… for some other time!

Bought a Punto!

This is a bit of old news, but been rather busy recently!

Signed the relevant forms to sell the old Peugeot 307 off to a dealer in High Lane, and then went off to find myself a new car 😀

Found a nice Punto at the Hazel Grove garage – 1.2l W-reg with 43k on the clock, for £1,995 – absolute steal! Managed to talk them down by a further £100, and adding in service, MOT and tax (another £200 worth basically). Done deal!

This was all last week, rang up today to confirm collection tomorrow

"Just let me get the paperwork… erm yeah. Not been MOT’d, serviced or taxed yet, should be available next week"

"Bugger off, get it done by tomorrow or I’m claiming my insurance (£5.20 per day) back from you"

Anyway, phoned them back just now, and its been miraculously done in the last 3 hours! I’m collecting it at midday tomorrow 😀 Then off to the pub celebrating!

Damn… that means I’m on the J2O’s then… going to have to get used to them!