No Makeup

Ontem estava a passar um teledisco da Alicia Keys no VH1 e ela estava diferente, quase irreconhecível. Demorei algum tempo a perceber que ela estava sem maquilhagem e portanto parecia uma pessoa “normal”, não uma diva musical.

Por curiosidade fui procurar alguma coisa no Google sobre a Alicia Keys e descobri que ela aderiu ao movimento No Makeup e deixou de usar maquilhagem. O resultado pode ver-se na capa do seu último disco:

Quem diria que esta é a mesma Alicia Keys que em 2012 lançava o álbum Girl on Fire?

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Eu digo já que mulheres maquilhadas não fazem o meu género, sobretudo aquelas que abusam da dita maquilhagem. Mas não é suposto estas super-estrelas serem pessoas fora do normal, diferentes, modelos de perfeição e beleza?

Não digo que a Alicia Keys não seja interessante “ao natural”, pois claramente que o é. Mas também o são muitas outras mulheres que vemos no dia-a-dia. Todos sabemos que o Photoshop faz milagres e não há mulheres perfeitas, mas não poderemos sonhar um bocadinho?

Portanto, por muito que admire e aprecie a verdadeira Alicia Keys, continuo a preferir a Alicia Keys produzida e maquilhada.

The Wolf – The Hunt Continues

A HP lançou este vídeo com a continuação da “saga” The Wolf, lançada há umas semanas atrás (link para o primeiro vídeo da história) e que é interpretada pelo Christian Slater, conhecido ultimamente pelo seu papel na série Mr. Robot:

Apesar de apresentar um cenário catastrófico e que pode parecer improvável, não há dúvida que hoje em dia a ciber-segurança deve ser levada muito a sério e este tipo de vídeos, publicidade à parte, servem para nos alertar para este problema.

Smart what?

We have smart lamps that you can turn on and off remotely and can even change colors. We have smart scales that measure your weight and send the results automatically to your phone. We have watches that count steps, measure your sleeping habits and wake you up with a gentle vibration. But this?

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Withings Smart Hairbrush

Who the hell wants a Smart Hairbrush? What will they invent next? A smart fork that tells you if you are eating too fast?

Wearables revisited

Recently I got a renewed interest in the wearables market. I was never a fan of the Apple Watch, because I like real watches, but I discovered that nowadays there are dozens of conventional watches on the market with smart features. The one that interests me the most is the Withing Steel HR.

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Withings Steel HR

It’s a beautiful, minimalistic watch, that also happens to measure your activity and even your heart rate. And, best of all, the battery lasts for 25 days, with another 20 days in low power mode (no heart rate monitoring). It even has simple notifications, like incoming calls and messages. I think this one ticks all the boxes for me. And the price is not what I was expecting. It costs 189,95 €, which is more than reasonable.

After a little bit of research, I found out there are similar offers from other vendors, albeit without the HR monitor. For example, the Hagen Connected is a beautiful watch from Danish firm Skagen, which also handles smartphone notifications.

Skagen Hagen Connected

Even Garmin has a smartwatch that looks more like a traditional watch, instead of the traditional sports watches made by the company.

Garmin Vivomove

I might actually get one of these watches and use it everyday, instead of my actual watches. Sadly, the Withings Steel HR is unavailable at the moment, with deliveries expected to resume at the end of January.

Until then, I’ll continue to explore other possibilities.

 

 

 

Driving an EV for the first time

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about electric cars. What was at first just curiosity turned into an obsession. I’ve been reading blogs, magazines, forums and everything there is about EVs. And I’ve learned a lot.

For example, do you know the difference between a BEV, a PHEV and a conventional hybrid? I didn’t, but now I do. BEV stands for Battery Electric Vehicle. It’s the term used to describe 100% electric vehicles. PHEV stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. PHEVs are those cars that have an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) engine as well as an electric motor. They can be plugged to recharge the battery, hence the plug-in in the name. Conventional Hybrids are similar to PHEVs, but they can’t be plugged to recharge. This means that if the battery runs out you need the ICE engine to recharge it.

See? There’s lot’s to learn about EVs.

Time to get behind the wheel

After learning so much about EVs and never having driven one myself, the next logical step was to schedule a test-drive. So I booked a test-drive of a Nissan Leaf, the best selling EV in the world.

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Nissan Leaf

The Leaf is not the best looking car, but I kind of like it. Everybody tells me how awful it looks, but I see myself driving one on my daily commute without a problem.

There are two models available with different battery capacities: a 24kwh model with an announced range of 190km and the newer 30kwh model which Nissan claims to have an autonomy of 250km.

The model I drove was the 30kwh in Accenta spec (there are four trim levels available: Visia, Visia+, Acenta and Tekna). It has a long list of equipment, like rear view camera, parking sensors, bluetooth with voice control, keyless entry and many other items.

Gentlemen, start your engines

After entering the car, closing the door (and then closing again to hear the sound of the door closing) and adjusting the seat, it’s time to start the engine. “Just press this button to start the engine”, says the Nissan representative. And so I did. And nothing happened. Oh wait, this an electric car, there’s no noise coming out of the engine! And that’s the first strange feeling of driving an EV. No noise at all. “Is this thing really turned on? Will it move when I press the pedal?”, I say to myself. The answer is obviously yes.

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Nissan Leaf Gear Selector

Pictured above is the Nissan Leaf gear selector. It’s more like a joystick, as it always returns to the middle position after selecting a gear. You move it backwards to engage drive mode (“D”). Press once again and you’ll engage “B” mode, which I’ll describe later. Finally, move it forward and you’ll engage reverse drive. When you want to park the car you press the little “P” button on top of the gear selector.

Let’s drive this thing

After engaging drive mode you feel a little thump that confirms you’ve engaged a gear. It’s the first mechanical sensation you feel. As with any other car with an automatic gearbox, as soon as you release the brake pedal the car starts moving slowly, even without pressing the gas pedal. But in the Leaf it’s all silent and smooth.

As you start to accelerate you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie. You just hear a little electric buzz and the car goes forward in silence. The acceleration is different from a normal car and it’s hard to describe why. Driving this car really feels different. EVs have all the torque available right from 0 rpm. There’s no torque curve, so the acceleration is linear.

The other strange feeling comes when you remove your foot from the gas pedal. Thanks to the regenerative braking system, no energy is wasted, and so when you lift the pedal the car starts to brake even without you pressing the brake pedal. This is a double win: on one hand this system brings back energy to the battery, while at the same time sparing your brakes, because you almost don’t have to touch the brake pedal. If you press the gear selector two times backwards, as described above, you’ll engage in “B” mode, which is a more aggressive regenerating mode. Driving in this mode really brakes the car when you are not accelerating, but it allows the system to regenerate more energy. It’s ideal to use on long descents when you’ve gained enough speed.

Driving impressions

I must say I fell in love with this car. It’s extremely comfortable, not only because it’s so smooth and silent, but also because it’s well built and the suspension does a great job, even on bumpy roads. The handling seems to be good, although I haven’t driven at high speeds.

It’s a whole new world and you start asking yourself why the hell have you been riding those ancient vehicles all your life, polluting the air and making noise. Driving an EV is a relaxing experience and you feel better with yourself, knowing you aren’t damaging our planet. I suspect that as more EVs start rolling on our roads, the driving habits will start to change for the better.

Would I buy one?

Definitely yes. After driving the Leaf I made a decision: my next car will be electric. There’s no turning back. It feels so more advanced and makes so much more sense that you’ll never want to go back to a normal car.

Of course the Leaf isn’t the only electric car available and there are other interesting choices. GM will launch the Bolt EV at the end of this year in the US, which should be sold as the Opel Ampera-e here in Europe. It will cost $35.000 and have an autonomy of 320km. Hyundai just announced the Ioniq, which will be sold this year and has three versions: BEV, PHEV and conventional hybrid. And of course, in 2018 we’ll have the Tesla Model 3. Nissan itself is preparing a new 40kwh Leaf which will probably have a minor facelift, ahead of the launch of a totally new model.

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Tesla Model 3

Other manufacturers are starting to announce plans for a massive electrification of their model ranges, like VW, Audi, Mercedes and many others. And they should, because there are already countries where EVs account for 30% of the market, like Norway.

Conclusion

For now I’m still learning about this market. I dont’ have plans to buy a new car this year so I’m watching the market to see how it evolves, but if I had plans to buy a new car today it would be the Nissan Leaf. Let’s hope the new model regains the crown of the best selling EV on the market and next year maybe I’ll convert myself to the proud owner of a Nissan Leaf.

I almost converted to Medium

Lately I’ve been reading lots of articles about people moving their blogs to Medium. It’s true that it’s getting better and better. You can create your own publications and have your own domain name pointing there. For free. The user interface for wirting new articles is straightforward and the typography is great. Plus, by publishing your posts on Medium they become immediately available to a wider audience. If you’re just starting a blog chances are that your articles will be seen by more people if they’re published on Medium.

That’s why I started thinking about publishing this blog on Medium. I have very few posts and zero visitors so far, so I thought I had nothing to lose. In the worst case scenario the same thing would happen on Medium, but at least I knew someone could more easily discover my writing.

With that in mind I created a Medium publication called “Simply Minimal” and started migrating some posts there. The process is very simple. One of the advantages of Medium is that you don’t have to fiddle with web design, CSS and that kind of things. You just have to concentrate on your writing and everything else is taken care of by Medium. Of course you don’t have a choice of themes to customize your blog, but you do have some degree of customization.

For instance, you can change your publication’s header by choosing a color or an image and there are a couple of different layouts you can play with. You can then choose if you want to have some featured articles or just a list of your lates articles. You can even have some sort of navigation menu with the options being tags for your articles.

My publication on Medium

After I finished doing all of this I was happy with the result. But then I started to explore other publications and articles on Medium and came to a conclusion: they all look the same. Regardless of the customizations you make, everything looks the same. A title header, a subtitle, some text, some images. And somewhere you can find the writer’s name. By writing on Medium you’re giving up an important part of your identity.

Definitely Medium has it’s place on the web publishing ecosystem. For example, I think it is a great choice for publishing corporate blogs and we’re seeing more and more companies using Medium to publish their blogs. A great example is Basecamp who now hosts their popular blog Signal v. Noise on Medium. But as a platform for publishing your personal writing and building your personal brand, I think it has to many limitations.

Meanwhile I will keep blogging on Tumblr and publish some posts on Medium just to see the results.


This article was first published on my blog.