Archive for November, 2014

Tesla Electric Model S Hacked

Tesla Electric Model S HackedCan you imagine driving your brand new electric car around the city and suddenly the doors pop open? That is what hackers proved they could do in a test or challenge at the University of Zhejiang in China.  The Tesla Electric Model S hacked and had its doors popped while moving at speed. This would be a scary even if it was not a test run by Tesla as a challenge to improve the security of their car.

The Tesla Electric Model S test was run at the  University of Zhejiang with a top prize of $10,000 designed to use hackers help the Tesla team find out what they needed to do to improve the security of their car. If the doors can be popped, it can also be stolen using the same techniques and this is something that Tesla does not want to be known for.

Tesla Electric Model S

Tesla supported the idea of testing and developing better security. As our cars become more and more electric and run by computers with communications tethers to various devices needed to support the car and report operating status it will become increasingly important these cars cannot be hacked. Take Googles driver less car as an example.  Using a combination of sensors, GPS and communications abilities it is fully electronic and prone to hacking. All of these vehicles are at risk unless more tests are run like the one on the Tesla Electric model S electric car.

There is a strong need to get this resolved prior to the market being inundated with electric vehicles. We are only at the beginning of a new era where electric vehicles replace the combustion drive cars. We need to get this right.

Why is this only limited to electric vehicles? This is another question that we wonder about. Many old technology cars burning gasoline are also linked to satellites and are now offering WiFi connections. Is it possible for these cars to also be taken over and controlled. We do not know the answer, and would be happy for someone to let us know if traditional powered cars can also be hacked?


Lower your Phone Bills Use Vonage

Get Rid of Your Land Line CostsThe cost of the traditional land line or home phone as it has come to be known is increasing and there are simply better alternatives out there with more features at lower prices. The writer spoke to their local phone company who we had been with for over 30 years to see what kind of deal they could provide that would be competitive with Vonage. Their answer was that they really could not do anything for us, other than give us a $5 a month bonus if we took an additional service from them such high speed internet or a TV service. We already have internet from a competitor and this was not sufficient to entice us to move our high speed service over. They simply were not competitive in price or in features, which although we like to be loyal customers, we had no option but to move to another carrier.

Lower your Phone Bills Use Vonage

We opted to move over to Vonage with their IP telephone service. The transfer was easy and straight forward. In fact we did not have to do anything other than give them the approval to go ahead. This is a VoIP service that runs over our high speed internet service. The quality etc is fine and we are very happy with the phone service. they sent us a small module which we plugged into our high speed modem, activated it and then inserted the chord from our phone into this module on the day that the service was being transferred. Presto, it worked and we have been very happy with the service over the past year, both with the features as well as the price we are paying.

In addition with services such as voice mails that are sent to us as an email with a wave file attachment, simul ring on phones we designate such as our cell phones plus all of the standard services such as caller ID at less than half the price, we are very happy with the service! With the email of the voice mail that has been left, we do not need to call in to listen to our voice mails. It is easy as using a smart phone to listen to the wave file and then decide if we want to return the call or just delete it. This is especially helpful in long distance situations out of country. There is no long distance call needed.

We really did not want to leave our original service provider, the traditional telephone company, however now that we have, we would not go back because the price is right and we like the features that Vonage offers much better. The telephone company needs to really step up their game and offer services that are competitive from a price / feature combination to retain their business. Vonage is also adding more features from time to time so we are looking forward to seeing what they have to offer!


When heating with electricity makes sense

heating with electricityHeating with electricity when there is no furnace or perhaps when your basement is too cold is a perfectly viable alternative. Many homes with basements and forced air furnaces are usually very cold in the winter time. It can be almost impossible to keep them warm without spending a lot of money changing the duct work of the furnace. You may need to add hot air ducting and cold air ducts just to get the basement a little bit warmer in the winter time. There is an alternative and it can make sense heating with electricity. We purchased and electric heater like the one in the picture.

It can be moved around, it is on wheels and plugs into a wall outlet. Oil is heated inside to heat the vanes on the outside and simple air convection causes the air to move and heat the rest of the room. This heater is the one we choose, however any heater is good for heating with electricity as long as it has the capacity you need. They can be great for just taking the chill off the room without having to heat the rest of the home just to get the basement more comfortable. Heating with electricity can make sense in this situation.

Heating with Electricity

In fact if you keep the temperature of your home low and only heat the room that you are in with one of these heaters, it can result in a net savings in total cost. You are burning less fuel to heat your home since it is being kept at a lower temperature overall and you are only heating the room that you are in with the electric heater.

Buying a home and Heating with Electricity, does it make sense?

The real answer is that it depends. In most areas, heating with natural gas, propane or oil is cheaper than heating with electricity. However there are some locations where electricity is relatively cheap compared to the cost of other fuels.  If you are considering purchasing a home with electric heating, ask the homeowner for copies of their heating bill for a year.For more information on managing energy use, click here.

Next quiz them about the temperature setting they use in the winter so you have some idea about how warm they keep their house compared to the temperature you prefer.  You can compare the numbers to other homes in the area, your current home etc taking into account personal preferences regarding the temperature you prefer in your own home.

Remember not everyone uses electricity the same way. So take into account how much energy conservation you practice vs. the person your buying the home from. All of these factors will impact the cost of electricity in the home and your overall electric bill.


Install Baseboards Along Crooked Floors

Install Baseboards Along Crooked FloorsThe walls are crooked, the floors are not flat and you are trying to install baseboards along crooked floors and ensure that they look great when they are finished! It can be quite frustrating to deal with this situation unless you know the tricks to dealing with crooked walls and floors.

Most new homes will not have this problem to the level that you have to take unusual steps to install baseboards. But make no mistake, even in new homes the walls and floors will not be perfect. However consumers who own older homes will certainly experience this problem and find that floors and walls can be very curvy and crooked. Installing a rigid baseboard can be difficult in this situation unless you take the following steps.

Install Baseboards Along Crooked Floors

Let’s assume that your floor has a hump in it and you are installing an 8 foot long baseboard. If you place one end against the floor, the other end will not touch the floor. In fact it could be an inch or more above the floor depending on how much of a rise there is in your floor. In the picture above there is a half inch difference and this simply would not look very good if you left it like that.

The trick is to place the baseboard in place where it will be installed and position it in such a manner that the center is located on the highest point. Next use a level to make sure that it is level. You will probably find that both ends have a space between the bottom of the baseboard and the floor. Tack it in place so that it will not move. Next find a piece of wood that is the same thickness of the space between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard. Use a scrap piece of wood for this purpose.

Next you will place this scrap piece of wood on the floor at one end and using a pencil scribe a line along the baseboard. When you are finished the line at the highest point of the floor should describe an arc on the baseboard. Using an appropriate saw cut out this area and place the baseboard in its place. If you cut along the arc, your baseboard should sit flat along the floor and also be level as well!

Install Baseboards Along Crooked Walls

Most baseboards will bend to the shape of the wall when they are nailed to the wall. The nails must be long enough to penetrate the drywall and hit a stud behind the drywall. Run a bead of caulking along the wall and the top of the baseboard. Use just enough to fill the gap. Smooth it out by first placing your finger in some water and then run your finger along the gap to smooth the caulking to leave a professional finish. The water will leave it smooth and avoid the caulking sticking to your fingers. Too much water will cause it to run and smear.  It is always better to add a small amount of caulking so you can add more if needed. It is more difficult when you add too much and have to remove it later.

Joints along the wall should be cut at 45 degree angles and caulking used to make the joint seamless. Corners are always more difficult in homes with crooked walls or floors. Best to use an angle finder and then cut the corners accordingly. Use caulking again to fill in any small gaps in the joints.

 

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