Can Future Faraday FF91 win the EV market?

Can the Future Faraday FF91 be it? One of my recent interests is Electric Cars. It is my belief that the combustion engine is going the way of the dodo. Personally I need to replace my almost 20 year old Rover in the next couple of years.

The recent announcement of the Faraday Future FF91 is a testament to the momentum the industry is having (even if the car will only sell in 2018, and only in the US and China). But the FF91 also shows another aspect of this industry. The need for very aerodynamic shapes is making really, really, really ugly cars (Leaf?, Ioniq?).

The electric car cannot be a reason-engineering product alone. Not in XXI century when car companies will charge a lot for these products. Electric cars also need to capture passions. They need to be the Millennium Falcon of the automobile industry. Something that gets car nerds excited and doesn’t capture the interest of eco-zealots.

Right now companies are approaching this lack of oomph via the performance route. The Future Faraday FF91 goes 0–60mph in 2.39 seconds. Tesla is doing the same thing (although their cars are nicer because they first solved the pizazz issue by borrowing a lotus chassis for the Roadster). Future Faraday FF91 design is… well, it looks like a Rhino (another endangered species). But this doesn’t make them desirable to petrol heads (yet). And the fault lies on the long history of the combustion engine. The noise, the smells, the macho attributes petrol cars convey that many EVs still lack.

The near future of Electric Vehicles

I see the future of traditional car makers and new EV-only car companies converging. The latter will end up absorbed by the former. But by that time we’ll be all better served by electric cars than we were by combustion engine cars. And we’ll be happier and healthier too.

If now is not the time to buy an electric car, some might say, then now is not the time to buy a petrol car either. The two things are decoupled and buying a combustion engine car is one of the dumbest decisions one could make in 2017. 2020 is going to see cities blocking city center access to combustion engine cars (Paris for example). And you don’t want to be A-hole that got a new expensive artefact of automotive industry.

Now is the time to be patient if you weigh all the pros and cons. My Rover will need to hold off its retirement. If you are an early adopter, well, then you already drive a Leaf don’t you?

†I know that it is Faraday Future, but honestly, the car will be released so far in the Future that Future Faraday seems appropriate.

Apple needs a new CEO, Tim Cook must resign.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook must resign and the company should shift towards a more aggressive development strategy. Apple at the present is just a company of incremental improvements of existing products and market expansion.

There are no new products to come. No new directions to travel. The problem with apple started when the company stopped making tools for creative people and focused on creating gadgets. But it is not all about the products made by apple. In the end, it is all about the core vision and ambition of Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.

“Peacetime CEO aims to expand the market. Wartime CEO aims to win the market.”

Excerpt From: Horowitz, Ben. “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers.” – Chap. 7 – “Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO”.

Tim Cook is an excellent peacetime CEO, like the ones of Eric Schmidt at Google or Steve Balmer at Microsoft. They were excellent at expanding the company market, but not really at reinventing the company. Wartime CEOs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Larry Page, envision new products that will define new markets and want to control those markets. The uninteresting – to avoid the word dull – products of Apple, show that they really need a CEO that can stir the waters. For all this Tim Cook must resign.

Who can replace Tim Cook?

Probably no one inside apple right now. Mainly because the CEO cannot be someone of the existing CEOs. Most of them are just peacetime CEOs like Tim Cook. They are there since the time of Steve Jobs. And going back to Ben Horowitz book:

“I call managers who are happier setting the direction of the company Ones and those who more enjoy making the company perform at the highest level Twos.”

Excerpt From: Horowitz, Ben. “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers.” – Chap. 7 – “Ones and Twos”.

Steve Jobs was a natural One. As a founding CEO he was always defining the future. Gathering information and playing “eight-dimensional chess against their best competitors”. Ones need to be surrounded by Twos, people that excel at making the company execute the plan at full performance. Tim Cook was that kind of person. As were the others executives at apple at the time, either Jony Ive or Phil Schiller. As Twos they complemented Steve Jobs being the One.

When Jobs passed way Tim Cook took over and we started having a Two as the CEO. He made Apple stronger and bigger than ever before. Apple expanded with the same products. But now, that existing products are not sustaining that expansion, Apple needs to redefine their strategy. Define the big transformative objectives. Decide on where to go next. For that, Apple needs a One at the helm, and that’s why Tim Cook must resign.

Reference: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: A Statistical Method for Reconstructing Large Historical Social Networks

by Christopher N. Warren; Daniel Shore; Jessica Otis; Lawrence Wang; Mike Finegold; Cosma Shalizi

When you accidentally find a paper with Cosma Shalizi as one of the co-authors you know you have to read it. And this one is an interesting paper because of some research aspects that are of my interest. The abstract’s first sentence immediately caught my eye.

In this paper we present a statistical method for inferring historical social networks from biographical documents as well as the scholarly aims for doing so.

I found Six Degrees of Francis Bacon: A Statistical Method for Reconstructing Large Historical Social Networks interesting because it connects with my own work in some aspects:

Historical Analysis

  • They focus on the analysis of historical documents. The authors use automated text extraction elements for inferring networks of personal relations from historical data. It relates to my work on the detecting Lisbon’s historical patterns and the unbuilt Lisbon.

Natural Language Processing

  • They use many NLP and topic modelling techniques that are state of the art practice.

Networks

  •  A Poisson Graphical Lasso statistical method to infer the network from the co-occurrence matrices is used. More elaborate than the simple co-occurrence matrix I used in the survey of architecture floor design network construction. This approach is probably going to be of use for the future revision of the survey work.

Code availability

Use of experts: Peer assessment

  • Curious use of experts to tune the quality of the method. Important to compare with work done on the clustering of floor plan designs. Using experts to create ground truths is common, but they come with their own pitfalls.

American Elections

Vote
Hillary

Aftermath: You didn’t follow advice from a Portuguese low life like myself and now the world is a worse place to live in. You are super, america.

The weirdest thing about Apple’s Touch Bar is that it might be really good

Finally, after so many nights, Apple showed something that might be important for the future of laptops. The Touch Bar. I haven’t written about Apple in a long time. The reason being that the past iterations of the Mac were, well, bland.  But now, I think that this hybrid approach to input in the laptop can work well and hope to see this developed into more products other than just a strip of OLED display above the numbers row.

  • Would a Touch Bar placed between the numbers row and the letters work better for practical purposes?
  • With such a large trackpad, would it be possible to have the Touch Bar technology in the trackpad and make it a secondary screen? akin to a Nintendo 3DS?
  • There is a lot of real estate on the surface of the keyboard. Between palm rests, trackpad and Touch Bar would be possible to make the entire surface a screen? BUT, please never remove the physical keyboard for text input. Well, Apple could make the individual keys mini-screens with variable input according to apps.
  • Imagine swapping the position of the keyboard with the trackpad. The keyboard would be on the edge and the trackpad near the screen. Next imagine a trackpad whose width was equal to that of the keyboard. But even better. The trackpad also was a touch screen. That would really be an amazing touch bar.

Touch Bar: the beginning of a new trend?

These are ideas that would make the MacBook Pro very expensive, but as the technology matures, prices would go down. What I like in the Touch Bar is that the door is now open to an array of possibilities that until now didn’t exist. I don’t think that this implementation of this Touch Bar is that brilliant, but it is all about the potential for the future of laptops. Let’s just hope that the Touch Bar feature becomes useful and not something like Sony’s PS Vita back touchpad.

Research has been trying to find alternatives input method for ages. Voice controlled, stenographic inputs, eye movement controlled input, etc… All very interesting on their own, but nothing until now could supplant a traditional keyboard. Maybe the combination of touchscreen and traditional keys is the way forward.

The problems of upgrading to Apple’s Mac OS Sierra

There you go again, apple releases a new OS and Dave starts bitching about how broken Sierra is. Here’s a list of things that stopped working and that I’m really upset about:

  • I use a different keyboard layout called ColemaP. A slightly optimised version of Colemak. This keyboard layout relies on the Caps Lock key being the BACKSPACE key. Thus, I used a small software called Seil. With Mac OS Sierra it STOPPED WORKING.
  • Outlines, outlines, outlines, some people can run a NASA space program with outlines. I used OmniOutliner for the past 10 years uninterruptedly. It is a great piece of software that simply made outlining easy. Now, with the upgrade to Sierra, it STOPPED WORKING and crashes every time I launch the program.
  • I use GPGTools for singing my emails and encrypting messages — You are encrypting your emails, aren’t you?. It worked great and integrated well with Mail. Guess what? It STOPPED WORKING. Sure, I can still encrypt/decrypt text manually, but the integration with Mail was so nice.
  • Occasional App crashing. It seems that now and then some app refuses to open and crashes with a message. The previous bullet points are systemic errors.  The apps STOPPED WORKING completely. Furthermore, there have been other random cases of computer fury and sadness. Well, let’s see if incremental releases make this Sierra something tamer.

In conclusion, I’m stuck using Sierra, I’m not downgrading right now, even if the Sierra problems persist. But I’m not a happy camper.

Se o arrependimento matasse: A AF-S 35mm f1.8 G é excelente

Há algum tempo disse aqui que achava que a lente AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f1.8 G da Nikon era um mau investimento. Na altura justifiquei essa opinião comparando-a com a 35mm f2 AF-D. A verdade é que não podia estar mais enganado.

Dizer mal de uma lente nem sempre é fácil e se não metermos a mão na massa, … ou se não comermos o pão que amassamos, … BEM, chega de PADARIAS. A verdade é que comprei uma lente AF-S 35mm f1.8 G e com o passar dos meses esta lente tornou-se na tampa dos meus corpos DX. Porquê? Porque apesar de todos os defeitos que esta 35mm tem, produz resultados realmente fantásticos. Não interessa nada o terço de stop extra que possui ou a compatibilidade com os corpos FX ou mesmo a falta da indicação de distância de focagem se no final as imagens produzidas são realmente muito boas.

Todas as lentes tem uma forma diferente de “desenhar” a realidade, com maior ou menor acuidade (definição), ou com maior ou menor contraste, com diferentes curvaturas do plano de focagem—que por vezes não são assim tão planos. Todas estas características ajudam a definir o “caracter” da lente e só passando muito tempo com ela–tal como acontece com a mulher amada–é que se consegue perceber toda a sua riqueza e nuances.

A AFS 35mm f1.8G desenha a realidade de uma forma moderna. As imagens têm bastante acuidade–melhor ainda se o diagrama for fechado 1 ou 2 stops–têm um contraste claramente suficiente (até em excesso para alguém habituado ao desenhar de lentes mais antigas, coisa que o japoneses adoram) e é rápida e silenciosa no funcionamento–algo que a torna uma beleza em street photography. Ao preço que se pode encontrar à venda é uma pechincha que tenho vivamente que recomendar.

MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA. Que bela lente.

Is the Canon EOS M5 a danger to Nikon?

And here we have the Canon EOS M5

canon-eos-m5

It took Canon 4 iterations of the M camera to make finally something that on paper looks a great camera. Four, because There is no Canon EOS M4 as number 4 brings bad luck in Japan — It sounds like the word for death. Had Canon failed (again) and I wouldn’t be worrying about Nikon. The problem is if Canon succeeds with this camera. Then, I don’t know what Nikon will do with their 1 series. Nikon small 1-inch sensor cameras fall just in no man’s land, between compacts and proper APS/full frame sensors.

There are two or three things that I like about this Canon EOS M5. The dual focusing pixels, that allow fast focus, are one. They bring the best of the two worlds with phase detect and contrast based focusing. I also think that Canon EOS M5 sensor will please many Canon fans. Canon produces their own sensors and with Sony, they dominate the digital camera world. This means users will get the same characteristics as in their main bodies. And finally, the in video 5-axis stabilization will allow this camera to be a travel photographers dream.

Nikon APS mirrorless cameras?

Nikon needs to convert the entry level DSLR D3xxx series (with a D3400 just announced pre-Photokina) into a mirrorless camera. Make it in a way that it uses the same sensor and same technology of the lineup, but remove the mirror. Start by trimming the body to a mirrorless shape, create a couple of good lenses for the system, and give an adapter for the existing lenses. That would be a great way for Nikon to (re)enter the mirrorless camera market.

In a time when the Canon EOS M5 might start annoying some executives at Nikon headquarters, they need to reshuffle. Canon has the EOS M5, time for Nikon to play ball.