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Scam update

I still have no functioning drain, and it will flood the cave if there is rain of any quantity.
But I cannot yet look for alternatives, as my complaint has now been taken on by the consumer rights group Que Choisir.

I think it is obvious to just about everybody that this was a scam operation, but there are various legal hoops that need to be jumped through. I cannot call a lying scumbag a lying scumbag. I have to treat it as a real business, make a proper complaint of work not done, give them a proper opportunity to address the problem and rectify it.
It goes better in my favour if it was handled in a sensible manner on my side.

 

As for alternatives? I bought a set of drain rods from Amazon. About €30 from Amazon Warehouse. However the rods aren't really able to go down the input side (too tight an angle to be able to effectively twist the curvy attachement) and from the output side I'm not even sure I'm putting it in the right place. I have a suspicion that the walnut has stuck roots down into the pipework and this is a large part of the problem.

I had the son of a woman I work with come out and look. He has now given me a written quote of €1 116,30.
For that, there will be five metres of 30cm concrete pipe (€140), 0.25 (what? tonnes?) of concrete (€47,25), the use of a mini digger (€225), and fourteen hours of labour (€518). Add to that the usual 20% tax (€186,05) and you have a final amount that is quite a lot, but less than the scammer buggering around for a little under half an hour with a pressure washer.
You've probably guessed that his idea of how to deal with the problem is to simply tear out the old pipe and pop in a slightly larger new pipe, and dig out the ditch to allow it all to drain properly.
That is, probably, the best long term solution.

I just need to wait until Que Choisir tell me that I can get somebody else to do the work. I sent a recorded signed-for letter giving the "company" ten days from reception, which ought to be tomorrow. Que Choisir will also be contacting them, though they advise me that certain companies (I think that's a polite reference to you-know-what) usually ignore the first letter.
If the cave should flood, I'll take dated photos and upload them to Que Choisir. There was a reason why I got in touch with a company to do the unblocking as a matter of urgency, you know...

 

Back online

Nobody came on Saturday at 8am. Colour me surprised.
So at about quarter to nine, as I was walking up to collect the bin, I phoned Constructel to ask why. I was put on hold for a while, then assured that somebody would be with me shortly, they were still at their first job.
The engineer himself called shortly after to say "about an hour and ten minutes".

They arrived at about quarter past eleven. Putting a signal meter into the optic cable, it was reading 34-35. I'm not sure what the scale was supposed to be, out of 100 maybe? So there was some sort of signal, but it wasn't enough for the Livebox to see. Wiggling the optical connectors around didn't improve things.

Then some magic. He popped the cover off of the wall socket and then hooked the cable that normally plugs into the Livebox into a powerful handheld laser. I could see the optical cable glowing a faint red. But better than that, it made all of the problems visual. There was a part where the fine optic cable was wound a little too tightly and it glowed a brighter red. The reason for this is that the light doesn't travel through the glass cable in a straight line, it sort of bounces around inside, the outer sides of the cable act like a mirror. If a bend is too tight it won't be able to bounce, it'll sort of spill out (attenuating the signal).
But more than that, the weld where the fibre in the socket is joined to the fibre of cable from outside was glowing a bright red. To the point where they were surprised that it ever actually worked.
So the brownout was a red herring. It is possible that it was degrading in time and the Livebox kept upping its power in order to compensate, and when the brownout caused it to reboot, it threw in the towel and said "can't use this".

They were also quite surprised that customer support figured that they could 'fix' a problem with the optical connection by replacing the Livebox. I fully agree, the "dodgy update" excuse didn't make much sense, but there you go.

The tech stripped the ends of both bits of the fibre - a ridiculously fiddly process, my eyes are not up to that sort of thing any more - and then put them into his machine that would take the two ends, align them automatically, and then flash something to weld them together.
It took three attempts until there was a good join. A little piece of metal was put alongside to provide support, and the whole thing encased in something akin to hot-melt glue.

Everything replaced and the fine optical fibres carefully wound back up inside (this is the reason why there is a lot of slack), my Livebox rebooted a few times as it got progressive updates. After about ten minutes, most of that being reboot time, everything was back on and working. I have 1Gbit down and about half a Gb up.
Okay, technically I have 2Gb, but on my contract I am arbitrarily limited to 1Gb per device. This doesn't concern me one bit. I don't have anything that could make use of Gigabit. I think WiFi tops out at around 500Mb/sec or so, and while I think the Pi 3B+ has a Gigabit network connection, but it'll max out at around 300Mb/sec as it passes through the host USB 2.0 interface.

I made a number of videos last week (about the scam) and I uploaded them using 4G. Upload times from tens of minutes to hours.
Yesterday I made a video, 6m54s, 1080p, 824MB. It uploaded in less than 30 seconds.
I still find the speed difference of fibre to be mind blowing.

Even better, the replacement Livebox picked up its configuration "from the cloud" so it was basically just get up and roll with the settings that I had already spent quite a while sorting out (the peculiar DHCP assignments, what ports to have open, the DynDNS settings, etc etc).

 

Goodbye Caoimhe

Friday was my final journey home in Caoimhe, my little red Aixam.
My little Aixam GTO
My little Aixam GTO.

I had been looking to get myself a replacement, and the salesman who visited guided me towards a new electric vehicle purchased on a three year "lease with option to buy". This, ironically, works out to be the most cost-effective option for me, as I can put down a first payment of €6,000 which was split up as €1,500 from me (what I had put aside for fixing the ABS), a bonus from the government towards buying an electric vehicle, and the rebate on them taking back Caoimhe. From now, for the next three years, there will be a monthly payment of something like €130. I have cancelled the newspaper (saving €35/month) and should save a little as electricity ought to be cheaper than dead-dinosaur juice. Which means my car will cost about the same as the loan that I took out for Felicity that just sort of ran in the background for four years.

€1,500 plus around €5K spread across 37 months is a hell of a lot more affordable than trying to come up with €6-12K for a second hand car...that might not pass its MOT!
The 5K/37 months will be for the convenience of rental. It won't count at all when I'm given the option to buy. For that, it'll be my initial payment plus making up whatever the difference is from the list price. Well, it's how they make money, obviously. On the other hand, they'll be stuck with a three year old electric car to offload. The salesman said it's not exactly a mature market and people are wary of buying cars with used batteries given the cost of replacements...but this wasn't my problem. ☺ It would work out cheaper for me to simply do the same thing again. A downpayment of ~6K plus ~5K in monthlies. I'm therefore getting a brand new car for three years for ~11K.

The list price of the car is something like €19,850 which is - frankly - utterly ridiculous. But, then, everybody knows that these sorts of cars are horribly expensive.

Which means I have three years in which to stop procrastinating and sort myself a driving licence so I can get a real car for half the price. Don't hold your breath, I don't much like driving...

Looking at my blog, I got Caoimhe on the 26th of February 2021 with 42.6K on the odometer; and her final day with me was yesterday with 66.5K on the odometer.
That's three and a third years (that long?!) and just shy of 24K; or around 7.2K a year (average). Around 6.3K of that is simply going to work.

 

Now, there's one sad thing and one cool thing.

The sad thing is that I never quite plucked up the courage in the four and a half-odd years I've been driving to go down to Clisson. It's around 100km so might have taken me a little over two hours there and again to come back. It would be a better proposition in car that can do 80kph, which isn't one of these. Now it's simply not possible. I don't think I have the range to go one way. The salesman says around 80km is realistic (the website says 130km!).

The cool thing? I have no idea what Caoimhe's maximum speed is. She was sold to me with the speed limiters disabled, and going down the longer hills I have touched around 53kph, but my habitual driving speed is aiming for 48kph, though that's mostly because it was the sweet spot where my first car (Felicity) didn't quite sound as ready to explode and things stopped shaking so much. There's a woman at work who says she's had her car up to 75-80. That's not only ridiculous but must be horrifically stressful on the mechanics. I mean, she is complaining that her gearbox refuses to go into reverse and I'm thinking "hmm, you're telling me that at the same time as telling me that a thing designed for 45 has been running at 80, coincidence?".
I didn't need to know the fastest speed. It was fast enough for me, and given it's a thin aluminium frame with a moulded plastic body, going any faster is downright suicidal.
But, then, I've never been impressed by speed. An expat I sort of knew ages ago was rather annoyed when he was bragging about his Lotus and I made a rather rude gesture at waist level. For starters, a low slung car like that would be damn useless on these country roads (in fact, he damaged his fancy dual exhaust going over a speed hump), most of the main roads were 90kph back then, and the primary routes are 110kph. I think motorways might be 130? But since they are paid routes, mom never used them. She much preferred the smaller routes in order to see things. So the fastest legal speed in France is either 110 or 130, which is well within the range of a generic family car. Mom had no problems doing 110 on the 110 road in the C1. So what's the point of speed? Better good suspension, a powerful (as in torque) engine, and maybe 4WD. In other words, if you want to impress me, turn up in a tractor.

 

Hello electric

Here is my new car.
My new car
My new car.

This is the fifth car that I have purchased in my life (a Saxo for mom to drive, a C1 for mom to drive, Felicity, Caoimhe, and now this) and it's the first one that is an actual new car.

No, she doesn't currently have a name.

I went up to the supermarket shortly after delivery in order to test how she handles. Better to have my first drive on a bright Saturday afternoon than first thing Monday morning with insufficient tea in me.

 

Handling

In terms of handling? Completely different. The first thing to notice is that the accelerator is really stiff. It doesn't have an engine to connect to, so it is just some sort of sensor that feeds to the motor controller, and thus the typical behaviour is replicated with a spring and it's quite a powerful spring.

Accelerator
The accelerator.

Behaviour is quite different, due in large part to the motor being directly connected to the gearbox rather than the pulley system used with the diesel engines. This means that while the older cars would ease into motion as the pulleys engaged and started to change their positions, the electric car is much more immediate in its responses. I came to a stop at the top of the driveway and then pressed the accelerator as I normally would... and skidded. ☺

Deceleration is quite a bit harsher, and in this case the motor briefly switches to be a generator for a tiny amount of regeneration. It could be useful to slow down for turns using that alone, so long as there are no cars behind me (I don't imagine that it puts on the brake lights, so...).

I don't know if the suspension has been redesigned or if it's because the car is new, but it seems to have much better properties to give an even smoother ride. There's a bend near me that I used to slow right down for with Felicity as she always gave the impression of wanting to roll over. I could take that bend full speed with Caoimhe because of better suspension. This car is that, plus what seems like much better shock absorbance - the irregularities of these country roads seem better isolated from the driver.

 

Speed and power

As for speed, as with Caoimhe, it's a lie. When my speedometer says I'm going 50-51, the GPS dashcam says I'm doing 47-48. When I'm doing bang on 45, in reality that's more like 41-42.

There's a little graphic that updates every second showing the power load. It's a terrible thing for somebody with ADHD. However I can tell you that it takes a lot of power to accelerate, especially from a standstill. It also takes a lot of power to go up hills, and the car will slow itself down if the hill is steep enough that the power requirement goes up into the max. I note that my motor is a Mavel and the new cars use a different brand. Maybe they found a more powerful motor? Suffice to say, my car isn't quite as nippy as the test model that I tried a while back.
However this must be put into context with the pulley system really suffering on the hills too. It was rare that the hill into the forest on the way home could be crossed at the top over ~42kpm, and that was with speeding up to enter at ~51kph. If I had a full fuel tank and water bottles from shopping, we'd be looking at the upper thirties by the end. Caiomhe was better, Felicity really suffered the hills.

The gentler hill as I'm nearly home, both Caoimhe and the new car could handle that at full speed. Felicity? Not so much.

 

Slow-mo mode

There's an interesting feature that is a surprise if you discover it by accident but I'd imagine is useful for parking. If you have the handbrake off and you press the brake, then the car is obviously stopped. If you then release the brake, the car will start to move at around 3kph. Pressing the brake stops it.
I could have done with having discovered this while I was parking at the supermarket. I was using the accelerator and, well, it wanted to accelerate more than I needed. So I was sort of bunny hopping like somebody who had no idea how to drive.

 

Lights

Unlike the latest models, this car still has normal lights and not LED ones. It will remain to be seen how this affects the battery as I can see winter being harsh as it'll be cold and I'll need headlights in both directions.

And interesting thing is that there are no sidelights fitted. I drive with sidelights on most of the time (except sunny days). That's primarily for having a red light showing at the back. It's all very well having front daytime lights but a car that is slower than most other vehicles ought to have red lights at the back as well.
So when I switch on sidelights, it keeps the regular daytime lights on and also red lights at the back. That's a good compromise.

There's a big heatsink on the fog lights, I think they may be LED as well. Of course, given their position, they're going to get splattered in mud and whatnot.

Heatsinks on LEDs
Heatsinks on LEDs.

The headlights are still a pain to access (turn the steering wheel, put an arm up into the cavity) but now there is a proper plastic cover to protect the bulb and socket, rather than that dumb rubber boot that left the socket to be exposed to all of the dirty water flung up from the wheel. As you can imagine, this coupled with the high currents used in the headlights used to cause a sort of corrosion that effectively welded the socket to the light, and made it inordinately difficult to change the bulb.

 

A look under the hood

The drivechain is remarkably simple. There's a big BLDC motor which is directly connected to the "pont inverseur". This is a sort of gearbox that allows for forward and reverse.
Motor and gearbox
Motor and gearbox.

At the front (left in the photo) is the large charger unit. My trip to the supermarket and back (about the same as going to work) used about a quarter of the battery capacity. It took about an hour and a quarter to bring this back up to full charge. The charger dropped a load of around 2.2kW, so about the same as my kettle or the immersion heater.

If a unit of electricity costs "about €0,38" (that's the price I pay) then some calculation can get a rough cost of €1 per day for the work commute. Basically, just assume each quarter of the battery will be a euro.

I had been putting in around €18 after around 340km, which is around 12-13 days of driving to work - which works out at around €1,50 per day. It's harder to calculate as the price of fuel fluctuates so much. A couple of weeks back, I paid €20...

So there are a few savings to be made. Though I shouldn't have a heart attack when my electricity bill is €45-50 more. That being said, the price of electricity is going up in extraordinary ways as well (easily around 50% since before Covid), so it remains to be seen what sort of price difference it would work out as in the end.

That being said, the next time everybody goes on strike and there is panic at the pump, I can just drive on by...

Slung under the boot space (where the spare used to be) is a big 48V battery pack.

The biggest battery I have ever owned
The biggest battery I have ever owned.

 

Boot space

This car is longer than Caoimhe and Felicity. This means that it is extremely likely that I can no longer pull the bin up the lane like I used to. I'll have to... I dunno, walk it?
As a result of this, the boot is massive. I didn't want a car this big, but I wanted the better battery autonomy. In the photo below, I have placed the warning triangle at the position of where the previous boot used to end.
A big boot
A big boot.
As with Caoimhe, the rear hatch comes right down to boot floor level.

Because of the size of the boot, making the car maybe a foot longer, I wasn't quite able to do my usual trick of driving towards the back, swinging around at the last moment, and then backing into the hangar. There wasn't enough space to clear the little shed. Maybe if I swing around sooner? Still, it's weird little things like that which can trip you up.

I have also noticed, due to the design of the back, that there is a rather large blind spot between the rear side windows and the back window. I guess I'm going to have to get more confident with using the reversing camera, now that I have a proper built-in one.

 

Interior

Fake leather-like seats and interior decor in a dark grey/black and crimson theme.
Interior decor
Interior decor.

The dashboard is fairly cleanly laid out. There's a swing-needle speedometer on the left and a swing-needle battery gauge on the right.
Between the two is a status LCD that provides the time, outside temperature, forward/reverse indication, odometer, speed as a number, and constantly updating values of the battery temperature and power consumption.
Across the top, the usual indicators. You can see the handbrake is on.

The dashboard
The dashboard.

The air control is a three-speed motor with the usual selection for windscreen/cabin/feet. A simple button turns the heating on and off. Below that, buttons for the electric windows with the hazard lights button in between. On the left, a space where a second USB output should have been. I was told there was one - I'll have to ask if one can be fitted. I need two USB outputs. One for charging my phone on the way home and one for the dashcam. As an interim measure, I have ordered a splitter from Amazon. I think it is some sort of hub which may not work with the media system, but no big as my phone talks to that using Bluetooth.

Ventilation controls
Ventilation controls.

The heater warms up fairly rapidly (about 15 seconds, rather faster than when working from the coolant) which ought to be useful for demisting the windscreen, though it's worth noting that lacking an engine, the heating is not available as a side effect of combusion. In the winter, in addition to the headlights, using the heater would consume battery power.
That being said, I wonder if there might be some worth in providing some heat myself? Say, a small 500W mains heater that I could pop in while making my tea to warm things up before I leave? I don't need the car made toasty inside (in fact, I don't like it too warm), but better than, say, -2!

The heater
The heater, looks like it is power-hungry.

The driver seat position can be adjusted closer/further from the wheel. The passenger seat position is fixed. However something very much appreciated is that the position of the backs of the seats can be adjusted. In Felicity and Caoimhe, the seats were fixed and I prefer to sit more upright when in the car (I was the same as a passenger with mom), and the older Aixam seats felt like I was slouching.

The audio system was a disappointment, but then I listen to symphonic metal rather than the rubbish that passes for pop these days. There was no bass response at all, it sounded like listening to a pair of '80s headphones (you know, the type with the thin shiny metal headband).

The car radio
The car radio.

Thankfully rummaging around brought me some controls so I could set Loudness to medium, Bass boost to +3, and the thirteen channel Equaliser to "Super Bass".
Now my music sounds a little more like I'd expect, though there's only so much that one can expect to extract from little door-mounted speakers.

Looking under the dashboard, I can see a bunch of capped co-ax sockets for the unused channels (there is support for front speakers, rear speakers, and a subwoofer). A future project will be to get a wire hooked up there in order to fit my two larger speakers somewhere and adjust the balance so they output most of the sound (they can cope with it) leaving the door speakers as quieter fill-in. That, in reverse, is how I set up the sound in Caoimhe.

Somewhere to plug in more speakers
Somewhere to plug in more speakers.

Between the door and the steering wheel are two buttons. One is for unlocking the boot, the other is for locking/unlocking the doors.
The doors will automatically lock once I'm doing more than ~10kph, and will unlock automatically when I turn the key switch to the off position.

I have a dumb key that is just a key. This opens the driver door and also goes into the keyswitch.
My other key is a little smarter. It's a flip-out key with a remote control attached. There are three buttons, one (with dimples) for unlocking, one for locking, and one for unlocking the boot.
The boot is a slightly complicated process in order to avoid doing it by accident. You must first unlock the front doors, and then hold the boot button for three seconds.

There are no door lock knobs on the doors themselves.

Finally, the charger cable. A three pin mains socket goes to a five pin bayonet connector.

The charger cable
The charger cable.

It is wired up with Earth being the centre pin. Neutral is the bottom pin (N). Live is the leftmost pin (R1).
The other two pins (S2 and T3) are not connected. Maybe these are for cars that charge off three phase, or something? The connector seems to be inspired by the Type 1 charger cable, but is otherwise seemingly unique to Aixam.
A full charge is quoted as taking 3h40 (which is forever!) and drawing 10A, which would be eight units or around €3.
There is no process for dumping vast amounts of power into the battery like the Tesla Superchargers. But, then, this is a dinky little car designed to plug into a domestic socket.

 

Problems

It's a new car, of course there are issues. Two are mere quibbles, one is slightly more important but not a show-stopper.

Firstly, I as promised a barrier between the boot and the front. I reminded the salesman and he told me that it hadn't arrived yet.

Secondly I was told there were two USB ports. I'd like to have the second one for the dashcam. It looks like it might be rather difficult to fit, so I'm not bothered if it is slung underneath the dashboard instead of visible. Just plug the dashcam into it and leave well alone.

Finally, the indicators are not only lights on the front, but also a glowing bar along the wing mirror. The driver's side one doesn't work. Probably something not plugged in, but kind of wonder how this wasn't picked up on final testing either by the factory and/or the dealer.
Given as how the front indicators are fairly recessed and not on the outsides of the car, this would be one of the main ways to signal to somebody that I am turning left, so it will have to be repaired.

Mirror indicators
Mirror indicators.

 

Shrinkflation

France has a habit of passing new rules on the 1st of January and the 1st of July.
One of the more interesting of these new rules is that supermarkets will be obliged to clearly indicate where a product has suffered shrinkflation; that is to say you get less and the price either remains the same or, worse, goes up. This practice is legal, but has been heavily criticised.

Now a notice must be placed by the product for a period of two months, with wording to the effect of: For this product, the quantity sold has passed from X to Y and its price per (litre/kilogram/etc) has risen by xx% or €xx.
This applies to all goods, whether a well known brand or a shop's own brand. The only exceptions are variable quantity foods (such as the deli counter) and foods sold in bulk; and shops with less than 400m² floor space.

I know my local supermarket no longer sells Pepsi, Ice Tea, or Lay's crisps (and so on, products by PepsiCo) following a disagreement over the prices demanded by PepsiCo, which the U brand felt were absolutely not justified according to the current state of inflation.
I suspect that the disappearance of Philadelphia might have been due to a dispute with Mondelez. Thankfully it has returned because, trust me, Mascarpone is a nice enough spread but it sure ain't Philadelphia!

Philadelphia and crackers
Happiness is crackers and a
fresh tub of Philadelphia.

So maybe this new bit of legislation will shame brands into not trying to price-gouge customers.

It's too late for kitty. She doesn't get Felix much these days. It used to be €14,something for a 48 box (often on sale for around €11). Well, a double whammy of the price going up to nearly €18 and the size of the pouches dropping from 100g to 85g meant that I was like "to hell with this".
I now buy a combination of the shop's own brand (not so good but 100g) or Whiskas which have replaced the price niche that Felix used to be. The size of the pouches are also 85g (I don't recall if they used to be 100g or not) but the price hasn't shot up.

I should probably start buying food in tins and just clingfilm it in the fridge between meals - I think tins are cheaper than pouches by weight. And also far less plastic waste. But, alas, less convenient.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how this transpires in reality. Will suddenly prices start to be stable, or will my local supermarket become festooned with "they're screwing you" notices?

 

A useful kitchen aid

I went to a little local vide grenier recently. I saw a cute solar system poster with smiling planets but when I went back it had already been sold. Not a surprise, really.
I did manage to find something that I've been after for ages.

Dispenser
Dispenser.

Because it was horribly dirty and dusty, the woman let it go for a single euro. I brought it home, spent a while cleaning it up, spraying it down, and then drying it.
Finally, mount it on the wall and pop in some cling film and alu foil. The bottom is for paper roll, but I already have a distributor for that, and besides the rolls I buy are too large for this thing. I'm not quite sure what the top slot is for, freezer bags maybe?
It looks like the list price for this, the Parat Plus, is €26,99. So I'm pleased to have it for a euro. It seems to work okay.

 

Aspergers

I'm not going to go into details, suffice to say that what I know is:
  • Dyscalculia (like dyslexia but with numbers)
  • Dyspraxia (difficulties in coordinating movements)
  • ADHD

Actually, when I was a child, "attention deficit" and "hyperactivity" were two separate things. I have written it as ADHD as the prevalence of the two is so common that it's often just called that.

Following a fair amount of self-diagnosis over the past couple of years, I would identify as autistic, specifically the type that used to be known as Aspergers before people clocked that Hans Asperger was a rather unpleasant person.

Some people who have met me and interacted with me say it's a fair enough assessment. In fact, when I was talking about food preferences, the conversation went a little like this:

There's something more important to me than taste.
Texture.
.....how did you know?
It's quite common for people on the spectrum.
.....is it that obvious?
Oh yes.
I had never mentioned this before to her, but having worked as some sort of nurse with autistic people she became able to identify the behaviours and, well, let's just say that I ticked plenty of boxes. Moreso autism than ADHD in her opinion, though delving into this is all kind of new to me. I mean, I've never felt "normal" (whatever that means) but I've not really had much interest in finding out about it or how it might affect me and who I am.
Until fairly recently. I was thinking, so I suck at maths and have the attention span of a dead gnat and you really wouldn't want me on your rounders team... but how was that so spectacularly different to any other ten year old boy that I was sent away?

Unfortunately France is literally decades behind the UK/USA when it comes to neurological issues. It seems that some of the doctors think it's something that needs to be treated and medicated, while others seem to deny that it's anything other than a fancy name for attention seeking. This mentality is baked into the proper description of the condition, I would "correctly" say that I souffrir des troubles autistiques which literally means that I suffer from autistic problems.
Screw that. I'm not suffering, and I don't particularly regard it as a disability. Granted, I'm on the softer end of the spectrum (say it with me: cerulean!) but I'm looking at the number of bleating sheep saying "Reform for me!" and will willingly vote for a bunch of racist twats led by a shameless grifter... and I'm supposed to be the weird one?

Because of this, I don't think there is much point getting tested in France. I would need to make appointments to see, at my own expense, analysts, psychologists, taxidermists, astrologists, paleontologists, botanists, flautists, and proctologists. They would have to weed out the remotest possibility that I could be your ordinary garden variety sociopath, psychopath, neuropath, hydropath, telepath, towpath, or footpath. Then, and only then, might there be the smallest possibility that I am, in fact, neurodivergent. Upon which case somebody will want me to try this fancy new medicine. Piss off.

Still, I don't like to say that I am autistic as it's a medical diagnosis. However I would now self-identify as autistic. It's a work in progress, working out what this means and what it means to me.

I raised this with my boss during my yearly interview, complete with a printout of a list of behaviours common to people with Aspergers. As she can read English as part of her job, I also let her read one of my childhood psychology reports for context, as in this wasn't something I plucked out of my arse.

Her reply? "I've always known you were special, don't worry about it, your work is good".
Which was a lovely take on things.

As I said, this is all a bit of a work in progress.

 

 

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A tree-dwelling mammal, 1st July 2024, 13:40
The surprise with the car isn't that your new one is drive-by-wire (as you'd expect with an EV) but that the previous one wasn't. 
 
The first car I had (1995 Fiesta) had a throttle cable, but this was connected to a positional sensor on the top of the engine (where the throttle body would have previously been). The Mk3 Fiesta originally had a a single carb engine, but later revisions changed this to fuel injection with electronic engine management. The piddly little 1.1 litre engine in mine had single-point fuel injection, the larger engines (1.4 upwards) had multi-point. 
 
Every car I've had since then (petrol or diesel) has had a position sensor mounted on the accelerator pedal, with a wiring loom going to the ECU. It's just how it's done these days. 
 
Re your dashcam - I fitted one a few years ago and hard-wired it into the fuse box (with an inline fuse). All the cabling is hidden away behind trim panels and tied in to existing wiring looms. Got front and rear, 1440p for front and 720p for rear. With the standards of driving on the UK's roads a dashcam is no longer optional. 
 
I take it Axiam don't have their own range of radio/CD units? That Pioneer unit is normally aftermarket - however it's actually a pretty decent one. I'd suggest (when you're in the mood for fiddling) replacing the factory speakers with some decent aftermarket ones (component if you have the tweeter cutouts or co-axial if you don't) and perhaps Dynamat the doors if you have the time or can be bothered. (Actually this will quieten down the car regardless of the audio system as it cuts out road noise.) 
 
I can testify that the factory-fit speaker drive units in anything but premium brand cars are generally pretty dire. Even then, your mileage may vary (see what I did there?). Fords of old (pre-2005) had terrible speaker drivers for example. Vauxhall at least fitted separate tweeters up front, but the bass/mid was bargain basement. 
 
VW group actually put decent speakers in (so VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda nowadays), as do Mercedes. BMW, however, are only a slight step up from Ford. 
 
Asperger's? Welcome to the club. (And whilst I'm aware that Hans Asperger was a Nazi, I still prefer to distinguish it from 'classic' autism.) 
 
Best description I ever heard was that "it's not a processing error, it's like running a different operating system". Kinda like being a Mac in a PC environment. (Or running RISC OS? Maybe that's why we all took to it so much?) 
 
I was lucky enough to get a formal diagnosis. Unfortunately it took until I was 35 before it actually happened. If you were still living in the UK then it would probably be worth pushing for a formal diagnosis, but as you say, the situation in France is somewhat behind the UK.
David Pilling, 1st July 2024, 13:45
Pre-heating the car is a good idea - sort of turn it into a storage heater. Do they sell storage heaters for cars...'parking heaters' There are places where pre-heating cars is a thing - Canada, probly places where evs will be a long time being accepted. 
 
There's a lot of trouble over truck drivers idling engines to keep warm, and in truck stops they've a thing that supplies warm air via a connector that fits in the window when it is wound down a bit. 
 
Interesting to see the voluminous boot and the modest size of the battery pack - Mr Range Anxiety is saying you could have a couple of spare battery packs in there. 
C Ferris, 1st July 2024, 14:47
I wonder if Rick could be allowed to recharge at work?
Rick, 1st July 2024, 15:21
The first two cars had a very basic two cylinder diesel engine. They'd probably survive a bomb drop as there was nothing intelligent. No ECU, nothing. 
 
The fusebox is up front under the lip behind the bonnet. 
 
No, no recharging at work. They're supposed to be fitting PAY charging points, but nothing as yet. Probably not enough of us to justify doing it yet. 
Yes, pay. Otherwise people without EVs will be "why are you paying to charge his car? pay our petrol too!" etc etc. Office politics and people thinking somebody is getting something they aren't...pain in the arse, all that.
A tree-dwelling mammal, 1st July 2024, 18:44
There'll be a 12V ignition switched feed going into the back of the radio. You can tap into this to feed the mini-USB regulator for the dashcam. It uses so little power that it'll be fine, then hide all the wires and it just runs automatically. This was how I connected the sat-nav in my last car (the current one has it built in). 
 
This is where I think a touch of OCD comes in. Or paranoia. Or maybe having a younger brother with severe learning difficulties. Either way, having cables trailing around the cabin == bad. Hard-wire everything and hide the wires. 
 
Re EV charging - if you have an EV it's then worth having solar PV installed at home. You can get at least some of your mileage for free that way.
Rick, 1st July 2024, 19:14
Solar panels - I can't take justify several thousand to save several hundred... 
jgh, 2nd July 2024, 00:44
"I don't imagine that it puts on the brake lights" 
 
This is turning into a major-ish issue. When brake lights were invented, they were required to indicate to following traffic that the vehicle was actively slowing down. Manufacturers implemented this by turning the lights on when the brake pedal was pressed - as that is how you instruct a a car to actively slow down, as opposed to just not accellerating. 
 
Now, when electric cars came along, manufactures naturally did the same. The brake lights indicate that *the* *break* *pedel* *is* *being* *pressed*. *NOT* that the car is actively slowing down. This makes a difference in an electric car, because the regeneration system can chose for itself to actively slow down the car - regardless of whether the brake pedel is being pressed. 
 
This results in some occasions when the car is actively downing down, but the "actively slowing down" lights don't come on, because the driver isn't the entity activating the "slow down" process. 
 
The Technology Connections chap has a u-bend video discussing this "We need to rethink brake lights". 
A tree-dwelling mammal, 2nd July 2024, 12:42
It cost me £5,500 to have solar installed here (4.5kW array with a 3.6kW inverter). Based on the highly unscientific method of comparing an electricity bill for month 'X' with the same month the year before I had the panels installed, I was saving around £800 a year whilst I was on the 5-year fixed energy deal from 2018, ie before the prices shot up. At current prices I'm probably saving around £1,200 a year on electricity. So the system will pay for itself in 5 years. (And that's before I get a rebate for selling spare electricity back to the grid, I'm expecting this will shorten the break-even period to 4 years.) 
 
jgh - I still have a diesel at present (and I'm planning to keep it until it's completely life expired). When I lift off the power I get a strong engine braking effect, even more so in the lower gears. For example there's fairly steep hill on the A38 south of Exeter. If you're heading north (coming from Plymouth) it's downhill. There's also a speed camera halfway down the hill to catch out the unwary. 
 
The last time I drove along this I noticed many cars dragging the brakes all the way down the hill. Me? I just dropped down to 5th gear (I have a 6-speed box) and let engine braking hold me at 70mph. No need to touch the brakes AT ALL. 
 
Now, in this case, is the car "actively" or "passively" slowing down? I would have said passively as you're not pressing a pedal or anything, but the engine itself is holding you back. 
 
And if you do something on a motorway that makes your brake lights come on, then (unless it's an emergency) you've done something wrong. Plus if you brake, so does the car behind, then the one behind that, etc etc, until you have a cascade of brake lights sweeping down the motorway like a Mexican wave, and causing a 'phantom' traffic jam. Hence why I would say that brake lights should only come on if you press the brake pedal (or if you have some sort of active automatic emergency braking system), not just slowing down during normal driving.
jgh, 3rd July 2024, 17:14
When I passed my test my car was a 2.5litre Rover that drove and drank like a tank. When it died I got a little Corsa. A few days later I was tootling along the M1 and glanced at the speedo. I was doing 95! Eeek! I slowed down - by removing my foot from the accelerator. Yes, you don't plonk your foot on the brake on a motorway (or any high-speed road) unless it's vitally needed, let friction reduce your speed. "safe, controlled deceleration" 
 
Unfortunately, this caught me out a couple of years ago. Tootling along at 70, suddenly entered a road repair zone with signed 50 and speed cameras. As per my habit and training, I didn't slam on the brakes, just let go of the gas and used the brake to enter a gentle deceleration curve so nobody would rear-end me. Unfortunately, that was too slow for the speed cameras and I got snapped doing 60 in the first 100m of the 50 zone. mutter mutter, penalised for "safe, controlled deceleration". 
Rick, 3rd July 2024, 20:48
"<I>not just slowing down during normal driving</I>" 
 
Exactly then. If you're on a motorway, you have expectations regarding what speed everybody is doing, along with lane discipline so that grannies can stay on the left, BMW drivers can hog the middle lane, and your can go round that lot on the right. 
 
However if at any point you need to adjust your speed DOWN, regardless of how, then the brake lights should come on to warn those behind that you are slowing down. 
Not for the entire duration of using engine braking to keep you at 70, but certainly from the point where you go from 90 down to 70. 
There's enough tech in modern cars that this shouldn't be hard to figure out.
Rick, 3rd July 2024, 20:50
As for me, given that I don't think regen braking puts on the brake lights (like it ought to), I only use it when there are no cars behind me. If there are cars, I use the brakes (there's still some regen, just less).

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