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Since I have been writing a bit about vehicle fuels, I figure you may be interested as well in the subject of this article on Ars Technica: “One way to curb freight emissions: Put trucks on an electric catenary system“.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) office in Los Angeles is using a very old principle to electrify a stretch of road near the seaport, for trucks equipped with both an electric engine and an autonomous engine (actually, they’re trying three different motorisations, including a natural-gas hybrid-electric truck).

The eHighway uses electrified catenary lines along a stretch of road that trucks can connect to for electric power—exactly like trolley or light rail lines that offer electric public transportation in a multitude of cities today. The difference, however, is that the trucks don’t run on a rail, and they can disconnect from the catenary and run on independent engines when they get to the end of the line.

I can’t see this system being used for all vehicles, but it might be a good solution to electrify industrial domains that require a lot of more or less local traffic, like ports…

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Having just bought a car with the somewhat strange designation ‘g-tron‘ made me pay attention when I noticed an article in The Atlantic, titled “The Suffix That Tells the Story of Modern Science. Why did words that end in “tron” once sound so futuristic?“. Here’s an interesting quote: in the twentieth century, the suffix ‘tron’ was…

…a proud and optimistic emblem of the electronic and atomic age. It was a totem of high modernism, the intellectual and cultural mode that decreed no process or phenomenon was too complex to be grasped, managed, and optimized. The suffix emblazoned the banners of nuclear physics’ Cosmotron, modern biology’s Climatron, and early AI’s perceptron—displaying to all our mastery over matter, life, and information.


It is too soon to know whether the Audi ‘g-tron‘ range will turn out to be future-proof. Electricity will be the fuel for vehicles, factories, and more at some point in the future. But I am not convinced that the current battery technology will be enough to make that possible. And anyway, Audi also has the ‘e-tron‘ moniker to cover that part of the future.

So far, I have driven our new Audi A3 g-tron for almost 700 km. I’m still adapting to the S-tronic automatic shifting – this as, after all, my first car in 40 years that does not have manual shift. But other than that it’s a pleasant experience to drive this vehicle, with all its little extras that make life easier behind the wheel.

All the time the car has run on CNG. What does that mean in practice? Well, current fuel consumption is about 5.3 kg per 100 km. At today’s price that means it costs me less than 5€ to drive 100 km. Compare that to my previous A3 (a 2005 model with the 1600 petrol engine) than consumed about 7.5l per 100 km, costing more than 9€ for that same distance. And not only is this one cheaper to run, it’s also cleaner: less CO2, less fine particles, etc.

Getting ready for new winter tyres!

Audi claims that this car has a range of 400 km when running on CNG, and many publications reprint that number without much discussion. One thing is clear: that estimate is very optimistic (as usual, no?). I drive mostly in a very urban environment, with relatively short runs. That makes my range in reality something like 250 to 270 km. That’s better than most electric cars in this price range, and I still have a 50 liter petrol tank as a backup. I’m not complaining!

Over on ISO 1200 Magazine, Mattias Burling has published a nice comparison of the qualities of four cameras, in order to answer the question: “What if I could only pick one camera?“. The comparison is quite objective, so I urge you, just like one of the commentators, to watch the video all to the end.

Click to see the video on Youtube

A few (5 or more?) years ago, I was looking into PGP as a way to encrypt email. At some point, I bookmarked the Keybase homepage… and then forgot about that link, just like so many other URLs about PGP – PGP was pretty hard to use in those days. At that time, if I remember correctly, Keybase promised a way to store (and publish?) PGP keys.

While cleaning up the bookmarks section of my browsers I stumbled upon that URL again, and, unlike many other websites, Keybase is still up and running. Better yet, they seem to have succeeded in making a tool that could actually be useful and uncomplicated at the same time. In their own words:

Keybase is for anyone. Imagine a Slack for the whole world, except end-to-end encrypted across all your devices. Or a Team Dropbox where the server can’t leak your files or be hacked.

(Click to go to the Keybase website)

Creating an account and adding a device to your account is a simple and painless procedure. Why would you do so? Well, I’m still exploring the possibilities. One thing to do with Keybase is to authenticate accounts on systems like Twitter and Github. Keybase allows you to store (and share) files in an encrypted format over an encrypted channel. And the (encrypted) chat function has recently been extended with a Team chat that is supposed to resemble Slack. “Supposed”, because I haven’t been able to check that out – you need multiple members to make up a team ;-)

Anyway, it’s certainly an interesting product, and I intend to do more than keep an eye on Keybase!

On my g-tron overview page I have only published a stock Audi picture. Here’s a first picture of the car we actually bought, just after we took it for a test drive.

On this picture it may look aggressive, but in reality it isn’t that much of a beast. It’s just a very nice car ;-)

Since a few days, there’s another firmware update for the Samsung Galaxy S7 here in Belgium (and probably elsewhere too, of course). The announcement did not promise a major update to Android, although the download was more than 400MB:

After the installation, rebooting the S7 triggered a message that said a number of application were being upgraded – but the docs mention none of them explicitly. In the end, what counts most for me is a more current security patch level: that is now up to October 1st, 2017. Unfortunately, that won’t include any defence for the KRACK attack which was made public at the end of October…