Growing Lemons

I’ve extended the house with a large glassed area. We call it the orangeri, which is a lie, since what grows there are lemons. So how do you grow lemons in Sweden?

First of all, you have a hole straight through the construction of your house all the way down to the soil underneath.

Then you send a child down the hole to clean out any left over gravel and stuff from the construction to get a good connection with the soil you pour in from the top. Also, add double layers of plastic to avoid getting the house wet.

Then you take a tree, and way too many bags of soil and assemble it into the gigantic pot you’ve just constructed.

You might notice the pile of styrofoam to the right. There is a vent there which needs a cover. Good thing I have a 3D printer. Designed using FreeCAD.

The tree came with a lot of lemons, so last spring consisted of lemon icecream, lemon drinks, lemon cakes, and various dishes requiring lemon (schnitzel – yay!). But how has it fared in my care? Apparently not too bad. It is taller and wider, and it carries a whole bunch of lemons in the making.

And yesterday I finally picked the first lemon of my making. I almost feel like a parent. I pollinated the flowers with a small brush, I watered the tree, and now I can enjoy the fruits. I just need a few more to be able to do a batch of icecream.

Home Charging

I recently wrote about my experiences in driving a fully electric car. Today, the electrician dropped by and installed a charging box in my garage. Finally I can do 11kW charging from home, at the lowest possible price.

The box was installed super late as the eesee box that I initially ordered was banned from selling in Sweden this spring, so now I’m trying Zaptech. I guess the next step is to install it in home assistant and see where it gets me!

Revisiting the PinePhone

I’m cleaning up my office. Like properly. Going to the city dump multiple times. That sort of cleaning. In the process I encountered my old PinePhone that somehow got lost in the lack of free time back when I bought it (KDE still got some money out of it, so the purchase still made sense).

I was happy to see that after a short charge, it actually booted. The installation was ancient, so I tried for an update of the system which failed miserably. Something in the session management failed – I’ve seen this error before on desktop machines when doing funky stuff to the GUI stack.

This resulted in me booting it from an SD card with the latest Plasma / Manjaro image. This process worked really well – but the phone runs really slow from my cheap SD card. A short download, unzip (took ages again, extracting 1.1GB to 6+GB on an already slow SD card takes patience) and some dd action, and the phone boots a fresh install from the internal eMMC again. Much snappier.

After this I did a quick system update and this time it worked like a charm – nice!

Recalling why I wanted a Linux phone (and not an Android) – I got nostalgic about the convergence story. Tangent – I’ve run the N900, N9 and the first Sailfish phone – all as daily drivers.

Let me put it like this: the whole convergence story sort of works, but doesn’t work. I’m not sure if the screen is too big, the phone is too old, or something else, but the whole thing just turns unstable. It does find its feet again when I unplug the USB-C connector, though.

So where does this leave me? I still have a great looking Plasma based phone. I’ll try to tinker with it and follow the development cycle along, but I’m unfortunately too dependent on a working phone experience to use it as my daily driver today.

Driving Electric

As promised, here comes a post about living with my first fully electric car. In March I received my MG5.

So, let’s get the range question out of the way. My last car was a fairly lean diesel (a BMW E61 with the 2.0L diesel) and my personal record was 1350km on one tank of diesel, but I could do 1000km easily. The MG claims to do 380km. On a nice spring day on the smaller roads (so doing ~70-80kph) I can do 400km without too much effort. On a day with heavy rain trying to do 100kph, I’m happy if I can do 300km. It will be interesting to see how this car fares in winter conditions (cold + thick slush covering the road).

Given that the charging speed is a variable thing, it took a couple of weeks getting used to it, but now I do longer trips quite comfortably.

I consume ~16-17kWh/100km. If I want to do highway speeds (in Sweden that means 100 – 135kph) I need to calculate ~25kWh/100km. The battery pack carries 61kWh of charge. You do the math.

To refill the 61kWh, there are a range of options, but the three categories are:

  • single phase charging from a normal power outlet, ~2kW, so 10km/h
  • three phase charging from a public charging station (soon at home too), ~11kW, so 50km/h
  • DC charging from a public charging station, ~95kW, so 475km/h

The interesting part here is the variability of the prices. At home I can charge for ~1SEK/kWh. Public stations in my home town vary between 3-4SEK/kWh – but I’ve seen stations as low as 2SEK/kWh and as high as 8SEK/kWh when travelling. For DC charging, the price seems to hover around the 9-10SEK/kWh point. The exception to this is Sk√∂vde where all public charging stations costs 2.5SEK/kWh regardless of power output last time I checked.

Another thing to factor in is the ridiculous number of apps needed to charge. I need two for my, rather small, home town, and have 12 in total at the moment. It would had been nice if the outlet could negotiate the price and payment with the car, so that I just approved the price and could get on with my life.

For my needs, I’ve been able to survive on the 2kW charger since March, but sometimes had to use a public 11kW charger to fill it up before longer trips. But for my summer house trips (200km, one way, only single phase charger there), as well as my semi-daily commute (~50km, one way, charging at home) it just works.

The longest trips I’ve done this far is ~600km, and it has worked out. Once I got stuck in a charging queue due to Easter and a game being played at the local arena. That made me ~2h late, but apart from that, it has just worked.

There are other factors to take in as well. The air conditioning system of the MG is the worst I’ve ever encountered. It fogs up if there is rain in a 100km radius from the car, and the fans always blow a lot of air, despite the temperature being ok in the car.

When it comes to infotainment I’m a damaged human being, but it will have to be a separate post. If anyone from MG/SAIC wants my input – reach out – I’m here to help :-)

Otherwise the car does what the box says. It delivers the range. It comfortably drives five people. It fits a bit of luggage.

For the next car I’ll definitely go electric again. All I want is a 6 or 7 seater that does not cost an arm and a leg. Let’s see what’s on the market in a few years time.

First Week of Work and School

As the first week of work and school comes to an end, I realized that this 100 days to offload is harder than predicted. I partly blame that I got the traditional going-back-to-work cold, but I guess I also have less time to spend on fun stuff like writing.

This week has been about cleaning up.

I’ve started to clean-up my backlog of foss-north video recordings. I’ve got some 12GB of videos rendered, and I’m not even halfway. For next year we really need to do something about the audio recording situation, but it is what it is and it will have to do.

I’ve also contacted a lawyer to help me clean up some personal stuff that I need to complete, given my new family situation. It is not hard, I just find myself procrastinating instead of doing the paperwork. By paying someone (a lot) I guess I will be more focused at completing the task.

Finally, I’m cleaning out stuff from my office and garage. The office simply needed cleaning. If I intend to keep a collection of keyboards, I probably need to make sure they fit somewhere. But it is getting there. I need to reorder the stuff in my shelves to make for a nicer video call background though :-)

I’m cleaning the garage to make room for the electrician who will come and install a charging box for my new, all electric, car. More about this in another post – but it will be nice to be able to do three phase charging at home instead of just 2kW.

All in all – a productive week!

Weekend topic: Music

It’s weekend time, so I thought I’d write about a lighter theme, so why not music.

This week I’ve been listening to the following albums.

As you can tell, it’s still vacation (last week) so not much coding music, but music that requires a bit more attention. Still, I enjoy them all.

This post is a part of my 100 days to offload effort.

The What, How and Why

I’ve thought a bit about learning a skill. How to progress. What the next steps are. This is probably because I’ve moved away from what I thought I used to be, career wise, to something else, and now I’m trying to determine what I will do when I grow up.

The only way to learn a skill is to actually perform the task. To do it. This ranges from the very basics – crawling, walking, running, cleaning your room, and so on. You can get inspired from a million YouTube videos and blog posts, but to learn to do something yourself, you need to do it yourself.

If we look at programming. This is something I’ve done since I was ~12. I know how to code. I can tell when other people know how to code. They get it. Then it is not as much about what language or framework to use. Instead they understand the concept of code. How to solve problems using code.

There is a tangent here about tools and frameworks and how the volatility of this side of the trade ruins my conception about knowing how to code, but let’s save that for later.

My issue with coding is that it quickly becomes “pick another ticket”. What intrigues me is the what to do, which leads to two very interesting questions – why? and how?

The why is interesting because it moves from the art of implementing code to the mysteries of figuring out what the customer whats. This quickly leads to business and how can we have a sustainable customer relationship. Something that is even more interesting when it comes to open source, as the customer is more empowered and in many ways acts as a partner instead of a customer.

The how is also interesting. Especially when you look at the question through the lens of a large project that will take time to build, or through a corporate lens. This is where methodology comes into play. I hate to say agile, because it means so many things, but there are supports that can be used to support both agile and less agile ways of working. I’m thinking of automation. Automated builds, automated tests, automated deployments, infrastructure as code (i.e. some sense automation of the automation). There is a mountain of non-recurring engineering that each software organization must climb to be productive.

For me, these stages came as a linear progression. First I did, then I thought about what to do, when why and how, but they are interconnected. There are various feedback loops hidden, which both limits and drives the progression of the product and team.

Looping back to the original question – what do I want to do when I grow up – I’ve started to circle in towards building teams. I’m still to fully define this, but this would be to help drive the why, how and what to provide purpose and a nice work place for a development team. The question I’m asking myself right now is towards whom to define the why, how and what. It very interesting to do it directly to the end customer, but in a corporate setting, that is rarely the case. Then, instead, this must be defined in relation to the surrounding organization, and how to do this in a good way is still something where I’m in the do stage.

Do you want me to dive deeper in any particular direction, or have thoughts of your own? Reach out to me in the comments or at Mastodon.

This post is a part of my 100 days to offload effort.