Tesla Model S – My First Two Months.

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A lot has already been written about people’s experience owning a Tesla Model S, as well as their experiences purchasing and waiting for delivery. From the owners themselves, most of what I have read has been positive. I’m not sure who the Tesla haters are, but there sure are a lot of them as I keep coming across articles that bash the car and the company. The consumer reports article retracting their recommended status of the Model S due to reliability issues is the most baffling. I have only been a Model S owner (85D) for two months, so I can’t really speak to the reliability of the car over time, but I’ve owned quite a few cars in my life and most of them have had some form of reliability issue in the first year. For a company that has only been building cars for 4 or 5 years, it seems to me that some issues are to be expected. Although I haven’t had to use their service department, I have read that it is second to none. My car appears to be well built, solid, tight, strong and elegant. The experience I have had from ordering to owning has been so positive, I almost welcome a reason to go back to the Tesla store to visit them. If the car does not show any reliability issues, maybe I’ll just go for a visit.

Haters

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I have had the opportunity to take a couple of “haters” out for a ride. I call them haters and that may be a little harsh, maybe ICE lovers or Dinosaur Burners would be more appropriate, but really most of them are the misinformed or skeptics. Not sure I changed their mind as I would still get comments about the inconvenience of charging and little digs about them passing me on the highway when I run out of battery. Even if I didn’t change their mind, they were certainly impressed with the performance. On the weekend we were visiting the wife’s grandparents in Wheatley, Ontario and this gave me an opportunity to take her grandfather (Jake) out for a ride to the Comber Supercharger for a top up. Before we left he had a lot to say about how nice it looked, but how he would never want an electric car. He talked about some of the cars he had in his day like the Morris Minor, the Studebaker and the T-Bird. Then off we went to Comber, only a 23 KM drive up straight country roads. I wish I took a picture as he was truly amazed. Not just amazed by the acceleration, but how quiet, smooth and comfortable the entire ride was. As we drove I explained the touch screen controls and how the navigation system helps you manage your consumption. Every so often Jake would remind me that there are cops on this road quite often and I should watch my speed. We pulled into the supercharger in Comber that is conveniently placed right off the 401 beside a Tim Hortons. I backed into the spot, plugged in and asked Jake if he wanted a coffee. He did not, so I got in the car and showed him the charging details. The car was charging at a blistering 535 km/h. When we got there I was at 230 km, so it wasn’t long at all before I had put 100 km on the battery and told Jake we were done. He was amazed at the speed of the charge and even more amazed when I explained that is cost me nothing. Normally the trip down to Wheatley from Aurora in our Pathfinder would cost me over $100 in gas for the round trip.

Commuting and Daily Charging

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My daily commute is about 30 km each way from Aurora to Markham. Down a few residential roads, out to a couple of main roads and then on the the highway for about 20 km. My office is just off the highway and can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on traffic conditions. I charge the car every night as most do. I mostly charge to 90% and that gives me 390 km every morning. It is one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning this car. It is full every morning. When I wake up in the morning one of the first things I do, even before a shower and a coffee, is open the Tesla App on my phone and warm up the car. This has two advantages, one that is obvious and the other that I learned through reading some cold weather tips on the Tesla Motors Club site http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/entry.php/194-Cold-Weather-Driving . Heating up the car also heats the battery pack, making it more efficient. Doing so when plugged in means you are not draining the battery while the car warms up. Nothing nicer than getting into a toasty warm car on a cold fall morning  (I haven’t gone through a winter yet). Before the recent software upgrade, I was using the Adaptive cruise control quite often. The last part of my commute on the highway is stop and go and the adaptive cruise control makes it bearable. Now that I have the upgrade that will auto steer along with the adaptive cruise control, my commute could not be more enjoyable. All I have to do is watch. And what I’m watching for are idiot drivers that think it is still ok to text and drive, or put on makeup and drive. How about the morons that decide that when they put their indicator on that it is their right to move over. The autodrive function is not perfect, but it will only get better over time and it has made my commute an absolute joy!

Tesla Killers

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Why do articles keep coming out talking about the next Tesla Killer? All of these are concept cars that are not even in production. Tesla makes a real car that goes over 400 km on a single charge. No one else can make this claim. The so called killers have not invested in the high speed charging infrastructure that Tesla has with their Superchargers and will be scrambling to catch up if at all. Until another car is in production I wish they would stop this rhetoric.

Superchargers, Destination Charging and Plugshare

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It wasn’t until I found the plugshare site http://www.plugshare.com/ that I was truly aware of how big the EV world has become. The number of destination chargers is overwhelming. Restaurants, hotels, retail outlets and businesses all participating in this revolution. Even people sharing their home chargers for those in need. Most of what I have seen is free. A service provided by a hotel or restaurant in the hopes that you will use their services. A recent trip out to Thorold (near St. Catherines) to see a customer, had me research and find a coffee shop in the downtown area. I picked up my customer, drove to the coffee shop, plugged in and off we went for lunch. After lunch we went into the coffee shop and bought a couple of coffee’s as a thank you for letting me use their charger. I then put a good review on the plugshare site. Everyone wins! In this case not only did the coffee shop benefit, but so did the restaurant we went to close by. Neither of these places would have been on our radar had it not been for plugshare.

Supercharges are truly an awesome thing. I have visited 3 superchargers since getting my Model S. Barrie, Woodstock and Comber. On a trip up to Parry Sound I stopped in at the Barrie charger just to see where it is. It was my first week with the car and I still had a little range anxiety. On the way back we stopped in for a real charge. Not far off the highway and close enough to the Cabelas for a little shopping. 30 minutes in the store, a $40 purchase and back to a warm charged car. We used the Woodstock charger on the way to and from our Wheatly trip. Very close to the highway with lots of eating options around. In the time it took to get a coffee and go pee I had enough charge to get us home. http://supercharge.info is a great resource for seeing where the superchargers are, new ones under construction and those that have secured permits. I really hope the 2016 expansion in Canada is as aggressive as Tesla have indicated. http://www.teslamotors.com/en_CA/supercharger

Planning your trip the key to avoiding any range anxiety. If you are taking a route that passes by superchargers you have no worries. Trips that are not along those paths (and there are still lots in Canada) need to be planned out a little more, but there are so many options. Our trips up to our Trailer on Pigeon Lake is about 115 km. I have more than enough for the round trip, but I plug into the available 110V outlet in my shed anyway. At only 6 km/h of charging it is not much, but I’m there for the weekend anyway. This allows us to do day trips into Peterborough, Lindsay or Bobcaygeon if we choose. Although it is not recommended to use an extension cord for charging, I carry one anyway, just in case.

Our Cisco Cius finally pooched!

After about 3 1/2 years our Cisco Cius finally bit the dust. The Battery has expanded and popped our of the battery housing.

When I first did a review on it,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPUfOHz7boc I was pleased with the quality of the phone itself, however it only ever ran Android 2.2 and was obsolete almost immediately. It locked up often and sometimes did not attach to the docking station correctly. It did not take Cisco long to take it off the market.

I am now using a DX650 that has a great quality touch screen and runs Andriod 4.1.1. After a while of use is slows down and makes it hard to even dial numbers. I just did a Firmware upgrade on it so I’m hoping that problem goes away. The screen itself does not detach from the phone, but unlike the Cius, this seems to work all of the time.

A couple of things still have me perplexed regarding the Jabber app on the phone, as it always has me as available even when my laptop is shut down. I’m not sure yet how multiple Jabber clients are handled by Cisco, as I also have it running on my cell phone. It would appear that I am always available….

Fibre Cut MTTR

Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and Service Level Agreements (SLA) are terms thrown around by the carriers as if they really mean something. Trust me, they mean nothing. Typically a fibre circuit has a MTTR of 4 Hours. If you rely on this MTTR as something that will ensure you are back up and running in 4 hours, be warned. You need a backup circuit. As I write this post, one of our customer’s fibre circuits at the head office has been down for 22 hours. The techs working on the fibre cut went home last night, we don’t know why, it could be a union thing, or they ran out of cable. Whatever the case, the circuit is still down and the customer’s remote offices have little to no connectivity to their head office.  The customer will be able to apply for a 10% credit of the monthly cost of that circuit from the carrier. It is no wonder that carrier is in no hurry to pay overtime to get it fixed. The costs would far exceed the penalty.

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Most carriers have reworded the term SLA to SLO. The service level agreement is now a service level objective. Yet another out for them, as an objective really means best effort.

The solution to all of this is having a backup circuit that is connected, configured and tested. Test the backup quarterly to ensure that it will work as expected. There is nothing worse than having a backup that doesn’t work. When signing a contract with that carrier, pay little to no attention to the MTTR and SLA, as you cannot rely on it 100%. You can always try and negotiate bigger penalties, but whatever the penalty is, it won’t get you back up and running any faster, and if you do business on the Internet or rely on Private circuits to connect your branches your up time is worth more than any penalty you would be able to negotiate.

Wireless Networking Challenges: Part 2

A few posts back I talked about some real world challenges in wireless deployments. You can read that here.

In a recent FCC ruling Marriott were “fined” $600,000 for intentionally blocking consumers that were inside their conference facilities. Read the story here.

I am sure Marriott had no idea they were violating the law. They just want to get an ROI for the Wireless infrastructure they built, but this goes to show how immature the world of wireless still is.

Cisco have a feature in their Wireless Lan Controllers (WLC) that allows it to send DEAUTH messages to users trying to connect to AP’s that the WLC believes are Rogue. If it is illegal to do this, then why is the feature available?

We are currently experiencing this issue with one of our customers and finding the AP or WLC that is sending the DEAUTH messages to our legitimate Wireless network is proving difficult. Essentially this is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. And it seems to me that this problem is only going to get worse, as the number of Wireless devices is growing at a staggering rate and everyone will want their wireless networks to be free and clear of interference and unauthorized devices. Wireless is everywhere and it is here to stay. We are going to need to find some better ways of managing interference.

One mans Wireless Network is another mans Interference.

How to Handle Managed Services during a Major Outage.

As a Managed Service provider it is imperative that we staff our Support Centre optimally. Having enough staff to answer calls and deal with issues quickly is necessary to ensure continued customer satisfaction. The Erlang C formula is is used to determine the number of agents or customer service representatives needed to staff a call centre. What is doesn’t do is tell you how many agents you’ll need when we have a incident like we did yesterday (Wednesday Sept 17th), when it appears that the google DNS servers were victim to some sort of DOS attack.

One of our customers was hit hard by this attack and their 300+ locations were essentially down. When the calls start coming in, there are not enough agents (based on the Erlang C Formula) to handle the call effectively and customers begin to fill up the call queues. How do you handle this???

We implemented a process called “Code Red” and Yesterday was the first time we used it. It was a huge success and not only did it ensure a positive customer experience, it brought departments that do not normally interact, together.

The Code Red process is simple and works like this. Once the Support Centre realizes there is a major outage then send an email/IM to the entire company that simply states “Code Red”. All Staff, Executives, Management, Sales, Administration, Accounting, Professional Services, Technology report to the support centre, are assigned a phone and start taking calls. This allows the technical staff to continue to work on issues that can be worked on, while the reset of the team can handle calls, explaining to the affected users that there is a major outage and we are working on it. Each call is logged and entered into a master ticket.

It was awesome to see it in action. As we all took our seats, one of our Network Professionals wrote instructions on the big white board that included the Master ticket number, what information to collect and what to tell the customer.

At the same time another of our network professionals recorded a custom greeting in the affected call queue, explaining to the customers that there is a major outage and that we are working to get it resolved. This step alone cut down on the number of calls we had to handle dramatically, as most customers just want to know what’s going on and be assured that someone is working on it.

I was extremely pleased with all of our staff. They handled the situation quickly and effectively. Everyone got to experience the Support Centre and got an appreciation of the kind of work these guys and gals are exposed to every day, and the support staff were appreciative of the support they received from the rest of the company. And to top it all off, the customer, while not happy that they were down in the first place, received a level of support that I can confidently say is second to none.

Monitoring Wireless Capacity

In my last post,  http://wp.me/ps6Jj-am I talked about wireless network challenges, what to look for and how to plan properly for a deployment. I talked about planning for capacity to ensure you don’t go over a certain number of users per AP.

So, the next challenge becomes, how do I ensure that as I grow I don’t begin to exceed the optimal number of users per AP.

This is where advanced network monitoring can help mitigate issues before they become a problem. In the past a network monitor would poll or ping an access point to ensure it is available on the network. Although this is helpful it does nothing to monitor capacity.

Capacity planning is critical to any network management system. Bandwidth, CPU and Memory needs to be monitored on all your network devices. Each configured with a baseline that will alert you when that baseline is exceeded.

Recently we added some new capabilities to our Network Management System to cover Wireless Capacity Monitoring. Our monitors allow me to set the number of associated users threshold to the number of my choosing, either per AP, per Controller or any combination thereof. If the threshold is reached I can either send an email, log, open a ticket in our system, run a WEB service to another system, run a SPROC or do any combination of the above.

For our customers this will ensure a positive wireless experience. For us, it will help cut down on calls to our NOC regarding wireless performance issues, because we will be dealing with them before they become an issue.

This kind of monitoring is critical in less static environments like boardrooms, public areas with guest access and retail environments. In static environments where you know the number of users it may be less critical, but as users may move around, change their daily patterns, or over time you hire more staff, these changes can overload one AP, affecting the user experience and possibly productivity.

Setting all of this monitoring up may be time consuming in the short term, but can save you hours and hours of troubleshooting in the future.

Wireless Networking Challenges

Not too many people are plugging their laptop into an ethernet cable anymore. In fact, just about everyone in our office relies on wireless for their connectivity. In the past, wireless was too slow and somewhat unreliable, but it has come a long way and the convenience of not having to plug in far outweighs the performance impact if any.

Coverage is obviously one of the key elements for a good wireless deployment. It needs to work in your office, in the boardroom, in the lunch room and maybe even at the picnic table just outside your building. Ideally it should work anywhere your phone, tablet or laptop goes.

What gets missed quite often is planning for capacity. Coverage ensures there is a signal, but each access point can only service so many clients before it becomes slow, unresponsive and ultimately useless. It is also important to understand the applications that will be used over the wireless to get an idea of how many users per AP is ideal.

Some vendors make a recommendation of 20-25 users per AP. This is probably a good number if they are web browsing and checking email, anything more and I would suggest you will run into problems. In some cases, where large files are being saved to servers on a regular basis it is advisable to stick with ethernet. Overall however, I would suggest that you don’t want anymore than between 10-16 users per AP.

Interfering APs may also have an impact on your deployment. In some cases I have seen an AP detect up to 59 neighboring APs. This can cause havoc with your deployment. Site surveys prior to your deployment can certainly help mitigate this, but remember that a site survey is done at a point in time. If there is a new office building going up next door, you can expect more interference in the near future. Site surveys are good for determining the most effective placement of your APs and some tools will help you plan based on capacity as well.

When APs were standalone the deployments were much more complex than they are today with Controller based APs. The controller centralizes the configurations and pushes them out the the APs. Since the controller has a holistic view of the entire network, it can instruct the APs to make channel adjustments without affecting its neighboring APs. One of my favorite features in a Controller based deployment is the ability to detect rogue on-wire APs and even block any clients from joining them. A rogue on-wire access point is a AP that has been installed on the LAN via ethernet, but is not part of the controller based system. When configured, the controller will sent out disconnect messages to any clients that attempt to join the rogue AP.

My only complaint with a controller based deployment is that the cost is much higher than a standalone deployment. The Controller based AP is the same cost as a Standalone AP, but the controller hardware and licensing is extra.

The list of environmental challenges that can affect your wireless deployment is endless. Elevators, Microwaves, Cordless Phones, Water, Steel, Concrete, Small Rocks, you name it. They can all have an effect.

And of course security. One of the most important aspects of a good wireless deployment is ensuring only you and your staff can use it. A good deployment will have LDAP or RADIUS integration. If security is top priority then you should consider coupling the LDAP or RADIUS with a second factor, using key fobs or software that provides OTP (one time passwords).

The same AP’s that access your corporate network can also provide guest access. When providing guest access you can make it difficult so that only people you authorize can use it, or you can make it simple and provide a splash page where guest users are asked to provide an email address or simply agree to the terms of usage.