We're continuing on the path towards our master 3.x release, so there were several minor fixes and tweaks to the ProcessWire core, creating version 3.0.31. None of those updates are significant enough to write about here, so I hope you'll humor me while I shift gears (pardon the pun) and write about something else for a moment. We've also got several module updates to mention at the bottom of this post.
The ProcessWire website pulled up in the Tesla Model S touchscreen.
Tesla Model S (P90D) review
Before I say more: No, sadly I don't own a Tesla Model S. Instead I own a 1994 Mazda. But with getting ProcessWire 3.x ready to release, I didn't have a lot to write about this week. So figured, why not chat about something else I'm passionate about (this is a blog after all). Last weekend, I got to pretend that I owned a brand new 2016 Tesla Model S (P90D) for two days and a couple hundred miles. My wife won the opportunity (2-day test drive) in a charity event that Tesla had donated to. This was thanks to the Decatur, GA Tesla Dealership near my house. I found it so inspiring that I thought I'd write about it here this week since we're in a quiet pre-release period of the next major version of ProcessWire.
The Tesla Model S P90D that we “borrowed” from the dealer.
What does this have to do with ProcessWire?
Those reading this very likely love technology, design, and the merging of the two. As web designers and developers, we all love using technology and design to create new things, and bring something new to the world. We like to bring the future to the now, and make it that much better. This is exactly what I experienced with the Tesla Model S. And I'm completely blown away by it. I observed that Tesla has created something really special, technology that pulls you in and makes you fall in love not just the result, but the game changing aspect of it. This is exactly what we are trying to do with ProcessWire.
What is the Tesla Model S?
For those not familiar with the Tesla Model S, it's an all electric car with nearly 300 miles of range per charge. You plug it in to charge it. You only stop at a gas station to visit the bathroom and refill your coffee, not to get gas. But it's not just an electric car, it's an absolutely beautiful electric supercar. It's a supercar that uses no gas and produces zero emissions. It's a supercar with more space than most large family sedans. It's a supercar that's also rated the safest car on the road. Its a supercar that's changing our perception of what's possible for transportation and the environment.
Here's my Dad about to hop in for a look.
The Model S (P90D) that we had for the weekend is among the fastest cars on the road. It does 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds (or 2.8 seconds depending on measuring method). This is on equal territory with vehicles like the McLaren P1 and Lamborghini Aventador. In fact, when it comes to acceleration, the Model S is apparently the fastest car available in mass production, ever. It's also the fastest accelerating 4-door sedan ever built. Though unlike the other supercars in its performance range, it's completely electric AND it doesn't cost a million dollars. The model we tested was the most expensive one you can get at $142k USD. But these cars start under $70k (not like either one of those is anywhere near my budget!).
This acceleration is what really shocked me. I'd never experienced 0–60 mph acceleration in the 2–3 second range and honestly wasn't prepared. I put my foot down on the accelerator and it's like the world disappeared, like I'd just been knocked out. That feeling where something completely unexpected just hit you over the head, except that instead of hurting you, it captures and reignites you. There are similarities to a roller coaster, though admittedly the Model S was beyond any roller coaster I've experienced.
My wife was with me and the unexpected rapid acceleration scared the hell out of her (actually it did me too). She said if I tried that again it would make her sick, and she made me promise not to test out the acceleration again while she was in the car. If I was in the passenger seat, I'd no doubt have said the same thing.
The interesting thing about the acceleration is that it's quite different than in a traditional gas car. There is no leading up to the acceleration. No lag whatsoever. It is immediate and smacks you in the face for ever thinking it would carry the same limitations of its gas-powered brethren. It's like you are in a car that's been shot out of a cannon.
This video below shows the slower “insane mode” of a previous year's model (P85D) but still gets the point across. Warning: there is a lot of swearing in this video, because no other words seem to fit. So if you might be offended, or at work, turn off your volume first.
While the Model S (P90D) is faster than any production car ever made, what's interesting is how easy it is to drive in everyday use. It's a confident sports car, but just as much a relaxed every day driver. You can adjust the steering, suspension and acceleration settings on the touch screen to suit your use case. We drove to a place about an hour and a half away called Serenbe, and found the car incredibly comfortable for such a trip. I'd love to do a full day trip in this car. It's more comfortable than anywhere in my house.
With two kids, safety is the thing that matters more than anything to me. What's really different in everyday non-performance driving is the overall feel of the Model S. I've never felt quite as safe on the road as I did in the Tesla. It's actually quite a large and heavy car, despite its incredible performance. From what I understand, the entire underside of the car is all batteries and that's where all the weight is. This gives it a very low center of gravity, making it incredibly stable, nearly impossible to flip in an accident (I presume), and thus very safe.
It's not just that it feels safe, it's that it really is. The Model S achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested and set a new NHTSA vehicle safety record. It makes sense because it doesn't have any of the space consumption or overhead of a gas engine, so much of the length of the car is crumple zones. Since there's no gas motor, there are 2 trunks–one in back, and one up front (called a "frunk"). The electric motors are actually under the car (near the wheels) rather than under the hood.
There is a huge amount of storage space in this car. This is the back trunk. The seats even fold down for more storage. There's another trunk up-front (called the “frunk”).
Noise (or lack of it)
Another aspect of regular driving that's easily noticed is just how incredibly quiet everything is. With no gas engine, there's not much to make noise. What a strange but wonderful experience to have in a car. You can actually listen to music without having to crank it up.
There are apparently no gears shifting (at least none perceived). In a regular car, whether driving manual or automatic transmission, the car shifts gears as it goes faster or slower. None of that appears to be taking place in the Tesla. When it goes, it goes, and when it stops, it stops. Nothing heard. It all just feels a whole lot smoother and more straightforward than a regular car.
The car is quiet but the kids are loud.
A fascinating aspect of the car is that if you aren't applying the gas pedal (is it still called that?) then it is doing something called regenerative breaking. What that means is that it's using the car's momentum to push the energy back into the batteries, recharging them as the car slows down.
The difference you notice is that when you aren't applying the pedal, the car is slowing down on its own (recharging itself). It doesn't coast along like a regular car. This is something that you can turn off if you want to, but I absolutely loved it. I've always felt that stop-and-go traffic is such a waste of energy. In the Tesla, rather than losing that energy, it's saving it. It also means a lot less use of the brake pedal, as for most braking needs you simply let the car do its thing.
The Model S will drive itself when you want it to. Put it in autopilot and it'll take care of things like lane changes, keeping you in lane, parking, and other things. Recently it was in the news for driving a man to the hospital after he suffered a pulmonary embolism. I can't speak much to autopilot because I didn't try it. If I'm going to have such a car in my hands for 2 days, I don't want to turn it into a glorified taxi cab, I want to drive it! But I mention it here because I have no doubt that this is the future and I'm super impressed with the technology behind it.
ProcessWire is about content management, and now here we are into the content management side of the Tesla Model S. One of the most recognizable differences between a Tesla and a regular car is the giant touch screen at the center of the dash. This is the UI to the car and where all the content is, where everything is controlled. From the radio, to the sunroof, to the air suspension height, to the steering mode, to hundreds of other settings. It's all right there.
It's not just about controls, but information too. Anything you can possibly want to know about the current state of the car, its charge or efficiency is all there. I found this interface and UI particularly compelling. There was also a web browser built-in. Granted, if I had such a car, I'd probably be using my phone to browse the web, but how cool is it to have a web browser right there? The car is basically connected to the internet all of the time. Tesla regularly pushes updates and new features to the car, and all this happens on its own.
The car has another screen which appears behind the steering wheel in the usual place where you might be used to seeing RPM and speedometer dials in an “analog” car. The Model S already knows the speed limit wherever you go, so if there's ever any question, there's a little speed limit sign in the dash highlighting it. This screen is also used for turn-by-turn navigation. When you ask the car to give you directions, it literally shows you a picture of your next turn on the screen.
Even more compelling, this secondary screen behind the wheel also shows you a 360 degree view of everything that's going on around the car. If there are other cars near you, it shows them to you in an overhead view. This goes way beyond blind spot monitors. If there are any other kind of obstacles near the car, it highlights them with a color and tells you exactly how many inches away they are. When they get close, they turn yellow. When they get too close, they turn red. This is incredibly handy when you are parking, for instance. But it's also easy to see how this is life saving technology.
The only thing I don't like about the Tesla Model S is that I had to give it back. To me, the Model S was ProcessWire that evolved to be a car. There is so much love, intelligence and care behind the car that I really developed a deep appreciation. While the car is far outside of my budget, it brings me great comfort just to know that it exists, that I had the opportunity to experience it, and that this is where things are headed for cars/transportation and the environment.
The people behind this car are not just trying to change the world for the better, but they are actually doing it with style that is beautifully infectious. I'm not talking about making fancy cars–that doesn't change the world. Rather, making such an incredible purely electric car that puts even the most sought after gas-powered cars to shame is a pure game changer.
The moment you experience this car you realize this is the future. A future where our situation on this earth has turned around and we are no longer destroying the environment with our vehicles. During our weekend with the car, I saw that if this is the direction cars are going, maybe the earth isn't doomed after all. It's not just a car, it's a full-stop paradigm shift that represents so much more. Pure contagious inspiration. With Tesla now working towards their more affordable Model 3 (due end of next year) I have no doubt it'll become even more contagious and more and more people will be re-inspired about what's possible. After this experience, count me as one of them–I'll say it again, I'm blown away.
Special thanks to my wife Karen for making this possible.
Had to test out the charging.
Other ProcessWire module updates
In addition to core updates preparing for the 3.x master, this week several of the 1st party modules got updates as well:
Updated ProcessHannaCode to fix pending issues and add support for Hanna codes that may trigger a secondary Hanna code call. Also removed several redundant directories from the Ace editor, which drastically reduces the size of the ProcessHannaCode module size.
Updated the DynamicRoles and ImportPagesCSV modules for ProcessWire 3.x support (both had issues unrelated to the FileCompiler that prevented them from working in PW3).
Updated the FieldtypeMapMarker module to support the new Google Maps API key requirement, plus some general housekeeping updates.
Updated the TextformatterVideoEmbed module to convert legacy database code and other tweaks.
Also for those that have been looking to use the CroppableImage module in PW3, Horst and I chatted this week and found a way to make it work so I imagine the option will be there very soon as well.
Thanks again for reading and remember to check out the ProcessWire Weekly this weekend!
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