Saturday, 17 December 2022

Boox Nova Air C Impressions


Nova Air C Backlight off

I like tech and I especially like tech with styli. I had a Note and upgraded to the Ultra. My computer flips and has a pen. Now I have an e-ink tablet ... with a stylus. I do use the stylus on my phone to write notes. I'm hoping to use the stylus on the Boox for making notes when I read books. That sounds like it's a process to learn. For a really good introduction to this device, check here and here. This is an expensive device so make sure you have a specific use in mind.

That said, I wanted to get a larger device and was willing to give colour and a stylus a shot. I have a Poke 3 so I'm familiar with Boox; I have to admit the Kindle Scribe gave me some FOMO. This is a 7.8" screen which was as large as I want to go for a device that may fall on my face as I fall asleep while reading. I'm happy with the experience I got with the Poke 3 - I can get library books and read books from all the stores. I haven't used the default app (yet) because I tend to upload through Play Books. I have to explore upload options (I do tend to get epubs). NeoReader has some features, like page keys, that I'd like to try.

The Nova Air C is quite a bit heavier than my Poke and the included cover is not as "nice". and by nice I mean it's kind of floppy when it folds back because of the wider spine. I've got a pen holder on order that should help how the case folds and store the pen better. The magnet is ok but the pen gets in the way.

So the most important part - reading! I wanted colour just for reading magazines. I'm used to the AMOLED screen of my phone and computer so I would want that quality of display for reading graphic media. These colours are fine but not intense. I find a lot of screens too bright so the contrast for reading works well for me with the settings available. I love the screen size. If you want phenomenal battery life, you'll have to accept screen ghosting. I found the Nova Air C to be much more responsive than my Poke 3.

Backlight on 
Sooo...would I buy again if on a budget? I would stick with my Poke 3. If the Poke 3 broke, I would look at a Leaf but I suspect, from the splash screen that it would be the same speed as my Poke 3 which is mildly annoying so yeah, likely. It would be nice to be able to check performance out in a store before purchasing but that's not available. 

Friday, 11 November 2022

Kitchen Reno complete

 Sometimes I don't know how we got from this...

to this

in terms of deciding to make this change. It slowly snowballed. First, it was just changing the range hood to something with a better fan speed. Then if we were doing that, we needed to do something with the backsplash because of the different style of hood. Then we looked at stuff we just wanted to change. Our blinds were over 20 years old so that was time for an update. And there was the counter. We hated how dark it was even though the one it replaced was a dark green. Something about the dark counter and floor didn't do it for us (the lino we replaced was lighter). I was doing my dream bathroom and the quartz counter wasn't as expensive as expected so why not do the kitchen...welp 4 times the area in the kitchen would be a good reason. But we already have solar panels so here we are.

And we love it. I, of course, started watching kitchen reno videos after everything was done, and don't think we would have done anything differently. It feels like our kitchen is bigger again. I know the colour this year (and last) is green but we really like the blue veining in the quartz. The range hood is out of head knocker range although we have to get used to not opening the cupboards quite so much. We might have gone with a stacked 4-inch tile for the backsplash but I like the offset large tile. It has some different colours and textures that aren't obvious. The big win that isn't visible is the deep double sink.

And everyone was great!

Now for the bathroom - demolition starts Monday!

Counters by Maxwood
Window covering by Dusk to Dawn
Hood ventilation by Lloyd Plumbing& Heating who also did our new furnace and air exchanger

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Energy renovations completed!

Last year we upgraded toilets in the upstairs bathrooms as the toilet was a little flaky in the ensuite. When the toilet downstairs fails we'll replace that one. We didn't notice much of a change in our water bill but our usage has pretty well cut in half for the months we don't use water for the plants. We didn't really notice until we looked back at the bills.

On Thursday, our final triple-paned solar guard window was installed meaning our energy renovations are completed and we expect our electricity and gas usage to drop significantly for winter use. So far we've noticed

  • fans are much, much quieter
  • the front of the house still gets hot on summer afternoons tops at 28 instead of 31
  • the temperatures in the rest of the house are much more stable.
  • the few times the furnace has kicked on, it seems to use less than 500W instead of 700-800W. This would be due to the furnace being a better size for our house as well as the more efficient fans.
We've done a few other things to draw down our power use like updating all desktop computers to laptops and cable boxes to streaming devices. We're getting new blinds which may improve the insulation value for the windows further. It will be interesting.

Now on to cosmetic changes! 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Renovations - updating the fundamentals


While updating the bathroom is fun, there are more serious decisions to make about fundamental maintenance. Our home is over 20 years old and while we built the best we could afford at the time, as our furnace, windows, and water heater age, it's time to take advantage of the Greener Homes evaluation to include energy savings. Because heat pumps don't really work in our area, any upgrades other than windows won't earn rebates so we'll have to make do with saving on utilities.

One focus is the windows. While we went double-paned we didn't go high-end; with this being a rebate we do qualify for, we went for the best possible windows. We also replaced only the glass so we saved a lot on the total cost. For instance - we got a new bathroom window w/casing for $2K+ while a similar-sized window cost under $900 to replace just the sealed units. In the end, we got the triple-paned units that will reduce heat transfer and windows now have a much longer warranty. There should be no drafts and little condensation in winter. Cool.

Water heaters are an ongoing maintenance issue. A lot of times they are run until failure which means dealing with a leaky heater. We don't do that but our water heater is well over a decade old so we're on the edge. We didn't go heat pump or tankless but did source an energy efficiency ng unit and our priority here was water waste. In Alberta, you are charged /m^3 for water and we find we waste a lot of water waiting for hot water to get to the kitchen so we're getting a hot water recirc. pump installed.  

The system update we're most excited for is our furnace. We have a mid-efficiency furnace and this is our opportunity to update to a high-efficiency unit and add a heat recovery ventilation unit. We've been having problems with humidity in the basement so it will be great to have better air circulation. Furnaces have been resized and fan sizes optimized to run quietly so it will be on most of the time without (in theory) using more energy. The HRV will seal the house better and replace all the exhaust fans. One cool thing we're getting is a UV light (replaced every 2 years) that will sanitize air as it passes through - great for allergens and microbes.

It's been a fascinating process and I'm happy to be able to support local businesses. I've used companies that did jobs for me when I was working or who've come recommended by others. Prices have been within our vague budget and wait time is pretty reasonable. 

When we built our home, maintenance was a fuzzy dream. Life passes quickly and owning a home for 20 years is no different than purchasing an older home - there has to be a maintenance budget. Luckily a lot of equipment has improved in efficiency without costing as much of a premium as it would have been when we first built.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Home ownership and renovations

 A lot has been made lately about housing affordability. I live in a community with decent affordability - there's a good inventory of rental units, condos, and single-family homes. Since we don't believe in purchasing homes to rent we missed our levering our home into a home in the Vancouver area. With the drop in home values in 2016 and the acceleration of housing prices out there, even with an extra $400K (buy out and inheritance) we could not enter the housing market without taking a huge downgrade.

So renovations it is. Luckily this is a custom home. We got the plan we went with inexpensive finishes to keep our mortgage down on the understanding we could upgrade later if we didn't move away. It's later. We did round one renos and have finally admitted this is our forever home.

This round we're doing windows, the ensuite bathroom and furnace/water heater. There is a green rebate but it will only cover some windows (better than a kick in the teeth). The windows are the most important for energy conservation, the water heating system important for water conservation, and the bathroom for PLEASURE (and accessibility as we age).

The process was kickstarted when I found a tile that I L-O-V-E for the shower. It has some of the beige on our walls and blue as an accent colour and will be the "feature wall" that has the shower components. The rest of the walls will be a large (8x20") white mix textured tile that really echos the lightest colour in the feature tile. The floor will be navy 2x2 antislip tile (safety first🙂) 

Here's the completed palette; I'm getting a quartz countertop with a white vanity and linen closet. I'm pretty sure I'm getting a blue tile backsplash for the vanity but the tile guy said to wait and see.

The problem with the new bathroom counter is Fred's always talked about doing the kitchen as well. Now I'm on board with that sooner than later. New cabinet faces, same countertop, and a new kitchen sink...after doing the energy conservation upgrades. 

I still wish I could have moved home. The only way we could have done it was if we did it before we retired so we could replenish our funds. This is something to keep in mind for younger people moving to affordable housing.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Bennie is 4 today 🎂- the perfect dog age.

Bennie is 4 today. We don't usually remember on time to do anything but we got him right after I retired and we spent his first month with my Dad. Bennie is the first dog we've had that's gotten this old with only us for company. All of our others had companion dogs to keep them company while we were at work.

I say 4 is perfect because they're old enough for us to all understand expectations but there's energy and less illness - we're between the eating of random junk and organ failure. 

He's been a gift. He slept through the night from the day he arrived and is very solid on house training. We've always wanted a dog that we can just leave at home without setting barriers and he's it. We've never come home to random destruction.

For his birthday we got lots of treats and he got a bone...his first. I was expecting him to hoard it or maybe cover it to keep for later. Instead, he ate some of it, came to hang out by us with his bone while we ate ice cream, and eventually left it on the deck under the stairs when he realized it didn't get to come in the house.

Bennie had been a challenging pup in many ways. We'd forgotten what it was like to have a puppy when he came along and we forgot, oddly enough, how reactive cairns are to other dogs. I used to have two dogs tangle at the end of a leash when another dog looked at them funny and now I have just one. It's a little more manageable and there is less excuse for not being proactive and recognizing when Bennie's at the end of his tolerance; clicks and treats are the coin of the realm. 

If you have a challenging pup, take heart. They do grow up.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

One Month with the Cayenne E-Hybrid - I regret nothing

With gas prices so high a lot more people are thinking of EVs. Just want to say, to save money on gas NOW - slow down your speed and carpool if you can't take transit. That said. we did plan for our vehicle to be a hybrid and we've had our Cayenne E-hybrid for over a month now. I did a first impressions post and, after a month of typical driving - we made the right decision.

One thing I would definitely advise is getting a home charging station if you can. We got a Level 2 charger installed in our garage and it's great. We can charge at up to 40A which will fill our small (19 kWh) battery in a couple hours.

The battery may seem small but it's great for limiting my driving - without it, I'd be driving all over just for fun, which was one of my fears. Usually, I'll walk if the weather is good and I'm not carrying things. EPA gives 4.2 L/100km and the only way we can think to get that is by a mixed city/highway commute. With ICE you have the worse consumption during city trips, EV or hybrid is reversed. We did a ~1000km round trip and got 8.5 L/100km averaging ~ 105 kmh. That included a full charge when we started and no more charging. We did top up the gas at one end but that's more of a range anxiety thing since we got home with over 1/2 a tank and have just left it.

I loved my Macan but the Cayenne really upped the experience. I'm surprised to say the Cayenne feels more refined. It doesn't feel any larger to drive, I park it a lot better, and with the higher ride I have better visibility overall🤷‍♀️ Handling is smooth and steering is responsive. I didn't think I needed any PCM upgrades but that was a lack of imagination. Porsche uses Google Maps for nav and now that we've had more chances to use it there are ups and downs. We drove into the city and the instructions included things like "turn after the gas station on the right" - nice. On the downside the day the maps updated before our long trip, there was a road closure so we couldn't set the nav to take that route. The back seats are, naturally, more spacious but they also can move back and forth so you can get more cargo space without flipping down the seat OR accommodate people with long legs more comfortably.

So what would the wrong decision look like for me?

Less fun driving experience than the Macan (other than brapp noise), unable to find a seat position with good visibility (happened with the Panamera), variable handing depending on road conditions, not feeling solid on the road, handling like a truck, OK Porsche not handling PCM directions (I don't expect it to be able to tell me the population of Nutavut), no Android Auto support (it's wired which sucks but is manageable), not having enough EV range for our short hops in winter (touch and go but it is a hybrid so ...).

Like I said in the title - I regret nothing.