Chevrolet Bolt Oddities

Well, if you are a Chevy Bolt owner and wonder what all those parameters mean, here’s a little bit of a decoder ring (it is incredible in this day and age that even with all that infotainment, there isn’t a simple thing like a Tooltip to tell you what a setting means), but fortunately there are forums:

  1. Hilltop Reserve. I had mistakenly thought this had something to do with hill climbing, but it is incredibly misnamed. What it means is that if you live at the top of a monster hill, the thing will only charge to 90%, so that as you coast downhill you will get more free charge. Now doing that math, this would be a 6kWh hill, so you in other words, it had better be an hour down hill. The side benefit is that it only charges the battery to 90% which helps long term battery life. Just remember to turn this off when you are going on a long, long trip and need the extra 10% (about 24 miles).
  2. Android Auto. Man this is a strange mode, it doesn’t seem to work with Nexus 5X with the latest Android. Not clear why, I wish these modes had some debugging. Also, it make it strange to have the something that has to switch and when you click on it, it detects the phone and then asks if you should switch. Isn’t it obvious if I’ve plugged it in?
  3. Apple CarPlay. What a strange implementation. There is no obvious way to go to the home of the overall system. You just have hit the hard HOME key or go through the Energy system to find it. Plus if you want to open up a non-CarPlay application, Siri refuses to do it even thought it works just fine.

Best Ad Blockers and Private VPNs

Now that there is no more privacy in the US (because ISPs can freely resell all your access information). Here is what you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Get a VPN. There are many that are not so reputable, but Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN seem at least more reputable. You have to load them on each of your computers and mobile devices and they are a bit of a pain, but do mask where you are coming from.
  2. You can use a private DNS server as well. ISPs can see what you are accessing from your DNS queries, so you do not want to use an ISP or carrier CNS.
  3. Finally get an ad blocker so that at least some of the data is hidden.

This probably a lost cause, but might as well make it a bit harder for people to track everything that you do.

Using GSuite with Bluehost to reduce Spam

Well, if I have frustrated by all that horrible spam and Bluehost have been great but even with Spam Experts and Spam Assassin, we still get way more spam. I originally just wanted to make Gsuite just filter messages and send them back to Bluehost for deliver, it turns out that this is actually impossible. You can try to do split delivery for instance, but this doesn’t quit work instead, the best and cheapest thing to do is to have Bluehost send mail to Gsuite which then filters it and then forwards it to personal Gmail accounts. Pretty cool but hard to figure out. In the personal accounts, you set each to reply-to the Bluehost account and it all works, you get nice Gmail interfaces but can use the vanity domain without having to have a Gsuite account for each.

Getting started with Gsuite

Here are the steps:

  1. Sign up for Gsuite with your private domain.
  2. Logon to Gsuite with one account, you will have to validate your account by sticking things into the CNAME or something like that.
  3. You need to setup the right CNAME record and the right MX Records
  4. Then use the Admin Console with Customized URL to
  5. Because you don’t want to pay $5/month for each user, you can forward vanity accounts to existing (and free gmail accounts).

Debug the host

First thing is to know how to debug all this mail routing is to setup things properly in the User Settings area. Note that this conflicts with the later Routing setting, so you want to leave this as clean as possible, so here is how to debug.

  1. Gsuite has a Reports/Email Log Search, this will let you know if mail was received externally and where it went. Mainly this will tell you it went into the mail pipeline which is a good thing.
  2. It will also tell you if it thought it was spam.
  3. Make sure to disable catchall so that unrecognized mail from routing works. This is in Gsuite > Apps > Gmail > User Settings > Email Routing and choose discard to make sure you get how the routing works. If you have catchall, then non of the rules will ever work because all mail is recognized and sent to your catchall, so make sure this is reset.
  4. If you try to use your box*** this is for delivery from a client, so needs authentication, use port 25 instead as this is the standard SMTP port for mail server to mail server delivery. You should use the default name for bluehost which is typically, and port 25. However, there is a problem in that Bluehost will either deliver locally (if it detects that the lowest MX record is a local system) or it will only deliver remotely. It does seem that it is impossible to have Google first get the mail and then redeliver to local accounts. That’s too bad as it would be really convenient.

Debugging to make sure the Gsuite and Bluehost mail flow

  1. Add a rule as noted below, then see how the message is routed. So to test routing to your old domain, create a new host (see below) and then create a router rule which is “All recipients ” that and make sure “unrecognized addresses” is checked down below, this will route all unrecognized emails (e.g. without gmail accounts) to the downstream host, so you can check to see if the host works ok.
  2. In our case, this didn’t work because submitting to port 587 to resulted in an SMTP authentication required message and an NDR gets sent back, but it works on port 25
  3. Use the Gsuite > Reports > Email Search to figure out how routing works
  4. Now you can use the Bluehost trace email to see how mail is sent.

Having Gmail forward mail

Since you can’t have bluehost reprocess mail once it hits your vanity domain, your main option is to use Gmail routing to forward mail. This isn’t split delivery, but really forwarding. It is not really obvious how to make it work, so here goes:

  1. Add the Hosts above and make sure that works
  2. In the Gsuite > Apps > Gmail > Advanced Settings > Default Routing, add the route for each forward like by checking, Routing is Normal (so it will go into the dead letter box in your Gsuite) and then add Additional Delivery and type in some other address like some so people can use a personal and free gmail account.
  3. Also note that if you edit the current Default routing, you get a spurious there is an error editing, try again later it actually does work, but you have to hit refresh at least in Safari to see it.

More details on how routing works

The most confusing thing is how to support all of this without having to buy a $5/month mailbox for everyone. That makes sense for a company but not a vanity domain. Here are some solutions for routing messages. Note that right now GSuite seems to hang under Safari, so use Chrome:

  1. Split delivery. This is the right enterprise way to do this, first set up a route to the old mail server `Appsand thenG Suiteand thenGmailand thenAdvanced settings > Hosts >Add Host`. Make sure you use TLS and port for security. Then go to Apps > G Suite > Gmail > Advanced Routing > Inbound  Routing and then Change default routing route so those addresses can go back to the legacy server assuming your old host mail. Then you get all the spam filtering but end-users don’t have to change anything!
  2. For remapping in the local system. Then to Apps/G Suite /Settings for Gmail /Advanced settings/Recipient Address Map to fix things which seems to reroute messages, but it looks like it doesn’t work moving off server, so you can’t just point it at an arbitrary email address so only works internally.
  3. You can also do this at the individual user level with aliasing, so one account can respond to rich in addition to any other names.

Some strange things

  1. Conflicting accounts. There is a strange issue where you can have an organizational account called and a personal one called I actually had this problem when creating the Gsuite identity. So I had to create a fake admin name and then delete it once I could create the new identity.
  2. The only what that seems to work is to create a group and allow outside accounts to be part of the group. Like another gmail address. This works well in those cases where users are already using their vanity name (like as their google authentication, because google won’t deliver is there is a name collision). Then you connect it to the outside account. This is a little clunky because you need this extra group, but it is nice because any end user can do it and you do not need admin privileges. In this case you can have lots of folks use free personal gmail accounts, but they get routed mail via the vanity domain. They can also set reply-as in the personal gmail so it looks like they are using the  vanity domain.
  3. Finally there is a difference between unrecognized addresses that is addresses where there is no Gmail address. However, beware that if you turn on catch-all address to get all the mail then all addresses are recognized. So normally you do not want this on.

Protecting yourself from Spam with Magic DNS Records

The main way is to use special DNS records to limit things:

  1. SPF. The sender policy framework is set by a TXT record which tells the mail server which domains can send mail to their SMTP server. For instance, if you say v=spf1 this means that only servers from the domain can send mail from that domains SMTP servers.
  2. Setup DKIM to  digitally signs the outgoing message headers so that other servers can detect spam that is falsely written as coming from your servers. You just need to generate a DKIM record in Gmail > Advanced Settings > DKIM and add it as a TXT record in the DNS server. SPF tells other servers what mail servers can send for your domain. That is, sometimes the mail is both forged (fixed with DKIM) and comes from some other mail server (fixed by SPF). You can merge SPFs, so for instance you can use bluehost and Gsuite together using SPF syntax you basically concatenate it all.
  3. DMARC is another TXT record that tells recipient mail servers what do to with mail that comes addressed from your domain. For instance, you can say (as eBay does) that any mail that doesn’t have DKIM on it should be rejected.

iCloud Photo Library gets wedged

I have not seen this discussed too much, but we use iCloud Photo Library extensively to save old photos. We try to stay in the free 5GB tier, so the algorithm is:

  1. Use iCloud Photo Library like the old Photostream, but it saves all photos up to the 5GB limit.
  2. Every so often get on a Mac and go through these photos, edit and delete them and put them into long term photo storage. This is a RAID-6 NAS with backup to another NAS, to CrashPlan and then an FTP server. (Ok, I’m paranoid).
  3. When this is done, create Shared Photo Albums for trips and things for sharing (most everyone with an iPhone just get these, for others, use the web sharing feature).
  4. Delete the photos from Photo Library and you then see curated content in the Shared Photo Albums.

The problem is that Apple often gets confused about how many photos are in your library. Even if you delete all photos, you will often see the “You need 156GB to upload and your photos), even though everything is clean.

The solution I’ve found is that you have to toggle the Photo Library button in Mac Photos or iOS Photos, this seems to make it happy again 🙂

Car Accessories

If you are getting a new car, here are some indispensable accessories to go with it:

  • Tire Pressure Gauge. It’s huge but it is reliable and easy to use. All analog and no batteries.
  • LED Flashers. Yes you need batteries, but they are way better than flares
  • Flashlight. You need a bright one and Candlepower will turn you on to the really good ones. Current favorites are the Nitecore MH20GT for $120 that comes with two Lithium Ion batteries and a charger as a bigger choice the  Nitecore P30, it is 1000 lumens and a break taking $64 at Amazon.
  • Battery charger and tire pump. Yes, you might need a battery charger for your EV, but you do need one for the other 98% of the cars out there. The CostCo one is nice although big.
  • Floor mats and covers. Auto Anything has a great selection and these are completely waterproof and great for the wet climates. Typically you can get a 6% rebate from if you buy from there.
  • Leatherman PS4 Squirt on your keychain. In case you need it.

Moving Google GSuite domains

If you have a company and you are merging or getting acquired, then what’s the easiest way to get the data across. Turns out this is a little tricky. But the basic things to understand are:

  1. There is the concept of an owner for a file. This is the user who sets permissions. However, you cannot change the ownership across organizations.
  2. Instead, the easiest thing to do is to use Google Drive and go to the old organization and share all the folders to the new organization. Then you can Add to My Drive and now create a new set of folders and copy all the data. Delete the old folders when you are done.
  3. This takes some time and hopefully you have enough GDrive space but it does work.
  4. It does mean you have to recreate permissions on the other side, but now is not a bad time to clean things up.

Charging your EV Decoder Ring

You would think there would be an easy FAQ if you have an Electric Vehicle, turns out that after navigating through all the many sites, here are the easy steps, if you aren’t lucky enough have the plug and play Tesla.

First the plug nightmare

As usual with the start of an industry there are way too many “standards” for plugs, so nothing really plugs into anything without a little thought. Here’s a map:

Level 1. This means good old 120V with the familiar US two prong (technically called a NEMA 5. This will take a long time, if you have a monster 60KWH battery on a Chevy Bolt for instance, it will take days to charge since you can do 120V x 20 x 75% Amps = 1.8Kw/Hour but you can’t drive a circuit at 100% and there are losses, so assume 25% buffer from max amperage to usable. Every car has an onboard AC to DC converter at 2.4, 6kW or even 7.2KW, so the speed of charging depends on it. It’s maximum is 1.9Kw

Level 2. This is the 220-240V and of course is much faster, however, there are no less than three different plugs. There is J1772, NEMA 14-50 and then Tesla’s proprietary plugs. The NEMA 14-50 is used by newer Tesla’s and i3s the same as what you find in an RV Park. It is four prongs with one L so you can’t misinsert it. There is also an older Tesla proprietary connector. The J1772 is the North American standard and is five prongs and is used by early Volt and Leaf’s in the so. This runs at 16A or 30A which corresponds to a 20A or 40A circuit (you need 25% buffer when you are charging continuously). This mathematically means 3.5Kw or 7.7Kw charge. When you use this, you can either have 16Amp or 30 Amp effective charge. Most cars have smaller chargers, so the Leaf is 2.4KW internal charger. But this is way faster, so with the 7.2KW charger in the Bolt, you can use the full 30 amps at 240V (30×240=7.2KW). This means that a flat battery gets charge in 60KWH/7.2KW = 9 hours.

Level 3. This is the 440V but done as a DC, that’s because the AC/DC converter is huge. There are quite a few variants for level 3. There are three important ones, the CCS is a J1772 with DC below (technically called J1772-2009). It is what is used by American and European manufacturers (Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, Volvo and Volkswagen). Then the Japanese have CHAdeMO and Tesla has an adapter for it as well in addition to their own proprietary Supercharger.

How to charge at home, beware the bad extension cord

Well of course Tesla has their own proprietary Superchargers and plugs, I won’t cover that here, but if you have some other company, there is J-1772 plug (this is a huge 5 prong monster) that you plug into the car. There are three levels:

You get a J-1772 to NEMA 5 for  120 V plug for home. This you use to plug into your car. The car has an onboard charger, so it just sense voltage and starts drawing. This is going to be slow, for a 60KWh battery, charging at 1.8Kw/Hour will take 34 hours to get to a full charge, but it is useful for trickle charging. One important gotcha is that the connection to the extension cord has to be good. The first time I did this, we used an old cord and they have a sensor box, it would just stop charging after a while without an error. And would report “Charge Complete”. I don’t know why anyone thinks quitting after five minutes is charge complete. So make sure you get a good extension cord.

Level 2 charging box means you have a J-1772 to 240V for home (or CHAdeMO if you have a Japanese car).  Now if you want to do this at home, you either need to buy a $500 box and install it,

Level 2 converter cable. If you are lucky and have a 240V circuit in your garage for a dryer (yippee), then you don’t need to do this. Dryers use a 4-prong plug called NEMA14-30 so here are the adapters that are around

  • QuickPower J-1772 to NEMA 6-20R. (As does AV)  For $99, you get a connector to a three prong.
  • They also sell for $20 adapter to connect to NEMA 14-50P (used in RV parks rated to 50A). Apparently you can modify the NEMA14-50P to work with the NEMA 14-30 if you have some pliers or use this Tesla based guide to figure out all those 240V connectors (there are an incredible number). So basically look at what you have and there should be some way to hook it up
  • There are also adapters for  NEMA 10-30P which the older three prong version of the NEMA 14-30.
  • A direct J-1772 to NEMA 14-30, If you have a 30 amp circuit then and ClipperCreek LCS-30P will get the most charge out for you for $515. It will take out 24 amps from a 30 amp circuit so gives you 24A x 240 V = 5.8Kw chargeThere is also the ClipperCreek LCS-25P available for $500 (I don’t know why so much) and it supports 20 Amps actual charge from a 30 Amp circuit breaker. So this is 240V x 20 = 4.8kW. So a 60kWH battery will take twelve hours to charge. In their world P means that it is portable and doesn’t need to be hardwired.
  • Since there is only a $500 choice of a cable, you can also look at an adapter which goes from a 30 amp NEMA 14-30P to a NEMA 14-50P but if you do this you have to make sure the car doesn’t draw 50Amps when this is for a 30 amp circuit otherwise you trip the breaker or worse!

Sign up for a charging network, get the RFID cards!

Some car companies have partnerships with charging networks. For instance Nissan has six months free for Chargepoint. Basically each network has their own chargers and you there are a variety of plans:

  • Chargepoint. This is sort of an aggregation network. Their underlying chargers are priced by the individual installations. Some are free, like lots of Universities. There is also a complex set of individual promotions, but these are not geographically sorted, but at least we can all get free charging at one Whole Foods in Florida, you spend a lot of time clicking on promos. But basically, you get an application and there is also a card that you get. Some companies like Chevrolet give you an RFID card. You also want to download the mobile application and make sure your credit card is attached to it. Also make sure to map the stations near you. They do tell you want is charging and what is free which is nice. One important thing that you have to have is a ChargePoint RFID card. Free chargers sometimes are not provisioned for visa, etc., so if you try to use Apple Pay, it seems like it works, but then the charge later fails.
  • Blink. This is another network. They are mapped by Chargepoint but have their own scheme. There is yet another card for you to buy. They charge a la cart.
  • AVnetwork runs the West Coast charging network although it’s really Oregon and a little bit of Washington and the great thing is that these are fast DC chargers at 24kW to 60kW. They have single use fee of $10/charge or a monthly  subscription for $20/month to use them, so you have better be running up and down the coast a lot.

Know where the charging stations are. There are relatively few so know where they are and what they take. The ones near universities can be great. Some cars are great like the Leaf of i3 about finding stations, others like the Bolt have no support at all.

DYI Servers

1. Right now the easiest thing to do is to get a NAS box which supports 4-12 bays. I personally use Synology for this, they are reasonably cheap and they keep their linux based system up to date. (You can even run docker containers on it). Idk how much future proofing you do, but right now the sweet spot box is a 4-drive NAS (I have an 8 and a 12). With 8TB drives, these can last a good long time. Since I’m a bit of a geek, I’ve found the 12 is just about perfect because it has a enough space and then you don’t have to constantly rebuild drives. I normally run these in 2 drive fail over mode, but as @vsadovsky has pointed out to me, these days it is easier just to run in RAID10 so that you get one drive worth of failover and instant recovery. Recovery is the bane of these large systems and in fact in recovering a raid drive you can actually cause a read error destroying the array.
2. You can also build your own server if you are a power geek (we have a hand built server in the office in a 24-disk chassis), this is something you only want in a machine room however.
3. In terms of ripping drives, I’ve mainly focused on Mac tools, but there are quite a few of them. Basically both DVDs and Bluray have been cracked and so you can easily “backup” those formats onto the system.
4. In terms of viewing, you have a few choices. With Android setup boxes, there is a viewer called Kodi which works well and streams off the box. Assuming you have 1GB ethernet, this works fine and a Synology. I run the system in SMB and AFS mode (you can also run it in NFS if you like :slightly_smiling_face:
5. For viewing, there are also viewers for your phone and of course Windows and Mac. Kodi works on all of them, although many times i just use VLC as I don’t need the full browsing experience.
6. Finally, you can also use this whole setup as a DVR. There is a box called HDHomeRun Prime which is a OTA/Cable box that converts those into an MPEG-2 stream over IP. There is a free tool called MythBox that then acts as a personal DVR and this easily allows direct viewing or there is a Kodi plug in and this is the homebrew way to integrate ripped DVD/Blu-Ray with live viewing. We actually don’t use that anymore as the kids have lost interest in cable and we don’t watch sports.