Studio711.com – Ben Martens

Microsoft 365 Family Email

I’ve owned the studio711.com domain for a long time. For most of the time it has been registered with GoDaddy and with one of their email offers, I was able to send and receive email from any address that ended with “@studio711.com”. I got in the habit of creating a unique email address for every site because I could see who was selling my info and/or easily block any use of my address.

That was handy and worked fine for years, but it turns out that running a mail server like that also creates a popular place for spammers. Other mail providers would end up blocking various GoDaddy mail servers periodically and I would get emails returned to me (sometimes after 8-12 hours.) It was mostly a background annoyance but finally I decided to do something about it.

A lot of people have the Microsoft 365 Family subscription these days. The main thing it provides is a bunch of installs of Microsoft office on various computers and the subscription can be shared with five members of your household. Reading the list of things that come with the subscription, I found out that you can get custom email hosting if your domain is hosted on GoDaddy.

If you’re not attempting to do the same change, then this post probably won’t be super interesting to you, but do know that if you have that subscription, then you could have your own custom email address for the cost of a domain registration at GoDaddy ($20/year.)

The catch for me was that I would only be able to make one email address per account that the subscription was shared with. I spent many evenings going through my LastPass vault looking for random email addresses and converting them to a common account.

Making the change was nerve-wracking because if I had missed any random email addresses, I’d be oblivious to any failed messages sent to them. But after checking and double checking, I pulled the trigger… and immediately hit a failure. While GoDaddy does host my domain, I use CloudFlare for the nameservers because they give me some additional features and make it easier to do SSL on my website. I resolved this by temporarily switching my nameservers back to GoDaddy and doing the Outlook onboarding steps. I looked at what DNS changes Outlook made on GoDaddy and then switched back to CloudFlare and added those DNS entries back in. Thankfully, that worked!

The next hiccup was that I couldn’t create the specific aliases that I wanted. I’d hit the button to verify, and it would just fail silently with no error message. I finally realized that I had previously set up those email addresses as “send from” aliases. Once I removed them, I was able to create the email aliases. I set up a couple new Microsoft accounts, shared my Microsoft 365 subscription with them, and created the remaining email aliases that I need.

So now I should be fully transferred over to having my email hosted on Outlook.com and if I need to switch email providers again in the future, it will be a lot easier because I won’t have ~600 different email addresses to unify first!

Printable Posable Figure

Getting a 3D printer while working from home has been a great combination as I can easily have prints going throughout the day. I’ve done a lot of “for fun” prints and a couple useful prints, but the one that impresses me most is LUCKY 13.

Before I could ge started with the print, I had to buy some PETG filament. Printed PETG is tougher than the PLA I had been using so far, but it can be a bit more finnicky to print well. My first, and so far only, roll of PLA filament came from Prusa and it has worked marvelously, but since they’re located in Europe, shipping a roll or two of filament is cost prohibitive. I waded into the endless options for filament and ended up choosing Polymaker PETG. It took a few test prints to get it dialed in, but it worked very well on my Prusa Mini.

The downloaded model files for this print were meticulously laid out and they all printed great the first time. I used the gray PETG for the skeleton and blue PLA for the outer skin and face. There were some accessories too which I did in black PLA.

Having done little to no calibration on my printer out of the box, I didn’t know what to expect, but everything snapped together with almost perfect tolerances! The only sanding I had to do was to remove some little fuzzies that were leftover after printing. This figure now sits on my desk and gets repositioned every once in a while using the plethora of different hand shapes and accessories. I got some red PLA and I think I might need to print him a sparring partner!

Furze Tunnel

Colin Furze is a madman. Many YouTubers talk about burnout, but Colin keeps outdoing himself. He’s built a hoverbike, jet bicycle, and screw tank to name a few. Years ago, he built an impressive underground bunker in his back yard, but for the past couple years, he’s been working on an even bigger project: connecting his house, shed and bunker with a tunnel!

Check out his playlist that goes into all the details, but this is an incredible undertaking. Currently he has connected his pantry to the shed and now he’s heading out towards the bunker. In a recent video he also mentioned that he wants to connect to his driveway so that an elevator can lower his car down into the tunnel. He knows no limits!

Auto Industry Sales By Manufacturer

Welcome to anotherĀ Tesla Tuesday!

While I don’t have sales data to back it up, I expect that our county ranks near the top of Tesla’s sales list. They’re everywhere. At a stoplight a couple weekends ago, there were five Teslas waiting with me. On the highway, there’s usually at least one in sight at all times. But this area is an anomaly. How well are they selling around the country?

Would you believe me if I told you that in January 2022, in the US, Telsa outsold Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler? Check out this data from truecar.com.

ManufacturerFeb 2021 ActualJan 2022 ActualYoY % Change
BMW26,39324,024-7.8%
Daimler20,31720,400-1.9%
Ford161,834142,445-16.0%
GM191,846142,574-13.7%
Honda106,32873,949-22.9%
Hyundai50,73551,51015.3%
Kia48,06242,488-2.6%
Nissan86,13859,742-26.5%
Stellantis151,912125,265-7.6%
Subaru48,30044,1587.7%
Tesla21,55040,16595.4%
Toyota184,249158,676-9.2%
Volkswagen Group46,84637,971-21.2%
Industry1,196,0081,002,006-10.4%

Furthermore, while most manufacturers decreased deliveries due to supply chain issues, Tesla almost doubled their output.

Tesla had two factories (Freemont, CA and Shanghai) each producing about 500,000 cars. Their Berlin factory just came online and Texas is right behind. Those will each add around 500k/year more capacity with even more capacity coming later. It remains to be seen whether Tesla has enough supplies to take advantage of all that additional capacity right away.

Tap to Pay

We’ve had “tap to pay” enabled on our phones for a while, but it really came in handy on our trip to Hawaii. The condo had a keypad lock on it, so when we left the room, as long as we had our phones, we were prepared. It got me wondering about all the options I have for paying in most stores:

  1. Swipe the physical card
  2. Tap the physical card
  3. Insert the physical card
  4. Tap my phone

Which one is the safest?

Contactless payments use NFC (Near Field Communications) which is a subset of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). When an NFC chip gets within an inch or two of a reader, wireless energy is transferred to the chip. It powers up enough to communicate with the reader via a unique encryption key for every transaction. If you’re swiping your card, you’re handing out the same information every time you swipe so if a thief gets your info one time, they are free to use it repeatedly.

Tap to pay has additional safeguards in place too:

  • Transaction amounts are limited, and you’re notified of transactions.
  • Your phone must be unlocked to make a transaction.
  • You are still backed by your credit card company’s zero-liability policy.
  • Less information is shared with the vendor (e.g. no customer name)

If it were possible to use my phone to pay everywhere, that would be the safest option. As soon as I carry a physical card around, I’m opening myself up to more risk. Tapping the card or inserting the chip are good choices if I retain control of the card, but if I must hand it off to someone (like at a restaurant), then I’m adding the risk of a credit card skimmer.

In the end, the credit card companies are the ones bearing the brunt of security breaches and they all recommend contactless payments. They’re not going to recommend something that costs them more money.

For more info, check out this article from Forbes.

Route Planning

Welcome to anotherĀ Tesla Tuesday!

Tyla has a lot of extended family members in Montana, and a few years ago, we drove to Fort Peck for a fun weekend. When the topic of a Tesla comes up with her family, the question is often asked, “Could you drive it to Fort Peck?” The short answer is, “Yes, but I probably wouldn’t.” The fastest route breaks off of I-90 at Missoula, heads up to 2, and crosses to Fort Peck. The Tesla route planner keeps you on I-90 to I-94 and then heads up to Fort Peck after a final charge in Miles City. It’s 1133 miles instead of 985 miles and it adds charging time too. If you use a third-party route site like ABetterRoutePlanner.com, you can get a little more creative. While not as fast or convenient as a supercharger station, RV campgrounds provide 50-amp service which isn’t too shabby, especially if you’re planning to stop there for a longer meal or overnight anyway. And in a pinch, lots of hotels and shopping centers (even in Montana) have much slower charging, but I wouldn’t rely on that for a trip.

If you look at any of the charging network maps, Montana and the Dakotas are barren except for the interstates. It’s easy to drive across the states but going deep off the interstate gets tricky. This is one of the reasons why we still have a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle. I have no plans to get rid of the truck and it’s always there as an option if it makes more sense for road trips. If you have multiple cars, you don’t need your electric vehicle to be capable of every drive you might ever take.

Ignoring extreme examples like Fort Peck, most of our drives straightforward with the Tesla. The car navigation system predicts battery usage and automatically routes to chargers as needed. One of the longest trips we have planned this year is to the small town of Alsea, OR. Google Maps says it is 292 miles and 4 hours and 42 minutes. If we took the Tesla, we’d have a single 8 minute charging stop along the way.

However, that leaves us with a 10% charge when we arrive at our destination. While I assume there’s a 110v outlet that we could slow charge from, I’m more likely to plan the route to include arriving with enough battery so I don’t have to worry about charging at the destination. Adding that means that total charging time increases (round trip) to 41 minutes spread across three charging stops. I guarantee that the people in the car with me would need more bathroom stops than that anyway.

When we were debating the purchase, I spent a lot of time plugging in our common drives to the Tesla route planner. Most of them don’t require any stops at all, but for the ones that do, it’s rarely more than 20 or 30 minutes of total charging time. It will take a little more planning, especially if someone needs a bathroom break and I try to find an EV charger on the fly to take advantage of the stop, but we’ll definitely be trying it and if it proves to be too annoying, we always have the truck which is a great road trip vehicle.

EV Battery Recycling

Welcome to anotherĀ Tesla Tuesday!

We hear a lot about cars burning fossil fuels. Don’t electric vehicles do the same thing? Batteries rely on raw materials like lithium and nickel. As more companies make plans to build EVs and as the global supply of these materials is in question since Russia is a big supplier, the prices are already going wild.

Are we trading one resource problem for another? Thankfully, no. While it’s true that as the EV ramp up happens, we’ll be mining materials from the ground, that won’t be the case forever. Those materials can be completely recovered from batteries once their lifespan is over, and there are numerous ways to reuse batteries once they’ve outlived their usefulness for high demand electric vehicle scenarios.

But until a sizable portion of our battery production comes from recycling, there’s going to be a big squeeze on these raw materials. This is one place where Tesla is far ahead of other automakers because they’ve already secured long term supply contracts directly with mining companies and they are producing their own batteries. They control the supply from the ground to the finished product. Other companies can make promises about how many EVs they are going to produce, but if they have no batteries to put in them then their promises are worthless. It will be a challenge for them to overcome Tesla’s current market share while also looking for sources of raw materials at manageable prices.

“Alone” Review

There are a lot of “survival” shows on TV today and they range from educational to completely fabricated but they share one thing: the people aren’t really surviving. Or rather, they are surviving very easily because they have food and supplies. There’s no real chance of anyone dying.

The TV show “Alone” is different (or else they do an exceptionally good job of faking it.) On this show, 10 contestants are each dropped in their own piece of land in a remote area. They all get the same basic items and then they can choose 10 more from a list. The last one to give up wins $500k. Their only contact with other humans is when they have periodic medical checks and somehow they swap out camera batteries and SD cards with the producers. Yes, along with surviving, they have to film everything themselves too. That’s a lot of heavy gear to carry.

It’s amazing to watch as some people tap out on the first night when they realize they are literally camping next to wild animals that can kill them. Others stay so long they get pulled out because they fail their medical checkpoints. Shelter usually goes well for most contestants, but food is always a struggle. The locations include Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Patagnoia, Mongolia, and Great Slave Lake in northern Canada. None of those are hospitable places to try to survive and they always start the season towards fall when everything is starting to die off and get cold.

I started watching the show because TimS got hooked on it and convinced me to try it. I started with season 7 because it happened to be on Netflix at the time, but if you watch, I recommend you start with season 1. (Season 7 is the best one and I think it would be even better if you built up to it to see how good that season’s contestants really were!) Currently Hulu has the first 7 seasons. Season 8 is only available for purchase. There’s also one season of a spinoff called “Alone: The Beast” but it’s not worth watching.

If you’re squeamish about watching someone gut big game with a Leatherman or try to repair a gash in their hand from an axe that slipped, maybe this isn’t your show. But I loved this show and I hope they keep going with it. The psychology of the whole thing was amazing, and I feel like I learned some bushcraft by osmosis.

MC Etcher Drag Engraver

For Christmas, my father-in-law gave me the 120 degree MC Etcher diamond drag engraver bit from Carbide 3D. It fits into my CNC router but is used without the router powered on. The tip is spring loaded so that it will have constant pressure with the surface as it gets dragged along. You can drag engrave many different materials so on a trip to Home Depot, I randomly picked out a couple tiles.

My first attempt was making a sign for the reloading bench that my father-in-law was building. I drew up a design with a herringbone background not knowing if it would work. The sound is a bit like nails on a chalkboard, but it worked great! I ended up going over parts of the design multiple times to get a more defined line.

Later I also made a plaque for the garden bench that I posted about before.

I’m looking forward to trying some other materials too. I think a smooth granite tile could make really nice award plaque and some acrylic could be neat with edge lighting. The possibilities are endless and it’s a fun tool to have at my disposal.

The Best Pen

We have a lot of cheap pens around our house. They get collected from random locations and every time I grab one of them, I’m frustrated that they are not great to write with. I heard someone on a podcast mention the Pilot G2 0.7mm gel ink pen and they went on and on about how they threw away every other pen in their house once they found these. Then I randomly heard someone else talk about the same pen a few weeks later. Maybe it was some sneaky social marketing campaign, but it worked and I bought them.

This is now the only pen I buy. I will walk around the house to find one instead of writing with anything else.

(This isn’t a sponsored post, but that is an Amazon referral link.)