09 January 2022
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A Trip to CES on FSD

You will recall that "yesterday" I made a prediction: I would be attending the Consumer Electronic Show, an adventure involving driving to Las Vegas using Tesla's "Full Self Driving" software and risking contracting Covid on the crowded show floor. The very first conclusion you can draw from this blogitem is that I have returned from CES safely and am still healthy and arguably capable of writing.

  • My prediction came true.
  • Tesla FSD didn't kill me or anyone else.
  • I don't yet have Covid, but should know in a day or two. I am, four days after significant exposure, symptom-free.

It was a very interesting adventure, all of it. FSD was a mixed experience, CES in the time of Omicron was very different, and the show itself, notwithstanding or perhaps because of the differences, was really good. There were a number of exhibits worthy of RIKLblog reportage, falling largely into the categories of interesting technology, surprise, and irony. There will be multiple blogitems, all with photographs. But first:

Getting to the Show

This was more of a challenge than you might think. In effect, I had forgotten how to travel. As for most of us, these have been two years of stasis. No holidays, no trips, no trade shows beyond the execrable Zoom versions thereof, and off of which I swore after I realized how tedious they were*.

Just "packing" for the trip required tapping my memory for all the requisites for staying in a hotel. I followed myself around for a couple of days reminding me what I needed, and managed not to forget anything. (I almost left the new charger for my watch at home!)

Full Self Driving

Although I've had a Tesla for a couple of years now, I got it just before the pandemic and I put more miles on it driving back and forth to Phoenix to get vaccinated than for almost any other purpose. Other than my trip to the CES in 2020, it didn't leave a circumscribed and familiar area. At the time of purchase I declined the $10,000 charge for the FSD software and also didn't go Ludicrous, as the extra motor option was called. Very expensive with essentially no opportunity to use it. It would be nice to have, but using it would probably have cost a few hundred dollars per second! I would surely have loved to have a car that would drive me, and when Tesla offered a monthly FSD rental option at $199, I thought about it much harder and sent Tesla a payment so I could try it out.

Using it for the first time on a road trip made me a little nervous, but I'm not a driving wuss any more than I am a plague wuss. A quick summary: I like it, but not $199/month worth, and I self-validated my decision not to purchase that option along with the car. I expect that when my month is about over I shall subject my thousands of millireaders to a RIKL Review. (Link from the future! Here it is.)

CES in the Time of Omicron

CES made a big, big fuss over safety. The rules were, at least for those traveling from the United States:

  • Use the CLEAR App to verify vaccination status.
  • Test yourself in your hotel room using CES-provided test kits before going to the show.
  • Wear masks whenever indoors.

If you've gone anywhere or done anything during these days of travail and turmoil, you have discovered that no large venue has been able to enforce their rules. CES wasn't much of an exception. Although I used the CLEAR App successfully, the information I dutifully entered into it from my legitimate vaccination documents could have been from someone else's or fraudulent. Unless CLEAR is all-seeing, they had no way to verify them

They neglected to give me the self-test kits when I registered. I had to go to an out-of-the-way portion of the venue to obtain the tests, and nobody cared if I used them or not. In fact, they seemed more concerned that I not cadge a second set, and scanned my badge only to prevent that!

Sallying Forth Into the Halls of Stuff and Things

And so, safely arrived after Tesla's ineffectual efforts to befuddle me and the CES's putative attempt to keep me "safe," I ventured into the show itself. Reports on the 'morrow.

* I'm something of a trade-show veteran, having attended at least one for each of the past 57 years until 2021. I miss the 3D hardware, the interactions, and the plates of random and occasionally international chocolates and other sweets at various exhibits. Zoom, after I gave it a somewhat valiant try, doesn't satisfy me.

Richard Factor


"Paper Sun*"



*The full version



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