Archive for the 'Geek stuff' category

PHP too the Rescue

May 08 2012 Published by under Geek stuff

I have just crawled out form under a ROCK.  And PHP is shining like a brand new day. Years ago I did some programming for some websites. But for the last four or five years I have just fixed things here and there. All this old programming was done in Microsoft’s Active Server Pages, aka ASP.  This was the pre Microsoft .NET revamp of the ASP environmental. Most people refer to it as Classic ASP.

Years and years ago when I started diving into the web world,  with ASP programing it was easy, as early in my life I studied the BASIC programming language.  BASIC  was one of  the programing languages  I used  in collage, along with FORTRAN and COBOL. The BASIC was called BASIC+ and was running on a DEC PDP 11/45. IF you know  what all this is you are older then me.

ASP classic scripting could use ether VBScript or  can use JavaScript as a programing language. Since VBScript  was based on BASIC it was like being back at school.  I felt right at home.

Since I have been out of the programming universe the last several years I missed the transition from Classic ASP to  ASP.NET. That is where PHP comes to the rescue.  As PHP is more like ASP Classic. ASP.NET is a complete paradigm shift away from ASP Classic.

In my initial  investigation in to the PHP world I  found a vast complex labyrinth of support. There are all kinds of support for accessing web services such as Google, yahoo, Flicker and more.  Then there are coding frame works like Zend and codeigniter that can get a web appliation up and running quickly. And by using some of the Zend provided coding modules, you can grab photos form Picasa and other web services with out breaking a sweat.

The first problem is learning the difference in the programming languages. PHP is based on C++ which is like BASIC but has a different syntax.  So on with the adventure, lets explore the world of PHP.

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Generic Top Level Domain Names gTLD

Jun 23 2011 Published by under American Consumer, Corporate America, Geek stuff

 

ICANN has recently approved the new Generic Top Level Domain Names or gTLD. So how will this change the internet.

1. First thing that came to mind was better security for banks. A bank or finical institution can buy the gTLD and every thing that do can be tied to that gTLD. The user would not need to worry about phishing. there would be on confusion one what domain the e-mail or query is coming from. The only question are the Banks and financial institution willing to fork out $185k fork the security feature.

2. It will make things easier to find and shorter URLs. For example if Google were to buy the top level domain Google. You could access the different Google products by using URLs like. search.Google or Gmail.Google or Maps.Google.

3. The generic Top Level Domain will really help cites and geographic regions group there content or even create a revenue stream by selling domain name.  Example MannsTheater.Hollywood.

4. Other groups could also benefits like Plastic surgeons you could domai name like drBrown.PlasticSurgery or Dr.headman.PlasticSurgery.

These are just a few way that the new gTLD name might change the what we use the internet

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PV panels and SMOG

Jun 22 2011 Published by under Geek stuff, Sloar, Uncategorized

Is smog a consideration when planing a photovoltaic solar system? Well in my very un-scientific analysis of my solar photovoltaic system production I have seen some patterns develop.

I have a monitoring system that constantly  collects data on how much the PV system produces every hour and instant production. One thing that I keep monitoring is what is the peak amount of wattage does the system produce.  I deduced that the closer we approach the summer solstice the more power the PV system would producre. General that is true, I have seen a constant increase in monthly production since the winter solstice.

But what I did notice is that for a couple of days after a rain storm the PV system was generating more power then on average. To the tune of 2 kilowatts (or about 5%) more. Two day after the rain storm the production would drop back to the lower average peak output.

The pattern was very constant (see chart below). Rain and then a couple of higher peek production days and then a return to the lower peeks. So I deduced that the days following a rain storm the air is cleaner, less smog. anyone can see, as they fly in the the Los Angelse basin, that most of the time there is thick layer of smog. So the smog is filtering the sun light and less sun is reaching the PV panels.

So you might argue hat the rain cleans off the PV panels. All the rain washes of the dust awasy and the panels receive more sunlight and therefore producer more power.  Sounds reasonable, BUT just recently we has a service clean the PV panels and both the day of the cleaning and the two day after the cleaning the power production was the average peek not the 2 kilowatts higher peek. Both day were also very sunny and cloud free.

So the more I look at the monitor reports, the more I’am convinced that the smog is costing me about 2 kilowatts a day in lower power production. All due to the SMOG levels in our area.

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Solar – Monitoring System

Feb 19 2011 Published by under Geek stuff, Sloar, Solar Install

What fun is a new solar co-generation facility if you do not know what your are producing. The Sunpower system come with a few bell and whistles in the monitoring area.

The first monitoring device is a small glass display panel that shows what the system is producing. It displays daily and life time production.

 

Then there is the website that Sunpower monitors hour by hour solar panel production. Pretty cool to see what your system is doing at different times through the day. The information is presented in a very elegant and simple manner. Very easy to grasp the concept.  Its is so simple that you do not realize the wealth of information.

But there was a problem in paradise. How can I manage my electrical usage only seeing what I’m producing?  Well Sunpower has a solution. They can add a device to your incomong electrical street service and add consumption to your monitoring system.

So now I get both production and usage hour by hour.  You would be surprised how aware this make you of what and when you are using  electricity. Now that I get the full picture I can start managing usage much more effectively and know if I we are using more then was produced or producing more then we were usinging.

solar panel monthly production and usage

Yearly solar panel production

Some of the additional cool stuff the website also captures is historical data. You can quickly look at the graph that runs along the bottom of the page or you can look at monthly and yearly production vs usage.

You can also go back in time and look and any given day and see all the details of production vs usage. Very nice for comparisons when you are trying different techniques of managing usage.

 

But the best and coolest monitoring is available using an iPhone application. On the iPhone you get the current day production vs usage, plus monthly and yearly history. The big ting missing on the iPhone is the ability to go back and look at previous days.

 

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Using 163 Light Bulbs?

Jan 20 2011 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff

Do you have 163 60 watt light bulbs on for several hours a day.  Will if you are running a single speed 2 horse power pool pump, that is how many 60 watt light bulbs you have on each and every hour the pump is on.

 

The average 2HP single speed pool pump uses 2000 watts per hour. Most people run there pump atlease 3 hours a day, most likely 6 to 8 in the summer.  So for the average summer month you are spending $50 to $60 a month, based on Southern California rates. It could be costing you more as you move up to a higher rate tier when you consume more electricity in the summer.

How does this happen. Back in the 70′s and 80′s pool pump horse power was king. The pool salesman would upgrade you to a better, higher, horse power for the same cost and you though you were getting a better deal. More power, ya!

So,  do you really need all that horse power to jam the water through a pool pump and filer. NO, you do not. So the pool industry came out with a two speed pump to save you money on electricity.  One speed to clean your pool and get that pool sweep running. With a slower speed to circulate the water and get your turn rate. Did it save money?  You bet!  But now there is even something better.

The Pool industry has a variable speed pump. The pump can be programed to run at almost any speed you want. And here is the dirty little secrete! As you decrease the pump speed, by reducing the revolutions per minute (RPMs),  the pump gets more efficient and uses LESS ELECTRICITY. Are you with me?

The normal pool pump runs at or above 3200 RPM, that will use 2000 watts or more of electricity per hour. A variable speed pump can be run at 1100 RPMs and only use 156 watts or less per hour. Sometime 145 watts.  BUT BUT what about my water turn rate, will it turn over in 6 hours? NO, so you run the pump longer. BUT that use more electricity, right? NO, not  at the lower RPMs.

If you run your single speed pump for 6 hours, that 12,000 watts of electricity.  If you triple your run time to 18 hours with the variable speed pump you will only use 2,772 watts of electricity. That is less then what one and one half hours of the single speed pumps electricity usage.

So what about the pool sweep it will not run at that low flow rate. So you program the variable speed pump to ramp up to maybe 2000RPM and use anothe 1000 watts of electricity to keep the pool clean. Onky for an hour or so. Your still way under 12,000 watts of power.

So save some money and get a variable speed pump. Do they cost more? Ya a lot more.  But you just missed a Southern California Edison rebate program that paid you $300 to install a variable speed pump. I’m sure there will be more incentives. Just keep your eye open. Once you get a variable speed pump you will only be using 2.5 60 watt bulbs per hour not 163. And that save you money and is good for the environment.

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Solar – Photovoltaic Panels

Dec 09 2010 Published by under Geek stuff, Sloar, Solar Install

All the panels are delivered in a small container.

Inside the container the panels are stacked on a pallet with the inverters and all the mounts.

The solar PV panels are packed two to a cardboard box.

The solar PV panels are packed two to a cardboard box.

On the  back of each PV panel is the connection modal with a male and female weather proof connector.

Here is a shot of the PV panels installed on the roof

All 32 PV panels installed on the room making power

Roof mounted photovoltaic solar panels

Next the monitoring system.

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Solar – off with the roof

Oct 15 2010 Published by under Geek stuff, Sloar, Solar Install

 

 

This is not your normal instalation of photovoltaic panels. In a normal install, on a concrete tile roof, the photovoltaic panels are install on top of the concrete tiles. The contractor walks all over your fragile concrete tiles and cuts holes in you tiles to install the mounting hardware.

 

 

The photo above is an examle of the traditional method of installing a PV panel mounting system on a concert tile roof. Select tiles are removed, a bracket is mounted to the rood sheeting, a riser post is attached to the mounting bracket, a standard sheet metal  roof flashing is placed over the post and the top edge is sealed. This whole process is tough on the existing roof, as you are walking all over the tiles, and prone to leak due to the numbers location of the mounting post. This type of install also used a rail that the panels are mounted to.

Our installation requires the concrete tile too be removed. The a New 40 year asphalt shingle is laid down, a metal flashing is placed on the roof and the SunPower smart mounts are attached to the roof.  Pre-installed on the botom of the mount is a sealing compound the is squeezed out the the bolts are tightened.  Talking about bolts there are eight. No rise post or rails are used. the panels attach directly to the SunPower Smart mount.

Next the electronics.

 

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Google TV let down

Oct 07 2010 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff, Google

Wednesday October sixth was a real let down!

Logitech and Google started releasing a bunch of information about Google TV recently. Google luanched a more informative website http://www.google.com/tv/ early in the week.  That was the first sign of the letdown. DVR functional would only be available to Satellite customers. BUMMER!!!

Then on Wednesday (10/6) we get the first detail look at the Logitec Revue. The first thing I noticed was the connections on the back were limited to HDMI In and Out. So how was this going to work with OTA (over the air) broadcasting? well it is not, BUMMER!!

I was hoping  that the Logitech Revue device was going to be able to get ANY internet content.  Thats mean stuff like HULU! But several reporters reported no HULU at launch. Plus it was missing from all the screenshots. Another BUMMER!!

And the cost of the Logitech Revue is $300 dollars. Thats is a $200 dollar premium over most to the rest of the market. Like Apple TV and Roku which are both selling at the $99 dollar price point. So the cost is a real big BUMMER!!

On thing that is interesting about the Logitech Revue is it ability to control other devices like a digital cable , Satellite box, or a A/V receiver.  The Revue has an IR blaster and two connections on the back for IR out. I guess IR control is a no brainer for a company like Logitech that makes all the Harmony remotes. Plus you can use your smart phone (iPhone or Android)  to control the Revue over WiFi with a Logitech App. That is cool.

But the BUMMERS out number the cool factors, so I canceled my pre-order. I will sit on the side line a little longer to see who comes out with the set top box that hits the sweet spot. I thought it was going to be Google , but they missed by a long shot. My one hope is that this is just the initial release of Google TV…. Maybe better features are still coming

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20,000 Nissian Leaf sold

Oct 01 2010 Published by under Cars, Corporate America, Geek stuff

The Nissian Leaf, the All electric car, has not even shipped yet and the entire first year production is SOLD OUT. Nissian has stopped taking asseveration on the Nissian Leafs web site. A month or so ago you could get a reservation, but only after you had a special electrical survey of your house to make sure that the Leaf could be charged at your home.

Nissian claims that the overwhelming demand, for the Nissian Leaf, far exceeds their expectations.  Problem is anyone wanting a new Nissian Leaf will need to wait until for the 2012 model next year.

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Dumping Cable TV

Sep 03 2010 Published by under American Consumer, Changing scene, Geek stuff

We have dumped the Cable TV feed. Just got tired of all the games the cable provider was playing and the cost. We still get internet through cable but no Cable TV.

At first it was a tough. You know Cable TV withdraws.  Not being able to watch all the shows you get hooked on. Plus with the Tivo you were always able to keep a nice stock of shows to watch at your convenience.

Well after some digging on the internet and services like Netflix Watch Now we were able to make it through the first few months. Watching the LOST series filled up a lot of TV viewing time.  The six seasons of  LOST added up to  over 100 episodes.  Most of LOST was streamed over the Netflix service.

We are stilll streaming a lot of content form Netflix. There a lot of great show to watch Like Dr Who,  MI-5,  Dexter and more. We have also been exploring several of the cable networks wed sites , like USA network, SyFy and History. These networks release full episodes any where form 1 to 7 days after it airs on Cable. The problem here is they only keep the 4 most recent episodes and you can not easily record then for time shift viewing.

Another great web site for content is Hulu. There is a lot of content, some of it old, mostly episodes of previosu seasons or just the most recent 4  episodes.  But if you look around you will find some gems. Just the other night I found a DIY sires called Cool Tools. There are not an current episodes but there are three full seasons of shows.

Hulu is also starting up a paid service for $9.99 per month called Hulu Plus. I would be happy to pay the money if they gave me better access to current cable shows. After looking through the info on the Plus service it did not seem to offer much for the money. But is it early and the service is not in full release yet.

So we have survived the first 90 days of NO Cable TV.  Give it a try it is easer then you thing, plus you save a boat load of CASH.

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