GM buying back Volts

Dec 02 2011 Published by under Cars, Corporate America, Dumb Americans

So GM is offering to loan all 5000 Volt owners a non-Volt auto while the Volt battery problem is researched. OR GM will by back your Volt.  Plus GM will recall and fix all 5000 Volts when the problem is found and a fix is determined.  Sounds like GM is taking no chance on screwing up customer relations for the Volt.

Why is GM doing all this…read on.

It is amazing that people are concerned about the volt catching file SEVEN DAYS  after side impact crash testing.  The Vold is not starting to burn during the crash, or seven seconds after the crash or even seven minutes  after the crash. The fire starts seven days after the crash.

Mind you that when a normal gas engine car is tested all the gas is removed form the test car. The all electric battery cars are tested with fully charges battery packs and there are NO fires during the actual crash test.  To date there has also been on Volts catching fire in real file auto crashes.  GM is notified, by the On-Star computer whne a Volt is envolved in a crash. As a precaution GM is sending out team to drain the Volts battery with in 48 hours of  being notified by On-Star of a crash.

So the big question is why all the concern. A Gasoline powered car can explode and burn on crash impact. In fact there are over 200,000 fiery crashes every year.  Where is the out cry of who dangerous a car is caring around 10 to 50 gallons of flammable liquid?

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Netflix Un-truths

Sep 20 2011 Published by under American Consumer, Corporate America


Reed Hastings the CEO of Netflix posted a video on YouTube on 9/18 to apologize and clarify the changes he is makeing to Netflix.  The big change he announced, in the video, is the splitting of Netflix into two companies. One for streaming called Netflix and a new company for the DVD by mail business to be called Qwikster.

Reed apologized over and over for not communicating  this change, in business strategy, effectively to the current subscriber base. Reed only makes a small mention that splitting of the company will cause a cost increase.

The cost increases  announment was made over two month ago. So if you think about it Reed must have been thinking about the changes for  2 or 3 month before that. I would think a company of this size would do some planning before making shuch a bold change as splitting the company.

So when  you look at the new Qwikster website (9/20/11 screen shot above) and only see a one page website announcing the new site is comming soon? You start to wonder how much planning has gone in to the YouTube video and the decision to split Netflix. After four months of time you think there would be a real site for the Qwikster business. Why would Reed make this huge change and not have the web site ready.

Makes you think he is backpedaling in the video to recover from a bad decesion to raise subscription rates so soon again. The price hike  has caused a loss of over a million subscribers.

Not only are subscribers unhappy, look at Wall Street,  the stock price is down to $143 from an all time high of $286 just (last month Aug 2011). That is a 50% loss in value in a month.

Reed better do a lot better then he did in his apology video or that subscriber base and stock price will continue to erode!

Or was the split done to position Netflix for Amazon to purchase Netflix?

 

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Saving Money on Utilities: Part 1

Jul 17 2011 Published by under Dumb Americans

Things we did to save money on utilities:

Electricity, this was the area we made the biggest impact. We saves a tone of money by installing a variable speed pool pump.  This is an expensive item but an out dated pool pump can waist  a lot of electricity. We paid about $1,100 for a new highly efficient pool pump. But this is a device you use every for 6 to 8 hours a day. We were using 18kWh a day running our pool pump. With the new pump we are using only 2.5kWh a day. A huge savings.

Also in the area of electricity we replaced all our light bulbs with LED bulbs not Compact Florescent. LED light bulbs use one tenth of the energy of an incandescent or Halogen bulb. Plus LED’s do not contain the very toxic mercury that CF do.

As we replace appliances we always check the energy guide labels to purchase the lowers energy cost appliance we can find that meets our needs. You would be surprised the difference in the energy usage between different appliances.  It all adds up.

The we started scouting the house for vampire power users. Vampire power are devices that use powers 24  by 7 even when you are not using the device. And the bigest culprit here are wall warts. you know the power transformers that plug in to the wall. well they draw power even when the device is not being used.  This add up real fast if yo can reduce you vampire power by only 0.5kWh that ends up being a 12kWh per day savings.

We drove our electric usage from a average of 40kWh a day to and average or 22kWh a day. The max we were hitting in the summer was 60kWh a day down to 44kWh a day.

That is a huge savings and anyone can do it. This does not mean i’m a tree hugger, it just means i’m cheep, frugal and like keep my money. It is also a great was to reduce expenses when your getting ready to retire.

 

 

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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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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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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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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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We are doing SOLAR

Sep 02 2010 Published by under Geek stuff, Sloar, Taxes

After all the research:

And waiting for years we are finally making the plunge to installer solar.  We kept waiting for the economy to get better but it seems that could take for ever. The monthly cash flow will not change that much. Instead of making a monthly payment to Southern California Edison, for electricity, we will be paying off the photovoltaic solar panel system. And we will be getting FREE electrical power in 7 years.  Plus the state and federal rebates almost cut the price in half.

We have done all the research, reading on the internet, subscribing to magazines like Home Power, home showes, and even going to Solar seminars. We have talked to several contractors, gotten all the bids.

All the contractors licenses were checked  on the California Contractor State License Board website at: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/.  We checked to see what kind of  license that had, whether they had just a C10 (electrical) or a C46 (solar electric),  how long there were in business,  and was their bond and insurance current. We also checked some Solar directories, on the internet, were customers can comment on the contractors work.

After selecting a local Solar contractor, which was important to us. We started checking the job references. We talked to to several home owners and visited several installs to check the quality of the products and workmanship.  we asked wach referance the same four questions;

1.   Would recommend this  solar company to a friend or family member?

2.  Did this Solar company perform the work in a  timely manner?

3.   Did this company perform the work in a professional  Manner?

4.  Would you use this Solar company again?

All the reference came back extremal positive, all the site visits were installed in a professionally, timely manner! So we singed a contract are are ready to start installing are 7kw system. Check back as I will be posting updates of the install. The entire install will take only four days. It will take me several weeks just to post the progress of the project.

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Have you gone Key Less yet?

Aug 03 2010 Published by under Future things, Geek stuff

How things change. I use to have a pocket full of keys. You know a key for the house, and key for the car and Key for work and some how the number of keys just grew. Will now I do not have any keys in my pocket and guess what I do not need any keys for normal daily  life.

The world is going key less, in respect to the old fashion metal tumbler keys. Now days I carry around electronic do dads in my pocket. For the car it is great. You do not even need to take anything out of your pocket to unlock the door. It just automatically unlocks for you. Just grab the door handel and poof the door pops open. Then to start the car just push the button on the dash. That’S it.

For work, it is a wireless iButton that allows Me to unlock and open the door. Not as hands free as the car access. Still the same iButton can get you in the main office door and any other door you are authorized too open.  The iButton access can be limited by time of day or even the day of week. Plus when a employee leaves you just deactivate his iButton.

Now your saying, what about your house , well in the car there is the home link system that allows me to open the garage door, so who needs a key to open your house. and if your not in your car there is an outside keypad that you can use to open the garage door.

All this stuff is not rocket science, and has been available for almost 10 years. So what is the big deal. The big deal is the adoption rate of the technology recently and the low cost. It seems this technology is every where. Makeing it easer for every one to go key less.

 

 

 

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Chevy Volt pricing

Well today is the day Chevy announced the pricing on the new Volt.  If you have been living under a rock, the Volt is Chevy answer to the electric car. It is not a true ALL electric since it has an on-board gas driven generator. So Chevy called it a “extender Range” electric vehicle. I guess you need the generator as the Volt has one of the worst range numbers in it’s field. There are several other ALL electric cars that bost a 100 mile range, like the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla S.

So now that pricing has been announced you can order you new Chevy Volt at selected Chevy dealers. Yo can find thoughs special dealers here. The volt will first be available is selected markets like California and New York and the rolled out the the other areas. The list price with out any rebates starts at $41,000 and will be in showrooms in November 2010.

It have been a long wait since the GM EV1 was pulled form the public. There have been lots of manufactures discussing products in this field. In late 2010 and 2011 we will starts see several electric cars on the highway. Is going to be and exciting time. We will see it the wait was worth it. So get you solar PV panels installed and start driving fossil fuel free!

 

 

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