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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Archive for Miscellaneous

Use the marginal kWH cost for efficiency savings!

I haven’t done a survey on how green home products present savings to consumers, but my guess is they are generally doing it wrong.  Granted, this might be some mandate from some industry group or governmental body, I don’t know, but it is key that consumers see the difference.

Here is an example, but first some background.

I recently picked up a Kill-a-Watt and have been measuring different devices in the house while on standby.   I want to get a handle on how much vampire power is being wasted.

It turns out that around 60 watts is bleeding from our main home entertainment system when on standby.  That is about 60 watts * 8760 hours = 525 kWH per year.

Aside from a classic power strip with a switch, there are solutions now that supply controlled outlets that only make power available when some master component is on.  One solution is the Zuni Digital smart powerstrip.  Another is the is the Belkin Conserve, though the latter doesn’t have enough outlets (disclosure: those our Amazon links).

So what am I on about?  If you look at the Belkin information, they present a very similar scenario as mine and conclude that the Conserve power strip can save up to $67 / year!  Unfortunately, they are using the wrong price:

Dollar figure based on US Department of Energy average retail price for residential electricity of $0.1132 per killowatt-hour.

Residential electricity rates are often more complex than that, though, and here in the PG&E territory, such a low rate only applies to your baseline usage.  The rates go up based on your usage.  The top rate is actually $0.40352.

If you are a consumer making a decision on saving 525 kWH per year, you should be looking at your top rate — i.e., the top rate you are actually paying to your utilty based on your circumstances.  Because if you shave off kWH, you are saving the money on the top rate, not on the bottom rate.   I’m embarassed to admit it, but our rate is 40-cents.  If I save 526 kWH that saves me $212.    (Of course, if your energy savings drop you to a lower rate, the calculation changs).

The Zuni sells for $39 — that pays for itself in just over two months.  Now, granted, our entertainment system is actually used sometimes, but I estimate it is unused 94% of the year, so that still nets nearly $200.

So, what is the marginal rate you pay?

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Thoughts on Windows 8

Here are various thoughts I have about Windows 8:

On the name:

  • I hope this “codename Windows 8” stuff is just a joke.  Just call it Windows 8.  Every other OS that I can think of has first and foremost a number associated with it.  In fact, I think this must just be a joke, because Microsoft is more and more coming around to the “Windows” name as the brand.  Calling it Windows Flambe or Windows Azule or Windows Enchilada doesn’t help with the brand.  8.
  • Now, of course, this ignores the fact that Windows 7 is a name, not a version.  So implicit in my plea for Windows 8 is that it actually be version 8, not just named 8.  Sorry if that is confusing, but I’m not the one who decided that Windows version 6.1 would be called Windows 7.

On the new interface:

  • Looks kind of interesting, but I’m concerned about the “one interface to rule them all” approach.  Remind anyone of the original Windows Mobile?  Just a small form-factor Windows machine with Start menu.  That seemed logical, but it turned out that it was nearly unusable.  The Windows Phone 7 Metro UI is pretty cool for a phone.  It would work well for a tablet.  It seems wierd for a desktop/laptop, but maybe not.
  • The bigger problem is that I hope Microsoft gets that standard Windows applications don’t become productive tablet applications with the addition of touch.  I have a convertible laptop.  It would be interesting to have Metro on it, but that will only solve one piece of what makes it nearly unusable in tablet form.

On Silverlight:

  • So, unlike Windows Phone 7, Windows 8 won’t use Silverlight for the Metro UI.  This isn’t surprising.  Microsoft has eschewed .NET for core Windows development from day 1.  OK, from day 2, because on day 1 they said .NET would be the new Windows API.  It never happened.  And this is just another indication that it never will.
  • That said, I think it makes total sense for them to use HTML 5 and not Silverlight for Windows.
  • This begs the question: if HTML 5 and JavaScript are good for Windows 8, then how long until these replace Silverlight for Windows Phone?
  • Which begs another (future) question: what will Silverlight be good for then?

A little snarky, but I’m feeling snarky today.

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ConnectivityWeek 2011

I’ll be presenting at Connectivity Week on Monday, the 23rd on this panel. I’ll be talking about experiences in California integrating retail DR in the wholesale market.

Update: I’m filling in for Rizwaan at the CAISO on another panel. This time I’ll be speaking about ISO perspectives on DR.

If you are at that conference, look me up. Also, they provided a discount code. Email me at robert at rwandering dot net, and I’ll give you the code.

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Updating Windows Phone 7 to “nodo”

I had one hell of a time updating the Windows Phone 7 LG Optima 7 from PDC 2011.

It seems like many people have had some form of this problem: When the zune software reboots the phone before the update, the phone gets stuck with the “connect your phone” picture.

Some people seem to get errors of some kind or a timeout, but on my machine I never got any error. It just didn’t work. I went through all of the troubleshooters I could find but just couldn’t get it to work.

The solution turned out to be to perform the update on a different computer. I did this with the February and March updates.

Note that I tried to update on the original computer after the February update, hoping the problem was gone, but no luck. I had to do both updates on the second machine. Who knows, maybe when the next update comes it will work on the original machine (or maybe Microsoft will fix this with Windows Update or a Zune software update).

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When VPC Integration Components Upgrade Fails

So I never forget this again. When an upgrade of Virtual PC Integration Components fails,
Delete %windir%\system32\drivers\wdf01000.sys.

#PDC10 Keynote Roundup

PDCs used to be something special, only reserved for big announcements or trends for Microsoft / Developers.  Of course, they used to be bigger too – regardless of Ballmer’s calling this the biggest PDC ever.  Holding it in Redmond, keeping it down to two days, limiting the attendees to 1000 (or so?) are all indicative of this PDC change. Will it be permanent?  Who knows, but I do wonder why they held it now.

Ray Ozzie was sorely missed in the keynote.  I can’t help but wonder if this PDC was put on just to show that Microsoft is still developer focused even with Mr. Ozzie’s departure.  Ballmer did a fine job this morning, but without Bill Gates and now no Ozzie, it doesn’t feel the same.

Anyway, in terms of the announcements (i.e., the “reveals”), not too much and nothing I would say is truly big.

There are lots of announcements though, but mostly they are incremental additions to existing products (e.g., all the new Azure enhancements) or the completion of initiatives that have been in process for years (e.g., Dallas).

All together the announcements show terrific strides for the Azure platform making it all the more compelling.

Windows Mobile 7 is also pretty cool.  I don’t know I’ll every use it, but I can see why a lot of people will.  I think they’ll have a homerun here.

Here is a live view on my PDC10 tweets:


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Angels don’t belong in hell

Robert Scoble makes some good points about Angel Gate in his post The secret hell of tech industry angel investors.

I mostly agree with what he says, except I think his underlying premise is wrong:

It’s good for entrepreneurs and good for users to have angel investors caught in hell. When they feel they have to spend more money to stay in the game, that’s good for all of the rest of us (press, users, entrepreneurs).

First, there really is a place for the classic angel – that is, the Ron Conway kind that is in it to help entrepreneurs succeed.  I don’t think it helps anybody if these angels are “in hell.”  The angels that Robert talks about are really VC in my book and frankly I don’t think they belong “in hell” either.  Now some do, of course . . .

Second, more money thrown at entrepreneurs is not in and of itself a good thing. On some level it gets more people building companies, but does it really get more people innovating?  Before the “dot bomb” hit, the same thing was happening in VC.  Everyone and their brother formed a venture company and all sorts of things were funded that were patently ridiculous.  That was a part of why the crash happened.


Google Apps becomes 1st class citizen

Thursday I logged into my Google Apps for Domains “manage this domain” page.  I was surprised to find an option to migrate my account to work more like a standard Google account.  I’ve complained about this in the past and am glad they’ve resolved it.

24 hours later and my GAFD account worked as a logon – and more importantly, my account was integrated – with just about everything.  14 hours after that and I even have my Google Voice account and phone number ported into my GAFD account.


A couple of points:

  1. Once you migrate your accounts, it will appear that you need separate browsers for your accounts.  You don’t, you just need to read the following and do what it says for each of your accounts:
  2. If you want to move your Google Voice account, fill out this form:  They say it could take two weeks, but for me it was 14 hours.

GAFD being more integrated is actually a great help because I’m now managing one fewer contact list.  Now I’m just hoping for a Google desktop app that can take calls.

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Thank you, Google! Chrome starts supporting WSR!

Some time ago I posted that I was abandoning Chrome until it supports Windows Speech Recognition (WSR). 

I did go back to Chrome after some time as I became more embroiled in the different Google Apps services, but I have always found it irritating that speech recognition wasn’t supported.

Every once in awhile I try it again and found today an important improvement.

WSR does work in GMail now, albeit just with the “dictation scratchpad”, but that is a big improvement.  It doesn’t quite work in Google Docs, but I’m hopeful they’ll get that working soon.

Thanks, Google!

BTW: I actually don’t know if this is Google’s doing or the result of a Windows patch . . . I hope it is the former, otherwise this is likely the end-state.

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Silverlight to be announced for the iPhone soon?

Interesting announcement this morning from Apple: that non Apple dev tools can be used to create iOS apps:

In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.

Nothing in the release mentions the browser.  In fact the part that says “apps do not download any code” seems to imply not allowing RIA at all.  This part is a bigger pain point for users.

But if the Silverlight runtime (full .NET?) or Flash can be used to built full applications, that is pretty cool.

904 days ago I posted Counting the days till Silverlight announced for iPhone.  That sure was more than I expected, but how many more days now?

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