Thursday, 24 September 2015

07:25 – I have a bone to pick with the US federal government. Why are they wasting the time of SEAL Team Six, Delta Force, and so on by sending them out to track down and kill minor annoyances like Osama bin Laden, when they could instead be sending them out to track down and kill phone and email spammers? I’m completely serious here. I get a dozen or more spam phone calls and thousands of spam emails every day, and I’m sure I’m not alone. (Yes, our phone number is on the DNC list; makes no difference as far as I can tell. What we need is a C/EMAD Call/Email Me And Die list.) We should be relentlessly hunting down and killing telemarketers and email spammers, wherever in the world they may be. And it’s a self-limiting problem. We’d probably have to blow away only 10,000 or 100,000 of them before the rest got the message. What do you call 10,000 dead phone/email spammers? A good start.

Email from Jen. She and her husband are considering improving their alternative electric power situation. They currently have a generator and a limited supply of fuel as well as a 14W portable solar charger. The former is fine until the fuel runs out, and latter is fine if all you need to do is keep a few AA and AAA cells charged. They’re thinking about a low-end off-grid solar installation. They don’t expect to run their AC or even their freezer or furnace, but they would like a bit more solar capacity.

Jen mentioned that they were thinking about buying and installing a Renogy 400W off grid kit and had a lot of questions about whether to go with the MPPT or PWM charge controller, what other items they’d need to buy, how much actual electric power they could expect a small system like this to produce, and so on.

I told her that I’m not an expert on solar power, but I’d be inclined to go with the MPPT charge controller. If they’re concerned about EMP or a solar flare they can stick everything in a Faraday cage and perhaps buy a spare PWM charge controller. Those cost only $35 or so. Under ideal conditions, which conditions never are in the real world, they could expect those four 100W panels to produce maybe 2 kW-hours per day. Real world, I wouldn’t count on much more than 1 to 1.25 KW-hour per day, or about as much as their generator will produce in ten minutes. Still, that’s roughly 25 times as much as their little 14W portable panel produces, and enough to keep all of their rechargeable cells and small devices charged.

They would also need several deep-cycle batteries (like golf-cart batteries), along with the cables to connect their solar charging system to their battery bank and a decent inverter to output 120VAC, ideally a true sine-wave model. A 35 amp-hour 12V deep-cycle battery runs about $75, so they could expect to spend $300+ on those batteries. In a pinch, I told Jen they could recharge standard 12V automobile batteries, although their plates are designed for very high current draws for short periods of time (running a car starter motor) rather than low current draw for long periods, and using car batteries to substitute for deep-cycle batteries would greatly reduce their useful lifetimes. The price of an inverter is determined by its output waveform–square-wave inverters are cheaper than sawtooth or modified sine-wave inverters, which in turn are cheaper than true sine-wave inverters–and its peak/sustained amp rating.

Although I didn’t suggest doing so, I told Jen that they could also get by with buying only the panels themselves and some batteries, doing without both the charge controller and the inverter. These panels output about 18V under ideal conditions, which means they actually output considerably less voltage under real world conditions. They could hook up panels in parallel to provide that same less-than-18V output and run it directly to their battery bank to charge the batteries. They’d have to keep a close eye on things to avoid over-charging or self-discharging but it could be done, although I’d recommend spending the $35 on a basic charge controller. Either way, they could keep a significant amount of energy stored in their battery bank, which they could use with a battery charger intended to operate on normal 12V vehicle power. They’d be able to keep a boatload of 1.2V NiMH cells charged, as well as small portable electronics like emergency lighting, radios, tablets, or notebooks.


70 thoughts on “Thursday, 24 September 2015”

  1. I like the idea of solar for its quietness. Running a geni, especially if you are the only one, is EXTREMELY non-stealthy.

    During the 14 days we were without power after Ike, we never ran the geni after dark. It will attract attention from a LONG way away. Even with ROL, thieves have adopted a methodology for stealing them, other than snatch and grab. They will bring a cheap lawnmower, put it next to your geni, and then steal your geni. You still hear the motor running, so it delays your response long enough for them to get away.

    This means having big enough solar to be useful running 120v stuff, and enough storage to do so at night. At minimum, some lighting, cameras, perimeter security, alarms, fans, and comms/entertainment.

    I like the idea of a small super quiet inverter based geni too, for running just a little more than a cell phone.

    We had internet throughout the 14 days. It was a primary means of communication with others outside the area (we posted to a blog with updates) and our primary means of obtaining information about the situation locally and regionally. Our big TV wouldn’t run on geni power, and our deskside UPSs thought it was so dirty, they wouldn’t charge. That’s when I started running it thru a big UPS. The big UPS has a “generator” setting where it will charge off of dirty power and condition that power for the other devices.

    It’s critical to maintain awareness of your surrounding area, and region during a disaster. The tv was so critical that afterwards I bought a small battery capable TV so we wouldn’t have to try running the big one. I also have an HDTV powered (12v) antenna and amplifier for it, if the cable is out.

    I know I’m woefully behind on solar. With only 2 small panels, I’m in the ‘charge a phone and some AAs’ camp. In the event of a TEOTWAWKI event, I’ve made a note of where there are a whole bunch of panels and batteries. Every school crossing zone here has a panel, batteries, charge controller, wifi radio, and led lights. Almost a little survival pod! All the local bayou monitoring stations have the same, but substitute a VHF radio and antenna for the wifi. I’ve also noticed where businesses might have panels on the roof or at gate openers. One of our local schools put in solar charging LED parking lot lights. Not that I would advocate stealing property or infrastructure, but it is an interesting mental exercise to note where this stuff is.

    nick

    (also cable tv network head ends have a nat gas geni, batteries, etc. It would have to be true TEOTWAWKI to make that fair game for me, but I’m not the only one who notices where this stuff is…..)

  2. We don’t need to use Delta Force or SEALs against spammers, just make them outlaws and put a $1000 bounty on their heads, payable from their estates, the rest of which could be confiscated by the government to pay off the deficit. Then people like you, OFD and SteveF could pick them off at your leisure, and earn some pocket money at the same time… 🙂

    Every day or two I clear out my SPAM folder. I have to check because occasionally genuine e-mails end up there, but I almost never get more than five per day. Spam phone calls on my cell phone arrive at the rate of about one every 2-3 days. It’s usually obvious from the phone number if its comming from a call centre. If it’s displayed as ‘private number’ I have to answer because I get some legitimate calls from unlisted numbers. If a spammer gets through I just hang up or put the phone under a pillow for a few minutes and let them rabbit on till they realise no one’s there.

    One of the most annoying spammers was a political party who sent three texts to my cell phone over 10 minutes at 11 PM on the eve of the last federal election. I didn’t vote for them but didn’t intend to anyway.

  3. I’m guessing solar is out for us up here; not having that much sunlight for enough of the year and the expense are show-stoppers. Wind power likewise, although we get plenty of wind.

    We would probably end up like locals did fifty or a hundred years ago; wood heat, candles, lamps, and working pretty much only during daylight hours each season. From cain’t see to cain’t see. No radios, tee-vees or net. Livestock would become more important, and of course every little task around the house and yard done now with labor-saving devices would become labor-intensive and tedious.

    Up at dawn, busy with chores after a hasty breakfast until a noon break. Busy with more chores until supper, which in winter would be around 3:30-4:00 PM, read the Bible, say our prayers and hit the sack. Rinse and repeat seven days a week.

    Assuming some cooperative community effort, the priorities, after being fed, sheltered and kept warm, would be food, and then security. While working on ways to get electrical power back up.

    Another bee-yoo-tee-ful fall day here, yet still pretty warm. Off to the vets group this afternoon to make sure no has offed themselves or somebody else and then back here for more To-Do List stuff.

    Mrs. OFD has once again gotten as far as being invited for an audition for the “Jeopardy” tee-vee show; she couldn’t go to previous auditions due to her work schedule. So in two weeks, for laffs, we’ll drive down to Boston (where we met nearly twenty years ago) and she’ll do that gig and we’ll stay overnight and goof around a little bit in the big city, which incidentally is utterly dwarfed by Montreal. She’ll be home for three weeks so we hope to do a few recon trips around our AO here and also visit some historical sites along Lake Champlain.

  4. I found this battery on Amazon, which might make building a battery bank a little easier and less expensive.

    It seems a shame with all the improvements in battery technology to still be using lead acid batteries, but I can’t find anything better on Amazon.

  5. I don’t think it’s necessary to kill the spammers/tele-marketers, just do like the DEA does – i.e. confiscate all of their property, all computers, all electronic equipment, all money and bank accounts, their home, all vehicles, etc., etc. Let them start over from scratch, realizing that they will be watched from then on for repeat offenses. If they do it again, then let them suffer more serious consequences.

  6. I haven’t been keeping up with all the posts here lately, but I’m assuming that some here are aware that “The Martian” (the Ridley Scott movie starring Matt Damon) is coming out on October 2nd. It’s based on the sci-fi novel by Andy Weir.

    I’m assuming that RBT has already read the book, since he recently used the word “ayup” — also used in the novel in Chapter 13, LOG ENTRY: SOL 116 (page 175). I had never seen or heard that word before I saw it in the book. Then Bob used it, and I wondered if it was just a coincidence – or not ??

    I really enjoyed the book, and I’ve seen most of Ridley’s movies and enjoyed them too – so I’m looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out.

  7. I’ve been meaning to ghetto-rig something for my wife so she has some portable power. She has a booth at some local shows throughout the year and some venues provide electric and some do not. So, I was thinking of grabbing an AGM deep cycle battery (it’d be safer if she had a battery she didn’t have to worry about spilling/leaking if it fell onto its side), a battery charger/conditioner, and an 12v-to-110v inverter. Then wire it all together and strap it to a small dolly she can easily wheel around. It should provide decent power for charging smartphones/tablets, running a small fan, and powering some accent lighting.

  8. I know some people don’t like the interface (or, maybe, don’t trust the company). However, Gmail’s spam filtering is really, really good. Maybe 2-3 times a year I have to hunt for a lost email in the spam folder. Maybe once a month a spam will sneak through into my inbox.

    Mostly lurking just now – buried at work through the end of October…

  9. Commie President invites Commie Pope to speak to Congress. Pope tells Republicans they suck. Thanks, Obuttwad.

    In good news, 700+ Hadjis trampled to death in Mecca. More to come. Keep up the good work guys!

  10. @dave,

    I’d be more inclined to buy a recognizable name brand battery, Optima makes good ones, and pretty much any branded dual use/ marine deep cycle battery is a good choice. They do need to be somewhere air can get to them.

    That said, I’ve got a bunch of big honking UPSs and they all use banks of SLA batteries. Some of the really big ones I’ve worked with, but don’t own, use banks of automotive style batteries, but they do need maintenance. I find that there is generally a lot of life left in the UPS batteries when companies send them to surplus auctions. There are even guys online that sell used UPS batteries, at serious discounts, for those who don’t have ‘mission critical’ needs. Generally the surplus batteries are sold for straight up scrap value. Much less than new… If you buy in bulk you will find one bad one in a rack, that was dragging down the whole rack. Replace the bad one, and you’re back in business.

    I also have an Optima yellow top that I have for my radios and to use with a small inverter. I keep it in a battery box like this one. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Attwood-Power-Guard-27-Battery-Box/16351062 That’s another project that needs doing…getting some connectors made for that battery.

    nick

  11. @RBT
    Bob. I’ve seen and heard “yup” innumerable times, but never “ayup” until “The Martian” (Andy’s novel) and your post last week. So have you read the book or heard about the movie?

    Andy’s father worked at Lawrence Livermore National Lab as a physicist, so they invited Andy to come and give a talk. You can watch it on YouTube here …

    Author of ‘The Martian’ Thrills Lab Employees

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tfh6OUUYUw

    Published on Sep 4, 2015

    Imagine being inadvertently left for dead on Mars, completely alone and abandoned by your crew, with nothing but your wits and a scant amount of precious supplies to keep you alive.

    That’s the enthralling premise of the best-selling science-fiction survival novel and soon-to-be released motion picture, “The Martian,” scheduled to run in theaters nationwide on Oct. 2.

    Amidst a whirlwind media blitz, the book’s author, Andy Weir, took time to visit the Laboratory on Wednesday, entertaining a packed house of nearly 400 Lab employees and special guests with his wit, vast and varied scientific knowledge and tales of his sudden rise to stardom.

    “It’s kind of a homecoming,” Weir said. “It’s special for me because it’s where I grew up.”

  12. “In good news, 700+ Hadjis trampled to death in Mecca. More to come. Keep up the good work guys!”

    And then there was the crane collapse on 9/11 in Mecca that killed a bunch of islamics. Isn’t Karma wonderful… 🙂

  13. For the “They’re not like us” file:

    16 Year-Old School Girl Douses Security Guards in Gas – Tries to Torch Them

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/09/16-year-old-school-girl-douses-security-guards-in-gas-tries-to-torch-them/

    What a lovely girl, and an enchanting neck tattoo. Who the F gives a 15yo a visible neck tattoo?

    Note too that we’re feeding this wild animal- “She later returned to get food at an after-school program”.

    nick

    BTW, where’s bigO on this one? Where’s the BLM### fools? or the “gun violence” media hacks?

  14. No, I’ve not read the book or heard of the movie or the author. I have very little interest in science fiction, and I almost never watch movies. The last time I made an exception was to watch Amber Marshall in that PA movie, Mutant World. Amber Marshall with an assault rife in rock-n-roll on a zombie. A site to behold. Talk about not being type-cast.

  15. @brad
    I agree with you about gmail. I’ve been using Google mail for many years now, and almost NEVER get any spam.

    My phone number is also unlisted, and I almost never get any telemarketing solicitations. The few I do get utilize computer generated “random” numbers, and it just happens to be mine – usually wanting me to take a survey. However, I don’t feel I should have to pay extra to have my number unlisted – it should be a free option.

    I’ve read/heard that adding your number to the “do not call” list actually gets you even more calls. Anybody can make a bad decision, thus why I allow one mistake. But if you do it again, then you suffer severe consequences.

  16. “Commie President invites Commie Pope to speak to Congress. Pope tells Republicans they suck.”

    Once again we only get what the MSM cherry-picks for anything said by the Pope; this was done the same way by the same MSM suspects for his predecessors. If he talks about official Church doctrine and dogma for nine minutes and thirty seconds out of a ten-minute time slice and mentions the climate or immigration in those thirty seconds, that’s what the ass-hat clowns in the media breathlessly report. If he chats off-the-cuff to some reporter cretin on the plane, it is treated as ex-Cathedra by those jerks. And the media-consuming masses out here evidently fall for it all the time, with additional support from rabid and bigoted anti-Catholic yahoos.

    That said, yeah, he’s a disappointment so far to us traditionalists, but we were kinda spoiled by Benedict and John Paul II. And Catholics to the right of little ol’ me in the Church see it as a continuation of the bad stuff implemented since Vatican II.

    Got a lotta Catholics around where y’all live? They knocking on your doors all the time and bugging ya? Picketing skool board meetings? Handing out leaflets at the supermarkets? Probably not. But there’s 70 million-plus of us here in the United States of Amnesia. About one in four or five peeps.

  17. Imagine being inadvertently left for dead on Mars, completely alone and abandoned by your crew, with nothing but your wits and a scant amount of precious supplies to keep you alive.

    I maintain that any trip with humans to Mars should be a one way trip. The logistics of a return leg are just impossible.

    Would I volunteer? Maybe. It would be a tough, short life.

  18. I bought and installed the Grape Solar 400W kit back in July. It came with 4 x 100W panels, charge controller (PWM), 2000W inverter (full sign wave), and a bunch of cables and mounting hardware. It was ~$1500. I also picked up 4 Trojan T105 batteries (6V 225AH) for $700. The mounting hardware that came with the kit really didn’t work for my shed roof and the cables were undersized and too short. So I spent another ~$200 hardware better cables. Since I’m a scientist and need accurate and precise measurements I added in a Trimetric T2030 charge monitor

    The whole setup (including batteries) qualifies for the 30% solar tax credit. So my total cost after tax credit will be ~$1800, or $4.50/watt. Took me one weekend to install after I got all the parts and pieces together. Not cheap but it’s my money and I’ll do what I want with it.

    It has been reliably churning out 1kW on a sunny day and I have ~4X that in the batteries. I wired one outlet on the main living floor to be on the inverter all the time and I use that every day for some lights, a fan on hot days and some other stuff (I’m making power, might as well use it). My tests with a backfeed cable (yeah, I know, I’ll put a real transfer switch in soon) demonstrate that can run the fridge, lights, stove, furnace and such if I’m careful with what is turned on when. Remember my house is all gas (heat, hot water, oven) and I live alone. I am a very, very low electricity user. I don’t regret doing this at all. I like the prepared feeling.

    Note on the cables: size matters. The kit came with something like #4 cable for the inverter. 2000W at 120V is 16.6A, but on the 12V battery side of that inverter 2000W is 166A. You need a big fat cable even on a short run if you want that to work. 1, 2, and 3ft #0000 cable can be found on Amazon for reasonable prices. My run from the shed roof to the basement required about 70 ft of #8 solar cable, I am probably losing ~10% energy on that but #6 or #4 was just too much money.

  19. @Lynn: “166A. You need a big fat cable”

    Ummm…yes. They were going to run that through #4 cable? Melted copper anyone?

    In high school, my crazy physics teacher had picked up a gigantic welding transformer from some scrap yard or other. He used this to melt some huge copper cable – dunno, maybe 1/2″ diameter. As a demonstration, of course. The fact that he filled half the building with smoke was just the bonus. I suppose there was a reason his classroom was in a far corner of the building. A group of us often stayed after class to do more, um, experiments. Great teacher, fun memories 🙂

  20. @JLP

    May I quote your experiences in the book? Because most people don’t want to be “outed”, I’ve started quoting anonymously by default, crediting only as “From a reader …” but I’ll be happy to identify anyone who wishes to be recognized in the book.

  21. You may use anything I write here unless I specifically ask for it not to be used. I do prefer to remain anonymous.

    Brad, I doubt if the cable would melt since it is on the battery side of the 2000W inverter. I think as the AC draw approached ~800W the inverter would sense a drop in voltage as all that power tried to squeeze through that little tube and just shut down. I hope so, anyway, for anyone who just uses what comes in the kit without doing some homework.

  22. There does seem to be an assumption that when the electricity stops flowing you will continue to get natural gas and water indefinitely. Now, I am by no means an expert in how those two things are distributed, but in the event of a lengthy widespread power outage just how would they continue to pump?

    Also, a gas furnace is pretty ineffective without a fan to blow air past the heat exchanger on the furnace. So, make sure you rig up some ability to power your furnace fan from battery or generator in the event you have gas, but no electric, and it’s the dead of Winter.

  23. @Chad

    After the electricity stops and a month later the gas stops and a month later I’ve used up all my propane and….. Well it’s a different world then. But I’m good for a while anyway.

    My heat is a gas fired boiler and steam radiators. All passive physics. There is a small fan on the exhaust pipe that is labeled 1/10HP, so about 75W. The draw for the thermostat and igniter barely registers.

  24. @chad,

    in terms of natural gas, in the US, most of the distribution (compressor pumps,etc) used to be run off natural gas. Makes sense right? So of course the EPA got involved and had them switch to grid supplied electric, “for the environment.” This took a very robust and self supplying system, and made it brittle. Now, I don’t know how much got converted. It used to be that nat gas would absolutely be the last thing flowing. This was true during Katrina, and Rita, and Ike. There are all sorts of issues with shutting off the gas, so they will probably do everything they can to keep it up.

    But, I’ve never seen anything definitive. I do know that an awful lot of commercial and .gov disaster plans count on nat gas staying up.

    I don’t know anyone who thinks the water will keep flowing. That is your first need, and everyone recommends storing water and having the means to purify it.

    Sewage is another matter, one that rarely gets considered. Lots of folks in areas served by sewers that count on lift stations to push water uphill. If you are in one of those areas, it might be worth the peace of mind to put in a sewer backflow preventer.

    It’s especially worth it if you have any history of sewage backups.

    nick

  25. IIRC, only a tiny fraction of municipal water systems are gravity fed. A lot of systems in the mountains formerly were, but nearly all are now pumped systems. No power = no water once fuel runs out for the backup generators. Same for natural gas.

  26. @JLP, I seem to remember some discussion about your plans and a general skepticism.

    How is the system capacity and run time in real use? I know you said it’s making 1kw, is that what you expected? How does the battery capacity hold up? Do you get the runtime and recharge time you expected? Can storage and recharge stay ahead of usage?

    nick

  27. But, I’ve never seen anything definitive. I do know that an awful lot of commercial and .gov disaster plans count on nat gas staying up.

    Actually, the latest plans from FEMA plan on shutting down the natural gas system in case of a CAT 5 hurricane due to fire risk. Not sure about CAT 4 or below.

  28. Sewage is another matter, one that rarely gets considered. Lots of folks in areas served by sewers that count on lift stations to push water uphill. If you are in one of those areas, it might be worth the peace of mind to put in a sewer backflow preventer.

    Yup, our sub-subdivision relies on a lift station to push the sewage to the subdivision treatment plant. One hopes that it has a backflow preventer (a check valve).

    The plumber tied our new addition sewage system into the old sewage system the other day. It was surprising how deep the old system is.

  29. If we get to $20 crude, it will mean starvation and rioting like the end of the world in Brazil, Argentina, the ME, and all the socialist shith0les that are propped up by oil, and who use oil profits to bribe their citizens.

    nick

    It’ll be bad for us, but not like for them.

  30. IIRC Cat’s sales are down 3 years running.

    I worked on a project for them before the last downturn. They are VERY proactive about cutting staff and expenses if times look tough. Our project was put on hold, we got a kill fee, and the whole building just stopped, based on projections. They have a whole methodology and system in place to do it.

    Most people consider them a very good leading indicator for the world economy. ‘Course you don’t hear much about that from the news whores when the news is bad, but the narrative demands good news.

    nick

  31. This from FEMA’s preparedness newsletter:

    Eating Right During a Power Outage

    Preparing for severe weather also includes planning ahead for power outages. When refrigeration and electricity are unavailable, finding creative ways to feed a family can be challenging, so it’s important to have a plan to ensure proper nutrition.

    To help with planning, Mayo Clinic nutritionists created a grocery list of items to keep in your pantry as you prepare for disasters. They have also organized a three-day meal plan for a family of four. Recipes in the plan do not require the use of power or refrigeration, but are still flavorful and fun to make.

    To help with planning, Mayo Clinic nutritionists created a grocery list of items to keep in your pantry as you prepare for disasters. They have also organized a three-day meal plan for a family of four. Recipes in the plan do not require the use of power or refrigeration, but are still flavorful and fun to make.

    Food safety and nutrition are critical to staying healthy during a disaster. The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for preparing your pantry and planning an emergency menu:

    Know the safe temperature zones of perishable food. When the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold. The refrigerator, if unopened, will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will maintain its temperature for around 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed;
    Stock up on condiments, particularly those that are vinegar-based, such as ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and BBQ sauce. These items have a long shelf life and are versatile. Consider travel-sized packets for convenience;
    Keep canned protein on hand (chicken, salmon, beans, and peanut butter);
    Keep boxes of powdered milk or shelf-stable cartons on hand for cereal or deserts; and
    Don’t forget a manual can opener.

    Link to links:

    http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/hurricane-food-safety-and-meal-plans/?_ga=1.38517284.643764613.1441200776

  32. @Nick
    I don’t live off the system, it is my backup. But since it is always generating I use the power for whatever I can: lights, fans, battery chargers, the TV or computer occasionally. Anything within reach of the extension cord. The battery monitor goes up and down between 75% and 100% full. It has only been 2 months. Very sunny months, too. I don’t know how well the panels will perform in winter.

    Could I live entirely off the system? Probably, but it would be a minimalist experience. If I double everything (panels, batteries, and inverter) it would be a tentative yes, pending winter data. Remember; I live alone, gas everything, and I’m out of the house or asleep 75% of the time.

    A note on panel angle. My shed roof faces almost due south and is angled at 23° from horizontal, which is just right for my latitude in the summer. I mounted the panels so that I can adjust their angle with brackets. I don’t want to climb up there and adjust them every day so I created a spreadsheet. It has a column of the sun elevation for each day of the year, and from that calculates the optimum angle of the panels. It then picks a bracket adjustment from a table of 4 (none, low, medium and high) which brings it closest to optimum. I then ran the solver to find the bracket heights that minimizes the difference from optimum each day over the year. With those three brackets I am within 5° of optimum 86% of the time and never more than 6.5° off. It also tells me the dates to change the brackets.

    Does this give me science nerd credentials?

  33. I bought and installed the Grape Solar 400W kit back in July. It came with 4 x 100W panels, charge controller (PWM), 2000W inverter (full sign wave), and a bunch of cables and mounting hardware. It was ~$1500. I also picked up 4 Trojan T105 batteries (6V 225AH) for $700. The mounting hardware that came with the kit really didn’t work for my shed roof and the cables were undersized and too short. So I spent another ~$200 hardware better cables. Since I’m a scientist and need accurate and precise measurements I added in a Trimetric T2030 charge monitor

    URLs please?

    I wish that I could install enough solar to keep the fridge going during an extended outage. My HOA is very hawkish on anything that looks like solar though. And I just killed the east side of the sun from my backyard. No sun until 10am or so.

    I guess to tie this system into one’s house circuits, one would need an isolation breaker?

    I sure cannot justify adding solar on an economic basis. I am buying power at 8.8 cents/kwh at the house and just signed a two year contract. I wish last Feb that I had known that Discount Power also did commercial as they have the same rate plus 1.0 cents/kwh for the demand meter.
    http://discountpowertx.com/

  34. “Does that 70 million include the 30 million (or however many) wetbacks?”

    No, hombre. But not all of those are Roman Catholic; many of those who were, are now pretty lax; and there are lots of Protestants and fundies now.

    “No power = no water once fuel runs out for the backup generators. Same for natural gas.”

    There it is. We still gotta get an alternative manual solution for our well. Plus more stored wotta. And I’ll get us two or three 20# propane tanks and a two-burner Coleman or suchlike to add to our two woodstoves and charcoal grill. I’ll also research various batteries for running commo and recharging capabilities.

  35. @JLP, Thanks! I would prefer a system that integrates with the grid though. I looked at the Grape website and they basically said expect to spend about 2X more for the same rating.

  36. No you don’t. A grid-tied system doesn’t operate, by law, if utility power fails.

  37. [snip] when they could instead be sending them out to track down and kill phone and email spammers? [snip]
    Sometimes, if you want a job done correctly, you just have to do it yourself. I’m thankful that my normal e-mail address gets very little spam, and my Yahoo e-mail account (the one I give to people I don’t trust) does a really good job of filtering it. Also of note is that the Yahoo account has seen more or less an order of magnitude decrease in spam levels this month. I deal with my phone spam in one of three ways. First, I simply ignore the call if I don’t recognize the number / it’s blocked. Secondly, I’ll answer the call in Chinese / Klingon / gibberish. Finally, if they’re really persistent, I’ll answer and very graciously ask them for their location and a personal description. When they ask why, I tell them that I’m going to kill them, but if they co-operate with me I’ll spare everyone they love.

    [snip] We should be relentlessly hunting down and killing telemarketers and email spammers, wherever in the world they may be. And it’s a self-limiting problem. We’d probably have to blow away only 10,000 or 100,000 of them before the rest got the message. [snip]
    That sounds to me like a great idea for a Kickstarter campaign.

    [snip] just make them outlaws and put a $1000 bounty on their heads, [snip]
    I don’t know if it’s true, but I remember the old saw about the British offering a bounty on some miscreant, but it was reduced by 1/2 if you brought him in alive.

  38. Finally, if they’re really persistent

    When they ask how I am I start describing a festering hemorrhoid.

    I did get a call a couple of days ago telling me that they have detected a virus on my computer. I lead them on as long as possible, playing really ignorant, as in psychology major stupid. Eventually they hang up in most cases. The really persistent I eventually inform them that my computer is a TRS-80 Model II and ask if they can send me a replacement TRS-DOS disk.

  39. We get approximately 0 telemarketers and such, thanks to having a VOIP house phone. Back when I had an ordinary landline, I used to deal with telescum by trying to seduce them over the phone. Male, female, old, young, didn’t matter. Before that I just dialed the “obscene and insulting” knob up to 11, the goal being to infuriate them into hanging up on me.

    I met one guy who admitted to being an email spammer. Alas, as with my encounter with the young woman who drove the biggest SUV available so the next time she drove into another car she’d be safe, this was at a party and I couldn’t safely kill him. That’s why I stopped going to parties: so many people who need killing, so few clear opportunities to do so.

  40. OFD wants one and will work with a 3D printer to build it:

    http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150924/1027457868/germany-laser-gun.html

    “…so many people who need killing, so few clear opportunities to do so.”

    I know what ya mean; after I left active duty with Uncle I badly wanted to get my toyz back and make use of any opportunities I could find down in Mordor. I still feel that way over forty years later. It’s OK, though; it’s PTSD and I’ve been treated for it, not to worry….

  41. I’ve read/heard that adding your number to the “do not call” list actually gets you even more calls.

    I don’t think so. I think that’s a rumor started by the scammers. The calls we get are political (not covered by the DNC lists, increasing now due to the upcoming local elections), small businesses that don’t know better (I’ve scared the feces out of a couple when I point out the penalties for violating the DNC list law), from ATT trying to sell us Uverse (they can call because they are our landline company), or (big majority) robocalls from overseas boilerrooms who don’t care about the law (where a drone strike would solve the problem).

  42. Bill Nye “The Douchbag Guy” is now weighing in on the “science” of abortion for NARAL. WTF, over? The abortion “debate” has nothing to do with science. It’s an area where the “science is settled” so to speak. He babbles on about sperm and eggs. What a douche, as Hit Girl would say. The state of science in the US is this douche? He’s also an expert on Climate Ejaculation just because he’s a libturd. I’m adding him to my “people who need killing” list.

  43. Is the Tyson guy any better? I dunno, not having been in front of the tee-vee much in the last…oh…ten or twelve years….

    Those looking to save a few bucks and still get some righteous gear…keep yer eyes peeled at yahd sales and suchlike…

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/09/dean-weingarten/in-praise-of-old-gunleather-and-ammo/#more-373161

    I was doing the cop thang when he was, probably, and it was revolvers and speedloaders then. Revolvers pretty much always go bang when you pull the trigger and the round goes where you accurately aimed it. But hard to conceal. And only five or six rounds. All they figured we needed back in the day.

  44. I was doing the cop thang when he was, probably, and it was revolvers and speedloaders then. Revolvers pretty much always go bang when you pull the trigger and the round goes where you accurately aimed it. But hard to conceal. And only five or six rounds. All they figured we needed back in the day.

    I take it you are a big fan of the Browning Hi-Power and a 30+ round mag?

  45. I maintain that any trip with humans to Mars should be a one way trip. The logistics of a return leg are just impossible.

    That depends on the mission design. I was part of a team at JSC that was working on a simulated Mars habitat, and the logistics are hard but not impossible.

    There are two mission types: sprint and long duration. In sprint, you spend 90 days getting there, 30 days on the surface, 90 days home. Long duration means about 2oo days transit, 520 days on the surface, and 200 days home. All missions assume you are going to produce the return propellant on Mars and have it waiting in Mars orbit and on the surface before the crew leaves for Mars. For long duration missions, some form of recycling life support and crop production is probably needed.

    The sprint missions need high performance upper stages (nuclear thermal, VASIMIR, etc.) to get there fast. The longer duration ones assume chemical propulsion. There are a lot of unknowns: cosmic ray effects for that long outside the Van Allen belts, low g for that long (for a long duration mission), etc.

    The president may have said we’re going to Mars in the 2030s, but he’s done nothing to make it possible.

  46. 1. mobile

    Well, that was not hard to predict.

    But not mobile apps. A friend who was a honcho at Apple wasn’t able to make a profit at it. First, damn few Android owners will pay for apps. Second, the market for Apple apps was robust at first but has dried up. Third, using ads as the revenue model for “free” apps doesn’t work well either. To be fair to the article they were talking about mobile-aware web sites, which I think are mandatory today for any business that has a mass-market.

  47. “I take it you are a big fan of the Browning Hi-Power and a 30+ round mag?”

    I’m good with nines and the ammo that’s out for them nowadays, double-stacks. But I also keep several revolvers hanging around for both self-defense and fun, two of them are SA Rugers.

    “The president may have said we’re going to Mars in the 2030s, but he’s done nothing to make it possible.”

    Pournelle and Niven have been bitching about that for decades, even in their fiction; it’s in “Lucifer’s Hammer” and “Footfall.” I don’t have a dawg in that fight, so to speak; take it or leave it. We’ve got a world of problems right here, and not least in what’s left of this country. Still, I dig the idea of adventure and the science and engineering that could be learned.

  48. I maintain that any trip with humans to Mars should be a one way trip. The logistics of a return leg are just impossible.

    That depends on the mission design. I was part of a team at JSC that was working on a simulated Mars habitat, and the logistics are hard but not impossible.

    Too many points of failure to ensure a return. I am a firm believer in Murphy. I would definitely have a contingency plan of them not coming back and living out their lives on Mars. All they need is arable ground and water, lots and lots of water.

    And a nuclear rocket is definitely needed. Heck, I am still a fan of the Orion propulsion system.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_%28nuclear_propulsion%29

  49. Fear the Walking Dead was discussed a few days ago:
    First, they are on AMC, not a major channel / network. Second, they are not Hollywood directors and producers, TWD is shot in Georgia and FTWD is shot in Vancouver (it is about east LA though).

    AMC’s HQ is in New York. They also own We, Independent Film, Sundance, and an indy film company. They are also a shareholder in BBC America.

    The series is based on a comic book, and the comic creator is one of the writers. The writers and directors on the series all have long Hollywood TV credentials. The pilot’s director has worked on lots of 1 hour dramas shot in LA. Being shot outside LA doesn’t mean much. Most TV and movies are shot outside LA because of cost. The union scale outside LA/NY is much lower and lots of states have subsidies if you spend enough money “in state”. The lower level crew and actors may be locals, but the writing is done in LA, the directors and stars are from LA (or possibly Canada if shot there), and many of the department heads are from there. Shooting in Vancouver or other areas in Canada allows you to label the series as “Canadian content” and get it on Canadian TV.

    (Been out of circulation for a bit between clearing out my Mom’s condo for sale and spending a few hours in the ER getting a cavity the size of an egg carved in my back. (I&D of an infected cyst.))

  50. Pournelle and Niven have been bitching about that for decades, even in their fiction; it’s in “Lucifer’s Hammer” and “Footfall.” I don’t have a dawg in that fight, so to speak; take it or leave it. We’ve got a world of problems right here, and not least in what’s left of this country. Still, I dig the idea of adventure and the science and engineering that could be learned.

    We need a frontier. That is one of the problems that we are having right now, no exciting, dangerous place (other than Detroit) for young men to travel to.

  51. Well, as you know, we’ve certainly been sending them to the Middle East, the Balkans, Ukraine and some other exciting places. We had two of our Middle East combat vets with us today in the group; they’re both on maxed VA and SS disability status and if you saw them, you’d know they’re incapable of any meaningful, remunerative work now.

    So I dunno, maybe if we had them mining asteroids or knocking Pluto out of its orbit would be preferable…but none of that is gonna be happening anytime soon, even if the current regime put on a full-court press for jacking up the manned space programs again.

    Maybe if the Chicoms started building a moon colony…from which they could launch stuff at various quarters of the globe…?

  52. mobile aware websites

    Hate ’em. So few are well thought out, and too many companies that should know better, try to combine these with their normal website. Our bank just did a web redesign, to become “mobile friendly”. On the PC, the fonts are now huge, there is piles of white space, so even on a 1920×1280 screen you have to scroll constantly.

    Meanwhile, my wife’s website gets dinged on Google for mobile search, because we refuse to do that (fonts are “too small”). Zoom works just fine on every mobile device ever made, and with that, her site isn’t bad at all on a mobile. Sure, ideal would be a parallel website especially for mobile devices, but doing that right takes more resources than we have.

  53. “And a nuclear rocket is definitely needed. Heck, I am still a fan of the Orion propulsion system.”

    Especially if the launch pad is in Mecca… 🙂

  54. mobile aware websites

    I don’t like sites that detect a mobile browser and then redirect to the mobile website. I use my iPad to browse the web at times and some sites think it is a mobile device. It is, just not a small screen device. So I get stuck on a site that is designed for a phone when in reality I am using a larger device. Then the site provides no way to get to the full site.

    Idiots. Doesn’t anyone ever test this stuff and see how it works in the real world?

  55. @ray

    Idiots. Doesn’t anyone ever test this stuff and see how it works in the real world?”

    I don’t know about ipad, but there is usually a way to tell your browser to pretend to be another browser. If not inbuilt, there should be an app.

    I used to have firefox report as IE so sites wouldn’t bounce me. How far we’ve come that IE is the deprecated browser now.

    Anytime someone else makes irrevocable assumptions about what I want with MY pc or browser, I get angry. No, this is NOT a good time to apply upgrades, I really need to shut down, being the most annoying.

    Since the earliest days, people have been assuming they know better than me, what I want. Even linux is doing it now.

    nick

  56. I don’t know about ipad, but there is usually a way to tell your browser to pretend to be another browser. If not inbuilt, there should be an app.

    I have not found a way. The same OS is used on the iPhone and iPad and the browser (Safari) reports itself as a mobile browser. Even Chrome reports as a mobile browser. I have not found a setting in Chrome to change the reporting.

  57. Hmm, I use Chrome and Firefox on Android. Both have a menu option to request a desktop site, and they even work.

  58. Hmm, I use Chrome and Firefox on Android.

    Your are indeed correct o’ wizard of apps. I was looking under settings. Silly me. I found the option in another location.

  59. Browser recommendation for Android: get Ghostery.

    If you don’t know the plugin for desktop browsers, what it does is block all those third-party trackers and such junk. Gets a lot of the ads too, though I’m not sure how many it gets and how many are nailed by AdBlock.

    Anyhow, Google on Android prohibits one App from interfering with another, so Ghostery cannot offer itself in the app store. So they just made their own browser that includes the Ghostery functionality. Having all that third-party stuff blocked is not only peaceful, it also saved bandwidth and makes mobile browsing a lot faster.

  60. @brad,

    I was just noticing the amount of “updating” my apps are doing. I’m certain that most of the “updates” are just current ads. And I’m paying for that bandwidth, which seems like thievery to me.

    nick

  61. And I’m paying for that bandwidth, which seems like thievery to me.

    Use the paid version which is usually free of ads. Or do what I do. Only update apps over wifi.

  62. Current website design ‘best practices’ (which you can get any designer to argue about) seem to indicate that you should *not* have a separate mobile site. Your site should be good across all devices, adjusting to the ‘viewport’ as needed.

    Some responsive designs don’t have good ‘viewport breakpoints’ that are good for all devices. And there needs to be good testing when building a site to see how it looks in all devices. (In FireFox, I can Ctrl+Shift+M to change the viewport area to see how the content will look. This place, for example, looks cruddy on anything mobile.) The Chaos Manor Reviews site (www.chaosmanorreviews.com ) has better ‘breakpoints’ – although not perfect. But it is readable on mobile devices.

    This site, not so much. (I am always looking for better themes, since even CMR has some issues I am not happy with.)

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