Category Archives: thinking

We’d be net zero but…

Our house would be net zero source energy but…

– well filters: we avg 54 KWh / month
– well pump: 10 Kwh / month
– radon fan: 40 KWh / month
– 2 home offices: 60 KWh / month
– Mitsubishi minisplit: 20 Kwh / month (EVEN WHEN OFF DUE TO A COIL HEATER THINGY!)
– electric lawn mower: (not much, but just sayin’)

What else did I forget?

So that’s 54+10+40+60+20 = 184 KWh / month
= 2208 / KWh per year

… that we can’t help that some other net-zero types of house don’t have since our house has a well and 2 home offices and a mitsubishi mr slim air-source heat pump with what I would consider a design flaw!

We use approximately 10,000 KWh per year for everything (heat, hot water, lighting, cooking, etc.) And our 6.9 KW PV panels make about 8,400 KWh so if we didn’t have the extra 2200 KWh, we’d be easily net zero.

BUT… then there is driving. Someone who lives in a city in and walks everywhere is blowing us away. We drive maybe 15000 miles per year at 20 MPG (minivan). There goes net-zero.

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Filed under contrarian, energy-efficiency, erik-green, HVAC, passive house, superinsulation, thinking, zero energy home

Watch as Erik predits the future!

1. big 10″ ipad and “samsung galaxy tab 10.1” sized tablets are a temporary/transition technology because…

— 1.1 no decent input. Note taking apps like Dan Bricklin’s Note Taker HD will work on this but can’t beat a keyboard and mouse. I think Bill Gates was right about that.

— 1.2 too big too carry around and not that great for watching movies in lap (laptop way more comfortable)

— 1.3 not that great for gaming since no controller! multiple kids I’ve spoken to have fully admitted this is a problem. In their words… “the games on the iPod Touch are not “rageable” — meaning I think that you can’t really get very worked up about them one way or the other because well… they are not very good. At least in a Mario Brothers sort of way. Angry Birds ok. Puzzles ok. But to really get into a game, i think one needs a controller or a keyboard and mouse. touching alone is not right. Not the right feel.

— 1.4 while it might be acceptable to pull out an iPhone and glance at it while with friends somewhere, the size of the tablets will mean that this will probably never feel quite as acceptable.
Maybe I am wrong. ala a shifting baseline of culturally acceptable things…

2. ultrapads like the MacBook Air and other windows based SSD laptops will become more popular (many of the advantages of a tablet with fewer downsides)

3. And smaller 7″ tablets will get higher-res more readable screens and

4. also android will be market leader vs ipad so all the apps that are “iPad only” right now will get fewer and fewer. Yes, I know some will remain like BBEdit, etc. But most will be available on both.

5. small phone-sized smart devices will continue to be very important. The size is right. Not too big so it fits in a pocket VERY easily. Even a little bigger than an iPhone is too big.

6. those ultrapad computers will get:

— 6.1 touch screens (there are tablet computers I’ve seen from dell and lenovo)

— 6.2 computers will also get better about having different “views” I will call them for a lack of a better word. You might have an “office” view, a “media center” view. And an “app” view.
In other words, I want to keep all the power of the platform and input devices, but I want to customize things at the “OS” level more. I shouldn’t have to install “Easy Peasy” to get a simplified laptop. It should just be another “view”. I think Microsoft and Apple know this. MacOS will probably merge (at least design wise) with iOS. I have read that it is happening already with Lion with the default behavior of the mouse in some apps. Scrolling vs Swiping…

When I want to use a computer to read a newspaper or watch youtube, it doesn’t mean it has to look like a normal newspaper website. For instance, the NY Times Chrome App is great.

7. Meanwhile, it would be nice if we didn’t have to thow out so many electronic gadgets to “evolve”. Got that “Palm V” still? That “iPod Classic”? That’s another advantage to good-ole computers. I can have a quite old piece of Windows- or Mac-based computer hardware running pretty much brand new software. Sweet.

8. A lot more people should be telecommuting given the technology we have!

We shall see… we shall see… Wake me up in 20 years!

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Filed under technology, thinking

deep energy retrofit and solar work

A letter to the editor in the NYTimes recently correctly points out that this article is wrong when it states: “There is no contemporary version of the 1870s railroads, the 1920s auto industry or even the 1990s Internet sector. ” LINK

The energy efficiency of buildings and solar are in serious need of people to do serious amounts of work!

I wouldn’t mind some more high-speed rail lines or bike trails around here either! Though I know projects like these use more machines than people these days. That’s why the energy-efficiency work is interesting. It’s quite a bit of labor and it also requires some substantial thinking too. Deep energy retrofits and building science are young industries comparatively speaking.

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Filed under energy-efficiency, erik-green, occupy, thinking

Turn the channel to youtube…

All of the interesting stuff I’ve read about Occupy Boston/OWS has been NOT in the mainstream media (msm). I think this means that #OWS is difficult for MSM but also that blogging/etc is really coming into itself. We have a mac mini connected to living room TV with HDMI so we can do youtube via browser. I guess Apple TV has a youtube channel but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra $ for the simplicity since we already have the mac, and sometimes things I want to watch are on Vimeo, PBS, etc. which won’t work with the Apple TV.

Also, this is perhaps rather obvious but there are probably plenty of 30-somethings and 40-somethings who would love to camp out and join the protests but that’s hard when you really have to work to continue to “put food on your family” as I like to say.

See elsewhere:
Embracing the 1 percent
We are the 1 percent. We stand with the 99 percent.

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“College Degree or Equivalent Work Experience”

I am not against college/university degrees per se. But as far as preparation for a career, I think it really just depends.

Wanna be a doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, nurse, mechanical engineer, NFL football player, etc, etc… well, you are of course going to need some undergraduate and usually some graduate school often leading up to a certification exam of some sort. And/or internships.

But what if you want to do something that doesn’t require a degree?

What do some enlightened/practical companies hiring software engineers write in their job descriptions?

  • Google: “Bachelor’s degree in computer science or other technical field. In lieu of degree, 4 years work and/or professional programming experience.”
  • Microsoft: NO MENTION of school whatsoever in their “Basic Qualifications” section for a senior software position.
  • Amazon: “Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or related field, or 4+ years relevant work experience”
  • Turbine: “College Degree or Equivalent Work Experience”

Get the picture? Now maybe I am cherry-picking a career and most other jobs are not so lax on the college requirement. I doubt it.

Now sure, within these companies there are certainly positions that they are looking for degrees for if you want to start right in at a senior level instead of working one’s way up. Google says for example in their “preferred qualifications” section for one more senior position: “Masters or Doctoral degree for senior positions” Microsoft likewise… “Computer Science degree, or Bachelor of Science in an engineering discipline.”

So check out those job offers and go figure out what “Experience building and operating online services and fault-tolerant distributed systems” means. And what “MCTS certification in SQL Server 2005/2008 Database Development” is. Confused? Take some free online courses from MIT or Stanford or somewhere.

You’ll have a job in no time.

(As long as you move to CA, WA, NY, or MA.)

Careers differ in:
– solo enterprise (vs group)
– must learn from an expert craftsman in person (vs “books”) — e.g. in person: therapist, doctor, ferrier, backcountry guide
– requires stamp of approval or certification (vs not) — (e.g. plumber: licence required. carpenter: no license)

Not that it is an either/or… Software lends itself well to allowing one to apprentice oneself initially on one’s own with resources available in books/videos/web/online courses/certification courses/etc and then very quickly jump into a entry-level job where one can learn from “the masters”. There’s not necessarily a huge advantage to a 4-year degree career-wise

Maybe people out there disagree. But that’s been my personal experience.

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Small houses for families or multiple families WITH KIDS

Get real people.

1. It’s a mess out there. I believe I read recently that there has been a substantial percentage increase in the number of families doubling up — Kids (and families) moving in with parents or grandparents. Duh!

2. All the small home books show houses typically designed for a couple. Or maybe one neatnik toddler. And that’s it? The (sole?) exception being Little House on a Small Planet, 2nd: Simple Homes, Cozy Retreats, and Energy Efficient Possibilities
I liked that book.

OK, so what makes a small house design workable when there are 8+ people (especially with kids) living under that one roof? This post will collect my ongoing thoughts on the topic.

Topics to be expanded upon someday, perhaps. Biased toward northern homes:
– design patterns. loops are important with kids. this is counter the idea of getting rid of wasted hallways spaces but I have thoughts on that. (Namely, do it anyway, a little)
– winter months are brutal indoor times
– huge mudrooms. kitchen and bathroom right off main entrance and key.
– laundry area with ample drying space. as in basement. (upstairs closets are no good unless you have giant bedroom spaces wasting away)
– more small rooms is better than 1 bigger room, I think
– noise between bedrooms. cellulose in the walls? separate bedrooms by bathroom?
– get real. There is probably a TV and laptops, game machines, tablets, etc. in your future. Where will it/they go? I am not personally a fan of having this stuff in bedrooms away from action. So where does the action go?
– basically the issue is balancing public and private space. And open space vs some small rooms.

Gotta run. Watch this space.

See also:
Here are endless articles on the “move in with parents” theme from recent months/years from the NYTimes

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Filed under contrarian, futuresafe, homesteading, simple, small houses, superinsulation, thinking, zero energy home

Who wrote “Here’s to the crazy ones…” ?

In case you see lots of “Here’s to the crazy ones” quotes today. That’s not Steve Jobs. That’s an Apple ad campaign. Come on people!

Overall story:

Who specifically wrote it? (Ken Segall, of TBWA/Chiat/Day)

His 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford

(Reminder to self: Time to buy a tablet. But probably not an iPad2.)

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Filed under android, apple, ipad, technology, thinking, xoom