Friday, November 18, 2022

I *still* have the only Tesla that pays for itself


You might not have guessed from the headline, but I have a Tesla, and it's on my roof. These beauties were installed in November of 2018. There's a few more not included in the picture, but together they produce somewhere around 13,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity for use in my home. 

In the four years since installation, they have produced almost 55 MWh (megawatt hours) of power. This amounts to around $7,000 worth of electricity savings since installation. In other words, after 4 years, I've been able to keep $7,000 dollars that I would have otherwise payed to my electric provider.

Granted, this is still small compared to the sum I paid out of pocket in 2018 to get the system (including Powerwalls) installed after rebates, incentives and tax credits. Assuming that the price of my electricity stay around the current $0.13/kWh, the entire system will be paid for in a little over 15 years. It's also likely that the price of electricity continues to rise, and in that case, the payback happens sooner, even if I have to pay more to the electric company for the electricity I still need to buy.

What's that? Oh, yeah, I couldn't install a system that provided 100% of my needs. I actually didn't want to do that at this point anyway. The panels continue to improve, and someday, it will be worth putting up panels on the north side of the house that only gets good sun for 3-4 hours in a day.

However, I can see what you're thinking already. 15 years! That's way too long, and it doesn't even get you off grid!? I suppose it's all a matter of perspective, but there are no cars that ever pay for themselves, and we buy cars because we need to go places. 

The prices of this equipment, the tax incentives and the arrangements with utility providers continues to change, but as people begin to understand the opportunity cost, I think that adoption will continue to grow, and with growth, prices fall with scale, and the sooner people understand the value, even if they can't completely disconnect from the grid, the sooner they can see that value.

I would absolutely recommend to anyone asking that they should get a quote and consider this option for their home. Not all homes can benefit because of their geographic location and the situation with shading and roof complexity, but it's worth a look. I'm not here to convince, do your own homework. I sure did, and I have the spreadsheets to show for it too, because that how I roll.

I do get asked frequently about the consequences of a large hail storm. That's a fair question. Based on my research, the panels will likely outperform the roof shingles in a large hail situation. Large hail is bad news, no matter what you have overhead, but at least I don't have to worry about their fragility.

Perhaps someday, Tesla will succeed in creating a self-driving car, and the regulations will allow you to farm out that car so that you can generate income from only the car, but that day has yet to come.

So for now, my Tesla solar and Powerwall installation is the only Tesla that pays for itself.

There's plenty more that I can share regarding my setup and all the crazy spreadsheets I have to play with the value of this decision, let me hear from you if your are curious, I'm not afraid to share my notes if you'd find it valuable.

Oh, and before I forget, even though I've already been stiffed once by Tesla referrals, here's my referral code just in case you decide to work with Tesla on your own system.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

AI Art exploration continued

Text to Image AI art generation, is making it possible to create things that before could only be realized through someone else's creative expression or sharing.

The above picture is AI art, generated by an open source machine learning model. This text-to-image model was developed by StabilityAI with the goal of generating images from natural language prompts. The open sourced version of the model was estimated to have cost $600,000 to train using some of the latest available GPU processors (NVIDIA A100).

After stable diffusion generated this image, I used another tool called RealESRGAN, another open source tools that is used to make the image much larger. The stable diffusion model was trained on images that are typically 512x512 pixels in size, and so to get larger, but consistent image, you can upsize it. I first learned about this tool on a youtube channel that I have been subscribed to for several years. It's really amazing how you can go back in time and watch old videos that were made before you discovered a channel, and you find something really interesting.

If you look closely at the image above, you'll start to see places where things don't look right, and this is the real hard problem to be solved here. The AI get's a great deal right, and even the problems you see ere can be resolved with iterations. In fact, in the intervening few weeks since stable diffusion was released, there are have been an increasing number of tools (also open sourced) that are built to help with the workflow needed to be successful with creating new art that is not noticeably created by AI. 

Oddly enough, the real controversy here is that people are already having a hard time discerning between human generated art, and AI generated art.

I'm sure in the next few weeks we will start to see additional capabilities in their nascent stages. I've already seen previews of AI generation for videos, and no doubt 3d objects is not far behind. I'm especially excited about the workflows that will enable the creation of highly detailed and interesting metaverse experiences without having to require hundreds of hours of development effort.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

What experiments are you doing?

New technology is amazing, and with ever better technology, comes also the opportunity to try things that were far too complicated for a person to do all on their own. 

This weekend I've already been able to experiment with some incredible AI based tools that will allow you to translate text to speech, text to voice, text to image, text to video and so much more. My favorite so far this week has been the release of Stable Diffusion as an open-source text to image capability that you can run on your own computer! I found out about this from a great (and still small) youtube channel run by Matt that just shares what he is finding in the Text To ____ AI space.

I'm sure there will be more to come from what I am learning. Maybe I can hook AI things to the update of the website that I am planning. Who knows... the future is full of possibilities!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Hello World from Arduino

So, in the spirit of posting things that are worth something, perhaps to someone, I’m starting out with the projects I’ve been working on, but haven’t really taken the time to talk about or highlight. It’s actually great that I can pick things up again by posting something that I’ve actually completed, so, here goes what I’ve been working on in the microelectronics world.
My first full and completed project is something that most people would use a simple string for. In fact, I have a string in my garage for parking my car, but it’s fun to make things and I wanted to learn… so I made a parking helper with an arduino UNO board (really it’s a clone, but everyone calls them that because arduino got it started).
The project uses an adaufruit charlieplex, an ultrasonic sensor and a classic infrared sensor (like you’ve seen in home alarm systems) to display the distance from the back wall in centimeters (yes, I’m an American, and I was too lazy to convert it to inches!).
I built the whole thing and posted it on my github if you are interested.

Hello World from Fusion 360


fusion 360 3d design
Today’s image is brought to you by Autodesk’s Fusion 360. I’m a hobbiest, and they’ve done the most wonderful thing and allowed those of us wanting to learn 3d CAD to learn it without having to pay anything for the privilege!
I’ve been tinkering with Fusion360 since the end of last year when I began to use a new 3d printer. Over time, I’ve found something interesting to go learn about, and picked it. The great thing for me is that you can become 80% effective at something and leave the other 20% to the experts.
So far, my exploits include: pool cleaner parts, replacing broken plastics parts of things I’ve bought at the store, trays, boxes, cases, mounts, and the moment of greatest pride a brand new handle for my daily coffee mug (I got it all right on the first try!)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Technology, Humanity, and Me

Each day I get up and consider all the projects I have in my life.... family, faith, work, home, hobbies, investing, maintenance, education, experimentation...

What to work on?! There is so much wonderful, exciting, amazing, things to explore and learn about. I recently had the chance to experience the Hamilton play, and one two details of the play stuck out to me... That Alexander Hamilton "read every treatise he could get his hands on" and he "[wrote] like [he] was running out of time". That was over 200 years ago. Today, we can write any time we want, with practically zero friction to the process of thinking to writing to editing to publishing. This blog is a prime example. I can write this post in a few minutes and publish it with the click of a single button and the whole world can practically read it.

This acceleration in time from idea to share to implement applies to every part of the human experience. This is the tragedy of our current technological existence. We have within our reach to do practically anything, in a way that no other existence has allowed.

It's wonderful that I find myself overwhelmed. I wonder that I was ever board as a kid. In fact, I wish I had some of that time back, so that I could use it to something more interesting. Alas, that is not possible, and even today I don't spend every waking moment on projects. We must take the time to stop. We have slow down to experience what goes on around us, and to take it all in. We as humans are beginning to truly appreciate the wonders of our own existence, and technology (for me at least) has only served to more clearly show the incredulity of our existence.

There is such a mix of realities... from small to large; simple to complex to ponder. If you can't understand it, there is likely a model of it, that someone has thought up to help aid in understanding it. That in itself, is a wonder. Models... are just that: not reality. But they are extremely useful in understanding complex things. We may not actually understand the thing we are studying, but models can help us understand some parts of the whole, and thus our understanding (while imperfect) is improved.

Beyond that though, it is incredible to realize what we DO understand. The mastery of the controlling the electron and capturing physics to launch into space. How have we allowed ourselves as a people to lose the excitement of these incredible achievements!? We must, because there are a million things that exceed or extend these two technologies alone.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Information Technology Revolution

The Information Technology industry was a clear choice for me as I entered college. However, if you'd asked me what I was going to do with my life when I started high school, I had a very different idea about my career.

When I entered high school, I was dead set on becoming an aircraft pilot. I was obsessed with all things aviation. I loved to stop and watch plains as they flew past. I enjoyed flight simulations on the computer, air shows, museum exhibits, the family vacation trip to Colorado included a stop at the Air Force Academy... and that was going to be my school.

Until it wasn't, because I couldn't.

Right about the time I was getting better at doing physical fitness (so that I could pass those difficult physical tests to even get started at the Academy) an Air Force recruiter called my house looking for me. I had filled out some form indicating my interest, and he was following up. We chatted for a little while about my plans to enter the service as an officer via the Academy. It was excited and I was already hard at work on my academics and physical preparations (despite some very painful experiences with shin splits, ouch!).

Anyway, one thing let to another and we were talking about my physical preparations and I happened to mention my having been born with asthma. I was relating how working hard and running every day was showing improvement and that I didn't even seem to have asthma problems anymore.

And the he said, "I'm sorry to hear than Daniel."

What do you mean, "I'm sorry?"

"You can't be in the United States Air Force if you have asthma," he said.

"But I don't anymore, I've grown out of it," I said.

"It doesn't matter, if you've ever had asthma you're disqaulified for serving with the USAF," he said.

Well that was a major disappointment.  I didn't know what to do. I was completely lost for career direction. Everyone told me that no one really knows what they want to do in the middle of high school, but I DID know. I wanted to go to be a military man in the Air Force!

Well, it turns out that my aviation obsession ultimately let to my career in IT. It turns out, that trying to run Microsoft Flight Simulator was a fairly hefty job for the family computer. I spent lots of time on the computer, fixing the computer, and trying to make FS95 run better with higher graphics.

So here I am, a career IT guy, and I love it. It's probably all for the best too. Computers run EVERYTHING. I mean everything. It's pretty much impossible to buy a car, an appliance, a house, or even toys without some kind of computer it in. Some things are more computer than others, but chips run code. Computer chips are absolutely ubiquitous.

And so, now comes the interesting part. You see, I'm a type 'A' personality.  Not perhaps in all aspect of my life, but it's fair to say that when it comes to my career, I'm all about it. Do it right, make it better, help people... these are the things I live by. We all fall short sometimes, but these are the goals. With great goals come challenges, and challenges lead to searching for new ways to improve, learn from our mistakes and do better.

Which leads me to the point. If you obsess about doing better, you work in IT, and you want to learn, I have a serious piece of information to share with you. And buy the physical book. (I know, I love my kindle too, but people will see you reading this book, you can put it on your shelf at work and it'll be more fun to read)

There is a book you MUST read. If you're not sure if you care or not, read this book first.

The Phoenix Project

Otherwise, just buy this book. Trust me. This is the first book in my career (that's not a reference manual) that is useful for IT work. Do it now. Just click on the book. You can thank me later.

The DevOps Handbook

Seriously, why did you just go past the links for the books? There's nothing else here to read, except to buy the book(s) and get started. You don't need to do anything else right now, buy the book and get started.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Cloud Journey

My head is in the clouds. 

It's going to be a long ride, but I know it will be worth. 

I'll win some battles and lose some battles, but no matter how long it takes, we are moving to the cloud. 

Some understand what the future hold and others are content to let it pass them by. For me, it is a tremendous opportunity to unlock capability and enhancement.
It is an opportunity to optimize and revamp. It is an opportunity to improve and change culture and paradigm. 

It's really like any other IT project. It takes patience, determination skill and effort. 

I know it will be worth it. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PowerShell Invoke-Command with -computername object/hash/array

Note to Self:

When using Invoke-Command -ComputerName $nodes.ComputerName, write the scriptblock such that the computername is echoed with the result.

Invoke-command -ComputerName $nodes.ComputerName -Credential $mycred -ScriptBlock {"$ENV:ComputerName, $(test-path D:\folder\file)"}

This will ensure you get the answer at the same time as the computername.  All other attemps are problematic, and test-path doesn't automatically trigger the ComputerName field in the returned dataset.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Published on GitHub

We'll despite my lack of activity on the blog, I've been busy.

Not so much IT busy, as personal busy.  Since I last posted here, we've added another family member (bringing our little home occupancy to 4), dealt with complex and frustrating work situations and survived to tell the tales.

I've also discovered and found it to be interesting and perhaps even useful.  As more and more cloud services become available, I like to try them out.  Sometimes it's worthwhile, but mostly it's yet another user account to keep track of in my password manager of choice.

Regardless, I've now completed another version update to my code snippets program written in AutoIT called DLTray.  Since I built the first version in 2007, it's been updated and modified, but over that period of time, I have found it to be an indispensable program, mostly because it does EXACTLY what I built it to do!

I'm trying to get into publishing some of my more useful PowerShell snippets, but, it's hard to pick and choose what might be useful for someone else. The practical reality is so that so much of what I use daily is contrived from other work posted on the web, it feels somewhat redundant to post my own, but that's exactly what I intend to do.

So, as I digest other's work and figure out how to put it to use, I will be posted useful bits of powershell to the other project I have on GitHub.  Funny enough, those postings can be used with DLTray, so, in a way, it's all related.

If you have a need to post repetitive bits of information anywhere (of any kind code, comments, directions, etc, I highly recommend checking out DLTray.  I know it's not perfect, but I can say honestly that it has saved me far more time that I've spent on it, so it's been worth it for me to develop it and continue customizing it for my daily use.

Perhaps as time passes, I can turn this into a code snippet sharing blog that can be used with DLTray over the long run.

If you come across it and find it useful, let me know.  You'll find it a