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Comment Re:An Efficient Office (Score 3, Insightful) 97

While it seems like a shifty answer, it all depends on how you calculate return on investment . . .

Without any tricky accounting, the simple ROI of the PV array is about 12 years. If you calculate the ROI based on the PV and battery backup, factoring lack of downtime, in our case it was closer to an 18 month ROI. For us, each hour of downtime translates to roughly $5,000 of lost earnings. It doesn't take too many hours of backup power to pay off. Of course we could have gone with a gas generator for a much cheaper installation cost, but the tax benefits of a PV array for a corporation can be very attractive.

As for the virtualization, that was based more on the regular 5 year replacement cycle we have on our hardware. Instead of replacing 5 old servers with 5 new servers, it was much more simple and cost effective to build out one powerful machine and virtualize the existing machines.

The cost of the ductwork and fan was about $1,500 - however our A/C unit consumed roughly $1,000 a year to cool the space, so an 18 month ROI. Of course, it's all dependent on your climate, building layout, age of equipment and ease of installation. For us, it's worked out well. We've now achieved a 75% reduction over our baseline from 3 years ago in our grid energy needs, while increasing processing power, lighting levels, and maintaining a comfortable climate controlled office.

Comment An Efficient Office (Score 4, Interesting) 97

I manage and operate one of the more efficient office spaces in the US (I was awarded a National EnergyStar award in 2008 for my work). We've implemented almost everything possible for our small server racks. We've gone from 8 machines to 3 via virtualization, and have a 10kW array and 40kw battery backup for our operation - which now results in zero down time. In doing just that, we've gone from 58 kWh used from the grid a day for our servers to zero (the PV array supports it). Also, instead of using dedicated A/C - we've re-engineered our ductwork to pull in ambient air from the office space, and redirect the hot exhaust to different locations. During the summer, it's dumped directly outside - and during the winter it's used to heat our entrances and used to cover the heating needs of the building at night.

In terms of energy use for the servers and A/C alone, we're saving about $4,000 a year - and that's just for a small server arrangement.

Comment Re:Uh? (Score 1) 327

Washington State now has a production credit of $.15 per kWh for solar/wind (max of $5,000 annually) and if the products are made in-state, it becomes a $.56 kWh production credit. The production credit is guaranteed until 2020 and is funded by taking 1% of utilities net profits.

With installation costs, that works out to be roughly 20% annual return.

Comment Re:Holding my breath (Score 1) 150

Seems like it wouldn't be difficult to tie that to the output of the Fluke Ti25 - that thermal imager already can internally blend standard visual wavelengths to IR. It would be a bit bigger than I'd want, and expensive, but the tech seems to be already out there to do something similar to what you're suggesting. I've found having a thermal imager is very, very useful to have around - I could only imagine how nice it'd be to have a agumented reality HUD with one integrated. Great idea!

Here's a review I recently wrote up about my experiences with the Fluke IR cam:

Comment Re:second amendment rights (Score 5, Informative) 546

My good friend is a Stryker brigade C/O. He told me that they deal with and are hit by IED's on a frequent basis, and their APC's take it quite well. He's lost far more guys from snipers. When doing house-to-house searches nothing tips him off more than a quality SKS with a scope.

Because of snipers using these weapons, they have to essentially 'corral' their strykers, and shoot smoke in the air when they 'mount and dismount.' The main personal hatch is at the rear. Without these tactics, they're picked off one-by-one when exiting. He said they only made that mistake once.

I'm not downplaying the dangers of IED's but don't disregard the danger of one quality shooter, with a 60 year-old weapon.

Comment Re:They have to.. (Score 4, Informative) 328

Here's a list I came up with detailing some of the more visible differences in Windows 7. It entails quite a bit more than just a Service Pack:

For users

* New Interface: A greatly simplified toolbar, but only at first glance. The quick launch and taskbar now intermingles and can be greatly customized by the user.
* New Taskbar: The taskbar now automatically hides icons as theyâ(TM)re added, into what I call an icon corral which can be selected to show the icons.
* UAC simplification slider: You can define how and when you are prompted by the UAC, even shutting it off.
* UAC definition by program: You can also exempt specific programs from UAC prompts.
* Device Stage: A number of rumors have been circulating about this one. First and foremost, device manufactures DO NOT have to program this in order for it to work it is just an option for direct interaction. Access all the functions of your devices from one screen.
* Homegroups: Its a situation that many of us face. We have a domain controlled work laptop. We come home and want to access our personal media (now managed by libraries) and printers. This solves those problems, while keeping company data safe. Default printers change automatically, depenting on what network you connect to.
* Libraries in Explorer: expanded support for Libraries across networks and a changed browsing interface within explorer.
* Math Input panel: It seems quite advanced, including input of hand/mouse written algebra and calculus.
* Calculator: Adding separate programmer and statistics modes to the previous standard and scientific calculator options.
* MS Paint: Welcome the ribbon.
* Magnifier: built in application to magnify a specific area of the screen and zoom in. This is similar to the capability enabled in XP or Vista in with Microsoft Mouse software.
* Gadgets across the desktop: Gadgets are no longer limited to the gadget toolbar.
* Simplified network connection stack: Ability to peek into the network stack and select an available network without opening any windows.
* Sticky windows (my definition): You can now drag windows to the top of the screen, which will automatically maximize the window. Also by dragging the window to the side of the screen, it will size the window to take the half of that side of the screen
* Preview Desktop: To the right of the taskbar, there is now a preview desktop button.
* Media Player Codec Expansion: Native support for AAC, H264, divx, xvid, AVCHD, flip video to the list of supported codecs.
* StreamOn: Ability to push audio and video output to networked A/V devices (think radios, receivers, and TVs).
* Display Color Calibration Wizard: A step-by-step interface to more closely calibrate proper gamma, brightness/contrast, and to eyeball proper color.
* Simplified Sideshow support: I previously installed sideshow on my windows mobile phone, when I created a Bluetooth relationship with the phone (for PAN support), it automatically discovered its capabilities and shows this in the sideshow area and device stage. Remote bluetooth control of media player, via a win mobile phone.
* New Backgrounds: Sure, absolutely not important, but an interesting re-take on the current Vista background theme.
* Faster Boots: Parallel device initialization during boot â" faster boot times. Demo showed a 5-10 second faster cold boot over Vista.
* Simple Shutdown: In later builds theyâ(TM)ve removed the confusing red, round button and replaced it with a simple, named â(TM)shut downâ(TM) button on the start menu, with the optional OS stops on a pull down menu on the right.

For IT

* Action Center: Thereâ(TM)s a good deal built into this function, but one of the most interesting features is a built in application that allows users record a walk through an action that generates an error and will email a system state and screenshots of each step to your IT support.
* Encryption of USB keys: fairly self explanatory.
* Workspaces Center: A new function under the command panel. Not much info on it.
* Lite Touch Installation: Ability to install a fresh image Win 7 onto a Vista machine without compromising links to user files and data. Installation takes about 25 minutes. Not available when stepping from XP to Win 7.
* Improved Disk Defragment status: While it isnâ(TM)t as hypnotizing as watching the blocks move, Win 7 at least shows you defragement progress by section, passes, and percentage; which is a big improvement over Vista.
* Windows Solutions Center: This is useful to both the IT member and User, by giving a simple one stop, and color coded display on what issues are present that affect security, along with maintenance tasks.
* Better Multi monitor support: Remote Desktops can now span monitors, and by using the windows+P button combination, you can use multi-projectors and adjust them from the one interface.

Under the hood

* Lighter footprint: Netbooks, here comes Windows 7. Demonstrated using a 1ghz, 1 gig of ram. They claim theyâ(TM)re trying to reduce those requirements. Goodbye XP, once and for all.
* Longer Battery Life: Demoed was the programâ(TM)s ability to recognize elements on the hardware that are needlessly active and sucking battery life and will shut them off.
* Increased Support for multicore CPUs: A fully managed code, that is designed specifically with parallel processing in mind. *rumor*
* Multitouch: Many people are claiming this is a new feature, but anyone with a Dell XT tablet with Vista (or surface, which runs on Vistaâ(TM)s underpinnings), this is nothing new. But yet, it supports multitouch on the software side.
* Locations and Other Sensors: Added GPS integration and provisions for OS interactions with other sensors, such as accelerometers.
* Credential Manager: Manage user names and passwords, so you can easily log into website and connect to other resources, such as computers.
* Troubleshooting: A separate link within the taskbar, with a one-stop-shop of troubleshooting by programs, devices, network, printing, display, performance, etc.
* Less Versions, SKUs: Word on the street is that theyre looking to reduce the number of SKUs involved.

Comment Been there, done that (Score 3, Interesting) 66

I designed, installed and maintain a 10kw solar array last year to power our businesses servers and offer a large (2900 amp hour) uninterpretable power supply during prolonged grid outages.

We recapture the waste heat during the winter to heat our facility at night. During the summer we vent that heat directly to the outside, and only use the AC as auxiliary cooling. It works excellently.

Comment Re:Other Factors increasing payback time? (Score 2, Interesting) 591

Our building's insurance didn't increase after the installation, as its included by the insurance agency as 'equipment', just the same as the heating and cooling system. It didn't change the property tax for us at all, since the facility is already worth a few million, and land values have been going down in the area.

Annual maintenance costs for us have just been an hour or two of squeegeeing every 6 months. Other than that, it just hums along next to silently every day. The furnaces at the building require more maintenance.

Comment Re:$400 a month? (Score 3, Interesting) 591

A couple points.

1. At that latitude, the angle you mount your panels for operation would be steep enough for most snow to slide off. Also the dark color of the panels means that the snow will melt off there first. Although the snow may eventually build up at the base and block the rest from sliding off.

2. Amount of Sun. It's all about the solar insolation measurement. The feds have been logging this data for 30+ years and averaged the amount of annual sunlight in several areas in each state.

The above link is a good chart for this. The average for cities in New York is about 3.5, which equates to right around 3.5 kWh daily output for each installed 1,000 watts of generation capacity. That isn't the best, but it still is plenty. Germany has the largest number of installed PV arrays, and they are just as, is not more cloudy than New York.

I operate a 10 kw solar PV array in perpetually cloudly Seattle. We're going to see a payback of right around 10 years. Solar works just fine for us, although we do expect greatly reduced output in the winter months. The longer days during the summer, due to the high latitude, helps make up for some of that though. My array.

Comment Re:Winter (Score 5, Interesting) 551

The EPA awarded my company with one of their top awards this year for improvements to our facility, and energy efficiency. Overall we cut energy consumption 50%, but also used our energy more smartly, including a dedicated ducting system from our server room to the building entrances. We calculate that our servers put out between 8,000 & 12,000 Btu an hour. Most of our overnight heat now comes from the servers (which have to be on 24/7 for off site access), and we've reduced our server air conditioning loads by 80% annually. We're now beginning to implement this change into bank designs.

In almost every application, it's ideal to shut off computers when not in use, but there are some business based situations where it makes sense to better harness waste heat from electronics, instead of fighting it with energy intensive air conditioners.

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