Powering Up

One of the things that I’ve found to be something of a problem over the last several months is my electric bill.  Particularly in the summer months is can get really out of hand because of my having to use the air conditioning as much as I do in order to keep the temperature in my house at a livable level.  (I don’t even want to think of how bad it would be if I ran it enough to be really comfortable all of the time!!)

I do have an idea, though it would of course require my house being for sale at a price I could afford, would be to install an array of solar panels on the roof and use them to charge an array of batteries.

The power from the batteries would then be fed into a power converter to provide 120 volts AC house current which I could then use to power a number of devices and take at least part of the load off of my electric bill.

I figure that even if I just started with a single solitary panel and one battery the system could be expanded over time to increase both the amount of power that it captured from the sun and how much it could store in batteries.

I don’t suppose that something like this could entirely eliminate the need for power from the electric company but it would go a long way to making my bills a lot easier to look at.  Of course, I need somebody to decide it’d make a good Christmas gift to get me started.

Technorati Tags: electricity, solar power, power

Planning For Next Bug Season

Even though summer is officially over and the weather is beginning to turn toward the long awaited cooler days of Autumn there is still something of an insect problem going on.  Oh, it’s not anything like what it was two months ago but they’re still around even though it is in smaller numbers (finally!).

Mostly though, I’m thinking ahead to next spring when the weather warms up and the foul little beasties start appearing and multiplying like crazy and generally making life miserable for anybody that happens to be unfortunate enough to live in an area where there’s a lot of them.

I particularly hate the way they’re attracted to light.  If I turn on my carport light and go outside at night it means walking into a cloud of every kind of bug imaginable.

It’s the kind of problem that ensures the sale of every kind of anti-bug technology known to man from the simple fly swatter to citronella candles, fly paper, insecticides and so on.

solar pest killer bug zapperThe bad thing about all those different means of dealing with insects is that they all have problems.  For example when was the last time you tried to actually hit something with a fly swatter?  Oh you might get something once in a while but in my experience, 90% of the time the fly swatter doesn’t do more than move the air around a bit.

Citronella candles?  No thanks, I can’t stand the smell of them and you have to babysit them and start a new one when it goes out.  Insecticides?  No thanks.  I’m not even remotely interested in adding God knows what kind of toxins to my home and yard.  And Fly paper has got to be the stickiest mess ever.  No thank you!

The one means of controlling bug populations that I like best is things like this Solar Pest Killer Bug Zapper.  There’s several reasons why I like this kind of solution.

1, No toxins needed and therefore no risk of somebody being affected by ’em for any reason.

2, Not nearly as much babysitting or tending is needed.

3, This one is solar powered.  The batteries charge during the day and then it’s ready for up to six hours of bug-zapping

4, Finally, say what you like but it’s actually kinda entertaining on an otherwise boring evening to sit back and watch as mosquitoes and other bugs are attracted to it’s UV light and get zapped with a thousand volts of pest control.

(I can just picture a little mosquito version of Gollum telling the others “Don’t follow the lights.”)

Hrm.. guess I’ve got another thing to add to my Christmas list.  *cackle*

Technorati Tags: gollum, pest control, mosquitoes, bug zapper, insects

Finally, Some Warm Weather!

After a solid two and a half to three months of freezing cold weather it’s *finally* started to warm up around here!  The house is starting to warm up to a comfortable level for the first time since before Christmas.

It’s been so cold for the last few months that sometime around next September I expect to start seeing a flood of baby announcements because well, let’s face it, when it’s that cold for that long and most people can’t afford enough propane at over $400 and $500 to fill an average sized tank and thus have to keep the house colder than they like, there’s really only one good way to stay warm.

Technorati Tags: weather, keeping warm, propane prices

Why Video Can Take Forever To Render

In the last few months I’ve been making a lot more videos, most of which have been Vlogging on my TinFoilChefDotCom YouTube channel.  In fact, since I took a day off for Christmas, I have not gone a day without making and uploading at least one video.  I love doing it because there’s a level of creative freedom that I have found to be unequaled in any other media.  Especially when you start taking visual and audio effects into account.

While most of these vlog videos have involved discussion of topics ranging from weight loss to Pat Robertson’s recent statements about Haiti, and the cooking videos where I’ll show how to make something.  Recently I’ve started doing a series of brief sketches called “Talking To My Many Selves” where I use a simple editing trick to put two versions of myself on screen at the same time and have a conversation with some aspect of who I am.

While they are actually pretty funny (ok, so I’m biased. check ’em out for yourself.), There is a downside in terms of making them.  Specifically, when I ask the editing software to do anything much more complicated than lining up a series of clips into a full video, it can drastically increase the amount of time it takes to process and render the final video.

PNY GeForce 9500GT video cardA big part of the secret here is in the video card.  My computer is several years old and is using an old RAGE 128 Pro with 32MB of video ram.  Back in the day that was a pretty hot video card, even allowing for the fact that by the time I finally found one on sale and added it to my system the thing was no longer being made.  It was still the best, fastest video card I’d ever had and it made a lot of things possible that I hadn’t been able to do before.

Now however things are different.  In making a video every single day I’m very aware of just how inadequate that old card is for the task I’m giving it.  Oh, it works, slowly.  A seven minute YouTube video can take anywhere from two to eight hours to render.

What I really need to do is get something like the PNY GeForce 9500GT.  This card’s got a full gigabyte of on-board video memory, a 550mhz clock and supports NVidea’s CUDA technology which from what I’ve read, seriously speeds up video processing.

I’m seriously thinking that I need to get down to business building a new system and use that card to handle the video.  Maybe then I can get a seven minute video to render in under two hours!

Technorati Tags: slow rendering, vlogging, youtube, video, editing, build new computer, video card, tinfoilchefdotcom

Not Doing Much Shopping This Year

Once again December has hit us square in the face with the Christmas season.  Thing is, I’m not nearly as interested in it this year.  Oh, I have not become a total grinch but I do lack a certain enthusiasm for it.

Lura 1947 - 2008.  She is sorely missedYou see this was always one of my wife’s favorite holiday seasons.  For what seems like forever, by the time it got to be this late in December I would have spent a couple of months trying to come up with gifts for her without her knowing about them.

This was something of a challenge because both of us seldom went anywhere or did anything where the other wasn’t either right there or somewhere close by.  This made surprises like Birthday and Christmas gifts a little tricky to manage without the other person finding out before they were supposed to.

Right around Thanksgiving we’d break out a collection of Christmas movies that ran the gamut from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” to all three of “The Santa Clause” movies, “Jingle All The Way” and at least two versions of “Miracle on 34th Street”.

This year those titles will remain in their storage space unwatched by me because I simply refuse to do so alone.  They join company with a considerable number of movies that were her favorites that, for the time being at least, I no longer have any desire to see because it’s just not the same without her.

New Years is going to be joining Christmas in the list of holiday’s I am not particularly looking forward to.

Technorati Tags: christmas, not the same, holidays

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