Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guided steps for Adobe matching funds for MS

A number of Adobe people have had problems finding the MS Society for matching funds. Rather than more words, I thought that a pictorial view of what to do would make more sense. The four steps to start the process follow. Click on the thumbnail image to get the full-size view. If there are still issues, email me or comment on this blog entry.

First, log in to the Matching Gifts website using your Adobe ID.

Then type in the string "National Multiple Sclerosis Society" and hit "Submit."

You'll see a long list of organizations. Pick the National Multiple Sclerosis Society with the location San Francisco, CA (see the red box on the screen) and hit "Select."

And then you'll get the detail on the selected organization. You should see a screen identical to this (see organization 5502) and the hit "Submit." The rest of the process should be very clear.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Myers house goes solar photovoltaic-electric

My father was an electrical engineer who worked on satellites and space probes when I was in grade school. His crowning glory was Ranger mission, specifically Block 3, the first manned object to take photographs of and hit the moon, literally. He worked with the folks who did TIROS, the first US meteorological satellite. He brought me a quality-reject solar cell from TIROS and I treasured that bit of electronics as a grade school kid.

Nearly fifty years have passed and the technology has advanced enough that I now have solar cells on my roof. Akeena installed 32 panels two weeks ago and I turned it on last week. The meter does spin backwards now, at least during the day. I have enough to generate 5.6KWh DC, but probably only at the solstice; we are now approaching the equinox and the power is diminishing daily. You can see a layout of the solar arrays that I have in the image below (click on it for a full size version).

There are so many things that are neat here.

First, I have 32 panels for a theoretical max of 5.6KWh, DC. You do lose 15% in the DC-AC inversion process, which is why the power is never above 140W on a panel

Second, I am using the new Enphase Microinverter. There is one on each panel rather than having panels in series. This gives optimal performance: I get the best of each panel rather than sinking to the lowest common denominator. This is especially important as one gets shade from trees at various parts of the day.

Finally, these microinverters share their information over the power line to an EMU communications gateway in my house. This gateway then reports the information back to Enphase Enlighten. I can see access it on the web; this interface was built with Adobe Flex, so I can not only view information, but drill into a single panel, look at a time-lapse view, etc.

My next mission will be to analyze power usage in our house to eliminate waste such as vampire appliances. The trick will be to do this without irritating Ann.

If you're in the area, I can give you a tour and a referral to Akeena. They did a great job designing and installing this.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Strange noises at a bicycle ride water stop

As reported on Facebook, I did a fifty mile bike ride on Labor day. The temperature was 90+, so I made sure that I stopped for water at every opportunity with the goal of keeping both quart-size water bottles full.

One of the places I stopped was Santa Teresa High School in San Jose. Any cyclist will tell you that schools always have outdoor water fountains; I rode around the deserted school to find a water fountain. One place I pulled into was a dead-end outside entrance to a cafeteria. There were two large steel doors and full length windows on each side of the doors.

Then I hear a strange thump. Since the sound reverberated off the walls, I could not determine the direction.

Then another thump. A few seconds passed.

And thump again. I couldn't figure it out.

Then I looked down by the door and saw a frightened squirrel by the window. He ran six inches away from the window and the then ran straight towards it. Another thump. The poor animal was so frightened of me and was trying to run through the force field of glass. I felt sorry for him and rode away as quickly as I could to leave him in peace.