Showing posts from October, 2014

Monitoring your energy usage

I recently went through the entire house, made an inventory of every electrical device in the house, and measured its energy consumption.

You should do that too.
You'll find out how many things consume more energy than you thought, and you can easily reduce your monthly energy bill without much effort.In my case, I was preparing to go solar, and you'll want to reduce your energy consumption before doing that. For roughly every 40kWh that you can reduce your average usage, you'll save around $1,000 in the cost of your solar system if you buy the system outright.What you need
A simple electricity usage monitor. Just search for them, there are tons of them out there going for around $25 or so. I got the Ensupra Electricity Usage Monitor, but any of them will do.
I also recommend a label printer. You should have one in your house anyway.
And finally, pick your spreadsheet application of choice. I used Google Sheets (i.e. the spreadsheet solution that comes with Google Drive), a…

Outdoor Home Theater

Looking for a new project to piss your neighbors off? Do I have a treat for you: An outdoor movie theater!

It's surprisingly simple and cheap, but a lot of its feasibility depends on what you have in your backyard. We happen to have a pergola, which makes the process a lot easier.

The basic components: Weatherproof speakers, screen, projector, amplifier, input devices. And then you need a lot of creativity in finding a place for it all, which will probably involve some fun woodwork.

Let's start with the speakers: I used two Bose 151 Environmental Speakers, and they're awesome. A bit on the pricier side, but they're also really weatherproof, unlike most other wanna-be outdoor speakers, and they have great sound. I didn't even go for the full 5.1 setup, but they create a good enough bass without a dedicated subwoofer. Plus, the pergola adds nicely to the acoustics.

For the screen, the most important thing is obviously the size and aspect ratio, and that depends on th…

The Volt's user interface is a piece of shit

The Volt is a technological marvel in some ways. Granted, some of its features were implemented poorly. But nothing is as undeniably pathetic as its shitty UI.

It starts with the clusterfuck that is its button panel. I mean, look at this shit. The home button, arguably the most important navigational aid, is tucked in there somewhere with a tiny-ass icon.

The drive mode button is right above the master switch to turn the car the fuck off. Some people actually sell plastic covers to protect the car from accidentally shutting down because you wanted to switch to sport mode. No, really:
I can't find a rhyme or reason to the arbitrary placement of the buttons. And I tried:

The radio controls are all over the place. The driver gets to control the temperature while the passenger chooses the fan speed. The most important buttons (yellow) retreated in fear as they are surrounded by everything else, including the lone telephony button that didn't know where else to go.

In fact, why …