Sunday, November 13, 2011

Striking timelapse of Earth from orbit.

There are absolutely amazing views of our planet in this video. I am awestruck.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space | Fly Over | Nasa, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Share button fail!

I guess I should take a lesson from this and never use a share button to post directly to my blog.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Update . . and a favor to ask.

It’s always a wake-up call when Christmas decorations start showing up in department stores, but it happening. . . already. It makes me start thinking about the end of the year.

So, 2011 is wrapping up and it’s time to gear up for 2012. As you know I’ve been a network engineer for 17 years, and have been happily working at Tetra Pak for the past two years doing global network operations. Also, for about 10 years, I have been getting experience as a real estate investor, renting homes in Kansas City. I invested near the top of the market, had some good years, and then rode it all the way down. Now the banks are holding the bag and now that the time is right to invest at the bottom, I can lend some valuable knowledge. I’ve made some career moves, eliminated all of my debt, and now I live in the Dallas market and I’m shifting my real estate strategy to something more lucrative that anyone with investment money languishing in stocks, or a 401k that’s barely treading water can participate in.

A lot of people find that interesting with all the doom and gloom that the media and talking heads portray in the real estate, mortgage, and stock markets. Surprisingly, there is no better time than RIGHT NOW to be buying real estate and taking advantage of the huge discounts and sales that you can find, especially here in the major markets, including Dallas/Fort Worth.
I just wanted to drop you a quick line to inform you that I am looking to buy somewhere in between 1-4 homes per month here locally. I am coming across so many deals direct from banks that are so discounted, allowing me to buy them with steep discounts of 40-50% off of CURRENT MARKET VALUES! I've got the deals, but I could use your help! Do you know of anyone who is unhappy with how poorly their CD, Savings, or 401k (or now a 101k?  ) is non-performing. I'm looking to add on a select few private lenders who would be interested in making an above average rate of return on their money for a short period of time (12-36 months) or working with me to cash in on the next 24-36 months or while we are still in this phenomenal buyers market.
All of my deals (like the house below) are secured with:

Title Insurance
Home Owners Insurance
1st Lien
Deed of Trust
Low LTV (70% or less)

I close all of my transactions with my title company or attorney's office so that everything is recorded properly. I have found several deals on homes that I am currently looking for funding on (like the house below). IF you know of ANYONE who MIGHT be interested, I would appreciate the referral! Please have them either email me with questions or call me directly at 972-827-7693.

Check out the rate of return of the current deal I’m working on here:

Like I said, now is a phenomenal time to be buying real estate! THANKS FOR YOUR HELP OR REFERRAL!

Friday, August 12, 2011

RSS addiction is bad for your blog.

I clicked on the "Trends" section in Google Reader and found out how much blog material I read, and it's somewhat significant.

"From your 150 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 1,407 items, clicked 84 items, starred 2 items, shared 7 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since April 19, 2007 you have read a total of 21,935 items."

I have added and removed RSS feeds for various reasons and come up with a mix of daily reading that I'm absolutely addicted to. I realize now that having a Google Reader (and Google Listen) app on my phone has changed when/where/how I get my news. Since I switched from Outlook to Google Reader as my RSS feed aggregator, I have racked up some crazy stats. I used to write a lot, now I mostly read. My eyes are drawn to text because I'm wired that way.

A few of my favorites are Wikinews, Xenophilia, Whiteout Press News Feed, Stephen Kruiser, The New Editor, WizBang, Pat Dollard, Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, etc.

I have some favorite audio blogs, too. Between The Adam Corolla Show, Mike Church, Packet Pushers Podcast, and Downtown Soulville, I'm getting more audio than I can consume on my commutes.

And I've found myself (and much of the public debate) ignorant about economics in the past few years, so it's become an avidity of mine. My RSS feed reflects it: Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance, Cafe Hayek, Shadow Government Statistics - Commentary, Official Gerald Celente Blog, Mises Institute Daily, The Future of Capitalism, etc.

It's hard to wade through the boring, basic, or politically hyperbolic items to find the really interesting bits. Nothing beats a good beat down in the letters to the editor which economist Don Boudreaux posts, whether the editors receiving them print them or not. He wars against stupidity and avoids boring, basic, or politically hyperbolic, although he uses some hyperbole for humor's sake.

I get my tech news via RSS too. Home, Hack A Day, CNet News, Schneier on Security, TechDirt.

If I want to just ogle the newest electronics, I have a folder full of RSS feeds just for that. Engadget, Gizmodo, Gajitz, The Gadgeteer,, etc.

The rest of the feeds are terribly specific to my job. StaticNAT, Cisco Security Advisories, Cisco IOS Hints and Tricks, AirWise Community Blog... you get the point.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Andy Masters & Ryan D Howard " Bye Bye Blackbird "

I miss the Saturday night jazz jam at the Mutual Musicians Foundation in Kansas City. That place has a way of just melting the stress out of my body.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I know selfishness when I see it, but who am I to judge? The balance of give and take has to be a win-win, or someone's going to be accused of being the selfish one.

"Selfishness is the ultimate strawman, since it is by definition impossible to act in any way that is not selfish. If you value an end goal, whatever that goal happens to be, it is selfish because YOU value it. To value altruism is no more or less selfish than to value wealth. Selfishness is not and cannot be the problem (or complaint), rather it is a disagreement on what SHOULD BE valued. The charge that selfishness is evil is more correctly phrased; what you value is evil while what I value is good. The charge of selfishness always comes from someone who believes they know how to run YOUR life." - gleaned from Frank33328 comment on the Cafe Hayek blog.

I just found it thought provoking lunch hour reading, particularly the Don Boudreaux posts. I had a great macroeconomics teacher in college, but Mr. Boudreaux has a way of boiling things down to the essential and explaining complex economic interactions for mass understanding.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Earth Hour (of hate)

I'm all in favor of efficiency, but to spite the hypocrisy of the electricity haters celebrating Earth Hour on Saturday night, I want to shine one of those 40 million candlepower SunForce spotlights they sell at Cabela's straight into the sky as a celebration of human achievement, an homage to the comfort and liberation provided by abundant, cheap electric power, and to honor all the coal miners and line workers who ever died to deliver it and all the countless, wonderful benefits of it. Actually, I'll be playing ice hockey at about that time. . . in Texas. Oh, I love electricity, and I love to use it in awesome ways.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Smart Grid or DIY power usage monitoring?

When energy prices go up, it piques my interest in Smart Grid technology and energy consumption monitoring, etc. I think "Smart Grid" technology is ironic, because the devices collect power statistics to control consumption while consuming power themselves. Conversely, you can't manage what you can't measure, and your dryer, water heater, hair dryer, and HVAC use a lot more juice than some small electronics. Also, there are some nifty devices available to do this without interfacing with your provider's meter, and they provide more detailed information. Folks are saving hundreds by finding energy waste by proactively looking at usage data and accordingly unplugging things or changing usage habits, water heater and thermostat settings, etc.

In Texas (among other places), the utilities have been replacing meters on houses with ones that use a 900MHz mesh network protocol (IEEE 802.15.4). The providers can do remote connect/disconnect and automatically read the meter without tromping into your yard and upsetting your pets. In fact, they are collecting and storing smart meter usage data at 15 minute increments, which is sort of creepy in a 1984 kind of way. They know when you run your dryer or when your A/C kicks on and possibly the size of the compressor on your fridge and how often it cycles. If you want to know what they know, there are devices you can connect to your home router that can participate in this network, gather your power usage info and upload much more detailed data to web sites, like Microsoft Hohm or Google Powermeter. These web apps can show graphs of your power usage on your computer or smartphone. These may be unnecessary in Texas, because there is a Smart Meter Texas Portal which is a joint project by Oncor, CenterPoint, and AEP Texas under the direction of the Texas Public Utility Commission. It's publicly funded, probably by federal stimulus money, and available for free by signing up here using info from your power bill:

If you live in Oncor territory in North Texas, they use ZigBee Smart Energy Protocol 1.0. I found a variety of in-home displays (IHDs) to show your current power usage and hourly/weekly/monthly cost. There should be a way to get an in-home display for cheap or free, because in 2009 the Department of Energy allocated $3.4 billion in stimulus grants for smart grid projects, including the deployment of over a million IHDs. (Sidenote: It appears that Cisco is getting their money back for contributing $187,472.00 to the Obama Campaign and about $2 million a year for lobbying. See Cisco HEM for home energy monitoring and Cisco HEC for home energy control devices.)

Here's a ZigBee to IP/Ethernet bridge to connect to your home network. You can connect thermostats, meters for individual appliances (freezer, hot water heater, etc.), displays, and TV-connected controllers and other things once you have a ZigBee home area network (HAN).

I'm not sure that most of this Smart Grid stuff the utilities are doing is ready for prime time. ZigBee SEP 1.0 is being supplanted by a more capable and IPv6 compatible SEP 2.0 protocol, which is not backwards compatible. So, you have to buy devices compatible with (or upgradeable to) whatever version your meter is. Here's Oncor's take on that. Besides, if your house doesn't have a smart meter, or you don't know which protocol it's using: AMR-ERT(old), AMI/ZigBee 1.0(new), ZigBee 2.0(newest). That's necessary information to buy the right interface, you can capture the data yourself with some cool new products. I haven't found a gateway that is compatible with all of them, probably because they're so different.

Of course, there's more than one way to do that. There is a meter you can clamp around your breaker panel wires yourself and a WiFi gateway to push data to Microsoft-Hohm or Google Powermeter. Here's a comparison of Envi by Current Cost and Blueline products. The PowerHouse eMonitor works with Google Powermeter and monitors each circuit in your breaker panel, which lets you pinpoint what's sucking up the juice and costing you money.

Pricewise, the cheapest way to go is to just get a government subsidized IHD that works with your meter to see your electricity spend in real time. The next cheapest solution, which gives you historical usage info, is to get the smart meter interface (iTronERT or ZigBee to IP/Ethernet gateway) for about $200. No smart meter? Not smart meter smart? The other solutions involve metering it yourself at the breaker panel and sending the data to the cloud via WiFi. These kits start at around $300 for the meter and the network interface. You can also get an IHD or access it with a browser or an iPhone or Android App. I suppose it'll pay for itself over time if you can find when, and therefore what, is wasting power.

I'm guessing these things will be mainstream in a year or two when the industry standardizes on the best protocols and the price comes down on the hardware.