Alexander Leidinger

Just another weblog

Sep
25

EMC^2/Legato Net­worker 7.5.1.4 tests

Regard­ing our last prob­lems with NW:

  • OK: the “restart NW-server directly after delet­ing a client with index entries”-crash is fixed
  • Mostly OK: shut­ting down a stor­age node does not crash the NW-server any­more… most of the time (some­times there is some strange behav­ior in this regard, we do not have enough evi­dence, but there may be still some sleep­ing dragons)
  • ?: we did not yet check the dis­as­ter recover part
  • NOK: the post-cmd is still run one minute after the pre-cmd in some cases, maybe this is related to a session/save-set which is not yet started but the pre-cmd is already run, if this is the case, this could maybe also affect the case where there is more than one minute of delay between the end of one session/save-set on a machine and the start of another session/save-set on the same machine (the sup­port is investigating)
  • NOK: some Ora­cleRMAN back­ups (cus­tom save com­mand, perl script) show a run­ning ses­sion in the NW-monitoring and some do not, after the backup mminfo some­times lists the group of a RMAN-save-set and some­times not (for the same client), under inves­ti­ga­tion by the support

So, for us 7.5.1.4 is still a beta ver­sion.

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Sep
23

Some more WP plugins

Addi­tion­ally to the WP plu­g­ins I already talked about, I installed some more since then:

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Sep
23

Ideas list page created

Yes­ter­day I cre­ated an ideas list page where I intend to list ran­dom ideas or idea-like thoughts I have. I already have an entry regard­ing auto­matic trans­la­tion of food recipes and some entries with idea-like thoughts regard­ing alter­na­tive energy there. If some­one reads them and decides to approach them, I would like to get some feed­back to see if my idea was crap or not.

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Sep
21

The local BBQ style: “Schwenken”

When­ever I show our local (= my region) BBQ gear to “out­siders” (all peo­ple which did not grow up in our region and never went to a local BBQ), peo­ple are impressed. So I thought, let me export this great inven­tion out in the world. Maybe some­one out there is inter­ested enough to build the sim­ple solu­tion which has a lot of features.

The Schwenker

As a pic­ture tells more than a lot of words, let me first let you look at it.

The typical BBQ device in my region.

The BBQ device which I show you here is called a “Schwenker”. The oper­a­tion of grilling some­thing on a Schwenker is called “schwenken” (the direct trans­la­tion of schwenken is “swing­ing around” or “to swing”). As you may guess, this is because you swing around the meat (or veg­eta­bles or fish or cake (I have read that one win­ner of the national BBQ-competition had a Black-Forrest-Cherry-cake on the grill) or what­ever peo­ple may want to put there) over the fire. The meat which is very often pre­pared on the Schwenker is called “Schwenker” (we are effi­cient with words in our region…). Basi­cally this is the meat of a pork which relaxed a day or two in oil, onions and paprika (add pep­per, salt and herbs to your own lik­ing, other vari­a­tions are with gar­lic and green herbs). While the Schwenker is on the Schwenker, you can put a lit­tle bit of beer on it to add a lit­tle bit of taste (this is optional). It exists a small Wikipedia entry about Schwenker, there you can even read about other mean­ings of the words Schwenker/Schwenken (all related to what you see/read here).

Con­struc­tion

So, how to build one? Its easy. Take a metal plate (best is a tri­an­gle where the edges are bend a lit­tle bit), attach 3 metal poles (they need to be strong enough to carry the grill and the meat) to it in a way that you can attach a metal roll between them (like a hoist, it is there to lift the grill) and that the metal poles form a tri­pod. You get bonus points if the roll can be rotated where it is attached, but is is enough if it is aligned with one of the poles. Now take a grill (round) and attach 3 lit­tle chains to it (in the pic­ture above, those chains are not so lit­tle, but it is a big grill, you can feed at least 10 peo­ple at once) so that the grill is lev­eled when you attach those 3 chains to a sin­gle point. The 3 chains need to be attached to a long chain, and this chain needs to put on the roll which is attached on the tri­pod. Now attach a hook on one of poles in a con­ve­nient posi­tion (if you stand in front of the tri­pod you need to be able to access the hook eas­ily) and attach the chain which is con­nected to the grill and the roll. It looks a lit­tle bit more high-tech if you use a winch instead of a hook, but then you need to use a metal rope instead of a chain.

Fea­tures

  • vari­able heat inten­sity (lift or lower the grill by attach­ing a dif­fer­ent part of the chain to the hook)
  • ecologic/equal heat­ing (swing and/or rotate the grill over the fire, you can cover a lot of grill area with a small fire, all meat gets about the same heat­ing with­out the need to move the meat itself on the grill a lot)
  • keep some meat hot while eat­ing (lift or lower the grill)
  • food safety (you need to cre­ate more fire but you already have some meat on the grill: move the tri­pod to the side; you want to move the fire in the fire­place: the chain is not as hot as the grill, use it to move the grill a lit­tle bit to the side while mov­ing the fire in the fireplace)

Tips & Tricks

The fire­place in the pic­ture is a part of the bar­rel of a wash­ing machine (some­where between a half and a third of a bar­rel). I got mine for free from a local white-ware shop (from a bro­ken wash­ing machine, off course).

If you cre­ate the grill your­self, take care that a sausage can not fall through. The metal needs to be of high qual­ity, ide­ally stain­less steel. Make a lit­tle bor­der around the grill, this way you can pre­vent acci­dents where a sausage lands in the fire or on the floor.

Instead of 3 metal poles you can use 6. Attach 2 together in a way that they do not sep­a­rate if you lift the tri­pod, but allows to sep­a­rate them if needed (this allows to take the tri­pod with you). In the Schwenker in the above pic­ture the metal poles are con­nected with screws to the metal tri­an­gle, I did not use any tools to attach it hard, I attached the screws by hand. This allows me to detach every­thing with­out any tools. Each of the 3 metal poles con­sists of 2 small ones. They are con­nected by tap­ping a thread into one, and attach­ing a tube with a cor­re­spond­ing thread to the other one.

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Sep
16

Pho­to­voltaic from the bank (no real ben­e­fit for me)

A while ago I got a mail from my bank. They offer to fund a pho­to­voltaic sys­tem on my house with a spe­cial offer. They give a credit upto a spe­cific amount if I use it to install a pho­to­voltaic sys­tem, and to pay it back I just have to give them the com­plete amount of money which I get from the power com­pany when the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem is pro­duc­ing power (the state requires the power com­pany to pay a spe­cific amount of money — fixed dur­ing 20 years — for each kW/h). They also offer that a spe­cial­ist vis­its me to explain the pho­to­voltaic stuff and cal­cu­late if all the phys­i­cal con­straints for such an instal­la­tion are OK.

At first this sounds nice, but I do not trust the words of some ran­dom per­son which wants to get money from me. So I had a deeper look at it.

The roof of my house is still OK, but in some years (maybe 3 – 5) it has to be changed (at least partly). The roof  is already 30 years old, so this is OK. If I would install a pho­to­voltaic sys­tem now, it would have to be removed and rein­stalled when the roof is changed. If the sys­tem is financed by the bank, this has to be done by an offi­cial spe­cial­ist (instead of let­ting a good friend with expe­ri­ence doing it in exchange of my work­force for some ren­o­va­tion project at his house). This means it would be cheaper if I change the roof before the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem is installed. I do not have the money to do this com­pletely out of my pocket, so the bank has to finance this.

Let­ting the cost of the roof aside (which has to be done “soon” any­way), the inter­est­ing part now is what do I get when the bank is com­pletely financ­ing the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem (maybe parts of the elec­tri­cal instal­la­tion need to get updated, as they are 30 years old too). I have to take into account taxes, what needs to be paid back to the bank, what I have to pay for the power, and what I have when every­thing is paid back.

If the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem is financed com­pletely by the bank, the typ­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion is that it takes about 20 years to pay back every­thing. This assumes I only give to the bank the amount of money I get from the power com­pany for the power of the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem. So basi­cally the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem pays itself. This sounds great, the prob­lem is that a rough esti­ma­tion of the life­time of a pho­to­voltaic sys­tem is 20 years (and after 10 years you may have to change the AC con­verter). The war­ranty on pho­to­voltaic ele­ments here is 2 years, so far I have not seen any offer where they extend it much (some­how it is hard to find some good pages for pri­vate cus­tomers, most of the pages I see are either light on info, or tar­get com­mer­cial cus­tomers). This is not even remotely in the range of 20 years. So after it paid back itself to the bank, it may be bro­ken. And dur­ing those 20 years, I still have to pay my com­plete power bill.

There is also a tax point of view to take into account. Luck­ily a friend of my sis­ter is doing some tax con­sult­ing for pri­vate tax issues. The tax stuff involved here is about com­pany taxes (you are required to open a com­pany when you install a pho­to­voltaic sys­tem here). This is not spe­cially in the area where she is work­ing in, but I assumed she should know enough about the basics, that I can get at least an overview. I got even more than that. When I talked to her about it, she told me they cal­cu­lated a sim­i­lar offer for their house recently. She assumed a pho­to­voltaic instal­la­tion of 20 T€ and that the bank is financ­ing it com­pletely. The roof of their house does not have the same char­ac­ter­is­tics than my house, but as the pho­to­voltaic spe­cial­ists cal­cu­late with rough peak sun­shine hours any­way, it gives me a rough overview. The good part is, that you do not lose money this way, but you have to pay the tax directly (even if I give all the money from the power com­pany to the bank), you start to earn money near the end of the 20 years.

Accord­ing to her cal­cu­la­tions you will have earned 6 T€ after 20 years, when the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem paid itself back to the bank and you had to pay the taxes each month/year/whatever. This assumes that the peak sun­shine hours are not get­ting worse, and that the effi­ciency of the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem stays at roughly the same level dur­ing the 20 years. Now let us cal­cu­late the amount of money per month and per year you gain when you do this:

6000/20 = 300 €/year

300/12 = 25 €/month

So for 25 €/month I have to invest my time into tak­ing care about the tax stuff, have to take care about the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem (clean­ing, and man­age­ment stuff in case some­thing breaks because of bad weather or nor­mal usage), have to pay extra money when some­thing has to be done to the roof, and so on. And when every­thing is fin­ished after 20 years, the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem may be fin­ished too (and the rate of money the power com­pany has to pay for each kW/h then is not known, in case the sys­tem still works good then). If it is in a state where I have to remove or replace it, I also have to pay the cost of remov­ing it. And I need to get together enough money to get a new roof now.

Now this offer does not sound so good any­more (remem­ber, I also have to pay the power I con­sume dur­ing this time). To me it looks like only the bank and the com­pany installing the sys­tem will ben­e­fit from it, and I have to take care about all the unpleas­ant things.

There is for sure an eco­log­i­cal aspect to think about here. It sounds great to pro­duce green energy (I do not know how much CO2 is pro­duced dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of the pho­to­voltaic sys­tem, and if it will pro­duce enough energy to com­pen­sate this), and I would do it directly if I would see a sane return of invest­ment, but this offer does not look sane in my cur­rent situation.

It seems I have to wait until the prices go down more (and I have some spare money to invest with­out the need for a bank). Recently I have read that the expec­ta­tion is that in about 3 – 5 years the tech­nol­ogy to print pho­to­voltaic cells can be pro­duc­tion ready, which could reduce the price to a tenth of what a pho­to­voltaic cell costs ATM. Invest­ing 20 – 30 T€ is not some­thing I would do from one day to another, 4 – 5 T€ for a sim­i­lar instal­la­tion sounds more easy to agree to.

While I am at it: so far I only see pho­to­voltaic info regard­ing the peak power a cell can gen­er­ate. To me this does not look inter­est­ing. The peak power will be gen­er­ated most of the time in sum­mer (direct sun­light, no clouds, long sun­light times), but in the sum­mer the con­sump­tion of power is less than in win­ter (less light to use, more time spend out­side the house so less time in front of a TV, more BBQ so less cook­ing in the kitchen, …). More inter­est­ing to me would be a good power gen­er­a­tion in less than opti­mal sit­u­a­tions like in win­ter when it is cloudy (but it is prob­a­bly hard to come up with an use­ful value, as the aver­age for “less than opti­mal” varies from loca­tion to loca­tion). I have seen a report about water heat­ing (attached to the cen­tral heat­ing) with solar energy, where a sys­tem is used which has a lower peak power, but a bet­ter power out­put in less than opti­mal weather con­di­tions (round col­lec­tors where used instead of flat pan­els). So the­o­ret­i­cally there is the pos­si­bil­ity to get more power out in not so good con­di­tions, but so far I did not find any infor­ma­tion if it is tech­ni­cally pos­si­ble ATM to opti­mize pho­to­voltaic cells to such sit­u­a­tions, and if it is if there are some cells avail­able for a sane price.

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