I am waiting since about two years that my ADSL line gets switched to rate adaptive mode (ADSL RAM). This would allow my modem to try to use the line until its limit, instead of the fixed rate it has now. I can not get a higher fixed rate (2 MBit downstream), because the line is too long. My modem tells me that it could do a lot more (less than 8 MBit downstream). I do not expect that the modem is able to fully predict what it can do when it is allowed to max-out the line, but I expect that it is more than the 2 MBit I have at the moment.
Yesterday a technician of the line-provider I know told me that they are now allowed to switch lines to ADSL RAM (at least in my region). Great news. I directly told he shall have a look if he can switch my line. It will be interesting to see what I am actually able to push/pull over the line… and if/when the line will be switched (it will be done the official way by one of his colleagues).
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Tags: adsl line
, fixed rate
, great news
, line provider
In Germany you need to install an intelligent electricity meter if you make larger changes to the electricity installation in your house (or if you build a new one). At first this sounds interesting. If you look closer, you need to decide if you want to laugh or to cry.
Such an intelligent electricity meter is able to display the current power consumption in a digital display (if the power consumption stays the same, you can test with this how much power a specific device needs). It is also able to attribute the power consumption to different times of the day. An optional feature (here in Germany) is the possibility to transfer captured data to the power company. It is not required that the home-owner is able to see all or even any data from an intelligent electricity meter.
The promises are, that with such a device people could pay less money by using the washing machine or the dish washer or similar devices during times when not much people want to use energy.
So far so good, but…
- My washing machine or dish washer are about 1 – 3 years old. We did not buy the cheapest ones, but they do not offer to start the washing upon input from an external signal or just by activating the power (if they lose power, the chosen washing program is reset to the default program). Am I supposed to buy a new one?
- The power consumption of all the necessary infrastructure (digital stuff in the electricity meter, network connection to the power company) is not zero, and it is the owner who has to pay for this.
- When everyone is washing when not much people want to use energy, a lot of people want to use energy in such moments. It may still help a bit the power companies because they do not have to generate power (and have expenses because of this) which is not used, but I doubt the consumer will get a big reduction then.
- The duration of such power-surplus times with a reduced price may not last during the complete time a washing machine needs. It may be even the case that a high-price time slot may get activated shortly after (if this is done by (malicious) intent or not is not even relevant, as the consumer can not do something about it as he is probably sleeping when this happens in the night).
- The power company may be able to get a detailed trace of what happens in a house (the owners are getting up at 11am, only take a shower every two weeks, have probably a big plasma TV which runs all the day, …).
- I doubt the device is free of security holes or protected enough against eavesdropping (with all the profiling implications, or possibilities to manipulate the data (positively or negatively) directly in the device before transmission to the power company).
- I do not think the most intelligent and consumer-friendly devices will come with enough statistics or access-possibilities to really satisfy the consumers.
More interesting would other things which could help cut costs. For example small low-power networked sensors which detect if a window/door is open, the temperature in a room, the outside temperature, the sunlight intensity and so on. Together with some actuators like for example to close the window, close the shutter, change the heating, turn off lamps and so on, it would provide much more immediate benefit. In a new building, the network could be wired, but in an old building the sensors need to be wireless and battery-powered.
A possible solution could be done via bluetooth v3 in a mesh network (yes, if it is not open source, I would also be sceptical if the company which produces this has enough knowledge to make it secure), polled by a central station which could put the sensors in silent standby to reduce the amount of radio pollution and increase battery lifetime. If some of the sensors and actuators are connected (e.g. room temperature and heating actuator plus a clock), you could even let it run in autonomous mode (time based heating to a specific temperature) and only need to connect to it if there is a specific need. Such a situation could be that the window sensor detects an open window, so the heating can be turned off. Or maybe the sunlight intensity sensor detects (or the base station estimates) an intensity-rise of the sunlight, so the heating could be reduced in advance.
Something like this would give immediate benefit (in comfort) to those who install it, and in a long-term view it would/could cut the costs down a bit.
I am aware of some wireless sensors/actuators, but they are relatively expensive, the radio pollution (and type) is unknown to me, and the protocol is not open, so I do not know if it is secure and how to improve things I do not like.
Anyone with enough hardware knowledge and open source/hardware spirit out there to produce a modular base for sensors/actuators (bluetooth + I/O for sensros/actuators/pc-connection + controler)?
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Tags: default program
, different times
, dish washer
, electricity meter
, electricity meters
, external signal
, necessary infrastructure
, optional feature
, power consumption
, washing machine
Last week my ZFS cache device — an USB memory stick — showed xxxM write errors. I got this stick for free as a promo, so I do not expect it to be of high quality (or wear-leveling or similar life-saving things). The stick survived about 9 months, during which it provided a nice speed-up for the access to the corresponding ZFS storage pool. I replaced it by another stick which I got for free as a promo. This new stick survived… one long weekend. It has now 8xxM write errors and the USB subsystem is not able to speak to it anymore. 30 minutes ago I issued an “usbconfig reset” to this device, which is still not finished. This leads me to the question if such sticks are really that bad, or if some problem crept into the USB subsystem?
If this is a problem with the memory stick itself, I should be able to reproduce such a problem on a different machine with a different OS. I could test this with FreeBSD 8.1, Solaris 10u9, or Windows XP. What I need is an automated test. This rules out the Windows XP machine for me, I do not want to spend time to search a suitable test which is available for free and allows to be run in an automated way. For FreeBSD and Solaris it probably comes down to use some disk-I/O benchmark (I think there are enough to chose from in the FreeBSD Ports Collection) and run it in a shell-loop.
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Tags: 30 minutes
, 9 months
, cache memory
, freebsd ports collection
, storage pool
, suitable test
, usb memory stick
, windows xp