Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tesla PowerWalls

I recently had 2 Tesla Powerwalls installed. It took about a year and a half to go from reservation to finished installation. The process mostly went smoothly, but there were some pains too.

During the time when Tesla was trying to get permission to do the installations in Colorado the Model 3 came out and there were some problems with Tesla having enough batteries and Xcel being a giant pain in the ass with law suits, etc. Tesla's sales team kept sending me emails blaming Xcel, which was true, but it was also true that they didn't have any powerwalls sitting ready to install. So I finally said "Look, I hate Xcel too, but until you've got two Powerwalls sitting ready to come out to my house for installation, stop telling me it's Xcel's fault the installation isn't happening yet." I got back a nice reply that was basically, "ok, we'll let you know when we can schedule installation."

Finally the installation gets scheduled after 2 full rewrites of the plan without any further visits from Tesla. I requested a walk through because I wanted to be sure my very old garage wasn't going to cause any trouble. During the walk through, we decided on yet another rewrite of the plan.

Two weeks later on a Thursday, the teams shows up with 2 days scheduled for the install, and they finished it in about 8 hours. That was great, and all the techs were great to work with, professional and did a great job.

The next day (Friday) I got a "Payment Reminder" telling me I agreed to have already paid the installation price. Well the installation wasn't finished since it hadn't been inspected and couldn't be turned on. But hey, I'm a nice guy, so I just ignored it.

Sunday, in the middle of the morning, my power went out. I checked all the breakers, none were tripped, so I called Xcel and they said they'd send someone out. I also called Tesla to let them know they might need to come out and take a look. Then I went out to look more closely to see if I could see anything. Turns out I remembered incorrectly and one of the new Tesla installed boxes had a breaker in it which was tripped. I reset it, my power came back on, and I started calling people to tell them things were fixed.

Shortly there after the power went out again, so I went to check all the breakers. The new breaker that had been tripped was tripped again, and while I was trying to reset it and failing I realized I could smell toasted electrical equipment. As I'm calling Tesla to get a tech out, Xcel pulls up and I let them know it's not their deal.

Luckily, what I had planned that day could be done with sunlight. After about 4 hours total a Tesla tech showed up and fixed things so I had power. I later learned it wasn't just a tech but the area supervisor. Great guy, very helpful. He fixed it, but said that he'd have one of his techs come out to entirely replace it on Tuesday.

Monday rolls around and the inspection happens. The inspector found a couple of small "You don't have to do these, but they are best practice" kinds of things, and gave approval so we turned the whole system on. It was very exciting! Later that afternoon a Tesla came out and replaced the bad breaker with a new one. No problems at all since then.

It's very interesting in that you get an app that shows a bunch of information about the power flow in the house. Indeed, data much like what I should have been given with the solar cells when they were installed, or at least when I paid a bunch more money to get a DataLogger. The Tesla app is way better, but I wish it wasn't only available via an app. I hate having to have apps on my phone for stuff like that.

The app shows powerflow, fail over history, current powerwall storage levels, etc. You can also have it set to just work as backup, or to go partially or fully off grid. So I have mine set to save aside 25% in case of power outages while there is no solar power. My house draws about 1kW continuous when I'm just doing normal stuff. Over night the powerwalls get down to about 25% left, then are fully recharged by about 1pm on a sunny day.

I've still got a lot of stuff to learn about how this all interplays and how to reduce my power usage after dark, etc. It's been quite interesting and I'm looking forward to not having power outages anymore.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Slice slice.

So many training classes, so many knife drills. People said I was obsessed and I'd say that wasn't too much of an over statement. I liked it and it suited me. It seemed natural. And now it's the only thing keeping me alive.

So many people say guns are better, or something like an axe. The ones that tried chainsaws, having seen too many bad movies, were dead pretty early. But knives don't run out of bullets and in a worst case scenario I can use my knowledge of knife fighting with anything that fits in my hand. Sure there are weapons that are easier to kill zombies with, but almost none that render them harmless as well.

Zombies may be able to keep moving after gun shots and all kinds of damage, but they still require all the same physical connections to function. Cut the wrist tendons and they can't grab you, cut the shoulder tendons and they can't reach for you, cut the Achilles and they can't follow you. More important, cut the jaw muscles and they can't bite you. And of course, cut the head off and they die for real.

I carry a convenient tool steel pick for the death blow, but if I get caught by a group somehow I just render them motionless and keep going. That annoys some people I've run into. They complain about finding clumps of zombies flopping around trying to pull themselves along with one hand or push themselves along with one foot. They generally shut up when I ask if they'd have preferred to find them up and fully capable.

Friday, May 13, 2016

New company, new job, so good it's like being in an urban legend.

Change changing places. Out with the old job, in with the new.

End of November 2015 I was let go from my DevOps job.

Over the next couple of months I realized that the job had been stressing me out radically more than I thought. So, since I had a small amount of money and I was getting a tremendous amount of interest in my resume even without doing a whole hell of a lot to look for a new job, I decided I was going to take some time and be very selective about what jobs I applied for and relax, get stuff done at home, etc.

It was working out great. I had a few really interesting and favorable interviews, but never got an offer which was all good as far as I was concerned. Then a good friend put me in touch with a good friend of theirs and a job happened. So now I'm self-employed working for my own LLC, which is contracted to a company, which is contracted to a company which is contracted to the feds. I work from home, mostly set my own hours and make enough to live on working 30 hours a week. It's like something from a legend.

One of the big projects I'll have with the new job (which started in March) will be moving the environment which is mostly LAMP over to AWS. Adding more monitoring, security, testing, and making everything more consistent, etc. So I'm back to doing what I have tons of experience in (unix/linux/lamp), and what I have more recent experience in (IT security/monitoring) and what I have only very recent experience in (DevOps). So while I'm learning DevOps better (salt/jenkins/git), while I'm learning even more about security, and continuing to learn more about LAMP and the other applications. Oh and python. So! That's awesome. It's an excellent job and even better the cultural fit seems to be exceptionally good.

Asus RoG gl552vw-dh74 halting problems opensuse

The gl552vw-dh74 has a hybrid video card in it (intel/nvidia) and finding drivers that worked at full resolution is problematic.

I initially started with opensuse 13.2 KDE live disc and that worked fine with the full resoluation 1920x1080. Installing from that got me 800x600 resolution. Poking at it over about a month when I had spare time, googling and whatnot I could occasionally get it up to 2048x1024 I think but it wouldn't last through reboots nor updates. After a while I was messing with something else on the box and bjorked it up and was doing a re-installation so I thought I'd just go ahead and try out Tumbleweed 13.3 and Leap 42.1.

First install of Leap 42.1 provided reliable consistent 1920x1080. I was quite happy. I started putting the few pieces of additional software on it that I needed and started using it. That's when the halting started. No log messages, no error messages, no indication of a problem other than the interface just not responding. Halting to the point where it wasn't even a pingable device.

Soooo.....very annoying. Googling around indicated nothing that was the same, but eventually I came across some indications that Plasma 5 had some halting problems. So I switched to Plasma Desktop. Both halted.

Doing various confounding issue reduction troubleshooting it seemed that it only happened when the system power management or screensaver kicked in. (I was rather stupidly testing battery life at the same time at first). So that sent me down some paths.

Adding acpi=off to the boot options made the laptop only capable of 800x600 resolution again. Taking it out restored 1920x1080.

seemed to work for a bit but that was apparently coincidence.

Opening firefox in safe mode and loading up a playlist of movies on youtube would generate a message saying something like "youtube has disable power management" and then it would happily sit there and play movies for however long I left it on (more than 12 hours).

Well! That certainly seems like a good lead, right!? Oh no...power management was turned off regardless of youtube playing.

Cross testing and power management still turned up nothing. No set of those options would keep the box from locking up.

Youtube did though. in firefox with safe mode. Firefox, without any addons, would still sometimes crash the box. resolution yet, but I'm still digging in between work tasks.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Wow, I'm terrible at keeping a blog.

So, I got to go to BlackHat and DefCon this year via my employer. It was an amazing experience, the only part of it I didn't like was it being in Vegas, but I can live with that. I definitely intend to attend from now on. One of the things I really feel I did incorrectly from a lack of knowing what was going on this year was that I just went. I didn't participate to any meaningful degree. One thing I did that was an excellent idea was cough up the cash for the video for the presentations.

So next year, I intend to participate more and definitely buy the presentations so I can watch them later. The experience was an even stronger social shock than when I first started going to science fiction conventions. Even more of the people at defcon seemed to be my kind of people than at scifi cons. But again, there are many aspects of the group that I don't seem to fit in with. I'm used to that, I don't seem to ever really fit into groups and that's ok.

Next year I hope to get in on some of the excellent learning opportunities including lock picking and some of the hacking classes. I need more hands on information to go with the theoretical knowledge I have.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Battery storage for the home

Someone is finally starting to do something with an idea I thought of a while back. House sized electrical storage using used EV/Hybrid batteries.

We'll have to see how much used EV batteries run for and if they are even purchasable. And how difficult it'll be to build a controlling system to power the house overnight/during blackouts. Solar panels, at least here in Colorado, aren't allowed to power your house while it's attached to the grid if the grid is down. This is blatantly stupid and their excuse for it when questioned is also transparently bullshit. Gotta find some way to use the power I generate only here in my house.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'm participating in Movember.

Donate some money to help Men's Health issues and research. Check it out here.

And if you want to donate some money toward my mustache you can do that here.