Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reducing Your Electric Bill - A Systemic Non-Solar Approach

Having resided in some of the most expensive electricity regions of the country (New York, Honolulu, San Francisco) I have spent a lot of time researching ways to reduce electricity consumption as a way to reduce our electric bill without having to resort to installing an expensive roof solar panel generation system. A recent move to a 4800 square foot house also prompted me to step up my efforts to develop this electricity reduction plan as we realized that we would have to budget for a huge monthly electric bill.

We discovered that our neighbors in similarly sized homes on our street were averaging about $285.00 to $450.00 per month on PG and E monthly electric bills. I estimated that the baseline monthly electricity cost average to be about $350.00 per month factoring Air Conditioning use. I then set a goal of halving that baseline average of $350.00 per month to $175.00 per month and that any number below $150.00 would be the end goal of my electricity reduction objectives for our new house. After implementing all of the phases listed below, I was able to get my monthly PG&E electricity bill down to $104.00 for 610 kilowatt hours consumed for a 30 day period.

Phase I
Replace all installed interior incandescent 65 and 75 watt light bulbs to Philips, Feit Electric, and GE LED Light Bulbs each consuming 7 watts to a maximum of 11 watts per bulb. Total bulbs changed 55. Total wattage when on 3575 watts with incandescent bulbs. Total wattage when on with LED bulbs 550 watts. That is a huge reduction in watts and the LED bulbs are much cooler than incandescents. 120 degress vs 500 degrees on the incandescents.

Phase II
Installed 2 NEST learning programmable thermostats, one for each level/zone of the house

Phase III
Replace all 27 20 watt halogen landscape/security outdoor lights with 3 watt LED Spotlight bulbs.
Install Dusk to Dawn Timers

Phase IV
Replace old GE Dishwasher with Bosch energy star high efficiency dishwasher

Phase V
Put all battery chargers on power-strips connected to Belkin auto AC timers
Replace Comcast 400 watt old style digital cable box with new high energy efficiency cable box that only consumes 30 watts

Phase V1
Install programmable electric timer for Hot Water Recirculation Pump

Phase VII
Install LG High efficiency Clothes Washers and Dryer.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Tablet and Smartphone Explosion -The Challenge of Unified Communications

As we move into the second half of 2012, The proliferation of Apple IOS smartphones and iPads, Android smartphones and Tablets has accelerated at a dizzying pace. New product innovation can be found on these new devices with an array of different models to suit most any budget or multimedia and business requirement. Verizon has accelerated the pace of putting new smartphones into the hands of consumers by offering early upgrades and rebates for inducing their longtime customers to upgrade to the latest and greatest smartphones. AT&T and Sprint are following suit. New Android tablet product introductions from Asus, Samsung and Toshiba are also pushing the price-performance envelope as the Android operating system is reaching critical mass with the introduction of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which is shipping on the newest Samsung Galaxy Tabs and the latest Asus Transformer Tablets. These tablets are shipping with 16 or 32GB of Internal Storage memory and have SD expansion card slots so SD-XC memory cards of up to 128 GB can be easily added for additional storage of files. The new Asus Transformer retails for $399.99 for the 32 GB model and has the Android 4.0 OS installed with a very bright IPS 1268 x 800 10.1" LED Touch Display. The IPS (In Plane Switching) LED panel has an ultra-wide viewing angle of 170 degrees off viewing axis and a brighness of almost 300 NITS. Battery life is rated at an incredible 8 hours. The optional keyboard dock ($150.00) which adds USB slots and extended battery capability converts this tablet to a notebook and adds another 6 hours of extended battery life. It effectively converts this tablet into a fully functional notebook computer. Built in WiFi and Bluetooth make the Asus Transformer a very capable home and business tablet as it has a very powerful  and energy efficient Tegra Dual Core processor and a very fast graphics chip built-in. It offers very snappy performance, instant on capability and a growing library of Android productivity and Entertainment applications. It is also perfectly suited for multimedia applications as it has 2 built in cameras. 1.3 MP for the front camera an 8 MP for the rear. Watching videos or using Skype is easily accomplished with this tablet all at a list price of about $550.00 including the keyboard dock battery accessory.

The price performance available on Android Smart Phones and Tablets allows consumers to buy state of the art hardware with an operating system that costs way lower than Apple's IOS and Microsoft Windows. The software functionality of these operating systems is close to reaching parity with Apple IOS and Microsoft Windows 7 and 8 tablet editions. The Asus Transformer Tablet even ships with a special version of Polaris software Office suite that allows you to create edit and open Microsoft Word documents like Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. The Web Browser capability with support for Adobe Flash ensures that all web based applications will run on their tablet.

What we are seeing is a perfect storm of advanced easy to use computing devices hitting the marketplace with consumers scrambling to buy the latest and greatest smartphones or tablets to supplement their corporate issued or home based notebook or desktop computers. As millions of these devices get sold through to consumer and business users the appetite for mature business enabled applications will increase at an exponential rate. Instant on access to WiFi and 3G and 4G networks make these devices powerful and effective productivity tools right out of the box.

 In many cases the older notebooks and desktops are being supplanted or even replaced as these new smartphones and tablets are more powerful and offer superb battery life and are more suited for mobile computing. All of the major retail channels are discounting this devices including Costco, Walmart, Target, Verizon, BestBuy, Office Max, Staples, Office Depot, Fry's Electronics, J&R Computers, and Radio Shack to name a few. The hardware is out there but the problem of tying all of these devices together remains a huge problem and challenge to companies that want to leverage multimedia services and applications on these devices as employees bring them into work. security, data access charges, connection to WiFi and a host of other associated software feature requirements to unify all of the legacy and new devices remain a herculean challenge. Unified Communications meets the challenge of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). How can companies leverage their existing communications infrastructure by delivering multimedia communications services rapidly while avoiding forklift hardware upgrades?

The answer is quite simple. Thrupoint. Thrupoint is the only company that can deliver on the promise of Unified Communications with their Fusion Software Suite running on their Ubiquity Software platform.

Check out their web-site at

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Larry Carlton at The Firehouse Arts Center Pleasanton CA

Mr.335 himself, (nick-named after his signature Gibson ES335 hollow body jazz guitar) Mr Larry Carlton performed at the Pleasanton Firehouse Arts Center on March 22nd. The 4 time Grammy winner performed some of his best known classics and a number of new songs from his most recent album Larry Carlton plays TSOP, The Sound of Philadelphia. One of the highlights was his performance of If You Don't Know Me By Now. The cover of this Harold Melvin and the Blue notes song was soulful and passionate and brought tears to the eyes of the audience which was definitely an older crowd. We had third row seats near the center of this ultra small venue (207 seats) and this concert was simply amazing. If you ever have an opportunity to see Larry Carlton you will not be disappointed. He is a living legend of popular jazz guitar and put so many popular performers on the map as you can hear his lead guitar work on over 100 gold albums.