Going Solar

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

14 of our 24 panelsEarlier this year I started thinking about whether we should invest in getting solar panels installed on our house. I'd seen a friend as well as my in-laws get them installed on their houses, and with our family power-bills not being an insignificant cost it seemed like now was the time to do it. Not to mention taking advantage of the South Australian government's Solar feed-in scheme

After getting a number of quotes, I chose Solar Depot to supply and install a 4.56 KW system ( 24 x 190W panels) with an Power-One Aurora PVI-4200 inverter.

Because of our roof orientation, they've been installed as two lots of 7 panels facing almost due north (see photo), and one group of 10 facing north-east. North is generally best, so the 14 panels should generate most over summer. In winter however they'll be shaded a fair bit of the day by trees, so my plan is for the north-east panels (which won't suffer shading as much) to pick up the slack. The inverter is able to take the two different voltages and combine them into one output going back to the grid.

A few weeks after the panels were fitted, our new electricity meter got installed. So now rather than just watch the dial spin backwards when the sun is shining, we are now selling electricity back to the grid.

Aurora InverterThe inverter turns out to be reasonably easy to get data out of too. The manufacturer distributes a free application that displays all the generation and running statistics. Physically, it has both USB and RS-485 serial interfaces. The USB sounds convenient, but it turns out that's not intended for end-users to use (pity). When I get a chance, it would be great to connect the RS-485 back to my Home Server virtual machine and maybe even write a plugin for Media Center to display our power generation!

This wasn't a cheap system (our mortgage seems to have taken a bit of a hit over the last few months), but the intention is that all going well, we won't have any more power bills to worry about for the foreseeable future.

Error deploying TFS Lab - TF259096

Monday, 24 October 2011

I’ve encountered this error a couple of times now:

Environment message: Type=Error; Message=TF259096: Team Foundation Server has stopped the following operation because of an internal error: Deploy environment. Additional information: Sequence contains no matching element.

Try the operation again. If the problem persists, contact your system administrator.

I’d added a new Hyper-V host to SCVMM 2008 R2 and was trying to deploy a lab to the new host. It failed with that error. There’s a good thread in the Microsoft forums that gives the clue as to what’s really going wrong. It turns out that TFS Lab Management doesn’t support clustered Hyper-V hosts. Sometimes “doesn’t support” means “well it might work, but don’t call us if you have problems”. In this case it means “No, it doesn’t work”.

If you run the “Visual Studio Lab Management Health Check” report from the TFS 2010 Best Practise Analyzer (part of the TFS Power Tools), you’ll also get this error highlighted as “Host is part of a host cluseter” (sic).

Removing the clustered host from the TFS configuration isn’t enough. It also needs to be removed from SCVMM too. Having done that, you should be able to deploy again.

Hopefully this limitation will be removed with TFS v.Next.

Samsung Omnia 7 updated to Windows Phone 7.5

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Last night I got notified that the RTM "Mango" update for Windows Phone was available. I'd been running the developer release of Mango for a few months, so there weren't any huge surprises. One thing that did happen though was some firmware updates from Samsung were also applied.

I'd made a note of the original version numbers so here's the comparison of what got updated.

Samsung Omnia 7
Component Original "Mango"
OS version 7.0.7392.0 7.10.7720.68
Firmware revision number 2424.10.9.13 2424.11.8.2
Hardware revision number 3.15.0.4 3.15.0.4
Radio software version 2424.10.19.12 2424.11.7.2
Radio hardware version 0.0.0.800 0.0.0.800
Bootloader version 4.9.2.9 5.8.0.5
Chip SOC version 0.36.2.0 0.36.2.0

Esther Duflo: Social experiments to fight poverty

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

We (Narelle, friend Jane and I) watched this TED video last year, and somehow tonight's conversation came around to TED talks and this one in particular. It took a while to find it (we were searching for "malaria", "mosquito" and "nets" on the TED site without luck as we'd remembered the bit about mosquito nets).

A most impressive and compelling presentation.

A busy, but enjoyable weekend

Sunday, 18 September 2011

It's been pretty full on in the Gardiner household over the last couple of days. We've managed to pack car-shopping, basketball carnivals, entertaining friends for tea on Saturday, and Church, car-cleaning and visiting friends for an extended afternoon tea today on Sunday. Perfect Adelaide Spring weather certainly didn't hurt. It's nice to be sitting down Sunday evening to catch our breath before the work/school week begins again tomorrow!

Saturday morning I left a bit earlier than normal to pick up my parents and head out to Nuriootpa (in the Barossa Valley) to check out a potential car to replace our trusty but outgrown Camry. The car in question is a 2010 Kia Sorrento Si (petrol). After test driving the current model the previous weekend I was impressed, though the price tag for the 2011 SLi diesel was a bit high for my budget (I felt a bit sad for the salesmen as their faces dropped when I informed them of that).

Searching around for used cars that didn't have too many kms on the clock had turned up this particular specimen. The challenge would be driving up to check it out and still get back home in time to take the kids to basketball.

2010 Kia Sorrento SiWe made good time (thanks to the new Northern Expressway) and after a test-drive I agreed to purchase the vehicle (subject to a satisfactory mechanical inspection).

Just enough time to visit the Nuriootpa Bakery before racing back down to Adelaide.

The basketball carnival was good fun, but sadly the team I coach had to be content with just participating rather than winning. There were a few close games, but it wasn't to be.

No rest yet – then racing back home to get ready for some friends coming over for tea. With Narelle cooking up a storm, it was a very enjoyable evening. Her Crème caramels were a particular hit, with some people going to extraordinary lengths to pry out the last bit of toffee left in the bottom of the dishes.

Sunday morning, and off to Church. Then some time at home to do a bit of gardening and clean up another friends car that we've been borrowing while she's been away on holidays.

Yummy afternoon teaThen just enough time to head around to some more friends who were celebrating a successful morning's participation in the City to Bay fun run. I think the kids (not to mention myself) thought we'd landed on our feet when we saw all the yummy things for afternoon tea. A wonderful relaxed afternoon.

ps. If you're looking for a well used but reliable car, I plan to selling the Camry in a few weeks time.