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Power Point Theory...
Tue 11/06/2013 08:45 PM


Ever met some crazy wack-jobs who tell you that they’ve been abducted by aliens, vegetables are sentient, and that you can save a bucket of money by turning things off at the power-point?

Well - turns out they might be right about the powerpoints.


Meet the mighty power-meter recorder gizmo thingy!

You plug it into the powerpoint and then plug whatever you want into it - and it can tell you how much power it’s using - and when you apply that to far too much math, you end up with a $ value for the quarter (power bills come once a quarter).

So having applied some science and technology to the wack-job’s claims, what did we find out? Well - for one thing, technology isn’t cheap…

I always assumed that my wide-screen TV would be expensive to run. And I’m not wrong - if I left it going all the time, it would cost me $90 a quarter. That’s why I turn it off when I’m not using it.

But plugged into that TV is a computer called Jordan (named after the Crossing Jordan chick, not the basketball player, or the river). I regularly left Jordan running because it was easier than turning her on each time. Turns out it costs $60 to run Jordan for a quarter. Plus an extra $5 for the external USB drive.

That’s making the power-hungry TV seem not-so-bad!


Speaking of computers - I also left my main PC (called Phaeton) running most of the time. It does various things when I’m not using it (including backing up this website) so I was quite happy leaving it running.

But the cost?

Turns out Phaeton costs $100 a quarter left running! Ok - so the TV isn’t the hog I thought it was.

Lets try shutting Phaeton down. If I left it power off all quarter, it would still cost me $25, WHAT!

That’s right - shut down, it’s still drawing enough power to cost $25.
The TV turned off would cost $13, and Jordan would cost $12.

Turning things off at the powerpoint suddenly looks more attractive.

I have three computer monitors in my office, and they each draw $5 turned off. Turned on it’s more like $20. If you tell your computer to turn off the monitors when you’re not using them, that drops down to the turned off rate - but that’s still using power.

My evaporative cooler (poor-man’s aircon) hasn’t been used since summer, but it costs $15 a quarter just being plugged in.

My VCR hasn’t been used in years, but it draws $3 (ok - so that’s not much of a saving…)

I couldn’t believe it - the wackjobs are right!

Of course - you can’t save the full amount on any of the above items - because you’ll want to use the computers and tvs some of the time - but turning them off when you’re not suddenly seems more attractive. I’d assumed you might save $30 a quarter or something - but there’s a good chance it’ll be far more than that.

So I’ve decided to build a Virtual server and run it on Jason’s PC (which he leaves at my place). His PC is called Castle - and somehow is very cheap to run - $30 a quarter. If I transfer the offline tasks that Phaeton runs onto my VM (called Beckett) that means I can shut Phaeton down when I’m not at home. That should be noticeable on my power bill.


Just for a test - I bought this remote power switch. It’s just a power switch with a remote control to turn it off and on. If I put it behind the TV (which is hard to get to) it means I can turn that off when I don’t need it too. Hey - it was cheap on ebay…

Don’t worry - I’m not about to start going on crusades to get everyone to stop using power - but it surprised me when I did some actual checking. So I’ll try turning things off a little more - and see if it makes an impact on the bill. If it doesn’t, I’ll go back to business as usual.

Be warned though - electronics like having power. Turning the power off all the time isn’t actually good for them. During my testing to find the figures above - I managed to toast both an old network switch and an old wifi access point.

So I’ll risk turning some stuff off more often - and see how it changes the bill. I’ll report back afterwards and we’ll see what it did (and how many devices have fried which could easily offset the savings).

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New Mac Pro
Tue 11/06/2013 07:18 PM


Listen up - this doesn’t happen often!

I rarely have anything good to say about Apple or Macs, but when I saw the above image, I thought this has got to be the coolest looking Mac ever.

It’s a photo of the newly announced Mac Pro whatever (not sure what you call it - but it’s their new PC)

Much as I hate the Apple brand, credit where credit’s due - that’s a sweet looking PC.

And then I discovered that that’s actually a photo of the innards of the new Mac Pro - without the case on.

When you put the case on, it starts to look a lot like a rubbish bin - which is rather more like I expected out of Apple.


You almost had me going there for a moment Apple!

Still - if someone makes a clear case for it, it’ll be the best looking Apple ever. I’d still prefer to use my old 486, but hey, it’s no often that Apple appeals at all.

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Getting Old...
Mon 27/05/2013 10:41 PM


It’s a Hobbit Hole!

It’s also really hard to photograph as it’s in a glass bowl and has gnarly reflections.

It’s a birthday present from my sister - it’s a terrarium (sort of like a fish-tank without fish or water - but plants).

Yep - today’s the day I get old again.

It’s been a good day - or couple of days.

Friday I had a night of SINs with my mates (that’s Sins of a Solar Empire - a computer game). It was great fun - once I got there. Ended up at work until 9:30 - I was supposed to finish at 4:30. Doh! Still got some good gaming in though - I won - but only by being a sneaky backstabbing traitor! But hey - that's part of the game.

On Saturday my family took me out for tea.

On Sunday Mum cooked me a great tea too (not sure if that was for me or not - but I really enjoyed it).

Today I got a morning tea at work.

Then my boss took the IT crew out to lunch.

Tonight there was a cake waiting for me at my door.

And Mum sent me a do-it-yourself birthday feast (all I had to do was heat it).

Not a bad birthday - but if it happened too often I'd be massive. :)

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Tue 14/05/2013 10:44 PM


Bills come thick and fast don’t they. Rates Bill, Rego Bill, Power Bill, Water Bill... And that’s just this month.

Still - that doesn’t mean you should pass up on a bargain when you see one...

I recently purchased an Emerald Night Express - Lego set 10194. It’s an awesome looking steam train.

This set was out a few years back, and I’d been planning to buy it - but before I got round to it, it was out of production.

Being a train set - and such an awesome one - the prices on the 2nd hand market skyrocketed. Everyone wanted at least one. Most people wanted more than one - as each engine only came with a single carriage.

So by the time I started looking, it was quite expensive.

In the end I tracked down someone who was selling the engine and tender only (they have obviously wanted the spare carriage) used for $200. That was actually a great price - and it was in Australia too. Postage would be a bit - but not too extreme. At that price it wouldn’t hang around long.

I was planning to buy that - but before I did, I happened to do a search for Lego on Gumtree (I do searches for Lego and G60s every now and then) and low and behold - someone was selling an Emerald Night in Hobart.

This one was $250, but included the carriage (which I could flog for $100 easy if I wanted) and a bonus set - The red Caboose #10014. The Caboose is selling for $100+ on it’s own too.

And being in Hobart - I could organize a pick-up (thanks Brendan!) to save postage.

Even if I hadn’t wanted the train myself - I could have bought it and resold to make a tidy profit. Bargain!

The next Bargain was another Lego set - this time Bag End from the Hobbit (an awesome set I was planning to grab anyway). Thanks to some Mugs (Melbourne Lego Fans) keeping an eye on discounts, I managed to score it from Kmart after they reduced it, and before it sold out.

The next bargain was on Saturday. As I was pulling out of my driveway, I noticed the place two houses down the street was having a moving sale. I can’t resist a garage sale, so I delayed my departure and went for a look. Very little stuff there really - quite disappointing. I did manage to score the entire collection of Harry Potter books for $10 though - not a bad bargain!

Now, I have to stop finding these bargains until I’ve paid all those pesky bills...



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Into Darkness review
Tue 14/05/2013 09:56 PM


Time to take a trek with Shaun, Sylar, and Sherlock aboard the USS LensFlare...

Yep - it’s Star Trek: Into Darkness.

It’s the sequel to the 2009 Star Trek movie which itself was both a reboot and a continuation of the original timeline.

Star Trek (actually Star Trek 11 but they forgot the numbers) was really quite good. Sure it had some dumb moments - but was a good ride and quite enjoyable. It managed to reboot the series and appeal to new watchers without totally pissing off all the old fans - quite a feat.

The sequel is "Into Darkness" and came out last week. My sister and I went to see it (yes, my sister wanted to go!) and it was quite good too.

I doubt any Star Trek fan hasn’t worked out that Sherlock was really Kahn - so I’m not giving anything away there. There were some awesome throwbacks to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, but they were nicely inverted. Any Trekkie worth their badge will recognise them.

The story is really quite complicated, and when you think about it, rather stupid. But you don’t realise that when you’re watching it - you just enjoy the ride, and the story appears far more coherent and logical than it actually is. Just don’t think about it too much later.

There are really only two things that annoyed me enough that I can’t forgive.

1. The Klingons. It’s awesome that Klingons made it into the movie (briefly) - but why do they look so dumb? Most of the time they are wearing helmets which might not seem very Klingon, but I didn’t mind that. It’s when one takes his helmet off that annoyed me. He doesn’t look anything like a Klingon - nor does he look awesome - it’s a very poor redesign for no reason. Not a fan.

2. The space-jump. Transporters are down - so to get between two ships, they do a very risky space-jump and almost die in the process. Minutes later they decide to abandon ship and send people to the shuttle-craft. Shuttles! If the shuttles are still intact - why not fly one of them over to the other ship? No, let’s attempt the barely feasible space jump that’s likely to kill the people who attempt it. Kirk really isn’t a great captain is he - Sisko, Picard, Janeway etc would have remembered the shuttles...

Sorry - had to get those off my chest.

Apart from that I really quite enjoyed the movie. If you liked the last one - you’ll like this one too.

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