Going Solar in Arizona

We have had our solar power system setup on our home in Phoenix for over three months now. Thats three months where we havent spent a dime on electricity and more importantly have reduced the amount of pollution in the air. Our installation was done by Cambio Energy a local company and good group of people. They set us up with an Enphase system which gives us monthly updates on our systems effectiveness.

One of the coolest features is the comparison of how much power we have created and how much pollution we have reduced. This image is a screen shot of what the Enphase website calculates for us:
Solar Energy Home Phoenix AZ Cambio Energy

Video Will Greene of Beyond Coal and Net Metering in Arizona

This week I talked with Will Greene about Net Metering in Arizona and the commotion being made about it. Will is the Phoenix Organizing Representative of the Beyond Coal campaign being run by Sierra Club. He is currently working to motivate people to come out for two important meetings happening next week on November 13th and 14th.
We did a Google Hangout to discuss the events and how you can get involved:

The first meeting on November 13th at 9am is at the Arizona Corporation Commission building:
1200 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2996
This meeting will be to discuss the Net Metering policy for the state of Arizona. Currently APS has proposed changes to Net Metering that would help APS make more money but pretty much kill off the Rooftop Solar Industry in Arizona, which employs at least 10,000 people. In addition APS has been caught secretly funding Non-Profits that are creating advertisements that attempt to make non-solar customers thing solar customers are getting a free ride.
We are trying to get as many people to show up as possible at 9am to show a presence that the Commission will be hard pressed to ignore. If you live or work in the downtown Phoenix area you should call in sick or late and come take part in helping to ensure sustainable industry in Arizona will continue growing.
If you have time to stay longer you may have an opportunity to have your voice heard in front of the Commission.
There will be coffee and bagels!

The second meeting is on November 14th at 5pm at the Phoenix Convention Center and involved the EPA and haze over the Grand Canyon. The Phoenix Convention Center is located at 3rd Street and Washington.
Specifically this meeting is going to discuss whether or not the EPA should enforce the clean air laws on the Navajo Generating Station(NGS) near Page, Arizona. The NGS is the states largest polluter and is considered by many to be the cause of a haze in the skies over the Grand Canyon.
Show up at 5pm and stop by the Sierra Club booth for a free Beyond Coal t-shirt and then head into the meeting to give a brief statement about why clean air at the Grand Canyon and all of Arizona is important to you.

Jawbone UP and IFTTT: Getting them connected

getting UP and IFTTT to play niceI wrote out a long post on this because its Saturday and I like to talk, even through text. If you want the solution that I found to connecting Jawbone UP to IFTTT click here or scroll to the bottom of this post. If you have nothing better to do go ahead and read the whole post, see if I care (hint: I do, please read my words, pretty please).

Getting more and more cyborg

Recently I participated in a study conducted by ASU on the Jawbone UP wristband. As a result of doing a variety of tasks from: taking a survey, to folding towels, to walking in a hallway, to running, and a few other things; I was given an UP wristband. Thus began my entry into a movement loosely known as the Quantified Self. I will go into way more detail as I use the device more, but suffice it to say I am hooked and it is helping me move around more and track what I am eating.

Sharing your Steps

One of the neatest features I learned about the wristband, and its iPhone app also called UP, is that Jawbone has an API that allows other services to interact with it. So if you already use an app to track your running you can have it synchronize with UP. The really cool part about this is that you can connect UP with a web service called If This Then That or IFTTT.

IFTTT allows you to connect a wide variety of web services to do a variety of things automatically for you with Recipes. For example you can connect Facebook to Dropbox, and anytime someone uploads a photo and tags you in it IFTTT will send a copy of that photo to your Dropbox.

With UP and IFTTT you can set it up so that when you hit your steps goal for the day. Or you can have a Google Spreadsheet created that gets updated with your nutritional information for each new day to give a tally of how you have been eating.

Setting up the Connection between IFTTT and UP

To setup IFTTT and UP you should just go to the IFTTT website or iPhone app and connect them in the Channel section.

However there is a possibility that you will try to set up the connection from within the UP iPhone app in the App Gallery section. If you do this the services will not connect for some reason that is beyond my purview of knowledge, but trust me when I say that it will not work and further cause you pain and agony to resolve. Unless you read this post first and learn from my mistake and pain, and in the end find joy!

How not to connect UP and IFTTT and how to fix that mistake

As you can guess by now I went into the UP iPhone app went to the App Gallery, clicked on the IFTTT option, entered my IFTTT login data, and accepted the connection. Then I went to the IFTTT iPhone app to start creating some Recipes, but when I selected the UP option it was still greyed out. No problem I thought I will just give it my UP login info, and we will be off to the races. After I clicked on the Accept button the IFTTT app replied that they could not Connect the app to UP.

So I called Jawbone to make sure everything was cool with my account. They answered the phone quickly, and had be delete and reinstall both apps. No change to my situation and no additional help from Jawbone.

So I hit up IFTTT on twitter and they gave me the support@ifttt.com email which took a day to respond only to ask me to reinstall both apps. If you recall this is not a working solution.

So I was already in Dante’s fifth circle and now headed straight to the seventh.

I went onto the Jawbone message boards and got some great encouragement but no solutions.

Finally I walked myself back through the setup process and realized that in the UP iPhone app the IFTTT app still had a green checkmark next to its name in the App Gallery. My suspicion was that I needed to remove this connection but no one could give me an answer on how to do this. After doing a Google search I found this page https://jawbone.com/kb/articles/432.html which near the bottom lists how to remove an app from the UP app.

So without further ado I give you my solution to getting UP and IFTTT to play nice with each other. Enjoy.

Resolving connection issue with UP and IFTTT

  1. On your iPhone go into the UP app.
  2. Click on the three bar button in the upper left corner
  3. Click on Settings
  4. Click on Privacy & Sharing
  5. At the bottom of this page will be all Apps you have added in the UP gallery. To remove click on the minus (-) sign on the left side of the App name that you want to remove, in this case IFTTT.
  6. A delete button will appear to the right of the App name. Click on that to remove the App from the UP app.
  7. The App should now be removed but I did find that I had to exit the UP app a few times and redo this process to get it to completely remove itself from the UP app.
  8. Once this has been removed you need to go to the IFTTT app or website and connect to UP via the channel section. Once you do this UP and IFTTT will be connected and you can rock on.

This was a pretty long winded article for just a short and simple resolution but I wanted to point out how difficult this was to complete. If Jawbone setup the UP app properly there would be a Delete option from within the app in the App Gallery. Simple fix.

Podcast Episode 3 – Arizona Home Solar System Market

Today I rant about the Arizona Home Solar System market. Kate and I are looking into adding Solar to our home to save some money and offset using fossil fuels to power our Air Conditioning. Along the way we have learned a whole lot about inverters and our power company’s, APS, attempt to mess everything up.

Buying Solar Panels for Home: How much should I pay?

Hey people: Kate and I are considering having solar photovotalic panels added to the roof of our home in Phoenix Arizona. Not only is there a more than ample supply here it will make us that much better than everyone else by yet another level… =)

So far we have talked with Solar City which is a very professional organization but after reviewing things it does not seem that the Lease option is the best match for what we want. Besides the hassle of transferring the lease when we sell the house it is actually a much better deal to purchase and get the rebates and sell power back to APS at $0.10/watt.

Solar City is saying that based on our roof design they can only get 11 panels up there for about 2500 Watt of power. Based on that estimate we will definitely save on our already low electric bill.
The problem now is finding a contractor in Phoenix who has designed and installed Solar Panels for less than Solar City. From doing a quick survey of Home Depot’s website I see a 3kWatt system for just over $7k. After rebates that comes down significantly. So how much should I expect to pay someone to install some panels and then hook up the wiring?

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
Should I buy or lease solar?
Opinionated page on Solar Leasing
Homeowner in PA who is making money on his system

Do No Evil and Googles Religious Tendencies

Google is a bit different from Apple and MSFT. Those two sell a product. Google gives everything away. The users dont have to even create an account to use Google Search. They even give away one of the most popular mobile operating systems in the world. Google is the top of the heap, everyone is their customer. If you aren’t using their search you are trying to be found on their search and everyone has to pay to be on Google search.

If you want to be found organically you need to have a website that is well curated and linked to. This takes at a minimum time and upwards of lots and lots of cash. You can be white hat or black hat about your technique here, with the former generally costing more than the latter. Google gives excellent guidance here as well: “Just adhere to standards and create compelling content regularly.” Oh really? Thats it huh? Super.

If you want the shortcut you can pay Google directly to show up on AdWords. This is probably gonna be even more expensive naturally since the profits go straight to Google. For a company that looks at marketing as lying they sure do make a lot of money from it.

Everyone and their mom signs up for AdSense and makes Google tons of income. You see these sites with ads all over the place, some of them even have useful content. Naturally Google doesn’t give precedence to sites with AdSense on them, just as a mother feeds everyone else at the same time she feeds her children…

Google controls all access but uses their whole Don’t Be Evil sermon to show us that they have the best intentions in mind. Just don’t try to step outside the rules. After talking with multiple representatives of the company it is very interesting how insulated and protective their Organic side of the house is.

Whats the line in Usual Suspects? “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” In Google’s case it might also be that the Devil fooled himself.

In business Googlers are infuriating to deal with both because there is no option but to use them and also because of their religiosity. As an Adwords customer I have heard the word ‘miracle‘ and basically been told: “These are not the droids you are looking for.” in regards to an issue I have with their Places product. (Which is one product that I don’t personally use, I find Yelp to be much more helpful when looking for something local.) Comparisons to the Organic side of the house as a ‘Cathedral’ was uttered in the most recent meeting.

Is Google what religion is going to look like next? Holy towers of algorithms collecting and distributing human knowledge all in the best interests of man. Sounds laughable at best and apocoliptic at worst. Just like the Patriot Act and Google is another man made system that is prone to human faults and tendencies. Faith that they are anything otherwise is not only folly but exactly what they want.

I believe or at least I walk the company line. My email is all hosted at the G. I use their search hourly and I make a living off of consulting for them. Just like Obama there is no better choice at the moment but that doesn’t mean I can’t be critical and suspect.

What’s that behind you now?


Whats up with the Google Formatting Change?

Google Strange Formatting of Search Results May 2011

I may be too hungover but when I did a search this morning for my new favorite song of the minute(We no speak americano, thanks Greg and his Hanover Coffee) the formatting of the search results at Google were totally different. Maybe I have a speech impediment or something but this is quite the change. I wonder whats going on?

Google Strange Formatting of Search Results May 2011
Google Strange Formatting of Search Results May 2011