Category: Review

Solar Panels. Are they worth it?

By , 5 November, 2012 10:52 am

I purchased my solar panels on the 6th June 2012 and had them installed on the 12th August 2012.  The 12th of August was the completion of the installation.  It was when Energex finally came to install the meter into the power box.  Yes, your calculations are correct, it was a Sunday when they did the install.  The reason for the Sunday install was because my installation just happen to coincide with the Queensland government notification that the feed in tariff would be going from 44 cents per kilowatt hour to 8 cents per kilowatt hour so the rush was on for everyone to install before the changeover and I happen to be caught in the middle of it all.

So, the system has now be operational for 85 days and I must say based on my calculations the system is working well and truly in my favor.  To this day I’m calculating a $342 payment in my favor.  No electricity costs but I nice payment for me from the electricity company.

I’m currently with AGL,  I get 10% off any electricity usage and my feed in tariff is 44 cents per kilowatt hour from the Queensland government plus 8 cents per kilowatt hour from AGL which is a total of 52 cents per kilowatt hour that I feed into the grid.  Now AGL could change their 8 cents to zero but the Queensland government is contracted to supply the 44 cents per kilowatt hour for another 16 years so that makes me happy.

Now the feed in tariff is a fixed amount meaning that it does not go up with inflation, so as the years pass and my cost per kilowatt hour increases the value of my feed in tariff decreases dependent on the increase per year.  I’m guesstimating by the year 2020 electricity prices will be around the 44 cents per kilowatt hour, meaning that my last 6 or so years of the system will not be in my favor, but having said that I should still be able to accomplish at a minimum neutral cost.

Over the last 85 days, I have experienced cloud, rain and clear skies, so my estimated figures should be reasonably accurate but I really won’t know until I’ve had the system running for at least a year, but then I won’t know if that year was a good your or a  bad year so for a more accurate measure 3 years of usage would be required to get a real feel.  Now the problem with this is that we have already seen the government change the rules on solar systems a number of times and you can only go by what the sales person is estimating as your return on investment, which we know will always seem good otherwise they will never be able to sell any products.

I have two systems installed.  I have a 2kW facing north east and a 3kW facing north west.  Based on the direction of the panels my system is loosing about 10% efficiency as they are not facing true north. My solar panels are 250 watts each.

I typically spend about $600 per quater with the  summer quater bill typically around the $700 mark, so that is an average of about $2500 per year on electricity costs.

With a $350 payment (income, tax free) per quarter and a $15,000 bill for the solar system that means a break even point of 4 years.  After the 4 year mark  I should then have a payment (incomce), tax free) of about $800 per year (which would reduce over time due to inflation) which would be decreased over the remaining period of the feed in tariff program.

Based on the figures above, I do believe that a solar system with a feed in tariff of at least 44 cents if viable.  I’m not sure how well it will now stack up as the current feed in tariff is only 8 cents per kilowatt hour and from what I have hear and read the government has the ability to change the feed in tariff rate to zero on new contracts.

CyanogenMod 7 on the Galaxy S I9000

By , 5 August, 2011 3:22 pm

Over the last month I have been going back and forth between the CyanogenMod 7 custom ROM and the stock Samsung ROM.  I get full of enthusiasm towards a ROM that promises fast speeds and wonderful customisations only to be bitterly disappointed.

The first time installing CM7 onto my phone I was completely confused as everything looked and felt different.  So I rolled back to the stock ROM.  Sometime later I had another attempt at installing CM7.  I was able to understand more about CM7 and what things were called.  I was reasonably impressed, until I went to take a photo.  The Camera application in CM7 is very basic and has none of the features that the Samsung camera does.  So I rolled back once again.

So I used the Samsung stock ROM for some time until I decided I had to install CM7 once again. So I did.  Everything was great.  Things worked really fast, I understood the camera was not going to function as the Samsung version but I wanted speed and full customisation of the user interface.

I was happy for about 12 hours until I tried to play some videos.  The videos froze and force closure windows appeared.  I tried downloading different players but nothing succeeded. I’m heading to New Zealand soon and I need some entertainment during the flight and not been able to watch some movies or TV shows that I have downloaded was just not going to sit very well with me.

So I rolled back to the stock ROM and here I am going to stay, no matter what; having said that I may try it again once the product has matured.  CM7 has released RC1 so I think I’ll wait until it has release the final product to market.

The major problems I see with CM7 are:

  • Limited camera functionality
  • No video calls
  • Unable to play common video formats.
  • SMS conversation views are not very nice and I found hard to view

The last version of CM7 that I tried was build 76, 2011-08-03

What I don’t understand is how custom ROM’s like CM7 and others can make the phone operate very responsively but the companies that release their phones can’t or won’t.

Android Backup/Restore and MyBackup Pro

By , 10 July, 2011 12:11 pm

I’ve been looking for a method to backup my phone so if I should loose or upgrade the firmware I’m able to restore the phone to its previous state.  All of my contacts are either in Facebook or Email so I have no problems restoring contacts as they are all “cloud” based.  What I would like restored is all of my SMS, MMS, Call Logs, Screen layout and installed applications and associated data.

After searching a number of forums I decided to use the application MyBackup Pro as this application seems to be highly recommended by the Android forums.  This program was able to backup and restore my Call Logs, SMS and MMS data after I did a factory reset so that was pretty good, but to get all the other data I had to root my phone.

I’ll list the procedures below that I followed to root my phone, but after doing so I am now able to backup all Android Market applications and data, Home Screen layouts and other items.

I am reasonably happy with the MyBackup Pro application but it is not perfect.  Below is a list of items that were and were not backed up.

— Lost Settings —

  • Wallpaper
  • Desktop widgets (even though they were restored from the application backup I just had to place the widgets back onto the appropriate desktop page)
  • Wi-Fi Settings
  • Bluetooth Name and Pairing
  • Application screen layout
  • Mobile AP settings
  • Swype Data
  • Inbuilt Phone Applications Accounts and Sync.

— Items that were Restored —

  • Call Logs
  • SMS and MMS
  • Internet Browser Favourites and Page History.
  • Desktop Layout
  • Windows Live Settings
  • Google Market Applications and Data
  • Some other system systems.

I just used the default call notification settings so I don’t know if that was able to be restored or not.

For those of you that don’t already know I am using the Samsung Galaxy S, GT-I9000.

One of the good things I like about MyBackup Pro is that I can schedule a backup to occur on a daily basis at a certain time which is automatically backed up to the “cloud”.  The trial version of MyBackup functions for 30 days and they give you 2 MB of online storage.  When you purchase MyBackup Pro for about US$5 you get 100 MB of storage and you can also backup to a SD card if you prefer.

— Rooting Procedure —

Step 1.
For some reason as far as I’m aware the Galaxy S sold in Australia did not have the 3 button recover and download buttons activated.  To activate this functionality you can follow the Fix 3-Button Combo Download & Recovery Mode In Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 from addictivetips.

Step 2.
You need to replace the recovery manager from Version 3 to version 2e.  Version 3 does not allow the use of unsigned zip files but 2e does.  Again there is an addictivetips page that describes the process called How To Install ClockworkMod Recovery On Samsung Galaxy S I9000.  Even though ClockworkMod is not been installed, we are only interested in the recovery manager downgrade process.

Step 3.
The final step is to download and install the root functionality.  There are many ways to do this but I find the easiest is to download the root update.zip file and apply to your phone now that recovery manager 2e is installed.  Download the One-Click-Root file and extract its contents.  Then copy the root.zip for Android 2.1 operating system or root2.2.zip as update.zip to your phone, boot into recovery manager and then select apply update.zip and your done.

Brand New Branded Car Mats from Matcraft.

By , 12 January, 2011 2:47 pm

I can highly recommend using Matcraft for any car mats that would like to purchase.  I have found them to cheaper than anyone else and the mats are original branded.  They are sent to your door in just a matter of three to four days.  I think they say up to ten days for delivery but on the occasions I have used them it has always been less than five working days.

Their web site is http://www.matcraft.com.au/

I doubt they would not have a brand, model car mat that you would require.  The only gripe I have is that they do not list any prices and you have to call them for a price.  Other than that they are spot on.

With my experiences with them they have always responded to requests within 24 hours.   I am no way associated with this company or the people at Matcraft.  I am an extremely happy customer.

Contact Details

18 Cohn St
Carlisle Western Australia  6101

Phone    61 8 9470 2944
Fax         61 8 9470 3102
Email     ashlee@matcraft.com.au

Samsung Galaxy S. Is it really that good?

By , 15 November, 2010 10:14 pm

Samsung Galaxy S
Samsung Galaxy S

 

If you want my 2 cents worth the my answer is Yes it is. 

So I hear yourself asking; what is the value of your 2 cents?  Is your two cents equivalent to US$0.02 or is it more like HK$0.02?  Well I’m from Australia and based on the current value of the AU$ my two cents is worth more than the US$. 

The fact of the matter is this is my very first smart phone so I don’t have a lot of experience using these types of devices.  The good news is, if you think my opinion is worth anything its that I have been in the computer industry for over 22 years.  Wow, that makes me sound old. 

Anyhow getting back on track, even thought I have not had much experience with smart phones I have spent many years wanting a smart phone and researching the best of the best and came to the conclusion that an android based phone would ultimately provide the best operating system, freedom and applications. 

I believe if you select any Android type of phone you will not be sorry, however I believe the Samsung Galaxy S is best for business, private and entertainment use. 

Let me share with you what I have found with the Samsung Galaxy S. 

Android 2.2 has not been released as yet for the Samsung and I am eagerly awaiting its release.  I have heard many great things  about 2.2 and I expect my phone to be so much better. 

Currently I am running Android 2.1 and have found: 

  • Exchange ActiveSync does not work effectively with the inbuilt applications.  It stops synchronising and a removal and reinstall of the configuration seems to fix the problem.  Syncing will last about three to five days before playing up.  I have since moved to a paid application which has a 15 day trial.  I am currently into my 4th day and so far everything is great.  The product I am using is called RoadSync.
  • Battery Life: I have found the battery life is very poor if you are constantly using the device.  I find if you are continually playing games or using the screen in any way this really chews through the battery life.  I’m probably using the phone much more than usual as this is my first smart phone so I am doing a lot of playing.
  • Heat: As I’m using the phone a lot I find that when I put the phone in my pocket I can feel the heat of the phone on my leg and it is very noticeable.  It’s actually quite warm and warmer than one would expect, and this is just after 15 minutes of usage.

Other than the battery life and more so the ActiveSync problem the phone is perfect.  I have not gone into any great detail about all the features and functions as that would take weeks. 

I have spent a lot of time in the Android Market and there are so many useful free and paid applications, you can not go wrong with Android. All of my applictions with the exception of the RoadSync which I’m hoping Android 2.2 fixes, are free.

My favourite feature is the Mobile AP Setting.  Enabling this feature allows one to share your mobiles carrier Internet access to three other devices.  It works so well and is so easy to use.

 I know this is not a comprehensive feature guide but is just an insight into the Samsung Galaxy S.

I purchased this phone because:

  1. Runs Android
  2. Bright and large screen
  3. Competitively priced
  4. Runs smoothly
  5. Very light in weight

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