Catching Up

Posted on March 19, 2013 in Analytics, Big Data, Blog, Clean tech, Electronics Development, Entrepreneur, Making Stuff, Software Development | 0 comments

Oh crud! The Somerset County Start ups and Entrepreneurs Meetup group has linked to this website. Now I HAVE TO put up some new posts.

Residential Energy Optimization

Have you ever wondered about how to optimize your home HVAC equipment and energy usage while taking into account your goals (is payback always more important than green cred, or will you pay a little more for green tech), payback periods, reliability and local source availability? I’ve been thinking about this since I went to a home and garden show and couldn’t find anyone who could tell me if and how I should split my roof space between solar thermal and solar electric. That seems like an easy question with an answer that should be based on electricity costs, my current heating technology (I have an oil boiler that pumps hot water to baseboard radiators), and my tolerance for capital expense.

While energy architects are commonly engaged for commercial buildings, home owners who need residential energy design (especially retrofits) are lucky if they find someone who does a complete Manual J load calculation. Selecting the right burner efficiency level, geothermal pipe configuration, insulation material, duct size, etc. is not easy and home owners could use a bit more help.

So that’s one thing that I’m working on. If all goes right, I’ll have a preview up in a couple months. Yeah, this project is DataBanker friendly and may provide some badly needed bootstrappage.

The Bear is Back

Back in February 2010, a bear spotted a small bird feeder on my deck and decided to have a snack. Fred (in my world, all wild animals are named “Fred”) must not have liked the seed mix because he left a very strong (although surprisingly not very pungent) statement on the welcome mat by my back door.

Well, Fred is back. He left muddy footprints in the driveway yesterday, and just a few minutes ago he rummaged through the garbage can. Bad Fred! Bad!

Big Data

How do you build a multi-server Cassandra, MongoDB and Hadoop development system without spending a bunch on cloud servers or maxing out your home’s electrical breaker panel? I think one answer might be Raspberry Pi.

When building an application that will run on a multi-server platform, I like to develop on a multi-server platform. You miss a lot of bugs and performance issues when you try to make-do with a single server. So, I’m configuring my first Raspberry Pi as a web server, and by simply swapping an SDHC card and USB drive I’ll test MongoDB and Cassandra configurations. Once I get a set of working server images, I’ll be ready to buy a few more Raspberry Pis and boot up my development environment.

BTW, I don’t name precocious little distributed servers “Fred”. These will be called Arpie_1..Arpie_[n], or collectively, Arpies.

Obviously, this system will be slow and have limited data storage space. On the other hand, I’ll miss fewer communications, resource conflict and performance issues than if I configured a scrounged desktop computer as a single-server dev environment. Arpies also won’t heat my entire basement as currently happens when I turn on all my scrounged desktop and laptop servers at once.

I’ll be providing the status of this project and my initial findings regarding the Raspberry Pi as a Big Data development platform at the North Jersey Python/Django Developers Group on Monday, April 1st.