Bass on Bass

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Tech World For 2012

     One of the many important technology decisions to make for 2012 relates to the apparently declining reliability of Commonwealth Edison, our electrical energy provider for the Chicago area. One is seriously tempted to invest in a standby natural gas generator given the increase in violent weather that causes power outages over the last few years. The cost is a serious matter. For my little 1000 sq-ft house a system  that costs $2500  PLUS installation would be required. It gives one serious pause. Just how valuable  and vulnerable is continuous access to electrical power?
    On the computing front, There's the business of file sharing that usually involves attaching them to e-mail messages to friends and family. Sending e-mail messages with large attached files which recipients may or may not wish to acquire with my upload speed of  mid level DSL internet service at ~ 430Kbps can be very time consuming. Though not exactly a new product, the Pogoplug has gotten my attention. With a Pogoplug attached to my router with, say, an 8GB flash drive in one of it's 4 USB ports, merely including a link to the Pogoplug location of the file(s) in the message will allow the recipient access to it on the always on Pogoplug whether any computer on my home network is turned on or not. With recent radical price reductions the whole setup could cost less than $50.

   Then there's the issue of clearing the winter snow. I  finally broke down (part way anyway) and purchased a real snow-blower this year. My 6-7 year old  Neuton mower has spoiled me for any gas powered equipment for yard maintenance. The thought of handling that gas and oil is something I can no longer tolerate. I've gone electric. In snow-blowers the options are not quite as many as with mowers. Battery electric ones can't charge in the severe cold of unheated garages in the midst of times when they are most needed. Only 1 battery powered model seems to be on the market, the Ariens Amp 24 . At $1500 to $2000 each, the 2 stage 24" swath self propelled machine is over the top of my budget. My unheated garage would render it almost useless anyway.  I opted for a corded electric model, a 25 lb Toro Electric Power Curve 1800. It was only $299 on line from Ace Hardware, delivered for pickup at my local Ace store.

    I already had a Toro Power Shovel given to me Christmas of 2010. but there are issues with it.

    As you can see, there is virtually no direction given to the ejected snow. Using this into the wind, even obliquely, will make you into a snowman in a hurry.   
   So now all we need some measurable snow. I suppose I should have known that after 30 years of home ownership, as soon as I buy a snow blower the next winter would have little or no snow!

    On to lawn mowing. As I mentioned I have had a Neuton battery electric mower for some years now. I consider it the best dollar for dollar investment in yard care equipment I've ever made. This year there are a huge and growing array of options for anyone else who is fed up with pull starting and handling gas and oil necessary for combustion motor mowers. is a great place to start looking for an electric one. 
    Over the last couple of years I've been toying with an idea for a radical new design for rotary mower blades that should yield up to 20% energy savings and provide a more effective cut especially for battery electric mowers. 
    Charge life is a serious limiter for the applicability of the battery electrics. A lot of lawns are just too big for most such mowers' capacity with current battery technology. The added run time this blade could give could turn the corner for many of those mowers. Gotta get it to market!


Willyvon1 said...

The thing about corded electric mowers or snow blowers is that where the cord runs to the outlet determines how and in which direction you MUST move through the grass or snow. That exacerbates the wind issue with the Toro Powershovel. Run either type of corded device over the cord and you're done using it pending repair or replacement of the cord. The 12/3 cord required for my new Toro power curve blower due to it being a 15 amp device and 100' of cord needed, cost ~$80.

Willyvon1 said...

Update after 2nd use, both today and last Friday, ~8" both times and ~ the same temperature at the time of use. Last week the snow was quite a bit wetter as the snowfall started with a higher air temp which dropped precipitously near it's end. That 12/3 cord, stiffened by the cold, is a real bitch and sometimes like a coiled python trying to bring down the user to devour him/her. At ALL times the cord is a major annoyance, much more so than with the 14/3 cord allowable with the Power Shovel. This is about the same electrical work load as Toro's battery electric mower. With any luck they'll answer my pleas with marketing a snow blower this size powered by a removable per use for charging in the house battery allowing unheated garage storage of the machine. Charging a battery in an unheated garage is iffy, certainly less effective than in one's house.