Category Archives: technology

The Energy Detective : Unbox and Install

After reading about The Energy Detective (TED) on the green tips page at work I decided to research it further.

The device gives you real time feed back on energy consumption.  With this information it helps you manage your energy consumption.  My energy bill can get pretty high, it was $400 last summer, so I decided I needed to do something.  The device was $140 off their web site.  I ordered it and here is what I got:

TED Unboxed

* The internal unit
* The external transmitter
* The inductive couplers (clamp looking things)
* Instruction book
* Other stuff I don’t care about

I read though the booklet before the install.  I didn’t think I needed an electrician to do the install and I didn’t want to spend the money.   It actually wasn’t that bad.  I shut off my external circuit breaker and took the cover off.

TED External Install Full 

I didn’t have room to hook up the couplers after the meter so I hooked them up before.  I may get grief about this from Edison, we will see.   I then hooked the neutral up to the grounding bar.  The hot end I put with another wire on a breaker.  A better picture of the breaker hookup is here:

TED External Install CB Hookup

After I turned the power on the LED on the transmitter started flashing.  I noted the transmitters house code and went inside.   I then plugged in the unit set the house code and it’s working fine.

TED Internal Install

I am consuming .38KW right now.  I need to do more setup and talk about my observations using it but that’s another blog post.

Wireless Digital Photo Frame

I just purchased the Samsung SPF-83V 8-Inch Wireless Digital Photo Frame for my parents.
picture frame

  • Samsung makes a good looking LCD. The 800×600 looks good on an 8inch LCD.
  • Auto on/off times
  • The time is auto set off the internet.
  • Has a bunch of features like sound which I don’t care about now but might later.
  • It works great and my parents love it.
  • No monthly fee for service.
  • Worked easily with a WAP protected router.


  • A motion sensor of some type would be nice.
  • The frame border is a little glossy for my taste.
  • The right/left navigation buttons are backwards but they are only used in setup.
  • Don’t expect your parents to be able to set it up. It wasn’t intuitive and I actually know computers.
  • I wouldn’t be offended if it were less expensive.

I decided to go with a third party RSS feed provider, Frame Channel (,
Frame Channel
They specialize in providing feeds to internet picture frames.

  • Easy to work with web interface
  • Auto resizes picture you upload
  • Has a email address attached to the account so you can send email with a picture attached and it will show it.
  • The email have to come from approve sources. (I was worried about porn spam, that would have been awkward.)
  • The have lots of channels like weather, sports, bible quotes, trivial and so on.


  • Their channels have a small ad strip on them. It’s not hideous but well close. I only left the weather and bible quotes on for my parents because they like those the most.

They’ve only had it one week but they are VERY happy with it. We were out on the lake on their boat and I snapped a shot of my boys with the iphone and mailed it to the picture frames address. When we got back to their house an hour later we saw the picture on the frame. It actually look pretty good for a camera phone photo.


I had an idea a while ago about a program to automatically create unit tests for Python code.  I talked it over with Titus Brown from the SoCal Python Interest Group and we both agreed it was a good idea.  We also both agreed it would be a lot of work and neither of us had the time.  I got the idea of getting of asking Disney to hire and intern to take a crack at it.  We looked for a while and then Titus posted the opening on the Testing in Python mailing list.  Michal Kwaitkowski responded with interest.   Getting him here from Poland was a bit of a hassle but well worth it.  The first week he was here we got up and running.

Here is the logo we had a Disney artist draw for it.

It’s of Michal using pythoscope on a legacy python.  :)

Last week we hit a milestone.   We released 0.3 that includes dynamic as well as static analysis of the code before creating unit tests.  Michal presented pythoscope to the SoCal Python Interest Group that I hosted at Disney.  To thank him Disney provided a cake with the pythoscope logo for dessert.

Paul and Michal with Cake

Siggraph 2007

Siggraph 2007

I took the day off Tuesday and drove down to San Diego to see the exhibits at Siggraph 2007. It wasn’t as big as it has been in the past but still a decent size. The Disney Animation booth DAS Booth was very well done with a few demo stations out front so the people staffing the booth could show off the art and technology of Meet the Robinsons. They also had a small 3D theater in the booth to show off the nice job the MTR team did on the 3D look.

Laika had a nice booth there and I talked with them for a while. Coraline project looks good. I talked to Michael Kuehn and he said the studio just bought 30 aches to build on. We talked for while and he is really loving Portland. His house has a river on one side and a vineyard on the other. He said the quality of life was though the roof.

I also went though the Emerging Technologies area. The two high points for me were seeing the a water fountain that you could play like a piano. Water Piano The neat thing is that it’s actually in production and they are selling it to water parks. The company is Funtain. Sure I want one for my backyard but they are not cheap. The guys said about the cost of a nice piano.

The other thing of note was the OLPC or I guess it’s called the XO now. OLPCVery little computer. I did stress little? Check out my hand next to the keyboard. hand next to OLPCI know it’s for kids but I thought that i might be able to use it too. The keys were soo close together it was very hard to type. Still though if they made it available I would buy one from my son.

Free Audio Books

I’ve been downloading audio books from and I am very happy with what I’ve been getting. The price (free) can’t be beat. These books are public domain books read by volunteers. Most are good readers and read the whole book. Some books are broken up between readers. I’ve only hit one reader that was bad. I know they tried but… well… they just don’t have a voice for it. Not to worry though, it was free.

I’ve listened the following books:
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard

Amazon Links – Reader Digest Version

Often when sending an Amazon link to someone it will get trashed in the email client.

Here is the normal link:

Howard at work gave me a tip to shorten the link.

Start with
Find the ASIN number for the product. It is normally on the product page, then add that to the url.

The small link to the same product is:

This is much less likely to get munged in email and is just nicer looking.


I’ve been using for a while now and am pretty happy with them. The first year is stupid cheap if you can find a $97 off coupon. Like this one: BONUSHOST I created that one to give you the max discount. :) They have a really easy to use web interface for administration of domains and features. The one click install for many applications like Gallery, WordPress, Joomla and many more is very handy. I wish they would do that for Django but at least they support FCGI so as least I can install it myself.

dreamhost link

Gallery is dead.. time to look at the net for help

Sigh, I had some problems with the directory protection on my gallery so I wasn’t checking it regularly. When I fixed the problem I noticed this error:
Database Error
An error has occurred while interacting with the database.
Back to the Gallery

It might have happened on the last gallery software update. I used the one button install/update from dreamhost. I am not sure what went wrong but since I didn’t have much there I am not heartbroken. It’s just a drag to see gallery die. I decided to look for online photo galleries. I intially tried gallery because it was supposed to hook into iPhoto. I never got that to work. It just hung on export. Oh well, I guess if you really want that stuff to work you need .mac hosting.

I looked at, they are gallery based and I was hoping that their iPhoto connection would work better but no such luck. I will keep looking.