Tag Archives: cost

House hunting on ESO

I’ve been playing ESO [Elder Scrolls Online] for quite a few months now, and whilst I’ve enjoyed learning the game, I’ve also missed not having a player ‘house’ of my own. Player housing was one of the things that kept me at FFXIV for so many years. Anyway, I think I’ve finally found the house of my dreams! I can’t afford it yet, but now I have something to aim for, and here it is:

That’s my character, looking down at the house and walled garden.

The player housing in ESO comes in four five sizes:

  1. a room at an inn,
  2. a small house with no garden [it’s fully instanced and you teleport to it],
  3. a small house with a garden [I think that’s the category my house occupies,
  4. medium houses with gardens and
  5. walled estates, some of which can be truly huge.

As you’d expect, the price for most of the housing depends on size and the amenities offered. The largest estates also have game-play requirements that must be met before you can lay your money down.

Before I tell you how much my house will cost, let me show you some more views. This first one is the view that sold me on the house:

I’m stand on a large deck that leads to the front door. Because it’s so high up, I actually get a view over the top of the walled garden to the river beyond [most houses have no view]. The house is called Sleek Creek House and it’s located in an area called Reaper’s March. As an Aussie, that vista feels strangely like home. 🙂

The next view is from the shallows, looking back up at the house. The graphics are truly incredible, especially the quality of the light. Oh, and there are gathering nodes right outside the garden!:

Next up is a view of the small town that overlooks the house. It’s called Rawl’hka. Sounds like something out of Vokhtah, doesn’t it?

Apart from being very picturesque, Rawl’hka also contains all the amenities available in the large cities – stablemaster, crafting, bank, guild traders, and what appears to be a large, vibrant player population.

And now the fly in the ointment. Sleek Creek House costs 335,000 gold. I currently possess 38,000 gold. I’m not going to do the math because I’ll simply become depressed. The important thing is that I have a goal. Now I just have to find a way to achieve it.

“Everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning.” 😀

cheers,

Meeks


Australia, #solar panels and #directaction

The current Liberal government tries hard to sell it’s Direct Action policy on Climate Change, but apparently all that Direct we-give-you-money-to-create-less-carbon rhetoric only applies to big corporations. Incentives for small scale solar, wind and thermal brought in by the previous Labor government have been slashed, perhaps because they worked too well.

The history of small scale energy generation began in 2009 when Labor used a kind of small ‘d’ direct action policy to encourage private individuals, community groups and business to go ‘green’. Not only would we receive a generous rebate for the cost of the energy generation systems we installed, those systems would then be connected to the grid and the excess energy they generated would be sold to electricity retailers! Win-win.

This description of the Premium Feed-in Tariff is taken from the Victorian government’s own website:

The Premium Feed-in Tariff (PFIT) started in late 2009 and closed to new applicants at the end of 2011.

The scheme offered eligible households, businesses and community organisations with small-scale solar systems of five kilowatts or less a credit of at least 60 cents per kilowatt hour for excess electricity fed back into the grid.

More than 88,000 Victorian households, small businesses and community groups are now benefiting from the PFIT.

60 cents per KWH. That’s more than twice what we were paying the retailers for electricity back then, and those lucky enough to join the scheme during this initial phase will continue to receive 60 cents per KWH until 2024.

Then, from December 2011 to December 2012, small scale generators were offered a reduced tariff of 28 cents per KWH. This was more or less on a par with the cost of electricity generated from coal.

But from January 2013, the FIT plummeted to 6.2 cents per KWH. Now have a look at this pricing schedule published by Origin Energy:

origin electricty pricing

So let’s say you’re on the Residential 5-Day Time of Use plan. From 7:00am to 11:00pm, Monday to Friday, you will pay 39.732 cents for every KWH you use. But any electricity you generate and feed into the grid will only earn you 6.2 cents per KWH.

Yes, your eyes did not deceive you – your electricity created no carbon, but it is worth 6.4 times less than the dirty stuff produced in the La Trobe valley.

Proponents of coal-fired power say that solar, wind and thermal are no good because they do not provide baseload energy, but what exactly do they mean by that?

As I understand it, baseload energy is essentially the capacity to produce the minimum amount of energy required during a 24 hour period.

At the moment, baseload power is provided by coal fired power stations that are belching out carbon pollution at peak capacity, all the time, because:

  • it takes so long to get them going, and
  • it’s cheaper to run them full on, all the time

There are other energy production systems that are more flexible, but they tend to be more expensive to run. Here in Victoria I believe we rely almost exclusively on coal fired energy.

Now, while it is true that green energy is produced at the whim of the elements, and hence not completely predictable, it can reduce energy consumption at the local level. In fact, the installation of solar panels on roofs since 2009 has reduced demand for baseload energy. So why isn’t it being valued? And why aren’t governments bending over backwards to get more of it?

The problem, essentially, is a clash of cultures. At the moment, coal is king because the operators of coal fired power stations do not have to factor in the cost of the pollution created by that coal. If pollution became a cost like any other, a number of interesting things would happen:

  • the price of energy would go up in the short term,
  • everyone would scramble to minimize their use of this expensive energy source
  • and new technologies would spring up to make other energy generation systems more cost efficient – this would include not only renewables but also batteries capable of storing energy produced from all sources, including coal. [Because coal fired power stations run at full capacity all the time, much of the power they produce is actually wasted].

Unfortunately, none of this is likely to happen in the near term because we are still only paying lip service to the problem of Climate Change. Once the $hit hits the fan, things will change in a hurry, but it won’t be efficient change, and all the forecasts suggest it will be a LOT more expensive than voluntary change now.

So in terms of you and me, are solar panels worth doing any more? From a purely financial perspective, probably not. 😦 You will still save some money off your energy bills by using your own energy, but the truth is we all use more than we generate, and it often tends to be at times when solar is not available [e.g. at night]. So then you have to balance up the savings against the cost of the solar panels and their installation…

When I installed my solar panels and solar hot water, I hoped to have everything pay for itself in about five years years. Not gonna happen, folks. I started out getting the 60 cents per KWH then a strange administrative ‘blunder’ meant that the paperwork proving I’d joined in time disappeared. Now I’m on 28 cents per KWH but apparently that will only last until December 31, 2016. After that I’ll get next to nothing.

Am I bitter? Yes, I am. The Liberals are going to give large corporations lots of money for doing the wrong thing while I am going to lose money for doing the right thing. I really truly wish the Libs would throw some of that Direct Action loot in my direction for a change. 😦

Meeks


OMG – have you seen the Google ARA?

I have never been a huge fan of smart phones, but this …this excites the hell out of me!

It’s quite a long video clip so I’ll give you a very quick summary of what it’s about. Basically, this is the first launch of a new technology that makes the smartphones of the future completely modular, and completely customizable.

So what? you say. Well, imagine that you are a little old lady of 90 who can’t make head nor tail of all this smartphone technology. But she needs some way of making calls, and her family need some way of ensuring she’s ok. They buy one of these ARA phones and put in just two modules – one for making calls, and one that acts like a current SOS device [i.e. it rings for help if the user falls unconscious etc].

Not a little old lady? No problem. You buy an ARA phone and plug in a camera and some high end modules so you can break dance wherever you are.

Not a break-dancer either? A reader perhaps? Easy. Just plug in the basics you need, then plug in an Amazon module that will allow you to comfortably read your favourite books as you commute.

But these are just the things I can think of that would appeal to users. The true beauty of this new technology is that it will throw the hardware development market wide open to every manufacturer in the world. The consequences of that will change the world as we know it.

In fact, it will be similar to the revolution that modularization brought to computers. Wha’?

Back when personal computers were babies, they were very, very expensive because the technology had not been standardized. These days, you can either buy a generic computer off the shelf – say a Dell or whatever. Or you can buy the modules you want and install them yourself, effectively building your very own computer exactly to your specifications. Or …you could do what I do which is to research which modules you want, and the relative quality of each module, then go to a local computer shop and get them to build your new pc for you.

The point is, making pc hardware modular allowed all sorts of manufacturers into the game, and that level of competition brought the price down to the level we have now. Beyond that, however, the true beauty of this technology is that we have no idea where it will go!

I’m guessing Google ARA will develop hand in hand with 3D printing to completely change the way ordinary people interact with technology. And that, my friends, is the stuff of science fiction. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be alive at this turning point in history.:D

Enjoy!

Meeks


20 Kindle power

Ok, I admit it – the title was me trying to be clever but if you stick with me all will be revealed!

Candlepower or candela is a way of measuring luminosity and dates back to the days when we used candles. So 20 candlepower would be the equivalent of the light provided by 20 candles [all lit of course]. And then along came Edison with his electric light bulb. Now candles are relegated to the utility draw where they wait, unused and unloved until a birthday cake comes along or a blackout or a romantic dinner for two.

Sadly, the advent of e-readers like the Kindle  is going to do to books what the light bulb did to candles. Books may not become collectors’ items for a generation or two yet, but we can see the demise of the mass market paperback already in the sales figures coming out of Amazon. Ebook sales are soaring as more and more people like me discover how convenient and cheap ebooks are. In the past I would only buy books written by my favourite authors because here in Australia books can cost up to $30 AUD. Each. That is an investment not an impulse buy. With my Kindle though I can buy an ebook by an unknown author for as little as 0.99c.

And this brings me to the meaning of my title – I have downloaded 20 ebooks in the last month thanks to Kindle power.  Of that first 20  I have read 19. I will probably never finish that last unread book because it was not well written and annoyed me. In the past I would have agonized over wasting the price of a book but now I can happily move on to the next promising story because none of them cost more than the price of one decent latte.

Cost is not the only benefit of ebooks though;  freedom to explore is just as important. In the last month I have discovered some wonderful new writers – Mary Robinette Kowal, Candy Korman, Lord David Prosser, Stephen Faulds –  many of whom are self-published indie authors whose books never appear on the shelves of traditional bookshops. Without ebooks I would never have discovered them. For that alone my Kindle has been worth the investment but it has other, less obvious benefits as well. I’m getting horribly short-sighted so the ability to adjust the font is a god send. Now I can read in comfort without having to wear those horrible reading glasses that make the world swim whenever you look up from the page.  Another benefit is that I can sling my Kindle in my bag and take it with me wherever I go  – without feeling as if I’m carrying a brick in my bag!

I still love the look and feel of real books and I always will but in the future I will be choosing the ones I want to own and keep in a very  different way.  Instead of browsing the shelves of bookshops and taking a punt on a book that ‘looks interesting’ I will be reading the ebook version first. If it lives up to expectations and is a ‘keeper’ then I will buy the hard copy version and give it a home on my own bookshelves. That is the power of the ebook. That is the power of my Kindle.

Something is always lost when new technology comes along so I feel sad to think that my great, great, grandchildren may only see paper books in museums but it’s always better to swim with the tide than to drown trying to swim against it.  Vive le livrel!


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