Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gasoline price listing for Richardson

In case you haven't seen this kind of thing, there are sites that track gasoline prices in a particular area. Here's one page for Richardson.

I load that page every day. I do it to stay aware of pricing trends rather than to chase 2c less per gallon price differentials.

My old car still averages 29mpg and I am grateful for it. If the prices get really bad I can swap to the motorcycle which gets 49-52mpg, depending on how much self-restraint I can force into my throttle hand. :-)

Friday, February 25, 2011

RPL's OverDrive emedia, HarperCollins

Earlier today the weekly update came out with this news:

Library Acquires “Overdrive” Allowing Downloads Of Audiobooks And eBooks
On Monday, the Richardson Public Library switched on “Overdrive”, which is an online service that offers access to best-selling and classic audiobooks and eBooks all day, every day from the Library’s website.

Anyone can browse the collection, but a Richardson Library Card is required to check out a selection. The books can be downloaded to computers and many mobile devices, and some audio titles can also be burned to CD. Titles automatically expire at the end of the lending period, meaning there are no late fees. A link to the site is available in the Related Links section.

Then a few minutes ago this pops up online -- "HarperCollins to libraries: we will nuke your ebooks after 26 checkouts":

LibraryGoblin sez, "HarperCollins has decided to change their agreement with e-book distributor OverDrive. They forced OverDrive, which is a main e-book distributor for libraries, to agree to terms so that HarperCollins e-books will only be licensed for checkout 26 times. Librarians have blown up over this, calling for a boycott of HarperCollins, breaking the DRM on e-books--basically doing anything to let HarperCollins and other publishers know they consider this abuse."

A little to too arcane and inside baseball? Maybe. But electronic media will probably increase as a percentage of library loans going forward, and this kind of battle is important and inevitable.

The OverDrive service page at RPL doesn't say so, but there is one open platform
player available: an Android client is available on the official overdrive page.

[I should point out that completely DRM-free ebooks and audiobooks are available, legal, and free elsewhere online. You can help prepare free ebooks for publishing by volunteering your keen proofreading skills.]

Preparedness fair Sat 2/25, 9am-12pm

Your friendly local LDS folk are putting on a Preparedness Fair. I think this is an annual thing for them; I attended in 2009 and enjoying poking around. Learned about pressure canning meat, went home, and got'er done. Awesome.

Water preps, canning (both jars and actual cans), grain grinding, safety, etc. I recommend it.

No, I'm not a Mormon. No, the fair is not about religion. Yes, I tend to like LDS folk as a group: friendly, self-reliant, and clean-living. What else could you want in a neighbor?

Here's the address:
900 S Bowser Rd
Richardson, TX 75081

Map and pic of bldg, so you can recognize it when you get there.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

@amiromar, interjections, and schoolhouse rock

Ok, Amir.

I dig the timely tweets, I dig the energy, and I'm generally sympathetic to your approach. But, really:

there is no law requiring one to put an exclamation point (!) in every. single. tweet.

Srsly. They will not fine you, cart you off, or revoke your social media membership card if you just stick a period at the end. Your content is good, you're articulate and energetic. No need for the hyperventilating punctuation. No one will think you are getting old, suffering from Low T or anything like that.

Sometimes we use non-exclamation punctuation "when the feeling's not as strong":

(yes, I know Mr. Omar rarely posts actual interjections but that was the closest pop culture reference I could find on youtube).

Postscript: once I got an email from a bizness d00d who contracted me to do web editing or similar. He asked me to add an "explanation mark" to one of the sentences.

I wracked my brain trying to parse what this meant. Was this some kind of esoteric punctuation my liberal arts education had skipped? Did I make a mistake going to a state school? Was it a business-specific symbol like the Copyright © or something? I was in agony. Finally he wrote "one of these -> !!!".

Ahh. The wiley explanation mark. I see now. I'll have that done in a few minutes...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interpreting ERCOT tea leaves

Since the first rolling blackouts caught everyone by surprise, I've been trying to figure out how we tell what's going on for ourselves. Sharing what unscientific, unverified info I have grokked below.

ERCOT operations messages are listed here. Also in a handy RSS form. These appear to be the best real-time information available to the public.

Heavy on energy market terms like DAM (Day Ahead Market), the most important stuff for us appears to be the EEA levels:

EEA Level 1 - All available resources in use. Discretionary ("non-firm") energy sales stop.

EEA Level 2 - Load Management procedures in effect; no longer able to meet demand. Public appeals to reduce demand. Reduction in voltage. Interruption of power to entities who have signed contracts allowing such. Make use of "all resources".
2a - Medium potential for outages.
2b - High potential for outages.

EEA Level 3 - Forseen or actual loss of power. Rotating blackouts, etc.

Also, here's a fun "load shedding" training doc to peruse.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grid emergency = rolling blackouts

Power went out this A.M. Called Oncor: recording said Tx grid is in trouble, and they are having rolling 15-minute blackouts to limit damage. Actually lasted about 9mins at my location.

Note: It's showing up in Oncor's tweets now:

billcarleton Bill Carleton
@oncor why no advanced notice that you will be rotating grid outages?
28 minutes ago
in reply to @billcarleton ↑

@billcarleton Sorry for your inconvenience. We found out <1 hour ago from ERCOT, who operates the state's electrical grid. Please be safe.

{Edited to add: just put the Oncor outage number 1-888-313-4747 in my cellphone yesterday. Guess that paid off.}

{Another edit: another round from 7:47a - 8:03a. If this is going to go on all day i'll leave my PCs off and just use this laptop.}

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Destiny+Twitter: Slagel hangs it up

Destiny posted it here. Looks like she might have been one of the first to spot it in the Mayor's twitter post.

Looks legit to me. DMN reporting it, also.