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Ancient Teachings

Genesis 1, 28 says that we should "go forth and multiply, and replenish the earth." Not all Bibles have this "replenish the e...

Friday, April 19, 2019

Eskom is insolvent and its directors should be held liable

Eskom is insolvent. Its boards of directors for the past 20 years are liable for its failures, and should all summarily be sued for failing to act on the warnings of the 1998 white paper on energy and the 2003 white paper on renewable energy. What is happening now, is contained in warnings in those reports, publically available, and one would have expected the boards of directors of Eskom to read their reports before assuming Directorship Responsibilities.

If South Africa's law is applicable to private industry, then it is also applicable to public industry, otherwise the law is a farce.


My answer to "Engineering News How Can Embedded Generators Help Close South Africa's supply gap?"

Chart from the Engineering News article, not attributed


I agree with Tobias, except that I think that the PV design needs to change. Whilst it is obvious that north facing PV is the most optimal from a production point of view, if the PV is not being used at mid-day, then it is a waste of time. The efficiency at mid day is high, but the effectiveness is low. And therefore East and West facing roofs and Ground mounted PV arrays should be included in the system. This will lengthen the Solar Day and lower the mid-day production peak. So assuming that of the 6 kW system in the diagram, what if 2 kW was West facing, 2 kW Eeat facing and 2 kW North facing. What would that do to production? Can Tobias produce a new graph that maps this change? One more point. Large scale batteries have declined by 35% in price (https://reneweconomy.com.au/more-stunning-falls-in-solar-and-battery-storage-costs-put-fossil-fuels-on-notice-31119/) in the past year. Over the past few years large scale batteries have been declining by 20% per annum. The 35% decline in the past year means that pricing decreases might be speeding up, possibly because of the introduction of Gigafactories. South Australia have already seen massive advantages in the use of Tesla Large Scale batteries, and this means that one could relatively easily and quickly get to a point where Small Scale Prosumers could be involved in electricity "production" from 6am till 10pm, and consumption from 10pm till 6am. I believe that load shifting is essential to the problems South Africa faces. I also believe that one needs to look at the bigger picture. It's not about how much money the electricity sector can make, but how much money the entire country can make because of the electricity sector. PS: One should also read https://reneweconomy.com.au/how-the-tesla-big-battery-kept-the-lights-on-in-south-australia-20393/ to get an understanding of how big batteries stabilise the grid and don't only work as peaking power stations.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

On being an entrepreneur and its challenges

I work about 16 months a year. I’ve had my own business since 1994, the same year that Jeff Bezos started Amazon. And we are both the same age. After that it diverges, financially. But he lives in the USA and I live in South Africa. We have different challenges and opportunities. I’m interested in our electricity supply, besides earning a living from Computer Programming.
So number one is the time you need for your business and your life. Some people say they should be separate, but why should they? If you enjoy what you do, then you’re doing it all the time. Of-course you have fun, and as an independent-contract-part-time-programmer, I’ve learnt a bunch of other interesting stuff, e.g. I’m a Reiki Master, a Tai Chi Instructor, a Kabbalist, an African Djembe Drummer, a Meditator, an Alchemist, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Bodhisattva, a touch typist, and generally a nice guy.
Some people say that the family shouldn’t be in the same business. But my wife and I have worked together for almost 20 years, and in that time she has developed a new interest and business for herself at the same time as helping me with my business. And I’ve helped her with her business. The biggest and oldest family run business is the British Royal Family. And the’re pretty successful (and sitting pretty).
And I learnt to ski at 47 years old. So you can always teach an old dog new tricks.
And I believe that the next five minutes are the most important of my life, so I have air cleaners at home, and then the next day is important, so I make my own water and electricity. I have my own retirement plan. It involves having paid for my car and house and electricity and water and food by the time I get to 65 years old. Of-course, I won’t retire in the normal sense of the word. And in any case, I’ve been retired before. And retirement for me means waking up in the morning and deciding what you want to do today.
And I can work from anywhere, coffee shops, and at any time. I joke that a weekend is when you have two days off in a row. For me two days off means two days of not touching a computer, and that’s really difficult when a remote control is a computer and a car has a computer in it. So I guess a day off is in the countryside away from technology, but I don’t wear a watch anymore, and I use the watch on my cell-phone, so I’m still using a computer … (Note that I don’t believe in fitbits, which track everything you do and send it to a remote person who can track you, even when you make love! And I don’t believe that everything you do needs to be recorded.)
The second challenge is comparison. We all compare ourselves all the time. Me to Jeff and to my school and university friends, one of whom owns properties in three countries, and another who works at South Africa’s biggest (and richest) company. But the easiest thing for me to do is simply to compare myself to myself. I’m getting better all the time and if God made the world and it was “good” then “good” and “better” must be good enough for me. We have the job of perfecting the world. And in an “agile” world, we incrementally make it better one day at a time. Comparison is one of the 10 commandments. Thou shalt not be jealous, I mean “thou shalt not covet” (you must not be greedy for what belongs to others).
BTW, I have a joke (story / true story): “Why are there grades in schools today? Because there aren’t standards anymore!” When I was at school we had standards. When people ask me what type of programming I do, I say “bug free programming.” Maybe it’s impossible, but it’s a standard. In our liberal world, we keep dropping our personal standards to the lowest common denominator because it’s “ok.” But ok backwards is KO and I do not wish to be knocked out, so as I gain more and more knowledge and capability, I constantly keep my standards as high as they can be.
BTW, I’ve always been an agile programmer. Of-course agile programming was around before “Agile” was invented, just like Gravity was around, before it was “discovered” by Newton. Contracting means getting paid on performance, each and every month. Therefore one needs to deliver and I want to deliver something every single day and make something live every single week. Newton understood the gravity of the situation, how grave a situation is, how important it is, and he was one of the world’s most incredible entrepreneurs.
Why 16 months? Well I set myself up to break even at 80 hours a month (so that I can do other stuff the rest of the time), but sometimes like at the moment, I work on a full time contract whilst keeping my other clients happy. So I work 160 hours a month for someone and 30 hours a month for someone else and I have a few other clients, and I have lots of other things going on. So I’m typically at my computer or reading or researching or listing to Audible Books (that’s what I do in my car: I don’t listen to the radio: if something is important, someone will tell me; or I’ll see the headline somewhere; or when I go to Google on my iPad, I’ll see the headlines) for about 10 to 12 hours a day. Most employees who I’ve met work six hours a day. So I’m putting in double that. And for 40 years. I’ve only slowed down when I got depressed, and I only got depressed because I blamed myself, when I had a financial meltdown. Never mind that big organisations with lots of well qualified directors also have meltdowns and many of them don’t exist anymore. I’m still here!
Another thing is that you need to know that you will spend a month a year working for the government, doing tax and VAT returns, and recons, and dealing with your accountant and tax specialist, and getting your Annual Financial Statements and Tax Returns in order, and doing your monthly Management Accounts (that takes me one day every two months). And it’ll cost more than you expect and you need to budget for it, so that it costs what you expect. BTW, I’ve found it easiest to base this year’s budget on last year’s actuals, taking into account that I know that there will be computer upgrades, etc. So I have a master spreadsheet with all my monthly journals in it, so that I can post them to my financials.