Solar Update

August 14, 2018 | Filed under: solar

Since I got a new inverter, I have far better logging of the power output of my solar panels, even on my phone :D

I have a pretty small, 2.1kwp (10 panel) ground mount array in my driveway. Its partially shaded at certain points of the day and year, far from ideal. Nevertheless it looks like we are producing about 44% of our August energy consumption from our solar panels.

Thats better than it sounds, because our electrical consumption is relatively high due to

a) Working from home

b) Having an induction hob electric cooker and

c) Having an electric car that charges from home.

We use about 514kwh of energy in August, our peak is about 800 which is January, and probably due to some electric heating in certain rooms, and more hot food I guess.   If we had a new house, with better insulation (this one is insulated as much as it can be given its structure), and larger rooftop solar with zero shading, I reckon we could probably hit 100% renewable in the summer months. Why new-build homes are not mandated to include solar panels is a mystery to me. Its just such an obvious thing to do.

I will never understand the obsession that modern companies have with reducing headcount. Its almost pathological. I totally understand that the marketplace can be competitive and that sometimes you need to cut costs, but this obsession with not employing any humans hits the hardest with companies that quite definitely have the available cash to take on a few extra staff.

The nature of may business (very long established one-man biz, set in a remote rural location, lots of legacy code, home-brew engine) makes hiring people very difficult, purely for practical and technical reasons. I am definitely not opposed to hiring people, and I actually think I’d feel really good about it. Every month I have to pay out royalty checks to 3 different people, and also pay at least one contractor, and it doesn’t feel bad, it feels GOOD, knowing that I’m contributing to the wider economy, and improving other peoples standards of living by creating employment. In some cases, those payments can help kick-start other small businesses who then employ people, and thats just awesome. Isn’t this the sort of thing we are supposed to be proud of as entrepreneurs?

To see whether or not you fall into the category of business owners who are really not doing their bit, take this simple test:

  1. Is it technically difficult, or practically difficult for you to hire new staff for some reason? If so, then I’ll let you off.
  2. Check your profit margin. is it less than 5%? are your company finances looking shaky? are profits falling dramatically? If so, then I’ll let you off.
  3. When you call the phone number for your company as a customer, do you get through to a real live human within 15 seconds? If so, then I’ll let you off.
  4. If you email your company as a customer with a technical support or customer services request, do you hear back from a human within one day? If so, then I’ll let you off.

I’m guessing this still leaves a very large number of businesses who could be doing amazing things employment wise, who instead are sitting on money in a bank and twiddling their thumbs.

Apples current cash hoard is 267 billion dollars. Their profit margin is 21.63%. I’m guessing that you cant phone up and speak directly to an apple customer service person right now, anywhere in the world. Why on earth not? (I just tried…and its a slow, irritating computer voice…to save hiring enough people…). The current total apple workforce is 123,000 people.

So the cash on hand for apple would allow them to give every single employee a windfall payment of $2,170731.

Yup, I had to check that several times to ensure its correct because it absolutely fucking cannot be. They can make every single employee of the company a dollar millionaire twice over. Or they could just spend HALF their current *cash* and make them all dollar millionaires. Lets look at it another way. The average salary in the US in the bay area tech firms is $142,000. Lets almost double that (yeah right) to account for employment costs, office space etc, and call it $0.25 million per employee per year.

Apple could afford to hire one million and 68 thousand tech workers for a year and still not burn through its entire cash hoard.

Or to put it another way, assuming all 123k people earn that crazy bay area salary, apple could double its current workforce, have them all sit on their ass doing absolutely nothing all day, and it would still take 8 years for the resulting cash drain to wipe out their *current* cash mountain.

PLEASE someone tell me my sums are wrong because they MUST be right? It couldn’t possibly be the case that despite Tim Cook being a ‘nice guy’ the first openly gay tech CEO who is trendy and right-on, and popular and seemingly one of the good guys, that he would rather sit on that vast obscene pile of capital and not spend a penny of it on increasing the workforce or improving the income of apples employees? Surely that would not be the case, Especially as Donald trumps recent tax changes are apparently designed to boost employment?

And of course, lets not forget that in the very home of tech-financial excess, San Francisco, there is a MAJOR homelessness problem. Its actually truly shocking. Apple could fix this out of their spare change. In the UK today there was an announced plan to completely eradicate rough sleeping which was put at costing £100 million. Say it should be £200 million instead, which is $260 million, and this would be for ONE city not a country. Apple could do that with one thousandth of its cash hoard.

These companies are not innovators who are making our lives better. They are like pharaohs and emperors treating the rest of us like peasants, beneath their contempt, not even worth saving.

 

EGX helper needed

August 09, 2018 | Filed under: business

I NEED HELP.

Or to put it more accurately, me and Jeff need help. We are showing off Production Line at EGX, the trade show in Birmingham UK on these dates:

20-23rd September 2018.

Its a big show, the UKs biggest by far, and has a ton of stuff showing there, including production Line (wahey!). We have a little booth with 2 PCs, and have to man it all day for 4 days. I cannot even be there the first day because I have such an amazingly busy social life, but will be there the remaining 3, as will my padawan Jeff (of Democracy 3:Africa coding fame).

The trouble is:    I HATE MANNING A BOOTH. Because I’m far too introverted, but I know I have to ‘be there’ to talk to people now and then, so I tend to be there ‘a bit’ and then wander off and seek solace in dark corners to muse on the existential pointlessness of it all. because we always need one person at the booth, and even Jeff has to eat and get coffee and lie down now and then, we need someone to come help us out part time. Is this you?

Ideal candidate would be 18+, an indie developer themselves who lives in Birmingham and would like to go to EGX for free, plus earn some moneys. (probably not a sack of money, maybe a small bag?). Obviously you have to be available on the dates given. The show is from 10am-6pm every day apart from Friday and Saturday when its 7PM. I dont need someone every day for the whole day, we can work out some rota where one or more of us slink off early or start late each day. I never need 3 people at the booth, frankly I only NEED one, but will often have two.

What I need you to do:

Just *be* at the booth, and keep an eye on it, make sure nobody swipes my cool miniature car and robot arms, and that if the PCs crash, or the games crash, reboot the PC/restart the game. I will give you a free copy of the game which you need to play for a good few hours before the show so you can answer any really basic questions people have. If press show up and need me, and somehow neither me or Jeff are there, you need to phone or email me or give them my details. Its not exactly hard work, by any stretch, and it gives you plenty of free time to wander around the show and see cool stuff. Also if you are an indie dev who has not manned a booth before, its a great way to see what its like at somebody else’s expense.

YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO GET TO/FROM THE SHOW EACH DAY. In practice, you need to be living close to Birmingham. The NEC is REALLY easy to get to, and its not in central Birmingham. Obviously you need to be a nice person, and happy to talk nicely to the general public who may approach you and ask for help. I genuinely dont give a fuck what your gender/age/height/race/shoe size is. Ideally you look more motivated than this guy:

IS THIS YOU?

If so, can you email me at cliff At positech dot co dot uk, and tell me a bit about yourself, and how many of my vast list of criteria you meet?

THANKS :D

 

Previous discussion of this school can be found here:

https://www.positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/category/school/

I just got an update from our charity partner ‘Building Schools For Africa’ which includes some awesome photos showing the construction of the second school in Cameroon. It looks like they have hit a pause whilst certain foundation things settle before finishing off the rest of it. Enjoy these pics :D (Crap photo quality and layout due to fairly shaky source material and pdf form…)

No real game news to speak of as I literally got off a plane a few hours ago. Life will return to its usual pace tomorrow.

 

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OH MY GOD A… Holiday?

July 22, 2018 | Filed under: Uncategorized

I am going away. Yes really. Despite being the kind of person who works every weekend, and is puzzled by other people not doing so, I am occasionally persuaded to leave my home-office and go see parts of the world. I don’t do it *that much* mostly because of the ‘not wanting to do too much flying‘ thing, so if I *do* actually fly somewhere, I do try to make the most of it. I’m also completely paranoid about being away from my business for any length of time, so I’m a bit of a nightmare person to arrange holidays with

Anyway…

I am heading far away to the land of ice bears and where the dust comes from, or something like that. I’m told there are bears, and glaciers, and a friend I’m meeting up with assures me there is good sushi. It probably looks like this:

I’ll be heading off tomorrow morning, and back on the 7th of August, which is a scarily long time for me. I’ll be checking email occasionally but apparently interference from the ice bears and the dust means there isn’t much in the way of wifi.

I hope that I’m leaving Production Line in a pretty good state for 2 weeks. I just finished fixing a whole host of crash bugs, and got really good feedback about it. I have a price-GUI change that I’m going to quadruple-check later today and maybe make live on the steam build before I go, as its a pretty minor (but aesthetically much needed) change. While I’m away I am hoping to switch off a bit from work, I have two BIG books to read, and I’m reading both with my wife so I cant get lazy and not finish them. I will doubtless still worry about unanswered emails and unanswered tech support requests on my forums and on steam. Early Access customers can (rightly) be concerned that a game has been ‘abandoned’. (It really hasn’t :D).

I’ll also probably worry a lot about some green energy investment thing that is causing me *distress*. Hopefully the ice bears will teach me how to relax.

My twitter account for the next two weeks will mostly be pictures of ice, and bears.