ZDay presentation – Price of Zero Transition to an RBE

At both the Global ZDay event in Brisbane, Australia the New Zealand ZDay event in Auckland in 2017 and at the Global Zday event in Frankfurt, Germany in 2018 I gave this presentation about the Price of Zero transition to a Natural Law Resource Based Economy.

The slides are based on the presentation given on Sunday the 26th of March 2017 at the New Globe Theatre in Brisbane, Australia as part of the Zeitgeist Movement’s 9th annual ZDay event, but with some tweaks incorporated from the New Zealand presentation, although that was a shorter version.

The presentation video was based on audio which I recorded in a Karaoke bar in rural Vietnam as the original Frankfurt presentation had audio recording issues.

You can view the original Google Slides online or get the PDF version.

Slideshare version

Slides :

Afternoon everyone.

We’ve heard from plenty of speakers over the last day and a half about how screwed our current socio-economic system is.

It’s obvious that this shit’s got to go.

Thankfully there’s a variety of alternative economic systems we can choose from:

True Cost Economics – which values human well-being and the environment.

Steady State Economics – Which helps us live within the carrying capacity of the Earth.

Participatory Economics (Parecon) – Understands that there’s an issue with voting for people to represent you if they are meant to work in their own self interests.

So instead of representative democracy at the core of Parecon those most affected by a decision are the ones with the most influence in the decision.

Then there’s the Natural Law, Resource Based Economy which is based on

the application of the scientific method to social concerns.

access over ownership and

abundance through automation and a systems design approach

As you can see the current best option is to transition towards is an RBE.

If this is a journey then that’s our target.

It’s a combination of science, technology, and a mindset change which helps us reduce scarcity, waste and violence towards zero.


Before going on our journey we need to know where we are.
We are in a fiat based, fractional reserve lending system

With a culture who’s definition of success is how much financial and material wealth, power control and fame you can acquire.

The engine of this system is the cyclical consumption cycle, powered by people earning money and buying things

Due to the way supply and demand works with the priority of profit, and externalities, when you boil it down we currently consider the cost of things based on :

  • Human Labour
  • Property Rights and
  • Perceived Scarcity

We don’t really value human wellbeing, nor the environment.

Knowing the system, we can predict 3 main ways that it can collapse.

The Price of Infinity collapse is really just business as usual

Whereby the issues with Capitalism cause Environmental, Energy and Economic crises and would mean that nearly everything costs so much you can’t afford it.

In short, it’s not good.

The Phoenix Model is the price of infinity, but somehow as the monetary system is collapsing we transition to an RBE, despite there not being any Internet and barely enough food, water and electricity to survive.

This is the transition model I heard being advocated a lot when first joined the Zeitgeist Movement.

I think the thinking behind this is that no one will change to a new system if they are happy where they are.

It’s like being asked to cross a long thin plank to go from the roof of one building to another. It’s dangerous, very few people are going to do that.

As per http://kevinpojezny.com/the-compound-effect-part-2/

However, if the building is on fire you bet your ass you will.
You’ll walk, crawl or do whatever you can to get away from the burning building.

But the trick is to put the plank on the ground and make the trip easy and fun.

There could even be a party at the end which people want to go to.

NB: Photo by Michael Kubler

https://www.dropbox.com/s/992eq11j5hnx824/IMG_7864.JPG?dl=0

That’s why thankfully there’s a third option, the Price of Zero.

The aim is to at least have Food, Water, Electricity, Transport, Education, Entertainment, Health and all the necessities of life for free to everyone on the planet.

But it’s beyond that. The end game is to create such long term abundance there’s no longer a need for money, so we transition away from Capitalism.

So which is the best transition approach?
Well the Price of Zero is obviously the better option as we can :

Start it today and

we are heading towards the end goal.

The Price of Zero is also based on the Buckminster Fuller idea that

You Never Change Things By Fighting The Existing Reality.

To Change Something,

Build a New Model which

Makes the Existing Model Obsolete.

OK.
So you can’t build a global Resource Based Economy instantly. But we can start small and expand.

Like a plant spreading seeds all over the place

we would want at least a dozen or so RBE like sustainable communities

Which can develop into towns, cities and beyond.

Now, not all will succeed, but we can learn from those that fail.

Through systems based thinking plus automation they will be creating an excess of goods and services which can be sold off to the surrounding monetary system for cheaper and cheaper prices whilst also allowing the communities to expand, converting our current system into an RBE over time.

Just like it takes years for a tree to bear fruit it could take 10 or so years to go from a tribe of under 150 people, to a city of tens of thousands and producing a substantial amount of abundance.

I mentioned 150 people in a tribe as it is Dunbar’s number beyond which you can’t really know everyone in the group.
Adding more people means changing from a connected tribe to a large community,

In the process requiring more complex governance structures plus tools for management, trust and the like.

Thus it’s an important milestone.

After the cities get to around 10k or 100k people that’s when we hit a tipping point.

It’s also when we have to start worrying about crossing the chasm.

With the adoption of new disruptive or highly innovative trends, be it social media,LGBT rights or an RBE different stages of the uptake are done by different groups of people.

At the start the RBE concept is being developed by ourselves. The innovators and early adopters.

We can see the potential and are willing to work on making it a reality.

Even if not that many other people share our passion and aren’t ready to join us.

Then there’s the chasm, this is where a lot of ideas and trends die out. They don’t become mainstream if they can’t cross the chasm.

Often what is needed to cross the chasm is a whole new set of branding as a way of attracting the pragmatists.

These are the people who will join the RBE because it provides a tangible benefit, a better life for them than they currently have.

They are likely to be people who have a dream of something they want to do, but are too limited by capitalism.

After the pragmatists join the late majority will often tag along simply because it’s what everyone else is doing,

whilst the laggards are those still trying to use a rotary phone until they no longer work.


Not shown here are the Luddites, those who will actively try to suppress or attack the adoption of a Resource Based Economy.

The luddites are the main reason why we will need to defend our cities, ourselves and the core RBE concepts.

In saying that, we should treat violence like a contagious disease. We don’t want to inflict it or spread it.

There’s some broad structures we can use for the transition.

I would suggest starting with a Decentralised community of like minded geisters. They would be limited to what they can do whilst living within the monetary system.

But could be an initial support network that are donating their time and resources towards helping create a small village that can grow into a sustainable RBE like city.

These initial cities are for trying out new paradigms, such as being created around access abundance and designed to work without the need for fossil fuels nor money.

Being Distributed is the end goal whereby we have all the communities and cities physically linked together, hopefully by Maglev trains.

The communities should have lots of communication from early on so they can learn from each other.

We don’t want to keep making avoidable mistakes.

Note the structure of the movement should be as leaderless or starfish like as possible.

What I mean by that is that if you:

  • Cut head off spider, it can’t control itself, it dies.
  • Cut legs off spider, it can’t get food, it dies.

Many corporations and capitalist systems are spider like in nature, they have a central leader and will attack as if we are the same.

But if you cut the leg off a starfish, it contains everything needed to grow into a new starfish.

That’s the power of leaderless or leader full movements.

When attacked we can spread out and create more communities, fantasia broom style.

Reference :
The Starfish and the Spider – The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organisations 

When creating the RBE like cities they should be adapted to their local environment and resources.

Trying to live in the desert? Build a long thin city in the sand dunes

Living in Bali? You might want to learn from the green school about how to build with bamboo.

You might also want Earthship houses, tiny houses, Venus project style circular cities or massive million people plus buildings.

An important concept during infrastructure design for reducing waste is Access instead of ownership

An example of access over ownership is that not every house needs a vacuum cleaner. You could have one industrial grade long lasting vacuum that is shared among a block or apartment. Now you’ll be using a 20th of the resources.
Apply that thinking on a large scale for everything from kitchens to cars and you have reduced a lot of the resource requirements, allowing more access abundance.

Although in some cases we might be able to retrofit existing cities we will usually want to create new infrastructure which is designed with this mindset from the start.

To implement this all properly you need to use some systems design thinking which works best by zooming out your view on a problem until you see how the whole system works, and how it should actually work.

An example is Litter

The current thinking is around ensuring people put their trash in the bin.

A better option is to have signs saying Please litter here because the packaging is Bio-nutritional and good for the environment.

Supermarkets
When dealing with automation people might ask how for example you would replace checkout chicks at the supermarket. Self-serve checkouts is the current answer but that’s the wrong thinking. Zoom out and you realise what you want is to have Food in your fridge, or things in your cupboards.

Imagine taking some tomatoes out of the fridge, making a meal and by the time you are done a new set has already been picked from the local vertical farm and is already in your fridge.

Now you no longer have a need for supermarkets.

Cradle to Cradle Materials Flow

Just like there’s a water cycle and carbon cycle we should have a materials cycle. Instead of the cradle to grave system used where we throw things away we should be tracking the flow of say steel, titanium, glass and other materials and be creating things to be broken down into their component elements and reused.

Reference
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle-to-cradle_design

Mindset Change

It’s not just technical changes, one of the biggest changes is with the mindset.
There will be a much greater focus on Social and community relationships.

Ownership replaced with Responsibility
Another important change is that Instead of money we’ll have to have a culture of responsibility.

Think about it.

you don’t really own an apple.

When you eat an apple you use the life supporting nutrients which then get passed through into the ecosystem.

But, you now have a responsibility to the tree that bore the fruit, the people who helped tend the orchard and the ecosystem that enabled it.

So yes.

The Price of Zero means that Capitalism Collapses, Because there’s no longer a need for money.

But this isn’t the specifics of an actual transition plan, just a broad approach.

RBE Aspiring Communities

The great news is that there’s already at least 6 different RBE aspiring communities, 5 of which are still active.

Koto Coop –  https://kotocoop.org/                                               : Juuso Vilmunen – Will start in Finland

ASIMPAC https://www.facebook.com/ASIMPAC/                       : Léo Caussan – Aiming to run more like a corporation

Ubuntu Planet – One Small Town http://www.onesmalltown.org/ : Michael Tellinger – USA. Been raising funds.

RBE 10k projecthttp://en.rbem.org/wiki/RBE10K                      : Ziggy ( Ezequiel Tolnay ) – Queensland, Australia

Kadagaya –  http://www.kadagaya.org/index.php/en/                    : The most successful, has been running for years in Peru.

Earth Communitieshttps://www.facebook.com/earthcommunities.com.au/ : The failed attempt primarily started by Craig Cowling

There’s going to be a whole lot of different variations. There’s already been some attempts, here’s some of the learnings.

Earth Communities was a decentralised RBE like community started in Adelaide, South Australia.

It failed for a number of reasons:

  1. It tried to grow too quickly and purchased an organics food shop that had some crushing debt.
  2. That was a bad decision done in haste which showed how important it is to find the right balance of speed and quality when working out decision making processes.

I suggest trying to identify decisions which are important and lasting versus small and inconsequential and ensure that the lasting ones are made with quality and consensus (has buy in).

There’s a variety of decision making processes and often the important point isn’t the voting, but the discussions which stress test the options and can sometimes uncover new, better options.

Ideally we’ll use the scientific method to work out what the best decision making processes are for the variety of decisions.

Some examples of different decisions :

  1. Technical decisions with quantifiable metrics
  2. Things with quantitative and qualitative goals,
  3. People and their positions
  4. Ethics, morals and behaviours.

These likely all need to use different decision making processes which will also vary according to the number of people making or being affected by the decision.

Revolving funding model

For the continued creation of new communities we will need some starting resources.

A great method for this is the revolving funding model.

You get people to donate towards the pool of money and resources. This is used to create the first RBE aspiring communities. As those communities develop they pay back the interest free loan, which can be used to kick start new communities and fund larger projects.
I’ve been a part of a group in Australia called CORENA who’s applied this thinking to SolarPV installations and we’ve funded 14 projects so far. If someone put in some money at the start to buy a SolarPV panel then the money from that has have already gone on to fund multiple panels in other projects.

For those that are interested in the idea a crypto currency smart contract could be a great mechanism for orchestrating this.

Of course, the aim is to not need the fund in the future.

Blackbox Thinking

That said, I might be completely wrong about everything.

Failure is OK and expected. Failures provide an opportunity to develop better understandings and mental models.

But, you need to be willing to learn from the mistakes and failures.
The aviation industry is one such org which does that. They have black box flight recorders so that if something goes wrong they can investigate and learn from the problems.

We should learn from them and be open and transparent, recording everything we can. From meetings and decisions to the measurements tracked and outcomes of what was being done.

Whenever there is an issue we can do a 5 whys analysis. Asking why a problem occurred and then you ask why that was allowed to happen and keep asking why until you get to the core problem. You then work on fixes for each level of why.

There’s lots of other techniques, like randomised controlled trials, A/B testing, dealing with the cultural issues of blame, fear of failure.

Learning from failures and near misses is probably the most important part of my talk as I can be wrong about nearly everything else and with the right approach we can discover the best solutions.

This is also the core of what the Zeitgeist Movement advocates.

Check out the NZ Earthsong community for information about how they go about their consensus based decision making process which is great for up to 70 or so people.

We still have a lot we can learn from existing communities.

For example Christie’s Walk, the only sustainable community in a capital city in Australia (Adelaide) found that working on things together helps with conflict resolution so much they haven’t yet needed a formal conflict resolution process.

But when looking at the communities we have to realise that few communities are trying to be RBE like.

That’s why the Brisbane ZM chapter (which also hosted the Global ZDay) has started creating the RBE Aspiration Index. A way of rating the sustainable communities they have been visiting.

Currently the ratings are based upon :

  • Locality,
  • Construction
  • Economy
  • Society

It’s still in it’s infancy but ask me or Zac Syme if you’d like to learn more.

Because you’ll be limited to what the government requirements are, from building codes to use of money and paying of taxes, it will likely help if you can convert the RBE like city’s land into a micro-nation, a block of land that’s considered it’s own country.

There are 12 Micronations in Australia alone and 79 around the world.

Although few are still active or officially recognised as it’s hard to pull off.


The Hutt River Province is one of the most famous micronations in Australia and Sealand is more well known Internationally.

You likely have a number of questions and want every step of the transition explained in great detail. Unfortunately

This is a long journey currently without a good map.

We know the direction to head, but like the Fog of War concept used in computer games, we can only see a few steps ahead of us, not all 100,000 steps.
Thankfully as we walk along we can work out the next few steps ahead of us and in an iterative process make our way towards ->

A far more abundant, inter-connected and sustainable Future…

Thank You.

Other things I could have also mentioned if there was more time :

  • Inertia of decisions and what the first people do. Like a small water trickle turning into the Grand Canyon over time a lot of things are set early on and get harder to change over time.
  • The sheer amount of work needed. Expect something like 15hr days for 8+ years.
  • Likely costs AU$20 Million+ (of current day power purchasing equivalent), e.g as $1/mill yr in interest payments for a proper shot at a decent community and that’ll still be really hard..
  • The Rules for Rulers and how we need to work out what the actual values we want should be and what the structure should look like instead. Would love a deep discussion about this.

Disclaimer and other notes :

Whilst I’ve purchased or taken many of the stock photography used in these slides, there’s still plenty of images that I’ve used which comes from online and I’ve had for such a long time I’ve lost the references to. I’m sorry if I haven’t properly credited your imagery, please let me know if this is the case.

This was a repost from the ZInfo website. But I have kept this version more up to date, so this is now the canonical version.

Zday 2017 – My Experience

Wow, the last 4+ weeks has been INTENSE. Certainly the most intense of my life so far.

First it was 12-16hr days at work trying to get a web project at work over the line.
Then 20 hour days (yes, only 4hrs sleep a night) trying to move out, putting most of my stuff into storage. There was my sisters wedding (sorry about being late for that sis, I got the starting time wrong).
Then with only just enough time I was off to Brisbane and I’d be doing both mentally and physically demanding work.

Casey and Zachary met me at the airport and we hung out for a few days whilst getting some ZDay prep work done and I caught up on sleep a bit.

Eleanor Goldfield and Casey Davidson walking in Brisbane

Eleanor Goldfield and Casey Davidson walking along the Brisbane river

Things got busy once I picked Eleanor up from the airport, from then on we were all very busy. There was social events every night and lots to do during the day. I still had my ZDay presentation to prepare for, tech stuff to organise and there was a whole lot of other stuff happening, Zac and his mum working on the food, Casey and all of us organising things, people and unexpected changes, etc..

 

 


Even before ZDay started we did so much socialising and connecting. Doing a pre-Zday podcast at Frequencies TV wtih Paul who even edited it. Meeting with Jason, visiting New Globe the venue, doing the presenters meet and greet at Zac’s, meeting Federico, cleaning up the venue, then the pre-Zday get together at Frequencies TV again, meeting Peter Joseph, plus a whole lot more amazing people.

Zac, Federico and PJ at Frequencies TV

Zac’s place had become the main hub of geisty activity and most of us there were only getting 4-6hrs of sleep a night.

ZDay hit and there was only an hour and a bit between rocking up at 8:45 and allowing people in. It was hectic but lots of people rocked up early and helped make it work.

I loved being able to delegate very broad tasks, like “You are now in charge of the Workshop space, you can delegate the task to someone else but it’s your responsibility for now” and then an hour or two later checking it out and things were running smoothly. The same with the merchandise and other areas. People just helped out.
That said, in hindsight I didn’t delegate the video camera stuff in quite the right way. I’d happily give people a camera, show them the shutter button and let them loose, but I should have delegated someone to make sure the GoPro was working at pointing at the stage and another person to be filming with the Canon 600D from the other side of the stage during the talks but taking photos during the breaks.
Still, the Panasonic HC-PV100 was amazing and I’m glad I got it. The dual SD card slots meant it would fill up one card and continue recording onto another.

We had all sorts of tech issues. The HDMI -> VGA adapter failed in various ways, mainly that it’d work the first time you tried, esp on a Windows machine, but if you disconnected it and reconnected then it wouldn’t connect. Restarting the computer would sometimes not even be enough.
We had a spare projector we used for the first presentation.
Then found enough laptops with direct VGA cables which would work flawlessly… Except everyone had their own devices. Mac’s, Windows, Powerpoint, Keynote, Google Docs. They all needed their own bits of work and most people needed to see the presenter notes (myself included) so whilst showing PDF slides was our ultimate backup, it wasn’t really acceptable in most cases.

Day 1 came and went and I needed sleep and to work on my presentation and dump all the footage and charge all the batteries, so I missed out on the after party.

Then Day 2. Whilst we had a bit more of a groove, I didn’t have as many people to delegate tech things to and those who I could, Jason and Ziggy were both presenting as well and at the end of the day all three of us were on the panel, so that made things a little harder. There was also much more animated presentations and I had planned to put the slides over the top of people’s presentations but animations or people directly pointing to parts of their slides was not something I’d put enough effort into filming.

Still, we’ve got plenty of good audio, 3 copies of the house / mixer audio, a zoom H4n and shotgun mic on the stage as backup, plus mic on the Panasonic camera and whatever else was recording.

The Canon 7D with zoom lens got some great close up photos. Thank you Jason and others for picking it up, and the other cameras and taking snaps.

https://www.dropbox.com/…/3v1q9p…/AADdzrDFOOaNufTMzbgppuiNa…

My presentation went fairly well, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. I went for a short run and also meditated to burn off some of the excited energy, but I was also very exhausted. The biggest issue was that I was reading from the presenter notes a reasonable amount and the screen and microphone weren’t quite in the best position. I’ve not got the charisma of some of the Day 1 presenters, but I did get some great thanks and feedback from people like Libby, THANK YOU! I love that people loved it and found the Price of Zero transition presentation informative and even wrote some notes.


Zday Panel Day 2 with myself and some amazing geisters

After Zday I wanted to go to the after party, I had my heart set on it, I’d basically been dreaming about it. Finally a chance to relax and hang out with people after the pressure was off, but Zac, myself and others ended up at the wrong hotel and didn’t get in. It’s a long story.
Amazing, intense conversations continued, especially between Federico and Rich, some of which is still going, continued as an online group chat.

I’ve finally paid off enough sleep debt to think properly and with all the cyclonic weather yesterday flooding the place it was the best day for staying indoors and just watching movies and sleeping.

Now the rains have past and it feels like ZDay 2017 is already fading into the past a little and I’m able to start thinking about what is happening next. But this ZDay was a big milestone point in my life and I think in the lives of the many people it’s touched.

For most the work for Zday is over, but it’s only just begun for myself and others who will be editing the videos or dealing with the positive and negative effects from such an amazing meeting of minds. The biggest annoyance now is that I didn’t stop/start the recordings after each presenter so there’s 8hr audio recordings and 1.5hr+ video recordings but people only need their 20mins of all the different files which can be over 30GB in size. That’ll be fun.

On the 8th of April I’m heading off to Auckland NZ so that the next day I can present my talk at their ZDay event. A week after that I’ll be back in Adelaide, living at my Dad’s place, back working on web development stuff and doing ‘normal’ things. Whatever that is. Probably dealing with web servers and programming more PHP and NodeJS sites.

The conversations have been amazing and intense. We’ve worked out whole new ways of decision making, esp when selecting people and thinking about change.

I’m reminded of a ‘an old African proverb that says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We have to go far — quickly. And that means we have to quickly find a way to change the world’s consciousness about exactly what we’re facing, and why we have to work to solve it.’

I hope that we’ll collectively help get Humanity to being a Type 2 civilisation instead of a major collapse. As Eleanor put it in her talk. we have to both Fight and Build.
I’ve done a lot of fighting the current system, but that just negates things. It’s time to focus on the building a new model, a new system. Let’s get ready and do it!

 


 

 

Michael Kubler and Peter Joseph at the ZDay 2017 global event in Brisbane.

Fixing SA’s power network

There’s a lot of buzz at the moment about a Twitter conversation between Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes about fixing South Australia’s power issues.

Elon says he can fix the issue in 100 days by providing 100+MW of battery storage. Mike Cannon-Brookes says he can find the money and deal with the politics.

As a member of both the Repower Pt Augusta alliance and also an avid Entrepreneur I’m torn.

The short of it is that battery storage is a decent but reasonably expensive short term fix, although Solar Thermal is a cheaper better long term option.

Backstory :
I was a part of the group who got Beyond Zero Emissions to come out to SA and helped with the historic meeting where we (well Mark Ogge who was the director of BZE) explained how Australia can get to 100% renewable energy within 10 years using a combination of Solar Thermal and wind power.

Solar Thermal being a large power plant that uses mirrors to concentrate the suns energy at a tower where it heats a molten salt to about 560°C the hot liquid is stored in an insulated tank and when you need power you put the molten salt near water, the water turns to steam and the steam turns turbines, just like a standard coal or gas power plant. What’s great is it’s renewable but also because of the storage it can work at night or ramp up/down do deal with the changes in demand and variable energy supply from wind and solar pv.

This was all many years ago. We did a big Walk for Solar back in 2012 and I filmed most of it. That’s over half a decade ago now that we’ve known that the Nothern power station was going to close down, that the domestic gas contracts were going to be linked to the International energy market and the blackout issues we are seeing today would come about if nothing was done.

5+ years of campaigning. The community is behind the idea and why shouldn’t they be, the creation of Solar Thermal power plant also means the creation of a new manufacturing industry and lots of jobs, plus stable electricity prices as well as stable power.

We wouldn’t be in this mess if even just 2 or so years ago the Government or energy companies took up the call and we’d started building. Solar Reserve and other such solar thermal companies have had people willing to provide the investment for years, but they need a buyer of the energy.
Unfortunately a lack of long term thinking and I suspect some wilful ignorance has lead us to the point that there’s been some very disruptive blackouts.

The entrepreneur in me wants to see Tesla battery storage happen here. even just the chance that Elon might visit SA gives me tingles and I remember walking past Atlassian and going to some startup drinks events in Sydney hoping to see Mike Cannon-Brookes who’s definitely the Aussie Entrepreneurial superstar. But I also recognise that there’s other options here in Australia like Zen Energy or RedFlow which has Simon Hackett behind it and even just the reduced transport would probably make it worth it.

I should note that CORENA, the Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia, of which I’m a board member currently doesn’t fund battery storage, only Solar PV installations and energy efficiency measures as those are what reduce CO2 emissions the most effectively.

Of course any of the battery options is going to be a better short term fix then one suggested option of building yet another Gas plant. South Australia already has enough gas generation to power all of SA but as I mentioned over the last few years the commercial gas contracts have been linked to the International energy market, especially Japan. As such the gas companies find it more profitable to sell the gas to Japan then burn it here and sell the Electricity.

If you follow the scent the gas option has the smell of lobbying from the fossil fuel industry. They are trying to get fracking to happen here in SA so they can sell even more gas, but will destroy large areas of land, especially farmland, in doing so.

To me it comes down to this :

  • We have enough variable wind and solar that we need storage.
  • Solar Thermal is awesome as the price of renewables goes down over time whilst also providing both energy generation and storage.
  • Batteries are a bit of a zero sum game. They help smooth things out, but don’t help us transition to cheaper, renewable energy. They can however be installed fairly fast.
  • Gas is a negative sum game. The prices go up over time as it’s harder to extract finite fossil fuels and the prices wildly fluctuate in the mean time.

This means that batteries could create a great one, two punch when followed up with Solar Thermal.

As a side note there’s another option that could be done with the battery storage. Microgrids. Instead of connecting the 100MW of power to a couple of substations you could setup a shipping container sized setup in each block or so that can have the energy of that block or even suburb connect to it, you’d have storage, but in a distributed way that would allow more community connection. SolarPV owners could be charging their local microgrid which with enough Solar PV could make it self-sufficient. But in our privatised energy market this seems like a pipe dream.

For more information check out :
http://www.repowerportaugusta.org/ – Repower Port Augusta. The campaign to get Solar Thermal built in South Australia.

http://corenafund.org.au/ – CORENA A revolving funding model applied to Solar PV and other renewables and energy efficiency. I’m on the board.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/tesla-boss-elon-musk-pledges-to-fix-sas-electricity-woes/8344084 – The first article I read about this.

Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and are not necessarily representative of the organisations that I’m associated with.

LetsEncrypt / Certbot – Virtualhost vs VirtualHost

Certbot, formerly letsencrypt is a great tool for setting up SSL certificates on websites. I love being able to quickly, easily and for free, setup a HTTPS SSL (TLS) certificate.

I use apache to host lots of WordPress sites, custom sites (e.g Symfony) and the like and Certbot helps keep them secure. Except when it doesn’t understand the <VirtualHost> config.

 

Here is a virtual host entry that works. running /opt/certbot-auto sees it and lets you create an SSL cert for it.

<VirtualHost *:80>
 ServerAdmin kublermdk@gmail.com
 ServerName www.kublermdk.com
 ServerSignature On

 DocumentRoot /var/www/kublermdk/www/
 CustomLog /var/log/apache2/www.kublermdk.com.log vhost_combined
 ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/www.kublermdk.com.error.log
 <Directory /var/www/kublermdk/www/>
 Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
 AllowOverride All
 Require all granted
 </Directory>
</VirtualHost>

 

Here’s a similar virtualhost entry. Apache happily uses it and it looks fine but Certbot can’t see it. See the difference? I’ve bolded the two characters that have changed.

<Virtualhost *:80>
 ServerAdmin kublermdk@gmail.com
 ServerName www.kublermdk.com
 ServerSignature On

 DocumentRoot /var/www/kublermdk/www/
 CustomLog /var/log/apache2/www.kublermdk.com.log vhost_combined
 ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/www.kublermdk.com.error.log
 <Directory /var/www/kublermdk/www/>
 Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
 AllowOverride All
 Require all granted
 </Directory>
</Virtualhost>

That’s right, the certbot apache plugin doesn’t understand <Virtualhost> with a lowercase h, only <VirtualHost> with an uppercase H, but Apache accepts both versions.

It took me 2 hours and lots of struggling to realise this. Hopefully this post saves you some time and maybe Certbot will be updated to work with either.

Also, if you are trying to get it to work with multiple ServerAlias’s that won’t work. So if you have www.kublermdk.com kublermdk.com and resume.kublermdk.com they all need their own site config file and to be configured individually, which is a bit of a pain.

 

More info :

I’m using certbot v0.11.1

https://certbot.eff.org/

https://github.com/certbot/certbot/issues/3545- I got a touch of help reading this and understanding that the apache plugin reads the sites-available folder for the HTTP version of the site not HTTPS and after reading through some of the actual certbot apache plugin code I found out it uses a specific parsing engine and there was a reference to how they parse VirtualHosts needing more work.

https://github.com/certbot/certbot/issues/4183 I posted a bug report about the issue.

My ~/.bash_aliases 2017

I have a base ~/.bash_aliases file which I normally use Ansible to update on various servers when needed and thought I’d share it.
This is intended for sys admins using Ubuntu.
The main aliases are :
ll – I use this ALL the time, it’s `ls -aslch` and shows the file listing.
agu – Apt get update, just refreshes the apt files from the net, doesn’t actually install anything but should be run before running any apt programs.
agg – Apt Get Upgrade this updates all the programs that need upgrading. Usually the server needs to be restarted after.
acs – Apt Cache Search. If there’s something to install like the PHP gearman extension I’ll usually use `acs php | grep gearman` to work out the name.
a2r – Apache2 reload.
a2rr – Apache2 restart, for when just reloading the config isn’t enough.
aliasd – Open up the local aliases file. Will apply the changes when you exit nano.
aliasd_base – Open up the main (base) aliases file which contains these aliases. If not using Ansible then I normally load the aliases into a new server by pasting the contents of the file in on the command line, then running aliasd_base and pasting it in again into the file.
chownWWW – Change the file and folder contents to being owned by www-data:www-data DO NOT RUN THIS IN THE ROOT DIRECTORY.
du – Directory usage. A general listing of file and directory sizes.
das – A directory size listing ordered by largest at the top. It’s not amazing but works well enough. I use `ncdu` the program (usually has to be installed with `agi ncdu`) to get better directory listing.
directoryExec – Makes the directories executable by the user and group.
logs – Shows most of the /var/log files, tails them so you can see any changes.
logsudo – Same as logs, but with sudo so you see more of the files.
gac – Git add and git commit. A nice quick way of doing a git commit. I usually do `gac -m “* Commit message here”
gitt – Shows the last 24hrs worth of git commits. Great for putting into a timesheet.
gittt – Shows how long ago the commits were, I mainly use this when trying to work out which commits are from today vs yesterday.
ssh-config – Edit the main ssh config file.
diglookup – Does a quick check of the A records, MX, TXT and other stuff for a domain, useful when someone says that there’s an issue with the site. example usage `diglookup kublermdk.com`
Note that the attempt to do a reverse lookup on the IP usually fails if there’s multiple A records for the main site, so you sometimes have to [ctrl] + [c] cancel out of that bit at the end. I’ll fix it one day :P
$ diglookup kublermdk.com
=====================
=== kublermdk.com ===
=====================
Wed Jan 18 11:36:58 ACDT 2017
--- dig kublermdk.com
139.162.46.66

--- dig www.kublermdk.com
kublermdk.com.
139.162.46.66

--- dig kublermdk.com mx
20 aspmx2.googlemail.com.
30 aspmx4.googlemail.com.
30 aspmx3.googlemail.com.
40 aspmx5.googlemail.com.
10 aspmx.l.google.com.
20 alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.

--- dig kublermdk.com txt
"i=221&m=domains-mx2-p11"
"keybase-site-verification=XREU5_ZiKnxXnNBV2L5Jcmn1tfUvL371DsulTNs7s9I"
"google-site-verification=m1fr_lDxzFtXawjhPXV56vbyOzKdw0SyTa1zCrdbArU"

--- dig mail.kublermdk.com
ghs.google.com.
ghs.l.google.com.
172.217.25.179

--- whois kublermdk.com

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.

 Domain Name: KUBLERMDK.COM
 Registrar: NETREGISTRY PTY. LTD.
 Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 677
 Whois Server: whois.netregistry.net
 Referral URL: http://www.netregistry.com.au
 Name Server: NS0.DNSMADEEASY.COM
 Name Server: NS1.DNSMADEEASY.COM
 Name Server: NS2.DNSMADEEASY.COM
 Name Server: NS3.DNSMADEEASY.COM
 Status: clientDeleteProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
 Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
 Status: clientUpdateProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
 Updated Date: 29-oct-2014
 Creation Date: 06-jul-2007
 Expiration Date: 06-jul-2017

>>> Last update of whois database: Wed, 18 Jan 2017 01:06:49 GMT <<<

For more information on Whois status codes, please visit https://icann.org/epp

[...]

--- Web server's reverse IP 'nslookup 139.162.46.66'

li1459-66.members.linode.com.

Server: 10.0.2.3
Address: 10.0.2.3#53

Non-authoritative answer:
66.46.162.139.in-addr.arpa name = li1459-66.members.linode.com.

Authoritative answers can be found from:

---======---
I then have a ~/.bash_aliases_local file that has server specific changes. e.g kublermdk-logs which will show the logs specific for my site, esp if it’s something like a Symfony project where a lot of the useful log files are stored in something specific. I’d have
alias kublermdk-logs='tail -f /var/logs/apache2/kublermdk/*.log /var/www/kublermdk/www/app/logs/*.log'
Grab what you want, let me know if you’ve got any good aliases yourself.
Cheers!

Looking Forward to 2017

Looking ahead, it seems like there’s some crucial parts of 2017 that I’m looking forward to. Mainly a 4-6week period around March and April.

Emma my sister’s wedding on the 12th March. Then flying to Brisbane to help organise and also finish prepping my ZDay speech which will be on the 2nd day of ZDay, I’ll be presenting just after Peter Joseph. w00t!

I’ll hang around for a little while with the awesome Brissy geisters, then I’m presenting at the NZ ZDay event in Auckland on the 9th of April. Fk yeah. Hopefully I’ll get to spend a week enjoying the sights. I’ve never been to New Zealand. Then heading home.

Before that big trip I’ll be packing up the place I currently live, putting most of the stuff into storage for a little while. I’ll likely come back from overseas and stay at my Dad’s place for a bit until I can find somewhere I like.

Most of the rest of the year I’ll be working full time at The Distillery. I’m a web dev / sys admin. Working with Symfony PHP, WordPress, Drupal, LAMP stack, Ansible server config, that sort of stuff. I’m also interested in playing with my own ReactJS, Apollo, MongoDB web app for Gather Together a meeting reminder / organising system I had the need for years ago.

The aim is to pay off my remaining credit card debt which is left over from when I tried to work on eMotively full time last year.
I’ve got a backlog of taxes to then start paying off and depending on how things go, my aim is to save up a 3 month runway whereby I can try working on my sci-fi novel The Book of New Eden. It’s meant to be set about 50yrs in the future, but at my current rate when I finally get around to actually writing it the future will already be here.

I know that I’m not going to spontaneously have the spare mental capacity to write an epic heros journey without actually putting the time aside. I’ve got years of ideas, notes, chapter parts and other stuff that needs to be assembled. I have the core framework of the novel, the chapter outlines, small parts of the story, but there’s a lot missing and a lot of work to do.

The first couple of months of the year I’m looking forward to being single. Flik and I were together since just after the Walk for Solar, basically the start of October 2012 so over 4yrs. That’s the longest relationship I’ve been in and before that I’ve always lived in a shared house or with family, never spent more than a couple of weeks living on my own. Hopefully I don’t let the house get too messy.

Talking about the Walk for Solar, the Repower Pt Augusta campaign is getting back into gear with a big, South Australian wide vote for Solar Thermal or Gas. You should vote, it only takes a second.

We know, thanks to BZE the volunteer engineering organisation that Australia can be powered by 100% Renewables using a mixture of over 60% wind, a bunch of Solar Thermal and a touch of biomass backup. Solar Thermal and Wind compliment each other extremely well and SA already has over 30% of it’s power from wind and renewables, with some days wind power produces over 100% of our power.

So yes, I’ll be helping with the Repower Pt Augusta campaign. Getting the first grid connected Solar Thermal power station in Australia would be an amazing first, an epic win. Did I mention it’ll also create a mass of jobs and be good for the economy?

SA Power outage Blackstart in relatively plain English

On Wednesday 28 September 2016 at 4:16pm South Australia had a state wide power outage, a black start event.

I, like most people were still at work and managed to continue working for a couple of hours thanks to laptop batteries and mobile phone internet. Although riding my bike home would have been crazy given the storm and lack of traffic lights. Thankfully I got a lift home. By 11:06pm the power came back on at my place. Having the entire state’s power go out is certainly not something that happens very often, as such it begs the question as to what happened.

The short version

3 main power lines got damaged by the storm, all within less than a minute. The loss of power from them meant an increase in load from Victoria, the load was more than that connection could handle, to protect itself from overloading it disconnected. With such a sudden drop in power the remaining power generators also tripped.

The 3 main connections which were severed by the storm were 275,000 volt transmission lines. The really big ones that usually buzz. It is believed that a Tornado or at least very high wind gust caused the damage.

One of the High Voltage Power Lines Destroyed by the Storm
One of the High Voltage Power Lines Destroyed by the Storm (Source: ABC)

 

The more detailed explanation

It was the storm which caused the outage as it caused 3 high voltage power lines from the North of the state to be damaged with 22 towers damaged or destroyed. The 4th high voltage line also tripped, but was not directly damaged.
They all disconnected within the space of about 40 seconds. South Australia was using about 1,826MW of power at the time and without the 315MW of (wind) power from the connectors the energy needed to come from somewhere. There was increased load on the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria to compensate. This went from delivering 525MW to well over the 600MW maximum rating it was designed to transmit. As a protection measure the connection was dropped, meaning that within less than a minute (and most of it happening within a couple of seconds) the state was now 850MW-900MW short of power.
The unexpected disconnections also caused the frequency of the electricity supply to change to fast. The power in Australia aims to run at 50hz (the US has 60 cycles a second) and the frequency is allowed to change by 1 Hz/second and the power generators don’t run if it’s below 47 Hz. The loss of the link to Victoria caused the frequency to drop by 6 and 7 Hz per second, far more than is tolerable, thus the rest of the power generation, the wind generators and Torrens Island power station were all dropped and the state went black.

To restore power the electricity companies had to initiate a black start procedure. From 5:23pm Electranet went and selectively turned on the Heywood interconnector, trying to get power to Torrens Island. This was important as it’s a gas fired power station able to generate up to 1,280MW of power and thus can help offset the lost power from the disconnected power lines. unfortunately the power station needs a lot of electricity to start and attempts to do that with the backup power didn’t work and storm damage caused the secondary backup to fail. The priority was getting the power from Victoria to Torrens Island. The power station was back up and running at 9pm. Pelican Point power station was also switched on (it hadn’t been running prior to the blackout) and was generating power by 10:05pm
By midnight on Wednesday (28th), 80–90% of electricity that could be reconnected was. Unfortunately due to the power line failures the North was effectively cut off from the rest of the state and it wasn’t until 9pm on Friday (30th September) 2016, that the last remaining transmission line to the southern Eyre Peninsula, was restored.

There’s an interesting part about how the 4th line that tripped but wasn’t destroyed. Because of the damage to the lines it is practice and ElectraNet’s operating procedure to conduct a patrol before reconnecting a line when such a ground fault occurs. Unfortunately the continued rain, poor weather and high winds (with gusts up to 120Km/h) meant the helicopters were grounded. This meant some poor sods had to drive along hundreds of km’s of power lines making sure they were fine. Thankfully the 4th line was confirmed intact and reconnected around noon on Thursday. I would like to thank the people who had to put in heroic efforts to get the power restored. Thank you.

 

Power Generation before Blackstart
Power Generation before Blackstart

Weather

There’s an average of 16 tornadoes we know about a year in Australia and where they occurred is a known higher risk area during a time of higher activity. I’ve been told that whilst the Bureau of Meteorology can identify structures in the radar images that indicate the potential for tornadoes to develop, they can’t directly identify Tornadoes and instead rely on reports, or video from the public, emergency services and the like. Such evidence points to there being 4 tornadoes during the storm around and F1 and F2 in scale, thus it’s certainly possible there was winds up to 140Km/h that likely caused the damage to the towers.

Below is a video of a tornado forming outside Blyth on the day.

 

For those wanting to see a variety of stats related to electricity production check out the AER website.

 

Update :

There was over 200,000+ households without power on the 1st of Dec 2016 after the Heywood Interconnector dropped out the AEMO media statement mentions it was “Due to the need to balance the frequency of the network”, which further strengthens the case for Solar Thermal in Pt Augusta as such a power station would provide not just better energy security but also the Frequency Anxillary Control Services needed in this case.

Personal Weekly Review – 12 item list

If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them.

As such, doing a regular review is important and talked about in plenty of life hacking / self-help books.

The thing is, I’ve had a weekly repeating Google Calendar entry about doing a weekly review for years, but it just said “Weekly Review”. When the reminder would notify me I would look at it, spend 10s thinking about the top of mind events that happened and then get on with the rest of my weekend.

I knew that wasn’t good enough and today, whilst sorting some old documents into a filing cabinet I found a review list I wrote back in April 2014 which I’ve just added to my calendar entry. Hopefully you and I will have better reviews and learnings based on these.

Do a personal review of the week and work out the tasks for the next week thinking about :

Review

  1. Finances
  2. Health and Fitness
  3. Family and Friends
  4. Production vs Production Capacity
  5. Household tasks and general organisation
  6. Recent Short Term Wins
  7. Long Term Vision
  8. Important but not urgent tasks
  9. Learning and Education (what to direct my learning towards next)
  10. Teaching, Training, Writing and sharing my knowledge
  11. Willpower challenges and strength
  12. Food/Nutrition

Further Explanation

Finances used to just cover making sure I’d sent my invoices, that I’d paid my bills and ensured I knew when the next bills are. I would occasionally also do a financial snapshot, working out how much money was in my bank accounts, how much I’d spent and received since the last snapshot and what my estimated runway (weeks without money I can go for) is. But since reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and also Money, Master the Game, I’m more interested in working out my assets and liabilities and how I can create a passive / portfolio based income stream that will allow me to get to financial thriving not just financial surviving.

Fitness is easily tracked in Runkeeper when I’m doing lots of runs, as I was in the lead up to the City to Bay, although I’m concentrating more on my stomach and core which is harder to track, except to remember how sore my muscles are from exercise, that’s a fairly good indicator to me that I’ve been doing well.

Point 4 about production vs production capacity is explained well in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. In this case I’m taking time to consider if I’ve balanced my time between the two. If you just focus on production (doing things) but not on production capacity (being able to do things better), you’ll get stuck in a rut.

Point 8 about Important but Not Urgent tasks is another one explained in the 7 habits and the fact that you need to focus on them, where as it’s easy to spend way too much time on the Not Important or Urgent and get worked up over the important and urgent.

2016-10-09th-important-but-not-urgent-0316pd-squires-fig1

Point 11 about Willpower challenges is talked about well in The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal but setting challenges is also done well with SuperBetter, the game and the book, by her awesome sister Jane McGonigal. I usually try having a weekly Willpower challenge, sometimes related to ensuring I’m exercising, sleeping well, working on the projects I want, or just ensuring I’ve meditated enough and aren’t getting easily distracted.

Initial Ansible Install on Ubuntu

Because I have to run this on any new Ansible or Vagrant machine, here’s a note to myself to make this a little faster.

For Ubuntu Linux machines

sudo apt-get --assume-yes install nano man git python # For a new, minimal install of Ubuntu, e.g a Vagrant Box, they don't even include a ~/.bashrc file nor nano or man, this can help. Also, Ansible needs python (version 2 not 3) to run.
sudo apt-get --assume-yes install software-properties-common
sudo apt-add-repository --yes ppa:ansible/ansible
sudo apt-get --assume-yes update
sudo apt-get --assume-yes install ansible

 

Also ensure the hostname is something you want. Here’s a 1 liner I use, just set the hostname to something you want :
NEW_HOSTNAME='vagrant.servers.example.com'; echo ${NEW_HOSTNAME} > /etc/hostname; echo "127.0.0.1 ${NEW_HOSTNAME}" >> /etc/hosts; hostname ${NEW_HOSTNAME};

# Don’t forget to copy over the ~/.ssh/config and ~/.ssh/*.pem files across, although you probably have an Ansible task for that.

 

Hopefully you are hosting your Ansible playbooks and other files in a git repo, so you should be able to clone that and start using it.

Once you’ve setup your /etc/ansible/hosts file (I usually copy mine from my Git repo) you can try ssh’ing into all the servers. You’ll want to ensure you have run ssh-copy-id and logged in if you usually connect to the machine via a password, or have the vars for the pem file(s) set, especially if connecting to an AWS machine via ssh keyfile.

After that you’ll likely want to run the command below which will automatically say ‘yes’ to all the requests to add the server’s SSH key. This assumes your flavour of Linux has the ‘yes‘ command.

yes yes | ansible all -m ping

Can the REM stack be a thing

REM stack :

  • React
  • Express
  • MongoDB

 

It’s like the MEAN stack which means Mongo, Express, Angular Node. But Express is built on top of Node and is redundant.
The other stack I still use a bit of LAMP. Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP.

If you like the idea then you can retweet this.

 

 

Actually, the more I look into it, the more GraphQL seems to be a big thing. Maybe there’s a REG stack option as well?