Laying down a cloud - my experiencing with vaping

I've been a smoker since I was 17 - I'm 40 now.  I've spent untold sums of money on my pack-a-day habit since then and done crazy damage to my lungs.  I've set a bad example for my children.  I've had to leave in the middle of watching a movie or otherwise spending time with my family to step outside for a smoke.  I watched my father die a painful death due to lung cancer.

Having said all that, I enjoy smoking.  I find it pleasurable to inhale and exhale the smoke, my body craves the nicotine.  I find it relaxing - I enjoy the way it tastes with a cup of coffee.  I love the very thing that is killing me.

I've tried gum, patches, lozenges, cheap e-cigs - all are unsatisfying.  I finally found something that is.  The vape pen.

With the vape pen, I get to inhale smoke, I feel the hit of the vapor against the back of my throat.  I enjoy the flavor of the vapor in my mouth.  I love to exhale and watch the big plumes of vapor.  Such a satisfying experience.  I can do it in the car, in the house, while I am working.

Some misconceptions I had prior to vaping:
1. I wanted a liquid that tasted like tobacco.  Wrong.   I prefer the fruit flavors - the tobacco flavors are not really that good.
2. Higher nicotine increases the pleasure of vaping.  Wrong again.  Higher nicotine levels in your juice mean you get to vape less before your body tells you that your nicotine level is too high.  Lower nicotine levels in your juice mean you can vape more.  I started with 18mg nicotine levels, but have backed down to 11mg and find it is a much better fit.  Your vaping style will dictate the best level for you.  Start at 11mg.

Let me make this real simple for you.  Buy the $40 starter set from Mountain Vapes.  It has everything you need to get started and costs less than 1 carton of cigarettes.  Buying your first vaporizer can be confusing, just click on this link and buy it and you are all set:
Mountain Vapes Twin Peaks Starter Set

It come with two vape pens, chargers,  a case, and a bottle of e-juice.  Everything you need to get started.


Eye-Fi Mobi Wireless SD card demo and review

I show how the Eye-Fi Mobi Wifi SD works and give my impressions after shooting three shoots using the card.


Lite Brite LED clock published in Make Magazine and a new writing gig with EmbeddedRelated.com

I'm on page 135 of this issue!
I'm published!

In August of last year, I was offered the opportunity to write an article for Make: Magazine regarding my Lite Brite LED clock.  I wrote and submitted the article and even got a nice check from O'Reilly publishing.  A couple of weeks ago, over a year later, I receive a mysterious manila envelope in the mail - my article was finally published!

I eagerly found my project in the table of contents, then flipped to pg. 135, expecting to see my Lite Brite LED clock in all it's glory.  I found a beautiful, full-color picture of someone else's Lite Brite LED clock.  Make actually built their own Lite Brite LED clock, presumably from my instructions.  It was strange looking at someone else's Lite Brite clock.  Until then, mine was the only one I had ever seen.  After I thought about it, I decided it was really cool that other clocks had been built from my idea.

Going to the article, there was just a quick intro to the project, then a link to the website for more info on building the project yourself.  I did get a nice bio in the bottom right.  All in all, it was a total win - I got a full page in the premier publication for the maker movement. 

It was also neat to see my name in the front of the magazine under 'Contributing Writers'.  My name was printed alongside the likes of Limor Fried, Massimo Banzi and Forrest Mims.  Just the Entrepreneur of the year for 2012, the founder of Arduino and the best selling electronics author of all-time.  Fun!

A few weeks ago I was also offered the opportunity to write for another electronics blog - EmbeddedRelated.com.  Interestingly, the current bloggers of EmbeddedRelated are all electrical or software engineers, with the majority of them having either a Masters of PhD in engineering.  Not really my peer group or intended audience, but I guess Stephane (founder of EmbeddedRelated) wanted to bring a little hobbiest flavor to the site.  You can see my EmbeddedRelated.com content here.

I am going to try blogging at EmbeddedRelated for awhile for a couple of reasons.  Writing for EmbeddedRelated will allow me to make a little extra money and reach a different and bigger audience.  I will still blog on MeanPC.com, but for the time being it will probably be more editorial writing than technical writing.


Are LED light bulbs worth the extra cost?

Cree LED lightbulb vs. GE incandescent light bulb

Are LED light bulbs worth the extra cost?  How long do they take to pay for themselves?

I saw that Home Depot is now carrying Cree LED light bulbs.  I know that Cree is probably the best LED manufacturer in the world, so I decided to investigate a little further.  Not long ago, the price of LED bulbs was just too high to even consider, but prices have come down.

You can currently buy a 6 pack of Cree 9.5 watt LED bulbs for $74.82 at Home Depot's site.  These bulbs are dimmable and rated to last a whopping 25,000 hours.  We'll put these bulbs up against some GE 60 watt soft white bulbs from Wal-Mart.  $5.29 for a 4-pack.  So, the LED bulbs are $12.47 apiece for a 25,000 hour bulb and the incandescent bulbs are $1.33 apiece for 1,000 hours.

It's clear to me that over a 20 year period the LED bulb will save a ton of money for us.  But most of us are a little more short-sighted than that.  Especially when it comes to paying a lot of money for something that used to be a trivial cost.  Since we are so impatient, let's see if the LED bulb can pay for itself in just one year.

Let's look at a heavy use case scenario first.  I have a home office which I work from for 40 hours a week.  I like to keep the room nice and bright during my work hours, and I cannot stand fluorescent bulbs.  I run three 60 watt bulbs in a light fixture and a 60 watt desk lamp for 40 hours a week.  Let's do the math.

Here in southern Louisiana, residential electricity averages around 12 cents/kilowatt hour.  According to data at the US Energy Information Administration, this is consistent with national prices.  

Incandescent calculations - first year (and every year)
60 watts X 4 bulbs X 40 hours = 9600 watt hours or 9.6 Kwh per week.
52 weeks X 9.6 Kwh =  499.2 Kwh for the year
499.2 Kwh X $.12 = $59.90 energy cost for 1 year
In a year, we will consume 2 4-packs of these bulbs, if we are a little lucky.
8 bulbs = $10.58 in bulb cost
1 year incandescent bulb cost is $70.48

LED calculations - first year
9.5 watts X 4 bulbs X 40 hours = 1520 watt hours or 1.5 Kwh per week.
52 weeks X 1.5 Kwh = 78 Kwh for the year
78 Kwh X $.12 = $9.36 energy cost for 1 year
In a year we will use 4 LED bulbs
4 bulbs = $49.88
1 year LED bulb cost is $59.24

In the first year, the "expensive" LED bulbs will actually save us $11.24.

But wait, there's more!
After the first year, these LED bulbs are paid for and it's all gravy from here.  Let's look at a 10 year cost comparison.

Incandescent bulbs - ten year cost
10 years X $59.90 energy cost/yr = $599.00
In ten years, we will consume 20 4 packs of these bulbs, if we are lucky
80 bulbs = $105.80 in bulb cost
Ten year incandescent bulb cost is $704.80

LED bulbs - ten year cost
10 years X $9.36 energy cost/yr = $93.60
In ten years, we will still be on our initial set of Cree LED bulbs
4 bulbs = $49.88
Ten year LED bulb cost is $143.48

After ten years, the LED bulbs have saved me over $500!  That is starting to add up to some serious money.  This scenario is a high use case, but some of you that have kids might save even more than this if they are bad about leaving the lights on.  Outdoor lights can save even more money than my example.  Just two 60 watt light bulbs on your porch for 12 hours/day, 7 days/week.  Try the math for yourself...

Depending on your local weather trends, you could also save a nice chunk of money on your cooling bill.  Those 60 watt incandescent bulbs - each one is a little heater.  The LED bulbs generate almost no heat.

There can also be those bulbs that can be really hard to change.  If you have vaulted ceilings, it can be a major PITA to have a bulb burn out 20 feet above your head.  I've also noticed that incandescents that tend to get turn on/off a lot burn out more frequently.  I'll bet we go through 3 or 4 bulbs in our closet even though it is only on for about 10 minutes a day.

LED's are a no-brainer, right?