Project Tracking with Google Sites

I am not the most organized person in the world, so maintaining lots of nice, organized files is not really my thing.  I recently took a Cisco networking class and was exposed to a wonderful tool (at least in my opinion) called Google Sites.  I think this tool could be of use to the sorts of folks who may visit my site from time to time, so I wanted to present what I am up to.

Sites allows non-developers to create web pages quickly and easily.  It also permits uploads of files and documents, thereby offering cloud-based storage of helpful information…

…such as documentation pertaining to energy conservation projects, including project costs, savings, utility incentives (if applicable), project life and simple payback.  But of course, oodles of other uses are pretty obvious too.

I am going to show some screen grabs of this tool below, but let me first reference its utility.  A consultant friend of mine recently stopped by and was wondering about the effectiveness of some of my conservation initiatives.  Rather that search through files and spreadsheets and emails for various pieces of information about projects, we simply jumped on the web to examine critical information about projects in which he was interested.  It was a really great to have such a powerful, flexible and easy to use repository of information at my fingertips.

Here’s a grab of the opening screen.  Just click on the image below to increase it to readable size, and back arrow in your browser to get back.

Grab1

Looks pretty slick, no?

One clicks on the little arrows to the left of the categories on the left side of the screen to expand them.  Here you can see a list of recent projects I have worked on.  Again, if you click on the little image below it will show large enough to read.

Grab2

Clicking on one of the project titles then delivers you to a page where you can enter free form text and attach supporting documentation, including proposals, purchase orders, energy savings calculations, or whatever else might be relevant to your needs.  And yes, the typo is my fault…

Grab3

Here, for example, is a portion of a copy of a document regarding an energy conservation incentive from my friendly local utility company that I can access from the site:

Grab4

Navigating from one project to another is as simple as clicking on the desired project name.

The amazing thing about Sites is not just it’s capabilities and convenience.  It’s also its ease of use.  I learned how to use it, and had a web site up in running, in only a couple of hours.  And the production version I am now using only took a handful of hours to create, but has saved me hours of “tracking down” time that I no longer need to expend.

There are size limits to the web sites that Sites will let you create (100MB), but I am not aware of a limit to the number of individual sites you can create.  So one could, presumably, create a new site for each fiscal year, or for each facility being managed, or for whatever logical demarcation you might want to establish to manage the size limitation.

Anyway, I found this really handy and wanted to share.  To learn more about Sites, you can find it here:

http://learn.googleapps.com/sites

Thanks for stopping by, and have a Happy New Year!

I didn’t see this coming…

Fascinating. A deep sea creature that “def[ies] all existing classifications of life” according to the New York Times, has been discovered off the coast of Australia. The Times coverage is scant, but there is more detail to be had here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/mushroom-shaped-deep-sea-animal-dendrogramma-baffles-scientists-1.2755448

I always find it very reassuring when we find something utterly unexpected. So many mysteries on the earth, and doubtless in the universe, that we have yet to investigate. Our intellectual curiosity will probably never be satisfied as long as we continue to look around and explore.

Units will drive you nuts

Back in the Energy Currency post, I mentioned that energy can be confusing because it can be represented with such a wide variety of units.

British Thermal Units, Watts, Joules, Horsepower-Hours.  All talking about the same thing, but it’s like converting from Dollars to Chinese Yuan to Czech Crowns to Euros when you want to buy a beer in Mexico.  More confusing than ideal.

Well, really it’s worst than that.  Aside from different units, there are two different systems of units in use in engineering.

The International System of Units (the SI Units) is more or less the metric version of things, giving us units like meters, kilograms, pascals (unit of pressure) and newtons (a unit of mass that, appropriately enough, weighs about as much as an apple here on earth – 1/4 lb roughly.)

English Units were derived largely from old measurement standards from Britain.   Some, such as yards, miles and pounds (weight) are familiar.  Others, like slugs (mass, and equal to 32 pound-mass) and grains (weight) are pretty obscure, but still around to drive us crazy.

According to Wikipedia, only Burma, Liberia and the United States have not adopted SI units as their official system of weights and measures.  This is somewhat unfortunate because SI units are simpler to work with, but given the extent of our legacy systems, you really have no choice but to learn how to manipulate numbers with both systems anyway.

In the energy world, we really have a strange mix of units that are run into all the time.  Let’s start a list right here of the big ones.  I will come back and add to this as things occur to me:

  • Gallons (volume)
  • Gallons per Minute (GPM – Flow Rate)
  • Cubic Feet (volume)
  • Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM – Flow Rate)
  • Degrees Fahrenheit (DegF – Temperature)
  • British Thermal Units (Btu – Energy)
  • Thousand British Thermal Units (MBtu, sometimes KBtu – Energy)
  • Million British Thermal Units (MMBtu – Energy)
  • British Thermal Units per Hour (Btuh – Power)
  • Watts (Power)
  • Watt-Hours (Energy)
  • Tons (cooling, 12,000 Btuh – Refrigeration Power)
  • Ton-hours (12,000 Btu – Refrigeration Energy)
  • MLb (heating, 1,000 pounds of steam)
  • Pounds per Hour (PPH, commonly used for steam power)
  • Volts (V)
  • Amperes (Electrical Current, I)
  • Ohms (Electrical Resistance, R)
  • Power Factor (pf)

As I think of more I’ll add them.  But we need these because we are going to derive the eight or ten essential equations that allow you to do energy calculation quickly and accurately for wide array of situations.

Hang in there.  What I find about engineering, at first, is that you have to learn a bunch of seemingly random stuff, but only after you know enough of that random stuff can you string it together and make a sensible whole out of it.