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Opportunities of the future: The Connected Car. The Internet of Things. The Home off The Grid.

The Connected Car. The Internet of Things. The Home off The Grid.


+ Your car will be mated with your cellphone. What you see on your cellphone you’ll see on your car’s screen. Finally we’ll have Waze with its cop and real-time traffic alerts and route modification suggestions, instead of the absurdly difficult (and expensive) GPS idiocy car makers foist on us today.

+ Everything will be connected to the Internet — from your house’s refrigerator to the remote pipeline that may leak, but may not if we find out about it in good time. Real-time monitoring by tiny bots will save lives and give the economy a gigantic boost in productivity. As much as GPS did.

+ Put solar panels on your house’s roof and a big battery in your basement and you never need to connect to the grid again — except to sell it the surplus juice you made.

All the usuals are playing here — especially Apple and Google. But none of this will make much difference to sales or earnings for a while.

For the Home off the Grid, the best bet is Elon Musk’s SolarCity. Today it leases you the solar panels it puts on your roof. Elon is talking about making home batteries in the new battery factory he’s building in Nevada.

Verge explains:

Founded in 2006, the company (SolarCity) now has 168,000 customers and controls 39 percent of the rapidly expanding residential solar market.

Fueled by financing systems like SolarCity’s, government subsidies, and a rapid drop in the price of photovoltaics, solar has been growing fast. But with that growth, some of solar’s downsides are coming to the fore. Obviously, the sun isn’t always shining when you need power, and sometimes the sun is shining when you don’t need power. The former is a problem for the user, who needs to draw on the grid when it’s cloudy or dark; the latter is a problem for the grid, which needs to find a place for that excess energy to go. When there’s a lot of solar in the system, it can get hard to keep the grid balanced.

That’s part of the reason that California, with one of the most aggressive renewable energy mandates in the country, recently declared the most aggressive energy storage mandate as well, with a goal of 1.3 gigawatts of storage by 2020. As other states adopt intermittent renewables like solar and wind, they’ll need to install energy storage too, providing a ready and waiting market for Tesla’s batteries.

I like Elon’s battery for our home. We could charge the battery during the night when electricity rates are low and run off the battery during the day when rates are ridiculously high.

The “big” plays here seem to be SolarCity (SCTY), Honeywell (HON) and, to a lesser degree, Cisco (CSCO):




CYBR got slammed this morning by JPMorgan saying CYBR was overvalued. It’s down by 9.6%. It will edge back, despite JPMorgan’s downgrade. Further, we’re still way up on it since I last recommended it. Cyber-security is one of the hottest areas around. Every CEO is running scared of Wall Street Journal headlines that his firm’s several million customers just got hacked by Russian bad guys.


Super movie. The Imitation Game.

During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

He invents the Turing Machine, now known as a computer. The movie has a love story and various twists and turns that make it engrossing.

I would  have preferred a bit more technical explanation on the machine. Still, it was fun to watch it whir, and think to myself that my iPhone has far more computer processing power than the machine Turing used to break the Germans’ enigma machine. But my iPhone owes much to Turing, who got dealt a bad hand by the British. See the movie.

At the retirement center

80-year old Bessie bursts into the rec room at the retirement home.

She holds her clenched fist in the air and announces, “Anyone who can guess what’s in my hand can have sex with me tonight.”

An elderly gentleman in the rear shouts out, “An elephant?”

Bessie thinks, and says, “Close enough.”

Harry Newton. .It rained last night in our desert, California’s Coachella Valley. It was a whole new world of wet roads and glistening flowers. First time I’d seen it rain out here in a long while. Magical.


  1. Barry Merchant says:

    The real reason solar can’t compete with oil is that the latter is subsidized by the government. If we figured in the military component for keeping oil flowing, gasoline would be $13 a gallon. At that price, solar would make economic sense.

  2. Fderfler says:

    I’m sorry, but I do NOT believe that residential solar survives a REAL 10 year life-cycle cost analysis. When the complex solar crap starts to fail and cry for repairs 36 months after installation and you are sitting in the dark, who ya gunna call? You thought MEDICAL care was expensive?? By year 7 of the life-cycle you will be begging for some of that nasty old coal-fired current.

    • Wendell says:

      We are in our eighth year of solar on our home. Our bill last year from SDGE was $1.03. So far our maintenance costs have been zero.

    • Brad says:

      Actually, solar has very very low maintenance costs – years can go by and nothing can need doing. An even if something needs fixing, SCTY will do it for free under a lease/ppa agreement.

  3. bruuno says:

    Harry, there are folks who drive through life feet firmly planted on brakes. They would have us still in horse and buggies.

    You may have heard that some municipalities are making it problematic, even a crime to NOT be connected to a grid.

    The same mentality that’s trying to stop universal fast, easy, sometimes municipal internet access.