Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Eskom Rant

In which nothing particularly new is said about the situation, no great answers are provided, and the tone of the debate is not raised to any great height.

That we have a power crisis is a major problem, and shows poor planning. That we have a crisis, and no particularly coherent response from the warning signs in 2006, is an example of poor planning.

Several things that have struck me during the current situation:
  • A scheduled power cut that doesn't happen is almost as bad for productivity as a power cut.
  • Eskom ain't at all good about providing information about why things go bad - their press releases are appalling. "We need to load shed, tough cookies" basically.
  • This leads to lots of rumours (X% of the generating capacity off-line, so much power exported to other countries, etc, etc.), and the lack of information from Eskom makes the denials implausible.
  • Unfortunately, the people jumping up and down about the rumours most ardently (the DA and Solidarity stand out here) aren't plausible either, so it's really hard to good any feeling on what the heck is going on
  • WTF is up with poweralert's trend pages. The displayed historical trend changes radically over quite short periods of time.
  • While the working laptop is nice, until everything that connects me to the Internet at iTL is also on various long-lived battery backups, I can only work at about half capacity during a power failure. When did I become so reliant on Google and other online services?
  • Why is iTL listed as both iThemba Labs and Cyclotron in the load shedding schedule? It makes no sense.
  • Although I finally found a real personal use case for searching pdf's. Pretty much every other document I deal with, I need to read the entire thing, and, since most are academic papers with figures, I usually use the figures to navigate if I need to find something again.
  • Considering the number of power outages, I'm surprised more of the hardware I maintain hasn't died.
  • Discovering I mis-set my alarm clock after yet another power failure was an unpleasant surprise.
  • I need new UPS's for some of the Stellenbosch machines.
  • I badly need new UPS's for home.
  • Why is it going to take so long to build another power station? There is surely lots of scope for just throwing extra resources at the project (it's not software after all)
  • Aren't we due to have the pebble bed reactor come online around 2013 anyway?

1 comment:

confluence said...

What pisses me off the most is the tone of the (unhelpful) energy-saving tips from Eskom and various politicians: "Bad South Africans! This is all your fault for using too much electricity! You'd better stop that" -- where "OK, we really fucked up. Let's all try to save electricity while we fix this; we're really sorry for the inconvenience" would be more appropriate.

Are any of the people dispensing this advice personally showering with cold water, cooking food in their microwaves and going to bed when it gets dark? I doubt it.