Brief 2c on the Government Shutdown

I believe the root cause of the shutdown isn’t the budget deficit or Obamacare, but rather Gerrymandering – and two specific symptoms of gerrymandering – uncompetitive districts evolving into extremist candidates, as well as illegitimate majorities stemming from packing and splitting.

There have been a few articles, most pointedly this one (from a conservative paper no less), that illustrate how the shutdown is being driving by a minority of the majority party. To paraphrase the article, there 30 GOP members who believe that Obamacare is in fact very harmful and will do anything to stop it. There are another 30 that are willing to compromise, but worry about being primaried from the right. It is my estimation that if those 30 were primaried, their successor would join the 30 true believers.

The emphasis in the above paragraph illustrates the problem – uncompetitive (from a partisan angle) congressional districts drawn so that they are solid for one party or another. Because one party has a lock on the district, its likely that more and more extremist (left or right) individuals will be elected – up to a point at which there are enough defectors from the majority party to elect the other candidate. This almost happened in 2012 with Michele Bachmann – she is in a solid conservative district, but has become extreme enough where there were enough defectors (or non-voters) in both her party and independent voters that she nearly lost the race (she won by 1% of the vote).

If all congressional races were competitive from a partisan angle, I believe the extremist element in each party would be rendered unelectable because independent voters (whom upon most elections ride) will choose the less extreme candidate, and that in order to win political parties would choose the more centrist candidate instead of the extreme.

So how do we stop gerrymandering?

California, after substantial bipartisan pro-incumbent gerrymandering in 2000, chose an non-partisan board to draw the districts. Other states have had similar approaches by using a non-partisan group to draw the lines.

Can we fundamentally change the rules of the system? Do we have all representatives represent the entire state they’re from like Senators do? Do we use topological rules to divide districts in a more algorithmic manner? Use an alternate voting method (Fair Majority Voting for example) to ensure that a state that is split 35:65 has a 1:2 representation ratio? Beyond an appropriate partisan representation ratio, how do you choose representatives from each party that are aligned with the voters wishes (e.g. you not voting for a party, you’re voting for a person).

The voters weren’t represented in the 2012 congressional elections – totaling up all congressional races, Democrats got more votes than Republicans by about 500,000 votes (slightly less than half a percent), however failed to gain majority control of the House because of gerrymandering, in fact they are at a 30 seat deficit (233-202). This was due to the Republican successes in 2010 getting control of state legislatures such that they could control the redistricting process, gaming the system.

The sooner we deal with the issue of Gerrymandering the better. Then maybe we can start removing some of the dysfunction from Congress and move towards a legislative body that can accurately represent the people of America, both in terms of majority/minority parties as well as fewer extremists.

The Importance of Infrastructure – alternately, Bootstrapping Civilization on Another Planet

I thought of this question when I read the news about a SuperEarth that’s only 22 light years away. What would you need to take to another planet to bootstrap civilization? To build up civilization enough such that it could survive on its own without any assistance from Earth? Initially, you’d probably send some autonomous robots and satellites to the planet to scan for information to make sure it’s hospitable to humans. From there, you’d want to build up infrastructure.

Infrastructure is the parts of civilization that give you the ability to grow food, get clean water, and have a peaceful and prosperous society. It starts with an energy source, but you’ll bring that with you (probably nuclear or fusion-based). You might want to build a primitive navigation system (something like GPS) and a geographic database so you could have maps to know where resources are. You’d also want some sort of weather satellite to know when you’re going to get hit with hurricanes/typhoons, tornados, etc. The atmospheric data would be useful for growing crops. The first few generations would be rough – there wouldn’t be much in the way of creature comforts like sports and entertainment, unless you want to watch the World Series from 22 years ago.

Eventually you have to be able to stop using what you brought with you and transition to using what is on the planet. In other words, you have to get to sustainability. Eventually, the nuclear fuel you use will run out, the satellites orbiting the planet will run out of propellant and no longer be able to control their orbit. The good news is that we have knowledge! This new civilization wont need to go through stages like the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. We know how to smelt aluminum, what Portland Cement is made of and how to make large batches of it, and we know what it takes to get things into orbit.

But we still need the manpower to make all this stuff and to collect the raw materials. Its the other end of the economies of scale – building out a small civilization with only several thousand people means you have to pick and choose what you do – you don’t have an entire planet’s population to draw on for a diverse set of resources. Picking the right things to specialize in might make the difference between survival or colony collapse. This means government intervention – the people in charge will have a plan (likely drawn up before they left Earth) and want to stick to it to ensure success.

Lets say we’ve picked an area near a large river, and we want to provide a source of power, control the annual floods as well as create a lake to use as a reservoir for our potable water supply (and sometime down the road, recreation). So we want to build a large hydroelectric dam. We need an incredibly large amount of steel and cement, along with the turbines and power distribution system. What goes in to Portland Cement you might ask… well we need to mine a large amount of limestone and gypsum for the basis of the cement, plus some other minerals. From there, we need to build a cement mill to grind the raw materials into the powder needed to create the cement mix. How do you build a cement mill? Beyond that, we need the people to make all that stuff, and build the dam! The average amount of people working on the Hoover Dam in the 1930s was 5,000 people. Even with technological advances in terms of automation, will you even have that many able-bodied men and women in the colony to complete the project?

In modern society we take so much for granted in terms of infrastructure. But when none of that exists, not even foundries to create steel for building other factories with, you start to have to get creative on how to rebuild that infrastructure or what can you take with you from Earth to the new colony.

Do we take raw materials? Can we mine minerals from asteroids on the way there? How does the new civilization launch replacement satellites, or get back into space if a few generations down the road they figure out that the planet just isn’t hospitable, or to study and explore nearby planets and moons? They know how rockets work, but do they have the incredible industrial machinery necessary to build one? Do they have the manpower necessary to operate the supply chain from raw materials to finished rocket and replacement satellite?

With all this work to do, the last question is how do you keep the colony going and growing? How do they find time to do all of these things with such few people, and still manage to raise sufficiently large families (5-6 kids each for many generations) necessary to populate the planet and ensure a viable future? How do they educate them? Who runs the schools and universities? What about technological advancements and research and development?

This is the “soft infrastructure” side of development – the government, the institutions necessary to operate in a civilized society? Does it operate as a military-style dictatorship for the first 50 years, then evolve into a democracy? If you choose democracy out of the gate, how do you keep it from making bad decisions based on self-interest that could imperil the entire colony?

In short, infrastructure (hard and soft) is incredibly important. And it turns out that colonizing another planet might be equal parts developing the technology to make the journey, building the colony when you finally arrive, and successfully governing the colony’s early years.

iPhone 5S is a great upgrade from the 4S, but…

As a nerd who follows Apple, I have to maintain a delicate zen-balancing of wanting the latest and greatest, with the best specs and fastest everything, with the understanding Apple isn’t about the specs.

But the iPhone 5S is mostly a miss for this iPhone 5 owner. Its a great upgrade over a 4S model – users who upgrade from the 4S will see amazing speed improvements in the CPU, GPU, cellular connectivity (LTE), and WiFi reception (using the 5GHz band instead of the ultra-congested 2.4GHz band).

But for the iPhone 5S, the areas in which Apple showed the biggest improvement (CPU, GPU) were already fast enough me, and iOS was always responsive even with the iOS 7 betas. I remember many times on my 4S while I was waiting for something to download and process, but I don’t have that on the iPhone 5 – between the A6 CPU and LTE, I’m quite content.

The areas that I did want to see improvement – LTE-Advanced radios, 802.11ac WiFi, and battery life went missing or didn’t get improved that much (battery life got a tiny boost, but not as much as I was hoping for if they had used IGZO screens).

I’m almost tempted to hold out and wait another year for the iPhone 6, particularly because I pay the premium to buy the 64GB model. I cant hold out because I already promised my phone to a family member when I bought it and used their upgrade, but I think that if I could, I would hold out for the 6.

Its a change in the way the cell phone market exists – phones only need to be compelling in two respects 1) against current competitors and 2) upgrade-worthy over the two year ago model once you’re locked into an ecosystem. All other concerns for Apple reside in the “ease of use” and “margins and profit” categories.

Net metering for solar power isn’t sustainable, so it will end

Recently, utilities in two states have started the process of ending the net metering incentives for solar power installed on homes. With the advent of solar power financing companies like SolarCity that will finance the cost of the solar power system and take the payments from the savings on your power bill, the number of solar power installations on homes is proliferating. But when you play out the scenario of most single-family homes having solar power on the roof, and net metering providing them with a bill of around $10-20 each month, you discover that net metering isn’t sustainable for the balance sheets of utilities – so here we are at the end of net metering.

The underlying economics is why net metering isn’t sustainable for the grid or the utility that runs it. The 11c per kWh (national average) you pay is really three component parts – the electricity generation (including the power plant and the feedstock used as fuel), the transmission and distribution infrastructure costs (power lines from the plant to your city, high-voltage distribution throughout your city, lower voltage distribution to your neighborhood, and finally 240V distribution from you local transformer to your house), and overhead and profit (the costs of running the company).

The costs of each are about 5-7c for generation and fuel, 3c for transmission and distribution and the remainder for the overhead/profit. Beyond these cost estimates, the price of electricity varies throughout the day (on- and off-peak pricing) as well as different times of year due to supply (from hydroelectric generation stations in the spring) and demand (air conditioners in the summer and electric heaters in the winter).

When you’re generating solar power to use within your own house, you’re eliminating the demand for the first two items in that list – generation and transmission/distribution. But you haven’t eliminated the third, while the grid just sits underutilized but still must be paid for (capital costs and maintenance). Beyond that, when you’re generating more than you can use within your own home, you’re increasing the cost of the generated fuel from 5-7c to the net-metered cost (11c), and using the local distribution network (at a fractional rate of the whole), so the cost of electricity to the power company goes from 11c to about 17c per kWh. This was acceptable to most utilities when the on-peak summer prices for energy were 15c or more per kWh. But current spot market prices hover anywhere between 5 to 8c per kWh, which means they could buy extra power cheaper on the spot market than a customer selling their excess solar back to the grid under a net metering program. Bottom line is that the utility is forcing customers without solar power to subsidize those with solar power.

I’m still bullish on solar power – but the rate structures will have to change, and likely become more complex, and more in line with how commercial and industrial customers are charged. The structure would like be both consumption and capacity based. You would be charged for power consumption at 6c/kWh, plus demand charges based on the maximum power you’ve drawn from the grid over the 12 months (e.g. 6.3kW on July 15). Using solar would cut your consumption and likely decrease your maximum power, but the free ride is over.

Beyond net metering, grid-battery integration will have to become cheaper and more feasible so that those who generate solar power can store their own over-generation and use it at later times to bring down their costs.

Apple iPhone 5S/5C Predictions

So we’re a little less than a month away from the September 10th unveiling of the new iPhones.

iPhone 5S:

  • A7 processor – still 32nm Samsung fabbed. An incremental upgrade over the A6 processor. Likely just improving the SWIFT core, accomplishing all the things they wanted to do with the first generation SWIFT (A6) but didn’t get time to. For the CPU, I expect a little IPC performance improvement, but stays dual core and increases the max clocks. For the GPU, I expect a non-trivial performance increase with a switch to the “Series6″ Rouge GPU from PowerVR, probably in the neighborhood of 50%, with a much smaller increase in the die area.
  • Third-gen Qualcomm (MSM9625) baseband and WTR1625L radio front-end. This supports LTE-Advanced (carrier aggregation) and UE Cat4 speeds (150Mbps, which you’ll start to see as Verizon and T-Mobile roll out 20MHz FDD networks).
  • IGZO screen to save energy to make up for carrier aggregation (running two radios at once).
  • Support for 802.11ac (single stream up to 80MHz channels, similar to other smart phones).
  • Same storage and price points as the current iPhone 5. Apple’s margins are shrinking enough on the iPhone as-is, so they don’t want to let users pay $200 for a 32GB phone when they could pay $300. Small chance of seeing a 128GB iPhone (again, to boost margins).

BOM: ~$180

iPhone 5C (the C is for COLORS!)

  • Either an A6 CPU downclocked (parts that couldn’t make QA for the iPhone 5) from the iPhone 5 version, or a modified A6 CPU that is missing some features.
  • Second-gen Qualcomm LTE 9615 paired with WTR1605L radio. This will enable TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE for China Mobile.
  • Rest of parts similar to the iPhone 5, except for that the case is much much cheaper to make (cost savings of around $15/phone alone).

BOM: $135

OXIS Energy to scale up production of Li-S batteries in 2014

OXIS Energy is planning on commercial production of their Lithium Sulfur batteries in 2014. The cells are expected to be around 200Wh/kg (low for Li-S but its still early) and achieve a little more than 1500 cycles to 80% capacity. They have been tested to be very safe (a nail puncture test resulted in a 1.4C rise in temperature and no expansion or pouch rupture).

These batteries are suited well for EVs and marginally for EREVs.

For EVs, the energy density is about double of what was in first generation EVs (Nissan Leaf). This means that replacing the pack with the new cells would provide almost double the range, from 75 miles to 130-150 miles. The cycle life of 1,500 cycles would provide for about 195,000-200,000 miles to 80% capacity (a nominal range of 104-120 miles). This would be a big boost for EVs.

For EREVs, the weight and size of the pack could be reduced by 1/2 over the 2010 baseline with the same electric range, or by 1/3 to achieve a 25-30% range increase. For something like the Volt, this would mean a return of the 5th seat and a boost in electric range from 38 miles to about 45 miles in a 19kWh pack using 13kWh of energy. Because cycle life is non-linear in Lithium batteries (well, it is for Li-Ion, I’m assuming that it is also that way for Li-S), by using only 70% of the battery we extend the cycle life by almost 60%, increasing the cycle life from 1500 to 2400 to 80%, which would be good for 108,000 electric miles – just barely exceeding the 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty supplied by auto manufacturers on EREVs and EVs (notwithstanding any gas-powered miles that also count under the warranty). This just-clearing-the-hurdle approach however doesn’t leave a lot of margin for environmental factors (heat, cold) and time-based degradation of the cells. Cycle life would need to be extended more (from 1500 to 2000 cycles), or cell energy density would need to be improved (more miles per battery cycle) to remedy this.

Ultimately, the biggest issue facing OXIS Energy isn’t the performance of the cell in 2014, rather what is promised by other companies for 2015 and 2016 – 300 and 400Wh/kg energy densities that will revolutionize EVs. If they can keep their Li-S chemistry competitive (and outrun Li-Ion in the mid- and long-term race), or if their competitors fail to deliver on their promises, they will be successful.

Grid Storage set for prime time?

Its been a long while since I published anything renewable energy related – I had become burnt out by extravagant promises and the green bubble bursting in 2010. But things are starting to look up – solar leasing is a huge success, more and more projects are being built using renewable energy, and even thrifty casinos are getting in on the game.

So what happens when we start to scale up to even more renewable energy generation? The intermittent nature of renewables both in the immediate (sun goes behind a cloud) and daily dispatch (sun goes down at night) requires that there be some sort of grid stabilization and storage capacity.

A slide deck from EOS Energy Storage shows off their energy storage product – a 6MWh, 1MW capacity grid-scale battery storage system. The most impressive piece here isn’t the technology or scale, its the price they’re promising. Now I don’t know if that’s their off-the-line price when they start to ship in volume down the road, or the price they are debuting in 2014 when they start to ship their product for its first field deployment, but its a very compelling price for grid storage.

However I’m not entirely ready to jump on board yet, especially with the 2014 release date since they released a slide deck about a year earlier, where they said that they would ship product in 2013 (and they haven’t). They have acquired a customer since then, which is a promising sign.

Analysis

Their quote price of $160/kWh and $1000/kW and promise of 10,000 cycles and 75% round-trip efficiency translates to a cost of 2.1 cents per kWh – which is more than the typical spread between off- and on-peak wholesale (spot market) prices along the west coast, which is around 1 to 1.5 cents per kWh. However, a net cost increase of half a cent per kWh to be able to include more renewable energy into the grid is a rather small price to pay. As solar and wind prices continue to decline, renewable energy will become more of a player, and storage and buffering of that power source will be needed. It wont take much storage – maybe 3-5% of total plant capacity (250MW solar would need 7.5MW of generation from battery storage) to smooth out bumps in the grid, and around 20% (50MW) to be able to store power for after-hours usage.

Where and How to install public EV charging stations

I’ve been bitten by some poorly placed EV charging stations, so I thought I would write this up…

1. Are the charging stations located somewhere where they will be used?

In other words, are people going to keep their car there for sufficient periods of time to have a meaningful charge. The amount of time someone will spend with their car in the parking spot must match the amount of time to get a useful charge from the charging station. Installing an “slow-charge” 240V 3.3/6.6kW EV station at a fast-service place (e.g. McDonald’s) makes little sense – you’re better off installing a fast-charge station for a fast-service place (DC fast charging – although not many cars will support this anytime soon, and stations are relatively expensive). A 20-minute DC fast-charge can replenish up to 100 miles of range.

At places like movie theaters, shopping malls, etc. it makes more sense to install the 240V chargers – patrons will be there for 2-4 hours using the facilities. This translates to anywhere from 20-50 miles of charge, depending on how quickly the car can charge.

2. Do you plan on charging a fee for the charging stations? If so, can you set a reasonable price or is it too much of a headache? 

For most 240V charging stations, the amount of electricity doled out is about $1 per session. How do you monetize this small of a transaction profitably? Can you do it at all, or is it better to just give it away for free? Charging on a per-session level is difficult because the amount of time people charge and the amount of electricity they will draw will vary from person to person. Charging on a per kWh basis is problematic because it doesn’t scale well the longer you charge. Charging on a time-basis means that people who can only charge a 3.3kW pay twice as much for the same amount of electricity as compared to charging at 6.6kW.

An alternate system would have a both session and kWh cost – 50c per session, plus 1.5x the cost of a kWh. So in my area, that would be 50c per session plus 18c kWh. A full charge would cost me $2.48 (11kWh for the Volt) for roughly $1.20 of electricity. Its still cheaper than a gallon of gas (which is what people will compare it to) and would take me about 35 miles. This also would cause cars with smaller batteries (Plug-in Prius, Ford Energi series models) to stay away and leave the spots open for pure EVs and longer range plug-in cars.

One of the best options is the traditional all-you-can-eat style flat rate plan. This would allow unlimited charging at your EV charging stations for users. This works best at a place like a parking garage or gym membership where it can be added on to another annual charge, reducing per-transaction costs. The charge for this will vary depending on the expected usage pattern (charging every night vs. a few times a week at a gym or occasional use).

Finally, there is always the free option – the one-time cost of construction, plus a small amount of money each month (in the neighborhood of $100 per charger) considered the cost of attracting customers, a marketing expense. The free plan also might be required – if your state has stringent rules about who can offer electricity for retail sale, you might have no other option but to give it away for free.

3. Are they public or behind a valet or in a private lot?

A charging station in a public lot might be ICE’d (occupied by a non-EV). But behind a valet or in a private lot, its easier to keep them free for EVs. At places like hotels, you will want to put some charging stations behind a valet, so that they can manage the car charging (e.g. when a car is full, have the valet move it to a regular spot and then bring in the next EV to charge).

4. What is the EV sales in the area? Are they common or uncommon? What outside conditions (state rebates, climate) affect purchasing an EV? 

Installing a charging network in a region or locale where EV cars are uncommon may not be a good idea. Check the utilization of current facilities before adding more.

5. Are you planning on expanding this charging infrastructure in the future? 

If you want to have just more than one or two token charging stations, it may help to install the electrical and underground infrastructure in one go – things like circuit breakers, transformers, conduit, etc, should be sized to handle your future expansion plans when EVs become more common. You wont need to have every spot in your parking lot charger-accessible, but build out for 5-10% of all parking spots having a charger, at 6.6kW for each car.

You may want to consider designs that allow for four cars to share two charging posts, this will reduce infrastructure costs and allow more flexibility for cars who want finish their charge and unplug but don’t have to move their car immediately.

6. Can you cost-share with others that share the parking lot or neighborhood? 

In the early stages of EV adoption, it may help to have multiple companies advertise that they have EV charging stations available for use. This may increase utilization initially and bring down initial costs.

Chevy Volt Year One: 384 MPG

Its been one year since I bought the Volt at the end of March 2012.

Since then my monthly fuel economy numbers have been up and down. The ups in the Spring and Fall, when I don’t need climate control and get around 40 miles per charge, average in the Summer when I’m using the air conditioning and get 36 miles per charge, and the winter when I’m using cabin and seat heating extensively and get about 32 miles per charge (although its been as low as 27 miles on the coldest Vegas mornings).

Chart from MyVolt.com

Electric & Gas miles

In my first year, I’ve driven 11,853 miles. (32.4 miles per day) on only 31 gallons of gasoline; which comes out to 384 MPG. I’ve used about 3,185 kWh of energy for the 10,984 electric miles. 

From the VoltDC App

From the VoltDC iPhone App

Of that, 10,984 miles were electric, and 869 miles were gasoline driven. Of the gasoline miles, I got 28MPG, which seems low (the car is rated around 37MPG combined in gas-only mode) but several times I had the engine go on for automatic maintenance or it turned on when it was being worked on at the dealership (I had to take it in once for a error message, they reset the computer and I was on my way).

Compared to my last car that got 22 MPG, I saved 507 gallons of gas, at $3.63 (US avg 2012 gas price) that is $1840 for the first year. I estimate I spent about $225 on electricity (average cost of 7c/kWh, as it was a mix of flat rate 12c/kWh and time-of-use 5c/kWh) , for a net fuel savings of $1615.

I’m convinced that EREVs like the Volt are the way of the future. The question is how quickly will the cost of batteries come down so that GM can reduce the selling price of the car and ramp volume. Beyond that, it will need to extend the Voltec powertrain into other segments like crossovers, SUVs and trucks.

Whats (Still) Broken in SimCity 5

So after playing the new SimCity for about 20 hours this week (Spring Break, wooo!). I wrote down a list of all the things I found that are still broken in the current version (V 1.8 as of this writing) of SC.

1. Using “Agents” for utilities like water, power and sewer is an incredibly stupid idea. Just use connectivity and capacity checks. This causes all kinds of odd problems – when power is being restored to a city, those “agents” can cause it to take multiple game hours to get an entire city re-powered.

2. Water pumping stations deplete groundwater and such a ridiculous rate, its almost a farce to have them. I got maybe a year or two out of my first ground water pumping station – I placed it in a dark blue area near a river to start, and I only expanded it to three tanks. Even when you shut the station, the groundwater aquifer doesn’t seem to replenish itself, it just stays dry.

3. Sometimes, when resuming my city, the entire power grid would be empty, and the city would have to “refill” the grid with agents. This was a problem if I was close or at my capacity, as people would start to have outages as the grid refilled with agents.

4. Intercity trading & gifting can be weird – I gifted another one of my cities a bunch of money, and it took a long time for it to show up in the new city. Likewise, trading water and power can be dangerous because the city you’re drawing from might suddenly not have the capacity you need for some strange reason.

5. Unreliable coal deliveries via truck can hurt your city tremendously. If you have only one way into your city via highway on-ramps, if they are jammed, the coal delivery wont show up. There is a way to import by rail using a trade port, but its not intuitive or available early.

6. When a hazmat fire occurs, sometimes your own Hazmat fire trucks refuse to respond. I don’t know why not, it seems that if there aren’t any Hazmat fire trucks at the closest fire station they wont respond at all, even if they’re the only Hazmat trucks in the entire city.

7. Overly simplistic rules about how to import/export goods. Right now its just “local-only”, “import” and “export”. It needs to allow for “local use but export surplus” – for example, if I need 36 tons of alloy for my processor factory each day, and I’m producing 48 tons, then I should export 12 tons a day.

8. No way to turn off disasters without turning on cheats (sand box mode). I’d rather have disasters turned off and cheats turned off. That seems to make the most sense to me.

9. Routing intelligence for some types of vehicles is atrocious. I mean really really bad. Most notably, busses (both city and school), as well as garbage and recycling trucks. RIght now I have a city full of recycling bins waiting to be collected and 16 recycling pick-up trucks driving around the city between 25 and 50% full, and yet they don’t bother to pick up any more recyclables. It is infuriating when I see a truck that is empty or mostly empty drive by a bunch of places that it could do pick-ups at, and then the citizens turn around and complain about too much garbage. Same goes with city busses that aren’t full yet drive by other bus stops.

10. Recycling is picked up during the day, but if you max out your recycling plant, you might find out that overnight you run out of raw materials. I think they need to tweak the maximum storage capacity of the facility.

11. Random errors when it comes to water and sewage when you’re sharing that resource, specifically sewage. I get errors a lot about backed up sewer pipes even though my sewage treatment plant has more than enough capacity.

12. Game balance – once I built a processor plant, as long as I kept it supplied with resources, I was making half a million dollars a month easy, if not more. Money was no longer an issue at that point. I could lower taxes dramatically and have really happy citizens.

That’s it for now. Hopefully all of these issues get remedied over the next few months. Maxis made a bunch of quick patches initially to the game over the first two weeks of release, but hasn’t released any patches since then.

Edit: April 2, 2013 – More things!

13. The counts for garbage and recycling pick-up don’t seem reliable. I had my garbage trucks completely clear the city of garbage per the data overlay, and yet the game said I only had picked up about half of the trash cans from a numbers point of view.