Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Curiosity Mars rover finds soil similar to Hawaii's

Nasa's Curiosity rover has found soil on Mars to be similar to Hawaii's after sifting and scanning its first sample on the Red Planet.

The robot's CheMin instrument shook out fine particles of soil and fired X-rays at them to determine their composition.

These sandy samples should give clues about Mars' recent geological history.

As had been theorised, much of the sample is made of weathered "basaltic" materials of volcanic origin, like that seen on the islands of Hawaii.

The sample seems to contain dust carried from afar by Mars' global-scale storms, as well as coarser sand of more local provenance.

Electrical Shock Underwear Help Prevent Bedsores

Its not april the 1st, this is not a joke!!!

Scientists have designed electric underpants that shock the bottom to help prevent bedsores for people who are immobilized.

When a patient is stuck in the same position for too long, the skin compresses and blood circulation shuts down, leading to the formation of open wounds. Bedsores range from mild stage 1 lesions to life threatening, stage 4 ulcers that break the skin and eat through the muscle all the way down to the bone.

University of Calgary doctors tested underwear by placing two pads of electrodes on each cheek of 37 patients with spinal cord injury, then zapping them with a low current of stimulus for ten seconds every 10 minutes for 12 hours a day. The findings, presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference in New Orleans this month, showed that none of the patients treated developed a sore during the month-long trial.

Dubbed Smart e-Pants, the undies work by delivering an intermittent shock to the patient's nether regions. The mild jolts of electricity mimic fidgeting movements and shift a patient into a slightly different position.

"This helps relieve pressure on the skin, increase blood flow and prevent the sores from forming," said Dr. Sean Dukelow, a physiatrist in the department of clinical neurosciences at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, and the paper's lead presenter at the conference.

no commet was made as to what happens if you have an 'accident'

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Keep warm and safe this winter

today we are highlighting the dangers of faulty electric blankets.

time to focus on electric blanket safety

look out for local workshops sponsored by the Electrical Safety Council’s (ESC) / fire safety fund

accidents and fires in the home can be caused by, old, faulty or badly maintained blankets.

safety days to raise awareness of the dangers of electricity and faulty electrical appliances, particularly electric blankets are worth a visit.

We urge people to come along to the safety events and have their electric blankets checked before the cold weather sets in.

It is imperative that an electric blanket is safe

Monday, 29 October 2012

Nintendo's Wii U games console will be sold at a loss

Nintendo has confirmed that it will lose money on every sale of its Wii U console at launch.
The Japanese firm's president revealed the news after the firm cut its profit forecast.

"We had to book a loss on the hardware, which is currently in production and will be sold below cost," said Satoru Iwata.

The firm might ultimately make money through add-on sales and by cutting its manufacturing costs at a later stage. Sell now, profit later

It marks a change in the company's business strategy.

Ahead of the launch of the original Wii console in 2006 Nintendo's US boss, Reggie Fils-Aime, told Reuters: "We will make a profit on the entire Wii proposition out of the box - hardware and software... That really is a very different philosophy versus our competitors."

The decision to abandon the prospect of immediate profits in order to maximise later earnings is part of a growing trend in the tech world.

Researchers at IHS iSuppli estimated that Sony lost $300 (£186) on every 20GB model of its original PlayStation 3 console in 2007. Although the company never confirmed the figure, it did acknowledge that it was not until 2010 that the machine became profitable.

Microsoft pursued a similar strategy with its Xbox 360.

More recently Amazon's chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed to the BBC that it sold its new Kindle tablets and e-readers at break-even prices.

IHS iSuppli has also suggested that Google is selling the 8GB Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet for the same price it costs to manufacture, ship and advertise the machine.
Troubled by tablets

Nintendo might have altered course to take advantage of the fact that neither Microsoft nor Sony have announced their next-generation consoles yet.

Its pursuit of the more casual gamer means it has also had to take account of the keenly priced tablet market which attracts a similar consumer.

In addition to taking a cut of software sales, the firm might also benefit from users' desire to buy add-on hardware.

The cheapest model of the Wii U will be sold for about £250 in the UK when it launches at the end of the month, but only includes one of its new touchscreen GamePad controllers.

If users want a second GamePad they face paying more. A standalone controller costs more than £100 in Japan, but is not available for pre-order elsewhere yet.

"Nintendo's move is an acknowledgement of a wider reality that smartphones, tablets, connected televisions and other non-dedicated devices now offer excellent game playing experiences," Ed Barton, director of digital media at Strategy Analytics, told the BBC.

"There simply wasn't the level of competition in terms of hardware last time round, and on the new devices you can now buy games at a fraction of what a top-end Wii U console game will cost."
One silver lining in Nintendo's earnings update was news that its handheld Nintendo 3DS console had become profitable.

However, investors remain concerned that the firm posted its first ever annual loss in April and has predicted it would only make a net profit of 6 billion yen ($75m; £47m) in its current business year.

energy efficiency

British Gas is to join with housing charity Shelter to carry out a "census" of private rented homes to find out where the energy supplier can help improve their condition.

The census follows a government English Housing Survey that revealed 1.4 million homes in the private sector would be rated as 'unfit' under the government's decent homes standards.

The government survey found more than 600,000 privately rented homes had inadequate thermal comfort; 856,000 had inadequate health and safety - such as poor electrical safety - and 322,000 were in a state of disrepair, suffering from poor glazing or broken heating systems.

British Gas said it hoped the new census, which should report in early 2013, would reveal which areas had the worst problems and which were issues like poor insulation or central heating that would be within the energy company's area of expertise.
The two organisations said the survey is the start of a five-year partnership to improve rented accommodation that would include helping landlords to meet statutory minimum standards, and making policy recommendations.


Government orders building standards review

Regulations including fire safety and wheelchair access could be torn up in an attempt to cut costs fRegulations covering building standards, including fire safety and wheelchair access, could be torn up in a government plan to cut costs for the construction industry and boost the economy.

Ministers have ordered a wide-ranging review covering all aspects of building regulations, also including standards on energy efficiency. The review, which controversially includes the option of giving the building industry more scope for self-regulation, is the latest in a series of government initiatives intended to stimulate activity in the economy and drive job creation through investment in homebuilding.

Its aim is to prune regulations "significantly". September, the government announced a year-long free-for-all in house extensions, allowing homeowners to build up to eight metres into their gardens without planning permission.

Despite encouraging figures this week showing that the UK economy came out of recession at the end of the summer, the construction sector is still in the doldrums, contracting by 2.5% in the third quarter of the year. The coalition knows it needs much stronger recovery to win voters' support and housebuilding is seen as a key area for creating relatively quick investment and jobs.
or the construction industry

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Beers

I dont normally post things I find on facebook and I dont know the origin... but

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers .

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else–the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18.. Shoot phots to look back on to rememebr it all...

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the washing line. Take care of the golf ball first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.’

have a lovley weekend. treat yourself to a beer.

How cool is this... Laser tastic

Friday, 26 October 2012

Software Could Double Charging Speed

New battery charge estimation algorithms developed by engineers at the University of California (UC), San Diego, are on the verge of vastly improve the capabilities of current lithium-ion batteries.

The changes center around improving charging times, potentially allowing for batteries that charge twice as fast as those currently available.

Researchers believe that current lithium-ion batteries are over-designed and over-sized.

Existing technology uses fairly crude ways to measure the behavior and health of a battery pack, based solely on voltage and current. Batteries have to be over-engineered to provide a margin of error during charging or discharging, to prevent the packs from prematurely failing or losing capacity.

The new algorithms make the process of monitoring battery packs much more sophisticated, not only allowing the over-engineering to be reduced, but improving the efficiency of charging too.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

we love the design of this, but...

the 35w 35mm mini GU10's are a real challenge to get in and out of the light fitting. a lamp failed in the 1st week and on a courtesy call to help the customer (Park St, Ampthill) we couldnt get the lamp out without tools... not very convenient

what do you think?

the regs - airing cupboards in a bathroom

Is the space within an airing cupboard in a bathroom or shower room that would otherwise be in a particular zone were it not for the cupboard door, considered to be within that zone?

No, unless the cupboard door does not effectively limit the extent of the location. However, where an airing cupboard opens into zone 1 or zone 2, we recommend that circuits supplying equipment in the airing cupboard are be provided with additional protection in accordance with Regulation 415.1.1.

Regulation number(s)

any questions -

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Graphene Foam For Faster Recharging?

Graphene is described as a "wonder material" within the scientific community, winning the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

It's incredibly light, incredibly strong and very simple. Made up from sheets of carbon only a single atom thick, it's the material's potential use in batteries that has us excited.

Graphene foam, says arstechnica, is the latest technology to be suggested for battery technology.

To create it, graphene is "grown" on the surface of a metal foam, a three-dimensional mesh of metal filaments. When the metal is processed away, you're left with graphene foam. The resulting material is both flexible--just like regular graphene--light, and strong.

It also has great electrical conductivity characteristics, as well as a large surface area for charge carriers to exhange electrons--both desirable features for a battery electrode.

watch this space...

iPad mini price may prove a barrier...

Apple made its play to dominate the fast-growing tablet market on Tuesday by unveiling an "iPad mini" - a new tablet half the size of its existing iPad - to compete with Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire.

But the price may prove a barrier for potential buyers considering it against its rivals: the iPad mini will start at $329 (£269 in the UK), against $159 for the cheapest Kindle Fire and $249 for the Nexus 7.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Apple set to launch smaller iPad

Apple is widely expected to launch a smaller version of the iPad later on Tuesday, into what is becoming an increasingly crowded tablet market.

The launch will be watched by fans keen for a cheaper device while detractors will see it as another test for chief executive Tim Cook.

Demand for smaller tablets have been proved by the success of Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus 7.
The event in San Jose, US, kicks off at 10:00 local time (17:00 GMT).
Price point

Most analysts agree that the price of the pocket-sized iPad will be key to its success.
Currently Apple's 9.7in iPad 3 has a starting price of $499 (£399 in the UK) while its iPad 2 can be bought for $399 (£329).

To date, Apple has sold more than 84 million iPads, with the device accounting for 26% of Apple's third quarter revenue.

The new mini iPad is expected to shave a couple of inches from its larger cousin with analysts predicting a "sweet spot" price of about £200.

That would make it an "affordable Christmas present", said Maciej Gornicki, an analyst at IDC.
The risk for Apple, said Ovum analyst Adam Leach, will be cannibalising its existing iPad range.

"It represents a change in the way Apple go to market and the way people perceive Apple. It is a move away from how Steve Jobs did things. It is being headed, dare I say it, more like a normal technology company," he said.
'Sea change'

Two years ago when mini tablets began to hit the market, Steve Jobs famously said that in his opinion they would not succeed because the size was insufficient to "create great tablet apps".

That Apple has changed its mind represents another important "sea change" for the company, thinks Mr Leach.

 The Kindle Fire comes in two sizes - 7in and 8.9in

"Apple is now in the role of following what the market is doing, responding to the threat of the Google Nexus and the Kindle Fire," he said.

While internally Apple may be regretting losing its image as a market leader, it could be good news for consumers, thinks Paddy Smith, editor of

"Having buckled under public pressure to increase the size of the iPhone's screen, Apple can now be seen once again creating a product based on listening to its customers, rather than thinking it always knows best.

"We think a smaller iPad - with a lower price tag - is a sure-fire Christmas hit. And Apple knows it, too," he said.

Boosted by its new iPad, Apple will continue to dominate the tablet market, predicts IDC. It said that Apple will hold a 68% share of the market in 2012, compared to 29% for Android tablets.
Both will fall off slightly next year with the launch of Windows 8 tablets, IDC said.

Try Before They Buy in MK - electric cars

For anyone on the fence about how practical an electric car actually is, a chance to try it before you buy it might be just the right kind of push. A new car club in the UK’s Milton Keynes is providing exactly that service — and it’s not just a car club, it’s an electric car club.

The new electric car club, called the E-Car Club, just launched with five all-electric Nissan Leafs. Businesses can book one of the cars for £5.50/hr, or sign up for an account (which gives them 20% off and lets them block-book the cars in advance).
Company chairman Andrew Wordsworth believes that they’ll be able to significantly help the electric car industry in the UK:

good idea eh!!!

Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Installation’

THE ‘IET CODE of Practice on Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Installation’, published in January 2012, provides guidance on what earthing arrangement should be used when installing charging equipment at a domestic premise with a Protective Multiple Earth (PME) supply.

For connecting points installed such that the vehicle can only be charged within the building, the PME earth may be used. However, the development committee responsible for the Code of Practice agreed that for outdoor connecting points the situation was different. There is in this case a risk of electric shock associated with the potential failure of the Protective Earth Neutral (PEN) conductor of the PME supply cable.

The development committee agreed that the charging circuit would need to be part of a TT system, subject to certain assessment criteria being met, otherwise the whole installation would need to adopt a TT system. The committee adopted this approach to outdoor connecting points because of the absence of risk data associated with the failure of PEN conductors for a PME supply.

Without data, the committee was unable to conclude that the risk of using a PME earth was low enough to consider a PME earthing arrangement suitable to supply charging equipment for outdoor
connecting points.

Subsequent to this decision, and recognising that there are limited options available to the installer, as well as other risks associated with using a TT system, IET Standards Ltd agreed to
commission a risk analysis to determine the risk associated with using PME supplies. The objective is to carry out a quantitative evaluation of the increased level of risk associated with using a PME supply for outdoor connecting points.

IET Standards Ltd has commissioned the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) to carry out this work. The programme started in July and is due to finish in September. The findings of the HSL will
be published in a report, which will be made publicly available.
Subsequent to the report being published, IET Standards Ltd will liaise with the development committee stakeholder organisations to determine the implications for the Code of Practice. *

Sunday, 21 October 2012

1st in to get the Wii U are probably getting ripped off

Retailers across Britain are selling Wii U editions of multiplatform games at a significantly higher price point than their Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts.

Analysis undertaken by CVG shows that third party games from Activision, THQ, Ubisoft and EA all show a significant mark-up on Wii U games when compared to the Xbox 360 version.

But a games analyst has said that the premium price tags are commonplace for new consoles, and has given several explanations for the price disparity.

Mainstays such as Assassin's Creed 3 and Call of Duty Black Ops 2 are, on average, around £10 more expensive on Wii U. BioWare's sci-fi opus Mass Effect 3, meanwhile, is twice the price as the Xbox 360 edition that was released earlier in the year.

Other retailers have some erratic spikes in their prices, with GAME selling the Wii U edition of Epic Mickey 2 at an £18 premium over the Xbox 360 version.

Online outlet Zavvi, meanwhile, appears to be aggressively discounting its Wii U range to - in most cases - match the price of current gen systems. so it looks like Zavvi will either do well, or stabilse the market...


Saturday, 20 October 2012

$4M Roy Lichtenstein painting of electrical cord, missing since 1970, returned to NY owner

A multimillion-dollar Roy Lichtenstein painting of an electrical cord that was sent out for a cleaning 42 years ago and disappeared was returned to its owner on Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, calling the recovery of missing or stolen art an “important mission” for the federal government, stood near the 1961 black-and-white painting, “Electric Cord,” as he described how American art dealer Leo Castelli bought it in the 1960s for $750.

RCD's on a TT system

Is an RCD main switch (such as a 100 mA time-delayed device) still required in the consumer unit of a new domestic installation forming part of a TT system?

For a domestic installation complying with the 17th Edition where all the final circuits are RCD-protected, an RCD main switch is no longer required, provided that the consumer unit is of all insulated construction.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Local people prioritised for new rural homes

A social housing provider is hoping to draw rural people back to the place of their birth as they prepare to construct nine homes in Abthorpe.

The Grand Union Housing Group won a exception to planning rules which prevent development outside the confines of villages after a survey of revealed a need for more housing in Abthorpe, Bradden, Slapton, and Wappenham. The development will consist of four flats, one bungalow and four houses, and will be available for affordable rent and shared ownership.

Alan Humphrey,s GUHG chief executive, said people connected to the area will have priority: “GUHG understands the importance of sustaining rural life and building a stronger community through investment in affordable homes. These homes will bring people back to the area and allow those with links to the village to live close to the area they love.”

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

open mind, open eyes, just open

the politics of EV comes from deep-pocket oil company cronies, narrow-minded media, others with an interest in maintaining our total reliance on an oil society, or writers stuck in the century-old legacy thinking of the petrol tank fill-once-a-week...

The electric car is not a general replacement for the long-ranging petrol car. But it is an improvement for the majority of regular commuters and local travelers.

EV drivers can travel at one-fourth the cost of energy while eliminating their contribution to pollution and moving forward toward our future of renewable energy (50 percent of EV buyers also either install solar or purchase their electricity from solar/wind providers, so that their carbon footprint is close to zero).

now all you have to work out is - how your electricity is generated? solar, fossil, nuclear???

Monday, 15 October 2012

Are electric cars really bad for the environment?

A study by engineers based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has questioned some common assumptions about the environmental credentials of electric cars.

Published this week in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, the "comparative environmental life cycle assessment of conventional and electric vehicles" begins by stating that "it is important to address concerns of problem-shifting". By this, the authors mean that by solving one problem, do electric cars create another? And, if so, does this environmental harm then outweigh any advantages?

The study highlights in particular the "toxicity" of the electric car's manufacturing process compared to conventional petrol/diesel cars. It concludes that the "global warming potential" of the process used to make electric cars is twice that of conventional cars.

The study also says - as has been noted many times before - that electric cars do not make sense if the electricity they consume is produced predominately by coal-fired power stations. "It is counterproductive to promote [electric vehicles] EVs in regions where electricity is produced from oil, coal, and lignite combustion," it concludes.

So, should this new study make us reassess the environmental credentials of electric cars? Or does the analysis and data help us, as the authors insist, improve the environmental performance of electric cars? As they say:

Although EVs are an important technological breakthrough with substantial potential environmental benefits, these cannot be harnessed everywhere and in every condition.

your thoughts please????

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Electric cars still don't meet 'society's needs' true???

presidential candidate Mitt Romney slammed President Barack Obama during last week's debate for pouring some $90 billion in to clean energy "losers," Obama supporters were quick to point out that Elon Musk's electric car company Tesla, included among those "losers," has actually proven to be a winner.

Indeed, the company's share price is up more than 50 percent since it debuted in June 2010, and, as Forbes noted, Tesla has even taken steps to repay its U.S. Energy Department loan early because of the strength of its cash reserves.

While Romney could have benefitted from a fact checker for that comment, his pessimistic outlook on green energy is not unfounded -- especially when it comes to cars.

Despite Tesla's apparent health, the nation's growing environmental consciousness and the continued ascent of gas prices, car manufacturers are hedging their bets in the electric vehicle sector, according to a recent report by environmental news site Mother Nature Network. Yes, a handful of electric models have been plagued by bad reviews, but the larger problem is the inability for them to travel much more than 70 or 80 miles between charges, about the distance from Riverhead to Manhattan on the Long Island Expressway.

“The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,” Takeshi Uchiyamada, a vice chairman at Toyota, told Mother Nature News

Friday, 12 October 2012

we dont have 4G yet!!! get ready for 5G

5G research centre gets major funding grant  Experts believe 5G will be in place by the year 2020.

The UK has only just seen the launch of 4G (fourth generation) mobile communication technology, but academics at Surrey University are already looking at its successor.

They have received £35m from mobile operators, infrastructure providers and the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund to fund research into 5G.

The money would be used to create a 5G Innovation Centre, said the university.
Prof Rahim Tafozolli said work had already begun.

"The boundaries between mobile communication and the internet are blurring, so the fifth generation is internet on the move," he told the BBC.

Prof Tafozolli, professor of mobile wireless communications and the director of Surrey University's Centre for Communications Systems Research, said: "4G for us is old hat. We started working on 4G 10 years ago.

"Being a university we have to be one step ahead of industry."

Statistics showed mobile data traffic is soaring, he added.

"It looks like every year the traffic is doubling. Unfortunately capacity is not doubling every year. We need to come up with technology, within the limited radio spectrum that we have, to accommodate this huge surge."

5G would also need to be more economical than its predecessor, he said.

"The cost of electricity of running the networks is very high," Prof Tafozolli said.

"We are facing systems which are too expensive. We need something extremely energy efficient and cost efficient."

5G would be in place by the year 2020, he added.

"What we have is good for the next 10 years. We need to be progressive, we can't be complacent, the area is extremely dynamic."

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Would you pay $540,000 for an electric car???

Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive might be the ultimate production-ready electric sports car with a price to match.

Its four electric motors propel it from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds. Its top speed is 155 miles per hour, which has to be electronically limited. The price tag might just break the bank @ $540,000.
thats a lot of dosh!!!

but it is pretty!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Drug dealers on our doorstep!

Guilty plea after £88k cannabis find

A fifty-five-year-old man has admitted producing cannabis after 231 plants with a street value estimated at up to £88,000 were discovered at a farm.

Kevin Arnold, 55, pleaded guilty to growing the class B drug at Blackmoor Farm in Maulden at Bedford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Magistrates heard that police attended the farm on February 22 and saw Arnold of Pastures Way, Luton, near to Unit 1 at the site and inquired what was inside.

When there they discovered two tents, ten grow lamps and 231 plants at different stages of growth. He was arrested and the drugs were seized.

Prosecutor Toby Earnscliffe said: “It is thought that the cannabis could fetch between £61,000 and £88,000.”

Arnold will be sentenced at Luton Crown Court later this month

Nissan well short of sales target for Leaf electric cars

Nissan Motor Co is falling well short of its goal of doubling sales of its Leaf electric car this fiscal year as sales in the United States are particularly weak despite high gas prices.

While Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn set a target of doubling global Leaf sales in the current fiscal year that runs through March 2013, the pace will need to increase dramatically as they are up only 9 percent in the first five months through August.

Leaf sales in the United States are down 56 percent from April through August, and down 31.5 percent this calendar year.

Nissan North America spokesman David Reuter said U.S. sales should improve once it ships more to the markets where it sells best. Leaf debuted in December 2010 in Japan and in seven metropolitan areas in the United States.

Leaf is not the only EV to struggle in the U.S. market. General Motors Co's Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid car has come up short of expectations, forcing the U.S. automaker to idle the plant that makes the car. In addition, Fisker Automotive's Karma plug-in has experienced numerous problems and was just panned by Consumer Reports for being "plagued with flaws."

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Berlin 'abandons one million electric cars goal'

Berlin 'abandons one million electric cars goal'

"The hype is over," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung wrote, citing information from the Ministry of Education and Research. The high expectations for electric cars, which have no carbon dioxide emissions, has been replaced by huge disappointment, the paper wrote.

Environment Minister Peter Altmaier admitted that there are problems with electric cars and Economy Minister Philipp Rösler has refused to encourage electric car sales with economic incentives.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with auto industry leaders on Monday for a summit on electric mobility. The government has become less enthusiastic about electric cars, unnamed government sources said.

The automobile industry has said that without additional government subsidies they can only sell 600,000 electric cars by 2020 at best.

The government has countered those demands by abandoning its one million electric cars on the road by 2020 goal, the paper wrote, adding that the semi-official government line is now effectively "What’s so bad when electric mobility isn’t achieved so quickly?"

Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan said a lot more time is needed – especially to produce improvements in the electric batteries.

Monday, 8 October 2012

electric cars break out of the cities

Motorway charge points could take electric cars onto the open road

It could finally see electric cars break out of the cities and onto the open road.

A network of rapid charging points that can recharge an electric car in around 15 minutes are to be installed in motorway service stations around the country.

Conventional charging points usually take several hours to provide enough power for modern electric cars.
With a range of around 100 miles, this has left the vehicles largely used for short journeys in towns and cities, limiting their uptake by consumers.

Manufacturers now hope that with a network of charging points in motorway service stations, it will allow owners to make longer journeys and help electric cars become more mainstream on Britain’s roads.

“The super-chargers we are installing can recharge a car in the time it takes to have a cup of tea in a service station,” said Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, the company installing the new charge points.

They plan to install charging stations at every motorway service station in the country to allow electric car owners to “fill up” their vehicles just as they would a petrol car while on long journeys.

A recent report by MPs on the Transport Committee at the Houses of Parliament, however, warned that provision of charging points may not stimulate demand for plug in vehicles.

thats all very well, but how many motorways have as many service stations as the M1, you can get on some motorways and not see a service station for 30, 40, or 50 miles. its not like you can pull off and go and find a rural charging station...

there is going to have to be a whole network of these super chargers...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Haggling may be worth the effort

Haggle, Haggle and haggle more...

Electrical giant Comet has topped a survey of the top high street stores to haggle in, with haggling success rates of over 50% found for many leading retailers.

Consumer help website MoneySavingExpert compiled a list of the top 10 major retailers where people are most likely to have successfully haggled, after asking around 2,500 people about their experiences in negotiating a more favourable deal.

Only stores where at least 100 people tried to get some sort of discount are included in the overall findings.
Website founder Martin Lewis said that the high success rate among the top 10 stores reflects the fact that the survey is focused on people who actively tried to haggle and are therefore likely to be quite good at doing it.

Highlighting the large proportion of DIY stores on the list such as B&Q, Homebase and Wickes, he said: "The closer it feels to a trade environment, the more likely it is that people will haggle."

The presence of supermarkets Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's among the top 10 reflects large supermarket sales of big ticket items such as electrical goods and furniture, Mr Lewis said.

"Usually, big ticket items are the easiest things to haggle on - furniture, electricals, cars and digital equipment. People need to adopt a don't ask, don't get attitude. There are real rewards for charm and chutzpah on UK high streets. There's nothing wrong with asking for a discount."

My car runs on cheese!!!

A team of researchers at Utah State University has created a biodiesel fuel out of the watery waste of mass-produced cheese.

There are two reasons this fuel, which can be substituted for regular diesel, is cool. First, it creates a use for the millions of gallons of liquid cheese waste produced by the industrial cheese industry each day.
It also produces a sweet exhaust that smells like fresh-baked bread.

"The smell is fun, especially when the engine is warm," said Mike Morgan, a Utah State biochemistry undergrad who recently drove a dragster that runs on the fuel.

To make the fuel -- called yeast biofuel -- the scientists start by putting microbes (yeast) into the watery yellow liquid left over when industrial cheese makers make cheese.

The liquid is mostly sugar lactose, since the cheesemakers already pulled the fats and proteins out to make the cheese.

The microbes convert the sugar into oil in a process similar to how humans convert the sugar from candy bars into fat.

However, the microbes are more efficient at turning sugars into fats than we are, said Lance Seefeldt, a Utah State biochemistry professor who led the project.

The scientists then pull the lipids (fats) out of the pasty microbe concotion and turn that into biofuel.

how fun is that!!!!!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

love this picture

LoveFilm vs Netflix, what best for me???

We are currently with Love Flim, we get 2 disks @ a time and I never get time to watch them. I watch them after they have been staring uip at me from the table after a couple of weeks, so I am not really getting valufe for money...

I am thinking about getting a streaming service only. have you got it??? and whats it like???

I have been told that if I want recent releases, they are a bit thin on the ground

anyone heard of HMV online movie service? or dont you want to risk it as the could go pop any moment

There's no doubt that streaming video is cheaper? but is it just like buying a budget car? you just gert less??

Is HD (Netflix) quality essential???

Am I just going to end up with a half-stocked supermarket DVD sections

I think my main worry is all / or most of their stuff will be in the post-DVD window

is Netflix or LoveFilm just a supliment (i.e. - an additional cost, not a saving)

Netflix looks the simpler, more user-friendly service..

The technology's here, but the content hasn't quite caught up with it yet.

what are your experiences???

Friday, 5 October 2012

Scientist Driven To Find 'Spark Of Life'

One night in 1984, British scientist Frances Ashcroft was studying electricity in the body and discovered the protein that causes neonatal diabetes. She says she felt so "over the moon" that she couldn't sleep.
By the next morning, she says, she thought it was a mistake.

But luckily, that feeling was wrong, and Ashcroft's revelation led to a medical breakthrough decades later, which now enables people born with diabetes to take pills instead of injecting insulin.4

"I don't think people realize the excitement of being a true discoverer," Ashcroft tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "There are no new places to discover on this Earth, but there are many, many new ideas to discover — new things to find out about the way the world works."

Ashcroft says she grew up wanting to be a farmer's wife but later became fascinated with studying electrical impulses in the body. Her new book The Spark of Life details how electricity drives everything we think, feel or do through ion channels that are found in the membranes of each of our cells.

"Your ability to hear me now is because there are cells in your ears that are converting sound waves into an electrical signal, which is what the brain can interpret as sound," Ashcroft says.

Ashcroft is a professor at Oxford University and the winner of the L'oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. She is now working on trying to see a particular protein at atomic resolution and on understanding why people become overweight.

On the difference between electricity in wires and electricity in bodies
"Bioelectricity is similar but not identical to the stuff that's in sockets. Both are electrical currents, and, in both cases, the electrical current is nothing more than a flow of charged particles. But the stuff in our houses is carried by electrons whereas the stuff in our bodies is carried by ions — salt such as sodium chloride, common salt, in other words, the stuff you put on your meat. The second thing is that the speed is very different. So electricity in wires is carried at the speed of light, which is around 186,000 miles a second, whereas that in our bodies is very, very much slower."

On how electricity drives the way our bodies and bats sense heat
"Whenever you feel something that's burning hot — this is detected by this particular ion channel. It's sensitive to heat. And it fires off a signal that goes up your nerve cells. And it's exactly the same ion channels that are stimulated by chili peppers. So the reason that chili peppers taste so hot is that they stimulate the same ion channel, and the brain interprets them both as the same thing. And interestingly, they have been modified in vampire bats to detect the body heat of their prey. So that's how they can pick up the fact that your big toe is sticking out of a mosquito net, so they can come and suck your blood."


L'oreal - because you are worth it...

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mercedes announces electric SLS

And it’s faster than the 6.2-litre V8 version…

"The world's most powerful series production electric car." That's how Mercedes-Benz is describing its fancy new SLS Electric Drive. Blimey. So how on earth has it managed that? Cleverness. And being a bit German...

Underneath the familial bodywork, the ‘leccy SLS has a special driveline of four synchronous electric motors driving each individual wheel, giving it permanent four-wheel drive. The four motors, which weigh 45kg apiece, whisk up a total of 740bhp and 738lb ft of torque. That's 177bhp and 259lb ft (TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE!) more than the 6.2-litre fossil burner.

To put the power down MB's given the ED two separate gearboxes that power each axle directly. Alongside it, there's a fancy AMG Torque Dynamics system that selects which wheels need the most drive depending on traction. Along with the monstrous motors, this means it'll squirm from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds (0.1 seconds slower than the V8).

Funding the motors is a liquid-cooled 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack (MB's British arm, High Performance Engines helped develop it with AMG, as it goes). It weighs 548kg and it's stuffed in the transmission tunnel down the centre of the cabin, and behind the seats where you'd ordinarily find the fuel tank

You'll have to wait 20 hours per charge, mind. That said, there is an optional wall box, which provides a 22kW quick charge function, filling the stores in three hours. The battery also gets a top-up when you're braking and coasting, and in the SLS you can choose how much is recuperated.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Smart unveils car that comes with its own cinema projector

  • Concept model has projector built into bonnet

  • Owners can control playback from an iPhone

  • Temperature can also be remotely controlled via an app, and phone doubles as a rear view mirror

  • Ever been driving around town and been hit with an overwhelming urge to watch a film - good news.

    Car firm Smart has unveiled a concept electric car with a built in film projector.
    The Smart Forstars, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, has a projector in the bonnet, allowing any wall to be turned instantly into a cinema screen.

    The firm describes the move as a 'witty idea'.

    'This enables the work of film stars to be spontaneously shared with friends at any time,' it enthuses in a press release.

    Smart boss Dr Annette Winkler said: 'The smart is Europe's most inexpensive series-produced electric car.

    'Not only is it emission-free and fast, it is also possible to conveniently set the perfect interior temperature in advance with a smartphone, and it is simple to charge at a domestic socket.

    drive in movie anyone????

    Tuesday, 2 October 2012

    Debut Electric Cars at Paris Show

    At the Paris Auto show, auto giant Renault extended its already strong commitment to electric vehicles yesterday by launching sales of a small electric car with a price and range that could offer mass appeal. Major German automakers Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler joined Renault's commitment to electric cars at the show by launching or announcing some of their first battery-only EVs. The show opens to the public today and runs for two weeks.

    The Renault Zoe costs less than most electric vehicles at 20,700 euros ($26,650), or 13,700 Euros in France, thanks to government incentives. And it travels 210 kilometers (130 miles), according to the standard European mileage test. Simon Luque, Zoe project director for Renault, promises that this will translate into 150 kilometers of real-world driving. "That is the best in the market today," boasts Luque.

    Toyota, in contrast, recently reiterated its long-held skepticism on the viability of EVs, given the cost and limits of battery technology (see "Will Electric Vehicles Finally Succeed?"). The Japanese automaker, the world leader in hybrid vehicles, launched the eQ, a much-anticipated battery version of its iQ minicar yesterday, but said it would produce just 100 of these 85-kilometer range  vehicles.

     Luque says Renault decided that the capacity of the Zoe's battery would be 22 kilowatt-hours based on how much space it could make for it in a small car. He adds that three advances in efficiency enabled his team to extend real-world range by 20 to 30 kilometers.

    First, Zoe carries the first automotive heat-pump heat and air-conditioning system, capturing heat outside and pumping it into the car rather than simply heating a resistor, as other electric vehicles do. This means that the Zoe can deliver three kilowatts of heat while drawing just one kilowatt from the battery.

    Soaring gas and electricity bills this winter

    Millions of families face soaring gas and electricity bills this winter as energy giants prepare to boost profits

    Households across the UK could see their gas and electricity bills soar this winter as energy companies prepare to boost profits from households, it has been reported.

    Firms are set to increase profits from households from £45 to £65 - a jump of almost 50 per cent, according to the Daily Telegraph.

    Britain's second largest energy company SSE has already confirmed that the price of a typical dual fuel bill will rise by nine per cent from mid-October, up from £1,172 to £1,274 a year.

    The increase will affect as many as five million households.

    British Gas  - one of the 'big six' energy companies - has told 10 million households that their bills could go up by as much as £100 next year.

    Earlier this month Scottish Power and First Utility also pulled their cheapest fixed rate deals.

    The removal of these tariffs has left consumers with a dwindling range of options that offer both the peace of mind of a fixed price coupled with no exit penalties.

    Experts have warned the average annual energy bill could rise by £118 to a record £1,428 next year, the Daily Telegraph reports.

    Mark Todd, a director at told the paper: 'From what we are hearing in the industry, price rises are already being worked out.

    Monday, 1 October 2012

    UK electric car land speed record broken at Elvington Airfield

    A battery-powered sports car bought as a second-hand Lotus on eBay has broken the UK electric car land speed record by topping 150mph.

    The Nemesis, a heavily modified Lotus Exige, reached a landmark 151mph over two runs of the one-mile course at Elvington Airfield near York yesterday.

    Driver Nick Ponting also managed to help the Nemesis to hit its new top speed, a whopping 153.022mph, over a quarter-mile stretch just before noon.

    The previous electric car land speed record was 137mph, set by Don Wales, the grandson of legendary racer Sir Michael Campbell, in the Bluebird Electric.

     This record was smashed by the Nemesis, which was bought by Dale Vince, the founder of Gloucestershire-based green electricity firm Ecotricity, for £10,000 on the online auction site two-and-a-half years ago.

    Mr Vince, 51, a self-confessed “hippie”, spent £750,000 on modifications to the motor, including stretching the chassis, moving the centre of gravity forward and installing a carbon fibre battery box, not to mention new bodywork.

    It was designed and built by a team of British motorsport engineers who, between them, have worked with companies such as McLaren, Williams and Lotus, and who have built Formula One and Le Mans racing cars.

    Less than 18 months after work started, the car – which can be charged in under 30 minutes for normal use and just an hour for this type of racing – eclipsed the old record.

    Mr Vince said: “I’m so pleased. It’s been a lot of hard work by our team in Norfolk. I call them the A Team.

    “What we call the ‘donor car’ was a Lotus we bought on eBay. We’ve invested about £750,000 on modifications, but it was all worth it.

    ‘‘That’s actually quite cheap for a motor car.

    “It’s the first electric supercar built in Britain. I’m very proud.

    “The reason for doing this is to kick-start the electric car revolution which we think Britain badly needs.
    ‘‘People think that electric cars are slow and boring – we wanted to smash that stereotype.

    “The idea for the car started about four or five years ago.

    “We wanted to challenge stereotypes and show that we could build an electric supercar that could smash world records.

    Time for a change?

    Although women represent at least 50% of the UK workforce, they are severely under-represented in most trade professions – many of which are facing huge skills gap shortages.

    D A Woolgar are trying to buck this trend and this years apprentices are both girls

    In 2007/2008 women made up just one per cent of Electrotechnical apprentice starts while recent figures indicate that less than one in every thousand electrical contractors is female.

    NICEIC and its campaign partners aim to highlight the exciting opportunities available to females within the electrical industry and dispel the myth that trade professions are a viable career path for men only. NICEIC wants an industry built on skills and qualifications while ensuring there is a level playing field for all who wish to operate within it.

    As part of its campaign, NICEIC and apprentice provider JTL produced a practical guide to help understand equality issues and give guidance to employers. It is also hoping to recruit more young females to its recently launched Apprentice Academy.