Monday, 30 September 2013

We'll run a budget surplus

George Osborne tells Tory activists "Britain can do better than that"
Chancellor George Osborne has said he wants the government to be running a surplus in the next Parliament and can get there without raising taxes.

He told the Conservative conference the public finances should be in the black when the economy was strong as insurance against a "rainy day".

His comments were taken as suggesting more years of spending restraint.

Business welcomed the goal but Labour said Mr Osborne had missed targets before and could not be trusted.

can someone please call George Osborne a doctor, as far as I am aware, we have not started to pay off the debt yet, only slow down the rate at which the national debt is increasing.

someone please tell me if I am wrong...

Electrical safety in the workplace: Not someone else's job

do you think of electrical safety as "someone else's job."

If you want to stay safe, it is not.

In reality, everyone in the workplace should view electrical safety as their responsibility. Electrical hazards cause multiple deaths and injuries in the workplace each year.

Dangers can hide under desks, behind photocopiers, It takes everyone's involvement to keep the workplace safe.

In many workplaces, there's never a socket outlet where it's needed. Solution: extension leads, right?

Although they can be used temporarily, the safest permanent solution involves moving the work station or installing a socket.

Business MOT - time to check your electrics

When cold weather bears down on us, the use of panel and fan heaters is a common solution to a chilly workplace. Much like extension leads, view these as a temporary solution.

To keep your workplace safe, consider these tips:
· Keep space heaters at least a metre from combustible materials.
· Do not use extension leads with space heaters.
· Avoid using a space heater with a damaged lead.
· Keep heaters on a flat, level surface.
· Avoid the use of a heater in a damp area. - sort out the damp

Never underestimate the power of your senses. If a piece of equipment looks, sounds, or smells odd, or feels hot, carefully unplug it and call a your safety supervisor

need help

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Another Myth - You lose most of your body heat through your head

Everyone knows that you lose somewhere around 98 percent of your body heat through your head, which is why you have to wear a hat in the cold.

NOTY TRUE!!!! As reported in The New York Times the amount of heat released by any part of the body depends mostly on the surface area — on a cold day you would lose more heat through an exposed leg or arm than a bare head.

Is Windows 8 a Trojan horse for the NSA?

The German Government thinks so
The German Government is now deeply suspicious that the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technology built into a growing number of Windows 8 PCs and tablets is creating a gigantic back door for NSA surveillance, leaked documents have suggested.
Documents from the German Ministry of Economic Affairs obtained by German title Zeit Online uncover the alleged unease of officials at the direction of version 2.0 of the standard being developed under the auspices of the multi-vendor Trusted Computing Group (TCG).
TPM has been marketed as a security and Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology since its appearance in 2006, but version 2.0 would embed a chip on every PC that has complete control over which OS software can and can’t run, a setting not designed to be over-ridden under Windows 8. The chip is also where the cryptographic data is stored for Windows BitLocker and it enables remote administration.
During TCG meetings, German officials appear to have expressed concern about the potential for abuse but were “rebuffed,” Zeit claims. The documents also refer to the NSA having representation at the meetings and the statement “the NSA agrees” in the context of leaving the technology in its current (presumably unreformed) state.
The full context of this reference is not clear from the Zeit article but the implication is disturbing; the NSA thinks that TPM 2.0 does not offer a barrier to its operations.
After recent machinations it all sounds very feasible.


Friday, 27 September 2013

Ban on parking camera cars

Earlier today I was in Aragon's offices and their reception TV showed the Central Beds CCTV parking camera passing the Post Office on the BBC News channel

The same camera that fined Simon Houfe (Local celebrity) despite it being impossible for him to get out of his drive without stopping to close the gates - such is the intelligence of the operators.

Now it seems Councils in England could be banned from using CCTV and so-called 'spy cars' to issue parking fines under new government proposals.

what if it was illegal in the first place??? will everyone get their fines refunded???

CCTV should only be used to tackle crime and not to raise money. CCTV should not be considered part of a revenue stream, only a management tool.

Local Government Association argues that mobile cameras play an important role in keeping roads clear and pedestrians safe.

we say you will have to think again.

Fixed cameras and spy cars used to catch people parking illegally could be banned in England.

its time to rein in over-zealous and unfair rules

Static and car mounted cameras have been used to issue more than 10 million fines, totalling £301m, in the past five years

Some 75 councils currently have permission to use CCTV cameras or "approved devices" to enforce parking restrictions, under Labour's 2004 Traffic Management Act.

In these areas, a third of all parking fines are now issued via CCTV rather than by parking wardens

A study by the Audit Commission found one in three councils was earning more money through parking charges and school meals than council tax.

that cant be right...

What really irritates us is the street-level hostility we feel is being waged against us. just let us do our jobs and allow a reasonable degree of flexibility for doing jobs in UK businesses.

Friday Fact

The word "lethologica" describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.

I suffer from ... Mmm cant remember the word

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The electric shock to zap your piles...

A new treatment for haemorrhoids could banish the need for surgery to ease the condition. administered by a probe that delivers a small electric shock – and has already been successful patients in the US.

Now the technology has arrived in the UK with the hope that it will eventually be taken up by the NHS.

Conventional treatment for the problem – commonly known as piles – can require a four or five-day stay in hospital with considerable discomfort to the patient for some time.

With the new procedure, there is less pain, and it costs less than the existing treatment, which is currently about £2k

Haemorrhoids are enlarged veins in the anal canal that become swollen and can sometimes bleed.

Half the  UK population will suffer at some point in their lives

The new device is called Ultroid and it delivers six volts of direct electrical current to the haemorrhoid, which is enough to make it shrivel and cause no further discomfort.

Most people develop two or three piles at a time. Treatments last about ten minutes per pile.
Results from treatment in the US show that about 85 per cent of patients suffered no recurrence.

We love the ideas of a curved displays

Samsung Electronics, the world's best-selling smartphone maker, is planning to launch handsets with curved displays.

The new devices will have plastic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, the company said at a Galaxy Note 3 launch event in Seoul.

"We plan to introduce a smartphone with a curved display in South Korea in October," said DJ Lee, Samsung's head of strategic marketing for mobile.

Digital display technology is progressing towards curved, bendy and foldable screens.

In January, Samsung exhibited prototype products with bendy and extendable screens, but doubts remain as to how such technology can be mass-produced cheaply and reliably.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Check your electric blanket

As temperatures fall and the nights draw in its more than likely that you are going to get the electric blanket out of the airing cupboard.

how old is it? is it safe, have you done any basic safety checks? are there frayed cables?

There has been a large increase in the numbers of electrical appliances that can now be found in the home, including electric blankets. Whilst many of these products are perfectly safe when used correctly, there is still an increased risk of fires in the home due to faulty or damaged electrical products or where electrical sockets are overloaded.

fires are occurring as a result of a faulty or misused electrical appliance or overloading of sockets. National statistics indicate that in 2012-13, 43 people died in accidental electrical dwelling fires in England and a further 3,463 were injured.
It is important that we continually promote electrical fire safety so that we can reduce the number of incidents and injuries. Worn or damaged electric blankets pose a serious fire safety risk. So it’s important to keep your blanket serviced and well maintained.

To prevent incidents involving electrical appliances:-
• Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen roll.
• Never overload sockets; keep to one plug per socket
• Keep electrical leads and appliances away from water and never use if damaged
• Don’t leave washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers on if nobody is at home
• Keep your eyes peeled for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit breakers that trip for no obvious reason or flickering lights
• Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring
Unplug electric blankets before you get into bed
• Take special care with portable heaters; secure them so they can’t fall over and keep them a safe distance from combustible materials such as curtains and furniture. Never use portable heaters for drying clothes.
• Have your central heating system serviced by a qualified engineer.
• Have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home to provide early warning in the event of a fire.

smoke alarms?

large-scale manipulation of the Earth's environment

The deliberate large-scale manipulation of the Earth's environment, called geoengineering, could be one way to cool the Earth or help reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

But scientists are aware that these technologies are in very early stages of development and remain untested on a global scale.

Although there are great risks in deliberately interfering with nature to cool the planet, some researchers say that if the concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere reach a critical stage, geoengineering might become the only way to take control of our climate.
On the other hand, others worry that having the technology to "reverse" climate change could be seen as a get-out-of-jail-free card and that more effort should be put on existing ways of reducing emissions.

Steve Rayner of the Oxford Geoengineering Programme, UK, says that there is no easy answer, but it would be "irresponsible for us not to explore the potential to understand the technologies as best we can".

Geoengineering refers to the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the Earth's environment to counteract climate change.

There are essentially two ways of doing this.
The first is called Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and involves reflecting more of the Sun's rays away from the planet back into space.

Model cloud whitening ship Cloud-whitening would aim to reflect more of the Sun's heat back into space

One proposed method of SRM involves putting sulphur aerosols into the high reaches of the atmosphere.

This mimics what occasionally occurs in nature when a powerful volcano erupts. For example, the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991 injected huge volumes of sulphur into the stratosphere. The particles produced in subsequent reactions cooled the planet by about 0.5C over the next two years by reflecting sunlight back out to space.

Solar radiation management (SRM)
Albedo enhancement: Increasing the reflectivity of clouds or the land surface so that more of the Sun's heat is reflected back into space

Space reflectors: Blocking a small proportion of sunlight before it reaches the Earth
Stratospheric aerosols: Introducing small, reflective particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect some sunlight before it reaches the surface of the Earth
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR)
Afforestation: Global-scale tree-planting efforts
Biochar: Burning biomass (plant material) and burying it so that its carbon is locked up in the soil
Bio-energy with carbon capture and sequestration: Growing biomass, burning it for energy and capturing and locking away the CO2 generated in the process
Ambient air capture: Building machines that can remove CO2 directly from ambient air and store it elsewhere

Ocean fertilisation: Adding nutrients to the ocean in selected locations to increase marine food production, which draws down CO2 from the atmosphere
Enhanced weathering: Exposing large quantities of minerals that react with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and storing the resulting compounds in the oceans or soil

Monday, 23 September 2013

Spider silk tubes may conduct electricity

Eden Steven, a physicist at Florida State University's MagLab facility, discovered during his experiments with spider silk -- a strong polymer which is remarkably flexible and completely biodegradable -- and carbon nanotubes that simple methods could result in surprising and environmental friendly outcomes.

"If we understand basic science and how nature works, all we need to do is find a way to harness it," Steven said. "If we can find a smart way to harness it, then we can use it to create a new, cleaner technology."

The findings of the research are now published online in a journal Nature Communications.
Steven is the lead investigator on the paper "Carbon nanotubes on a spider silk scaffold". The experiment may result in practical applications in electrical conductivity, reports Science Daily.
Think of a nanotube as a one-atom thick sheet of carbon that has been rolled into an infinitesimally tiny tube. A nanotube's diameter is at least 10,000 times smaller than a strand of human hair. When things get that microscopically minute, they act very strange, say physicists.

Researchers worldwide are intrigued by the properties of carbon nanotubes, including their amazing strength and ability to conduct electricity and heat.

"It turns out that this high-grade, remarkable material has many functions," Steven said about the spider silk coated in carbon nanotubes. "It can be used as a humidity sensor, a strain sensor, an actuator (a device that acts as an artificial muscle, for lifting weights and more) and as an electrical wire."

from -

The failure of a single low-voltage switch changed history forever

A four-megaton nuclear bomb was one switch away from exploding over the US in 1961, a newly declassified US document confirms.

Two bombs were on board a B-52 plane that went into an uncontrolled spin over North Carolina - both bombs fell and one began the detonation process.

The US government has acknowledged the accident before, but never made public how close the bomb came to detonating.

The plane was on a routine flight when it began to break up over North Carolina on 23 January 1961.
As it was breaking apart, a control inside the cockpit released the two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs over Goldsboro.

One fell to the ground unarmed. But the second "assumed it was being deliberately released over an enemy target - and went through all its arming mechanisms save one, and very nearly detonated over North Carolina,"

Only the failure of a single low-voltage switch prevented disaster

The bomb was almost 260 times powerful than the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The accident occurred during the height of the Cold War between US and Russia, just over a year before the Cuban missile crisis brought nuclear fears to the US's front door.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Men and women literally see the world differently

A study shows that the sexes really do see the world differently. Men notice small details and moving things while women are more sensitive to colour changes

Guys' eyes are more sensitive to small details and moving objects, while women are more perceptive to colour changes, according to a new vision study that suggests men and women actually do see things differently.

"As with other senses, such as hearing and the olfactory system, there are marked sex differences in vision between men and women," researcher Israel Abramov, of the City University of New York (CUNY), said in a statement. Research has shown women have more sensitive ears and sniffers than men.

"[A] recent, large review of the literature concluded that, in most cases females had better sensitivity, and discriminated and categorized odors better than males," Abramov and colleagues write Tuesday (Sept. 4) in the journal Biology of Sex Differences.

Abramov and his team from CUNY's Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges compared the vision of males and females over age 16 who had normal color vision and 20/20 sight — or at least 20/20 vision with glasses or contacts.

Previous research found that men and women also focus differently. In experiments at the University of Southern California, researchers found that men are likely to fixate on the mouth of a person in conversation and also are more likely to be distracted by movement behind that person. Meanwhile, women tend to shift their gaze between a speaker's eyes and body, and they are more likely to be distracted by other people, the researchers found.

found this is a house in Milton Keynes

Done by the home owners 'mate'

who needs mates like these? defiantly NOT the way to do it...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Friday Fact

Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The debate on how Grren Electric cars are

There is not a lot of genuine new debate on the EV issue re where the electric is sourced from, metals used in construction etc..

To be honest we are getting fed up with so called cherry-picking old research to suit a personal or commercial agenda. can you tell us where the truth lies?

Future is Electric Vehicles says Government - What About HGV’s

The relentless drive to bring down the ecological costs of road use (not to mention the financial ones) are these days uppermost in the minds of Transport Managers and others associated with the road haulage industry. The need to be Green is necessary to save money when hauling freight and to present an acceptable face to a customer base ever keener to reinforce its own supply chain’s environmental credentials.

Firstly, on Wednesday (18th September) the Energy Trust will conduct a webinar aimed at making vehicle fleets more efficient – in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee! From 1:30 to 2pm the Trust will endeavour to impart ways that drivers and operators can cut fleet costs and emissions. You can reserve your (virtual) seat by registering.,1RSI9,AIM8DX,6BHLM,1

On a broader note, the recent Low Carbon Vehicle Event 2013 at the Millbrook Proving Ground saw almost 2,000 people study the work of over 150 exhibitors. Obviously most eyes were drawn to the more obvious exhibits (a Morgan electric sports car has an almost irresistible appeal) but many in the transport industry are more concerned with the possible application of technology to the haulage sector. Transport Minister Norman Baker, launching the Government’s strategy to drive forward the ultra-low emission vehicles, spoke at the event.

Department for Transport (DfT) statistics calculate that Britain’s commercial vehicles account for 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions on the country’s roads (that’s about 4% of the UK’s overall emissions) and more needs to be done to target reducing pollution from the sector.

A recent test in Gothenburg using a cross section of 400 haulage vehicles achieved a 30% reduction in emissions during the three year trial. The biggest drop by far was when operators exchanged diesel trucks for those using alternative fuels such as biodiesel, biogas or dimethyl ether, using hybrid technology or selecting vehicles able to run on methane/diesel fuel.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Scottish government pledge to end car emissions by 2050

The Scottish government has said it wants the country's towns and cities to be free of emissions from petrol and diesel vehicles by 2050.

It has published a "roadmap" setting out its plans to help businesses and motorists switch to electric vehicles.

The government is to spend more than £14m over the next two years replacing its fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles with electric alternatives.

It will also install charging points at all of its main buildings.

The Switched On Scotland document was produced alongside experts from industry, academia and environmental bodies, and sets out the plan to drive forward the uptake of electric vehicles in Scotland.

Among its commitments are that by 2050, Scottish towns, cities and communities will be free from the "damaging effects" of petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles.

By 2040 almost all new vehicles sold will be near zero-emission at the tailpipe; and by 2030 half of all fossil-fuelled vehicles will be phased out of urban environments across Scotland.

Grants of up to £5,000 are available towards the purchase cost of an electric car, with up to £8,000 available for the purchase of an electric van.

Scottish households that buy an electric vehicle will also continue to receive a 100% grant for a home charging point.

The government has also pledged to provide new ways of supporting motorists to adopt electric vehicles by providing expert advice on their environmental and financial benefits.

Electric car demand so low VW won't import to Aus

AUSTRALIA has stalled on the electric vehicle starting grid and will miss out on the new wave of cars coming from Volkswagen, as the carmaker's local operation says there is insufficient demand. 
The German giant rolled out its first battery cars, the e-Golf and e-Up, at the Frankfurt motor show this week and set a bold goal of being market leader in electric mobility by 2018.

With Volkswagen due to have 14 pure electric or hybrid cars on sale by next year, "no other automaker can match the broad range we have to offer", said chief executive Martin Winterkorn.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Anyone else considering putting the heating on?

While temperatures drop, homes across the UK, we are gradually firing up the central heating.

Each autumn - or earlier, if summer is particularly disappointing - there's an argument that sunders households up and down the country.

Can we turn on the radiators yet? Or should we save cash by keeping the heating switched off for as long as possible?

For many people - especially those on low incomes - it's an acute financial conundrum. Energy bills have risen by 28% over the past three years, according to regulator Ofgem, putting pressure on family budgets.

But what often exacerbates these domestic rows is that, for a variety of reasons, some people are simply better at tolerating drops in temperature than others.

Factors such as age, physiology, gender, geography and even hair colour will affect how much each individual feels the cold, say experts.

For some people, however, turning on the heating is a symbolic ritual marking the changing of the seasons - and despite an unusually warm British summer coming to an abrupt halt, many are stubbornly determined to delay it as long as possible.

'Man up, put a sweater on'

There is a significant gender divide when it comes to feeling the cold, according to Mike Tipton, professor of physiology at the University of Portsmouth,

In low temperatures, he says, the body reacts by diverting blood to the vital organs, and makes the extremities - the head, hands and feet - feel chillier. Oestrogen makes the vessels that shut down blood flow to the skin more sensitive.

As a result, he says, "it tends to be females that complain of cold hands and feet". While a woman's core body temperature may be the same as a man's, her skin is likely to feel cooler.

But there are other physical factors that make a difference, too.

People who are physically fit have better circulation, which makes them feel warmer, says Tipton.

Conversely, he says, excess fat insulates the deep body temperature of overweight individuals. Fatter people also tend to have lower skin temperatures, meaning they are used to the cold.

A 2005 study by researchers at Louisville University in Kentucky suggested that people with ginger hair may be more sensitive to the cold than brunettes - somewhat confounding the stereotype of the redhead as a hardy Celt.

People really underestimate how much of a difference a well-insulated house can make.

The UK's ageing housing stock means this is a common problem. Anti-fuel poverty campaigners and environmentalists alike have called for action, but a wide-ranging solution has proved elusive.

In June it was reported that only four people had signed up to the Green Deal, a flagship government policy launched six months earlier to help householders make energy efficiency improvements.

For many, however, delaying putting on the heating is a matter of financial necessity as energy costs soar.

A ComRes survey for BBC Radio 5 live earlier this month found 25% of people had put up with an "unacceptably cold" house during the past year to keep their bills down.

Some 63% of the 1,035 adults interviewed said they had reduced their energy use due to rising costs.
But it isn't just because of poverty or desperation that some people prefer to shiver rather than turn on their radiators. There's a certain type of person who takes pride in keeping the boiler out of action for as long as possible.

If you know you can afford to put the heating on, it becomes this fun game, But if you're poor, living in an unheated house is just miserable.

Whatever people's reasons for tolerating what others would regard as freezing conditions, another autumn of conflict about what is a comfortable temperature is as inevitable as the changing of the seasons.

from the BBC

Super-shooter smartphone stand-off

Nokia's Lumia 1020 has gone on sale in the UK.

The Windows Phone handset is distinguished by its 41 megapixel camera, which the firm says captures more detail than any other handset has done before.

But the phone faces a challenge for super-shooter supremacy from Sony.

The Japanese firm's Android-powered Xperia Z1 comes out later this month. Its image sensor has about half the number of megapixels, but Sony claims it produces better photos.

BBC Click's Dan Simmons road tested both ahead of their release to see how they compared.
from the BBC web site

Update on electric cars

On the argument that electric cars charged off the grid are just burning fossil fuels in a different way.

This is mainly aimed at the USA where the coal is just scraped of the surface as opposed to being mined. The Germans get their coal this way but started the push for renewable 2 decades before the USA knew it existed.

The conclusion: Even in the few states with the very dirtiest grids, driving a mile on grid electricity is barely worse than the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car (roughly 34 mpg).

And in states with the cleanest grids, there's no combustion-engine vehicle that can match an electric car for low carbon emissions. Most recent research has come up with broadly similar conclusions.
To use the nation's reliance on dirty coal as an argument against electric cars is looking at the argument form the wrong side. Don’t blame the car, blame the grid. The only thing to be questioned is a dogged continued reliance on coal.

The next stage is to improve cars - the distance electric vehicle can travel in a single charge and the charging time.

Anything beyond 125 mile range was becoming challenging and the charging time anything less than 1.5 hours was also tough to design.

Things are getting better with the new Tesla – 300 miles on a single charge and a further r125 mile on a 20 minute recharge

The technology behind this is advanced lithium based and other fast charging high-density batteries coupled with super capacitors. Super capacitors can be charged faster which can charge the lithium batteries while the car is moving.

The final hurdle is the cost of the electric car

In smaller electric cars, installing solar PV arrays on rooftop is not bad idea.  We are quite keen to see how the World Solar Challenge going pans out, to be held in Australia on 6th of October 2013. The 7 day solar powered car race covers 3021 km cutting through the Australia from north to south. Some of the earlier winners of this race have reached average speeds of 100 kilometres per hour purely on solar electric power. For electric car designers watching this event closely may give some ideas on efficiency and design.

Panasonic is sourcing lithium ion batteries and solar PV cells to Tokai University team, which is participating in World Solar Challenge 2013. Panasonic says its HIT solar cells suffer less degradation of power output at high temperatures, delivering the industry's highest-level energy output per unit of area. The rechargeable batteries Panasonic is providing are the cylindrical 18650 type (18 mm in diameter x 65 mm in height) high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells which use the company's proprietary nickel-based positive electrode. The high-capacity and lightweight battery cells store excess power generated by the HIT solar cells so that the car is able to continue running.

The different vehicle technologies will dominate in different transport segments, and all have advantages and disadvantages. We must therefore assess both the vehicle and its environmental soundness in a cradle-to-grave perspective

Battery Tech
We are waiting for the day when batteries quadruple in their capacity to store energy.

There are some fundamentals about lithium that will never change. Though some say there's plenty of lithium on the planet with which to do what we want, it's not exactly easy to extract from resources and many of those resources are too small be money makers, thus may never be developed.

Once you've got your lithium it's an absolute pain to work with. As soon as your metal is open to the air it begins to oxidize. Immediately. Rapidly. So your battery electrochemistry or your manufacturing process has to deal with that instant oxidation problem. Extremely difficult to work with in a manufacturing sense translates into high productions costs. Battery cell makers combat productions costs with cheap labour. That's not a great solution.

Now there's another possibility just starting up in the development stage
Scientists from General Electric and Berkeley Lab are working on a flow battery prototype
And they're not alone. The Illinois Institute of Technology (ITT) and Argonne National Lab will share a $3.4 million award from U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a prototype of their "nanoelectrofuel" flow battery.

If you've never heard of a flow battery it's a type of fuel cell where dissolved electroactive elements in liquid electrolytes flow on either side of a membrane within a cell. A charged ion exchange takes place as the electrolytes pass each other on either side of that membrane to generate electric current. The chemical makeup of the electrolytes determines the voltage in each cell. Building a stack of cells, and adding each cell's voltage together, increases the voltage available for work. The cumulative area of the reactive portions of the cells, where the membrane is, determines the amount of electric current available. And the runtime of the flow battery is determined by volume of stored electrolytes. Electrolyte is held in tanks and pumped through the cells. In an electric car runtime means range and the bigger the tanks the farther the car will go, just like fuelling with petrol.

There's evidence that flow batteries could be an alternative to lithium.

We all know that the technology is expensive, and that many operators are waiting until more experience is available. But this must be broken. As long as nobody dares to get involved, no new and more efficient technologies can be developed, either

Watch this space

Monday, 16 September 2013

Netflix studies piracy

Netflix has revealed that it tracks piracy sites to help decide which TV series and films it should add to its online streaming service.

The US firm gave Prison Break as an example of one programme it had bought as a consequence of using the strategy.

Media companies have traditionally seen copyright infringement as a threat to their business.

thinking outside the box

Sparkies working harder than ever

Tradesmen are working longer hours than ever, willing to sacrifice holidays and weekends in a bid to squeeze more jobs in.

The average tradesman works between 41 and 50 hours a week, more than bankers (40.9 hours), medical practitioners (38.4 hours), barristers and judges (36 hours), and accountants (35.6 hours)*. A fifth of tradesmen work more than 50 hours a week, compared to the UK average of 36.4 hours**.

In addition to a long working week, tradesmen are also not taking the annual statutory holiday entitlement of 28 days, with one in six taking fewer than 10 days’ leave each year. Just one per cent take more than an hour for lunch and three quarters skip it altogether.

The research from Electricfix showed that, even when they aren’t at work, tradesmen never truly ‘clock off’ with a third spending their leisure time doing DIY and nearly half (47 per cent) catching up on business admin.

However, there are ways tradesmen can reduce this pressure, claims Electricfix.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A Brighter place

Electric car sparks bomb scare

A Swedish inventor's experiments with a new power source for electric cars has caused a bomb scare that paralysed parts of the Danish capital for three hours.

Police said unusual wiring, copper pipes and suspicious objects found inside and outside Dan Zethraeus's car led them to believe it contained an explosive device, and they quickly evacuated buildings around the underground parking garage where he had left it in Copenhagen city centre.
The security measures were lifted when bomb experts confirmed the device was "some kind of scientific experiment", police spokesman Hans Sinding said.

"It's a prototype of an invention that I'm developing that is meant to solve the vehicle traffic of the future," Mr Zethraeus said.

The idea is for the car to run on a "new type of electric road where you transfer electricity to the car while it's in motion", he said.

"I am doing tests right now but I took a day off and drove to Copenhagen. I'm sorry that this was mistaken for something else."

He described his invention as a "device that powers the car with electricity from the road" but declined to give more details, saying the technology was not yet patented.

Mr Zethraeus, a project manager and director for Swedish Television, said he would remove the equipment from his car when going on road trips in the future.

Police closed several busy streets around Kongens Nytorv square and evacuated dozens of people from nearby buildings.

Denmark's intelligence service has said the country remains under a "serious" terror threat following the publication of newspaper cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, an act that offended many Muslims.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Fusion reactor

We think theexperimental reactor Iter project at Cadarache in Provence is really exciting

but we do wish they would hurry up!!!

Fusion facts
  1. Fusion is the process that powers the stars including the Sun
  2. One litre of water contains enough deuterium, when fused with tritium, to produce the equivalent energy of 500 litres of petrol
  3. A 1,500MW fusion power station would consume about 600g of tritium and 400g of deuterium a day.
  4. The first large-scale use of fusion was by the US military with the detonation of Ivy Mike, a hydrogen bomb, on 1 November 1952.
  5. Iter's design involves a tokamak, the Russian word for a ring-shaped magnetic chamber
  6. The magnetic field is designed to contain 100 million degree plasma, the temperature required for the fusion process
  7. The US, while supporting Iter as a partner, is also funding the National Ignition Facility, which uses lasers to heat and compress hydrogen to the point of fusion.
  8. South Korea, another Iter partner, is investing $941m in a fusion technology demonstrator, K-DEMO, which could be the first to generate Grid power.
  9. Critics object to further research into nuclear power and question the likely costs of commercial operations.
  10. We say it is the future
The attraction is a combination of cheap fuel, relatively little radioactive waste and no emissions of greenhouse gases.

The technical challenges of not only handling such an extreme process but also designing ways of extracting energy from it have always been immense.

The Iter reactor will put that to the test. Known as a "tokamak", it is based on the design of Jet, a European pilot project at Oxfordshire.

The Culham (Oxon) reactor used so much power to fire it they had to tell the grid when they were going to us it

Friday, 13 September 2013

Totally off topic but we love this by Ian in drag - Shopping in Lidl

have a great weekend!

The Friday Funny

Survived Friday 13th - Have a great weekend

Friday Fact

North Korea has 28 approved hairstyles people can choose from.

my hairstyle in not approved, its not even a style

Wave power generator bags Dyson award

A wave power generator that can harvest energy no matter which way the sea is running has won the UK round of James Dyson's engineering award.

The Renewable Wave Power generator seeks to overcome the limitations of some current tidal power technologies.

These work best when struck by waves travelling in one direction and are less efficient in more turbulent seas.

The generator uses loosely coupled pistons to reap power from tidal waters that flow unpredictably.
British sea power

The win means that Sam Etherington, who created the generator, gets £2,000 to create a bigger prototype that will undergo tests in water tanks to prove its efficacy.

The engineering graduate studied mechanical design at Brunel University in London, and now lives in the Lake District.

Mr Etherington said some of the inspiration for the design came when he was kite surfing off the coast of Cumbria in seas where waves rarely travelled in a predictable fashion.

To harness the energy that abounds in such restless waters, Mr Etherington came up with a design that uses a long chain of loosely linked enclosed pistons. Energy is generated as the chain of generators flexes in the peaks and troughs of each wave.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Samsung to match Apple's 64-bit chip smartphone chip

Samsung has confirmed its next high-end smartphones will feature 64-bit processors.

The announcement follows the launch of the iPhone 5S, the first handset to include the technology.
Apple boasted its A7 chip offered "desktop-class architecture".

However, experts say most apps are unlikely to see much immediate benefit from the shift from 32-bit tech and that it could introduce compatibility problems in the future.

The number of bits in relation to a microprocessor affects size of numbers with which it can deal.
For example, the amount of memory that can be directly accessed without data having to be swapped back and forth.

In the case of 32-bit architecture, the amount of memory than can be addressed is two to the power of 32, in other words 4.3 billion values or four gigabytes of memory.

In the case of 64-bit architecture the processor can theoretically address 18,400,000 trillion values.

If a program has been written to take advantage of a 64-bit operating system, it should mean the processor can access data that is in this larger memory rather than retrieving it from, for example, the hard disk. This speeds up the whole processing chain.

As a result the processor can take advantage of machines with more physical memory.

Q & A of the Day – Is this TT system Zs reading too high? Will an RCD be needed?

found this on Voltim..

Question: Please could you advise me on maximum Zs on a TT system, if a reading is less than 1666 ohms on a circuit - is this is low enough to disconnect a circuit that will satisfy BS7671?
Also, will this reading satisfy perspective fault current and overcurrent protection and, therefore, possibly negating the need for an RCD?

Answer: Section 7.2.6 of the On-Site Guide (BS 7671:2008 (2011) states that the total earth fault loop impedance is verified as being less than 200ohm, and the protective device(s) should be an RCBO or fuse/circuit breaker combined with an RCD.

It is important to note that 1666 ohm is way too high, as it would limit the earth fault current to 138mA which is too low to operate an overcurrent protective device.

From D A Woolgar - other guidance notes detail that a impedance of over 100 ohms should be considered unstable.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

UK completes digital switchover for 4G mobile networks

The UK's digital switchover is set to be completed later, five months ahead of the original deadline.

Engineers are expected to sign off on work in the north-east of Scotland and the Western Isles, paving the way for more 4G super-fast mobile networks.

The spectrum was previously used for analogue TV. More than 270 transmitters have had their signals realigned.

Despite the achievement, most of the UK's networks have yet to set a date for the launch of their 4G services.

At present, EE is the only firm with a fourth-generation network in the UK.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Mandatory electrical checks proposed for private housing

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee has recommended that private sector landlords be required to undertake a mandatory five-yearly check of electrical installations in their properties.

The recommendation is detailed in the just-released CLG Select Committee report into England’s private rented sector (PRS).

It calls on government to introduce a requirement for a competent person to comprehensively review installations every five years, with a visual check being undertaken on change of tenancy. To achieve this, it asks government to liaise with the electrical industry to establish suitable certification.

“We are delighted that the committee has made this recommendation,” said ESC director general Phil Buckle. “We have, for some time now, been lobbying hard for such mandatory regulation in the PRS.

“The government’s own data shows that 21 per cent of England’s PRS contains category 1 hazards – the most dangerous risk to health and safety under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System.

time to test

Solar potential

How do you propel 100 tonnes of metal around the world's oceans without fuel or even a sail?

For a pioneering group of Swiss investors and German engineers, the answer is simple - the sun.
Add some design expertise from New Zealand and you have the MS Turanor PlanetSolar, the world's largest solar-powered boat and a striking glimpse into the future of marine travel.

"The idea was to demonstrate the enormous potential of solar power by circumnavigating the globe," says Rachel Bros de Puechredon from PlanetSolar.

And with 60,000km (37,000 miles) successfully navigated, the team have achieved precisely that.
Maximum exposure

The Turanor uses energy harnessed from more than 500 sq m of solar panels to drive two, 60kW electric engines, each in turn driving a standard propeller. They are capable of pushing the 35m catamaran to a top speed of 14 knots (26km/h, 16mph).

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Dangerous appliances used in homes despite recalls

Safety campaigners have found that less than a fifth of faulty electrical appliances have been repaired or returned over the last six years.

They are calling for manufacturers to face large fines if they fail to trace and repair the potentially fatal products such as cookers and fridge freezers.

There have been at least ten deaths associated with household appliances in recent years, caused mainly by fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Electrical Safety Council found around 20 per cent of 266 faulty items have been returned or repaired after recall notices were sent out in the past six years.

It believes millions of dangerous appliances are still in use in households across the UK due to inadequate recall systems.

The current penalty for manufacturers who delay issuing recall notices or do not do enough to inform customers is £5,000 but the ESC is calling for it to be a percentage of their profits, which could see the fine rise above £1 million.

Sunday Sun Facts

The Earth receives 94 billion megawatt of energy from Sun. This is equivalent to 40,000 times the power requirement of United States

Each second the Sun loses 5 million tons of material

The Sun's temperature at its core is 14 million Kelvin

need solar panels?

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Ultrafast electrical switch takes 1 trillionth of a second

U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory scientists using SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser found that it takes only 1 trillionth of a second to flip the on-off electrical switch in samples of magnetite, which is thousands of times faster than in transistors now in use.

Roopali Kukreja, a materials science researcher at SLAC and Stanford University who is a lead author of the study , said that this breakthrough research reveals for the first time the 'speed limit' for electrical switching in this material.

The LCLS experiment also showed researchers how the electronic structure of the sample rearranged into non-conducting "islands" surrounded by electrically conducting regions, which began to form just hundreds of quadrillionths of a second after a laser pulse struck the sample.

The study shows how such conducting and non-conducting states can coexist and create electrical pathways in next-generation transistors.

Scientists first hit each sample with a visible-light laser, which fragmented the material's electronic structure at an atomic scale, rearranging it to form the islands.

how long till magnetite tablets and phones...

clever eh!

US and UK 'crack online encryption'

US and UK intelligence have reportedly cracked technology used to encrypt internet services such as online banking, medical records and email

Disclosures by leaker Edward Snowden allege the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's GCHQ are hacking key online security protocols.

The encryption techniques targeted are used by popular internet services such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo.

The NSA is said to spend $250m (£160m) a year on the top secret program.

It is codenamed Bullrun, an American civil war battle, according to the documents published by the Guardian in conjunction with the New York Times and ProPublica.

The British counterpart program is called Edgehill, after the first major engagement of the English civil war, say the documents.

even more reason for proper controls to be put in place for both government employees and contractors.

Aico 140 Series alarms just got better

Aico has updated its 140 Series smoke and heat alarms to allow for full compatibility with its alarm control switches.

The 140RC Series, as it has now been updated!

With best practice supporting larger alarm systems comprising three, four or more smoke and heat alarms interconnected, more frequently also with CO alarms, improved control functions are vital to ensure the system is easy for you to use.

Aico do a range of simple to use wall mounted alarm control switches to allow you to test and silence all alarms, as well as locate the exact alarm that has triggered the system. In the case of a mixed fire and CO system, the locate feature is vital if the resident is to take the correct course of action, i.e. turn off appliances, ventilate the property and call a registered engineer if it is a CO leak or leave the property immediately if it is a fire and call emergency services.

alarm control switches were originally designed for use with Aico’s 160RC Series mains powered alarms, which feature 10 year rechargeable Lithium cell back up.

got a concrete flat or laminate floor everywhere??? 140RC mains powered smoke and heat alarms can also be wirelessly interconnected by installing on Ei168RC RadioLINK bases. This means that all the alarms on the system communicate with each other by radio frequency (RF) signals, saving time and money over traditional hard wired systems.


Be Remarkable

Friday, 6 September 2013

A Transparent audio speaker that demonstrates capabilities of ionic conductors

The remarkable speaker is made up of a thin rubber sheet squeezed between layers of saltwater gel. A high-voltage signal runs through the layers, forcing the rubber to contract and vibrate rapidly, producing sounds that range from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz.

The study, published in the journal Science, was co-led by Jeong-Yun Sun, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. According to Sun, ionic conductors could be set to replace certain electronic systems, offering several advantages. Ionic conductors can be stretched beyond their normal area without an increase in resistivity. As well, the electrolyte gels are biocompatible, making it relatively easy to incorporate such devices into biological systems.

This isn’t a foreign concept for the human body. Charged ion signals are the so-called electricity of our system. It’s no surprise that bioengineers would be interested in meshing artificial organs and limbs with that system. According co-author Christoph Keplinger, the ultimate vision is soft machines, in which engineered ionic systems achieve many of our bodily functions.

Friday Fact

Eating yogurt before bed can help you fall asleep sooner.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Civil servants told not to take electric fans to work :)

Britain’s civil servants have been banned from taking electric fans  to work – but told they can stay  at home instead if their office  environment is too oppressive in the summer heat.

In rather extraordinary guidance, which has been passed to The Independent, Whitehall officials have been told that they are “NOT authorised” to bring fans or air coolers to work “due to the potential impact it could have on electrical supplies and the risk of electric shock from items not subjected to a portable appliance test”.

Government fans would be issued to members of staff, the memo added, only if temperatures reached “30C or higher”.

get em PA Tested

Electrical Fire Safety Week.

Latest fire statistics demonstrate that half of all accidental dwelling fires were caused by faulty or careless use of electrical appliances.

With Electrical Fire Safety Week falling in September - you expose yourselves and your families to potentially fatal accidents in the home through simple electrical blunders because of an alarming lack of knowledge about the real danger of electricity. (sorry to point the finger!!!)

the time is NOW to carry out a visual check in your homes to reduce the risk of electrical fires. It is often the simple things that lead to a serious fire – such as an appliance lead near a hot surface or an overloaded socket.

have a look round NOW!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Japan team develops micro-thin electric circuit

A flexible electrical circuit one-fifth the thickness of cling film & weighing less than a feather could give doctors the chance to implant sensors inside the body, its Japanese developers say.

The team at the University of Tokyo said the device on an ultra-thin film is unique since it works even after it has been crumpled into a ball or stretched.

Researchers unveiling the circuit said it could be used to monitor all sorts of physical data, such as body temperature and blood pressure as well as electronic pulses from muscles or the heart.

For people who can only move their tongue, the sheet might be placed on the roof of the mouth and serve as a touch pad to operate a communications device, team members said.

"This can be attached to all sorts of surfaces and does not limit the movement of the person wearing it," said professor Takao Someya of his research, which was being published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Artificial muscles with the potential to carry 80 times their own weight

A research team has created artificial muscles with the potential to carry 80 times their own weight and extend to five times their original length when carrying a load.

The team from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Engineering believe their invention will pave the way for the construction of life-like robots with extraordinary strength. In addition, these novel artificial muscles could potentially convert and store energy, which could help the robots power themselves after a short period of charging.

Led by Dr Adrian Koh from NUS’ Engineering Science Programme and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the four-member team has been working on the project since July 2012.
Robots are restricted by their muscles which are able to lift loads only half its own weight – roughly equivalent to an average human’s strength. Artificial muscles have been known to extend to only three times its original length when similarly stressed. The muscle’s degree of extendibility is a significant factor contributing to the muscle’s efficiency as it means that it could perform a wider range of operations while carrying heavy loads.

In a statement, Dr Koh said, ‘Our materials mimic those of the human muscle, responding quickly to electrical impulses, instead of slowly for mechanisms driven by hydraulics. Robots move in a jerky manner because of this mechanism. Now, imagine artificial muscles which are pliable, extendable and react in a fraction of a second like those of a human. Robots equipped with such muscles will be able to function in a more human-like manner – and outperform humans in strength.’

from -

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Bletchley Park gets a £1m cash pledge

A technology entrepreneur has pledged to give £1m to The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park.

The offer is the largest ever single donation given to the museum that curates, repairs and stores ageing computers.

The museum said the cash would be used to refurbish the museum to help it handle more visitors and display more of its historic computers.

The cash has been promised by British IT veteran Matt Crotty.

To get the cash TNMOC must also do its own fund-raising as the money has been pledged on a "matching funding" basis. This means that Mr Crotty will match every future donation given until a total of £1m has been reached. TNMOC is now starting a funding drive to secure cash to match the pledge.

Thank you Matt

Illuminance Meters and LED Luminaires

A certain amount of confusion has built up regarding the use of illuminance meters when
measuring light levels in an installation that contains LED product.
This has led to claims that current illuminance meters are not suitable for such measurements. At the outset a few basic points on the relationship between the eye and illuminance meters should be
The accuracy of any piece of measurement equipment is quantified by assessing any sources of error in a measurement and for each possible source assigning a measurement tolerance. However quantifying this can be complex and needs defined methods. It also needs criteria to decide if a tolerance is acceptable or not. This is where standards are used, and for illuminance meters, the relevant standard is BS 667:2005 Illuminance meters – Requirements and test methods. This covers a wide number of aspects of the meter such as non-linearity between meter ranges and across wide ranges of illuminance, accuracy of correction to the V(λ) curve, infra-red and ultra-violet response, cosine correction (the effect of light falling on the photometer head at oblique angles), temperature effects, etc.
 The human eye has not changed and its operation is technology independent.
 The eye detects a relatively narrow band of electromagnetic radiation, which is termed light.
 The eye is not equally sensitive to all wavelengths of light (red light has a relatively long wavelength and blue light has a relatively short wavelength). The response curve of a light adapted eye is known as the V(λ) curve and is shown in figure 1. It may be seen from this that the eye is more sensitive to yellow/green light than red or blue light.

 An illuminance meter measures spectral power, that is the power of electromagnetic emissions at wavelengths within the visible band, and then applies a conversion based upon the eye V(λ) curve. It therefore simulates the operation of the eye but produces a number instead of an image.
This standard specifies the performance requirements for two types of illuminance meter  Laboratory illuminance meters, designated Type L, which are generally retained in a laboratory or standardizing area, and against which other equipment may be calibrated and the highest precision readings obtained. Such meters may not be suitable for site or field measurements
 Field illuminance meters, designated Type F, which are for use in the field, on site and in the working environment. Some accuracy may have to be sacrificed in the interests of the ease of use, robustness and versatility of field meters A correctly maintained and calibrated laboratory illuminance meter will have an accuracy of ±4% whilst a correctly maintained and calibrated field illuminance meter will have an accuracy of ±6%.
These accuracies will be larger for highly coloured (non-white) light sources such as saturated red, green, amber or blue LEDs.
Therefore, to measure the illuminance for a lighting installation containing LED products a calibrated type F illuminance meter is adequate.
It should be remembered that the calibration of an illuminance meter is time limited and the  manufacturer’s instructions or calibration certificate should indicate the valid calibration period. After this period has elapsed, the illuminance meter will need re-calibrating to maintain accuracy.
Note that when a meter is calibrated it is both the meter and photometer head (photocell) that are calibrated. Therefore, any calibration is only valid using the correct photometer head and use of a different photocell can result in significant errors. In addition the V(λ) response of the photometer head should be checked as part of the calibration as any deviation of the photometer V(λ) response from the eye response can result in a measurement error, especially in sources rich in red or blue spectral content.
In addition, if a meter experiences particularly rough handling, it may need re-calibrating even though it is still within the manufacturer’s stated calibration period. Therefore, an illuminance meter should be treated as an item of laboratory equipment (which is what it is) according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Dimplex makes New Compact Corner Towel Rail

We like the new Dimplex CPTC Compact Corner towel rail  - designed to fit in the corner of a bathroom, ideal for those with limited space. It can be mounted at any height to suit other fittings and adds a touch of luxury to any bathroom.

Finished in stunning chrome, the new electric towel rail both dries and warms towels, it is also an excellent storage solution as towels can be neatly folded and placed in the individual sections.


The benefit of the Dimplex electric towel rail is that there is no need to extend the wet heating system, and so it is perfect for en-suites, flats and small bathrooms, and allows for simple installation. An electric towel rail is also much more economical and responsive than oil or water heated systems, meaning it offers extra savings on energy costs. The new Dimplex Compact Corner towel rail boasts a low wattage to ensure minimal running costs, plus it can be combined with Dimplex’s range of towel rail controls to accurately adjust the surface temperature and running time to perfectly match your lifestyle and offer further energy savings.

need one?

more on HV DC

New Part L to come into force in April 2014

The long-awaited new version of Part L – the section of the Building Regulations focusing on energy efficiency – will come into force in April 2014, the government announced.

The new regulations will demand a six per cent cut in CO2 emissions for new build homes, and a nine per cent cut for new non-domestic buildings – significantly below the 20 per cent reduction that was originally considered.

Baroness Hanham also told parliament today that minimum energy efficiency standards for lighting upgrades in non-domestic buildings will be strengthened.

The regulations were originally expected to come into force this year, but the Department of Communities and Local Government missed its deadlines for publishing and implementing them.
Baroness Hanham said the full regulations and impact assessment will be published 'shortly', with statutory guidance to be published 'during the course of the summer'