Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year


We hope 2015 treats you well

A year of great successes...

2014 has been a year of great successes – this culminated in changing Woolgar Electrical from being one of the best to being award winning.

The Business Excellence forum award for most environmental business was one of the Highlights of the year

As 2014 comes to a close, we look back on a fantastic year and achieving more great things.

Watch this space for updates

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

How clean is EV?

DRIVING an electric car confers a badge of greenery, or so the marketing departments of their makers would have you believe.

Yet a report which analyses the life cycle of car emissions (ie, all the way from those created by the mining of materials for batteries, via the ones from the production of fuel and the generation of electricity, to the muck that actually comes out of the exhaust) presents a rather different picture.

A battery-powered car recharged with electricity generated by coal-fired power stations, it found, is likely to cause more than three times as many deaths from pollution as a conventional petrol-driven vehicle.

Even a battery car running on the average mix of electrical power generated in America is much more hazardous than the conventional alternative.

see the rest at

Monday, 29 December 2014

Spintronics is not an excercise regime...

What is the future of magnetic memory and logic devices?

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Cornell University successfully used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature.

SO WHAT you say...

This runs counter to conventional scientific wisdom, points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper ways of storing and processing data.

the best thing is its massively more energy-efficient so battery life will be better.

The senior author of a paper describing this research in Nature. The paper is titled "Deterministic switching of ferromagnetism at room temperature using an electric field." John Heron, now with Cornell University, is the lead and corresponding author.

Multiferroics are materials in which unique combinations of electric and magnetic properties can simultaneously coexist. They are viewed as potential cornerstones in future data storage and processing devices because their magnetism can be controlled by an electric field rather than an electric current, a distinct advantage on current devices...

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Tiny electrical implant brings hope to millions of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers

Once again, Electricity is the answer...

Breakthrough medical trials of the electronic device bring hope of a cure to 400,000 UK sufferers and millions of others worldwide.

Test patient Monique Robroek’s condition was so bad that she could hardly walk across the room due to crippling pain.

Even the strongest drugs available did little to ease the excruciating discomfort she was forced to endure every day.

The incredible discovery could pave the way for patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis to ­effectively be cured within a decade.

Researchers in the Dutch trials are celebrating after “more than half” of their test patients saw their condition dramatically improve.

The breakthrough will bring hope to hundreds of thousands of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers in Britain.

Doctors embed the implant into the neck and use it to hack into a patient’s nervous system. The tiny device – the size of a 5p piece – sends electrical impulses into a major nerve which relays brain signals to the body’s major organs.

By firing impulses for just three minutes a day, scientists were able to reduce the activity of the spleen, a key organ in the immune system.

Within days of the trials in Holland, patients’ spleens were producing fewer chemicals that cause the abnormal inflammation in the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

found on mirror web site


Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Light fantastic, music from light bulbs

Well its another weekend.. how was your Christmas. (that's if you celebrate it...)

Hers something new... Next time you flick on the lounge light, listen closely for the soft buzz of electricity.

You might not be able to hear it but its always there.. coursing through the cables.

Most lamps are designed to be that way

a couple of italian artists makes up Quiet Ensemble, a studio that focuses on sound performance.

For their most recent piece, The Enlightenment, they've taken the soft hum of electricity and turned it into a booming orchestra of sound and light.

The orchestra is made from 96 lamps -- neon tubes, spotlights, theatre rigs and strobes -- all of which produce their own sound. The neon tubes, for example, are meant to mimic the whining sound of a violin, the strobes are percussion.

Salvo and Vercelli rigged each of the lamps with a copper coil that could deliver programmed electrical currents. You can see the choreographed voltage through flashing lights and hear it thanks to sensors which communicate the currents to a computer (through Ableton Live) and amplifies them into an ominous buzz.

The setup is effectively giving lamps a voice.

it just takes a little imagination...

Friday, 26 December 2014

Friday Fact

Idina Menzel originally auditioned for a role in Tangled but she was passed over. Her audition made an impression with producers, however, and she was later cast as Elsa in Frozen.

I hope you are enjoying your Boxing Day...

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas



Our office is now closed, but we are still here for you.

Electrics gone BANG!!!

 We can help you by providing a 24/7 call out cover in the Central Beds area over the festive period

Emergency call number = 07746 243 248

Our experienced and Qualified Technicians – all staff are C&G qualified and CRB checked.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Electrical retailers Currys, Amazon, John Lewis and Argos offering misleading discounts

Its soon going to be sale time when we buy lots of things that we don't really need, I was most surprised to see this on the MK web site..

A new Which? investigation into special offers reveals the dodgy discounts on electrical products that deliver little or no real savings.

Watchdog Which? tracked the prices of more than 100 electrical products online over six months at the major electrical goods retailers Amazon, Argos, Currys and John Lewis and found a number of dodgy deals.

Among the examples, it found:
•Amazon selling a Canon EOS70D camera with lens for £967.99. The offer price, calculated from Amazon’s RRP of £1,239.99, claimed savings of £272. However, compared with Canon’s typical selling price of £959, you would have actually paid £8.99 more.

•A Sony Bravia TV on offer at Currys for £579, with a claimed saving of £170 from the original price of £749. Despite them not breaking any official rules by using a sign showing when the higher price applied, Currys only sold this Sony set at the higher price for three weeks but the advertised ‘offer’ ran for seven months.

•A Nikon D3300 24MP DSLR camera with lens at Argos, had the offer price reduced over time but kept comparing the savings you were making to the original price rather than the offer price from the previous month. However, Argos did make it clear the camera had been previously sold at a cheaper price.

its not all a bargain guys...

Scheme for adults with learning disabilities opens

A group of adults with learning disabilities are celebrating moving into their new purpose built home this New Year.

The £2.4m development in Dunstable was commissioned by Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) and has been developed by Grand Union Housing Group.

It marks the final stage of its programme to move tenants out of outdated care homes into flats and houses where they can live independently with support.

Aileen Evans, Managing Director of MacIntyre Housing Association who will run the scheme, welcomed the news.

“We are so pleased these tenants will be able to enjoy up to date facilities and thrive independently with support from our housing officers. This is just the sort of accommodation which we are so desperately short of around the country.”

read more on -

Monday, 22 December 2014

Anti Hacker jeans

Jeans made that will prevent 'digital pickpocketing' with a special pocket that block RFID signals
A pair of jeans containing material that blocks wireless signals is being developed in conjunction with anti-virus firm Norton.

The trousers are intended to stop thieves hacking into radio frequency identification (RFID) tagged passports or contactless payment cards.

According to security experts this type of theft is a growing problem.

Most NFC-enabled credit card The majority of credit and debit cards are fitted with Near Field Communication chips, a type of RFID tech

Digital forensic firm Disklabs has used similar technology to make a wallet, which, like the Betabrand jeans, blocks RFID signals.

There is technology readily available for anyone to snatch other people's credit and debit card data within seconds.

These apps simply copy the card with all the information on it.

His firm also designs "faraday" bags which block mobile signals. Such bags are often used by police now to store mobile phones taken from suspects.

Last month the BBC reported that several police forces around the country had admitted that some mobile phones confiscated from suspects had been remotely wiped because they had not been stored in a secure way.

Made of cloth woven with metal fibres, the suit was not cheap to make but is washable.

If we are not explicitly blocking these signals there are a lot of things that can go wrong, from stealing contactless payment card details to worse consequences

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Ofgem penalises three energy firms

Three energy firms have agreed to pay penalties totalling £4.6m for failing to meet energy efficiency targets, Ofgem has said.

Scottish Power, SSE and generator GDF Suez/IPM have each agreed to pay the energy regulator for missing the government-set environmental targets.

The money will go to charities and funds that will benefit vulnerable consumers, Ofgem said.
Last week, British Gas agreed to pay £11.1m for missing the same targets.

The targets required energy companies to contribute to lower carbon emission by helping to make consumers' home more energy efficient. This meant supplying, among other things, roof and cavity wall insulation free of charge to households in low income areas.

The government required power generators as well as energy suppliers to deliver against individually set targets by the end of December 2012.

Ofgem said SSE would pay £1.75m after it delivered 90.9% of its environmental obligations on time and made up the shortfall by May 2013

Scottish Power, which is paying £2.4m, delivered 70% of its obligations and made up the shortfall by April 2013.

GDF Suez/IPM is paying £450,000. Ofgem said it delivered 38.6% of its reduced obligation on time but was also the fastest to make up its shortfall doing so by March 2013

These penalties are the last that arise from Ofgem's investigations into the six companies that failed their targets.

Over the past three weeks Ofgem has issued penalties worth nearly £55m to these six companies.
It said £49.7m of that money would be used to help vulnerable energy consumers reduce their energy bills. The remaining £5m is a fine to be paid by Drax.

found on the BBC

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Inefficient appliances and other bits

As we have said on this blog before, the EU is now looking at another clampdown on inefficient appliances, with the most inefficient vacuum cleaners banned from sale.

Critics said the EU should not interfere in these matters, but the EU's intervention has been supported by energy experts who say that high voltage cleaners often produce increased heat and noise - but no more suction.

The tightening of standards has been driven by policies to improve energy security and tackle climate change.

A report from the UK Committee on Climate Change said household bills would have increased by an extra £165 between 2004-2013 if the energy savings had not been made.

It said gas use for heat and hot water had declined more than a quarter since 2004 - for a typical household. This reflects improvements in boiler efficiency and pipe insulation.

People also seem to have become more frugal in the recession - turning off radiators in unused rooms, but keeping the rooms they use most just as warm.

Insulation has reduced energy demand too. The number of homes with loft and cavity wall insulation is up from 39% in 2004 to 67% in 2013.

Energy use always drops after oil shocks and in recessions - but this current trend looks different. we can expect an energy spike if we get a cold winter...

Friday, 19 December 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

People in the UK are using less energy

Increased wealth typically leads to increased energy use - but this link appears to have been broken by technology and government policy.

New analysis of government statistics shows that the average person in the UK is using 10% less electricity than five years ago.

That is despite the boom in large TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets.

EU standards on household appliances have allowed people to do the same tasks with less energy.
A new A-rated model fridge-freezer saves 73% of energy, compared with its 20-year-old counterpart, according to the trade association AMDEA. That is about £100 a year off a household energy bill.

The controversial ban on old-style lamps means an average bulb consumes 29% less electricity in 2013 than in 2008. And LED bulbs look likely to improve the quality of indoor light, as well as reducing electricity demand even further.

found on the BBC website

Friday, 12 December 2014

Friday Fact

The past-tense of the English word “dare” is “durst”

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Millions of recalled electrical goods still out there...

The average success rate of an electrical product recall in the UK is only 10-20%.

This means that there are potentially millions of recalled electrical items still in UK homes.

As most of these products have been recalled because they offer a risk of electric shock or electrical fire, they present a serious risk.

The Electrical Safety First product checker contains the details of electrical products that have been recalled since 2007.

If you have searched for a product that you own and it is not listed, this means that it has not been recalled and should be safe to use.

However, if you do have concerns about its safety, contact the retailer or manufacturer to alert them to a potential problem.

If you find that you are in possession of a recalled product, the notification should give you details of what to do next. If no details are shown, you should contact either the seller or Citizens Advice.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Germany Will Miss Electric Car Target

Germany looks set to fail in its ambitious plan to put a million electric cars on the road by 2020.

An expert panel has warned that only half the target number will be achieved unless the government spends millions to make electric cars more attractive to buyers.

The panel made up of experts from industry, science and politics said in a report that the government should invest more money in research and development, and let businesses deduct half the purchase price of electric cars from tax.

At present, just 24,000 electric cars are registered in Germany.

Daily Die Welt reported that the government plans to place 400 charging stations along Germany's Autobahn network to ensure electric cars can travel the length and breadth of the country.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Who Electrocuted Some Turkeys For Science?

Can you Guess

If your from the UK he's not exactly a household name...

Benjamin Franklin's famous kite-flying in a thunder storm dude. Before that, he tested electric shocks on some farmyard birds. As he wrote to botanist Peter Collinson in a letter dated 1749, "A Turkey is to be killed for our Dinners by the Electrical Shock.

Unfortunately, he did not entirely kill the turkeys, at first. "The turkeys, though thrown into violent convulsions and then lying as dead for some minutes, would recover in less than a quarter of an hour," Watson wrote. Another shock did kill the 10-pound birds. "[Franklin] conceited, as himself says, that the birds killed in this manner eat uncommonly tender."

A Turkey is to be killed for our Dinners by the Electrical Shock; and roasted by the electrical Jack
Franklin also accidentally electrocuted himself that day, receiving a shock nearly as large as the one that killed his hens. He described the experience in a letter dated 1750:

The Company present (whose talking to me, and to one another I suppose occasioned my Inattention to what I was about) Say that the flash was very great and the crack as loud as a Pistol; yet my Senses being instantly gone, I neither Saw the one nor heard the other . . . . I then felt what I know not how well to describe; an universal Blow thro'out my whole Body from head to foot . . . . that part of my hand and fingers which held the Chain was left white as tho' the Blood had been Driven Out, and Remained so 8 or 10 Minutes After, feeling like Dead flesh . . . .
He stayed sore for a week.

Franklin's work, including several experiments besides the turkey one, was a boon to science, Watson concluded in his report, which the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A published. "Upon the whole, Mr. Franklin appears in the work before us to be a very able and ingenious man," Watson, a fellow of the Royal Society, wrote. He continued:

He has a head to conceive and a hand to carry into execution, whatever he thinks may conduce to enlighten the subject matter of which he is treating; and although there are in this work some few opinions in which I cannot perfectly agree with him, I think scarce any body is better acquainted with the subject of electricity than himself.

found at

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Audi to go EV by 2017

Audi announced it wants a share of the ecologic battery-powered cars market.

According to Auto Express, Audi is planning to release it's new electric powered family car in 2017.

Audi are working towards a range of 450km (280 miles)," Audi's technical development chief Ulrich Hackenberg told Auto Express.

According to Auto Express reporter Jonathan Burn, a new body design is allowing bigger and better batteries to be stored under the floor of the car, providing what a family car needs most, large baggage and passenger space.

In order to achieve 280 miles range, Audi's all-electric car will use next-generation batteries.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Christmas Electrcal Safety

Inspect your electrical flexes and cords.

This includes ones for Christmas lights

make sure it is not damaged or showing signs of getting hot and no parts that are melted, nothing where the inside cords are showing,

Electrical cords should not be knotted up, and the plug prongs are straight so they'll plug in properly.

Also, be sure to grab electrical plugs by the base, not by the cord, when plugging them in or pulling them out.

Check your socket outlets in your home.
Just as important as checking your electrical cords is checking the outlets that they plug into.

Make sure that there's no burn marks, char marks around your sockets and make sure the switches work and they are not cracked.

Use space heaters responsibly.
If you're using a space heater inside your home, look it over to make sure nothing has slipped in that can burn when the heater is plugged in and turned on.

Make sure there is nothing within a metre of the space heater when it's running.

You should always unplug your space heater whenever you're not home.

Finally - RCDs / Earth trips - better be safe than sorry. a properly functioning RCD can prevent a fire.

how do you know its functioning? press the yellow test button!

keep your family safe this Christmas

Friday, 5 December 2014

Friday Fact

The Bible, the world’s best-selling book, is also the world’s most shoplifted book.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Electricity really could grow on trees!

Boffins have been working overtime in France... and have unveiled prototype 'wind tree' that uses turbines hidden inside plastic leaves to create power

The 'Wind Tree' uses tiny blades housed in the 'leaves' that turn in breezes

A French team of engineers has developed an artificial tree that can generate electricity using the wind.

It uses tiny blades housed in the 'leaves' that turn in the wind - regardless of its direction - and has the added advantage of being completely silent.

The tree, which will sell for £23k can generate electricity on twice the number of days as a conventional wind turbine because it can generate power on winds of just 4.5mph.

Its still work in progress, but we would love to see further R&D

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Do you know what the 'lumpy' bit does...

its a Ferrite bead

A what?

We all have a basic idea about the purpose of each wire going in and out of our computer. But a few wires seem a bit off when it comes to their appearance. They have a cylindrical bead dangling near the end. So what’s this bead doing on that wire and what purpose does it serve? Today, we are going to unravel this mystery for you.

You will not only find this bead at end of charging cables but also mouse, keyboard and other peripheral cables. It turns out that lump’s called a ferrite bead or, more generically, a choke. It’s a fancy name for what’s basically an electromagnetic wave-bouncer. If you open this bead, you will not find any complex circuits but only a ferrite cylinder that is magnetic in nature. It is this magnetic quality of the bead that serves the purpose.

So basically, when current passes through any cable, it generates electromagnetic interference (EMI). Your electronic gadgets also produce EMI during operation. For example, if you connect a camera to your monitor, the camera would produce intereference and cause your monitor to flicker without the presence of a ferrite bead. If left unabated, EMI can wreck havoc with your computer peripherals.
electromagneticMagnetic Field

 These ferrite chokes ensure that signals are only sent in the intended directions and no EMI is transmitted between the peripherals. The choke dampens these EMI waves by acting as an EMI blocker. The blocking is most effective when it is near the source of the EMI, thats why you will only find these ferrite beads near the end of the cables. So, this little mystery is now solved! These tiny cyst-like beads make sure that our computer peripherals work properly and don’t cause any issues for the computer itself.

I hope that is clear...

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

An Electric Jag?

Is Jaguar going to build an electric car?

Jaguar has filed for the trademark name of "EV." Could that spell an electric car in the future?

The news that Jaguar has filed for the trademark of the nomenclature “EV” has sparked some speculation that the company might be getting into the “green” side of car making with either an all-electric car or a hybrid

A lot of car manufacturers today have used the “E” to signify some type of electric car or maybe advertise the Eco friendly side to the carbon pollution folks (or those who care about that kind of stuff).

It could be that Jaguar intends to release some type of more Eco-friendly low emission vehicle that would appeal to this niche market.

The type of trademark they filed for in the US and Europe has to be used within three years before it expires, so we will know what it stands for before too long.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

E-cigs safety information probed

An investigation into safety information surrounding electronic cigarettes has been ordered by the Government after a spate of incidents linked to the devices.

Figures obtained by the Press Association earlier this month revealed that e-cigarettes or related equipment, including chargers, were involved in more than 100 fires in less than two years.

Ministers outlined measures to boost awareness of the safest practices when using the technology.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has commissioned a number of trading standards departments to investigate whether current safety information is sufficient and widely available enough to consumers.

Trading Standards are to look at what information is currently available to consumers and to explore whether we need to do more to make sure there is enough guidance to help them stay safe.

It comes after the Local Government Association, which represents all 46 fire authorities in England and Wales, called for safety messages to be displayed on e-cigarette kits.

The Government also published advice to help the estimated 2.1 million Britons using e-cigarettes to do so safely.

The tips include:
  1. :: Ensure that e-cigarettes are not left charging for long periods of time.
  2. :: Do not leave e-cigarettes plugged in overnight or when you are out of the house.
  3. :: Look for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European safety standards.
Many incidents are suspected to have been sparked by users connecting e-cigarettes to incompatible chargers.

Data from 43 fire services provided following a freedom of information request showed earlier this month that since 2012 they had attended 113 calls to fires related to e-cigarette equipment.

The figures indicated that brigades were attending incidents involving the technology at a rate of around one a week.

From the services that provided data, e-cigarettes were cited as being involved in eight fires in 2012, rising to 43 last year, while there have been at least 62 so far this year.

In August, David Thomson, 62, was killed when an e-cigarette on charge exploded and ignited oxygen equipment he was believed to have been using.

It was thought to be the first fatality from a fire involving an e-cigarette in Britain. Other incidents have resulted in people being hurt or their homes being badly damaged.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Electric shock - we'd rather hurt ourselves than others

If you had the choice between hurting yourself or someone else in exchange for money, how altruistic do you think you’d be? In one infamous experiment, people were quite willing to deliver painful shocks to anonymous victims when asked by a scientist. But a new study that forced people into the dilemma of choosing between pain and profit finds that participants cared more about other people’s well-being than their own. It is hailed as the first hard evidence of altruism for the young field of behavioral economics.

Human behavior toward others is hard to predict. On the one hand, we stand out in the animal world for our altruism, often making significant sacrifices to help out a stranger in need. And all but the most antisocial people experience psychological distress at witnessing, let alone causing, pain in others. Yet study after study in the field of behavioral economics has demonstrated that we tend to value our own needs and desires above those of others. For example, researchers have found that just thinking about money makes people behave more selfishly.

To try to reconcile the angels and devils of our nature, a team led by Molly Crockett, a psychologist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, combined the classic psychological and economics tools for probing altruism: pain and money. Everyone has their own pain threshold, so the first task was a pain calibration. Researchers administered electric shocks with electrodes attached to the wrists of 160 subjects, starting at an almost imperceptible level and amping up until the subject described the pain as intolerable. (For most people, that threshold for pain is similar to holding your wrist under a stream of 50°C water.)

found at

Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday Fact

Airports that are at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Curry house owner sentenced over fire safety

hotelier have been sentenced for fire safety offences that endangered residents’ and staff lives.

A worker at the takeaway could have died when a deep fat fryer burst into flames while he was sleeping, Recorder James Baird told York Crown Court.

The man was upstairs at Bilash Tandoori, in Bromley Street, off Leeman Road, when the fire began at 4am on November 10 last year, the court heard.

Sailesh Mehta, prosecuting for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, told the court a loud smash awoke the employee, but his escape route was blocked by DIY material and a door that wouldn’t open. He managed to get out by a different route.

Former boss Mohamin Ahmed, 26, of Evelyn Crescent, Clifton, pleaded guilty to two breaches of fire safety regulations and was ordered to do 240 hours’ unpaid work and pay £1,500 prosecution costs.

For him, Kevin Blount said he had had no training in fire safety and now works as a taxi driver.

Earlier, Mr Mehta told the court how Yoko Banks, 66, put money above safety for years by repeatedly allowing dangerous situations at four of her hotels and a house in multiple occupation in Harrogate and by failing to do fire risk assessments, despite repeated warnings from fire officers.

At one point, officers closed a hotel until she made it safer.

Banks, of Franklin Road, Harrogate, pleaded guilty to ten breaches of fire safety regulations and five of failure to comply with enforcement notices. She was fined £50,000 with £12,000 prosecution costs.

Her barrister, Craig Hassell, said her businesses were losing money. The hotels were being sold by receivers, and she had difficulty understanding the technical aspects of fire safety. She now realised she needed outside help.

Speaking after the cases, fire station manager David Watson said: “Fire officers believe that the breaches of the general fire precautions were such as to result in the risk of death or serious injury.”

found at -

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A shot in the arm for Wee recycling

Samsung, Sainsbury’s, Sky & others back ‘revolutionary’ electrical goods trade-in scheme

The ever quickening cycle of technology has prompted a group of 50 retailers and manufacturers to club together in support of a recycling initiative designed to both reduce waste and encourage consumers to upgrade gadgets and appliances.

This will see retailers including Argos, B&Q, Homebase and Sainsbury’s establish drop off points where unwanted but still operational products can be deposited in return for in store discounts and vouchers.

Household names including LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sky will also get in on the act by establishing pick-up services for goods in exchange for a discount on replacement with a newer model.

A sustainability campaign group championing the deal, believes that British households are sitting on a £1bn treasure chest of idle electronics and mothballed white goods which could be sold on to protect both the wallet and the planet.

It cites a typical two-year old mid-range laptop computer as having a resale value of around £240 whilst an unwanted 55in television could fetch as much as £475.

By making better use of resources, businesses can better safeguard their future through creating new opportunities for economic and environmental benefits, whilst saving consumers money.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Smart Tech

The digital technology boom is being fuelled by lots of NEW stuff. An industry estimate is that over 10% of UK homes will own at least one smart system by the end of the year. Amazingly that’s over 3 million UK households will be going ‘smart’

These technologies can help not only measure their energy consumption but also how they can control consumption. Recently we have been talking about the Dimplex Quantum heaters and I have just fitted a Nest Stat in my home. Why? Because heating makes up over 60 per cent of my household’s energy bill.

Energy prices have continued to soar in our uncompetitive market so I’m investing now to help my
back pocket for the future. Hence the opportunity to invest in new products and solutions to help reduce the energy bill is becoming increasingly appealing to all of us.

To be honest little had changed in the way we controlled our heating systems since forever so the arrival of smart technology was well overdue.

Our new Nest stat tells me how much energy has being used and can be controlled via both my phone and tablet. I can check the status of the heating system and turn it on if I’m going to be home earlier (which never happens) or off if I’m not there.

Its easy to see when its calling for heat

The clever (and slightly spooky) this is this new stat learns about our family life. It even knows when I am at home. It learns from our heating preferences, how long it takes a home to heat up, and even when it’s empty to create a personalised and optimised heating schedule. It quite literally ground breaking technology that is not just about the thermostat but about its ability to learn, and being able to create a ‘conscious’ home.

It learns when my family needs more heat or wants less, it can even predict how weather conditions will alter the household’s behaviour and adjust accordingly, and will turn the system off when it senses no-one is home.

If you look at the above you can see when the heating is on, when the family were out and it even says when we have turned the stat up or the stat decides it need to come on earlier because 'its cold outside'

I didn’t get the nest protect as I have the Aico Multi-Sensor Fire Alarm but if I hadn’t done that two years ago, it would have been an option I considered as the within this ‘conscious’ home, different devices can talk to each other and create a safe environment as the Nest Protect, communicates with the learning thermostat, so in the event of a carbon monoxide alarm the heating system, is turned off and sends information to the user’s mobile phone alerting them when an alarm goes off.

According to Gartner, there will be 26 billion devices on the ‘Internet of Things’ by 2020.

The UK government, along with others around the world, has committed to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. This means a cut to energy waste with the government setting a target for all UK homes to have a smart meter by 2020. Again, smart technology has a role to play in this, providing an effective means to control usage and, in turn, maximise energy savings.

Monday, 24 November 2014

UK average 4G speed over 15Mbps

UK 4G speeds are more than twice as fast as 3G, according to a new report from watchdog Ofcom.

They clocked up an average of 15.1Mbps (megabits per second) while 3G averaged 6.1Mbps, it suggested.

The report looked at the speed and coverage of mobile networks in five major UK cities - London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

It indicated that London had the fastest 4G web browsing speeds but the slowest 3G browsing speeds.
While it took just 0.72 seconds to load a standard web page on the 4G network in London, it took 1.2 seconds via 3G.

Getting a web page to load on the 4G network took the longest in Glasgow (0.82 seconds) while Manchester had the best 3G browsing speeds (1.01 seconds), according to the report.

Edinburgh recorded the highest download speeds for both 4G and 3G with London having the lowest for both.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Is shale gas a load of 'hype'

Ministers have "completely oversold" the potential of shale gas, energy experts say.

Researchers from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) told the BBC promises of lower prices and greater energy security from UK shale gas were “hype” and "lacking in evidence".

UKERC, an academic consortium covering 30 institutions, has produced a report on the future of gas in the UK.

The Treasury said the potential of shale gas was "too big to ignore".

The report authors said shale gas - a natural gas that can be drawn from rock through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - was so early in its infancy it was impossible to know how much could be extracted and at what cost.

But they said it was most unlikely to make a substantial difference to prices or to the security of energy supplies in the UK.

Supporters say the fracking of shale gas could significantly contribute to the UK's future energy needs, but critics say the process could lead to environmental problems.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

£7m per pylon to bury grid cables in beauty spots

Electricity pylons are to be removed from beauty spots for the first time, with the power lines buried underground at a cost of £7 million for each structure. Ouch!

A £500 million National Grid scheme will result in only 65 pylons being dismantled across Britain. That equates to less than 1 in 20 of the 1,500 pylons in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty

This information comes from draft policy published in August

National Grid published a draft policy covering what they will do to spend the recently granted £500 million allowance that can be used to underground existing lines in nationally designated landscapes between now and 2020. National Grid will consult on the draft over 8 weeks. The fund could be spent on:
    * Placing lines underground;
     * Screening and landscaping;
     * Replacing existing and outdated pylons with those of an alternative design (e.g. the recently launched ‘T Pylon’ design); and/or
     * Re-routeing and rationalising existing lines

The Campaign for National Parks (CNP), The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), and the Campaign to Protect Rural Wales (CRRW) will work with a new national stakeholder group organised by National Grid. It is hoped that the group will begin meeting before the end of this year.
Paul Miner, Senior Planning Campaigner for CPRE said: ‘We welcome National Grid’s continued progress in making sure that this exciting opportunity to reinstate and enhance our finest landscapes is turned into real action on the ground. For too long, pylons have blighted a number of our finest landscapes. This allowance can help us make a start to address and make good this damage’.

Peter Ogden, Director of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, agreed by saying:
‘National Grid’s initiative marks an important step forward in recognising the true value, pleasure and the enormous range of public benefits our finest landscapes provide to the nation. We hope this prompt captures the imagination of others to follow and help declutter these iconic and invaluable areas of Wales and England’.

Ruth Bradshaw, Policy and Research Manager for the Campaign for National Parks, added: ‘We’re really pleased that the opportunity for more pylon free views in National Parks has moved a step closer as a result of National Grid publishing their draft policy. Its great timing too as this is National Parks Week and we look forward to working closely with National Grid and other stakeholders to ensure the allowance is implemented successfully’.

£7 million though!!!!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday fact

Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952, but he declined.

Parliament repair bill 'could top £3bn'

Taxpayers may have to spend more than £3bn to stop Parliament turning into an unusable "ruin", Newsnight understands.

The Palace of Westminster has seen fire and floods, some stonework is badly damaged and much of the infrastructure has not been updated since the 1950s.

Restoring it will be "embarrassing, expensive and difficult", a senior insider said.

No final decisions have been taken, but an option under consideration is moving MPs and peers out for five years.

The basements underneath the historic building are full of asbestos, leaking pipes and miles and miles of outdated wiring and cables.

The annual DIY bill is about £30m.

There is a "working assumption" of the cost of restoration is £3bn.

That's considerably more than other estimates previously released.

Cloister Court, part of the building dating back to the 14th Century, is "sinking and crumbling", according to Adam Watrobski, Parliament's principal architect.

Gargoyles and stone facades have been disfigured by decades of pollution.

Crumbling stonework Stonework is badly disfigured in many areas

The options are :
  1. Moving MPs and peers out completely for five years, closing the entire Palace of Westminster. This would be expected to encounter significant political opposition
  2. A "partial decant" - the House of Lords and the House of Commons would move out in turn, so one half of the palace could be restored at a time, which would take considerably longer
  3. Politicians refuse to move and construction takes place around them. That could take decades and cost even more
They are reluctant to make the cost of the building an issue in the run-up to the general election and are expected to commission more research instead.
There will inevitably be controversy about the costs.
But historian and architectural expert Dan Cruickshank believes the Palace of Westminster "it's one of the great buildings of the world".

He added: "It represents in many ways the national identity of Britain... it has to be done properly.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Is Thorium the Future?

Nuclear scientists are being urged by the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix to develop thorium as a new fuel.

Mr Blix says that the radioactive element may prove much safer in reactors than uranium.

It is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of nuclear weapons.

His comments will add to growing levels of interest in thorium, but critics warn that developing new reactors could waste public funds.

Thorium should be safer in reactors - and it is almost impossible to make a bomb out of thorium.

These are very major factors as the world looks for future energy supplies and terrorism

Hans Blix Hans Blix says the world should try its best to develop thorium

His enthusiasm is shared by some in the British nuclear establishment. Scientists at the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) have been encouraged by the government to help research on an Indian thorium-based reactor, and on a test programme in Norway.

The Norway tests at the OECD’s nuclear trials facility in Halden are conducted in a Bond-style underground bunker.

The thorium tests are being carried out by a private firm, Thor Energy (the element itself was discovered in Norway in 1828 and named after the Norse god of thunder).

Do you have an unsecured IP address baby cam or CCTV?

A website containing thousands of live feeds from baby monitors, webcams and CCTV systems is broadcasting these cams.

Data watchdogs across the world have drawn attention to the Russian-based site, which broadcasts footage from systems using either default passwords or no log-in codes at all.

The site lists streams from more than 250 countries.

It currently provides 500 feeds from the UK alone.

They include what appear to be images from:
  1. an office in Warwickshire
  2. a child's bedroom in Birmingham
  3. a home's driveway in Nottinghamshire
  4. a gym in Manchester, a pub in Salford
  5. a shop interior in London
Some of the feeds showed a static image but did not otherwise appear to be working.
Camera owners are being urged to check their equipment and set hard-to-guess passwords containing a mixture of lower and upper case letters, numbers and other characters.

The privacy watchdogs have provided the name of the site to the media, however the BBC has opted not to publish it.

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office acknowledged that other members of the press might reveal the details, guiding people to the feeds.

The underlying problems with this don't just relate to this one webcam site, but potentially to anyone who uses a default password on any device.

Password problems
The site in question lists the feeds both by country and by device manufacturer.

China-based Foscam was the most commonly listed brand, followed by Linksys and then Panasonic.

Foscam camera Owners of old Foscam baby monitors and webcams may be unaware of the risks

Password tips:
The University of Surrey's Prof Alan Woodward is among security experts who have suggested internet users should now update their login details.

He suggests the following rules should be observed when picking a new password.
Don't choose one obviously associated with you

Hackers can find out a lot about you from social media so if they are targeting you specifically and you choose, say, your pet's name you're in trouble.

  1. Choose words that don't appear in a dictionary
  2. Hackers can precalculate the encrypted forms of whole dictionaries and easily reverse engineer your password.
  3. Use a mixture of unusual characters
  4. You can use a word or phrase that you can easily remember but where characters are substituted, eg Myd0gha2B1g3ars!
  5. Have different passwords for different sites and systems
  6. If hackers compromise one system you do not want them having the key to unlock all your other accounts.
Keep them safely
With multiple passwords it is tempting to write them down and carry them around with you. Better to use some form of secure password vault on your phone.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Candle Fire Safety

Candle Fire Safety Week (November 17-23).

Candle fires result in around 350 casualties each year, and with nearly 40 per cent of fires started by candles resulting in death or injury

It’s important to remember that a candle is not just a decorative feature. Left unattended, an open flame could leave a trail of devastation.

It’s so important to think about where you are placing your lit candles; they should always be away from curtains and out of the reach of pets and children.

Extinguish your candles if you leave the room, even if it’s only for a moment - it only takes a moment for a fire to start.

Even with these precautions it’s important to be prepared should the worst. make sure you have a working smoke alarm. it can give you the vital time you need to get out

press the test button NOW!!!

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by testing your alarm regularly

The key to a smarter power grid

Is energy storage.

Energy grids across the world are struggling to cope with a surge in demand for electricity and increasingly volatile supply from renewable power sources.

In the UK, where the government is committed to stringent carbon dioxide reduction targets. These can only be met by massively increasing electricity use - which currently accounts for about a third of all energy consumption - from renewables at the expense of oil and gas.

Peak demand on the UK grid is currently 60GW, but by 2050, the government estimates this will increase six-fold as demand for electric cars and household heating soars.

To meet this demand, more pylons and cabling will be needed, adding up to £1,000 a year to consumer bills, according to power services company S&C Electric.

And it's not just about higher demand and cost, as renewable power sources such as wind and solar are, by their very nature, variable - when the wind doesn't blow and sun doesn't shine, little or no power is generated.

Countries the world over, and particularly those investing heavily in renewable energy, are facing the same problem, and solutions are few and far between.

Increasing fast-acting generation in order to fill energy gaps is one answer, but as most generators of this type, such as diesel turbines, emit CO2, they are somewhat counterproductive.

Another way is to increase connectivity with other countries, but in a world in which national energy security is high on political agendas, this is far from ideal. And besides, as many weather patterns are regional, this is hardly a winning solution.

But there are two ways to help solve this critical problem that should work, both of which are attracting huge sums of money from governments and companies.

The first is energy storage - simply storing energy generated during periods of low demand to use during periods of high demand. Sounds simple enough and, as Anthony Price at the UK's Electricity Storage Network says, it's something that was commonplace 100 years ago.

Not only does storage help overcome the problem of variable supply from renewable energy sources, but it allows electricity grids to operate more efficiently and cost effectively, says Mr Price. This is simply because storage allows "the system to be run at average load rather than peak load", he says.
It would also end the absurdity of paying for wind turbines to be shut down when demand is being satisfied.

And the cost savings could be huge - Imperial College London's Energy Futures Lab has estimated that energy storage technologies could generate savings of £10bn a year by 2050 in the UK.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The evolution of Fire Risk Management

Some organisations are beginning to wonder if the current Fire Risk practice is sustainable.

It’s been nearly nine years since the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 prompted many organisations to undertake fire risk assessments within the premises under their control and many organisations have spent significant resources on consultant fire risk assessors (a person who carries out and documents the significant findings of a fire risk assessment) only to discover that the advice they received may have been offered with the best of intentions but was not wholly appropriate and may have differed from the advice of a ‘competent’ fire risk assessor. 

At the same time, the fire industry has spent a considerable amount of time in the last few years deciding how to define a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment and deciding how to tackle the ‘cowboy’ market.  It would appear that, at long last, there is now at least a ‘defined’ competency criterion for fire risk assessors and guidance for those charged with delivering fire risk assessment programmes on how to seek out the services of a competent fire risk assessor.  

Following a recent review of Enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, undertaken by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Chief Fire Officers Association ( CFOA ) is now committed to promoting the use, and acceptance, of recognised professional certification and accreditation for commercial fire risk assessors. 

Fire risk assessments are the cornerstone of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, yet the value of a fire risk assessment, even when undertaken by a competent fire risk assessor, is largely dependent on the organisation’s ability to manage the outcomes.

A fire risk assessment is a means to an end but not the end in itself.  When reviewing the high profile prosecutions that have hit the headlines over the past few years, one quickly realises that failure to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment (under Article 9) is not the only compliance obligation imposed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005; there are numerous other duties by which the responsible person is bound.

The concept of ‘fire risk management’. With very few fire fatalities arising in commercial premises, fire risk management is not just about life safety or the risk of injury or death in the event of fire occurrence. It encapsulates life safety, property protection, business continuity and sustainability in the face of fire. 

In today’s global and interconnected market place, issues, such as corporate social responsibility and reputational risk, are very prominent and news headlines travel fast via both traditional and new media forms. The cost of fire is at an all-time high and, in these tough economic times, organisations need to be frugal with finite financial resources. They need to build resilience and ensure that fire risk assessment programmes deliver the intended outcomes.

Fire risk management is a discipline in its own right with its own set of competencies. The discipline does not always sit neatly in the Health & Safety department due to the need for interaction with property, estates or facilities management functions and the old adage about ‘Jack of all trades’ most certainly applies.

We are heading for fire risk management system certification via a certification body. Those organisations that already hold certification of their Health and Safety Management System to OHSAS 18001, or Business Continuity Management System to ISO 22301

Monday, 17 November 2014

Update to its Wiring Regulations

The amended IET Wiring Regulations, which sets out the national standard for which all new and amended electrical installations are to comply, will feature a number of important changes and will be available from the IET from 5 January 2015.

This latest amendment, the third following Amendment  No.1 which was published back in 2011 and Amendment No.2 in 2013, will be  published as a new consolidated book. The amended regulations will include changes to the electrical condition report section, new requirements for mobile and transportable electrical units and changes for the installation of luminaires and light fittings – bringing them in line with the latest international and European standards.

The amended IET Wiring Regulations will also include the new Regulation 421.1.200. This regulation requires that within domestic (household) premises, consumer units and similar switchgear assemblies shall comply with BS EN 61439-3 and shall have their enclosure manufactured from non-combustible material, or enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed of non-combustible material and complying with Regulation 132.12. This has been developed to safeguard against the risk of fire that can be produced from the overheating of connections in consumer units. 

Geoff Cronshaw, chief electrical engineer at the IET said: “The amended IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671:2008 incorporating Amendment No. 3:2015 will set the electrical standards for those professionals working in the electrical, construction and built environment industries. It is paramount that, as an organisation, the IET continues to ensure that electrical standards are up-to-date and relevant to the ever evolving requirements of the UK’s electrical industry.

“What’s more, it is essential that all electrical industry professionals familiarise themselves with the amended IET Wiring Regulations when they are published in January 2015, to ensure that the work they do is compliant and, most importantly, is carried out in a safe and appropriate manner.”

Planes collecting phone data.

Devices that gather data from millions of mobile phones are being flown over the US by the government, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The "dirtbox" devices mimic mobile phone tower transmissions, and handsets transmit back their location and unique identity data, the report claims.

While they are used to track specific suspects, all mobile devices in the area will respond to the signal.

The US Justice Department refused to confirm or deny the report.

The Wall Street Journal said it had spoken to "sources familiar with the programme" who said Cessna aircraft fitted with dirtboxes were flying from at least five US airports.

The department said that it operated within federal law.

A dirtbox mimics the signals transmitted by mobile phone providers which handsets look to latch on to. When they do, they send their individual registration information and location.

While they are intended to be used to track an individual or small group, all phones within the area where they are operating will also be swept up in the surveillance.

They operate in the same way as Stingray, a more commonly known mobile phone surveillance too.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Germany - not as green as it makes out to be...

Germany is an enlightened leader in the global battle to reduce CO2 emissions, a pioneer in renewable energy and community power projects and a champion of energy efficiency.

Or so they say...

Ask the 250 other residents of Atterwasch, a quiet village near the Polish border, face eviction from their home of 30 years to make way for the Janschwalde-Nord coal mine.

And not just any old coal, but lignite, the dirtiest form of this ancient fossil fuel that is mined in vast opencast pits.

If the plans go ahead, the village, parts of which date back more than 700 years, will be demolished.
"Since the plans for the mine were unveiled in 2007, we have lived with this constant threat, which has taken over the lives of every individual and the community as a whole," says Mrs Schulz-Hopfner.

In the eastern German region of Lausitz, nine villages are under threat, where up to 3,000 people could lose their homes to make way for five new lignite mines that are fuelling the country's renewed thirst for coal. Two further mines are under consideration.
Immediate impact

The mines are needed to power a new generation of coal power plants.

Two new lignite plants were opened in 2012, with a further two in the pipeline. Another two hard coal plants also opened last year, with a further five opening this year or next, with two more awaiting licences.

The effects are already being felt. Lignite production in 2012 hit its highest level for almost 20 years, while initial estimates suggest this brown coal was used to generate 162bn kWh of electricity last year, more than in any year since 1990. The use of hard coal also increased, meaning the two energy sources accounted for 46% of Germany's overall energy production.

found at -

Saturday, 15 November 2014

National Grid warns of lower winter power capacity

National Grid has warned that its capacity to supply electricity this winter will be at a seven-year low due to generator closures and breakdowns.

Spare electricity capacity, which ran at about 5% over the winter months last year, would be nearer 4% this year, National Grid said.

Three years ago the margin was 17%.

But National Grid said it has contingency plans in place to manage supply, including paying big firms to switch off on cold winter evenings.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Electric Car Breaks 200 MPH, Sets New World Land Speed Record

An electric car built by students at Brigham Young University has set a new land speed record for cars in its class. "Electric Blue" averaged a mind-blowing 204.9 mph over two runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats this month, beating its own previous record from 2011 by nearly 50 mph.

Electric Blue competes in the "E1" racing class, since it's electrically powered and weighs less than 1,100 pounds. The sleek blue-and-white streamliner is made of lightweight carbon fiber and powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries. Its spaceship-like design has been modified by dozens of students over the course of 10 years.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Do you live in a NotSpot???

The government plans to oblige mobile operators to improve their coverage, possibly by sharing rivals' networks.

Partial 'notspots', where there is coverage from some but not all of the mobile networks, affected a fifth of the UK, leaving people unable to make calls or send texts, it said.

One possible solution would see people transferred to rival networks when they lose signal.
But experts are not convinced this would work.

The proposals to end the frustration - currently only aimed at improving 2G services - are as follows:
National roaming - phones would use another network when theirs was unavailable, similar to how roaming works when abroad

Infrastructure sharing - mobile networks would be able to put transmitters on each other's masts
Reforming virtual networks - agreements that companies such as Tesco and Virgin currently have with single operators would be extended to all four networks

Coverage obligation - obliging the networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK - and leaving them to decide how to do it

The government has given the industry, businesses and the public until 26 November to respond to the proposals.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Swiss electric car sets world acceleration record

The “grimsel” car sped from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in just 1.785 seconds, at a military airport in Dübendorf in the canton of Zurich, smashing the the previous record.

The previous record of 2.13 seconds was set by Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Operated by a student team from the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ), The grimsel car, reached a speed of 100 km/h in less than 30 metres, ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, said in a news release.

Thirty students from the two swiss universities developed and built the racing car in less than a year.
Weighing just 168 kilograms, the carbon-fibre vehicle generates 200 horsepower through four-wheel drive, ETH said.

Four specially designed wheel hub motors create a total torque of 1,630 Newton metres (Nm), with torque distribution controlled individually for each wheel to maximize acceleration, the university said.


Monday, 10 November 2014

Managing agent fined £10,000 after breaking fire safety laws

Bridgeford & Co. Limited were fined £10,000 and had costs of over £16,500 awarded against them for flouting fire safety laws.

They pleaded guilty to four offences relating to fire safety management at Canterbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

KFRS were called to a fire in a four-storey property at Ethelbert Terrace, on Cliftonville seafront in Margate just before 5am on April 22 2012.

Firefighters had to lead a man to safety from a top floor flat.

KFRS fire safety officers carried out an investigation and looked at the fire safety management of the property.

The investigation found that in addition to failure of the fire alarm, the building did not have a fire risk assessment until almost three years after Bridgeford & Co. Ltd took over management of the building.

Their arrangements for inspecting and maintaining the fire safety measures in the building were also found to be inadequate.

In sentencing, the magistrates fined the company £10,000 and ordered them to pay the KFRS’s costs of just over £16,500.

There you have it - get a risk assessment and make sure that the fire safety measures in their buildings are kept in good working order

its as simple as that.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

E-cigarettes leading to fires

E-cigarettes haven't been around so long and while some stats suggest they are a healthier choice for those who smoke, other stats show them to still be a fire hazard. In the U.K., they would seem to be causing about a fire each and every week now.

The Telegraph reported on Freedom of Information stats recently released and those stats suggest fires related to e-cigarettes are becoming common. In the U.K., as of 2013, some 2.1 million Brits were smoking e-cigarettes.

Forty-three fire services from around the country reported data and compiling it shows that since 2012 e-cigarettes have become a fire danger. Since that year 113 fires have been started in one way or other by e-cigarette usage and U.K. fire chiefs are issuing warnings.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Speed boost for 4G in some UK cities

We wont see it in Maulden. in fact it would be nice just to have a signal in Haynes but things will be getting faster...

Browsing speeds on some 4G handsets in some UK cities are set to accelerate as two UK operators switch on an improved version of the mobile technology.

Called 4G+ by EE and 4.5G by Vodafone, the technology can offer data rates of 150 megabits per second (Mbps).

In practice, those signing up to use the service should see speeds of up to 90 Mbps - much faster than standard 4G.

However, the technology is only usable on two handsets currently available in the UK.

EE announced that its 4G+ service should now be available in 150 sites across central London. It has been testing the technology in the Tech City area of the capital since late 2013.

The whole of EE's 4G London network should be upgraded for 4G+ by June 2015, it said. By then upgrades to its network in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester will also be under way.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The UK has one wi-fi hotspot for every 11 people

New research from wi-fi provider iPass suggests there will be 47.7 million public hotspots worldwide by the end of 2014.

France currently has the most hotspots, followed by the US and UK.

Hotspots are designed to fill the gaps in coverage left by mobile networks and are often offered free of charge.

The study is one of the first comprehensive looks at the distribution of global wi-fi. A clickable map of hotspots around the world shows the numbers in each region and where they are located - in homes, on trains, planes, airports and retail outlets.

Over the next four years, global hotspot numbers will grow to more than 340 million, the equivalent of one wi-fi hotspot for every 20 people on earth, the research finds.

But this growth will not be evenly distributed. While in North America there will be one hotspot for every four people by 2018, in Africa it will be one for every 408.

While Europe currently has the most dense wi-fi coverage, Asia will overtake it by 2018, according to the report.

The research suggests that the vast majority of hotspots - nearly 34 million - are in homes. These hotspots are part of a growing trend to extend home wi-fi to the local community.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Keyless cars 'increasingly targeted by thieves using computers'

Organised criminal gangs are increasingly targeting high-end cars with keyless security systems, a UK motoring industry group has warned.

The thieves are able to bypass security using equipment intended only for mechanics, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Manufacturers are trying to stay ahead of the thieves by updating software.

It has been reported that some London-based owners of Range Rovers have been denied insurance over the issue.

The warnings echoed those made by the US National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which earlier this year said it had seen a "spike" in car thefts involving equipment to spoof keyless entry.

Keyless entry and ignition typically works by the driver keeping a fob on their person which automatically opens the car and activates it so it can be driven.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Tarantula venom illuminates electrical activity in live cells

Researchers have created a cellular probe that combines a tarantula toxin with a fluorescent compound to help scientists observe electrical activity in neurons and other cells. The probe binds to a voltage-activated potassium ion channel subtype, lighting up when the channel is turned off and dimming when it is activated.

This is the first time researchers have been able to visually observe these electrical signalling proteins turn on without genetic modification. These visualization tools are prototypes of probes that could some day help researchers better understand the ion channel dysfunctions that lead to epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmias and other conditions.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on October 20.

Voltage-gated channels are proteins that allow specific ions, such as potassium or calcium, to flow in and out of cells. They perform a critical function, generating an electrical current in neurons, muscles and other cells. There are many different types, including more than 40 potassium channels. Though other methods can very precisely measure electrical activity in a cell, it has been difficult to differentiate which specific channels are turning on.

The tarantula toxin, guangxitoxin-1E, was an ideal choice because it naturally binds to the Kv2 channels. These channels are expressed in most, if not all, neurons, yet their regulation and activity are complex and actively debated. Sack and his laboratory worked closely with Bruce Cohen, a scientist in the Lawrence Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, who has been studying how fluorescent molecules and nanoparticles can be used to image live cells.

To study the channels, the team engineered variants of tarantula toxin that could be fluorescently labelled and retain function.

These probes were designed to bind to the potassium channels when they were at rest and let go when they became active. The researchers then tested them on living cells. To their surprise, the probes worked right away.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Digital hearing aids 'Useless for music'

Wearers of digital hearing aids struggle to listen to recorded music because of the way the devices process sound, research from the US suggests.

The researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder found that the more sophisticated hearing aids boost softer sounds to aid speech recognition.

This process is called wide dynamic range compression.

However, it distorts recorded music, which tends to be compressed already during production.
The effect of both the recording compression and further compression by the hearing aid causes distortion.

Additionally, music - both recorded and live - is made up of many sounds at different volumes and changing these volumes changes the way the music sounds.

that's not good!!!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Geak Android smartwatches 'last a week or more' between charges

That would be nice, now how about my phone???

One of China's leading tech firms has unveiled two Android-powered smartwatches that it says can last about a week between charges.

That represents a substantial gain on alternatives that can struggle to run longer than a day.

The Geak Watch 2 models achieve the feat by using a hybrid screen that switches between a "high definition" LCD colour display and a "standby mode" battery-saving e-ink one.

Mmmm - very clever.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

London's electric car infrastructure falling into ruin

London’s network of electric vehicle charging points – the largest in the UK – is in danger of falling apart thanks to the piecemeal manner in which it has been assembled and is managed.

Many charging points in parts of the 1,400+ network are currently out of service with little prospect of them being repaired in the near future, despite the network being sold off last month with ambitious expansion plans for its future.

An official Source London online map of the network is the clearest indication of which points are in service at any one time, and in some localities the number of broken points outnumber those working.

don't go to Southwark - 10 of 12 chargers were out of action, while around the Barbican all eight chargers were shown as unserviceable.

Official numbers for those out of service are not collected by the two main bodies involved – Transport for London and Source London – but the London Borough of Camden admits that it’s struggling to keep more than 70 per cent of its charging points operational at any one time, leaving significant holes in the network.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Friday Fact

Critic Michael Crowley gave such a poor review of one of author Michael Crichton's books that, in his next book, Crichton made a character 'Mick Crowley' who was a child molester with a small penis.

That's a bit like Goya painting the Spanish Royal Court. Love it.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Leaving your electrical devices on standby can costs £80 a year

Leaving electrical devices such as televisions and games consoles on standby can cost up to £80 a year in electricity bills.

Turning appliances off when they are not in use would save UK homes £1.7billion a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust,

Despite the cost, a poll found that three-quarters of homes with a spare television leave it on standby.

A games console on standby can cost up to £30 a year, but nearly two-fifths of console owners leave them on, according to the Ipsos Mori poll.

Old appliances can also waste money if they have small faults or are inefficient.

We are a nation on standby.

Millions of us are unintentionally wasting electricity when we leave our gadgets on standby, It’s an easy mistake to make yet it costs us a fortune.

YES, I'm talking about YOU!!!!

In the next 5 days most of you will be out of the house for 40 hours and asleep for a further 40. 80 hours of electricity wasted in a week, EVERY week...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Landlord fined over dangerous property

Leicester City Council has successfully prosecuted a landlord for a series of offences relating to an unlicensed property.

Stephen Raynes was ordered to pay over £10,000 in costs and fines by Leicester Magistrates Court.

An environmental health officer visited the three-storey property after a tenant complained to the council about a damp problem in one of the bedsits.

The inspection of the building found that the fire detection and alarm system had been tampered with and was not working.

Other issues identified by the inspection included mould, a broken extractor fan, a damaged wall heater socket. The property wasn't licensed as a House in Multiple Occupation ( HMO ).

Rayns was ordered to pay £6,000 for failing the register the property as a HMO , and a further £1,000 for the faulty fire alarm system. He was fined £1000 for a further four offences.

found at

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

VW says electric car range will be between 310-370 miles by 2020

Slow battery technology improvement is holding back EV

Wouldn't it be nice to charge your phone once a week? even better once a month!!!

If you don't drive long distances frequently, the current crop of electric cars is probably ok-ish

Every morning you leave with a full charge, and the 80-100 miles that most

I would be far more comfortable with a car that had a 150-200 miles of driving range.

there is some good news on the Horizon. Volkswagen's head of powertrain development, Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, recently said that he believes that plug-in hybrids are only a stop-gap technology that is only bridging the past and the future on the road to 100% electric vehicles, and that as early as 2020, these could have between 310 and 370 miles of range.

"Battery [technology] makes the biggest steps in very short time frames. If you look at when we started with the e-mobility of the Golf, and you look now to the Passat, we have done the first step," said Dr Neusser. "We have more energy density in the batteries [than before], and in 2015-16 will come the next step which means we come from 25-28 ampere hours (Ah) energy density to 36-37Ah. Now we are actually working on the next step to around 60Ah... with research will come a completely new electro-chemical chemistry inside the batteries, and this will come at the beginning of the next decade. We have to look to the e-Golf, which had an operating range of around 190km. I expect the next generation in 2015-17 will increase to around 300km and the following step will be around 500-600km."

hopefully he is right...

Monday, 27 October 2014

The UK Changes Company Car Tax Rules For Electric Cars

If you live in the United Kingdom then you will have encountered the concept of the “company car”, where an employer offers their employee a car, paid for by the employer so that the employee can use it for work. Of course, the lucky staffer then gets to take the car home and use it for visiting etc as a  “Benefit In Kind” is then taxed by The Government.

Before 2002 the proof that your car really was a company car was that you drove 18,000 miles or more on company business.

Cue therefore many London based drivers booking meetings in Aberdeen while their Scottish colleagues would book Brighton based meetings just to clock up those all important business miles. It didn’t take long before people realised that this was not environmentally responsible. So the rules changed, and now the all important figure was the level of carbon emissions.

With the move to an emissions based scheme The Government introduced a category of vehicle which they called Zero Emissions Vehicles. These vehicles attracted a 0% Benefit in Kind allowance, something which Tesla, Nissan and the other EV producers have been trading on as, right now in October 2014 if you drive an electric car given to you by the company then you pay NO TAX on it whatsoever.

This was never going to last and in April 2015 company EV drivers should brace themselves for the shock of paying tax on their cars.

From April 2015 your EV will no longer be classed by HMRC as a Zero Emissions Vehicle but will become an Ultra Low Carbon car and you will be able to emit up to 50g/km of carbon dioxide through your non-existent exhaust.

In the financial year 2015-2016 your Ultra Low Carbon vehicle will attract a Benefit In Kind of 5% and in 2016-2017 this rises to 7%.

Benefit In Kind is calculated not on what your employer paid for your car but is based upon the list price of your car, including any options which you have decided to add on. Yes, Volkswagen e-UP drivers, that means that if you order the £85 noise emitter to save pedestrians from being mown down by you, HMRC will class 5% of that cost (£4.25) as a benefit direct to you and tax you accordingly. When you are looking at a new car this figure will be listed on the quote or on the lease agreement. This is what goes on your P11D form back to The Revenue.

So if we went shopping for a Nissan LEAF TEKNA today, before we start adding those all important options the car will have a list value of £30,490. Using this figure therefore next financial year The Revenue will say that you have received 5% of that (£1524.50) as a taxable benefit. If you are then earning enough to be a basic rate taxpayer then you will be taxed 20% of £1524.50 or £304.90 for the use of the car and you should expect to see this being taken from your wages. If you are a higher rate tax payer then you will be taxed £609.80 for the LEAF. If you’re an upper rate taxpayer then you’re driving a Tesla so you’re figures will be higher still – don’t worry, you can afford it!

From April 2016 these figures rise a little – your LEAF will now cost you £426.86 or £853.72 based upon your tax rate.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Risking property and personal safety by following online DIY advice is pretty common

According to research released by UK safety charity, Electrical Safety First, half of local homeowners believe they will ultimately save time and money by using YouTube DIY videos to complete projects around the home, even if they don't have the necessary experience or skill.

The number of people across the UK carrying out work to increase their property's value has trebled in the last two years, but the charity suggests people are taking on more than they can handle with many homeowners tackling projects that, by law, should be carried out by a registered electrician.
The study, which is part of a new #dontdieforDIY campaign, also revealed one in 16 people who followed online advice caused significant damage to their property or had to pay for costly repairs as a result of botched DIY.

Emma Apter of Electrical Safety First said, "The Internet is a fantastic resource and the new generation of YouTube DIYers shows just how much we have come to rely on it.
But there's only so much online videos and tips can tell you and not everyone will have the knowledge or experience to carry out more complicated tasks. Ash yourself, 'If I have to Google this, should I really be doing it?'. If in doubt, get a professional in - it could save you a lot of time and money in the long run."

As part of the campaign a series of spoof videos, featuring "expert" YouTube DIYer Mike Power, have been released as well as these tips for safely following online DIY instructions:

1. If something looks too complicated to try yourself, it probably is. You could save a lot of time and hassle by getting a professional in.
2.When doing electrical DIY make sure you have RCD protection, either in your fuse-box or as a plug-in. An RCD is a life-saving device that cuts out power if there's an accident and can help prevent an electric shock.
3.If you have any doubts about the type of electrical DIY you should or shouldn't be doing visit for more advice.
4.Always use a registered electrician. Click here to find one in your local area.
Learn more at #dontdieforDIY or get the professionals in...

Saturday, 25 October 2014

BMW reveals more about electric car customers

WITH 1,000 BMW i3 models finding homes in the UK, BMW has revealed more information about the buyers of its electric cars.

Which make up some of the 10,000 BMW i3 cars registered globally.

Of the 1,000 sold, 60 per cent were the range extender, which on top of the all-electric powertrain, has an on-board petrol-powered generator. The generator can then be fired up when the electric power runs out, to continue any journey and avoid the range anxiety associated with other electric cars.

The remaining 40 per cent was made up of the pure electric version, with BMW believing this will go up over time, once a national charging network is in place.

BMW admits it was surprised at the 80 per cent take up of its bespoke i Wallbox Pure, for charging at home. Plus, a further 50 per cent have taken up the Charge Now ‘Pay as you go’ charging service.
The German car company was also able to give us details of how customers charge their BMW i3.

Obviously, with the popularity of the i Wallbox Pure, most owners charge their cars at home. With public charging seen as a backup.

i3 customers are an inquisitive bunch, apparently asking lots of questions and an in-depth knowledge of the product.

The popularity of BMW’s i electric brand doesn’t stop at the i3, as despite the i8 supercar’s recent introduction, it is sold out until September 2016.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday Fact

MI6 once hacked an Al-Qaeda website and replaced instructions on how to make a bomb with a fairy cake recipe.

poetic justice

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Doon n Gloom - Electricity Bills going up!!!

Every now and again I read an article and it takes me three paragraphs of sensationalised bullshit before I even get to the meat of the story.

A report claims that if the Government continues to chase renewable wind power, the average household bill will soar by £1,000, costing homes £26billion by 2030.

The report, submitted to the Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, was authored by the Scientific Alliance.

The push for a greater reliance on wind power has been labelled a 'folly' likely to drastically raise the price of the average electricity bills

The Scientific Alliance said the Government's aims to have 35 per cent of electrical energy generated from renewable sources by 2020 will 'not be achieved in their entirety'.

Sir Donald Miller, the former chairman of Scottish Power, said: 'The blind reliance by successive governments on unreliable, intermittent renewable energy has reduced the margin of safety to a critical level."

Sir Donald Miller, one of the authors of the report, was chairman of Scottish Power from 1982 to 1992

The report, stated the electricity production margin for winter next winter was at an 'all time low' of 2 per cent.

'It has been reported that National Grid are taking emergency measures to increase these margins by contracting with owners of small private standby generators for emergency supplies.

It is not known to what extent this will be helpful, but the costs per KWhr are likely to be high.

By 2020, the supply margins will remain at a 'critical' level due to the planned withdrawal of conventional power generators over the next two years and the inadequate replacement of these with wind farms.

These margins are against the background of no growth in demand and, even so, are likely to result in extended periods of loss of supply over periods of high winter demand.'

Storms can be good! - Wind farms outstrip nuclear power this week...

The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says.

The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants.

Wind farms are causing controversy in rural areas and the government is choking off planning permission for new sites.

But for a 24-hour period yesterday, spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms.
Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%.

It follows another milestone on Saturday, when wind generated a record amount of power - 6,372 MW, according to National Grid.

This formed nearly 20% of the the UK's electricity, albeit at a time at the weekend when demand is relatively low.

The situation is caused by windy conditions boosting the output from turbines at a time when eight out of the UK's 15 nuclear reactors are offline.

EDF Energy said current ageing reactors are down for a number of reasons:
  1. Sizewell B is in the middle of a planned "statutory outage" for maintenance and refuelling
  2. Hunterston B Reactor 4 is down for maintenance, expected back in early November
  3. At Dungeness B, one unit is being refuelled and the other is expected back online soon after being shut down after a fault on a boiler pump was discovered
  4. The four reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool were taken offline in August after a crack was found on a boiler spine.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Landlord jailed for breaching fire safety regulations

A Leicester landlord has been sentenced to eight months in prison for ignoring fire safety regulations and putting his tenants’ lives at risk.

 Despite having been warned about the safety of his properties, Haresh Rambhai Patel ignored the Council’s advice and was prosecuted after two adjoining properties caught fire in May 2013.  

 The properties were split into 11 separate flats and bedsits. There were no working smoke alarms or emergency lighting in the building. Fire doors were either missing or jammed open. The fire exits were blocked and the fire escape routes were cluttered with combustable obstacles, such as furniture. A fire extinguisher in the hallway had not been inspected for 25 years.

 Tenants at another property owned by Patel had also complained about a lack of fire safety measures.

Patel pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.


Monday, 20 October 2014

The Best energy savings HIDDEN!!! - Almost a third of energy deals are hidden by Switching sites

Switching Energy providers (UK) - If a comparison site asks if you want to switch "today", if yes, it claims all the deals that do not earn commission are filtered out. - Click NO and you will get a better deal!!!!

Five of the UK's biggest price comparison sites have been accused of "hiding" the best energy deals.
The Big Deal website, which also helps consumers find cheaper energy, said the five were behaving unethically.

It said they ask consumers whether they want to switch "today", if yes, it claims all the deals that do not earn commission are filtered out.

The five companies said their websites are transparent, and conform to the regulator's code of practice.

However the regulator, Ofgem, said it was already thinking of updating its code, to give better protection to consumers.

uSwitch, Compare the Market, MoneySuperMarket, Go Compare and are all doing the Dirty on us!!!! time to complain.

It said all five use a mechanism on their site that asks consumers if they want to switch "today" or "now".

By clicking "yes" to that question, all the deals that do not earn the company a commission are filtered out.

Only if a consumer clicks "no" are they shown other deals, which can be cheaper.

Click NO to save money...

Energy efficiency will be the priority for future UK Governments

Over the last decade the UK has used 10% less energy than the previous 10 years, while GDP has returned to its 2004 levels despite the financial crash which wiped 7% off national wealth.

This is impressive as the number of households is 6% higher than 2004 – and is a trend that has been mirrored across the first world.

Experts attribute some of the falls in energy use a raft of households energy efficiency measures such as; better insulation and boilers and incandescent light bulbs – although there is still a long way to go (see panel).

With UK and global energy use set to double in the next 30 years, and UK energy prices set to rise as a result of renewable subsidies, the Government is keen to see households and businesses cut consumption by 50% by 2050.

If you throw into this mix the need for countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by switching to renewable power supplies, then this presents a major headache for policy makers and grid operators.
Here in the North East a world-leading trial aimed at supporting the transition to a smarter renewable electricity system is coming to an end.

Incentives offered during the trial include free electricity on a Saturday and cheaper energy during off-peak periods.

The findings report that on average the customers consumed 3% less energy and reduced their peak consumption by 10%.