Sunday, May 28, 2006

Windsave - a PPS

I don't know what the bill for Tony's brand new nuclear power stations is likely to be, but I'd guess that it's going to be quite a few billion (or maybe more).
So what if instead every house got a windmill?

The CIA World Fact book reports that UK electricity consumption in 2003 was 346,100 GWh. So that's about 39.5GW of generating power. If everyone in the country has a windmill then that'd be 60GW of production.
Now I'm not saying that everyone should have a windmill, nor should we expect them to work 24x7 all year round. But if everyone in the country had their own capability to produce 1KW then we'd certainly not need any new nuclear plants (and therefore no environmental arguments to overcome). With combined heat/power, and all sorts of other personal electricity generation, maybe small is the new nuclear. And with a Windsave only costing £1500 or so, even 60m of those would be cheaper than all those nuclear stations!

Concorde - a PS

I'm English - shouldn't it have been Concord?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Murphy's law 2 (Maguire's law)

A client went live yesterday with a new version (1.1.5) of their software. Whilst 1.1.3 and 1.1.4 had been tested, they had never gone live. This morning, urgent phone calls - "we cannot change items in the database, 3 users have got problems".

After a hours frenetic activity it turns out there was a bug in 1.1.2 (installed nearly 3 months ago), that had lain in wait for us.

Honestly, what are the chances of a 3 month old bug being found within 1 hour by three different people the day after another new version goes in?

Maguire's law - he said Murphy was an optimist! I'm off to buy a lottery ticket, i've got to win something with that luck.

Murphy's law 1

A couple of weeks ago we got a ceiling fan and light for the bedroom. We'd had these fans in the hotel on holiday recently and thought them really good. It took a few hours (finding a joist under the boarded attic floor was entertaining!), but the job was done, and done well.

I hoicked up the air conditioner to my study/bedroom too, so that I can cool down all the computers running in there.

And finally, in preparation for warmer nights, we put the thinner duvet on.

Weather since then? Cold, breezy and wet. Lovely.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Airbus A380 - Concorde for the 21st century?

So the A380 has landed. I suspect that yet again, the European aeroplane manufacturers have got it wrong. In the 60's Concorde was the plane of the future at about the same time as Boeing came up with the 747.
Then the Concorde's proponents believed that speed of flight was all-important, and that customers wanted to get there faster; however Boeing got the bet right - with the oil crisis and the sheer cost of flights on Concorde the airlines went for volume (of passengers) instead of speed. Concorde languished as a rich man's toy. A crying shame as Concorde was gorgeous and it's disappearance from the skies should still be regretted.

Now in the 21st century Airbus believe passengers will be content to fly hub to hub, and then take connecting flights; whereas Boeing are betting the new 787 long range on passengers wanting to get to their destination in one hop Wiki reference. With the infrastructure changes necessary at airports to take the A380, it will never make it to smaller regional airports.

Having transferred flights a few times (and suffered the 'will my bags make it to the second plane' trauma) I'm firmly with Boeing on this one.
I think Airbus has made another Concorde decision, only this one has not even got the merit of being a fantastically wonderful design that changed the air industry.

and there's still a Concorde rusting at Bristol...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Windsave - a PS

Did you watch the worthy BBC series "It's not easy being green"? Well their new windmill providing a lot of their power is a Windsave model.
If it's good enough for the BBC, it'll do for me.

Microsoft Sharepoint Services

Well that was a fun few hours. Decided I really should get it installed on a server. Regretably the only one around that might do the job (and was up and running) already has exchange server on it. I hate mixing roles, but needs must (etc).

So download the update, run the install, and oops no exchange outlook web or mobile access, but far worse - I cannot get my email to my phone. Sharepoint (understandably) takes some control over your IIS install, but (most definitely NOT understandably); fails to mention (when questioned!) that it will hose you Exchange IIS web site.

One might have expected a warning of some sort. Sometime Microsoft show they haven't changed that much!

So I really should go back to plan A - virtual machines... a quick install on an already committed server wasn't the brightest of ideas really!

Monday, May 15, 2006

At last - windpower!

I've been in touch with for well over a year. They've been promising to provide an installed wind generator for domestic use for a long time, but it's been limited to a few people.

In my inbox at the weekend - an order form! And it's quite a bit cheaper than we though it'd be (although it's still not cheap). What's more you can get a government grant… but that's the bad news. It's a 12 page PDF you have to download, 2 pages of form, and 10 of regulations and rules. They really don't want you to get their money do they? Did I say their money? It's OUR money!!!

Well, living in an area of almost constant winds, we really should do this - I'm off to sharpen my pencils!

The taxman's not really got it has (s)/he?

Last Friday was designated Tax Return 2005-6 day. I know, quite early in the cycle, but having only been self-employed for just over a year, I wanted to be sure what my tax bill was likely to be, so that I knew I had enough in reserve to go shopping ;-) or have to start saving some more :-(

So, log on to the server, hmm, takes a long time to eventually suggest there's a problem. You clear your IE cache, and try again. No good. It still says it's out of service - try the link to the service downtime - it says it should all be up.

Try the helpline then, they're normally good chaps. This time though - "unusually high volume of calls", get transferred "sorry too many calls, clear your IE cache and try again"; followed by a dialling tone. Yes they hung up on you!

Try emailing them, a quick reply comes back, however they promise a reply within 2 days. TWO DAYS!!! Are they kidding????


A few hours later, normal service is restored and all goes well.

A few days later, I finally get my reply - clear your IE cache and try again.

If a techie has this much hassle, how easy is it for a user to do a tax return online? Not easy enough I'd say.

PS oh and - good news, I have enough put by!

So you can email in a blog post

But you cannot email photos from the UK.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunset on Big Island

Our last evening in Hawaii was rewarded with a great sunset, and a great meal with our friend.

I really like this photo, in fact, I think I'll make it the profile one.

Digital Nikon takes a nice photo

Yesterday's rain settled nicely on the leaves in the garden. So i just had to experiment with depth of field.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why is a phone upgrade is never quite straightforward?

You return from holiday, and find you can upgrade your phone for free - Hurrah! Better still the Orange SPV M600 has Wifi, 128MB RAM, and windows mobile 5 (over the M500) which means i won't need to carry around the wifi card, and can keep even more email on the phone.

However... ...when you changed your network so that your email server could be hosted by a mate a few miles away, you mucked about with DNS, DHCP, and ISA Server so that OWA would continue to work. Do you remember EVERYTHING you did - thought not.

So the phone does not work. BUt maybe it's the phone, or maybe it's the web site, or maybe it's OWA or maybe it's the proxy... about a day later: get out the old phone and plug in the SIM and that doesn't work. So fix it. Then maybe the new phone will work - it does! Eventually

Moral - When you are on a ship, you keep your feet on the deck, one hand on the boat and one for yourself. Likewise with computers - don't change more than one thing at a time - you can never be truly sure you know what's broken!