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Archive for March, 2013

La Weekend

An early start this morning – had to drop Maureen off at the airport as she’s off to see her mum for a couple of weeks, leaving me to look after two lots of cats! Just watch the Russians getting to the Space station in 6 hours – fantastic.

BrusselsI just received this “In view of the relevance of your professional profile and expertise to ESCO’s work, the ESCO Secretariat appointed you as a member of the Reference Group "ICT service activities". This appointment decision has been endorsed by the ESCO Board.” which means sometime in April I’m off to Brussels for a couple of days. I do hope the weather is nicer there than it is here not that I’ll see much of it buried away in meetings but at least I’ll have a night or two to enjoy there – beer’s nice and I know the centre fairly well now.

Meanwhile the satellite broadband continues to work well, I should say the delays are a little annoying at times but considering our NEXT house starts with 2 meg broadband until some magical upgrade in the future, will make satellite just about essential. This’ll be good as I’ve never tried aligning a dish before and now I’ll have two of them to do!!

Leicester marketSo many things to do, so little time, but THIS weekend – I plan to do as little as possible. Didn’t really get a break last week as I was working at the FSB’s conference in Leicester and when I got home on Sunday I had to sort out some last minute Leicestervideos stuff that we didn’t have time to complete at the venue.  The new Chairmain’s first interview video which I did with him the morning after his election is at the FSB website for those who are interested – along with the Toyah Wilcox video and a ton of other stuff..

Got my new laptop so I’ve no doubt I’ll spend most of the weekend populating it and trying to get rid of the new STUPID and almost universally hated Windows 8 gesture controls which result in applications swapping in front of your eyes seemingly randomly.

If I’d not already installed a ton of stuff I’d rip the lot out and go back to Windows 7 but I guess one has to move on… the time will come when Windows 7 is now longer supported so may as well be ahead of the pack.

But for now – some TV and a bite to eat…  have a nice weekend, all.

A Week in Leicester

Toyah Wilcox with Peter Scargill in LeicesterThe highlight of the week for me has to be having met Toyah Wilcox – amazing experience. She was about to go live on stage at the FSB Annual Conference… and we met up in the holding room first for introductions. Amazingly pleasant and despite crutches due to an injury she put the effort in to give us some decent photos…

As IT Director it is my job at our conferences to ensure our presence on the web includes topical reporting, imagery, video and this year – social media.

On the social media front it is our first shot at doing this properly at one of our conferences and everything worked wonderfully well, with nice comments coming in throughout.

The delegates (several hundred) arrived on Thursday for the AGM (in which new national officers such as the chairman are elected),  at Curve, Leicester (don’t ask why they don’t call it “The Curve”)followed by 2 days of debates, resolutions and exhibition.

imageJohn Allen - new National Chairman of the FSBFriday after  a very early start, I caught John Allan – the new National Chairman, in our hotel and video interviewed him on the spot – John has some strong views on out of town parking as you’ll see – the video is on the FSB website along with many other videos.

Later in the morning we had an excellent talk by Peter McAvoy of Google – I met him some months ago in Southern Ireland while at an ESBA meeting at Google’s HQ.

He talked about Google’s ideas and in particular, Google Glass which is a fascinating project about to come to fruition and involving micro-miniature circuitry effectively putting the power of a modern mobile into a set of glasses with transparent projection in front of your eyes. The video explains what they’re trying to achieve.

Peter Scargill (right) with guest Peter McAvoy of GoogleThe rest of Friday was taken up with various policy-related talks and we had the RT Hon Vince Cable doing his thing along with other political speakers including the RT Hon Owen Paterson.

The exhibitions included Dell and Microsoft (the latter funded the excellent Friday night drinks reception) as well as the guys from Passing vanESBA (European Small Business Alliance) – Saturday saw more of the same culminating in the talk by Toyah Wilcox.

The whole lot is up on the web (I should add that was surrounded by an excellent team of staff and volunteers who’re working hard to make sure this all runs smoothly – but these photos are my own). Here are some more pics from the event.Twitter feed live at Conference

Marilyn lookalike

Toyah Wilcox

Solar lights and the angle of the sun

Peter ScargillHi! You might find this interesting.. it’s not rocket science but plenty of people would argue otherwise.

Have you noticed that NEARLY all garden solar lights have the solar cell FLAT on the top – i.e. not angled to the sun but level. I can only imagine this is for ease of manufacture or style or they’re mainly sold in hot countries where the sun gets high up in the sky.

Either way, not good! You hear people say “ah yes these solar cells work in the shade as well”. The technical term for that is bollocks.

So, here’s the test. I took a typical solar cell (I just happen to have them lying around all over the place) out into the garden this afternoon – just after lunch. Being March in the UK the sun was down near the ankles.

I made sure there were no obstructions and the solar cell was naked – i.e. no glass to add to the confusion. I stuck a meter on the cell and moved it into three positions – firstly JUST out of the sun, secondly in the sun and flat level with the ground and thirdly at 90% to the sun – i.e. pointing at the sun.

solar cell test

Well there it is in plain English… 16ma from the device in the shade, 60ma from the flat device and 100ma from the device when pointing to the sun. The difference is clear and unambiguous.

Put another way… assuming you managed to get the garden light to shine, given the more favourable lighting (3) for, oh, 4 hours at night….. the version with the flat top would only give you 2.4 hours and the one in the shade (only just mind you – I reckon I could have made it give a lot less) would give you 38 minutes at best. Pile more solar cells you get more power – but the ratio remains the same.

I hope that puts that one to rest – there will be minor differences depending on the cell type. Look for garden lights who’s solar cells you can point at typical British sun – set them to the position the sun will be at mid-day – and that’s the best you’re going to get.