Friday, 20 July 2007

Medieval tech support

Here's an excellent little (2.45 minute) video about how to use a book. If you've ever shown anyone how to do anything on a computer, you'll love it.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Wind Power

The FT has an article today about David Gordon, chief executive of Windsave. Windsave make domestic wind turbines, which you can just plug into a 13 amp socket - which is a nice feature. But, they're expensive, and even Windsave think that only 20% of houses have sufficient wind to make them worthwhile.

The problem with domestic wind turbines is that most towns and cities are built in river valleys, where they don't get much wind. Worse, the buildings create turbulence, which reduces the turbine efficiency (they find it hard to remain pointing into the wind), and life span. 

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Glyndebourne Turbine

The planning applications committee passed the Glyndebourne Wind Turbine application on Wednesday by 6 votes to 4. Despite some press reports, the vote wasn't quite split down party lines. 

The lib-dem chair didn't vote, but the rest of the lib-dems (including me) voted in favour, one tory voted in favour of the application, citing energy security concerns, but the rest of them voted against. If they'd all voted against, it would have been a 5-5 tie. The casting vote of the chair might have gone with us, but equally it might have gone with the officers' recommendation.

A couple of alternative suggestions were put by councillors who voted against: to build an offshore turbine, or to build a vertical axis turbine. Neither would be good technical solutions.

Vertical axis turbines are have no great noise or efficiency advantage over horizontal axis turbines. They've not been widely deployed because they're techically difficult to build, and they're limited in size by engineering constraints. Nobody builds them. If, as suggested, a horizontal axis turbine were 23m, one third the height of the proposed turbine, then it would need to be at least 90m wide to produce the same energy!

An offshore turbine is expensive to build and to maintain though they do have a longer life and be produce better economic or energy returns in the long run. In this case, the developer is paying nothing for the land, and is in a better position to maintain a local facilty than an offshore facility. No doubt they also value the prestige that will attach to this very visible statment of commitment to the environment.

Whatever the merits of these alternative solutions, the planning application committee is not permitted to consider them. It has to consider the proposal in front of it. In this case, it was necessary to consider whether the turbine would be effective, so we've asked for a wind survey to be performed. If the proposal was not sound in energy terms, then we'd have to consider the turbine as we might a piece of sculpture - and would almost certainly have turned it down for lack of artistic originality!

Friday, 6 July 2007

Lewes Matter

Oops, it looks like the Lewes Matters web site has been hacked! Here's the text that I've just seen on their front page.

Br aNd Morocco Force
OwNed by Zakix
We Are: Zakix - XgeN - an0mix - aLoNe 
For Help - #IR4DEX

greetz: (Sys7ech) Xtech Inc - H4ck3rsbr

uname -a: Linux #1 SMP Sun Oct 29 23:06:50 EST 2006 x86_64 uid=32086(mylewes) gid=32088(mylewes) groups=32088(mylewes

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Testing Dashboard Widget

There's a neat Dashboard Widget for Mac OSX, which lets me blog pretty simply - just press F12 and type!.

It's available from Google, for anyone with a or blog.