Peter Burton's daily log, covering Peter's personal interests, e.g. jazz, travel and general grumpiness plus (occasionally) the business of Isomatic and its associate companies.
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Model Engineer Exhibition; solar panels
The Sandown Park Exhibition has been rather slow for sales so far so we are hoping for better results today (Saturday). Interestingly the Solar Toys have led to enquiries for solar panels, for which all the samples and brochures have gone to the London Boat Show
. I have referred the enquirers to the Ampair
Friday, December 30, 2005
Vauxhall Vivaro from Apex car rental
For the Model Engineer exhibition we are using a Vauxhall Vivaro from Apex car rental
. It looks exactly like its counterpart from Renault. It is much nicer to drive than the Ford Transit, less like a goods vehicle. However, the low roof is a limitation when standing inside to load.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
3 phase converters at the Model Engineer Exhibition
Today we are setting up to exhibit our 3 phase converters
at The Model Engineer Exhibition
at Sandown Park 29-31 December 2005.
We will also be demonstrating a Mitsubishi variable frequency drive, used with a Newton-Tesla motor speed controller.
We also plan to sell some solar powered toys from the Ampair range.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Mozart at The Barbican
This evening, Tuesday 27 December (UK public holiday), we are going to the Barbican Concert Hall
for the Mozart by candlelight concert. We have opted for cheaper seats this time as an experiment, 26 GBP each instead of 31 GBP. This is still expensive by our standards.
It will be interesting to see if the venue is better organised than last year, which suffered from chairs/tables on a separate floor from coffee/snacks plus staff not allowing the paying customers into the auditorium at the appointed time.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Peaslake on Christmas day
On Christmas day we drove to Peaslake
, a beautiful Surrey village. We had local beer and tea at the Hurtwood Inn
It is a real village, not just a hamlet, with its own village stores.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Vodafone problems; Barclaycard portable card terminal
We inherited a portable card terminal from Ampair so set out to reactivate it. Barclaycard said we should wait for the new Merchant ID to be issued before starting a new contract with Vodafone; bad advice ! We received the MID on Friday so called Vodafone, transferred to about 4 departments in succession, only to be told it will take a minimum of one week to become active. The Vodafone contact suggested going to the local Vodafone shop to do it instantly so we tried this. The girls in the shop knew nothing about such an application so telephoned their contact who said no it could not be done there.
It is the usual story regarding all large companies; incompetent and disorganised. Result of all this; time wasted and no card terminal for the Model Engineer Exhibition at Sandown Park.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Mitsubishi variable speed drives
Today we are preparing our exhibits for The Model Engineer Exhibition
at Sandown Park 29-31 December 2005. In addition to three phase converters and solar toys we will be exhibiting Mitsubishi variable speed drives
. These can be used as three phase converters for single motor applications provided the motor can be configured for 230V phase-to-phase. European-market motors of 3kW and below can usually be switched from star to delta for this purpose.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Complaint to IEE Engineering Management
As one who was recently involved in the acquisition of another company, with the loss of most of its staff, I take exception to remarks attributed to Alan Fitzgerald in the article 'Cream in the Global Churn' in IEE Engineering Management Magazine
December/January 2005/6. New regulations covering information and consultation of employees came into force in April 2005. Under the regulations, employees have a statutory right to information about and consultation on employment developments and substantial changes to the organisation of their work, such as a transfer of ownership. Failure to observe the regulations puts both the buyer and seller at risk of legal action from an employee. In our case, the seller had not informed his employees so we insisted on being indemnified against such an action.
The argument attributed to Fitzgerald is that employees won't work as hard if they know the company is to be sold. This suggests the answer to this problem is to 'tell them as you serve them their redundancy notices'? Does he think that employers have no responsibility to their workers ? Does he think employees work hardest for an employer who cannot be trusted to behave honourably ?
I have asked IEE Engineering Management to print an apology for these remarks as they could encourage IEE members to ignore statutory regulations.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Geoff Cole's Red Hot Five at the Epsom Jazz Club
On Monday evening we saw Geoff Cole's Red Hot Five at The Epsom Playhouse
Myers Theatre jazz club. It was the hot four for half the evening because drummer Johnny Baker arrived late. His vocal rendering of Gershwin's 'Somebody Loves Me' was the high point of the evening. Other members of the band were Geoff Cole (trombone), Tony Pyke (alto sax and clarinet), Alan Dandy (piano) and Ray Wiseman (bass).
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Wind, water and solar power at the London Boat Show
Next week we start preparations for exhibiting the Ampair
renewable energy products at The London Boat Show
. These products comprise wind turbines, water turbines and solar panels.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Variable speed drives
Yesterday we prepared to promote a range of small variable speed drives, often misnamed inverters. These take single phase 230 V input and provide three phase output but only 230 V phase to phase. Customers reconnect their small 3 phase motors from star to delta to accommodate this.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
London transport; same problems
On Tuesday we were obliged to use London buses again. One reader of this blog suggested we buy a travel card to avoid using coins in machines but this proved to be uneconomic for a single bus trip in each direction. As usual we failed to find a bus back outside the rush hour and had to take a taxi.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Phil Brown Swingtet at The Cricketers
On Monday night we saw the Phil Brown Swingtet at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking. Nobody was missing so it was really was the full swingtet. Special features included guests Colin on piano and Roy (Stokes) on trombone. A good mix of jazz and blues covering the 1920s through to the 1960s. We cannot understand why some people want a narrower range of jazz; this is how we like it !
The picture below showing the pub is from the CD recorded live there this summer.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
VOX pop re. metrication & decimalisation
On Saturday I suffered a surprising outburst from the woman behind the counter at the dry cleaners. She is not only against metrication but is still arguing against the decimalisation of our currency in 1971 ! She agreed to being a dinosaur.
I find this love of the past quite amazing. The complexity and illogicality of archaic systems seem to be quite acceptable to those who resist every change.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Companies House Web Filing
For the first time I filed the Isomatic UK annual return using the Companies House web site. The security measures are rather extreme; two passwords - one by e-mail and one by post - but once past that hurdle filing and paying is quite painless. I don't usually recommend using the UK governments electronic methods but this one seems OK.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
E-mail hosting problems; fax for Madrid hotel, Opodo
Yet again we have one of our domains blocked due to late payment of charges. The last one we were told not to worry when there was a need to do just that. This time we are told a request for payment was sent but I cannot find it. The difficulty is we are swamped with paper via the post and spam/scam/porn e-mail so we just cannot cope 100% with either method of communication.
Perhaps we should return to fax ? It worked with a hotel booking in Madrid when E-mail had failed. We have booked a week in the Foxa 25 Suites
, where I once stayed on business.
Excellent value for a suite, particularly Friday-Sunday when the business customers are absent. Be warned, direct booking is essential, internet 'agencies' are useless in this case. Conversely, we use such agencies for all our flights. Our current favourite is Opodo
, which we used for Cape Town and Madrid. Prices are very competitive and the web site is faster than many, with no annoying tricks (e.g. Iberia).
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Dealing with sales calls from sick bed
Third day sick. The sales calls keep coming. I try not to cough during the conversation but I do not always succeed.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Forced to cancel Martin Litton Sextet
Due to illness we had to cancel seeing the Martin Litton Sextet at the Epsom Jazz Club on Monday. It was fully booked, with a waiting list for returns, so somebody had a pleasant surprise.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Harp and Cello at the Dorking Halls
On Saturday evening we went to the Dorking Halls
for a concert by Harriet Adie (Harp) and Jessica Burroughs (cello)
. We learnt a lot about the harp and the music written for this unusual combination of instruments; French, Cuban, Brazilian, Italian, Spanish and an Adie original. Hard to choose a favourite; perhaps a draw between Faure and Villa-Lobos. Below is a picture of Harriet. I could not find one of Jessica.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Skype Internet telephony with headphones
On Friday we experimented again with Skype internet telephony. The inbuilt microphone and loudspeakers on the iMac G5 are too close together, producing reverberation, so we bought a pair of Sennheiser PMX60 backband headphones from Cancom
. Problem solved !
Friday, December 02, 2005
Brian White band with Dave Hewett and John China
On Thursday evening we went to the Berrylands Hotel in Surbiton, where Brian White's Magna jazz band
perform every week. Brian White (clarinet), Pete Towndrow (cornet & trumpet), Richard Lyons (string bass), Rex Bennett (drums) were joined by Dave Hewett (slide and valve trombones) and John China (piano and vocals). Highlights were John's vocals; what a great jazz voice he has ! The valve trombone, played superbly by Dave Hewett, was an interesting variation. It reminded me of the John Wain
novel 'Strike the Father Dead' where the superiority of valves over 'slush-pump' was stressed. I still think the slide trombone is the better instrument for blues numbers.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
3 phase converter; no fault found
Today we took one of our technicians to a customer site as part of his training. There seemed nothing wrong with the converter and the customer's system seemed to be working well. As the customer complaint concerned starting we changed the controller, although the old one was working OK. We have to suspect the single phase mains supply as the customer is in a remote area.
The weather was appalling, particularly on the way back; driving rain, wind, hail, local flooding and poor visibility.