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.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Magna Jazz Band with Goff Dubber
On Thursday evening we went to the Berrylands Hotel
in Surbiton, where Brian White's Magna jazz band
perform every week. Goff Dubber was the guest, playing great clarinet, soprano sax and tenor sax plus some fine vocals. The first half might have been good but the second half was brilliant. It is impossible to pick one highlight so I will mention four; Goff's feature 'Just you just me', Trombone feature 'Stormy Weather' with a magnificent keyboard section by Alan Dandy, Pete Towndrow's cornet feature 'Lover Man' and the on-the-spot improvisation named there and then 'Blues for the raffle'. The following raffle left most of us with the blues.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
SearchWarp; Microgeneration From Wind and Sun
Yesterday I submitted a new article to SearchWarp
on the subject of renewable energy. It is just a short piece as follows:
Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to have a huge wind farm or vast arrays of solar panels to help solve our looming energy crisis. We can all help a little by supplementing our energy supplies with a small wind turbine, say 300W to 600W and/or solar panels on the south facing side of the roof. The energy produced can be used to heat water, to charge a battery or to provide electricity via a true sinewave inverter. One can even use a 'grid-tie inverter' to feed unused energy back into the mains electricity supply to reduce bills and help the utility company. Currently they might be ungrateful but this must change in the future.
Much is said about the choice of wind or sun, including the obvious thoughts about how windy or sunny is your site. Why not harness both sources of energy when the sun is shining it might be in still air but another day might be windy and cloudy. For more information see Ampair Renewable Energy
(site to be revised in April 2006).
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Richard Durrant at the Epsom Playhouse
On Tuesday evening we saw Richard Durrant
performing 'Music from the Colourdome' at The Epsom Playhouse
Myers Studio Theatre. He put on a real show, playing classical guitar, steel string guitar, 12 string guitar, Fender Stratocaster, tenor banjo, ukelele, mandolin and Irish drum. These were recorded on stage and played back mixed to produce the sound of an ensemble. However, my favourite part was when he played a medley of requests on classical guitar; Bach, Barrios, Rodrigo, Joplin, Myers and the anonymous Romanza. See him yourselves at Cranleigh Arts Centre on Thursday, April 27 2006 @ 07:30 PM BST - 11:00 PM BST. For tickets Tel. The Hawth Theatre Box Office: 01293 552941.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Apex Jazz Band at the Cricks
On Monday night we saw the Apex Jazz Band at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking. This was the full line-up with Clive Burton on trombone and Ian Parry on drums. Every number was good, particularly Clive's feature 'Paper Moon' but my favourite (again) was the duet between Peter Minett (soprano sax) and Terry Twiss (tenor guitar) on 'Indian Summer'.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Embassy Esher, The Constant Gardener
On Saturday evening we went to the Embassy cinema in Esher (now renamed Odeon just to cause confusion for its customers) to see The Constant Gardener
. A great film but I have three criticisms:
1) excessive use of flashback, although it was clear that this was happening
2) uneven screenplay, some passages too long, others skipped altogether leaving us to guess what had happened
3) too much hand-held camera, making me feel queasy.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Low cost battery charger for wind power and solar power
On Friday we tested a low cost battery-charging regulator with the new Ampair
300 wind turbine. Setting up the test was tricky:
a) the wiring had to be 'to the book' to avoid volt drop errors
b) both charged and flat batteries had to be connected in turn
c) the alternator had to be kept cool without its normal windy environment.
The regulator is rated at 25A to match the 300W generator perfomance at 12V. We easily achieved 30 A for the short time bringing the flat battery up to normal voltage range.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Gordon Brown's budget 2006
We had been hoping for more government support for renewable energy in this budget. This would have helped Ampair
. What Gordon announced seems rather feeble and disappointing.
Increased tax on 'gas-guzzling' vehicles was welcome if inadequate. Owners of 4x4s who never go off-road are sure to have plenty of money and little intelligence so it will take a lot more than 210 GBP per year to change their habits.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Secret world of estate agents; Anna Adams
Yesterday evening we watched 'Whistleblower - Estate Agents' on BBC1; fascinating ! Anyone thinking of buying or selling a house should browse Summary on BBC web site
. The picture on the left is supposedly Anna Adams, the whistleblower but I suspect this is an actress posing for the BBC (and shown in the programme), whereas the real whistleblower looks nothing like it. Perhaps the real one could confirm or deny ?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Panama Cafe Orchestra at the Cricks
On Monday evening at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking, we again saw The Panama Cafe Orchestra
. The sweet cornet of Dave Lowe and the fine clarinet of John Lawes were supplemented by excellent deputy banjo/guitarist Dave Griffiths. The numbers played were different from the last few times we saw this band and I much prefered this programme. John Lawes has found this weblog so let me show my appreciation for his solos, which drew much applause from the audience.
The new owners of the Cricks were expected to be present. If they were, then they would have seen a busy pub for a Monday evening, entirely due to it being jazz night.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Mark Tanner, then Redwing
On Sunday afternoon we went to The Wigmore Hall
to see Mark Tanner
(piano) performing works by Chopin and Lizt. All the pieces were good listening but I think my favourite was the Chopin prelude in E minor with its haunting theme.
On Sunday evening we saw Redwing
at the Saddlers Arms
, Send Marsh, Woking, Surrey. Deputising on clarinet was local musician Dave Allison who performed extremely well, playing rather different material from his normal repertoire. Guests for two numbers each were Peter on trombone, John on Clarinet / vocals and Bill (vocals) celebrating his birthday.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Microsoft Office files are not for transmission
We had two reminders this week of something we already knew; a Microsoft Office file is not for transmission. It will look OK on the sender's computer but the recipient might:
a) not be able to open it (likely with PowerPoint)
b) find it does not look like the original, pagination errors at least.
The file format for transmission to others is PDF.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Electricity supplies in rural areas
In the course of our 3 phase converter
work we have observed that almost all of the problems occur in rural areas. These are due to the single phase supply being pulled down by up to 20V or more when the converter provides 'Boost', e.g. for starting a customer's motor. Contributors to this are:
a) long cable run from the nearest electricty supply transformer
b) long and/or fine gauge wiring within the premises.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
On Wednesday I spent some time thinking about adding solar panels
to our web pages.
The Norwegian cabin example to the right might be short of sun in the winter but just think of those long summer days !
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Last night a trailer was stolen from Park Farm. One of our colleagues is being blamed for not padlocking the outer gate although the perps smashed a padlock on an inner gate anyway. We despair over the security measures we have to take here but I suppose we are lucky compared with South Africa. At Hout Bay there were electric gates and vicious spikes at every poperty, plus private armed security patrols. An electrician we met in Croydon, originally from Johannesburg, said that when he travelled by car in SA he always carried a pistol between his knees and a shotgun by his side.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
David Jones Band at the Cricks
On Monday night we saw the David Jones Band at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking. A fine band, of which I would particularly mention Simon Wyld on trombone and Colin Kellard on Banjo, Guitar and vocals, including his own composition 'Whisky Drinking Woman'.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Bennett and Biddolph company at Saddlers Arms
On Sunday evening we saw the Bennett and Biddolph company at the Saddlers Arms, Send Marsh, Woking, Surrey. This is an electric blues band, comprising Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboard and Drums. They are very good but our preference is for a mixture of jazz and blues. After two hours of loud similar numbers we yearn for some variation.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Woking cinema; Walk the Line
On Saturday evening we went to the Ambassador cinema in Woking to see Walk the Line
. Great music and fine performances from Joaquim Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter, for which she won the Oscar for best actress.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Inland Revenue; main problem solved
I complained recently about the revenue wanting to charge tax on money we will not receive for 5 years, saying "From where is the money to come to pay the tax ?" This reached the point of Isomatic UK being threatened with seizure of all its possessions to recover unpaid tax. The very next day a letter arrived from the same building, accepting our argument and agreeing that we pay as we receive the money.
I suppose this must count as a success ! Thank you Dawn.
I received no answer to my E-mail to the treasury on this and other tax matters.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Grumpy old man; Lloyds TSB again
Over the last three days I went through the process of changing a substantial sum from Euros into Pounds. To get a better exchange rate and lower commission I am using Travelex for the first time. There is still the problem of transferring the Euros from Lloyds TSB to Travelex. Lloyds is a High Street bank aimed primarily at personal customers or small shopkeepers. It only allows Internet transfers in Sterling and has no plans to extend this to $US and Euros so it has no interest in international businesses like ours. I had to complete a form by hand, take it to a Lloyds branch (where they photocopied my driving licence for 'security') and they will charge 40 pounds just to move money to another UK bank. This a 'rip-off'.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Hard day at Boost Energy Systems
Tuesday was spent at Boost Energy Systems
Park Farm site. Due to key staff being away on business it was hard work juggling telephones to deal with enquiries for 3 phase converters
and wind power / water power
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Phil Brown Swingtet at the Cricks
On Monday night we saw the Phil Brown Swingtet at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking. It was only the sextet due to the absence of Ken Ames on guitar. Peter Clancy was guest on double bass for two numbers. Highlight for me was the duet between Mark Aston (tenor sax) and Andrew Clancy (keyboard) playing 'Misty'.
Monday, March 06, 2006
World Maritime Technology Conference
From Monday to Thursday this week Ampair
is exhibiting wind and water power at the World Maritime Technology Conference
at London's Queen Elizabeth 2 conference centre.
The picture shows an Aquair 100 wind/water turbine hoisted in the rigging to be used for wind power.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Guildford Cinema; The Matador
On Saturday evening we went to the Odeon Cinema in Guildford to see The Matador
. Great perfomances, particularly by Pierce Brosnan as the burnt-out hitman, and a slightly unusual plot.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Tesco vs Sainsbury
I reported some time ago that we had transferred our allegance from Sainsbury to Tesco after various problems. We now have enough experience with Tesco to comment on the differences.
1) Not all Tesco stores are equal, e.g. Guildford is better than Warfield, particularly for fruit.
2) Overall shopping bills are lower at Tesco, although it is hard to say why as it is the sum of many small differences.
3) Many items of food are very similar, if not indistinguishable.
4) Cheap cuts of beef are much tastier from Tesco.
5) Pre-packaged food usually has later sell-by dates at Tesco (not always).
6) We found excellent frozen chips at Tesco that we never saw at Sainsbury.
7) Bananas are (usually not always) better at Sainsbury.
8) Tesco does not often sell any of our favourite potato crisps.
9) Sainsbury stopped selling its excellent own-brand chocolates; Tesco's equivalent is not so good but much cheaper.
10) Sainsbury has a wider choice of pre-packaged meals, e.g. Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, American, etc.
Overall we prefer Tesco.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Removing web pages
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Wind Power Generators
This week Ampair
launched the Pacific 300 series of wind turbines. They have a power output of 300W charging a battery. The Pacific 600 will follow shortly.