Wednesday, December 26

Dukes Meadow 2007 to 2012

The Taylor Wimpey development at Dukes Meadow is nearly completed with the 'prison block' flats dominating the view from Hambledon Road.

Although in principle there is nothing wrong with blocks of flats, I think most people aren't impressed by the cost cutting styling of the flats lining the Hambledon Road.

The initial blocks of flats were skinned with bricks, but later blocks were just skimmed with cement and then painted.

This video slide show has been put together using photos  taken over a period of 5 years and documents the changes since 2007. The slides are accompanied by an audio soundtrack.

In 1979 Robert Crumb developed a cartoon sequence called 'A Short History Of America' , I guess
this pays homage to it.

Tuesday, December 25

Saturday, December 22

Some good news - Horndean solar farm gets approval

Received news today that the solar farm at Horndean has been approved by councillors at East Hampshire District Council. Only one councillor voted against the project.

The project plan was altered in order to get approval, the number of solar panels have been reduced a little and a limit to noise levels has been imposed. The farm will now be rated at just under 5 megawatts as opposed to the original plan which was over 5 megawatts.

Look out for photos on this blog when the project gets built.

The consultation for the larger solar farm over at Fareham finished yesterday and councillors will vote on the plan at the end of January.

Friday, December 21

Big Brother brought to you universally by the Conservatives

Next month will see the nationwide introduction of the Universal Jobmatch web site (the brain child of Iain Duncan Smith) which appears to be designed to monitor the activities of people on jobseekers allowance, as opposed to offering help in finding jobs (the biggest change needed is actually on the employers side, not the jobseekers side).

The site is effectively a data aggregator taking data feeds from various existing job search boards like Monster and Jobsite, so it doesn't do anything new and anyone looking for a job already uses the numerous web sites directly. So Universal Jobmatch creates another level of data duplication of peoples personal information on the internet. A target rich enviroment for hackers.

The site has already been hacked, with personal details of jobseekers accessed by some people setting up a bogus company in order to access the information. The government appears to be insistent on making our lives less secure, the question is what rights do we have to sue the government when our information is abused, who pays for all the hours spent changing bank accounts and cancelling credit cards ?
Have we got to a stage now where the only personal information that defines us and must be protected, is our bank account?

There is a big question mark over whether the governments Big Brother system is legal. Anyone on JSA can effectively be forced to apply for a job that the computer system thinks they are suitable for, this effectively is forcing someone to send personal data to a commercial organisation, the only choice being to do that or losing their jobseeking allowance. There must be a big question as to whether the government has the right to do that just because a person is unemployed. I don't know of any other government scheme where a person can be forced to hand over personal information to commercial organisations?

No one wants to be unemployed, individuals are suited to certain types of jobs and some people are naturally less flexible than others. You can't force people to be something they are not suited for and of all the political parties in the UK, the least likely you would expect to introduce such extreme and draconian ideas is the Conservatives!

The Universal Jobmatch web site also uses cookies that track a jobseekers actions whilst using the web site. On this issue the government has come up against EU law which gives individuals the right to reject cookies used by a web site. Most of the mainstream browsers also allow people to block cookies from individual web sites, so it looks like the EU are the saints here and are protecting our rights to some privacy.

When someone applies for a job using your name and personal information, who bails you out of jail when the impersonator takes money from their employer?
Who pays for the medication needed to counter the anxiety and stress?
(Maybe not all that realistic a scenario, but as yet the scenarios haven't played out in real life)

Another major issue with this system is the forcing of people to use computers and the internet. Because such systems are extremely dependent on wealth, resources and advanced cultural activity, there will always be people in society that will have extreme difficulties accessing the system. So the people that need it the most, are also the most likely to not have easy access to it.

If someone has worked all their life and finds themselves redundant in their later years, is this sort of harrassment that they really need? It can be a massive shock to the system, to find all the familiar methods of job hunting have now disappeared and understanding the risks of applying for jobs via the internet can be distressing.

This new system seems to a be a combined brain child of extreme political ideology and some young IT expert who has probably never read a book in his or her life from a paper page. Indeed the old paper CV and letter was a far more secure method of applying for a job than the easy to copy electronic files of today.

We all await for the first court cases that will see many jobseekers being paid significant amounts of compensation and costing the tax payer money. 2013 is going to be a tough year and the economy isn't going to sort itself out for many years to come, yet the Conservative still live in a fantasy land, whilst the flooding continues.

The greatest risk is still climate change, not a few thousand life long jobseekers.

Big Brother Watch

Thursday, December 20

Yikes! Flooding everywhere

Wallington river over at Fareham has burst it's banks and I think a village is being evacuated.
Some Bungalows have been flooded in Emsworth and over at Purbrook, two people were trapped in the water last night at the ford.

Meanwhile we have a pond devloping in the back garden as the ground water rises.

Friday, December 7

How to become a bad salesman - write an article for The News

Bought The Portsmouth News this week and had a casual browse until I reached 'The Peoples Champion' page, written by a Richard Thomson. Across the page were the words 'Be wary of the boasts of solar panel salesman...'.
Ah, sounds interesting I thought, there are some cowboys out there that deliberately paint a distorted picture of solar panels. Looks like this is going to be an in depth article giving good advice.

The question asked by the home owner writing to the newspaper was whether a pushy salesman is correct in stating that the home owner could save over a £1,000 a year.

Instead of answering the question, the reporter then made his own 'bad salesman' pitch with statements that in total were just as distorted as the one the home owner was worried about.

Points made (in bold) were:

They produce clean energy
Something correct. Well almost. They don't actually produce energy, they convert one form of energy (photons/electromagnetic radiation) to another (electrons moving in a cable). A coal fired power station does produce energy, the coal has unrealised potential energy that was stored by plants from sunlight millions of years ago and it is released as heat energy by the power station (inefficiently as it turns out).

They are superficially attractive
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many things are often superficially attractive. An Aunt Sally I think.

They are remarkably inefficient
By what standard?
A coal fired power station is approximately 30% efficient. Solar PV panels range from 15% to 30%.
The big difference, apart from having hugely different carbon footprints, is that with the application of science solar panels have the potential to be much more efficient, but you can't squeeze more electricity out of a coal fired power station, science says that most of the embedded energy in coal never gets realised.

The electricity can't be stored
Yes it can. Electric cars have batteries that store energy, we have large pumped energy storage systems in the UK that store energy from the grid and a local company in Hampshire is developing a very promising energy storage system, specifically designed to work cheaply with renewable energy.

What you can sell back is largely dependent on the weather.
 It isn't relevant to the overall system performance. The home owner only has to be concerned about the performance over a number of years and the return they get both in energy and finances. It is up to the grid operators and energy companies to worry about variability and how to deal with it, whether that is via storage, better grid tech etc.

They work best in direct sunlight, don't work at night etc.
Yes indeed, but does stating the obvious actually help here?
Variability isn't the issue, the issues are cutting CO2 emissions, reducing energy bills and pay back.

You'll probably be at work in the summer when you make savings
 Does this matter?
The energy produced is sold to the energy company, in fact the company the person is working at would probably be using some of it. The home owner benefits, so this is another Aunt Sally. The result is nothing.

Feed in tariffs have changed
This is about as close the reporter gets to answering the question!
But fails to do any supporting analysis. The reality is that photovoltaic panel prices have tumbled and are predicted to continue to fall.

The capital costs take over 15 years to recover
But you don't pay for the electricity generated by the panels!
It's always a silly argument that puts emphasis on initial costs rather then ongoing costs.
So 'capital' costs of solar PV are currently high but rapidly reducing, but for a fuel like gas you have to pay every day for as long as gas is available and gas prices will likely fluctuate as we are victim of overseas disturbances and politics. Pay a known fixed price today, or gamble on the future?
Really the issue is CO2 emissions, gas emissions are about 500gCO2 per kwh whilst solar panels are about 50gCO2 per kwh.

What have we learnt here?
Well Mr Thomson didn't appear to answer the question he was asked but instead appears to have ranted a personal opinion in a newspaper. The whole point of renewable energy is to cut carbon emissions and to actually get people used to the fact that the only secure energy we have is from the Sun and Moon (tidal energy) which are variable (obviously).

Another point of course is that much of the time the solar panels are effectively reducing the load a house has on the main grid. eg. when the Sun is out, the grid will 'see' the home with a the panels as using less electricity. It's no different to someone switching on the kettle or turning on the a heater, it changes the load on the grid. but with solar panels it's like turning things off rather than on. In both cases, the grid has to cope.

The article was only available in the print version of the newspaper.