Monday, 22 December 2014

Electrical consumption meter failures.

All houses have electric consumption meters that measure current used for billing purposes.  Over the last few years I have seen two metering failure that have worked for the benefit of the householder. I report these here in the light of open disclosure. Neither are things that were deliberately done and cannot be replicated except in special circumstances especially if you want to remain honest.

1) After the fitting of a set of solar panels the consumption meter was not upgraded. The meter that was in place was one of the older rotating disk types. As the solar generated power was exported to the grid the meter unwound the previously recorded consumption.  The householder was paid for the power generated via a generation meter and received a discount as the previous consumption was unwound. That is double accounting.  For one summer quarter the total electric bill was 1% of the normal/expected amount.   The situation was unwound when during another summer the consumption bill reading was negative and the electricity company realised the mistake.  

2) After moving house into a slightly larger house, it was found to have a dual rate meter.  These meters known as Economy 7 are matched with a special tariff arrangement where by the cost of electrify at night is cheaper than the day rate.  The day rate is higher than than the normal day rate. The meter shows three numbers in sequence labeled 1,2,T   The 1 & 2 numbers are the two rates and the T number is a total of the two rate numbers.  After a visit from a real meter man a letter was received from the utility company sating that the number types from the meter had been entered round the wrong way and would be corrected in future.  Turns out that the day and night number had been reversed and the house had benefited as a result of that.  Like most houses we use more electric in the daytime despite my (now futile) efforts to put the dish and washing machines on at night.  There are solar panels to cover some of the daytime consumption and under floor heating to eat that up.

That was two metering errors that worked out in the houses favour, most certainly an unusual sequence of events.  

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Peter Gabriel - Why he is the best rocker in town.

I saw Peter Gabriel live in concert last night and it was a great show. Booked up in March this was a long anticipated treat.  The songs were great, the band focused and engaged, staging compact and driven.  Over all that great lyrical voice with distinctive edge. Awesome show.

Looking back there are lots of other reasons that I am a solid PG fan.  Over his long career his has driven for the democracy of world music as well as oppressed peoples. His early forays into CD-rom multi media and the music downloads biz opened doors that whole industries have followed through.

A creative force right from the start of his early music days with Genesis, PG has built an impressive opus of solo albums, live work, film scores, music vids and political influence. This is celebrity status built on a long solid foundation of delivered greatness.

PG resonates with me because:

  • His concerts rock and surprise and lift and deliver as only the best live gigs can.
  • He looked after his Dad
  • Innovated beyond the stage and on the stage.
  • Reinvention of himself but still dug back to the glory days
  • Take time to get it right
  • - lets see how that delivers
  • Took a year out to travel with his family
  • Does his own bootleg albums ( Encore series ) 
  • I so wanted to sing that duet (or just be next to) Kate Bush

Personal favourite album & track is "I have the touch" on the Security album. A real HiFi tester with a subtle influence of world rhythms in a tasty rock shell. Was used as the sound track for the feature film Birdy.
A story of post war PTS recovery told through the eyes of two friends.  PG songs integrated into sound track. His other movie scores have been more mood music orientated.
Many concerts available as "bootleg" recordings direct from the house sound deck and sold via the Encore series.

Sledgehammer - most played MTV video ever

Go see a PG concert if you ever possibly can. Or check out the footage on

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Nostalgia is not what it used to be.

It's easy to look back and think of might have been if different choices had been made.  The good news, at least in the motor cycle space, is that the past is reinvented for the future. In the car world we have the new retro focused Mini, Fiat 500 and Beatle. Over in bike land recreations of Norton, Brough superior and Triumph are available.  Here is a quick then and now with the modern link under the title


The classic

The Modern Norton


A jubilee edition Bonneville

Modern interpretation 

Brough Superior 

The classic

The modern interpretation

 Using any excuse for a few retro photos of bikes I never had :-) Here is Laverda Jota pic similar to one that lived on the wall back home. Displaced eventually by Souixsie Souix ( but that is another story)

Photos via bikeexif,  Google and Autotrader.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Thrust SSC write up in Cray Channels from 1997

I am a big fan of the 1997 Thrust SSC project and the current BloodHound SSC project. For the sheer engineering daring and boldness of ambition. For the mission to promote engineering and science as a profession and push back the frontiers of the possible.

Here is the 1997 write up of the aerodynamic study done on a Cray C92 at the time. 

Link to write up here.pdf

Link to Facebook page of Bloodhound SSC project here .  Yes I know Facebook was only founded 5 years after Thrust SSC grabbed the land speed record.

And what does a Cray C92 look like ?

Available in Air or water cooling , 2 .. 4 CPUs with 32 .. 128 M Words of fast  64bit Bi-polar memory.  Peek speed 4 Gflops. Also available with optional Solid State Storage device (up to 32 Gbytes) and massively parallel co-processor.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Excel Average() is often wrong and over emphasises minorities and why 0 is your truthful friend.

Take this simple spreadsheet that records over 10 weeks the number of veterinary consults delivered in a small animal practice. In the columns we see the number of each type of animal seen in each week.  In all weeks we see cats and dogs but only in some weeks do we see the specialist animals.

In 10 weeks we have 139 Total Consults made up of 61 cats, 68 dogs and (5+2+3)=10 other animals.  

Looking at how the consults are recorded in the sheet for Geckos and Stick Insects, we only have numbers in the weeks where consults were done. For the Cobras in weeks where 0 Cobras are seen 0 is entered. At first thought how the numbers are recorded should not make a difference but as we can see the recording of 0 consults in a week has profound impact on the results we get.

Using the Excel Average() formula down the columns does NOT, in all cases, give us the expected answer of "Average number of animals seen per week." Because the Average and Averageif formulas only include non-blank cells, we actually get the far less useful "On the weeks were we see a Gecko we see 1.67 Geckos."  The Gecko numbers are averaged for only the 3 weeks where their was a lizards consult.

The same Average() formula gives the correct answer for Cobras of 0.3 consults per week. Correctly averaged over the 10 weeks as we would expect.

Using the correct definition of Average bring the Sum of numbers / Number of Numbers it could be argued that Excel is giving the right answer.  This leaves the statistics trap door wide open for the readout to be "We took numbers over 10 weeks and on average we saw 1 Stick Insect per week. (Blue number)"  The flaw here is the per week.  Per week implies that every week we probably saw a Stick insect where as in 10 weeks we actually only saw 2 Stick Insects 0.2 per week.

The use of the formula Sum() / Size of range gives the correct answers here for all the speciallist animals. The difference is quite marked and builds a cumulative error when column are taken together. In fact we only had 10 specialist animal consults in 10 weeks ( 1 per week ) but if the incorrect averages are used (1.67 (red number) +1(blue number) +0.3(correct)) = 2.966 the answer appears to be just less than 3 per week.

The language used to describe the result lines is accurate but has subtly and will often be miss heard and interpreted to over emphasis the minority animals.

The Office Excel page where it describes the Average and Averageif formulas correctly discusses how blank cells are not included in Average excluding cells with 0s but has no mention of how comparing stay the average of 3 numbers with the average of 10 number is deeply broken. The Average formulas, when used over blank cells, will give an indication of average capacity needed but not the average usage of a resource.

Zero is your friend when Average() is used. If there was nothing then 0 should be recorded and used in the average calculations.

Being controversial here ...... Watch out for this sneaky and systemic error especially when deciding the correct usage based level of provision of services and facilities for minority and special interests. Probe for "capacity needed" and "expected average usage". These are different numbers and often confused.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Ballot paper for England Wales and NI. Thursday 18th September 2014 #UKBallot

Vote Cut out and send to:
Mr D. Cameron
C/O Don't listen to them campaign
10 Downing Street

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Holiday Pictures from Carces in France 2014

Griff is also on Holiday staying with friend while we enjoy ... 

Views in Var

 Meringues - yummy,

 Cheese immmmmm !

Rose - just right for Summer in Var

Finally one for the stonewall fans out there.


Also getting in some miles on the Road bike.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Fundraising for Alzheimer's Research UK

Check out my fund raising page for Altzheimer's Research UK. I am doing one road and off-road cycling event this year.

Thanks to :

for event support at Two Moors 100 and supplying all the great bits for the  bikes.

UPDATE: The 2Moors100 is done now, just the Exmoor Explorer to go. Up to just over half way to the fund-raising target. You support for this vital medical research is much appreciated.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Local wildlife in July.

Some random local wildlife seen just this week. A Muntjac on the Reading Lower Early bypass, a slowworm down the end of the dog walking road and a toad trying to get into the beer cellar.  Not quite in the same league as Hluhluwe.

Monday, 7 July 2014

On the Oliver Cromwell with Steam Dreams

Had a great day out on the Oliver Cromwell with Steam Dreams 5th July 2014. From Horsham to Canterbury and back by steam power and vintage diesel.  We did not do the advertised return route thanks to a last minute change by Network Rail and returned a bit faster than expected. The staff were attentive and the Pullman service food very tasty.  Long gone are the days of British Rail cheese sandwiches on this train. 

The sound, smell, heat and noise of a live steam train just has to be experienced up close.

Parham House in Pullbrough, West Sussex

Spent a lovely afternoon at Parham house in West Sussex.

From the friendly greeting as we drove from the deer park into the car park, to the tea and home made cakes in the cafe this was just about a perfect visit to an English country house as you can have.