July 27, 2006

Home Energy Check. Create Survey... Check. Make Results Useful... Err...

I've just completed the Energy Saving Trust's online Home Energy Check and I'm rather underwhelmed.

It claims to create a "personalised report listing all the ways you can reduce your energy consumption. You could save up to £250 a year on your energy bills, as well as around two tonnes of CO2 a year."

That all sounds quite useful and interesting so I ran through their short questionnaire filling in my details. My personalised report recommends that I fit more loft insulation, and replace my central heating boiler with a more efficient one. If I do that, I'll save around £86 each year.

Now, I'm sure that I should do both of those things but they aren't particularly challenging suggestions. Where's the recommendation that I switch to a green energy supplier? How much would I save if I installed solar water heating? It seems a wasted opportunity to inform me about some of the less common (but surely becoming more mainstream) options.

Similarly, just telling me how much I could save isn't particularly useful. Given enough investment in solar power and wind turbines, surely I could reduce my energy bill to 0 - but it would cost quite a lot to get there. I'd be more inclined to act upon the survey's recommendations if the results were presented as "fitting a new boiler would cost £700 and save you £86 a year, paying for itself in 9 years". Although writing this blog entry has helped me find out that info, as I've just looked it up to make sure my figures are realistic...

Posted by Adrian at 03:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Help Fight Cancer and Get a Free Book!

This coming Sunday, Rebecca and I will be cycling the fifty miles from London to Cambridge as part of the annual (and obviously named) London to Cambridge Bike Ride. You can sponsor me by heading over to Bmycharity - Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

This year, however, I've decided to try something a little bit different for my fundraising. Listed below are a number of books that I need to get rid of to make some more space on my bookshelves. Anybody who wants one of them can have one, provided they sponsor me for the ride, and I'll cover the postage for the book.

The books:

  • Formula One: The Championship 1997 - A Complete Race-by-race Guide by David Tremayne
  • Jeremy Clarkson's Hot 100 - Cars that make you go Phwoar!
  • The Fastest Cars From Around the World
    Guinness World Records 2002
  • Advanced Engineering Mathematics by Erwin Kreyszig
  • Software Project Survival Guide by Steve McConnell
  • Dancing with Cats by Burton Silver and Heather Busch
  • Flip & Easy One Pot recipe book
  • Unix System Administration Handbook by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder and Scott Seebass
  • The First-time Manager by Loren B. Belker
  • The Definitive Guides to the X Window System: Volume 6A - Motif Programming Manual by Dan Heller & Paula M. Ferguson
  • The Definitive Guides to the X Window System: Volume 6B - Motif Reference Manual by Paula M. Ferguson
  • Linux Unleashed by Husain, Parker, et al.
  • Leonardo's Laptop by Ben Schneiderman
  • Laughter: A Scientific Investigation by Robert R. Provine
  • Billy (Connolly's biography) by Pamela Stephenson
  • Manchester, England: The story of the pop cult city by Dave Haslam
  • Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
  • Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh
  • Probability: the book that proves there is life in outer space by Amir D. Aczel
  • Learning to Program in C by N. Kantaris
  • Deeper: a two-year odyssey in cyberspace by John Seabrook
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

And if there wasn't anything you want in the list, you're still allowed to be old-fashioned and just sponsor me anyway.

Posted by Adrian at 03:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

CHASE: Screen Technology

Posted by Adrian at 09:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

links for 2006-07-18

  • Statistics on the capabilities of assorted mobile phone browsers - get stats for specific features such as screen size, or XHMTL version, and limit them by phone manufacturer for finer-grained analysis.
Posted by delicious at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What Do You Remember?

The Time When, the latest website to come from the BBC's experimental arm, has just been announced by Phil Gyford.

It's a place for people to record their memories, and it looks quite nice so far although there's not a lot of data in there yet.

Some first thoughts on the how it could be even better though, in case they're reading and because part of the announcement seems to be to start gaining feedback...

A minor techie thing to start with - the URLs aren't very hackable. Surely www.thetimewhen.co.uk/memory/2006/07/16/memorynumber would be better and let people explore more easily. Such a URL structure would also encourage the provision of some other very useful pages - ...co.uk/memory/2006/07/16/ would show me all the memories for yesterday, and ...co.uk/memory/2006/07/ would give all the memories for July 2006 and of course ...co.uk/memory/2006/ would give everything for this year. Or maybe just a calendar showing each day with the number of memories for that day shown by making the day's number/background/whatever more eye-catching? Start with pale grey for days with no events, and run through to bright red bold text for those with lots of memories...

It isn't very easy to browse round memories at present. The popular and most recent lists on the home page are a good start, but are heavily skewed to major events like September 11th 2001. If I search for a year I'd like to get the memories from that year, not the memories from today's date in that year. It would also be good if the individual day pages, in addition to their "previous day / next day" links also had "previous day with a memory / next day with a memory" links, so I can just pick a random day somewhere and still find memories to read about around that time.

I also wonder what the earliest memory is. A search for 1066 did seem like it had found some links, but that's only because it's finding things in the Wikipedia data feed. Unfortunately you can't see what memories William the Conqueror had ;-)

Posted by Adrian at 12:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 12, 2006

links for 2006-07-12

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July 07, 2006

MoMo London - July

This Monday just gone, I decided to catch up with what's happening in the mobile phone world and attended the Mobile Monday meeting down in London.

This month's theme was funding. There was a brief presentation at the start about the funding process, and then five different startups pitched their businesses to us and answered a few questions from a panel of VCs.

  • WeeWorld was first up. They're selling little identikit avatars to customise your instant messenger and mobile phone experience. It all looks very polished, and I'm sure they'll be very popular with people wanting to personalise their computers and phones. Doesn't seem too far beyond the ringtone market, and although your WeeMe isn't anything expensive, I'm not convinced I'd ever buy one.
  • Active Media Technology are the guys providing the technology for the Orange Wednesdays promotion. They have the technology to provide ticketing via text message, and other messaging-related marketing solutions.
  • Otodio are trying to improve the ways we can listen to podcasts and spoken documents. Their system for navigating through (and generating) structured audio documents is a good idea, if you listen to lots of spoken-word. I'm not convinced that this podcasting, and audio consumption of documents is going to last, but maybe that's because I don't have an hour-long commute by car each day?
  • RedBend have some software that I can see being of great use and being in every phone in a few years, although I'm not sure anyone will know it's there. Their product lets manufacturers update the phone software over-the-air, making it easy for them to roll-out patches and fixes to phones in the wild - it's Windows Update for mobile phones. They also want to extend the system to allow seamless installation of mobile phone apps. A noble aim, and something that's much overdue if it drives take up of installing new software on phones; however, I don't envy them the task of persuading the handset manufacturers, phone carriers, and software developers to embrace their system.
  • The final business, zzizzl films were, the panel decided, the most interesting and so won the £1000 prize. I agreed with the panel, and as they seem to be in the early stages of the business I'm sure the £1000 will be most useful to them. Their aim is to become film distributors for independent film shorts, with their distribution channel being mobile phones, video iPods and PSPs. They'll share revenues with the film-makers on a 50:50 split, and seem passionate about what they're doing. I think the video-on-the-move model of consumption with mobile devices is a good match for the film short - you're more likely to be able to fit in watching a five or ten minute movie in the otherwise dead time on the bus, or waiting at the dentist.

I enjoyed the whole evening, it was interesting hearing about the different businesses, and I got chatting to an assortment of interesting people during drinks and nibbles afterwards. The MoMo London events are getting bigger all the time, and it's easy to see why.

Posted by Adrian at 09:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 06, 2006

Recycling Buildings For a Carbon Neutral Future

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July 05, 2006

links for 2006-07-05

Posted by delicious at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack