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The Lobby – general discussion

Welcome to Which? Conversation

Have something you want to talk about, but aren’t sure where to start? Start here!

The Lobby is our off-topic discussion space here on Which? Conversation.

Unlike the other topical conversations we post, this is a place where we look to you to start the discussion.

If there’s a consumer issue or concern, an idea you have for Which?, or something else you’d like to talk with us and with other community members about, start up a conversation in the comments below!

Lobby etiquette

Here’s a few suggestions to make the conversations read smoothly:

  • Make your topic clear and easy for others to find.

    For example, you may want to start your comment by setting your topic or question out apart from other text, or in bold text (using HTML tags).
  • If you want to respond to a topic someone else has started, reply to the original parent comment using the Reply button rather than posting a new parent comment on the same topic.

    This helps keep conversations on a single topic together as our off-topic space doesn’t support individual message threads (yet).
  • Feel free to move the conversation around.

    If you’ve started a discussion on a topic we have an existing conversation for, we’ll suggest shifting the conversation there. Equally if you’re in any topical conversation and the conversation goes far from the topic being discussed, feel free to move it in this space.
    You can grab the hyperlink for any specific comment by copying the link location from the comment’s timestamp.

As with the rest of Which? Conversation the Community Guidelines and Terms and Conditions still apply, so please do adhere to those to keep it a welcoming and open place for all.

Where to go next:

There’s more to explore in other parts of the Which? community space:

 
 

If you’re looking to get outside for a bit, feel free to check out the Which? Gardening Group over on Facebook. Hosted by the Which? Gardening team, this is your space to chat about plants and gardening, as well as see what goes on behind the scenes at Which? Gardening.

Over to you!

What’s on your mind today?

Comments

I welcome the new Lobby Etiquette and am intrigued by: “This helps keep conversations on a single topic together as our off-topic space doesn’t support individual message threads (yet).”

That would be nice.

BRAND SCORE in Which? reviews

I have been looking at the information and reviews that Which? has for gas boilers. Essentially there are three main types – system, heat-only and combi. Which? now provides a ‘Brand score’ for each make, so each model of that make of gas boiler is given the same score irrespective of the type of boiler, despite the fact that say a combi-boiler is a very different beast from the others. Fortunately the specifications such as size and heat output are still there in reviews of individual models.

‘Brand score’ is explained here: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/boilers/article/how-we-assess-boilers

Can we really rate gas boilers by brand or is there a possibility that one model is significantly better or worse than others? It would be good to have supporting evidence.

I wonder if Which? is using brand score for other products.

Welcome to World Teachers Day, the day in 1665 The University of Kiel was founded. and the day in 1823 when Weber visited Beethoven.

I had amnesia once – or maybe twice.

I forget, but isn’t that what mums give their children if they have a sore tummy? I remember it as Milk of Amnesia.

Wavechange – I think you are confusing it with the rice pudding of the gods whose name escapes me right now.

Probably John, but isn’t ambrosia a type of embrocation?

I don’t know; I haven’t been on any cruises lately.

Been there. Done that. Got the . . . ??? Nope. Lost it completely !

🙂

My medical training taught me that amnesia was a condition where people were briefly forgetful upon awakening, wheresas the much more serious condition, Polynesia, was when………. where was I…?

A police officer accidentally arrested a judge who was dressed like a convict for a costume party. He learned to never book a judge by their cover.

I invented a new word today. Plagiarism.

Snap!

I’m trying to give up thumbs but the system tells me I”m not logged in and won’t allow me to log in. Good job we’re in the new lobby where all the issues are things of the past. Oh, wait…

Hi all, I’d like to pick your brains please…

We’re looking to compile a list of tech hacks – all those little tricks that make your life easier, that you wish you’d known sooner.

It could be for any device or scenario. It might be a keyboard shortcut, a battery-saving tactic or a surprising way to use tech to help with a hobby or activity. Your no-brainer might be someone else’s lightbulb moment!

So, please share your tech hacks with me this week – I’m hoping to learn a thing or two myself 🙂

Hi Felicity,
Wouldn’t suggestions be useful in a separate convo as they will soon get lost here?

Hi Felicity – You might also find some inspiration in the four pages of the ‘Tech Tips’ Convo: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/which-computing-editor-tech-talk/#comment-1574399

Hi Alfa, we may do at somepoint, depending on the volume of replies! If everyone replies to this thread I should be ok to keep track 🙂

Thanks wavechange – I’ll have a nosy through those pages

Felicity – My apologies. I don’t care to pick people up on their vocabulary but I think the word you were looking for in this context was “mosey”. The word you chose is the first name of a Mr Parker, initial N. It means to “pry into something”, so close. Only an obsessive pedant would remark on this.

I suspect it depends on Felicity’s home town. It’s acceptable in the NW to talk of ‘taking a nosey’ or ‘having a nosey’.

My first tech tip is to do a web search of a phrase that may seem unfamiliar. In this case I found nearly a million hits for ‘have a nosy’.

Here is a quick tech tip. If you were ever to lose your smartphone, and an honest person were to find it, have you considered whether or not they would be able to contact you and return it?

In these days of biometric screen locks (etc.) it might be a good idea to provide some contact info, eg on a label inside the case.

From OED:

verb (nosies, nosying or noseying, nosied) [no object, with adverbial] pry into something: they don’t nosy into your business like some people.

Following on from Derek’s tip (my landline phone number is on paper in my phone case) I keep phone numbers to report missing bank and credit cards saved in my phone. If I was to lose the phone too, it is synchronised with computers.

I rather thought having a “mosey” was more a physical activity – looking around somewhere to suss out a place. A nosey I’d have regarded as more of a search among paperwork or online. But……

Wavechange – Your tech tip is a good one, and it is why I looked up the definitions of both “mosey” and “nosy”. I remain of the view that, in the particular context of taking a leisurely look through another Conversation topic, “mosey” is the more apposite. The fact that there are millions of uses of “nosy” demonstrates the limits of modern vocabulary and usage!

I have noticed that when two words have a similar sound they often become interchangeable and then, strangely, the correct one falls out of use. A good example is the phrase “under no illusions”; unless you spent your life as Paul Daniels’s assistant, the proper term is “delusions”. Another one is “overestimated” when in many cases it should be “underestimated”.

I had my suspicions . . .

In today’s Microsoft News feed [05/10/20], which pulls stuff from other media but makes no contribution to its sourcing, it reported a bit of gossip about the Duchess of Cambridge plucked from the Daily Mirror – “Last year Kate was invited to officially name a new research vessel after the veteran naturist and TV presenter” [Sir David Attenborough]. Scanning eagerly through my back numbers of Health & Efficiency I have yet to find any evidence for this attribution, but you never know . . .

Tech gibberish

I have recently come across the expression “we have your back . . .” used in a tech-related context. I first saw it in a notice from MSN about on-line security which I assumed was fake so I junked it, and then the other day a pop-up from McAfee told me what they have been doing “to have your back . . .” over the last few months. I can guess roughly what it means but it seems a singularly stupid piece of verbiage. Does anyone know where it came from and why it is creeping into the language? Perhaps it’s a crude translation from some oriental language. If we’re not careful the government will start using it to justify their coronavirus precautions.

That’s as bad as Yahoo “reaching out to me to make sure I always have the best experience” . . . .

They don’t like that I am using a non-Yahoo application i.e. Microsoft Outlook protected by Kaspersky Internet Security and want me to install the Android Yahoo Mail app on my 4 year old phone that has no additional security and that Samsung no longer support.

With their track record on security ?!?!?!?!?!?

Signed off with:
Thanks for rocking that Yahoo Mail address!
Yours in your inbox,
The Yahoo Team

Yes, I find this casual and childish hip-speak does nothing for the authority of organisations that proclaim they are there to protect their customers from bad actors. We don’t want them to be all po-faced and pompous but it instantly loses all respect from me.

The phrase ‘to have your back’ appears to be American in origin, John. It seems to have originated in street-speak, popularised in TV and films set in urban New York City. Hollywood hegemony has a lot to answer for.

It suggests that those involved are doing what they do in espionage films and “watch your back”. This has been corrupted. I agree that such phrases do not belong in official communications. We were taught (and have taught) how to write informally and for business. These skills make it possible to say things correctly, accurately and succinctly when it matters.

From Quora dot com: What does it mean when someone says, “I got your back”? It means that you will support someone especially in a difficult or hazardous situation. In the most literal terms – if you and a friend were going to enter into a physical battle or a gun fight. You would be at your friends back defending him from enemy coming at him from behind.

As Ian suggests, I think this phrase has spread after its inclusion in many Hollywood films, including war and gangster movies.

Probably why it is a much-used phrase in a country with stupid gun laws.

Currently, US citizens have the constitutional right to bear arms, so they can rise in revolution against authoritarian rulers.

In contrast, British subjects have no such rights.

But those different circumstances lead to very liberal gun laws in the USA and the almost complete banning of modern firearms in the UK.

That leaves the USA with a very high incidence of gun crimes and the UK with a high incidence of knife crimes.

Overall, I think the situation in the UK is far better for public safety and, in practice, I’m not sure that the UK is actually any less democratic than the USA.

Welcome to World Cerebral Palsy Day, the day in 1889 when Edison showed his first motion picture and the day in 1889 when The Jazz Singer was released, killing the silent movie industry almost overnight.

Cerebral Palsy is, in fact a catch all phrase for a variety of complaints and doesn’t do more than say that the patient has problems with the brain.

The date for the Jazz Singer should, of course, been 1927.

When your only tool is a hammer, all problems start looking like nails.

You need a “heads up” on that one…. (more office slang!)

Screws are ‘nails for the indecisive’. They can easily be removed if you change your mind.

Screws can sometimes also be hammered into place. Some of my railway modelling buddies used to refer to this as using a “Birmingham Screwdriver”.

I bought a tin of Hammerite but I still kept missing the nails and bruising the wood.

Screw the nails, I’ve spent half the morning looking for a box of screws. 🙄

It depends upon what type of hammer you have. As with a brush, we should avoid sweeping generalisations.
https://healthyhandyman.com/types-of-hammers/

alfa, I’ve a big selection in my workshop/garage. Let me know what type you want and I”ll email it.

Thank malcolm. I’ve e-sent hubby down to the shed to look – should keep him occupied for a while.

“My hammer” gets used/suitable for most jobs isn’t in the list.

Malcom, nice to see all those different types of hammer. But they seem to have left out the glass hammer.

Swap it for a crowbar………..all problems solved.

I prefer more sophisticated tools than ones used by hammerteurs

Song writers Pete Seeger and Lee Hays (1947) wrote a big hit ‘If I had a hammer’, made popular by Trini Lopez and also Peter Paul and Mary and also (The seekers) (1963). Anyone old enough will probably remember this. Popular in the sixties during a time of big changes in America and around the world.

http://www.youtube.com – Trini Lopez – If I had a hammer (with lyrics)

Malcolm – I seem to have a good number of the hammers shown in the list with many in different weights and sizes to suit the job. I also have a cobbler’s hammer – useful for putting leather studs in my old football boots; also for banging blakeys in the soles and heels of street shoes.

I have had a tack hammer on my wish list for a long time but have never got round to buying one; I don’t have a particular use for one but I just like them. I might do some more upholstery again one day.

I was interested to see new spelling for what I learnt was a ‘ball & pein” hammer. It now seems to be a “ball & peen hammer”. Have I been wrong all these years or has another Americanism crept into our language?

Pein seems to be just an alternative to peen when used in relation to a hammer. Such a hammer can be used to peen metal – peen being a verb used in relation to shaping metal.

I have always known them as ball pein hammers and suspect that ball peen is US terminology. I’ve not heard of ball & pein, John.

Thanks, Malcolm. It’s nice to know the right word for every function.

Yes, Wavechange, that is the usual description and I was wrong. Perhaps “ball & chain” came to mind. But the hammerhead does consist of two separate elements – the ball and the pein.

I’ve heard references to ball pain hammers but with care that could be avoided.

Cross pein hammers are designed to reduce the chances of hitting the nails on your fingers when knocking in pins and tacks. I was using an old hammer once when the head flew off the handle; that could have caused pain in a sensitive area.

I childproofed the house… but they still get in.

Everyone has heard of the historical figure, Karl Marx. But few remember his sister, Onya, who invented the starting pistol.

Making steel without using coking coal, and future power and energy sources

There was an interesting discussion in The Lobby [Part Two] about opposition to opening a new mine in Cumbria for extracting metallurgical coal. See –
https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/the-lobby-2/#comment-1608338

This type of coal, called coking coal, has properties that make it ideal for converting iron ore into steel and has hitherto been regarded as an essential resource. It was agreed that it will continue to be necessary to manufacture steel for as far ahead as we can see and although much of the raw material can come from scrap steel not all steel will be available for reprocessing because it is embedded in buildings [steel frames] or has a virtually permanent use [bridges, ships, railway lines] so new minerals are constantly required.

One of the papers cited in the previous discussion was about alternatives to the use of coal and hydrogen was identified as a potential resource. See –
https://ectltd.com.au/can-we-make-steel-without-metallurgical-coal/

It stated that ‘green’ hydrogen made using renewable energy sources was a good alternative but much more expensive. But the tide might now be turning on that. The manufacture of hydrogen by electrolysis consumes a great amount of electrical energy and has so far been a major limitation to the expansion of hydrogen as a fuel source for motor vehicles, railway locomotives and fossil-fuelled engines used in many other applications.

Now that there is a government pledge to meet all domestic electrical energy needs [including the recharging of car batteries] from renewable sources by 2050 the way is opening up to a much bigger role for hydrogen. It is grossly uneconomic to produce hydrogen from non-renewable electricity sources but one of the advantages of hydrogen is that it does not have to be produced concurrently with its consumption; it can be stored. Therefore surplus off-peak renewable energy can be used to manufacture hydrogen and it can then fuel motors and be used to make steel cleanly and without harmful emissions. Apparently we have an abundance of wind – we just need a lot more turbines – and no shortage of water, so the manufacture of hydrogen for steel production can make it as economical as any other method and without the side-effects that have their own external costs.

While all domestic energy needs might, if we get on with it quickly, be met from renewable sources by 2050 that still leaves the question of industrial and commercial needs. Surplus off-peak renewable energy isn’t much use for commerce and industry because its availability does not coincide with the times of most demand so converting it into a usable power source would be a good step forward. The railways have already identified hydrogen as a useful fuel source for powering trains on those sections of the network where electrification would be too expensive and technically challenging. Hydrogen would have to be compressed and transported in order to be useful, however, and there are new hazards associated with it. Trains and road vehicles would need sizeable tanks and/or frequent refuelling points in order to make the best use of it.

Using electricity to make hydrogen and then converting it back into electricity has always been regarded as a technically inefficient method of energy production, and therefore not a viable long term alternative solution to the use of fossil fuels for heavy haulage or continuous industrial power demands. Nuclear power will still have a role – to provide continuity of supply economically to maintain industrial activity and, indeed, to restore some of our lost industrial capacity.

My take on the future is to allow the development of the coal mine in Cumbria while recognising that its life might only be forty years or so until there is sufficient hydrogen infrastructure and capacity to switch all steel-making to the hydrogen-activated conversion of iron ore. The planning and implementation cycle for making big changes to industrial processes is a long one, and we are also getting behind with our nuclear power generation programme so there will still be an energy gap in 2050 when it is planned that the UK will become carbon neutral. Unfortunately some of that ‘neutrality’ will have to be achieved by ‘carbon offsetting’, which is not ideal.

I have reservations about our ability to eliminate petrol and diesel fuel in motor cars and light haulage vehicles by 2035, let alone by 2030 as is now being postulated within government. I do not believe it will happen unless there is a powerful commission tasked with devising and implementing a conversion programme compatible with (a) a realistic energy production capacity, (b) the timetable for providing suitable on-street and off-street charging and fast-recharging infrastructure, (c) manufacturers’ production plans for the development of new vehicles, (d) the car market’s ability to manage a smooth change process in a way that is financially and practically appealing to motorists, (e) the progression to alternative taxing arrangements to substitute for fuel duty revenues, and (f) a continuity and consistency of government policy and action to maintain progress in our new trading environment. The basis of my concern is our record in achieving nationwide high-speed broadband rollout, implementation of smart meters, HS2, Crossrail, and new military hardware where, in every

One advantage of a new coal mine in Cumbria is that it might enable reinvestment in the Cumbrian haematite [iron ore] extraction industry; there are many other sources of iron ore in the UK where extraction became uneconomical. The demand for iron ore reduced as UK steel-making capacity was closed during the recent periods of industrial contraction so now almost all our requirements are imported from China; we should be looking to substitute for that source with its political and environmental implications. We should also not be thinking of importing lignite from the EU as an alternative mineral to replace coking coal; lignite has a dirty production process and if we can use our own renewable energy resources wisely to become self-sufficient in prime resources then that should be the priority.

There is also a major question mark over the use of batteries for localised power supplies. They have their uses for short-distance coverage on tramways, light railways, and final-mile or inner urban road transport where other provision is not viable or is polluting but their weight, dependence on rare and precious minerals and manufacturing processes give rise to serious environmental concerns that might not be compensated by their advantages. At the moment China is the world’s leading producer of batteries which is about as far away as you can get from the UK meaning a huge economic and environmental cost in transportation and a stock-piling requirement to guarantee continuity of supply.

Thanks for moving this discussion, John. We have had considerable discussion about air pollution, mainly in the context of transport. I think we need to face up to the fact that our present lifestyle is far from sustainable. The decreased use of transport during the current pandemic has shown that this can have a positive effect on air quality. Perhaps we can continue to reduce our dependence on transport in a planned way.

I agree. I should like to see the curtains being slowly drawn across the use of oversized personal transport of the SUV variety for a number of reasons, including the space they take up, safety concerns arising from their bulk, the amount of resources consumed in their manufacture, and the driving style they cultivate, as well as the obvious use of fossil fuels. I doubt if indirect electrical energy will replicate the acceleration, endurance and power for on-board systems of a full tank of petrol or diesel in a big car so people will need to get used to a process of regression motoring-wise.

Domestic energy consumption – cooking, heating etc – is only about 30% of our energy requirements, I believe. So the proposed expansion of offshore wind will make a limited contribution to our overall needs. I’d like to see investment in tidal energy, something the UK is better-placed than many countries to take advantage of.

That was a fascinating and interesting post. I agree with the opinions and note the discussion points which make a lot of sense. Mini nuclear plants, while attractive from an energy producing point of view, are risky from a crash and other leaks from faulty manufacture. No manufacturing process has ever been without its frailties, especially in the automotive sector.
As you point out there is a huge advantage in having a power source that can be made and stored instead of being available on demand, only. You also highlight China as a battery source and, of course, this is politically challenging and likely to become more so. Hydrogen is the only power source that can be stored, as we have with fossil fuels, and that, together with its consumption and waste products, makes it very attractive if it can be produced effectively.
While I accept that journeys are not always necessary and some cars are overtly less economical and over-large, it will take some persuasion of the public to become less mobile and thus able to do less away from home. Carting golf clubs on a bike, or bags of shopping, or folders of music and an instrument for a rehearsal. Time needed to get to places when there isn’t much of it. Society thrives on its interactions and quite a lot of these requires personal transport when it’s needed and not when the council can provide it publicly.
As I’ve said before, we need a joined up strategy to examine everything in the totality of change. We also need clearly defined stages and targets to get to a greener planet. Bashing society won’t get that.

I have just noticed that the ante-penultimate paragraph of my long comment here tailed off without a conclusion. I expect my thought process was fairly obvious but I should have added “. . . the programme has slipped to the right as various unforeseen [but not necessarily unforeseeable] problems have emerged; in almost every such case the scheme has also been de-scoped so we don’t get as much as we are paying for and that itself is more than we intended”.

I suspect this is partly based on the trick of using underestimates of costs and unrealistic timescales to get a project approved so that when the real facts emerge it is too late to turn back.

Back to an all-electric country. I wonder just how much more we will end up paying for our heating and cooking. At the moment I pay about 5 times as much per unit for electricity c/w gas. Nothing suggests electricity will get any cheaper so my energy bill could be about 3x what it is now. Bleak times ahead for many.

The conversion to electricity for heating and cooking will require a substantial increase in electricity generation capacity in addition to the extra requirement for cars and vans. I doubt provision has been made for that.

I too would like to see some tidal power schemes but even then I don’t think we can ever achieve an all-renewable energy supply because of the vagaries of the weather in the case of wind and solar and the fluctuations of the tide times relative to energy demand for tidal power. The tide makes no adjustment for GMT and BST whereas demand is governed by it. Solar likewise; more power is available in the summer when we need it least for heating.

I also expect that, if more power stations are built to replace domestic oil and gas, upgrades will also be needed to our National Grid, to increase its capacity.

Using more renewable may also require storage batteries, both on the grid and in homes.

Also, even nuclear stations do not generate 24/7/365. They can be out of service for planned and unplanned maintenance.

EDF shares the daily status of its nuclear stations here:-https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/power-station/daily-statuses

Tidal storage is one of the methods of using that form of energy, where the electricity can be better aligned with demand.

If we were to rely totally on electricity we would need a very secure system to avoid disruption to supply whether from natural or deliberate causes. Are we capable of achieving that? Although even now disruption would cause chaos but I could still have the ability to drive my car for a while, run a personal generator for a while but I’m not sure what else. Probably no heating or cooking as pumping gas around the country would presumably cease.

I must have more cheerful thoughts…..

Installation of ground source heat pumps in larger new build homes and other buildings would allow more effective use of electricity for heating, producing around 3-4 times the amount of heat compared with conventional electric heating. It is also possible to install these pumps in existing homes that have larger gardens. Air source heat pumps are not as effective but can be installed in existing homes where it would not be practical in existing homes. There is a lot that can be done with existing technology and in conjunction with improved insulation it could go a long way to help us cope the planned phase of of gas in homes.

Talking about batteries for storage, at a large scale some alternatives use molten sodium. We tend to think about batteries conventionally, since they’re generally portable but at the power station scale molten sodium seems a good replacement.

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three people involved in developing the lithium ion battery that is widely used for powering electronics and, more recently, cars. There is plenty of scope for developing batteries based on other technologies for other purposes. I would be surprised if we can produce batteries that can store sufficient electricity for heating purposes in the foreseeable future

On Derek’s point on electricity grid capacity, we have become aware of the limitations in Norfolk. As the grid’s power lines get further away from major demand points and from the power stations feeding in to the system, the network gets ‘thinner’ and its capacity reduces so that by the time it reaches the coastal towns it is barely adequate with little opportunity for bi-directional current to enable greater system resilience and load sharing. It is quite fragile in many places and struggles to cope with present demand at times.

There are now no power stations left in Norfolk so far as I am aware, so most electricity has to come in from Sizewell, Drax and stations in the Midlands over long distances. There are some independent gas-powered stations and solar power installations and various local feed-in supplies but the major source now is offshore wind farms with many arrays in the North Sea and hundreds of turbines. New ones are under construction but to deliver the energy they produce it has been necessary to boost transmission capacity enormously because the existing infrastructure was not designed for those particular flows. This involves laying long underground cable runs and big new grid connection stations to convert the electricity and feed it into the national grid for onward distribution.

East Anglia is capable of producing more electricity than it consumes, and the imbalance will be much greater in the future as more offshore fields come on stream, so extensive civil engineering and installation works will be required for years ahead. While there has been some resistance and controversy over the routes and siting of the infrastructure, the general reaction in the communities has been passive and supportive – but nobody believes the prospect held out of cheaper energy! The cost of this investment is colossal and the payback time must be measured in decades so, as Malcolm predicts, our bills will not be going down in our lifetimes.

One potential bonus from the move away from gas for domestic purposes is that the major North Sea gas terminal at Bacton on the Norfolk coast will eventually become redundant or be reduced in scale [or it could become the last one standing]. This has a significant electricity demand which could then be redirected to other points to raise grid capacity.

Regarding other sectors of the local economy, so far ahead as I can see, agriculture will continue to be largely diesel-driven away from built structures, fishery – even with a post-Brexit boost – will remain oil-fired at sea and is unlikely to see much change in its onshore energy supplies [for processing], and leisure and tourism have few opportunities for further economies because of the transient and fluctuating nature of the demand. The major new energy demand will be new housing developments which are going up everywhere leading to more domestic consumption and a consequent rise in power demands for personal transport, commercial use, and the public sector [schools, health services, etc].

Some new housing is being fitted with solar panels at the outset but the orientation of the properties is not optimised, the layout of estates is generally inefficient with far too many detached units, and – although insulation standards are good – few exceed the Building Regulations standards, Unfortunately, houses built to PassivHaus standards are few and far between, are sold at high-premium prices thus suppressing demand . . . and often have parking provision for three cars! Public sector housing has a better record than the private sector in this regard.

Ground source heat pumps require a largish garden, something lacking on many new build homes. It might be more useful to substantially increase the insulation of such homes so they need little heating, and use solar power for part of their electricity needs. There was a council housing build in Norwich, I think, that had very little heating demand due to the design of the buildings.

That is why I mentioned larger homes and gardens and the possibility of using air source heat pumps where ground source pumps is not practical. Installing solar panels at the time of building new homes can produce a more attractive result, but we seem to still be building homes where the largest roof area does not face in the right direction to make a future installation most effective.

There is a minimum energy standard that landlords are supposed to meet before letting a property but it’s a low standard and landlords can have an exemption if they would need to contribute much to the cost: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance At present, private property that is very energy inefficient can be bought and sold, with only a cursory examination to produce an EPC certificate.

Having stayed with friends in their energy efficient home in Edinburgh, it’s amazing what can be done without going as far as expensive PassivHaus standards. This is the development in Norwich, Malcolm: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-49970607

The Lobby

Perhaps we should rename the immediately previous Lobby the Ante-Room and the one before that the Vestibule.

I phoned a friend who will be running our first Zoom meeting so that we could test the system. After half an hour of messing around because he could not hear me he managed to work out that the reason he had no sound was because he had headphones plugged into his laptop. I suppose it is better to discover that before everyone arrives.

Our secretary had apologised for the absence of scones after the meeting, but I can offer some virtual coffee and walnut cake and demonstrate how to consume it.

At least with Teams and Skype for Business, it is possible to check audio (and video) settings in advance. But I had to “hack” the W10 registry before Skype would give me manual control of my microphone volume.

For video conferences, there also needs to be a standard hand signal for “we can’t hear you – unmute your mic!”.

It’s possible to test the microphone in Zoom too, and I had set this up with the built-in preferences in my OS. We are using Zoom because our group is part of a national organisation that uses Zoom and several people had prior experience. We could see our secretary but not hear her, so she joined the meeting over the phone as well as being logged in. Apart from that, it worked fine and hopefully the forthcoming AGM will work. I presume that Teams and Skype for Business are paid-for because those I know who use them are still working.

Just like real meetings, you go away with jobs to be done. 🙁

Welcome to Team Margot Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Awareness Day, the day in 1690 when the British attacked Quebec and the day in 1806 when Carbon paper was patented in London by Ralph Wedgwood

People who want to share their religious or political views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.