Feel free to talk in The Lobby

Open discussion

Do you want to discuss an issue that’s bothering you but can’t find the right place to post it? Or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to chat with your community pals. Well, you’ve come to the right place…

Since Which? Conversation launched six years ago, there have been almost 4,500 conversations on all sorts of consumer issues – from money to megabytes. And in those conversations, there have been close to 180,000 comments.

Of course, the real strength of Which? Convo lies in its members who contribute so much to every discussion. And one of the better aspects has been watching how this community has slowly but surely grown into such a caring one.

Our community

But, as with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so in some of the subjects we discuss due to the precisely defined nature of them.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we’re creating a brand-new convo: The Lobby.

This will give you the space to discuss anything that takes your fancy providing, of course, that your comments remain within our community guidelines.

The Lobby will be available in exactly the same way as all the other conversations, and some of our regular community members will help with the moderation duties.

As always, any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could also be used to generate new topics for debate and discussion, so you – our community members – will be able to really help shape the direction of Which? Convo.

Rules in The Lobby

There are no rules… only kidding 😉

To ensure that this off-topic discussion remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings and ideas, here’s a reminder of our most relevant guidelines:

  1. 1. You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby 🙂
  2. 2. You can’t agree with everyone all of the time, but when you do disagree, please be polite and speak to others as you’d like to be spoken to.
  3. 3. Avoid ‘trolling’, or purposely provoking others into a desired emotional response. It’s just mean 😐
  4. 4. Avoid making comments that others might find offensive, threatening, abusive or defamatory.
  5. 5. Website feedback is best shared on this dedicated Conversation, so we can keep The Lobby to be about everything else.

So without further ado… welcome to The Lobby. What are you waiting for!?

With special thanks to Which? Conversation community member, Ian, who kindly wrote the bulk of this conversation and provided the excellent name of The Lobby.

Comments
Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Ground Hog Day – Feb 2nd-Feb 2nd-Feb 2nd-Feb 2nd-Feb 2nd-Feb 2nd……………….

Profile photo of Ian
Member

🙂 Like it!

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Worrying event in London. Hope the office is safe, Patrick.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Watching and listening to it on an International news satellite broadcast with a helicopter in place Ian , its amazing how they can pick up all the voices on the ground. Many separate incidents .

Profile photo of Melanie Train
Member

We’re all safe. Thanks for asking, Ian.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

We are safe, thank you Ian. On my way home now and won’t be going through the area.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Good to hear; I’m glad you’re all untouched. Four dead confirmed and 20 injured – some seriously. Nothing yet on motive or attacker or links.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

You can follow updates here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-39355505

Profile photo of Ian
Member

No frivolity from me this morning. Just thoughts about how suddenly horror happens, and how quickly lives can be snuffed out. I hope no one at Which? was affected badly by what happened. Living where we do, one can sometimes feel detached from the ever-present danger in the major cities but seeing it unfold was harrowing enough.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

It will take someone with an enormous gift for perception to write the history of the last few decades. There is a complex web of interweaving of strands that make up the modern world; the responsibilities of various countries for events and their aftermath and the aftermath that this also generates elsewhere. So much of what we see today is interlinked and multi-national. Hardened view points throughout the spectrum of opinion seem to polarise society and instant communication is a mixed blessing. That, seems to be the difference between the world I knew as a child and the one I live in today, though I suppose historians can always point to such divisions, even if they were not so obvious. Yesterday’s tragic events should act as a modifier to the internal squabbles in the U.K. and unify the nation in the will to work together for our greater good.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Wise words Vynor but as you are that perceptive you will understand its the actions of this country and the US Internationally that are determining the response of other nations and other peoples.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Duncan makes an interesting, and for many a valid, point. Historians will have to set that alongside what the alternative might have created if the US, ourselves and others had desisted from intervening elsewhere.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

“Moderate drinking is good for you, a BMJ-published study has found, directly contradicting the advice of the UK government’s “Chief Medical Officer”, who advised last year there was “no safe level” of drinking. A daily pint reduces risk of a heart attack and angina by a third, a big data study of Brit adults has found, while total abstinence increases the risk by 24 per cent.

The proposition that alcohol has health benefits, and teetotalism invites greater health risks, has been established for a long time. A metastudy by Sheffield University noted that four out of five studies examined showed moderate drinking correlated with a reduction in mortality, with “moderate” defined as around three pints of beer a day for men, and two glasses of wine for women (as recently as the 1960s, official health advice suggested that a bottle of wine a day was fine).

But the moderation message alarmed puritanical health campaigners and prohibitionists, who found a champion in civil servant Dame Sally Davies. Davies declared in January 2016 that there was “no safe level” of drinking based on highly contested “evidence”. Campaigners argued that the samples of teetotallers in studies included former drinkers, who had already been “damaged” by years of drinking, and the conclusions were therefore unsound.”

The really compelling aspect of the article is the reaffirmation of what is now generally well established: moderate drinking is good for you.

The report, along with tables and graphs, is here:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/23/bmj_uk_alcohol_study/

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I like the positivity of the conclusion – it’s not just that moderate drinking is not bad for you, it is actually good for you. That is a contention to which I have devoted much of my life, sometimes with practical demonstrations to allay the fears of the doubters.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Indeed 🙂 But the more serious fact is that the government is essentially and deliberately misleading people. Of course, it has a track record for this: David Nutt’s forced resignation one of the most glaring examples. But the real problem is that by ignoring scientific research it encourages a populist view of health policy, leaving the uninformed to make absurd statements about alcohol and, in the process, possibly damaging the health of the population in general. I need a drink.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Cheers 🙃
🍷🥂🍻🍺🥃🍸🍹🍷

Profile photo of Ian
Member

LOL!

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

Scare and counter scare. Where was it that I read that alcohol is known poison which the body prioritises in removing from the system? Alcohol is used to relax and remove stress and, at the same time it temporarily reduces the ability to think clearly. It is wrapped up in attractive drinks made from fruit and fermented farm produce, and it is sold in convivial surroundings where conversation and entertainment abound. It is part of the culture of most lands because of its intoxicating properties and peoples’ desire to get away from reality for a while. It is also seen as an important part of any celebration. Some of these things may enhance lives and could make people happier, but healthier? I wonder.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Doing things that give us pleasure, whether eating the “wrong” food sometimes, sweeties, having a moderate drink, going for a drive in the country, contribute to a happier state of mind. I think this is good for our wellbeing. I am not going to live forever but may as well enjoy the life I have rather than deprive myself for the sake of what might be another year or two of existence = as long as what I do does no harm to others. That way I should be seen as acting in a socially responsible way – less burden on the NHS, reduced state pension payout, more food for others (well, a tiny bit when shared out), and no more controversial contributions to Convos or constructive criticisms of Which? What’s not to like. We should be encouraging such indulgences.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Well, alcohol is a known poison, Vynor, as are almost all drugs, but many depend on drugs to prolong their lives and help them enjoy a pain-free existence. The key, of course, is moderation. It’s extremely difficult to get precise figures on the number of alcoholics in the population, so it’s easier to find out how many people per year die from alcohol poisoning.

Fewer than 500 people per year die from alcohol ingestion and the figure is dropping year on year. Last year more than four times that number – 1732 – were killed on the road. Each year more than 73,000 die from heart attacks. Now, for me the truly interesting fact is that we don’t know all that much about what causes heart disease. But we do know, with a huge degree of certainty, that moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risks of premature deaths from heart attacks.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

As with all things in life, moderation is key. The difference between over indulgence in food and alcohol being, we can live without alcohol but we can’t live without food. If you can’t live without alcohol then you need to ask yourself “have I crossed over into dependency upon it? or “am I constantly searching for an excuse to justify that extra pint or tempting glass of wine?”

Alcohol toxicology is usually caused by binge drinking, more prevelent in adolescence when the body has not yet had time to build up sufficient tolerance. and so the figures quoted above are not a true representative of the overall dangers of over-imbibing. The trouble is, moderation can mean ‘good health’ to one person but toxic to another. according to ones degree of tolerance or dependency upon it – that is the main reason why the government sets its guidelines at 14 units a week. Everyone is free to decide whether or not to overstep these guidelines and risk becoming dependent upon it, a process that can happen without you being aware of it.

Overstepping these guidelines in an adult will probably not cause you to die from alcoholic poisoning, but as ’cause of death’ on your death certificate will most likely state ‘cardiomyopathy, fatty liver, (cirrhosis), breast cancer, GI bleeding and GI cancer, damage to brain cells, dementia, depression, high blood pressure. pancreatitis, nerve damage, changes in mental status including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (a brain disease that causes symptoms such as confusion, vision changes or memory loss, blackouts (memory lapses), alcoholic ketoacidosis (including dehydration), malnutrition (eating the wrong type of food) drink driving………….the list goes on.

No-one here is attempting to deny anyone the small benefits obtained from drinking in moderation, but please remember there are people who for health reasons, (including adverse reaction to prescribed medication) are unable to drink at all. Alcohol is after all, a fermented sugar, is very high in calories and and taken in excess, is a highly addictive substance. Being risk aware is key, but if you are prepared to overstep the guidelines, which are as a result of overall governmental assessment of deaths from both physical and mental diseases caused by over imbibing and relevant to each individual country, then it is up to each and everyone to manage the amount they consume, not just for their own sake but also for their immediate family who’s lives can be ruined by the hedonistic and thoughtless drinking of a few individuals.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

The thing is, Beryl, there are risks associated with everything we do. You’re looking to the extremes: alcoholism, cirrhosis, blindness and so on, but most will not suffer those issues. And the research is confirming what many have known for some time (although some continue to ignore) that 40 units per week for men actively reduces the risks of heart attack – still the single biggest killer. Yes – of course there are problems with over indulgence, but there are no matter what you drink. People have drunk themselves to death on water.

You also mention social consequences, and seemingly attribute all those to “hedonistic and thoughtless drinking”. However, as one whose wife was a senior Social work researcher and whose eldest is a research Psychologist, I would beg to differ. Drinking may well exacerbate the issues that some have, but my wife confirms that she never encountered any family where drink alone was responsible for ruined lives. It’s frequently proffered as an excuse for dreadful behaviour, usually in an attempt to reduce an impending sentence, but as any good Psychologist will tell you drink can’t make anyone do anything: it simply depresses the inhibition of their natural and unfettered nature.

So the real object I think is to compare the risks associated with drinking to the risks posed by other social activities. You might be interested to know that a lot of other activities pose a far, far greater degree of risk.,

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Ian, with the greatest respect to your wife or any other social worker who has never encountered any family where drink alone was responsible for ruined family lives is either in denial or has led a very sheltered existence. As a social worker, a visit to any AA or Al Anon meeting is key in order to be in a position to be able to understand the causes of drink related family breakdown and divorce.

I accept that up to 14 units a week can have some heart benefits, but to state that 40 units a week can have the same benefits is quite frankly a case of wishful thinking and a bit unrealistic. If that is your conceptualisation of ‘moderation’ i would suggest you reread the salient points contained in my above comment.

I repeat moderation is key in all walks of life. 14 units per week is the recommended UK government guideline to avoid risking alcohol dependency. The choice is yours and yours alone to make.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

I think we need clarification

I said:

“she never encountered any family where drink alone was responsible for ruined lives

and you said

“their immediate family who’s lives can be ruined by the hedonistic and thoughtless drinking of a few individuals.”

Please look at exactly what I said. Specifically, look at the phrase where drink alone was responsible for ruined lives. What does that mean? It means assuming that alcohol alone – with no underlying causes, personality issues, mental illnesses or stresses and strains – can be responsible for ruined lives. Here’s the question: can you quote to me any single case where alcohol, entirely on its own, was responsible for ruined lives?

My wife is neither “in denial or has led a very sheltered existence”; she has led teams of researchers examining the causes, symptoms and problems that arise during relationships and that can – note “can” – be exacerbated by alcohol but not caused by it. She is published, and has contributed to the BMJ, Marriage guidance, Relate and the Samaritans, so I believe she is qualified to say what she has. FWIW our eldest son is currently researching very similar fields, and holds very similar views.

Finally, you say “to state that 40 units a week can have the same benefits is quite frankly a case of wishful thinking and a bit unrealistic.” but the study just published in the BMJ says just that. Admittedly, it refers to pints instead of units, but taking the average unit value of a pint of beer that works out at roughly 40 units per week, which has now been determined, on the basis of many, many studies, to prolong life.

I had three units last week. I’ve got some catching up to do..

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

I am quite happy to clarify. Your comment (11.43 today) clearly states “40 units per week for men actively reduces the risk of heart attack.” 40 divisible by 7 equals 5.71428571429 units per day which is more or less almost equal to over half a bottle of wine a day! Anyone consuming that amount of alcohol a day is bordering on dependency and most probably in denial of the problem, which is essentially a major part of the dis-ease.

People drink for different reasons, some to relax, some to escape from reality and some who have underlying personality or mental health issues.. However, not everyone with a mental health problem (one in four) turns to alcohol, they seek alternative professional treatment with the appropriate medication. Admission into a psychiatric unit is often denied until total abstinence from drinking is established in order to determine the underlying causation.

40 pints, according to my reckoning is equal to double the amount of units (@ 2 units per pint) according to the strength of the chosen beer. 80 units per week? Anyone who consumes that amount of alcohol is kidding themselves (and trying to kid everyone else) if they think they don’t have a drink problem!

Finally, the amount of units you consume is entirely your own decision, as is catching up. Changing ones drinking consumption also gets much harder to implement in later years. Unfortunately long suffering partners often just have to endure the dis-ease with all the related ill begotten behaviour and personality changes that accompany it, some even becoming addicted themselves as sadly they have nowhere else to go.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I must admit that I have become a bit confused over the quantity used as a unit in this discussion. So far as beer is concerned, I thought one unit represented about half a pint, so that a guidance level of fourteen units a week would be one pint a day on average. I believe that is a very conservative level and that a grown man in good health would not suffer any harm at double that rate, that is two pints a day. The strength of the beer will be relevant. It usually ranges from about 3% alcohol by volume to around 5.5% abv.

Many years ago I was in a pub in Sheffield at midday when the workers at a nearby steel works piled in to quench their thirst after a morning’s heavy labour. They were mainly drinking low gravity Mild Ale and I would hazard a guess that each one put away three pints or more. They probably came back in at tea time and did it again. In those circumstances I doubt there were any long-term health concerns but there could well have been a build-up of alcohol tolerance that would have consequences in later life.

Whereas I accept that moderate drinking can be good for people’s health I also believe the government has a duty to set a realistic guidance level based on sound research and scientific evidence. Too low a level will bring it into disrepute. Too high a level could be dangerous as it would be open to false justification for an unwise and unhealthy level of consumption.

At the end of the day this all comes down to the individual’s circumstances and choices. The important thing is to advocate responsible drinking safely within the limits of people’s tolerance, capacity and lifestyle.

Personally, I enjoy a pint of beer in social situations but rarely have more than two. I also enjoy a glass or two of wine with meals . I don’t drink spirits. I don’t drink every day and would say my average weekly intake is four units. I never feel [or say] that I need a drink. I consider that I am in control. I believe a lot of drink-related problems stem from peer-pressure and group behaviour in the 18-40 age group which leads to consumption of higher-strength products; if not moderated later in life I believe this can cause addiction and personal and social problems.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

I used the Alcohol Aware site to calculate units, which suggested that one pint varies between 2 and 4 units, so I took 3 as the baseline and used their findings of a recommended 3 pints per day, multiplied by 7 and that (as I’m sure you know) provided a silly figure of 63 per week, which I thought was not only almost unachievable by most people but also exceeds the averaged results from the raw data. So I took the minimum, which is 40.

I don’t drink beer at all – only small amounts of a splendid single malt and occasional sherry – but it would take some serious dedication to achieve the amounts they suggest. It would, at that level, also, result in a lot of sleepy people and sleepy people make mistakes. For that reason I don’t drink socially at all.

But I thought the question at the end of the Register piece interesting…

Beryl: please, please read what I say. Nowhere did I say 40 pints per week was recommended. What I said was ” taking the average unit value of a pint of beer that works out at roughly 40 units per week, which has now been determined, on the basis of many, many studies, to prolong life.”

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Ian – It is difficult to hold a constructive debate when figures quoted are constantly misconstrued.

To clarify, DoH UK consumption safe levels are measured in units, not pints. There are approximately 10 units in one bottle of wine @ 13.3% ABV and about 2 units in one
pint of medium strength beer. (Unit levels increase with stronger beers). DoH recommended safe levels have recently been reduced from 21 units to 14 units for men to equal the same as for women.

It also helps to clarify a subject if a complete report is submitted so that interested readers can judge for themselves allthe pros and cons, in order to make their own informed decisions. For example the summary of the BMJ’s study (referred to in your comment above) states:

“This large scale study of 1.93 million adults without cardiovascular disease at baseline showed that moderate drinking is associated with lower risk of initial presentation with several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases, even after separation of groups of non drinkers.”

“Though higher levels of alcohol intake are associated with a lower risk of initial presentation with myocardial infarction, this is offset by heavier drinkers having a greater risk of initially presenting with several other cardiovascular diseases as well as mortality from non cardiovascular causes.”

To clarify the evidence base for the DoH’s recommended guidelines log onto: http://www.parliament.uk – The Evidence Base for Alcoholic Guidelines. I should add this report was published before the levels were reduced from 21 units to 14 units per week for men.

There is currently no firm evidence that 40 units per week is considered a safe overall level, according to UK official measured evaluation. Anyone who chooses to exceed the UK governments guidelines do so entirely at their own risk.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Beryl: I agree totally that It is difficult to hold a constructive debate when figures quoted are constantly misconstrued.

You said “40 pints, according to my reckoning is equal to double the amount of units (@ 2 units per pint) according to the strength of the chosen beer. 80 units per week? Anyone who consumes that amount of alcohol is kidding themselves (and trying to kid everyone else) if they think they don’t have a drink problem! ”

Can you explain where you got the figure of 40 pints from? Just curious.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Ian the 2nd paragraph of my last comment posted @ 13.42 clarifies my position plainly.

Your last paragraph posted 24th March, states “but the study just published in the BMJ says just that. Admittedly, it refers to pints instead of units???? but taking the average unit value of a pint of beer that works out at roughly 40 units per week???? which has now been determined, on the basis of many, many studies, to prolong life????”

The current confirmed recommended government guidelines to prolong life are 14 units per week = 2 units per day = moderation.

Based on yours, (or BMJ’s)? preferred 40 units per week, the daily consumption = 40 divisible by 7 = just short of 6 units per day, almost 3 times the recommended limit!!!

Attempting to confuse the issue to justify exceeding the reality of the safe recommended limit is not conducive to a constructive and healthy debate. I have repeatedly clarified all of the risks associated with ignoring safe government guidelines. I hope that my postings will have at least helped some people who may have cause to question their own drinking consumption. Evidently you have your own reasons for keeping a futile discussion ongoing.

The merry-go-round stops here.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Please don’t accuse anyone of attempting to confuse the issue, Beryl; if there’s confusion here it isn’t coming from my end.

The paragraph of mine which you quoted (with all the question marks you inserted) makes sense if you think about it, although you’ve quoted it out of context and omitted some salient aspects.

To reiterate: this is what I said:

“Finally, you say “to state that 40 units a week can have the same benefits is quite frankly a case of wishful thinking and a bit unrealistic.” but the study just published in the BMJ says just that.”

That’s the bit you missed out, Beryl, and says – very clearly and plainly – 40 Units. The wording in the original report categorised “moderate” as around three pints of beer a day for men”. Now, I then added the modifier to explain that I’d back-calculated the units from the pints they recommended, viz:

Admittedly, it refers to pints instead of units, but taking the average unit value of a pint of beer that works out at roughly 40 units per week, which has now been determined, on the basis of many, many studies, to prolong life.”

I trust that makes it clearer for you.

Now, I hope you won’t mind if I remind you that it was your original statement some weeks ago that

“The current limits are based on sound scientific evidence”

which I’m sure you will remember I disputed at the time, a fact which has been borne out by this recent and detailed research and article.

So this discussion is not ‘futile’ as you believe, but crucial in understanding evidence, how it is presented and how agendas often dominate advice and recommendations to the exclusion of essential and relevant facts. In other words, the current recommendations have been proved conclusively wrong, on many occasions, not just in this one article.

Now, you clearly have your own reasons for instructing us all on the evils of drink and in the process denigrating the sterling work my wife has done over many years. You continue to dispute the findings in the BMJ’s article, so I would invite you to submit your own detailed research and evidence that proves the meta study of 1.93 million UK health records has somehow got it completely wrong.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

This, I would have thought, is a good time to conclude an argument. Better just to present the disputable facts perhaps and let others draw conclusions.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

I have already done that Malcolm – in abundance, including the facts stated in exactly the same BMJ report from which Ian extracted his information, but they continue to fall on deaf ears. I have in the past worked with and witnessed the terrible harm that alcohol abuse can inflict on people and the subsequent damage inflicted on the children of alcoholics. It is a subject very close to my heart.

The subject was raised by Ian in his 23rd March 2017 posting, but it has proved one of those topics that I think are too sensitive for some to debate and are better left, as you say for people to draw their own conclusions so I will now leave it there and move on.

I would like to take this opportunity of wishing all Mums
a very happy Mother’s Day tomorrow.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

It is very obvious that it’s a subject about which you are very concerned, Beryl, but I am as concerned as you to ensure that misinformation is not being bandied about in a public forum. That, in fact, is all I’ve been doing, by pointing to the facts. It is to me, a matter of disappointment when someone claims absolutes, but about which they seem to know comparatively little, especially when comments are made about professionals engaged in research with no foundation whatsoever.

I have clarified your misreading of my assertion regarding units, I trust, to your satisfaction, and have presented detailed research to confirm my assertion that the alcohol government recommendations are, in fact, plucked out of the air rather than based on ‘serious scientific evidence’.

It’s also a little worrying when the debate is continually being steered towards the ‘think of the children’ approach; of course there are many, many risks associated with everything and of course some become alcoholics, often because they might have a genetic predisposition towards that illness, sometimes for other reasons, but most of all it concerns me that there are some who believe in denying any enjoyment to people by falling back on the extreme conseuqnces of that pastime.

Happy Mothering Sunday to all child rearers. 🙂

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Hello all – is it fair to say that both sides of the argument have now been presented and maybe it would be best to agree to disagree?

We don’t always need to agree with each other 🙂

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Conversations are often about topics on which there is disagreement – otherwise they would not be as interesting or informative.
A pity that Lauren’s comment has received a thumbs down without any explanation – we get nothing positive from that. The “contributor” may have a valid point to make.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Lauren , I am not responsible for the minus vote, but do claim responsibilty for ending a discussion that
evidentially was fast heading down a road to nowhere. I am happy to accept any reminders however in future that any postings, either official or unofficial about UK drinking practices are a definitive no go area on Which?Convo.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I agree with malcolm and-yes I have no problem with somebody disagreeing with me as long as they put up a legitimate rebuttal. I would rather reply than mark someone down , Which will know who marks who. Beryl as someone who believes in Freedom of expression ( within limits of a particular website ) I would not like to think Which was arbitrarily censoring posts , to qualify that, I posted a comment relating to a business , it was withheld BUT Patrick was kind enough to email me to tell me why , to me that makes all the difference than being left in the dark and is a plus point for Which.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Duncan, I have often confessed in past postings to knowing very little about technology and electronics but have learnt a lot from reading others comments and I have to say, much the wiser for it, but when you have spent years working both at practical and research level in a particular subject and it is decried at every level there comes a time when it makes perfect sense to end it. I was in this instance able to do that as I happen to know some of the reasons why people feel the need to pursue it. That however is a very sensitive issue and way beyond the remit of this particular forum.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I don’t mind if people disagree with what I have written here and I don’t care if they give a thumbs down without explaining themselves. All it means is “I disagree”. So long as the site provides that facility I can’t see any objection to people using it. If the person doing it had a valid point to make they would no doubt have made it. Otherwise, saying “I disagree” is not especially charged. As for rebuttals, this is supposed to be a Conversation, not an argument.

I think if more people actually used the ‘thumbs up’ marker the problem of ‘thumbs down’ would disappear. I notice that very few comments receive a thumbs up even when they are eminently sensible. Every day I notice that mine is the only ‘thumbs up’ on a considerable number of posts.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

John if the whole purpose of Which is just “a talk ” then it falls flat on its face as a means of conveying information and help to those posting in looking for help .Its one thing to set up a light-hearted “Feel Free to Talk in the Lobby ” its another putting serious informational help to other posters , so in that sense , even if you dont realise it Which has “morphed ” into a place of help for the British public. If all this is just a “talking shop ” then its “goodbye from me ” as I take this website seriously .

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Duncan – I think you are making heavy weather of the situation. I didn’t say the whole purpose of Which? Conversation was just “a talking shop”. What I said was that it isn’t an argument. I don’t think every disagreement has to be pursued to exhaustion. I don’t think people who don’t like what I write have to justify their position. If I disagree with something you write I don’t think I have to explain myself. I am not in the business of rebutting other people’s points of view – everyone has the right to present their opinion on the topics. It’s not a battle to see who has the last word. I am not averse to changing my mind in the light of other people’s comments – the point of the Conversation is to draw out those alternative viewpoints and take them into consideration.

I think the original purpose of Which? Conversation was to give an outlet to consumers to discuss the work Which? is doing, consider the consumer issues of the day and provide feedback, make suggestions for how things could be done better in the future, learn about new developments, and, to some extent, educate the wider community. Personally, I find it works best as an explaining medium and that is where different contributions add value even if sometimes they might be at odds with one another.

I am not sure that Which? Conversation has become a place of help for the British public – it is so hit-and-miss and random, and not properly organised for that purpose, that it is not an effective channel. A number of people do write in with queries, and some of them get useful answers or advice, but just as many are left by the wayside with no follow-up. At times the advice given is muddled because several people try to assist but haven’t always understood the question [or the question was confusing] or don’t actually know the answer.

Overall I think Which? Conversation is flexible enough to work in those different ways but a high percentage of the people who ask for help don’t seem to have any interest in the information given as they don’t respond or tell us what happened next. I guess quite a number of people can’t find their comment again to see if there has been any response. The internet is full of advice and we don’t have a monopoly. I hope we all take this website seriously most of the time, but we are entitled to have a little fun on the side – and the whole purpose of The Lobby was to provide a space for that without disrupting the flow of, or distracting from, the main topics.

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What I am getting at John is a website is only as good as you make , we are all learning even those in control of the website , that being the case the more you put into it the more attention it attracts and the more posters come here for help , its a case of building up something with the tools you have at your disposal , you never go backwards , even if you have to fight to progress . This , as I am sure Which knows, is how many good websites become great , the American websites I posted on all built themselves up a reputation and attracted more posters and for that matter brought in more money for the website via third parties , some are very well known in their fields. To give you an example I said that I receive notification from a US website I posted a positive comment on a virus control programme and they keep on asking me to post more , the viewing figures are now 38,478 and rising , now if one post can do that in one particular area of computing then posting useful info on many subjects should naturally attract more of the British public I just wish they made some convo,s a bit more serious then it would attract serious minded people to reply , if people think -well its only a bit of “conversation ” that to me is very bad advertising , the Americans are excellent at advertising and if they think something will add more posters/viewers then they go for it. I know Which is taken seriously in some quarters and as those “quarters ” usually hold the power why not come out with ideas first before they say what they want and be cutting edge in approach. People are always interested in controversy be it a product or the way the country is run and that should be encouraged as it allows HMG to get a free gallup poll of the public,s views , dont underestimate Which it gets to many places.

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I understand your point of view, Duncan, even if I don’t entirely agree with it. Personally I think we should not try to be a fixit service for all and sundry – we don’t necessarily have the expertise, we can only give opinions, there is no managed way of ensuring that each enquiry is dealt with properly, and as I said before there is sometimes a muddle of advice that leaves the enquirer more confused than previously. I think it is far better to promote the functions of the regulators, ombudsmen, trade bodies, Which? Legal and their other sites, trading standards service, and Citizen’s Advice when people have a faulty product or service or need to pursue a trader. Where I think we can help is in explaining the situation that people find themselves in – why energy supply is as it is and what can be done to improve it, how the telecom system came to be like it is and where it is going, what the banks need to do to rebuild trust and safe services, where public policy needs to move forward to meet the challenges of our times, and so on.

I still believe one of the main purposes of Which? Conversation is to guide the content of Which? Magazine so that points that are of importance to consumers are taken on board and that the various strands of major issues [like the VW or Whirlpool problems] are given a thorough airing which they do not get in the mainstream media. A lot of major improvements in customer service, consumer protection, and consumers’ rights, have come as a result of the combined forces of Which? Magazine and Which? Conversation. Which? Conversation has certainly strengthened Which?’s hand when dealing with commerce and industry, government, and the regulators. and I suggest that should be the continuing priority, not the building of a bigger website.

Anyway, it is interesting to have this discussion. We no doubt all have our own ideas on where Which? Conversation is going. I’m easy – I can be happy with whatever view prevails.

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I would agree with that John. It is also a gauge of our contributors’ feelings on any issue. It is difficult to claim that we, here, represent a cross section of opinion on any topic, since our readers’ and writers’ views come from those who use this site and not every demographic comes here. (Do they?) However, when there are several hundred responses to an initial prompt, like nuisance calls or health and safety issues, Which has a good idea of what its subscribers and followers think and what might be important to follow up. That said, I’m not always certain there is a correlation between what Which publishes and what we say here. We appear in the magazine as brief opinion paragraphs additional to the main text, which ploughs its own furrow. Sometimes, the opening article at the head of a conversation is repeated, almost verbatim in the magazine as an article. Perhaps it is different behind the scenes and, as you say, in negotiations with firms, organisations and government.

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I agree that many Which? articles that have a wealth of contributions in Convos preceding them appear to be very selective in their content. A lack of balance is apparent, in my view, such as in the Whirlpool, overdrafts, car emissions and energy company topics. I want to see a fair, balanced and objective account given, prepared with expertise and knowledge, not a partial view designed to lead me in a particular direction.

From time to time Which? publishes an emotive topic that attracts a lot of views in a short time. I am not at all sure these lead to an objective assessment; I get the feeling many with opposing views do not contribute. It is like surveys; you have to be very careful in framing the question and. just as importantly, giving appropriate background information, to get a meaningful result.

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I can understand both Duncan and Johns point of view but a passive approach does not always solve problems and tends to avoid the main issue. On the other hand, if you give critisism you have to be prepared to receive it and provide the necessary evidence to back up your affirmations.

There occasionally comes a time however when you have to accept there is never going to be enough evidence to appease some individuals, for reasons appertaining to their own particular circumstances or nature. It’s when this fact becomes blatantly obvious and the whole subject under discussion starts to become a pointless exercise do you realise it makes perfect sense to end it. People can then at least, draw their own conclusions from the info provided within the debate.

A passive approach however may place a sticking plaster over a problem and provide a little respite for a while, but unfortunately, in evading the main underlying issue, little is gained and the main point at issue is likely to continue unabated.

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You been reading my mind Beryl ? I am “sorry ” to say I am one of those , well, forward people, is maybe politely saying it . probably a “man of action ” maybe my opinions are a bit “way out” for some and if somebody wants to argue some (to me ) minor issues ,fair enough , but I believe in getting things done , even on some websites in a “warlike ” nature but nobody has any doubts where I am coming from , I can listen to reason but if I think my point is right /righteous then I will stick with it . When you go into battle there is a lot of planning behind the scenes but all the planning in the world is to no avail if the enemy does something totally unexpected and takes you by surprise , thats why small gorilla groups are able to cause much havoc when faced with overwhelming odds you dont attack directly or the opposition comes out with an entirely unexpected weapon .So while intellectual content is valuable -to me at least -action counts and actions NOT words is how I judge world governments .

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Duncan, there are people who are better at planning, there are people who are better at active combat and people who prefer to stay on the sidelines as passive observers. The human condition is both intricate and complex but I do believe there is a valid reason for everyone being the way they are, and that in times of crisis people do need each other for support irrespective of their individual propensities.

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‘Afternoon. all. Sorry I’ve not been seeing to the tea and toast each morning but SWMBO and I have been away for a couple of days, celebrating both her birthday and Mother’s day, as it’s now become.

Belatedly, Lauren – I agree. It’s a pity it dragged on so, but although I can live with most things I find it difficult when people simply don’t understand or even believe facts and (which is possibly my fault) make what they see as authoritative ‘pronouncements’ from on high, as it were, about complex subjects on which they actually know very little.

But enough of this; tomorrow is a new day and I have to get the scones done.

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‘Morning, everyone. I’ve started up the coffee machine and popped the grills on.

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Thanks Ian, but I think I’ll start with a Guinness today so if anyone asks me how I am I can truly say “I’m good”.

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Never tasted one, never drunk beer. I was teetotal for 36 years. Then we had children…

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With the clocks going forward this Sunday morning, a few observations about time:

Time must be female. After all, time waits for no man.

Told my wife I wanted our kids every other weekend and she reminded me that we’re married and live together so I’d have to see them every day.

When I die, I hope I have enough time to point at a complete stranger and whisper “You did this.”

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Given the warm weather and blue skies, today, out came our ladders and I started work on trimming our hedges. Of course, despite taking numerous precautions my DIY skills once again came to the fore as I sliced through the hedge trimmer lead. I can sort electrics (abut the only thing I can) but then I got a copper splinter from the wire in my thumb, which had to be removed by my wife’s tweezers. Think I’m being sent a message.

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The vulnerable length of cable on my hedge trimmer is protected by a metre or more of hose pipe, which makes it slightly too wide to fit between the cutting blades. The hose is prevented from sliding up and down the cable with large cable ties on the flex. It’s best to use decent quality flexible hose.

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A bad time to cut hedges as birds are nesting. Another omen.

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Wave: excellent idea. Malcolm: we check the hedges scrupulously beforehand. Very bird-aware. my better half, and a fully paid-up member of BTO, she is.

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I see birds going into my hedges, but when I carefully try to spot where they have built their quarters I have little success. Perhaps a thermal imager would help.

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Castle says:
24 March 2017

Have you tried a Cordless trimmer?

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I think he tried making one, Castle. I have a stock of terminal blocks, insulating tape and strong duct tape when I forget to keep the cable out of the way. A better way is to get a rubber in-line plug and socket connector.

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Yes, I have a small one and can recommend them. Which reminds me to awaken and recharge it ready for the summer!

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For safety reasons birds will never fly straight to their nests but will make a detour to avoid the precious contents therein to be taken by predators.

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Patrick Taylor says:
24 March 2017

As this is the thoughtful but fun space I bring you a piece on the favourite for UI prevention – cranberries. Perhaps more usefully it discusses the non-results trap:

http://theconversation.com/cranberries-cant-cure-utis-and-other-good-reasons-to-publish-negative-research-results-68976

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Patrick Taylor says:
24 March 2017

And something for Ian in the morning
theconversation.com/decoding-the-music-masterpieces-bachs-the-art-of-fugue-73522
quite interesting even to a musical illiterate like myself.

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Takes me back. I had to learn them all.

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Felicitations. Scones, toast, crumpets and all manner of artery-clogging, cardiac-arresting comestibles for your delight.

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Time-related thought: Comedy is tragedy plus time.

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And a sobering thought: When your kids are little you’re a superhero. When they’re teens you’re a super villain. After that, your only power is invisibility.

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Tonight we’ll be thinking of time, but I’ve been wondering already:

Will it take an eternity to reach infinity, or will there still be some way to go?

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Like it. Definitely take an eternity…

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A beautiful day here in the mountains; the air is crisp (cold) the sun bright (blinding) and the air is clear (I can see the blue stuff). Welcome to the Lobby!

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The best way to slow the ageing process would be to form a Government committee to investigate it.

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Very true.

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You know you’re getting old – if you have an accident and get arrested for hit and hobble.

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You know you are getting old when:
You sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there.
Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.
You climb a ladder and find it is against the wrong wall.
You begin a sentence and forget what you……….
Going all the way means staying on the bus until it gets to the terminus.
A big mac is what you wear to go outside.
Hardware is what you go to the ironmonger for and…..
A chip goes with a fish.
A joint is bought for Sunday lunch.
You feel like the night before and you haven’t been anywhere… and
Your back goes out more than you do.
You just can’t stand people who are intolerant.
Your knees buckle but your belt won’t.
You sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.
Your sat nav says things twice in case you haven’t heard.
Anyone seen my stick?
(All courtesy of the internet at some time or other.)

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Love it Vynor! Was it Bette Davis that said old age is not for wimps 🙂

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Vynor Hill says:
27 March 2017

Having a lie I this morning Ian? No one’s drawn the curtains and the coffee machine is cold. I know. It’s those damned clocks. I moved ours on Saturday but it still takes some adjusting. One of our carers got home at ten o clock on Saturday night and was on duty again at seven the next morning, only it was really six o clock. I was quite cross on her behalf

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My radio-controlled clock let me down, which occasionally happens when the clocks change. Removing and replacing the battery does the trick.

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Two of our old clock-radios have corrected themselves this time. I’m sure that has never happened before – unless I didn’t bother when the clocks went back last autumn. It’s doing all the time switches that usually catches me out because not only do I need to reset the current time but adjust the on-off settings – there’s usually a light somewhere that comes on or goes off unexpectedly but since they are now all LED’s overrunning the daylight is not a concern.

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Thanks John – the one important thing I’d forgotten was the central heating/hot water programmer. Done now! 🙂

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I have often questioned how the radio controlled clock in my car automatically adjusts to the new time and found the following website: smithsonianmag.com – How Do Some Clocks Set Themselves? The new 2010 quantum logic clock of NIST-F1 (National Institute of Standards and Technology) based in Boulder, Colorado, claims
absolute accuracy for over 3.7 million years! Will the human race still be around then I wonder?

I’ve yet to change the heating system clock, many thanks for the reminder!

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In the UK, radio-controlled clocks use the MSF Radio Time Signal provided by the National Physical Laboratory: http://www.npl.co.uk/science-technology/time-frequency/products-and-services/time/msf-radio-time-signal There are some tips for persuading clocks to work properly.

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Most heating and hot water programmers auto-adjust, not by radio signal but according to the in-built chip [so long as the correct date is loaded in the first place, of course, which is usually done on set-up]. Changing the on/off settings, if desired, to suit the change in the weather still has to be done seasonally but not necessarily at the same time as the start and end of British Summer Time.

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Thanks Wavechange. The Droitwich Radio 198 kHz signal and BBC Channel 4 connection was of particular interest as coincidentally, I was raised in that area and my late sister and parents are buried there! The car hire driver that took me to my sisters funeral in December was quite intrigued by the height of the radio antennas there, the tops of which were hidden in the clouds as we drove passed. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fill him in on any details at the time 🙁

John I think my old boiler is a little too antiquated for any built-in chips! Today is the first day this year that I havent had to switch on the central heating.

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Beryl-when you originally listened to the BBC on the Long-Wave it was transmitted at 200Khz, I used to use it to tune in and align the dials of many old valve radio,s but due to technical reasons it was changed to 198Khz so I was forced to buy a second hand RF signal generator at an early age .

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Duncan, have you always had an aptitude for communications systems? My son who works in security systems, from a very early age was constantly tinkering with cables and suchlike and it was obvious he was geared towards his present occupation.

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I think I know what you are getting at Beryl and if you are making up a thesis you are right , its “built into me ” I didn’t have to learn very much as this type of technical “intuition ” came to me very easily. I was born an engineer , now you have two ways of looking at this the human/organic kind as in – your relatives were engineers therefore its in your DNA , well I cant deny that as my mother and her father worked in engineering and my “father ” (for the “5 minutes” he stayed with my mother before doing a “runner ” ) was the son of a large engineering factory owner. From my point of view and beliefs I was “engineer capable ” from a previous life as I believe in re-incarnation , LOVED working with valve radios , although when it came to electric wiring , as a kid of 8 years old I tried to connect up a wireless to the light socket using one of those two way adapters you could buy in “Woolies ” , my mistake was in thinking we were so advanced in this area that electricity could travel through space to connect , in other words using “Woolies ” rubbish black tape of the era I left a gap between the conductors , and of course it didn’t work ,but now you have light wave transmission of signals and power , my mind was ahead of technology of the era.

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Has anyone else noticed a considerable drop in nuisance calls in the past couple of years? I’m now getting about one per month. I kept my number when I moved home, so that’s not a factor.

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Less, but not that much less, about ten a week now. Some just hang up when the answer phone kicks in and the rest are recorded messages pertaining to things I can claim for or a new boiler I don’t want. They interrupt what I am doing while I decide whether to answer or not, but they don’t get a chance to spin down the phone and get me.

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Fortunately, we have never had that many nuisance calls, one a week perhaps, but I would agree they seem to have abated lately – probably no more than one a month. I sympathise with people who are plagued with them.

Coincidentally, soon after reading your post this morning there was a call which I answered because I was expecting a contact but the line was so bad with a lot of background noise that I terminated it quickly. From what I could make out it was about switching to a cheaper tariff with a different service provider.