Category Archives: Thoughts and Ideas

Rant Time: 10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling

I am not saying I am perfect when it comes to writing articles for my blog, I certainly am not (see that was bad grammar) – Anyways, it really does get on my nerves when I am reading a really interesting article about something, anything, and the writer uses the wrong spelling of a word or context of a word…

For Example: Using ‘Then’ instead of ‘Than’, which is the most common, I find it very difficult to read the article properly, and makes me want to be able to edit the article to read correctly.

The other day, someone whom I follow on Twitter posted this really funny cartoon by The Oatmeal site, which really gets the point across the way it should be.  Check it out people and help me get the point across to everyone to write these words and many more like them correctly, use the right spelling and the right context.

Continue reading Rant Time: 10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling

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New Year’s Resolutions: Why Don’t We Stick To Them?

With just another year just around the corner, this is the time that we all sit back and think: What are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 going to be?  It’s a new year, a chance to start a fresh.

Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions: Why Don’t We Stick To Them?

Spending Your Gift Money…

Hello all, I trust you had a wonderful time this Christmas Season, we only have one day left of 2011.  I thought I would would place a quick post to finish off the year about gifts and money.

As we get older it becomes less important on material items as gifts, and see the gift of money or gift vouchers as the best solution, not just because it is the easiest way out because you simply can’t think of anything to buy that someone who probably has everything you can think of anyway, it is a great way to allow that person buy what they want with the money.  Whether it is a cash gift, iTunes Gift Card, Store Credit Voucher, or a Book Token, it allows us to get the things in life we’ve always want or need.

Continue reading Spending Your Gift Money…

Idea #3 : Heated Roads

It has always amazed me how this country can grind to a halt when a small amount of snow falls from the heavens.  Records have shown, the most severe of winters with record highs of snowfall was 1947, where from January 22nd to March 17th, snow fell every day, somewhere in the UK.  The temperatures rarely rose more than a degree or 2 above freezing.  Several of these snowfalls were of 60cm or more, with some depths of level-snow reaching 1.5 meters (150cm) in Upper Teesdale and the Denbighshire Hills.

We in the UK have not seen these kinds of snowfall since that date.  I am not saying that snow on our nations roads is not disruptive, it can cause real problems, but it has always amazed me how no-one seems to be prepared for it, including the government agencies.

Since the severe shortages of road-salt last year (so the government agencies said) they have increased their orders this year in case we get the same levels of snowfall.

Idea #3 : Heated Roads

Despite the efforts of government agencies ploughing and salting the roads, our roads never seem to be clear of snow and ice during the winter.  I have often thought that there must be a better way to keep our roads clear of snow, ice and frost in the winter so I thought of having heated coils embedded in our roads is the answer.

When sections of roads are laid, why can we not put a simple heated coil, similar to those used in underfloor heating in homes:

Even if the government undertook my previous idea, these coils could be wired up to our streetlamps and be switched on at key times during the winter or when the temperature drops below a certain level, meaning that any ice, frost or snow is removed from the roads and they are safer to drive on.

Research

After some further research I have found there is a UK based company called ICAX which is already using what they call :

ICAX™ Solar Road Systems – which clear the ice and snow from roads using under road heating or IHT (Interseasonal Heat Transfer) which captures surplus heat from the summer sunshine, stores it in ThermalBanks™ in the ground and releases it to heat buildings or roads in winter.

A black tarmac road in full sunshine will often reach 15°C higher than the ambient air temperature. ICAX captures this free energy in summer (reducing the peak  temperature at the surface) and returns the heat in winter.

Source

So why is this method not being adopted by our local councils?

That is Idea #3.  Please leave your comments below and let me know what you think, or let me have your ideas of alternatives.

Idea #2 : Auto-Street Lamps and save £500k per year.

It has always surpised me that the idea I am about to tell you about hasn’t been implemented already.

Street Lamps, Street Lights, Light Poles or Lamposts, whichever you refer to them as, are there to provide (don’t you dare say light!) safety to pedestrians around our citys.

Apart from the nightowls amongst us, most of us are tucked up tightly in our beds at the small hours of the night.  Many of the streets become unused during the hours of darkness, so why do we need to have the lights burning all night long.

My idea was to introduce a street light that is powered by LED, and has some kind of motion sensor that controls the lights within that street.  LED lights are in the most part an instant-on type of light meaning that, should a vehicle or pedestrian pass under a street light at the start of the street, the whole street it lit up instantly.

Each of the lights have a timer switch built in, and when there is no movement detected after a certain period, the light is distinguished, saving the country millions in electricity bills, not just by switching them off when they are not needed, but also replacing them with LEDs.

The lights can also be programmed, much like traditional light poles, that they are only available during certain times of the day or when it is actually getting dark.

Here is an example:

I am a photographer and to me this is a beautiful use of light and very atmospheric, giving a good sense that it is late at night and a completely abandoned car-parking-lot.

If this parking-lot is not being used at this time of night, do we really need to have the lights on…?

How much does it cost to run a street lamp in the uk?

THE ANSWER
The energy cost in winter is about 15 pence a night
If you include maintenance and replacement costs, it is about 27 pence a night
But costs vary according to the type of street light and the kind of deal struck with suppliers

The 15p a night figure is correct for Powys Council and 12 other authorities in South Wales, which buy their electricity as a consortium. The cost per street lamp will vary for other councils. But Powys’ energy costs have risen 36% in the last year and are set to increase a further 40% in the coming year.

A spokeswoman for Surrey County Council says it pays on average about 15 pence a night, although that figure excludes the maintenance costs such as replacing the bulbs. So what if these are taken into account too?

Source

The cost of 15p per night may not seem a lot, but as the article says – this excludes the cost of maintenance.  Plus this cost is per light.  Over a year this would mount to £54.75 (based on 365 days).  Granted some nights maybe cheaper because of the shorter nights.

£54.75 Per light for on year minus maintenance cost.  Multiply this by say 10 lights in a street (which is not a great deal of lights) comes to £547.50 per year in electricity.

Replacing them with LEDs will reduce the maintenance costs dramatically as they will not need to be replaced as often.

A quick search on Google.co.uk – How many street lights are there in the uk? and the first source gives an estimate of 46,789 by one person.  I don’t know if this is correct, but I would guess this is a good number to start with.

So using the figures from earlier per light, per year of £54.75, this comes to:

£54.75 x 46,789 = £2,561,697.50

Even if we saved 25% of this by switching the lights off when they are not needed and not replacing them with LED versions the UK would save approximately £640,424.38 per year in electricity.

Some crazy figures aren’t they.  I think it is amazing this idea hasn’t already been thought of.  You would save huge sums of money in electricity bills each year and you would not be putting anyone at risk of being in darkness late at night.

I think the cost of replacing them to LED versions would off set the savings you get.

That’s Idea number 2.  I would love to hear from you guys on what you think.

Just a thought… …fuel theft!

Occassionally I have these thoughts or ideas how it could improve our world, and many of these ideas never see the light of day.  So from now on, when I come up with an idea that I think the UK should implement that would improve a situation, I am going to share it.

Please do not steal ideas, I am not saying these ideas of mine have never been thought of before by someone else, and if this is the case then I apologise, plus if you think one of my ideas is good, then please get in touch, I would like to be involved in its implementation.

My first thought and idea I would like to share with you good people is about our silly fuel prices.  I am not going to go off half-cocked I have done some research to go with this as well… well here goes…

Research
I am sure you must agree that fuel we purchase for our cars, vans, and lorries is expensive and getting more so every day both here in the UK and aboard.

We can continue to argue till we are blue in face that America is convinced that the cost of fuel is much more expensive than others around the world, but when we look at the figures, the UK is one of the most expensive places for fuel (petrol and diesel).

Fuel in the UK is currently £1.35 a litre (that’s approximately $2.15).  If the price of UK fuel was being paid at American pumps that equals $8.13 a US gallon.  This makes the UK the third most expensive country in the world for fuel.

On the other end of the scale the cheapest country for fuel is Venezuela: Caracas — at 2/3p per litre ($0.32) you could fill a 70 litre fuel tank for around £1.50 ($2.40).  While In Britain it would cost you £95.00 ($152.18).

Here is the list of countires around the world which has the most expensive fuel prices.

01 Eritrea $9.579
02 Norway $8.732
03 Britain $8.379
04 The Netherlands $8.368
05 Monaco $8.313
06 Iceland $8.277
07 Belgium $8.224
08 France $8.036
09 Germany $7.864
10 Portugal $7.836
11 Italy $7.731
12 Denmark $7.719
13 U.S. $3.45

Prices are in US Dollars per US Gallon.

Facts and Figures

It is the perfect criminal commodity.

Almost everyone uses it and everyone is feeling the pinch as pump prices tick up past £1.35 a litre – a price point that police say is putting fuel at the heart of a massive black market in the UK.

Thames Valley Police say the increase in forecourt fuel theft – or drive-offs – now account for one third of car related crime in the area.

Superintendent Gilbert Houalla said some petrol stations are being targeted hundreds of times.

“When we do interview people, we arrest them and interview them…we ask why and basically the feedback is that there is a big market for fuel, there is a huge market for fuel,” he said.

With 60% of total fuel price down to taxation, there is plenty of room for thieves to profit, a reality that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers say has lead to a new level of organised crime.

Source

Apart from the price of oil rising, the government imposing tax rises, the cost to franchises around the UK, is impacted further by those people who with either absent mindedness or pure malice, drive off with a tank full of fuel without paying.

This costs the industry thousands every year!

Police and retailers have told the BBC they are seeing an increase in thefts of fuel from forecourts as petrol prices hit record levels.

As well as people driving off without paying, there is also a rise in motorists filling up and then claiming they cannot pay.

West Midlands police have devised guidelines to help station attendants spot potential “bilkers”.

Retailers are joining a debt recovery scheme to reclaim the unpaid money.

In the Small Heath district of Birmingham, Pc Lee Woolman says that each week he has to recover CCTV images of fuel thefts from at least one of the three forecourts in his patch.

Petrol prices rose by 10% in the year to December, and have risen 6p a litre in the past month.

A 2007 study from Australia found that for every 10c (about 6p) rise in a litre of petrol there were 120 extra incidents of theft.

Facts and Figures from Northumbria Police.
The number of crimes recorded as bilking/drive offs in 2010 in 687.

Source

Facts and Figures from West Mercia Police.
Year    No of Offences      Value of Theft
2008    648                        £29,109
2009    967                        £43,988
2010    1031                      £43,923

Source

The Idea

I have an idea which in part is used already in America, and that is to restrict the amount of fuel you are allowed to take purely by the amount you pay.  Making everyone who cannot pay by credit or debit card, must enter the store and pay for the amount of fuel they require before taking it.

Example
Customer wishes to purchase fuel, they have two options:

Option 1:
If fuel is the only item the customer wishes to purchase then they are able to pay at the pump by credit or debit card.  Customer takes fuel and leaves.

Option 2:
If customer is not able to pay by credit or debit card and wishes to pay by cash or the customer requires additional items from the store.  They must enter the store, either pay immediately for fuel by nominating fuel amount £10, £20, £50 etc or they select the additional items they wish to purchase from the store and state they also require fuel of nomination on pump 2.

The store clerk sets Pump 2 to the nominated amount and takes payment.

The customer is provided with a receipt that has a 4-digit code printed on it.  The  customer enters this code into Pump 2, which then displays the amount of fuel they’ve asked for, and customer is allowed to take the fuel.  The pump automatically switches off at the nominated amount, after customer replaces the nozzle they are presented with an additional receipt for the fuel they’ve taken.  Customer leaves.

Using these options will completely eliminate possible drive-offs without payment.  This may in turn reduce the costs for the company and these savings can then be passed on to customers, reducing the cost of fuel.

So there you have it, a possible solution to a problem that is costing thousands every year, that could potentially reduce the cost of fuel.  Although I doubt we will get to 2/3p per litre, although it would be nice, to pay only £1.50 for a tank of fuel.