Solar panels aren’t all they are cracked up to be if they are dirty

We’ve all seen the huge increase in solar panels over the last few years, since the various government backed schemes were introduced. We won’t discuss the impact on the landscape that they have had today, as that’s for another time! But what is interesting is that the manufacturer electric outputs are always gauged on a spotless solar panel.

They do ‘green up’ a little over time, so need to be kept clean, which is something that must be considered when getting them installed. For instance whilst many window cleaners will now clean solar panels, they aren’t going to be overly keen to hop onto a high roof that’s particularly difficult to access. So make sure the panels are installed somewhere accessible and reachable with a long window cleaning pole.

You can earn good money from Solar Panels (if clean) especially if you were on one of the original tariffs that the government offered. But do bare in mind that there is a maintenance cost. Fair enough it isn’t huge, especially if you already have a regular window cleaner, but if you don’t then consider factoring in the cost of specialist solar panel cleaning. Some of the companies that offer these services such as clean solar in Telford and Aquareach in Shillington do a very good job and can increase power harvests.

As time goes on these panels are only going to get more powerful and efficient. Perhaps it is time to open a solar panel cleaning business, as they say there’s money in muck!

Bye-Bye Blackboard, Hello iPad

Those Were The Days

Some of us are old enough to remember that the vast majority of our schooling took place seated at uncomfortable wooden desks with a pencil in hand and a notebook in front of us. At the front of the classroom was blackboard. In front of blackboard stood teacher. Teacher wrote lesson on blackboard. Students copied notes into notebook. “Any questions students?” The response from the classroom was almost always uncomfortable silence, and perhaps a request to head to the nearest wash room.

Information was quickly scribbled down in the notebook, and then (as most information usually is) just as quickly forgotten. A bell rang, the next class begun and the whole  process was repeated. Sometimes with a different teacher and a new notebook. But pretty much the same process.

It worked as well as could be expected and most of us emerged unscathed. We turned out fairy employable and ready to take on the world. But times they are changing. And technological advancements have made the classroom a brave new world. iPad and tablet use in classrooms is a part of this new world and their use seems to be on the rise.

Fast Forward to the Classrooms of 2014

Tablets for Schools

In classrooms around the world today, students are often seated at communal tables with an iPad or similar tablet device in front of them. Teachers move amongst the students, and the focus of learning is on the student and their iPad display as opposed to a chalkboard at the front of the room. There are now companies that will offer support and assistance with configuring your classroom tablet learning, such as UK based classroom tablet provider SchoolTechHub. – http://www.schooltechhub.co.uk

Parents, teachers and students are somewhat divided as to the opportunities that these changes have created. However, good, bad or ugly; tablets, iPads and even more advanced technology is destined for our classrooms. Will it help or hinder our children and the way they learn, adapt, and connect with a rapidly changing world?

The Development of Tablet Technology

Apple was one of the first companies to invest significant resources into the development of tablet technology. “Apple Newton” was released in 1993 and other corporations soon began production of similar devices. In 2010 Apple made serious waves when they released the iPad. Web browsing, email, and many other features were available on a light weight, easily portable device. iPads are one of the most popular tablets in use in classrooms today. There has been a lot of media discussion on the subject and this article in the guardian makes interesting reading.

How Soon is too Soon?

In some schools, kids are arriving at their kindergarten classroom armed with tablet devices. Most Doctors and academics discourage the use of iPads and other tablet devices for children before their second birthday. But given the popularity and availability of tablet technology, exposure soon after is inevitable.

By the time children enter primary school, they will almost certainly be using iPads and other tablet devices in the classroom. Possibly, the sooner they are familiar with one of the dominant technologies that is so important in the modern world, the better prepared they are to apply it in their lives and benefit from it.

Applications for Tablets in the Classroom

In the classrooms of today, sometimes each student will work with one tablet. In other situations kids will share tablets. Often tablets are used in conjunction with textbooks and other medium to provide a more complete learning experience. I Pads and other tablets are armed with a wide variety of apps designed to enhance the learning experience.

The use of iPads and tablets in the classroom also helps students evaluate their own performance, as well as that of their peers. Students can make videos of themselves and each other during presentations and speeches. Feedback and peer reaction is instantaneous. Discussions and debate that might ordinarily be put off or forgotten can happen immediately.

Another advantage to using tablet technology in the classroom is the flexibility it gives to teachers and students alike. Lessons and interests can be tailored to each student in the class and teachers can more easily track each student’s progress.

Special needs students and kids with learning disabilities can benefit from the increasing presence of i Pads and other tablets in the classroom. Areas that a student needs extra help with can be identified early and strategies developed to address the situation quickly. Kids that don’t fall behind are far more likely to stick with the program and advance at their own pace. This video makes interesting viewing too - http://vimeo.com/81200928

One Experiments in Ipad Education

Los Angeles was one of the first cities to experiment with providing every student with an ipad. In 2013 the LA Unified School Board spent  30 million dollars to make sure every student had access to tablet technology in in every classroom. Part of the idea is to make sure that children from families of all income levels will have access to one of today’s dominant technologies.

Can We Come to a Conclusion?

Ipads and tablet technology in our classrooms will continue to grow. There will continue to be some debate over how this will effect our kid’s academic performance and how much it will help them build a better future. Like most of the products of human ingenuity, it will likely be what we make of it.

Holidays in Wales

Every culture has their own unique traditions and takes on the more popular, cross cultural and international holidays.  For the western world, there are a great number of Christian related holidays, including most notably Christmas and Easter.  In addition, there are holidays that almost every country shares, like the day they became independent, worker holidays, and memorial days.

Every country adds to these in their own unique way.  Of particular interest when looking at holidays is to examine those holidays celebrated in Wales.  Located to the West of England and a part of the United Kingdom, Wales has a unique history, and unique holidays that combine old and new religious and cultural topics.  Lets take a look at a few of the holidays.  Specifically, lets look at the holidays in Wales dedicated to the numerous Christian saints that underlie the religion in the culture.

St. David’s Day

A very important day in Wales is St. David’s Day, which is celebrated on March 1st.  St. David’s Day commemorates Saint David Welch, the patron saint of Wales.  It is a very popular holiday within Wales, and is seen as much as a religious holiday as a cultural and national event, consisting of parties and celebrations.  It is so important within Wales that many want it to become the national holiday. It’s also a great time to visit some of the amazing character properties. A particular favourite are the Wern Holiday Cottages, such as Tyn Llech and Carregfelen – visit http://walesholidaycottages.uk.com/ for details and offers.

Gwyl Mabsant

Where as St. David’s Day is celebrated by the whole of Wales, Gwyl Mabsant is a celebration tailored to a very local level.  Gwyl Mabsant is the celebration of each local area’s native saint.  This often includes a program of recreational activities unique to each town and each saint.  In addition, there is a dedication through prayer every year.  Gwyl Mabsant is seen as a way for the entire town to come together and celebrate something important.

Dydd Santes Dwynwen

Where as the above two Welch Holidays are more or less unique to Wales, the Dydd Santes Dwynwen has numerous counterparts across the country.  Dydd Santes Dwynwen is celebrated every January 25th, and is dedicated to the saint Dywnwen.  The reason for the celebration is love, and as a result it is very much like the Welch version of the American St. Valentine’s Day.

Beyond these saint themed holidays, Wales also has any number of holidays dedicated to historically important Welch figures, as well as holidays to the various times of harvest and planting times for farmers.

For official Welsh bank holidays – go to https://www.gov.uk/bank-holidays

Companies that handle Prize management

It’s a relatively new market, but one that is growing rapidly – managing prizes of behalf of other companies.

The days of companies managing their promotion prizes are well and truly numbered. I remember entering competitions on the radio and hearing them draw a winner out of a hat before passing it on to the office receptionist to deal with! Yes Chiltern Radio!

It’s actually much more time consuming and specialised than people used to give credit for. The person managing it used to need to have skills that they weren’t necessarily employed for and if things did go wrong they were often blamed for the negative publicity and customer frustrations.

There are plenty of problems that could arise from winning say a holiday to the Rio Carnival, including bankrupt travel companies, forgetting to arrange connections or transport or even accommodation. That’s why it’s become a niche market for blue chip and medium size companies.

prize fulfilment

Nowadays big companies such as Coca Cola, Disney, Nestle and Bing outsource their prize fulfilment to prize management agencies such as Cloud Nine, the NDL Group and Black Tomato. These companies are able to offer guarantees such as ATOl and ABTA, so that companies know their customer will get the holiday they have been promised.

Obviously it’s not just holidays and trips that companies give away. A common prize is a car or cash prize, both of which need organisation, including transfer of ownership or bank account details.

If your company is considering offering a prize of some kind to the public, then make sure you don’t manage it in-house, get a professional prize management agency to do it instead.

 

 

Make sure your motorhome is squeeky clean

Owning a motorhome is a real treat, you can go anywhere whenever you want and you get a real freedom to explore the UK, Europe and beyond!

workshop

So what do you need to know about buying a motorhome and what costs are you likely to incur after?

There are your standard expenses such as Fuel, tyres, insurance, tax and washing. But in addition to that you have requirements such as servicing and habitation requirements.
So let’s go into more depth:

Tyres – cheap enough really, especially as you aren’t going to use them that often! So try Kwik fit or occasionally Cost co have some great offers on 4 tyres.

Fuel – A growing cost, but one that has stabilised over the last 6 months. Diesel is more efficient and you will get more miles per gallon, but engines are typically more expensive in the new and used markets. Look for automatic vehicles as they are more economical, due to the way they change gear.

Servicing – It’s best to have both an annual habitation service and a standard vehicle service, there aren’t that many specialist companies around, but one that seems to be highly regarded is the Motorhome Service Centre near Luton at www.motorhome-service.co.uk

Insurance – Not as expensive as people think, especially if you are over 30. Try comparison sites and shop around, once you have a good price then pick up the phone and play insurance companies off against one and other.

Tax – A bit frustrating that you have to pay tax on a vehicle that is used infrequently, but until the government starts charging for usage rather than a flat vehicle fee, then you have no choice.

Cleaning – best to let someone do it for you! Get it cleaned and keep the cover on it to protect from the elements.

A Short History of Airplane Propellers

The vision of propeller planes is much older than the airplane. Humans have been flying for about 100 years, but envisioned propeller-driven flight for six centuries. Leonardo Da Vinci correctly designed a helicopter 500 years before there was an engine small enough and light enough to make any aircraft fly. But most discoveries about propellers took place in the water.

Propellers have been used to move water since 220 A.D. By 1770, they were moving small ships. The Turtle, a semi-submersible craft operated in combat against the British by the Continental Navy was powered by hand-cranked propellers. By 1800, propeller-driven ships were rapidly developing with ever. Economics motivated scientific study of propellers since efficient shipping was making countries into world powers. By the late 1800s, propulsion science had concluded that props could make an aircraft fly-if only there was an engine to turn them.

William and Orville Wright succeeded because they were able to understand propellers. Small gasoline engines were available by the early 1900s, but it wasn’t power that made the Wright Brothers succeed with their first flights. Long, thin propeller blades were the reason their plane flew because this type of prop was so efficient at moving air in a concentrated fashion to give their plane enough speed to lift. Their successful plane had two props turned with belts by a single engine that was rated at a mere twelve horsepower.

Hartzell Propeller IncRegulations and modern propellers
Things are different nowadays with modern propellers needing regular servicing and overhaul. The likes of Hartzell have a recommended global team of Propeller overhaul specialists. Those in the UK could use Brinkley Propeller Overhaul in Bedfordshire.

Wooden propellers would rule the skies until the end of World War I. By this time, engine technology had grown by phenomenal proportions, and so did the ability to craft metal propellers. By the early 1930s, constant-speed propellers and variable-pitch propellers became standard on most planes. These developments wiped away the prior limits on aircraft development. Most notably, they changed the entire approach to military strategy.

Airplanes became the foundation of modern warfare. Fighter planes flew at over 400 mph, and four-prop bombers crossed oceans with full payloads. Germany never reached British shores despite dominance in the ocean and on the ground. The outnumbered Brits had invested more in planes than on the ground and their superior Spitfires slaughtered the Luftwaffe. The powerful allied prop bombers the Germans never invested in finished the job in Europe.

After the war, propeller technology advanced and props morphed into flower shapes that let turboprop planes speeds high enough that they could replace small jets in the next 20 years.

 

Using video on your website is a must

When websites were a new experience, many elements such as call to actions, customer engagement and bounce rate evaluation were not deemed necessary. Nowadays these features are a must if you want a successful and profitable website.

One of the most important of all has to be video. Corporate websites are awash with good quality, well produced and helpful videos, many of which cost a small fortune to shoot, edit and publish. However this need not be the case as there are many corporate video companies able to create excellent company films on a small budget. Remember most videos will end up on Youtube or Vimeo, not the BBC!

So why are videos so necessary in today’s world?  Good video content sets you a part from other businesses and allows your brand to become a stand out company to your target audience. It also allows you to convey a message in a fraction of the time text and imagery would. Site visitors also now expect a video, as it is time consuming to read an entire page when a video would provide the same result.

Video marketing and corporate videos are not a new website element, the market leaders have been doing it for many, many years, but it’s only now that many small businesses are starting to catch up. This is mainly due to reduced costs, for instance companies such as Hertfordshire based video company Energise offer videos from £500, well worth considering when almost 50% of web traffic is video.

If you haven’t already done so then invest in a good video now, there are some excellent video companies out there and prices are a fraction of what they used to be.

In conclusion video is a huge plus for any website. Get involved!

Using a Mini Digger to landscape a garden

I recently changed my garden completely, which involved filling in a pond and landscaping it from some plans I had drawn up. Fortunately I rented a mini digger, as without that I would have been stuffed! I reckon it would have taken at least a week longer, considering the amount of soil that was shifted.

I didn’t actually think that it would get down the side of the house, but it was just narrow enough and saved me from lying up with a bad back too. Thanks go out the Devonshire Diggers on www.devonshirediggers.co.uk you’ve saved my a lot of time!

A history of Land Rover 4×4’s

landrover

The Land Rover 4×4 has a rich and diverse history. Land Rover’s have always invented great vehicles ever since its inception in the late 40’s. For over 50 years the Land Rover 4×4 has been the standard of excellence in mid sized SUV’s and wagons. Land Rover is a quality 4×4 that was manufactured by Jaguar Land Rover. The Land Rover has sold over 200,000 cars since 1994 and has continued to grow as time progresses. Over time the look and feel of the Land Rover has changed dramatically as well as the quality of the car.

Land Rover’s History:From Military Beginnings

Land Rover has been creating these cars since 1947. The original design of the car was based off the look and feel of the World War II jeeps that were driven by military personnel. The original colours of the original Land Rover were based off the military jeeps as well, coming in a wide variety of different light green shades.

They are often used as rugged commercial vehicles and also for off-road purposes, the site of a Land rover carrying a heavy load on it’s roof rack is a common site. Bespoke racks are available from www.patriotproducts.co.uk

In the beginning of the Land Rover’s history it was owned by Ford Motors, but in 2007 Ford decided to sell the company to Indian Car Owner Tata Motors.

Land Rovers from Then to Now

Tata Motors finally received full ownership of both the Jaguar and Land Rover brand. Over the past few decades there have been many different types of Land Rovers released that show the progression of the company. The first Land Rover was the Series I in the 1947 which was followed shortly by the Series II in 1948. Both of these early models had the look and feel of a WWII jeep. In the early 70’s saw the addition of the Range Rover to the family of Land Rovers. The Range Rover design still had the same feel of a jeep, but with a more sophisticated look. Stage One V8 is the first time in Land Rover’s history where the look of the model began to change.

The Land Rover’s design was influenced by the old style military jeeps of the 30’s. In retrospect this allowed many civilians to drive cars similar to the one they would see or read about in the newspaper. Land Rover was initially owned by Ford, but was sold to Tata Motors towards the late 2000’s. Land Rover will continue to push the look and feel of cars and Jeep Wagons.

A good IT company is worth its weight in gold

Businesses need IT systems to function. A reliable and secure IT system allows a company to improve productivity and concentrate on doing what they do best – generate revenue. However a bad system that is unreliable causes more headaches than it’s worth and can lead to both frustration and lost income.

Typically all of our data is held on either on-premise or cloud based servers, it’s when this data is unobtainable that a good IT company comes into their own. Put simply, what would you do if your data was not available temporarily or even indefinitely? The answer doesn’t bare thinking about.

Even a day without your IT infrastructure is costly. If you run a company with 10 employees, then that is 80 hours worth of lost productivity and money down the drain. Based on a conservative hourly rate of £15, that’s a wasted £1200 for a single day of downtime.

Finding a pro-active IT support company to manage your network infrastructure is a task that should be as considered as the staff you employ or even your office location. When ‘recruiting’ a company then references should be asked for, background checks made and searches for reviews made on the web. A good provider should be on top of all things IT, especially new trends and the latest security information.There are many IT companies that fit the bill, one that stands out in particular is support and cloud company Ashgoal, who are London based.

One way of making sure this is achieved is by utilising the offering that cloud computing provides. Typically a modern and established support company may have their own cloud infrastructure, however many are using the Microsoft Azure cloud. Something that has mixed reports on the internet.

Some businesses are reluctant to put all of their eggs in one basket, but typically doing this with a good company can reap rewards across the board. For example a company that provides your Hardware, Software, Infrastructure and telecoms cannot pass the buck on support issues. They simply have to resolve the issue as there is nowhere else to turn. The same applies if the company manages your domain, hosting and email.
As a generalisation, companies that provide all of these services tend to be slightly larger, have better trained staff and greater resources. Those that do not offer this range of services often lose customers as they are not able to fulfill the needs of customers.

Low Back Pain & Other Musculoskeletal Injuries

Today, more people work in offices, have longer work hours, use better technology and automation and required to move less on a daily basis.  This new environment produces more inactive and non-functional people and leads to dysfunction and increased incidents of injury including low back pain, knee injuries, shoulder impingements and other musculoskeletal injuries.

Low back pain is one of the major forms of musculoskeletal degeneration seen in the adult population, affecting nearly 80% of all adults.  Research has shown low back pain to be predominant among workers in enclosed workspaces (such as offices), as well as in people engaged in manual labour (farming), in people who sit for long periods of time (greater than 3 hours) and in people who have altered lumbar lordosis.  More than one third of all work-related injuries involve the trunk, and of these, 60% involve the low back.

Nearly 5 million working days were lost as a result of back pain in 2003-2004.  This means that on any one day 1% of the working population are on sickness leave due to a back problem.

Back pain is the number 2 reason for long term sickness in much of the UK.  In manual labour jobs, back pain is the number one reason.

Given these facts it is essential we do more to help prevent these musculoskeletal injuries in ourselves but also within our workplace.   If you employ people surely you want them to be having zero sick days with maximum efficiency every time they are in working.  If you are self-employed, surely you can’t afford to take days off due to your back playing up or even struggle along through the day being less efficient as your back is uncomfortable?

Investing a little bit of time and money in seeing a professional such as Richard Green the Personal trainer and Fitness coach, could save or even make you a whole lot more time and money.

It is important to work through an exercise continuum when addressing these issues.   Firstly identify the problem, then design a program to solve this problem and then ensure that our exercise technique is perfect throughout the session.

For example, you may be an office worker suffering from low back pain.  This means that you probably sit down for the majority of the day – maybe 8-10 hours of the day.  In this seated position, the hip flexor complex are in a shortened position.  Over time, the hip flexors may stay in a shortened position, leading to a pull on the pelvis, tilting the pelvis forwards and out of position.  This creates a pull on your lower back musculature due to the attachments of the muscles, possibly creating discomfort.  Further, now that the hip flexors are tight, this reduces neural drive to your Glutes (buttock muscles), which are a prime mover for hip extension.  If there is a lack of activation of your Glutes, then other muscles above and below start doing the work for them.  Therefore, your lower back and your hamstrings start overworking in any hip extension movement (walking, standing etc).  If muscles are overworked again they will tire and you will feel discomfort.

The major problem is within the hip flexor complex.  Releasing and stretching the hip flexors will help sit the pelvis into a better position so that it doesn’t create the issues mentioned above.

With a little bit of knowledge you can help treat and then prevent further problems occurring and increase your workforce by reducing sick day and increasing efficiency.

The History of LaserJet Printers

com-prodAs technology evolves, so do the machines we work with everyday.  Prior to the invention of the personal computer, office workers wrote their documents with a typewriter.  With a printer attached to a PC, we can print out the documents we create on our computers.

Printers have evolved over the years along with computer technology.  Some of the first printers were dot matrix printers that used a ribbon and a printer head that typed out a series of dots to form the letters.  The next printers used typing wheels or printer heads that resemble those from typewriters and printed on a page using a ribbon to imprint the letter or character.  Next to come along were laser printers, which dry ink toner onto a page with heat to print a document. Today we utilise powerful printing machines such as those developed by Riso

The LaserJet printer is another version of a laser print, but the name is trademarked by Hewlett Packard and used by them exclusively.  They first introduced in 1984, when very few people had computers in their home.  The first LaserJet sold for $3495.00 and it was compatible with the IBM computer.  The first LaserJets did not print graphics, only text.

While the first LaserJet models were awkward, heavy and very expensive, they began to be manufacturer for home use as PCs went from strictly office use to being used at home.  As they were being made for the home market, the prices came down, the printers began to have more features and they were more user-friendly.

There are several versions of the LaserJet, starting with the LaserJet I and moving to the LaserJet 6 series.  They went from being reproducing black and white documents only, to a Color LaserJet, producing documents in any color you needed.  The current HP LaserJet is the Pro Series.

The LaserJet uses dry ink toner to imprinted graphics or text on paper.  The toner comes in cartridges with black ink or you can get ink in different colors.  To print in color, you have to buy cartridges for each separate color.  As the toner is put on the paper in the form of the text or graphics, heat is applied to the paper so the ink adheres to the pages.

HP LaserJet printers now are compatible with every computer operating system on the market, whether it is Windows, Linux or Mac computers.  There are wireless versions and they come with many optional accessories to make printing easier at home.

Savile Row – The best place in the world to buy a suit?

img-06Some places are both historic and iconic. Savile Row is one of those places. What could be just any old road in London is a truly exceptional place for those who like the finer things in life, such as a bespoke tailored suit.

The road itself is located in Mayfair, one of the most exclusive and desirable areas of the capital. And true to life, there’s a reason why it’s the most expensive property on the Monopoly board!

The row or ‘street’ as it was initially known, is stepped in history and has served many of our countries greats since its construction in the 1700’s. People such as Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson have been measured up and suited and booted. Plus it was the location of Paul, George, John and Ringo’s last live performance, which subsequently featured in their film Let it be.

Savile Row is quiet simply the default choice for a truly bespoke suit that is cut by hand and fits like a glove. The tailors that work their are both skilled and passionate about their industry, which comes through through their use of elegant fabrics and skillful stitching. One of the most famous ‘Gentlemens outfitters’ on the row is Gieves and Hawkes, a company steeped in history and situated at Number 1 on the road, although there are countless other competitors who can do an equally good job of making a ‘Whistle and Flute’. One of these is Souster and Hicks, a bespoke tailor with a base in both Savile Row and the more sedate surroundings of Woburn, Bedfordshire. Perhaps one for the weekend retreat!

Recently the suit industry has had a touch of a falling out, many due to cheap so called ‘made to measure’ suits being machine made and marketed as ‘bespoke suits’. The term was thought to have referred to hand made suits, but has more recently been used for other methods. Other phrases have appeared such as ‘fully bespoke suit’ and ‘semi-bespoke suits’, with the former typically indicating it’s been completely hand-made.

 

 

con1London offers a huge amount to businesses, including excellent transport links, good communications infrastructure and variety of existing companies. Many London based companies are also prepared to pay a premium for services that would cost less if sourced from elsewhere in the UK, or even globally.

What sets London apart from the rest of the UK and even other countries, has to be it’s financial district, which operates as a global hub for investment and transactions. Investors from every continent have an interest in London due to it’s solid history, sensible regulation and reliability. It is also seen as an independent way to invest, that isn’t restrained by regulation from the EU or US.

Just look at some of the thriving markets that the capitals’ commerce supports, such as the world famous Savile Row which is a suit buyers dream, thousands of high quality places to stay such as Hotels, Hostels and rented houses. Even subsidiary services such as IT Support and transport.

Due to the city’s popularity, much of the infrastructure in London has been purchased by foreign investors, who see it as a safe and secure way of investing. This is especially relevant in today’s difficult global markets.

On ground level London has a buzzing atmosphere and encourages a hard working ethos. Staff typically work long hours and produce results, which has given the City the reputation it has for being one of the best places in the world to do business.