Duped!!

fake-casio

I’ve had a “classic” Casio watch for longer than I can remember – the F-91W. It’s had a couple of new straps and, over the years, the face has become scratched so that it’s sometimes hard to tell 6’s from 8’s. So, I decided to treat myself to a new one.

The F-91W is less than a tenner in Argos but I thought it worth the risk and ordered one for less than a fiver off eBay…

I wasn’t expecting much and I wasn’t disappointed! It was worth the few quid I spent though because I don’t think I’ve ever had a genuine fake before! 🙂

The resin case is less precisely molded in the fake but, otherwise, it looks like a usable watch.. I say ‘looks’ because, apparently, some of these fakes lose up to several minutes a day.

Carr Lane Old Brickworks Site

The old brickworks site adjacent to Carr Lane has been the subject of several planning permission delays and appeals for many years now.

carr lane

Way back in 2001, Wirral’s Planning Department had stipulated a condition on the owners that they had permission to extract clay for a maximum of 11 years. However, in November 2011, the owners applied to have that condition removed

At the time the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority was looking at prospective new sites for landfill and there were strong concerns that the owners of the Carr Lane site were possibly looking at selling the land as a new landfill site – despite its total unsuitability due to the proximity of houses and the prevailing winds. As Councillor Blakeley wrote at the time, “There is absolutely no value in the clay, however there is millions of pounds value in a huge hole that could be used for Landfill.”

Following a successful appeal, it seems the owners were given until 31st March 2015 to submit plans for the “restoration and aftercare” of the site (Condition number 28).
http://www.wirral.gov.uk/planning/Docs/DMZfiles/30164_2.pdf

Well, that date has just passed and it would seem that the owners have put in a new appeal / planning application – dated 30th March 2015 – to extend “Condition 28” yet again. APP/15/00473

It’s normally a courtesy (or is it a duty) that the Planning Department notify local Councillors about planning applications but, on this occasion, it seems they’ve been having somewhat secretive talks with the site owners instead.

http://cllr-stevewilliams.co.uk/?p=1404

Be interesting to see how this one pans out!

Third Time Lucky?

Wirral has tried twice previously to get our patient information into private sector databases. And twice, the residents of Wirral have knocked them back following consultations (of sorts).

One major concern was that American confidentiality safeguards are less stringent than in the UK.

It looks like they’re having another try:

Wirral Globe: Private sector plays major role in ‘new model’ health care for Wirral

Given that one of the companies mentioned is a USA company and given that the whole purpose of this ‘project’ is that information will be disseminated between the three companies, it seems to me to be nothing more than a backdoor route into what Wirral NHS has been itching to do for years in order to sell our health information to all and sundry.

New Arduino Project

Arduino-Based General Election Party Picker

I’m finding it really hard to choose my favourite Party for the forthcoming General Election so I thought why not let the power of the Arduino’s 16MHz processor do the hard work for me.

So, here’s my latest Arduino project:

Solar Eclipse – 20 March 2015

Well, the cloud cover stayed away until nearly maximum eclipse.

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Shopping Around

I’m normally quite lazy when it comes to renewing house and car insurance by taking “advantage” of the helpful “You need not do anything” option.

This year, I decided to see what I could save by shopping around:

Estimated gas and electricity saving by switching supplier and moving to dual fuel: £271.

Car insurance saved for identical cover by switching insurer: £90.

That’s £361 saved already this year and it isn’t even March yet!

Simple Micro-SD Card MP3 Player

Although I’ve got a fancy little MP3 Player, it’s sometimes more trouble than it’s worth. For one thing, it’s a radio, photo viewer and MP3 player rolled into one. It’s also tiny. By the time I’ve worked through the menu system and remembered which button does what, I’ve lost interest!

Of course the smart phone will play MP3 files as well – with really good quality – but it’s a bit expensive to lose or drop if I’m working in the garden (or even walking!), as well as being a bit heavy on the battery.

So, I made this simple, basic, MP3 player which just plays files one after the other when I press the Start button until I tell it to stop. Simples.

Details on my site here.

mp3-player1

Telephone Preference Service

Like most people, I registered with the Telephone Preference Service and, also like most people, I found it a complete waste of time. Here’s yesterday’s call list dutifully blocked by my phone:

pest-calls

On the occasions that I receive a call that isn’t blocked, they all have one of two things in common. They’re either from UK companies using an International phone number or they’re UK companies using a pre-recorded preamble.

Checking on the TPS website, it appears that these types of callers are exempt from the TPS regulations and it begs the question: Why leave such an obvious gaping loophole to enable these companies to exploit and annoy us?

When you read the TPS website, you find:

“Who pays for TPS?
No money is received from the Government to run the Service, the direct marketing industry pays for it.”

So, that explains it. Well you’d never shoot the goose that lays the golden eggs would you!

Pre-recorded and international nuisance calls are supposed to be dealt with by the Information Commissioner’s Office. I’ve tried them – another complete waste of space. A taxpayer-funded gravy train if ever there was!

That Time Of Year!

It’s that time of year! It hasn’t let me down yet but I thought better safe than sorry. May as well give the ol’ battery a boost while the car’s sat there doing nowt.

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Automatic Voltage Sensing Car Auxiliary Socket

battery-monitor

There are many devices which are designed to plug into a car’s auxiliary socket (formerly known as the cigarette lighter socket) which, ideally, depend upon the voltage turning off with the ignition. One such device, which I’ve recently fitted to my own car, is a dashcam. Luckily, the power to my car’s auxiliary socket is switched with the ignition but there are a lot of cars in which the power isn’t switched with the ignition.

I’ve spotted one or two dashcams which can automatically sense if the engine is running but they tend to be very top of the range devices costing £150++. For the rest of us, it’s inconvenient to keep plugging in and un-plugging the dashcam’s power lead at the start and end of each journey (or fitting some sort of switch) and, in any event, is likely to be forgotten just when it’s needed!

This project is designed to monitor the battery’s voltage to determine whether the engine is running or not. It plugs into the auxiliary socket at the “front end” and has it’s own switched auxiliary socket at the “rear end”. I’ve only been able to find one commercially-available product which does the same and, in my opinion, it seems a bit expensive. Depending on what you already have in your spares box, this project should cost about a third of its commercial counterpart.

Details on my main site:
http://vwlowen.co.uk/arduino/car-battery-monitor/car-battery-monitor.htm