Shrinking shampoo bottles

Alberto Balsam have brought out "new" 350ml bottles of shampoo that ASDA sell for the same price (£1) as the previous 400ml bottles, so you now pay the same price for less. What makes it worse is that when they originally replaced the ASDA branded product with the Alberto Balsam equivalent, it had a "same 400ml fill" label despite it being smaller than the 500ml ASDA version.

ASDA Essentials Coconut Shampoo (500ml) [Source: mySupermarket.co.uk]
500ml
£0.80 (2013)
Alberto Balsam Coconut and Lychee Shampoo (400ml) [Source: Tesco]
400ml
£1.00 (2015)
Alberto Balsam Coconut and Lychee Shampoo (350ml) [Source: Ocado]
350ml
£1.00 (2016)

Garage Roof

The roof on my garage had been leaking for over a year; it has now been replaced by Taylor Joinery Services.

[Original garage roof with felt] [Garage without roof]
[Garage with wood roof only] [New rubber garage roof]

[European Championships Landyachting 2015]

Last week ago I was in Oostduinkerke, Belgium to watch the Scottish team compete. I took plenty of photos and some video of the event. The top 10 sees France moving back up the rankings but The Netherlands are still in first place.

We had a Prehistoric Theme Night hosted by Z.C. De Krab which included a performance of the evolution of prehistoric landyachting.

Adafruit Proto Cape Kit for Beagle Bone

I bought one of Adafruit's Proto Cape Kit for my Beagle Bone Black so that I could put 3 relay circuits and pin headers on it. The double-sized PCB is supplied with separate pin headers that you have to solder on yourself.

It provides access to all of the pins but only SYS_5V is provided as a set of power lines and not VDD_5V, so limited current is available. However, this doesn't matter too much given that there is very little space for components.

I had to really squash everything in and use a lot of wires because there was no chance of creating an optimal layout:

Paym Mobile Payments

I don't usually carry any cash with me (my wallet has nowhere to keep coins). People are reluctant to give out their bank account details to receive money. If the recipient needs to be sure that they've been paid then they'd have to login to online banking - not very convenient.

I keep getting told that sending money using PayPal is free. It's only free if you allow them to take money by Direct Debit from your bank account, at which point all payments then default to using this payment method (instead of a Debit/Credit Card). So for the ability to make ad-hoc free payments I then have to be careful to change the payment method on every other transaction - not very convenient.

Paym appears to solve both of these problems. As long as the recipient has registered to use Paym, anyone can send money to the mobile number of the recipient. The bank account details of both sides remain private. For confirmation that money has been paid, a text message is sent to the recipient at the time the transaction occurs stating the sender, reference and amount.

In my testing (which requires two mobile numbers) the Faster Payment transaction took 7 seconds to complete and the text message arrived 1 second later:

To S Arlott: S Arlott sent you £1.00 'Test' paid into your account ending XXXX. (1 min via SMS)

The minimum transaction amount is £1 and the limit per day is £250.

Solar Eclipse

Photos of today's 93% Solar Eclipse:
93% Solar Eclipse through the clouds

Single Use Carrier Bags Charge

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From tomorrow, The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations 2014 will automatically assume that everyone in Scotland who requires a new carrier bag to take goods away is either intending to commit a littering offence or contribute it to landfill immediately.

The law isn't simply concerned with waste plastic as it covers paper bags too, and explicitly "multiple use" bags require more plastic. The intent appears to be to reduce the number and change the type of bags in circulation. A total ban would be more effective.

It's unlikely to help reduce littering, that would defeat the point of having a bag to carry goods away. The majority of visible litter appears to be in the form of used food and drink containers. People who litter don't care about the effect it has, don't consider their actions to be wrong, and won't be impacted financially by an extra 5p charge per bag. A ban on smoking would eliminate a lot more litter than the tiny percentage caused by carrier bags.

Only "single use" bags are affected under the regulations. Any bag labelled for "multiple reuse" and infinitely replaced by the manufacturer when worn out does not attract a charge, even if the purchaser throws the bag out the car window when they leave the store. Bags as thick as 50 micrometers or more also do not attract a charge, so don't forget your digital callipers when shopping.

The current "single use" bags can already be reused dozens of times. For the consumer a 5p charge still makes them the best value option. To encourage use of more efficient bags, the "multiple use" bags would have to be free.

Nothing in the regulations requires charging for "multiple use" bags, and these bags must be replaced free of charge forever. Driven by the need to maintain a supply of replacement free bags supermarkets may eventually stop providing "single use" bags (which they will make no profit from) and only provide "multiple reuse" bags that are priced to cover all the replacements.

Thicker bags have to be used 4-5 times as much as the thinner bags they replace to offset the extra environmental impact.

Rhubarb

This rhubarb has grown quite large after only a month:
Two rhubarb plants in pots

Let There Be Light

The garage electricity supply had been unusable for a while; there appeared to be a fault somewhere on the supply cable (which was only protected by some discontinuous piping) causing it to frequently short out and trip the circuit breaker.

A new armoured cable has now been laid and I've replaced the customer unit. I now have working lights in the garage and the garden with plenty of scope for future electricity use up to 63A... there are now extra sockets, including some outside for the lawn mower.

[Armoured cable with outer layer partially stripped] [Armoured cable with armour layer cut] [Armoured cable fitted to gland with inner layer stripped]
[Garage consumer unit with supply armoured cable fitted] [Powered garage consumer unit] [Electricity meter board with garage supply switch]

Happy New Towel Rail

Happy New Year! Towel Rail.

Kitchen Towel Rail

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Content authored by myself is just my honest opinion. If you find any words or pictures menacing or offensive, stop reading now.

Jabber

simon@arlott.org.uk
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