Solar Panel Innovations

We live in a fast moving world.  Fast both in development and motion.  And traditionally we have powered all this with fossil fuels.  We have long known that this energy supply will come to a natural end and now global warming and climate changes have accelerated to a point where we must act much more quickly to avoid further, costly environmental damage.

A sea change in finding alternative solutions for this has been the rapid recent development of electric power.  Although some of this is generated by traditional fossil fuel sources a growing amount is being powered by cleaner and greener options such as wind, wave and solar power.

For transportation to embrace this power source there is a reliance on batteries, from early developments in heavy lead acid technology, through modern Lithium Ion versions which provide greater storage and even new ideas still on drawing boards and in the test tubes of many industrial chemical institutions.

Presently getting the electric power to the transport medium is a bit of a faff.  High power electrical charging networks have only recently been planned and built also recharging batteries takes either massive amounts of time or massive amounts of power along with super cooled refrigeration mechanics.  This is because fast charging generates huge amounts of heat as a by-product which can seriously damage or impair the equipment of the charging process.

For this reason a good compromise is solar powered battery recharge.  Often readily available this is generally a fairly low powered constant supply, providing the daylight is present.

However, providing sufficient electric output for a high powered transport device such as a car is currently almost impossible to achieve other than for extremely lightweight prototype concepts.  This is why no attempt is made to cover the roofs or panels of fully electric vehicles with solar panels and why all these vehicles are creeping quietly around the country looking for a fixed high amp electric charge point which they can sidle up to.

And providing sufficient panels for more energy intensive vehicles such as trucks, lorries, boats or even massive ships is even less likely.

Unless you are an ideas man like me and can see a way to beat this problem.  And I present here a number of innovative concepts that may assist.

Solar Powered Cars

Let’s start with cars.

A couple of extremely light weight, prototype, hyper mileage, single seat, pram wheeled, ultra low drag vehicles with a streamlined plastic covering have been produced.  These concepts were built to prove solar power concepts or challenge for self invented high mileage travel records, usually carried out in perfect solar producing conditions.

However, as discussed above our standard, fully equipped five seater electric cars need too much power storage and are used far too often in too many differing conditions to benefit from a charge source via just a few square metres of solar panel on their roof, even if you did add in the bonnet and side doors.  There is just no more space to mount the panels.

This is why they are charged from a static point, either a mains public charger, from a parked charging space at home or something similar at a destination.  This system works fine, providing the owner remembers to plug the car in to the mains and isn’t going on an extended journey.  If such an undertaking is attempted a time consuming electrical fuel stop or two would be needed to be factored in.

So, the problem is the square meterage available of solar panels.  So why not just tow a solar panel array?  The increased surface area may just keep a car going for the number of miles needed for a longer trip.  Imagine a trailer being towed behind the car, stretching back as far as an articulated lorry, quietly sucking up solar rays and sending the charge back into the cars battery via an attached coiled wire.

This is obviously all well and good on main, open, multiple lane roads and shouldn’t be too much of an issue but that’s not the only place cars need to go.  On smaller, twistier, single carriageway roads, local suburban areas and cities a long trailer may be unruly and difficult to handle by the average driver so further innovation is required.

In these instances it is clear that the trailed array of panels needs to be shortened.  So why not have an unfurling array?  A twin axle trolley which automatically stretches out and also retracts to suit the road conditions.

The arrays will either have to be flexible enough to retract into a large roll or perhaps be designed to stack over and under each other in order to suit the trailer wheelbase length.

Maybe the ultimate version of this system would be a roll out trailer actually incorporated into the boot or within the rear bumper area of the car, which automatically deploys, dropping out and extending dependant on road suitability.  Neat and tucked away for parking in congested cities and adjustable enough to suck up some sunshine dependant on the situation.  With the advantage that the most effect will occur on longer runs on main roads, which is the weak point of electric propulsion systems.

Is it possible that this idea is so innovative and indeed needed that current, existing cars may be modified to remove the oily, noisy fossil fuel sucking engine with an electric powered transmission system and fitted out with an inboard, deployable towed power station?

Another associated thought may be that a future roadside recovery vehicle would be equipped with a trailer load of deployable, pre-charged, arrays ready to hitch to cars that have inadvertently run out of sun juice and are stranded on the edge of the carriageways?  ‘Eh, eh’, I hear you mutter.

But enough of cars for now, what about other means of vehicular transport?

Vans, Trucks and Lorries

A similar system could be adopted for vans and trucks.  But with these larger vehicles there is additional unused roof space for fixed panels and more space for incorporating a slide out additional array.  Already many vans and lorries incorporate rear mounted equipment such as fold out load lifting platforms and even especially designed slimline forklift trucks.

For larger lorries already incorporating articulated designs an additional fixed or roll out trailer would be too unwieldy however their roof space is even more generous in the first place so should be utilised.

And in the case of the many articulated lorries which are just independent truck and trailer models with the cab owner hitching up the trailers of others the two parties would need to work to a commonly agreed system to ensure compatibility.  Which makes me think that maybe the universal container design needs remodelling to incorporate solar arrays?  And to avoid having to bolt on ill fitting solar panels to the corrugated roofs why not ‘paint’ a solar panel direct onto the corrugations?  Surely this must be possible using laser etching?

But what if we consider other means of transportation?

Rail

The idea of roof mounted solar panels on trains is not required on much of the already electrified network.  However the rail network system certainly lends itself to miles of fixed solar panel arrays alongside or between the rails for use of the rail network or to feed other non-rail infrastructure, homes and businesses nearby.

Notwithstanding the above, much of the network is not yet electrified and to convert it may be very expensive and require a lot of disruptive construction often in remote and environmentally sensitive areas.  In these cases adopting roof panel mounted arrays on the long trains could be a good option and the towing of multiple, long, linked additional arrays is certainly a feasible thought.

And why isn’t wind power harnessed as the trains pass by?  If you are unfortunate enough to be close to a passing high speed train you would feel the rush of wind created.  Put up vertical fans near to the edge of the train which would spin up when a train passes and convert this mechanical energy back into electrical energy to help power the network points, lights and other infrastructure.

Canal Boats

Canals have some similarity to the rail networks.  Some of the bends may be a little tighter but it is still essentially a system that suits elongated design.  And much like the rail system many miles of it are very open to daylight.

Already many canal boats, usually those that house live aboard residents, take advantage of a few solar panels along with the necessary electronic systems and batteries to power their onboard electrical needs.  However, their roofs are often too congested with guy ropes, poles, brightly decorated watering cans and other useless ephemera to be fully equipped with major arrays.

This is because few canal craft rely on full electric propulsion.  Most instead rely on fossil fuel powered engines.  But if one considers that these engines are usually very low powered they could simply be replaced with a similar power output electric system.

It is doubtful that with current technology that a single boat, even one that extends a full 72 feet in length, would be able to site enough panels on its own roof, even if we utilise my earlier idea of spray painted arrays.  So instead, why not tow an additional hull packed with a full set of solar arrays?

I would add a couple of other extras onto this big fuel cell to make the system more easily manageable down the cut.  I would add a small seating area at the rear and a deployable electric outboard type motor, powered from the array, to make the craft individually controllable when needed.  This would be required when the towed power source is detached from the main boat in order to pass through the standard locks on the canal system.

Finally why not incorporate onboard the hull array a mechanical or electrically automated pivoting system to steer the individual array panels towards any light source to increase efficiency of the system?

The ideas are just flowing out now so let’s scale this up.

River Boats and Ocean Yachts

Already there are fully electric powered catamarans on the market taking full advantage of their generous roof and deck spaces being covered with solar panels which feed battery systems and electric propulsion.  At present their power is limited compared to other more powerful, faster boats and yachts but they can apparently sail continuously in the right conditions at a modest cruising speed.

The trouble with non catamaran design is the lack of roof and deck space.  Plus many yachts are designed with open flybridge cockpits and many, many more are already built already incorporating big, heavy, fuel sucking engines.  So I need to find a solution for these craft as well.

The natural energy source can be the same as the model suggested for the canal boats.  Towed solar panel arrays, powering an onboard battery storage, electric propulsion motor system.

Yes, I can hear you already picking up on a couple of key points.  Calm down I have already thought of these and have them covered.

Firstly, yes some modifications have to be made to the original watercraft.  The current diesel or petrol engines will need replacing with electric units.  But these will be much more compact and whilst being fitted likely to incorporate updated innovation such as steerable pod propulsion to increase low speed manoeuvring around the harbours and marinas.

The balance of the boat design caused by the reduction in engine weight from big heavy fossil fuel engines and gearboxes with huge fuel storage tanks to more compact electrical motors can be offset by judicious positioning of the necessary battery and charging equipment.

Alternatively just build new boats with design incorporated, electric motors and battery storage systems.

But, you exclaim, what about having to tow a massive solar panel array craft behind us whilst trying to pose around the Mediterranean beaches and tearing about in pointless but addictive high speed turns?  My answer is don’t.  The power source doesn’t have to go everywhere with you.  Just tow it to a convenient bit of empty sea, anchor it from tidal movements, disconnect and go off to have some fun whilst it sucks up some sun, only to return at the end of play to recharge from your own self sufficient ‘fuel’ station.

And if you wish to harness even more power why not incorporate some wave energy technology into your floating power station as well?  I’ll explain how when we really scale this up.

Ocean Going Ships

You may think that this article has developed from my ideas on road vehicles, adapting some of these basic ideas onto small water craft and now I’m going all in in an attempt to exaggerate and scale up a basic concept.  In truth it was the energy efficient powering of ocean going liners that made me come up with these ideas in the first place.

I have been on a few cruise trips, including ocean crossings on some magnificent vessels and enjoy it too much to want to give it up for the sake of the environment.  But I have a conscience and want my actions to impact the world in which I live in the most sustainable way.  I heard that cruise ships have an enormously disproportionate effect on natural resources and they are getting ever more popular so I wanted to come up with a solution to save the industry.  I know, it’s all me, me, me.

But how do you electrify a huge cruise ship without if being tethered to a large cable attached to shore?  The answer lies in utilising wave and solar power whilst out and about.  And much like smaller boats and craft the onboard surface area is not sufficient to meet the needs of the many decks of energy hungry occupants below.

I therefore envisaged an idea that the vast surface area of a massive solar array could be towed behind to power the ship, all fitted out with steerable panels to zero in on the source of light power.  Overall size and space taken up need not be a consideration due to the environment in which these vessels operate.  Why not tow massive panel sets over a mile in length?  If size requires it to be unhooked and anchored temporarily whilst the ship puts into ports then shore power can be used whilst the ship is there.

Yes, the towed power source will need some battery storage for harvesting power whilst unhooked, it would be best served with independent motors for manoeuvring and probably incorporate a small manned onboard control tower [and lifeboat for emergency], particularly if it is a mile long!

Finally add in some wave energy harnessing technology as well into this power station, possibly by articulation of sections of the craft and hey, I may just have had an idea that could help save the industry and our planet.  And more importantly, my future cruise desires.

And finally, as a call back to the section above entitled Vans, Trucks and Lorries, remember my idea that all standardised containers incorporate solar panels.  These adapted containers can all be linked whilst transported on massive container ships to provide more self sufficiency and even more planet saving.  I’m starting to wonder whether I could actually be saving the equivalent of two planets by now.

You’re welcome.

Oh, and as for powering all the oil tankers chugging around the world.  No need, they will all become redundant.

Summary Of Ideas

Wow, what a lot to think about.  Just in case you have been overwhelmed by the number of innovative ideas in this one single article let me summarise them below.

  • Towed solar panel arrays for vehicles
  • Adjustable length towed arrays – Retractable roll out and stackable
  • Adjustable towed arrays stored within the rear of vehicles
  • Roadside recovery vehicles carrying spare, pre-charged roll out towed arrays
  • Redesign of the universal container system to incorporate solar panels, adaptable enough to be joined up to help power a container ship
  • Spray painted on solar panel arrays with laser etching
  • Fixed solar panels within or without the parallel rail lines to power electrified trains and infrastructure on electrified and non electrified routes
  • Harnessing wind created by high speed passing trains to power the network infrastructure
  • Floating, towed solar panel arrays for canal craft, boats and even big ships
  • Floating, towed solar panel arrays incorporating wave energy harnessing technology

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.284 dated 15 Jan 2020 [First Publication]

These are conceptual ideas, untested and made without engineering calculations.  For instance I have no idea how many more miles a towed array would make to an electrically propelled vehicle or craft.  I do however surmise that it would be more with than without

I have not overly emphasised the additional components of solar panel and battery systems.  I do understand that there would be other components such as solar charge controllers, inverters, wiring and isolation to consider.  I also understand that all these things would add both weight and cost and be needed to be incorporated in either the vehicle or towed array or both.  An unaccompanied, towed array left to soak up some sun whilst drifting quietly at sea would do no good to its owner when it returns if an onboard battery etc is not included

At the time of publication I had not fact checked whether any of the ideas listed above have already been produced, developed, patented or are in the process of development.  All I claim is that I have not come across them naturally.  If you know of such innovation already out there let me know and I’ll amend and credit accordingly

I place these concepts into the wild as I feel it wrong to keep them to myself and I also hope to inspire others and generate interesting discussion

As ever, my many ideas are never commercially exploited nor formally patented by me but I would like to see them used.  I presume if you are the sort who takes up the ideas of others and passes them off as your own you would not be the sort who credits the original inventor or chucks them a bit of financial thanks.  If however you are not such a dreadful monster my name is shown above.  Find me, thank me, credit me, reward me.  You’ll feel a much better human

These innovations have not been fully developed, tested, proven via prototype, safety tested, manufactured or fully engineered and are just conceptual ideas therefore the author cannot accept any liability for loss or damage in the testing, use or manufacture of any of these conceptual ideas

Computer Tech 2019

Computer Tech 2019
Most of my computer stuff now fitting easily on one small desk.  The smartphone is heavily involved in taking the picture so couldn’t attend this tech party

When I designed my first web site way back before 2003 to be launched that year I envisioned four primary elements would form the layout – Ideas, Opinions, Personal and Writing.  Within the personal section I wanted to tell all a bit about myself and also to include details of my computer set up.  I wanted this because at the time I imagined a fair percentage who were surfing at the time may share similar interests to me and would appreciate information on how I operated my technology.  As a result since October 2003 I have included details of my computer hardware, software and web use.  You can see these unaltered articles posted by me in this WordPress site on 19 October 2017.

I created an update to my computer story in March 2010, which is now nearly a decade ago so I thought it timely to provide another round up of my tech.  You can see my 2010 update in this WordPress site on 3 August 2018.

When I left off in 2010 I had just started to work myself into the Applesphere.  My main computer was a Mac Mini viewed on an Apple Cinema Display.  I also had an Apple MacBook whilst I waited patiently for the rumoured iPad which hadn’t materialised but sneakily came out just a month after I posted my article.

I also had a couple of Windows based laptops.  My ageing, noisy, overclocked Novatech lap top and a tiny new Dell Mini netbook primarily for servicing my HiFi processor.

Apple’s iPhones were becoming more common and I noted in 2010 that I was on my third one and I have listed a full schedule of those I owned below.

Other accessories included an Iomega MiniMax MMHD 500Gb USB/Firewire 400 back up drive running Time Machine, a Logitech QuickCam Fusion web camera, a Hewlett Packard HP Photosmart C6180 All-in-one WiFi full colour printer/photocopier/facsimile machine, a 2009 BT HomeHub 2 WiFi N router, a Bose Companion 5 Series 2 sound system with stereo speakers and Subwoofer, a first edition 2008, 160Gb Apple TV plus an iPod Classic.

Since these heady days of multiple devices I have greatly simplified my set up which is now fully suited to remote working and have subsequently sold off or given away everything I had previously listed.  Now it is just one lap top with a few accessories, an all-in-one device, a smartphone and router.

Hardware

My current laptop is again an Apple product.  I have not deserted the brand but did upgrade.  As advised in March 2010 I was considering an iMac but never went down this route.  I really liked my white, unibody MacBook and appreciated the simplicity of using just a single, portable working device which suited my changing lifestyle.  I did try a couple of iPads along the way, a 64Gb black WiFi, 3G enabled iPad 2 in November 2011 and a 128Gb space grey WiFi, 3G enabled iPad Air 2 in November 2014 but none could be considered a true laptop replacement.  Data and software back up to anywhere but the cloud was too difficult, my old file system comprising sometimes deprecated file extensions couldn’t be handled, I wasn’t able to natively title and sort my growing photograph collection and web coding was awkward to do in the way I wanted too, which is simply.  So in the absence of suiting these critical criteria I purchased a proper, full power, old style lap top in November 2014.

I choose a new MacBook Pro, a late 2014 Retina 15″ model with a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7, 16Gb 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, an Intel Iris Pro 1536Mb video graphics card and a 1Tb Flash hard drive.  This was a standard selectable Apple configuration and I haven’t modified it in any way.  And as you are dying to know it cost me £3.60. Short of £2,400.

MacBook and Pro on desk
My trusty old MacBook hooked up to the new MacBook Pro.  Some time later the Pro was fully impregnated with the guts from the willing donor

The alleged lack of connections didn’t concern me as the world was moving in a WiFi interconnected way but I was concerned about reliance on huge operating system updates over the air and the ability to play and record to disk media such as CD and DVD so I also purchased an Apple DVD Rewriter, a USB Super Drive, for £65, which has since rarely been connected.

I intended to use the laptop in a place where it could suffer potential loss so needed a way to secure it to some infrastructure in a room.  The MacBook Pro didn’t have a Kensington Lock slot, the standard in computer security, so I had to find a way to provide this kind of protection myself.  I discovered the solution in a LandingZone Dock Express, model LZ3015AL, similar models of which are currently on sale, new for $99.  This MacBook Pro accessory clamps into opposing connectors either side of the laptop edge and locks into place, protecting the removable base plate whilst providing substitute connectors and crucially a Kensington Lock slot.

As the hard drive on the MacBook Pro was 1Tb and my Iomega MiniMax was only 500Gb I also had to upgrade my local back up drive.  I wanted greater portability and the option to have two solid state drives so one could be stored away remotely and each could be swapped regularly to ensure the most reliance in case of major theft or failure.  I chose the bright orange, rubber encased LaCie Rugged 3.0 Thunderbolt 2Tb flash drive and purchased two at a price of just under £200 each.  I also bought a lightweight My Passport Ultra 500Gb back up drive, for about £60 and used this to make a further copy of my photographs and videos which hold the greatest digital sentimentality.

The only mouse I now have is my Logitech V450 Laser Cordless Mouse which I purchased in 2007 but failed miserably to mention in 2010.  I purchased this mouse to be a portable input device, small enough to pack into a rucksack with the laptops I took to work but I don’t tend to bother with it as I find the MacBook Pro’s large trackpad sufficient for most of my needs.

HP Envy 110 Printer
The remarkably beautiful HP Envy 110 all in one printer, copier etc., etc., just before it was sold

My Hewlett Packard Photosmart printer/copier/scanner/etc device was getting old and I wanted a WiFi model so in May 2012 upgraded to a very smart looking HP Envy 110 D411a printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc which cost a whopping £175.  Although sleek and beautiful it eventually needed new inks so naturally I bought a new printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc/etc.  Sadly these days buying a whole new printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc/etc/etc is now a cheaper option than ink replacement.  It is an Epson Expression Photo XP-760 printer/copier/scanner/etc/etc/etc/etc/etc which I got for £98 [new obvs], in October 2017.

And to complete my hardware set up my Wifi source also had to be addressed.  For a while I was reliant on using a commercial over the air source which at first only provided about 0.1-0.5 Mbps.  Over a couple of years it increased to a more reasonable 5-6 Mbps but I changed tack, invested in my own mobile router, a Huawei HomeFi B311s-220 and now get around 10-12 Mbps from a 3 SIM, just shy of 4K streaming.

I no longer own any Windows equipment nor use any emulator.

Software and Web

8 cores and GPU running
The MacBook Pro running at near full speed during a video conversion process.  Note the near full capacity of the 8 cores [4 core hyper-threaded] and GPU

As I am now solely reliant on Apple devices I naturally err toward Apple software, the latest operating system being MacOS Catalina version 10.15.2.  My pattern is to always update to the latest formally issued, non Beta version of any OS X since I purchased my first MacMini and have never had a problem.

I also always favour Apple supplied software applications and programs such as Books, iMovie, Music, Mail, Maps, Notes, Numbers, Pages, Photos and Safari, all in their latest guise.

Web site coding is now handled within Apple’s Xcode with uploading to the cloud via FTP within a non Apple product, Filezilla [ver 3.46 currently] up to my web hosting service provided by UK2.

Mobile Smartphones

When I reported in 2010 I mentioned that I had been through a slew of Apple iPhones and this trend has continued until this day.

Prior to 2010 they were an 8Gb [original] iPhone in February 2008, a 16Gb 2.5G iPhone in July 2008 and a [replacement] 16Gb iPhone 3G the next month.

In 2010 I upgraded to a 32Gb iPhone 4, in October 2011 I chose a 64Gb iPhone 4S, in October 2014 I went for a 128Gb iPhone 6 Plus and my latest choice, from November 2017 is a 256Gb iPhone X.

You can see a pattern of purchasing the largest capacity version available, which I did to attempt to chase a dream of fully storing high quality versions of my photographs.  You can see that my ‘phone updates originally occurred around once a year but slowed to replacements every three years as the technical abilities of these smartphones matured.  So I expect my next one to be the iPhone 12S with around 500Gb.  Not that such a large storage is needed as I currently use around 200Gb of my 256Gb capacity including now being able to store all my photos and filmed videos at full resolution on the device.

For mobile sound I used the out of the box wired EarPods for most of the last decade but am now using the wireless Apple AirPods, which are great for sound and safety in operation as a hands free device whilst driving.  I have tried the latest, wirelessly charging, noise cancelling AirPods Pro but remain unconvinced that their performance is worth the very high price of upgrading.

Binning The Tech

But what about my superseded, now no longer required tech.

As you will be aware from reading my Computers 2010 update [I presume you did] I take digital security seriously.  This is why I destroyed my Mac Mini and its hard drive.  However I felt guilty about doing the same to my MacBook, which still retained considerable value.  I twice cleaned the hard drive with a security wipe but did not want to sell the thing to an unknown source on an auction site.  Whilst most likely to be purchased by a grateful teenager who wanted to spend more time on their ass watching YouTube I couldn’t risk it being bought by a clever dick, Black Hat, cyberpunk who could unmask my security cleansing.  So I chose to donate it to a family member.

I had done something similar with my original Packard Bell desktop system which went to my brother-in-law.  He did eventually pass it on to his own father but I have no idea where it went after he died.  Maybe to that Black Hat?

My mother was given my old Dell lap top, which she didn’t get on with on the grounds she only played Solitaire so my father eventually used this.  Occasionally.  Over the years he had collected a number of lap tops and enjoyed the variety despite being unable to consistently remember his passwords and not really utilising any of his machines.  He also owned a ChromeBook and a separate netbook along with his ancient desktop system which he liked messing around with in both Windows and Linux.

All this confusion led to much requested tech support from me so I figured that I could offer him my MacBook, watch him get to love its powerful simplicity and consequently tech support from me would be greatly eased.  However an illogical opposition to Apple products meant he was determined to dislike it and so never used it.  I took it back.

I offered the MacBook to my brother who really needed an update to his old desktop system but sadly shares my father’s same illogical opposition to Apple products so turned it down.  It seemed I couldn’t get rid of my valued old friend.  But then I heard my nephew was struggling with an old Windows laptop he shared with his partner and needed a device to assist in his studies to become a Fireman.  He willingly accepted my offer of a free, high end Apple MacBook and has gratefully kept it since.

The Novatech was too old to be touted around like the MacBook and so I decided to risk selling it on the open market.  Any secure data on it had already been well superseded and it was primarily used for business work for most of its life.  I once again cleaned up the hard drives and sold it for £62 in November 2017.  Furthermore, it would not have looked so interesting to Mr Black Hat due to its age, specification and low value.

The Dell Mini 10 was also sold, in April 2012, for £121.  No major security wiping was necessary as it had only ever been used to put processor updates on my HiFi and if that software was interesting to anyone or a security risk to me I’ll eat my hat, which for the record is not Black.  I do intend to tell the full story of my HiFi system in a future blog update and will include details of why I needed this netbook and why it is now gone.  Contact me if you need this story sooner rather than later.

The Apple Cinema Display was no longer needed when I sold the Mac Minis so this had to go to a new home as well.  Due to its quality and being just three years old I got £350 for it in November 2010.  It was perfect and well worth the money to the lucky buyer.

Other accessories were also sold, for instance the Logitech webcam around the same time for just £16 and the stunning HP Envy 110 D411a for a pitiful £25 seven years later.

One item I could not sell was the Iomega MiniMax MMHD 500Gb back up drive.  Not that it wouldn’t find a market or fetch too little but that I was concerned that it had held too much personal data.  Although fully encrypted as a Time Machine back up I couldn’t guarantee that some smarty pants couldn’t unlock these bits and bytes so decided to destroy it instead.  I duly picked the case apart to get at the internals.

The case and mother-board proved low resistance to my assembled tools and were suitably destroyed allowing me to concentrate on the internal disk platters.  They were held together in some sort of clear glass moulding, the destruction of which I considered to be effortlessly simple.  However this glass like substance proved to be actually made out of unbreakabilium.  It successfully survived dropping onto hard surfaces, frenzied attacks with screwdrivers and a crow bar and even blows from a full size metal mallet with a three foot handle being swung against it whist it was precariously supported at a forty-five degree angle across two bricks.  I was fully impressed despite being exhausted from my efforts and furious at my predicament.

I had to find a way to hide this perfectly undamaged drive from future prying eyes and concocted a plan to drop it in a deep river crossing.  I imagine it is now roaming the seas balanced precariously on the back of an enormous crab and I am relying on that crab to be the final protector of my data.

A neat thought that my 2019 set up is now truly mobile.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Computers section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 18 Dec 2019
Version 5.281 17 Dec 2019 [First Publication]
The first photograph shows my computer tech set up in one place, taken in December 2019.  The image includes the MacBook Pro, a USB Superdrive, orange clad portable drive, a smaller red external drive, a Joby Gorillapod adjustable tripod, a Logitech mouse and a small external USB drive in front of the laptop.  On the desk to the left is the Epson XP-760 printer and Huawei router
The second image shows my unibodied MacBook linked to my new MacBook Pro Retina 15″ during the process of transferring data from one machine to the other on 26 November 14, as taken by the me
The image of the printer is my HP Envy 110 all-in-one WiFi device, shown in a standby state.  The photograph implies the panels are mismatched but this wasn’t so apparent in real life.  The photograph was taken by me on 8 October 17
The final image shows a screenshot from my MacBook Pro during an intense workout for the CPU processor cores.  The Activity Monitor indicates 8 cores in operation but in reality the computer has four cores each hyper-threaded.  Note also that the NVIDIA graphics card is also in full use for the intense mathematical computations required.  The screenshot was grabbed on 5 October 2018 by the author
The LandingZone dock can be found at https://landingzone.net/products/macbook-docks/for-the-macbook-pro/#products-macbook-pro-description

Bog Standard

So, I needed to use the toilet because I was in Britain.  If it were the USA I would have opened this piece with I needed to use the bathroom, despite not actually needing a bath.  Anyway I was headed for the loo and confronted with the first of many choices.

Three doors.  One marked with a stick figure of a human, stood face on despite not having an actual face.  A figurine defiantly splaying open both arms and legs.  Or there was another near matching faceless individual but this time with only one fat leg and apparently partially hiding behind a triangle.  Plus another poor soul with a tiny pin head but no arms and seemingly sat down on an exercise ball.

At least the one on the exercise ball gave some clue as to what was in there.  It said accessible toilet.  Presumably indicating that the other two doors were totally inaccessible and therefore not really doors at all.

But I’m educated so was aware that the term accessible is a more delicate and inclusive term for disabled because, presumably, anyone who may need a little mobility assistance is clearly far too mentally sensitive to deal with long held terminology.  Unlike the pointlessly ‘inclusive’ word accessible, which because of its careful curation will obviously never be considered the same way.

But right now I had a pressing need and I decided to throw caution to the wind and attempt to enter one of the rooms to carry out my business.  And I choose to attempt to enter one of the presumably inaccessible rooms.

I chose to venture into the one marked with a twin legged human shaped figure as I wasn’t hiding behind a triangle at the time and it appears that I may have chosen wisely as there were a row of other men doing exactly what I needed to.

They were all standing in a bit of a row, closely facing a wall of steel, steadfastly staring intently at the wall whilst nodding glimpses to the task in hand in a way that implied any sideways diversion may start a contretemps, or nuclear war or something.

For my purposes I had to join them, but deciding which two to slot in between created an anxious moment.  Previous decisions had led to various unsettling outcomes.  From barely concealed harrumphing to enforced banter with complete strangers.  Or unintended splash back from either or both sides or the Niagra scale watering during the automated flush cycle.  Or the awkwardness of suddenly being unable to enact and having to slope away without having ‘performed’ implying that the visitation was nothing more than sightseeing.

Then there is the issue of the order of completion.  Pick badly and you may be left with a decision to be made if nearly all the others complete apart from the guy right next to you, thus presenting a choice on whether to remain standing shoulder to shoulder with a complete stranger whilst the rest of the wall had cleared, or to shuffle sideways as if to suggest the neighbour is in some way undeserved of your proximity.  I tend to just ‘style it out’ and have even been known to shuffle ever closer just to see the effect.  The effect being that they finish before actually finishing and beat a hasty retreat.

And I still had the unenviable task of closely staring at an out of focus wall from short distance interrupted by casual glances downwards to monitor operations whilst noticing the channel below is freshly running past with a dirty orange liquid which nasally is anything but fresh and seemingly sluicing various and peculiar detritus which clearly never emanated from a human appendage.  All whist wondering if someone will arrive on the scene and push you facewards into the steel trough.

I decided to use one of the cubicles instead.

But which one?  There is usually a handy guide to which are vacant.  A green for go or red for wait based on the attitude of the door lock.  In this case too many were apparently occupied, displaying their ‘keep away’ red warning flash.  One was red but the door wasn’t closed fully, hmm?  And one was a bit indecisive, mostly green but a bit of red showing.  Thankfully one was pure unadulterated green.  It became my cubicle of choice.

However, the door was not fully opened so I nudged it carefully to see if there was already an occupant, albeit one who cared less about the intricacies of public cubicle door fastening.

But it swung open.  No one inside but due to the hinge arrangement immediately swung back three quarters shut again.  I made a quick mental note that the green/red cubicle that I had previously discarded may have been a possible venue after all.  But I was here now and once more pushed open the door to reveal my newfound personal peeing point.

I closed, and locked, the door behind me and stared at the ominously closed lid.  It’s at this point I’m always minded to think of the generally accepted polite notion that one should always ‘put down the seat’.  Apparently for the ladies.  Not that any were likely to be passing by this place of gentlemen of course, but nonetheless some well-meaning soul had decided to adopt formality and fully drop the seat and additionally close the lid.  I wish he hadn’t.

The trouble with seats in combined male/female facilities and particularly men only establishments is that those who are prone to overshare their wastage all over the pan, seat and surrounding county are exactly the sort who do not think of others and raise the seat first.  The polite aiming sort, who make attempts to keep splash back to a minimum are the ones who are most likely to raise the plastic ring.  The accepted practice of lowering the seat to assist a future female visitor should be reversed to everyone raising the seat afterwards in case an inconsiderate oaf is the next to arrive.

For there is nothing worse than picking up the edge of a closed pan only to be confronted with a dripping under belly.  You will not be able feel you have fully rinsed that off your fingers for about a month of intent scrubbing.  However, you will have learned a lesson and in future always tear off a wad of toilet paper in order to raise the lid. I am an expert so dutifully spent six minutes trying to extract a bit of tissue paper that didn’t tear off into a fingertip sized sample from the wall mounted dispenser which must have had a bit of a cob on because it steadfastly refused to give up its contents without a battle.

The raising of the seat cover then presented the next issue.  A blocked but still well used bowl of sewage.  No previous indication of such a surprise treasure find.  The loose fitting seat cover, with broken hinge and only two of the four rubber feet still in operation managed to suppress all notion of this hidden swamp and amazingly all associated aroma with the integrity of a spacesuit.

I thought of flushing this horror that had now hit me hard in the nose but reasoned that adding more liquid to this may actually result in a tsunami of effluent all over my trainers.  And I didn’t want that.

I remembered the half-caste green/red cubicle and exited my current position to head off in search of this Eden.

However because of the epic struggle I had with the tissue dispenser I had been in there for a few minutes and now the joint had become more crowded.  The line of reprobates had grown to a full complement and I could hear the harrumphing and muttering had increased exponentially.  The trouble was the ones waiting for a gap in this queue and one immediately shot into my vacated cubicle as I exited.  Before I could even explain why he shouldn’t.  He was turning around and undoing his trousers as he entered and I heard the squish as he crashed down onto the seat without pause.

“Aww, shit!” he audibly exclaimed presumably accurately describing what he sat on.  He then flushed, accompanied this time by the expletive ‘bollocks’ presumably to describe what had just been unintendedly washed.  The seepage slewed gently out past the door.

I washed my hands and left the premises.  After all, actually having a pee didn’t seem all that necessary now.

 


 

Public toilets are a disgrace.  Not always where they are needed, too often closed, unhygienic, badly treated, poorly maintained and seemingly unsafe.  It’s time I took a good look at the loo and sorted something out.

Despite all the above these establishments provide a service we all need at some time.  For some of us many times.  We seem to be getting it all wrong so I wish to propose that we give the industry a big shake and get it to clean up up it’s act.

The first requirement is that they should be there, where you need them.  Too often one cannot find the facilities in a city centre.  We know that they are often within large shopping malls or at rail stations but these obvious places aren’t always available throughout the wide conurbations of our large cities.

Furthermore the smaller the city, or town or village the less likely there is a guarantee of a place to spend the penny.  Legislation should be there dictating the siting of loos where councils or communities are failing to provide these places.

The next requirement of public toilets are that they should be open.  Always.  All the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  And twice on Thursdays.  Whatever we do to improve our toilets will be pointless if one is stood outside a locked door with a bladder based imminent pressing need.

Next up on my bullet list is a redesign of our toilets. At present the buildings are often dark, dank intimidating places.  Security can be suspect and the basic Victorian architecture and styles seem to contribute to this.  As a society we still seem to be too culturally sensitive to a basic human need.  We all pee and poo.  Absolutely without exception.

So why are we hiding this function away in dingy facilities?  Let’s build modern, open, light buildings.  I agree the actual place of discharging should have some personal privacy but why is the waiting area hidden from view?  A glass fronted building would provide a greater sense of safety to those who feel vulnerable entering the building.

To achieve a good balance between privacy and security every cubicle should be fully equipped with everything needed when in there.  In other words each should be like a disabled facility, large, spacious, fitted with a pan, sink, mirror, waste disposal bin and hand rails.  An extra advantage of this way would be that there is no need to discriminate between the non able bodied and the not yet non able bodied.

Furthermore the facilities should be entirely gender neutral.  A common place for male, female or any other way folks choose to see themselves, because we are all people.  The advantage of gender neutrality would mean that couples or groups can visit together with the ability to wait for each other in the open glazed frontage area, possibly on provided comfortable seating.

One issue with this new design would be that some may complain that this would be more expensive to construct.  I agree this would be the case but we do not live in a land of such struggling poverty that this couldn’t be done if the will was there.  I agree that lining up men, shoulder to shoulder staring intently down into a common trough is an efficient use of space but it is also de-humanising, subject to splash back from every angle, therefore un-hygienic and frankly embarrassing, particularly for those with abnormal biology or a need to wait patiently for nature to take its course.

Also too many males clearly see the rapid, casual nature of peeing an excuse to speed through the process and therefore skip the important bit of washing their hands afterwards.  This all too common, disgusting habit is one reason many may not wish to share their facilities.  But I have a solution.

The doors to these individual cubicles should only operate once the hand washing equipment is used, or make the toilet door exits only openable by the use of an adjacent hand sanitiser.

On a similar note the toilet flush mechanism should be automated or foot operated, to minimise cross transference of germs.

And we should all ‘leave the lid up’.  In fact it should ‘spring up’ after seating.  Not in an ejector seat kind of approach but a slow elegant rise.

And the hand washing facilities should be controllable, sensor operated affairs and not timed to dispense soap when no water is available, or end up with an inadequate breathless cold air dry that leaves hands still wet afterwards.  I have dry skin and damp hands exacerbate this condition, particularly in winter.

Yes there are now some ‘unisex’ facilities being built and welcome they are too, albeit a bit cramped for my liking but overall we can do better.  And we should.

Let’s improve the loo.

Author: Vince Poynter

Originally posted in my Blog Section within my web site on 13 September 2019

What If… I Was The Next PM?

What If…I was the next Prime Minister?

Let’s first clear up a few perhaps obvious points.  Firstly I am unlikely to be.  It’s not completely impossible of course but highly unlikely.  The greater likelihood being that following Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation today the next British PM will be a Conservative member of Parliament, chosen by the national registered Conservative Party Membership from a whittled down list of two candidates who emerge following a public bun flinging contest on Newsnight.  Apologies if I haven’t quite got the grip of the contest rules exactly accurately.

But if I were how would I proceed with the main agendas we face at the moment?

Well firstly, and when I say firstly it means firstly after appointing all the cabinet postings, getting a new key for Number 10, thinking up a secure password for the Nuke buttons and popping over to see The Queen etc.  Firstly, I would need to do something about the most pressing issue of the day.  Brexit.

I would immediately appoint two very senior Ministerial positions.  A Brexit one and another to handle everything else.  With overall responsibility remaining with myself, like all good leaders.

The one handling everything else would have to coordinate the economy, education issues, defence, security, work, pensions, foreign relationships etc just like a normal PM but crucially not concern themselves overtly with Brexit.  That would be the sole job of the other one.  Each having equal rank and status, both reporting to me.

This way Brexit, whilst crucial to our situation, would not dominate everything else but still be ranked as highly important.

On the subject of Brexit the clock is ticking away with the latest date being the end of October when France et all will apparently cut loose the chains that bind us to Europe and we will float off to a Neverland of uncertainty.  Theresa May’s departure shows that getting agreement on a deal to stop all this happening in an uncontrolled way is extremely difficult.

To resolve this issue I would immediately revoke the current deal and start again.  This will need some time so to do this I would revoke Article 50 with a note that it is not over yet backed up by waving a new yet to be signed Withdrawal Notice at the EU saying that this is still the direction to go.

This would give time to freshly recommence the negotiations and they would start on the premise of a simple No Deal.

In truth nobody wants No Deal but the general public understand what this means and delivers on many of the concerns that drove the albeit marginal victory result of the June 2016 Election.

Because neither the EU nor the UK want a sterile No Deal I would be able to add back in the less controversial issues such as retaining cooperation on security issues such as continuing support of defence and international policing, on international ecological and climate issues, on medical and technological research projects, on food and industry standards, and on human rights and minimum wages issues.

There would be no legal precedent issues on any of these, to avoid UK Sovereignty being undermined.  Just good old common sense adoption of common standards and regulations to keep things aligned.

The EU may be minded to set about these fresh negotiations with an agenda of their own choosing, notably once more wanting to agree a ‘divorce bill’ first but this would not be acceptable.  The value of the ‘divorce’ would be considered but it would be a calculation based on fairness when all else is ready to go.  And the threat of a stark No Deal would remain to concentrate their minds if they get all bossy again.

I think the above would be a great way to start as a PM.  And don’t forget the other senior Minister would be immediately free to set to work on the other pressing issues of the day from debt reduction and the economy to Health and Food Banks.

And if you want to know what I would do on the second day as PM you will just have to get me elected.

Author: Vince Poynter

An original post for this site dated 24 May 2019
To be added to the Political Section section of my web site in due course
For more Political and Brexit commentary choose vinceunlimited.co.uk/political or  if you are on a mobile device and want a more suitable reading experience use vinceunlimited.co.uk/politicalm

G&T

Gastroenteritis and Tartrazine – A serious warning about this article.  The subject matter may be considered uncomfortable for those of a weak disposition.  This article contains a graphic description of a bout of food poisoning and I strongly suggest that you think carefully before fully opening and reading this piece.

It is not intended to be sensational and is written with thought and honestly but for reasons of descriptive accuracy does explain the processes and results of the illness.

Blogs are about real life experiences and not all are akin to fluffy bunnies ambling on a hillside in the sunshine.  So proceed only if you are ready for some realism.  No offence will be taken if you do not read this one of my articles.  I would think carefully myself if you were to post something similar yourself.

It started on a Thursday.  My wife, Lynda and I eat out a lot and usually choose a pub offering a good meal deal.  This particular one has been a recent favourite and we have had many reasonable meals there.

We understand that post Christmas January eating out is the rarest time of the year.  It is why establishments make offers during the busy December month to entice punters back into the practice of eating out in the new year.  However, we regulars need no such enticement as the process of eating out is a common habit.

In fact in the December run up to Christmas we share the same thoughts that alcoholics do about seasonal drinkers invading their space at festive times.  With our annoyance focussed on some food based pubs taking away their usual offers in the run up.

All of which is just an explanation of why we had no concerns about visiting this unusually quiet pub on this evening for our main meal of the day.

We ordered a fairly normal menu choice, me the gammon with egg, Lynda with the chicken.  We did comment to each other that it was delivered surprisingly quickly but we had said it was quiet that evening.

The food was as unremarkable as ever and expected for the price but I did note that the Jacket Potatoes were cold to the touch.  Well perhaps not technically cold but certainly far from steaming hot.  But it didn’t ring bells and we ate up and left as usual.

Later that evening I needed to use the toilet.  Again, not normally remarkable but the beginning of a story this time.  It was a standard episode but had to be repeated about an hour later.  It was then that mild stomach cramps became evident.

The third visit in as many half hours included some diarrhoea and increasing tummy tightening.  By the fourth time I was only jettisoning fluid and feeling a good throw up might bring things to a conclusion.

It was now well into the night, I was feeling increasingly weak and weary, freezing cold out of the bed and unable to lie comfortably in it, my torso demanding all my attention.

I announced to Lynda that this was serious and I had to abandon thoughts of working on the Friday.  She wasn’t really convinced until I actually vomited.  The drama of this act enough to convince the most skeptical wife that her husband wasn’t angling for a free pass.  She agreed to make the necessary arrangements leaving me free to wallow in my misery.

Being violently sick is a strange phenomenon.  For most of us a rare occurrence, frightening as a thought during build up but often strangely a sudden and fantastic release when over.

In this case thankfully it wasn’t accompanied by the often body shaking, full-on fast, sweaty, disablement that sees one writhing on the floor, virtually unable to lift oneself to a place of hygienic projection whilst feeling genuine thoughts of considered demise as a pathetic release from the perceived torture.

In my case I just suffered the intense torso trauma necessary for the body to do what it needed, which is to eject the foreign body as efficiently and fast as possible.

The reason for my coldness and feelings of weakness is explained by the total denial of any unnecessary energy allowed to the limbs and head.  All blood circulation and glucose available being required for the central body area.

Then a fantastic and impressive contortion occurs.  My stomach seized suddenly to a fraction of its normal size and caused a quickly repeating wave form heading up to the chest.  Such was the intensity I felt my skin tighten over the hips and ribs.

This was accompanied by the enlargement and straitening of my whole mouth and throat all the way down to my stomach.  It was as if you could put a whole arm down into my stomach without touching the sides.

My face contorted to maximise the final opening with my lips pulled back over the teeth as if I was reenacting the classic scene from An American Werewolf In London.

All of which pathetically resulted in just a tiny few specks of semi-digested food.

A second episode and this time all the drama with sadly none of the result.  The earlier diarrhoea having stolen all the moisture from my system.

But finally a third and more intense session and I ejected partial evidence of the suspected interloping poison.

It is only when this finally occurs that the inbuilt detective in oneself can finally hone in on the suspect.  I’ll save you from the more salacious details [surprisingly considering my attempts at detailing up to now] but I blame the gammon and suspect it had been stupidly reheated.

My misery didn’t finish there.  The body cramps hadn’t finished, the diarrhoea continued the next couple of days and I was pretty well bed bound for 36 hours in a state of uncomfortableness.

A further trio of vomiting occurred the next day, Friday, and my unexpected dieting continued as I had no desire to add anything into the cauldron of gloop festering in my innards.

All I wanted was to sleep but this was distracted by my tummy pains and frequent visits to discharge the small remaining vestiges of fluid in my system.  And flushing through an overheating anus is not ideal.

In fact it was the Saturday before I was persuaded by Lynda to allow anything other than water to pass my lips and I chose first to take on a sugary liquid.

She had kindly purchased a couple of litres of one of my favourite juices, Cranberry and Raspberry.  I considered this quite innocuous so ventured a sip or three.

I attempted to properly rehydrate whilst giving me a sugary boost to aid the feelings of extreme tiredness.  And I guess it worked.

During the day I felt better, less exhausted and only had the remaining tummy cramps to dispel, which I knew wouldn’t go until my body had satisfied itself that all badness was gone and once again offered feelings of hunger to replenish itself.

But it was an 18 hour period of living with just an empty shell filled only with a sticky juice.  And a strange phenomenon started to occur.

It started when I closed my eyes to attempt rest.  Normally on first closing eyes I see temporary visions of the intense light sources I had been seeing.  Such as dark patches where lights had been on or more recently dark square patches where I had been looking at my phone.  These recede over a short time to be replaced by the swirling out of focus cells and miniature hairs naturally floating across the eyeball.  Distinct and highly contrasting, particularly evident when the room light source is lit or daylight as it was during this time.

However, now I was experiencing something new.  Fuzzy grey, indistinct large patches with highly jagged and darker detailed edges.

These sights, through closed eyes, were the first different thing but soon my mind’s thoughts, unusually quiet during my previous sickness, had now turned quite crazy.  Crazy in the sense of all over the place.

Song snippets, earworms, raced repeatedly around.  Thoughts jumped from one subject to another at an unbelievable and frightening speed, perhaps six to ten a second and when I did finally ‘sleep’ for a few minutes vivid dreams featuring regressive situations coupled with modern characters in my life filled my imagination.

I concluded I was suffering the alleged fate of small children with underdeveloped minds reacting to what I understand as an excess of Tartrazine in their diet.  In their case often accompanied by random, uncontrollable, disruptive actions.

Thankfully as I proceeded to rid myself of the sickness and tentatively returned to normal eating the effects wore off, the only permanent result being this scripted article penned in lieu of a good nights sleep.

I hope I haven’t laboured too much on the murky details in my story, having only included what I felt needed to get to the interesting aspects of violent sickness and my personal thoughts on ‘Tartrazine’.  I am aware that the subject matter has been intense and appreciate any reader who has come this far with me.

I include this as blogging stories are nearly always about the good and positive in life and the more realistic aspects are usually less well documented.

Maybe someone someday might be interested in how food sometimes affected us in the early twenty first century.

In stating this I assume it is the year 2743 or something.  By which time I shall have fully recovered.

A few final thoughts.

Firstly, I have no intention of naming or shaming the establishment which I believe caused my distress.  I have eaten there on perhaps dozens of occasions and believe there was no ill intent or lack of hygiene practice to cause this problem on this occasion.  It is part and parcel of regular eating out.  If they made a mistake on this day then this is unfortunate.

I do not plan to ostracise the establishment and whilst won’t immediately rush back will probably be tempted back eventually by the enticing offers which lead us there in the first place.

I do not seek compensation as I have lost nothing really except an unscheduled holiday date.

The cost to me was temporary the pain a fading memory save for this piece but we all got a blog from it, so some positive.

The anxiety and additional work imposed on Lynda was accepted unequivocally as one does for a lifetime partner.  And she did get a virtually uninterrupted day of Netflix out of it.

I have not studied the phenomenon of Tartrazine, have no proof of this chemical in my drink and do not in any way cite myself as an expert in this field with only general circumstantial and hearsay stories leading me to the conclusions above.  Further, I have no particular interest in pursuing knowledge in this field and do have access to Wikipedia should I change my thoughts on this.

I particularly have no interest in children with ‘behavioural difficulties’ and again my thoughts above are as far as I personally wish to explore such matters.

I know there are blogs out there that deal with much more severe trauma, sickness and even death.  Probably with greater humanity, thought and compassion but please don’t assume I need a list of such places to view.  I can use search myself if I wish to go down this route.

Any comments are welcome but if you wish to espouse views on diarrhoea, vomit or children please try to maintain an understanding that not everyone wants to know every tiny detail, particularly about the two most icky subjects.  Obviously one being children.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Feb 2019
Originally written but not published  on 15 Jan 2018

Remastered

Yes, I’m calling it.  I have now completed the remastering of my web site.  The foundations of version 5 are done.

It’s taken some major commitment from me over the past 15 months and I’ve managed it all in less time than a Brexit.

From now on it will be all new content never before seen on any previous versions of the site.

Yes, I will still need to spend a little time finally tweaking some pages and entries but perfection always needs a bit of polish so that’s just an ongoing chore.

So, tell your friends, inform your colleagues and update your associates vinceunlimited is in business.  The future can begin.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Web section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 11 Dec 2018

Redacted

You may have noticed that I have not been posting much on this blog lately.  Don’t panic my typing finger hasn’t dropped off.  It’s just that I am continuing with the time consuming update of my web site, page by page on a near daily basis and I have reached 2014, the date that I started my WordPress blog.

Obviously there is no point in recreating these ancient WordPress blogs back onto this site as they already reside here, albeit from many moons back.  However I was using other forms of communication at the time, such as FaceBook and this is one post that I only shared on my FB site [albeit availably publicly at the time] and can share with you all now.

A FaceBook status update originally posted on 8 Nov 2014

Redacted

Hi guys, I’ve been lax in my post updates lately.  I really ought to let you all know what I’ve been up to lately.  Hopefully this post will get you all up to speed.

Just one note before I start though.  I hope you don’t mind but I’ve had to redact some of the more personal data as I don’t want FaceBook to have too much personal information on record.

Firstly work.  I used to [redacted] but just recently, in fact just [redacted] years ago I decided to have a change and now I [redacted].

I am really enjoying doing this partly because I get to [redacted].

On a personal basis I’m still with [redacted] despite [redacted] and the incident with the large mole.

Health wise my doctor said my enormous [redacted] even though I use the cream daily.

I had a falling out with [redacted] so don’t expect a Christmas Card this year.  But at least I made a new friend when the [redacted] [redacted].

Now for the most important bit.  I had a great bit of fortune recently on the [redacted] and won nearly [redacted].  I am going to share this all with my FaceBook friends.  All you need to do is turn up at [redacted] on the [redacted] at [redacted] o’clock.  All those that read my messages will now know this and be able to share in this.  So see you on the [redacted].

Bye for now.

And remember if you don’t share this post you will [redacted].

Author: Vince [Redacted]
From the Social Media section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 5 Nov 2018
First published as a FaceBook status update on 8 Nov 2014

Ingreedyents

From the vinceunlimited Blog dated 16 Mar 2011

I have to read things.  It’s part of my make up, who I am.  I am curious and love gathering knowledge.  And a great source of detailed information is plastered all over our products and the most enlightening and interesting is the ingredients list on seemingly simple products.  I’ll give an example just to see if you can guess the product before the end reveal.

The first ingredient listed is always the largest component and in this particular case is Aqua.  Now if you were paying attention in double Latin you will know that this comes from the old English word meaning Akker, short for Acker Bilk a clarinetist who became famous for being the only clarinetist anyone could name.  The Akker term was used to describe the spittle and dribble emanating from the business end of his instrument.  Later this ‘Akker’ became Aqua during the Latinisation of old English words during the 1950’s when certain Oxbridge elements wanted to seem more clever than the general populous.  In other words Aqua just means water and no one except Stephen Fry can understand why they just don’t say that.

The second most common element is a compound, which is really two elements so by combining have jumped up the list unfairly.  This compound is Sodium Chloride.  As any chemistry student knows this is actually just salt so why the pretentious ingredient listers bother with fourteen letters and a space when four will do can only lead one to suspect that they are in it up to their necks with the Ink Printing Association and frankly the Government should look into this rather than wasting all that time on the Hutton Enquiry.

Coming in in third place is the second Sodium collaboration, this time with Benzoate.  Why Sodium wants a second billing is as strange as the word ‘in’ wanting a second billing at the head of this paragraph [I bet you five pounds you had to check].  What is even stranger is that Benzoate is a common misspelling of the term Benz 08, the eighth car produced by Mercedes.  We all know that Sodium and old cars don’t really mix so this ingredient actually just refers to rust.  Or as the aforementioned Ink Printers & Affiliates Association would put it Ferrous Oxide.

The next listed ingredient is Polysorbate 20.  Clearly the manufacturers of this product had to undergo years of testing just to establish that Polysorbate 20 was clearly better/cheaper/more environmentally friendly [delete as appropriate] than Polysorbate 19 or any other number less or indeed more than this.  For the technically minded amongst you you may like to know that Polysorbate 1 is the amount of liquid you can mop up using a single Standard Unit parrot.

Next up is the old familiar Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate or SLGC for short.  Again Sodium has chosen to get in a mix with other products rather than stand out on it’s own.  In fact if it did it would probably rate above Aqua so one must conclude that Sodium is inherently shy.  In this case hiding amongst Lauryl, Glucose and Carboxylate, an unknown comedy trio who’s fortunes turned around when Carboxylate left them to join another team.  Lauryl and Glucose re-branded themselves Laurel and Hardy and Carbo, as he became known, joined the other Marx Brothers.

The next listed ingredient is Malic Acid.  This is obtained from the Hollywood actor Art Malik so is very expensive.  It is a well kept industry secret that after his work on ‘The Jewel In The Crown’ and ‘A Passage To India’ he was ground down using a large Mortar and Pestle for use in various products and his appearance in True Lies was actually done by Ronnie Corbett on a pair of stilts with some clever post production work and Ronni Ancona’s voice-over.

Next up, according to the list is Lauryl Glucoside.  But I think this is just a lie because I had a very close look using a quite big magnifying glass and I couldn’t see any.

Nearing the end now and we come across Parfum.  Now many think this is just a smug way of saying perfume intimating this to be a pleasant thing.  Again this fallacy must be redressed and if broken down into it’s constituent parts of Parf and Um you will see it’s true meaning is a fart.

The next ingredient is the most difficult to explain.  Not because it is a complex compound it’s just so darned difficult to spell.  It’s the trips off the tongue, old familiar, we all know it as Methylisothiazolinone.  A long word that scientists use when they haven’t really got a clue what they found but without it the Ingredients Standards & Ink Printing Affiliates Association Incorporated will not sign off the packaging [Has that Hutton Enquiry finished yet?]

Third from last is Aloe Barbadensis Extract.  This is a passage from the Hawaiian novel ‘Hello Barber Dentist’.  A short story about a young girl who hooks up with a hairdresser who has a secret life as a doctor.  I believe the word for doctor and dentist is the same in Hawaiian which might seem odd but not as odd as the six-hundred and fourteen words they have for podiatrist.

The penultimate ingredient is Propylene Glycol.  As opposed to Impropylene Glycol.  Glycol is a fancy word for antifreeze and in this case is proper lean.  In other words weak antifreeze.

The final ingredient of this mysterious product is Tocopherol Acetate and let’s face it as it is the final ingredient it hardly features at all so is not really worth considering.  In fact given there are ten other more copious compounds one wonders whether the actual product would be substantially altered by it’s omission.  In fact let’s start a campaign here and now to reduce the number of products in our products by leaving out the least included.  Except in the case of salt of course which will otherwise just revert to Sodium, which as we have already established wants none of the attention.

So, have you guessed the product yet?  I’ll give you a reminder of what’s in it:- Sodium, Water, Salt [i.e. more Sodium], Rust, Slapstick, essence of Art Malik, a bit of fart, some paragraphs, a spot of weak antifreeze and a teenie bit of something not really needed.  Which all makes it much clearer than the arse-wipe list on the actual packet as insisted by the Ink Printers & Bankers Bonus Society Corporation Of America, Honduras & Affiliated Offshore Accounts PLC.

So would you eat this only good for flushing straight down the loo stuff?

I hope not because it’s actually a real arse-wipe list.  Check out the back of your next packet of bottie wipes and you’ll see what I mean.

Well what do you expect me to do whilst sat here waiting?  I have to read something.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 30 Aug 2018
If you want to hear me read this Blog post to you I adapted it for my sixteenth blog post, Pod 16 – Ingreedyents, posted in iTunes and here on my WordPress site dated 19 Nov 2014
First published within the Blog on 16 Mar 2011

Cucumber Campaign

From the vinceunlimited Blog dated 6 Feb 2011

At first all the cucumber aficionados reading this will be salivating at the thought that there is to be a Cucumber campaign.  No doubt the thought of selfless promotion of their favourite green cylindrical vegetable will drive them wild with excitement.  But this campaign is to reduce their use.  I hate the things and I am fed up with them turning up uninvited in my sandwich rolls.

For the last few years we have been constantly droned on at to eat more healthily and my relatively recent contribution is to engage full on with the salad world.  Well, when I say full on I don’t mean the whole banana.  I don’t relish radishes, crave cress or press for peppers but I have taught myself the art of enjoying a little bit of lettuce, providing it’s not masquerading as that rocket/garden weed nonsense.  And I have always liked tomato and egg so with a bit of proper food [i.e. meat] I can handle a salad sandwich from time to time.

The trouble is the purveyors of such delicatessen insist on chucking as much ingredients into their wares as possible and this usually includes an obligatory slice of Cucumis Sativus.  No doubt using two thin slices of this cheap creeping vine pod appeals to their sense of value but for me it’s strong flavour just stains the rest of the sandwich and puts me off purchase.  And don’t go telling me that they hardly taste of anything as they are 90% water because if that is the case don’t bother adding them in the first place.

My main issue is that nobody really likes these things.  My misses claims to like cucumber but not once have I seen her purchase one for snack consumption.  Despite the easy natural packaging no one eats a cucumber in the street, such as happens with apples and bananas for instance.

You may think why pick on the cucumber?  After all in a similar way the tomato is not universally appreciated yet this is added to salad rolls for presumably the same reason and people don’t eat them in the street.  The answer is in the design of the tomato.  It may have the same convenient outer packaging as a cucumber but it packs a surprise squish inside rendering it impossible to eat anywhere except leaning over a sink.  So totally unsuitable for street snacking.  And to reinforce the positives of a tomato it adds a new and exciting colour to a salad sandwich.  Cucumber’s just ape the green of the lettuce that’s already there.  Plus I like tomatoes.

So lets ditch the cucumber.  The most pointless addition to a sandwich ever.

Apart from sweetcorn of course.  That nasty little cancer gets everywhere.  Try buying a salad or pasta snack in your local supermarket and there it is.  Little yellow bits of stinking pus-pebbles ruining every dish and impossible to remove without tweezers and a sieve.  Tastes even stronger and twice as sickly than crappy cucumber.  And for some reason always added to otherwise delicious tuna offerings.  What is this stupid fish/corn-cob relationship based on?  As far as I know nothing in the natural world that David Attenborough has ever enlightened us about despite an almost obsessive annual BBC series on the subject.  I adore tuna.  Tuna is good for me.  Sweetcorn makes me puke.  Why stop at Tunacorn?  Why not just go the whole hog and pointlessly insist on adding dandelion leaves to every smoked salmon slice?

Or better still why not make things simpler?  Sandwiches, rolls, baps, tacos, submarines and pittas should only contain one ingredient.  An obvious main ingredient, such as the meat, or for those vaginatarians say an egg.  Then also on display at the same point should be the personal add ons, such as lettuce, tomato and [if you really insist] cucumber, sweetcorn and dandelion.  The user could add these extras at will and build a sarnie to their precise taste and health requirements.

Yes, I am aware that the Subway sandwich chain already take this approach but why not our local supermarket, corner shop or garage forecourt?

Lettuce start the Cucumber Campaign today.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Opinions section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 29 Aug 2018
First published within the Blog on 6 Feb 2011

Repository

One of the most famous incidents from western history is the shooting of American President John F. Kennedy.  Few reasonably educated people in the English speaking world would not be aware of some of the facts around this moment.  It might just be that it was in the sixties, the assassinated President was travelling in a motorcade, Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter, there are loads of conspiracy theories and the shot came from a repository.

I didn’t fact check these six commonly known things stated above.  Some may be incorrect.  For instance was it the sixties?  Is Oswald spelt correctly?  That’s not important right now.  What I want to highlight is two uncommonly used words in this short summation – Motorcade and repository.  Both first heard by my young ears around the time it happened and both rarely used to this date.

I’ve never really questioned the term motorcade.  Probably because it immediately seemed to describe the line of vehicles involved.  Possibly because even today it is used to describe an American Presidential car outing.  The British Prime Minister, for instance, never seems to get reported as travelling in a motorcade.  Even though it’s often technically true.

The other newly discovered word to my young ears was repository.

What is a repository a small child might ask?  A library is the short answer.  So why not say library then was the response?

Presumably because if it was a library a chap firing off a high powered firearm would have elicited a cacophony of ‘shhhhhs’ from other users delivered in that passive aggressive way only librarians and library users can achieve.

However the classic response to a small child’s follow up question in those days would have been ‘because it is’ or more likely please accept this clip around the ear as a kindly note to advise you will find out when you are older and stop bothering me now, I am an adult and you are irrelevant.

I can’t recall which type of reasoned explanation was used at the time but I never really questioned the word again as it never comes up in any context, except in reference to the Dallas incident mentioned above.  But it was a key memorable fact about the Texas story that still sticks today.

My website is a repository.

That’s not actually an analogy.  It’s a fact.  If I were to liken it to a library it would only be analogous.  Described as a library it may make sense to some.  It contains my web content.  It has clearly marked sections for those who seek specialist subjects.  It is arranged logically and is open to all.  But technically it is an information repository.  But it is an incomplete one because at present it is still being stockpiled.  And only currently about two-thirds filled with historic content. Mainly the content from previous website iterations between 2003 and early 2010.

You may note at the bottom of this article in my website the version number is 5.166.  This is the one-hundred and sixty-sixth update to the fifth version of my website.  Quite a lot of updates you might think.  And you would be right.  After I hand-coded and uploaded the current edition of my site I have made 166 new pieces of content.  Meaning the repository now contains well over 120 separate pages, and more than 40 individual blog posts.  All in HTML5 and linked via CSS styling cues.

This may seem a lot of work and it was but also consider I have done the exact same but in mobile specific form so those numbers can be doubled.  In other words over 320 pages have been written or updated.

And in each case every article or blog post is first trailed on the homepage as well as being added to it’s final resting place.  So the total number of alterations is more like over 640.

But there’s more.  In every instance I consider whether an article may need replicating in a specialist place.

For instance this post will be added to the homepage as usual, plus added to the Blog posts where it shall remain but then also added to both the Geek and Web sections for those who seek such specialist knowledge.  Then I’ll update the vSearch page so it can be found.  This type of procedure is common and sometimes articles get posted in six or seven places so the repository can be simply navigated.

And all that excludes the many times I have checked my updates only to find link errors, grammatical changes required or just additional content refreshing requirements, such as the updates to the Sketches page I posted at the same time as this article.

I estimate that I have written near to 1500 page updates.  And I am only two thirds the way through this initial exercise.  And when all this is complete I shall continue to add to the stock with exclusively new content.

Quite a repository.  And sadly like all repositories it is rarely visited.  However, it is always open, it is free to enter and you are most welcome to browse.

And just like the infamous JFK incident, you can be sure there is more of this story to come.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the BlogGeek and Web sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 6 Aug 2018
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, Texas.  He fired shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository at the presidential motorcade.  Many people dispute these facts

dadPad

A MyDiary entry from 28 Jan 2010

Yesterday [27 Jan 2010] Apple finally launched their much anticipated iPad and I have been lapping up every Tweet, blog and story about the thing.

One reason for the interest, other than my confirmed fanboy status, is that for months I seriously considered that such a product may well be the answer to my personal electronic needs.  However, I recently saw sense and avoided waiting for a 1.0 version of an untried, theoretical device, with no known cost and purchased instead a MacBook.   I think my decision may be correct.

The iPad is gorgeous, but not available for six months, still uncertain in UK price and may not actually do all I want it to do.  No-one has mentioned working with iWeb yet, my primary reason for a hand held device.

However, as Tweeted today, I think there is a market for this that is as yet untapped.  The elderly.

Or rather the non-tech, reasonably wealthy elderly who have yet to get a computer or on line.  I’m thinking my in-laws here.

This product is designed for my father-in-law.  The standalone design meaning no awkward telephone connections.  The user friendly intuitive GUI meaning no keyboard/mouse learning.  The inbuilt simple bookstore.  The scalable text for failing eyesight.  I’m convinced.  He has admired my iPhone for some time and I am going to recommend this iPad to him.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Computers section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 31 Jul 2018
From an entry in MyDiary dated 28 Jan 2010
First published in the vinceunlimited.co.uk website in Mar 2010
I did buy an iPad, but not until the second version, the iPad 2 3G and WiFi 64Gb model in Nov 2011
My father-in-law did eventually get an iPad, having never owned a computer.  I gave him my second iPad, the Air 2 WiFi only 128Gb model, in Sep 2016.  He was then 90 years old and still uses it so my original thoughts in 2010 about suitability for this sector are fully validated

Kangafood

Had a late lunch with the wife’s family to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday.

We made our now seemingly monotonously regular trip to The Otter at Otterborne.

Personally I always see a typically dingily lit Public House with grimy floor and facilities and a smattering of unwelcoming angry looking bar locals.  However, the in-laws only see the back restaurant and seem to like the food.

Here the Otter does well and surprisingly serves a quite exotic menu.

Often I’ll order the Ostrich Steak but like so many other things today this was off the menu.

The waitress offered kangaroo, which I jumped at.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Food section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 30 Jul 2018
From an entry in MyDiary dated 18 Jan 2010
First published in the vinceunlimited.co.uk website in Mar 2010

Christmas Smut

A MyDiary entry from 26 Dec 2009

A pretty red brick hand-built classic fireplace with electric fire and substantial dark wood mantlepiece, set in a lounge with thick maroon carpet.  The fireplace is flanked by a flat screen TV and sub-woofer and has three pink and white mantle pots and matching carriage clock
Why do we think industrial brickwork indoors is a good idea?

I live in suburbia.  Not a town called suburbia but a good facsimile of it.

It is a mid-eighties detached property built using the standard UK model with many featuring that most essential of British faux Victoriana features – The fireplace.

This ancient Dickensian accessory is thankfully rarely used.  Unfortunately, being Christmas, many fools succumb to the lure of a smoky hellhole and fire up their soot inducing possession.

As a result my clean white windowsills are now peppered with smut.  And frankly the only thing I like peppered that way is my late night TV.

I’m definitely going to move this year.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog  section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 25 Jul 2018
Written as a MyDiary entry on 26 Dec 2009

First published in Version 3.0 in Mar 2010
The photograph shows the author’s fireplace, taken around 2005 and was first added in Version 3.0 Mar 2010

Home Work

A MyDiary article from 27 Nov 2009

Today I am working from home.  No, really, I’m at home and working.  I’m not just messing about on my computer.  It’s real work.

I know it’s work because I have to open an Excel spreadsheet.  As usual, it is a complex, multi-formatted workbook with SUBTOTAL functions and my Mac’s pretty little spreadsheet, Numbers, does not seem to support these professional tools.

As a result I have had to install Sun’s VirtualBox which will allow me to load in my copy of Windows XP and the MS Office package on to my Mac.

I really do not want to do this, other than for the fascination, as it will be like fitting a Kia sunroof with ill fitting lock into my Jaguar.

The process involves adding Sun’s VirtualBox, Microsoft’s XP, the XP SP2 disc, MS Office 97 Suite [I can’t afford the extortionately priced upgrade, alright], adding AVG virus protection, then running several dozen Windows Updates, each of which wants to have its very own restart.

I will then be able to fire up the Excel sheet.

All of which is very time consuming and will mean I won’t be finishing early today.

Despite working from home.

Which I am.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog , Software and Worker sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 19 Jul 2018
First published on 27 Nov 2009

Jet Wash[ing Up]

A MyDiary article from 12 Nov 2009

A photograph of the back of my wife in a red tee-shirt and beige cap stood on a balcony just as a nine plane Red Arrows jet formation flies past, trailing their blue, white and red smoke
A Red Arrows display begins in August 2009.  No idea of how many pilots were wearing make up

I’m in the process of readying the next update to my vinceunlimited website.

To be honest I’ve been in this process for some time.

I recently made a decision to abandon the plan to hand code a replacement and instead rely on the built in iWeb application that came with my Apple software, despite all it’s limitations such as lack of meta tagging, inability to child page and inability to include the basic widgets on non-Apple standard servers etc.

I deduced that it really is content that matters.

Thankfully, I have now discovered I can quickly copy paste content from my current version so I do not need to retype all the 120 pages of content.

However, having the site on the operating table and not up and running means that days like today frustrate me as a great story came out about the first female Red Arrows pilot.

The scope for a playful blog was hardly satisfied by my Tweet entry suggesting all displays would now run at precisely five past three to allow for a quick lipstick fix.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog and Geek sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 18 Jul 2018
First published on 12 Nov 2009

The photograph shows the arrival of a nine-plane Red Arrows display over Bournemouth in August 2009.  I took the picture timed to show the exact time of arrival as my wife waited patiently for the start of the display