I’m having second thoughts about using Polyisocyanurate (PIR) boards for our external wall insulation (EWI). PIR is the best commonly available insulator, so it will enable us to get the most insulation into the limited thickness that we have available. Unfortunately, I’ve just learned that PIR has some problems that may cause it to deteriorate with age. Firstly, it is liable to shrinkage, which means that gaps might open up between the boards. Not only would that compromise thre insulation, but it might show through the render, and spoil the external appearance of our house. Worse, PIR can deteriorate if it gets damp, which is something that is hard to rule out. Finally, the gasses trapped in the foam could leak out over time, further degrading the material’s performance. Is that bound to happen? No. But it’s certainly got me considering alternatives… Read the rest of this entry »
Excellent advice from fostertom on external wall insulation (EWI):
The ideal is EWI to walls, continuous with similar EPS [expanded polystyrene] on OSB [a kind of plywood] boarded over the top of the rafters, tiles/slates replaced but a bit higher up. The roof OSB is adequately airtight, without any problems with interruption by internal trusses etc. Unfortunately EWI can’t be relied on to be airtight, so either an external rough-render (breatheable) on the brickwork before EWI-ing, or the internal plaster wd be your wall airtight barrier.That (like IWI [internal wall insulation]) is problematic because of joist penetrations and joists so close parallel to wall that you can’t make the internal plaster continuous through the floor thickness. Also needs connecting up with roof OSB (or with over-joist membrane if trying to air-tight at loft floor level).
Me (calling ICICI bank): Hello, I’m trying to open a savings account, but when I click next on your form, it says “Address information cannot have special characters” – but I can’t see any special characters in any of the fields I’ve entered.
ICICI bank: Hello sir. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience. What browser are you using?
Me: Erm let me see. It’s Firefox 21.0.
ICICI: I’m sorry sir, you are using Safari. Please try to use Internet Explorer.
Me: I’m not using Safari. I’m using Firefox, version 21.0.
ICICI: Please try to use Internet Explorer.
Me: I don’t have Internet Explorer.
ICICI: You don’t have Internet Explorer???
Me: I think I’ll find someone else to look after my money, thanks.
Microsoft has been selling Windows without Internet Explorer for years! Even if they assumed I was using Windows, it’s by no means safe to assume that everyone will have IE. I should have told him I was using my phone – that would have freaked him out even more!
This. I like this: http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2013/06/16/ultimate-tic-tac-toe/
It’s a variant of boring old tic-tac-toe that is actually interesting. I want to give it a go.
The Washington Post recently published the results of a survey that purports to show that:
the public backs giving the federal government broad authority to investigate terrorist threats, even extending to the NSA program that monitors phone records
Their first question shows a 2:1 split in favour of the authoritarian position:
What do you think is more important right now for the federal government: to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy OR not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats?
a. Don’t invade privacy (34%) OR
b. Investigate threats (62%)
Those were terrible yes/no options that absolutely do not allow people to express a nuanced view. This is not an either/or issue. A moderate would say that authorities should usually respect privacy, but they should also investigate serious threats.
The wording of the options guides moderate respondents towards the authoritarian position. Option a. “don’t invade privacy” is an extreme, equivalent to “never invade privacy”. But option b. “investigate threats” allows for the moderate position “investigate only serious threats”. A moderate respondent will want a little of both, so they can only choose b.
Let’s rephrase the options to be biassed in the other direction, so that moderates must favour a.:
a. Respect privacy OR
b. Treat everyone as a potential threat
Finally, here’s a balanced version, where a moderate can safely choose either answer:
a. Respect privacy OR
b. Investigate threats
I have a 3kW electric kettle, and a 2kW induction hob, and I find the induction hob faster and more convenient. (My wall sockets are all 240V.)
However, I’ve just actually measured it, and the situation is more complex… I timed how long it took each of them to boil a single cupful of water. Unsurprisingly the 3kW electric kettle boils the water much more quickly, but it takes ages for its temperature sensor to notice. The electric kettle turned off at almost exactly the same time as the stove-top kettle started to whistle.
So for small volumes of water, it’s a draw. For larger volumes of water, the electric kettle is noticeably quicker.
Why then, do I find the stove-top kettle much more convenient? I think it’s because it has a better “user interface”. When the electric kettle has boiled, it clicks off and I often finish whatever else I’m doing before going to use the hot water. By then, it’s usually cooled down a bit, and I have to turn it back on and wait to bring the water back to the boil. (Actual boiling water is very important for making tea.) OTOH, the stove-top kettle whistles and stays boiling, so I am forced to go and deal with it immediately. The result is that I get my tea made a little bit quicker, with less waiting around.
Interesting. Perhaps electric kettles should replicate that UI, by having a continuous alarm, instead of automatically turning off.
I’ve switched away from BT to using a VoIP number provided by my ISP. AAISP strongly encourage their customers to avoid NAT for VoIP, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. Here’s how I got it working.
Update 2013/4/10: Although this NAT set-up does work, it only seems to work for a day or two. After a while, the audio connection stops working, so the phone will ring, but there is no audio in or out or both. After playing around with it a bit, I abandoned NAT, and gave my base station a real IP address. So, you can follow these instructions, but you will probably have the same problems… Read the rest of this entry »
Things I have learned today about soldering pipes…
- It’s not a one handed job.
As a beginner, I wanted to hold both the blowtorch and the solder in my right hand. So I heated the pipe with the torch, then put it down and applied the solder. Bad idea. I guess the solder cools the metal as it melts, so you need to keep on applying heat. I’ll just have to learn to use my left hand.
- Solder flows downhill.
So arranging the workpiece accordingly makes it all go a bit more easily.
- Americans pronounce it “sodder”.
…For some reason best known to them.
Here’s the best “how to” video I found…
My wife Hilde and I are just embarking on our house renovation project. It’s a huge change of direction for me, I find it exhilarating and a little bit scary.
I’ve created a new category on this blog for the project. I’ll be using it to discuss various technical aspects of the project, and progress. All the content is syndicated across to the Project Site, and from there it goes out to Twitter & Facebook. (Hilde’s been reading up on marketing!)
Have a look at things to come with the Teaser Trailer.