Soldering Pipes

Things I have learned today about soldering pipes…

  1. 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.
  2. Solder flows downhill.
    So arranging the workpiece accordingly makes it all go a bit more easily.
  3. Americans pronounce it “sodder”.
    …For some reason best known to them.

Here’s the best “how to” video I found…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YQ99sgAuAE

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Westacre

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.

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Energy efficient windows

I’m going to have to choose some windows, and a window fitter soon.

Most of the windows that we want to reduce are in solid brickwork, so at least I can do the new brickwork myself. I like that idea, because it will allow me to add chamfered jambs, which will let in more light, and be an interesting feature.

Fitting windows to cavity walls is complicated, so I don’t fancy doing it myself. But do I go to a local window company and get UPVC (U-value about 1.4) or to someone like Green Steps or Green Building Store who make wood-framed windows with a U-value of 0.8-0.9? I calculate the better insulation will save about 400W, which is about 5% of my current heating estimate. That’s not a lot really, but they will also look better – and that is important.

Furthermore, who will fit the windows for me? Green Building Store offer a supply & fit service, but Green Steps seem to be supply only. I suspect that it’ll be way cheaper to find a local fitter.

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Cove Lighting

I calculate that we’d need over 100 LED spot lights (at about 200 lumens each) to get 500 lux in the big room. That’s £1000 of light bulbs! So now I’m considering fluorescent bulbs (T5) concealed behind an architrave or coving.

Altima have an all in one solution, but frustratingly, they don’t say how bright it is. PJ Engineering have much simpler luminaires, but then I’d have to construct my own coving – and I’d have to make my own reflectors too.

In any case, we’ll also need some spots for detail lighting. Dimmable fluorescent tubes would be good too.

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Almost Passive House

Almost Passive House is a blog about a new build project in the US. They are obviously trying to achieve much the same thing as we are with Westacre. I found then through a Google search for lighting, but they also seem to have useful information on heat-recovery ventilation.

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Firefox developers hate me.

Ubuntu has an irritating habit of turning off Firefox’s middlemouse.contentLoadURL setting. Recently, it’s got even worse – whenever I turned it back on, Ubuntu would immediately turn it back off for me. So, today I finally worked out that the problem was Ubuntu’s “firefox extensions” – turned that off, and finally my contentLoadURL setting sticks…

Except, now I realise that the Firefox devs have crippled the behaviour anyway. The clipboard now has to contain a full URL, complete with the http://, or the middle click is ignored. Humph. What use it THAT??

OK, so I then found these instructions for hacking FF’s internals, to recreate the old behaviour. Amazingly it works, but I’m starting to feel that they’ve got it in for me.

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Interactive Timeline of Ancient Egypt

I did this ages ago. I don’t know why I never posted it. Anyway, here’s an interactive timeline of Ancient Egyptian history.

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OkCupid tells me I’m attractive?

Perhaps they have me mixed up with someone else?

We are very pleased to report that you are in the top half of OkCupid’s most attractive users. The scales recently tipped in your favor, and we thought you’d like to know.
How can we say this with confidence? We’ve tracked click-thrus on your photo and analyzed other people’s reactions to you in QuickMatch and Quiver.
Your new elite status comes with one important privilege:
** You will now see more attractive people in your match results. **
You’ll also be shown to more attractive people in their match results.
Suddenly, the world is your oyster.

And, no, we didn’t just send this email to everyone on OkCupid. Go ask an ugly friend and see.

The bigger question is, why am I on OkCupid, given that I’m happily married? The answer is that I use it to stalk my single friends. Satisfied :)

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Trystan Julliard Search (aka Cheryl Lynn Tate)

It must be nearly 10 years since I last saw Trystan. It’s a real shame, because I liked her a lot. I’ve asked everyone I can think of, and no one knows what’s become of her. So, Trystan – are you out there? If so, then drop me a line.

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Republic of Rome: Cheat Sheet

Republic of Rome is a great boardgame. Or at least I think it is — I’ve never really been able to play a proper game. The rules are so complicated, and so badly written, that I’ve never really felt I understood them. So, I decided to write a cheat sheet. One that would be useful for someone who is trying to learn the rules while playing their first game.

Republic of Rome: Cheat Sheet (PDF)
Republic of Rome: Cheat Sheet (Open Office)

Read the rest of this entry »

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