Monthly Archives: November 2011

EU Fishing Quotas – Ludicrous

All you leftie liberal EU fans who are always donating to the ‘starving’ in Africa, just think of all the British fisherman who have to throw away TONNES of fish they’ve caught so that they don’t go over the European quotas. WHAT A WASTE OF FOOD. Pro-Euro arse holes should be bloody ashamed of yourselves.

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London Property / Rental Cost

I’ve just looked through the Homes & Property section of the Evening Standard. Two things are interesting – most show the living room and not the outside of the property, and the cost.

Wow! London must be a pretty bloody amazing place to live to pay that much per week for a one bedroom flat!

I lived there in a hall of residence off Tottenham Court Road for about 4 weeks back in July 2000. It was great fun. There was a Concorde and Red Arrows fly-over Buckingham Palace when I was sitting near the window reading a book once. It really did feel like the centre of the universe living there.

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Beige computers and peripherals

It wasn’t all that long ago that all PC towers, desktops, monitors, printers and peripherals like scanners and speakers were all a utility beige colour. Matt beige was the only option available. Perhaps a bit boring, but what a practical colour for surfaces that attract dust! Then, about 6 years ago that things started being made in black or silver to make it look more futuristic (presumably) and different from the other beige products that, in contast, looked dated. Beige is now hard to find. But for shame! Now nothing matches. I have a black monitor, a silver scanner, a black and grey printer, a beige mouse - it’s silly. I don’t want to be cornered into the technical spec or price of a product just because its colour has to match the rest that I have. I’m pretty much always ahead of trends, so I reckon beige is due a comeback!

Here’s what Wikipedia says about ‘beige boxes’!:

In consumer computer products, a beige box is a standard personal computer (PC). It has come to be used as a term of derision implying conservative or dated aesthetics and unremarkable specifications.

The term is ultimately derived from the style of many early consumer computers (e.g. Atari 800, Apple II), which were usually beige or similar colours. These colours were presumably chosen to allow the machines to blend inconspicuously into a variety of settings, especially similarly coloured offices. The early Macintosh models were a beige color (specifically Pantone 453). Although Apple switched to a desaturated grey they called “Platinum” in 1987, users began to refer to them as “beige” following the introduction of the brightly colored iMac. It then became a standard term to identify any previous OldWorld Macintosh, such as the “Beige G3.”

IBM’s early desktop computers (e.g. IBM Personal Computer, IBM PC/AT) were not only beige, but were distinctly box-shaped, and most manufacturers of clones followed suit. As IBM and its imitators came to dominate the industry, these features became standards of desktop computer design. Some industrial design critics derided them as indistinguishable “beige boxes.”

The term is also sometimes used to distinguish generic PCs from name-brand models such as Compaq, Dell, or HP. In the early years of these companies, most of their units were beige as well. More recently, as name-brand manufacturers have moved away from beige (typically switching to black, dark gray, and silver-colored cases), inexpensive generic cases (which have changed less dramatically) have become more distinct as “beige boxes”. Today the term “white box” has largely replaced this usage.

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Thermal printers

When you just want to print off little notes or things, I always hate to print to the (fantastic) Dell Colour Laser 1320CN printer because you’re ‘wasting’ a sheet of paper for something so small in the corner, and it’s having to heat-up and cool down. I’m not bothered about the energy consumption (which goes over 1.2kW at its peak) but just the wear-and-tear on the parts the get hot and cold. So, my theory was to buy a thermal receipt printer (just like you get in shops and supermarkets when they print out the receipt) which doesn’t need to heat-up in the traditional sense, or indeed use a full sheet of paper just to print a couple of lines of text. So I uhmmed and ahhed for a while, then ordered an Epson TM-T20 thermal receipt printer from ERS (£142 ish). There were some on eBay for £50, used but with a serial cable connector and my PC doesn’t have one of those anymore.

I received it yesterday. It was easy to install and I was surprised at the number of customisable features it has. I’m not using it in a particularly traditional sense for what it was designed for. I’m not doing hundreds of receipts every day using a till. I’m printing bits and bobs off a few times a day. Is it ‘green’? Well, I suppose it is because you’re saving paper and energy and toner cartridges. Thermal printers simply heat the paper to make it go black, so you don’t need toner – just the thermal paper. I’m not an eco warrior at all, and the initial investment cost won’t really be recouped until you’ve printed out TONS on it. I bought a box of 20 x 80mm wide thermal paper rolls which I think will last me into retirement. But they are only £1 each and are many tens of metres long. The printer cuts the paper after printing, and you can store a number of logos or graphics in the printer itself which are automatically printed at the beginning or end of the job.

You don’t realise how good these printers are until you have one. They open up a world of possibilities. Small businesses could use them to print receipts quickly (they do print out the job very quickly by the way). They could also be used to send jobs or packing lists downstairs to their factory or packing area. You can set the printer to make a loud beeping noise once it has finished printing, alerting them to a task that needs fulfilling. This would be great for restaurants or hotels too for food orders. A wi-fi and ethernet version is also available, so it could be placed further away from the ‘sending’ computer. But, perhaps if the paper was 2 or 3 times the width, they would be great for domestic use – shopping lists, emails, order confirmations from amazon, etc. Maybe not letters or CVs or photos or school projects, but virtually everything else.

I’ve often wondered why normal A4 paper isn’t 40gsm as a standard with instead of 80gsm – it fulfills the exact same purpose, but uses half the amount of trees to make (and presumably would therefore be cheaper to buy?). Then I’ve wondered why A5 isn’t a commonly used alternative paper size — let’s be honest, the majority of non-work print-outs you do could be fitted onto a piece of A5 paper instead of A4, right? Just a slightly smaller font size and moving things closer together.

A4 thermal printers are available, and people like Screwfix use them, but I’m not sure of the cost of the paper. The printers are about £300 – £400.

So, in conclusion, this Epson TM-T20 thermal receipt printer is great.

Update Feb 2017:
This printer suddenly stopped working. No idea why — Power is on, installing it on different computers makes no difference. No error message, connection problem or anything — just simply won’t print. Gone back to printing with my standard A4 laser printer now.

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Old TV adverts

On DVDs of old TV programmes, why not have an option to watch the old TV ads of the time to complete the experience?

Great idea!

(Progs that were on ITV or Channel 4 of course.)

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Owl Energy Monitor Installed

I fitted an Owl energy monitor this weekend. Worryingly, when I’m lying in bed with everything off or on standby, the house uses 370 watts! I know my office uses 70 watts when everythings off/on standby which is pretty appaling, but I don’t really want to be scrabbling around under the desk unplugging everything every night. I’m not sure what the main culprit is…I thought it was the subwoofer in the lounge which has been on constantly since we got it, but that’s only 20 watts. The fridge/freezer aren’t ‘on’ whirring constantly. The only thing to do is to switch absolutely everything off, but then programmes won’t record on TiVo while this happens, and thing start defrosting, door bell doesn’t work, phones don’t work, etc.

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Culture Vulture, Blackberry, Fireworks

Culture Vulture strikes again! A new catalogue arrived last week, most of the old stuff still there but a good number of new items. Made another list of nice things and ordered online. Very nice items.

In other news this week, my BlackBerry is ace – should have got one much sooner really. It’s faster and more user friendly than my Nokia e63 (which looked a LOT like it!). I think the thing I miss most is the Nokia e63′s keyboard. It had a nicer feel, better spacing of the keys and you didn’t have to press the ‘alt’ button for punctuation.

I have found my collection of Heinz Noodle Doodles promotional items (well, only 3 – snakes and ladders game (unused), dominoes (unused) and snap (unused)) so hoping to get a few games in soon.

Fireworks night was ok – I used to be a huge fan of fireworks and was considering it as a career. Then I had an incident that nearly seriously injured me and burned the house down, and I was suddenly less keen. Now our dog is a nervous nellie with the bangs, so we have to drug him up to get through the night. It’s quite upsetting seeing him trembling. Until you have a pet that’s affected by the explosions, you don’t realise how anti-social and intrusive fireworks are. He is daft though because none have ever caused any harm to him or anything. He is not affected by the vacuum cleaner however!

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