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Friday 16 November 2012

Sky+HD 2TB IR Receiver Location

I have just setup my new Sky+HD 2TB box that I picked up from the post office today.

The instructions that came with it explained everything I needed for the normal Sky setup and that has worked well. 

I have the box in a cupboard and use a remote sender to get the IR signals inside.  I did some searches on the Internet but did not find a conclusive anser to where to position the IR emitters on the outside of the Sky box.

I shone a bright torch close to the front of the box and was able to make out what looks like the IR sensor behind the shiny part of the plastic front panel.  That is where I positioned my IR emitters and they work perfectly.

Sorry about the state of my IR emitters in the above photo.  I use a bit of insulation tape to hold them in place and the adhesive leaves a bit of a mess.

As you can see from the photo I've positioned the emitters about half way between the centre LED ring of the box and right hand edge of the row of manual buttons towards the left of the facia.  I would like to say that this is the definitive answer to where they should go but I can't. 

I did some experimentation and with the kit I use I could position the emitters nearly anywhere nearby and they worked.  My old Sky+HD 300MB box was very fussy but the Sky+HD 2TB box must have a very sensitive or very well positioned receiver.

Monday 1 October 2012

Wood Burning Range Cooker

At the end of last week the installation of our new stove was completed.

The work involved enlarging the alcove for the chimney, tiling, decorating, fitting a flue liner and moving the heavy stove.

It's an Esse Ironheart range and we have fitted the wood burning box which converts it from multi-fuel to just wood.  We already have an open fire in our living room so this is ideal for us.

Over the weekend it was like having a new toy.  We lit it Friday night and very quickly got far too hot.  This is good because in previous winters our kitchen in our old house has been consistently cold and drafty.

We had lots of cups of tea using the whistling kettle and by Sunday evening Shelley wanted to cook on it.  I had to get some idea of the temperature from  the Internet and someone had kindly sat and measured and marked up a gauge which was close enough for us.  I've done a Celsius version based on those measurements.  I've also ordered an oven thermometer.

Sunday dinner was cooked entirely using the range.  It was amazing how quickly the hobs heated pans of cold water.  We had vegetarian pie, boiled potatoes a selection of boiled vegetables, yorkshires and gravy.    A very tasty perfectly cooked meal.

All I did was bring the logs in and work out the temperatures, Shelley did all the cooking and stood in front of the very hot stove.

This winter is going to be much warmer in our kitchen.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Mud Fever Reminder

Poor Henry has some Mud Fever on one of his front legs.  Due to the wet weather this year he's had it twice but the second time it has not gone away with simple cleaning and we have had to call the Vet out. 

I just wanted to keep a reminder of exactly what the Vet did and did not do so we can do exactly the same if necessary in the future.  Shelley has posted a longer article on her blog.

Things to do:

  • Dilute Hibiscrub 1:100 with water in a small resealable plastic pot (from Tesco.)  Do not keep the diluted Hibiscrub more than a few days.

  • Soak some square swabs (10cm x 10cm cotton gauze swabs or similar non-woven versions) in the diluted Hibiscrub.

  • Thoroughly clean the area using the swabs picking off all of the scabs.  Use as many swabs as necessary.
  • Dry with disposable paper towel.  The blue professional kitchen stuff is a good choice.  This can then be thrown away to avoid any transfer of the infection.

  • Do not rub too hard but get the area dry.
  • Once dry apply a cream.  A thin coating rubbed in over the area.

  • The cream may be prescribed by the Vet or in minor cases other creams like udder or wound cream may be appropriate.  The Vet will suggest which.  Some creams may require wearing gloves.
  • The repeated treatment is to just apply the cream once per day.
  • Only clean the scabs off if there are lots of them.  Removing the scabs too often may aggravate it.
  • In more severe cases the Vet may also prescribe antibiotics and Bute (Phenylbutazone, anti-inflammatory and analgesic.)

A couple of days of Bute and 5 days of antibiotics and Henry should be better.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Archery At Last

After a couple of windy weekends and other things getting in the way I have at last got out and done some archery.

As I mentioned in an earlier post I have not done this for about 6 years so I was unsure if I could even remember how to assemble my bow let alone hit the target with an arrow!

Luckily I had kept some notes to remind myself and I followed those .

On Saturday I shot 36 arrows at 30m with an 80cm target.  I hit every time.  A low score but I was never very good.  254 using 10 zone scoring.

I thought the bow was making a funny noise.  When I had finished I noticed that one of the limbs was split.  A sliver of the resin coating along one side had come off.  I decided I needed new limbs so off to the shops I went leaving Shelley waiting for Steve the farrier.

One of the Perris Archery shops is not far from me and they were very helpful sorting out what I needed.

It was too hot Saturday afternoon for Steve to come and shoe the horses or for me to try out the new bow setup.  I had at least tried them out in the shop.  Putting them in my case at home was entertaining...

The equipment at the left hand end of the case is a cat.

I got up early on Sunday morning so I could take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures.  Well that was the idea.

I did shoot 18 arrows before the balloon went over very close to our house and landed in the fields over the road!

Watching the two balloons land wasn't the end of the interruptions though.  I did 6 more arrows before needing to go and help pull their vehicle and trailer out of a field. 

That job done.  3 more arrows and the farrier turned up.  Can't distract the horses while they are being shod and I always like a good gossip with Steve while he's making the shoes.

The horses happy and back in the field I get to shoot the last 9 arrows.  By now the temperature is way too hot and uncomfortable for me so I am happy to use that as an excuse for my poor 219 score at the slightly longer 40m on the same 80cm target.

Busy Sunday and it still wasn't even mid-day!

Sunday 5 August 2012

Bow Sling Knots

Inspired by the Olympics being here in the UK I've been thinking about doing a bit of archery again. 

It's been over 6 years since I last strung my bow so I've been doing some reading to bring myself up to speed.  I was also watching the Olympic Archery on the BBC iPlayer and the TV.

Olympic Equestrian
The only events we wanted to see live was one of the equestrian events. We were lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the finals of the 3 Day Eventing at Greenwich Park. 
My wife has some pictures and more info. on her blog:


Every archer I saw on the Olympics had exactly the same setup.  If there was any deviation I did not notice it.  Even the arm guards were almost identical and everyone used a finger sling that looked like it was made out of a shoelace.  While I was looking to find out how they tied the shoelace finger sling I came across a few braided wrist slings which I liked the look of.

The wrist slings were not expensive, even the nicest ones that would have to be shipped from the USA were only about $20 but I just fancied trying to make one.

The above picture shows what I ended up with after a couple of attempts.


Although I've tied a few knots in the past and somewhere I have a small book on how to tie them, it was much quicker to do a search on the Internet.  I found loads of web sites and videos and quickly discovered that the string to use is called Paracord and the type is described as 7 strand or 550.

I bought two colours I thought would match the bow.  There are lots of bright colours available as well but I decided on subtle for the time being.  I found lots of choice on Amazon and finally bought from: via their Amazon store:
Very prompt delivery.

I watched a few videos but to tie the knots I ended up finding everything I needed at:

I used a single rope braid for the main length and a Cobra lanyard knot for the thickened wrist section.  Both are in the decorative section of the web site:

The single rope braid is exactly as described on the site but I slightly changed the Cobra knot after some trial and error.

Changes to the Cobra

On the example I followed it had a loop for the lanyard part.  That was unnecessary because I was using it round the braid.  To start I just ignored the extended loop ending up with just the first knot round the braid.

The other change I made was the way I finished the knot to hide the ends.

On the example I followed both ends were looped back under the rest of the knot on the top. This is done by keeping the last few loops loose, tucking the ends in and then pulling tight.

I found that with both ends on the top of the braid, one side would pull the Cobra knot out of shape when I tried to tighten them.  All I changed was to loop the offending end under rather than over the braid which allowed me to tighten it without distorting the rest of the knot.

A little tip if you try making this yourself.  Don't make the Cobra knots too tight.  I needed to slip it along the braid to get it in the centre.  The first time I tried this the Cobra knot was so tight I could not even edge it along the braid.  The next time I tied the knots I checked that I could just move it.  Deliberately tight but it would move.

Attach To The Bow

This type of wrist sling attaches using the long rod.  The more decorative slings typically used a leather tab and the more modern used a plastic plate with holes in.

Looking through my bits and bobs in the shed I settled for cutting a rectangular shape from a bit of plastic packaging.  Tough and flexible, should outlast me.

The holes are just punched with the largest size on my hand punch with two holes next to each other to form an oval just large enough for the braid to pass through.  It needs to be tight so the in and out has enough friction to hold the braid at the desired length.

Looks much nicer than the type of sling I used before.


Follow up.  I enjoyed making this and tried it out a few times but I ended up preferring to use a finger sling the same as all the Olympic archers used at the previous tournament.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Leap Motion and the Future

It's not often that I get excited about new technology.  I work in IT so I should be a gadget geek but to me most are just obvious innovations or toys that won't make a significant difference however sometimes a new thing just opens up a world of possibilities.  I think the Leap is one of those.

This is a sensor that detects detailed hand movement to control a computer.

If it works as well as they claim then in my opinion this will change how we control lots of things.  It should make touch screens obsolete.  It could be used in cars, for your cooker, light switches, your TV, for phones for games...

There are so many obvious innovations that come out of it.

The Future

The first change I hope to use would be a keyboard and mouse free desk.  The keyboard could be replaced by anything, just a bit of paper with the letters on would be enough.  The cursor movement could just follow your finger so the mouse is no longer necessary.

I can't help leaping (pun intended) ahead to the next obvious stage.  That will be for 3D screens to project a 3D keyboard.  You can then type on moving or static 3D images of the keys from a keyboard.  They could move as you press them.  I am sure you could even get audible and perhaps one day tactile feedback using focused or inaudible low frequency sound or something else that activates the nerve endings (a bit Sci-Fi here).

Some of this is a bit difficult at the moment.  I think projecting 3D in to mid air is still tricky at a price any of us are prepared to pay.  It would need some low cost method of lasers interacting with each other to produce visible light in mid air.  I don't know how existing 3D screens work.  I assume the most obvious would be to have a gas or particles to project against.  I am not sure if anyone has anything reacting with air.  I am sure people cleverer than I have already though of all these possible solutions.

All those ideas just from one new device.

Anyway, back to my point, this little thing opens up a world of possibilities.

I pre-ordered mine months ago.


This was very disappointing. Its use was too limited to be of any use.
I'm pretty sure that this type of interface will have its place at some time in the future but it's not there yet.


Thursday 14 June 2012


I know this is an odd thing to like but we found an excellent yard broom several years ago that has been difficult to get in the UK.

For a while there was no UK distributor and we brought them back from the USA ourselves but now there is a UK distributor again.  Much easier and they have a blog:

Monday 11 June 2012

Consumer rights are not what I thought

I read a good article today, which I assume is correct although you do have to be careful with what you read on the Internet.

It states that the consumer rights we now have are very confusing.  If the article is correct the rights we have in the UK are not exactly as I understood.  The summary of your rights is at the end of the article and to further summarise and simplify  those that I did not fully appreciate:

  • Refund - Up to 30 days if the goods are 'Not fit for purpose' or other similar fault.
  • Repair or Replace - Up to 6 months unless the retailer can prove it was not faulty when purchased.
  • Burden of proof changes after 6 months - Customer has to prove the fault was present when purchased.
  • Up to 2 years in Continental Europe and up to 6 years in the UK you can still make a claim for a repair or a replacement as long as you can prove the fault was always present and that the expectation for the life of the item is reasonable.
  • In some cases the retailer is entitled to pay compensation instead of offering a repair or replacement.
The dates are not as fixed as I have implied above but they are the guideline periods which may or may not, be or become, part of some more confusing legislation in the past or future!

The things I already knew:

  • A warranty is something extra that the manufacturer offers.  It does not in any way limit your statutory rights in the UK.
  • You do not need any of the packaging if returning something as faulty.
  • Proof of purchase means any proof, a bank statement or credit card statement is just as valid as the till receipt.
  • 7 day cooling off period for anything bought online or mail order. You can ask for your money back.  May go up to 14 days with EU directive.
  • You do not have any other rights to return stuff just because you don't want it.  That is up to the retailer and typically they insisit on all the original packaging.
  • Credit card purchases over £100 have additional rights from the credit card companies.

If you need to prove you have the above rights you probably need to read and understand the following UK regulations and some European ones as well:
  • The Sale of Goods Act 1979
  • Supply of Goods (implied terms) Act 1979
  • Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
  • Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002
Most people would probably need a lawyer if they get in to that level of dispute!