Merry Christmas Folks

I haven’t been posting much lately as I’ve been extra busy with real life stuff. About month ago, I was told we would be able to foster a neglected Bulldog, who had been rescued. I don’t really have very much information about the nature of the neglect other than it wasn’t intentional abuse more like ignorance to all the hard work which Bulldogs need to maintain a healthy dog. 

Bumbles First day

Bumbles First Day

Bulldogs require lots of care, which most other dogs don’t require. This begins long before they are even born, almost without exception a Bulldog can’t have a natural birth, they are almost always C-Section born. This is just the start, you’ll find you often need to clean their bottom after doing their business. Their feet need regular cleaning as they are webbed, and prone to infections. The wrinkles and folds on their face need regular and routine cleaning and moisturising, again they are prone to infection. Their nose will often need moisturising with a little coconut oil to stop it cracking and drying out. The tear stains on their face will need cleaning regularly, their chin often needs drying after drinking water or it will go bald. The list really does go on… and on. I’ve only told you about basics of care so far, you still have dietary requirements which is costly and general health stuff with huge bills, not to mention the mountain of insurance. You need to be really really really sure you are ready if you take a bulldog on. 

Foster A Bulldog

Anyway we’ve fostered Bumble (4 yrs old) for a few months, while he recovers from surgery (a result of his neglect). He had his tail, stump, root and all remove surgically which resulted in his bottom pointing upwards instead of outwards. He also had a tumor removed so he was half shaven and and still a little sore when he arrived.

Bumble Bald Chin

Bumble Bald Chin

This meant he didn’t need to recover in a kennel or at the vets cages, he gets to spent Christmas in a house, being played with, and spoiled until a forever home is found. I don’t think your allowed to keep the first dog you foster as they want to get you into the coming and going, so you can give many dogs a chance and a temp home. 

At first he was a little withdrawn and closed down, just seemed almost in a daze, or glazed over. We have had a few set backs, and a few minor concerns but nothing we haven’t been able to overcome.

There has been no growling, no snapping, very little barking, by all accounts he’s fairly chilled and docile. I’d say so laid back if he didn’t follow you around, you’d need to check his pulse so see if he’s still awake.

Bumble in his Bed

Bumble in his Bed

The other dog Barney has accepted him without any problems, they often share a bed, and play together. There is no fighting or shuffling when it comes to food or anything.

A month later he’s bouncy, bubbly, and making his little spot in the house, perfect content. The scars are healing well, the fur has nearly grown back on his bum, his chin hair is growing back too and he seems happy.  

I don’t know if he’s going to end up withdrawn and unhappy again after his next move, but hopefully is next move is into his forever and final home, so he doesn’t have to be passed pillar to post. 

Internally Trackable Medicines Approved by FDA

The FDA (US version of the MHRA) have approved a trackable medicine, by trackable medicine I mean a drug which has a tiny little transmitter in it, which uses stomach acid as a catalyst to power a little bluetooth type transmitter which sends out a signal which a patch the patient wears which then sends the data to a mobile phone app.

Trackable Medicine Pills

Trackable Medicine Pills

The potential for this technology is amazing, so many possible applications. The potential I see for a few select groups will be life changing, for example older people, senile, dementia, your caregiver or family could be notified if you miss your medication and it would give early warning about a potential slide in your behaviour.  The mentally ill such as bipolar or schitzophrenic it would be able to notify your health care team and doctors that you are skipping your medication or not taking it. What about those with eating disorders, it could be placed in food and used to determine if the food has made it to the stomach to be digested. There are also those like myself who are forgetful as hell, and need reminding to take daily medication, and sometimes may have taken it twice. The applications are endless, but these are the top one I’ve thought of over the last few days since I read about this technology.  

The first approved drug is called Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole) which is an antipsychotic, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the tracking system is centred around a tiny ingestible sensor about the size of a grain of sand, which is called an Ingestible Event Marker (IEM), and is made from human-safe levels of copper, magnesium and silicon. The IEM is activated by during digestion when it comes in contact with stomach acids, and relays information a patch which the patient wears on their chest. The patch then transmits the data to the patients smart phone, where they can check it along with approved medical personal, family or even friends. 

There is currently no research to show it helps with patient compliance alone, but I would imagine the speed at which family, medical staff and friends can respond to missed doses will help get those on track lots quicker before there is an episode / breakdown (not sure if that is the right word), so it can’t be bad.

There are some concerns about giving it to mentally unstable people, who may already suffer from delusions and paranoia, and suggestions that schizophrenics may not have been the best place to starts but its the first area (mental health) I thought about, but maybe those with parkinsons/dementia or similar illnesses which are at stages medicine can treat them would have been a better trial. 

There is loads more information in this Science Alert Article, I have only read a few articles in the BBC, Mail and some others, so the science one is quite in-depth and well worth a read. 

 
Blurred Pills with Wifi and Bluetooth Logos by Julie Viken and Modified by Steven UK

Electric Vehicle Charging Lamp Posts Are Coming

A while ago I blogged about Electric Cars, and more specifically about Tesla and some of the charging station issues I observed personal and Tesla was already reacting. Another huge point is the problem of 45 million drivers, 30 million vehicles and the fact their are just 14,000 (currently) charging points in the UK.

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger image by Ubitricity

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charging a Tesla

Just for giggles I thought I would do the maths. It would work out around 2,000 potential electric vehicles per single charging point in this country if every vehicle were electric. Lettts Get Reeeeeaaaady Toooo Ruuuumble, 2,000 range-anxiety fuelled drivers running their engines on sparks, all of them fighting for the only available plug socket?. Given these charge stations are for potentially slow-charge ports, which could take around 5 hours 30 to charge a Toyota Prius and around 7 hours to fully charge a Nissan Leaf. That means that even if people lined up end to end, 24/7, it would still be around 700 to 1 trying to charge at any given time (allowing for differing driving, mileage, etc) which is still hugely unacceptable.  

A company called Ubitricity is aiming to convert public lamp posts into public charging points to try and combat this problem. Each of these conversions come in at a cost of £1,000 each to convert an existing lamp post into a charge point verses £6,000 to install a new public charger. I have reached out to Ubitricity to find out if they are slow or fast charge points, and I’ll update, if and when I hear back, given I mentioned charge speed above.

Wallet Opening Time

You’ll need a few things, an Ubitricity Account, An Ubitricity Charging Cable and potentially an Ubitricity Subscription. The subscription depends on what you pay for your cable. If you pay £199 for the cable, you will have to pay £7.99 a month subscription, alternatively if you pay £299 for the cable, there is no subscription charge.

This isn’t the end of the wallet emptying, you will then be charged £1 each and every time you plug your car into the charge point, so even if you only connect for 1 minute, you’ll still be hit with £1 connection fee. Remember that subscription fee, if you pay the £7.99 a month, it then costs you £0.15p per kWh to charge your car, if you don’t pay the £7.99, it will cost you £0.19p per kWh to charge your car.

If you leave your electric vehicle plugged in for more than 24 hours you’re charged a further £1, its not clear how often this £1 is charge, but if the Tesla solution matches, you could end up in a world of hurt by morning.

At the end of each month, you will be sent an itemised bill, which breaks down your usage, and gives you the total. 

The Pound of Flesh

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger

I thought I’d do some more maths, lets look at a standard 40kWh battery like found in a Nissan Leaf, it would cost you £1 connection fee, then assuming you had 8 hours to wait, and you paid £299 for the cable it would cost you £0.15 x 40 (+10% variance) = £7.60 to charge your Nissan Leaf. If you apply this formula to a Tesla which can have a 85kWh battery, its over £15 to charge your car.

An average Nissan Leaf will do around 80 miles per charge, they quote up to 110, but people I have spoken too, tell me it can be as low as 50 miles but usually around 80 miles. I’m going to make the assumption that the charger cable to last about 24 months before needing replacement, so I’m going use a cost of approx £12 per month for the cable just to give it a price for the calculation. I have reached out to Ubitricity to ask what, if any warranty is provided with the cable, based on mobile phone cables used regular, it may have a short life. 

I do approx 500 miles a month, lets convert that approx £0.09.5 per mile, using Ubitricity’s costing, which makes it £47,50, now add on the £12 cable cost, we have £59,50 per month in fuel bills.

The Honda Civic is a 1.8l VTEC (Euro 5), I put £50.56 in petrol to fill the tank, I get approx 325 miles, with the range showing 30-40 miles remaining, but I never let it get empty as its bad for the engine. Lets say I get on average 35mpg, which makes the average mile in the car cost £0.14p, which gives me a monthly petrol bill of £72.35. There are far more economical cars then the Civic, the Honda Jazz for example, would cost approx the same amount in petrol as the Leaf does in electricity using the councils lamp post chargers at least.

Considering the council say this is renewable electricity, its hella expensive, compared to charging at home, where on average it will cost you around £3.40 per full charge (£21.25 per 500 miles).

Charge Point Locations

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger image by Ubitricity

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger

According to the press release these Simple Socket chargers will be located next to pay and display parking bays. I have reached out to Ubtricity for clarification on if you will be expected to pay and display on-top of the charging tariff. In Manchester this cost is approx £3 per hour with 2 hour maximum stays in the city centre. Which means it could end up insanely expensive, more so if they are slow chargers.  

It does however say there will off-street charging points for residents who don’t have off-street parking, so I would assume regular side streets with free parking will be included. 

New Driving Test is Finally Here

I’ve blogged about the new driving theory many, many, many times before, but the big day has finally. The big day is 4th December 2017, its not only the theory test which changes on this day. From 4th December you’ll be able to have driving lessons on the motorway. 

L Plate

  1. A new set of 21 Vehicle Safety Questions to be added. Questions about the engine, screen wash, where controls are, etc.
  2. New Manoeuvres added such as reversing and rejoining traffic, parking on the opposite side of the road and more replacing paraelle parking and reversing around a corner. 
  3. Independent Driving increased from 10 to 20 minutes. this is where you are told to follow road signs to destination of the instructors choosing. 
  4. You must safely set your Sat Nav to a location given by your instructor, and follow the instructions as as part of your test. 

You can also now have driving lessons with a qualified driving instructor on the motorway, but its down to your instructor to decide if they feel you are ready for it. You CANNOT go on the motorway with friends or family, only instructors. 

Ridley Scott May Have Killed the Alien Franchise

I was just reading an article about Ridley Scott saying “I think the beast (Alien) has almost run out, personally”, its not exactly clear if he means the current Alien Arc is tired (storyline), and they need to jump forward, of if he’s suggesting there is no where else for Alien and its over for another decade or two until its rebooted. 

Alien 1-6 Boxset Amazon

Alien 1-6 Boxset Amazon

 He could also mean that he’s out of idea’s and doesn’t know what to do next. I would hate to think this is what he meant, since many of his movies are easily deep enough to become trilogies. I could think of 100 different ways to take Alien from Alien: Covenant Arc. I do like the idea that the David droid and not the creators are responsible for the modern day Alien Xenomorph, and I’m somewhat pissed off that the creators was never explained nor explored beyond them being killed wholesale. 

He did say he’s been doing lots of TV and Movies, with 6 movies coming out this year alone, as a result despite him previously saying his Alien Arc would be a Quadrology all these other projects and the slightly negative connotations by “almost run out”, and Warner not confirming any future films, it could actually be the end. 

If this happens, I think I’ll skip the next reboot, since this story has been left wide open at the end, and I hate films which do that. The Golden Compass is the biggest culprit which always comes to mind. 

The Alien 1 to 6 Box Set is high on my Christmas List. 

90% of All Car Radios Are About to Stop Working

The government is looking to permanently switch off analogue radio broadcasts, switching over to digital transmissions, specifically DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasts). This is much like the big switch over for TV’s from Analogue to Digital (Freeview). 

Car Infotainment System by Ingo Joseph

Car Infotainment System

The official statistics show that just 10% of car drivers listen to DAB, compared to 50% who listen to DAB at home, this has been interpreted to mean that 90% of cars on the road do not have DAB radio capabilities. If the government go ahead with the switching of transmissions from analogue to digital the odds are very good that you will no longer have a radio in your car. This means you’ll have to almost exclusively listen to CD/Tape/MP3 or shell out for a new stereo / head unit. The latter option won’t be available for many motorists, for example the last 3 cars I drove including the current Honda Civic and Audi A4 the head unit is built into the dashboard along with the infotainment and the head-up displays. Adding DAB is simply impossible without manufacturers stepping in to provide an upgradable central unit. Currently a replacement central unit for the Honda is around £2,000, you can only imagine how much a DAB Upgrade would cost. 

Matt Hancock who is the governments Minister of State for Digital, is urging manufacturers to make DAB the standard for ALL new cars, but kind of neglects the 27,000,000 (27 MILLION) motorists who don’t have digital.  

Traffic Announcements

I have tried to find some information on TA/TIM/TP, but its not clear if they will switched off along with the analogue transmissions. These work by embedding a small amount of digital data within the FM frequency range, which would indicate that when the FM Transmissions are retired Traffic Announcements along with TIM/AP, will all stop working. 

Its also not clear if all frequencies FM/AM/MW/LW will all be switched all at the same time, or slowly phased out or the exact plan of action. I suspect more will come out over the coming year, if TV is anything to go buy it took about 2-3 yrs for it come to fruition. Given cars are anticipated to be replaced every 3-5 years, I would guess a similar time frame would be suggested.  

It has been suggested this plan could be put in action as soon as next year, depending on how quickly the government push ahead. I think a notification would come in the next year then a transition period, so I think 2020-2022 are most likely deadline. 

Future Protection

Pure Highway Dab Radio Kit

Pure Highway Dab Radio Kit

The take home here is that, if you’re looking for a new or nearly new or pre-owned, I would seriously factor in, if the infotainment system is digital incorporating DAB Radio.

The good news is many modern systems are using mobile data and mobile wireless (MiFi) which means they download traffic data, mapping and even stream audio from the internet. 

There is also the option of using a DAB Converter Kit (right), which plug in via AUX, Bluetooth or even Local FM Transmission. This works in the same way that Handsfree Converters work. A little research showed that there are Hands Free Phone DAB Radio kits, Speed Camera DAB Radio Kits and various other multi-function DAB Radio Conversion Kits. Maybe now is the time to go Hands Free Phone, iPod Connectivity, Spotify and DAB in one fell swoop, this Alpine DAB Kit will fit the bill. 

Alpine EZI-DAB Hands Free, Spotify, DAB Radio.

AutoDAB Hands Free, Digital Radio.

Cootway DAB, SD Card Player, Bluetooth Hands Free.

Yinuo 5-in-1, DAB Radio, SD Card Player, Bluetooth Hands Free, Fast Charger, FM Transmitter.