All of EU to switch off energy inefficient lights within three years – Engadget

Although the EU foists a lot of unwanted legislation on us poor peeps in the UK, occasionally they do surprise in a positive way. Their newest idea is to push everyone in Europe to drop incandescent bulbs and move to energy efficient ones by 2010. I totally buy this. Fluorescents may be more expensive but long term (i.e. within a year) they pay for themselves.

One problem we have, though, is that you can’t get any small fluorescent bulbs. We have 3 shades in our lounge that are glass bowls which are quite shallow. I’ve tried about 3 or 4 different energy efficient bulbs, each of which looked small, but none of them fit correctly.

One other problem is that fluorescents don’t seem to play very well with dimmer switches if you have them. They don’t gradually dim, they just seem to drop off very quickly. Any one else seen that?

Link to All of EU to switch off energy inefficient lights within three years – Engadget

BubbleBoard video

I’ve just uploaded a video explanation of BubbleBoard to MSN Soapbox. It’s also embedded below. I’m using my best “presenter” voice which I would admit makes me sound out of breath and needs a little work.

Video: BubbleBoard

Also, Text2Paper and Text-It Notes got a mention on page 3 of the Technology section of the Guardian today, thanks to Jack Schofield. No pictures, I’m afraid, but a very flattering quote about the lab: “The Cambridge lab, representing the UK, put on a sterling show.” I like the idea of representing the UK. Like it’s the Olympics or something.

Getting good MPG

There’s no question that having a hybrid car like the Toyota Prius changes your driving habits. Watching the histogram of your current fuel efficiency flick up and down with every press of the accelerator or every climb of a hill is a constant drain on your ethics. But you end up focused more on the game of getting good MPG from your car rather then simply going fast, which is generally a positive thing. One of my tactics on my commute to Cambridge, for example, is not letting myself ever get in the fast lane. I often end up sitting at 60 mph behind some truck, but that histogram ends up looking GREAT.

I hadn’t realised that there was a term for people trying to force the best MPG out of their vehicles, but there is. Apparently it’s “hypermilers”, coined by Wayne Gerdes (below). He can get 59 mpg from a regular Honda Accord, and up to 180 MPG from an Insight. He has some scary tactics for doing it, though…

This Guy Can Get 59 MPG in a Plain Old Accord. Beat That, Punk
“Drafting 18-wheelers with the engine off, taking death turns at 52 miles an hour, and other lessons learned while riding shotgun with the king of the hypermilers”

Mixing DNA

If there are any scientists out there who can explain exactly why splicing human DNA into plants is a positive thing, could they comment? I understand the benefits from a medicinal point of view, but my understanding is that there is no way to stop the pollen from a genetically modified crop spreading to neighboring fields, and that long term we PROBABLY don’t understand the impact that this sort of meddling might have to the food chain.

The idea that you can just “try out” these kind of crops in a few thousand acres of land without any impact on the surrounding area seems a bit naive to me. It reminds me of the smoking areas in Heathrow airport that are surrounded by 6 foot high plastic walls. Somehow these walls, which are curved inward at the top, are supposed to “hold in” the smoke. Riiiiight. Because smoke is a solid that doesn’t travel? Instead, these smoker-holding-pens are an assault on the nasal senses from at least 100ft away.

Smoking Corale by Chrishenshel

New takes on coffee making

I’m always looking for new ways to brew coffee and this one has that “get it straight into your bloodstream” vibe that appeals, wthout requiring an actual injection. I’m a little concerned that the bit where you pack in the coffee seems a bit small. I’d probably need two or three of these things in my mug at once.

 Java Wand: How Indonesian Wizards Make Their Coffee – Gizmodo
“$19.95 buys you a miniaturised French Press filter attached to a glass straw that brews and filters your coffee inside the mug.”

Ricoh Caplio R6: Any good?

If anyone’s had experience with the Ricoh Caplio range of digital cameras I’d appreciate an opinion. Their new R6 could fit the bill a a replacement for my Pentax Optio S. Although my Pentax conveniently fits into an Altoids tin and has therefore been well protected its battery cover is finally coming loose after 3 years of intensive use.

Main things I like about the Ricoh are its 16x review feature for quickly zooming in on an image to check it’s in focus. Seems like a nice design idea. I’d like comments on the quality of the macro, though, and the battery life if anyone has any thoughts. Those are both important to me. The wide angle is also useful. Also, is the face recognition thing just a gimmick or is it actually useful?

Link to Ricoh Caplio R6: Instant 16x Zoom To Review Sharpness Not To Be Used With Britney Spears Photos – Gizmodo