Friday, 16 August 2013

Sometimes, things really are too good to be true

Recently, while staying with my parents in the US, I was persuaded to purchase a 64 gb micro SDHC card from eBay.

The price seemed too good to be true (around $20), but the seller had a good rating, and maybe the card was legitimately this size, so we ordered it, and it arrived quickly.

Then the problems began.  I tried to format it to NTFS, and Windows reported the card could not be formatted, but formatting back to exFat yielded a 64 gb card!

A little digging turned up a small utility named H2testw v1.4, which is a burn in test program for SD cards.  Here’s the result on this “bargain” card:

The media is likely to be defective.
1.9 GByte OK (4091392 sectors)
60.5 GByte DATA LOST (126972416 sectors)
Details:0 KByte overwritten (0 sectors)
0 KByte slightly changed (< 8 bit/sector, 0 sectors)
60.5 GByte corrupted (126972416 sectors)
0 KByte aliased memory (0 sectors)
First error at offset: 0x000000007abc0000
Expected: 0x000000007abc0000
Found: 0x0000000000000000
H2testw version 1.3
Writing speed: 8.48 MByte/s
Reading speed: 5.67 MByte/s
H2testw v1.4

A little more digging turned up an article on counterfeit sd cards:

Naturally we returned the item, and the seller refunded, but they also attacked other buyers who reported the fakes. 

So, my advice:  Stick to a reputable seller, like Amazon, and do make sure you check the actual seller.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Winter 2013 Heating

This winter seemed to be longer and colder than previous winters.

My normal mechanism defines the heating season as being when we use more than 50 kWh of gas on average a day.  This year, the winter by that definition was  175 days long, running from 22 October to 15 April.

Using our MetStats program to analyze our weather data gives us a reading of 2090 degree days, which means it was pretty much the same as every winter except for last year (see last years calculations).

Our baseline gas usage appears to be about 12 kWh/ day, and our electricity usage about 8 kWh for high rate, and 4 kWh for low rate.

Below is the table with units of kWh per degree day, once the base line is removed for the 175 days in the heating season.

  Low Rate
High Rate Electricity
10-11 0.307 1.024 4.772 6.104
11-12 0.193 0.958 4.983 6.134
12-13 0.176 0.973 5.111 6.261

So a 2% degradation over the previous years, this despite getting our hands on a thermal imaging camera and putting a curtain over a single glazed door which is at the top of the stairs by a radiator.

In addition, we pretty much stopped heating the very back room of the house this winter.  However, the temperature differences were greater this winter, so that possibly contributed to more losses.

Solar generation was also down this winter, generating only 0.245 kWh of high rate electricity per degree day.  In addition, there would obviously be less passive heating available.

Fingers crossed for the results next year, when there will be two fewer members of the household for at least part of the winter, as the children both head off to university.

Energy prices-here we go again

Well, my fixed deal with Scottish Power is coming to an end, and the price hikes I described last year seem still to be with us, with the increase on the total bill at 18%, a 15% hike on daytime electricity, a 16% hike on night electricity, and a 19.7% hike on gas.

And then they’ve also cut the discounts offered, and hiked the price on the first units.

So, this is fixed until August 2014.  They do have a cheaper tariff, but there’s an exit penalty.  This special offer has to be chosen by the end of June, and may be withdrawn at any time.

So, my reasoning is that it’s best to lock into this price, and then see if any cheaper deals appear as we approach the winter, as we don’t actually use much energy during the summer anyway.  Fingers crossed for some price drops.


Electricity prices Your current prices* Your new prices1
1st July 2013*
Your alternative
Offer prices2 from
1st July 2013*
Online Fixed Price Energy
July 2013 Offer
Standard monthly Direct Debit Online Fixed Price
August 2014 Offer
Daily Service Charge   27.39p  
First 225kWh used each quarter 20.785p   23.906p
All/Day remaining kWh 10.926p   13.436p
All/Day Units kWh   14.256p  
Night Units per kWh 5.448p 6.742p 6.354p
Gas prices Your current prices* Your new prices1
1st July 2013*
Your alternative
Offer prices2 from
1st July 2013*
Online Fixed Price Energy
July 2013 Offer
Standard monthly Direct Debit Online Fixed Price Energy
August 2014 Offer
Daily Service Charge   27.39p  
First 670kWh used each quarter 7.099p   7.294p
All/Day remaining kWh 3.156p   3.778p
All/Day Units kWh   4.009p