Wednesday, 13 June 2018

21 years later

It was in 1997 that I first met Tree of Life Computers whilst looking for a local I.T. company to support various activities I was involved in. They did not disappoint, and 21 years later it was great to chat with Tim Dickson on my Folk At Five show on Argyll FM. Thanks Tim.

Friday, 11 May 2018

"Secret nuclear deal?" ask Greenpeace

For longer than for any other campaigning organisation, I've been a Greenpeace supporter, and feel compelled to reproduced here their latest email in full:

Everyone knew it’d come to this.

After years of delays and ballooning budgets, the next wave of new nuclear plants is in serious trouble.

Nuclear companies - led by Hitachi - are now demanding government support to keep their projects from collapsing. [1]

Instead of laughing them out of Westminster, the government is meeting these companies behind closed doors - and won’t say what they’re discussing. [2]

But some information is leaking out, and it doesn’t look good. Japanese newspapers claim that Theresa May has promised to back Hitachi’s construction loans for the Wylfa nuclear plant. [3]

This could mean that if something goes wrong, we'd have to step in and pay the bill.

That’s no way to run a country. Will you ask your MP to speak out against these secret nuclear deals?
Let’s be real: funding new nuclear plants is a terrible idea, secretly or otherwise.

The first plant is still ten years away from producing a spark of power [4] - that’s too late to help us meet our climate targets. Meanwhile, offshore wind and other renewable power is cheap, quicker to build and increasingly easy to store for when we need it. [5]

Your MP has a good record of speaking out against nuclear power, but people on both sides of the debate can see the problem with ministers negotiating a huge deal like this in secret.

So right now we have a chance to shine some light on this. Here’s the plan.

The minister in charge of nuclear negotiations is Greg Clark. He’s done some good things in the past, but he’s getting this one badly wrong.

Sometimes it's easy for ministers to ignore public pressure, but they can be influenced by other politicians.

If dozens of MPs tell Greg Clark that they’re worried about the secrecy surrounding this deal, it’ll be much harder for him to keep the details hidden. Will you ask your MP to speak out?

We don’t need to flood anyone’s inbox today though. Unique, well-written messages are the best way to get an MP’s attention, so make sure you’ve got a bit of time and headspace for this before you jump in.
If you’ve been involved in our campaign to stop the Hinkley nuclear plant I don’t have to tell you about the government’s love for wildly expensive nuclear deals.

But what these companies want is actually even worse. With Hinkley, we’d only pay for the power it actually generates, even if that power is ten years late and way overpriced.

If our government starts backing these new projects, we’re all bought in - and could end up footing the bill if things go wrong.

And the risks are very real. Hitachi has a sketchy track record with nuclear projects [6] - and the technology they’re using is pretty unreliable. [7] There’s a reason investors are backing away!

If these talks carry on in secret, there’s a good chance we could get locked into a bad deal that we can’t back out of. Let’s get our MPs speaking out on this now, before it’s too late. Hit the button to start your message.
Thanks for taking time to help build a better world.



1. Hitachi seeks to clear clouds over Horizon - The Times

2. Could we be about to see a wave of public money for new nuclear? - Unearthed

3. Hitachi's U.K. nuclear project to get guarantees from government - media - Reuters (via Mainichi)

4. Has nuclear been stuffed by the Hinkley turkey? - The Times

5. How we can use wind power when there's no wind - Greenpeace

6. Briefing: Hitachi’s nuclear safety breaches - Greenpeace

7. Briefing: The failings of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor - Prof. Steve Thomas, University of Greenwich

Friday, 4 May 2018

Shure cartridge production ending

Reloop RMP-4 - Top View
At one time, it would have been alarming to find a stalwart manufacturer abandoning the market for record-playing essentials. Now, however, I struggle to recall the last time I dug out my vinyl discs with the thought of playing them. Occasionally I refer to the labels for the information they hold, but most tracks that I need or want are easily available as high-quality digital files. It would be a rare request indeed that would lead me to connect up my turntable and actually spin a disc. So perhaps it's no surprise that Shure have announced they are ceasing production of cartridges.

The death of vinyl as a medium for audio has often been proclaimed, but in some circles it is undergoing yet another revival. It seems that folk like to handle, see and hear vinyl in preference to CD or digital audio files. Not me. I disliked the finicky nature of vinyl discs even when they were the only alternative to the rather inconvenient magnetic tape. CDs seemed wonderful creations when they first appeared. Now they are surpassed by high-quality lossless digital files, which can be played along with CDs in quality equipment like the Reloop RMP-4 pictured. (Vinyl addicts will like the large jogwheel which, although it doesn't spin like a turntable, does provide the ability to manipulate playback in a similar manner.) Other digital audio players are available. :-)

Shure cites difficulties with their suppliers of parts for cartridges as key to their decision, saying that suppliers are "struggling to keep up with demand and maintain the quality standards Shure requires." Most likely, the difficulties arise from the fact that the overall cartridge market is shrinking, even if Shure's own sales have remained steady over the last decade or so.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Listen Again To Folk At Five and Teatime Shows

Enjoy again the 2018 editions of my Teatime and Folk At Five shows broadcast on Argyll FM and hosted online by Mixcloud. The peak-time shows inform about Argyll businesses and events with great folk and popular music. Playlists are eclectic and unique.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Krill harvesting threatens Antarctic Ocean environment

Thanks to #Greenpeace for this information:

In the Antarctic, all life, from the giant blue whale to a newborn penguin, depend on one tiny creature: krill. These quirky, shrimp-like crustaceans are one of the Antarctic’s most important species. Without krill, most life forms in the Antarctic would vanish.

But right now, Antarctic krill is being sucked out of the Antarctic Ocean, pulped into oil, and sold as a health supplement on UK shelves. This rapidly growing, multi-million dollar industry is threatening to upset the delicate balance of the Antarctic ecosystem.

The UK is the fourth largest krill oil market globally. And Holland & Barrett is one of the biggest sellers of krill oil products, even stocking their own krill brand.

Holland & Barrett has the power to influence the krill industry to stop fishing in areas that need to be protected. But they’ll only do it if they have thousands of people call on them to stand up and defend the Antarctic.

Email Holland & Barrett’s CEO and tell him to make sure the products on their shelves aren’t putting sensitive Antarctic waters at risk:

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Enjoy again

- there's a lot of great new music out, and I'm loving the rock, reggae, folk & dance tunes. Blues, country and Americana are included in the unique playlists too. Catch up by listening to Teatime With Trevox and Folk At Five, on Mixcloud now.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Music to the ears, or deafening noise?

A recent question on Digital DJ Tips went thus: "How Many Watts Per Person Do I Need For DJ Speakers?". Well...

Any 'rule of thumb' relating loudspeaker wattage to audience size is either wrong or at best an over-simplification! Wattage alone does not provide quality or loudness. A set of ground rules for loudspeaker power is proposed below, but first some basics.

People absorb sound and generate alternative sound. Hard surfaces reflect sound. Loudspeakers have varying frequency-dependent efficiencies. There is a helpful noise chart at Noise Help. It indicates that human ears can tolerate exposure to 91 decibels for up to 2 hours. This is a reasonable maximum.

Loudspeaker specifications should indicate their sensitivity as sound pressure level (SPL) in decibels (db) measured at 1 metre with 1 watt applied. (The range of my speakers is 88-98db.) Doubling the wattage increases SPL by 3db. Doubling the distance to the listener decreases SPL by 6db. The critical distance is between speaker and furthest listener.


1. Minimize the sound absorption of the crowd by positioning mid- and high-range speakers well above head height and angling them down to point at distant head height. That ensures loudspeaker sound can travel direct to audience ears and not be baffled by bodies.

2. No matter how loud the crowd noise is, the SPL at their ears should not exceed 91db. We can use  Geoff The Grey Geek's calculator to determine RMS speaker power for various distances (see table of results for common distances below).

3. Always check sound levels with a Sound Level Meter.

Alesis Monitor One Mk2 Passive (studio)
1039891 *
1589691 *
20159291 *
* N.B. Maximum power for speaker exceeded massively!

Wharfedale Titan 12 Passive (mobile PA)

Maxima for Titan 12s

Ensure that the maximum power rating of loudspeakers is complied with! If greater distances than these are required, additional loudspeakers would be better than more powerful ones, as the objective is to provide music and not deafen the audience!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Penguin & cat aim to beat mouse issues

Much time is spent by humans in front of a screen using a mouse and keyboard for control, and deliberate avoidance of Repetitive Strain Injury is advised. Enter the Penguin and Cat. Having been impressed in the past by a colleague's 'vertical mouse' and finding a laptop's glide pad to be superior to conventional mice, these two products appeal as mouse replacements.
For more, check out

Friday, 26 January 2018

The Push Against Plastic Packaging

Hi folks,

Greenpeace have just sent out the following email. How about we all join in and again Push Against Plastic Packaging?

Regards, Trevor.

"Wow! In just one week over 135,000 of you have signed the petition calling on supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic packaging!

"This is the start of something big. After UK supermarket Iceland announced they’re getting rid of single-use plastic packaging in their own-brand products, other retailers have rushed to talk about what they’re doing to cut plastic pollution.

"But in order to tackle the huge amount of plastic waste produced every day in the UK, we need every supermarket to take urgent action on throwaway plastic packaging.

"The more of us who sign the petition, the stronger our message will be. Please can you ask your family and friends to add their names? (If you’ve already shared the petition, thank you so much!)"

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Ditch throwaway plastic packaging

I’ve just signed a petition calling on UK supermarkets to go plastic-free, and it would mean a lot to me if you’d add your name too!

From turtles entangled in six pack rings to whales with stomachs full of plastic bags, the effects of plastic pollution can be devastating.

UK supermarket Iceland has just announced its own-brand packaging is going plastic-free.

By ditching plastic packaging, supermarkets have the power to lead the way in dramatically reducing the amount of single-use plastic produced.

Please join me in calling on UK supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic packaging.

Sign the petition >>

Thank you!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Laptops with matte screens

It seems to be getting harder to find matte screened laptops, but here is a useful page that lists current models:

Windows 10 Explorer settings (note to self, as defaults unfriendly)

Explorer views vary with content type. Modify thus:

A. Add essential columns - e.g. Name, Date modified, Size
Steps: View > Add columns > Choose columns
Optionally change display order by dragging columns

B. Save view for all folders of same type
Steps: View > Options > Change folder and search options > View > Apply to Folders (in resulting popup, choose whether to match folder settings in all folders of same type)

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Argyll FM transmission issue

A part of the main 106.5 transmitter equipment has failed, due to a creature nesting inside the cabinet by the mast and shorting it out. We are awaiting spares. I'm still doing my live shows as usual and putting them on Mixcloud in the meantime.

As 106.5 is the first link in our public transmitter chain, the others are silent too. 
We'll be back!