Daily archives: April 16, 2005

Value for Money

One complaint I heard a couple of times yesterday was that the inclusion of energy saving features in houses, whether they be new builds or refurbishments, doesn’t enhance their value. It has to be time to do something about this. Other, sometimes ludicrous, “improvements” can do wonders for a house’s price, so why not ones that save money?

I was looking at gas boilers and found a Powergen stand touting the WhisperGen micro Combined Heat and Power system which I’ve mentioned before. Take up the company’s offer and you can have the CHP installed for around £3000, with a special deal whereby you sell excess electricity back to them. They estimate the system will write off the greater expense of its installation, in saved electric bills and power sold back, within 4 years. But what if you want to move out in 2 years time? You haven’t fully recouped the costs and the new owner will inherit £150 a year (PowerGen’s figures) in electricity savings. Surely that has to be worth something on top of all the other factors that affect a building’s cost? Even after you’ve passed into profit the presence of such money saving tech should add to the value of your house.

Surely anything that makes a house cheaper to run, from insulation through to full energy independence, should make it more valuable. A green home that’s off the grid for most of the year has to be worth more to a buyer than an equivalent sized muggle house whose occupants are being charged to damage the environment. I don’t know where we go to increase the value of green choices, but I say we start here.

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Science versus Norse Mythology. In a fair fight the men in the horny helmets win every time.

I would like to issue an official apology to any believers in the Norse faith. I certainly have no wish to get on the wrong side of any Vikings, who historically have not expressed their grievances through letters-to-the-editor. As my friend John Patton pointed out to me, it�s a little foolhardy of me to insult the religion of a seafaring warrior people when I live right on the water.

via Ministry of Information

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Musing upon the modalities of free-point heliostasis

Three students created a fake scientific paper to test the selection criteria of a conference, and promptly had it accepted.

“we kind of suspected they had low standards […] They ask for submissions, but once you get in you have to pay a $400 (�220) fee to have your paper published.”

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The future's bright, the future's LED

Light emitting diodes could eventually pass the compact flourescent bulb as the energy saver’s lighting of choice. Bulbs are made up of arrays of red, blue and green bulbs which can produce white light up to six times brighter than equivalent power incandescent bulbs. The levels can also be varied to produce mood lighting. At the moment unit costs are far too high for domestic use, but that used to be the main drawback of compact flourescent as well. Development and a growing market should bring them into sensible price bands soon enough.

via Slashdot

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I can't drive for miles and miles

Volkswagen have halted development of a super efficient vehicle. The two seater had a 300cc diesel engine and super light frame and could manage 60 miles per litre. However it lacked luggage space and was going to be too expensive to produce. It’s sort of a loss and not a loss. VW are still producing the Lupo TDI, which does 20 miles per litre. Combine that with biodiesel and you could be onto a winner.

via Jalopnik

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Vote Tory!

The Tory programming language interpreter

It comes with some sample code. Example 1, which begins-

We plan to spend �9 million to clean up Britain’s hospitals. Nurses will face jail unless they spend 7 hours per day cleaning. We will also deport them.

We will cut budgets for schools and jails, and spend 5 times more than the Labour government on controlling immigration.

outputs “VOTE TORY!” when interpreted. I’ll leav it up to Team Spinneyhead’s professional programmers to come up with our manifesto pledges.

via Honourable Fiend

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The first days of the rest of my (blogging) life

I’m a few days into treating blogging as a full time job. My explanation still hovers somewhere between this being what I really want to do and something I’m doing until a new job comes along. Hopefully I’ll soon be earning enough to stop apologising for my choice.

The Plan

The simple motivator is my transition to New Deal and the government’s desire for me to stop being a statistic. What this means, in practical terms, is training in the basics of cashflow and book keeping then six months of supported trading. during that period I stay on benefits and any money I make goes into a business account, only to be touched for business use. At the end of the six months they give me my cheque book and I’m left to sink or swim.

What’s the business plan? Well it’s a collection of vague and specific aims.


Increase revenue by raising readership and optimising the various advertising and other money making schemes.

More specifically-

Relaunch Eco House as How to Save the World for Free (a name right on the cusp between catchy and clunky, I admit), get it some media coverage and use it as a stepping stone to, preferably, a TV programme or, at least, a book.

Pimp up Spinneyhead. I see the site continuing as a repository of silly stuff with new material and the occasional bit of home made, and hopefully viral, media like the parrot.

Expand the Spinneyhead family. Not much chance chance of challenging Gawker or WeblogsInc but there are a few specialist areas to cover. Launched recently was Spinneyhead Scale, dedicated to modelmaking and tracking down online resources for modellers. Coming soon- Digest, covering foods, diet and general health stuff and Spinneyworld- local news from around the world.

Sell more stuff. This starts with make more stuff. I’ve fallen behind on the one product per week plan from the start ofc the year, it’s time to catch up. Obviously, every piece of merchandise will say Spinneyhead on it somewhere, all part of spreading the name.

Other stuff, including an increase in comments on other blogs and the use of trackbacks whenever possible. I’ll consider lots of things to raise my profile, within reason, particularly anything that’ll get a mention in the mainstream media. (I am not putting on a Batman outfit and pulling any Fathers4Justice style stunts.)

How to make money, and how much I need to make

I’ve discussed previously how much I’d be willing to live on. Minimum wage is currently �4.85. Assuming a 7 1/2 hour that equates to �36.37 per day, �9457.50 per year for a 5 day week. Is that possible? Of course it is, or there wouldn’t be any pro bloggers for me to take advice from. Can I manage it within 6 months? There’s the question.

So far Google AdSense has proven the best performing of the schemes I’ve signed up to. This month I’m averaging just over $1 a day. Last month was a better $1.60. Nowhere near what I need to be making, but it’s a start, something to build on.

Amazon is the next best payer. I get a few sales every quarter, but not always enough to trigger payout. The shop has generated a small amount of income, and the affiliate schemes haven’t been going long enough to get a good read on them.

The obvious first step toward increased revenue has to be the increase in traffic. Ad revenue and affiliate sales aren’t directly proportional to traffic, but getting the links in front of more eyeballs can’t hurt. In terms of AdSense I need to work on improving the value of each click- the headlines from How to Save the World for Free aren’t just there to cross promote, they’ve also convinced Google to serve me more than just ads for blogging services.

Amazon have recently improved their methods for building links, and I’ve been taking advantage of them. You’ll have noticed the highlighted boxes at the right or left of occasional posts, much more enticing than text links. I’ve also started doing more reviews. I’m being honest in them. I wouldn’t try to sell you Catwoman for instance (though, if you really must, please use the link I just provided), so when I say something is worth buying you can believe me.

I’ve already mentioned the first step to improving merchandise sales- make more of it. On top of that I have to get some of it into shops. Discontinuous Infill is stocked by one shop in Manchester, and I’m trying to get it press attention and more outlets for issue 2. Manchester has seasonal markets and my sister is looking at getting a stall at one of them. If I can go in with her on that I should be able to sell some stuff and generate some interest.

I’m still not sure what to do with the affiliate programmes. Would anyone like a Free Mini Vibrator?

In the long term I see a book. Not a book about blogging, far too many people have done those, possibly a tale of the successes and failures in my 100 Things quest and definitely something tied into How to Save the World for Free. If webcomicsnation ever gets off the ground I’d still like to do a webcomic and I’ve been mulling over a few part formed ideas for novels. But most likely this will take me in a direction I don’t expect.

So there you are. The state of the Spinneyhead nation as of Tuesday this week. Team Spinneyhead members- when I start turning a healthy profit you shall be paid an amount commensurate with your posting volume. Possibly in beer or chutney.

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