170 posts • joined Thursday 11th June 2009 10:06 GMT
remember reading of a similar incident before ... and with google to the rescue found it
How one sunbeam turned a tycoon's mansion to ashes
A BLAZE that caused millions of pounds damage to a tycoon's mansion was started by a freak accident involving a towel and a shaving mirror. The unique chain of events that devastated the eight-bedroom home of Sir Peter Michael, chairman of Classic FM radio, was explained by an expert.
The concave mirror acted as a magnifying glass, concentrating the sun's rays into a single point, said Berkshire's fire brigade safety officer Greg Boys. At that point, the temperature rose to 200C, causing the towel to burst into flames. Mr Boys said four factors had to combine to start the fire at the Grade 11 listed building near Hungerford.
Firstly, the sun would have to be low enough to shine directly on the bathroom mirror. Then the mirror would have to be in exactly the right position to direct the magnified rays on to the towel. Also, the towel would have to he at the precise spot where the rays converged. Finally, there would have to be material nearby for the fire to take hold. "A centimetre out in any of the first three factors could well have prevented the fire from ever taking place," said Mr Boys. "It was a chance in a million."
Firemen hit on the mirror theory while investigating the blaze. Mr Boys added: "We had to wait for ideal conditions so we could test that theory out. "Eventually, they all came together and we dashed over to the house, set up the mirror and towel and waited to see what happened. "What we saw confirmed the theory. The sun hit the mirror, converging on the towel, which was ablaze within minutes."
Sir Peter, 58, said: "It just makes you think how unfair life can be."
Checks and US banks
I spent 3 years in the US 98-00 and even at that time I rarely used cheques in the UK so was somewhat surprised when I opened a bank account in the US to receive in the post a box containing something like 10 check books each containinbg 20 checks - my initial reaction was how long would it take to use these. Then I discovered that 8every* month I needed to write checks to electricity company, gas company, cable company, refuse collection company, water company, car lease company, local phone company, long distance phone company ... so they started to go quite quickly. However, during that time the banks "invented" (n.b. US banks were constantly "inventing" new ideas that had been standard in the UK for a decade or so) the idea of automated regular payaments aka direct debits so eventually the rate of check usage did decline!
One thing to remember about US checks is that they don't have a check guarantee card which means that shops can be more selective about accepting checks (signs saying checks not accepted from out of state banks were common and I even saw ones saying checks from out of county banks not accepted) but at the same time the absence of a £50/£100 guarantee limit means checks were accepted for sums that no UK shop would have accepted.
Anyway, now back in the UK for me, like others above, checks are almost redundant - I never carry a cheque book around with me and they now seem only to get used for sending money to childrens schools for dinner money etc!
The ebuyer box for the memory stick looks a familiar size ... some years ago when installing (wired) networking at home I needed some short ethernet cables to go between sockets and switches and PCs. So I ordered 4x 1 or 2m ethernet drop cables from ebuyer. As they offered a variety of colours I decided to order 4 different colours to make it easier to work out which was which later.
Few days later next door neighbour called to say a "large" delivery had arrived while I was at work and I went round to pick up a pile of 4 large boxes - each of which contained a single cable!
"I don't know of any other product ...
... anywhere where I can take physical possession after paying in full and still have it repossessed without warning or recourse"
.... Jeff has clearly never bought a stolen car. Every so often news/documentaries do an item on some car theft ring (imports from Japan are a particular issue) and show people being told that (a) the car they bought was stolen, (b) as such they have no rights to it and (c) its going to be towed away immediately so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
Actually there is one difference ... the Amazon customers get their money back
"ITV player" (i.e. there streaming catchup service) uses it.
... n.b. are MS putting the hooks into DX10/11 so that the video processing can be offloaded onto the gfx card - as this makes atom+ion combos much more useful.
back in the day when usenet ruled the world (i.e. late 80s) there was a tradition of various spoof official announcements being posted on Apr 1 ... I feel sure I remember one (but last time this subject came up I was unable to locate it in googles archive) which was an RFC (request for comments - the way new internet ideas/protocols were developed then by peer review/comment) on a proposal to add an extra level of domain name to allow for the net to expand to other planets (and their moons via sub-domains) in the solar system.
Note just US ones ... my son's school (in UK) also has been warning not to trust wikipedia as a source ... to the extent that when I was helping him find some info a few months back he point blank refused to use the info I'd found since it was from wikipedia even though it was, in this case, clearly correct!
I read up on this when I also had a misprice on a sandwich .... from what I recall shops do *NOT* have to honour the price displayed (or even printed on the packet) ... however, if they deliberately display misleading prices in a way that is likely to confuse customers then that is an offence. Thus if a sandwich is mistakenly labelled as 95p instead of £3.50 then the shop is within its rights to say at the cash till that they are selling it at £3.50 (clearly there's a secondary issue of whether they think an argument over £2.45 is worth customer good will + making the rest of the queue wait) but if they stuck up a big sign in the window saying "all sandwiches 95p" and then said at the till "actually they are £3.50" then that's where TS step in.
@Wot, no strings!
If they do it properly then the CGI animations would move as if they were controlled by strings ... when Dreamworks did the CGI bunnies in Aardman's Curse of the Were-rabbit they were careful to make them look like plasticine models complete with thumb prints on them
intrigued by the comment about it being in Twin Peaks and wondered which bit it was ... quick bit of googling revealed that it wasn't just in TP ... it was the location for "invitiation to love" - the TV soap which was in TP!
Mines the anorak
@Paging John Carpenter....
No need to do this ... in "the blob" (at least 1958 original) a large blobby organism terrorises a small town before its discovered that the only way to control it is to freeze it which they do with C02 fire extinguishers before the USAF safely dispose of it in, ahem, the Arctic.
Thus I suspect that this blobby lifeform revived from its frozen state in the arctic may well be much less than 100,000 years old :-)
BBC news website changes
Wonder if its got anything to do with the BBC news website changes .... if you access this from a foreign IP address (even if you are in the UK but ISP/corporate WAN connects from gateway outside UK) it now directs you to the international version of the website (you used to be able to choose). This "service improvement" is to remove all the links to iPlayer/video stuff which they aren't allowed to show outside UK + to allow them to add adverts.
@No added weight
Immovable weight - i.e. limiting ability to move ballast around the car was a seious issue ... but also the weight regs are minimum weight of car+driver ... amount of leeway they have was meaning that, I think, for some of the taller (and thus heavier) drivers the extra weight from KERS was not going to be reclaimed from existing ballast - i.e. not only did they lose ability to tune ballast position to suit conditions but for drivers like, I think, Kubica the car+driver would always be carrying more weight. That's why initially BMW only ran KERS on one car before deciding via direct comparison it had no overall benefit.
The problem then with a race where a few cars run KERS is (as has been seen in some recent races in mid order battles) a faster non-KERS car can catch up a KERS car in front in corners where it has better handling (possibly due to better tuned weight distribution) but if they try to overtake then the KERS driver just presses the boost button and pulls away sufficiently to escape