Breaking my heart

One of the things I suffer from is tachycardia.

My first memory of this was in secondary school, when I got a flat tyre cycling to school and ran the rest of the way as the the "form teacher", with which we had registration at the start of the day, was "evil" (well, I was a school kid), so I did not dare be late.

When I got to school my heart rate was stupidly high, and I ended up passing out. My "evil" form teacher was suddenly panicking that one of her kids might have dropped dead! In some ways that was amusing.

I found much later this was congenital, and not worth surgery to fix. It is rare that it happens, and oddly enough made a lot more likely by "heart burn". It lasts a lot longer if I have just had exercise, which is what got me in an ER department and ended up with it being investigated many years later.

It is basically my heart doing "double time", so if I would have been 100bpm from exercise it is 200bpm! If I have a lie down and wait a few minutes it is fine. On rare occasions after a lot of exercise, it can take a lot longer, and that is scary. I look like shit and am soaking wet from sweat. I managed it once in costa coffee, and the manager there (that we know quite well) was really panicked, sorry. 

What is weird is when it sorts its self out. I am instantly "absolutely fine". That confuses people. Yes, other customers in costa were really worried about me!

On a few occasions I have been able to capture this on an ECG, using a Kardia thing, and now my new Apple Watch.

The rate drops a bit while I rest, but as you see, suddenly, my heart rate drops back to normal.

One of the scariest things I ever had was when I was in ER and they administered drugs to fix it, and that makes your heart stop! I mean it may have been a second or two before starting up again, but it feels like it has stopped, and that is scary as hell.

I don't know if any of my follows have this. It was explained to me that it was not worth the side effects and risks of surgery to fix it, and was mostly a nuisance. It pretty much has been, with maybe a couple of times a year. Something I have had all my life.

Apple sleep tracking

I only post this because someone else may be as confused as I.

It is confusing - the instructions are very very clear that the Apple Watch will track sleep only when in "sleep focus", and you can set a schedule for that.

My issue is that I do not got to sleep at the same time - I could go to bed as early as 6pm or as late as 11pm. I could sleep all night, or sleep, and be awake, and sleep again (the old school "two sleeps" that apparently was the norm in medieval times) - last night I was awake and watched the really good "Miss Potter" film between sleeps. And no, I was not "in bed" all that time, so it is a tad confused and probably could have worked that out.

So I did not want to set a sleep focus schedule that was too soon as it stops notifications/alerts/calls. But also did not want to set too late so it does not record sleep. I did not want to set manually as I would forget, plus, it seems, you have to tell it to end the sleep focus (even if you have a schedule). I do get up consistently in the morning, so that helps.

My concerns were totally unfounded, as it seems that Apple are happy to record sleep starting way before your sleep focus is scheduled to start. So I can simply set for a sensible later time.

Why the hell don't Apple explain this? Why make me think I have to fuck about with "sleep focus schedule"?


Tweaking the CCTV

Having run the CCTV for a while (and not trying to cover the legal issues today), I have been having some fun tweaking.

I am really liking the NX Witness system, but I have a mix of cameras, from dirt cheap to expensive. And the newest ones are really nice - very low level light still in colour and really good clear quality images.

The fun one is the front door. I doubt it is a prime target for burglary, being right on a busy road, and the camera is hidden up in the alcove over the door, so not even obvious it is there. The main use of this camera is for deliveries. To prove when they arrived, and by 24/7 recording, proving when they did not arrive. It is also to allow for parcels left on doorstep and being nicked, or parcels or letters I leave for collection by post man on the door step and being actually picked up by the post man and not someone else. I have used that before to prove postman did collect (long story, saved me a lot of hassle).

I have taken the opportunity to re-position all the cameras, trying to think where someone might jump over a gate or a wall, and ensure a good view. One of my current targets for cameras is showing if/when household waste was put out for collection and when the refuse truck drove off without collecting, as that has happened now 5 times in a row!

But back to the front door - it used to be a dome camera. The issue is it could not see down in to the doorway, so I have replaced with a pendant mount which allows facing down.

So now, with the down facing camera, I actually ended up thinking laterally and turning it 90 degrees. It nicely shows the door, gate, some of pavement, and, pretty well, the "delivery". The only tweak which I will do is raise it a bit to ensure a clearer focus on the parcels themselves.

Update: I ended up changing the type of camera, to one with better focus controls, but still mounting in the eaves facing down. I also managed to get it all turned around in nxwitness.

It also avoids catching too many passers by, or at least faces, which I don't need to record, so even though this should all be out of scope of GDPR, I may as well try and avoid recording.

In many ways it is amusing, and relieving, that the main use of the cameras is not related to crime at all, but proving to the council I put the bins out in time and proving they did not collect them, or that a delivery happened or not. These are more benign things but none the less useful.


Another aspect is the overlay text - I have all cameras showing time. All set to NTP. And I decided all set to UTC for sanity sake, as some will not do BST, some do and get it wrong, and some get it right. Easiest option is UTC, and then when savings images or video (as above image) is NX witness overlay local time to avoid any ambiguity. I also added fixed text to say "UTC" by the timestamps, again to avoid ambiguity. Timestamps are a pain, and UTC is one of the few ways to make sense of it, but helps a lot to state it is UTC!

P.S. Someone pointed out the council expect us to leave refuse "kerbside" which puzzled me.

(they ignored the question, saying to leave in the "usual place"!)

Update: to my surprise, after the 5 previous collections days being missed, they collected, yay! They then missed the next day, surprise surprise.


Abergavenny active travel

MCC have issued a nice (and I bet expensive) video of active travel upgrades in Llanfoist and Castle Meadows. So I thought I would post a few comments of my own. I'm bound to upset someone, so apologies in advance. You can email activetravel@monmouthshire.gov.uk

First off, I'm very keen on active travel improvements. I don't drive. I walk Castle Meadows and on in to Llanfoist (ideally every day, but yeh, weather permitting). Cycling would be great but a total pain right now, and cycling through town is off putting to say the least, meaning my bicycle has been out of use for 3 years now. Just walking along the A40 in to town means encountering aggressive road users at various side roads, and a dangerous crossing on the box junction in town.

And, apart from the river looking very clean in that video (which would be an improvement), it looks nice, overall...


Castle Meadows can flood, which is understood, but at present, even a bit of rain leaves the current path more of a series of small lakes. Avoiding them means mud, which I know from bitter experience can lead to slips and falls. Will the new pathway have substantially better drainage to handle normal rain?

The Mill Lane access also suffers from flooding in rain leaving a lot of mud, and I would hope that is improved as well.


If making new junction markings, can we at least try and mark them to reflect highway code rule 170, and make it really clear that road users on the path continuing along the road have priority over vehicles turning?

The cycle path (shared path) stopping at every side road is treating bicycles as second class road users. Ideally separate cycle infrastructure would be good rather than shared paths, but space is limited.

At present there are routes on this proposal where a cyclist is far better off simply using the road (as they are fully entitled to do), as they do not have to give way at side roads, or avoid pedestrians.

I am, however, pleased to see zebra crossings at the roundabouts, especially crossing to Waitrose, as that is a dangerous crossing right now.

The cutting

This is confusing, the cutting shows cycle symbols on the road. Is it a cycle path, in which are why are cars there (and won't that piss off the residents)? If a road, why the cycle symbols?

Cattle grids

This is a problem - dog walkers are livid at cattle grids, but almost anything else is a major annoyance and discouragement to cyclists. Is there any way to improve matters? I mean one could have gates locked open when no cattle, but dog walkers would lose dogs through them, so I have no idea what the answer is here. Are there dog safe cattle grids? And don't forget wheelchair users. The video shows both gates and cattle grids in various places at present.

I'll add anything else I think of.


The first council rant, and my apologies

So, as predicted, I got cross over recycling. Yay, someone predicted this would happen...

We have the recycling bags (and we now have the green glass bin and the blue food waste bin). We are getting ready for the last commercial bin collection this weekend. We have been getting the hang of it. As I say, it is all a bit new to us.

I do have concerns over how much of this actually gets processed as we are led to believe, and why it is all left to amateurs like us, but we are working on getting it right anyway.

These red and purple bags (paper/card, tin/plastic) are weekly. I got the sheet saying what goes where and how often. I got the calendar showing the A/B weeks, and the couple of cases a bank holiday matters (mostly they don't, like Easter is normal collection days).

The road I am on is the main road. We see the road with these bags every Friday. My immediate neighbour, and all the houses opposite, put these out on a Friday. Everyone I share a postcode with puts them out on a Friday. We noticed this. I had planned to double check the day for glass and food waste, these bags are obvious.

Getting it right

I put them out last Friday, and they were emptied, yay, we have the hang of the system!

Like everyone else, I put them out for today (last night). There were not collected. Everyone else's was. I was fuming.

I emailed the council, but the contact email address says "Please note that this mailbox is not monitored", so is not in fact a contact email address. What the hell?

OK I can message them, which turns out to be facebook, and that turns out to be a robot, so again, not a contact!

I have ranted over the contact email address not being a contract email address, and feel justified in doing so.

Anyway, having got cross over the non collection (and more so over the email address), I thought I would just double check. I don't know what led me to check, but I did. And guess what, our house is not on the same collection as the rest of the road! We are Wednesday (for these bags). Even though we are on the main road, a drive and front door on the main road, an address on the main road, the postcode is the same as neighbours on the main road, but no - we are in with the collection for the side road (the one where the residents feel adamant that we are not anything to do with them and their fake resident permit parking scheme). I really did not expect that at all.

So I was wrong!

I am not like Trump, I don't handle being wrong well, and it is bugging me.

Thankfully a slight rant on twitter and facebook was only there a moment and quickly deleted.

But it is still bugging me. I try hard not to be wrong, and this will annoy me at least the rest of the day.

Usually when I get cross like this, I check my facts very carefully before ranting, and I did not follow that rule this time. That was bad of me. It is a good rule to have.

I apologise to the council for the ranty email (sent via their press office email address) about the collections.

Get it right now

Many councils have APIs. I had to screen scrape the Monmouthshire council site, but looks like I have a plan now.

Another use for an e-paper sign.

I can add a few more bits to this I expect.

Update: Maybe I was too quick to apologise?

Monday, black bag and green glass, 6:47, still there, not collected.

Tuesday, blue food waste, still there, not collected.

Wednesday, red (card/paper) and purple (tins/bottles), not collected.

Result: Finally after complaining, they have collected all.

What is extra fun is my ranty (and wrong) email, via the press office, did get to someone, and they asked for more details, and I was able to explain that "all three missed collections" have now been sorted, and they seemed quite happy. Embarrassment cancelled out by council incompetence - unexpected!

Update: New week, this week's first missed collection was food waste, Tuesday.

Update: Now 5th missed collection, red/purple bags, Wednesday.


Hot tubbing...

I have a hot tub, it came with the house over 3 years ago.

Managing a hot tub is complicated, and expensive. The expensive part is the power. But chemicals also cost. For reference, it uses around 17kWh a day on average.

I use it, I spend typically an hour or two reading a (waterproof) e-book in the hot tub most days. It is very relaxing and I feel worth it. And then Alice (granddaughter) might like to join me on occasion too :-)

When we moved in, a hot tub was new to me, and I read up on it. You need to maintain the pH, and chlorine levels, which means chemicals (last people left some for us).

Initially it got cloudy quickly, but after some time I found "clarifier" stuff. Eventually I found some cool "tablets" that have chlorine and clarifier and you put in a "floater" to dissolve slowly over several days. This worked well.

I eventually got to the stage that for at least a month the hot tub was clear and nice. But it would gradually go off. It would change a tad from a slight blue (which is normal, unless you have heavy water which is clear!), and change to a green tinge. The pH test strip would go a colour not even on the bottle. It would become a tad cloudy and more unpleasant and I would empty and refill it. This would typically take a month or so to happen.

More recently (and this is over there years now), it has changed. I got some new "pH increaser" (as what the previous people left had run out) and new "chlorine and clarifier tablets", and a new "floater" that allow slower dissolving. I have no idea which of these has helped.

But for the last, nearly, three months (and I had to check my power logs to confirm last refill), it has been nice. Crystal clear, blue not green, not cloudy. I have not even had to change the filter (which I typically do when empty/refill as compared to power cost of doing so a new filter is cheap). The pH has been stable, and sensible, and not a stupid colour.

I do have a wet vacuum cleaner thing that allows me to extract any flotsam that, err, sinks, (leaves and shit), so does not get to filters, rather nicely.

I don't know which of these things helped, but it is way better now.

I can only conclude hot tub chemistry is basically voodoo, much like RF PCB tracking design.

P.S. Environmentalists, we make more solar than the hot tub uses on average.

Learning to count [in recycling] ♳♴♵♶♷♸♹

It was predicted the first rant would be about council not collecting a bin - sorry to disappoint, it is about the Brady label printer and its labels.

You will notice the recycling symbol on the cartridge. I can only assume there are incentives for companies to do this or possible some apparent PR in doing so.

But let's consider this specific case, a plastic cartridge for printed labels. I wonder what bin that goes in, especially as my council seem to have quite a complicated mix of bins to choose from.

Well, helpfully, Brady include a little (paper) leaflet in with the cartridge to help you know.

This is it.

There you go, recycling instructions, in lots and lots of languages. The fact that the only text is actually the bit saying "recycling instructions" makes that a tad crazy to me.

But what are the instructions... Surely it is just which bin to put it in? Well, let's look... WOW!

Only 6 steps...

  • Use a screwdriver to remove the chip.
  • Use a screwdriver to break apart.
  • Break apart.
  • Remove remnants of label (this goes in general waste bin 🗑), and the bottom of the case which goes in ♸.
  • Separate the spindle in to 3 parts, one goes in general waste 🗑, and two in ♹.
  • Finally dispose of the rest, a washer in ♳PETE (is that the same as just ♳?), and a washer in ♴HDPE (is that the same as just ♴), The chip in electrical waste (WEEE) which is not something the council collect and I don't even have a unicode symbol for. Some in a 40 FE waste (again, not finding a symbol for that), and another washer thing, and the top of case in ♹ (unlike the bottom of the case which is in ♸).

The leaflet ignores (and I have emailed Brady to ask why):-

  • The leaflet itself, presumably paper waste?
  • The cardboard box it comes in, presumably card waste?
  • The plastic bag it comes in - maybe non-recyclable, or perhaps another plastic waste number?
  • The backing paper that you remove when printing a label?
  • The label itself if later removed and disposed of? This is presumably a per product matter as they do different materials for labels.

This is at least EIGHT different types of waste you are expected to separate somehow (maybe 9 if the wrapper is another plastic type), on a small label cartridge. And I have no clue how those different types of waste map to the council bins, seriously. And I am not paid for this!

To clarify:-

  1. ♳PETE for a washer
  2. ♴HDPE for a washer
  3. WEEE for the chip
  4. 40FE for some metal bits
  5. ♸ for case bottom
  6. ♹ for case top
  7. General (non recyclable) 🗑 for tail of label
  8. Paper waste for instruction leaflet, and assuming the same, card waste for the box
  9. The plastic bag, not mentioned, may be 🗑 or maybe not
  10. The backing paper (is it paper) for the label
  11. The printed label itself - per label type, I assume

The fact that even Unicode cannot keep up with the number of waste types is clue here.

Please tell me this makes sense


  • I have emailed the council with a link to this asking which bag each of the 8/9 types of waste apply, I'll post their reply.
  • Surely people making "clone" label packs will want the chip, rather than going to WEEE?
  • I am told these symbols ♳ to ♹ don't mean "recycling" but are just types of plastic, so as "recycling instructions" these are bullshit, and actually most of it is simply not recyclable. Will be interesting to see what council say.
  • Would it not be better to make these things so they can open, and load a new reel of paper and close - reusing instead of recycling?

Breaking my heart

One of the things I suffer from is tachycardia. My first memory of this was in secondary school, when I got a flat tyre cycling to school an...