Absurd electricity meter

February 5, 2007

The place I live at has one of those electricity meters where you have to charge an elecrtonic key at the news-agents, then transfer the credit to the meter. This is fine. If you stick lots of money on it at a time it isn't much of a chore.

Unless it runs out, whereby it cuts you off. The clever folks who designed the thing thought of this, and if you get down to your last 50p of credit you can insert the key to get £5 of emergency credit. Handy if you can't get to a news agent because, say, it's almost midnight (as it is now).

Now for the stupid bit. Every day the machine takes the standing charge off your credit automatically at midnight. That's fine in itself, but since the machine was built the charge has gone up dramatically. It's now 88p, which is more than the amount of money the machine counts as 'emergency', but less than the 65p it currently contains.

So I'm now in the absurd situation of trying to burn off the excess 15p in the 20 minutes before midnight so I can put the machine into emergency credit mode so it can collect the standing charge at midnight without cutting me off! If I fail to waste the energy I'll have to reset all my clocks yet again, recover the computer server, find the emergency mode button in the dark and so on.

Yes, I normally don't let it get this low in the first place.


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  1. Ciz says:
    February 5, 2007 @ 20:47 — Reply

    Move your kettle into the bathroom, tape down the switch and enjoy a relaxing, power-guzzling sauna. Maybe enjoy several slices of toasted bagel while doing so.

  2. CMU says:
    February 6, 2007 @ 05:16 — Reply

    I was thinking I could make a cup of tea using the electric shower, but your idea is good too.

  3. Anonymous says:
    February 6, 2007 @ 06:08 — Reply

    In my experience (from the great what watt experiment of 2006), the big boys of power useage are the kettle, microwave, oven and immersion heater. I worked out that our kettle (filled to the full mark) costs 2.691 pence to boil, so that alone would get you part of the way there, but whether it would consume enough in 15mins is another question.

  4. stephenw32678 says:
    February 6, 2007 @ 15:16 — Reply

    Something is broken with your blog. The pound sign in your post is encoded as UTF-8, but your server is sending "charset=iso-8859-1" in the Content-Type: header. So the pound sign is rendered incorrectly in Firefox and Opera (can't check IE, obviously).


  5. CMU says:
    February 6, 2007 @ 15:57 — Reply

    Well spotted. It's broken in IE too, meaning there's a real problem that requires fixing (ooh, contraversial). I'll get on it when I build up the courage to face a charset style problem. They're usually quite painful.

  6. Ciz says:
    February 6, 2007 @ 17:04 — Reply

    The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)

  7. CMU says:
    February 6, 2007 @ 19:06 — Reply

    We should send that link to the author of the skin. They've left convenient links at the bottom of my web page for what seems like exactly that purpose. I don't see why I should be expected to finish their work. I want my free software provided to me at no profit to them to be perfect damnit, or I want my money back.

  8. Anonymous says:
    February 8, 2007 @ 14:57 — Reply

    Attention! Your topic has been hijacked, please call the police.

    Or maybe that link uses more electricity than, say, the W3C website?

  9. CMU says:
    February 8, 2007 @ 15:25 — Reply

    So it has. Happens so easily these days. Most of these comments would be better placed on the previous article about the new blog skin, but it's all good.

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