This month’s column has news of new energy-saving incentives for smart meter users, the ORA Funky Cat BEV finally launches, some of Logitech’s mice are considered and there’s more space program news.
In Great Britain, the National Grid ESO (Electricity System Operator) is responsible for delivering electricity to British homes and businesses: they own the wires and pylons, while separate electricity suppliers buy electricity from the power generators and resell it to end-users, as the National Grid explains at https://www.nationalgrideso.com. A network of interconnectors also enables gas and electricity to be exported or imported between the UK and other countries (see https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/energy-policy-and-regulation/policy-and-regulatory-programmes/interconnectors).
< The National Grid ESO Electricity National Control Centre (ENCC) manages electricity supplies across the country. (Image: National Grid)
As I explain this month, there will be further trials of the ‘Demand Flexibility Service’ this year/ early next year, which offers rebates to users who reduce their electricity demands at peak times. The campaign to install smart meters continues unabated. Despite having a mixed reputation, many users are very happy with smart meter and find them useful in managing their energy accounts, but there are numerous problems with In-Home Displays not working properly and the UK Citizen’s Advice Bureau has now devoted a very useful section to dealing with IHD problems (see https://tinyurl.com/28oso42x).
To a layman, there may seem to be a lot of horse-trading going on somewhere if suppliers claim they offer ‘green energy’ or ‘100% renewable’ energy to their customers. After all, Britain’s electricity comes from various sources (power stations, solar, wind etc.) which all feed into the same National Grid. As far as end users are concerned, it’s just electricity coming out of the wall socket, whether it’s from a nuclear power station or a wind farm somewhere in the North Sea. So, if it’s all the same stuff, how can we know if our ‘green’ electricity actually comes from renewables and not, say, from a nuclear power station in France instead?
The subject of electricity certificates is a complex paper exercise and it’s managed through the voluntary adoption of what are called ‘Energy Attribute Certificates’ (EACs). In-depth details of how the system of EACs operates are provided by the non-profit International REC Standard body at https://www.irecstandard.org.
^ The attractive-looking Ora Funky Cat has gone on sale in Britain starting at £32,000: it will face fierce competition from rival EV brands.
Adverts have started appearing online for the ORA Funky Cat, a cute-looking battery electric vehicle (BEV) produced in China by Great Wall Motor (first described in Net Work, January 2022). It’s known locally as the Haomao (Mandarin for “Good Cat”). The BEV scored an impressive 5 star rating in Euro NCAPs safety tests and its makers hope that its attractive retro styling and equipment levels will win over many buyers. Prices now start at £32,000 which, like most BEVs, is a very tall order for many hard-stretched drivers today, but finance and PCP are also offered. You can take a look at https://gwmora.co.uk
China’s SAIC, the owners of MG Cars, is contemplating building its first factory in Europe and also expects to launch an electric sports car – the MG Cyberster – next year, with a teaser shown on https://www.mgmotor.eu/model/cyberster.
I also wrote this month about sourcing a new PC mouse suitable for larger hands – not those titchy mice that are too small to be of any use to a busy desktop worker. I reckon the Logitech MX1000 is one of the best mice ever made but it’s long out of production and new old stock can sell for premium prices on eBay etc. As a modern replacement ultimately I chose a Logitech Signature M650 L, also available as a left-handed model.
I had plenty to say about Logitech’s ‘Logi’ software though – you can read more in this month’s column.
When the mouse in question suddenly went down temporarily, experienced PC users can, up to a point, use the keyboard to navigate around, and here’s Microsoft’s list of Windows keystrokes that will speed navigation:
^ Antex Electronics has launched the world’s first heated tool for finishing 3D prints. A toolkit of tips and stand are included.
Antex Electronics, the UK-based manufacturer best known for its soldering equipment, has launched a hot tool designed for reworking and trimming 3D-printed objects. The Retouch3D is the world’s first heated tool to finish 3D prints, Antex says, and it has variable heat settings and interchangeable heads for specific 3D retouching and finishing tasks. Included are an international mains adaptor and various shaping tips. The new tool can be purchased from https://www.antex.co.uk/products/retouch3d/retouch3d-heated-tool/
^ The ISRO’s Pragyan Rover takes a snap of the Vikram lander at the south pole of the Moon (Image: ISRO/ X)
In August the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) saw its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft (translated as ‘Moon Vehicle 3’) complete a flawless historic mission. This ambitious project placed a lunar lander at the Moon’s south pole, making India only the fourth country to land on the Moon and the first country ever to explore the south pole. The moon lander, named Vikram after Vikram Sarabhai, the ISRO’s founder, carried the Pragyan Rover (shown exiting the lander at https://www.youtube.com/shorts/cYXMQ4UjjSk).
In-depth details of the mission’s objectives and its equipment payload are at https://www.isro.gov.in/Chandrayaan3_Details.html and the soft-landing celebrations are shown on YouTube at https://youtu.be/DLA_64yz8Ss.
SpaceX’s Starlink is launching Starlink Mobility, a satellite-based data service aimed at enterprise mobile users such as trucks, buses and emergency services. The service offers downloads of up to 220Mbps and the ruggedized hardware will withstand pretty much everything the elements can throw at it. The price is strictly business-class, starting at £247 per month and a one-off hardware cost of £2,410, with a 30 day money back guarantee. More details at https://www.starlink.com/mobility
The Chinese electric VTOL air-taxi maker AutoFlight (Net Work, April 2022) has flown the world’s first formation of three generations of their Prosperity eVTOL aircraft. The full size prototypes flew together for about 50 minutes at various heights as shown at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4eZ1LU2iFs. The first certified aircraft should carry cargo next year and a passenger taxi version is promised later.
In the USA, a 6-motor electric aircraft is currently undergoing FAA certification. The aircraft, built by Joby Aviation (https://www.jobyaviation.com), would carry four ‘ridesharing’ passengers and a pilot. Meanwhile, UK-based Vertical Aerospace suffered a setback when an unmanned prototype VX4 eVTOL craft fell to a runway from a height of about 20’ during extreme testing. Details of the impressive aircraft can be seen at https://vertical-aerospace.com.
Last this month, users of Microsoft’s Windows Mail, the email program built into Windows, will gradually be migrated to Outlook starting in 2024. New Windows 11 systems will start to ship with Outlook installed by default, but the Windows Mail app will still be available for download for the next year. Outlook for Windows will be free. The change also affects the People and Calendar apps, and Microsoft has more at https://tinyurl.com/mwp28rs9
Be sure to check this month’s magazine for more Net Work!