The end of the Walking Dead, aka: one of the best gaming moments ever

…and why it’s a perfect example of an experience only possible through gaming. What do you mean “It came out two years ago, have you been living in a cave?”

The point and click adventure genre was always more character and dialogue focused than action-oriented games, and in retrospect it’s unsurprising that as gaming continues to mature this genre has seen a fair bit of a resurgence. Not to poo-poo the sheer action-blasty-kill-splat-death joy of a ‘mindless’ shooter but you get the point. There’s probably a whole thing to be written about games writing in general, even in the action-shooty genres gamers are expecting to see fully-voiced dialogue (even when this costs a huge amount to implement in sprawling RPGs and MMOs), mainstream audiences get annoyed about things like facial animations and romance options. Technical ability and good writing are bringing more options to developers, whether you’re going for stylistic ultra-violence (say, Bulletstorm) or seemingly humdrum existence (say, The Stanley Parable)

Continue reading “The end of the Walking Dead, aka: one of the best gaming moments ever”

The Lyons Review

“The 180-page review, probably the most extensive single piece of policy produced by Labour in opposition, sets out a plan for building 200,000 new homes by 2020.” (The Guardian)

They want to double the amount of custom/self build
Headline figure: They want to double the amount of custom/self build

Politics aside, the Lyons Review is a real whopper and took around a year to produce. I’m obviously not going to dissect the entire thing, but let’s see what lies within…

Continue reading “The Lyons Review”

Local housing co-op – loan stock invitation

A local housing co-op has had an offer accepted on a property in Scraptoft/Humberstone-ish area. They are now looking to raise loan stock (from people like you!) as well as securing a mortgage from Triodos for the remaining amount. Investment starts from as little as £50.

Download the full blurb here: Scraptoft Housing Loan Stock Invitation

Well worth a look if you are interested in the general concept or are looking for a local investment. Contact doug.golding@ntlworld.com for more info.

Tires, worms, rammed earth, apples…

A mix of things from further experiments at Saffron Acres:

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Some things we baked in the earth oven – apple pastry, a gently melted camembert with fruit and nuts stuck in for good measure, and a classic baked apple. The apples were from the site. Keep your eyes peeled for another bakin’ day. We did some bread and mini pizzas too.

Continue reading “Tires, worms, rammed earth, apples…”

Two complete houses built in an afternoon! (for insects, sorry)

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Yes, two multi-storey deluxe houses built by one person in one shed in one day! (sort of)

Have an old fence post lying around? Don’t buy a bug house when you can build one yourself. The one on the left has some bamboo running through it. I used a size 7 drill bit which seems about right for a ladybird as well as a size 20 flat wood drill bit for the larger holes. They do need a roof of some sort and the holes should ideally slant upwards to also help stay dry. The main wood itself should be left unpainted/treated.

A rainy day project if ever there was one. Get it done now in time for the cold weather when bugs will really need it.

Festival fuel bills

This is what I call a BOAFP (Back Of A Fag Packet) Research paper, quickly put together for the Face Your Elephant project.

That’s a picture of Rudolf Diesel y’know. Anyway…

I estimate the fuel bill for Latitude festival is at least £80,000 – £90,000 on a typical year. (inc VAT & Delivery)

They use an average of 97,000 litres (over 4 years data 2009-2012 from the JB report) – or 107,000 litres if we include biodiesel.

The price of Red diesel I have assumed at an average of 66.90 per litre (not including VAT) as provided by this price aggregator (surprisingly this has fallen nearly 10p a litre from 2012-2014)

This is a ‘1000 litre’ price so takes into account bulk purchasing effects. I have elsewhere been quoted on a 20,000 litre price – I don’t know if this is a factor of oil tankers generally being about 20,000 capacity or suppliers only having so much available. Anyway the savings from 1000 to 20,000 are not substantial and could even be offset by the trouble perhaps of sourcing from a number of different suppliers, many deliveries.

Biodiesel is a bit harder to figure out, especially if we’re looking for Waste Veg Oil / Used Cooking Oil rather than Biodiesel produced from feedstock / ‘new’ crops. Overall I think it is quite a bit more expensive than regular diesel, probably as there is lower demand and fewer suppliers. It is harder to find an average price but from some browsing £1.00 a litre seems a target price that suppliers advertise (and this includes VAT+Delivery).  Even if it is the greener option, there’s still a strong cost motive to encourage efficiency and reduce demand first of all.

The headline estimate above doesn’t take biodiesel into account, as it is hard to establish an average price, but for the sake of completion, Latitude uses an average of 13,500 liters of biodiesel a year – at £1 a liter would add around £10,000 to the estimates above, even taking into account the red diesel it replaces.

Shambala uses an average of 17,000 litres (5 year average) and the vast majority of it is Biodiesel. So their bill is £10,000-£12,000 based on red diesel prices, or £17,000 based on biodiesel. While it is approx. 2.5 times smaller than Latitude (based on ‘person-days), Shambala also appears to be approx. 2.5 more efficient in terms of diesel used ‘per head’. To put it another way, if Latitude could match Shambalas efficiency, their fuel bill could be around £30,000. Are bigger events naturally more inefficient? Frankly I always thought the opposite was true; economies of scale and so on.

Finally there is also bottled gas: 2500 lt average for shambala vs 15,000 lt for Latitude. Canisters are rated in kg though, which translates into roughly double that amount in litres (a 50kg gas bottle = 100 litres). Don’t know if this is propane or butane- or if that makes much of a difference. More quick browsing suggests that 25-40p a liter is about what a domestic customer can buy gas for. So an additional £700-£1100 for Shambala and £4400-£7000 to Latitude. Not much by comparison and for other reasons certainly preferable for heating large amounts of water.

In terms of who is using the power at festivals, the JB report breaks down total consumption to core/production/site and concessions/traders. This ratio varies quite a bit across years, but generally the core consumption is higher than the traders. At Latitude, it’s approx. 6:1 whereas at Shambala 3:1 . Therefore at a smaller festival, the traders make up a larger proportion of consumption than at a larger festival. Of course the stages are physically bigger and higher specced (more lights!) – could also speculate that bigger names = bigger tour buses = bigger backstage/production village. Or perhaps many of the smaller stages at Shambala are ‘lumped in’ with the concession consumption.

Conclusions

Ultimately in terms of pitching the work needed to make energy savings to festival organisers I think we are close to the “1% saving = £1000 saving” mark – even what seems like a small reduction would pay off.

Aside from addition carbon savings (which is obviously a good thing) there could also be delivery breaks – if you can save an entire tankers-worth (10-20%) or downscale one 20,000 litre tanker to a 10,000 – there’s maybe another few hundred pounds or so in delivery costs alone. No one wants to have to order 20,001 litres!

Assuming it’s similar at Festival Republics’ six other main events (of which there are 3x in the UK 1x in Ireland, 1x in Norway and 1x in Germany) – this makes a yearly cost of £480,000- £540,000. That 1% = ~ £1000 saving per festival becomes 1% = ~£5000 per year. And that’s saved every year, for the foreseeable future, while energy prices presumably continue to rise (although as pointed out earlier, red diesel is falling in the short term at least)

So – implement solution XYZ, save 1% of energy used, save £25,000 in 5 years?

Or have a target to save 1% year-on-year for 5 years – that’s £75,000 over 5 years?

(NB: if you have an idea for solution XYZ please let us know!)

Richard Fletcher – rfletcher@dmu.ac.uk

Salvo web

The Salvo Directory lists dealers in architectural salvage, showing yards shops and showrooms where you can buy antique, reclaimed, salvaged and green material.

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The site covers salvage yards, wanted listings, new and refurbished. They also have a Salvo code for reassurance against the resale of stolen items – if you have items stolen from your house or garden, you can alert the network. Favourite items at the time of writing: several complete cast iron roof trusses, quite a number of antique brass bells, several thousand tons of natural stone… If you can’t think of anything fun to do with that stuff, well, you may be beyond help.

You could also browse our previous post on demolition. Just a quick post here, so see you next time.