Monthly Energy Cost Calculator Spreadsheet

An image of an old calculator

If you like a spreadsheet and want to know what you are actually going to pay for your energy on a monthly basis, rather than what the average bill will be, then you can download this Excel document, put your monthly usage in, add the unit costs and get a monthly cost and annual total for your usage.

It can be difficult to find actual unit rates, as all the announcements are for total average usage rather than the kWh unit cost and daily standing charge, but Money Saving Expert has them here. You can get past values from your old bills.

If your billing periods don’t equate to calendar months you can change the months and days columns in the document to suit.

This will show your actual costs (assuming you put the right data in) rather than the average bill cost which the energy price cap is usually quoted in, which is a bit more useful when it come to having an idea of what you’ll actually pay. Note that this isn’t what a monthly direct debit would be as those usually spread the annual cost equally across 12 months.

A Coast to Coast Cycle along Hadrian’s Wall

Sycamore Gap

For a while I had a vague plan to cycle across the width of the country, from the Solway Firth in the west back to Newcastle. I’d been put off previously by concerns about getting to Carlisle with my bike on the train and a lack of routes that avoided main roads between Carlisle and Brampton.

On a quiet evening I decided to put the plan in to action and got the maps out again for a session going between maps and Street View which confirmed that there were quiet, if slightly indirect, roads everywhere I wanted to go. I eventually decided on a route following NCN72 in places and going more directly east elsewhere. Continue reading “A Coast to Coast Cycle along Hadrian’s Wall”

Cycling up Great Dunn Fell – Britain’s Highest Road*

Climbing Great Dunn Fell

On the 30th July 2017 I set out to ride the Great Dun Fell Sportive – Ride to the Radar, run by Sport in Action.

The main feature of the event is the final climb of Great Dun Fell. At 848m above sea level Great Dunn Fell is the second highest summit in the Pennines and, more importantly, the summit is the highest point you can cycle to on a paved road in Britain.

This seemed like a good summer challenge which led to me picking up my friend at 6am for the journey to Appleby-in-Westmorland. Continue reading “Cycling up Great Dunn Fell – Britain’s Highest Road*”

Curlew Cup 2017

Curlew Cup 2017 climbing the Ryals

Every June there the Cyclone Festival of Cycling takes place in Newcastle consisting of family rides of Friday, a sportive on Saturday and women’s and men’s pro races on Sunday.

I’ve taken part in the sportive for the last few years and have always intended to head out to Stamdfordham to watch the pros without ever managing to get there. This year the weather was perfect and I wasn’t too tired after my Saturday effort so there was no excuse for missing the races. Continue reading “Curlew Cup 2017”

Killhope Cross and Chapel Fell

Killhope Cross

Total distance: 97036 m
Max elevation: 643 m
Min elevation: 174 m
Total climbing: 3195 m
Total descent: -3171 m
Download file: Killhope-Cross-Chapel-Fell-edit.gpx

Cycling past historic sites

Pitsford Reservoir

On a visit to Northamptonshire in November 2014 a of morning cycling took me past a number of sites including a civil war battle field, cold war missile launch pads, through Victorian railway tunnels, and the reputed inspiration for a Jane Austin novel.

The first site of note I passed was a disused airfield at Harrington. Originally build by the US Army during World War 2 it later became a launch site for Thor nuclear missiles during the late 1950s. Not a lot remains but the foundations of the launch pads can still be seen and the course of the runway is just about discernible. Continue reading “Cycling past historic sites”

Going 5 minutes quicker

I’ve completed the Cyclone 100km route for three years in a row and improved dramatically each year due to experience, more practice and a new bike.

The challenge for 2015 is to shave another 5 minutes off my time to get under 4 hours. Training starts in January (weather permitting).

Cyclone 2012
Cyclone 2012

Cyclone 2013
Cyclone 2013

Cyclone 2014
Cyclone 2014

Setup a fixed IP address

In order to setup some routers, print servers and modems you  often have to connect to them via a wired connection even if they are wireless. Some of these devices have an inbuilt DHCP server so it’s just a case of connecting a cable and you are ready.

For the devices that do not have inbuilt DHCP you may need to set up your PC to have a fixed IP address. To do this in Windows XP go to Network Connections in the Control Panel.

Find the connection you will be using to connect to your device and right click on it and choose Properties from the menu. It the dialog box that appears scroll down the list of protocols in the centre box and find Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click on the Properties button.

Network Connection Properties
Network Connection Properties

In the new window that pops up click on the radio button next to ‘Use the following IP Address’. It the IP address field enter an IP address for you machine. This should be in the same range as the device you are connecting to. For example if you are connecting to a device with an IP address of you could set this filed to be Pressing the TAB key after the last number automatically fills in the next line. If you are just setting up a device you can leave the rest of the fields blank and click OK to save all the settings.

Once you have finished setting up your device you can set you connection back to automatic by repeating the steps  above and choosing the ‘Obtain IP address automatically’ option. You will also need to choose the ‘Obtain DNS server address automatically’ at the bottom of the page.

Increasing message size limits in Microsoft Exchange 2007

By default Exchange 2007 with Service Pack 1 has a number of limits set that restricts the size of messages that can be received to 10MB.

To see what the current limit is open the Exchange Management Shell (found in Start->All Programs->Microsoft Exchange 2007) and enter the command: get-transportconfig

This will show you a list of settings and the current limits, for example MaxReceiveSize. To change a value you can type the command: set-transportconfig -maxreceivesize 30

That would set the MaxReceiveSize to 30MB.

You may also need to tcheck to properties of the receive connectors in the Exchange MMC Snap in. Go to Exchange -> Server Configuration – Hub Transport and view the properties of one or each of the connectors. On the general tab is a setting for the maximum message size.

In addition to the checking the setting of the Internet send connector may solve any problems. This is found under Exchange -> Organisation Configuration -> Hub Transport. Again view the properties of the connector to see the Maximum Message Size setting.

Zoom X6 ADSL modem Default IP Address and Set up

I recently had to help a friend set up a Zoom X6 ADSL modem router and had a few initial problems connecting to the web interface.  The main problem turned out to be that the inbuilt DHCP server is turned off by default.

The default IP address for the Zoom X6 ADSL modem router is

Although it does have a built in DHCP server this doesn’t seem to be on by default so you will need to set the IP address the computer you use to connect manually to something in the same range ( for example).

The default user name is admin and password is zoomadsl.