Have you got a plan?

Written by Cool Angus on . Posted in Blog, Fire talk


Most people do not worry about fire. The risk of being involved in one and the potentially fatal consequences is not something that weighs on most people’s minds. Unless you work in fire safety, go to sea or have experienced a fire, it is unlikely that it will be of much concern to you.

As injury and death due to fire in this country is falling you may feel that there is no compelling need to worry. But yet, it is not just injury and death we should worry about, it is the loss of personal and impossible to replace possessions that causes distress. The family heirlooms, passed down by the generations, the special family photograph framed on the wall are items that the best insurance policy cannot replace.

It makes sense to have smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors in place. Do you have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket in the kitchen? Make a plan, one that all the family should be aware of. In the event of a fire, what should your family do? Where should they go, what is the best route out of the house from each bedroom? How should they raise the alarm?

Once you have a plan, get the family together and go through the details. Worried you may appear a bit of an old worrier? So what! It’s your family and you are concerned about them. And, remind them of the plan regularly….

The sad fact is that even though injury and death due to fire is falling in this country, every year people do still die, make sure your family is not a part of that statistic.

Student rental market showing positive signs

Written by Cool Angus on . Posted in Blog, Fire talk

In July 2014 the accommodation for students website issued a press release confirming that student letting was buoyant with over 70% of properties already let ahead of the new academic year starting in September. 61% of landlords expect to fill the remaining vacancies ahead of September.

This success is attributed to the improving quality for many properties with good safety measures in place such as [smoke[(http://www.bluewatch.co.uk/shop/) and heat detectors as well as carbon monoxide alarms, often linked to building wide systems. 

We should not be complacent as there are still a significant number of properties that fall below standard. Students can be vulnerable as it is often their first home away from mum and dad and, it is acknowledged, they do enjoy the occasional drink. Returning after a night on the town, feeling hungry, popping something under the grill then falling asleep is not unusual. Make sure that you and yours rent a safe property. Ideally one that has been checked.

The press release stated that 69% of respondents felt that students were better to let to as they make good tenants (84%), with better rental yields (77%) and an annual repeat market for new students (54%). 

Some of the issues respondents faced were the cost of maintaining an HMO (house in multiple occupation) with over half (57.4%) reporting this as a an issue for them. High turnover was highlighted by 46.3% and damage to property by 41.2%. Despite this some 92% plan to carry on letting to students.

Over half of landlords (60%) reported that rents had been increased, although the majority (94.1%) said the increases were relatively small at between 1-10% across their portfolios.

Chimney Fires – precautions

Written by Cool Angus on . Posted in Blog, Fire talk

The summer will end soon. As the evenings get cooler it is tempting to start a ‘real’ fire if you have an open fireplace or perhaps a wood-burning stove. Nothing wrong with that, of course, a warm flickering fire is just the thing to banish the chill.

Certain precautions should be taken, especially as it is likely this may be the first fire for several months. In the United Kingdom there are around 30,000 chimney fires each year and, of these, around 9,000 cause serious damage.

As the solid fuel burns and the smoke rises up the chimney it cools leaving a tar like deposit lining the stack. Over time this deposit becomes thicker and can lead to a chimney fire if a source of ignition, such as a hot ember, touches it.


  • Not getting the chimney swept regularly, preferably every year
  • Using damp wood, causes more smoke and therefore deposits
  • Damage to the chimney lining, restricting airflow and build-up of deposits
  • Burning paper or cardboard as it is more likely to lead to hot embers rising up the chimney

It may not be fire that damages your property, it may be the smoke from the fire. Anyone who has ever experienced a fire in a property will tell you that the smoke gets into everything and can be difficult to remove. As happened at a chimney fire in Cowfold recently.

It is better to prevent a fire happening in the first place, but it is also sensible to be prepared in case the worst happens by installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

Yosemite Beta

Written by Cool Angus on . Posted in Blog, Software


I have been using the Mac OS X Yosemite beta for around a month now and downloaded and installed the second beta yesterday.

Nothing much to report, it is flatter and in my opinion a bit better and more modern looking (looks similar to iOS 7 on the iPhone), but can’t say I’ve noticed much in the way of improvements otherwise, but then I was already very satisfied with Mac’s OS X.

Not had any issues to speak of, it has been remarkably stable. One or two applications, such as Clarify 2, have issues. in Clarify’s case the keyboard shortcuts don’t work. But of course these should all be sorted by the time it is officially released.

Other than that everything just works, so it bodes well for the eventual release, probably in September.

Clarify 2 – multiple screenshot document creator

Written by Cool Angus on . Posted in Blog, Resources, Software

Clarify 2

Sometimes you need to communicate clearly and quickly. But creating screen recordings and messing with formatting in Word or Pages can be time consuming and frustrating. 

In the past, creating visual documents like the ones you create with Clarify required the use of multiple applications that were difficult to integrate together. Clarify streamlines screen capture, image editing and document authoring and combines it into a simple workflow. What used to take hours takes minutes.

In the past I have used either the built-in or a third party screen-shot app and then spent an often frustrating amount of time trying to arrange the images in Word and then add text. The usual issue is that as soon as more images or text is added the existing stuff gets all out of alignment. Grrrr…

Clarify is much easier to use and formats everything for you automatically. Of course you can change the formatting, but it does a pretty good job on its own.

If you find yourself needing to explain to others just how some software package works, or where a fault lies in something you are trying to do, this makes it much easier.

As an added bonus Clarify offers a free shared website service once you have bough the app (on the iTunes store or directly from their website) on which you can host the documents you make. Then all you need to do is send the URL to anyone and they can view the article online.

The software is available both for Windows and Mac OS X.