I just read an online discussion about energy saving Compact Fluorescent lights. Some people complained they didn't like the quality of light, and they were criticised by others.

CFLi lamps don't make the same quality of light as incandescents. They can't. Fluorescent lamps synthesize white light by the powder on the inside of the tube. Each type of powder makes one color of light. Nearly all CFLi lamps have a mix of three phosphors chosen to create white light (in fact, the phosphors on pre-flatscreen TVs worked this way). But there are missing colors in the spectrum. If you put CFLi light through a glass prism, you won't get a full rainbow because not all colors are there. That's why CFLi light means that things don't look quite right; you can't see a color if that color light is not in the room (think of trying to recognize a green car under those old orange car-park lights). White LEDs do the same thing, so this problem is not going away. High quality office fluorescents use more than three phosphors to get better color rendering, but then you lose energy efficiency.

Old-fashioned light bulbs make light by heating something until it glows brightly. This is the same way the sun works and guarantees a smooth and complete color spectrum, so incandescent lamps make much more natural light. They are bad for energy efficiency since this way of working makes more heat than light, but they do make nice light.

Technically, the way to measure the completeness of color in a light bulb is to look at the Color Rendering Index. Sunlight has an index of 100. You'll easily notice inferior light when the number gets down below 90 (in my opinion). CFLi lamps are low pressure mercury vapor lamps, which means they make ultra-violet light. The phosphor powers convert this to visible light, mostly. You still get more ultraviolet coming out of a CFLi than from an incandsescent, which is why we are unlikely to see fluorescent lights in art galleries (UV destroys things). Another difficulty with CFLi lamps is the warm-up time. They take 60 to 90 seconds to reach brightness because the mercury in the lamp needs to fully evaporate into the vapor. If the lamp gets too hot (inside a light fixture, or covered with an outer shell) then the efficiency of the lamp falls away and the light gets dimmer. Special mercury compounds address this problem, but these require sophisticated manufacturing techniques largely out of the reach of cheap manufacturers.

Why do compact fluorescents die? For pretty much the same reason old fashioned light bulbs end their life: a small piece of metal slowly evaporates away as the light bulb is turned on. That's why you see black or dark staining on old compact fluorescents. In an old-fashioned light bulb, the filiament eventually gets too thin and breaks. In a CFLi, the small piece of wire than launches the current into the glass tube breaks or just slowly disappears. The most stressful time for a compact fluorsecent is when it's turned on: a  surge of current flows through the cold lamp. This is so damaging to the lamp that the life of a compact fluorescent is specified in hours of burning AND "switching cycles" (number of times turned on). Most domestic fluorescents have low switching life, and won't reach advertised life times in hours if you switch the light on and off a lot.  The manufacturers often don't tell you, but the "10,000 hour" lifetime typically assume you switch the light on only once a day. Better electronics can dramatically reduce the damage of switching the light on, so professional compact fluorescents have much, much better lifetimes. At least in Europe, some supermarket light bulbs by the big brands also have this protection, but to be frank, if your lamp is made in China, it's unlikely to. Switching "shock abosorption" costs more, but not much more. A reason not to buy from the supermarket.

Some more things to know: The electronics in a home compact fluorsecent are part of the lamp and thrown out at end of life. So there's not much point putting expensive electronics into the lamp, and unfortunately it requires expensive electronics to properly dim this type of light source. Professional fluorescents use expensive permanent electronics and replacement light bulbs, which is why you get excellent dimming from modern office fluorescents. The cheap electronics in home domestic light bulbs disturb the power supply, so you shouldn't use lots of them in one place.


Greece is the G in PIGS. The other countries (P, I and S) are keen not to be tarred with the same debt-risk brush.

Portugal is the P, and it's a small country and the next most at risk. So it's trying very hard to distance itself. But it's funny that the PM of Portugal is "Socrates".

When Australians choose to buy a mobile phone, they usually buy the phone as part of two year contract with a network provider. The best way to get someone to pay too much for something is to offer very confusing and complicated pricing and bundling, and an Australian mobile phone purchase is one of the best examples of this I have seen anywhere. These deals combine financing of the handset with very complicated bundles of telecommunications, at ludicrously inflated "Zimbabwe dollar" prices which are then discounted to seem like good value.

Most Australian plans are so-called "Caps". These are fascinating  deals. Fascinating like a horror movie. If you're in a hurry and about to buy a plan: there is now an alternative, where phone calls are ten times cheaper, data twenty times cheaper, and you only pay for what you use in a month (TPG), on the second best network in the country. This exposes caps for what they are: an incredible rip-off. TPG- has cap plans too, but since they have to be benchmarked against the "pay as you go" plan, they are much more reasonable.

We can't quite say "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" in this case, but it's a lot harder for people to take seriously the ALP's commitment to due process in employment decisions.For all of us who've been in the situation where someone is not right for the job but who find it frustrating to prove this via a long, laborious process, Julia and the gang have proved a point.

Dear Kevin, are you aware of http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Termination-of-employment ?

When is a dismissal harsh, unjust or reasonable?

When FWA considers whether a dismissal is harsh, unjust or unreasonable, they take into account a range of factors including:

  • if there’s a valid reason for the dismissal relating to the employee’s conduct or capacity
  • if the employee is notified of the reason and given an opportunity to respond
  • if the dismissal relates to unsatisfactory performance, then whether the employee is warned about it before the dismissal.

With reference to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Rudd and the loss of his job on a few hours notice.


By the way, the Fair Work act is very confusing and difficult for small businesses. Entitlements advice for workers being dismissed or made redundant can be completely contradictory, or hedged with references to an amazing world of "modern awards", federal awards, prior conditions, ... I don't like to say it, but it's very close to horrible.

This article tries to point out the irony in what happened to Kevin Rudd, elected on the promise of putting lots of process and intervention into employment.

Le Petit Paris opens for Term 3 2010,  running a French language immersion program for Melbourne pre-schoolers (of kindergarten age, mainly). The preschool classes are small (never more than ten per class), and the teachers (two per class) are native or fluent French speakers who will work with the children to foster their love of language and learning and language. There are sessions for 2yo, 3yo, 4yo and special activity programs (such as cooking and music). Congratulations to Mindy and Ley for starting this up ... good news for parents sending children to the Camberwell Primary School French bilingual program. Le Petit Paris is based in Boroondara, on Burke Road.

I'm hosting the site. Le Petit Paris is entirely built with Google tools (Google apps and Google Sites).