Electricity – Ground Fault or Arc Fault

If you were asked, "Who discovered electricity?" What would be your answer? I'm almost positive (a little electric humor) that Benjamin Franklin and his kite flying tale comes to your mind. It was not electricity that Ben discovered in 1752. It was the lightning rod. In 1800, Alessandro Volta manufactured the first battery capable to deliver a constant electric current. It was Volta, not Franklin, to discover electricity.

Many of the ways we use and deliver electricity today are still the same as in the days of Franklin and Volta. Differences in electrical potential between materials cause current to flow between them. Charges can be produced by rubbing fur or cloth over a non metallic surface. Metal wires are used to transmit electrons over long distances; but one property stands out the most. Electricity can kill!

Today, we have developed many ways to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of exposure to electric current. We use circuit breakers, surge protectors, arch fault, ground fault, and equipment grounding to safely control the flow of electrons from one place to another. Two of these safely systems generate a lot of questions. What is the difference between ground fault and arc fault?

Ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protection has been around for a few decades. It is most commonly seen in areas where water is present. For instance, in modern homes, you will find GFCI protection in the kitchen near the sink, in the bathroom near the water sources, in garages, and any receptacles outside of your home. This type of protection guards against injury by monitoring how much current is flowing through it. If the GFCI detects a difference between the amounts of current leaving as opposed to returning, it shuts off. The missing current has to be going somewhere other than its intended destination. It's going to ground. A horrible place if you happened to be in the middle of the current as it's headed to ground.

Arc fault circuit interrupt (AFCI) protection has only been available to consumers for a few years. Like its parent GFCI, AFCI is designed to detect when electricity is not traveling to its intended destination. Unlike GFCI, AFCI is not protecting against the loss of current to ground. It is guarding against a broken conductor. These broken conductors are the primary cause of home fires in America today.

Primarily, AFCI is required in bedrooms. Bedrooms are notorious for having corded appliances, such as computers, alarm clocks, and desk or floor lamps in them. Many times the cords of these appliances are routed under beds, dressers, or carpets. This is not as safe as it looks. Cords are often cut by the items placed on them. Once severed, the broken conductor will arc. This arcing will continue until the metal is burned through or a circuit breaker trips. Often, the time between the initial cutting of the conductor and the tripping of the breaker is not quick enough and a fire breaks out. AFCI was designed to detect the initial arc caused by the severed conductor and immediately turn the power off.

In conclusion, electricity is the flow of electrons between items with differenting potential. If not properly controlled, this difference can have horrible repercussions, when people or property is in the way. Modern industry has taken great measures to protect us while using one of the most fundamental properties of nature – electricity.

Work and Study

The relationship between work and study should not be underestimated.

It is important that youngsters in general, and teenagers in particular, get real life experience of what it takes to succeed in the ‘real world’, what it takes to make money, and how hard dad or mum have to work to earn those extra few cents.

Recently a dad talked about the problems of getting his son to study; the family is wealthy and the son saw little need to make any effort to revise, do well in his forthcoming exams, and move onto a university and undergraduate subject with prospects of a rewarding career.

He saw his parents, particularly mum, as a ‘soft touch’.

The harder the concerned parents tried, the more obstinate the son became; the inverse law of proportionality seemed to be at work, or perhaps the law of diminishing returns. Necessity was definitely not the mother of invention!

‘Man he is a Lazy B…!’ complained the father.

At school, the youngster seemed to have learnt a lot about his ‘rights’ – but little about responsibility.

He didn’t realise that ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ are the same bedfellows – they both start with the letter ‘r’!

The current situation was inevitable…

Things changed, however, after our recommendation that the son spend time working in the kitchens of one his father’s famous restaurants over the summer holidays (well, what else did he expect given his parents’ gentler efforts?).

Washing plates to earn his pocket-money was no fun; it didn’t take long before the grades started to improve.

Study was clearly a better option than washing plates in the kitchen.

Take Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world.

Warren has a wise head on his shoulders and drives the same old car and lives in the same old house as he did at the start of his career; his common sense has to be respected since his actions reflect his words.

He can afford to live in mansions, drive better cars but through his example has made clear that he intends to give most of his wealth to charity.

Warren believes that his children must learn to earn a living, make their own way in the real world.

The last thing he wants is to ‘handicap’ his progeny by handing over his billions.

Some of the smartest students at The University of Oxford in The Business Management School often spent their summer holidays waiting at tables before they got First Class Honours.

They are now CEOs of major companies, earning a very healthy living.

Consider another example from the world of tennis, the William sisters where Venus and Serena dominated the women’s game for many years.

Their early history is one of being introduced to the ‘Bronx’ by their dad where gang bullets were not uncommon whilst they trained.

The William sisters soon realized that working for success in tennis was a better option than living in ghettos.

Where cajoling fails, direct experience often succeeds.

If you want your children to study more effectively, let them work for it!

A Holiday in Turkey – Is it the New Spain?

Some four hundred thousand Brits now own holiday homes abroad, Spain has been the most popular of destinations over the past twenty years; it has however become very expensive and more than a little over developed in recent years.

As a consequence many have begun to look elsewhere for their ´place in the sun´. Turkey has seen a huge rise in interest both as a holiday destination and a place to invest in property, people who were astute enough to recognize it as a potential ´hotspot´ as little as eight years ago could have seen their property increase in value by as much as 500% in that time; and whilst Turkey too has seen a decline in demand during 2009, property values have not dropped in the more desirable Mediterranean resorts, (one such resort being Kalkan) to the degree they have in the likes of Spain.

The possibility of Turkey´s acceptance to the European Union has also fuelled speculation in the property market there, whether they will ever achieve acceptance (or indeed actually want to) is yet to be seen. This is the account of how I became one of those ´Brits abroad´: -

I first went to Turkey, rather reluctantly, I might add, on holiday in 2000, and was very pleasantly surprised at how green the country was, I had expected to find a dusty arid country, how wrong I was! I was also very pleasantly surprised at how warm and welcoming the Turkish people were; having holidayed in Greece for some years I had always believed the Greeks would be difficult to beat in their hospitality, the Turks did just that.

My wife and I returned some five years later, having booked a holiday in a very swish hotel on the Dalyan delta, we were disappointed six weeks before being due to depart, to be told by the holiday company that we could not go there as the hotel was having work done and that they, the holiday company, would not allow their guests to have what was not the perfect holiday experience. They told us to choose something else from the brochure and regardless of cost they would honour the price we had paid and even refund us if there was a difference. My wife had seen Kalkan but dismissed it due to the transfer time from the airport feeling that it would be too long, however, given the situation we decided that we would endure the two hour transfer (it turned out to be one and a half). We chose a villa holiday instead of a hotel and hit the jackpot!

Kalkan, we decided very quickly was an idyllic place to holiday and whilst walking down one of the narrow cobbled streets one evening to enjoy a pre-dinner drink stopped to look in an estate agents window (as I´m sure many of you have), before I knew it we were making an appointment with the agent to view some properties the following evening. Meeting that particular agent was yet another amazing stroke of luck, he was a charming intelligent man who´s English was impeccable.

The following evening arrived and I have to say that I personally was not too enthusiastic, as I believed that I was wasting valuable time, I never actually expected to be buying a house. The agent who we learned was called Kemal met us at the appointed time and took us to view the first property, which he had chosen as a possibility. It was an imposing four bedroom detached property with magnificent sea views and a swimming pool; it was newly built and was being marketed at £140,000. It was without doubt a lot of house for the money, however, there was an apartment block right along side it with twelve balconies all of which looked over the swimming pool, a serious privacy issue which immediately ruled that one out.

As we drove away from that villa Kemal asked, “what are you looking for, do you want detached?” I rather facetiously said ´of course´ (remember I had little or no intention of buying) “do you want a swimming pool?” ´ Well obviously!´ He then took us to another newly built in fact not completely finished villa, at what point my attitude changed I cannot actually say, I just knew it was going to happen! This villa again was a four bedroom detached with pool and panoramic views over the bay and astonishingly £15,000 cheaper! We left Kemal that evening feeling like excited school children, a couple of days later and a couple of telephone calls back to the UK to our bank manager and we were signing on the dotted line!

From thereon Kemal did everything we gave him power of attorney (not an easy decision to make with someone you have only just met) and he completed the deal, we became the proud owners of our own piece of paradise seven months later. The piece of paradise is called Villa Katmar, a vaguely Turkish sounding word? No just a combination of parts of our names.

Becoming a property owner in Turkey for us was a very easy and stress free experience, however, a WORD OF WARNING, not everyone we know had such an easy transition into becoming a Turkish villa owner! As in any country it depends very much on the people you deal with and applying a little common sense! I have to say we were very fortunate to have had that almost accidental meeting with Kemal; it could have been a very different tale had we done ´business´ with someone else.

If you are contemplating buying in Turkey then I would urge you to consider Kalkan and if you do then again I would have no hesitation in recommending Kemal Safyurek of Mavi Estates.

Graphic Design: Degree Or No Degree?

Through my design career I have come across many job adverts for a graphic designer 'with a degree'. It always made me feel a little frustrated – "If I do not have a degree do you automatically assume I will not be good enough to join your company?". Surely a designer's portfolio and / or experience should say more than a piece of paper with a qualification on it.

I studied for a higher national diploma in graphic design at college and when the course finished I had the chance of pursuing a degree in graphic design or go for an advanced diploma in art and design. One of my lecturers told me that the degree contained more theory work where the advanced diploma was more practical. I opted for the practical work … after all that's what graphic design is.

The advanced diploma was only a year of study but most of the work was project based even if the deadlines were a bit too generous at times. However, since leaving college (armed with my qualifications) I admit that I learn more during my first design role and by teaching myself. That kind of education never stops with the design world and technology continuously changing.

This led me to question the importance of a degree as a designer and I know that I'm not the only one to ask this. In my honest opinion a degree does not automatically make someone more creative and successful than a designer who is self taught or who has learnt on the job. Their portfolio should be the strongest reflection of their skills and abilities especially when it comes to finding employment. Do companies advertising for a designer 'with a degree' honestly think that they are going to employ a better designer or is it a status thing?

Now I know that things have changed since I was at college so I thought I had a look at what degree courses my local college offers and found that they offer a BA in Art and Design. Here are the modules:

Year 1: Visual arts; applied crafts; digital arts; site specific design; graphic design; performance related design; web design; animation; self-employment; video production; community art; textile design; teacher or lecturer.

Year 2 : Creative skills and concepts; integrated project; visual literacy; digital applications; specialist options: skills development; contextual studies; personal development planning.

Year 3: Creative practice; contextual practice; specialist options: skills application practice; research skills; critical and contextual studies; pathways and concepts; professional and studio practice; professional and contextual studies; creative futures.

I did not study most of this stuff and I've spent 9 years in design studios working on a wide variety of projects of all sizes and with good feedback. I'm now working full-time as a freelancer trying to grow my own business. I like to think that I turned out okay without a degree.

So I guess my question is … does a degree make a better designer or is it all down to natural creative flair, experience and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends?