Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Safe Withdrawal Rates - with respect to inflation ...

The subject of Safe Withdrawal Rates is cropping up again regularly on the blogs, so I thought I'd take a quick look at it myself.

The general acceptance criterion seems to be a drawdown rate at which an initial capital sum would last for 30 years without becoming depleted, after the withdrawn amount is increased annually in line with inflation.

Instead of trying to predict any particular safe withdrawal rate, I decided to take a slightly different approach and examine what the annual investment growth rate would need to be to sustain a 4% rate of withdrawal, and with reference to the assumed inflation rate.  4% is the oft-quoted safe withdrawal 'rule'.

So I set up a simple spreadsheet based on a £100k pot from which an inflation-adjusted amount is withdrawn each year, and then I played around with various input values.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Overhead Power Cable to the Greenhouse.....

I recently decided to remove the solar panels from the greenhouse roof.  After several years of daily charging & discharging, the deep-cycle batteries were almost completely shot and to replace all three batteries would have cost around £150.

However, I still like the greenhouse to be illuminated by the LED growlights in the evenings, so I priced up a few bits and pieces and reckoned I could fix up an armoured mains power cable from the house to the greenhouse for only around £60 in total.

Running a mains cable will also let me use my two heated propagators in the late winter, to get a headstart on the vegetable seed sowing.

If I ran the cable underground from the house it would need to cross the concrete driveway. This whole hardstanding area to the front and side of the house could probably do with being completely replaced, but since there's more than 150 square metres in total it's a very big ticket project and therefore it's not a high priority.  Still, there seemed little point in routing an underground cable across there if it's likely to need digging up in the future.

So I decided instead to route the cable overhead, a distance of around 11 metres from the front corner of the house to the entry point at the greenhouse.

The first job was to establish a few basic design parameters and buy the necessary equipment; a 25 m length of 3-core 2.5 square millimetre cable with galvanised steel wire armouring (SWA), a pair of guide tubes, U-bolts and wire rope clamps.

cable with outer sheath stripped and armoured wires cut back

Monday, 15 August 2016

Overwintering Chillies......

I read last year somewhere that chilli pepper plants are actually perennials, although very few people tend to treat them as such, instead sowing fresh seed every spring and discarding the plants in the autumn after fruiting.

So I thought I'd try an experiment ...

After a very poor crop last year from several plants, their first year, I brought the healthiest specimen indoors and overwintered it on the workshop windowsill.

With a very occasional watering, it survived the winter OK but looked a bit sick and bedraggled in the spring, so I didn't hold out too much hope.  Still, I trimmed it up and potted it on.

And look at it now after a summer in the greenhouse !    Hopefully there's still enough time for the peppers to ripen properly because they're supposed to produce a beautiful multicolour display.

from seed sown in 2015....

Friday, 22 July 2016

Cloning a laptop hard disk drive...

For the last couple of months I've been having problems with my No. 1 laptop, so-called because it's the one I use every day for business and entertainment, and so it's loaded to the gunwales with a whole range of software.

I've several other laptops; two higher-spec machines dedicated to analysis software only plus three serviceable older machines which were each previously the everyday No. 1 machine, and are kept as backups.  These earlier machines all run various versions of Windows XP.

The current No. 1 laptop is now three years old but was quite a high specification when new, and so it's well worth repairing.   The problems I was having related to slow boot times, which were getting longer and longer, and eventually the dreaded 'preparing automatic repair' loop which, in the end, prevented the laptop from booting up at all.   I'd previously ran diagnostics software from the hard disk drive (HDD) manufacturer (Seagate) which had indicated that the drive was about to give up the ghost, so the failure wasn't entirely unexpected.  

Three years doesn't seem much of a life for a disk drive, but this laptop is used day and night and is very rarely switched off - I also tend to use custom power settings which don't permit the disk to sleep if the machine's not being used for a while.

Anyway, I ordered a new 2.5" internal HDD, which is actually the exact same 1 TB capacity and type as that currently installed.   I thought about taking the opportunity to upgrade, but I don't need any more disk storage capacity on this particular machine.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Investment Review - June 2016

Here's an update of the combined portfolio as of today, the last day of June :-

Overall, we made very good progress during the last quarter, with new portfolio highs being recorded at the ends of April, May and June, despite the market uncertainties before and after the Brexit referendum.