Thursday, 22 September 2016

Lawn care

Lawn care and advice

I am no lawn expert but I take pride in the lawn at the back of my house.  Here are the things I have learned about lawn care.  I have arranged my findings by Month.


Not much to do on the lawn this month.  Keep it free from fallen leaves and other detritus that may come down.  Typically no mowing this month.  Try not to put heavy loads on the grass and if you need to access other areas of the garden for other purposes, put down boards to spread the load.
If you want turf then it is actually possible to lay turn in January if you get a fine spell


Again, not much to do on the lawn this month.  Don't let worm casts build up - you can swish them away with a broom (a traditional "Witches broom" is ideal for this).  If you want to lay turf then this can be done in February.


The lawn gets much more attention from March onwards.  Make sure you keep the lawn clear of leaves and other rubbish.  You can use a rake on the lawn to get rid of thatch - but be careful not to damage the grass since it is still "tender".  If you had turfed then you may wish to consider rolling the lawn.  Rolling, instead of just flattening, actually strengthens the grass.  First cut for the year should be done at a high cutting height which should be done just to get the grass the same height again - you will lower the blades as the year goes on.
Pick out the weeds if there are any.  I personally like to pick them out manually.


This is the feed and weed month.  Remember to read the supplier instructions carefully.  Start mowing more regularly but leave the grass at least about 30mm high.  You can dig out unwanted patches of wide leaved grass this month too.  You can reseed if there are any blank areas


Once a week mowing can start this month and since this is a growing month.  Feed and Weed is ideal for this month.  Please remember to carefully follow the supplier instructions.


Once a week mowing can turn into twice a week mowing in June and a Summer feed could be in order.  The blade height can be systematically lowered but don't go too low.  Luxury lawns composed of fine seeds can be cut to 15mm but no home lawn should really be lower than that.  Shun the tendency to cut too short - you can kill the grass.  Keep the grass moist and water if there are dry spells.  Trim the edges for a nice border.  Manually take out weeds if they start to appear.

July and August

Likely to have twice a week mowing now. Keep on top of the weeds. you may need to water the grass in dry spells.  If you go away on holiday then make sure someone cuts your grass (high) at least once a week.


This is a busy month for lawn lovers.  Fristly you won't need to mow so much and you should increase the height of the blades.
You may find worms all over your lawn so you may want to discourage them with a treatment.  You may be able to find some at garden centres but pesticides that kill worms are not available any longer.
If you have bare patches then you may have a leatherjacket infestation so this is the month to treat it with something like Nemasys and if you are treating for leatherjackest you may also want to treat for grubs.
You need to feed and weed this month too and get rid of moss by scarifying.  There are plenty of Feed and Weed treatments available.  Also this is the month for aeration of the lawn either with spikes or with a plugging machine.
If you wish to overseed, this is the best period for sowing seed but laying turf should ideally wait till next month.  If you know the seed type of your grass then overseed this month.  Personally, I like to protect the seed with some pegged down fleece.  It lets water and light through but stops birds eating all your expensive lawn seed.


Regular mowing will typically come to an end this month - but a few mowings should still take place!  Make sure you don't cut too shot.  Keep the lawn clear of leaves and dig up coarse unwanted grass.  You can still seed this month and this is the ideal time to start laying down turf.  


Keep an eye on the weather and the length of the grass.  You may need to cut the grass with the blades set high this month.  Make sure leaves do not choke the grass by clearing them away soon.  Too late for sowing seed now but you may be able to lay turf if there is a break in the weather.  Keep an eye on worms again this month and treat if necessary.


Relax, make sure you keep leaves off the lawn and try not to walk all over the grass when it is soaking wet.  If you need to manage your flower beds and the lawn is the pathway to them, then use boards over the grass to spread the load a bit.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Dooya DT82TN - Inexpensive remote controlled curtains

Inexpensive remote controlled curtains

I have been looking at getting remote controlled electric curtains for my home automation system.  The Somfy range are inordinately expensive so I searched around and found a Chinese brand Dooya that appeared to do the job.

I noted that some others had successfully used Dooya before:
However, that installation needed a Z-Wave relay in order to bridge the gap between the curtain motor and the Z-Wave controller.

I wanted integration without the need for an additional relay so I chose to go for the DT82TN which is a DC motor and has a built in radio receiver that works on the 433MHz frequency.

I purchased my motor from the same source as the previously mentioned installer.  Scott Liu from "Friend Industry Holding Co., Ltd" was extremely helpful in ensuring I got all the correct bits.

I needed central opening mechanism, which means I get an extra carrier.  I also wanted wall mounts, which are not included as default.  Lastly I wanted additional rollers which Scott provided as part of the package of items.

The DT82TN motor is a DC motor and is incredibly quiet.  You can hardly notice that it is even on.  The motor comes with a built in transformer which accepts a C7 figure 8 type mains cable.  You get a cable shipped with the kit but it does not come with a plug.

My motor didn't come with instructions either but I found instructions on the internet and they were easy enough to follow.

The DT82TN motor also comes with a RJ10 socket.  This allows an external switch to be fitted.  This was my get out of jail free card if the radio system did not work since it can be connected to a z-wave relay.

Some warnings
1. You will need to pay import taxes on the item from China (about £22)
2. You will need a 27A 12V battery for the remote control handset

Other than that it works really smoothly.

Some features of this motor:
  • Soft start (allowing you to manually pull the curtain and the motor takes over)
  • Resistance stop (stops the motor if it senses an obstruction).  This is a safety feature but also is used to automatically stop the motor when it reaches the end of it's travel
  • Manual operation - when there is no mains power you can still pull the curtains manually
  • Built in radio control - 433MHz receiver built in.
  • Built in Transformer - you can plug this into both 240V and 110V supplies
  • Really quiet operation
I use the Zipato automation system and I am currently attempting to help Zipato provide direct support for this motor using their 433MHz module

Friday, 4 December 2015

How to find out the version of IIS you are running.

Appears are simple enough question but you have to peer into the registry to find out the answer.

Open Regedit
Navigate to:


In that "folder" there is a key called "VersionString" which shows the version of IIS you have.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Where can I find SQL Server Managment Studio for SQL Server 2012?

Where to find SQL Server 2012 Management Studio download?

When I was looking, I could only find SQL server Management Studio for SQL 2005 which came as part of SQL Server 2005 Express

Digging a bit deeper and I found this for SQL server Express 2012.  From here you can download just the Management Studio components:

Fixing Domino regional date/time when running as a service

Fixing Domino date/times when running as a service

When running a domino server as a user (i.e. as an application), the international settings for date/time etc come from the Windows user regional settings.

However, when running the same server as a windows service, the region settings come from the registry and there is no way to change them from the user interface.

By default those region settings are US.

If you wish to change them then, you need to do the following:
  1. Login as a user with administrator rights
  2. Change the current logged in user settings to those that you want
  3. Start regedit.exe
  4. Manually copy all of the different settings:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/International
HKEY_USERS/.DEFAULT/Control Panel/International

It is easier with a large screen so both the source and the destination are on the screen at the same time.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Getting a list of checked out documents from SharePoint online

SharePoint 2013 / SharePoint Online - List of your checked out documents

Seems to be a often asked but not often answered question.  For Office 365 you can see your checked out documents without creating any special views simply using the Content Type lists.

If you have an out of the box SharePoint 2013 or online  "Document Center" and have uploaded items of content type = "Document".  Then simply follow these steps:
  1. Select the "Documents" document library from the Quick Menu
  2. A tree view of the library will be shown on the Quick Menu under "Drop Off library".  It will sow "Folders" and "Content Type" options.
  3. Click on "Content Type" which expands to all content types being used.  Select a content type and a view will be shown of that content type.
  4. There is a column "Checked out To" in this view.  Simply Sort and filter on this column to see the items that are checked out to individuals.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Zipato  - Automatic hot water schedule

I wanted to replace my boiler timer and thermostat and add additional intelligence to my home heating so I scoured the Internet looking for a suitable system.
I ended up choosing Zipato for the following reasons:
  1. Low entry cost
  2. Very flexible communication protocol support (Not just Z-Wave but also 433KHz and ZigBee etc.)
  3. Easy to create rules generation engine 
  4. SMS message integration
  5. Very good support
With everything set up I then purchased a temperature sensor and a central heating switch.

I really liked the design of the Fibaro FGMS-001 motion/temperature/lux/acceleration multi sensor which is the same size as a ping pong ball and flashes different colours when motion is detected (colours depend on the current ambient temperature).

For the switch I chose the SECURE SSR 302 which contains two switches allowing me to control hot water and central heating via the Zipabox from Zipato

Both were supplied by Vesternet ( who I have found to be really helpful with advice and excellent with service and price for these types of items.

Once installed by a qualified electrician I was ready to set up.

What I wanted was to build a schedule for my hot water but there is not actually a facility for that in the Zipabox system so I built one using "Virtual Thermostat Pro" which is available.

This facility is actually designed as a thermostat replacement but it has a schedule built in to change the temperate so was an ideal vehicle for building a thermostat.

Firstly I registered the switch and the motion sensor.  The Switch was set up with Hot Water on zone 2 and Heating on Zone 1.

Next, I added the "Virtual Thermostat Pro" using the Zipato interface
  • Login
  • Device Manager > Add New Device > Virtual devices > Virtual thermostat pro
  • Configure the new device: Heating output = Switch Zone 2
  • Configure the new device: Thermometer = Fibraro motion sensor

The trick is to modify the schedule now and set the required temperature.  I do not want to actually control the temperature of the water but just want to use the Thermostat Pro as a switching device so I set Required temperature to 30 C when I want hot water to be on and set to 8 C when I don't.

Simple but really effective.