Help Ukraine free If you have free internet, you just have to open a page in your browser to help Ukraine. The page simply contacts s a list of Russian web sites like MIL.RU over and over. Veganline.com/info/help-ukraine lists some of the pages.
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help Ukraine

Shoe shops shouldn't put strange links right at the tops of their pages, so here they are instead, even though they are not about vegan shoes. Cowherds like Veganline.com put this on a page not indexed by search engines as well, just so people know that this is a vegan shoe shop.
 

Ways of opening Russian web sites over-and-over in order to slow them down

  • Web pages to open in a browser this minute if you have free internet, which start to open Russian websites over and over
  • Browser extension which starts to open Russian websites over and over
  • Installed program that changes the hit list
  • Limits to all of the start-to-open-russian-websites options


Gazprom Fuel saving

For next time: "made in" labels make boycotts possible

Taking in lodgers from Ukraine

 


Ways of opening Russian web sites over-and-over in order to slow them down

Web pages to open in a browser if you have free internet top

  • Stopwarnow.Github.io 
    Open the page, press "Launch" and you're done. There's a button to pause, and slider to turn-down the intensity if you want.

    Github only hosts open source software: you can open the source code and try to understand it, or just click the "what is this?" link and look at the Attacklist.CSV file. The F12 key sometimes shows a live report of what sites are visited.
     
  • Stop-russian-propaganda-com
    is a lightweight web page with odd formatting that seems to work. Press a button for it to show you what it's doing.
     
  • If you have a way of opening this page as though from a pro-Russia country, all the better. Opera browser lets you open is as though from Singapore.


Problem

This is more of a proof-of-concept than anything else because traffic from these pages must be easy to filter.

  • remembering to pause or turn-down Stopwarnow if it slows down your computer.
  • teaching your computer to stay up all night and remembering to leave the page open.
  • a similar page got a big red google warning screen about malware imposed on it, with a vague explanation about a "malicious site". This Github page is malicious in a way, so maybe it will get a bit red warning screen sooner or later.
  • I am in the UK. Running these pages from the UK is fine, because Russians want to do business in the UK their government wants to look menacing to people here. If I want to run the web page as though from another country, like a Russian ally, I haven't done the homework to work-out how.
  • if this is just a morale-booster, like a Ukrainian flag in the window, then you could change screen-savers in an organisation to one of these web sites. If you have a shop window, you could display a computer running one of these pages.

Browser extension. TOP

  • Chrome.google.com/webstore : Search for "UKRAINE CHROME WEB STORE" in any browser that might take Chrome extensions including (?) Opera, Edge, and Chrome. When installed, the program runs in the background and turns on whenever you open the browser. An extensions icon sometimes shows like a Ukraine flag, or else it shows when you click the extensions icon which looks like part of a jigsaw puzzle. When you get to the icon and click, after a pause, it opens a neat box listing targets and how often they have been contacted. This works when the system is running reasonably fast. There's an option to delete certain targets, to turn-down the rate of attack, or to pause it altogether.

Problems:

  • if your usual browser has this installed and slows down, you won't be able to click on an icon and pause the program because the browser will have slowed down. The icon might not show either. So it's best t keep this for another browser, or adjust the intensity of the one on your usual browser right down from 1000 to something less. Microsoft Edge browser now blocks this plugin but Opera runs it.
  • remembering to turn it off or turn it down if you're trying to do something else.
  • teaching your computer to stay up all night and remembering to leave this running. I don't know if computer screens wear out if left on all night.
  • if internet companies in Russia want to filter-out unwanted traffic, and their government forces them to do it for this kind of traffic, it looks likely that they will find a way. They have been filtering spam email for years and this is similar, although it might not have been done by protesters all over the world before; it tends to be done on the sly. So this is probably as much a morale booster as a help, but it might be a help as well.
  • I'd like to know more about this. If anyone has an opinion please let me know.

 


Installed program that changes the Russia hit list TOP

https://www.uahelp.me/help/#help-fight-propaganda is a general list of ways to help Ukraine. Somewhere near the bottom it recommends a program from Github called db1000n, best found by searching with a few double-checks rather than a link that could be hijacked and point anywhere. The explanation page is on https://arriven.github.io/db1000n/faq/ 

db100n can be used on on a spare computer that has no private information on it - maybe just the operating system - and there are versions for Windows Mac and Linux or whatever.

  • Download.
  • Unzip. Your computer will come-up with a message like "are you sure" because it's a program from an unknown publisher, so you probably have to
  • confirm.
  • Done, but you still have to teach your computer to stay up all night.

On Windows it installs a working version to C:/User/Username/Appdata/Local/Temp/ and opens an icon on the task bar that looks like a microwave.

  • Click to see what it's doing, at least at first; it opens a text box with today's list of urls and then shows that the list is being updated and used again, over and over.
  • Right-click and "pin to taskbar", if you want a shortcut to open the program again, or
  • Right-click and "close window" if you want to close the program. The version at C:/User/Username/Appdata/Local/Temp/ then proves hard to track-down but the zip file is still there to open again when you want.
  • As you tire of this, it becomes a chore to find the program from a search box and re-open. There's a way of remembering the name to type with is "death by a thousand needles" or db1000n

The lists of targets vary day to day, so it can launch surprise attacks. The software updates itself. You can google the list on the IT army of Ukraine's Telegram page preview. They might do different ministries on different days, or private sector targets doing banking or transport.

There are files and instructions for using this as though from other IP addresses, maybe in other countries like Belarus, for those who know how to do things like that.


Problems

  • The program updates itself, which seems bad if used on the same computer as anything else, or not without a close watch.
  • You have to be careful to download a well-linked version from Github, and not a link posted by pirates somewhere. For example I could post a link here and someone could find a way to change it, so I haven't posted a link.
  • If you use any malware scanners or virus scanners, it's good to do a full scan before installing the program and after installing the program, so you can see if there's any difference. For me "Safesearch" came-up before and after. 

 


Limits to all of them TOP


Anyone with a web site can use the free version of Cloudflare for protection. Cloudflare still does business in Russia. It even has a button for "I am under a denial of service attack". If that happens it probably asks all customers to wait a second and then try to view the web site again. They can limit that to visitors from particular countries of IP addresses.

The IT Army of Ukraine Telegram page, which has a preview that can translate on most browsers, gives some idea of success rates for the downloaded program that updates itself to their targets. I have not looked recently but results are attrition with small successes. Anyone in Russian government can also gage public opinion in other countries by the number of attempted denial of service attacks by individuals using free software running on their spare computer.
 


Reduce payments to Gazprom with off-peak washing, solar panels, shared travel, various odd thoughts starting "if you..." TOP

logo of Gazprom, the Russian gas-selling organisation


 

Set the washing machine to run at some time other than 6-10pm weekday evenings  TOP
 

The idea is that gas power plants work at peak times, in the UK at least, like winter evenings 6-10pm. If you can move something energy-intensive outside those hours, there's less need for UK power stations to use North Sea gas. More of it can be used in Europe instead of Gazprom gas. You might have to check with neighbours if they mind the sound of bedtime washing till the war ends - or maybe there is some obscure bit in the online instructions or your machine about setting it to run in the morning. It it takes extension leads and a timer switch, the mechanical ones are a lot more intuitive. Talking of obscure online instructions. Which magazine writes that some dishwashers have an obscure setting to open the door a little when the cycle is over, so plates dry quicker and more cheaply.

If you make tea in peak hours, maybe some thrifty way of boiling water like the microwave could help. If you design kettles, there are things you could do if customers will pay for the better kettles. If you make tea anyway, then pouring cups of cold water into an emtpy kettle before boiling could be good. Once you start thinking about the global kettle issue, then the re-use of vinegar option becomes more interesting. If you boil-up some of the cheapest vinegar you can find (or citric acid or whatever) to clean the kettle, you can keep this vinegar and use it again another time.

If you work in TV scheduling, Gas power stations start-up in the breaks between popular TV programs on winter evenings, I guess, when millions of people make a cup of tea at the same time while the heating is on, the sun isn't shining, and maybe the wind isn't blowing much. They're the power stations for peak demand.  If there is some way to vary the breaks between different viewers, the peaks of demand are lower and the need for Gazprom gas lower.

Problem: this isn't fact-checked but seems plausible.  

https://www.nationalgrid.com/media-centre/contacts might give an opinion.
I don't want to bother them for a page that isn't even indexed by search engines, but they might give a quote to journalists, popular bloggers, researchers or politicians and such.


Join the queue for solar panels if you'll control surplus space for a long time  TOP


https://www.pvfitcalculator.energysavingtrust.org.uk
/
 estimates percentage returns.

https://www.eonenergy.com/solar-panels/cost.html said "We're unable to install in your area at the moment but we'll be in touch as soon we're up and running near you." - maybe because they're over-booked and there's a queue of boats from China with the cheapest panels on them. The same deal under a different brand https://floenergy.info/ didn't reply. The first one now has the odd date available to book a Whatsapp phone call but the booking system stops working part-way through, an if the problem is that you have to be logged-on to the web site, that system is broken too.

Initially they quoted £4,000 for 6 panels or 2.16 kilowatts peak power together, without a battery, and no need for scaffolding, in a London borough For someone who is in all day, there's an estimated £365 a year savings for those 2.16 kilowatts peak power. It warns that your inverter box will wear-out in a decade or so, long before the panels, and when you move you'll leave you'll leave them behind as well. If there is a council in the UK that subsidises solar panels, that's probably included in the estimates that work by postcode. Initially there was a calendar of dates to book a call-back, but the dates ran-out.

Eon let you pay the £4,000 as £111 a month for 36 months; so interest on an average of £2000-ish, over 3 years, is free if regular payments suit you with most of the benefit at the start; towards the end of the three years you can pay off the lot if you get sick of making regular payments, and not loose much. They quote prices for up to 50 kw of peak capacity.

A lot of people are doing this - all the change in UK solar capacity from February to March 2022 is installations under 50kw - although the same report mentions that there's no tax-break for commercial-scale installations so maybe they're just not tracked in the statistics. (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/solar-photovoltaics-deployment)

        UK megawatts capacity
        Feb 22  Mar 22 change
00-04kw 2908.9  2930.4 21.5mw
04-10kw  365.2   374.2 11.0mw
10-50kw  964.1   971.1 07.0mw


Problem:
 people have different ideas about "surplus space". Anyone would want panels on a warehouse roof, but "brownfield land" is often there because industry has been treated badly and should get a chance to return; likewise good farm land that doesn't make much money from farming but ought to. The UK government doesn't even keep a spreadsheet of UK farmers or miners or manufacturers so it's hard for anyone even to write a trade directory of who they are. Freedom of information requests are over-ruled by something called the Revenue and Customs Act which looks as though it was written to defend the privacy of Russian oligarchs. There are bits of history about manufacturing, farming, or mining, that I think show UK government squashing these things because it hasn't a clue. So that's why surplus or brown-field space might be needed by farming mining and manufacturing as well as housing and solar panels.

Problem: winter evenings / batteries / hot water tanks / night storage heater

The quote form suggests an electric battery as an optional extra, but that costs more than half as much again and won't last as long as the panels. Another way round is the same as using Economy 7 cheap night-time electricity, which your current tariff might allow with a smart meter.

https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/solar-panels/ puts the point under the heading "install a PV diverter" .

Smart meters and maybe Economy 7 in future  TOP

"With smart meters comes a smarter energy grid, helping us to be more precise about the energy that everyone needs and reducing CO2 emissions", according to Eon Energy who offer them free to customers. That might free-up a bit of North Sea gas to replace Gazprom gas. There's no promise of a cheaper tariff, but if one comes along in future you will be ready to use it because your timer will  know when you're using electricity.

Anyone who remembers living before cheap gas will remember the system of two electricity meters on the wall and two immersion heaters in the hot water tank. Your granny or your strange uncle know this stuff. You may still have some of the equipment. One of the meters offered economy-price electricity between midnight and seven am. You could connect it to the bottom immersion heater on the tank, and preferably tie bedding round the tank because it was so badly insulated that it could cool down a bit by bath time.

If you had that system you might have night storage heaters as well, which were a pile of tiles in a modern-looking metal box that heated up and night and stayed warm during the day. 1970s ones were so fat you could sit on them. Argos still sells slim night storage heaters which you can bolt to the wall, called "ceramic core" to sound modern. Because they are thin, Argos warn that they suit occasional use and low power, or maybe the person who writes the web site has never used a night storage heater and can't quite work it out.

Which magazine warns that Economy 7 electricity is more expensive than mains gas, as  a rule of thumb, so this old equipment is mainly good for storing solar power or for people without mains gas. Moneysavingexpert  warns that these tariffs are usually more expensive during the day even if they're cheap at night: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/economy-7/

https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/home-heating-systems/article/home-heating-systems/storage-heaters helps you identify what generation of night storage heater you might already have, or see second-hand, or even buy new. 

None of this saves money until better electricity tariffs, but hanging-on to the equipment and getting a smart meter keep you ready if cheap night time electricity is offered, or if you install solar panels.

If you are in government


Solar schemes for big rooves look a good way to go, if it's good to release North Sea Gas from National Grid power stations so there's more of it available to Europe instead of Gazprom gas. The scheme could apply to panels with batteries, if you want to try and match supply and demand without using gas-fired power stations. I imagine that the problem is VAT, without really knowing: there is some way that individual customers on the government schemes get 0% VAT and a low but useful price for electricity sold back to the grid.

People who don't use a government-registered installer don't get the 0% VAT. They may get second hand solar panels and they may live off-grid, so maybe the tax break is less important to them.

I would like to write what applies to larger customers like commercial landlords but forget the detail if ever known. Somehow or other, the firm that controls the warehouse rooves or the station or school rooves near you does not get zero percent VAT on solar panels.


Permitted planning development for solar farms on bad farm land could be a way to go; the objections to current ones mention the waste of good farm land. Another idea could be to apply a planning system to Russian invasions of Ukraine, so that their tanks stop until planning permission is granted after consultations, or go the other way and make planning decisions at least as fast as Russian invasions, maybe with a single ministry-run decision rather than a council-run decision and appeal.

Increased use of coal-fired power stations where they exist, instead of gas, would be good, if it isn't happening already.
 

Shared travel: revert to pre-Covid pubic transport and lift sharing; pick up hitch-hikers TOP

After the obvious statement, it would be good to give a list of quick links but the links are different in each area, even in the UK. 

Intercity buses 


Checkmybus.co.uk, Comparabus.com, Rome2rio, Citymapper, or the directions button on Google Maps. If you think about going on a bus, and then go on a train, it makes the train feel a lot more comfortable.


Shared car journeys


Blablacar, Liftshare.com and GocarShare.com show offers of shared lifts for shared petrol, with a commission to the web site. You can also pick-up hitch-hikers, if they still exist, at the exits of motorway service stations or try standing there yourself with a sign. Edgeware service station at the foot of the M1 can be reached by bus and tube. 

Another way into this is where people with the same employer offer each other lifts-in and lifts-out. I don't know much more than that.

Shared cabs


In Belfast and Derry there's a tradition of cab-sharing in five-seat black cabs that works on local knowledge of drivers and regular customers. In London, Viavan tried to do the same with software and smartphone apps but didn't get it working well before Covid and are still shut in London this spring 2022. Their web site looks more optimistic about Berlin and their electric minicab service in Milton Keynes. Maybe they or someone else will get the idea going in other places. https://como.org.uk/ might have some suggestions under their https://como.org.uk/shared-mobility/shared-rides-and-the-rest/ section.

Cabs

In every town there are cheap cab firms to use when public transport is a chore, but a different mix of cab firms in each town. The ones that use an app (if your smartphone is working) to make sure you're found and that you've paid for the journey have lower costs, but they're not always Uber. Bolt is cheaper in London. Older cab firms have given-up their control offices and started using smartphone apps to keep costs down too. So anyone thinking of doing without a car needs to do some googling and get a few apps on the phone. Some stations, supermarkets and hospitals have their own free phone to a cab company that pays them commission.

Hire cars


In every town there is a cheapest car hire firm - not one that's listed on a comparison site and pays for a counter and staff and a collection of cars and brand advertising. Those ones have to look cheap by finding ways to charge customers for two days instead of one. They have high costs which they have to pass-on to the driver one way or another.

Hiyacar, Karshare, Getaround or Turo are P2P car hire firms with very low costs. In Ireland there's Fleet, in the US there's Lyft and in Australia there's Drivemycar and Carnextdoor.  The first link is to a sign-up discount. At Gatwick and Bristol airports, Karshare will borrow some kinds of car and pay you to rent them out instead of charging you to store them. If you want to rent-out the same car that you drive in the place where you live, that's fine as well with all of these firms as long as there's a clear online booking system that says when it's not available. They differ a little in the cars they accept and their systems for customer feedback on cleanliness and such, but the gist is that a car has to work well, probably have robot access from a smartphone, and have a polite helpful owner who does not make-up damage to claim compensation for a scratch. This is harder to manage the further a car is from the owner, so a lot of the cars available are just the one car owned by the one owner who might have a parking permit somewhere near you. The range of owners allows a slight range in what they offer. There are a lot of different cars. There's the odd owner that might meet you at Heathrow airport and lend you the keys to a car, but this is unusual; most let you and your smartphone do the work of booking, finding, and paying for the thing.

Next up in price are the firms that own or lease all their cars and manage them, paying someone to check them every few days. They park them on the street and often on rented club bays in controlled parking zones. These councils tend to have a web page listing the clubs like Zipcar and Enterprise where I live, and Ubeeqo as another option in the next council along. These firms costs have to be higher. They are registered for VAT. The contractors work full-time, probably as formal employees, rather than part time on one or two cars in a way that might not feel like work. The cars are bought new. No wonder they're more expensive to use than the previous lot and often charge a monthly fee, calling themselves car clubs. Zipcar has a pay as you go option, but you have to pay to sign-up for it and there's a mixture of mileage costs and hourly costs.

Most expensive are firms that own and store their own cars and employ staff on a counter. This is where we came-in.

Efficient and tax-efficient cars


For anyone with a car who pays for a car tax and maybe a parking permit and driving in a low emissions zone, there could be tax breaks on each of those for a car with lower emissions. 

The first job is to check your council parking web site for cheap deals on parking permits and emission zones, then apply those conditions when searching Motors.co.uk or Autotrader. Then a check on https://www.reliabilityindex.com. It's hard to know what to add, though because lots of people already know this and have added 25% to the cost of secondhand cars, and even more for the ones with very low emissions that might qualify for some discount somewhere where others don't. 


The EU also suggest not going to work, which I can recommend from experience, and finding rail replacements for plane journeys. They didn't mention private jet journeys, but I will not be doing any of those. Oh, that summery was based on a tabloid report online. Here's the original link.

https://www.iea.org/reports/harnessing-energy-demand-restraint-in-ukraine-a-roadmap
  

Insulation where the usual web sites don't suggest it


https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk get to the point by suggesting you find the Energy Performance Certificate for a space you can insulate (or one like it), but their figures don't look as though they're updated very often; the site is a beta test version it says.

https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/ have a lot to say about insulation, but when it comes to cold clammy outside walls without cavities, they just quote a very high price for cladding, as for floorboards over cold air. Underlay could make a difference, or a piece of fabric over a cold clammy wall, such as a Ukrainian flag.


For next time: "MADE IN..." labels make boycotts possible. Vegans are good at boycotts. TOP


Companies that buy coal internationally started boycotting Russia before any sanctions forced them to: "Self Sanctioning" is a new jargon phrase for boycott. Leaks from Russia say the central bank has trouble selling gold, even in private, at a discount, and that they have to sell their oil to China at a discount because so few other customers want to buy.

China, that sells consumer goods, is behaving exactly as Russia did a few months ago, except that it seems to want Taiwan instead of Ukraine or the Isle of Weight or anywhere, and it has a COVID problem preventing invasion for a few months.

UK trading standards departments have no way to force "made in China" to be written on Chinese goods in big letters, even at the time they are imported, for example on MG cars. This could be changed by a mixture of law and government encouragement and small grants, so that if China threatened to invade Taiwan, the government in Beijing would know that sales of "made in China" goods would fall very quickly before any formal sanctions happened. There could be grants for adapting software so that it allows search by country-of-origin, and laws to say that sellers have to show it when easy and economic to do so, and to require labelling on imported goods.

The same kinds of laws could help people find UK manufacturers (I am in the UK) of products as an alternative to Chinese, as a way of reducing inflation by making markets work better, and as a way of increasing UK job opportunities for people who prefer manufacturing jobs to service jobs. It's also a way of promoting goods made in a welfare state, and using the idea of a sympathetic home market to allow new companies to grow.

At the moment, government statistics do not help people in the UK find UK suppliers; the data from VAT and income tax is shielded from freedom of information requests under the Revenue and Customs Act, and there's no attempt to help people write trade directories. Companies House does let you search companies by category, which is quite new, but not enough because companies can write anything on their accounts; they don't have to say whether they make things in the UK in their own workshops.

How to put this to an MP or a minister or civil servant? It's difficult because they work in services, like most of us, and have no idea that it's hard to find UK manufacturers at the limit of price and order size that they're willing to supply, and hard for UK suppliers to get their details known without web sites and maybe advertising, which are rather chaotic in the information given and enquiries got back in return.

 


Taking-in Ukrainian lodgers who would not otherwise get a visa TOP

There is a grant of something like £350 a month and some constraints on exploiting lodgers. The main cost is awkwardness - it would suit someone used to taking-in lodgers, and not many vegans are used to that. There are vegans in Ukraine, though. A site called http://veganohooligano.com.ua/ used to link to Veganline from there (thanks!) which is a vegan restaurant and cookery school. There's a Guardian article about hosting a Syrian refugee, and a google search finds pages from mumsnet.