Window Tax and the Long S

This should have been two topics, but I just went with it.

  1. Window Tax
  2. The Long S

Window Tax

I happened across a YouTube video of an old house built in the UK. It looks as though the building was either of Georgian or Victorian periods, but upon going through the building, it’s likely that it was built in the late 1600’s given the bricking of several windows to avoid the Window Tax that existed in the UK between 1696 and 1851.

Everything is remarkable about this house from the limecrete floors through to the large beams throughout the house, as well as the utilisation of all space in the roof area. Not to forget the old doors. The YouTuber in this video is very fascinated by the doors. There’s a good reason to be when you consider they’re 400 plus years old.

If you haven’t followed the Window Tax link above, a brief history is outlined here:

  • Coin Clipping was a major problem in the 1600’s where it was considered high treason and punishable by death.
  • As a counter measure to coin clipping, King William III introduced a Window Tax in 1696.
  • To get around the tax many premises boarded up windows.
  • It was a varying rate depending on how many windows the premises had.
  • It was repealed in 1851 after pressure from doctors and others who argued that lack of light was a source of ill health.
  • The same tax was imposed in France in 1798 and only repealed in 1926!
  • The tax was designed to “tax the relative prosperity of the taxpayer, but without the controversy that surrounded the idea of income tax” (wiki).

The Long S

A couple of other side notes from this are detailed in the tax receipt below (click for a larger version):

I am reminded of a conversation I had with my grandmother many decades ago, we were talking about currency and she asked me “What does L.S.D. stand for?” I don’t think I had an idea of the drug at the time, but she continued with, “Pounds, shillings, and pence.” The abbreviation can be seen to the right of the receipt.

I am also reminded of some very early (pre Sydney Morning Herald) Sydney Gazette archival books we had at our school library in the 1980s. I remember reading though them being amazed at the language, but especially the type.

This one took some searching because I had mistakenly thought I was looking for archival Sydney Morning Herald material. It turns out I was looking for material from the Sydney Gazette. The first publication in Australia, running from 1803 to 1842. It was the official paper of the New South Wales government. Under the editorship of Robert Howe in 1824, it ceased to be censored by the colonial government. (This is pre-federation of the states in 1901).

When a non-capital ‘s’ was present in a word, not being the last letter, it was typed as a form of ‘f’.  The exact character varies according to being normalised or italics or even handwritten, but several forms are exhibited below. In normal text is appears as an “f” without the cross bar: “ſ”. In italics, it appeared more like the integral character of mathematics: “∫”

Examples: “ſinfulneſs” for “sinfulness” and “ſucceſsful” for “successful”.

It wasn’t until many years later with the advent of the internet, I found this to be what is known as the “Long S“, or in more modern times, the “short”, “terminal” or “round” s.

Here is the first page of the Sydney Gazette:

Some other examples from the Sydney Gazette and elsewhere from the Internet:


MQTT, OpenHAB2, sonoff and home automation

I found out about sonoff about a year ago but never purchased any for quite some time, and then when I did purchase them, they’ve been sitting in the drawer gathering dust. Due to the recent flurry of activity about them on youtube and the internet at large, I’ve been prompted to take a closer look at them and they are VERY impressive!

SmartHouse—Jonathan Oxer

Jon has a few videos dedicated to the sonoff devices, and these are very good if you don’t know what they are. And even if you do know what they are, there’s still some good information in his videos. He is a wealth of knowledge on more than just the sonoff devices with general electrical engineering as it relates to home automation.

I would recommend having a look at this video and then paying a visit to his website:

SuperHouse Episodes

Matt Kaczynski—MK-SmartHouse

I haven’t seen many of the videos on this channel as of yet, but Matt is using a lot of the technology and ideas that I have. For example, he uses OpenHAB2, sonoff devices and is integrating these with the likes of Siri and Alexa to create a custom home automation experience.

This video is an introduction to his setup. It wasn’t until the later half of the video that I realised he uses OpenHAB, something that I have already begun to introduce to my home.

After watching the video I visited his website and found the connections I have been looking for, namely MQTT, and OpenHAB. He has recently revamped his website and it has several guides and general information on his methodologies regarding home automation.

Stop by and visit his channel here:

Bruh Automation

I have been following a few of the Bruh youtube channel videos as he’s incorporated modern technology into his home automation. However, he uses an opposing technology to what I have setup. It’s like comparing Holdens and Fords, or Republicans or Democrats. It’s largely personal preference, setup and features. I use OpenHAB where Bruh uses Home Assistant.

There’s nothing wrong with home assistant, it’s just that I’d spent a bit of time setting OpenHAB up and it works on older devices (such as the original iPad running iOS 5.1.1) which Home Assistant does not.

Still, his channel includes some good videos on the subject and I do recommend a visit to his channel.

Lawlessness on the roads

I have long come to realise that Australia is a nanny state of rules and regulations. There’s a rule for just about everything, and I’m starting to realise this is beginning to hamper us when in reality these sort of things should be making our lives better. Safer.

After having spent a lot of time in Thailand and using Thai roads and the lawlessness that apparently goes with driving in Thailand, you can come to both appreciate the rules we have on one hand, but despise them at the same time.

There are times where (especially in the middle of the night) where you can seemingly spend an eternity at a set of traffic lights for no apparent reason. I have a set of traffic lights at the end of my street, and I have to admit, they are pretty speedy on letting traffic out of our street. You only have to stop there for a moment and the lights begin to change. This appears to be the case even if it has only just turned red. The wait is never very long.

Yet there are traffic lights where they seemingly take forever. What’s with that?

Why are there stop signs for turning left on roads where you can see the approaching traffic for half a kilometre?

Why are there red arrows against turning right when there’s no approaching traffic at all? This one can be especially infuriating.

Paris Traffic

I remember seeing a photograph of a classic Parisian roundabout when I was at school, and I remember thinking “How do they do it? It’s chaos! How does anyone not get killed?”

As a kid I couldn’t see it. As a young adult I couldn’t see it either. Our lives are built around a network of safety measures and molly coddling. Rules and regulations designed to give us a “right of way” and a feeling of security as well as entitlement.

It’s this entitlement that breeds complacency on the roads. A righteousness that forgoes common sense. Road rage built around “he just cut me off,” or “I have the right of way!”

But what if we took that entitlement away? What would happen then?

People speed through intersections because they feel “safe” in the knowledge that other traffic should be giving way to them. But what if other traffic didn’t have to give way?

What if we took away the very things that apparently made our roads safer?

One of my favourite presenters, “99% invisible” teams up with Vox and illustrate just how it’s done elsewhere and removes some of the “molly coddling.”

The originality of your design, depends on the obscurity of your source

The originality of your design, depends on the obscurity of your source


I don’t know where I originally found this, I had just come back to edit it and add a citation after updating my theme. In doing a search for this quote I only found references to it from my site. I can assure you I didn’t come up with it :)