Monday, 10 December 2018

Natalie Lamb and the organisation of music

I needed to reduce the memory that my laptop uses. A lot of my memory is used on music and the organisation of it is something that has been bugging me for a while. iTunes has converted all my music to m4a, a format my car is unable to play and it has been this way for years, probably since I first started listening to my own music. I do have a generation one iPad Mini but I never- and have never- used it for music. I only listen to music now on my phone (using an SD card), my car (using my phone via Bluetooth or via USB) and on the Echo Dot (using my phone). So these are the steps I have taken to reorganise my music.

1. Deduping 
Over the years I have tried using iTunes to change my music format from m4a to mp3. It did not work and all it has done is to replicate all my music once or twice. That's a lot of storage!
To find and remove all duplicates search the following in File Explorer:
These searches will find only duplicated m4a (iTunes format) and mp3 songs that have a (2) at the end of the file name. If you have three copies of each song, add a 3 in the brackets etc. You can then select all (press ctrl and A) then delete them.

2. Remove songs from iPad
Since I don't use the music anyway, I thought I would delete it from my iPad. Connect the iPad into the computer, open up iTunes then click the small phone icon that appears. Under the Options heading, untick all the boxes.

You may also need to delete the songs from the device itself. If you do, click Settings on the iPad then click Storage & iCloud Usage. Click Manage Storage under the Storage heading and wait for it to finish adding everything that takes up memory on your device. When it is finished, click Music, then All Music, then Delete.

3. Remove songs from iTunes
I wanted to remove the songs from iTunes so I wouldn't have it reconverting them any time soon.
In iTunes under the Library heading, click Songs. Select all and click Delete From Library. The following warning sign pops up. Personally, I kept the files so I could convert them to mp3 format.

Any songs that are left will be from the iCloud Library and these can be hidden if you want by selecting all and clicking Delete From Library, a second time. Any empty music folders can be deleted by searching iTunes in the File Explorer. Then click Music and you should be able to view all the folders. Select all and click Delete to remove them or leave them if you want to convert them.

4. Convert files to mp3
I downloaded a free m4a to mp3 converter. After it had installed, I clicked File then Add Folders. When all the music folders had uploaded, under the heading Output Format (bottom right hand side), I clicked Setup then General. I ticked the final box- Remove the source file after a successful conversion- to stop further duplication. I then clicked Convert to start the process. It took hours (maybe like 6h to do ~60GB of music) but it worked and it put everything in the correct folders.

Although it took quite a few hours, this was the most hands off approach for me to dedupe and reformat all of my music. Now to factory reset and start again!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Natalie Lamb and the water quality: Bottled water vs tap water

The Consumer Council for Water (2015) completes yearly reports from audited data from UK water companies. It was found that in 2015, 14% of UK consumers prefer to drink bottled water, rather than their tap water when a home. But which should be drinking? Bottled water or tap water?

1. Cost


Bottled water may cost over £1 per litre.


In 2015 there was a decrease in the percentage of customer who felt their water service bills were fair, from 68% in 2014 to 62% in 2015 (Consumer Council for Water, 2015) but tap water can cost 1p per litre, much cheaper than bottled.

Winner? Tap

2. Taste 


Half of the people who opted to drink bottled water in the Consumer Council for Water (2015) study did so because they perceived tap water to be of poor quality, bad tasting or of a bad smell. 
Blind comparisons of different waters found that consumers preferred waters with high mineral content (e.g. bottled water, groundwater) over lower mineral content water (Falahee & MacRae, 1995). However, this study did not take familiarity into consideration- it might just be that people like to drink what they are used to.


On the whole, people are happy with their tap water quality, with 93% of customers were satisfied with the taste and colour of their water and 87% satisfied with the taste and smell (Consumer Council for Water, 2015).
If you do dislike the taste of tap water, have you tried placing jugs of tap water into the fridge to remove the taste?

Winner? Bottled?

3. Quality


Both bottled water and tap water must conform to The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations.


It has been argued that tap water is better controlled than bottled water, with more rigorous standards and more frequent analysis (Olson 1999). Tap water can often also have more advanced treatment methods (DWRF 1999).

Winner? Tap

4. Trust


Perrier Mineral Water was recalled worldwide in 1990 when it was found to be contaminated with benzene. After this incident, bottled water sales in the US dropped until 1993 (Doria, 2006). 


However, the same can also be said of tap water.Drinking water consumption can be decreased in areas that have previously had serious problems with their tap water, encouraging consumers to drink bottled water (Anadu & Harding 2000). For example, incidence of  Cryptosporidium and Giardia in Sydney in 1998 resulted in a 40% bottle water sales increase in the year following the contamination and remained increased five years later  (Lonnon 2004).

Winner? Draw

5. Environmental Impact


According to the Pacific Institute (2007), it takes about 3L of water to produce 1L of bottled water, meaning that more than 100 billion litres of water is wasted yearly to produce bottled water (van der Linden, 2015).
Bottled water also requires the use of more energy. Per litre of water produced, bottled water requires 2000 times more energy than tap water (Gleick & Cooley, 2009). 
The manufacture, transportation and disposal of plastic bottles have negative environmental impacts, including the fossil fuel consumption, the CO2 emissions required and the waste plastic generated (Etale et al., 2018).


The use of tap water could have an impact on the environment but much regulation is put in place to stop this. For example, water companies are only allowed to abstract a certain amount of water from local water bodies, monitored by the Environment Agency, to ensure levels do not get too low.

Winner? Tap

Overall Winner

Bottled 1
Tap 3
Draw 1

It looks like tap water has won this quick rundown, however I am biased as my research is in tap water. What are your thoughts? If you choose bottled water in the UK, why do you do so?


  • Anadu, E; Harding, A (2000) Risk Perception and Bottled Water Use, Journal of American Water Works Association, 92 (11), 82–92.
  • Consumer Council for Water (2015), Water Matters: Household Customers’ Views on their Water and Sewerage Services 2015.
  • Dorria, MF (2006), Bottled Water Versus Tap Water: Understanding Consumers’ Preferences, Journal of Water and Health, 4 (2), 271-276.
  • Drinking Water Research Foundation (1999), Analysis of the February 1999 Natural Resources Defense Council Report on Bottled Water.
  • Etale, A; Jobin, M; Siegrist, M (2018), Tap Versus Bottled Water Consumption: The Influence of Social Norms, Affect and Image on Consumer Choice, Appetite, 121 (1), 138-146.
  • Gleick, PH; Cooley, HS (2009), Energy Implications of Bottled Water, Environmental Research Letters.
  • Lonnon, K (2004) Bottled Water Drowns the Competition.
  • Olson, E (1999), Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New York.
  • Pacific Institute (2007), Bottled Water and Energy Factsheet,
  • van der Linden, S (2015), Exploring Beliefs About Bottled Water and Intentions to Reduce Consumption: The Dual-Effect of Social Norm Activation and Persuasive Information, Environment and Behavior, 47, pp. 526-550.
  • Thursday, 13 September 2018

    Natalie Lamb and the Brilliant Club tutor top tips

    I have now completed quite a few placements to different age groups as a Brilliant Club tutor:

    • Spring 2017- Is Ebola the next international pandemic? KS3
    • Autumn 2017- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS4
    • Autumn 2017- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS4
    • Spring 2018- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS3
    • Summer 2018- What makes a healthy heart KS2
    • Autumn 2018- From distant rivers to your kitchen sink KS3
    I have produced this post to help other tutors. These are some tips I've learned so far on my teaching journey.

    • It's OK to be nervous with your first class- I was! Just don't overthink it and it will be fine (as long as you have prepared for it!).
    • If it's a pre-designed course, make it your own! It's OK to change it and that feeling of ownership you will get will vastly improve the way you teach it.
    • Assume both the lead teacher and the pupils have been told nothing about the Brilliant Club. It's better to repeat information than them not to know. Start from the basics, like what it is, why pupils have been chosen, who you are etc. Some pupils are surprised that they have to do homework, for instance.
    • Email the lead teacher your handbook. This way they know the course, know what homework the pupils have to do and if a pupil looses one, they can print pages off.
    • Assume the first tutorial will be 30-45 minutes long. That way if you do end up getting a full hour it's a bonus.
    • Plan extra activities at the back of your handbook in case you have extra time and to keep quicker pupils occupied.
    • Spend the last 10-15mins of each lesson talking over the homework and any leftover time talking about uni life. Remind them you are a student! They will look forward to it (especially after talking about homework). But have stories about uni already prepared because there might not always be questions.
    • Break the ice in the first lesson- introduce competition or prizes or just general silliness. Personally, I get them to choose a sweet but they can't eat it straight away. Based on their choice they have to do different things e.g. yellow sweets have to say their favourite subject and blue sweets have to say their dream job. At the same time, round sweets have to speak while clapping their hands and square sweets have to speak while stood up. Everyone has to say their name before doing their tasks. If you do it first, they are likely to join in, although every class is different and some may be too shy for the silliness and you might just stick to saying things. 
    • Properly explain who you are e.g. show them a map of the UK with their school on it, where your uni is, where your undergrad uni was etc. Explain who you are in terms they can understand and identify with.
    • Make lessons fun and interactive (this requires planning!).
    • Make homeworks short or fun. Long is OK (e.g. produce an academic poster). Boring is OK (I'm thinking baseline assignment here) but never both. Leave that to the final assignment!
    • Don't worry too much about the final assignment word count and, more specially, get your pupils to not worry about it. Quality>quantity. The word count isn't actually in the mark scheme either.
    • Be positive about the final assignment e.g. it's a way to prove yourself, it's work you can put on your CV, you'll be allowed to graduate, you might get your work published in a magazine etc. They might well be freaking out about it- they really don't need any more negatives to think about!
    • Don't rely on the VLE to work or for attendance or for messaging- some classes never even end up using it at all.
    • Join the class on the launch trip tour! They get to know you, you get to know them and you get a taster of what they are like.
    • Let the pupils make choices. Quite often in school you are told what to do, rather than asked. Don't give the pupils completely free reign but them have choices (e.g. produce a poster for homework or write a 300 word description). We're expecting university- standard work from them. The best way to get this is by trying to treat them like university students.

    Tuesday, 11 September 2018

    Natalie Lamb and the pioneering international collaboration: Brno University of Technology

    While presenting at the Eastern European International Water Association Young Water Professionals Conference 2018, I met a PhD researcher, Markéta Rajnochova. As part of her PhD research in the Czech Republic, her and other researchers at Brno University of Technology were going to be running a flushing programme. 

    This innovative flushing programme was designed to clean the pipes in the distribution network of Vsetín, something that had never been done before. The flushing was to get the pipes to their optimum condition because the water company in the area, Vodovody a kanalizace Vsetín, a.s., were planning on turning off the chemical chlorine and wanted to do so without impacting the water quality of their consumers. 

    As my research is about chemical free drinking water treatment in the UK, I was very excited when I was invited to visit the researchers and view this pioneering research, the flushing and the switching off process in the Czech Republic. I could not wait to experience this leading research and to share this experience with other researchers in the UK.

    A view of Vsetín in the Czech Republic

    What did the collaboration involve? 

    I visited the town of Vsetin in the Czech Republic at the end of August 2018. Before the flushing campaign had began, weeks of meticulous modelling of the case study distribution area in Vsetín was completed, to ensure the researchers from Brno University of Technology knew exactly where they would be flushing each day. Their diligent planning really paid off- I was impressed by how the work flowed, that it was completed very quickly and efficiently. 

    We would travel to different hydrants within Vsetín. The researchers from Brno University of Technology as well as staff from Vodovody a kanalizace Vsetín, a.s. would work together to clean the hydrant and then prepare it for flushing. In particular, I thought the collaboration between the academics and the staff was excellent. Before, during and after the flushing, samples were collected to assess the quality of the water. When setting up this opportunity, I thought I would be observing the process. It was excellent to actually be a part of it, to be involved with the project, as I was helping with the collection and analysis of the samples.

    Collaboration between Brno University of Technology, Vodovody a kanalizace Vsetín, a.s. and The University of Sheffield/Anglian Water during the flushing campaign of Vsetín

    What did I gain from the opportunity?

    I would really encourage others to create opportunities such as this. I have gained the contacts of some excellent international researchers, who I hope to collaborate with again in the future. I would like to invite them to see my PhD trials when I begin them. The researchers and myself discussed in detail the differences between the UK and the Czech water industry, with a specific focus on risk assessment. I hope they learned as much about the UK from me as I learned about the Czech Republic from them. 

    During this experience I gained such an insight into water treatment in the Czech Republic. Doing research about a place is really not the same as going there and experiencing it first hand. This has given me is a case study company and country to write about in my thesis. This process was an excellent example of taking steps towards a chemical free distribution network. I can write about this and advise UK water companies on how they can learn from these experiences.

    I gained a much greater understanding about the flushing process. This will really help me in my current PhD work as flushing is a process I intend to carry out during the experimental phase of my research. It will not only help me set up my own flushing but will also help me have a refined method as I have already experienced what works and does not work when carrying out this process. I can only hope that it goes as smoothly as the flushing in Vsetín.

    Markéta Rajnochova from Brno University of Technology and Natalie Lamb from The University of Sheffield/Anglian Water comparing their water samples


    In summary, I think we have successfully formed an international link with another university. I learned a lot from the researchers from Brno University of Technology and will use their expertise to better my own research and enhance my thesis. In future, I hope to feedback my findings to them when I get the results from my trials. I hope this continuing exchange of information will form a more long-lasting relationship.

    Overall, I am proud of the experience and very grateful to Brno University of Technology for hosting me and to Vodovody a kanalizace Vsetín, a.s. for allowing me into their sites. I would especially like to thank Ing. Jan Ručka, Ph.D. – Senior Researcher at the Brno University of Technology, Ing. Markéta Rajnochová – Research Fellow and Ing. Tomáš Sucháček – Research Fellow for their knowledge, excellent English skills and hospitality. Thank you, too, to PREP for making the experience a possibility, through the award of a Postgraduate Experience Researcher Programme Bursary 2018.

    The long-term monitoring of the drinking water quality in the distribution system of the Vsetín city and also the preparedness of the flushing campaign was funded with financial support of Technology agency of the Czech Republic Zéta Project No. TJ01000296 "Drinking Water Quality Management in Water Supply Networks".

    Researchers and staff from Brno University of Technology, Vodovody a kanalizace Vsetín, a.s. and The University of Sheffield/Anglian Water

    Friday, 7 September 2018

    Natalie Lamb and Travel: Stockholm, Sweden

    I visited my friend who lives in Stockholm for a few days. I spent ~£150 in two days- I found it very very expensive! An excellant place to visit, however. This is what we got up to.

    A great view of the city, after an overly long presentation about a stadium. It's quite far out of town and I would advise using the Metro to get there. It climbs up and then goes back down the same side i,e. it doesn't go all the way around. Overall, it took about 20 minutes and cost 150sk (~£14)(no student discount).

    I didn't actually go to this because I had already been to a similar one in Amsterdam but it was still in my research so thought it might be of interest. 199sk (~£18).

    Stortorget in Gamla Stan
    The pretty houses in Old Town, exactly what you expect to see as a tourist in Stockholm.

    Nobel Prize Museum
    This museum was smaller than I expected but I very much enjoyed it. There is also a student discount. Definitely worth it for the free tour.

    Abba the Museum
    Although I'm not a fan of Abba, I still visited the museum. When in Rome? I found it very fully of overly pushy Abba fans and walked around it very quickly. There were karaoke booths where you could belt out your favourite tunes but all passers-by would hear you so maybe only for the confident Abba lovers? It was 250sk (~£22) and I was surprised that it offered a student discount.

    The Metro
    Regarded as the longest art museum in the world, the metro of Stockholm is definitely one to visit if you're interested in that kind of thing. For me, an avid gamer, I especially wanted to visit Thorildsplan Station where there is a retro 8 bit artwork. I was also interested in Solna Centrum Station with its fiery red ceiling.

    Gröna Lund 
    We also visited a theme park. I would recommend taking the ferry over. It is included in the public transport ticket and makes for a great view!

    FikaFika is essentially Swedish afternoon tea and is an important tradition to partake in! I often saw cinnamon buns trying to capture the eyes of tourists.

    We went for Swedish Meatballs (how could we not?) at Meatballs for the People. I would recommend it.

    Natalie Lamb and Travel: Prague, Czech Republic

    I recently found myself with a short weekend in Prague. I was very short for time and had an ever-increasing list of things I wanted to do while there. This post is about what I did and any tips I would give to future travels to this beautiful city.

    I flew in to Prague Airport (Václav Havel Airport Prague) which is located North-West of the city. One thing I found strange about the airport is that security checks are at the departure gate. This means there's no point getting there early because you can't go through security early. The food court upstairs in the airport was a lot cheaper than the other food shops and served more traditional Czech meals.

    I used the Airport Express to get to the main train station (Praha hlavní nádraží, often abbreviated to Praha hl.n). The AE buses run every 15 minutes and it takes ~25 minutes to make the journey, traffic dependant. The stop was easy to find at the airport, just look for the sign saying AE. Make sure you get on the AE bus and not the public transport bus. There were plenty of seats (I had two to myself both ways) and plenty of room for luggage. You can't buy return tickets so I bought a single from the information desk at the airport (44Kc, no student discount) on the way there and another single (60Kc, no student discount) from the driver on the way back. Just to note, the older people in Prague have Russian as a second language (young people generally have English) so the driver is unlikely to be able to answer questions such as: when are you leaving, how long will it take etc. On the way back, the bus stopped at Terminal 1 (UK) first and then to other terminals later.

    The Airport Express bus takes you to the main station, where there are booths and machines where you can buy public transport tickets. When I went the machines were broken and there were only two people in the booths, meaning for 20 minutes queues to get a ticket. You can buy them at the bus stops but you need coins (I only had notes). I bought a 24h pass for 110Kc (no student discount) and it proved invaluable as it worked on all buses, metros, trams and even the funicular. Only on the funicular was my ticket checked the whole time but I liked the security of having it just in case.

    Old Town
    The Old Town area is where most of the hotels are located.

    Speculum Alchemiae
    I visited this alchemist museum as I am a scientist and like all things sciency. I was quite disappointed, especially for the cost. The people giving the tour were really nice and there were interesting stories but it was a very small exhibit of mostly replicated items. I feel like I could have quickly read the stories elsewhere and not spend 30 minutes on the tour. It cost me 150Kc for a student ticket. I arrived just after one tour ended and it was 30 minutes until the next one. There isn't a lot to do in the area so I would recommend buying a ticket in advance and coming specifically for that time. Alternatively, there are coffee shops in the area.

    Prague Astronomical Clock
    I wanted to visit this but it was shut from renovations when I visited.

    I also wanted to try absinthe for the first time here but unfortunately it doesn't open until 12 so I didn't have enough time.

    I had seen some beautiful photos of libraries online. I queued to get my ticket for the 50 minute tour but saw a sign saying you are not allowed to take photos in the library so I didn't join it. You can apparently also see the library at Strahov Monastery but this needs to be arranged weeks in advance.

    Municipal Library of Prague
    I came here to visit a tunnel of books. Worth a quick look and a photo if you're in the area. Although, it is shut on Sundays.

    Havelské Tržiště
    Havel's Market is a great placed to buy gifts and knick-knacks.

    St Charles Bridge
    A tourist classic. I tried to visit in the afternoon on Saturday and hated it. It was far too busy for me so I gave up. Instead, I went again at around 8am on Sunday morning. For me, it was a much better and enjoyable experience. Much recommended if you are not that fond of crowds (I can't deal with the slow walking!).

    Lennon Wall
    Not actually in Old Town but if you're crossing the bridge you might as well go for a visit, as it's only a 3 minute walk away. Once a symbol of revolution against the communist regime, now this wall is often a tourist hotspot. Great for some photos and to show your support for peace.

    Mala Strana
    Mala Strana is the historical part of town. I used Google Maps to navigate between here and Old Town mostly using the trams.

    Prague Castle
    The castle provides a great view of the city for free, if nothing else. You can wonder around the outside of the buildings for free too. There is a security check on the way in where you have to walk through metal detectors.

    St Vitas Cathedral
    In the castle grounds there is this magnificent cathedral. Apparently the view from the top is amazing but, although it shuts at 5pm, last entrance is 4:40pm so I missed it when I came for my travels.

    Other Places to Visit

    Petřín Lookout Tower 
    I went up to visit this Eiffel-Tower like tower (Petřínská rozhledna) on the funicular, included in my public transport ticket. It has a stop in the middle and one at the top where the tower is located. I bought a student ticket for 80Kc and walked up the stairs. You can pay extra to use a lift, however. It was a great view! Although both the funicular and the tower don't open until 10. The stairs are one way only so you won't bump into people on the way.

    The Memorial to the Victims of Communism 
    I walked back down the hill after visiting the tower to see this haunting monument (Pomník obětem komunismu). It has lighting beneath it and I can imagine it would look great at night-time.

    Dancing House
    I was a little disappointed by this one. I was actually expecting the building to dance, to move, but actually it is just stood in a distorted shape. It may be worth a quick visit though.

    There we have it! That was my mini trip to Prague. I hope you have a great time.
    P.S. Don't forget to try the dumplings when you're there.

    Thursday, 9 August 2018

    Natalie Lamb and Travel: Cambridge

    I recently visited Cambridge as a tourist for just less than a day when I had a friend visiting. I wanted to make sure my friend checked off a lot of touristy attractions but while having a relaxed day. This is how we spent our day.

    10am: Arrival
    We visited on the train because there are so many buses, cyclists and one way systems that driving can be difficult and slow. Generally, Cambridge Train Station is a 20-30 minute walk from touristy attractions but we soon broke that up with some brunch.

    10:53am: Brunch
    Originally, we had wanted to go for bottomless brunch but I couldn't find anywhere that would do it on a weekday. Instead, we had brunch at the Old Bicycle Shop. It was only a 13 minute walk from the station and was on the way in to town, so helped to break up the walk. I had sweet potato pancakes (with dried apricot, coconut yogurt, oat crumble and banana powder) and a virgin mojito-esque drink for ~£9. Also, Darwin apparently bought a bike from there when it used to be a shop. There was an interesting map of Cambridge on the wall.

    12:09 Punting on the River Cam
    If you want to go punting, make sure you book in advance! I went with Cambridge Punt Company and it cost £12pp but if you booked on the day in person, it would have cost £20pp. It also means that you don't get nagged by people trying to get you to join one. I would recommend going on a tour rather than hiring a boat yourself if it is your first time, especially if you're a couple. The idea of a private punt seems romantic but to get it to move, the punter has to be stood up. It often takes hard work and you can be found going around in circles, rather than getting a tour around the colleges. It is a great plan if there's a group of you. We shared our punt with two other couples but there were ones that were heaving full of people, packed uncomfortably close together. The punts have backs but they are not deep like a boat so your legs are straight out rather than you sitting with them underneath you. It can be difficult to get up if you're older!

    1:30 Drink Break
    We had wanted to go up the tower of Great St Mary's but there was a private group tour going on for 30 minutes. So instead, we had a quick look at the market (at Market Hill) and at Kings College on our way to The Eagle for a pint. The Eagle is where Watson and Crick announced they had discovered the secret of life. It has a plaque inside dedicated to them. We each had a pint (~£5 a pint) and sat in the beer garden.

    2:35 View of Cambridge
    Whenever I visit a place, I like to get a good look of the view. Just around the corner from The Eagle, there is the tower of Great St Mary's. It costs £4 to go up but the view is excellent. Plus you can see straight into Kings College, for a lot cheaper than the £10 it costs to get into the college itself.

    2:50 Journey Back
    We then slowly walked back to the train station, going through Lion Yard Shopping Centre, through a few shops and via some iced coffee. At the train station there is a Marks and Spenser's, which we stopped by in to get some cocktails in tins to take with us on the train.

    Overall, we were in Cambridge 10-4 and it didn't seem enough time at all!