Latest posts

Managing Personal Expectations

Last week we rearranged the bedrooms in our house.

The big bedroom, which did have our double bed and a cot in it, became the kid's bedroom with 2 single beds in it. The middle sized bedroom, which did contain a futon and general storage, became the

As I ...

Party Time

A birthday party
Running and shouting all day
Lots of fun and play

Just Another Opinion

We are in the process of designing and building a new control room at the refinery. This will replace the building built in the 70s and the control system that has an user interface that doesn't look particularly different from the photographs of when it opened.

This is obviously ...

Wasted Effort or Useful Research?

I spent a significant portion of my day writing a small program to extract some data from one file and convert it into a different format.

I had thought that it would be a simple task but I need to have some level of user interaction, I need to ask ...

A Good Rule

When looking up some information in the [ wiki, I came across their page on their MQTT server1 and the rules at the top of the page caught my eye:

  • Do not use the MQTT network for evil.
  • Do not annoy other lab users (especially with sound or lighting).
  • Do ...

Disastrous Dinners Quick Thoughts

Just a quick review of tonight's meeting. It went brilliantly.

We had 20 people for the talk and 14 stayed for dinner. I am really happy with the attendance and the atmosphere was great. Lots of socialising and discussing the talk itself, engineering in general and many other topics ...

Disastrous Dinners Preparation

I am spending some time this evening preparing for the first Disastrous Dinners talk that will be given tomorrow night. I believe that about 10 to 15 people have signed up. Not a massive number of people but hopefully a good number to encourage discussion and socialising after the talk ...

Simple Words and Writing Simply

Last week I wrote a post describing my job using simple words. While this was a fun exercise, it became obvious that writing using simple words and writing simply are very different things.

In this case, a "simple word" was defined as one of the top 1000 most commonly used ...

Moving Rooms

Today has been a tiring but productive day of rearranging the bedrooms in our house. Both boys seem to be excited about their new room and I am also looking forward to the new arrangement.

The biggest advantage has however been that we have found lots of things that had ...

Friday Fun

Tonight's plans were slightly upset when this happened:

Rear wheel of a bike with a trailing bike chain.
Aww snap
Rear wheel of a bike with a trailing bike chain.
Aww snap
Close

As I was trying to cycle onto and around a roundabout, my chain snapped leaving me effectively standing in the middle of a busy junction. What was worse was that there was no pedestrian pavement at ...

Person Who Changes Computers That Control Wet Stuff

I have read lots of things in the last week talking about how we should write simpler and not to trust things that are written in a confusing way or using long words.

I know that I can be bad at this and so I would like to try and ...

The Problem With Having a Good Dream

My son woke the other night night crying and very unhappy. When asked if he had a bad dream, he said no, he had had a good dream.

What was the problem then?

Now he was awake, the good dream was gone.

I can understand why he was upset.

Adding Search

Today I have added a search option to this site. I hadn't bothered before because I has always assumed Google 1 would be able to search the site better than a built in search. However in early December, I noticed that not every post was getting indexed, so searches ...

Phone on Strike

Last night, while I was cooking dinner, my phone died on me. There was no warning, there was plenty of battery but I turned the screen off, put it in my pocket and when I tried to use it again a couple of minutes later it was completely unresponsive.

I ...

Disastrous Dinners: First Event NEXT WEEK

Firstly, apologies for the last minute planning here. The first Disastrous Dinners Event will be on the 15th of January (a week on Tuesday). The reason for trying to get it organised in such a short period of time is to consider with the 100 year anniversary of the event ...

Cheeseless Pizzas

The rest of my family are dairy free and so we usually don’t have any cheese in the house. We have been experimenting with various vegan cheeses however I have found that the texture is just not right, particularly when they have been melted. Rather than putting up with ...

Hills and Trailers

Today was the first day back at nursery for the boys. The last few trips to nursery we used the car. As a result it was my first time cycling the boy home in several weeks.

Perhaps it was overindulgence over the holidays. Perhaps I didn't do enough other ...

Back to Play

Today was the first work day of the new year for myself. Lucky the place was mostly quiet and everyone else was catching up on their own work.

As a result I was able to hyper focus on several jobs and I got much more work done than I had ...

Two Day Recovery

I am told that in America, if you are to get two days off at Christmas, it is normal to be Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In the UK, the two public holidays are Christmas Day and Boxing Day which makes more sense to me, the day of the celebration ...

New Year = New Name

To celebrate the new year, I have decided to move this site to a new domain name, www.a14m.uk.

There are a few reasons for the name change:

  • The old name was too long. It became a pain to type it out in varios forms (particularly the email address ...

Jack of All Trades

After posting yesterday's post, I thought further about it and though I don't need to know much more about electricity, I do know more and want to learn more. I like learning, particularly about different subjects.

My background as a chemical engineer has given me a good understanding ...

Electricity Need to Knows

A fellow chemical engineer had the following electrical advice.

There are two things that you need to know about electricity:

  • You cannot see it.
  • It can kill you.

Everything is is for the electrical engineers to worry about.

Habits and Food

I am previously read The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change by Charles Duhigg back in October. I had a thought while reading it but didn't write it down until now.

Background

The book discusses changing peoples eating habits and in particular ...

Traditional Razors

Last year I was given a traditional safety razor as a present and I have been using it for the past year. My main reason for wanting to change to using the older style of razor was the environmental aspect. I didn't like using disposable razor heads. The mix ...

Giving the Young the Vote

There was a few news stories earlier this month about Prof David Runciman, The head of politics at Cambridge University, had proposed giving children as young as 6 the vote.

This was in response to the debate about dropping the voting age from 18 to 16, something I support, but ...

We Have a Pizza Oven

As a Christmas gift to each other, we have gotten ourselves an uuni3 pizza oven.

Pizza oven with door off showing internal flames
Hot stuff
Pizza oven with door off showing internal flames
Hot stuff
Close

This afternoon we fired it up and gave it a test run. This involved assembling the oven, seasoning it (giving it a half hour blast at full heat), before letting ...

Christmas Day

Watching the kids play
Excited and shouting 'yay'
On this Christmas day

Twas the Day Before Christmas

And all through the CCB1
Not a control engineer was fiddling
Not even me2.

This is one of those days for working offline, in the office and wherever possible, avoiding doing anything in the control room. Sure if something breaks, fixing it is the top priority. But the ...

Making Cookies

Each year, since moving back to Scotland, we have made a bunch of snickerdoodle cookies at Christmas time and given them to family and coworkers. One of the fun parts of handing them out is seeing people's reactions. While snickerdoodles are popular in the states, they are virtually unheard ...

The Darkest Days Are Over

Maybe not metaphorically, but considering we are past the winter solstice, we can start to enjoy more daylight again.

We should probably celebrate it in some way...

Little Tricks

One of my colleagues was having trouble earlier today with modifying a tag and asked me to help. This tag had some custom code attached to it and he wanted to add another set of custom code. Whenever he tried linking the code to the tag, he kept getting an ...

Nearly More Tidy

Today, I was attempting to tidy the house and my older son was doing what small children tend to do. At one point I thought that the room looked worse than when I had started.

Denise walked into the room when he said:

Look mummy, we made the place nearly ...

Text with Feeling

Ken Perlin wrote a blog post yesterday about transcribing speech to text:

Yet converting speech to text, even when done perfectly, inevitably loses something. Even if the text you end up with is a faithful transcription of your words, it fails to capture your tone and intonation.

I wonder whether ...

Over Optimised

I am always amused when I check my spam folder to see lots of folk offering to get my site on the front page of Google and to guarantee more business if only I let them redesign my website.

The truth is that I am probably already over Optimised. Considering ...

Working from Home

One of the kids was ill over the weekend and needed to be kept away from nursery. So rather than completely writing the day off, I setup my laptop as a remote workstation in the dining room. The child was kept entertained by the TV and the occasional interaction from ...

DIY and Kids

After yesterday's solitary walk, I got to spend some more time with myself today. The rest of the family went for a cycle into town to collect a parcel and do some shopping.

This gave me a chance to do some DIY projects I had wanted to get on ...

Long Walks

Thanks to bad planning on my part, my car spent last night in the garage having had its MOT and service.

So to collect it this morning, I had to walk for about an hour to get there. It was a lovely experience, walking in the frosty air and listening ...

Re-evaluating

I have just read an article that has caused me to re-evaluate what I think I know about a topic. While the article didn't tell me anything particularly new, it did present things that I did already know in a different way and with the opposite 'advice' or strategy ...

Safety Behaviours

At work we were introduced to an initiative that will be rolled out fully in the new year: safety behaviours.

The introduction went along the lines of: you all know how to behave in a church, and how to behave in a pub. These behaviours will be different and we ...

Learning to Walk

A couple of years ago I remember a discussion around walking robots. The general consensus was that they were a silly waste of time and possibly a bit of a con.

The reasoning was that they aren't all that good. Anything you can do with these robots can be ...

ADHD and Triage

My wife has ADHD1 and was discussing the symptoms to a friend. She explained how she struggles to prioritize any list of tasks and the only way to cope is to just work on the first task that comes to mind. This is often inefficient and leads to low ...

Three Cogs

When driving this evening, I saw a van that had a logo that included three gears all looks linked together similar to the image shown below.

Three interlocking Gears
I see a problem here.
Three interlocking Gears
I see a problem here.
Close

As I am sure anyone who thinks about it for any length of ...

Making Magic

As a control engineer, I work on automating stuff. Automating things is something that I have enjoyed doing for years whether in a factory, a theatre or just on a computer.

And yet I still find it magical whenever I set up something new. If that feeling goes, I know ...

The Purpose of a Procedure

I frequently see people make a comment regarding procedures along the lines of "monkey see, monkey do", "they take the thought out of the job" or "they treat us like idiots".

I want to take this opportunity to say that is not how I see or use procedures. If you ...

Bad Weather

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

The above quote is often used by cyclists to encourage others to venture out during the wetter and colder times of the year. After tonight's commute home I call BS on that quote. Tonight was definitely bad weather ...

Algorithms to Live By: Scheduling and Thrashing

As I said yesterday, I am currently reading Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions Book by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths and in particular the section on scheduling.

The thing is am finding really interesting about this section is that it helps explain why I find ...

Mid Week Night Out

I forgot what these were left like.

Probably ought to leave it long enough to forget again..

Traffic

Today, after work, I had to drive over to Denny to collect something. Previous journeys over there have taken 20 minutes. Previous journeys were not done at rush hour.

Today's journey took 40 minutes and reminded me why I am glad my commute is so short and can be ...

300 Posts

I noticed after posting last night that I now have 300 posts or articles on this site. While the oldest posts were written in August 2006, it would be unfair to say that this has been a continuous blog stretching 12 years. About half the posts have been made in ...

Review: Bitz and Bob

One of the joys of parenthood is getting to watch kid's TV, often the same episodes many times. It is nice to introduce the young ones to shows that you watched as a child but it is inevitable that you will have to watch some of the new shows ...