Latest posts

Taxed

I think I have paid my tax for last year. This is the first time I have actually filled in a tax return for myself, in the past I have always just relied on the PAYE calculations.

Despite the website saying "you do not owe anything", I was still uncertain …

Racing to the Library

I have stated this before, but I am a slow reader. Couple that with commitments and life in general, reducing the amount of spare time I have, it takes me a while to get through a book.

I had borrowed a book from the library that was due to be …

A Walk in the Woods

I was on daddy daycare duty today. Rather than locking ourselves up in the house where I would be outnumbered all day, I organised meeting up with granny for a walk in the woods with her dog.

It was lots of fun watching the boys run down the paths with …

Physical Letters

Today we received a letter in the post from an old friend. Someone who we used to spend a lot of time with but now live far enough apart that we are lucky if we meet once every couple of years.

The letter was handwritten and only the size of …

Reading Aloud

One of the job requirements of being a parent is reading aloud to your kids. Unfortunately, it is something that I am not really competent at. I have tried reading silently but the kids are having none of it.

During my wedding, I had a short reading to deliver. As …

Coffee Cups

I like my coffee. When out and about, particularly in cold places, I find it difficult to resist buying a coffee (as long as they are selling anything that isn't instant). I do however get rather frustrated when they serve the coffee in semi-spherical cups.

A nearly empty coffee cup.
The offending item.
A nearly empty coffee cup.
The offending …

Who Wrote This?

Whenever I read something that I had previously written, I almost always end up cringing. Sometimes I don't remember writing it and I wonder which idiot it was that wrote it!

I am not just talking about the old blog posts, but almost any writing, old procedures I have written …

A Bad Bedtime Story

Tonight, like most nights, we listened to CBeebies Radio while the kids were falling asleep. It is a nice mix of gentle music and bedtime stories. One of tonight's stories was the tortoise and the hare. This was a fine story right up until the end, when the tortoise tells …

When You Know the Answer

There is phrase associated with quizzes: All questions are easy when you know the answer.

I noticed today that it can apply to many problems, not just quizzes. In quick succession, I ended up being presented with a number of problems, each one of which I had either come across …

You Know it was a Tough Workout When...

After the workout, the mussles in your arms are complaining that you are holding a cup of coffee.

No News

No news is good news except if your news source is broken. I use a series of RSS feeds to keep me up to date with whatever I am interested in. Rather than repeatedly going to someone's website (or following them on social media), I subscribe to their feed, then …

Putting a Roof on Linlithgow Palace

We spent this afternoon exploring Linlithgow Palace, a large ruin that is frequently mistaken for a castle. Only the stone structure remains, all the wooden floors and roofs were destroyed by fire hundreds of years ago.

The main hall of Linlithgow Palace.
The Grand Hall
The main hall of Linlithgow Palace.
The Grand Hall
Close

Occasionally a plan is mooted about restoring …

How Long Can You Gloat?

Last weekend, as we walked around a shopping centre we noticed a series of awards on the wall. Then we noticed the dates were all around 1995 and 1996. Is it something to be proud of, to have won a "family friendly" award over 20 years ago.

Sure, if it …

My Problem with My Ring

I have a problem with my wedding ring. No I haven’t lost it. I do like wearing it. My problem is that my fingers are not always the same size. I think this is true for most people, though most people just find that their rings get very tight …

Cycle In The Dark

I had my first long cycle in the dark tonight after a series of events that ment I had been using the car. It is amazing how much faster things seem when the path is lit only by the lights from the bike.

I am sure that it would be …

Encouraging Meetings

IChemE Members Groups are organised by volunteers. People give up their spare time to try and organise events for other members. Regular committee meetings are held to help co-ordinate what everyone is working on.

The Scottish Members Group covers a large geographic area, not quite all Scotland but not far …

2019 Spending Review

It seems to be a common feature of financial blogs to review their spending at regular intervals1 usually monthly or quarterly. I am not about to try and become a financial blogger, offering saving and investment advice, but I do think it is worth keeping an eye on our …

Enforced Breaks

Tags: Work

I spent most of today working on a remote computer. I have spent many days working on this remote computer, usually without issue. Today that was not the case. Every so often the connection would drop. Sometimes for 30 seconds. Sometimes for 5 minutes.

Each time the connection …

Necessary Naps

I took my kids for a walk to the supermarket this morning mostly to get them out of the house. In the way there, the younger one asked to be carried. That's unusual. Then walking around the shop, he decided one but of floor made an awesome bed.

He didn't …

Running Badly and Getting Lucky

So today was my first parkrun in almost exactly three months. What happens when I don't run for three months? I managed a personal worst. My time was 22 seconds slower than my very first parkrun which was after nearly 10 years of no racing.

Never mind, I can't change …

One Day Work Week

It may have been a Friday, but after two days off, it definitely felt like a Monday. I actually found it a bit disorientation. Luckily, I don't think I have to worry about the week getting shortened to one day for a while yet.

How I Track Our Money

In the deep distant past when I was fresh out of university and had just entered the workforce, I kept a very close eye on my spending. This was partly due to the fact that my reserve funds had all been depleted during my final summer before starting work and …

It Wasn't All Bad

I am noticing lots of people complaining about the state of the world, good riddance to 2019, hopefully the next year will be better. I fear that we are too quick to dismiss the progress that has been made. This could be progress on a personal level, as a society …

Whodunit: New Year's Eve Edition

Despite best plans, I was ambushed. Someone appeared at my desk just after lunch, looking for a last minute change. Not a particularly complicated one, but still it is the sort of thing you avoid before a couple of days off.

Before I sat down at the console in the …

A Summer's Morning in Winter

This morning, I was up and ready to go to work with time to spare. I started looking for an excuse, some reason to avoid the bike and take the car instead.

It was dark outside and I was expecting the journey to be cold wet and horrible. I am …

A Visit to Blackness Castle

One of our Christmas gifts was a set of annual memberships to Historic Scotland that allows us to visit a large number of historical sites for no additional cost. This is useful when with kids that might get board after 10 minutes and want to go home. This would not …

Safety Systems Definitions

For my final Simple Saturday post of the year/decade I will cover terms and acronyms used as part of shutdown systems.

ESD: Emergency ShutDown. This is the generic name given to a system that trips the plant if it detects a problem. This generic name could refer to simple …

Making the Most of My Time: Learning a Language

Tags: Personal, Dyslexia, Esperanto

Following an earlier post, I have decided to review the activities I spent my time on and consider whether these activities add true value.

Today's post will look at spending time to learn a new language.

Why learn a language?

I have liked the idea of …

An Unexpected Gift

I got an unexpected gift on Christmas morning from Samsung. There was an android update waiting for me when I woke up. This update claimed to "improve call stability" as well as update to the latest security patches.

It appears that they also managed to fix the chrome cast function …

You Did Ask for a White Christmas

Though this is probably not what you meant...

A view of a foggy valley.
It is white!
A view of a foggy valley.
It is white!
Close

Sorry kids, no sledging today.

Thanks for Keeping the Lights On

It is amazing the amount of effort required to keep things simply running. The huge variety of jobs that need to have someone doing them at all times of the day and night, every day of the year.

Ten Years ago, I was about to spend my first Christmas away …

More Smug

I was already feeling smug enough at getting our Christmas grocery shopping done first thing on s Sunday morning when the shop was quite. It just doubled when I went past another shop this morning about 9am. The queues were ridiculously long and I was really glad that I didn't …

An Advantage of Early Risers

On of the advantages of having young kids is that they don't understand the concept of sleeping in on a Sunday. They get up early regardless of the day of the week.

Normally this is a cause of frustration, but today we made the most of it and got our …

DCS, PLCs and SCADAs

Since starting work after leaving university, I have found several terms thrown around when talking about the control system. In every factory I have worked in, they have had a DCS, though some parts of it were controlled by PLCs. In some documents or training courses, I have seen references …

State of the World

Tags: Politics

Last year I read Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker which explains how much better the world has been getting, is continuing to get and why. I have met a lot of folk that really dislike this book and Pinker because he is seen as an optimist who is …

I'd Love to Help But

Just as I am shutting my computer down at the end of the day, one of the other members of my team walks over to talk to me.

Projects want to test a new piece of equipment tomorrow morning but I am off tomorrow.

He then starts to explain the …

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Smugmas

One of my colleagues suggested that Christmas should be renamed Smugmas. It is an opportunity for organised people to be smug and show off how much more they have done than you.

I certainly can't claim to be one of the organised smug ones this year. We have decided to …

Making the Most of My Time: Going to the Gym

Continuing on with my series of posts on Making the Most of My Time, I have decided to review the activities I spent my time on and consider whether these activities add true value.

Today was the last Tuesday morning Gym session of the year, so today's post will look …

Phished

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to a black tie event put on by "the site management team". I didn't recognise the name and assumed it was meant for a different division. When I pointed it out to one of my colleagues, they said that …

Stillness and Calm

It is easy to forget what Stillness and Calm can feel like. Particularly a sustained period of stillness when life revolves around two noisy kids.

I had the opportunity to sit in complete stillness and calm for an hour today. No phone to distract me. Just sitting and having to …

Deadbands

Continuing after last week's discussion about process noise, I will now cover another tool used to help mitigate noise.

Deadbands are useful when the the result is a digital signal, it is either on or off. Most control loops are analogue and have a range of outputs, usually a control …

Making the Most of My Time: Maintaining My Home Server

Following Sunday's post, I am continuing to review the activities I spent my time on and consider whether these activities add true value.

Today's post will look at how much time I spent maintaining a personal web server.

What do I maintain?

My personal web server acts as a private …

Making the Most of My Time: Following News

Following Sunday's post, I have decided to review the activities I spent my time on and consider whether these activities add true value.

Today's post will look an my news consumption habits.

Why do we follow the news?

The reasons most people give for watching or reading the news is …

Silly Graphs

And this elections prize for most deceptive graph that I have seen goes to the conservatives.

To be fair, I have mostly been ignoring this election as far as possible, but the flyer put through our door managed to surprise me at its creativity.

Election leaflet showing change in vote share at the last election.
Misleading leaflet
Election leaflet showing change in vote share at the last election.
Misleading leaflet
Close

It …

Believing Signs

A local road on my route to work has been closed for over a week now. At the bottom of the hill, there are signs on the main road stating "ROAD ON LEFT CLOSED". There is a barrier crossing half the road saying "ROAD AHEAD CLOSED. LOCAL ACCESS ONLY".

Luckily …

Making the Most of My Time: Cycling to Work

After yesterday's post, I have decided to review the activities I spent my time on and consider whether these activities add true value.

The first activity I want to consider is my cycle commute.

How much does it cost?

Time wise, it takes about 15 minutes to cycle to work …

Deciding What Not To Do

There are lots of personal projects I want to work on. There are lots of skills I want to learn. And this is a great time to be around. There are so many opportunities to learn so many different skills for free. The barrier to entry for many projects has …

Filters

Graph showing a noisy signal that bounces around a lot
Noisy Signal
Graph showing a noisy signal that bounces around a lot
Noisy Signal
Close

Previously I have talked about noise in the measurements that are used to control the process. These variations can cause the system to react unnecessarily and introduce disturbances to the process.

While we should always try to avoid noise by selecting suitable instruments and installing …

Changing the Plan

As eluded to yesterday, I had planned to get back to commuting by bike. On the days that the kids are in nursery, this means cycling across town to pick them up before heading home.

Yesterday was going to be the first time I did this after the accident. Unfortunately …

The Plan

Plan - cycle to work
Then cycle the kids back home
But.. not in that storm