Posts – Page 2

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 …

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!

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 …


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 …

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 …


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

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 …


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

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

True Wealth

A while back I read an article that talked about wealth. The author had initially thought that wealth was the ability to walk into a shop and see all the things that you can afford. Years later they decided that true wealth was the ability to walk into the shop …

Giving Tuesday

I have just been made aware of "Giving Tuesday", coinciding after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is a day to donate to a good cause instead.

By sheer coincidence, I did my annual charity allocation early this morning. I have a CAF1 account and make regular payments into …

Low Salt Salted Caramel

It has to be said, salted caramel is horrible. It is not as if I am afraid to try a new thing, I have tried it multiple times.

It tastes horrible. Every time.

It is the same with salted chocolate as well. I just don’t like the taste of …

Simultaneous Books

For the last couple of weeks, I have been "reading" two nonfiction books. One in ebook format and the other as an audiobook. The books have been about similar topics and written in a similar style. As a result, the two have mashed together in my head. I can't remember …


What is noise? Depends on what subject you are talking about. If you are talking about what your ears sense, then it is a bunch of pressure waves that move through the air. But in the case of this post, I am actually talking about noise in a process control …

Buying Time

As yesterday was Thanksgiving in America, and my family are American, I thought I would treat them to a roast.

Before heading out to the shops, I looked up a couple of recipes and added any ingredients that we were missing to the shopping list using an Amazon Alexa. One …

Being Thankful for My Mistake

Mayby the mistake I discussed yesterday was not such a bad one. If I had booked the correct tickets, I would have been stuck in London when this happened:

West Coast Mainline passengers 'stranded for seven hours'

Hundreds of passengers on the West Coast Mainline have been stranded for hours …

Reviewing My Mistakes

Back in August, I made a mistake. Part of me wants to forget all about it. Ignore it, pretend that it didn't happen.

But I have been fairly vocal that we should be learning from our mistakes and ideally, learning from other people's mistakes. If course that only works if …

Travel Nerves

For the last three hours, I have progressively been getting more and more nervous. I am about to leave on a short trip, setting off late in the evening.

Rather than rushing around during the day when kids are about to undo anything I had just done, I decided to …

Third One's a Charm

Tonight I hosted my third IChemE Members group committee meeting as chair. I had mentioned previously that I used to be able to chair quick meetings that didn't overrun. The Scottish Members Group meetings are notorious for overrunning, so I knew it would be a challenge. In the first two …

Smartphones = Cigarettes

When I was listening to a random old podcast interview with Cal Newport, he mentioned that a knowledge worker using a smartphone is similar to an endurance athlete smoking a cigarette.

Smartphones and the apps on them are designed to catch your attention. They end up distracting you from getting …

Output Characterisation

When a control valve opens, the flow through it increases. But the increase in flow is not necessarily linear, the rate of change in flow may be different depending on how far open the valve already is.

If the flow through a valve was linear, every time the valve opens …

Forrest School

My eldest son has been attending "forest school" for the last three weeks. This has been an outing organised by his nursery where some of the kids are taken to a local wood and they get to play, explore, built a den, help make a fire and roast marshmallows.

This …

Disastrous Dinners: Kegworth

Last night we held our final disastrous dinner of the year. This month's topic was the Kegworth air disaster when a passenger aircraft crashed into the M1 motorway just outside East Midlands airport.

Not long after takeoff, one of the engine fan blades failed, causing lots of vibrations. The pilots …

Jargon Overload

Today I attended a short introductory course on functional safety. The course mostly covered what we are expected to do to meet the the guidance for building and maintaining safety systems.

Personally, I think one of the main barriers to carrying out these tasks safely is the huge quantity of …

Frosted Windscreens

Aug, frosty mornings. The beautiful crisp air and sparkling ground. The sight of your breath as it condenses in front of you and of course the thick layer of frost and ice left on the car windscreen.

Of course it is frustrating to go outside and find your car all …

Relaxed Reading

I ended up alone the n the house for about an hour this morning. Rather than rushing around in an attempt to get some housework done, u took the time to relax and read.

I had a long list of articles that I had wanted to get around to reading …