Posts Tagged ‘off-topic’

13 July, 2017

Like all modern consumers, I have a love/hate relationship with many suppliers, which can be largely driven by their products or their customer service [or, sometimes, both]. Mostly, I am aware from being on the “other side”, customers happiness is largely driven by managing their expectations, then delivering on them.

In recent days, I have had slightly irritating experiences with two very different companies, both of whom had the opportunity to have a totally satisfied customer, but failed to take it … Read the rest of this entry »

6 July, 2017


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I have an enduring interest in the English language. I am constantly fascinated by the immense power of this communications tool. I am not a subscriber to the view that English should be carefully preserved; I feel strongly that one of its great virtues is the ability to evolve to meet the needs of the time. A language is a living thing and must be allowed its freedom.

Sometimes, however, things go a little awry or get confusing … Read the rest of this entry »

29 June, 2017

Last week, we were on vacation. We went to a place in the North of mainland Greece. Although we have been to the island of Kefalonia a few times, which we enjoy, we had never been to the mainland. A friend recommended a particular area and we thought that we would give it a try. Last year, we used a Greece-based travel company and I was very impressed by their local knowledge, attention to detail and overall customer service. As they offered an appropriate package, I booked with them.

Although I would definitely say that we had a good vacation, I did learn an interesting lesson … Read the rest of this entry »

15 June, 2017

I am not an aviation geek, but, as I travel on planes quite a lot [and I am an engineer], I do take an interest in the features and operation of aircraft. As I have a daughter who works for an airline, my wife often rolls her eyes when listening to our aviation-oriented conversations. [She also takes exception with the first few words of this post – she was reading over my shoulder. 🙂 ]

Last week I had a new experience: I got to ride on an Airbus A380 … Read the rest of this entry »

8 June, 2017

There is a well-know cartoonist, who is very intelligent, observant and outspoken. On many occasions, I have seen his writing, in which he talks about financial matters. He generally wraps up with a warning about the foolishness of taking financial advice from a cartoonist. I might suggest similar caution when listening to an embedded software engineer … Read the rest of this entry »

25 May, 2017

As in all walks of life, the high-tech world has its icons – key people who have been pivotal in getting us where we are today. It is easy to list some of the big names: Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs … the list goes on. Then there is Marc Andreessen. Who? I hear you ask – as I did myself when I stumbled across an interview with him. It would appear that, without Mr. A, the world might be different from the way it is … Read the rest of this entry »


18 May, 2017

If I think back to my childhood, back in the 1960s, and my expectations for the future, there have been some disappointments. That was the time of the race to get to the Moon and I feel very privileged to have been able to witness – albeit on a fuzzy black and white TV – these historic events. But I expected more. Whatever happened to the flying cars? … Read the rest of this entry »

11 May, 2017

I work from my home office – when I am not on an airplane going someplace – and the house is often empty. So I spend quite a lot of time alone. As I am an introvert by nature, that is mostly OK. I usually try to leave the house at some point, in order to interact with other members the Human race, and we have an active, evening social life, so the solitude is just part of the picture.

A side-effect of being alone is that I talk to myself … Read the rest of this entry »

4 May, 2017

A while ago, my wife told me about a concept – a way of looking at the world – that she had come across. The concept provides a useful tool for evaluating decisions in many aspects of life. Over the last few weeks we have been using it to rationalize various aspects of our lives. The more that I consider and internalize the idea, the more applications I find for it … Read the rest of this entry »

27 April, 2017

Sometimes I niggle about the small things of life. At other times, I think big thoughts and ponder the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. On yet other occasions, I find myself thinking about nothing in particular and a sudden thought, insight or understanding comes out of nowhere. Just such an event occurred this week … Read the rest of this entry »

20 April, 2017

Notwithstanding all the politics, dogma and downright ignorance, it is clear to me that mankind’s attitude to energy production and consumption needs to change and to change fast. It hardly matters whether we directly caused climate change. This change is happening and it is only sensible to minimize any contribution we make to alterations in the climate… Read the rest of this entry »

13 April, 2017

I think that living with a chiming clock is beginning to have an effect on my brain. I have been giving [even] more thought to how a clock’s chime might be more usefully designed. I wrote before about a scheme that would make the chime a little easier to internalize/remember. I now think that I have an approach that would work even better … Read the rest of this entry »

6 April, 2017

Age is just a number. That is what people tell me. That is true and I firmly believe that you are really as old as you feel. I had a birthday this week and it was a round number – I was born in 1957. However, there is no way that I feel 60; there must be some mistake. I am definitely more like 30.

Although 60 is just a number, it is a number with some significance … Read the rest of this entry »

30 March, 2017

A while ago, I wrote about the installation of a new clock in my house and mused on the subject of chimes. I am not sure that, in the modern world, chiming clocks have any significant practical value. In past times, the village church may have had the only clock in the entire community and it would have communicated the time conveniently to everyone in earshot.

Now the chime may be just aesthetic, but it does not mean that I cannot take an engineer’s perspective and try to make it better … Read the rest of this entry »

23 March, 2017

Continuing my occasional “Six of the best” series of blogs, where I talk about my six favorite items in a particular category, I am pondering my favorite items of clothing. I am not particularly fashion conscious and do not have a vast selection of clothes, but I do have some firm favorites. For the most part I like to purchase quality items, which offer a long lifetime; I do not really approve of the trend towards cheap – almost throw-away – clothing.

I think that I will start at my feet and work up … Read the rest of this entry »

16 March, 2017

Financial planning and investing for the future are matters that we all understand are important. Some people are better than others at acting on this knowledge. For most of us, it is a bit of a shock when the future arrives. I used to say that the definition of being old is when pensions start to sound even remotely interesting. For me, it took an “external influence” in 1986 to give the matter some initial thought … Read the rest of this entry »

9 March, 2017

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my challenges with visiting the USA. In summary, I found that I was ineligible to travel using an ESTA and I needed to get a visa. This was annoying, as it resulted in the need to cancel a planned trip, but it did serve to make me think about the implications of international travel. So, I started the process of obtaining a visa. It is very topical right now to think about people gaining entry to countries [like the US] illegally. What is not discussed is how hard it can be to do legally … Read the rest of this entry »

2 March, 2017

When I was in my teens, living with my parents, we had a dog. His name was Monty [short for Montmorency]. We got him as a puppy and were told that his mother was a dachshund and this was borne out by his coloration. However, as he grew and grew, we concluded that his father was probably a donkey. 😃 I used to enjoy him at that time, even though I felt that it was always my job to give him exercise.

Somehow, the idea of owning a dog since then has never really taken root … Read the rest of this entry »

23 February, 2017

There has been much discussion in recent years, in most Western countries at least, about marriage – what it means and how it might be reformed. Gay marriage has been discussed endlessly. Very recently, the topical discussion in the UK has been about whether a heterosexual couple might enter into a civil union; a court concluded that they could not. As I see it, all the discussion has been taking place amid great, heart-felt emotions and has been held back by long-standing traditions. All of this has resulted in the muddled thinking that leads to headlines in the less reputable parts of the media.

IMHO, a simple analysis of what a marriage is all about yields logical answers and the possibility for all parties to be reconciled [though this last bit is a long shot] … Read the rest of this entry »

16 February, 2017

As I get older, I find that I am increasingly susceptible to strong emotions. I think it started 30 years ago, when I first became a parent. Having children stretches your emotions in every direction. I think that emotions are like muscles: the more you exercise them, the more agile they become. I can be moved by so many things – both in real life and movies etc. When we go to a movie, I am often pleased that we watch it in the dark.

An odd thing is that, although sad events can move me, it is seeing acts of kindness that gets to me most of all … Read the rest of this entry »

9 February, 2017

What do you do when you see a rainbow? I will tell you what I do: I just stand and stare. I have no idea how many I have seen in my life – it must be many hundreds – but I still stop. If I am inside the house and observe that it is raining and the sun is shining [and the angle of the sun is low enough], I rush outside to see whether there is a rainbow. Of course, on a good day, I will also see a fainter secondary rainbow. Once or twice, I have seen the faintest hint of a tertiary too. Even though I know that all I am seeing is the physics of light displayed on a grand scale, I still find a rainbow awe inspiring.

Pondering rainbows has got me thinking about colours in general … Read the rest of this entry »

2 February, 2017

A while ago, I wrote about the benefits of saunas. In summary, it appears that regular use of a sauna can extend ones lifetime. Since I wrote that, further research has been reported that suggests that frequent sauna usage [several times a week] can reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 66%! I found the data to be quite compelling and will not let up on my use of saunas.

This encouragement made me wonder what the mechanism is for the benefits of a sauna and, as a result, I have come up with a whole new spa concept … Read the rest of this entry »

26 January, 2017

I have some friends, a couple, who are keen tea drinkers – like many English people, of course, including myself. Whilst I am somewhat conventional and like my tea to have some flavor, they are rather odd and seem to want hot water that is barely stained brown. In a café, they will request hot water and a teabag on the side. The teabag is introduced to the water, but not long enough for a strong acquaintanceship to develop – just seconds. They can use a single teabag for 6 or more cups of tea, which is very economic.

I joked recently that what they drink is “homeopathic tea” and this got me thinking about complementary therapies … Read the rest of this entry »

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19 January, 2017

A while back, I wrote about the Repair Café, which is a monthly event at which a bunch of volunteers endeavor to repair items brought along by members of the public. I have enjoyed being involved with this venture and I am pleased to report on its continued success – we get around 50 “customers” at each session and they report a high level of satisfaction.

However, things have recently taken an interesting turn … Read the rest of this entry »


12 January, 2017

I guess that I spend quite a lot of time thinking about Life the Universe and Everything. Starting out on a new year, I always try to be forward looking and positive – even if the state of the world is not so encouraging just now. Overall, I ponder about the fact that we all have a limited time in this world and we should all think about how to use this scarce resource … Read the rest of this entry »

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