Posts Tagged ‘off-topic’

21 September, 2017

I am very familiar with “the look”. It is the expression on Libby’s face – the response to me talking about something about which I have become rather enthused. This might be a book I am reading, a scientific discovery, some new software, an exciting technology or just an idea that I have had. Such enthusiasms do not last that long, but I suppose I can become slightly obsessed for a period of time. One way to take the heat off of Libby is to write about my interest for a wider audience, which is what I am doing today.

Sometimes someone comes up with an idea that is so simple and so easy to explain that it is hard to see why it was not there before. I find such a discovery very exciting. Today it is about answering the question “Where are you?” … Read the rest of this entry »


14 September, 2017

Mac apps

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Although it has been a while, from time to time, I have written about the apps that I use on my iPad [and iPhone]. There are so many to choose from that I am always pleased to get recommendations and advice. This is a topic that I will revisit before long, but today I am thinking about my Mac. It is now a little over two years since I made the switch away from Windows. I have never looked back.

My way of using the computers has gradually evolved. There is no right way to get the best from a Mac, but I happy with my approach. I thought that I might review what I have found to be useful … Read the rest of this entry »

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7 September, 2017

I enjoy reading and I always have a book on the go [at least one]. Currently I am reading a book about mathematics and its applicability in everyday life [details here, if you are interested]. The key concept is that mathematics [or most of it anyway] is really just common sense, but it is codified to make it reusable and reliable. So, frequently one can see a solution to a problem, without doing [or maybe with being able to do] the mathematical analysis to derive it. The book addresses various aspects of the topic, which are illustrated with stories.

One story particularly stuck in my mind, so I thought that I would share it … Read the rest of this entry »

31 August, 2017

Party on

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The idea started to hatch a couple of years ago. Libby and I realized that 2017 was going to be a special year for us. This year we both turned 60, we both had children and we have a daughter-in-law all of whom turned [or will turn] 30, we had been together for 10 years and married for 5 years. So much to celebrate! This called for a serious party.

We started the real planning about a year ago and gradually the event took shape and seemed to have a life of its own … Read the rest of this entry »

24 August, 2017

It was all over the news earlier in the week. Even though I was nowhere near the path of totality, I was very aware that a total eclipse of the sun was due on Monday. Many people that I know were excited. Some taking the day off and/or traveling to an optimum viewing location. I had no good excuse to be in the US, so I was not amongst them.

This got me thinking about eclipses and their significance … Read the rest of this entry »

3 August, 2017

I often marvel at the fact that I now live in a science fiction world. At least, a lot of things that are now everyday occurrences would have seemed very futuristic just a few years ago. This phenomenon is manifest wherever I look. Just staring at the screen, as I write this text, is an obvious example. But communication is the most amazing area of advancement. With a little box in my pocket, I can talk to just about anyone on the planet, [almost] regardless of where I and they are located. This is straight out of Star Trek.

So, with all this technology, communication should be smoother and just generally better nowadays. But that is not the whole story … Read the rest of this entry »

27 July, 2017

Music festivals were very big back in the 1960s, though I was too young to have much awareness. Of course, Woodstock is the most well known, but there were certainly quite a few on my side of the pond. I do not really know why they died out; I am sure there were some in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, but they were not so high profile. I equally do not know what stimulated their revival in the early years of this century, but they are certainly a big thing nowadays. Modern technology is part of the answer – the idea of a shared experience is becoming part of normal culture, both virtually and in real life.

I guess that everyone has their own reasons for going to festivals – I have a few … Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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