Off to Print

GOBA News Summer 2018

My first foray into editing – GOBA News – has just gone to print. The Great Ouse Boating Association represents boat owners on the Great Ouse and it’s tributaries, Cam, Lark, Little Ouse and Wissey. The news is an A4 glossy published three times a year and distributed free to members.

Needless to say editing it is voluntary. I now have a lot more sympathy for professional editors than I used to have, it’s not as easy as I thought when I rashly volunteered.

 

Day 6, quite relaxing

I talked to Linda (wife) last night and she suggested we meet up for lunch at the Watermill Tea Rooms at Woodford Mill. I reckoned it would be 2 hours so I pottered about and left at 08.30 intending to have 11’ses at the tea room then clean the boat and change into more presentable clothes. Actually I was there by 10.00 so I had a breakfast bap instead. Did a small amount of cleaning, washed a couple of shirts and sat about reading for an hour. Lunch was paninis, and pretty good. Then tea on the boat before pottering on my way so relaxed I didn’t log the time, or the time taken lock to lock.

Checking back it looks like I did 2 locks before lunch and 7 after making it a very sucessful day despite the leisurely start and long lunch.

Approaching Woodford Mill I’d had a boatowner working on his boat abouthe availibilty of diesel and sanitary stations. Another guy chipped in with advice about Wellington embankment but I didn’t think I’d get that far today. Turns out I did, but when I got there there was no diesel and the sanitary station wouldn’t open with my EA key. Fortunately neither is urgent, there’s a marina near Billing I should make tomorrow.

Wellingborough embankment would be a good place to stop during the day, handy for the town centre and shops, but there’s a busy road next to it and a Whitworths factory opposite that’s very noisy. So I pressed on almost to the next lock, Woolaston Mill, and moored up by a meadow.

Can’t believe the weather. 4 nights ago I was in my sleeping bag by this time 8.30pm trying to keep warm. Tonight I’m still in shorts and t shirt and wondering if it’s time to close the door.

Atkinson & Miller

Not a comedy double-act, Atkinson and Miller were engineers, one British and one from the US who each invented methods for improving internal combustion engines. Both types were pretty much forgotten until recently when variable valve timing and electronics have made it possible to emulate the operating principle either style of engine in a conventional design. In fact it’s possible to have the same engine operate in conventional (Otto or Diesel) mode then switch to Atkinson or Miller operation to suit the conditions and load.

I’ve written a couple of pieces for Diesel Car, one on the history one on the modern interpretation of Atkinson and Miller’s designs. So if you ever wondered what Toyota are on about when they praise the simulated Atkinson engine used in the Prius, now’s your chance to find out.

Atkinson & Miller Engines (history) (PDF)

Atkinson & Miller Engines (Modern emulations)  (PDF)

Writing Magazine

When I’m not writing technical features for money (or DIYing the boat) I try to write fiction. I attend a local writing group and a while ago a publisher, Collette Smith, from Writing Magazine joined us. For her it’s research, trying to get inside the heads of her customers, but it set me thinking. Writers use software and, it often seems to me, pay over the odds for it. I’ve used free software for years and written about it in techie magazines and on industry websites, so why not try a simple guide to free software for writers?

Here it is. (PDF approx 400KB)

And here is a sidebar I wrote to go with it which the magazine put online rather than in the print version.

Phew

Back to business, we’ve finished moving stuff and got the house sorted. The office is functional the server is running and online, I got my accounts sorted in time for HMRC deadline day and I’ve no excuse for not touting for more work. But first, need to post some recent samples from Diesel Car magazine.

Ofcom

Ofcom’s annual report is out, but knowing that most people, even most tech jouralists wouldn’t read it they sent out a media release featuring some simplistic quotes. The one that got all the attention was a bizarre claim that 6 year-olds are more tech savvy than 45 year olds. To make things even more contentious they backed it up with a quiz so that we could all test ourselves.

Most of the questions are subjective and only test opinions. Each has a four option multiple choice format which is very limiting. So I decided to give some real answers:

Thinking about the following gadgets and services – which statement best describes your knowledge and understanding?

4G mobile
Seems like a good idea but coverage is patchy and the service expensive. It’s not available where I live, where I work or anywhere I visit regularly so my failure to use it is not a reflection of my Tech Savvy.

Superfast broadband – internet
I’ve used ADSL since it became available in my area, and 56k dial-up before that. What the UK government (and Oftel) is pleased to describe as Superfast is much slower than that considered normal elsewhere, and even that won’t be available in my area for many years. Once again not my failure, yours.

Smartphone or tablet ‘Apps’
Yes, I have both. Smartphone for over three years, the Tab for more than two. Do I get extra points for rooting the phone within days of purchase, removing the phone companies bloatware and installing Cyanogenmod? No.

Smart glasses such as Google Glass
Yes I’ve heard of them, read about them, seen them online and on TV. Don’t know anyone with a pair.

3D printers
I haven’t used one since 2005 so my experience is a bit out of date, though I have read about new models. They are a bit useless without 3D CAD software though, and using that requires a lot of training and a lot of experience. Very few people in any age group have 3D design skills.

Please tell us how much each of these statements applies to you…

I tell my friends or family about new technology
Sometimes, if I think it’s relevant to their lives. None of my friends are interested in virtualisation though, or NoSQL databases.

I like working out how to use different gadgets
Yes, and sometimes I read the manual too.

I am one of the first to try out new technology
Very much depends on price and availability. I do try out new Linux distros, but have yet to use Windows 8. I didn’t buy a smartphone until the price dropped to under £100 on PAYG.

I like to find out about new technology
Yes, I read a lot of blogs, media reviews and so on.

My friends or family ask what I think about new gadgets
Sometimes. No good asking me what I think about sewing machines, but I do have opinions on cordless drills.

I know how to use lots of gadgets
Too vague. Lots? Do you mean only digital electronic gadgets?

I watch TV shows online (e.g. BBC iPlayer, 4OD)
Yes. And TED, YouTube, Arté

New technology confuses me
All new devices take some getting used to, but if the user interface is well designed they don’t confuse me.

I wouldn’t know what to do without technology
Again, vague. Digital technology, or all? Given a spade I reckon I’d be pretty good as a subsistence farmer but without the backing of a metallurgical industry I’d struggle.

I do lots of different things on the gadgets that I use
Yes, I make bread in the breadmaker and coffee in the cafétiere, not great the other way round though.

I upload photos and videos online (e.g. on Instagram, YouTube)
Never on Instagram, not for many years on YouTube. But I have had a personal website since 2004 and I share files via ownCloud.

I prefer to contact friends by text message than by phone call (e.g. by SMS, BBM, iMessage)
Depends on the contact and the message. SMS is useful for simple Q&A sessions, not good for complex discussions. BBM and iMessage are proprietary and only useful if you and your contact use the same system, which they often do not.

***

Once again, sloppy tech journalism supported by sloppy ‘research’ from Ipsos-Mori who really should know better. If you want a thorough piece of writing on a technical subject, contact me.

More Biofuels work

Two new commissions today for 24th Sept:

1. Sustainability – NTA 8080 certification system recognised by the European Commission, one of the few recognised schemes, along with the ISCC, that is not only applicable to biofuels, but also to solid and gaseous biomass. 2500 words.

2. Aviation fuels from biomass -a general look at the role biomass will play in creating renewable jet fuels. 2000 words.

Better start the background reading then…

 

I will Blog More. Probably. Maybe.

I’m updating my website, new theme, some new pages, some old ones deleted, some edited. Just noticed my last blog post was 10 months ago. I should do more. But they’re funny things blogs. Some are just vanity, some commercial ones are just banal, some are just designed to attract clicks and win a few pence in advertising revenue. I try not to be vain, or banal and I don’t have adverts on my website because it is there to advertise me, I don’t want potential customers being distracted.

Once you take out the vain, “I’ve just been approached by a major online agency to edit their new site”, the banal, “I’m hoping the window fitters will call soon about making good around the new windows” that doesn’t leave a lot to write about. But I will. Probably.