Visits update No.3: Bacton gas terminal and line of sight microwave tower

Hmmm, you visited a gas terminal? Well, no, not really. Perhaps I should explain.

I worked for Shell Expro on a project for the hook-up and commissioning phase of a southern north sea gas platform, known as South East Indefatigable. In my role I visited sites producing the topsides of the gas platform and Great Yarmouth for offshore shipping support.

Computer and voice communications from land to the offshore platforms were by line of sight microwave links. The onshore microwave link, and gas receiving plants were at Bacton on the north Norfolk coast. I never visited the site while on the project, and always wanted to.

While recently on holiday to the Norfolk Broads, I achieved my goal, and visited the Bacton Gas Terminal, and saw the line of sight microwave communications tower [it’s my photo of the tower, click to expand]. Background to microwave technology HERE.

As a vital part of our power infrastructure the Bacton site is both miles from anywhere, and immensely secure. Even my arriving in the car park drew the attention of a security guard. We did though have a lovely chat about our experiences working the the oil and gas sector – he having a longer career in it than me. Anyway, the gas platforms I worked on are now decommissioned. You can read all about the decommissioning in the paper below.

Wind energy supplies almost 25% of UK power demand

I see the increasing use of renewable power as encouraging. Here’s a couple of screen captures Gridwatch over Christmas [firstly from 24th, and then 26th December] that shows wind power generating almost one quarter of the UK’s power needs. There are days when wind power generation is negligible, I am, therefore, a believer in the need for nuclear power to generate the base load of UK power needs.

gridwatch_24_dec_2016

gridwatch-1400hrs-26th-dec-2016

I’m pleased to see the UK’s investment in wind power starting to payoff. The offshore London Array wind farm in the Thames Estuary is currently the largest in the world, with 630 turbines. It’s disappointing that the UK has little involvement in ownership, manufacturing, or research and development of wind power turbines. One market where, as a nation, we can make up for that lack of expertise is in battery technology – see Giant UK battery launch, and HERE, and with Dyson.

Pleased to recover from loss of internet access

Our iPads, my iPhone, and my laptop computer all are swimmingly connected to the internet. Sadly my wife’s laptop had the message ‘WiFi invalid IP address’ when trying to access the internet. Therefore, unhappy wife.

Dear wife is currently out shopping. Me, like gorilla beating his chest, has succeeded in fixing the issue. Proud husband. Will be looking for a kiss and some sort of chocolate treat for my good work.

troubleshootAfter much lengthy fiddling, delving, and general pondering, did the sensible thing and looked for an answer on the Internet. Many solutions weren’t to my liking – don’t like resetting anything back to original settings unless absolutely necessary. Reason being is that it takes ages to renter passwords and settings.

So. Was pleased to find this YouTube video that suggested a ‘soft’ reset of network adapters. I’m not suggesting it could work for you in similar situations. It’s worth a try.

Maybe the UK will be the ones to develop applications for Graphene

Graphene – a thin layer of pure carbon is the world’s thinnest material – discovered by two researchers at the University of Manchester, wining them a Nobel prize for Physics for their work.

uclanIt’s discovery created huge world-wide interest in potential applications. Maybe the UK will be the ones to harness the the research into useful applications, rather than, as has been the all to often case, other countries. That we have a newly created National Graphene Institute, based at the Univ of Manchester, is exactly the correct approach – investment in fundamental and application research.

The American Scientist magazine in an article, Graphene Takes Flight, report on how a University of Central Lancaster team created “A small, remote-controlled airplane with the world’s first graphene-coated wings demonstrated promising improved flight performance, intriguing the aerospace industry.”

Relief, needed help to successfully upgrade to Windows 10 Anniversary edition

Days ago I wrote about the difficulty I was having installing the Windows 10 Anniversary edition upgrade.

Nothing for it but to call in the professionals. A job for Alan Bateman of Si29 Computer Services in Camberley. Result, a successful install, and a happy family. Alan’s contact details: Si29 Computer Services, Phone: 01252 686513, Email: hello@si29.com.

Here’s a snapshot of Alan’s blog on his website about Windows 10.

si29-windows-10-blog-entry

Aaaaaarrrggghhh, the pain to install Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Windows 10 anniversary updateMy dear wife said she’d a minor problem on her PC. Always happy to help. First task, carry out normal maintenance tasks. Thought it would be smart to install outstanding Windows updates, including the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

The word update is a total misnomer. It seems it’s a major Windows upgrade, therefore taking absolute ages to install, and apparently riddled with issues.

Why, oh, why, did I suspend my critical factors and install the darn thing. Have invested over four hours to get to 96% complete. When the pesky installation process ends, I’ve then got to check on things, and then ensure with my wife is happy. If we’re unhappy then it’ll be an urgent rollback – as it appears that a rollback is date limited. Ugh. Double Ugh.

UPDATE: Install has been stuck on 99% complete overnight. Am a most unhappy chappie.

Serendipity involved in discovery of brilliant new blue pigment

Me, I’m a blue person. I just prefer blue to other colours. I do, though, have a hankering for purple of Roman Emperors. Just a hankering mark you, nothing in my wardrobe of this colour. I do have weeks when it’s no blue – as happened on our recently holiday.

New blue pigmentEnough about me. What about this new blue pigment. Discovered accidentally by researchers at Oregon State University [OSU] in the USA. Here’s what the University say about the discovery,

OSU chemist Mas Subramanian and his team were experimenting with new materials that could be used in electronics applications and they mixed manganese oxide – which is black in color – with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples turned out to be a vivid blue. Oregon State graduate student Andrew Smith initially made these samples to study their electrical properties.

It turns out this new blue pigment is,

… formed by a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, while only reflecting blue. The vibrant blue is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade.

These characteristics make the new pigment versatile for a variety of commercial products. Used in paints, for example, they can help keep buildings cool by reflecting infrared light. Better yet, Subramanian said, none of the pigment’s ingredients are toxic.

The new blue pigment is called ‘YInMn blue’. Methinks they need a better name than that. Can’t see me going into a shop and saying I’m looking for a shirt in YInMn blue. The Daily Mail article on the discovery goes into some of the science involved.