Latest posts

Alarms and HMI Presentation by Bill Hollifield

Yesterday I was able to attend a presentation on alarms and HMIs1by Bill Hollifield. Bill quiet literally wrote the books on alarms and HMIs.

The first part of the presentation was on alarm management, what problems different sites face and how to fix them. To be honest, there ...

Pretty Refinery

At some point back in Febuary, I was admiaring the beautiful sunrise on the way into work. I took a quick photo before putting my phone away before entering the site. As usual when I looked at the photo on the screen, it was not anywhere near as nice as ...

Sleep Tight Little One

Rocking in this chair
Close your eyes and cuddle in
Sleep tight little one

An Alarming Moment

So one of our kids decided that leaving the supermarket be the main entrance was a silly idea. This double door with big bars on it would let us get to the car much faster. If course he managed to set of an alarm. A very loud alarm. Painfully loud ...

No More FAT

That is us finished with the Factory Acceptance Testing of our new software package. Since the start of April, I have been mostly working at the supplier's factory rather than my usual office. There are some fixes that still need to be completed and signed off, so I may ...

Fatigue vs Handovers

One of the discussions that happened after the previous Disastrous Dinners talk covered operator fatigue, particularly when performing monotonous activities that still require a great deal of focus.

The conversation started with a discussion about how much distraction you allow in a control room. Do you ban all Personal phones ...

Disastrous Dinners: The Smiler Accident

Last night David Sparks gave a great presentation on the Smiler Rollercoaster accident that happened at Alton Towers in 2015. This was the latest in my disastrous dinners series of events that aim to provide a talk about process safety in a social environment that everyone should be able to ...

What was I Thinking

Whenever I have a thought, followed by the thought "I should write about that", I try to write the first thought down as soon as possible.

If I don't write it down, the chances are high that I will forget about it. It doesn't have to be much ...

Voting for the EU Parliament in Scotland

Back in 2014, I was curious how the proportional representation system used for the EU elections, the D'Hondt method, worked. I built a simple javascript program to allocate the seats based on the number of votes for different parties, then added recent opinion polls to the page to see ...

New Phone: Samsung Galaxy A0

After postponing as long as I could, I eventually accepted that I needed a new phone and bought one last weekend.

My requirements were:

  • Absolutely no bigger than my old phone. Size creep has been annoying me for many. I want something that can fit in my hand. This significantly ...

Going on an Adventure

Journey on the train
Adventure to Newcastle
To watch the rugby

Scotrail’s Discount

Scotrail have managed to annoy some folk by claiming that they don’t charge extra for traveling at peak times, they merely offer a discount for travelling at off-peak times. Of course both ways of looking at it end up with the same result, but scotrail want to frame it ...

Note to Self: Don’t Delete Tools

I wanted to do a calculation. It is quite a complex calculation but I remember writing a tool to do it about five years ago. I thought it would be a quick job to look the old tool out, updated some numbers and check the results.

Unfortunately after half an ...

Connection Error

How hard can it be
To do your job and connect?
”Very” says bluetooth

Thoughts on Antifragile

I have finished reading Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and my main feelings about it are those of frustration.

On the whole I did not like the book. I think I mostly agree with the author, but his style is so off putting that I can't see myself recommending ...

Spending a Bank Holiday in a Quiet Factory

I am used to the idea of working on a bank holiday. The place I work at just lumps all the bank holidays into your normal annual holiday allowance1. If you want to take the bank holiday off, you need to book it off. The places my dad and ...

Partied Out

This weekend has been a party weekend. We have now reached the stage of family life that the social calendar is booked up with events that our kids are invited to rather ourselves. It was nice to see the boys having lots of fun, even if it does make them ...

Going to Nowhere

Ken Perlin wrote a blogpost last night about being nowhere, the idea of being in a place such as a train station or airport, where everyone is just on their way to somewhere else.

Well almost everyone.

My dad used to design and project manage shop refits including several shops ...

Factory Acceptance Testing

The work I have been doing at our suppliers factory has involved testing a new piece of software and ensuring it has been setup correctly for our site. As usual with these sorts of things, we have a procedure to follow to test each part of the system. Occasionally we ...

Being a Unit of Measurement

At the start of last month, a team member announced that at the end of the shutdown, he was going to weigh the same as me. He was going to start eating healthier and focusing on his exercise. I was unaware of this at the time, I was working off-site ...

Re-examining Exams

I was listening to a discussion about a study titled “Bullshitters. Who Are They and What Do We Know about Their Lives?”. Most of the other coverage of the study has been around which groups of people were shown to be either more or less truthful while merely describing the ...

Automated Lights

We have some 'smart lights' installed in our house with various timers set up. When we first set them up, we found that they occasionally got mixed up and would be on when we would want them off. I had thought we had bottomed out all the bugs months ago ...

Paying for Process Safety

After last night’s post, I received a comment via linkedin, pointing out that it takes a fair bit of money to produce quality content and it needs to get paid for some how. If companies are not willing to put the money in, then the only alternative is to ...

How is IChemE Involved with Process Safety

IChemE have just published a blog post How do we achieve, maintain and demonstrate competencies for process safety?.

IChemE and its members are intrinsically involved in sharing lessons through various streams of work; the IChemE Safety Centre, the Safety and Loss Prevention Special Interest Group, and producing journals and publications ...

Returned to Twitter

Last night, I logged into twitter for the first time in two and a half years. I simply posted a link to yesterday’s blogpost, so that the pedal on parliament organisers would be aware that it had been written.

I have considered, should I end my self imposed exile ...

Pedal on Parliament Weekend

This weekend will host numerous Pedal on Parliament protests around the country. Pedal on Parliament is a campaign to improve facilities for active travel, that is walking as well as cycling. The theory being that if there are better facilities, safer and faster paths, more people will travel by active ...

Deflated

Well that didn’t last long. My shiny new bike managed two days of commuting and has already had its first flat tire. So it is back to driving.

My bike isn’t the only one feeling flat. I think it is a combination of fighting a cold and the ...

Side Effect of Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

We have discovered an unexpected side effect of energy efficient light bulbs.

When I was a kid, the lamps1 operate at really high temperatures. Therefore you were encouraged not to play with them because if you did touch them it hurt. Lots.

These days, the LED lamps produce very ...

Sonder

This evening, I am feeling sonder. Sonder is, according to [the dictionary of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”1.

As I look out at all the houses I can see across the valley ...

Home Made Balmoral Pies

Today I somehow managed to find the time to do some home baking. One of the local baker shops sells Balmoral Pies, like scotch pies, but with chicken, creamy sauce and haggis in them. I was curious if I could recreate the pie for the members of my family who ...

Who is an Engineer

There has been a campaign for some years to try and get the term ‘Engineer’ protected in the same way that Architect and Doctor and a few other professions are. The reason being that engineers who have had to attend university to get a degree in engineering and then do ...

My First Clipless Moment

We went out as a family for a day of cycling. Well, some cycling and lots of playing at the Falkirk Wheel. It was a good opportunity to enjoy my new bike.

On the way home I was pulling the trailer and about to enter calendar park. I hit a ...

Future Writing

Ken Perlin wrote a blog post a couple of days ago examining how people will write code in the future. There is a discussion around whether the QWERTY keyboard will continue to be the main input method or will something else take over? Will we use gestures and graphical programing ...

Code Golf at Work

For the past three weeks, I have been at a suppliers factory testing a project prior to delivery to site. The other day, one of the managers of the other company came over to our group and gave a graduate a challenge, write an excel script to colour each cell ...

Admitting Defeat

Tonight I have admitted defeat. It is the third Wednesday of the month, the night I had penciled in for this month's Disastrous Dinner. The problem being that I still haven't organised it yet.

I could have organised an event for next week, but I want to move ...

The Force of Fire

While looking at the pictures of last night's fire in Notre-Dame, I am again reminded of how powerful and destructive fires are.

I have held a fire hose when it was active. I know what the force of water leaving the hose feels like. And yet, the pictures of ...

A Morning of Mistakes

This morning was a morning full of mistakes on my part. Nothing serious, just frustrating. Lots of small things that just lead to more work needing done. More stuff to tidy up. Lucky the day has gotten better as it has gone on and it has actually been a pretty ...

Packing Silliness

To go with my new bike, I bought a couple of new locks on amazon. One was a high security thing, while the other was what others have described as a ‘cafe lock’. The sort of thing that is very light and easy to carry and can be attached in ...

How we Celebrated Our Anniversary

To celebrate our 7 year anniversary, we went to a car show, then went and picked up my new bike. While on the surface this may sound like the sort of thing that would get me into trouble and may result in a divorce, I think I should be OK ...

Shortcut to Firefox Reader Mode

When browsing the web, I (and I know I am not alone) am getting more and more frustrated by all the bloat that many websites throw at us. Some news websites are particularly bad. I understand that they want to make money by adding revenue from adverts, but full screen ...

A Note on Banknotes

So an MP1 has lodged a bill that would attempt to "oblige" acceptance of Scottish banknotes south of the border.

What a waste of time. Maybe if something like this was introduced 50 years ago it would have had a use, but considering the decline in cash payments, there ...

Silence is Suspicious

I have heard that prior to having kids, silence is golden, but after you have kids, silence is suspicious.

That was certainly true tonight while cooking dinner. Denise and myself were in the kitchen, while the kids were playing together. After a while Denise had noticed that the kids had ...

More on Hats

After yesterday's post, I remembered about a time when working in Newark. I was living on my own in a flat, and had no car at the time.

As a result, any time I was outside, I would have a helmet on. I had no garden to spend time ...

Hat’s a Relief

Last Friday, I somehow managed to leave my hat at work. I didn’t notice that it was missing until leaving the house on Saturday morning, when I walked outside and noticed I wasn’t wearing it. Generally speaking, I wear my hat most of the time when outside, so ...

Ending Ending the Draft

Vox have recently published a series of articles asking various people what they think will be considered barbaric or unthinkable in 50 years time, in a similar way to the attitude towards smoking has changed in the past 50 years.

There were the sorts of predictions I had expected to ...

Clearing Out

I have just finished having a mega clear out. I have been storing all of my papers from highschool and university in a closet. When I say 'all of my papers' I mean class notes, coursework and exam papers.

All of it is now in the recycling.

I have had ...

Disastrous Dinners: How a nuclear power plant interfered with food and drinks supplies

Last Wednesday, Iain Clenahan gave a presentation on an incident that happened in February 1997. This post is my attempt at summarising the talk.


Hunterston B is an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) nuclear power plant commissioned in the late 1970s. To cool the reactors, carbon dioxide (CO2) is circulated ...

Believing Instruments

This month’s process safety beacon is on trusting instruments. Or to be more accurate, what can happen when you don’t believe an instrument and it turns out that the instrument was correct. It has prompted me to write about an incident I experienced last year. Luckily in our ...

An Unexpected Sight

When walking around the supplies warehouse today I noticed the labels in a set of cabinets that look ready for dispatch:

Cabinet with a label for British Sugar Newark written on the site
I recognize that customer
Cabinet with a label for British Sugar Newark written on the site
I recognize that customer
Close

It was nice to see kit destined for my old stomping ground.

Go West

For long periods of my life, I have ended up commuting to some place further East of where I live. This includes going to secondary school, going to university from my parents house, even for the period I lived in Norwich. The problem with commuting to some location further east ...