June 28, 2003

Don't let them crash to the ground.

EuropeStar has a very neat 'Take Five' Quicktime video available from their site index. It uses juggling to illustrate satellite concepts. I liked the three jugglers together, which made me think of Clarke's minimum three-geo-satellite constellation.

EuropeStar is just up the road from Cisco's offices in Bedfont Lakes; I learned this when someone taking the morning bus with me turned around and asked 'Are you Lloyd?'. We'd also taken the same masters course in satellite communication engineering.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:42 AM | Comments (0)

Corporations. Coffee. Companies.

Enough of the current Orwell's-hundredth-birthday Royal Society of Chemistry brouhaha to get a Loughborough lecturer to tell us that the milk should go in first. Enough of tea, and of the people who spoil it with milk.

I prefer tea and filter coffee black. I don't like raw milk; it just goes rancid while I'm not looking. I'm not going to buy milk. (When I have cereal, I put apple juice on it, although that tends to turn to bad cider while I'm not looking.)

For some time, I've been on the quest for the ideal cappucino. This is itself made more difficult by disliking milk. So, enter the instant cappucino mix, which is basically powdered instant coffee, milk powder (remember the introduction of Coffee-Mate in the 1970s?), and foaming agents. Available sweetened and unsweetened (but the sugary versions foam better). I have tried:

Douwe Egberts Instant Cappucino.
One big bag of powder that's hard to divide up and meter, although it's fine when done right.
Nestlé's Instant Cappucino.
Individual 12.5g sachets that are just too small to make a decent-size cup. Chocolate powder sealed in its own plastic shaker; the sweetened comes with Plain Chocolate topping, but the unsweetened has Swiss Chocolate topping, presumably to make up for its poor (if improved) foaming and general resemblance to instant coffee plus Coffee-Mate. And those ingredients lists... two stabilisers? Salt?
Maxwell House unsweetened.
Individual 14g sachets that make a large cappucino in my favourite metal mug, but the included packet of Terry's Chocolate Flavour Powder is quite awful, and rarely used.

The combination of Maxwell House unsweetened with Nestlé's Swiss Chocolate topping is the best combination I've yet found, and certainly the easiest to mix and foam when you're in a hurry. Pouring the hot water onto the back of a spoon works particularly well.

But if I take my instant cappucino sans sugar, and, once the decent chocolate has run out, sans chocolate, can I really still call it a cappucino? No. And it's a moot point, really. The ideal cappucino is really the cappucino taken in ideal company.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:12 AM | Comments (1)

In space, no-one can hear you scream.

I've just discovered Disney's Lloyd in Space. The episode summaries made me wince.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2003

More tea?

There's something about the humble way in which the British express their devotion to tea. Consider nice cup of tea and a sit down, or the more to-the-point I love tea.

These sites don't mention George Orwell's own A nice cup of tea. That's odd, but then that piece was written over half a century ago, and Orwell was always strident, never humble. More to the point, would you want to take your dietary advice from someone who only lived until the age of forty-six?

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 02:49 AM | Comments (1)

June 18, 2003

The New New Old Ones.

These do not scare me.

This is not scary.

This chills me to the bone.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2003

Ready to go.

Disaster relief from space (Helen Briggs, 13 June 2003, BBC News)

The UK-DMC satellite and its sisters are on schedule; they're packed and shipping out to Russia for launch.

Okay, they're not going to the Baikonur cosmodrome, where:

In the toilets of the commander's office building, the only paper on offer is torn from copies of Pravda
-- Beating the Martian Odds (David Shukman, 2 June 2003, BBC News)

...suggesting that the Truth can set you free. And, perhaps, provide relief.

I won't be going to see the launch from Plesetsk.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2003

At last.

This week Leo finally got examined on his PhD thesis. Successfully.

It's reassuring to know that there are people out there who can take even longer and have more trouble putting things together than I did, but can still graduate; Leo's non-progress had been something of a constant even back when we were wasting time dinking around with Macintoshes.

I have a copy of his thesis -- the cover is a fetching shade of yellow -- and one thing I've already learned from it is that you can produce very professional-looking results if you really do know what you're doing after wasting enough time dinking around with LaTeX and with gnuplot.

Another is that it is apparently entirely acceptable to quote jwz as one of the core arguments in your defense. In Dutch. On wasting your time dinking around with Linux.

(In February, Leo suggested I start a real blog using real blogging software. And now I'm wasting time dinking around with this.)

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2003

Molly wouldn't be impressed.

Gibson uses smilies.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 12:49 AM | Comments (1)

Surrey satellite progress.

Three SSTL Spacecraft Complete Pre-flight Tests At RAL For DMC (Space Daily)

I've still not been to Rutherford-Appleton Lab, but I know the guys at Surrey Satellite Technology who have been pulling shifts doing this testing, and I see them when I'm up at Surrey. It's interesting watching the international disaster monitoring constellation develop.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2003

So I finally succumbed.

Everyone else has a blog. Now I have one too.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 04:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Lloyd Wood (L.Wood@surrey.ac.uk)
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