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Archive for May, 2011

Satelite Recovery – Lyme

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Behind the house - It was nice to see the English countryside again.

Near the new house - It was nice to see the English countryside again.

My mum has recently moved to a new house in a lovely country village near Lyme Regis on the edges of Dorset and Devon. The area is very nice and the house is, ‘in essence’, a very nice little house. Unfortunately, it has some issues. In fact it has a lot of issues. We knew most of these before we bought it but decided (with a very complex budgeting and evaluation I did a few months ago) that it was still a good idea. Amongst the extra problems that turned up, were that the chimney needed replacing. This was taking place at the time I was there and had involved the removal of the satelite dish which was on the old chimney. I was tasked with temporarily hooking the dish back up.

   

Nearby old mill thing.

Nearby old mill thing.

New chimney.

New chimney.

 

The plan was just to bolt it directly to the scaffolding. However, the various available clamps and shackle things were either too big for the dish pole, or too small for the scaffolding poles. The solution, was to mount the garden umbrella stand (a perfect medium diameter) upside down onto the scaffolding and then mount the dish to that. The alignment was done by calculating the magnetic bearing (I think it’s the right-ascension) and using my phone and watch compass to get this direction roughly right. Lacking a signal meter, the fine tuning was done by pointing my mum’s laptop camera at the sky box’s signal screen on the TV, winching my own laptop to the top of the scaffolding and then using Skype to look at the TV through my mum’s laptop’s camera. The slight complication was that the builder was using the winch for a bucket of wet cement at the time. So my poor laptop which has really been put through its paces over the past 4 years, had to be sealed in a bag and put into wet cement, dangling 3 stories above the ground.

Laptop with all my work on, in a bag, at the top of the scaffholding.

Laptop with all my work on, in a bag, at the top of the scaffholding.

Dish.

Dish.

It turned out that the HTC compass is insufficiently accurate even for the first approximation, so some drawing of lines on Google map’s satellite images was used instead.

     

View from the scaffolding. The chimney was massive in the original photos, but stitching them together removed it completely.

View from the scaffolding. The chimney was massive in the original photos, but stitching them together removed it completely.

Categories: Uncategorized

Gradually getting to graduation, [ London – Salisbury – Lyme Regis ]

May 15, 2011 2 comments

My primary reason for going back to the UK this time, was for my PhD graduation ceremony from Imperial College, on this day. While Tuesday had a few small problems, Wednesday started out as a complete disaster. My mother and brother were on their way up from Devon/Dorset, and they had my suit which I had to wear under the fancy robes they give you to prance around in for the day. Unfortunately their train was late, owing to a person at Clapham junction trying to occupy that space beyond the platform that rapidly moving trains also occupy.

Mother and suit, on their way through London.

Mother and suit, on their way through London.


 

Meanwhile, I was at Imperial trying to convince the people from whom we hire the Robes, that I did in fact have a reservation despite not being on their primitive paper list. Proving this, required my ID number which was in a text message on my other phone back in Greifswald. Alternatively, it might be in my e-mail, which required Internet access. Getting access to this particular technology at the ‘Imperial College of Science and Technology’ proved incredibly difficult. The public access machines in the lobby were all broken (BSODs, BIOS errors, and various other flavors of epic fail). I did still have an account for the WiFi but they kindly reset everyones password every few months.

I went up to shout at IT services but the girl on the desk was so cheery and helpful that the shouting didn’t happen. She fixed the problem pretty quickly. Waving the laptop in the woman from the robe company’s face achieved the robes and the suit finally turned up, with family, ten minutes after the time that officially won’t let anyone in. We missed the precession thing at the start, but they did let us in so I had my moment of wandering across the stage of the Royal Albert Hall, with my associated reading of my name and handshaking with various important university types.
 

Me in the silly hat they shouldn't have given me.

Me in the silly hat they shouldn't have given me.

On stage in the Royal Albert Hall. Worth 4 years of work??

On stage in the Royal Albert Hall. Worth 4 years of work??

 

We than did a little wandering around at the reception, scoffed some ‘cans of peas’ (canapes) and I said hi to the five odd people I actually know at Imperial. After that we got the tube back to Waterloo and the train out to Salisbury from where my brother drove us back to my mum’s new house near Lyme Regis on the Devon/Dorset border.

The new house near Lyme.

The new house near Lyme.

Categories: travel

Easy (to miss the) Jet [ Greifswald – Berlin – Gatwick – London ]

May 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, that was quite a week! I’ve been in England for a week and a day and am now sitting on the train back to Greifswald writing this while watching the masses of lightning over northern Germany. In order to not write everything in one post, I’ll put a short entry in for each day of my mini-holiday, each day of this week. So here’s the first:

Tuesday 3rd May: Greifswald – Berlin – Gatwick – London

Having spend many hours sitting around airports and train stations on previous attempts, I decided this time to try to make the connections a bit closer. I left only 30mins between the train arriving at the airport and the departure gate closing time. The only alternative was having a 2.5 hour wait at Berlin airport. Unfortunately, the train from Greifswald was late into Berlin Hauptbahnhof so I missed the connection. A taxi from there to the airport solved that problem for only 35€. I gave him 40€ for driving like a maniac, as I needed since even then I made it to the departure gate only 30 seconds before it officially closed. As it happened, the flight was 30mins late, so it wouldn’t have been a problem.

I was quite surprised this guy was happy to stand there as the plane taxied in using its engines.

I was quite surprised this guy was happy to stand there as the plane taxied in using its engines.

Berlin

Berlin

The flight itself was uneventful except for some nice views of Belgium at night and I turned up at Gatwick airport at about 10pm. After 3 months of mostly only over-hearing German, I was treated
to the sound of some loud and very sterotypical London builders behind me while choosing a sandwich in Gatwick M&S. There was something oddly pleasant about that as a welcome home.

Belgium

Belgium

See

See

By just after midnight, I made it to a friend’s place near Canary Wharf and my first of many Sofas/Mattresses of the week. Unlike many hotels, they had free Wifi and could provide me with something to charge my new power hungry phone, since I left my power lead at work in Greifswald. So, that was the very start of my travels complete.

Categories: travel