Archive for Fail

Graphic Magnificence

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on September 4, 2015 by awickerman

In my ongoing effort to intermittently and irregularly present to you the cream of badly thought through ideas I present this triumph of graphical data representation.

Many would say a graph of Time against Time is a waste of Time. They're probably right

I am delighted this exists. I may well be alone in this delight

Yes it is a graph of time against time. Majestic is the word I hope you are looking for.

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Perhaps specialisation is important

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Engineering, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by awickerman

Property developer set up their own construction company after becoming “increasingly dissatisfied with the service of external construction companies”.

Construction company has a few good years, buys itself wins an award as construction company of the year in 2011.

Company goes into administration on 7th October “after serious flaws were unearthed in the pricing of a number of the contracts”. They also admit “”[We have] encountered considerable difficulties in progressing and completing current projects.”

It’s almost as if pricing construction works and then delivering them is not as easy as it appeared. Maybe they should have stuck to what they were good at rather than branching out into something they clearly weren’t as good at as they originally thought.

Either way as they couldn’t offload the job for Southampton Cricket Club onto a different contractor fast enough they have left their current clients in the lurch, and no doubt ‘increasingly dissatisfied with external construction companies’. If you don’t find that amusing you have a heart of stone.

Offshore Wind – Still Tricky

Posted in Engineering, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming with tags , , , on January 20, 2012 by awickerman

Round about a year ago I noted the Offshore Wind Accelerator scheme trying to overcome the problems of deep water offshore wind being tricky and noted that in addition to the problems they were trying to solve there would be;

the dozens of other problems they haven’t even thought of yet, because as I said at the top; Offshore Wind – Tricky.

Well one of those other problems has just popped up – scour. The turbine foundations are surrounded by large armour stone blocks and these are sinking, up to 1.5m in some cases, as the sea washes away the sea bed beneath the stones. As the report says;

Lead author Anders Nielsen says the sinking stones are a real problem as they can, ‘reduce the stability of the monopole and change for instance the natural frequency of the dynamic response of an offshore wind turbine in an unfavourable manner.’

To be fair I’m sure it will be solved, in the short term just dropping more stones down every few months will do it, but I’d be very surprised if the solution doesn’t end up being making each turbine more expensive to install, which is probably the last thing an already very expensive form of power needs. Still when was renewable energy ever about providing the consumer with cheap and reliable electricity?

Why civil engineering is not respected

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Engineering, Irregular Features, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Tenuous Link of the Day, The Railways, The Underground, Tunnels with tags , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by awickerman

It is a common complaint among engineers that the profession is under-valued, the conversation then normally ranges over the usual topics;  Why are photocopier repair men called engineers? Why don’t we have something like the German Engineer’s Law to protect the name engineer? Why is it that providing the power, gas and water people need is ignored while shagging ex-Big Brother contestants a matter of national concern? In truth these are not good or even original questions, but it does get the conversation going in the pub which is often the main thing.

What never get mentions is the habit of the engineering profession of doing it’s level best to repeatedly bugger up it’s own chances. Consider the ICE London Civil Engineering Awards. Look at some of these past winners;

  • 2010 – Infrastructure Award: King’s Cross St Pancras Underground Station Redevelopment – Phase 2
  • 2009 – Greatest Contribution to London Award: Heathrow Terminal 5A
  • 2008 – Special Award: Wembley Stadium

King’s Cross Phase 2 was a nightmare, this brief history barely covers half the problems but suffice to say horrifically late and well over budget cover it quite well. T5A construction (as opposed to the fit out and staff training) was in fact on time and on budget, but frankly that was irrelevant to the general public perception of the whole project wasn’t it? Nothing really needs saying on Wembley Stadium,  but for those who’ve forgotten it was several years late, over twice the original budget and that the at least one of the multiple court cases over the construction was still going earlier this year.

The pattern you should note is that for most of the population the ICE London branch goes around giving it’s best awards to late, over-priced or otherwise flawed projects. Sure from a purely technical viewpoint they were a triumph for the engineers involved (commercially not so much, particularly not Wembley which the FA got on a fixed price. Genius I tell you), but they are not calculated to make the profession look good, particularly at the showcase event of the year.

Still for those who insist the profession has a higher status I bring good news. This year’s infrastructure award went to the Boris Bikes, a scheme with all the civil engineering content of the average banana, but one that will doubtless garner many fluffy headlines and approving nods from the Guardian….. It’s enough to make a man turn to drink really.

A minor design fault

Posted in Engineering, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Tenuous Link of the Day, Tunnels, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2011 by awickerman

Are you worried your house will fall into the Crossrail tunnels? Are you concerned Crossrail 2 (the Chelsea to Hackney Line) will mean your house has to be destroyed? Terrified that the bits on the end of Crossrail may end up being connected to the rest of the railways through your house?

Well worry no more! The Crossrail safeguarding team will tell you so your vague worries can crystallise into actual terror, all through the medium of a handy web based search.

There is but one minor flaw, as far as I can tell it only shows a result if your property is in or close to the limits, everyone else in Central London gets this message;

“Sorry, we couldn’t find your postcode.”

Which really doesn’t help. Admittedly I believe this message actually means “You are outside the safeguarded routes so will be fine”, but that’s only because I already know where those routes are. A nice idea, let down by someone buggering up the error handling I suspect.

This feature is not available for High Speed 2, mainly because there is no safeguarded route for HS2. There is no safeguarded route because people still haven’t decided quite where it’s going. But worry not, there is a giant pot of money knocking about for the ‘Exceptional hardship‘ of someone possibly building a giant high speed railway nearby. Of course when (if?) anyone finally picks a route, and decides which bunch of home owners in the Chilterns to forever offend, this scheme will close and be replaced by the standard compensation scheme. So hurry now to claim your money, the properly thought out not-exceptional compensation scheme is far less generous.

Windmills – Still Rubbish

Posted in Mining, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Rantings, The Wicker Man list with tags , , , , , , on December 13, 2010 by awickerman

Durham University have sent one of their research students to look at offshore windmills, I’m not sure why, perhaps he had offended them in some way. In any event he has come back and worked out exactly how good/awful they are, using numbers rather than the vague insults and projections I’m usually forced to rely on. The summary is here with the bewitching title;

UK offshore wind farms: must do better”

Which, while accurate, is kind of like saying ‘Harold Shipman: must stop killing people’, it’s a nice idea, but it’s not going to happen.

So why must the windmills do better, well they were only actually available 80% of the time. That’s not generating electricity 80% of the time, that’s just potentially available to generate some electricity 80% of the time, the actual load factor (how much of the total theoretical production was actually produced) was far lower. As we saw last time on off-shore windfarms that ain’t good. The deep ff-shore windmills would hope to be available 90% of the time, if the ones in shallow waters can’t manage it what chance in the middle of the North Sea?

On the plus side the costs weren’t as bad as feared at a mere £70 per MWh (Not counting the fact taxpayers were been fleeced by the government to provide the subsidy to build the windmill, which then produces the expensive electricity your electricity provider is legally compelled to buy. Bastards).

Sure that’s more pricey than coal, say £45 per MWh for the average European coal fired plant, but it could have been a lot worse. You could be buying electricity in Germany where they have to contend with lignite power station trying to generate electricity by burning muddy twigs and costing fortune while doing so. Then there are the proper coal burning German power stations which have to buy coal from DeutscheSteinKohle, a company who’s mines really should be closed, but aren’t because the German government really likes miners and wants to carry on paying £200,000 a year per miner to keep them mining over-priced coal no-one outside Germany wants. Then there is the German solar industry which continues to cost a fortune, and of course they subsidies their own windmills.  Basically it all costs a fortune, apart from Nuclear and Russian Gas, which is probably why the Germans use so much of both.

Today’s thought for the day; Chris Huhne is a twunt who will be one of the first into the Wicker Man come the revolution.

The wonderful world of Mr T

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by awickerman

For those of you have wondered what Mr T does in between whoring himself out to Snickers and World of Warcraft I can now present the answer;

He’s been making the ineffably pointless Flavor Wave Turbo Oven Platinum. Cynics may scoff that it’s nothing more than a halogen bulb with a fan attached, but to them I say pah! Mr T has managed to invent a new source of power, along with the  conventional(ish) “infrared waves” his marvellous device also uses “halogen heat” which is apparently completely different from infrared. For the revolutionary breakthrough Mr T must surely be in line for a Nobel Prize. That or pitying the fool of an ad man who wrote that tripe, one or other certainly.

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