Satellite flares: Flashes in the night sky

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Various

Satellite Flare
Satellite Flare

There is one definite advantage of the long dark nights at this time of year. It is that you can see morning satellite flares without getting up early compared to the Summer months. But what are Satellite flares? These are spectacular flashes in the night sky that last a few seconds. They are caused by sunlight being reflected off the surfaces of satellites on to small sections of the earth’s surface. They can be predicted accurately for any given spot on the planet. They usually occur just before dawn and after dusk when the surface below is in darkness, but when the satellites above can still reflect the suns rays. The occurrences vary in brightness, but some can reach a startling brightness of -8 which is brighter than the planet Venus.

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Examples of poor design

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Various

Poorly designed mugDid you ever come across an object that was so badly designed you would be better off without it? While designers should be encouraged to be unique and try out different concepts, there should be always be some checking system in place to ensure that the product actually is fit for purpose, and to prevent abominations like the ones below from ever making it past the sketch pad and into production.

Burning mug. The picture below must be the worst designed mug ever. From the photograph it may not be obvious why it’s so bad. So let me explain.

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One year on

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Various

It’s now one year since I started this blog. I would like to thank all those people who have taken the time to e-mail me directly or have left comments on articles. I am glad I started it and have met some lovely people, electronically and in person, as a result.

One of the highlights of the last year was being nominated and then shortlisted in the specialist blog category of the Irish Blog Awards 2011. This category was eventually won by a very deserving blog called Click to view.

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What’s with the iPhone? Samsung Galaxy S2 verses the iPhone 4

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Various

I bought a new phone a few weeks ago, my first smart phone. I toyed with the idea for a long time and after lots of research finally settled on the Samsung Galaxy S2. I considered buying the iPhone 4 as a few people I know were suggesting it and I remembered the hype of its launch last year. But having checked out the phone, I wasn’t that impressed. It is showing its age now and it’s a surprise the iPhone 4 has been left 16 months and counting without an upgrade.

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Lunch Time: My favourite sandwich

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Various

In common with many other workers, most engineers work a high pressure job with tight deadlines. Problems have to be solved quickly and meetings can run over time. As a result it’s becoming more common to have a quick sandwich at the desk instead of a nice relaxed lunch break in the local pub or restaurant.


But there is a world of difference between the sandwiches available. My favourite sandwich of all time is the common French snack available over there, and usually sold under the name, ‘Americano Baguette’. I don’t know why its called the Americano, but I have had this a few times in France and it is divine. No other sandwich comes close. Making it yourself is not quite as nice, as nothing can compare to French bread that is actually made in France, but it still makes for a really nice lunch.

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