What You See May Not Be What You See – The Power of Perception

What You See May Not Be What You See – The Power of Perception

It was a hot dry dusty day in a small town, way out in the middle of nowhere. An old tramp was shuffling along the street, head bent and old tired eyes squinting through slits of eyelids. Scanning the pavement for old cigarette butts, coins or anything which could be of value to him
Then out of the corner of his eye, glinting in the sun he caught sight of a Rolls Royce. He lifted his head and looked in admiration. “What an absolutely magnificent motor vehicle” he sighed under his breath as he stood back and became transfixed. He remembered all of the stories he had heard of Rolls Royce and their legendary luxury and engineering excellence.
It looked very new, it was highly polished and it shone. As he stood there admiring the vehicle, intoxicated by the sight, he saw a lump of mud near the front wheel arch.

He thought to himself “a Rolls Royce, the most magnificent, beautiful vehicle in the world, I can’t walk past it, I must clean off that mud”. He pulled a piece of rag out of his pocket (which normally passed for a handkerchief) and he bent over at the side of the vehicle. Carefully he removed the mud and was just about to polish the area back to its original glory when the owner of the Rolls Royce stepped out of a shop and saw the tramp.

He yelled for the man to get away and ran over to him.
The tramp stepped back and lowered his head. He apologized profusely, “I’m terribly sorry” said the tramp. “I didn’t mean any harm”. He explained how he was admiring the Rolls Royce, be best motor vehicle in the world and saw the mud and just couldn’t walk past without cleaning it off.
He kept muttering “Rolls Royce, the most magnificent motor vehicle in the world”

The owner was full of regret for misjudging the situation and he in turn apologized to the tramp for shouting at him.
He said “you’re obviously down on your luck at the moment, let me see if I can give you a little something to help you on your way”. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a handful of loose change.
Amongst the handful of loose change were a couple of golf T’s.

The tramp had never played golf and had never seen golf T’s before. He looked at the open hand and pointed at the T’s. “What are those” he asked.
The man replied “Well, they are to rest your balls on when you drive off”


The tramp sighed deeply and slowly shook his head in wonderment

“Well I’ll be stuffed” he said “Those Rolls Royce people think of everything don’t they”

There are three very important learning’s in this story

1 – Don’t jump to conclusions, wait until you know all of the facts
2 – Don’t assume – what is very obvious to you, may not be so obvious to others
3 – Don’t underestimate the power of perception



Weekly Engineering Trivia Quiz – Mar 27th 2017

Weekly Engineering Trivia Quiz – Mar 27th 2017

The Coffee Break Hard Trivia Quiz – A challenging selection of General Engineering Trivia questions and answers -
sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know, but you’re sure that you did know or that you should know and when you see the answers you know that once upon a time you probably did know !

Challenge your colleagues – can they answer more than you ?


The six naturally occurring gasses - Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Radon are a group of chemical elements with very similar properties and are known as the what gases …

The Bitter Electromagnet or Bitter Solenoid was invented and built in 1933 by American physicist Francis Bitter and therefore the plates are known as Bitter plates - True or False

A Tangent is the name given to a geometric line segment whose endpoints both lie on the circumference of the same circle – True or False

A Chord is the line segment whose endpoints both lie on the circumference of the same circle – a Tangent is a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it at that point.

An Electron is a subatomic particle carrying a negative electric charge which has no known components or substructure, and is believed to be an elementary particle, it has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of a proton – True or False

A Megohmmeter (or Megger) is a type of ohmmeter used to measure the electrical resistance of insulators – True or False

Although there are many subsets and ancillary specifications - What is generally regarded as the longest man-made tunnel in the world …

Johann Eduard Simon was an apothecary in Berlin, Germany – In 1839 he discovered what…

The process of physically cutting a design or similar onto a very hard surface is called …

An Anemometer is a scientific instrument used to measure Atmospheric pressure – True or False

A Barometer measures Atmospheric Pressure - an Anemometer measures wind speed

SAIC produced 4.5 million vehicles in 2014 - this was the largest production volume in which country …


You Know That You’re An Old Engineer – Number 6

⁃ When you can remember tuning the carburetor on your car
⁃ You still have your first (and only) set of drawing instruments and they are in pristine condition
⁃ You still use these drawing instruments
⁃ You can remember when there was more waste product on the factory floor than good product in the machine and the company (you worked for) was happy to throw labour at cleaning up the mess, but not to assign an Engineering resource to design out the problems
⁃ You can remember reading about some guy called Demming who had some radical ideas on quality and production techniques and you knew that they would never take off
⁃ You can remember when your best Engineering Designs were formulated on the back of a drink coaster/cigarette packet/napkin – in the bar after work – the designs always got better as the evening went on
⁃ You can remember when all trains where big and shiny, gave off lots of smoke and were driven by steam
⁃ You can remember the old style earth moving excavators which had jibs and buckets activated by wire rope. (I know that because I worked on them)
⁃ You can remember when SNAFU was the favorite saying
⁃ You can remember when there was an office full of (predominantly) females sitting in front of loud, manual, mechanical typewriters and they had to manually hit the return at the end of each line



Is A Better Bicycle Really Worth It ?

Is A Better Bicycle Really Worth It ?

I admit it – I like to ride a bicycle. I think that it’s good exercise and I like to get out into the fresh air. Let me say at this point that I don’t ride on roads with high traffic, as I think that it’s too dangerous. My riding is on dedicated cycleways and paths and its all about “smell the roses” along the way. A nice steady ride. None of the “head down tail up” stuff you see from the hard riding dedicated cyclists.

I recently bought a new bike and this has caused me to ask a few questions and ponder “the meaning of life”.

My old bike was bought back in about 2005 and over the years there have been many parts replaced due to to wear and tear and the occasional spill.
But – just like soft brakes on an automobile can creep up on you, many things had started to creep up on my bike without me paying much attention to them.

Let me also say that I’m not big on bike maintenance – I know that I should be – but I always seem to have too many other, more important things to do – So I adopt the “If it ain’t broke – Don’t try and fix it” approach.
I think that I did clean it once over the 12 years or so – but normally relied on the next shower of rain that I got caught in to wash it down.
After all – Its only a bike and with fairly simple mechanical components – I always gave the chain and sprockets a good dose of lubricant – what could possibly go wrong.
I would have my ride and put the bike in the shed until the next ride. All Good

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but when I finally did give it the attention it needed I was looking at replacing wheel bearings, the sprocket assembly, the chain, various wheel spokes and there was a split in the wheel rim, a buckled wheel etc etc.
Obviously just not worth spending the money to fix it when compared with the cost of a new, similar bike.
So I bought a new bike.

Now – This is where the conundrum starts

With my old bike I was riding about 60 km (38miles) and after the ride there was a fair degree of aching in the legs and I generally would feel fairly whacked. This would carry over into the next day and it was only on the third day that I was back to normal.
Now with my new bike I am riding the same distance, but with none of the aching and feeling whacked afterwards. So – obviously the old bike was in pretty poor shape and fairly inefficient – to say the least.

But I’m not getting the “workout” that I was getting before !!!

• I could try and ride faster and with more intensity – but I ride on a shared path and there is always a steady stream of pedestrians (including children and dogs) and at 67 years of age I really don’t know that I’m capable of pushing the speed.

• I could ride further – i.e. a longer ride, but do I want to commit to more time in the saddle ?

• I could look at making the bike less efficient with maybe a slight steady brake on the wheel – but this is a bit radical and probably an impractical/stupid idea!

• I could try and get in more, maybe shorter rides – but this would not make up for intensity.

I know that some people will say – buy an exercise bike or go to the gym and adjust the resistance but:-

1 – I have tried these exercise bikes and I don’t like them – I like to get out in the fresh air and see things.
2 – I’m lazy – if I’m riding a machine and get tired I will find an excuse to stop and get off – If I’m 30 km from home and get tired theres no couch nearby, it’s grit your teeth and keep going.

Mmmmmm – So it’s back to the Drawing Board

Then again ………

Maybe having an easier ride isn’t such a bad thing after all !!



Weekly Engineering Trivia Quiz – Mar 20th 2017

Weekly Engineering Trivia Quiz – Mar 20th 2017

The Coffee Break Quiz – A challenging selection of General Engineering questions and answers -
sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know, but you’re sure that you did know or that you should know and when you see the answers you know that once upon a time you probably did know !

Challenge your colleagues – can they answer more than you ?


Who's law states - The magnitude of the electrostatic force between two point electric charges is directly proportional to the product of the magnitudes of each of the charges and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the two charges….

The earliest version of the Cathode Ray Tube was invented by the German physicist Ferdinand Braun in 1955 - True or False

It was invented by Ferdinand Braun in 1897

Spark Machining, Spark Eroding, Burning, Die Sinking and Wire Erosion are all colloquial names for Electric Discharge Milling – True or False

A device used to measure and regulate the speed of a machine, such as a steam engine is called a …

Lignite is often referred to as what colour coal…

A cubit is one of the first recorded units of measurement - What did a cubit measure ...

A polygon with 50 sides is called a …

In architecture, what name is given to a small tower  that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle…

The female taper on a Lathe Centre or a Drill Press is called a Morse Taper – True or False

The cubed root of 512 = 8 – True or False – (without a calculator please)