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Railway Locomotive Engine Parts

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Locomotive or engine? They are both shortened versions of the original ‘locomotive engine’, which distinguished them from static steam engines (as found in factories etc). It’s all to do with American versus British English. As a Brit, I prefer ‘engine’.

I love railway trains of all types, but steam still keeps a romance all of its own. I took the video above on a chance visit to the South Devon Railway and had only a small hand-held camcorder at hand, but I did my best. However, much as I love steam, I realised that I didn’t know what all the component parts of an engine were called. So, please click HERE to go to a fine diagram and some basic terminology with explanations. I welcome any comments from steam enthusiasts, especially if you find any errors.

“How to Write Great Instructions” – now available on Kindle!

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How to Write Great instructions - Kindle cover

Click on the pic to read more.

Do you think that writing great instructions is something like  Mission Impossible?

Well, it’s absolutely not!

This book will teach you to write great instructions – just follow the instructions!

Click HERE to read more.

How safe can a gun be?

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The old argument from those who insist on, for example, the US citizens’ right to carry a gun for the defence of themselves or others in need sounds something like this:
“It’s not the gun that kills people – it’s the one pulling the trigger.”

smart gun
Of course, to a large extent this is true, but (as I have written before) it would be better to have no guns in the first place. Long ago, for example, the UK drastically reduced rights to own a gun. Admittedly, the UK was never like Texas and the vast majority of gun owners had their weapons only for hunting, sport shooting or pest control – not for self defence. Gun deaths in the UK are some of the lowest in the world. In contrast, Finland hosts an amazing 1.9 million privately-held weapons, and has a population of only five million people, but they are not for self-defence either – they are for hunting and sport shooting. But, gun deaths are uncomfortably high, suicide being the major problem, followed by homicide. Guns can be misuse, and they are much easier to kill someone with than a knife or a hammer – you don’t have to get so close.

My point here is that even the most responsible gun owner just might lose control if faced with, for example, depression or marital infidelity. After a few drinks, the gun in the cupboard just might seem like a simple solution to the problem of the moment. Or, of course, a neighbour or family member just might know where the gun is kept and (as most Finnish men have been in the military) just how to use it. The gun in the picture above is a ‘smart gun’, and can only be fired if the registered owner is holding it. It remembers their palm print. This is a great step forward, and might be improved further if it knew that the person wielding it was drunk!

A birthday present for you!

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girl-taking-dictation - close crop

Write this down!

Actually, it’s my birthday so I have completely restructured my e-School and Proofreading prices for the rest of 2014! I’ve cut the prices almost in half, compared to 2013!
Proofreading is now only £25 (€30) per thousand words!
E-school is now only £25 (€30) per hour!
Now, don’t tell me your company can’t afford to invest at these prices!

Contact me at malcolm.pemberton@gmail.com

What was the first computer you used?

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BBC Micro - front view

BBC Micro – front view

The first computer I used was at a college back in the early 80s. It was a BBC Micro computer with no internal memory, just RAM. The operating system was BBC Basic, similar to Microsoft Basic, but more user friendly. The work was saved on an external audio cassette drive, and loaded from the same – at normal cassette speed. The screen showed just white text on black, but colour graphics could be created. “In line with its ethos of expandability Acorn produced its own range of peripherals for the BBC Micro, including: joysticks, tape recorder, floppy drive interface upgrade, floppy drives (single and double), Econet networking upgrade, Econet Bridge, Winchester disk system, 6502 Second Processor, Z80 Second processor (with CP/M and business software suite), 32016 Second processor, ARM Evaluation System, Teletext adapter, Prestel adapter, Speech synthesiser, Music 500 synthesiser, BBC Turtle, BBC Buggy and IEEE 488 Interface“. (Wikipedia links)

BBC Micro - rear view

BBC Micro – rear view

“After the Literacy Project’s call for bids for a computer to accompany the TV programmes and literature, Acorn won the contract with the Proton, which was renamed the BBC Micro and was adopted by most schools in the United Kingdom, changing Acorn’s fortunes. It was also moderately successful as a home computer in the UK despite its high cost.” (Wikipedia)

Below is a screenshot of an an Elite game from Acornsoft (1984). The full description and technical specifications are available on Wikipedia – just click HERE.

BBC Micro screenshot of an Elite game

BBC Micro screenshot of an Elite game

 

 

“How to Write Great Instructions” is now available!

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How to Write Great Instructions front square 300pxMy third book is now available!
Only €4.99 ($6.86)
I got so many visits to my short guide that I decided to write this really comprehensive eBook to help you all to write really great instructions and make you and your company look good. The quality of your instructions is just as important as the quality of your products, advertising, website and customer service. Instructions should never be written as an afterthought – in fact they should be developed as the product nears the market.  READ MORE

Windless and Windlass

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Windless and windlass are very close in spelling, but worlds apart in meaning.

Windless simply means without wind or calm. It is more often used to describe a lack of wind when some wind would be helpful. Sailing vessels must use auxiliary power on windless days, such as oars, poles or a motor.

Comparison of a differential pulley or chain hoist (left) and a differential windlass or Chinese windlass (right). The rope of the windlass is depicted as spirals for clarity, but more likely helices with axes perpendicular to the image.

Comparison of a differential pulley or chain hoist (left) and a differential windlass or Chinese windlass (right). The rope of the windlass is depicted as spirals for clarity, but more likely helices with axes perpendicular to the image. (Wikipedia)

A windlass is similar to a winch and provides lifting or pulling power by turning a rope or chain around a horizontal drum, converting rotary power into linear motion. Such devices can be found in car repair shops and are called motor or engine hoists. These are called differential windlasses and use two drums (as in the picture above). The main point of a windlass is to create a geared lifting or pulling device which enables the lifting of heavy objects by hand, or by using motors. 

It was by the use of windlasses that heavy stones were lifted into place onto medieval church spires and heavy anchors were lifted back onto the deck of a ship. Simpler windlasses with a single drum made lifting the water bucket from the well much easier.

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