Archive for November, 2014

The International Space Station’s expresso machine

30/11/2014 Leave a comment

I heard about this on the BBC World Service yesterday so I looked it up and found it in The Guardian. According to the report:

The device was made by two Turin-based companies, Lavazza Coffee and engineering firm Argotec. It is called the ISSpresso and was delivered by Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in the early hours of Monday morning, when her Soyuz space capsule docked at the orbiting habitat.

Making coffee in space is difficult, especially espresso, which relies on 94°C water being passed through ground coffee under high pressure.

On Earth this is achieved with the help of gravity. The ground coffee is placed in a perforated container, the water is heated and shot on to the coffee to drip into the cup. In space there is no up and down, so things don’t naturally fall.

Water – and the scalding coffee – would simply form droplets and float away, presenting a hazard both to the astronauts and to the sensitive electronics on board. So the ISSpresso takes water from a pouch and pumps it round the machine.

The water is heated and placed under pressure then fired through a capsule of ground coffee. According to the Italian national espresso institute, the water must reach the coffee at 9 bar of pressure to be called a certified Italian espresso.

To guard against accidents, the piping in the ISSpresso can withstand pressures of up to 400 bar. The machine itself weighs 20kg, which is the same as all the science instruments on the Philae comet lander put together.

The resulting drink is pumped into another plastic pouch and the astronaut drinks it through a straw.

Not the pinnacle of chic usually associated with an espresso cup but Giuseppe Lavazza, vice-president of the coffee company, says that the taste itself will be indistinguishable from that bought in Earth-bound coffee shops.

Argotec have been working on the design since 2012, when a previous Italian astronaut, Luca Parmitano, complained after only a week in orbit that the only thing he missed was a good Italian espresso.

Well, I think its a great idea and for those guys working up in the ISS, a great way to “get away from it all” even with a “cup” of expresso.


Manchester United- 3 Hull City – 0

29/11/2014 Leave a comment

In a few hours time, it is going to be Manchester United vs Hull City. managed by ex-Manchester United stalwart Steve Bruce, he is certainly not in a position to owe us any favours. Match starts at 2300hrs. Can’t wait for it!

********** EDITOR’S NOTE **********

Well, it was Steve Bruce’s 700th appearance as a manager and where did he make his 700th? Right back at his old stomping ground. But the result was not kind to him. The first goal was scored by Smalling, perhaps to make amends for his red card a couple of weeks earlier. Second goal was from captain Wayne Rooney and the third? None other than Van Persie!

So that is how the game ended: Manchester United – 3, Hull City – 0. Glory Glory!

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DIY charging station for mobile phones and the like

25/11/2014 Leave a comment

I remember reading about people making their own DIY charging stations in many an Internet site like Lifehacker. Now mine is nothing great. Itsjust an old box left over from an electric heater I bought some time back, as you can see in the picture. Then what I did was dip in my junk box for some wire, a 13A plug and bought a cheap two-pin extension socket. After that, I hook this contraption to a timer that is set to only charge between the hours of 1200 to 0600, In this way, I do not overcharge my devices. I know some people will charge their phones, plugging their charges in sockets next to their beds, with their phones plopped on the bedside table. I do not know about others but I do not like that. So I keep this DIY charging station in the hall and by the time I am ready to leave for work, my devices will be all charged up, ready for the day.  Give it a try today!

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Cheap VGA extenders

24/11/2014 Leave a comment

I have a few clients that bought some cheap extenders for their digital signage. Now, I am not against cheap goods per se. But when you have a serious problem with either the extender power supply getting fried and causing your display to go kaput with nothing displayed or the extender causing distorted images, you start to wonder if it was a good idea in the first place to go the Cheap Charlie route. For me, invest a bit more in quality extenders. The extender in the picture above had a problem with the power supply, one of those el-cheapo switch-mode power supplies. The power supplies have been changed umpteen times. Looks like the extender will be changed in the next round

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Arsenal vs Manchester United

23/11/2014 Leave a comment

Good match at the Emirates today. Manchester United  won by two goals and Arsenal scored one. It would have made it three if Di Maria had scored that…being too clever as he started a long run towards goal and tried to beat replacement keeper Martinez. It was a bit strange t see Danny Welbeck in Arsenal kit though. We were 7 in the league, Arsenal are number 5. With this 3 point lead we are now at number 4. Let’s keep it that way lads. Glory Glory!

Anker 5-port 40w USB charger

22/11/2014 1 comment

One of my friends bought this and now I am looking for one. It seems to be a very useful product that I can use to charge my devices, instead of using individual power supplies. Its sold out here in Singapore so it looks like I have to get one from Amazon. There is a lot of information on their site here.

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Jim Beam Honey bourbon

20/11/2014 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks back, my wife came back from an overseas trip and bought this bottle of Jim Beam Honey bourbon. To be honest, I have never tasted it before. All that I have tasted was the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey bourbon. Still, this looks very interesting and I do intend to try it out. The only thing is, what shall I mix it with? Coke? On its own? The mind fair boggles but I will find a mixer for this and try it soon. Thanks darling!