UPDATE: How Not To Let EU VAT Ruin Your Christmas – Or Your Business

This is a great step forward. Hopefully it means I will not have to shut down for too long.

What is the energy source of the International Space Station (ISS)? And how does it maintain its energy?

Answer by Robert Frost:

The International Space Station (ISS) obtains ALL of its power from the Sun.  The ISS, like Earth, is 149 million kilometers (93 million miles) from the Sun.  At that distance the power received from the Sun is about 1.367 kilowatts per square meter.  That power can be gathered by arrays of solar cells.

A solar cell utilizes the photoelectric effect.  Photons from the sun strike a semiconductor surface, knocking loose electrons.  Electrical conductors route those electrons along a path, creating an electrical current. 

The US Segment provides eight large solar array wings (SAW) to absorb that solar energy.  Each wing has two solar array blankets, each containing 16,400 photovoltaic cells.  Each of these blankets provides about 105 square meters of solar cells, for a vehicle total of 1680 square meters.  All together, at beginning of life, that totaled to 124 kilowatts of solar power (although 80 kw is typical). But that number varies depending on the angle of incidence to the Sun.

Here's a snapshot of the power gathering right now:

From those numbers it looks like the arrays are supplying about 52 kilowatts.

Each of those solar array wings are referred to as power channels.  If you watch NASA TV, you will hear them referring to those channels by alphanumeric names, as depicted in this diagram:

The Russian Service Module (SM) and Functional Cargo Block (FGB) also have solar arrays projecting from their sides, although the FGB arrays are currently retracted.

The power from the American solar arrays is at a voltage of around 160 volts DC.  A box called a DDCU (DC-DC Converter Unit) steps that voltage down to 124 volts for use in the US Segment.  It is stepped down again for use in international partner modules, as required.

During insolation (daylight), the solar arrays continually gather power and distribute it to the vehicle for use, but a small amount of that power is routed into a box called a BCDU (Battery Charge/Discharge Unit).  The BCDU trickle charges nickel hydrogen (NiH2) batteries.  Each solar blanket has six batteries.  When the ISS moves into eclipse (darkness) and the solar arrays stop gathering power, the batteries begin to discharge to maintain the electrical loads required by the ISS, until daybreak when the arrays take over, again.

What is the energy source of the International Space Station (ISS)? And how does it maintain its energy?

The Top 22 Most Ridiculous Things Said by 8channers About Anita Sarkeesian’s Appearance on the Colbert Report

we hunted the mammoth

#GamerGate's worst nightmare come true #GamerGate’s worst nightmare come true

Last night, as you may have heard, the woman known to #GamerGaters as “Literally Who 2” pulled off a bit of a media coup, appearing on The Colbert Report for a brief interview by the sympathetic Colbert, who gently satirized some of the sillier “arguments” of the Gaters with a series of deliberatly obtuse questions. You know, his regular schtick.

When Anita Sarkeesian posted the picture above (well, a non-blurry version of it) to Twitter yesterday evening, thus alerting the world to her upcoming appearance on Colbert’s show, it set off a wave of panic and despair on 8chan’s /gg/ board, one of the central organizing hubs of the GamerGate “movement.”

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Offline And In Motion

Howdy folks!


As of the now, I am moving my place of residence, once again.

It’s been a funny old year, what with one thing and another, so moving again wasn’t a complete shocker. It’s worked out quite well, all told, and the situation should be a little rosier from now on.

The one downside of this move is that I’ll be offline at home until the 10th of November, and only able to access the internet if I go to The Fortescue. This, as you can imagine, is an absolutely terrible situation for me as I hate both coffee and beer (the pub sells both) with a fiery passion! *cough*

So until the 10th I’ll be online only sporadically, but I assure you that I will be writing. In fact, I may be writing more. 🙂






Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

Guilty as charged. I have made most of these mistakes and wil no doubt continue to find them in my first drafts. But that’s why they are FIRST drafts.
Thanks to Eden Royce for sharing this.

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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What’s it worth to ya, ay?

So, there’s this bloke.

Selznick, Matt Selznick.

He’s doing fairly well at this author lark. Been going for a while, put out a fair wodge of books and other creative materiel, and is altogether open about his experiences therewith.

So far, so good… So what? You might be thinking. (Especially if you’re an old Megadeth fan, like me.)

Well, he’s trying out something which has been pootling around the sub-basement of the creative world for a while, but no-one’s really making a huge noise about it.

The concept is Pay What You Want.

There are several things out there which approach this:

– Kickstarter has different levels of reward if you throw more financial support to a project;

– Patreon lets you  support creative people in whatever they do at various levels for which you get the works and some rewards;

– The various bundles (Humblebundle, Storybundle, Arcane Bundle, etc.) let you get a few books for cheap/nothing and if you pay more you get some extras.

At first glance it seems like a daft idea. But it’s actually sensible.

Short-term, any fans you already have are likely to over-pay, if they can, because they want you to keep on writing; any you give away for free/cheap would most likely have been pirated in any case, it’s a fact of life we might as well embrace whatever your views on the morality of it.

Medium-term, you’re looking at an easy way for people to try out your stuff who might have been unwilling to pay full-price for someone they haven’t read before. They like you and they are more likely to come back at full price, later. Also, if you have a series running, the odds are that you’ll be looking to get sales bumps on the older books as the new ones are released, if someone can pick up the series for an amount that covers your costs, all well and good.

Long-term, the people who are/were fans but who weren’t in a position to pay top-dollar in the short-term scenario are back with a bit more cash AND they’ve told their mates about how good your books and, and what a nice author you are to have helped them out with reading materials when they were low. Can’t get better than readers who talk to their mates about you. It beats any marketing budget hands-down for building your career.

And that’s what this is about. This isn’t a gimmick to sell A book, it’s about building a career and a relationship with the people who ultimately support your career: the readers.

Is it a somewhat brave stance to take in a still-uncertain climate? Sure.

Do I have the balls to do this straight off the bat when I start publishing? Probably not. Wish I did.

But this guy does. His name is Selznick, Matt Selznick. He’s a career writer.

Go and have a look at his piece on the matter over here.



What the hell is “Ultramarionation”?

It’s like this.

Gerry Anderson had something called Supermarionation, you might have heard of it — I will almost guarantee you’re seen the word before — but you might not remember or recognise it. Let’s see if I can jog your memory with a few names.




Heard of ’em? Thought so. Remember the splash screen at the end of each episode, just before you turned over to avoid the 6 o’clock news? Yup.

Andercon 2014 Supermarionation

In the interest of full disclaimer, I did a little work for Anderson Entertainment in the recent past. Nothing major, just some writing, but I did get to email back and forth a bit with Jamie Anderson (Gerry’s son), which was cool. Very nice chap and just as squeeful of the new works as you could wish…

Which leads me on to…


— Yes, Kaal, you mentioned that at the top and you STILL haven’t told us what it is!

OK. Fair cop. Here we go.

All the things that were part of Supermarionation and made those above-mentioned shows so iconic…

Real blowing things up, puppetry of the most excellent order, cutting edge model work… Those things. Yes, THOSE things are involved in the new technique, but brought forward  with all the good practical and visual effect which are available to the film industry these days.

Now, this isn’t just me being animated (excuse the pun) about something which has jabbed the nostalgia funny-bone (well, OK, it IS, but no just), this is also about the Kickstarter they’ve launched to get this thing going.

The initial goal is just to get a minisode (5-ish minutes of show) to get the investors drooling, but the stretch goals are exciting in themselves. If they get enough cash, they’ll produce either a full-length (22 minute) episode, or a 45 minute feature!

Plenty of cool rewards for backers over there, it’s definite worth taking a look.