I made a crafty escape this weekend, I found some cheap online flights a while back so was able to head home to the Gold Coast Friday night and grab a hire car from the airport. I didn’t get back until about 11pm and found amazingly that Ellie was actually awake and that ‘Mong’, our cat, was not best pleased with me coming back and stealing the limelight. Friday was a long day, you forget how tiresome everything is at airports even for domestic flights.
I had the family from hell sat behind me on the flight to Coolongata, the second the seatbelt sign was swicthed off their evil children commenced cartwheeling in their seats. Now this wouldn’t have been so bad in itself but the parents who were with them couldn’t have cared less. At the moment when two of my vertebrae were dislodged by a child’s thrusting foot in my back I turned my head to see if the adults were watching – They merely looked at me and did the minimum possible by saying “sit down Jacob” in a barely audible voice…..Jacob had other plans….
Three ribs and a dislodged splein later and the parents got the attention of the children by passing them some giant bags of sugar to face plant, excellent idea. Jacob finished his and practically jettisoned his limbs into my spinal column followed by what I can only guess was a quickfire series of cave man like head butts directly through the seat and into my collar bone….
Now Jacob wasn’t the only one being excorcised behind me, his sister, Eliza (?) was his backup plan for when he needed to reload his bleeding fists – she complemented his death stabs with high pitched screams, shouting, demanding and crocodile noises – At the very pinnacle of Jacobs chiropractic efforts I turned my head to receive Eliza’s thumb in my eye socket in a world class ruck gouging move the All Blacks would have been seriously impressed with…I nearly, very nearly won the first ever “see how far you can throw a child the length of the interior of a plane” competition but somehow managed to count to ten….Snakes on a plane?…Samuel Jackson, you know nothing….
Less eventful was the chilled out Saturday, we went to the local ‘zoo’ which is small but awesome and then we just relaxed around the house sitting in the sun (what’s that?) and generally doing not much….Which was exactly what we all needed to be honest, no point in spending seven hours getting home and then rushing around doing things or you get no time off at all…
Sunday we visited the Rural Fire Brigade at Pine Mountain as I had to drop some equipment to them, they were having an open day which timed well, the boys got to play with a few of the hoses and generally make mess and soak everything….It was good to see them all again and even though I’m away for 13 months or so they’re still keeping me on the books as a member of the team for when I get back…
After that it was back to Hobart, a nice peaceful flight this time….I was asleep in minutes!
This week we’ve been training in the satellite systems (ANARESAT) that we’ll need to use and maintain whilst down South. I used to work on Sat systems donkeys years ago, I mean really it was a loooong time ago, put it this way one of the last systems I installed was in Canary Wharf main tower in London when the tower was still a skeleton and the roof wasn’t installed..I was surprised how quickly it came back though, don’t get me wrong the equipment has different names, but fundamentally is the same stuff but with way more functionality and accuracy than we used to have – The comparison flashback would be me sitting on a roof in London twisting a pot with a screwdriver until you hopefully got a signal from a broken LNA selotaped to a dustbin lid for a dish.
Today was ‘Cabling’ training but more specifically we focused on fibre cable splicing – This was another element of work from back in my Telecom days, again not done for quite some time but the principles remain fairly similar to what I remember – When I was trained in Fibre optics I had just left school and it was starting to be deployed around the UK as the new method for transferring data and calls for the national carrier network. Fibre, if you don’t know, is a microscopically thin piece of ‘glass’ tube that has a laser fired down it at one end and then the emitted light emerges at the other end to be read by a receiver. Ultimately light travels at….well, the err speed of light and suffers less degradation and environmental performance loss in the same way that copper cable does. Fibre is amazingly efficient and is less than a human hair in thickness….
Here’s some other dull Fibre optic facts that you never wanted to know:
- Fibre Optics are old! – The technology surrounding fibre optics has been around since the 1870’s. The first introduction of actual fibre optic cabling started showing up in the 1950’s.
- Fibre Optics Use Light – There is no electrical current being passed through fibre optic cabling, only extremely quick pulses of light. Because of this, there is no heat and no heat means no burning and no fire hazards. During normal use, fibre optics are the safest option for data transmission……And they don’t smell either (relevant? Not really)
- Fibre Optics are FAST – Data can be transmitted through fibre optic cabling faster than traditional cabling due to increased capacity. Commercial uses of fibre optic cabling can transmit 10-80 Gigabits per second over just one channel. According to reports, the current record is 15.5 Terabits per second over a distance of 7,000km. To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of 10.3 million home DSL connections on a single fibre of a thickness less than a human hair – Basically fibre is what the internet is made of, if you’re wondering what we use to connect America with Europe with Asia and then Australasia etc…..Mostly Fibre at the bottom of the sea…..But be careful, sharks have been known to take a chunk out of a cable and bring the internet down for entire countries!
- Fibre Optics are Green – Not really, they’re mostly orange but oyu know what I mean – The amount of energy required to send a flash of light across a distance in fibre optic cables is far less than that required to send electrical signals. Less power means less carbon output, lower emissions and lower prices……But don’t point it in your eye or the laser fired down it can make you blind, likewise, if you lose or break off a bit of fibre optic and it sticks in your skin it will stay there forever….A big risk if it somehow enters your bloodstream (See the scare stories of 20 years ago have still stuck with me!)
But anyway, today we practiced splicing two fibre ends together which is a common job for us comms persons…They have to be carefully stripped of their protective outer, cleaned, prepared and very precisely cut before being placed into a splicing machine which will ‘fuse’ two clean ends together. The first fusing machines I used in the early nighties were the size of a large bench, cost about a quarter of a million pounds and a lot of the alignment work was done manually – Nowadays the machines are the size of a toaster, mostly automated and cost about fifteen thousand dollars….Times have changed…
Anyway, enough of my jabber, have a look…