February 2023

The Unknown Editor

Mr. Buns did a review of the BCICTS Conference held in October 2022. He also attended the ARMMS conference in November, along with his companion, Dyno.  Dyno has been accused of being a rescue animal from a Chucky Cheese claw machine, stitched together from a mismatch of colors of whatever was laying around Vietnam, 20 years back. But it's not true, he's just a little Bohemian and is particularly proud of his horn. For this month, I'll take over and present a review of the ARMMS conference myself, which of course included an excellent boondoggle into London for three nights on the way home.  We'll post some info on the second part of the trip next month so you will have something to look forward to besides the corporate Town Hall Zoom meeting where leadership will announce how you will strategically evolve your business for long-term profitable growth while staying focused on opportunities for continuous improvement.

The trip to UK

We did a connecting flight through Dallas.  Here, Dyno is all excited because he thought he would be flying First.  I let him hold onto this fantasy, he is so small he wouldn't know the difference...


British Airways is a good airline if you like free drinks over the Atlantic.  The flight attendants have no issue handing out two bottles at a time and did not enquire about Br. Buns or Dyno's ages.  The flight lasts overnight; I have real difficulty sleeping on a plane, so I watched maybe four different movies and played a lot of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire". If you play that game a dozen times you will see that the list of questions starts to repeat so you can feel like a genius and win some large but imaginary money to share with your imaginary friends.

The only memorable movie I saw was "the Electrical Life of Louis Wain", who single-handedly transformed the impression of cats from mere "mousers" to becoming cherished pets, through his cartoons from the 1880s through 1920s.  Benedict Cumberbatch plays Mr. Wain perfectly and was nominated for an Oscar for this effort (but did not win).

Of course after such a night the only thing you want to do is find a bed. The Leonardo Heathrow fit the bill, and it is pretty cheap to boot.  Someday, maybe someone can explain to me why the ground floor is "zero" in Europe. Whole numbers including zero have been used in the New World since 400 AD thanks to the Mayans, but  Europe didn't adopt zero until the twelfth century. The fact that we refer to dates between 1100 and 1200 as the "twelfth century" speaks to the fact that there never was a zeroth century.  Have you ever read a book that started with "Chapter 0"?  Been to a "zeroth" birthday party?  So come on...

After countless episodes of  "Columbo re-runs" on BBC, about a dozen hours of sleep and short walk to a car hire we were on our way, on a miserably rainy day.  Maybe 15 minutes later on M6, we traded paint with one of the locals, who was crossing lanes apparently without looking, or possibly practicing for a demolition derby. The bodywork to fix this was in excess of £6000.  I never take the extra insurance on a rented car (oops, "hired" car in UK) , because I am covered by my own insurance (minus deductible) the charge card I use carries car insurance, and of course my employer bears some responsibility.  It turns out that Budget Car only charges a deductible of £1500 when you are in a wreck, which is much appreciated.  But here we are a few months later and I have yet to recover my fifteen hundred quid.

Here is the other car... every time a passenger opens that door, the driver will be reminded of his own poor driving skills.

My driver's side mirror looked like something from a Terminator movie, but it still functioned. Luckily the window glass was all intact, so we pressed on. 

On the way to ARMMS, Bletchley park is just a little out of the way, where the National Museum of Computing is located, so we took a small detour.  Here is where the British cracked the Nazi Enigma code and turned the tide on WWII naval battles. The smartest guy in the room was Alan Turning.  Oops, the museum is closed on Mondays!  All the more reason to attend ARMMS again, but this time I'll make that stop on the way home on Wednesday.

Mr. Buns was starting to act differently, call me "Old Sport" which was getting on my nerves.  I think he read that phrase in "Great Gatsby" and somehow misappropriated it to modern UK dialogue...

In case you live in a cave and don't know this, Alan Turing had a sexual preference that was deemed illegal in UK.. He was charged with this "crime" in 1952 and accepted chemical castration over a prison sentence. He killed himself using cyanide in 1954, and it was a big hit to humanity.  It took until 2014 for Turing to receive a "Royal" Pardon. Is it any wonder that David Bowie and others refused to accept their Order of British Empire awards?  Below, watch Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) break Enigma in the 2014 movie, The Imitation Game". Wow, he got called out twice on this one page, I must be a Fan Boy!

ARMMS conference

We finally made it to the conference, but just a little late.  My talk was on Tuesday so no harm done. Here is a radar in the exhibits, forgive the crappy photo. This piece of gear was the subject of an excellent talk.

At ARMMS you get to hobnob with some Microwave Royalty.  Here, Steve Cripps describes a new use of venerable balanced amplifier. We liked the talk so much we started a page on Load Modulated Balanced Amplifiers here. Thanks to Chris for reporting that that link was broken, it's all fixed now...

All of the speakers receive their choice of a bottle of bubbly, or a tin of an Italian holiday bread.  Dyno made the correct call, and we killed the bottle once we got to London and dropped off that messed up rental car.

The ARMMS makes to awards in honor of Steve Evans-Pughe, an industry pioneer that died too early in 2003. The winner was Alex Scarbro for his talk on "An X-band Pulse Compression Instrumentation Radar for RCS Characterisation".  Another Steve (third one mentioned on this page) pulled in the runner up, presenting the topic "Optimum N-way Power Divider Using Klopfenstein's Taper".  If you are interested in these and other November 2022 ARMMS topics, they are listed here.


Lastly, here are three old guys getting together in Cambridge for a post-conference beer or two on the "zeroth floor" or a proper pub, followed by a meal. Glad to take part in this!

Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for a couple of hours or more!

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