Skip to main content
Flight to Arras

"This mixture of humanity and scrap metal makes me think of the Libyan desert, when Prevot and I inhabited an uninhabitable landscape covered in black pebbles that gleamed in the sunlight, a landscape clad in a stretched skin of iron" - Antoine de Saint- Exupéry

It’s the eleventh hour and I’m sitting here feeling relieved to have found a suitable sponsor, Qualys, for my thirty-eight page report on ‘Trustworthy Computing’, which will be launched by Computer Weekly to coincide with the InfoSecurity Europe Show (Infosec) in London next week.

I’ve put a great deal of work into the project over the last six months and attempted to balance the principal arguments in favour of Open Source or Microsoft-centric security as fairly as possible. In any event, you can judge for yourself if information security happens to be an interest, as the report, ‘A Matter of Trust’, should be available from the front page of ComputerWeekly.Com from Tuesday and after that, I’ll probably place a copy in the archive here as well.

I had been planning to drift down to my house in Kent this weekend to start work on my speech on middle-eastern ‘eGovernance’ for the conference I’m keynoting in Bahrain next month and get a little flying in at the same time. One look out of my study window at the pouring rain has rather changed my mind, so the only flying to take place will have to be in my imagination with a little help from Antoine de Saint- Exupéry’s book, ‘Flight to Arras’.

I seem to have discovered the author at least twenty years too late, so I’m making-up for lost time by buying all his titles from Amazon. Exupéry died in 1944, shot down over the sea, it’s assumed and with his disappearance, the world lost the author of ‘The Little Prince’ and another of those great existentialist writers and philosophers that France produced in such remarkable numbers between the wars. Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre, I can only remember a few and I only wish I had the time to improve my own French sufficiently to read my grandfather, Edmond Greville’s autobiography.

What appeals to me most about Exupéry is that he, like me, is a captive of the desert. He survived the loss of his aircraft in the Libyan desert and emerged, unscathed, to write about his experience. My own love affair with the Sahara was a little more comfortable because at least I had access to water, rationed though it was, when I attempted to run across it with every other essential, including food, on my back. Likewise, the Sinai desert, in the footsteps of the Exodus, was crossed on a mountain bike, so all I had to worry about was the heat and the occasional puncture. I should add that I left the bike at St Catherine’s monastery when I climbed Mount Sinai to enjoy the view.

Perhaps one day, I’ll satisfy my ambition of taking a biplane from England all the way to Dakar and points South of Morocco. Very ‘English Patient’ don’t you think?


Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…