Skip to main content

Sunday and it’s time for my two-yearly ‘General Flight Test’ (GFT), with Clive, the instructor who taught me to fly in the first place. These days, one has to revalidate every two years or risk having to sit all the exams again if one lapses, a fate worse than death and expensive too. Flying is increasingly wrapped in red-tape and keeping abreast of the regulations isn’t always that easy. Falling foul of them is even worse.

Full credit to Clive for showing great courage in sitting in an aircraft with me again and we spent a happy sixty minutes between the North coast of Kent and Dover, manoeuvring in cloud practising my instrument skills or at least, what’s left of them.

As my aircraft’s ancient intercom isn’t working properly, Clive had to resort to a mixture of shouting and writing instructions on my knee pad while I felt my way between the banks of cloud.

In fact, bachelor Clive has just returned from flying his own aircraft down to Corsica for a week’s holiday. I’m jealous, being single obviously has its rewards when you happen to own an aircraft.

Calais airport is, I hear, open and not closing down, as people seem to think. Apparently, it has a stay of execution until at least 2006, which is good, because it’s a convenient little airport and much less busy than Le Touquet. The restaurant there isn’t bad for a quick flying visit either.

I see the local paper has headlined a couple of low flying incidents involving Manston airport next door to me here. The first involved an aircraft vortex removing the tiles from a roof in Ramsgate and the second, which a number of fellow pilots noticed, was an Air Atlanta (Cargo) 747, badly miscalculating the eastern approach to Manston’s runway 10 and skimming the rooftops at Minster. This was at least a thousand feet lower than it should have been and off centre to the approach. A number of people needed changes of underwear by all reports.

My small daughter, Charlotte, beat me at chess twice this weekend, even with my Queen removed as a handicap. Nobody was more surprised than I, as this was the first time I have played her and I used to play competitively, even obsessively, when I was young. As she’s only eight, it’s a very proud moment for both of us.

I was lucky enough to have had dinner with Gary Kasparov two years ago, and he told me how he was trying to promote chess as part of the global curriculum as a proven means of building mental development among children. I'm sure he's right but I doubt we’ll see it built into the test-stressed school curriculum in this country. The education ministry can’t see beyond SATS as a means of testing our children’s intelligence.


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

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 Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…