Skip to main content
Hello Sailor

Back to Le Touquet with Bob yesterday to collect his eleven-year old daughter, Phoebe and her friend from a week's stay in France. From the start, the weather looked decidedly "iffy" with the remnants of the previous night's thunderstorms dropping heavy rain in the morning with accompanying strong winds.



Finding a short gap between the gusts, we rolled-off towards Dover, a great opportunity to test my instrument skills before my two-yearly IMC exam next Tuesday. To the South were thick lumps of dark grey cloud, which forced me down over the English Channel to fifteen hundred feet to avoid as many of them as possible and maintain what little good visibility there was among the dark cauliflower clouds.

Out over the sea, the wind appeared to be blowing the green waves backward, with glimpses of ferries and container ships being battered in the Channel. The wind in fact was so strong that I had to steer twenty degrees to the right of my course, just to stay on it. Nearing Le Touquet I found the localiser for the runway 14 ILS and started following the needles blindly down to the runway ahead. At this point, Captain Bob, being a good friend, decides to spread the map over my side of the windscreen so that any chance of seeing the runway is reduced to zero. "Good practise", he tells me. Le Touquet is giving a twenty-five knot crosswind, which even in a large Cessna 172, makes life interesting. At this point, I'm trying to balance the needles on the glide slope and keep the aircraft in a staight line, while completing the landing checks. At fifty feet above the runway, I hand the aircraft back to Bob on the basis that he can see where he's going and I can't, even if I am on the centreline. I haven't the courage to put it down by feeling for the concrete with a white stick.

Shaken but not stirred, we retire by taxi, with accompanying French taxi dog for a lunch of Moules au creme in the town as the weather finally lifts into warm but windy August sunshine. Fortunately, by the time we are ready to fly back at five O'clock after a very long meal, the weather has cleared, leaving only a small gale to reckon with. Flying the powerful fuel-injected Cessna 172 back to Maypole takes only thirty minutes with a following wind of this magnitude and I'm home inside the hour. Not bad for a quick trip back from France. Mind you, looking down at the ferries racing across the English Channel below me, their bows diving into the rolling waves, I'm rather glad I'm not a sailor.


Comments

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…