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Showing posts from September, 2004
A male role model in the years before Boy George and David Beckham. Not absence of earrings and FCUK brand name on sweatshirt.

Alternatively, you might prefer the Boy George look?

Blame it on Beckham

I've become a narrow-minded Dinosaur!

This morning, I was sitting in the Doctor's surgery waiting for a cortisone injection for my damaged shoulder and next to me was a teenager, possibly sixth form, from my old school. What stunned me, was not so much the wreck of his tie, my generation of '74' were equally rebellious and not even the long sideburns, we invented them in the seventies but something far worse, a large diamond earring!

In my day, we could be sent home for breaching school uniform regulations by wearing anti-social red socks or the 'Bofor' boots favoured by the small skinhead thugs, who quite possible grew-up into large skinhead thugs before becoming respectable local citizens or holidaying at Her Majesty's pleasure but diamond earrings, I ask you? Blame it on Beckham!

My Alma Mater

Mind you, his mother wore a nose stud so perhaps it's a congenital fashion but maybe it's time that schools simply gave up on the idea of…
Instant messaging worm exploits JPEG flaw Security experts have spotted the first attempts to create an Internet worm that propagates using instant messages and exploits a recently disclosed flaw in Microsoft software. [via InfoWorld: Security]

Who Should Microsoft Buy Next? It's time for the bored reporter's writer's block induced game of "who should Microsoft buy with all that cash?" Past entries in this game have included rumors about Microsoft buying Disney, buying AOL, and (of course) buying Google. Then there was the (confirmed!) story that Microsoft looked into buying SAP. None of these are surprising. As a big company with lots of cash, they're probably going to internally explore the idea of buying lots of other companies just to see if it makes sense, but the chances of most of the deals happening are pretty slim.

The new Disney Logo perhaps?

Almost all of the news reports are pure speculation from reporters who have no more knowledge on what Microsoft is really planning to do than anyone else. However, that won't stop the speculation game. The latest is that maybe Microsoft would buy Red Hat or Oracle -- both of which seem to be longshots. Just to round things out, the article also men…
Creative Commons Goes Live

The founder of the Creative Commons Project, Stanford University law Professor Lawrence Lessig, will be at University College London on 4th October to launch the UK version of the Creative Commons licences. Come and hear from the author of "The Future of Ideas " and "Code & Other Laws of Cyberspace" about the problems of the existing copyright system and the future of creativity in the Internet age.

Entry is free and open to the public but please send a message to Ian Brown with the subject "Creative Commons UK" to let us know you will be coming. The nearest Tube stations are Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street.

Professor Lawrence Lessig
Spiked-online profiles Professor Lessig and his blog here. [via Lessig News]
Attack of the Clones - Part 2.

“The single most powerful force behind the growth Internet of the Internet is not eCommerce but pornography”, a statement I once made in the early days of the Web, when I was the Chief Technology Officer of one of the UK’s ISPs that was subsequently sold to Easynet.

I’m not a great fan of conspiracy theories but when the news arrived that hackers have started to exploit JPEG images, taking advantage of a flaw in a common Windows component called the GDI+ Jpeg decoder, a feature used by Windows, Internet Explorer, Outlook and many other Windows applications, I rather wondered if this might be the catalyst that really encourages a reluctant world to take Internet security a little more seriously.

This most recent critical Windows exploit, “The JPEG of Death”, surrenders control of the host PC to a Radmin, a legitimate software application that in this case is being used as a remote access Trojan, a RAT, which is triggered when an unwitting user downloads a…
Emergency Nap Required

I'm worn out!

Today's little adventure to Prestwick is the longest flight I've made yet. There and back it's equivalent to a straight-line flight from here to Rome and most of it was on instruments.

Bob and I left at eight this morning, picked up fuel at Fenland in Norfolk and flew on to Prestwick.

Six thousand feet above the clouds it's sunny.

From Leeds the weather collapsed into a dark, wet mess and had me on instruments all the way into Prestwick, with a steep, sweaty-palmed, ILS approach from 4000 feet to miss the surrounding high ground in strong winds and rain. The runway didn't appear until we hit six hundred feet with a mile to go.

Very few men can refuel a Cessna without the aid of a ladder but Captain Bob can!

It wasn't much better on the way home to Kent with very little of the glorious Highland scenery visible at all, so we climbed to six thousand feet to remain above the cloud until we were forced back into it again over No…
Next Stop Prestwick

I've had enough copyright for one day. If your'e reading this, then assume that 'Everything' is copyright or if it isn't, it soon will be and so nothing will be capable of being displayed digitally without permission or the payment of royalties. The world is changing for the worse and few people realise what's coming.

Meanwhile, I'm going to keep Captain Bob company on a mission to Prestwick in Scotland tomorrow morning. It's going to be pretty tight, to fly-up, do the job and fly back before darkness falls here in Kent. The computer is telling me four hours each way and that's without the refuelling stop at Fenland in Norfolk. As I expect to be flying on instruments much of the way, I've taken the precaution of downloading the latest instrument approach plates for Prestwick, as the high terrain calls for an arrival at three thousand feet to miss the peaks, so let's hope it isn't fog-bound and we have a nice view of Gl…
Following up my research project on copyright and the Internet, I stumbled across this quote from Mark Twain:

"Only one thing is impossible for God. To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet"

After a day spent reading through texts on the DCMA (Digital Milennium Copyright Act) and it's European equivalent, the less sexy EU Directive 2001/29/EC, which both spell the end of any attempt at common sense, I've found a good summary by Paul Pedley, called 'Copyright and the internet: myth and reality', which explains some of the more arcane points. However, the more research I do, such as reading Larry Lessig's "The Future of Ideas", the more depressed I become!
Buy an iMAc? - Maybe

“Buy an iMAC”, said my friend Barrie, observing the pain I was going through installing Windows XP Service Pack (2) on my “Production” system last Saturday.

“I would”, I replied, “but unlike you, I’m wedded to a Microsoft world and can’t escape if I wanted to. Anyway”, I teased, “the iMAC is not a real personal computer; it’s a digital lifestyle choice, like the iPod and you’re a photographer, so unlike the rest of us, you have a choice and aren’t condemned to a life of Service Packs and endless suffering.”

In fact, I can now rather grudgingly declare Windows XP Service Pack (2) to be a success. I hasn’t eaten any of my applications on any of my computers – so far – and instead appears to have stabilised my main system, which thanks to cumulative patch fatigue, was crashing at least once a day before it was applied.

The problems I was having with SP2 weren’t actually down to Microsoft. For some unknown reason backup CDs created with my Archos drive weren’t readable…
I just found an old photo of my wife coming home from work!

Invicta Radio is reporting that Plane Station, the company that was once Wiggins and owns Manston airport, is buying EUjet, "To ensure that the airport continues to develop as an international hub etc etc".

This strikes me as a little sudden, as EUjet have only been flying for three weeks and I'm wondering what circumstances prompted Plane Station, one of the shareholders to dive in? Having had a look at the latter's last set of annual accounts, I'm even more curious. I'm sure such speculation will be satisfied in the coming week.

"A succesfull mission - Two carvans and a Nissan Sunny shot down over Birchington"!
I'm at my wits end. I've wasted hours trying to back-up one system to a new Iomega CD drive, so that I can finally update it to Windows XP (SP2).

My older Archos CD drive appears to have died and in the process of installing the Iomega software, my present XP installation has become very ill. I've lost count of the number of times I have re-booted and have now attempted a roll-back. All I want to do is back-up my outlook directory to the CD and transfer this to a second machine but PC number 2, doesn't want to read the CDs created with PC number 1. This has taken over three hours and I'm no nearer to achieving a result.

This morning I went down to the army ranges at Hythe for a 'shoot'. I haven't been in ages so I was pleased to see that I could still shoot a reasonable pattern at 300 metres. Mind you, it's cheating with my big .308 target rifle with a telescopic sight the size of the Hubble, five hundred yards is about right for it. It might have …
A howling gale outside. It's one of the problems of living on the coast, one ends-up having to take cover, like a hibernating bear, for most of the winter.

I had a call from Riyadh yesterday. Would I like to pop-over and add some comments on the Kingdom's e-government programme? I haven't been over there for two years now and things have changed a little since my last visit, so if I sounded a little nervous at accepting the invitation, I'm sure I would be forgiven.

Meanwhile, I've had an email from the Iraq desk of the DTI, telling me of reconstruction opportunities in that country, just the job for me it seems. Somehow I think not, particularly, as like everyone else in this country, I'm praying for a safe-resolution to the present hostage crisis!

It's OK Sammy, you can go instead of me
In what must be one of the most significant victories to date in the war against terror, the United States arrested and deported singer 'Cat Stevens', AKA Yusef Islam, proving conclusively that a combination of bad music and a beard represent a new and sinister threat to freedom in the eyes of the Department of Homeland Security. 
Rights Management, Who Needs It?

I was appalled to receive an alert from FIPR, the Foundation for Information Policy Research, which reveals that the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, is arguing for wider adoption of rights-management mechanisms, which FIPR describes as the electronic locks which ensure, for example, that you can only use an ink cartridge from Hewlett-Packard with a Hewlett-Packard printer, or a battery made by Motorola in a Motorola mobile phone.

A European Citizen of the Future

Not content with paving the way for US-style, business-method patents and direct software patentability of computer programs, data structures and process descriptions, which will make it dangerous, if not impossible for smaller, innovative companies to challenge giant-multinationals, the EU appears prepared to work against the interests of its citizens. Instead of liberalising the market in car components, as an example, it is quietly pushing forward legislation that will make…
Banks Still Fail to Protect Online Customers

Phishing still philling our inboxes

Banks still fail to protect online customers
Road-testing the jet-propelled shopping trolley for the Guiness world speed record, Note explosive fuel source (calor gas canister) between the front legs. Steering becomes a little difficult beyond 100 MPH. 
Just Remember - eCommerce Relies on Prime Numbers

The Riemann hypothesis Involving zeta functions, and an assertion that all "interesting" solutions to an equation lie on a straight line. It seems to be true for the first 1,500 million solutions, but does that mean it is true for them all?

Mathematicians could be on the verge of solving two separate million dollar problems. If they are right - still a big if - and somebody really has cracked the so-called Riemann hypothesis, financial disaster might follow. Suddenly all cryptic codes could be breakable. No internet transaction would be safe.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Maths holy grail could bring disaster for internet
Live Fast – Die Young

Last week, I was offered the proposition that Citrix, like Novell, would ultimately fall by the wayside, another victim of Microsoft’s well-worn strategy of innovation through inclusion.

White Shark & Remora Fish

Novell is of course still very much with us and its foray into Open Source computing may yet see it rise, once again, like a Phoenix from the ashes of its once powerful Netware Empire. Novell, in the late eighties and early nineties, suffered from appalling hubris, failing to take Microsoft intentions in the networking space seriously and then dithering over its product strategy while its Enterprise customers were lured towards the promise of a better life with Windows NT.

Citrix is a little different because it’s always been like a Remora fish attached to the surface of a rather large and hungry Great White Shark called Microsoft. Its MetaFrame software leverages the application architecture of the giant, which underpins every Citrix installation and…
Deep linking: firewalls versus contracts
I'm too much a creature of the Web to ever think that outright blocking of links could make sense, even as a lesser-of-two-evils compromise. In a subscriber-access regime, of course, you can skirt the issue by sending the non-subscriber to a preview -- effectively, an ad. But many publishers also want to maintain lots of open content in order to build global mindshare. It's easy to write firewall rules in such cases, but much harder to write contracts that define acceptable uses. One reason, as I mentioned, is the intersection of competitive and cooperative aspects. Will more precise delineation of those aspects help? What do contracts that do that look like? [via Jon's Radio]
Beer Found to be as Healthy as Wine Matt Clare writes "Researchers at the University of Western Ontario (Canada) recently found that beer has the same positive qualities that wine has previously been found to have. The media release quotes professor John Trevithick, 'We were very surprised one drink of beer or stout contributed an equal amount of antioxidant benefit as wine, especially since red wine contains about 20 times the amount of polyphenols as beer.' For more info on how beer helps police harmful free radicals in blood, The London Free Press also has an article."[via Slashdot: Science]
Where There’s Life, There’s Hope

It works! My laptop PC that is, following my decision to install Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

Without having fully backed-up my “Production” work machine, I’m not yet confident enough to try it out without at least a week’s experience of SP2 in operation elsewhere, so the Hewlett Packard laptop was volunteered as the Guinea Pig for the experiment.

Having read through the experiences of others, I was worried that my wireless network would cease to function and my anti-virus protection would become invisible. In fact, the network carried-on quite happily but did ask me if I wished to beef-up its security. Norton anti-virus, I’m told by the Symantec website is still there, although Windows now warns me that it isn’t and a “Live-update” of my anti-virus software confirmed that everything was working as it should be.

The only change I’ve really noticed is the Windows Security Centre, which encourages me and millions of other users to take more care of my…
Time Poor

Struggling to find the time to write my next Computer Weekly column. Snowed under with work and then I had to deliver my aircraft for its annual service this morning. Gale force conditions made that "interesting". There's a ship beached just off the ranges at Lydd in Kent and its become quite a tourist attraction from what I could see from the air. By the way, does anyone know wht both Legoland and Chessington are both closed. My poor daughter turned-up there this morning after a 120 mile drive and found the gates to both shut and people milling around not knowing why two of the UK's largest theme parks would be closed in September?

The Inside Story

An exclusive...Banner towing, the inside story from Airads. The business and how it's done! Airads Magazine Feature

Define Spyware Or Just Enforce Existing Laws? The question over exactly how spyware should be defined isn't exactly new. However, Mark Rasch's latest column at SecurityFocus picks apart common spyware definitions to make you wonder if it's useful at all to define what spyware is. Instead, he suggests (as have others before) that the real issue isn't in defining and outlawing spyware, but simply enforcing existing laws that already make most of the worst offenders illegal by way of laws against fraud. Of course, that won't happen, because politicians want to make sure they're seen as doing something to make their constituents' lives better -- and a law against spyware (just like the mostly useless law against spam before it) is good for publicity, even if it does little to solve any real problems. [via Techdirt]
Just found an old photo of Denny Dobson flying my Pitts Special in the days when it was sponsored by Lotus Development. Today, as a more sedate Cessna pilot, I rather miss the thrill of not knowing whether the next landing would be my last. In reality, I turned Denny's hair prematurely grey while he tried to teach me the finer points of aerobatics in this tempremental little yellow beast.
Charlotte, aged nine, who is quite capable of flying my Cessna 150, taking advantage of the special introductory "Seal's Travel Free" offer on EU Jet
The Weald's Favourite Airline

Where was I? Oh yes, flying EU Jet to Nice and back this weekend and what I thought of it.

The vote, from a quick poll of my family and other passengers on the flight was this is a great way to travel. No long queues or airport stress. Straight into Manston, Kent International, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, unjaded by years at check-in desks elsewhere, a mug of Starbuck's coffee and quickly onto a very comfortable Fokker 100 to Nice, Cote D?Azur in less time than it takes to get to London on any morning.

I could commute this way I thought and I'm tempted. EU Jet obviously needs to fill-up their flights rather more than I saw this weekend but these are early days and I'm not complaining. Having experienced years of travel "Hell" at Heathrow and Gatwick, this was a comfortable and welcome change, door to door from my house in Kent to a house in Nice in less than four hours and in a way which bought some pleasure back to tr…
The First Euro Conference on Mobile Government

I've been asked by Prof Ibrahim Kushchu, the Assoc. Prof. and Director of the Center for Organizational Dynamics and Innovations (CODI) at the
International University of Japan to post some information on this event, taking place in Brighton, for potential visitors from the public sector.

The EURO mGOV 2005 is the first in the series of international conferences on mobile government. It aims to be the largest platform bringing together researchers, government officials, and practitioners from the mobility and e-government fields: technology and its impacts on the government organizations and the society.

See details at (ICMG)

Similar to m-commerce or business, m-government is becoming increasingly popular field under the e-government and mobility umbrellas. The EURO mGOV aims to be probably the first largest mobile government gathering setting the concepts, and providing examples of current developments from various countries in ter…
Friends lent us their villa in "Super Cannes" for my wife's birthday but "Villa" was a modest understatement, "Large mansion with heated pool, gardens and a view", might be more appropriate. Using EU Jet from Manston for the first time, was however, one of the most unstressful flying experiences of my life. Manston is ten minutes from my front-door, check in sixty minutes before the flight, 1:50 in the air and be met by the driver at the other end. Leaving out the appalling chaos of Heathrow or Gatwick is an experience to be enjoyed and saves at least four hours each way.
Sunday afternoon, two hours home from a long weekend in Cannes and I'm already stressed. My PC is posessed and a client would like a document completed by Monday "Please". "Sorry it's late." So back to the grindstone then after seventy-two hours off for good behavior in one of the first technology and Internet-free breaks I can remember in years.