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Showing posts from August, 2005
Censor the Internet? Try Catching the Wind

Violent pornography may be repellent to most adults but banning it from British computers will be impossible

An evil place, the internet. When not tempting terrorists with sarin recipes, it is irresponsibly serving German cannibals their dinner, leading Japanese depressives to suicide and reuniting blameless friends to commit extramarital affairs. As if we weren’t being sufficiently depraved and corrupted, the Home Office has now uncovered a shocking online stash of extreme and violent pornography. It’s a wonder that Anglo-American forces have not yet invaded the net in search of the elusive, order-restoring “off” switch. - The Times Online
A Military Odyssey @ Detling 2005

I sometimes wonder if school history projects are set to test the knowledge of the student or the initiative of the parents?

Military History Show - Aug2005 - 21

Anyway, with a Second World War history project to complete in the next week, I took my daughter Charlotte, along to the 2005 Military Odyssey at Detling today and all her photos can be found here. It's pretty good value if you happen to be interested in history or simply fancy buying an army surplus tank or an SS officer's uniform to surprise your wife with when you get back home.

Mind you, with the A299 closed both ways this afternoon at Hoath/Reculver, you might need one. Absolute chaos ensued as our young Kent policemen, lost for any sign of initiative, directed the traffic off towards the villages between here and Canterbury, on roads which weren't large enough to accommodate two way traffic, caravans and trucks. Another big smash happened in Hoath as a result and I had to work m…
Seven Pillars of Wisdom

"All men dream: but not equally, Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."

T.E Lawrence of course, who leading the Arab revolt, finally reached Damascus in 1917. It may take me a little longer, pictured this morning with the Syrian Ambassador, Dr Khiyami in London.

Of course, the Ambassador isn't familiar with Margate but now we have plans for a Turner Contemporary, I'm sure that will change!

I just had a word with Rebecca, the Thanet Gazette's editor and asked, in view of the useful reader feedback on my first column, whether I can retreat to my more informal and irreverent weblog style than the "Sermon on the Mount" in today's Gazette.

Sami Khiyami - Simon Moores - 1

"Try it", she said, "I can only say no. But it's got to be about busin…
Manston Airport Purchased by Infratil

I had been told that the news of a new Manston owner was “imminent” but couldn’t come out with it earlier in the week. - See

The BBC is reporting that Manston, Kent International airport, has been bought for £17m by Infratil, an existing airport operator, with completion due tomorrow.

The purchase is believed to fit in with Infratil's existing European airport business with at Glasgow Prestwick, and would be managed by the company's European team.

The BBC report has the company's Europe chief executive Steven Fitzgerald, saying that the first services to be reinstated would be freight operations while passenger operations would take longer.

Infratil chairman, David Newman said:

"Infratil is pleased to have bought Kent International Airport. While the Airport has, for a short period, been in administration following the failure of Planestation PLC, we believe that it has strong prospects as a freight airport servicing…
A Question of Regeneration and Relevance

I’ve been at a press breakfast in Margate this morning, to hear the latest on the progress of the Turner Contemporary. With us this morning was Victoria Pomery, the gallery’s director and Andy Hayward and Peter Bishop from Nuttall Ltd, the civil engineering company that will be starting work on building the project this month.

I’ve attached an audio interview with Victoria, asking her some questions that readers might also ask, given the opportunity. Will Turner prove more popular than Tattoos?" “Will it fall into the sea?” “What kind of art do you get for £25 million and how many people do you expect will visit Margate to see it?”

The interview in Droit House is a little tinny in quality, the building echoes but Victoria is firm in her belief that the Turner Contemporary will put Margate on the map for all the right reasons.

On my side, I’m a little concerned that we won’t have the right kind of infrastructure in place in time to coincide wit…

A Quick Test

I’m experimenting this morning with an add-on from Blogger to Microsoft Word, which allows the “Blogger”, in this case me, to post to my Weblog directly from my word-processor, Oh joy!

It looks easy enough, with an extra toolbar added to Word but what shall I write about I wonder?

The first thing that springs to mind is the Stockwell shooting last month. Apparently all five cameras on the station and the train, just happened to be out of action at the same moment according to leaked police reports, contradicted by London Underground workers, who say that this makes them look bad, because as far as they are aware, these were all working perfectly up until the time the police confiscated the VHS tapes from the CCTV control room.

Who does one believe I wonder or is this yet another conspiracy story set to run and run? Could one believe that London Underground’s CCTV camera could break-down as regularly as their trains? You tell me.
Government to Unveil New e-Inclusion Plan

Social Exclusion Unit developing strategy to tackle digital divide

eGov monitor reports that the Government is to launch another new action plan focusing on ways to bridge the 'digital divide' and make technology accessible to society's most excluded groups.

The latest report, the third such action plan within 12 months, is being compiled by the Government's Social Exclusion Unit and should be published in the Autumn.
Pandora’s Box

"You don't want to open that Pandora's Box, because you never know what Trojan Horses will leap out". Prime Minister Ernest Bevin

It’s now over three years since government started to recognise that it needed to address the problem of consumer Internet safety. In fact, to be accurate, you can add another eighteen months between the slow drawing of recognition and actually been told that the wheels were in danger of falling off if they continued to sit on their own hands and leave the matter in the hands of industry instead.

“The problem”, said one highly-placed civil servant”, in a meeting at the first eCrime Congress in London, “is that the Treasury won’t give us any money and we’re unlikely to get any budget until April of next year.” “Next year”, by the way, was 2004.

Over half way through 2005 and what was originally called Project Endurance, a public-private partnership aimed at reducing cyber crime has reappeared as a safety campaign, “Get Safe Online…
Postcode Searches Can Lead to "Virtual Segregation"

The proliferation of websites providing house buyers with information on good and bad neighbourhoods could widen the divide between the richest and poorest places in the UK, according to new research.

The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns that internet-based neighbourhood information systems (Ibnis) could lead to "online marginalisation" and "virtual segregation" of deprived areas of the country - See Silicon.Com

Type in the postcode of my own local authority in Margate into the government's own neighbourhood statistics database and the result is pretty depressing in terms of the comparative deprivation index

In the employment category, in my areas, 24.16 per cent of unemployed people were aged 50 or over, 8.27 per cent had never worked and 38.27 per cent were long-term unemployed.

Type in your own postcode here and see if the results are any better?

For other UK IBNIS services see:

Windows 2000 Worms Bite

Network worms are shutting down computers running Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system, security experts warned on Tuesday.

Computers across the United States are being hit, including those at television network ABC, cable news station CNN and The New York Times. Tokyo-based antivirus company Trend Micro blames the havoc on various worms, including the Zotob worm, which hit the internet over the weekend, and new variants of the Rbot worm.

English Grip on Internet Being Eroded

A Guardian writer reprots: "If my figures are correct (the usual proviso) then since October 2004, the proportion of English speakers on the internet has dropped by three percentage points, to 32%. In the same period, the number of Chinese-speaking surfers increased by 18 million, or 17%, to 124 million: holding them steady at 13% of all internet users."

Guardian Unlimited: Onlineblog:

How a wet and windy August day in Thanet, connects an airline tragedy outside Athens is a stretch of the imagination but some readers may have caught me covering the disaster on Sky News today.

We filmed the report from here as I wasn't prepared to drive up to Sky Centre and so they obligingly sent a satellite broadcast truck out to Thanet, with a little help from the GPS. "Where's Thanet", said Fiona on the Foreign desk at Sky.

"Well, "I replied, "it's not quite as far away from London as Athens but at times, given the regularity and reliability of our trains, it feels that way."

Tomorrow, I'm flying-up to Manchester to speak at an Intgralis seminar on security on Tuesday 16th so if your'e based in Manchester, you might want to drop in. Here's the link to the event.
TG Aviation Flying Again
Private aircraft up again from Manston

Good news today is that Thanet Flying Club and TG Aviation at Manston airport have the insurance they need to fly, since being grounded by the EUjet collapse.

TG Aviation Managing Director, Mark Girdler comments:

"I'm delighted that we're back flying again, as are all our staff and members of the Thanet Flying Club. It's been a difficult couple of weeks but we are back and hope that the airport will also be back on its feet soon."

Manston tower ATC is also back on frequency, for local traffic only on 119.925
Nobody Home

Manston airport terminal building looking sad and deserted with no EUjet and nothing moving on the ground or in the air either.

Online Anonymity Must Be Stopped?If you thought by now the idea of online anonymity was settled, you'd be wrong. In an addition to a post on Copyfight, Donna Wentworth points to an article in the UK with someone from an IT security company claiming that "The ability to remain anonymous while surfing the web is dangerous." Of course, some might claim that the reverse is true as well. As with anything, there are tradeoffs, and freaking out about a system like Freenet (which is what the quote referred to) is completely missing the point. The worries are that such systems will be used by terrorists -- but then ignores the idea that in taking away anonymity it opens up the very real possibility that the lack of privacy will be abused, allowing the government to take away free speech from those they disagree with. Besides, as we were just pointing out, just because you're anonymous online doesn't mean you can't be caught. There are enough tools out there to make pe…
Aggregation Farce

I've been trying to get a better quote on my car insurance this morning and so I used the Autotrader insurance aggregation engine to find the best quote across all the leading insurers. Could any, I wondered beat my Tesco price for the last twelve months?

After filling-in all my details, two insurance companies popped-up at the top of the list, Bells and the AA. Over £200 cheaper apparently, so I followed the link on one and then the other, to complete their forms - about ten minutes work - before finding out that they were both around £150 more expensive!

This is a farce. What is the point of having an aggregation engine if, after giving it all the necessary details, the premiums quoted by leading insurers are plain wrong. Is thideliberateet I wonder? A ruse to lure the prospective customer to their site, waste time and give them a useless quote. For now I'm staying with Tesco, I'm not playing the quote game any more this year!
Punchline - You Couldn't Make it Up

The Thanet Gazette reports that the Punch and Judy Show at Broadstairs seafront has been told by Thanet Council it can't feature Mr Osama Bin Laden and Mr Saddam Hussein being beaten-up by Mr Punch and his partner, Judy.

Given Mr Blair's comments at his monthly press briefing this morning and his plans to change existing legislation to be less tolerant of those who support terrorism, you might have thought that Mr Punch on Broadstairs beach, might have been doing him a favour by using a piece of two-by-four on the modern symbol of international terrorism but then that's Charles Clarke's job isn't it?

Another example of local government political correctness gone mad perhaps and still only a month after the July 7 outrage in London!

Thanet Life
Banks Make Phishing Easy Says Gartner

Banks are leaving customers prey to theft by failing to validate security codes from the magnetic strip on the back of cash cards, IT industry analyst Gartner has warned.

Thieves who have conned customers into giving away account information using phishing techniques, fake bank e-mails requesting that recipients visit a website and enter their data use the data to withdraw money from ATMs.

In a new report on US banking, Gartner estimates that that this fraud cost an estimated $2.75bn (£1.55bn) in the 12 months to May 2005. Computer Weekly
Security Alert as Cisco Website is Hacked

Networking giant Cisco has had to mount a security operation on its own website after a bug was found that could expose the passwords of staff, customers and other users. Computer Weekly
All Roads Lead to Londonistan

I’m just back from out great capitol city, Londonistan, where I’ve being enjoying a cappuccino with a middle-eastern business associate, on the concourse of Euston station, surrounded by more police officers than I’ve ever seen in one place outside a Millwall football game.

My friend observed that outside Riyadh and Doha, there may be more women wearing full “hijab” in London than anywhere else in the Moslem world. He may have a point, you see this very rarely in some of the Gulf Arab states and I only saw a couple of examples in my hotel in Jordan last month and these were Saudis or Qataris. Driving from the Blackwall tunnel towards Islington, this orthodox statement of devotion and mode of dress, even one month on from 7/7, was as visible as ever in the fringes of the city.

At the station, perhaps the police hoped that a strong presence would act as deterrence but the two of us thought that instead, they just made attractive targets of opportunity, in gro…
No Radar

No radar service from Manston this morning, as I plunged into a bank of fog sitting off the coast at Herne Bay on my way towards Leeds Bradford airport. In fact no radar service from anyone, as Southend's wasn't open at that time.

One rather takes something for granted until suddenly it's not there anymore and all of a sudden, there's a black hole where local air traffic control over Kent used to be!

Same on the way home this afternoon, once I've left Southend Approach behind me at Sheerness there's nobody to talk to anymore that's of any real use. Meanwhile, no news about any impending Manston airport rescue package, only rumour and speculation. If I hear anything you'll be the first to know!
A Manston Update

I’ve been having a conversation with local MP, Roger Gale, on progress, if any, in resolving the mess that Manston airport now finds itself in.

Roger tells me that the situation is very delicate at the moment and a “Herculean effort is being made to re-instate the airport insurance”, which will allow aircraft movements, which at the moment is not possible. Apparently, the airport servicing roles, which include fire and air traffic control, are still secure under the administrator and “Very real interest has been expressed in operating the airport” from interested parties.

I’m writing a short piece for next month’s Pilot Magazine on the subject and I can tell you that there is more happening than I am able to reveal here, as the conversations are strictly “off-the-record” but do give me room for some optimism.

Over the last twenty-four hours, I’ve heard that both Easy Jet’s Stellios and Virgin’s Mr Branson have been sighted but can’t confirm the accuracy of these reports, …
Why Bill Gates Wants 3,000 New PatentsThe Megalomania of the Millenium?It must feel like a bit of a stretch to come up with 60 fresh, nonobvious patentable ideas week in, week out. Perhaps that is why this summer's crop includes titles like "System and Method for Creating a Note Related to a Phone Call " and "Adding and Removing White Space From a Document."