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Showing posts from September, 2005
A Regrettable Incident

“Sorry” says Tony on the BBC this morning, obviously irked that the thing that people will most remember this week’s party conference in Brighton for is not his speech or even Gordon’s but two party thugs manhandling 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang from his seat for the crime of shouting “Nonsense” at Jack Straw over his speech on Iraq, possibly expressing what many of us feel on the same subject.

The BBC reports that Wolfgang was briefly detained by police under Section 44 of the Anti-terrorism Act. Fearing perhaps that this elderly Jewish pensioner was an Al Qaeda member who might detonate with indignation at any moment. At least he avoided being placed under house arrest or worse, being sent to a labour re-education camp in the urban wilderness of Camden.

This story illustrates my own fears over the misapplication of new legislation, a hammer to crack a nut, threatens our civil liberties and the right to shout “Nonsense” at politicians and is increasingly used in a…

Photos of a Lost Housemate

Reader, John Kirby has sent in a copy of a flyer he’s been sending out for the last month and a half, for his own web photography project, explained in more detail on his Weblog.

“It been going for a month”, says John “and I am still awaiting my first email back with a photo. Anyone can enter, all I want is your name and where you were with him with said photo, and eventually you will be on the Weblog once I’ve told the story up to that point!”

John adds: “There is also a 'growing' prize for the best one but as yet I do not have a time scale set, as I have not had an entrant yet. The prize at the moment stands at a Edinburgh Cut Crystal Glass and 5 air fresheners. How I have so far these prizes is being told on the Weblog ‘Photos of a Lost Housemate’”

“All my work”, he writes, “is self funded, and I really just want people to have fun with it. Anyone”, he adds, “is welcome to make comments, send emails and if they really want to help.

Remember GBH?

If we had doubts about the nature of the party that we have voted into government then watching the shocking film of an eighty-two year old man manhandled and ejected from the Labour Party conference should confirm our worst fears. If this had happened in China, then it would have been outrageous but this was middle-England, Brighton for God’s sake!

Last week anti-ID card protesters were ejected from a shopping centre in Gateshead before Home Office Minister Andy Burnham even arrived, having fallen foul of a bylaw prohibiting the unauthorised distribution of leaflets in the centre, except those apparently being distributed by guess who? The Home Office of course! ID card scheme protestors are also angry that the choice of venue has so far always put the Home Office on private property, meaning unwanted visitors can be kept out and maintain the false impression that the introduction of ID cards would be a popular measure. Trouble is, the technology doesn’t work properly or cost effecti…

Action Speak Louder than Words

In his speech to the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week, Gordon Brown, Chancellor and Prime Minister, in waiting, promised to take measures to resurrect the UK’s failing manufacturing sector but said nothing that might inspire those of us who remember Tony Blair’s pledges on the growth of the country’s knowledge economy. As a globally competitive source of software development the future is in danger of slipping away from us, marked by the growth of economies such as Ireland, whose software sector is responsible for nearly 8% of GDP and nearly 10% of exports, India, whose IT and BPO sectors logged exports worth $12.5 billion in 2003-2004, Israel and very soon, China; countries which recognise the true importance of a healthy and competitive software sector.

If you listen to the DTI, then “The UK – with 100,000 software and IT businesses   - is one of the most successful locations in Europe in attracting software companies., “Growing 17% annually since 1993, it is one of the …
“The poor”, said a young man from Nazareth, two thousand years ago, “will always be with us”, and I’ve just been listening to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown’s speech, all fire and New Labour brimstone, as he readies himself to fill President Tony’s shoes in the not too distant future.

From a local perspective, the poor are very much with us in Thanet and suffering from a number of problems that Gordon appears to have ignored as he catalogued a long list of government victories, such as family tax credits and winter fuel allowances.

But hold on a moment, many of the initiatives he mentions have either failed miserably or hide the fact that indirect taxation and a higher cost of living is making hardship even worse for many. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau has pointed out that the Family Tax Credits fiasco has ‘plunged many (in Thanet) below the breadline and into mounting debt’ while the Parliamentary Ombudsman said that many ‘have to borrow money from family and friends to support their child…
A bright blue sky and dazzling late afternoon sunshine over Thanet and I’m just back from taking 30,000th visitor, Pete Kirby and partner Kate, for their winning flight.

As you can see from the photograph of the two of us together, I’m the midget on the right and Pete is 6’8” tall, leaving me to wonder whether I might have to cut a hole in the top of the aircraft so that he could see out more easily when he had a go at the controls!

Anyway, both Pete and Kate both survived the experience and a bumpy landing – it’s windy out there – and have a bottle of champagne to drink later. Well done the two of you and glad you enjoyed it.
While I try and avoid to much political comment on this website, there are times when I’m tempted to pop my head over the parapet. With the great Brighton fiesta now underway, I’m wondering if Britain, Kent or indeed Thanet has done any better under a Labour government than it might have done under the Conservatives, LibDems or even UKIP, I’m struck by Simon Jenkins’ column in the Sunday Times this morning where he writes:

“Labour conferences now resemble the last chapter of Animal Farm. Old Boxer has gone to the knacker’s. No one dares speak. Some animals are more equal than others. Napoleon is reading Tit-Bits and dressing his sow in watered silk. The ruling pigs are drinking with the old enemy, the humans. In truth they are indistinguishable.”

He continues, “The Labour party will this week cheer a government that in its name is privatising the National Health Service, public housing and, if it can, secondary education. It will cheer the fiscal regression of last week’s cringing U-tu…

CyberBullies Spread Fear at School

From today’s Sunday Times, another example of problems involving children’s use of the internet raises its head.

Internet watchdogs are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of so-called cyberbullying, an online abuse that has begun to hurt children across America — mostly without their parents realising that anything is amiss.  - The Sunday Times
Three Blind Mice

Not much time to write today, as I had to feel my way through the fog to Denham, near Uxbridge, with a white stick today. The GPS is a wonderful thing. While you’re supposed to know where you are with standard navigational aids, it’s comforting to be able to position yourself accurately with this little miracle of technology. I couldn’t actually see the runway at Denham through the mist until I was less than a mile short.

Northolt give a better radar service than Thames radar, who are much too busy with bigger aircraft and in general, I find that the military controllers are a best first choice when you need to transit difficult airspace.

I’m reliably informed, promised even, that my Gazette piece on the Turner Contemporary et al will appear in the morning but may be edited to fit. In other words if an advert for double glazing or Jacuzzis is competing for space, we know who wins! I’m curious to see if the whole piece is printed and who it might offend!

Man Utd Fan Group Attempt DOS Attack

Legal firm Allen & Overy fought off a number of DoS attacks earlier this year when it was negotiating Malcolm Glazer's takeover bid of Manchester United, a company representative has revealed.

Fans "mounted a fairly crude attack" in response to the American millionaire's ultimately successful takeover bid earlier this year, targeting visible representatives of the company, such as the lead partner in the firm and the head of the external PR company – Silicon.Com

VoIP Warning

Symantec is warning that Net phone systems could prove irresistible to hackers. The company’s Symantec Threat Report identified Voice over IP (VoIP) systems as a technology starting to interest hi-tech criminals.

The report predicted that within 18 months VoIP will start to be used as a "significant" attack vector and could also resurrect some old hacking techniques.

The growing use of VoIP could encourage the emergence of:

Audio spam that clogs voicemail boxes with spoken adverts
Voice phishing that tries to con people into handing over confidential details
Caller-ID spoofing which allows conmen to make it look like they are calling from a legitimate number such as a victim's bank
Call hi-jacking that re-directs calls to conmen and criminals

Ignoring the Poor

Previewing a hard-hitting new Government study, eGov monitor reports that “Socially excluded groups are currently "very poorly served" by the UK eGovernment agenda.”

The research warns that eGovernment, at both national and local level, largely ignores the needs of 'hard to reach' individuals and is failing to adequately promote social inclusion. Similarly, social inclusion strategies rarely consider ICT's possible role, resulting in a strategic stalemate and lost opportunities, it adds. The study for the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) urges that social and digital inclusion be made a key priority in the future development of eGovernment and service delivery plans. The report includes fourteen policy recommendations – including a new single government accreditation body for e-accessibility and compulsory sharing of information between organisations. The report will be launched at the IDeA's local government e-champions conference. - eGov monitor

Firefox and Mac Security 'Under Attack'

Symantec attacks sacred cows

Get breaking Security news straight to your desktop - click here to find out how Symantec has attacked the perceived security advantages of Firefox and Apple Macs by drawing unfavourable comparisons with Microsoft's software and describing Mac fans as living in a "false paradise". According to the latest edition of Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report, 25 vulnerabilities were disclosed for Mozilla browsers and 13 for Microsoft Internet Explorer in the first half of 2005. – The Register

Frauds Reunited

Net scam comes from Russia with love

Scammers are hunting dating sites in the attempt to lure fresh victims. Instead of the lads from Lagos it’s the scammers from Siberia who've invaded

You may see where this is heading: Boy meet girl. Girl says she lives in New York, before claiming to be a dental technician from Omsk who needs money to get over to USA. Complications ensue. It's an old story and probably the basis of the plot for a forthcoming Woody Allan movie. – Silicon.Com
Spitfire Pilot - A Look at the Controls

Simon Moores takes a quick look inside Charlie Brown's Spitfire. It's painted blue because it was originally in desert colours before finding it's way on to an aircraft carrier and painted in US Navy blue.

Spitfire Vb BM597 (G-MKVB) was built at Castle Bromwich and delivered on 26th April 1942. It served with 315 and 317 (Polish) Squadrons RAF at Woodvale before sustaining damage whilst landing on 13th February 1943. It was repaired, but is thought to have seen no further action. After the war BM597 was assigned to several 'gate guardian' postings finishing up at RAF Church Fenton. Acquired by Historic Aircraft Collection in 1993, it was restored to original specification at Audley End and first flew in 1997.It usually flies in the colours of 317 Squadron, but for the duration of the Merlins Over Malta project it will wear a unique Malta scheme that has not been seen on a Spitfire since the original aircraft were transported ou…

Merlins over Thanet

Marooned, temporarily at Manston this afternoon are the Merlins over Malta team on the way to the Mediterranean for a display to mark the historic Second World War defence of the island.

Charlie Brown

Unfortunately, the weather over Thanet is appalling this afternoon and the Spitfire and Hurricane can’t get airborne again until it clears, so the celebrity Battle of Britain aircraft pilots, Charlie Brown, Clive Denny and their team-mates are contemplating an evening among the fleshpots of Margate.

Clive Denny (Hurricane) & Charlie Brown (Spitfire) Pilots

I’m rather hoping the weather it will clear through though as they have to get to Jersey before dusk if possible and I have to take some photos of the Spitfire and Hurricane for Pilot Magazine and I’ve always wanted a chance to get in either aircraft!

An Interview with Charlie Brown

They just got off, squadron scramble or what? They were ready and gone in ten minutes towards the nearest patch of blue sky!

An interview with the legendary S…

Have You Tried VoIP Yet - Perhaps You Should

If you've ever used eBay, then you'll be hearing about something called VoIP soon, eBay just having bought a company called Skype for a couple of £billion. In fact, I’d be interested to know if anyone else has experimented with Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony yet?

I installed Skype this morning, it’s free and all you need is a headset. PC to PC calls are free and if you want to call landline or mobile numbers, you can buy credits, minimum ten Euros, which gets you an awful lot of talk time at a fraction of conventional phone calls. One can see why the big telcos are running scared and why the likes of Microsoft and Google are enthusiastically launching into the IP telephony business.

In case you think it’s difficult to set-up, it’s not. Download the installation file from and make sure you have a microphone headset, about £20 from PC World et al plugged in to your PC. Once installed, the Skype software will help you test your connection and the you’re away, …

Tribune of the Plebs

True ambition for the writer lies not in chasing an elusive fifteen seconds of fame but in making a difference.

I was an early Blogger. Before the Weblog found a place in the dictionary, I used my own ‘Blog’ to jot down columns and experiences and was pleasantly surprised to find people visiting, if only by accident or through some obscure search-engine search phrase.

Since then, I’ve tried ‘Podcasting’, video and photo-posting and thanks to the modern miracle of web-services, knitting with digital content works pretty seamlessly and almost instantaneously, a feature which I find is changing the nature of blogging as it moves closer to a future as a digital broadcast medium from its origins as simple web-based diary.

More recently, my concept of blogging changed forever, as my virtual world came back down to earth with a bump. In parallel with my technology Weblog, I have a local news site for my town in Kent, called ‘Thanet Life’ “A Hitchhikers Guide to Thanet”, with stories, photos, l…

It's For You

It was addressed from me, to me and caused some alarm when I read it this morning, apparently a news item, “BREAKING NEWS: Microsoft CEO Vows to "KILL" Google”, which referring to a real story, that Steve Ballmer had “Picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office," asks “Do you trust a company with "your computer" security/privacy and support a company with a CEO that acts in this manner?”

My concern was over people receiving what looks like email from me, ‘slagging’ Microsoft but in fact, it’s source, is a zombie PC, hijacked by a business called SPAMIS, reportedly the child of super-spammer, Robert Soloway who lost a court battle to the software giant, over illegal spamming. Most recently, Soloway has been sending a rash of spam raging against the Microsoft Sender-ID framework, claiming that Microsoft is itself a spammer and as a result, my own email address has been hijacked.

And what can I do about it, absolutely nothing I gues…
Computer Error Destroyed One Million Tax Records

Almost a million taxpayer records were accidently deleted from Inland Revenue computer systems between 1997 and 2000 due to a software problem which went unnoticed for several years.

The Department took three years to discover that software used to cleanse its database of old cases was also wiping live ones from its system.

This resulted in some 364,000 people who cannot be identified being owed £82m, while another 22,000 did not pay tax due of around £6m.

More likely, nobody was prepared to own up until found out!

eGov monitor Weekly
Digital Divide Will Right Itself

eGov monitor reports tha the ever-growing 'digital divide' between technology haves and have-nots is only a short-term concern that will correct itself with time, according to a new Government-sponsored study.

How quickly the gap closes will depend upon policy initiatives and private sector action, with eGovernment playing an important part, says the report for the Department of Trade and Industry.

If the government says it then it must be true I suppose! See eGov monitor
A Piece of History

I've been taking photos over Ashford and if your'e a pilot. you might like to know that Manston Approach are back, alive and well on 126.35, with the airport now open for freight traffic again.

For historical interest, an EUjet Fokker 100 cockpit video clip is attached, starring Captain Chris Kalisvaart and First Officer Lee Salway on the route to Manston from Dublin in June 2005 Wonder if we'll see them both at Manston again one day under new airline colours?.

Welcome the Digital Euro-Banana

That’s funny, I wasn’t the only one not invited to the DTI meeting on the EU’s 2010 strategy this week in London. However, Silicon reports that European Union proposals to reform the regulation of ICT and boost technology innovation across Europe have been criticised by the UK IT industry for being too fragmented and not in sync with wider policy initiatives.

The EU's i2010 strategy aims to tailor new regulations better to the digital economy, boost ICT research by increasing the EU's R&D budget, and foster "digital inclusion" for all sections of society and so on etc etc. – See

Britain Revealed as World Spam Capital

A story from the Sunday Times today gets my details a little awry - I’m not actually a “member” of the ACPO working group - and looks at the case of Brett Sandiford, revealed as Britain’s number one spammer and admits to sending out 20m e-mails a year.

“E-criminals”, says the Sunday Times, “Take advantage of new broadband technology to infiltrate spamming software into computers, often in private homes. These “zombie” machines then generate the spam messages without the owner’s knowledge.”

City insiders say that banks, online casinos and betting services based in Britain have paid out more than £80m to extortionists rather than have their systems put out of commission.

The story ends by saying that “Simon Moores, the managing director of Zentelligence Research and a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ working group on economic crime, said it had become more effective for criminal gangs to target the internet than to sell cocaine.”

By Dawn’s Early Light

It took two police cars, five police officers and one excited Alsatian police dog to arrest and restrain the young man hiding in the hedges opposite my house as dawn was breaking.

What the story was, I don’t know, it was the barking of the dog and the whining / shouting of the fugitive that woke me. Quickly handcuffed, not wearing a shirt and violently drunk perhaps he put up a fight all the way into the back of a police car in Westbrook Avenue, regardless of any efforts on the part of the police officers to calm him down.

Less charitable observers might have suggested that the enthusiastic police dog should have been encouraged to chew on the softer, more southerly parts of his anatomy until he chose to cooperate but instead the police and surprised residents had to listen to his constant stream of abuse and what he planned to do to the policeman when he was released from the handcuffs.

My guess is that at least half of the police on duty in Thanet where involved in this little episode …
Lucky Catch

Snapped this afternoon at Rochester, the rebuilt WWII Harvard trainer making its inaugural flight in authentic RAF colours. If you want to fly in it, then the cost is £600 an hour, petrol prices having increased quite dramatically since 1945