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Showing posts from 2006

Pandora Internet Radio

I'd like to wish all my readers a Happy & Prosperous 2007 ahead with a tip for those of you who maybe using the internet to listen to music online.

If you haven't found it already, try 'Pandora' its a profound shift in the way you can find the music you like and listen for free, Simply enter the name of the artists or albums you like most and Pandora will suggest a track to listen to. As youlisten, you rate the tracks and after a short time, Pandora, using something called "The Music Genome Project" will intelligently guess at your music tastes and build your own private internet radio station.

Try it, you'll be impressed!

Pandora - Find New Music, Listen to Free Web Radio

Lights Out

One man's view, my own, of what it's like to land at Manston airport in the dark. Busy day towing a sheet banner from Stapelford airfield in East London. This weekend has been the first decent weather in weeks.

The Matrix - Well Sort Of

I was caught-up in today's Observer news story that Matrix Chambers may have had to resort to legal action to defend themselves against internet pirates who are using Matrix's personnel, host of awards and high reputation in an apparent money-making scam.

Matrix called in the police after they became the latest victims of the growing phenomenon of cyber-cloning, in which a firm finds that its website has been copied by rivals. A previously-unknown outfit called Lando Attorneys, which purports to be run by two experienced barristers based in London, has copied the entire layout of Matrix's site and much of the material used to promote the chambers's services - including their description in the prestigious Legal 500 guide as 'arguably the finest concentration of talent at the Bar'.

I'm not quite sure the author understood what I meant by "website cloning" but it's a passable story and for once we cansit back and watch the lawyers fight it to a co…

I'm Sorry Dave

It's amazing what one can find on YouTube. The film 2001 made a huge impact on me as a boy, when it was released and arguably pointed me in the direction that put me where I am today. Here's a famous video clip from the movie. Can you guess which one?

In the Mud

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Well, we are trying to get off the ground but the aftermath of a week's rain has left us grounded with all the airfields in Kent with grass runways closed. It's all very annoying and more rain is forecast this week. If things don't improve soon, we'll have to reposition to Manston until the county drys out.

We very much depend on the hospitality of small airstrips, as places to pick-up banners from. The larger airfields are of course much busier and invariably the circuits are full of practising pilots, which makes our work much harder and much slower... a bit like being caught in a city centre traffic jam. Unfortunately, the sea temperatures are so warm for the time of year, the chances of more gales and tornado weather are very high and so we may find ourselves struggling to find good weather gaps in December and January.

One client has already booked the "Fat Boy Slim" concert in Brighton on New Year's Day. Let's hope the weather is kind for him!

Variety - The Spice of Life

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December has gone from being a quiet Christmas to a manic month of work.

Not only do I have to come up with some original thinking in a project I'm doing for Microsoft but I've now been roped into to Oliver Letwin's policy review - the technology part - through the Conservative Technology Forum.

And if that won't keep me busy, then there's a giant sheet banner to do over the 'Fat Boy Slim' concert in Brighton on New Year's day for Airads.

You'll notice that the aircraft repainting and re-branding is complete. Much prettier I think than it was before. Now all I need is the weather to stop blowing a hurricane, so that I can get a backlog of jobs in.

Somewhere in between all of this I'll try and celebrate Christmas!

Let's Not Forget the MIG -29

In contrast with under a milligram of Pollonium, there's always the much grander statement but more difficult object to sneak into a Picadilly sushi bar without anyone noticing!

Balanced Coverage

I guess I couldn't have an F18 up here without having a Sukhoi SU37 to balance the reporting.

I've been in London this week chairing the "Tackling Organised Crime" conference. What can I say, twenty-four hours later a Russian dissident dies, which reminds us how 'Serious' and 'Organised' some groups are, with unlimited wealth and access to 'nuclear' weapons. My money is on them rather than the Kremlin although the line between the two looks fuzzy at times to the observer.

Computer Industry Faces Skills Crisis

We knew this would happen as far back as 1986:

The computer industry faces a skills crisis, the president of the British Computer Society has told BBC News.

Unless steps are taken now, there will not be enough qualified graduates to meet the demands of UK industry, warned Professor Nigel Shadbolt. "

Web 2.0 - A Bigger Bang

So What is Web 2.0? The Guardian has a big feature on the internet's next Big Bang, collaborative computing in new forms. Read all about it here.

A Matter of Fact

A week ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web. told the Guardian newspaper, that the internet is “In danger of being corrupted by fraudsters, liars and cheats.” He added “"There is a great danger that it becomes a place where untruths start to spread more than truths, or it becomes a place which becomes increasingly unfair in some way".

Pointing to the appearance of a growing trust deficit in the online medium, Berners-Lee was particularly worried by the growing influence of Weblogs as a challenge to the development of the web, because of “The risks associated with inaccurate, defamatory and unverifiable information.”

Many, if not most of us would agree with him and perhaps Berners-Lee has unwittingly done ‘A Jack Straw’, by challenging the comfortable assumption that the Web is moving in a positive rather than a negative direction.

From an observer’s perspective, the internet appears to be racing in a direction that is increasingly unaccountable and out o…

Big Bang

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City View
Two days of stunning November weather, with high pressure sitting over the country. This is the view of London's 'Docklands' early on Saturday morning, on the way out to Turweston airfield near Silverstone race track.

Expect lots of fog around on Sunday as a consequence of the Guy Fawkes fireworks celebrations. The carbon particles in the air will hold the moisture and unless the wind increases from the predicted overnight calm, we'll have perfect conditions for post-fireworks fog.

November 6th is commonly one of the foggiest mornings of the year.

Something for the Weekend

One way to spend the weekend I guess, which reminds me, I have to have my aircraft painted in AIRADS house colours next week. Should look nice when it's finished but given the cost, it had better be!

Castle

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A fascinating private tour of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle late last night, that followed dinner and a seminar on international governance hosted by the City & Guilds. Earlier, I attended the evensong service in the chapel and the singing from the choir was quite profound.

So much history squeezed into a relatively small space.

eCrime a National Threat - MP

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Identity crime, both online and through real-world information theft, is in danger of running out of control and requires urgent government action to restore public confidence, said Mark Pritchard MP (Conservative - The Wrekin).

The MP who is Vice Chairman of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF) said:
"E-crime is witnessing a sharp rise yet the government is, to date, bereft of any strategic policy to address the problem".

The theft of identities and the obtaining of monies by deception, on such a large scale, should not just be viewed as a financial crime but also as a national security issue, claims Pritchard, who is also a member of the Conservative Party's Homeland Security Group which is looking at national security, resilience and counter-terrorism policy.

Over recent weeks the BBC alleged that three UK banks are failing to prevent the possible theft of online customers' identity. Concern has been expressed that identity fraud has now become an industry in it…

Surveillance

Interesting day at Rochester on Friday, with the airport turned into a filmset and closed to visiting traffic. They were busy making a film called "Surveillance", starring Simon Callow and others, where the plot involved stealing an aircraft in an attempt to leave the country.

Lot's of takes and 'derring-do' aerial chases, the internet and all that I'm sure, so I won't spoil it for you. It's due to be screened at next year's Cannes Film Festival.

I rather wondered, from this one and the Ridley Scott production we were roped into in June, where actress Keira Knightly was cast as as a lost pilot, how on earth they ever get these films finished, as so much time appears to be spent standing around waiting for takes or sitting in the canteen.

The Digital Divide Deepens

One upon a time I called it the "Digital Divide" and research suggest it could be deepening: "The number of people in the UK who have no intention of getting internet access has risen, research firm Point Topic has found.

Net refuseniks now account for 44 percent - or 11.2 million - of UK households, according to Point Topic, something we predicted might happen in government, back in 2002.

Goggles

Reading Alan Mather's weblog, I've just discovered "Goggles", the Google Earth flight simulator. Starting it in London, you can recognise Hyde Park and then to fly off the Thanet if you like.

With flights from Manston to Virginia USA starting very soon, here's a service preview based on the successful local carrier, Yorkshire Airlines, operating from Leeds Bradford. Whether Kent International can add a similar 'local flavour' to the 'Thanet Experience' for our American guests remains to be seen but I'm sure we can rely on on our tourism experts to deliver!

A Little Local Iaido

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Busy today doing my Iaido grading at the dojo in Broadstairs. After all these years it was time I went after my first Dan before dying of old age, so my grateful thanks to Sensei Richard Obbard and visiting Sensei, Dave Ansell, - pictured left - who ran the seminar, for the instruction and helping me through the ordeal.

The result was richly underserved as the video of the formal session may show!

The Wonderful World of Vista

I hate to say it but “Told you so.”

When Microsoft made a tentative step into the anti-virus business, with the acquisition of Romanian anti-virus (AV) developer GeCAD Software in 2003, I warned that the security software industry would soon be screaming “anti-trust” and would form an orderly line around Washington’s Capitol Hill to complain to US legislators over the company’s anti-competitive plans to make Windows more secure.

I wasn’t entirely correct, with the timing anyway. It’s taken three years for the bigger AV vendors like MacAfee and Symantec to decide that being locked-out of a much toughened Windows ‘Vista’ kernel might be bad for business and the first scream was heard in print this week, with a MacAfee advertorial in this week’s Financial Times; accompanied by an indignant squeak from the direction of Brussels.

Ironically, it was at the time of the GeCAD acquisition that Microsoft, firmly pursuing its Trustworthy Computing Initiative, told me that it would much rather see s…

Europe - A Future for Technology?

What decisions will shape the landscape of the European digital economy of 2020?

It should be a matter of concern to our own Prime Minister in waiting, probably Gordon Brown and a question that formed the title of a working party at the European Ideas Network 2006 (EIN) Summer University in Lyon, which assembled many of the continent’s leading politicians, Commission President, José Manuel Barroso with businesses and centre-right research groups to explore the future of Europe in a globalised network economy.

Chaired by MEP, Malcolm Harbour with SAP Vice President as ‘Rapporteur’, the Digital Economy Working Policy Group was tasked with identifying ‘critical’ policy issues that require the further attention of the European Parliament.

Significantly, it was agreed that Europe is falling behind in both ICT development and exploitation, in spite of the commitments of the 2000 Lisbon Agenda which set the European Union the goal of becoming "the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-bas…

Interoperability – The Second Front Opens

Often tired and frequently oversold, the struggle between the software industry’s giants, otherwise known as the Open Source /Linux debate, has, over the summer, opened a second front, interoperability, injecting more life into an argument of increasingly strategic importance.

For a while now, the case in favour and against the introduction of Open Source / Linux solutions, has surrounded fundamental questions of reliability, security and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

A search for the ‘silver bullet’ argument in the analyst reports on any one of the vendor websites remains elusive and what one finds mostly surrounds the question of why one side’s TCO benefit is greater than another’s. After all, TCO and ROI (return on investment) are less factors of the underlying Operating System than the applications and services that support the Server platforms. Furthermore, it’s argued that TCO doesn’t examine the underlying flexibility of a technology and with it, any potential savings that acco…

Crackberry Summer

I’ve been quiet for several months; time for reflection and a sabbatical from writing after almost twenty-five years without a break. Technology is rather more difficult to escape; particularly the kind offered by my Blackberry and I’ve discovered during the summer, while I’ve been building-up Airads, my aviation business, that the device is quite invaluable in the cockpit as long as you don’t fly too fast and too high.

As an example, earlier in the summer, I had an engine starter motor problem on the way back from Devon which needed urgent attention and I knew that my aircraft engineer was on holiday in Wales. So while flying the aircraft back to base, I managed to conduct a two way diagnostic conversation by Blackberry SMS, which ensured, thanks to having my Outlook address book replicated that I had a second engineer and a replacement engine part available for the following morning.

I know what you’re thinking, “You’re not supposed to have a mobile phone switched on when flying.” Tru…

Time to Spare

Curses this morning as I discovered I couldn’t get into White Waltham airfield for a meeting with Microsoft.

The journey had started without any problems and as I passed Biggin Hill, I asked London Information for the latest Heathrow weather, which was reasonable.

Fifteen minutes later on reaching Ockham and having received a Special VFR clearance from Heathrow Director on the descent via Woodley into White Waltham, the weather decided to throw a surprise, with a menacing and thick fog-like cloud rolling in from the West, leaving me quite unable to continue on to land. Worse still, there were very few options in terms of other places to go with an instrument approach facility, other than Farnborough, so now getting low on fuel, I had to divert into Biggin Hill and pay the penalty of a whacking great landing fee for the privilege.

Many airfields waive their landing fees when an aircraft has to divert and this strikes me as eminently sensible. Not Biggin though. You see, when the fuel gaug…

Maiden Flight

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Over the Reading Festival (2006) this afternoon towing a banner for rock group, Iron Maiden for what was planned to be 90 minutes but we noticed a tear in the banner fabric - you can just see it in the pickup photo at the top - so to save the banner from further harm, we cut short the flight to take it home for repairs.

Apologies to a disappointed Iron Maiden but these banners are like the sails on yachts. Made of hi-tech material able to take enormous forces, just occasionally and very rarely, a seam will fail and if that happens, it's best to get them back on the ground quickly to avoid the risk of an unsightly bundle of washing behind the aircraft if a tear expands in flight.

Meanwhile, on the ground below, I can't remember seeing so many thousands of people packed into such a tight but very large space. You could see the stage from miles away!

Mobadoo It

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Here's an interesting new eCommerce website, http://www.mobadoo.com that I'm doing some work for at present.

In concept, it's rather like eBay I suppose but with a couple of noticeable differences, one being that if you don't have a succesfull transaction, you don't get charged. Anyway, have a look, as I'd be interested in what you think of it and whether it will catch on as widely as eBay. Who knows!

Vacancy @ The Office

Ooops... Silicon.com reports that Microsoft is investigating how two internal training videos created by UK comedy duo Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have surfaced on the internet.

The humorous videos are titled 'The Office Values' and were made three years ago for Microsoft for training purposes. The pair agreed to write and appear in them, on the condition they were never made public. Although Microsoft did confirm their existence in 2004, it refused at the time to release any details.

But earlier this month, the two videos turned up on the internet. Although some sites appear to have removed them after encountering pressure from Microsoft or Gervais' representatives, they can now be seen on Google Video and YouTube as well as some blogs.

He also warns computer "boffins" of the dangers of hard work, as "too much thinking makes Jack a mental case".

In the videos, Gervais plays the role of David Brent, the anti-hero star of The Office, the critically a…

Transformational - Well Sort Of

If you have ever wondered what Transformational Government is, then you can find out, with a video on the popular video sharing website, “YouTube”.

Frustrated by attempts to explain how millions of pounds of taxpayers money is being wasted on a multitude of grandiose, frivolous and failing projects, like the National Programmer for IT, (NPfIT) HM Government is trying a trendier means of  justifying the black hole of IT spend which now surrounds us.

Watch the video here.

Everyone's A Winner in the National Payments Lottery

Don’t you just love it? The revelation that prisoners have been receiving millions of pounds in payments to which they are not entitled.

Apparently, the taxpayer has handed out £13m of income support and Jobseeker's Allowance to members of the prison population over the past three years, despite inmates not being eligible.

What next, they’ll be happily paying family tax credits to the latest arrivals from the expanding European Community, now working here, for children allegedly living abroad. But that was last week’s news.

I wonder what I could be eligible for other than inheritance tax. There’s always an Ocean Finance loan I suppose!

First Minute

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First Great Western_02
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
The firstminutefares.co.uk banner was supposed to be flying down in Devon today but awful weather turned us round near Newbury this morning, with the cloud down to six hundred feet and up as far as three thousand feet into controlled airspace.

It takes a great deal to turn us round but in the driving rain, fog and with the hills up around our ears, discretion is the better part of valour and so instead we displayed this banner over Bluewater, the QEII Bridge and M25 North. Funnily enough, one of our pilots driving to Leeds across the bridge actually saw it and wondered why it wasn't down in Devon.

The moral of the story is that if you can't fly the banner exactly where you want it, we can normally find somewhere with a guaranteed audience, like an M25 traffic jam!

First Flight Mobadoo

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First Flight Mobadoo Banner_04
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
First look at the www.mobadoo.com banner that Airads is flying along the M25 North and South on consecutive days in August during the evening rush hour.

And what's a 'Mobadoo' you might ask? Well visit www.mobadoo.com and all will be revealed!

M25 Tragedy Causes Gridlock

I just happened to be flying the M25 route on a traffic watch with a client, when we came across the story below.

You could say I had a “Bird’s eye” view of the chaos and the carnage unfolding on the motorway as total gridlock took place from the M23 all the way to Epsom on the M25 with the motorway halted in both directions and all the feeding roads from Croydon to Sevenoaks and Tonbridge stationary.

The accident was a truly awful scene from above. A terrible tragedy for all involved.

The BBC reports that four people, believed to be two adults and two children, were killed when their car was involved in a crash with a lorry on the M25 in Kent.

A lorry was in collision with a Volkswagen car. The driver of the lorry, a man in his 50s, was taken to hospital suffering from chest injuries and shock.

Achtung Spitfire

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So there I was, minding my own business, setting up a banner on the runway at Rochester, when this Spitfire appeared and started to buzz me. Good thing I had my camera to hand. By coincidence the car in the photo below that was on show at Deanland airfield, has a Spitfire Merlin engine installed.The noise is unmistakable and the petrol consumption, well, out of this world!

Close Shave

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So there I was, minding my own business, setting up a banner on the runway at Rochester, when this Spitfire appeared and started to buzz me. Good thing I had my camera to hand.

Cowes Week

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It's Cowes Week at the Isle of Wight and Airads is busy flying a specially designed sheet banner for Meridien Milano, advertising their Alfa Romeo cars.

We had a small hitch with a slow oscillation on the first run to Cowes but this was quickly fixed by adding extra weight to the base of the lead pole and after this, it all worked fine.

This kind of thing is far more difficult to fly than people might think.

Meanwhile, on the way home, a field is ablaze just short of Leeds castle in Kent, We gave the police a call from the air and hopefully they'll tackle it before it runs out of control.

It's Elvis

Elvis it appears is alive and well and somewhere over Farnborough.

I’m not joking. All this week on the way into the Farnborough air show, we keep hearing: “Farnborough this is Elvis” and it sounds just like the legendary crooner, with a deep- throated southern American accent. I try not to laugh and wisecrack back at air traffic control but they seem to be used to the presence of a phantom pop star over Surrey.

Actually, Elvis appears to be ‘parked’ above the air show from 12:00 on and I wonder if he’s in some kind of security or surveillance aircraft or helicopter. I listened in earlier today as a royal flight lifted out of Kensington Palace and shot across our nose en-route to the show, so it’s pretty busy over there. Watching the F18 do its aerobatics display from the air is something else.

Rochester has grown another elaborate crop circle opposite the M2 and I spotted three more brush fires today and an expensive-looking motor launch that had run aground in the channel mud flats bet…

Too Hot

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More brush fires breaking out between here and London and the temperature showing 41 Celsius at Brimpton airfield near Farnborough today.

I’ve attached a few photos taken above the airshow here. Spot the stealth fighter and of course the big A380 airbus for the aviation buffs among you. If not, then I’m too hot and bothered like everyone else to write much here today.

Alien Visitors

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If it's quiet here it's because I've been doing the Farnborough Airshow for the last two days. Here's a picture of the huge A380 airbus on the runway.

Here's a photo of one of the crop circles I spotted near Rochester, I found them again this afternoon, so here you are, an exclusive of sorts! Perhaps it was pointing the way to Farnborough for alien visitors.





Tolpuddle Martyrs Flight

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Back again to celebrate the annual rally in memory of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Airads was busy flying a Trade Union banner over the march which takes place in the small Dorset village of Tolpuddle to commemorate the men who were deported to Australia, over 150 years ago, for starting a small Trades Union.

The six Tolpuddle Martyrs were all farm labourers, paid 9 shillings a week and lived in dreadful poverty. Their leader George Loveless, decided to set up a Union in Tolpuddle to give the labourers bargaining strength.

In 1834 James Frampton, a local landowner, wrote to the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, to complain about the union, invoking an obscure law from 1797 prohibiting people from swearing oaths to each other, which the Friendly Society had done. James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George's brother James Loveless, George's brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and Thomas' son John Standfield were arrested, found guilty, and transported to Australia

Farnborough 2006

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A short video showing my test flight preparation for the Airads pickup of the Dubai Aerospace banner for the Farnborough 2006 Airshow which starts tomorrow.

We'll be opening the show every day this coming week.

Opportunity Lost

An opportunity lost a couple of hours ago. Messrs Blair, Darling and Milliband were in a speedboat visiting the windmill farm opposite Herne Bay and I had just cycled over there along the sea wall.

With a little more warning, I could have got to the airfield and put-up a “Free Thanet” banner or perhaps a more interesting message to the Prime Minister. Better still, he was in an inflatable RIB and I have a large hook that swings from the back of the aircraft to catch banners and quite possibly, the occasional Prime Minister too. – Dream on!

Lights Out

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Very dark out towards London this afternoon. I was headed for Dunkeswell in Devon for a job for Ernst & Young but didn't get any further than Rochester when the lights went out and the rain started.

Whether the predicted storms will touch us here in Thanet I don't know but somewhere is going to get very wet in the next few hours. we'll still have a drought though!

Fast Movers

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Over the annual powerboat races at Ramsgate today. Lots of fast action with some of the boats overtaking the aircraft as it towed a property website advertisement banner above them.

Over the Wheel

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A bit of a hectic day, with Ministry of Defence asking us to fly a "Veterans Day" banner over the Imperial War Museum and Westminster and a speech to the "Computational Finance Conference" at Imperial College this afternoon. Too tired to write much more.



For anyone who might be interested in a different view of London from above, here's a link to my photoset


Gone Barking

I’m going to have to work out a way of bi-locating myself or perhaps even borrow one of the ‘transporters’ from Start Trek. To give you an idea, next week, I’m scheduled to tow a Veterans Day banner for the MOD over the Imperial War Museum, Westminster and the South Bank and at the same time I’ve been asked to pop-in to a meeting in room A5 E3, at the European Parliament in Brussels. Meanwhile, Uncle Sam wants to know if I can do a job for him in "Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan most probably"; absolutely nothing to do with aircraft either.

And no, my poor overworked aircraft isn’t quick enough to do both either although for London, we have to use a twin-engined job, just in case there’s a problem over such a heavily built-up area. In case you’re wondering, there’s lots of paperwork involved and a mystery too. The National Air Traffic Service (NATS) doesn’t appear to have a fax machine, which makes shuttling the documents back and forth for approval a little bit of a cha…

Up and Down with The RAF Falcons

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After the experience of joing the RAF Falcons for a ride to 12,000 feet yesterday, it wasn’t quite by design but I found myself as the first aircraft into the Kent Airshow today, towing a banner advertising “TerencePainter.co.uk – New Homes.”


Thanet Airshow 2006_day 2-10

Having checked the details with Manston air traffic, I was under the impression that I had until 13:00 to get in and out of Palm Bay and it wasn’t until we were airborne that I heard the Red Arrows were due to run through at 11:55; just giving enough time for us to run in and out of Palm Bay before we were run over.

I’ve just uploaded some more photos of the air show that you can fine by following the link.

The Cup Effect

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Proof positive of the "World Cup Effect" I think. Looking at yesterday's log for this website, activity dropped by a startling 50% on the Saturday average. Everybody was, I assume, watching the football or enjoying the sunshine and very sensible too.

One man's view of Dartmouth and the entrance to the River Dart earlier today for Palm FM. Pretty hot and sticky everywhere I went with almost as many aircraft up as there were cars jamming the roads back from the coast this evening

World Cup Fever

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Over Bury St Edmunds and much of Suffok today for the police, publicising their 'Operation Crackdown" and I thought we might join in with the manic World Cup spirit by flying two St George's flags from the aircraft. Unfortunately, the flags, designed for cars, weren't up to the job of dealing with an aircraft slipstream at 120mph and shredded themselves in-flight.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

The News of the World decided not to position us over the Big Brother House tomorrow evening. originally, they had wanted a message with "England Won" on it but then they considered that England might not win, which would be waste of money, so another bright idea went out of the window.

The Race is On

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While others were crossing the English Channel in a kayak - well done - I was watching the start of the Volvo Ocean Challenge or at least flying the flag over the SonyEricsson boat at Portsmouth.

See all the photos here.

Not So Dry

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When I left Thanet just after 9am this morning, it was in the middle of a howling wind and driving rain. If it had snowed, like it did in ‘75’, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

The rain and solid muddy skies didn’t stop until we popped-up above the clouds at over five thousand feet with a thin layer of ice on the leading edges of my wings. “It’s the day before June” I thought, “and outside it’s five degree below zero.”

It wasn’t much better until just before Southampton, when the cloud started to break but I’m pleased to see that for the coming weekend, temperatures of 18 Celsius are promised. It’s not a heat wave but it can’t get much worse.

And as for the drought, I can assure you that England, as far as Weston Super Mare, is looking very green, very lush and very wet indeed!

Long Voyage Home

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Ericsson Boat Ocean Challenge Portsmouth 2006_09
For any sailing enthusiasts among you, here are some photos taken from above the Volvo Ocean Challenge today at Portsmouth. "Flying the flag" for Sony Ericsson, as the boats came in over the finish line on their race home from South America and Rio, with swarms of motor launches and small yachts going out to meet them as they arrived in the dock in front of the Spinnaker centre. Didn't have my proper camera with me though!See BBC News report.

Unfit for Purpose

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Watching the Trevor Macdonald report tonight, I can’t help thinking that our new Home Office Minister, John Reid, may have unwittingly written this government’s epitaph, “Not fit for purpose.”

Can anyone, I wonder tell me anything that is actually fit for purpose out their in the public sector. No really, just one example of a big government project or department. You know, like the Child Support Agency, The Probation Service, the Immigration Service, and The NHS. Come on… just one.

I had another experience of the Inland Revenue this month. Sitting on the board of creditors for a company in administration for the last four years, we’ve been waiting for the all clear to pay people back a percentage of the money they lost, including the company’s employees. Everything was held-up earlier in the year when the Inland Revenue, as a preferred creditor – isn’t it always - disagreed with the administrator, one of the UK’s largest accountancy companies. To cut a long story short, the administrat…

Mission Impossible

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Something wasn’t quite right with the Barclays online banking site this week. As I write this column, I’ll ‘Ping’ it one more time to be sure and the result is a ‘No response from server’ message, so all is not well in the wonderful world of online finance.

Being curious as to the cause and wanting to know if a client payment had made its way by BACS into my business account, I decided to call the Barclays helpline. This was answered by a pleasant young woman with an Indian accent, who requested my online account information.

“Are you in Mumbai by any chance”, I asked. “Yes”, she answered.
“Do you know your website is only working intermittently, if at all,” I told her.
“I’ll have to report it”, she said “but let me help you log on to your account.”
“But I can’t”, I added, “The server is timing out.”

Rather than continue, I said I would try Barclays in the UK, easier for both us I though, but then discovered that the helpline number I was searching for, took me back to, guess where? Not qui…

Burning Bush

If you think it’s windy now on the north east coast of Kent, then be prepared for even stronger winds mid afternoon, so best tie down any loose dogs and children, just in case.

I counted fourteen ships sheltering in the “Margate Roads” earlier.

Following on from the Cannes release of the "The Da Vinci Code", If you need something to cheer you up, then here's a re-dubbed version of the trailer for the film, "The Ten Commandments", starring Charlton Heston as Moses or was that Ben Hur? I've granted the voice of Samuel L. Jackson a temporary bad language exclusion just this once.

A Secret Mission in Uncharted Space

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Well, I found out who the Hollywood movie people are. Its Ridley Scott films as the production company and Kevin Spacey directing, so as they won’t be coming to Thanet to film, - too far - I guess I have to go to them at Elstree airfield or at least that’s what the fax I have here tells me.

They're asking for an "English Patient" like effect with an old biplane - I had rather hoped for an F15 - but it’s not until next week though, so if I’m allowed, I’ll take as many photos as I can to share with you. I’m still not sure you the really big Hollywood star is, as they won’t tell me but I’m assured it’s not Tom Cruise, which is a relief!

Principles of Flight

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In case you happen to be wondering why, after years of my writing columns for Computer Weekly and Silicon and general "tech" stuff on IT, there's rather less of it around on this weblog, then it's because I'm experiencing a career change of sorts.

Having taken over the aerial banner-towing company, Airads from the famous “Captain Bob”, I find that I’m being overwhelmed with demand for ‘Gigs’ like the FA Cup Final in the last entry. So I’m dashing around the country with my team of professional pilots, flying banners around big sporting events, police messages, trade union rallies, pop concerts and let’s not forget “Will You Marry Me” messages over Southend Pier and other romantic spots.

It's a tough life but someone has to do it and when IT or Netcrime calls, I get the other members of the team to do the flying but as IT, ecrime and banners both appear to be seasonal occupations at different times of the year, I'm looking for a new career over the Christmas…

Winging It

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I see from the Mail on Sunday this morning that a taxi driver showed more “bottle” than me when faced with an almost identical situation in the BBC News studio.

The mystery cabbie man stepped unwittingly into the national spotlight when he was interviewed by mistake on the corporation's News 24 channel. You can watch the video here.

With the seconds ticking down to a studio discussion about a court case involving Apple Computer and The Beatles' record label, a floor manager had run to reception and grabbed the man, thinking he was Guy Kewney, editor of Newswireless.net, a specialist internet publication. I know Guy's work and can confirm that he looks nothing like the ‘black cabbie’ who took his place.

The same thing almost happened to me a couple of years ago in the same studio. I forget what I was in there to talk about but the floor manager marched me into the studio, sat me down next to the news reader and then left.

I had a moment or so before going live; and the weather …

FA Cup Final

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Just back from the FA Cup Final in Cardiff where I had an unusual view of the match from above. Pictures can be found here for anyone who might be interested in a view of footballers’ heads.

From what I could see, buzzing around above the pitch, most of the first half of the game appeared to be played around the Liverpool goal but I’ll try and get a better look in the TV highlights later tonight.

Star Struck

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Apparently Hollywood doesn't want to film its sequel to the Battle Of Britain here because the film crew can't find it on the map so they've decided to film it outside London instead and have asked to borrow an aircraft. I still don't know who the mystery star pilot is. Hope it's Sandra Bullock though!

You'll Never Fly Alone

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I had almost forgotten it was FA Cup Final Day on Saturday until I had a call this afternoon requesting a banner, supporting a Liverpool Football club website, to be flown around the stadium for ninety minutes during the match.

I can try and watch the action on the big screen from the air but I think the rest of you will be able to see rather more than me! None of the cold ‘Fosters’ either I’m afraid.

Mission Impossible

Had a call from a film company today. They want a banner flown over Brighton next month but more interestingly, it’s to do with a major production involving a big “Hollywood star.”

It seems that the movie star is the banner pilot in the plot and so they want to film him in the cockpit and want to know where they can do this. I’ve suggested they do it down here in Thanet at the airstrip but it all sounds very complicated and involves a “Unit Move” for the entire film crew to do it.

I wonder if it’s Tom Cruise?

Cry Havoc

A poor start for the new Home Secretary, John Reid, now facing a fresh crisis over foreign criminals, after a senior immigration official revealed that more than half of the 1,023 released in error will remain at liberty on the streets of Britain. Rather like unwelcome house guests that steal the furniture, we’re stuck with them and their continuing lawlessness until they’re too old or too dead to commit any more havoc or they’re banged-up in a prison, an asylum or a nursing home or both at our expense.

I think it’s time to leave Iraq. Yesterday’s “Black Hawk Down” type incident with a British helicopter over Basra simply reinforced my opinion. From now, things can only get much worse and yet our government continues to lie to us in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Listen to the new Defense Secretary this morning and he’ll tell you that we are winning hearts and minds and that the Iraqi army and police are trained-up and ready to take our place in maintaining law and …

Upside News

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Doing more flying work than IT of late for my Airads business, which has suddenly taken off in more ways than one, you'll probably find this weblog a little quiet over the next few days as I'll be spending more time in the air than on the ground and as yet, haven't worked out how to post a weblog without taking my hands off the controls. One day, I'm certain that technology will find a solution to this problem, in the same way that my phone has a nasty habit of ringing just as I'm about to take off or I'm on final approach to the runway, really it does!

I'm due to take the happy winners of the Thanet Gazumph's cancer charity auction for a fly-around tomorrow, if I get back in time, so I'll try and remember to record it on my camera.

Day at the Football

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One man's view of White Hart Lane stadium at 4:15 this afternoon. Whether, “Steve” who was proposed to by his partner, “Manda”, said “Yes”, I don’t know but it must have come as a bit of a surprise to be sitting among thousands of fellow Spurs fans and have a banner float by; a message from your partner asking you to marry her. Definitely a first in my experience!

Ready to collapse in front of the television, I've made six flights today, at least six yesterday and I've a backlog of email to catch-up on. Tomorrow is, with a little luck, a day of rest for the wicked and time to catch-up with this weblog among other things..

Desparate Housewives

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An interesting afternoon partly spent over the top of Beatle, Paul McCartney’s house. I never realised he had one in this part of the world but it’s modestly tucked away in Farmland out towards Winchelsea.

Sunday should be another unusual day. A desperate housewife of sorts wants her football crazy partner to marry her and has asked us to tow a “Will You Marry Me” banner right over the top of the Sunday game at White Hart Lane just after kick off. An ardent spurs fan, she’s hoping that the aircraft will attract his attention long enough for him to be embarrassed into saying “Yes”, as I happen to have helped her push a press release out to the papers and the TV for a little moral support.

So what do you think? Will he marry her or will it all depends on whether Spurs beats Bolton on Sunday. It’s a game of two halves you know.

Get Safe Online

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It’s that annual InfoSec time again and walking the aisles of Europe’s most successful Information Security show, I find myself plagued with a nagging sense of doubt. Why? Scantily clad girls dressed as angels and the sash-climbing acrobats in yellow lycra bodysuits on the Symantec stand were entertaining and colourful enough and even the message on the EP Secure stand warning visitors of the dangers from viruses and “Wormes” instead of “Worms”, should have bought a smile to my face but all I could see in a packed Olympia, was an industry united in a profitable celebration of the failure of our society to properly protect itself from the dangers of living an increasingly online existence.

InfoSec was once again the venue for the release of the latest Government-sponsored survey of information security breaches in the UK, conducted by a consortium led by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and while you can find encouragement in the news that large businesses have become more security-conscious,…

A Changing Threat

Blogging from the InfoSec Show at Olympia this morning. My apologies if you had problems on the site yesterday, so did I. Blogger, owned by Google, appears to be having database difficulties and there's been a certain amount of frustrating interruption over the last week.

Here at Infosec the packed show is testament to the sheer size of the security problem facing us all from the internet. The headline from the PWC /DTI survey released a few minutes ago is that small businesses are now suffering with security breaches up by 50% in the last year and the overall cost to UK PLC being in the order of £10 billion.

Please, please be very careful when you share your personal and financial information over the Web. I don't wish to alarm readers but the the criminals are becoming ever smarter, their tools more sophisticated and identity theft and fraud are soaring. Make sure then that your PC is as protected against risk as it possibly can be and monitor kids and teenagers on the system …

Naked Conversations

I once had the privilege of standing in for friend and columnist John Naughton in the Observer and John, another early “Blogger”, has written an interesting essay on the importance of the Weblog to business. However the same argument might be true of any other organised activity, up to an including politics:

Blogging is 'the most powerful two-way internet communications tool yet developed' and is growing at an astonishing rate (one new blog every second). Increasingly, new bloggers are not teenagers talking about acne and angst, but workers talking about business. 'Chances are,' Scoble and Israel write - in their book “Naked Conversations”- , 'that if people aren't talking about your company in blogs today, they will be soon. You would be wise to join these conversations, if only to thank those who sing your praises or to correct factual errors. If you ignore the "blogosphere" you won't know what people are saying about you. You can't learn fro…

Just in Times

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I see our little Airads flypast banner over the top of St Mary's stadium in Southampton made the morning edition of The Times. Pity there were not any credits though!

Coming and Going

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St Mary' Stadium 3-170406
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
Sorry, been busy today and home late.A successful flyby over St Mary's Stadium this afternoon I'm told it's on the tele but haven't seen it yet. Any lower and we would have been in the stadium. Much of the western and southern side of Southampton was covered but the north-east was barred because of incoming airport traffic. Click on the stadium photo to see the others, which can be downloaded in high resolution if you wish to have copies. A bit tricky for us to fly, as the stadium is right on the final approach to the airport and so our thanks to air traffic control for making it possible and slotting-in the display between landing flights..

Go North

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Ramsgate may be the new millionaires playground but the north of the non-island of Thanet, where I live, has it's own unique cultural and epicurian attractions such as Godden's Gap, the Margate Caves and the Hanging Gardens of Cliftonville.

To prove my point, I invited the former Prime Minister of Australia to join me this morning for a full English breakfast at Anton Mossiman's "Beano's cafe" in Westgate where we disussed the pros and cons of building the Turner Contemporary in the style of the Sydney Opera House, turning Thanet into a republic and the problem of feckless teenage Kangaroos in the village of Birchington.

A Sad Goodbye

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A poignantly sad banner flown over a funeral at Cardiff this week. A double tragedy from the message but an impressive send off, with a fleet of white Rolls Royces and hundreds of people at the cemetery service.

A diversion for waiting passengers at the airport was provided with several attempts to pick the banner up in the crosswind, which was strong enough to lift it as you can see.

Strange Tastes

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Ramsgate may indeed be the new millionaire's playground but from the look of it, the new arrivals have some unusual tastes in pets!