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Showing posts from 2007

Guild of Ransom

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I've been on the far side of Norfolk all day today, Walsingham in fact, visiting the Roman Catholic Shrine, that my great Grandfather helped resurrect and re-build in the last century.

Henry VIII did a wonderful job of destroying the original, which was up there with Canterbury, and the shrine of Thomas Beckett, as one of Europe's most popular medieval pilgrimage centres. You can see what's left of the original grand Abbey in the photo.
There was a power cut in that part of Norfolk for most of the afternoon and that included mobile phone signals, It was like being back in the 1970s. No email and only the payphones worked!

Tolpuddle 2007

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A delightful summer's evening finish to a day I thought wouldn't happen.

While the storm was rolling over Thanet at 7am, I was wondering if I was going to get any work done at all today but with the rain still falling, I managed to get down to Compton Abbas in time to fly a detail over Weymouth and more importantly, the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs rally in Dorset, the third year we've done this.
The rally commemorates the beginnings of the Trade Union movement but it's evolving into a major folk festival. This afternoon, sadly, it was raining and the clouds were descending, fast enough for me to cut short the flight to make sure we could get back into Compton Abbas airfield, which sits some 700 feet above the ground, surrounded by magnificent scenery.
Here's a quick video of what it looks like, the co-pilots view, filmed by Suzie.B of the banner being dropped to the side of the runway and a tight circuit back into land.


The Big Bounce

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Back from a "Bounce" of the Big Brother house again, this time arranged by the Channel 4's production company.

According the the last newswire release on the web:

'An aeroplane complete with trailing banner has flown over the Big Brother house in the latest “fake week” stunt.

Housemates on the Channel 4 reality show were sent into the garden this afternoon under the pretence the house needed “essential maintenance”. Once the 11 contestants were outside, a plane flew overhead trailing a banner reading, “There is another house”.

Big Brother swiftly ordered the housemates into the caravan'.

In fact, I only watched about five minutes of the programme yesterday evening to try and work out what it might be about but the content of the programme lost me completely.

Not knowing, until afterwards, that it was arranged as part of the programming and learning from the earlier Jade and Shilpa experience, I was careful to blindside approach the building and then 'pop-up' at…

On the Run

I really have to apologise for this weblog being so quiet after so many years; after all it was one of the early weblogs.

It's really because my local weblog http://www.thanetlife.com/ is absorbing what little time I have left to write these days.

Being a local politician, even a modest backbencher, chews time and if you think about it, an active councillor has to make personal sacrifices if he or she is to work for a ward properly. I have to get up an hour earlier each morning, just to catch-up with the mountain of paperwork that is delivered each Monday by 'Council Messenger'. Much of it isn't directly pertinent but you still have to sift through it all to find the material that concerns your ward.

Last week was a good example of the work, local politics balance. Thursday was my birthday but I had to be up early to fly a protest banner along the M25 for three hours for the Communications workers Union. After that, back to catch-up with email and telephone calls and then…

Gone Political

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Just in case your'e wondering, where the political aspirations have got me after May 3rd, the people of Westgate-on-Sea, returned me as a councillor today and to be honest, I was surprised to find I topped the poll.

Ten candidates ran in Westgate and the principal results were:

- Simon Moores (Cons) - 754
- Tom King (Independent) - 696
- Brian Goodwin (Cons)- 687
- Ingrid Spencer (Cons) 673

The full Thanet local election results can be found here. Overall it was Conservatives, 33 - Labour,19 - Independent, 3 - Ramsgate First, 1

Next up, a Conservative government, I hope, before the country descends any further into the moribund, centralised and politically correct anarchy that now surrounds us!

Going Green

Amid all the election excitement, that I've developed a distinctly green tinge, as you'll see from the story here.

I was over at Earl's Court exhibition centre on Tuesday, chairing something called "The Green Technology Initiative", a new forum that will become a knowledge resource for IT industry managers and directors that want to reduce the carbon footprint of their business.

Mind you, with two aircraft in my own business, being truly green presents a challenge and as far as I know, Lycoming engines won't run on Rape seed oil.

Watch the Skies

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"It is easy to appreciate the devastation of a physical attack and what it can bring but we must not underestimate the potentially devastating consequences of an electronic attack."

These were the words of Home Secretary, John Reid, yesterday at a conference organised by the Royal United Services Institute and it echoed the “Facing the possibility of an electronic Pearl Harbor” speech given to the US Congress by Secretary of Defense John Hamre in 1997, who added: "There is going to be an electronic attack on this country some time in the future."

This particular alarmist theme has been enthusiastically peddled by several security companies, since the Twin-towers collapsed; the possibility of a "cyber-terrorist" attack on what is known as our "critical information infrastructure" and while the evidence for Al Qaeda or its supporters having the necessary technical skills to commit significant online disruption, is at best shaky, that hasn’t prevente…

Ping!

For over three years now, I've been banging-on, with many like-minded others, such as the BMA, that the National Programme for IT, the Health Service computerisation project, is an expensive disaster, flawed in both planning and execution.

Now, a Parliamentary committee has concluded that "Millions of patients" are "unlikely" to see any "significant clinical benefits" from the National Health Service's £12.4 billion national computer system by the time all of the money has been spent in 2014, MPs warn.

The committee chairman, Edward Leigh, commented that 'urgent remedial action is needed' to protect patients and taxpayers.

The Commons public accounts committee found that pilot projects on the National Programme for IT were already two years late and there were fears that the project would cost £20 billion - more than three times the original contract cost.

Government has attempted to resist the obvious for ages but the reality is that Ministe…

Purley Way

Another lucky man.. this time to propose to partner, "Louise" over Purley in Surrey

We aim to oblige!

Lotsa Bots

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I had to smile at the TK max credit card fraud story today, 48 hours after the close of an ecrime congress, where we heard that the largest criminal "Bot Network" of computers detected to date is 1.5 million, by the Dutch government computer emergency response team, who spoke at the event.

You can, by the way, hear the BBC coverage on 'Moneybox' here. All about 'Smishing', 'Phishing' and 'Vishing' with some input from me.

I spoke with both Sky News and the BBC this morning, who were looking for pundits, Thanet, being a little too far away to send an outside broadcast camper van with a satellite dish on. Sky very sensibly went after Professor Ross Anderson at Cambridge as suggested, who in turn, revealed what a complete mess the whole ecrime reporting system is.

From Monday, the banks assume responsibility, from the police - who don't report it anyway - for online crime. So if you are ripped-off, go tell you bank and they are supposed to infor…

Looking Down

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Having not written a word for a few days, I’m writing a few somewhere between Italy and Sicily at 35,000 feet on the way back in from the Middle East this morning as everyone at home is waking up.

I’ve come to the conclusion that somewhere in this part of the world there’s a huge factory in the desert turning out tens of thousands of camels, carpets and fake handbags to be sold in every bazaar from Tunis to Aswan. Once upon a time, one could find something unique in the Souk but today one has to try much harder or go “off the beaten” track to find a souvenir or any real interest or value. Oman is good for Frankincense and Silver and Dubai is great for Gold and Russian gangsters but most other places, going shopping means having to run the gauntlet of stuffed camel traders, shouting “Luvly jubly mate –you from England?” as if this were some powerful magic spell, with the power to part the foolish tourist from his money. Del Boy Trotter has a great deal to answer for if that’s the best s…

Not My Fault

I watched Dr John Reid blaming Michael Howard - the former Conservative Home Secretary - for the immigration problem, with open-mouthed amazement this morning.

On Sky News, he was busily telling us that ID cards are the solution and that the Conservatives were and are the problem. Earlier this week I was with Professor Ross Anderson from Cambridge, the acknowledged expert on the technology surrounding ID Cards and his opinions in regards to the value of identity cards as a practical solution to identity managment, differ greatly with the Home Secretary. Having campaigned on the same technical platform I have to agree with him.

So, John Reid, is, after ten years, only now clearing up the mess that the Tories left or that's what he would have you think. Immigration, crime, guns, you name it, it's all the other bloke's fault and now he's found out about it, he's putting it right.

Does Dr Reid really believe the electorate are that dim? Apparently so.

I'm off to see t…

Crime Pays

Crime pays and it pays very well in cyberspace.

It’s been five years since the first ecrime congress and this month will witness leading figures from government, business, finance and law-enforcement assembling in London, once again, to explore, discuss and hopefully suggest some solutions to deal with an epidemic of crime in cyberspace.

A recent DTI report to the Parliamentary Science & Technology Committee, (POST) conceded that the last 3-4 years has seen the emergence of virtual organised crime groups (OCGs) who are highly organised and operate exclusively via the Internet. Their membership is geographically dispersed and multinational. And their main goal is the exploitation of the Internet to steal personal data and identity to facilitate fraud. These groups continue to grow in size, number and sophistication.

The UK, ‘Broadband Britain’ as you might expect is the most popular place in the world for such OCGs to do business. After all, there are 17 million Internet bank accounts…

North of Medina

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A note of personal interest for me today, that sadly, three Frenchmen were killed yesterday and at least one other was injured when they were singled out for attack by militants while travelling in the Saudi Arabian desert north of Medina.

The victims, part of a group of eight travellers were fired on after a car stopped them on a road near the town of Tabouk and an archeological site near Madain Saleh. The archaeological site Madain Saleh is a site of extraordinary tombs that were carved into the side of cliffs between 100 BC and 100 AD when it was a thriving kingdom of Nabataean people. When I went there in the eighties, it was very isolated and I was fully bearded, in disguise, quite literally, with a pass from the Saudi interior ministry; it's wild country up there towards the Jordan border and not a place that I would consider safe to visit without some form of protection in place.

Up with InvictaFM

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If you are vaguely interested, here's the link to this morning's Invicta FM breakfast show with the Myspace.com aerial banner stunt above Herne Bay and Canterbury involving James Hemmings.

Apparently, AudioBlogger is no more and I have had to use Mypodcast.com to upload the file, which has an irritating advertising message before the clip starts.

On Air with Invicta FM

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We didn't think that the weather would be good enough but we just staggered into the air over Canterbury and North Kent with Invicta FM's James Hemming to record part of his show "on air", quite literally.

With James in the right seat with a microphone and a live connection to the studio, I think the pick-up was an eye-opener for him and I warned him to "squeeze" as we pulled up tight to collect his banner with its myspace address for his personal website; part of a competition he's running with fellow DJ, "Ali".

Swindon tomorrow for B&Q again if the weather holds and then a busy schedule into Valentine's Day next week.

Snow - Lots of It

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The snow has gone for now but it's cocked-up my day, with my aircraft sheltering at Manston and frantic adjustments having to be made to the Invicta FM flight which I'll have to try to get James Hemmings airborne in tomorrow.

Meanwhile, You can tell that ecrime is big this year and remote Westgate-on-Sea is now firmly the centre of the universe where challenging serious and organised crime online is involved. If you take a look at the e-crime congress website which is playing-up today, you’ll understand why it gets a little busy here sometimes trying to be a pilot in one job and keep everyone else happy with the phone buzzing from some rather unusual places in the other line of work.

Get Viper

Of course, when we got to the Big Brother house, Channel 4 had other ideas as the clip suggests....!

(Now there's 8mb internet speed running off real broadband Britain, good internet TV speed is now a reality.)

Big Brother Says BB Bullies Out!

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I never thought I would watch Big Brother, let alone play a minor role in the publicity. We've been sitting above the Big Brother house this afternoon in the Airads aircraft towing a banner saying "BB Bullies Out." Sky News appear to have mixed up their schedule and the Sky "copter" left short of fuel before we arrived but a constant loop has been running on Sky News and the BBC picked it up too.

Sky News reports that Jade saw the banner from the hot tub which explains her behaviour with Shilpa later in the day. Can't say that I noticed her though!

However, on Sunday, Jade denied Big Brother producers warned her that she had become an international figure of hate and advised her to apologise to Shilpa.

She said: "I wasn't briefed about what was going on outside. Big Brother can only be Big Brother - he's not allowed to tell you anything.

"But I knew a story had broken out because of the aircraft that were over the house. I said I thought it w…

After the Devil

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With what appears to be the rapid decline of our legal system or at least its shambolic and unholy mess, I was reminded of the Thomas More speech from actor, Paul Scofield, in the classic film, "A Man for All Seasons."

In conversation with William Roper - Perhaps today it should be Tony Blair instead, it goes like this:

William Roper: "So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!"

Sir Thomas More: "Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"

William Roper: "Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!"

Sir Thomas More: "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give…

The Beria Principle

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Back in the good old days before every bus, train and lamp post carried a CCTV camera and RIPA (the Regulation & Investigatory Power Act) was a twinkle in Home Secretary, Jack Straw's eye, Silicon asked me to comment on another crazy-sounding scheme, connecting all of government’s citizen information into a single giant database.

“You don’t have to worry about government until it’s joined-up” quipped my friend ‘J’ in the coffee lounge of the Institute of Director at the same time. ‘J’ was what the BBC calls a ‘spook’ and had an office overlooking the Prime Minister’s garden.

At the time, I described the giant database idea as ‘The Beria Principle’ after NKVD security Lavrentiy Beria, the executor of Joseph Stalin's ‘Great Purge’ of the 1930s. Now while we have an Office of Constitutional Affairs, we don’t yet have a Combined State Political Directorate and that’s where I fear the idea for a "A huge Whitehall 'super-database' of people's personal details” mig…

Gone Quiet

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If I seem very quiet of late, then my apologies. I'm a little tied-up with work; a research project for Microsoft to finish, the e-crime congress now moving into overdrive and last of all, I've booked in on a Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL) course at Cranfield.

The latter, CPL, I'm doing by CBT and distance learning with ground school work before the exams and with twelve of them to do in the next twelve months, my brain is already hurting and Jack here is in danger of becoming a very dull boy!

The flying time isn't a problem, I've already more than enough hours - just under a thousand - with my Airads business but how I'm going to manage to study in the summer season, when I spend more time in the air than on the ground, I don't quite know.

I was never much good at maths and physics and thirty or years after leaving school I've got to apply myself in earnest to engines and aeronautics.

Maybe I'll qualify as an airline pilot just as everyone else i…