Skip to main content

Moon Mission

Following a walkaround the 'Pride' event in Margate this afternoon, I've just caught the end of a programme on the Apollo 11 mission on the BBC.



For me, the Apollo missions had an important influence on my life. I remember, age 13, staying-up all night to watch the landing. I was very much into the whole space 'thing' from Gemini on. For Apollo 11 I had a special moon mission pack which I studied religiously and included all the flight details and even some checklists and sadly enough, I can still recall some of the engine start sequences for the command module: "Inject prevalves on...." etc. At 53, I wish my memory was good enough to completely memorise the full sequences on the DA42 I will be using for my instrument flight test at Cranfield in the next two weeks. I have to confess that I've now explored the limits of my own abilities. Most commercial pilots take the IR exam in their early twenties and the ageing 1960's processor, which is now my brain, is struggling under the workload.

For example and 'under the hood' with critical instruments turned off, a 120 degree compass turn should take forty seconds with the stopwatch going; " 120/3.. easy no? But under stress it might as well be "1211122223/3"

We all notice a gradual physical decline as we get older but the mental side is far more insidious and at times it's disheartening to watch oneself making mistakes as the brain becomes so preoccupied with processing information, that it has no spare capacity and can't accept any more inputs. Tasks are either dropped or done in the wrong sequence; what's called an action slip.

Thinking back another thirty years and thanks to the internet I've a reunion this month in London with the friends from both sides of the Atlantic, that I went to university with in the States. As one put it in an email to me yesterday, "Biggles old mate, I'm sure it will be a mixture of beers and tears."

Popular posts from this blog

The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …