Skip to main content

No Dust Over Brighton

I've been up over Brighton this morning flying a banner over the inaugural marathon in the town. A glorious hazy day in warm sunshine and thousands of runners threading their way along the streets and the seafront. In fact I wouldn't envy any of them in this temperature, as I'm sure a number of runners are going to encounter heat stress given the sudden change in temperature.

On the way over there, I found I was the only pilot on the London information frequency which covers the entire south of England. It was a bizarre experience because normally there's a busy level of communications chatter on a weekend but early this morning, just an eerie silence.

By noon, the airwaves had 'warmed-up' as more light aircraft pilots took to the skies. Piston-engined aircraft which have filters installed as standard don't face the same level of risk from volcanic dust as jet-engined aircraft at high altitudes and so it seemed that everybody who could fly was taking a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly over Gatwick or head towards Heathrow for a look see.

Gatwick reported earlier that the dust cloud had been detected at 5,000 feet but that's still-up in controlled airspace, which remains closed. It seems that executive jets are trying to sneak back in under visual flight rules (VFR) as the upper levels remain closed and while I was returning home, I heard a Citation coming back in across the Channel at low level, doing 380 knots, so good reason to keep one's eyes peeled!

France has opened-up its uncontrolled airspace to VFR flights which allows people who are marooned on the continent and with friends who have aircraft; to call on the 'Dunkirk Spirit' and have them come in to Calais or Le Touquet to collect them.

What worries me now is not just the economic impact of the eruption on struggling airlines but that the much larger sister volcano in Iceland might suddenly go 'bang' in sympathy; effectively crippling Europe's airspace for weeks ahead. While we are all enjoying the ridge of  high pressure weather over the UK, for the sake of the airline industry and tens of thousands of stranded passengers, a north Atlantic depression with strong winds is the only hope for clearing the dust away!

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 …