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Showing posts from 2011

The London Conference on CyberSpace

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Over the last two days, the great and the good of the cyber-world have been gathered here in London at the Foreign Office’s Conference on Cyberspace.

Government representatives from over sixty countries have joined the online business community in looking at all aspects of the cyber-world and how we balance online security and freedom in the face of a growing challenge from online criminals and an increased level of online censorship of oppressive regimes.

The critical area of discussion has been over the issue of cyber-security.

Governments and businesses across the globe are seeing a rapid increase in the number of hostile attacks on their infrastructures. This year alone the UK Government has spoken publically of large-scale attacks on the Foreign Office and the Treasury, and former Defence Secretary Liam Fox commented in June that the MoD was under a daily attack.

We have also seen high profile attacks on Sony, RSA, and Lockheed Martin to name but three corporations. One thing we …

Farewell Steve - We'll Miss You

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A day to remember. The legendary Steve Jobs checks out, the first of my generation of world-dominating technology icons to remind us that all the success and money in the world is no substitute for the gift of good health, a fact reinforced by the on-going Michael Jackson trial in Los Angeles. For millions upon millions of consumers, Steve Jobs will be sorely missed for his innovation and the enormous influence he has had on the technologies that we now take for granted.

The first technology industry job I had after leaving Thanet, was at a large Apple dealer in the City of London, where I taught the financial community how to use Apple's biggest 'White Elephant' the Apple Lisa. Back in the mid-nineties I found myself at the top of Mount Sinai in Egypt, as a purple-hued dawn was breaking over the desert and mountains to the east. I was carrying a handheld Apple 'Newton', the precursor of the iPad, for a photo opportunity, having climbed throughout the night to be th…

Apple of My Eye

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It's a toss-up between 'How Facebook changed the world' or write a new blog entry.

I'm experimenting with 'Daedalus', a new iPad app and so with luck, I will manage to get through the entry without my usual spelling mistakes. At times I find the iPad virtual keyboard does strange things, as readers will have noticed from time to time. However, I've found the Apple device has made such an important contribution to both work and personal tasks, I can't recommend it enough.

From a councillor's perspective its invaluable. Local government produces mountains of paper documents and correspondence and now I can carry what I need, with me, fully searchable and up to date with portfolio briefing documents and council papers going back months.

If you go into the big computer store retailers, then you may notice that they are almost desparate to off load this year's generation of laptops. Why? Because the industry is about to experience a convulsive technol…

Cloud Running

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It all became a rather long day for everyone involved, starting with the press day for the Shoreham airshow and a series of sorties for tomorrow's newspapers capturing the aftermath of the riots. The Sony distribution centre in Enfield still burning when I left it.

The weather today was simply awful for airshows. Poor Eastbourne lost the greater part of its programme and I struggled to get into Shoreham in the low cloud, strong winds and drizzle. My FX team leader, Guy Westgate(pictured) had an even longer trip which started  on Wednesday evening in South Africa, bringing back his BA 747 to Heathrow and then on to RAF Halton to pick up the PA25, which had a flat battery, followed by a real challenge to reach Shoreham airport before the weather closed in completely.

The poor members of the press, present in some force, then had to make do with all the available display aircraft gathered together, much like a circle of wagons and then between interviews with the pilots, imagine that …

Breathe Deeply

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Just through with our Saturday morning, informal cabinet meeting and I must remember to thank Reg Bell and our local BSAC branch 106 for inviting me over to give a talk on 'Technical Diving', one evening last week at their clubhouse opposite the Turner Contemporary gallery. They quite possible have one of the best Turner sunset views on the island!

It's been a few years since I dived semi-professionally through a specialist company I owned. Times have changed rapidly, as has the technology, since I  made a small contribution to 'kicking-off' the 'tech' diving industry in both this country and the States -with Michael Menduno's Tek 93 show in Orlando - and ironically, was once treated as Satan incarnate by the very same BSAC that somewhat reluctantly 'dived' into the 21st century; dragged along by the demand and interests of its members.

Many highly-skilled friends, like Rob Palmer,  actively involved in the pursuit of the same interest, never mad…

A Post Modern War of the Flea

Saturday was somewhat disappointing, in that the planned protest flight to the Bristol cricket match was weathered-off, leaving the thousands of Tamil demonstrators outside the ground without their aircraft banner. Instead I was left with another flying marriage proposal on the end of Southend Pier, which was rather less stressful and didn't involve any liaison with the local police.

This morning, amid all the fuss about computer hacking groups in the last week, I see I've a comment in The Observer newspaper.

I'm arguing that the internet is facilitating a "post-modern, crowd-sourced equivalent of The War of the Flea – Robert Taber's influential text on guerrilla warfare. "What the Red Brigades was to the 70s, LulzSec may be to the early 21st century."

There's a little irony attached to this because the Chinese Premier has arrived for trade talks and next month I've been asked to give a talk on what the Chinese are allegedly up to in cyberspace.…

TheTrain Now Standing

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I was expecting a thirty minute queue at the security entrance to Westminster yesterday evening but it was just me. The Great Hall was being laid out for President Obama's visit today and so Parliament was very quiet indeed, possibly with more armed police than visitors.

Up to the committee room for an AGM and meeting on next generation broadband, where we were joined by our Technology Forum President, Adam Afriye MP,  Chairman and MEP, Malcolm Harbour and MP's Ian Taylor, Therese Coffey and Rory Stewart.

I'm somewhat of a TE Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger fan having once travelled across much of the Middle-east on a mountain bike and told Rory how much I enjoyed his TV documentary on that great World War I hero, Lawrence.  Stewart is a new Conservative MP and an adventurer and Arabist of that same determined character that once gave us an Empire. In January 2002 he walked across Afghanistan; surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and th…

Big Fella

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From what I understand may be the rules, I've a welcome gap from being a councillor for a few days, as there's a limbo period between the election and the formation of the new council. There's a real temptation to speak freely for the first time in four years but I'll resist it!

A good day at the first airshow of the season yesterday, with the Vulcan making it's very noisy and impressive appearance. Not only did it set off car alarms but almost shattered my eardrums, as I was standing on the opposite side of the runway display line when it climbed with full power directly above me.

Taking part in my own first-time display, I don't know what was more worrying, the prospect of 'cocking-up' the tight routine in front of 5,000 people of the potential to dig a small crater if I got it wrong. As it was, it all went pretty well, although I couldn't hold 200 feet along the display line in the strong wind and ballooned up to almost 300 feet as we came through…

Finding Bin Laden

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I'm not sure that the news media have realised yet that Google Earth gives remarkably good resolution of the area surrounding the entrance to the Pakistan Military Academy, (PMA) where Osama Bin had his residence off the Kakul Road, Abbottābad in Pakistan.

Aerial photography being one of the jobs I do for the media from time to time, I'm really quite surprised that BBC and Sky News didn't look for this immediately and the commercial version of Google Earth can offer much higher satellite resolutions if one is prepared to spend a few shekels to examine an image in greater detail.

What I find particularly interesting in the light of media reports of Bin Laden's medical condition is that he is within walking distance of two of the best hospitals in Pakistan. None of the media sources I have seen have picked that up yet as an item of further interest.

Less than 10 minutes after I sent the image to Dermot on Sky News, Tim Marshall pulled up an image and identified it, so a go…

No Escape

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Escape from the office for two days and one is invariably made to suffer an email backlog once reality catches up again.

I was training over at Bicester as the newest member of the GliderFX team getting my air show display license from the CAA. In my own case, it means that I can operate down to 150 feet and in this example it means that instead of a banner, I’m towing a high performance glider in rolling 360 degree snaps along a display line. Here’s a cockpit view for anyone who might be interested and it looks as if the first show of the season will be Abingdon although they’ve gone as far as Turkmenistan before!

The tug is a 250hp Pawnee with a big rudder and I can confess that making sixty degree, tight turns at low level, with a second aircraft attached, does concentrate the mind wonderfully and as sure as hell is painful on the leg muscles as one tries to balance the forces with the rudder pedals.



Flying back home yesterday evening, I was pretty sure that I heard Prince Harry buz…

Watching the Wildfire

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Watching the wildfire of  popular protest running through the Middle-east and in particular Bahrain today, I worry about the friends I have living there, as I've visited the country on a number of different occasions for conferences over the last ten years or so.

It's particularly ironic, because several times I've given presentations on transactional government and the information society in the Arab world and the events of the last few weeks appear to be following my path, I've been in Tunisia and Egypt too. Of course, Saudi Arabia was one of my more frequent stops, just across the causeway from Manama in Bahrain and I can imagine the Saudis will be watching their small island neighbour with deep concern.

I did write a seventy page report on the 'Magic'  Kingdom's progress in the age of the internet for HM Government back in 2002 and I'm sure it's still kicking around on the web somewhere.

What is for certain is that history shows, only too clearly…