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Past and Future

In the technology business, memories are short and thanks to the internet, attention spans are now even shorter.

I've been blogging for a decade now and was one of the first columnists to use 'Blogger' when it was a new idea, WAP was the next big thing for mobile platforms, MP3 music players were a hot item and Apple was still struggling to sell products like my Powerbook 3400 laptop computer which they gave me for free.

In my attic, there are boxes of old magazines I used to edit and which I haven't seen for years, stored like nostalgic time capsules, so that one day, I could tell my grandchildren, 'I told you so!'

There's Microsoft BackOffice Magazine, Lotus Notes Magazine and Java Vision alongside old copies of Computer Weekly and a full set of 'AquaCorps', the magazine for technical divers. Very few people remember these or indeed, what the pace and change in technologies was like before the arrival of the internet and the beginning of the millennium, when its reach extended significantly into the home for the first time; enough for governments like our own to sit-up and take notice.

But with so much information now available, the sum of all human knowledge, a touch away on my iPhone, comes a loss of clarity, drowned-out by the sheer volume of competing sources, like an angry buzzing over the ether, clamouring for the attention of the readers and dictated by search engine interests or algorithms.

Everyone worries about the future but we all live in the present. So I want to start looking at some of the ideas, events and technologies which are shaping a tomorrow which is far closer than we may think.

While I can't possibly explore the changing face of the future in a single 'Tweet,' I will try and keep my impressions short, because if your'e like me, with a dwindling attention span, an Outlook preview pane is about as far as it goes when it comes to summarising ideas and arguments these days.

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A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

Merlins over Thanet

Marooned, temporarily at Manston this afternoon are the Merlins over Malta team on the way to the Mediterranean for a display to mark the historic Second World War defence of the island.


Charlie Brown

Unfortunately, the weather over Thanet is appalling this afternoon and the Spitfire and Hurricane can’t get airborne again until it clears, so the celebrity Battle of Britain aircraft pilots, Charlie Brown, Clive Denny and their team-mates are contemplating an evening among the fleshpots of Margate.


Clive Denny (Hurricane) & Charlie Brown (Spitfire) Pilots

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They just got off, squadron scramble or what? They were ready and gone in ten minutes towards the nearest patch of blue sky!

An interview with the legendary S…
Median Saleh

I mentioned in the last post, the 1981 expedition that took in Median Saleh, the ruined Nabatean city in Saudi Arabia


A temple carved from the rock from Petra's sister city.

By coincidence, one of the most important train stations on the Hejaz railway sat next to the ruins and when Lawrence of Arabia blew the line in 1917, the trains were trapped there and are still there today, gathering dust and with "Krupp" on the engine casings.


One of the trains, sitting where T.E. Lawrence left themwith Dr Paul Garnett as the passenger

Below, you can see one of the fortified train stations that Lawrence attacked along the Hejaz railway between Damascus and Medina.



More photos Medain Saleh can be found on THIS Site - Apparently you can catch a tourist bus these days, rather different from risking life and limb to cross an unfriendly Saudi Arabia twenty years ago!