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Business as Usual

My Technology Footprint.
I’m giving a talk in London on Tuesday night. Am I worried? Of course not. I've already avoided one terrorist incident when the IRA blew-up my place of work, one Saturday in 1975. I recall it quite clearly. I was playing rugby that afternoon for Rosslyn Park again Esher and in those days before mobile phones and the internet, I only found out when I arrived home. Several of my friends, girls I had flirted with on a daily basis, weren’t so lucky.

There’s a more extreme version of Murphy’s law, sometimes called Sod’s law. This simply says that the worst possible outcome always happens. Our intuitive grasp of probability isn’t good. The rarer the event, the less we know about its odds and the chances of being caught-up in another terrorist incident, is about the same for you and me of drowning on holiday; possibly rather much less. Unfortunately, the media swiftly build-up a surrounding atmosphere of panic, which infects those who don’t stop and think about the risks and the very low odds that accompany them.

Moving the subject on to technology and I’m actually starting to enjoy having a ‘Dumb” phone. Calls from my Apple iPhone are automatically forward to my little black Punkt mobile and while I leave the iPhone on my desk, my iWatch still alerts me to any emails I might need to look at. Otherwise, it all feels rather liberating and I’m not constantly fidgeting for my next social media news fix.

I really do think that perhaps more of us need to take a step back and consider how long we spend gazing at our different devices and how, perhaps, we might be able to recover a little of our lives back?

As more intelligent, ‘talking’ devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, appear in our lives, I suspect we may regain a little of what we’ve lost, simply by being able to talk to them and ask questions, rather than reach for the rectangular glass and aluminium slab in our pockets or bags. The problem though, for an entire generation who were not alive before the arrival of the personal computer and the internet, is they don’t know what they’ve lost.

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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!