Dr Sue Black : Saving Bletchley Park

One of Gabsatrucker and my coolest and greatest friends is Sue Black. I met her via the web years ago when talking about Bletchley Park. Bletchley Park wasn’t only the home of the Code Breakers, and the worlds first digital programmable computers – in fact it was one of British Telecoms most studious of technical training centres and a place where I first learned about technology, telecommunications and much more. But that was 1989 and at that time only a very few people knew of Bletchley Park’s real history. I certainly didn’t before I went there.

Today we all know about Bletchley Park; its impact and ultimately what freedoms together with the vast sacrifice of that time gave us in Europe, UK, the USA and in many countries around the world.

Yet it hasn’t been without a vast amount of work by the team at Bletchley Park and the unbelievable amount of input and some hard work by Sue Black.

Sue is a mom, is funny, zany and probably one of the most intelligent women you could meet. She runs to raise awareness and to raise money for things she believes in and has given herself completely to Saving Bletchley Park as well as supporting women in tech, and pioneering a new approach to teaching tech to children.

Sue has been approached to write about Saving Bletchley Park and Unbound.co.uk has asked her to do a full pitch of her forthcoming release.

Unbound is a unique new-ish system for publishing where you get to participate at various levels.

Please visit HERE or click on the image below to go to the page and video to give it a look. You can’t miss her – she is the one with the pink hair :-)  She’s growing it now – for charity i.e. I’ll give her £5 if she does ;-)

You can learn more about Sue here WikipediaLinkedInFacebookGoogle+Carpool Google Scholar and SueBlack.co.uk

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Stuff, some odd, some kewl…

Ok, over in the USA presently is this blogs buddy, cohort, founder of The <goto> Foundation, lady saving Bletchley Park and rocking friend of both myself and this other blogs torment ;)  (Gabsatrucker) – Dr Sue Black….

Sue has been on a whirlwind tech tour of Brazil, Mexico and is presently on the Orange Blog Bus travelling and tweeting her way from San Francisco to who knows where. While I’d be the first to rib her and say wherever she goes she’s no more than a stones throw from a beach or pool, I have to give credit to her perpetual long distance travels and all the hassle that they bring – recently; appalling food poisoning!

But with visits to just about every company in Silicon Valley and the entire San Francisco Bay area under her belt, I can’t help but think she’s found her true home and calling.

In other news

There is a load of frankly crap going on in the UK news about a senior minister giving a Police officer grief – which he in turn realised the error of his ways and apologised.. however! This has not stopped the police federation and other political parties demanding the resignation of the minister.

Well my point of view is (bearing in mind the police officers read this blog and are my friends) that he’s apologised – so if the day ever comes when you don’t get an attitude or even passive threat from a cop – then fine, have him resign… but until then “pot & kettle” (pun intended) . It’s certainly not something I accuse all officers of, but in certain forces it happens a lot.

Which brings me to more Policing news…

We often see videos on the news or You Tube of officers stepping over the mark… But what about a cop with an exemplary record and not one complaint?  Well look no further than a CBS News report in to L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Elton Simmons… Over 20 years in the job and over 25,000 traffic stops – not one single complaint! This… is how policing should be, but… alas there are different types of policing by the nature of crime itself, but this guy is a great place to start. Click the pic to go to CBS News and watch the vid.

Finally:

I was pottering about the Land Rover Dallas website (because the Little Rock one isn’t very good) while searching for a vehicle for 3 months use and noticed their website page header. To be honest the company is also based in Austin and Frisco but nevertheless it made me smile and some way I concur… see what you think.

So……………………. Alan Turing

Who is he? Some may ask, who was he, or what did he do? Well let my good friend Dr Sue Black tell you and further more – lets get his ass (ok, his head) on the £10 note. And then get the others on it too…

Click on the image below to read the article

Published in: on 14 June, 2012 at 23:05  Leave a Comment  
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A lot has happened in the past year…

So yup… a lot has…
Just over a year ago I attended the Riphay Scuffle, it was an enlightening experience too, even after just under 4 hrs sleep (boy did I look rough lol)… A truly fun event! I met wonderful people too and yet went on my way. I was certainly thinking about running in this years event but for two things – the ladies on this blog would undoubtedly have removed me from the vehicle and taken it over completely!!
And yes, I did indeed move away completely too, as such I have relied on this blogs very own White Knuckle Driver a.k.a WKD to keep me up to speed on events.
Now WKD, like Gabsatrucker is a trucker… and they have a disturbing amount in common – trucks, both are women, cycling, being jolly and very, VERY sharp witted!! Thankfully they both are used to the fact that when I ‘think’ I’m saying something in a particular way – it *never* comes out the way I think it does and therefore sound callous and arrogant… oh wait……. So when I try to sound callous and – nevermind ;-)
WKD informed me that the event did happen but wasn’t anywhere near as good as the last few years on account they were not allowed a beer tent.. This is because last year two young lads decided to drive home totally pissed and died in the process…
This is where the whole thing fell down badly… and I must thank someone whom I often refer to as Lady K and/or Kate McAndersen (neither are her real name)for bringing this event to my attention when she did – I saw it for real and it’ll never be the same again now sadly.

Yes I moved away a few months ago and there are things I miss and things I seriously don’t – but above all in Devon, I miss the people… and the odd pint of old Otter… Hell, Honiton even has a Costa Coffee now :-/ But I will say my time there was somewhat of a rejuvenation of my spirit and while I’m still a bit of a beast in the eyes of most, everyone I met added another layer to this onion I call my life.

In this past 12 months twitter star and crazy friend @CareyLouisa actually went through the whole torturous process of buying her first home and while I know she had support from a most excellent person in the field, she did come through the process quite triumphantly I must say – and very good for her (even if she did start breeding pigeons in the process). In fact I’d go as far to say that Carey is a changed person since then and has her feet firmly planted on the ground.

Gabsatrucker came to the UK and promptly left again – straight to Malta!! Malta is of course a small island in the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of Libya – and guess what – as she arrived war broke out! Then after kicking the life out of the Land Rover Maltese Marathon, she promptly legged it back to Arkansas after a total of 10 flights!!

Further more, this blog and my friend Sue Black aka Mustang Sue, went off to South by South West in Austin, Texas… and we managed to get her hooked up with Gabsatrucker who gave her a ride around Austin in her big-rig aka Lola… along with Elsie the dog.

My mother had a lung out and they removed the right one ;-)

Buddy Kev took his first ever flight and spent his time making the other passengers nervous through his perpetual knowledge of air crashes etc – rocking ! :-)

I caught up with six of the best guys in the form of Hammy, Dean, Charlie, Squeezy, Gary and Ray. Then there was bumping in to old buddy Alan Shearer by total accident… A story I should tell when I eventually get around to writing up the Google Garden Party post.

Basically there is a hell of a lot more to write here and I seriously could turn this into a very long post – but needless to say the year has been short but very interesting indeed!
For those I offended when I wasn’t joking, tough – to those I offended when I was joking, chin up :-) oh… and tough also :D

So… what enlightening thing should I leave you all with…. Hmmmm tough one this…
I know, an informative video on looking after and maintaining your guitar by Taylor Guitars
No, I’m not kidding :p

General things

I have been writing something that’s not of this blog (shock!) though it will take the name sake and hopefully be the first of many things in that vein, it is designed to be an easy read, with typical TWBrit humour etc and typically stuff with out the fluff…

This Blog’s (and her own blog) Gabsatrucker has given up on iPhone and opted for the Motorola Atrix… A dual core processed phone with a kicking 1 gig of ram and fully Flash enabled. Now while this 4G super phone is pretty smart and cool, it totally leaves iPhone back in the dark ages AND has a replaceable battery, memory and other commonsense things the iPhone (as all Apple products) will NOT let the owner tamper with – I say owner very loosely when referring to Apple…. This all causes many problems when trying to get your information out of an iPhone because technically you no longer own it. Nevertheless, with the aid of Google Apps (of which some are astounding) she was able to finally suck her information from the iPhone in part and get up and running again.  Oh and the best part… she left the WiFi, Flash video and GPS switched on and 12 hrs later the phone still had life!!!  On top of all this is the complete Webtop…. if you’re wanting to do some everyday computing, this little sucker is all you need!! It’s a complete desktop if you want it to be…. No I’m not saying you’re going to be playing high-end games and making a 14 foot Photoshop image, but it’s all here in this package and it’s a damn fine bundle if I say so myself!

While in London last Tuesday to deal with things regarding the old St.George’s and Finborough School saga, I was walking along and after having a smoke thought to have one of those extra strong mint things. I don’t know quite what possessed me to do it, but I crunched it up…. And as I did so I thought – hmmm, interesting crunch…. As two large chunks of tooth fell from my mouth… bugger!!

Funny thing about anything to do with the school, I felt blank before I went, strange during and knocked sideways after…

Anyway, I met and had lunch with the ever smiling and great buddy Sue Black (the now known name sake of Mustang Sue’s Wreckin Crew) at a place called Planet Organic… who knew that growing things that way would be so popular!!

In other news and leading straight on from Sue is that HM the Queen visited Bletchley Park yesterday. She came to offer her thanks to the Code Breakers themselves, to unveil a plaque and said the following:

The papers and hacking scandal has gone as far as Mr Murdoch wants it to as Rebekah Brooks finally leaves his side… You see, Murdock wanted to capitalise on this and refused her resignation twice… Now with share prices plummeting and as much money from it all he could muster… Rebekah leaves and Mr Murdoch starts giving out “sincere” apologies… the obvious concept is that the news machine with then move on… Not So as the FBI start investigating the hacking of 911 victims families..
It’s possibly going to end in the downfall of the worlds largest media operation and if these accusations do hold true, then what questions of integrity will land on the shoulders of people in these News Corp companies.. The plot thickens :-)

Fenny aka Hooloovoo42 heads out stateside this coming week, so at last I can rest from all the loud music, wild parties and general ruckus that she doesn’t make, though I maybe taking her to Heathrow on Tuesday.

Managed to spend a good while talking the guys in the Asia Pacific region this week which was great! Emailed with Gary up on Nth Island NZ and Skyped for a good few hours with both Hammy and Dean, respectively Sth Island NZ and of course Dean in Australia… who is due to send me a photo of something (hint) so I can sort him a web logo and icon/avatar like most other people. That said, I’m at a loss what to do for some of them, but i’m sure imagination will eventually come up with something…

Finally, this Monday….  I’m getting my eyes checked, I have squinted long enough and it’s time to go four-eyed… so we’ll see how this sucker pans out. It wont improve my looks, but may in turn help to mask them.

Bletchley Park and there’s more to Bletchley…

Sunday and I’m back in Bletchley Park… and what a complete difference to just a few days previously!!
There was so much more going on, more things open, the weather was great and furthermore blog commenter Fenny was with me as we pottered about the place.

Now… there was something else going on too… a book launch and signing by old Bletchley inmate and illustrious author and life peer Baron Asa Briggs…
As such there really was a full house at the Manor and after being there only a few minutes I came face to face with Lord Heseltine, former Secretary of State for Defense under Margaret Thatcher and Deputy Prime Minister with John Major. We both gave a polite nod, and he went over to Lord Briggs to say his goodbyes.

Now, one of my kewl friends was also there, but sadly I missed her, this of course would be Dr. Sue Black. Sue is the most rocking evangelist of all things Bletchley Park, it’s kinda how we met and have gone on to share tons of information.
The one thing I totally adore and respect in Sue is her willingness to share, encourage and inspire the want and will to learn and do better in everyone no matter of their personal intellect or social status.
She has also been an outstanding Ambassador for Bletchley Park and the United Kingdom when traveling and promoting Bletchley around the world – hey, this is not to mention what she does and has done for promoting Women in IT…
She has roped in a great many people, appeared on the BBC News and worked tirelessly for years to get Bletchley the recognition it deserves.
So, while pottering about on the web today I ended up reading her BLOG, and there, right there…. They and she have completed the initial goal… In a meeting with Simon Greenish of Bletchley Park she asked him where they were with regards saving the site… the answer?? Bletchley Park has now, with the help of so many and Google…….

Now all that remains is the not so simple task of rebuilding the entire site, and believe me – they now need to raise a lot of money!!
Please, I don’t  mind if you don’t like my blog, I’m not offended if you wish to never return here, but before you go – PLEASE give this post by Dr Sue Black a read HERE.

As a final note : Be Advised… Tea and Coffee in the Bletchley Park  cafe is pretty rancid……….

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The other cool bit of Bletchley…. The Home Of Loud…


Now, on my way back I had to pop by a place close to my heart, a place where customer service rules supreme and while the first users of this company’s products had the names Townsend and Hendrix.  I am of course talking about…


I first communicated with Marshall back in 2000 and frankly they’re the most helpful people ever…
Back then I was invited to visit the factory,  it took a long time but eventually I did. While there I met a great many people, toured the place and looked at the most historic collection of amps I could have imagined, nothing prepared me for the Who’s Who wall of photo’s running down the corridor wall towards the service centre.
When I left, I did so with arms laden with shirts, mugs and all manner of merchandise.
So why would I go past on a Sunday when the place is shut you ask (or not) am I “that” sad??
Well actually no, I stopped by because of a follower, commenter, poster on this blog and thief of 1 x  Marshall Hoodie and lover of anything SO loud, it could wake the dead – mentioning no names….
So here are some pics of the this hallowed ground of Rock just for her  :-)

So…. What’s new?

So, the temporary settling in has begun…
All my gear is here, got net, been looking around – but more importantly, I have a new dentist who appears to be very good and has already gone a long way to cure me of my pain…. New crowns are on their way, so all will be good in that department soon enough and I can’t wait to get it all sorted and be able to sink my teeth into the great food I love and miss.

Blast from the pasts have already been happening; I received a text from WKD, emails from Dave across the road and good buddy and friend Chris Allen who phoned me the other day to see if all was well with the world..

What is REALLY new is that planning is in full swing to move T.W.Brit from a blog to a website… and boy does this stuff take some planning lol… Obviously there are issues such as the format and appearance, revenue stream, hosting, e-commerce, content and more importantly, sectional content to name but a few…
But, and purely thinking in terms of “In a perfect world” which means with the greatest intentions, not all the ideas will happen all at once..
So with that, I hope there will be still a blog section and hopefully some interesting guest posts, both known and anonymous. There will be recommendations and product rating or approval for quality – not gain…  The various sectional content will be written by people who know their field, but all will have a typical TWBrit twist and satirical element. For want of a better phrase – Facts with a Smile.
Politically non-partisan, not frightened to say if the new fashions of the world WILL make you look stupid if you wear them, that will berate Celebrity culture in a humorous way, but more so the silly people who are addicted to it – yet pat on the back those Celeb’s that have cornered their corner of the market best.
It WILL take the proverbial p**s, yet only do so when we think it needs doing, the site will bring you honest facts and hopefully vital resources and information.

While we will take advertising and sponsors, there will be no soul selling – just a purely fun everyday read along with great sections of information and resources. Yes, if someone needs telling they’re a cock – this site as always will be happy to suggest it and the ever happy HUAward is never too far away.

There will be more in-depth coverage of issues close to my heart, and from my last post it’s fair to say that Bletchley Park will be one of them. As too, US UK relations, friends around the world and we will expect fun commentary from the Middle East,  Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
Indeed, from rural England, to the City of London many subjects will be covered and hopefully there will be a little something for everyone.
At the end of every week there will be a guest look back at the events of that week and an editorial from me.

This will of course mean the deletion of most previous content and permissions etc will need to be sort for use of images etc – more rigorously anyway…

So, I’m kinda busy I guess…

Published in: on 17 May, 2011 at 02:37  Comments (7)  
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I’ve something to say about “Spies R Us”… aka Bletchley Park, home of the Hackers, Crackers and Code Breakers

In 1989 I worked for British Telecom (BT)… the role I was initially recruited for was as an underground heavy cabler… As such we had to learn about various skills and dangers and bits and pieces of how to winch, pull, rod, rope and turn cables over huge distances through underground ducting, across bridges, in lakes, dams, coal mines, remote hill top locations and down your street.
As such there were only a few places in the entire world where you could learn this skill and one of them was British Telecom’s Technical College Bletchley Park…

What happened at Bletchley apart from learning a new set of skills of hauling optical fibre and copper cables up to 4800 pair, meeting trainees from the USA, Canada, Asia etc – was finding a fascination with the place…
There wasn’t anything really there to tell you of its history, but for the most part the ornate gardens, grounds and buildings were all operational and well looked after.

Yesterday I stepped foot back on the grounds of Bletchley Park.. once home Mi:1 (later Mi:8) and the true birth place of GCHQ and what ultimately lead to the start of the NSA…

So… What is Bletchley really?
Yes it’s where the code breakers worked… yes, later the code breakers for the US worked there and then began a much deeper US/UK relationship which has continued to at a similar level ever since.

But the most significant thing is what you’re looking at to read this article!! The Computer.. (I say that because you may be from a country that was not involved in WWII)

This issue knows no patriotism, it, while once a technology of utmost secrecy, is now a technology where you and I, the end users, roam about the ether without a visa, at the speed of light and in the realms of the internet are all most members of a reasonably governmentless new world…
Whether we use the computer for work, shopping or simply for communication, it does not take long to understand its pitfalls, gain friends globally and learn it’s abilities and more importantly its strengths…

Now add this to the following information:

Bletchley Park was the home of the world’s first programmable computer (Colossus).
The work carried out there by the Code Breakers, by intellect and by computer is known to have shortened WWII by a minimum of 2 yrs, most likely 6 yrs.
There is actual reason to assume now that without the work of Bletchley, the war would have ended in a stalemate!!
While initially a British only thing, the information was soon shared with our Allies and very quickly the USA came on board and later expanded the work considerably with over 300 US intelligence staff working at Bletchley Park at one point.

What does that mean in real terms…
Well if WWII lasted 6 yrs at the loss of around 84,000,000 lives – shortening the war by any length of time saved a hell of a lot of lives… So many lives in fact that had it have not done its work, some of you reading this would have simply never existed in the first place!!
So in real terms on a pro-rata basis in saving lives =

2 yrs = 28,000,000
3 yrs = 42,000,000
4 yrs = 56,000,000
5 yrs = 70,000,000
6 yrs = 84,000,000

Staggering isn’t it…. Of course we’ll never actually know….

But what we do know about Bletchley Park and only more recently seem to realize is that while its work on the war effort was one thing, huge infact – the relevance to our lives today is immense…
You see, the old cliché of “The first casualty of war is the truth” is very real… and with every single industrial revolution of modern history – we forget the true roots of it all..
Yes, from the work that has become legend of modern pioneers like Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, Bill Gates and so many others – little homage has been paid to where it all truly started.

And Bletchley Park isn’t the only site to have made a significant break through in history – and these places need preserving also. But what of Bletchley today and more over – what are the multi billion dollar companies doing to preserve this level of modern history?

Bletchley today is open to the public, its assets decimated by BT when it relinquished control of the site with the shameful selling off of assets in the most disgusting example of cut-n-run you’re likely to ever see and something they should be made to do something about or at least be held accountable for.

It is run mainly by volunteers with an affinity with the place, but in order to keep its doors open it has almost reached the point of soul selling – and that isn’t pretty!!
The displays are based on what they can afford and that isn’t much.  Even the gift shop is a sad cry for sell anything if people will buy it!!
To me it is not in anyway a family site, it is historic geekdom… Infact talk to several people who have been, other than the odd item to do with the code breaking and the worlds first programmable computer – the rest can strike boredom even in the most intellectual of minds!  Frankly, while that remark pains me to even hear it – it is nonetheless a point of view given to me… However, talk to someone else and they said their entire family went and loved it to bits… So it really is up to you to make your mind up.

Bletchley Park IS NOT and should not be a WWII theme park, it is and should be only about Code Breaking, its impact, what was achieved there, what was innovated and where the world is today because of computers and how they came into being.

Can it be improved – YES!!! But that’d take cash and a lot of it – and a real road map to what should be there…
It should on the outside look just like it did in the days it was operational… but underneath it should be an advanced learning centre… yes the introduction to the Enigma, yes, learn about the code-breakers and what they did…
But then it needs to turn uber geek and have a tech centre built in a secluded spot whereby the entire history of computing can be shown – but NOT as a set of static displays… unused computer equipment is simply static junk – it all needs to work and have a degree of “hands-on” ability. But when you drive up to the gate, you should see guards dressed and armed as they were back in the day, and the windows should be taped etc. The public should feel as they’ve genuinely walked into another world, the world of the Code Breakers themselves.

It is here where real networking started, where the computer made it’s first leap forward and it’s here where there should be the greatest collection of this industrial revolution!!
Not piles of old junk, not modernising a site to modern health and safety laws – but a real living breathing reproduction of its heyday.

So what has our multi billion dollar “do anything to make a buck” computer, IT, and software companies done to help (other than the odd one like Google)?

NOTHING!!!

Don’t get me wrong here, I back anyone who did it for themselves, I respect their innovation and guts to do all they have achieved… But when is enough money enough??
Yup, all these CEO’s can enjoy their earned lifestyles etc – but to not honour in any way the thing that ultimately made them their money??? It’s a bit like the baby who has just been born jumping up and head butting it’s mother in the face.

Bletchley Park should to all intents and purposes be made a UN World Heritage Site, it has to be restored, protected and also become the ultimate learning resource… the site needs innovation, conceptual design that is hidden away. It needs to be hands on and have enough money to pay its staff.
It needs the greater industry to donate 50% of one day’s bank interest from their fortunes so that this site can be honoured developed and set its history in stone..

No, there are no national and BS patriotic issues here, it needs its greedy fat assed off spring to stand up and be counted, to stand with some level of courage, commitment and more over – the self respect to step up to the plate.

It needs physical help too!! Yes from the companies who have staff who worked or developed modern super computers to be on-site to show the world what they did, how they took and industry forward through their own innovation.
IBM, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Adobe, Samsung, Texas Instruments – and this list could go on and on…. But Bletchley should be the home of not only the Code Breakers – but the site of a global industry show case and meeting point.
A place of collaboration, innovation and a place the entire world can see where it came from and marvel at the concepts of where it’ll go.

I’m ashamed of the lack of investment, the lack of enterprise and more over the complete and utter lack of organization and imagination of industry into the place, a place I actually like! The people at Bletchley Park, well they’re working hard, but with hands tied behind there backs. As for the overall real vision, cutting the wheat from the chaff and remaining focussed, I don’t know – it’s hard to achieve as much that needs to be done with little more than a shoe string.
I will say that NOTHING makes me more appalled than the gutless  blind eye turned to an industries roots and birthplace  – by the very industry itself and one I’ve worked in most of my life.
So, if the industry has ANY level of self-respect, has ANY balls…. Feel free to apply yourselves, offer 50% of – or better still, a whole days company bank interest, – use this as an opportunity of show casing yourselves…

The hard work and dedication of the team at Bletchley and Dr Sue Black is a testament to how important this work truly is… these people have my respect and their hard work, enthusiasm is, while outstanding,  an immense wake up call of people striving to do something, to work against impossible odds for the benefit of us all.

So… is there anything “we” can do? Yes be there for the weekend of the 21-22 May to show your support…

One final note:

Contrary to the Bletchley Park website  image below…. the cost of an adult visit is NOT 10 pounds – it is 12… and while I have now scrolled about to find the parking fee – there is one and it’s 3 pounds

To be clear about this, this is the first Bletchley Park Google result link… the Site has been updated and you should (until previous cache’s have been cleared) go through the website main portal to gain the latest information in order to prevent confusion and possible frustration:  http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/. Clicking HERE or on the image below will take you to the present prices page and the most accurate information at the time of writing.

 

Of Boffoonery and Bletchley Park

bletchleyparklan party

The Boffoonery comedy gig in London this coming November has sold out raising more than £12000 for the upkeep and effective saving of BletchleyPark.

While this is great news, it’s still only early days and a hell of a lot more money needs to be raised to come anywhere near close to securing the future of thisBoffoonery place that seriously helped secure our own.

I’m sure the Boffoonery folks with the aid of prolific supporter, Dr Sue Black will have more things in the pipeline and when they do – please, lend a hand and give a few quid.

Published in: on 8 September, 2009 at 02:37  Leave a Comment  
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Bletchley in need of help – so time to have some fun

 It turns out that one of the UK’s and indeed of world techie historical interesting sites has been given the cold should regarding support from the government. Bletchley Park is badly in the need of repair and needs to raise ridiculously small funds considering the size of the site.

However, all is not too bad. While I would strongly recommend everyone to give just a couple of quid to the place, there are plans afoot to making saving it more fun. Boffoonery.com is putting on a night of comedy at the BoffooneryBloomsbury Theatre in London on Tuesday November 3rd 09 as a benefit to Bletchley Park. I have bought my ticket and will make a day of it in and around London (i.e. Denmark Street and the 12 bar Café – unless something interesting comes up). Though, I’m not sure if I’ll be taking the TWB Car of Character.

Published in: on 29 August, 2009 at 14:10  Comments (1)  
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Bletchley Park : Home of Anti-Social Networking

bletchley_park

Back in the late 80’s I joined British Telecom. It was a good job back then and I certainly didn’t realise the overall impact it would have on my life and where the Telecommunication and IT road would lead me.
After initial bouts of the usual training I was sent to Bletchley Park for a three week course. Bletchley Park was owned and run by British Telebt_(old)_logocom back then and provided training from underground heavy cabling through to various management courses.
The name rang a bell, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, yet we all know what the place is nowadays.
The main entrance was on Wilton Avenue which seemed like typical suburbia, but this changed as you went further down this leafy street. Old MoD gates stood open with a long low building on the left which was the site’s restaurant enigma-machineand as you emerged from the leafiness of the lane, a large grand house appears on the left.
I parked the car and stared at this big old house and remember thinking this placed looked familiar, strange I thought, I’ve never even been to this town before.
I went in and signed into my course and was pointed in the direction for my accommodation – a large modern block almost opposite the main house, albeit it several hundred yards away with a large pond in between.

I took myself off and got settled in before returning to get the preliminary course meet and greet out of the way.
The following few days were spent in rooms of a large group of single and double story concrete roofed buildings typical of wartime design, learning weird things like learning to splice Kevlar rope(?!) and all about Optical Fibre. In the evening there was a bar in the main house we’d frequent and have a few laughs and chill out.
After a few days our course moved outside and it was during this time I noticed the remnants of a building with little more than a few lumps of concrete sticking out of the ground. Now, I had grown up on an old WW2 bomber base (RAF Waddington) so I knew the architecture of some of the buildings we were working in and I certainly recognise old lumps of concrete sticking out of the ground.
I was told ‘That was Enigma’. Really? I said, not knowing what the hell he was talking about. “Yes, when they tried to demolish it, they couldn’t – so they destroyed it with a group of explosions over several weeks” he went on to say. I thought for a moment and wondered why did they even bother to destroy something when they weren’t gonna build on it’s site?

The course was great, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and even the environment of the Park with it’s wonderfully Old Btlandscaped pond area was just awesome. It was early summer and I just knew it was one of those times that I knew I’d never forget.
The night before we left, we hit the bar in a big way, we got so totally hammered, that one guy was still drunk when got into the following days end of course meeting. But it was when I was leaving the bar that I noticed something. To the left of the door in the bar was a large black and white framed photograph. This photograph showed Sir Winston Churchill standing close to the entrance of the old pchouse with various well known military people with him – only then did I get it… for three and a half weeks I had been living at the home of the code breakers, the home of the worlds first digital computer, this was Station X – and I just hadn’t know it! In fact, there was actually very little information about the place back then, other than it was the home of the geeky code breakers. That said, you only had to be at Bletchley Park of a couple of days to realise there was something special about the place. It has an amazingly tranquil air about it.  It wasn’t until much later that I even knew what Enigma machine was, yet these days, everyone knows of it.disused-airfield

I’m fascinated with old war time infrastructure and this country is totally littered with sometimes forgotten bases, complexes and even the odd underground establishment. Seriously, there are forgotten secrets everywhere – all you have to do is look around. There are over 330 old wartime Air bases alone!

I left never to return to this place, it remains a place of many fun memories for me, for the best darn course I ever buildingattended. British Telecom closed the Bletchley Park training facility and I heard that it had become a museum of sorts. From pictures I saw of seeing ‘out of place’ armour and aircraft, I just though ‘they’ve got that wrong’.

So why have I told you all of this?
Well through the power that is the ever omnipresent Twitter, I came across a lady called Dr. Sue Black who is the Head of Department of Information and Software Systems for the University of Westminster. And she is running a campaign ‘Saving Bletchley Park’.

And you know what, I think it needs saving!!

I have an end of course photo to post here, but my scanner seems to be completely dead sadly.

bletchleyparklan party

Published in: on 6 August, 2009 at 11:11  Comments (1)  
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