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.

 

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Dear Microsoft Reader

Obviously I regularly check to see where people vist this blog from, Google and Microsoft, along with many others like the BBC etc come along have a quick nose around before going on their respective ways. However, there is one reader that tends to hang about a little and I would like to address them with this article.

Hi,  and thankyou for regularly stopping by .
I’m a little interested in what is listed as ‘Inktomi O’ web browser. My knowledge of Inktomi is limited, indeed I had thought they had gone many years ago.
So, what is it like, what does it look like and is it any good? Please feel free to email, if you don’t wish to comment

Published in: on 22 November, 2009 at 17:25  Leave a Comment  
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Widows updates

Vista update

I’ve had zero problems with Vista Ultimate – none whatsoever. I know folks out there have, but it has been the most rock solid OS I’ve ever used.
However…
I am concerned at the amount of updates it’s had and more over – just how much space they’ve taken up…
According to my C: drive, I only have 660mb of space left, yet a couple of weeks ago, I had over 5 gigs left.
I have checked through everything and managed to throw a few basic things out but was stunned to find that in two years of operation – 170 windows updates have been loaded on to my laptop!!
Really, the one that down loaded yesterday much have been nothing short of huge!!
Yet there is no size listed for these things – none at all.
Has anyone else noticed this?

Published in: on 9 September, 2009 at 15:52  Comments (1)  
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Bing or Caffeine?

bing_logo

I have mentioned previously that Bing was a refreshing change in the Search Engine wars and that Google was becoming too ‘advertising-efficient’. It is sadly true, Google’s search engine has been proliferated to death and it has now became harder and harder to find exactly what you want.
googleMicrosoft launched Bing which, while it is a refreshing change offers far better video and picture search facilities.
Well the wonderful people at Mountain View, California have been working on a new Google search engine for some time and have been calling it ‘Caffeine’ – no guesses to why lol.
It’ll be a while until we see this war truly heat up, but it’s about time these things were sorted out, because they’re frankly starting to become frustrating.

Published in: on 13 August, 2009 at 16:52  Comments Off  
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Selling of Microsoft Word – Banned!

wordicon

It’s all about a patent infringement. You see, Microsoft Office is a patchwork of various software technologies from 3rd party companies, sewn together as a complete product. For instance ‘Superbase’ of Cambridge, UK, created the MS Access database and a company ms_officecalled i4i in Canada created the XML mark up language used and apparently infringed upon in MS Word.
As such, Microsoft have been fined $290 million and banned from selling Word! I’m not sure just how they’re going to ban the sale of Word.

Published in: on 13 August, 2009 at 16:31  Comments Off  
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Windows 7 has been released

Win7b

Microsoft has shipped out Windows 7 to OEM’s, with MS Partners etc (I’m one of those) will be able to acquire the completed operating system as of August 6th.
The public will still have to wait for the official launch date of October 22nd, but the fact Microsoft has reached RTM (that’s when they sign off on the code and the finished product) is most welcome.

Windows 7 will not just be coming with Internet Explorer 8, no, it will carry all the main browsers from Firefox through to Safari and even Google Chrome and will be an option at point of initial OS installation.

Basically, Vista users will not see much difference, because for the most part – it is Vista. However, it will be a completely different ‘file system’ and as such concern over whether of not older software will work is not a great concern due to backward compatibility emulators as also found in Vista.Windows_7_Boxes

Now before people start complaining about the amount of RAM this OS will use, try not to forget that in the days of Windows 98, 256mb of ram was a lot, when we jumped to Windows Xp, we really needed around 1 gig of ram to make things run smoothly. Vista really needs a minimum of 2 gig and lord only know what the best ram requirement will be for Win7.

Now, many people complained about Vista and there was a thousand reasons for this. Most came down to either antiquated hardware, or poor installation. The other things were the A.I. learning the way YOU use your machine – and most still don’t realise that some of the perpetual question asking pop-up windows can be switched off.
Yet when I purchased this Dell Inspiron, it came with Xp Professional on it. It was highly unstable and the machine would shut down every now and again. I installed Vista Ultimate on it two years ago and even though this laptop has been abused to death (even pulling out the hard drive and shoving it back in with the system live), it has never skipped a heartbeat!

So, Windows 7, it’s now a true reality and one that both you need to get used to and should actually want to….

Win7a

Published in: on 28 July, 2009 at 12:59  Comments (1)  
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Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8

What can I say?…. IE-logo
For the last and final time, I cleaned up my system and downloaded it – now for 6th time.
It is now uninstalled permanently until MS either fix it, tell me how to fix it or bring out a new version.

Why? I hear you ask…
Well I kept getting this ‘Internet Explorer is shutting down’ rubbish. It’s all to do with DEP (data execution prevention). Now, this wasn’t a problem at all in IE7 but it is a nightmare on my machine.
Right from the very start, from the initial download of the beta version, all the way through to several versions of the complete product – it has been a HUGE problem.
I have spent hours checking add-ons, applications, safe listed websites, compatibility modes, even making IE8 ignored by the DEP – but no…. It just keeps kicking in.
Personally, I think it’s a ‘flash’ issue – because a trip to YouTube always crashed it.

Now, most people I know who have downloaded IE 8 have had no problems at all – yet a quick look around the net and you soon see that thousands of people are having this very same problem.
I wouldn’t mind, but sometimes Microsoft ‘help files’ are this planets most unhelpful files.

Rant Time

Microsoft – listen very clearly to me. I have spent a great deal of money with your company over the years, yet you refuse point blank to use the media you helped to create.
I know that you guys know about this problem, and there might even be a work around  – but unless one of you get in front of a camera and post video help – then pack up and go home! Because you’re no longer being an asset – you’re being an abysmal hindrance.
Hey, I can read the techie stuff, I’ve worked in this game for years – but when there is no information at all, then how do you expect the average home user to get on?
Wake up, use the mediums available to you and try to keep up with your own creation!!

twb-button

Published in: on 18 June, 2009 at 12:59  Leave a Comment  
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Messing about on the water

raft 

In the world of private boating there are many reasons to own a floating tub. You may just want one for fishing, having a little weekend fun, even water skiing, yet in the world of billionaires, it seems that every couple of years they try to out-do each other.
Obviously you need to entertain, show off, have enough room for guests to stay over night. You need it to be refined enough to reflect your wealth and make it a floating paradise, certainly you need to park your helicopter (or two) on board – and preferably in it’s own hanger. Then you might need several boats to ‘tender to’ it – and not least, your own mini sub to sneak about…

This all sounds like something out of James Bond, yet it has become the norm for the richesprinceabdulazizt people of modern society.

Until recently, the most impressive of these were the motor yacht Prince Abdul Aziz owned by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. At 482 feet, the octopus-front-viewsteel hulled vessel has often been termed as a ‘marvel of the 20th Century, and when it comes to modern marvels; Paul Allen’s (co-founder of Microsoft) Octopus is truly amazing. At 414 feet in length, this does have two helicopters, a hanger and a mini-sub!octopusrear

Recently though, the Russians have entered the game and with the recent launch of oil billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse takes the Mickey out of this. You see, just what does a guy who has it all buy? He already owns Chelsea football club and a string of other global assets. Well you guest it, he has a super yacht built. The 557 foot Eclipse initially was speculated to cost around $400m but tEclipse1hat didn’t take into account that it was to have it’s own missile defence system…. Not bad when you consider that one of the greatest battleships of all time, the Bismark was 823 feet long. But the Bismark was cheaper!

To me though, the cooDeepflightlest part of all this isn’t how many helicopters you can own and plant on your average mega-yacht, how many people it can sleep – though it’sSub on the Rhone Wreck a speed might be of interest. No, it’s the ultra cool Mini-Subs!  One company is getting an awesome reputation in this area and it’s called Deep Flight. In fact the late Steve Fosset was to attempt Sub on Surface1the fastest, deepest single dive record in one of there subs! These subs are basically like underwater fighter jets and capable of depths in excess of 37.000 feet!! with decent and assent rate faster than 350 feet per minute…

The only possible thing I can add to learning of these is this;  WANT ONE !

superfalconSkins Removed_12

twb-button

What a week… I seem to have not stopped.

 

night-road

I managed to work 68 hrs, in part I must thank the uselessness of Westbury Dairies for the hours ( with it’s complete lack of welfare facilities that are pushing people to the limit of there tolerance), and the great bunch of people I so often work with – especially when duty hours run out and they need rescuing.

The decision on what boots to buy came to a close with an eBay purchase of a pair of Caterpillar boots at cat logo£48, which is a far better price than the local safety and workwear supply store price of £92!

My home is starting to look a little untidy due to the whole staggering through the door, falling over – and falling asleep thing.

Other stuff;
Over on Joe Mallozzi’s blog, which I must admit I haven’t been following of late – the ever increasing sparing between him and the Stargate production team, or should I say there new-ish executive producer’s assistant/slave, Ashleigh is keeping the humour going while Joe himself is somewhat restricted in what he can write about regarding present productions and upcoming movie scripts – THIS particular article is interesting.
Another oddity is Joe (who owns a pack of Pug dogs) now has a twitter page by one of his dogs ‘Jelly’ http://twitter.com/JellMaxBubLu

virgin-mediaI’ve been hearing this week from colleague (Lawrence), and a good guy, about the trials and tribulations regarding having Virgin Broadband installed. It’s so easy for me to forget that to many people, this is a dark science to most and is not in any way helped by the people installing it. For me, I will not let engineers set mine up or load up the ISP software, I simply ask they verify a live connection and I do the rest. But the hassle people go through because an engineer does not verify that not only is a connection working – but the computer’s browser is connecting !  Yep, they just turned up, said he’s connected and left. Lawrence however, clicks on Internet Explorer and gets nothing…
Thankfully, all is now well and he’s up and running.

This isn’t a good post is it? The truth is, I just got up and felt the guilt of not blogging of late.

NASA: can we fix it? Apparently they can…

Windows 7 is now on ‘Release Candidate’. This basically means that it is open for public testing.win7
It is available for download and installation and will last until the end of July – ish.
Microsoft are still yet to set a commercial release date for the long, long, LONG awaited Operating System and for most, while it is different from Vista (which I have used for two years with a single problem), it will indeed look very similar.
Windows 7 does come with Internet Explorer 8, which only today I removed from my own computer for the second time (the first time being the beta version). IE8 IE8comes with various security systems, one of which shuts itself down and restarts when it isn’t happy with a website. Now, I spent ages going through the various settings and advanced settings until I realised the entire lacking of a will to continue living – so, Microsoft, think about it, have word with yourselves and get your act together as IE 8 (while a huge improvement over 7) is a complete pain in the ass!!

 

twb-button

Microsoft’s Virtual Earth

vearth

I downloaded this a while ago and never really got around to looking at it.  I’m very used to using Google Eartlogo_virtualearthh which has been around for quite some time now and for the most part, it appears quite a polished product. Well, not always – you see they recently went live with the UK version of street view and skipping from one image to the next can actually turn the whole thing into a mashed up nightmare.

Virtual Earth from Microsoft is a little more simple to use, appears to have more recent ariel shots and while the transition from high altitude to up close and personal mapping is a little clunky (assume net speed to be the problem) I’m lovinggoogle-earth it. I’m not sure for why, may be it’s because you can see so many differences between a placgoogle-hqe on Google Earth and Microsoft.

There is one thing I have found odd though; if you zoom in to the Google HQ, the 3d of the draw buildings is really very good, while a look at the Microsoft HQ is not good at all… But, to be completely fair here – MS have over laid images of the buildings onto the 3d faces – they’re just not very clear.  

mshq

The future of this style of mapping/cartography is huge, yet sadly it’ll never be ‘real-time’ – unless there is an individual satellite for every user. That said, they is a possibility in a handful of areas where this will be possible.

Now all they have to do is get all the webcams and public CCTV hooked into the systems and we’ll be rocking!

 

twb-button 

PS. Hi, Bothell

Published in: on 21 March, 2009 at 18:54  Leave a Comment  
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Halfway through the week already…

 

I was looking around the blogasphere to see what is new, you know, the stuff that isn’t ‘in your face’ news or headlines.

asteroidI had no idea that we nearly got hit by an asteroid the other day, indeed; a lump of rock the size of a ten story building missed earth by only 44.700 odd miles. Now I know that an inch is as good as a mile when something misses you – but in the great scheme of things – that was close, very close! So mind your headsmicrosoft-kumo

 

Microsoft reckon they can give Google a run for it’s money in the search engine field with a search engine they’re testing in house call ‘Kumo.com’. hmmm, oddly no release date – probably a good thing as Microsoft aren’t hot on release dates for anything.

 

Apple have unveiled a new Mac Pro powered by Intel’s “Nehalem” Xeon processors and the eight core version will be around $3300. ( Y A W N !! )

From what I understand (ie I might be wrong) they come with 24 inch monitors.

Bigger monitors are getting cheaper and this is a good thing, especially as contrast ratios are also getting much, much bigger.

 

It turns out Mars had running water until recenly, or so they tell us. ‘Recently’ refers to 1 million years – who would have thought? (let alone cared).

 

Now – much more disturbing news;

 

This week will mark the 2000th Pub to close in the UK in the last 12 months!!!

I can’t believe I was reading this! It turns out that with now far too many rules and taxation of booze, Pubs in the towns and villages can no longer survive.

The greatest hit was when the No Smoking ban came into force and frankly (as one pub regular put it) pub1“what is a village without the village pub?”

Well I have to agree on this. I think we need to copy (get this) the Fr**ch ability to ignore certain rules. I do believe (as a smoker) that smoking is horrible, it stinks – but better things can be done in the 21st century in preventing it’s killer and anti-social side effects. Firstly someone should tell the tabacco industry to produce a cigarette that does not kill the user, does not stink the place out or kill people near the smoker – you know, no one has EVER done this and I really do believe its a bit of an oversite (considering the tax revenue it creates).

On top of that increase clever ventilation, you would not believe what they can do with ventilation.  

 

Last but not least….

 

BT has finally been given the approval to supply optical fibre directly to peoples homes. This means that when the system is fully operational, we should be seeing a connection speed of around 60Mbps (this will increase)

          

 

 

           

twb-button

Published in: on 4 March, 2009 at 13:43  Leave a Comment  
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