Friday, 23 October 2015

Historial Navigation Techniques in the US Navy

This is an interesting development: a reintroduction of an "historical" technique to ostensibly address a problem introduced by a technology to make things simple(r).

The same techniques guided ancient Polynesians in the open Pacific and led Sir Ernest Shackleton to remote Antarctica, then oriented astronauts when Apollo 12 was disabled by lightning - the techniques of celestial navigation. 
A glimmer of the old lore has returned to the Naval Academy. 
Officials reinstated brief lessons in celestial navigation this year, nearly two decades after the full class was determined outdated and cut from the curriculum.
That decision, in the late 1990s, made national news and caused a stir among the old guard of navigators.
Maritime nostalgia, however, isn't behind the return.
Rather, the escalating threat of cyberattacks has led the Navy to dust off its tools to measure the angles of stars. 
After all, you can't hack a sextant.

Putting the political aspects of the GPS system aside, it is a single point of failure for navigation, at least until Galileo and GLONASS are properly supported by navigation devices. Furthermore, as the article mentions, the GPS system is open to attack from various vectors. The use of "legacy" (I love that word - It doesn't mean obsolete!) technologies such as the sextant address many of these issues.

For me the main thing here is that the sextant forces understanding of navigation - quite literally how coordinates are calculated which is something missing from GPS.

In other words, don't rely upon technology, or if you do, you'd better know how to drop back a level of automation...sounds is the basic premise of the 'Children of the Magenta' talk by American Airlines (see here for an earlier blog posting, the video might be available on YouTube somewhere).

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Tryweryn and Welsh Devolution

It has been fifty years since the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in Wales in order to create a reservoir for the city of Liverpool. This week also saw the publication of the planned reserved powers for the Welsh Assembly.

The planned reserved powers when coupled with the planned English Laws plan introduces an scenario where it becomes possible for English MPs to veto a Welsh Law in cases where there might be a perceived affect upon England. The reverse situation can not happen however.

This then raises all sorts of strange constitutional questions; such as does this invalidate the results of the 2011 referendum of law making powers for Wales?

Another point then in the definition of what sovereignty means.

If we place the above into the EU-UK then this becomes the heart of the debate about whether the UK should in in or out of the EU.

To give a more concrete example of the convoluted ideas of sovereignty and national responsibility there's the point made by John Elfed Jones, former chairman of Welsh Water that Wales should be allowed to sell its water to England. The analogy drawn between food and crops from eastern England and 'Scottish' oil should spawn a very interesting debate.

To finalise, we have confusion in the UK about what sovereignty and responsibility means. At one political-economic level we demand responsibility and sovereignty, but at others not at all. So where does the boundary exist between these concepts?


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Happy Time Travelling Day

As today is the day when Marty McFly arrives in the future (or present as it is now - at least until tomorrow) I thought it might be fun to reference back to the only thing that makes Titanic a bearable film...the fact that it is a prequel to Terminator.

If Jack hadn't saved Rose then the ship would have turned around in search for her, thereby avoiding the collision with the iceberg...and all the things that would have entailed from that.

Obviously Jack's mission was to save Rose - presumably she's somehow related to Sarah Connor - and unfortunately 1500 people die in the collateral damage.

Don't believe me, go read the thread on Reddit 

I particularly like the idea that Jack is really The Doctor rescuing a relation to a future potential companion...Rose... :-)

Now scientists have searched for time travellers making comments on social media, apparently without success. But then again time travellers might have very strict rules about such seen in the 1992 film Timescape.

However there is evidence that Twitter featured on the cover of Amiga magazine in April 1988! Well, not quite..but you never know...

Anyway, next week's lottery numbers are 4,7,14,19,22,34 ... I think, sorry can't read my handwriting...

...oh, and I shouldn't say this, but next week James Cameron told me last week he was a time traveller....


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Privacy Engineering Tutorial Slides (TrustCom)

Here are the publicly released slides from my privacy engineering tutorial given at TrustCom 2015 in Helsinki earlier this year.

The slides should be used in conjunction with the book - Privacy Engineering: a Data Flow and Ontological Approach - supporting this.

NB: I notice there are some formatting errors in the slides - this seems to come from SlideShare's conversion algorithm as the original PDF appears to be fine. 

The full session also included talks by Jonathan Fox (Intel/MacAfee) and Antti Vähä-Sipiliä (F-Secure)