Monday, 29 September 2008

Ton up

When I was a kid doing 100 mph in anything was impressive. Later, flying in Concorde and watching the huge bulkhead sized display confirm that we we going faster than sound was pretty impressive too.

So I love this little app on my iPhone which simply polls the GPS
satellites to see how fast I (or more precisely the phone) am / is going. So here I am (nice screen grab feature built into the iPhone by the way) on the Heathrow Express doing a quiet and unflustered 100 mph. It really IS an express!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Bond, beer* and batter

It is exactly 25 years since Alan Bond's inspired bid to win the America's Cup at Newport Rhode Island in 1983, with John Bertram and the team, and The Keel of course. I remember watching the last race all unfold - as Dennis Conner's boat missed the chance to cover downwind and Australia II slipped in to cross them by inches and take the series from the USA for the first time.

I recall EVERY detail of the moment as though it was just yesterday. Bond had had a few business issues (ahem) since of course, but remains for me an absolute hero. So it was a joy at the (very good) Australian Secondary Principals' Conference to be whisked over to Freemantle - which had become for a while the home of the cup - for an evening out. The AC boats are gone but the boatsheds remain and so after a whopping portion of fish n chips I found myself here in one of the boatsheds (heaven) which is now a brewery (uh oh). Great conference, great company, great boatshed, great beer. Perfick.

* Little Creatures Pale Ale - it's proper yummy!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

relative progress

People on and around the moving walkways at airports (I'm in Dubai, then on to Perth) provide a great parallel for folk around ICT in schools.

Some get on, keep walking and make great progress. Others get on and, mistaking their relative progress, stop walking thus holding up everyone behind. Still others keep well away from the "new fangled devices" and walk alongside, but are constantly flustered and exhausted from trying to keep up. A few arrive early, and wait nearby rather than getting on - but then suddenly realise that the moment has passed and miss their flights. Some get on, relax, don't look where they are going and hurtle off in diametrically the wrong direction.

And of course the airports are designed in an entirely new way because the tech solution allows new layouts and approaches. Oh yes, and finally nations are actively competing to produce the best airports partly to attract the new users, but partly because of prestige.

Sounds familiar?

See also the slides I used at ASPA in Perth to illustrate the point

Friday, 12 September 2008

Almost perfect...

I drive a quirky German car. I'm very fond of it - the engineering is astonishing and they have thought of everything... almost. Driving from Dover to Norwich last night the rear tyre punctured. Opening the bonnet (it's rear engined) I found literally everything I needed, all laid out in the right order to use - gleaming tools, even latex gloves and a mysterious polythene sheet. So, I extracted the tiny emergency wheel with its "pleated" tyre (there's no room for a real spare - not much room for anyting to be honest), plugged in the electric inflator, with instructions printed on it, and blew up the tyre which grew rapidly in diameter - magic! I opened the tool roll, took out the (lightweight!!) aluminium jack and changed the wheel. Perfect.

Apart from... I now have one enormous rear wheel (the tyres are rather wide) and it won't go in any of the storage space. Cue mysterious polythene sheet which I now realise is designed to go on the passenger seat - where you have to put the wheel. Brilliant - they thought of everything... but where do you put the passenger? In a taxi..

Thursday, 4 September 2008

British tradition (2): the Proms

Wonderful evening (as the BBC's guest) in the Albert Hall at the Proms. Simon Rattle, the Berliner Philharmoniker (surely the best orchestra currently in the world?), Shostakovich's 10th symphony (which came after Stalin's death - and after a 10 year pause) was in turn sad, visceral, optimistic and astonishing (4 movements). He really didn't like life under Stalin did he?! The proms were packed, and you can see here the standing only promenaders packing the central floor. Sharp eyed will also see Henry Wood's iconic bust behind the band.

I started the day with an iChat link-up to policymakers / friends in Tasmania, which was delightful, but sometimes (eg tonight) it really is about being there. I love the theatre of a live orchestra - the doting violins and the trombones watching the clock and dreaming of beer - but with five busy percussionists playing we certainly had the heavy artillery out tonight!

Monday, 1 September 2008

British tradition: beach huts

It's a very British tradition going back to Victoria times (when, apparently, seaside air and good health were linked) to have little huts along the sea's edge for families to own and enjoy.

Mostly these are individually decorated but with common features: a pitched roof, planked walls, a porch.

Brightlingsea has a few hundred of these huts - no overnighting allowed - but a sunny weekend sees families throwing open their doors, getting out the deck chairs and putting the kettle on. Neighbouring families go back generations - the huts rarely change hands. This is our hut with beach in front and boating lake behind. Perfect.