The Anonymous Widower

The Importance Of Libraries For Research

I went to a fund-raising event for Book Aid at the British Library on Monday evening.

The main purpose was to raise funds for the library in Mosul, which has been wrecked by IS.

The event made me think, about the number of times in the 1960s and 1970s, I used libraries for research.

  • My undergraduate thesis was about analogue computing and I used information about how Lord Kelvin and his elder brother; James, were developing and using mechanical analogue computers in the late 1800s, that I had found in the Liverpool University library.
  • A few years later, whilst working for ICI, I found that by properly searching Chemical Abstracts in their library, I could find the solution to difficult problems. Nowadays, you’d use the Internet!
  • When I developed Artemis, I needed methods to improve the performance of the software. Some I developed myself, but one particular algoithm used for linking datasets together was found in a paper, written in the 1960s in IBM’s library. In those days, getting the maximum performance from not very powerful computers was more difficult and the algorithm was important.
  • These days, with everything on the Internet I use libraries less. Although, I regularly visit Hackney’s Records Office near to where I live, to browse old images, reference books and maps.

Do we all underestimate the part books, play in our lives?

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Device Charging On The Overground

This picture, that I took at Shoreditch High Street station, says it all.

There were a selection of leads for all the different devices.

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Struggling With GMail

Many years ago before GMail existed, I started using Chrome and opened a Google account, so that I could run Google Alerts on subjects in which I’m interested.

I’ve had my e-mail for getting on for thirty years and I can’t see any reason to change it.

On my mobile phone, I have created a new Google and GMail  account, so that, when I travel I have access to e-mail, as well aw text.

Everything works fine on the phone, but how do I log in to my GMail on my laptop.

I’m always asked to create a new GMail address, when I try. But I already have one.

How do I sort this mess out?

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Computing | , , | 2 Comments

My Latest Thoughts On The Boeing 737 MAX

I had this message read out on BBC’s Wake Up To Money this morning.

I have been involved in the programming of several first-of-their-kind computer systems dating back to 1969. They are always late ad usually need a couple of goes to get it right! Boeing didn’t do enough testing.

Although, I’ve been mainly involved in programming user systems and I’ve never controlled anything  by a computer program, I have worked with a lot of people who have. One team, I worked alongside, programmed the world’s first computer to fully control a large chemical plant.

But even, when I was writing something as big and complicated as Artemis, you had to take into account, that not everybody using the system, thought the way you did.

Those that fly aircraft differ in one area, that has nothing to do with sex, racial type or religion. Their experience of flying aircraft varies from a couple of thousand hours upwards.

It is no surprise to me, that some of the great aircraft stories of safe landings in difficult circumstances have been done by very experiences pilots, often with years of flying less reliable military aircraft.

They have used their experience to get themselves and their passengers out of trouble

It should be noted that the pilots of both the Indonesian and the Ethiopian planes, had several thousands hours of experience.

  • On the whole, human beings are generally risk averse and pilots are no different to the rest of us.
  • We also don’t like surprises.

How many times have you installed a new copy of a popular software system to find that it is radically different and it takes you several weeks to get used to it?

When I was writing Artemis, I made sure, that, I didn’t create any surprises for customers all over the world. The software was also tested to destruction.

Getting a calculation wrong in Artemis, would be unlikely to have had fatal consequences.

Conclusion

Have Boeing with their MCAS computer software fix to cure the inadequacies of an obsolete air frame, made two big mistakes?

  • They have created an airliner, that goes against pilot experience?
  • They didn’t do enough testing.

I will not fly in any 737 until the day I die!

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Phone Call Cuts Hospital Readmissions

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on page 18 of today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

A single phone call to an older patient who has been discharged from hospital can almost halve the odds of readmission, research suggests.

I have mined health-care data in the past several times and often something simple drops out from a simple analysis.

Some analyses produce the obvious like you gets lots of leg injuries on Saturday afternoons, due to football being played.

I also believe that analysis of health data in an area could pick up more sinister links.

This could be picked up by artificial intelligence scanning the various databases, but until such systems are fully developed, a lot can be picked up by analysts using simple tools. Even Excel can find a lot of problems, if used properly.

 

June 14, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Will 5G Be Another Way To Rip Off The Poor?

My late wife was a barrister, who specialised in family matters, like divorce, custody of children, adoption and money.

She had this career for about thirty years before she died in 2007.

As the years progressed, she’d talk about the latest expensive must-haves of her clients.

  • First it was video recorders and then it was mobile phones.
  • Various game consoles arrived! Whatever they are? I’ve never played a computer game in my life!
  • Then came Sky Television and large screen televisions.
  • Every child had to have the latest phone.

And now we have 5G, which promises to be the next unaffordable addiction, to go along with alcohol, drugs, pay-day loans, junk food, on-lne subscriptions and gambling!

It will drive the poor and low-paid even further into poverty.

On the train recently, I was talking to a guy with nine children.

As he was going to Court to get custody of one of the nine, and from other things he had said, I felt that the nine weren’t of the same mother.

He was living on benefits and caring from one disabled child.

How will he be able to afford nine 5G phones?

It’ll all end in tears!

 

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Finance, Uncategorized, World | , , | 1 Comment

Stop It! Phone App Cries Out To Deter Japan Subway Gropers

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on page 31 of today’s Times.

An app has been developed and deployed in Japan, where if a lady being groped on the Subway if she presses a button on the app, it displays an appropriate message on her phone.

If the groper persists, then another button, shouts out a message.

As a regular traveller on crowded London Underground and Overground trains, I know groping goes on, but I have never seen it happen, except between obviously consenting couples, who arrived and left together.

Although, you do get the odd bumping at times, but usually smiles and a sorry, say it is a genuine accident.

May 24, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Finally!

They have been a long time coming, but today two Class 710 trains, started running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I took these pictures.

They certainly stand out with their large orange noses.

A few thoughts on various topics.

Doors And Controls

The doors are all double and wide as they should be for easy entry.

There are also full door controls on each side of the door and a door opening button in the door itself.

So on a crowded train, there won’t be the problem, you get on some trains, that the buttons are blocked by a large person standing in the way.

Information Displays

They are clear and very much follow the style of the displays on the Crossrail trains.

Although, they do have a clock, that seemed to be liked by other passengers and myself.

I also suspect the displays can be used advertising.

Noise

Like the Class 345 trains, they are quiet inside.

Seats

The longitudinal seats are as comfortable as those of their elder siblings; the Class 378 trains.

There are also lots of armrests.

As on those trains, passengers find their own place to put their legs and the passage up the middle of the train seems to stay free.

There are also no perches either side of the door, as in the Class 378 trains. It this to cut out canoodling?

USB Sockets

There isn’t a large number and they are only accessible from a few seats.

This picture shows the sockets on a Vivarail Class 230 train.

 

I think each armrest should have one.

Wi-Fi

I tested it and it worked

The Train Software

If I was designing something like a train, a tram, a bus or a car, the vehicle would have a backbone, that was compatible with the Internet.

The train software, that seems to have caused the delay could even be an operating system, like the one on your computer or phone.

In my experience, operating systems are very difficult to write, but once they are working, the following is possible.

  • They work for all compatible computers, phones or trains.
  • They can analyse the hardware to see what they’ve got connected.
  • A large team of programmers can write compatible additions, just like thousands write apps for mobile devices.

I also believe that testing operating systems work as they should is one of the most difficult things to do in computing.

I don’t believe that the delay to the Class 710 trains because of software problems has been overly long in my experience.

Complex systems just take an awful long time to get write.

The good news though, is that if Bombardier have got their design right, they may well have cracked the computer systems for all other Aventras.

Conclusion

They tick a lot of boxes and I like the design.

I also feel that if Bombardier have solved the software problems, then Aventras could be delivered in a steady stream.

 

May 23, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Boeing 737: Much More Than Just The Max

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on cnet.

It is a serious history, that explains how Boeing ended up in their current position.

I will still take a lot of persuading to fly in one!

The Sunday Times today has an article which is entitled Boeing Biggest Worry: Who’ll Want To Fly In A 737 Max?

Enough said!

I can see Internet designers putting together easy-to-use web sites to help passengers avoid aircraft they don’t like. There are some now, but they are rather clunky and you need to be fairly tech-savvy.

May 5, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Wi-fi On A Train In A Deep Tunnel Under London

I’ve just been using wi-fi on a Class 717 train between Essex Road and Moorgate stations.

Is this the first railway line deep underneath the surface of London to have wi-fi installed?

I shall be interested to see, if I use the line more, as an alternative way to get to Moorgate from my house.

April 30, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , | Leave a comment