Posted by: Paul Clark | March 27, 2011

Lost at sea – the bootstrap challenge

If you were lost at sea with no navigation aids at all, how could you find out where you were, and where to sail to? A thought experiment on “bootstrapping” navigation the old-fashioned way.

Map of North Atlantic, but not sure whereBootstrap Bill

I’ve been thinking for a while about how one would go about rebuilding our technological culture from scratch if for some reason it suddenly disappeared – how to ‘bootstrap‘ it, if you like.  The standard scenario for this kind of thought experiment is some kind of Armageddon – think Mad Max or Waterworld – but remembering both Dougal and Douglas Robertson’s books about the wreck of the Lucette, combined with hearing about my favourite ship‘s rather exciting time in mid-Atlantic last week, brought to mind a nearer term, more manageable version…

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Posted by: Paul Clark | January 1, 2011

Why Government shouldn’t do UI

OK, it’s the New Year and being in a positive frame of mind I’d better start with some nice things to say…

The UK regulation of small companies is on the whole “light touch”, and it’s a whole lot easier to start and run a micro-business here than in many other countries, and indeed than it was when I started my first consultancy business 20-odd years ago.  The move to towards universal electronic filing is undoubtedly the Right Thing for efficiency at both ends.  Some IT people in HMRC & Companies House obviously do see the big picture, and more power to their executive elbows.

But you may have guessed that this paean of praise is not going to last for the whole posting.  You’d be right.


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Posted by: Paul Clark | December 18, 2010

Falmouth Coastguard – reduce or expand?

To any amateur sailor or professional seafarer navigating the Cornish coast – or indeed much of the North Altantic – the phrase “Falmouth Coastguard” has an immediate comforting recognition.  Yet, in new proposals to modernise and streamline the Coastguard service, Falmouth would be reduced to daytime-only working, and it’s pretty clear that the current long-range cover would be moved out of Cornwall to a new facility in the Solent area, with the loss of a significant number of high-value jobs.

The consultation document gives some very good reasons why the Coastguard service needs to be modernised and make use of new technology to be more efficient and resilient.  I’m all for public sector efficiency savings!  The issue for Cornwall should be why the new “South Maritime Operations Centre” (MOC) should be built in new premises in the Solent area rather than expanding the Falmouth facility.  If we can change that one aspect, this could be a win for Cornwall – and for maritime safety – rather than a loss.

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