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Cheesy Feet & Ducks Redux

This is the result of feeding an interview into Dragon Naturally Speaking. Not a word or punctuation mark has been omitted or changed – this is the software in all its glory. The input was a good recording from a Sony ICD-SX750.

I’m still working on how it got “Saddam Hussein”.

So that it will work for just 5 pounds him and I have a small company now… I am starting to think that I am not a moment to him and on Rosenhaus and ask you a few questions are standardized so immersed in really stupid of him will not ask you if you have investigation is ongoing and occasional nasty stuff without going out of their way through it on up until the time that he got the shots were interviewed about 2008 that are possible for them have personal and you typically arrive on the scene with his or her homicidal value on called you arrive after the season closed out with and you can ride generally speaking long long time slot on its own would be dealt with promptly salt or if it’s during the shift will probably do okay at first difficult to be okay you didn’t than just the data to arrive on the scene and no I usually also the guys to do so as to have no car computers I have no car or a computer consultant of soul I don’t get it was like I was but a totally plausible to promote something ownership will call okay so far using it to direct your search for physical evidence or to somehow he even if in your mind or order me respect you a graphic WCCO okay if it’s difficult to Pacific side columns are doing something along the lines of what we’ll try and you will have wanted to go so long as R. what exactly will you stop like to use disputed to the showcase on the direct your search for people in the witnesses are… that’s a no no some threat to serve as the operating room when you let one person calls and as you’ll see shops along policy work for you kind of gauge who’s paying attention more believable claim that he was Saddam Hussein a sort of understanding the process by which interacts across as looking at a crime scene has changed the shots I have see change its enhanced and it’s given us while we…

For more transcription fun, see this article I wrote in 1997

Checking Out The Russians In The Hoosgow

The unique thing about St. Petersburg’s new Holiday Hostel kept distracting me as I walked through, checking for bugs under the beds or other tell-tale signs of sloppiness (I didn’t find any). What I was hearing was shouting, and it was coming from…right…next…door. Look at it as a selling point or a travel agent’s nightmare, but it’s certainly unique that the Holiday Hostel’s building is adjacent to St. Petersburg’s Kresty Prison.

Kresty is St. Petersburg’s main holding prison; if you’re busted here, Kresty’s where they take you to await whatever it is that awaits you. And while news reports of a Mafia takeover of the 18th-century City on the Neva are preposterously overblown, crime has increased to the point that Kresty is doing brisk business indeed.

But what distinguishes Kresty from, say, New York’s Riker’s Island, is that Kresty is located on a main boulevard, and prisoners can get to the windows. Russian families are quite close, and in true Russian style, the families of the accused line the street outside, bonding with their inmates.

On any given day, you can see dozens of these well-wishers lining Arsenalnaya naberezhnaya. Mothers, fathers and sometimes even drunken friends stand crying. Wives and girlfriends stand close to the concrete fence, moving their arms in what may look like complicated dance moves, but what is in fact a crude code, known to inmates and prison guards alike.

The prisoner, let’s call him the receiver, makes himself known by holding an article of clothing out the window (they stick their arms through the bars or through holes in the steel mesh). When the sender, down on the street, identifies their man, they start waving their arms about, tracing Cyrillic characters in the air. The receiver waves up and down to signal “I understand”, and side to side to signal “repeat”. Under this method, after three or four minutes of waving, one can clearly discern the message, ‘I-c-a-l-l-e-d-y-o-u-r-f-r-i-e-n-d-M-i-s-h-a’!

The process, understandably, is time consuming (a message like ‘I called your lawyer but he was out to lunch’ could take half an hour or so), but the family and friends on the street below (again in true Russian style) bring along sausage, bread, cheese and thermoses filled with hot tea. Of course, some bring along a bottle of vodka – just to pass the time.

As I left the Hostel, I walked past some of the families waiting to send messages. A black Mercedes-Benz was parked outside; next to it stood an attractive Russian woman in a revealing dress. She was looking towards the prison window and waving. But this woman didn’t need no stinking codes: she was speaking into a cell phone, and as she looked across the prison yard, a tear formed in the corner of her eye.

This was written for Lonely Planet Online in 1995 and subsequently an edited version ran in Lonely Planet’s St Petersburg city guide. That version subsequently made it into the second edition of Lonely Planet’s Russia, Ukraine & Belarus guide. In the latest version, the author who updated the text said that the prison was currently running tours for a fee.


Broadband’s Here. Where’s The Content?

With the launch of BTOpenworld and broadband announcements by major telcos across Europe, investors have been increasingly wondering just what it is that will be delivered so quickly. As hardware manufacturers from Nokia and Alcatel to Hewlett Packard and IBM are gearing up to deliver rich, interactive content such as video-on-demand (VOD) and video teleconferencing on a variety of systems, analysts and industry watchers are still split as to who will make the content and what it will be.

UK-based Yes Television and BTOpenworld announced that they will pilot BT Yes Television, to deliver VOD to televisions via ADSL enhanced phone lines in London. And Filmgroup, a film distribution company competing for the same UK VOD audience via its web portal, announced its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange in the second quarter of 2000.

“VOD is an interesting experiment,” said Lars Godell, Analyst for European Corporate Technologies at Forrester Research, “so far it hasn’t taken off in previous trials around the world – there are very serious players interested in producing the kind of rich content the broadband net will need, but many have held back some of their most ambitious plans because of the free nature of lots of internet content and copyright issues.”

Those very issues have been addressed quite a bit recently, and the announcements last week of a joint venture between Microsoft and Xerox in ContentGuard, web-based copyright protection software, as well as rulings against in a copyright infringement suit, may clear the way for more smaller companies to risk investment in production of broadband specific content.

Always On
To be sure, companies such as Bertelsmann and Time-Warner, owners of large film libraries, are looking to explore new ways of exploiting their content in a European broadband marketplace. But analysts differ in their take on where content for broadband will go. While Forrester is bullish on very rich, interactive video-on-demand and other TV-like programming for broadband, Jupiter Research analyst Noah Yasskin believes the opposite is true.

“Primarily, broadband will be an enhancement of existing applications and services as opposed to some sort of TV-like revolution,” said Yasskin, “There will be some richer media, and more possibilities for advertising and video, but we think that more important than the speed is the ‘always-on’ aspect – that’s the real change for consumers.”

Industry watchers agree that a constant connection to the web at a fixed price is a crucial aspect of broadband’s success. “Very clearly this type of service will boost e-business,” said Joeri Sels, telecommunications analyst for Julius Bär in Frankfurt, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s ‘flat rate’ or just a very cheap, reliable fixed-base rate, but the important thing is that the general trend towards ‘always-on’ is certainly in motion.”

Always-on, says Yasskin, will cause fundamental changes in European use patterns, by making it as easy to check the web for basic information like weather and local news as it currently is to check in the newspaper.

Local And Pan-European Content Development
In addition to “always on”, the trick in Europe is to provide international, national and truly local coverage in ways that broadcast television has never been able to, and companies such as Chello (owned by United Pan-Europe Communications (AEX:UPC, Nasdaq:UPCOY), anticipated to be spun off and go public in Europe in the second quarter of 2000), are poised to do just that.

“That’s Chello’s core philosophy,” said a source close to the company, “to provide global but then also very local coverage – so users in Vienna and in Innsbruck would see absolutely different local content.” Chello, BT, France Telekom and Deutsche Telekom are clearly heading in the same direction, as can be seen by BTopenworld’s list of over 50 content providers.

So producing the local content, and therefore competing with US companies such as Atom Films and Digital Entertainment Network is the challenge for smaller European startups, and in that area the playing field is still wide open; small companies such as the UK’s ProteinTV, which won’t go public for at least a year, are very nervous about launching too quickly and getting swallowed, or worse, launching a content product line that will be irrelevant given the as yet unseen realities of the European broadband market.

“It’s more than just broadband video production,” said ProteinTV’s founder and chairman Will Rowe, “It’s about encompassing a complete range of content offerings as well as service offerings – so that we can offer a package that’s above and beyond those of Atom or DEN – the existing us organizations who really don’t have much in the way of Euro-centric programming.”

Analysts and industry experts agree that simply providing rich content is not in and of itself enough to generate interest in broadband. That sentiment was echoed not just by production companies but by ad agencies as well – and while analysts almost universally say that advertising will provide the money that fuels the next generation of online content, agencies are skeptical of projections of ‘gee-whiz’, highly interactive advertising.

“ItE’s too early to tell what advertising content works well on European broadband,” said David Sable, CEO of Y&R 2.1, Young & Rubicam’s agency to coordinate on-line and off-line marketing services, “and in fact, from our perspective, the technology is irrelevant, the challenge is for us to deliver advertising that’s relevant to the audience.”

Some predictions of interactive advertising, such as sports fans stopping the action to change the attire of the players, seems less a likely final application than, say families home shopping on line, taking interactive tours of the home and checking neighborhood services, commute times and school facilities.

Whichever is more realistic, it’s not happening immediately, and the interactivity is not yet clear. But it’s being watched carefully.

“We’re exploring everything,” said Y&R 2.1’s Sable. “Ad agencies and marketers have to understand that the issue here as everywhere is education and entertainment delivered in an interesting way.”

Looking for new applications of broadband technology, analysts see several areas on the horizon, including private and business video teleconferencing, and especially towards consumer-oriented applications such as software libraries and personal application service providers.

While current access speeds are just too slow to really use remote software applications or effectively download cutting edge software, broadband opens the door to all sorts of new areas for consumers, such as video game rental, downloading CD-ROM-type software or entertainment packages.

In Any Event, The Hardware’s Ready For It
While Alcatel and Ericsson work to bring new ADSL-capable products to market, Nokia has demonstrated a prototype version of its sexy MW111, a SOHO (Small-Office/Home-Office) box that offers a combination highspeed wireless LAN connection with broadband internet access that will be released later this year.

BT’s strategy for BTOpenworld directly addresses the problems that users in Germany and France have had with the complexity of setting up broadband on their PCs and have cut deals with hardware manufacturers including Apple, Hewlett-Packard and IBM to pre-install the service on their new PCs.

Whatever the final device – be it an integrated ‘smart’ television set, WAP device or a souped-up PC – to the European residential user the major problem is that they don’t see a compelling reason to upgrade – early adopters see it, but the masses don’t, and won’t until there’s sufficient compelling content online.

Bluetooth Is Coming…And How…

What do feisty contenders like Germany’s Hüft and Wessel and Sweden’s C-Technologies have in common with giants such as Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens? Bluetooth technology: the most quickly adopted industry standard in history.

And very soon you’ll own something that’s Bluetooth enabled – whether you know it or not.

Analysts say that Bluetooth, which allows broadband-speed wireless communication between computing and other devices, is at the cusp of ignition, but that its mainstream use is still one-and-a-half to two years away, despite the early release of British Telecommunications-enabled devices this year.

But oh, how it will go mainstream: in a June 29 report on Bluetooth, Merrill Lynch upped its market estimates of Bluetooth device penetration to an astounding 2.1 billion devices by 2005.

Early Problems
The main obstacles right now are robust software to operate the chips and a perception–if flawed–of the chips as being overly expensive. Not quite accurate, said Karl Hicks, a manager at Datamonitor’s technology division.

“Some would say that there’s a problem with price at the moment,” Hicks said, “but the cost is really only $15 or $20 per chip currently, and when you see the kinds of announcements and developments in Bluetooth, the large economies of scale will begin to bring prices down very soon.”

Merrill Lynch vice president and European seminconductor analyst, Andrew Griffin, who co-authored the Merrill Lynch report on Bluetooth, agreed. “We’re looking at the average price per chip dipping below $5 in 2002, but some firms will have reached that price level by 2001,” he said.

Another mildly worrying subject, according to Griffen, is the development of “bulletproof, robust software that won’t irritate the end user.” Point-to-point solutions are one thing, but software that can cope consistently with other kinds of applications–for example, cell phones speaking with PDAs, laptops and other devices–is still under development.

“Software issues aren’t going to prevent Bluetooth from taking off,” Griffen said, “but it will prevent it from taking off this year, and we won’t be seeing any of the really super sexy applications just yet.”

Why It Will Work
“It’s really simple,” said Johan Boman, chief financial officer of Sweden’s C-Technologies, which recently unveiled the first mass-market Bluetooth enabled device. “We expect Bluetooth to be the definitive standard for communications, replacing infrared and all other existing options. Companies simply must cope with it to have a place in the market.”

While the technology is currently under heavy development by major American manufacturers like Motorola, Dell, Microsoft and Intel, smaller European firms have some distinct advantages.

Ericsson, which initiated the standard, had the stunningly good sense to see that a) they had a hot one on their hands, and b) in order for it to succeed the standard must be open and royalty free. The result has been industry support by all major computer manufacturers, and a current membership of almost 1900 companies in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) of Bluetooth device manufacturers.

The beauty of the open standard is that it allows smaller companies, which can move much faster on a new technology, the luxury of full entry to the market at this early stage. For example, take Neuer Markt gem, Hanover-based Höft and Wessel, which specializes in interactivity and mobile communications (they make the gizmo that the conductor uses to charge your credit card for tickets aboard European trains, and the one you paid for your rental car with at the airport last month).

The company, which made a name for itself in European mobile computing with the wildly successful “Taschen Kasse” mobile cash register, is now looking to empower its Web Panel with Bluetooth. The Web Panel is already a model of inteconnectivity, a wireless web device that can run both Windows Pocket PC and Linux operating systems.

Or take C-Technologies, whose Anoto division recently brought the first mass-market Bluetooth-enabled product, the Anoto Pen, to market. The pen, a bit chubbier than a Mont Blanc but with thinner versions planned, has a built-in camera and recognition engine that allows users to write a note on patterned paper by hand, and then send it as an e-mail via Bluetooth.

C-Tech is already a producer of popular handheld devices that lend themselves quite naturally to Bluetooth, such as the C-Pen and handheld scanners–and the company has already unveiled prototypes of these devices enabled for Bluetooth.

These companies are far from alone. This week, IBM and Toshiba announced they will offer Motorola Bluetooth devices across a range of their products. IBM also said it will produce Bluetooth-enabled PCMCIA cards, allowing users of current notebooks and laptops to connect easily with future Bluetooth devices.

And Ericsson will soon release its Bluetooth-enabled cellular phone wireless handset, which will work with any make or model Bluetooth-enabled phone. Analysts agree that Bluetooth, whose standard operates on the same frequencies worldwide, allowing users to use Bluetooth devices anywhere on earth, will substantially change the way devices communicate.

“That’s the really exciting aspect of Bluetooth,” said Jörg Müller, research analyst for new technologies at Value Research Management.

“People talk about the cable-free revolution; I’m not really interested in avoiding cables, but I really mind if I have to use 15 different adapters, like when I have my Alcatel cell phone that can’t connect to my car, which is wired for Siemens,” he said. “Or when I already own a Siemens headset and buy a new Motorola phone. In these cases, Bluetooth would let me use all my devices together.”

What It Does & How It Works
Bluetooth wireless technology lets a device speak, at broadband rates, with other nearby Bluetooth devices instantly and securely, and uses the same frequencies worldwide, so your cell-phone from the US can speak with your VCR in Hong Kong. Each chip can support up to seven “slave” devices, and that mini-network can in turn can be slaved to a second master–the possibilities are mind boggling.

The buzz over Bluetooth is just beginning, and while many products are in development, there’s a somewhat slow ignition process at the moment, but that won’t last long: it’s merely a matter of momentum.

“It’s a bit like the first fax machine or the first video phone,” said VMR’s Müller, “until there are more users you’re not going anywhere. The consumer only benefits when there’s a broad range of Bluetooth devices on the market. I’m really sure that this has a very big future, but at the moment, there’s a struggle to get enough products to market for the concept and the platform to really take off.”

Analysts agree. “I don’t think we’ll see very much happening this year,” said Johan Montelius, an analyst with Jupiter Communications. “We’ll see lots of press releases and a few products coming out, but the big thing is next year.”

For European investment opportunities, look to manufacturers like C-Tech and Höft and Wessel, as well as infrastructure and mobile telephony companies. But don’t forget an important player: “white devices”. Dishwashers, refrigerators and other kitchen appliances will be heavy users of Bluetooth in the future. As a Massachusetts Institute of Technology guru told the crowd last week at a London advertising convention, the majority of Internet communication in the coming years will be “machines, not people.”

So when your fridge calls your grocer to order more Nutella, Bluetooth will have come of age.

Blacks Fight To Block Developers, Save Heritage

When MaVynee Betsch heard developers’ plans to build a golf course and luxury housing here, she went to the media and stirred what has become a cauldron of local and national controversy.

During segregation this was Florida’s only beach resort for blacks. Betsch (whose first name is pronounced May-Veen) is the great-granddaughter of the beach’s founder.

“This place is a part of black heritage and culture, and they can’t just take that away,” said Betsch, exultant in the afterglow of recent sympathetic coverage on National Public Radio and in USA Today. The debate centers on a parcel of land sold during bankruptcy proceedings in the 1980s by the Afro-American Insurance Co., which provided the funding for the establishment of American Beach.

That land is owned by the Amelia Island Co., which also owns a nearby luxury resort, Amelia Island Plantation. The Amelia Island Co. wants to build 50 to 60 luxury single-family homes and a five-hole golf course.

But Betsch and other residents say the firm is trying to squeeze them off the land, thus robbing African-Americans of an important cultural and historic landmark.

American Beach is a featured stop on Florida’s Black Heritage Trail, which, according to Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, is a guide to “landmark sites representing black contributions” to the state’s heritage.

Representative Bill Moore denies the Amelia Island Co. is doing anything discriminatory or unfair and cites compromises and reductions in scope of the proposed development. He points out that the development would be at the south end of the existing community of American Beach, not on it.

Amelia Island residents of all backgrounds are divided. One 17-year resident of Amelia Island Plantation suggests the fight is about publicity, and that the area is so unsafe and unsightly that development is essential.

American Beach homeowner Franklin Bell says he has nothing against development in general, but he “worries about encroachment and displacement.”

That worry is the crux of the argument: When does compromise become surrender? While Betsch and others call for a return of the land to the community, Moore points out that Afro-American Insurance did indeed sell the property, and that the Amelia Island Co. has every right to develop on it if the firm abides by local and state regulations.

But Rita Kovacevich, a Fernandina Beach resident, says she understands why American Beach residents feel that if they acquiesce now, they may lose everything later. And she agrees that preservation of the beach is important.

“This island,” Kovacevich says, “does not need another private golf course. It would be a shame to think that the charm that attracted us here at first – the homogenous, small-town feel with no one being pushed down – has disappeared.”

Meanwhile, Betsch is applying to have American Beach placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bertelsmann Wants It All. They May Already Have It.

The announcement of a deal between Terra Networks, Lycos and Bertelsmann to create effectively the world’s broadest-based Internet portal is the latest in a series of Bertelsmann plays to aggressively expand their Internet activities. This fits nicely into Bertelsmann’s core strategy to leverage their enormous content pool into the one of the world’s largest offering of digital products.

“Kudos on their aggressiveness and their long-term vision,” said Michael Blok, senior analyst with Rabo Securities, “They enjoy a nice natural ‘hedge’, whereby if things on the web move as fast as the company expects, it will be in a good position to deliver through its Internet plays. And if things move slower, then their old core businesses will make more money for a longer time.””

Bertelsmann is not a publicly-traded company, but does allow individual investors to participate in profit sharing, through the use of profit participation certificates, sold on the Frankfurt Exchange and called Genussschein; about 30% of BertelsmannE’s equity capital is derived through these certificates (trading currently at Euro97.4).

Less splashy in the press than the Terra/Lycos/Bertelsmann deal but crucial to Bertelsmann’s overall internet strategy was a decision yesterday by the European Commission that cleared the way for a Bertelsmann purchase of 50% of Sweden’s Bokus.

Bokus, which successfully established itself as an online media and entertainment shop in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, in all local languages, is not surprisingly the market leader in all those countries – countries which, by the way, have the highest percentage of internet users by population in Europe. The joint venture acts as a major strategic foothold for BOL in Scandinavia, and dovetails nicely into Bertelsmann’s overall goals.

To get an idea of the strength of Bertelsmann’s holdings, consider that the privately-held German company is the world’s largest publisher of English-language books, through its acquisition of Random House; it is Europe’s largest broadcaster, with a 50% stake in Luxembourg based CLT-UFA, offering 40 TV and radio stations, and with their merger with Pearson TV, part of Pearson PLC, they will also be Europe’s largest production company. Bertelsmann owns BMG, the world’s fourth largest music label; magazine publishing giant Grüner and Jahr, and scientific publisher Springer.

And in order to sell all that content digitally, Bertelsmann has built, through development and acquisitions, a multimedia empire that includes BOL, a stake in US-bookseller, a 50% stake in Lycos Europe, and created the Bertelsmann Broadband Group, which develops interactive services such as television and film for cable networks utilizing broadband technology.

“Our core strategic focus is on further development of our positions in our different content markets,” said Bertelsmann spokesman Markus Payer, “so on the technological side, we’re working to digitize all our content.”

“That may be their long term goal, but that’s not the whole story,” said Blok, “It’s also based on organic growth and new initiatives, and perhaps cause they’re privately owned, they’ve been reasonably willing to suffer losses whereas publicly quoted publishers are less willing to lest their stock nosedive. “

But Blok points to rapidly changing factors in Bertelsmann’s core businesses, such as music publishing, which will find it increasingly difficult to make the level of profits to which they’ve become accustomed as the Internet changes the music publishing business model completely.

One of Bertelsmann’s most valuable sales assets are their book clubs, with 25 million subscribers throughout the world. The clubs are already fully operational on the internet, giving Bertelsmann a wet-dream of a mailing list. But Blok warns that this too can change, as the internet would tend to make less attractive the kind of monopolistic or duopolistic models Bertelsmann enjoyed with its clubs to date.

Bertelsmann, meanwhile, is aggressively pressing to further their goals; to that end, Random House is working to digitize its entire backlist of books, and BMG is digitizing all its music offerings. Bertelsmann also has a 60% stake in Pixel Park (Neuer Markt: PXL.NME), one of Europe’s leading internet services companies, providing services to establish and maintain online presence, Internet and intranet solutions, e-commerce platforms and a consultancy business.

“As an analyst I’m looking for true leaders, with high barriers to entry,” says Blok, “Now, Bertelsmann currently don’t have a stake in something extremely huge that is certain to dominate a submarket – an or even, anymore, an AOL. If they had something like that, then whatever happens in the next five years they would come out ahead.”

But, Blok noted, Bertelsmann’s BOL is well on its way, and should provide for a nice battle when Amazon really enters the European market.


“Tulsa Clearance Delivery, Warrior eight-three-three-zero-uniform depart runway three-six right, turn right heading one-two-zero via Fort Smith VOR and Little Rock VOR, climb and maintain 7500 feet, contact Tulsa Departure Control on one-one-niner-point-one, squawking one-seven-niner-three,”

“Cherokee eight-three-three-zero-uniform, readback correct, contact ground control one-two-one-point-niner when ready.”

So begins a standard VFR flight from Tulsa International Airport to Memphis, Tennessee in a Warrior. If you think the above is more involved than the average VFR flight in the UK, you’re right.

And if you think any ATC you’ll come in contact with here will have much patience for a foreign pilot who botches any step of the process, I’ve got some land to sell you outside Kiev.

For example, in the first paragraph, note the fact that I identified myself as a Warrior, while ATC considered it their prerogative to “correctly” refer to me as a “Cherokee”.

The average UK-trained pilot might find some of this confusing, but it’s really a matter of coming to grips with the fact that they’re neither wrong nor right, just different. “It’s a little like driving on their freeways,” said Jim Hart, an Australian-licensed private pilot who recently flew a couple of dozen hours throughout the USA,

“If you’ve only been driving in England, driving on a US freeway can be a bit daunting. You have to familiarize yourself the local conditions – and at least in the air, you don’t have to worry about driving on the wrong side of the road!”

Hart said that one thing he noticed in the US was ATC’s willingness to “Fit in and accommodate even the smallest of airplane in the largest of airports. In the US, you can get clearance into JFK or Atlanta, whereas in Australia I’d be mad to ask a controller in Melbourne to let me pop in with my 172 or Warrior.”

Flight Following
In the US, most VFR pilots enjoy using a free service known as “Flight Following”, the rough equivalent of the UK’s “Radar Information Service”.

Any pilot can request Flight Following and it’s granted by ATC on a “if able” basis. If they have the time to deal with you (they most often do, even in crowded airspace) it means that your plane will be given a unique transponder “squawk” code, and ATC will “follow” you along your cross country journey (it’s not recommended for local flights).

En route, ATC will periodically check in with you to let you know of traffic in your area, or to ask you to modify your course for various reasons, and they will also “hand you off” to other controllers along your route. When this happens, your current controller will tell you whom to contact and on what frequency. Repeat the instructions, change frequencies and let the new guy know you’re there, “Miami Approach, Warrior eight-three-three-zero-uniform is with you, level at four thousand five hundred feet.”

Flight Following is a must if you’re flying over water, or between major destinations . And unlike a flight plan, it means that if your plane disappears, an Air Traffic Controller will immediately see it, try and contact you and, if he can’t, he’ll summon the cavalry immediately and to the place you last were seen, and not two hours after your intended arrival time and along the entire route of travel.

You may request flight following while in the air, or from the beginning of a flight while contacting Clearance Delivery, which neatly brings us to ground procedures.

Getting Clearance To Leave
In busier US airports, getting to the runway is generally a three-part procedure, and it helps to be calm, focused and use pencil and paper for all three parts. And whether you’re on the ground or in the air, the basic rule in the US is to say, Who You Are, Where You Are, and What You Want To Do:

On preparing for departure the first call, once you’ve listened to the weather, done your pre-flight checks, started your engine(s) and re-checked the weather to ensure you’ve got the latest information, is to contact Clearance Delivery, which will gather the basic information about your current location, your plane and your intentions, to pass on to ground control, the tower and departure control.

“Teterboro Clearance Delivery, Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu at Millionaire FBO with information Foxtrot.”

“Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu, go ahead.”

“Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu is a PA-28-161, we’d like a north-east bound departure for a VFR flight to Poughkeepsie Municipal Airport, that’s Papa Oscar Uniform, four-thousand-five-hundred feet and request flight following.”

“Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu, stand by”

Get that pencil ready. “Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu, squawk one-five-two-three depart runway 19, maintain at or below one thousand feet and turn left heading three six zero.”

“Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu, squawking one-five-two-three, will depart runway 19 and maintain at or below one thousand feet, turning left heading three six zero.”

“Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu, readback correct, contact ground when ready.”

Get that frequency from an Airport Facilities Directory (AFD), because unless they’re feeling eleemosynary, Clearance Delivery won’t give it to you. When you contact them, remember that Ground Control knows where you are and what you want to do, but it’s nice to let them know where you are to reduce any possibility of confusion.

“Teterboro ground, Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu at Millionaire.”

“Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu, taxi to and hold short of Runway one niner at Bravo via Oscar.”

Repeat that you understand you’ve been told to hold short of the runway: “Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu, taxi to and hold short of Runway one niner at Bravo via Oscar.”

Stay on the ground frequency during your taxi and hold short, and your engine run-up. When you’re ready to depart, contact the tower. “Teterboro tower, Warrior eight-two-five-two-zulu short of one niner at Bravo ready for departure.”

From this point on it’s pretty straightforward, but be on the lookout for instructions such as “Taxi into position and hold,” which means you’re clear to taxi onto the runway and line up on the center line in as few feet as possible, and then must hit the brakes.

This is usually due to traffic that’s just landed on the same runway (you’re waiting for him to be totally clear of the runway) or departing or landing traffic on an intersecting runway (much more on that later). Repeat the taxi into position and hold instruction!

Say What You Want, And All In One Go
“One difference I notice in the US,” said Carol Cooper, Chief Flying Instructor at Andrewsfield Aviation, “is that in the UK, when you make an initial call, I would then stop and wait for them to come back and ask me what I want.”

In the US, ATC likes you to try, whenever possible, to reduce the time required for the overall transaction to complete. Since in this century most radios work properly nearly all the time, the added time waiting for a “Go ahead” is considered to be unnecessary unless the channel is very busy.

So if the frequency is clear, and you’ve got flight following, just say what you want the first time round: “Jax Approach, Warrior eight-three-three-zero-uniform, level at seven-thousand-five-hundred, request descent to five-thousand-five-hundred to stay clear of clouds.”

If they’re busy, use the UK style and wait for the go-ahead.

At many larger airports in the US, Land And Hold Short Operations may be in effect. This is a complex issue and we’ll only touch on the basics here, but it is imperative to understand the implications of accepting a LAHSO clearance.

LAHSO occur when airports with intersecting runways allow traffic to arrive and depart on both runways. One plane will have to “hold short” of the intersecting runway. If that’s you, you need to get some information and examine your circumstances before accepting the clearance – you, as Pilot in Command, have the responsibility to determine whether a) you can comply and b) whether compliance would be safe. The controller issuing the clearance has nothing to do with it if you accept a LAHSO clearance.

How It Works
LAHSO are listed in an AFD, as are the available landing distances. But when LAHSO are in effect, it’s announced on the airport’s Automated Terminal Information System and by the controller. If a controller clears you to land on a runway and to hold short, you absolutely have the right and the duty to a) ask the available landing distance and/or b) refuse the clearance if you’re not 100% sure you can make it.

Once you accept, any mistake you make – if you put one millimeter of metal across the hold short line expect FAA goons to descend on you with great vigor and furious anger – is yours to live with. If you get it, do as short field a landing as you can possibly muster, and if you have any doubt whatsoever, do a go-around.

All of the above refers to controlled airports, but there’s another thing pilots will run into in the states, and that’s the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency system. CTAF is a brilliant convention which enables pilots around non-towered airports and in uncontrolled airspace to self-announce their intentions to the traffic in the area. The CTAF frequency for an area may be found on sectional maps and in AFDs.

An important thing to remember is that sometimes several non-towered airports will share a CTAF frequency, so it’s imperative that you announce where you are, what you’re doing, and again where you are for each CTAF transmission: “Venice traffic, Cessna 67547 five miles south of the field, entering a mid-field left downwind for runway 22, Venice traffic.”

Mid-Field Downwind
Regardless of the radio procedures around a field, entering the downwind leg of a traffic pattern is kosher in the US, but remember that you must enter it at a 45 degree angle and make sure that you’re at traffic pattern height when you get there. Non-towered airports in the US use a left-hand traffic pattern unless it’s specifically written down in the AFD, so if you’re approaching the field and can fly right into the correct side f a left-hand traffic pattern, just descend to traffic pattern altitude and enter the downwind at midfield on a 45.

The polite way to do it if you’re on the other side of the traffic pattern is to overfly the field 1000 feet above the traffic pattern altitude, fly outbound at that altitude for one to three minutes, descend to traffic pattern altitude, turn right and enter the midfield downwind on a 45-degree angle. The Unicom announcement, “Venice traffic, Cessna 67547 overflying the field at fifteen hundred feet southbound, then turning to enter a midfield downwind for runway 22, full stop landing, Venice traffic.

“Brits in the US,” said Flyer publisher Ian Saeger, “especially around Florida, where there are quite a few fields with the same Unicoms frequency, tend to forget that if you don’t say the airport at the beginning and the end of an announcement then the announcement does as much good as a a chocolate teapot.”

Lights Up
One final word on radios in the US: wanna feel powerful? Fly by a non-towered field at night (presuming, of course, your certificate allows night flying), tune into the CTAF frequency and key your mike seven times in rapid succession. Poof: the runway lights come on, in all their glory. Key another three times and you dim them to half intensity. And another three times and they turn off.

And they though the best part of flying in the US was the price!

ASPs Heat To Red Hot

In the midst of early April’s [2000] major tech sell-off, a company called Software AG had an oversubscribed and successful IPO on the Neuer Markt, and analysts say that a major reason for the successful launch was that the Update is an early mover as an Application Service Provider, or ASP.

To many analysts, ASPs are simply revolutionary. “As a general trend,” says Charles Homs, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, “ASPs will substantially change the overall facility delivery in the e-business market.”

The European ASP sector has gotten off to a slower start than in the USA, but it is definitely heating up, and a sector worth watching. And Europe-based ASP companies have a decided home-court advantage over American imports: industry movers like the Finnish Sonera, German Infomatec and England’s Netstore, and even giants such as SAP, understand that American solutions don’t work well out-of-the-box here.

ASPs offer businesses of all sizes offsite tools to store, retrieve and use information. When broadband hits Europe – in six to nine months for Scandinavia, and a year to a year and a half in most other countries – the spread of ASP is expected to catch on like wildfire.

Netstore, with 750,000 customers and a market cap of €895 million, and the Infomatec (IFO NM) offer customers centrally stored applications, such as spreadsheets and inventory control ystems, as well as providing storage for data – effectively allowing companies to outsource all their IT needs.

Sonera (SOY GR) focuses mainly on web-based transaction and delivery products, such as allowing sites to offer streaming media and other functions.

The road to European ASP market is fraught with problems that locals have a better time identifying. For example, said Homs, a company providing Customer Relationship Management software to a company in Germany is required by German law to physically maintain the server within the German borders, to comply with German data security laws.

But IBM, too, has been an early mover in the European ASP space, and have broad experience in implementation in Europe. For the past two years they’ve been actively developing ASP products.

What’s An ASP?
ASPs are large, ultra-reliable, high-capacity and high-speed servers that store not just a company’s databases and information, but also the applications that manipulate the data. Whereas companies now invest in traditional “fat clients” – the typical computer/operating system combination wherein applications are run and data stored – many companies in the US and Europe already employ a new system.

Using a fast wired or wireless internet connection and a “thin client” – a desktop, notebook or even palm-top device running just a simple operating system and a web browser – users can now download the shell of, say, a package tracking or inventory system, call up data they need, modify it and store the results, using only software stored on the ASP’s server.

For small to medium size enterprises, ASPs could be most valuable, allowing them to maintain one copy, not thousands, of a program, and administer it centrally.

“This is a really interesting sector, because these ASPs can really help small to mid-sized firms save lots of money,” said Peter Klostermeyer, analyst at VMR. “Today’s software applications are not as expensive as they used to be but the beauty of ASPs is that they bring down the costs of implementation and administration of systems”

A not-so-subtle differentiation in the ASP sector is between hosting and true ASP, and the most important question is the who is actually implementing the solutions. Some ASPs simply give you the platform and allow a client to load whatever you choose, while others set up all the infrastructure, running everything on the server. They often limit the flexibility to what can be customized.

But to small- and medium-sized enterprises, this second option brings a new world of computing power for far less than doing it yourself.

“These are the companies that stand to gain the most in the short term,” said Homs, ” because companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find the people to set up their systems and web systems – and it’s also very expensive. But this allows them to share the costs with other companies. I think this type of ASP is a very lucrative solution.”

Apps Spijk Bought

I bought an iPhone on the Verizon network. I’d long held, after using an iPhone on AT&T a couple years back, that I wouldn’t get another iPhone until it was available on Verizon. In the meantime I fell in love with my Droid phone, until I saw FaceTime. My business partner David used it to video-chat with his kids while we were on a business trip. So I bought the iPhone (don’t tell me about the damn Skype video or whatever. FaceTime is better).

Then I bought Spijk an iPod touch so we could FaceTime.

Apps Spijk bought in the first two days of having his new iPod:

  • Veggie Samurai
  • Tiny Wings
  • Fruit Ninja
  • Doodle Jump
  • Froggy Jump
  • Stick Stunt Biker
  • Egg vs. Chicken
  • Fragger
  • Asphalt 5
  • Doodle Jump Christmas Special
  • Food Processing
  • Pocket God
  • Rat On A Scooter XL
  • Urban Ninja
  • Gravity Guy
  • Cave Bowling
  • Cat Physics
  • Monkey Flight
  • Crazy Chicken Deluxe – Grouse Hunting
  • Sherwood Forest Archery
  • Pig Sticker
  • Shoot or Be Shot
  • Uphill Battle
  • Sharpshooter Surprise
  • Saving My Hero
  • Battleheart
  • Volcano Escape
  • Crazy Chicken Quest
  • Burn the Rope
  • Shopping Cart Hero
  • More Crap

More crap?

Announcing Police-Led

Hi, everyone,

This is to announce the formation and “soft launch” of a new, non-commercial blog and podcast called Police-Led Intelligence. There’s only a handful of postings up now, but it’s growing. It covers issues of cyber intelligence, intelligence and law enforcement technology.

We hope to make the topics beefy and pragmatic enough to give analysts a source of ideas and discussion fodder, and interesting enough to draw the attention of command staff and even some cops – we’re involving cops and ex-cops/current researchers and analysts from day one.

It’s at:

I’m an IACA member (speaking at the conference in Vancouver), an analyst and rookie, just-sworn officer in the Dallas Fort Worth area; my partner in the blog is Dave, a 15-year veteran sergeant and detective in the same region. We’re trying to blend our two worlds through topics of mutual interest (the About page on the site tells the story).

The site is advertiser-free. We do exchange links, but not money, with other similarly themed sites. Guests are not permitted to sell anything on the podcast, and must disclose when they have commercial interest in a method or product (it hasn’t happened yet, and we’ve recorded eight).

In the first podcasts, up now, we talk with:

  • Andy Ellis, chief security architect at Akamai Technologies (which handles about 20% of the Internet’s traffic each day) about ways the private sector works to share intelligence and threat information with law enforcement and other private organizations, and the challenges of deciding what to share;
  • Eric Olson, vice president of commercial intelligence firm Cyveillance to discuss ways in which analysts can seek at low cost to reduce the volume of data they consider for analysis by considering new ways to sort out the data they can NOT look at;

And (we hope) to interest cops and non-technical staff:

  • Rik Ferguson, director of security research for anti-virus firm Trend Micro, who gives us a Cyber Crime 101 primer: how do criminals make money with malicious software, how does malicious software work, and what does it target? And if someone were to launch a cyber attack against a police officer or agency, how would a criminal go about it – step by step.
  • Already recorded and rolling out in the coming weeks are more podcast episodes including:

  • Ex-cop Michael Vallez and ex-Microsoft and US DOE researcher Aaron Turner on mobile security for police agencies and the top five mobile apps every cop should have;
  • Ex-cop and current security researcher Alex Cox on gathering digital forensics at companies which have been the targets of a computer breach;
  • White hat social engineer Mike Murray on phishing, spear-phishing and other con-games, and how to defend against and investigate them;
  • Former US Marine intelligence analyst, co-author of “Cybercrime and Espionage: An Analysis of Subversive Multi-Vector Threats” and current HP-TippingPoint executive Will Gragido on intelligence and information management strategy; and
  • Dave and me talking about why people think that cops hate technology when what they really mean is that cops hate technology that looks to solve problems they didn92t know they had, as opposed to processes which drive them crazy.

    We’re seeking contributors and people to interview for the podcast. We pay what it costs you to read and listen: nothing!

    Let us know what you think!

    Nick Selby