A walk in Kemnay with Friends

Its the last day of March and we went for a walk with our good friends. This is a first time we have all been together since our weekend mystery trip to the cottage in GlenIsla. I wrote about this back in February. That was a great weekend but did have a ‘not so good’ ending when one of our party ended up in hospital. Glad to report that he is now fully recovered and able for todays excursion.

We start from the Manse in Kemnay and walk along Leshangie then back over the hill with some lovely views of the village and church under the magnificent back drop of Bennachie. Here is one photo taken on the day which is my favourite but you can see all of them by clicking on the link below.


Click here to see all the Photos

A new start for Northern Ireland?

I am writing this on the 27th of March from my hotel room in Belfast. I am here for a meeting of the National Education Network Technical Strategy Group. The reason I wanted to make a post here that I have felt that the last 24 hours could prove to be very important for Northern Ireland. The news last evening feature Rev Dr Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams sitting at the same table discussing arrangements for power sharing and setting up a devolved powers. I can remember very well the many years of news report of violence and killing in NI and it is very good to see the current moves.

History can have a significant impact on peoples current view of the world and there is no doubt in my mind that it will be necessary for both parties to leave the past ‘in the past’ to some extent in order that they can move forward in a spirit of co-operation and forgiveness. I think there was one quote which referred to need to consider the ‘common good’ – this would be a good principle to adhere to as they move forward.

My prayer is that this really is the start of a new era of peace and reconciliation and that feelings of love rather than hate dominates from this time forth.

More on Broadband in the UK

I continue to have concerns about the provision of Broadband in the UK. ADSL is now used widely in the UK and is hailed by some as a solution to the bandwidth problem. However, it seems that we have consumer needs that outstrip the capacity of this service to deliver! A colleague pointed out to me the following service

TV Links

As we see more of this sort of service being delivered over the internet I can only assume that the effects of contention will become more pronounced.

In my view the only real solution to this in the UK is to move to a service delivery model can support the sorts of bandwidths needed to support the emerging applications. Delivery of TV on the internet is interesting in the form demonstrated above but also when you consider a need for a higher quality experience – HDTV for example the capacity of the last mile once again becomes a major bottleneck.

Bill St Arnaud make some very interesting point in his blog post about the need for fibre in the last mile.

click here to see Bill’s post

The basic contention here is that we need to take a long term view about the development of the last mile infrastructure and move towards a medium which can sustain the ever increasing needs of consumers in bandwidth terms. He points toward the need for fibre and also suggests that Ofcom recognize this in their recent reports.

click here to see the Ofcom Last Mile report

I have to confess that I have not fully digested this as yet but Bill’s post give a a good flavour of its contents.

Clearly any move towards a fibre last mile in Scotland will only be possible if there is an economic model that makes it fincially attractive to the telecoms industry or we see the government provide some strategic investment as it has done in the case of the two Scottish Broadband Pathfinder projects.

Pathfinder North

Pathfinder South

These projects have now finally signed contacts for the provision of broadband connectivity to schools and other local authority building in their areas. This has some very positive effects with schools in some areas having their connectivity upgraded from 128k (ISDN) to 4 Mbps and better.

It would be great to see Scotland following the lead of Japan and Korea and making strategic investment in the last mile to move to a all fibre infrastructure. This of course can only be achieved if a much longer term view is taken so that economic models can be built that can demonstrate good value for money. The cost of digging up the road to install fibre is the current disabling factor – this can only be overcome if we can take a much longer term view about our investments.

There is no such thing as a free ride!

I have commented about YouTube before and that service continues to grow in popularity. Apparently, while YouTube has yet to generate much revenue, it online traffic continues to grow rapidly. According to comScore Media Metrix, YouTube attracted 133.5 million visitors worldwide in January, up from 9.5 million a year earlier. This is pretty impressive growth by any standard.

The service is now owned by Google and empowers users to share their own home videos online with relative ease. Of course the service has also been used by some users to publish copyrighted materials. This is clearly illegal and to some extent has been tolerated by the media industry as long as YouTube takes down any illegal footage which is discovered.

However the scale of this is quite remarkable. An article on Mercurynews.com states

“Last month, Viacom demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 unauthorized clips from its site, and since that time, the company has uncovered more than 50,000 additional unauthorized clips, Viacom spokesman Jeremy Zweig said.”

The outcome of this is that Viacom are now suing YouTube for $ 1 billion (interesting what we consider that Google bought YouTube for $ 1.76 billion last November).

Of course the thing that interests me is that fact this would not be an issue if people refused to use the service in this way. The YouTube service has all sorts of useful useful applications but once again we see abuse of the system hitting the headlines. Alas I fear that the convenience offered by YouTube to circumvent copyright will continue to win out in the end.

Perhaps, if we consider that YouTube does abuse the right of the copyright owners we should consider being very selective when viewing content there. The effect of denying the producers of ‘content’ their just return can only have a negative effect which may lead to an overall reduction in the quantity and quality of material being produced.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this legal action will be. I expect to see a an out of court settlement of some form.

I feel that it is the introduction of interactive multimedia that that is leading to the sort of performance problems that I have commented on elsewhere in this blog. I am of course referring to home broad band which continues to provide what I consider to be less than acceptable performance. A recent speed test at my daughters flat showed a slower download speed than the upload speed!!!! Not good. (there are times in the day now when we can achieve 6 Meg plus download speeds so I am convinced that we are seeing the effects of bandwidth contention)

It’s an ‘ill pairted’ world!

The above expression is much used in the North East of Scotland when people who are not rich are referring to people who are. I was interested to learn today that Bill Gates is once again confirmed as the richest man in the world.

Here is a quote from the article I read

“Microsoft’s Bill Gates remains the wealthiest man on Earth, nabbing the top spot for the 13th straight year with $56-billion. His friend, fellow philanthropist and famous investor Warren Buffett grabbed second place with $52-billion. “

This is pretty impressive – to think that he has maintained this status for 13 years. For me it hard to imagine what this amount of money is worth in real terms. One thing is sure, for Bill he probibly does not need to as the question “can I afford” when making any purchase. If course is it us who have elevated him to this status! As we purchase Microsoft products we seek to propagate his empire and personal fortune. With Windows being the dominant operating system and there being no good reason to assume that this is likely to change! I would expect that Bill will continue to enjoy his good fortune.

I really cannot imagine this changing very much and his OS is features on most PCs in the world today. I have to confess that as a Macintosh user of choice, but I really could not do my job with out a working knowledge of Windows too…. I do of course use Microsoft office applications on a daily basis!

So I suppose I am there with the rest of you as we continue to bolster Bill personal good fortune 😉