An omnibus of tech posts by s Futurologist on software development primarily.

Monday, 18 May 2015


National Rail app defect

Time format in latest Android app has been broken for last 6 months.
National Rail can you sort out?

Saturday, 16 May 2015


0800 buster - don't use it, it cuts you off after 30 mins

Avoid using 0800 Buster service, 01209 630 800 because it will cut you off if you are on the line more than 30 mins.

Friday, 1 May 2015


NEST Pension scheme postal address workaround

If like me you choose to open a NEST pension scheme for employees, be aware that NEST has a defect, they omit the "business name" from all post.

The workaround is to duplicate the business name in the "building name" box of the postal address. This is a manual step, you need to carefully modify the address.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Natalie Bennett only one outfit?

Natalie Bennett only owns one outfit?

Saturday, 4 April 2015


CloudScan Ubuntu compatible

Getting a scanner to work with Ubuntu is always a challenge. My latest Epson WF-2630 is no different. I'm amazed that manufacturers still do not develop industry standards for scanning.

I found that the printer supports Google's CloudPrint, so what we need is CloudScan.. it should of course be an open standard, with security and encryption.

Maybe when we start having GNU+Linux desktops in businesses, manufacturers will have to take their product support seriously.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Bolted airline cockpit doors considered harmful

I've been thinking about this since MH370, and its happened again today. A real trajedy that the airline industry does not have a robust crew safety and security policy.
Cockpit crew protocol for airliners and other craft.

After 11 Sept, 2001, bolts were introduced on inside of airline cockpit doors. These bolts can only be engaged by crew inside the cockpit. This prevents unauthorised entry to the cockpit by persons from the passenger areas of aircraft.

During flight, when each pilot is on a meal or toilet break the cabin crew are radioed, and the put on the SEATED light. Only when everyone is seated, and cabin crew are observing vestibule and gangways does the cockpit crew unlock the bolts. As soon as is possible, the door is shut and bolted again.

The gap in this procedure is that crew are implicitly completely trusted and considered 100% healthy. As was the case with the Egypt Air crash (pilot suicide) and potentially MH370, either the main or co-pilot bolted the door while the other pilot was outside the cockpit. In this eventuality there is no way for any of the cabin crew or locked-out pilot to intervene.
Any illness (eg heart attack) would leave pilot alone in need of medical care inside bolted cockpit.

Likewise any disagreement between pilots or other problem would be a risk.

Proposal for updated protocol
During any time where both pilots are not together in the cockpit, before either leave the cockpit, they must be joined by another member of male crew (if remaining person is male), or female crew (if remaining person is female). This would leave an even balance of power within the cockpit while the other pilot is outside the cockpit.
This change, would eliminate some opportunity for problems should a pilot become unwell while alone in the cockpit.
Additional communications
There must be an independent, battery backed up radio communication set, that the crew have complete control of (in the galley, in rear of the plane).

GPS beacon and transponder must not be possible to switch off.
GPS backup emergency beacon located in galley for emergency crew to use.
Emergency satellite phone for use by crew in the galley.
Oxygen tanks containing 12 hours of oxygen for use by the crew.
Oxygen tanks in the cockpit containing 12 hours of oxygen for use by the crew.
Diagnostics about the plane from black-boxes must be streamed and uploaded to satellites constantly.
Every part of the plane interior, cockpit and exterior covered by HD cameras, that are recorded on the black box

Regarding the bolts
Could consider changing to a combination lock, with emergency override after communication with ground control using a backup emergency radio set.
Regarding ground control
Consider if it would be appropriate to have a way for ground control to override the pilot controls, and direct the auto-pilot to nearest airport to land.  This is somewhat risky, as could be subverted by internet crackers if the control channel was acquired.
I wonder if this pilot was fascinated by MH370's disappearance.

Finally, crew and pilots on vulnerable transport such as planes should, like the military, have their medical records shared with the airline, with instantaneous updates on any prescriptions or treatments etc

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


National Rail app full of defects

Time is displayed word wrapped over two lines.

Replacement bus services are displayed for journeys that you are not on.

There's no way to check arrival time of a train I am travelling on.


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