I’m sad to announce that from the 31st October 2019, I have officially resigned from the Royal Air Force Museum after 10 years of volunteering. It is a sad end of an era in which I thank the Royal Air Force Museum for helping provide me the skills and experiences of which allows me to grow and personally develop.
I’ve just recently been on a family centric trip to Hong Kong. What’s interesting for me is that it is the first time in 18 years since I last set foot in Hong Kong, it’s the first time I flew alone and it’s the first time I had taken photos on an airline.
I couldn’t resist not take my camera with me and it was a good decision because as you can see, I got the most of the flight times and more importantly, discover the approach into Hong Kong International Airport and knew that with this kind of approach I would get some fantastic, albeit, hazy view of Hong Kong.
With the approach into Hong Kong really starting at Flight Level 180 (FL180), the aircraft in effect went around Hong Kong to position itself onto the landing runway and with that the aircraft in effect circled Hong Kong.
For me, seeing Hong Kong from this view was incredibly emotional for me, more so because I’m seeing family for the first time in almost two decades and when you consider that a photo says a thousand words, this leaves me speechless.
Upon landing, I just kept taking photos where I can and was keenly an aircraft spotter, not lost on my fellow passengers who basically caught on very quickly who I was. But more so because of my bouncing enjoyment that we had just landed in one of the best places in the world.
Last year I lamented the problem with Flickr and the impending restrictions for the future. Today I reluctantly resolved it by buying a Flickr Pro subscription.
For me it’s a heavy heart to do such a thing, given there are other sites in which I can either subscribe and upload my photos, but considering I do have a large number of photos on the site there are a few reasons why I have chosen to continue using Flickr even at a cost.
The first reason is that Flickr already contains my current collection of photos including aircraft photo archives and also some important volunteering photos in which I want to keep it active for many who view my volunteering activities.
The second reason is that since I had updated my computer some 18 months ago, I had also upgraded my photo editing software and had a fresh install of the catalog which doesn’t include my previous photo edit settings.
The third reason is that if I chose (for example) 500px, I would still have to pay for what I want and I would have to start from scratch, also the other alternative is Facebook Pages, but given how much trust I place in that site, I wasn’t overly happy about it.
So even though I have complained, I have for the better part of about two months, I have decided ultimately to use Flickr, much to my better judgement. I will however review this again in about 10 – 11 months time before I have to renew the Flickr Pro subscription.
To all my followers I would like to say Merry Christmas 😀
Flickr has recently decided to no longer favorable photographic services in which I have been using as far back as 2007. Since that time I have had a Pro account but downgraded because of the service allowing 1Tb of storage of photos. Now with a recent change in terms and conditions, Flickr has now decided to remove the 1Tb limit on free accounts and to only allow 1000 photos per user.
In essence, Flickr has decided that deleting 1000 photos from users who have spent years accumulating photos is a good thing for them, personally, I see it more as a photographic betrayal of trust because I signed up to Flickr because it is popular, wide spread and more importantly a place where people can just find my photos for the benefit of others.
The photos I mainly post are aircraft that I have spotted over the years. This means that I have thousands of photos available to use and share, but with a limit of 1000 photos per user, this ultimately means that my consistency of providing photographic content on Flickr is now dead.
As Flickr will implement this draconian measure in February 2019, I have no choice but to seek alternative services that will provide the same availability and convenience similar to Flickr but not in the way Flickr has implemented it.
Other News Sources
It’s interesting when you watch YouTube videos and one that you have added to a YouTube bot in Discord is one who neatly explains not just the nerdy world of technology but also how solving a problem through coding and the thought processes resonate with me personally.
One of my volunteering projects is to create and build an Access Database at the RAF Museum for the Vehicle Team. The aim of this project is to help collect, disseminate and use information about vehicle exhibits to help conserve and restore where possible exhibits in need.
One of the problems with building such a database project is that you have to at some point need to use code in such a way to make it function. For that, the process of getting code and transplant it into a database can be a challenge. But the video from Tom Scott helps to illustrate exactly some of the problems I face with working on a project that is for the better part a complete unknown.
To put into perspective, when my Vehicle Team Leader asks me if it’s possible to add a certain feature or develop a way to use the database more usable or efficient, I look at the problem by breaking down the options available and then deciding what type of feature or solution that best fits this particular problem.
One of the best places to get some ready made solutions is to actually use the internet; a vast database collection of information that goes on for decades and interestingly enough can still be just as relevant today as it was first posted back then.
Then there’s the iterative process into looking at the code specifically and making it more efficient, removing or replacing aspects of the code so that it will run more efficiently. For example, when a user starts the database and logs in successfully, the coding sequence is to verify and then accept the correct password to the username then it actively target’s the next form designated to the username and then close the login page immediately.
The reason for closing the login page immediately is primarily to help the user use all of the available memory in the computer to run further operations.
For me, it’s standard policy to close any pages when not in use and only keep open pages where necessary, this is because while many computers have spare available memory, the practice of using up all of the available memory is bad practice and it reduces the ability for the computer to compute further calculations or operations. This results in the user sitting around waiting for the computer to finish it’s operation, this would be just frustrating.
An online friend who is into coding and pretty much into computer system programming showed me this video which outlined a way to program a game using less memory than a 1.44Mb floppy disk.
In this video the programmer outlined some of the techniques in cheating the system into having more content for little memory usage and ultimately using code to make the system just as stable and just as efficient compare to say the latest Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 game which as I shockingly found out was a 50Gb base game install and then there is a 50Gb update patch.
So when I work on my volunteering project, I do more than just have a functioning database, I make sure that the database is usable, stable and as efficient as possible and with that, the skill and experience in this respect is highly useful to any employer.
Project Owl has been a very long term photographic night shoot project. The aim of this project is to photograph at night, mainly around London but if the opportunity arises, then anywhere else I can afford to do it, I will do it.
Photographing at night will require good sun down or early sunsets to allow me to make the most of the night, so most of the time the project has been around the November to December period.
So enjoy when I upload to Flickr some of my photos in the Project Owl album
For those who don’t know, Binky Airways has always been present for many years. In fact, you may not have been aware that it’s used on mainly my media sites such as Flickr, Instagram and YouTube.
The name “Binky Airways” was created just before I left university to help me consolidate some of my aerospace forum and media sites that I was using at the time. Today, it helps me serve as the online media repository of my skills and activities and will continue to do so for many years to come.
I rarely have an actual holiday from work, but I recently decided to have a proper 2 weeks off and spend time going to museums as my holiday and it was highly enjoyable.
The last day of my holiday I decided to go to the Brooklands Museum near Weybridge and on that day there was a special aviation event taking place. At the same time Concorde was being prepared and one lucky visitor in a raffle got to sit in Concorde’s cockpit and activated the electrical hydraulic system for its nose.
You see, this particular Concorde is unique in that its a full production aircraft that flew but never entered public service and ended up being used mostly as spare parts for British Airways. But before the eventual public retirement of Concorde from public service, this particular example didn’t suffer the fate as the other Concorde’s in that as part of those agreements, they were completely de-certified to fly by deliberately sabotaging many of the systems that made Concorde fly.
This example however didn’t have its hydraulic systems sabotaged under that agreement but volunteers at the museum managed to work and finally activate the hydraulic systems using the original equipment that was still used on the aircraft. Imperial War Museum, Duxford, recently had its nose lowered but used external power systems to make that work. So seeing this one was highly unique in the way it was done.
It was certainly one of the highlights of the day and during my 2 weeks on holiday.
Let’s go back to 1997. I’d pretty much started secondary school, I was awkward and I started to have a passion for computers. More precisely, just how do they work and operate.
The best thing about school is that it’s a learning place for not just the education curriculum, its also a place to develop personally things that would eventually define me in the future. One such activity was computers.
In 1997, the school I was in was using a 486 processor using Microsoft 3.1 and eventually 3.11 operating system and to say the least one of the very first things you had to do at the time was to hand type the operating software command to start the operating system itself.
But there was one room which curiously had a large metal re-enforced door. Behind that was computers from the early 80s and it ran on 8-bit programs. This was heaven on earth, because the software on those computers were often games based and being a school was all rather educational.
Moving over the years, I eventually grew a reputation at school for being a computer nerd, given that I don’t own a computer nor do I use one at home at that time. So much so as a computer geek, I was eventually given a special seat during school Sports Day. You see the school I went to for Sports Day I would go to Crystal Palace Sports Centre.
What I would do was work the electronic scoreboard using a computer that was from the late 1970s to 1980s. And I would control the information about the sports event on that day. My IT teacher would be fascinated in the athletics information before I erased it because my IT teacher is an amateur athletics runner.
The great thing about school for me is watching the development of the schools computer systems, from the constant upgrade of the operating systems moving from Windows 3.1, Windows 3.11 then Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98SE and finally getting to Windows 2000. But it wasn’t just the operating system upgrades. The computers themselves were interesting in that I would sometimes be given the task to upgrade the computers themselves by increasing the RAM.
In one case, my IT teacher was also supplying as a PE teacher and he knew I didn’t have much interest in sport, so he would send me to the IT room next door to the library and would get instructions from the IT technician there. It was great because I get to do something no pupil at that time was able to do. Fix a computer.
From here I was learning outside of my main education curriculum and spending time after school in the IT room to learn basic MS-DOS coding to learning how a computer physically worked meant that in the end when I was about to leave school, my IT teachers and the IT technicians decided that I deserved to have a computer.
So I was given a computer that was actually found in a dumpster. In fact many of the computers at that time were old trashed computers that offices and in this case banks didn’t want. And so because I had grown up working on those computers, it as natural for me to work on those type of computers.
I did however had a few technical problems. I once managed to short out a computer because of a loose wire and completely wiped out the hard drive and the main BIOS. It was so bad that when you switched the computer on the computer simply gave a command that basically said, I’ve given up being a computer.
But having said that, I did own a fully working computer after that. And throughout college and university I continually upgraded and newly built computers. All that results today with my latest computer which I have great pride as well as testament to my skill and knowledge because I ended up being much like a technician and helped my friend sort out many faults in his computer system.
To think that 20 years ago, I never had a computer, never knew how a PC worked and now today know so much about computers and technology in general it hasn’t left me.