UK Airspace Time Lapse

Because it’s Friday: UK Airspace Time-lapse

NATS have produced a wonderful time-lapse video of the flight activity happening above our heads every day in the UK:

“Created from actual radar data showing over 7,000 flights, the video graphically illustrates the daily task facing air traffic controllers and the airspace features that help make it all work.

Created by air traffic management company, NATS, the video takes viewers on a unique tour of some of the key features of UK airspace – from the four holding stacks over London and the military training zones above Wales, to the helicopters delivering people and vital supplies to the North Sea oil and gas rigs.”

Via Mashable.

Tate Modern

YouGov Profiler

I spent some time yesterday playing with the YouGov Profiler which is a tool from the polling organisation that makes a set of demographic information available.

It’s more fun than serious research, but it’s compelling all the same.

A colleague pointed out to me that he, as a Bob Dylan fan,  was a lot younger than the 60+ demographic, and isn’t from the West Country. I’m not sure I can see him eating Dorset Blue Vinney Cheese either, but that’s part of the fun of demographics.

YouGov ProfilerWhen I see tools like this I like to remind myself that it used to take weeks to process data like this in its raw form without anything like as nice a presentation.

It’s also a reminder that information is no longer power, because information is free, it’s relationship that is power.


Cutty Sark

Skype for Business – what another name?

Some products get a name and stick with that name:

  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • Excel

Microsoft’s Unified Communications tool-set hasn’t been that fortunate.

A reminder for those of you with a short memory:

  • Live Communication Server – 2003 to 2006
  • Office Communications Server – 2007 to 2009
  • Lync Server – 2010 to 2014
  • Skype for Business – 2015 to ???

Skype is clearly a much stronger brand than Lync and a merger of the two products was never going to use the Lync brand, but you have to feel a little sorry for a team that’s embarking on yet another renaming exercise.

Read the announcement here.

Cutty Sark Ropes

Microsoft and the Surprising Strategic Play

I love to watch news pundits pontificate about how they see an organisations strategy and their predictions of the various steps in delivering that strategy. We love to feel like we are getting some insight that we could put to good value, but business isn’t a safe place where you do predictable things, it’s a place of competition where sometimes your best strategy is to be surprising.

Microsoft has pulled a few surprises for the pundits in recent weeks all of them revealing in practical terms Satya Nadella’s strategy of “mobile first, cloud first”.

For those of you not watching here were the “surprises”:

Dropbox Partnership

Microsoft have partnered with Dropbox to embed Office into Dropbox and Dropbox into Office.

Much of the growth of Dropbox has been driven by mobile users wanting to synchronise their data across multiple devices and with colleagues on multiple devices.

In so doing Microsoft cements Office into the working experience of Dropbox’s over 300 million users (May 2014), and more significantly improves on the experience of Dropbox and Google Drive together.

Free Office for iOS and Andriod

Microsoft now gives away Word, PowerPoint and Excel for Android and iOS users. People have previously had access to read-only capabilities without an Office 365 subscription but these limitations have now been taken away.

The result was that Office Apps for iPhone and iPad sky-rocketed to the top of the AppStore most downloaded list with Word at #1.

Again a Microsoft strategic play for mobile customers and providing linkage to cloud services without mandating their use. Rather than making access to Word, PowerPoint or Excel a reason to move to Office 365 they are choosing to extend the capabilities of Office 365 with benefits such as the newly announced Clutter, or the extended Groups experience.

Per User Licensing for Windows

Licensing of Microsoft software is a mixture between science, art and chaos theory. Mostly it’s done on a per device basis, it’s further complicated by rights to use licenses on multiple devices in some circumstances depending on the connection method and the ownership of the devices itself. This type of licensing made sense in a world where people were given a device from their employer, with licensed software from their employer, and they did everything on that device. But that’s no longer how people work; people want to use their own devices, they want to be able to connect from anywhere and they want to be able to use virtual desktops if required.

Microsoft has made evolutionary changes to the licensing regime to recognise this. The latest change is the provision of per user licensing for Windows.

Perhaps not as significant as the other two surprises, at first glance, this move licenses a whole set of mobile devices to connect to Windows virtual desktops. This, in turn, clarifies the licensing position for many BYOD scenarios where people want to get access to Windows applications from their own devices. It removes risk and friction from organisations wanting to deliver virtual desktop experiences.

.NET Core now Open Source and Visual Studio Community for Free

One of the driving forces for the explosion of Open Source has been open source development frameworks. Now Microsoft has joined them by moving .NET Core to an open source model extending support into Linux and Mac OS-X at the same time.

Visual Studio has been a popular IDE for a long time (over 17 years) growing and morphing as different development capabilities have been required. The new free Community edition has similar capabilities to the Professional edition so it’s no neutered basic starter edition.

To quote the blog post announcing these changes:

With these releases, we are broadly opening up access to our industry leading platform and tools to every developer building any application in today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world. No matter if you are a startup, a student, a hobbyist, an open source developer or a commercial developer, and no matter the platform you are targeting or the app you are creating, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Online, .NET and Azure will help you be successful.

Another strategic play to reach out to the development community to make Microsoft the chosen starting point for mobile and cloud projects.

Strategy and Surprises

Commentary on each of these surprises is a mixture of defensive strategy and offensive strategy. The best strategy comprises both.


Because it’s Friday: Sunspot AR 2192

The sun is massive and has a huge impact on our planet. The sun is also incredibly active.

Sometimes it likes to remind us of how active it is, from the 14th October 2014 to 30th October it showed us the largest sunspot that we have seen for 22 years.  It measures 80,000 miles across or roughly the width of 10 Earths side by side.

The following videos were produced from 17,000 4K resolution images and show us how active the sunspot was while it was visible from the earth:

Derwentwater Launch

Is my job going to be computerised? (UK edition)

A little while ago I highlighted some research by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne looking at the computerisation of jobs which was applied to the US jobs market.

In a recent report this research has been applied to the UK jobs market.

In summary it states:

Technology, automation and robotics will cause a significant shift in the UK labour market in the next twenty years, with one-third (35%) of existing jobs at risk of being replaced according to research carried out by Deloitte with Carl Benedikt Frey, of the Oxford Martin School, and Michael A Osborne, of the Department of Engineering Science, at the University of Oxford.

Advances in technology will likely see jobs requiring repetitive processing, clerical and support services, replaced with roles requiring digital, management and creative skills. These trends are already well under way.

Frey and Osborne conducted a similar study in 2013 on automation in the US job market. The latest research finds that:

  • 35% of existing jobs in the UK, decreasing to 30% in London, are at high risk from automation over the next two decades.
  • However, 40% of UK jobs are at low or no risk. In London, 51% of jobs are at low or no risk.
  • “High risk” jobs are in office and administrative support; sales and services; transportation; construction and extraction; and production.
  • “Low or no risk” jobs are in skilled management; financial services; computing, engineering and science; education; legal services; community services; the arts and media; and healthcare.
  • Across the UK, jobs paying less than £30,000 a year are nearly five times more likely to be replaced by automation than jobs paying over £100,000. In London, lower paid jobs are eight times more likely to be replaced.

To put it another way, at the last count, there were 30.76 million people in work in the UK, so a 35% impact would see over 10.8 million people looking for new employment.

Those are alarming numbers, but there is evidence that organisations are already preparing. The report focusses on London as the driver of change in the UK and includes the results of a survey of 100 London based business.

The key finding is that we are transitioning from one set of skills to another set. This is a change that has been happening for some time, as the following two tables from the report highlight:


(Speaking as an IT person it’s interesting to see Zumba Instructor above Big Data Architect :-) )

The full report is available

Towards Lodore

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the…

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility!
Soren Kierkegaard