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iOS 4.3, Personal Hotspots & O2

Those of you that follow Apple will have noticed this week that they released iOS 4.3 to developers – iOS being the operating system which runs the iPhone, iPad and AppleTV.  While there are a number of tweaks in the latest beta release there are two main features which have been widely publicised:  AirPlay for Video and Personal Hotspots.  I want to discuss the personal Hot Spots, because I was excited enough about this to go and download the new version of iOS straight away…

What is Personal Hotspot.

MiFi Hotspot
MiFi Hotspot – You’ll still need one.

Personal Hotspot will allow you to turn your phone into a wireless network, and connect up to 5 devices to it to share it’s 3G data connection.  It will become a sort of MiFi.  I am interested in it because I currently carry around (and pay for) a 3G mobile broadband dongle so I can use my laptop if I am away from WiFi, and this would do away with this as I could just connect my laptop to my iPhone’s Wireless Network.

This is a feature which the iPhone needs to keep up with a number of Android handsets which already have the WiFi hotspot capability.

I currently pay 3 £15 a month for 15Gb of data through my dongle, although I rarely use that much.  I am allowed 500Mb of Data on my O2 iPhone tarriff, so I expected to pay a bit more to allow more data using the hotspot feature.

Tethering & O2 Bolt On.

Sure enough, to use the Hotspot feature your iPhone has to be enabled for tethering – which requires a bolt on from O2.  Further research though suggests it is a terrible value bolt on.  O2 want £7.50 for 500Mb a month.   So to get the same allowance I have from 3 I would have to pay £225 a month.    A complete and utter rip-off – now I remember why I never had it in the first place.

To make things worse Android users can already use their inclusive 500Mb allowance through their WiFi hotspot without having to pay anything extra.  Oh, and 3 offer “all you can eat data” on their iPhone tarriffs (although it does make reference to not using phone as a modem)…

… are O2 trying to cripple the iPhone? They need new tariffs before this feature goes public (estimated March), or it is an expensive feature which Android users get free!!

Interesting Links for October 6th.

These are my interesting links for October 6th:

Interesting Links for September 27th.

These are my interesting links for September 27th:

Slowest Race Ever? – Gordon Bennett Cup

Thanks to a couple of people I follow on Twitter (mainly @apgphoto) I have become  aware of the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett – which is currently taking place.  It is the oldest Air Race, having started in 1905 in which Hot Air Ballons “race” to see who can travel the furthest… making it perhaps the slowest race ever too!

When I started looking into this competition, it truly amazed me!  As I write the lead ballon is Swiss 2, currently at 9,800′ just to the west of Rome travelling at 46 knots.  They left Bristol, UK on Saturday evening.  The pilots travel in a wicker basket.  Yep, a wicker basket at nearly 10,000′ and 40kts!

The human element of taking part in this race is amazing, but the shear planning and strategy which goes into must be phenomenal.  Currently the bulk of those ballons still flying are having to make strategy decisions about whether to continue, or slow down… if they don’t clear Italian airspace by nightfall then they will have to land because VFR flight is prohibited in Italy at night.  The leaders should clear it in time, but the rest of the pack will need to avoid it.

Of course all of this forecasting, and organisation is taking place back at a base in the UK with a team of people dealing with ATC clearances and the like.  A colleague joked “what will they do, shoot them down?”   It turns out that is exactly what the Belarussians did in 1995 resulting in the death of 2 American competitors.  Hardly a proportionate response.  I doubt Italy would do that, but I can’t see them being happy either!

I’ve tried to find out some more about what equipment the ballons carry in terms of radio’s, transponders and other flight equipment; it must be interesting to be an Air Traffic Controller and try and accommodate these guys!

Either way, I am now hooked… this is a proper “spirit of adventure” type race, a real imagination catcher.  You can track the live progress of the ballons online, and there is a video of the launch / prep:

Good News For Pilots?

But not in Europe!

For several years now there has been a massive slow down in pilot recruitment, I am talking mainly fixed wing because they make up the most of the market.  This has been brought about by the aftermath of 9/11, and then the global economic downturn.

Getting a job as an airline pilot is a very hard game for what is known as an ‘ab-initio’ pilot (someone with no experience) at the moment, because there is a glut of pilots with experience who are out of work.

The normal “route” to a commercial flying job in the UK / EU (and this holds true for rotary too generally) is to get your private licence, hour build, do your exams for commercial, get your commercial licence, hour build, get your instructors rating, hour build, get a job with airline!

This costs an awful lot of money, and some airlines (generally the Low Cost operators) have been making it harder with some questionable employment practices involving agency employment and loans etc; and by making new pilots pay for their own type rating onto large jets (Boeing 737 / Airbus A320) – and they have been able to get away with this because there are more potential pilots than jobs.

Times, they be a changing.

Pilot Training
Get One While You Can!

Last week Boeing released some research, which is covered by the BBC, suggesting that over the next 20 years the airline industry would need to recruit 500,000 new pilots (and another 450,000 engineers too) to support the developing demand for pilots from Asia, especially China.

The even better news (for pilots and wannabe pilots) from Europe & USA is that Boeing thinks its unlikely that Asia will have the infrastructure in place to train these pilots themselves and so will have to recruit from abroad.

Recruiting pilots from “western” countries has been a hallmark of growing aviation markets; they like to bring in the experience and then use that to develop their own people.  I have flown with airlines like Emirates, for example, who often have an ex-pat Captain and a local First Officer as crew.  This works out well, because knowledge is passed on and over time I am sure the local pilots will rise to be Captains.

So… it could be a good time to get into flying?

Books – The Oldest Social Media?

Yesterday I bought a technical book from my local Waterstones.  Setting aside the somewhat special feeling a book shop has, it made me think about the validity of technical books against advice you can find online.

Why did I choose to buy a book when I know the same content will be available online somewhere, and how did I choose my book?


Normally when I want to find out about something I resort to Google or Bing, and search for it.  I am then selective and sceptical about the returned results.  If the website looks terrible or takes an age to load I disregard it instantly.  Some web sites / forums have reputations which precede them (MSDN forums, StackOverflow etc), and so they weigh higher in my mind; although even then I’m sceptical about some of the contributions.

But I don’t question the validity of a book so much, but why?  Well, firstly they made it to print – which means concerns about quality shouldn’t be a concern (although I realised I do tend to stick to books from same publishers (APress etc)).  But I don’t know anything about the author largely…

… but yet I trust this persons advice to be accurate and best practice on the whole.  The reason for this is ultimately that they must have earned the respect of their peers and technical community to come to the notice of the publisher.  This is even more true now that we are all so well connected through the likes of Twitter, forums, etc.

So, to be a successful tech author you’ve already been “liked” by enough of your peers / community to get yourself “retweeted” by a publisher for consumption by “followers.”    Does this make books (technical at least) the forerunner of social media?  Possibly.

Anyway, back to the book!

Interesting Links for July 2nd.

These are my interesting links for July 2nd:

Interesting Links for March 24th.

These are my interesting links for March 24th: