Sunday, June 26, 2016

Firepower.


The photo above shows the well - known Erith landmark, the former Cross Keys pub, which is in the process of being professionally converted into a mixed use office space / hot desking facility and a public amenity. The sensitive, high quality restoration and conversion of the listed building, which exists within the Erith High Street conservation area has been progressing steadily over the last couple of years. I know that many local people have already seen inside the finished parts of the very large building, and they have been greatly impressed by what they have seen. The work on the building has gone largely unhindered, but an exception to that rule happened last week; there was a burglary in broad daylight on June 16th, security camera footage of which has identified five adolescents breaking in to Cross Keys and taking a box containing a Bose wireless speaker. The multiple camera HD CCTV on-site has recorded some clear images which have been handed to the police for investigation. Cross Keys co - owner Julian Hilton said "Cross Keys is an important building for the regeneration of Erith town centre, and we want to keep the doors open, not turn it into a fortress. Through Neighbourhood Watch we would like everyone's help in making sure young people don't vandalise and steal like this. This is the first incident of its kind in a long time and we hope it's the last. " The Cross Keys centre will be a powerful community asset, and both theft and criminal damage from it hurt everyone locally in the long run. I will be publishing images from the multi - camera high definition CCTV footage of the incident next week - lack of time has prevented me doing so in this edition. The youths were extremely foolish in their choice of target. The Cross Keys is absolutely covered in state of the art hi def cameras, all of which are in perfect working order - if you study the photo above (click on it for a larger view) you may spot some of them - there are others on the rear of the building, and yet more that are cunningly concealed from view. Any information regarding the perpetrators of the break in can be sent to me, and I will then let Julian Hilton know. More on this next week. 


The local area has produced some outstanding engineers over the years. Yet one name that should be famous seems have been almost forgotten, and today if one thinks of local engineers, the mind goes to his rival Sir Hiram Maxim (Knighted in 1901) generally known for his machine gun and his experiments with heavier than air flight in Bexley, or to Richard Trevithick, who died at Dartford in poverty in 1833 after a lifetime spent developing the steam engine. The name of Sir William Anderson is largely unknown today, despite his achievements, and his strong local connections. One of Sir William Anderson’s biggest claims to fame was that he was instrumental in the invention of the smokeless explosive Cordite, which is used in shell casings as the propellant.  His early life was remarkable - He was the fourth son of John Anderson, a member of the firm of Matthews, Anderson, and Co., bankers and merchants of St. Petersburg, by his wife Frances, daughter of Dr. Simpson. He was educated at the St. Petersburg high commercial school, of which he became head. He carried off the silver medal, and although an English subject received the freedom of the city in consideration of his attainments. When he left Russia in 1849 he was proficient in English, Russian, German, and French. In 1849, he became a student in the Applied Sciences department at King's College, London, and on leaving became an associate. He next served a pupilage at the works of Sir William Fairbairn in Manchester, where he remained three years. In 1855 he joined the firm of Courtney, Stephens, and Co., of the Blackhall Place Ironworks, Dublin. There he did much general engineering work. He also designed several cranes, and was the first to adopt the braced web in bent cranes. In 1863 he became president of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland. In 1864 he joined the firm of Easton and Amos of the Grove, Southwark, and went to live at Erith, where the firm had decided to erect new works. He became a partner, and eventually head, of the firm which at a later date was styled Easton and Anderson - as per the advertisement shown above - click on it for a larger version. At Erith he had the chief responsibility in designing and laying out the works. Part of the business of the firm at that time was the construction of pumping machinery. Anderson materially improved the pattern of centrifugal pump devised by John George Appold. In 1870 he proceeded to Egypt to erect three sugar mills for the Khedive Ismail, which he had assisted to design. In 1872 he presented to the Institution of Civil Engineers an account of the sugar factory at Aba-el-Wakf, for which he received a Watt medal and a Telford premium. Anderson next turned his attention to gun mountings of the Moncrieff type, and designed several for the British government, which were made at the Erith works. In 1876 he designed twin Moncrieff turret mountings for 40-ton guns for the Russian admiralty, which were made at Erith and proved highly successful. Later he designed similar mountings for 50-ton guns for the same country, and about 1888 he designed the mountings for the battleship HMS Rupert. About 1878–82 he was occupied with large contracts which his firm had obtained for the waterworks of Antwerp and Seville. To render the waters of the river Nethe, which was little better than a sewer, available for drinking purposes, he invented, in conjunction with Sir Frederick Augustus Abel, a revolving iron purifier, which proved perfectly effectual. He contributed a paper on the Antwerp Waterworks to the Institution of Civil Engineers, for which he received a Telford medal and a premium. About 1888 Anderson was asked by the explosives committee of the War Office to design the machinery for the manufacture of the new smokeless explosive, cordite. He had hardly commenced this task when, on 11 August 1889, he was appointed director-general of the ordnance factories. The duties of this post prevented him from continuing his work in relation to the cordite machinery, which was committed to his eldest son. Anderson made many improvements in the details of the management of the arsenal, and introduced greater economy into its administration. His improvements at the arsenal included the introduction of the eight hour day for his 17,000 workers and demonstrating that output did not suffer from the reduction of hours from 54 to 48 per week. Sir William Anderson lived in Erith for thirty four years, commuting by rail to his office in The Woolwich Royal Arsenal. He was also very involved with the Church – he served as Superintendent of the Sunday Schools of Christ Church Erith for twenty five years, and was also a licensed lay reader, who conducted services at a mission chapel supported by Christ Church. In his spare time Sir William Anderson was a keen maker – he would construct toys and gifts out of wood and metal that were made with exquisite attention to detail and workmanship. Contemporary reports say that Sir William Anderson was a rather serene, laid back man. An article in the Institute of Civil Engineering Journal in 1899 said “His character was a beautiful one, he was filled with a love of all things, and everyone that really knew him loved him also. He had no love of money and worked for work’s sake and because it was a sacred duty, rather than for gain, and he freely spent that which he had for the benefit of others, and but little on himself. He always had a serene and calm mind. No one ever angry, or heard a hasty or unkind word proceed from his lips. Those in difficulty or trouble naturally came to him assured in advance of any help or advice, and no genuine case of distress was disappointed”.  Sir William Anderson suffered from heart problems for many years, and eventually this led to his death on the 11th December 1898. A plaque dedicated to him can be seen on the wall of the North Aisle in Christ Church Erith. It reads “To the Glory of God, and in memory of Sir William Anderson KCB, FRS, DCL. For many years the earnest and devoted Superintendent of the Sunday Schools for this parish. He entered rest on December 11th 1898. Erected by subscription from the teachers, children and friends of the Sunday School”.


You may well have seen one or more of the web pages that I have screen captured above - click on any of them for a closer view. There are many other, similar ones out there. They all claim to be able to make you hundreds of thousands of pounds / dollars richer in a period of a few weeks with absolutely no risk to yourself. The process by which they say that you can become rich is by using a system called Binary Option Trading. Whilst they are marketed as electronically assisted stock market trading systems, they are little more than a form of online gambling. These platforms may be considered by some as gaming or gambling platforms rather than investment platforms because of their negative cumulative payout (they have an edge over the investor) and because they require little or no knowledge of the stock market to trade. According to Gordon Pape, writing in Forbes magazine, "this sort of thing can quickly become addictive... no one, no matter how knowledgeable, can consistently predict what a stock or commodity will do within a short time frame". Though binary options sometimes trade on regulated exchanges, they are generally unregulated, trading on the internet, and prone to fraud. Many binary option "brokers" have been exposed as questionable operations. With such binary option brokers, there is no real brokerage; the customer is betting against the broker, who is acting as a "bucket shop". Manipulation of price data to cause customers to lose is common. Withdrawals are regularly stalled or refused by such operations. On top of this, if you look at all three of the websites featured, they all have very similar wording, and all offer £10,000 / $10,000 to you if you sign up, if you have not made this amount of profit after the first month. If this was real, the sites would have gone bust within a couple of months. Savvy people would create a swathe of online identities, sign up with each one, then do very little for a month - the site would (in theory) then pay them £10,000 for each account that had not earned that amount through trading - like that was ever going to happen - the fraudsters really did not think this through very clearly. On top of this, the same model / actor is used on both the "Greenwood Formula" and the "Cambridge Method" websites. The faces of the "satisfied users" on the "Greenwood Method" front page are actually models hired from the media / marketing talent hire website Fiverr.com - if this was not enough, the amounts the fictional users claim to have earned since Greenwood and Cambridge went live in March is simply too high from the amount of capital the users are supposed to have invested - even using the wildly over the top rates claimed to be returned, there simply has not been enought time to have accumulated that amount of credit. Any kind of examination of these sites will lead one to realise that they are fraudulent and bogus. Basically anyone who says that they can help you to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds in a few months is doing nothing more than trying to rip you off - please avoid and ignore under any and all circumstances.

Following my scoop story last week that broke the news that pub company J.D Wetherspoon are currently actively looking for a site to open an outlet in Erith. I thought that I had better start doing what the acquisitions team at Wetherspoons were no doubt already doing - researching the demographics of the area - what the population size and composition actually is. This is what I have discovered.  In the 2011 census the population of Erith was 12,053 and is made up of approximately 51 percent females and 49 percent males. The average age of people in Erith is 35, while the median age is lower at 33. 75.6 percent of people living in Erith were born in England. Other top answers for country of birth were 5.9 percent Nigeria, 3.4 percent India, 1.0 percent Zimbabwe, 0.8 percent Ireland, 0.8 percent Ghana, 0.7 percent Scotland, 0.5 percent Jamaica, 0.5 percent South Africa, 0.4 percent South America. 89.6 percent of people living in Erith speak English. The other top languages spoken are 2.8 percent Punjabi, 1.1 percent Polish, 0.6 percent Yoruba, 0.4 percent Portuguese, 0.4 percent Lithuanian, 0.3 percent Turkish, 0.3 percent Tamil, 0.3 percent Russian, 0.3 percent Shona. 38.5 percent of people are married, 12.5 percent cohabit with a member of the opposite sex, 0.6 percent live with a partner of the same sex, 30.1 percent are single and have never married or been in a registered same sex partnership, 10.3 percent are separated or divorced. There are 640 widowed people living in Erith. The top occupations listed by people in Erith are Administrative and secretarial 15.2 percent, Professional 14.5 percent, Elementary 12.0 percent, Administrative 11.3 percent, Associate professional and technical 10.8 percent, Skilled trades 10.7 percent, Elementary administration and service 10.5 percent, Caring, leisure and other service 10.1 percent, Sales and customer service 9.2 percent, Managers, directors and senior officials 9.1 percent. So now you know.

The Royal Artillery "Firepower" museum at Woolwich is set to permanently close on the 8th of July. Most of the collection will move to a new 'heritage centre' in Wiltshire, expected to open by 2020, while some will be retained for a permanent exhibition at the Greenwich Heritage Centre in Woolwich Arsenal. I would imagine that many readers may be thinking "what museum?" It has never been given anything line the level of publicity or promotion that it needed, and the visitor levels have always been extremely low. It nearly closed back in 2007, until a bailout programme was put together, but this time it is definitely closing; the land it occupies on the Woolwich Arsenal Riverside development is now worth so much money that the museum building will almost inevitably be knocked down and rebuilt as luxury flats in time for the opening of Crossrail. It is a great pity the museum has had to close, but I feel that much of the problem was that a vast majority of the general public had no idea that it even existed. I feel that this has been an opportunity wasted, and now it is too late. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.

More controversy exists over the government's "Help to Buy" housing scheme. Would-be-homeowners in large parts of England are being priced out of a government scheme to help first-time buyers, an investigation by the BBC has discovered. The Help to Buy Individual Savings Account (HTB Isa) was introduced last year to help people save for a home. The problem was the price limits the ISA was set up to work with were far too low in London and the South East. In many areas, the average price of a starter home exceeds the maximum purchase cap of £250,000, or £450,000 in London. In Erith the average asking price for a two-bedroom house is £258,350, which is £8,350 above the cap for accessing the bonus with a Help to Buy ISA. When one considers that Erith is officially one of the cheapest places to buy property anywhere in Greater London, this news is very unwelcome. As I have previously mentioned, I could not afford to buy Pewty Acres if I was in the housing market today; I guess I was just in the right place at the right time, back in the day. This is no comfort for aspiring first time buyers now, of course. 


The photograph above shows the reproduction of Colossus, the World's first electronic, digital, programmable computer. The Colossi (there were at least ten of them by the end of the war) were responsible for shortening World War II by around two years, and saving countless hundreds of thousands of lives. The fully working replica in the photo above is based at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes. Contrary to what you may have read in the tabloid press, Colossus was NOT used to break the Nazi Enigma code; instead it was used to assist in the cracking of the even more fiendishly complex Lorenz Cipher. In so doing, the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park were in essence reading Hitler's Email. The National Museum of Computing has innumerable other fascinating exhibits, to which has recently been added something from rather more recently. An archive that tells the story of how the 1980s hack of Prince Philip’s online mailbox led to UK anti-hacking legislation has been deposited at The National Museum of Computing. Robert Schifreen, the "white hat" ethical hacker at the centre of the 1980s controversy, compiled the archive, which details Schifreen’s two-year-long legal travails following his open hack of Prestel, BT’s pre-web online service. Schifreen and the late Steve Gold managed to hack into BT's Prestel Viewdata service, famously accessing the personal message box of Prince Philip in the process. The Prince Philip incident only happened following a number of attempts to shock BT into action after the telecoms company initially showed no interest in bolstering the security of its system. Involving the Royals prompted BT into calling in the police, setting off a chain of events that led to the the arrest of Schifreen and Gold in March 1985 and the subsequent prosecution of the two technology enthusiast journalists. With no anti-hacking law in existence at the time, the archive gives details of the passage of what turned out to be in effect a test case through three courts ending in the acquittal of Schifreen and Gold in the House of Lords (at that time the highest UK court) in 1987. The archive includes Schifreen’s '80s-era hacking password book, transcripts of his interviews with police, legal correspondence, the jury bundle and a substantial number of press cuttings.  In 1985, the internet did not exist, home computing was beginning to take off, Prestel had recently become the first online service available to the UK public but there was no real awareness of the need for computing security and no law explicitly against computer hacking. Schifreen, aged 22 at the time, collected user names and passwords and investigated computer databases not supposedly open to the public but accessible all the same. In a statement, Schifreen explained: “Hackers in those days never started until 6pm because it was so expensive to go online with a dial-up connection before that. But 6pm was a significant start-time because the Prestel security staff had gone home and weren’t there to deal with automated messages telling them that there had been three unsuccessful attempts at a log-on to Prestel. I could read the messages, delete them to cover my tracks before security arrived for work next morning. In effect I was a Prestel System Manager. I even managed to hack Prince Philip’s Prestel Mailbox and was quite open about it,” he added. Schifreen was surprised at how Prestel handled his reports of issues with its systems, which these days would have earned him a bug bounty payout. Thirty years ago he was treated to arrest and trial. “I made no secret of what I was doing,” Schifreen explained. “It was 1985. The Computer Misuse Act came into existence in 1990. I was doing nothing illegal! I phoned Prestel and told them what I could do. I thought they might give me a job. They didn’t. They called Scotland Yard,” he added. Initially charged and convicted of forgery at Southwark Crown Court, that decision was overturned on appeal by the Lord Chief Justice. After a further appeal by the prosecution, the Lord Chief Justice’s decision to acquit was upheld by the House of Lords. Some readers may be aware that I too was involved in a hacking case at a roughly similar time in the early 80's, whilst I worked at Silica Shop in Sidcup. The difference was that we did not get caught and did not seek any publicity - in any case at the time of the event, no law prohibited such actions, and at the time it was all completely legal. All long in the past now. 

Following from some interesting information from long - time Maggot Sandwich reader Sharon, I publish below some information on the company which is building a new low - cost gym in the three retail units opposite Erith Health Centre. The units have been unoccupied since they were constructed ten years ago. The gym company describe themselves and the site thus:-  énergie is the UKs Market leader in the growth segment of fitness and wellness franchising. énergie has developed four niche brands aimed at targeted consumer groups and following the sale of a number of master licence agreements, has licensees and franchisees in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Qatar. With nearly 100 units now operational and in presales, 39 new projects underway, a membership base of over 95,000 and network turnover at c. £26m, énergie is the largest and fastest-growing fitness club franchisor in Europe. The unique range of niche products offered by énergie ensure that the right business model is provided in the right location. For instance in this location where we consider the club would benefit from the ‘Low Cost’ proposition, we launch clubs under our Fit4less brand, in contrast to our full service énergie Fitness Clubs brand, which offers a higher service and facility proposition ideally suited to more affluent or suburban locations. Therefore in summary we are entirely confident this is the correct gym proposition in the correct location for the market we are looking to service. Thus offering vital facilities for what is currently a vastly unengaged  population segment but one which the government guidelines are striving to tackle.

We have not had a food related end video for some time, so this week here is how to make an authentic British Indian Restaurant style Lamb Balti. It makes me hungry just looking at it. Feel free to leave a comment below, or Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.