Saturday, January 26, 2019

Old bird's-eye view map of Amsterdam

A 1538 painting by Cornelis Anthonisz showing a bird's-eye view of Amsterdam; 
the famous Grachtengordel had not yet been established.
This actually is one of the oldest surviving maps of Amsterdam, showing the city's finished medieval walls, towers and gates.
Like in most old maps of Amsterdam the city is shown from the river IJ, so that the view is directed to the south rather than the north.
Collection Amsterdam Museum

 Bird's eye view of Amsterdam, painted by Jan Micker around 1652.
Micker was inspired by Cornelis Anthonisz.' 1538 View of Amsterdam.
This painting thus portrays Amsterdam as it must have been around 1538, and not the enlarged Amsterdam of 1652.

 The urban design work of the Dutch architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage (1856-1934) focused on finding sustainable concepts to cope with the strong population growth of Dutch cities in the 1930s

 Amsterdam North up view in the GeoGarage platform (NLHO nautical chart)

Links : 

Friday, January 25, 2019

UK Hydrographic Office welcomes Maritime 2050 strategy

Mapping the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone provides data used by offshore industries, including aquaculture and fisheries information, as well as the energy sector.


UK Government aims to support autonomous navigation and map over 6 million square kilometres of the world’s oceans

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has welcomed the publication of the UK government’s ‘Maritime 2050’ strategy paper, which sets out the vision for the future of the UK maritime sector.

A real vision for the future of the UK maritime sector

The strategy, which has been developed in consultation with agencies including the UKHO and the wider public and private sectors, sets out a series of detailed recommendations to help the UK maintain its position as a leading global maritime nation.
These recommendations span themes including the environment, international trade, security and resilience, infrastructure, people and technology.

A marine geospatial opportunity

A focus on the positive impact that smart shipping and use of autonomous vessels could have on the environment, as well as safety and efficiency across the maritime industry, forms a key part of the paper.
In recognition of these benefits, the strategy supports collaboration between the UKHO, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, industry experts and the wider government to develop navigation and safety data requirements that enable the use of these technologies in the future.

 Marine geospatial data is key to unlocking a deeper understanding of our oceans
Find out how UKHO works with government partners to collect this data and generate value

The strategy also recognises the value of marine geospatial data in unlocking economic potential for maritime-related industries, with further recommendations to not only fully map the seabed in the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (spanning 6,805,586 sq. km) to modern standards, but also play a key role in international efforts to chart the world’s seabed.
This aim will be key to helping government and the wider industry improve our understanding of how we can protect and sustainably benefit from the global marine environment.

Commenting on the Maritime 2050 paper, Cathrine Armour, Director of Customer Division, said:
  • The UK Hydrographic Office welcomes the publication of Maritime 2050, which sets out a compelling vision for the future of the UK maritime sector. The UK has the world’s fifth largest Exclusive Economic Zone and the better we understand our oceans, the better placed we will be to ensure its prosperity whilst capitalising on the opportunities that exist.
  • As the government’s hydrographic and marine geospatial data experts, we are proud of the part we play in mapping the UK’s seabed and enabling the future of maritime navigation. At the same time, we can only meet the ambitions of Maritime 2050 through a collaborative approach that brings together the expertise and insights of all our partners across government, industry and academia. We look forward to working closely with these partners to fulfil these goals.

You can read the strategy in full here:

Links :

Oxford scientists successfully recreated a famous rogue wave in the lab

From Ars Technica by Jennifer Ouelette

The so-called "Draupner wave" was recorded by an oil drilling platform in 1995.
In 1995, a powerful rogue wave slammed into an offshore gas pipeline platform operated by Statoil in the southern tip of Norway.
Dubbed the "Draupner wave," it generated intense interest among scientists, since the platform's various sensors and instruments provided precise details about the wave's dynamics.
Rogue waves had long been considered a myth, so those readings—combined with damage to the platform consistent with a wave some 84 feet high—provided crucial evidence for the phenomenon

The phenomenon of rogue waves, which researchers have recreated in testing tanks, can now be predicted for the first time and has been found to be triggered by two waves crossing over at the key angle of 60 degrees
source : FloWave Ocean Energy Research facilty (Edimburg Univ)

It wasn't long before scientists were attempting to recreate rogue waves in the laboratory, the better to understand the mechanisms behind how they form in the first place.
Now a team at the University of Oxford in England has successfully recreated the "Draupner wave" in a circular water tank, according to a new paper in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, shedding further light on the mechanisms that produced it.
Bonus: the wave profile bears a striking resemblance to The Great Wave off Kanagawa, a famous 19th-century woodblock print by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

 Close-up of the event, taken from Paul Taylor's paper.

"The measurement of the Draupner wave in 1995 was a seminal observation initiating many years of research into the physics of freak waves and shifting their standing from mere folklore to a credible real-world phenomenon," said co-author Mark McAllister of the University of Oxford.
"By recreating the Draupner wave in the lab, we have moved one step closer to understanding the potential mechanisms of this phenomenon."

A rogue wave is usually defined as a wave that is 2.2 times taller than the average waves around it.
They are notoriously difficult to predict and can appear quite suddenly, making them very dangerous to ships and deep-sea drilling platforms.
In 1978, a supposedly "unsinkable" cargo ship called the MS München was lost at sea.
Analysis of the floating wreckage that was recovered indicated a powerful rogue wave (possibly more than one) was the most likely culprit.

Rogue waves can also form in lakes, like Lake Superior's "Three Sisters" phenomenon (three large waves hitting a ship one after the other before the first wave can clear).
This is believed to have caused the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, immortalized in a 1975 ballad by Gordon Lightfoot.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, a 19th-century woodcut print by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai
versus simulated Draupner freak wave

Despite numerous anecdotal eyewitness accounts about rogue waves, there wasn't any hard scientific evidence for them, so such claims were dismissed as myths or legends.
In fact, a French naval officer in 1826, Jules Dumont d'Urville, reported seeing a 108-foot-high wave in the Indian Ocean and was roundly ridiculed by physicist François Arago for his trouble.
At the time, scientists didn't think waves could be higher than 30 feet.

In the early 1960s, the National Institute of Oceanography reported measuring a 67-foot wave, cited in a seminal 1964 paper by Laurence Draper on the subject.
"Modern research has confirmed that such monsters can occur, and that wave heights can exceed by an appreciable amount the maximum values which have been accepted in responsible circles," Draper wrote.

But scientific evidence was still mostly lacking, until a rogue wave was recorded slamming into a platform in the North Sea in 1984.
Satellite and radar imagery over the past few decades further confirmed that rogue waves are very real.

Rogue waves are a combination of the energy of several ordinary waves focused into one spot.
Early lab attempts to recreate rogue waves used long, straight wave tanks and relied on paddles or similar mechanical means to create different kinds of waves.
Those experiments revealed that not just any chance combination of multiple waves is sufficient to produce a rogue wave.
Rather, the waves start out with roughly the same dominant wavelength, but a small perturbation will make one wave a bit higher than the others.
This causes the waves behind it to speed up, while the waves in front slow down.
Energy piles up in a positive feedback loop until the wave with the initial perturbation "goes rogue."

Still images of the reconstruction of the Draupner wave,
showing plunging breaking that gives an upper limit to how high a wave can get.

Reconstructed Draupner wave shown breaking from an upward projected jet.
This does not limit wave crest height.

Reconstruction of the Draupner wave, this time shown breaking along the confluence of the crossing waves, producing a jet with both plunging and upward motion.

The black lines denote real measurements from the Draupner platform in 1995.
The red dashed lines are the final experimental results in the lab.
DOI: Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 2019. 10.1017/jfm.2018.886 (About DOIs). 

But ocean waves are not produced by mechanical means; they're the result of wind interacting with the surface of the water.
And it's tough to recreate those precise dynamics with long, straight water tanks.
So in 2017, physicists built at large, ring-shaped water tank (5 meters in diameter) at the University of Turin in Italy, using fans to blow air over the surface to simulate wind.
They observed the same "self-focusing" effect in the rogue waves produced in the tank.

In this latest experiment, the Oxford scientists generated two sets of waves in a circular water tank at the University of Edinburgh and made sure they crossed each other at various angles, the better to recreate the conditions under which the Draupner wave had formed.
In these conditions, the wave doesn't break like you'd normally expect.
Wave breaking usually serves to limit a wave's maximum height, but that limiting factor doesn't occur when waves cross each other at large angles.

The sweet spot turned out to be an angle of 120 degrees: when the groups of waves crossed at that angle, they formed a wave that scaled neatly with the height and length of the Draupner wave (albeit at 1/35th the size of the original).

 This rare photo of a rogue wave was taken by first mate Philippe Lijour aboard the supertanker Esso Languedoc, during a storm off Durban in South Africa in 1980.
The mast seen starboard in the photo stands 25 metres above mean sea level.
The wave approached the ship from behind before breaking over the deck, but in this case caused only minor damage.
The mean wave height at the time was between 5-10 metres.
courtesy ESA

All this research matters, because a better understanding of how powerful rogue waves form could help scientists make better predictions as to when they are likely to occur.
That means ships and offshore drilling platforms can be better prepared for such an event.
"Not only does this laboratory observation shed light on how the famous Draupner wave may have occurred, it also highlights the nature and significance of wave breaking in crossing sea conditions," said co-author Ton van den Bremer.

Links :

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Here are 4 weather concepts that confuse people - including the Polar Vortex

Polar vortex - NASA

From Forbes by Marshall Shepherd

I saw an article this morning that said something to the effect that the "Polar Vortex" was coming to the United States to blah, blah, blah.
This characterization of the Polar Vortex as this "storm-like thing" that comes to get us periodically is somewhat mischaracterized.
I promise you it is not like the boogeyman hiding under our bed.
I realized that it was probably time to revisit four things about weather that still confuse the public.
I could have certainly included more, but these are the ones that I notice in my personal spaces and on social media.

Polar Vortex

Since the there was a recent split in the Polar Vortex, I will start with it.
University of Miami research meteorologist Brian McNoldy offers a nice explanation in his blog:
The polar vortex (also sometimes called the circumpolar vortex) is a large, persistent, upper-atmospheric, cyclonic circulation that forms and exists over the winter pole...
The polar vortex is perfectly normal, and has been known about for at least 70 years.
It is not a winter storm, or a storm of any kind.
It's just a natural part of Earth's circulation 10 to 30 miles up in the atmosphere.
There is one at both poles, and other planets have them too.
McNoldy goes on to point out that recently the Polar Vortex recently split allowing very cold Arctic air to intrude into the eastern half of the continental United States.

source : NOAA

European vs American Model

This is one that honestly amuses me.
Monitor social media enough, and it's almost like there are fan clubs or cheering sections.
The American Global Forecast System (GFS) model and the European Center For Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) model (often referred to as the "Euro") are global forecast models often used by meteorologists.
There are other models by the way, and they all are used by our community.
However, these two seem to get headlines for weather events 7 to 14 days out.
You've probably seen social "media-rologists" or your Aunt Clara share an "loooooongggg-range" hurricane or snowstorm prediction.
It probably came from one of these models.
Scientific studies and meteorological experience tells us that the "Euro" model has typically been more accurate, on average, than the GFS model.

This prompted Congress, after Hurricane Sandy, to have a sense of urgency about providing NOAA with the tools to catch or surpass the European model.
Candidly, we need to be more proactive when it comes to these things rather than reactive, but I digress.
I wrote in Forbes two years ago about some of those changes to the GFS after this mandate was issued.
I find that the constant "GFS vs Euro" banter gives some people the impression that the Euro is light-years beyond the GFS.
In fact, they both have their moments of "good" and "bad" performance.
I have even noticed that in recent weeks.
NOAA's GFS model is still a world-class model.

Weather vs Climate

Certain people consistently tweet snarky comments when it is cold or snowing as if that refutes the notion of global warming.
Here is a pro-tip: Resist the urge to do that because an informed reader will immediately recognize that you do not know the difference between weather and climate.
Even as our climate warms, we will always have winter, snowstorms, blizzards, and cold outbreaks.
More importantly, it is not called "East Coast Warming," it is called Global Warming.
Even if one tiny corner of the planet is experiencing extreme cold (or warmth), it is more intelligent to assess what the broader planet is doing before typing out that Tweet.

Accuracy of Forecasts

I write about this ad nauseam, but it just will not go away.
I saw a post recently asking what our "guess" was for the weather this week.
I have been fascinated by this public tendency to perceive forecasts to be wrong.
As I have written before, there are several reasons this happens.
First, sometimes the forecast is wrong.
However, it is right far more often.
People tend to remember the less frequent event, the missed forecast.
I am sure Chicago Bears fans remember the missed field goal in the playoffs far more than all of the kickers made field goals this past year.
It is human nature especially if the missed forecast impacted their lives in some way.
Second, many people do not understand what probabilistic forecasts or uncertainty is trying to convey.

There are people that actually interpret a 20% chance of rain as meaning it is not going to rain.
Wouldn't that be 0%.
Rainfall forecasts are presented in a probabilistic sense.
I also notice the same struggle with things like the "hurricane cone of uncertainty." During Hurricane Irma, some people evacuated from one part of the cone to another part of Florida that was still in the cone.
I think the successes of weather forecasts have also given the public the illusion that we can also do things we cannot.
When that doesn't happen, they complain.
Our models are not robust enough to tell you that it is going to rain at 4:32 pm directly over your dog's water bowl in the backyard by the tomato plant.
This is why we have to keep educating about math, statistics, weather, and overall science literacy with "teachable moments" like the Polar Vortex.

I will bring this to a close.
I could have more by digging deeper on these topics:
  • Hurricanes and typhoons are basically the same type of storm but in a different part of the world.
  • Climatologists really do know that climate also changes naturally.
  • It gets cold in deserts.
  • There is no devious intent in the use of "climate change vs global warming."
  • Modern weather forecasting is far more accurate than almanacs or rodents.
  • Heat lightning is not really a thing or what you have been told it is.
  • Weather Apps are fine but have limitations.
  • Don't take them as the gospel, especially in rapidly evolving weather situations.
Instead, I will just end with a reminder that lightning is spelled without an "e."

Links :

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Global satellite broadband service launched for unmanned applications

Iridium announced the commercial launch of its Iridium Certus broadband service, the first new capability activated from the company's Iridium NEXT program.

From Unmanned Systems Techology by Mike Rees

Iridium Communications has announced the commercial launch of its Iridium Certus broadband service, the first new capability activated from the company’s Iridium NEXT satellite replacement program.
Iridium Certus is a unique platform designed for the development of specialty applications such as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and other autonomous vehicles, and is the world’s only truly global broadband service, offering on-the-move internet and high-quality voice access.
This announcement marks the end of an extensive global testing phase, including beta trials with live customers; the initial service is targeted at maritime and terrestrial applications, with Iridium Certus aviation solutions expected later once certified.

The service enables mobile functionality for deployed teams and two-way remote communication and safety-of-life services for the critical communications needs of teams operating beyond the reach of cellular coverage, including first responders and search and rescue organizations.

 Artist’s concept of Iridium Next satellites providing aircraft tracking coverage.
Credit: Aireon

Iridium Certus enables a unique suite of mobility applications and true comms-on-the-move capabilities with the robustness and reliability of a state-of-the-art L-band user network.
This includes keeping unmanned systems safely connected and maintaining consistent communication, regardless of location.
Iridium Certus can also support applications that serve remotely deployed IoT devices or mobile platforms, such asvital command and control links for the long haul delivery of critical supplies like vaccines and medicine.

“The debut of Iridium Certus is the start of a new chapter in the Iridium story, one that is set to catapult us and our partners forward.
At its core, Iridium Certus is an innovation engine for the future.
It will enable us to provide broadband connections to teams, vehicles and the important IoT “things” that are in the 80-plus percent of the world that lacks cellular coverage,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.
“Adoption of this new service by our partners has already begun, and it has been eagerly anticipated by every target industry.
The launch of this service is a huge achievement, and it is already disrupting the status-quo through our smaller, faster, lighter and more cost-effective terminals and service.”

“Iridium Certus is delivering real-time connections everywhere our vessels go.
As a result, shipboard communications, vessel performance systems and the crew themselves are never out of contact.
We are now able to upgrade existing broadband terminals to Iridium Certus to ensure we are getting the highest throughput at the best cost on the newest global network,” said Holger Börchers of Briese Schiffahrts GmbH & Co.
KG, Leer/Germany.
“Iridium Certus is a game-changer for us.”

Iridium Certus terminals are being built by Cobham (maritime), Thales (maritime, aviation and land-mobile), Collins Aerospace (aviation), L3 (aviation), Gogo (aviation) and Satcom Direct (aviation).
To date, 35 service providers are authorized by Iridium to provide the service around the world.

Now that the service is available, mariners will, for the first time, have a more competitive range of choices when evaluating connectivity solutions for vessels of any size, supporting the digitalization of shipping and the autonomous vessel movement.
Land-mobile users will be able to connect vehicles and assets “on-the-move” anywhere on the planet, with customizable hardware and solutions that can switch from cellular to satellite connectivity as needed to help manage costs.
Upon terminal availability, aviation users will gain access to Iridium Certus solutions that support a range of capabilities for aircraft, and will help advance efforts toward adopting satcom as a primary means of aircraft communications.

Rolls-Royce developed this concept for bridge operations of remote cargo vessels
Credit: Rolls-Royce

For government users, Iridium Certus provides a secure solution that supports the mission-critical requirements of the warfighter, including truly mobile hardware that is resilient and rugged enough to withstand high-risk combat zones and inclement weather events.
For IoT applications, Iridium Certus will in the future deliver Internet Protocol (IP) data applications over smaller, portable and more cost-effective devices to vertical markets like industrial IoT, forestry, utilities, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and transportation and construction.
In the future, Iridium plans to introduce an even more versatile transceiver that can scale down terminals to smaller, lighter and more portable uses on small unmanned vehicles and drones.
These transceivers will then become part of long-lasting battery-powered devices ideal for IoT applications in remote environments.

Iridium is debuting the service, which will feature a variety of speed classes, with the Iridium Certus 350 (352/352 Kbps) offering, which supports capabilities like internet and high-quality voice services to compact terminals built specifically for maritime, aviation and terrestrial/vehicle applications.
Terminals will be upgradable to the next speed class, Iridium Certus 700 (352/704 Kbps), with a firmware update once available.

Iridium Certus is powered by the low earth orbit Iridium satellite network, comprised of 66 crosslinked satellites that create a web of coverage around the entire planet.
Unlike other satellite systems, Iridium’s crosslinked architecture enables real-time transit of data to and from any location on the globe without the need for abundant ground stations and allows it to maintain consistent, high quality coverage, including over the oceans and polar regions.

Links :

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ships infected with ransomware, USB malware, worms

Europe's largest port is embracing the Internet of things

From ZDnet by Catalin Cimpanu

Ships are the victims of cyber-security incidents more often than people think.
Industry groups publish cyber-security guidelines to address issues.

Ships suffer from the same types of cyber-security issues as other IT systems, a recent document released by the international shipping industry reveals.

The document is the third edition of the "Guidelines on Cyber Security onboard Ships," an industry-approved guide put together by a conglomerate of 21 international shipping associations and industry groups.

While the document contains what you'd expect to contain --rules and guidance for securing IT systems onboard vessels-- it also comes with examples of what happens when proper procedure isn't followed.

These examples are past cyber-security incidents that have happened on ships and ports, and which have not surfaced in the public eye before until now.
For example, the guidelines include the case of a mysterious virus infection of the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) that ships use for sailing.
A new-build dry bulk ship was delayed from sailing for several days because its ECDIS was infected by a virus.
The ship was designed for paperless navigation and was not carrying paper charts.
The failure of the ECDIS appeared to be a technical disruption and was not recognized as a cyber issue by the ship's master and officers.
A producer technician was required to visit the ship and, after spending a significant time in troubleshooting, discovered that both ECDIS networks were infected with a virus.
The virus was quarantined and the ECDIS computers were restored.
The source and means of infection in this case are unknown.
The delay in sailing and costs in repairs totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (US)
But this isn't the only malware-related incident that affected a ship, according to the aforementioned document.

Ships were also impacted by ransomware, sometimes directly, while in other incidents the ransomware hit backend systems and servers used by ships already in their voyage at sea.

For example, in an incident detailed in the report, a shipowner reported not one, but two ransomware infections, both occurring due to partners, and not necessarily because of the ship's crew.
A shipowner reported that the company's business networks were infected with ransomware, apparently from an email attachment.
The source of the ransomware was from two unwitting ship agents, in separate ports, and on separate occasions.
Ships were also affected but the damage was limited to the business networks, while navigation and ship operations were unaffected.
In one case, the owner paid the ransom.
But this wasn't the only incident.
In another, the entry point for the ransomware wasn't because of its interaction with shipping ports, but because they failed to set up proper (RDP) passwords.
A ransomware infection on the main application server of the ship caused complete disruption of the IT infrastructure.
The ransomware encrypted every critical file on the server and as a result, sensitive data were lost, and applications needed for ship's administrative operations were unusable.
The incident was reoccurring even after complete restoration of the application server.
The root cause of the infection was poor password policy that allowed attackers to brute force remote management services successfully.
The company's IT department deactivated the undocumented user and enforced a strong password policy on the ship's systems to remediate the incident.
However, remotely-accessed accounts and systems weren't the only sources of infections on ships.
The report also puts a great deal of attention on USB thumb drives, usually used to update systems or transfer new documents into air-gapped networks.

The report includes details of two incidents where USB thumb drives have led to a cyber-security incident, delays, and financial damage.
1) A dry bulk ship in port had just completed bunkering operations.
The bunker surveyor boarded the ship and requested permission to access a computer in the engine control room to print documents for signature.
The surveyor inserted a USB drive into the computer and unwittingly introduced malware onto the ship's administrative network.
The malware went undetected until a cyber assessment was conducted on the ship later, and after the crew had reported a "computer issue" affecting the business networks.
This emphasises the need for procedures to prevent or restrict the use of USB devices onboard, including those belonging to visitors.
2) A ship was equipped with a power management system that could be connected to the internet for software updates and patching, remote diagnostics, data collection, and remote operation.
The ship was built recently, but this system was not connected to the internet by design.
The company's IT department made the decision to visit the ship and performed vulnerability scans to determine if the system had evidence of infection and to determine if it was safe to connect.
The team discovered a dormant worm that could have activated itself once the system was connected to the internet and this would have had severe consequences.
The incident emphasizes that even air gapped systems can be compromised and underlines the value of proactive cyber risk management.
The shipowner advised the producer about the discovery and requested procedures on how to erase the worm.
The shipowner stated that before the discovery, a service technician had been aboard the ship.
It was believed that the infection could potentially have been caused by the technician.
The worm spread via USB devices into a running process, which executes a program into the memory.
This program was designed to communicate with its command and control server to receive its next set of instructions.
It could even create files and folders.
The company asked cyber security professionals to conduct forensic analysis and remediation.
It was determined that all servers associated with the equipment were infected and that the virus had been in the system undiscovered for 875 days.
Scanning tools removed the virus.
An analysis proved that the service provider was indeed the source and that the worm had introduced the malware into the ship's system via a USB flash drive during a software installation.
Analysis also proved that this worm operated in the system memory and actively called out to the internet from the server.
Since the worm was loaded into memory, it could affect the performance of the server and systems connected to the internet.
But the guidelines also warned against IT screw-ups, which, while not technically cyber-security incidents, usually cause the same effects.
Just like every IT department in every company anywhere around the world, ships have had their string of facepalm-worthy IT mishaps and system crashes.
1) A ship with an integrated navigation bridge suffered a failure of nearly all navigation systems at sea, in a high traffic area and reduced visibility.
The ship had to navigate by one radar and backup paper charts for two days before arriving in port for repairs.
The cause of the failure of all ECDIS computers was determined to be attributed to the outdated operating systems.
During the previous port call, a producer technical representative performed a navigation software update on the ship's navigation computers.
However, the outdated operating systems were incapable of running the software and crashed.
The ship was required to remain in port until new ECDIS computers could be installed, classification surveyors could attend, and a near-miss notification had been issued as required by the company.
The costs of the delays were extensive and incurred by the shipowner.
This incident emphasizes that not all computer failures are a result of a deliberate attack and that outdated software is prone to failure.
2) A ship was under the conduct of a pilot when the ECDIS and voyage performance computers crashed.
A pilot was on the bridge.
The computer failures briefly created a distraction to the watch officers; however, the pilot and the master worked together to focus the bridge team on safe navigation by visual means and radar.
When the computers were rebooted, it was apparent that the operating systems were outdated and unsupported.
The master reported that these computer problems were frequent (referred to the issues as "gremlins") and that repeated requests for servicing from the shipowner had been ignored.
It is a clear case of how simple servicing and attention to the ship by management can prevent mishaps.
The fact that ships are vulnerable to hacking and malware infections isn't anything new.
Ships have been a disaster waiting to happen for years, because ship makers have had an obsession with putting all of a vessel's systems online.

 A practical example of useful cyber security terminology to be aware of,
distributed by NCSC UK

In some cases, ships feature proper security controls, but in most, ship systems are often left exposed online where they are indexed by search engines like Shodan or Censys.

Many of these ship-designed IT systems either use default credentials or feature backdoor accounts, putting the ship, cargo, and passengers in harm's way due to sheer negligence.

The shipping industry got its cyber-security wake up call last year when Maersk, the biggest cargo shipping company in the world, was infected with the NotPetya ransomware.
The incident incurred costs of over $300 million, and during the recovery process, the company's IT staff had to reinstall over 4,000 servers and 45,000 PCs before being able to safely resume operations.

The updated guidelines released last week are a direct consequence of the shipping industry seeing how NotPetya, and a cyber-security incident in general, can cripple a company's operations.

These guidelines are meant for securing IT systems located on ships, but they're supposed to work with similar security controls deployed in ports and a shipping company's own internal IT network.

A copy of this guideline addressing common vulnerabilities within maritime shipping
is available from here, here, here, or here.

Links :

Monday, January 21, 2019

Off the chart: the big comeback of paper maps

Back in the fold … paper maps are enjoying a renaissance, with technology helping to element the frustration of the creases getting in the way.
Image :
18th century World map with the trade winds from the German or Dutch cartographer Herman(n) Moll first published in England 1719.
Picture from Atlas Minor, edition London

From The Guardian by Kevin Rushby

As Stanfords travel bookshop moves into new London premises after 118 years, its cartographer explains how the ability to tailor-make any map is keeping their magic alive.

When I was living in Yemen during the 1980s, someone gave me a battered old map.
Information was scarce then, and accurate maps were extremely hard to come by.
So departing expatriates tended to pass on any treasures to new arrivals.
As he did so, my benefactor paused.
“Be careful,” he said, “You don’t want to get caught with this.”

Maps, you see, can be dangerous.
I think of this when I meet Martin Greenaway, a cartographer at Stanfords in London.
Martin is sitting by a couple of computer screens behind a treasure trove of maps: tables covered in vast colourful countries, wall racks groaning with continents, drawers stuffed with cities and mountain ranges.
Stanfords has been making maps since the mid-1850s, and has operated from this purpose-built site on London’s Long Acre since 1901.
Now it is moving on – opening new premises in nearby Mercer Walk on 10 January.

Martin laughs at my Yemen story.
“A customer came in and told us how, in the 1970s, he pulled out a 1:50,000 map on a bus and got into trouble with a Spanish secret policeman sitting next to him.
Now we sell those same maps to walkers.”

And do many still buy them, I ask.
Isn’t the internet killing the paper map?

“GPS and Google have certainly eaten into the market,” he says, “But I think paper is going to make a comeback.
You just cannot orientate yourself as well with a handheld device.”

 ‘In a time when facts are to be treasured, perhaps paper maps have real significance.’ Martin Greenaway in the map room at Stanfords

 Martin Greenaway in the map room at Stanfords Long Acre store.
Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

Part of the reason for this possible comeback is that Stanfords can now print any map you need, centred on the place you choose, at a scale that suits your purpose.
Martin takes me through the process.
“You know how the hike you want is often at the join between two or more maps? We simply re-centre it and print it for you.”

I’m reminded of the OS Explorer maps for the Lake District.
Four sheets, all of which manage to fail miserably for anyone doing a walk centred on where they meet, roughly Grasmere Common.
Now there’s a solution for someone like myself, a folded paper aficionado.

And who buys such maps?
“All sorts: a man who was researching an ancient pilgrim footpath in Italy got me to create a whole new map for it; a canoeist doing the Yukon River needed something similar.
We get homeowners who are in boundary disputes, pilots – and a lot of people who can’t get maps in their own country.”

That interests me.
Many years ago I bought a map in Stanfords for a journey in Sudan.
I knew I wouldn’t find anything like it once I was there.
Repressive regimes around the world have always wanted to limit cartographic freedom.

Martin nods.
“We had one man who wanted a street map of Homs in Syria.”

Maps and guidebooks at Stanfords’ new London store on Mercer Walk.

In a time when facts are to be treasured, perhaps paper maps have real significance, recording as they do a version of the truth less susceptible to tampering and fakery.

Martin quickly demonstrates the opportunities and limitations of digital mapping by pulling up all the information he has on Yemen’s capital, Sana’a.
It’s not a lot.
“This is Open Street Map, a website that uses GPS data from contributors’ phones to build maps.”

Home in on our own current location and the quality is good: every shop and alleyway in London’s Covent Garden is accurately plotted.
Move to North Yorkshire and a footpath I’ve recently walked in the Howardian Hills is totally absent.

Yemen as seen using the Open Street Map website
Facebook Twitter Pinterest  Yemen as seen using the Open Street Map website.
Photograph: Open Street Map

Not that paper is infallible.
The Ramblers is currently running a volunteer project called Don’t Lose Your Way, the purpose of which is to recover lost rights of way that somehow failed to make it on to maps.
Its conservative estimate is that England and Wales are currently missing about 10,000 miles of footpaths on what are intended to be the definitive maps.
These are held by all local councils and used by organisations including Ordnance Survey.

Martin himself clearly delights in the new technology but his love of paper has a practical aspect.
“I trained as a pilot when I was a teenager and we still need those paper maps.”

He flies a lot in Canada, relishing the remote regions where many lakes remain unnamed, and where if geographical features have a name, they tend towards the bizarre.
“My favourite is an escarpment in Alberta called Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump.
Mind you, the UK is pretty good: you’ve got places such as Cold Christmas and Unthank.” To which I can add, from personal experience, Wetwang and Slack Bottom.

Map and gps unit
For Stanfords’ Martin Greenaway the combination of a paper map and a GPS device (plus a compass) remain key.
Paper: The mapping technology that won't run out of battery. 
Photograph: Alamy

We go through the process of printing a map: I choose an OS Explorer-style production with my own house bang in the middle.
Handy for walks straight from the door.
Martin bumps up the scale a bit.
“It’s amazing how much more you see in a map when the scale is changed from 25,000 to 12,000.
There’s no more information – we can’t add that – but you do spot things you’d previously missed.”

We move to the formidable printing machine and load up with the paper of my choice, then watch as woods, streets and rivers roll out.
Next to us is the map of London’s streets that taxi drivers use when learning The Knowledge.

“People still do it?”
“Oh yes. We sell a lot of these.”

This formidable task is all the more fascinating at a time when the effects of the digital era on humans’ mental map abilities are becoming apparent.
A recent study at the University of Montreal found that some video games that relied on non-spatial strategies could reduce growth in the hippocampus, an all-important region for mental mapping.
The dangers of digital maps, it seems, could be inside your own head, rather than in the secret policeman sitting next to you.

Martin keeps both options.
“I always carry a GPS, a paper map and a compass.”

Map of the world published by Edward Stanford in 1879 shows the zones of trade winds which for centuries determined the routes taken across the oceans by ships like the Cutty Sark and other clippers.
Presented in lovely pastel colours, the map offers a great deal of interesting information both on land and sea.
Across the oceans in addition to the zones of trade winds it also shows the regions of calms and monsoons, the direction of currents, principal “Ocean Mail” routes annotated with distances, and submarine telegraph cables.
On land countries are shown in different colours, with their borders emphasized by stronger tints. Given the date of the map’s publication, much of Africa is still not colonized and Europe too is very different from today.
In terms of typography, main mountain ranges are shown by hachures and the map has a surprisingly large number of place names.
Eastern Siberia with Alaska and New Zealand with most of the South Pacific are shown on both sides of the map for more convenient presentation of that part of the world.
Two insets show the Polar region, with much of the coast of the Antarctic still to be properly mapped. Latitude and longitude lines are at 10° intervals; the map is drawn on a Mercator projection.
Additional features include time difference from the Greenwich Meridian and a calendar showing the progress of the sun within the Tropics.

 photo : Standford

I ask if he has a favourite map.
“Stanford’s 1871 world map, showing the trade winds.”
He fishes out a copy from one of the wall racks and we gaze in wonder at the colours and textures.
“It’s a work of art.”

It seems that paper maps will always trump digital in one important respect: beauty.

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Swimming with huge female pregnant great white sharks

Footage has emerged of divers getting up close and personal with what could be one of the biggest great white sharks on record.
Kimberly Jeffries had been hoping to capture images of sea creatures feeding on a whale carcass off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.
Ms Jeffries says catching sight of three massive pregnant female sharks was "an incredible source of knowledge for the scientific community".
She described it as "one of the most amazing things ever".
The biggest great white shark on record is visiting the American island state of Hawaii, divers say.
A group of divers monitoring the carcass of a sperm whale off the coast of Oahu say they have gone swimming with the massive predator, and that based on the size and the markings, the shark is known as “Deep Blue,” one of the largest great whites on record.
“She was just this big, beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post,” diver Ocean Ramsey told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Deep Blue is believed to be 6 meters long and at least 50 years old.
The Smithsonian says the average female great white shark measures just less than 5 meters, while males measure just less than 4 meters.
“Big pregnant females are actually the safest ones to be with — the biggest, oldest ones — because they’ve seen it all, including us,” Ramsey said.