GPS2K? GPS Week Rollover April 6th 2019

Does not quite have the same significance as 31 December 1999, but I’m sure someone in the mainstream press will soon draw the parallels with Y2K with stories of Airliners getting lost or Trading systems failing due to timing errors, April 6th 2019 is the date when GPS systems reset !

Actually for the second time the week code broadcast as part of the GPS signal is resetting back to zero.

The GPS system uses 10 bits to store the GPS Week Numbers starting from 6th January 1980, so every 1,024 weeks (approximately every 20 years), the GPS Week Number rolls over from Week 1,023 to Week 0, this is known as a GPS Week Number Rollover. This has already occured on August 21, 1999 but that was before the explosion in the use of GPS is smartphones, drones, buses etc.

There are efforts happening across industry to make sure that disruption is minimised, but there may be issues with older GPS receivers and smartphones .

With modern connected devices firmware updates can be applied without to much effort, I remember because I’m had one Garmin and Magellan sending out RS-232 cables and CD-ROMS to update their receivers in 1999 !

In summary look out for firmware updates and “Don’t Panic !”

photos.edparsons.com

Take a look at my portfolio of aviation pictures if you are interested – it”s the summer so I will be spending some of my free time with fellow avgeeks who have all spent large sums of money on long lenses !

photos.edparsons.com

It’s harder than you might imagine, I’m doing well if I get more than one good image in fifty, thank heavens for digital photography although I’m old enough than I remember when every exposure of Kodachrome mattered !

 

Never have so many people understood so little about so much…

What inspired you as a child ?

A child today hopefully seeing the exploits of Elon Musk and Space-X launching and recovering rockets with showmanship seldom demonstrated by serious rocket scientists may have their interest  sparked in science and technology?

Personally my love of technology came yes from rocket science, but also crucially from growing up during a golden age of science broadcasting in the 1970’s when well informed specialist correspondents were on our TV screens it seemed every day.
Reginald Turnill, Patrick Moore and Raymond Baxter had both huge experience and knowledge in the fields of aviation and astronautics but were also great story tellers explaining often complex issues without the dumbing down so common today.

Reg Turnhill

Raymond Baxter in the backseat of the Harrier piloted by the great John Farley.

For me however the greatest of this generations was James Burke. Watch here his truly breathtaking live commentary of the Apollo 13  re-entry – a masterclass in explaining what is happening to the viewer during an incredibility tense few minutes.

I was too young to really remember Apollo 13 however in 1978 James Burke wrote and presented his seminal series Connections to try and explain how technology had come to play such an important part in society, in the first episode of the series he paraphrased Churchill to make the point as relevant today as it was then…

Never have so many people understood so little about so much…

I loved this series, Burke does a masterful job linking technological developments over 10,000 years to explain the modern world – imagine my joy on finding that the series had be re-released last year and is available on Amazon.

Let me show you why I am so gushing in my praise of James Burke…

Watch below perhaps the greatest “piece to camera” every filmed from Episode 8 of the series, here James Burke explains the connection between the invention of the thermos flask and landing on the moon.

Make sure you watch to the very end !

Eat your heart out Brian Cox !

The Romance of Airport Codes

LHR – JFK don’t those six letters cause some excitement to even the most seasoned traveller, there is still just a little romance left in air travel.

Romance here is the “feeling of mystery, excitement and remoteness from everyday life” as opposed to love !

For me part of the romance comes from the Airport codes themselves, those three letter IATA codes are a shortcuts to destinations known and imagined and each have a personal resonance. Many of the codes also have an antecedence that  provide a fascinating window into the early days of air travel.

LHR London HeathRow is both the starting point of most of my travels but also a link back to a childhood spent on the roof of the Queens Building watching British Airways Tridents, VC-10’s and 747 classics departing to destinations I never expected to visit in my lifetime.

Of those childhood destinations and even today New York’s JFK the airport named after president John F. Kennedy was always a destination that sparked my imagination, the destination of those Pan Am Clipper 747s and of course Concorde it was just such a  glamorous destination.  The name of course was the product of tragic history,  the original name of the airport, Idlewild also sounds wonderful but was named after a local Golf Course.

New York’s second international airport, New Jerseys’ Newark has the very functional code of EWR – NEWaRk.

LCY or to those who use if often Lucy

As an alternative to the giant that is Heathrow,  Londons CitY Airport, LCY provides a wonderful contrast harking back to the golden days of air travel when every flight began with that exciting trip up a set of stairs to the aircraft door, Jet-Bridges are just not the same.

LCY is loved by many  is often just called Lucy as a mark of familiarity.

London’s GatWick LGW, Paris Charles De Gaul CDG and of course HELsinki’s HEL are obvious in they derivation, but why is Chicago’s mega airport ORD and Los Angeles LAX ?

The use of Airport codes was originally introduced in the United States for Meteorological reporting  with airports making use of the existing two character city codes developed by the National Weather Service, Los Angeles was LA for example.
It was clear that this system was not going to work with the massive increase in Air Travel after the Second World War so in 1947 a three letter code system was introduced and to pad the existing codes a letter X was often introduced so Los Angeles became LAX, and PortlanD PDX .

A similar approach was taken in Canada where the two letter codes used by Canadian Railways were given a Y prefix so VancouveR’s code VR became YVR, and  QueBec’s code QB YQB.

Most interesting of course are the codes which don’t seem to make sense,  DCA Washington’s District of Columbia Airport  is perhaps not obvious but makes sense but why is the larger international airport in Washington IAD ?  Originally the Dulles International Airport DIA was too similar to DCA so it was simply reversed DIA becoming IAD !

Other codes which don’t seem to make sense are often the result of name changes as Airports have grown or cities have themselves changed name, so CMH the airport serving Columbus Ohio was once just the Columbus Municipal Hanger and of course Mumbai was a city once called BOMbay.

My personal favourite is Chicago’s ORD, very few peoples top airport, we might not feel so negative if it had retained it’s original name ORcharD Field !

 

Earth Engine Workshop – London

Register here to attend a free workshop on Google Earth Engine at  Google’s London Office on the 15th November.

Earth Engine is Google’s cloud-based platform for planetary-scale geospatial analysis that brings Google’s computational capabilities to bear on a variety of high-impact societal issues such as deforestation, drought, disaster, disease, food security, water management, climate monitoring and environmental protection.