Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Scottish pilot’s secret Spitfire found in peat bog

A remarkable story regarding one of the ‘Pink Spitfires’ of the PRU (Photographic Reconnaissance Unit), and its Scottish pilot, appeared in the news.

The remains of a Spitfire shot down while on a mission to photograph the WW2 German battleship Tirpitz have been recovered from a Norwegian peat bog.

Auchterarder-born pilot, Flt Lt Alastair “Sandy” Gunn, had flown the aircraft out of RAF Wick in Caithness on 5 March 1942.

Gunn was captured, interrogated, imprisoned and later executed after the Stalag Luft III “Great Escape”.

His plane, Spitfire AA810, is to be restored and flown again.

Finding the aircraft, which crashed on a mountainside near the village of Surnadal, south west of Trondheim, has involved months of research and days of painstaking recovery work.

Mr Hoskins paid tribute to Flt Lt Gunn, who was 22 and had flown 32 operational missions when was shot down.

He said the Scot, along with other pilots of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, faced huge odds on their missions from Scotland to Norway to find and photograph the Tirpitz.

The pilots chances of survival were extremely low, flying in aircraft stripped of guns and armour to make them lighter and also to carry additional fuel.

Mr Hoskins said: “The pilots’ only defence was evade and escape using the speed and agility of the aircraft.

Scot’s secret mission Spitfire found in Norwegian peat bog

I learned of the PRU many years ago, when looking for old aerial images at the National Museum of Scotland (before Google Earth!).

Quite a unit, as noted the aircraft were unarmed and lightened, and pics they came back with from sorties sometimes show them being chased by enemy aircraft, with following weapons fire splashing into the sea behind them.

Sadly, after being shot down and captured:

The pilot, who refused to give details of his missions, was later moved to Stalag Luft III in Poland and was a key figure in the prisoner of wars’ escape tunnel digging.

Flt Lt Gunn was among those to escape the camp, but he was captured after two days on the run and shot. He was 24.

The recovery of the aircraft will also feature in BBC Four’s Digging for Britain.

This image of a PRU aircraft shows the light colour (intended to aid concealment against the sky) and lack of weapons.

PRU Spitfire

PRU Spitfire

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Nov 24, 2018 Posted by | military, photography, Surveillance, Transport, World War II | , , | 1 Comment

Christmassy fun

A couple of oddities/observations as I wandered around last night.

First was in the St Enoch Christmas Market, where there seemed to be an odd, selective, power failure.

I thought one stall was just setting up as it was in darkness, but then noticed a lot of them were dark, with the stallholder just standing around. Not good for food stalls.

I’m guessing that the power distribution was allocated randomly, or perhaps just as stalls were completed as the market was being set up.

It all looked a little odd, as the stalls were dark, but the attached decorations were lit, as seen below.

It’s also a little odd seeing it all so quiet – but closer to Christmas, if it’s like last year, this scene will make a sardine tin look half empty as the punter pack into the space.

St Enoch Market Power Fail

St Enoch Market Power Fail

Then there was Hanover Street, which was closed at the George Square end while the square was being set up for the lights and fair.

This was the shot I wanted.

Hanover Street Closed

Hanover Street Closed

Could I get it, quickly and easily?

NOPE!

Despite signs and cones at the other end of the street informing drivers that it was closed at George Square, a steady stream of morons kept arriving at this barrier (which at least demonstrated their skill at performing 3-point turns – probably because they get plenty of practice!).

Serious thought – instead of picking on the elderly, people with glasses, or other easily identified and targeted groups to ban from driving for no good reason, why not use the CCTV cameras and ANPRS to identify ACTUAL PROVEN motoring morons such as the one seen below, and serve them automatic bans, or retests, before they are allowed back on the road?

Drivers like this, wandering around without a clue about what is going on around them, not paying attention, are a greater danger than any group which is simply picked out because of some visible feature. I seem to recall that method was used to fill… concentration camps!

Hanover Street Moron

Hanover Street Moron

Nov 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Looks like my Rutherglen camera test find was for average speed cameras

I chanced across a sign for some sort of camera test as I crossed a busy Rutherglen road recently, but although there were signs highlighting the presence of a test, there didn’t seem to be any immediate reveal of what the test was for.

Rutherglen Test Camera

Rutherglen Test Camera

I wondered if the poles, or the symbol mounted at the top might have given a clue.

It might be that they do.

See this story which just appeared regarding the success of an average speed camera installation

Officials monitoring the camera system on Old Dalkeith Road in Edinburgh said there was now an average of two offences recorded per day.

Before the cameras were installed three in every five vehicles were speeding.

Between 2013-15 there were six crashes where someone was injured on that stretch of road, including three resulting in serious injury or death.

During the last year there have been no crashes resulting in injury reported on Old Dalkeith Road in the area covered by the average speed camera system.

Offences drop on Scotland’s first urban road with average speed cameras

Compare the mount and the

Old Dalkieth Road Safety Camera Scotland Pic

Old Dalkeith Road Safety Camera Scotland Pic

Here’s the corner detail, as it’s not clear in the full image.

Camera Pole Corner Detail

Camera Pole Corner Detail

Sep 5, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Russian mystery satellite? What mystery, it’s obvious

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the following story, and the portrayal of the Russian satellite’s behaviour as ‘mysterious’.

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying “very abnormal behaviour” has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

“We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it,” said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

Russia has dismissed the comments as “unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions”.

The satellite in question was launched in October last year.

“[The satellite’s] behaviour on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Ms Poblete told the conference on disarmament in Switzerland.

Mystery Russian satellite’s behaviour raises alarm in US

Surely the solution to this supposed ‘mystery’ is obvious, and our American friend need only look to the north of Scotland to learn why the Russian satellite is moving to an odd position.

It’s angling to keep an eye on the upcoming…

Scottish spaceport

The fantasy view (as a vertical launch facility for microsatellites, it won’t look anything remotely like this fanciful artist’s impression).

Think more along the lines of a portacabin and a lump of concrete.

UK Space Agency Spaceport

UK Space Agency Spaceport

Aug 17, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, military, Surveillance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Surveillance Day

16 August is Surveillance Day.

We know who you are.

We know where you are.

We know what you’re doing.

It seems the first surveillance cameras were created by a German engineer, Walter Bruch, and installed by Siemens AG in Germany in 1942, to observe the launch of V-2 rockets. In the US, the first commercial closed-circuit television system, Vericon, became available in 1949. The earliest video surveillance systems had to be monitored constantly by humans, as there was then no way to record and store information. VCR technology became available in the 1970s, making it became possible to record images as well as sound, and the use of video surveillance became much more practical and consequently much more common. By 1998, some 3,000 CCTV systems were in use in New York City.

In 2010, there were more than 10,000 CCTV systems in Chicago. Greater London was estimated to have around 500,000, with the UK total then estimated to be around 4.2 million.

The quandary is that with so many cameras, and with so many people possibly abusing them, it’s harder than it should be to justify them on the basis of the good they can do.

This day was originally called Wave At The Surveillance Cameras Day, but the founder of this day changed it to the shorter Surveillance Day on 02 July 2018.

Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance Cameras

 

Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance Cameras

Aug 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | | Leave a comment

Everyone knows what ‘cadastral’ means, don’t they?

It’s taken me long enough to get comfortable with ‘sasine’, after becoming interested in house sales, and discovering nice people would send be regular updated from the Sasine Register, complete with addresses of house sales, and their value.

Now I have to get used to ‘cadastral’ as well.

For the record:

sasine:  In Scots law, either the act of giving legal possession of feudal property (in which case it is synonymous with infeftment), or the instrument by which the fact is proved. There is a general office for the registering of sasines in Edinburgh.

cadastral: from ‘cadastre’: An official statement of the quantity and value of real estate for the purpose of apportioning the taxes payable on such property; a public register showing the details of ownership and value of land.

(Please DON’T bother telling me I’m wrong, or any of the above is wrong – just use a different dictionary, and give me peace.)

So, why would anyone be wondering what some new/obscure words mean?

Because…

Land registration remains a hot topic, and time ticks away as we approach the deadline for 100 per cent of Scotland’s land mass to be registered on the ‘cadastral map’.

Latest figures from Registers of Scotland, who maintain the land register, indicate 66 per cent of all potential property titles are registered, leaving around 800,000 titles still to enter the new register before it is complete. Scottish Ministers have set a target of 2024; an irrefutable substantial task ahead for all.

The cadastral map itself is relatively new; launched as part of the changes to land registration enacted in 2012. Designed to provide clarity on who owns Scotland, it will (when complete) be possible to stick a pin into any part of it and see who owns the land and the actual extent of their ownership.

Cadastral map will, in time, show who owns Scotland

Anyone who has queried land ownership in Scotland in a remotely serious way will know that there are already projects claiming to be logging this data (and looking for subscriptions to support them), but I’ve never liked them as they seemed to have hidden agendas and political motives behind them, and some even had legal battles with various authorities. A pity, since data is neutral, and useful, but not if dripped out to interested parties by a biased owner.

The existing sasines, and presumably this cadastral creation should be free of such problems since they are official registers – but I suspect that very ‘officialness’ means someone will accuse them of being part of some ‘Land Owner Conspiracy’. Such claims seemingly being mandatory these days.

Map Of The Kingdom Of Scotland

Map Of The Kingdom Of Scotland

Aug 7, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maps, Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

Curiosity Rover sings Happy Birthday – all alone on Mars

Just time to squeeze this little extra ‘chance’ discovery I made today.

The Curiosity Rover on Mars was programmed to play ‘Happy Birthday’ to itself on 05 August, the day it landed on Mars.

I’m not sure if it still carries out this little ceremony these days, having seen conflicting reports about its continuation, and not able to find a definitive or verifiable one to confirm this.

Aww… Somebody DOES care

Spotted to late for inclusion on the day, but still nice.

BirthdayRover.jpg

Aug 5, 2018 Posted by | Surveillance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Camera test spotted in Rutherglen

Hard to miss this one.

Bright yellow poles holding cameras for test purposes on Rutherglen’s Glasgow Road.

Sadly, although we can see it’s a test – there’s nothing to tell us what is actually being tested.

I suppose being only a single camera looking in each direction limits the options, but it would still be nice to know. After all, others have been noted which do have notices or labels to indicate their purpose.

Video/image processing is becoming so complex these days, while it was once possible to make a guess based on the number of cameras, software is becoming so fast and clever now, making a guess just isn’t an option.

I tried having a very brief look online, but with nothing identifying the owner of these cameras, the search was really too general to come up with anything worthwhile.

I was intrigued by the artistic symbol formed by the reinforcement at the elbow formed at the top of the pole, where the camera is mounted. I don’t know if it is just a chance form, or if it is a logo of some sort. I don’t recognise it, but it seems to be a deliberate shape.

Rutherglen Test Camera

Rutherglen Test Camera

I almost missed the one across the road, only spotting it when I turned around to look back along the road after crossing.

Rutherglen Test Cameras

Rutherglen Test Cameras

Jul 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Creepy elves spy on kids for Santa – or training for the surveillance era

Rummaging through some pre-Christmas sale items on Christmas Eve, I was amazed to see this offering:

Elf Surveillance Camera

Elf Surveillance Camera

Given the sort of hysteria some people manage to raise over perfectly innocent activities, I’m somewhat amazed to see this item actually made it onto the shelves without protest.

Who can forget the outcry and bans that were publicised when camcorders became common, and places such as schools banned parents from bringing them to school plays, to record their own children’s performance.

And let’s not forget the dire warnings from various ‘experts’ who love to pop up every now and then, alerting parents to the danger of hackers turning on cameras and microphones in laptops, home computers, tablets, mobile phones etc, without triggering the lights or indicators that show they are active.

And just a few days ago there were yet more expert warnings, for parents to check toys that can receive messages from mobile phones, and relay them to children. Apparently these are easy for naughty people to hack, and send unsavoury messages to the children, and even change the voices from nice friendly ‘toy’ voices, into scary monster voices.

At least this creepy little elf’s camera has a flashing LED.

Wouldn’t it be shocking to find out the ‘Dummy Child Surveillance Camera’ was a massive con set up by a worldwide ‘ring’, and far from being a dummy, was in fact packed with high-def camera, complete with its own wireless connection and RPi or similar which is programmed to silently hack into the nearest mobile phone or wireless access point, and relay pics of kids’ bedrooms around the world.

Maybe there’s a reason those batteries, supposedly only powering a flashing LED, have to be replaced on an almost daily basis.

That would never happen, would it?

PS.

You can get the same standard black dummy surveillance cam in Pound Shops for… er… £1.

A splash of white paint, and a bit of tinsel or some glitter would make it a bargain Christmas cam.

Better value than this £5 rip-off (slashed to clear at £3.99!).

And I much prefer my own surveillance special – nobody will EVER notice this…

Black Cat Christmas Tree

Black Cat Christmas Tree

 

Dec 25, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , , , , | Leave a comment

No wonder they ‘hide’ the price of these pics

When the outdoor market opened in St Enoch Square last week, I spotted some ‘Photo Booths’ had been installed, offering visitors the chance to have their pic taken at the market.

Photo Machine

Photo Machine

Although I looked hard, all I could find was a slot to put money IN, but nothing that told me how much a pic from this gizmo was going to cost me.

I gave up, and just watched folk walk up to it, play with the camera UP/DOWN buttons at the top, comment on how they could take a better pic with their phone, and walk away.

I just realised – that’s probably ME, caught somewhere on-screen in the ‘Live view’ centre of the thing (oops, need to be more careful in future!)

I got closer in a later visit.

Photo Machine Closer

Photo Machine Closer

Let’s get closer still, since there are some pricing options on display…

FAINTS!

Photo Machine Price

Photo Machine Price

All of a sudden, my expensive (to me at least) cameras look like a bargain.

Actually, even an inkjet printer and it’s ink (which cost more than blood per unit volume) begins to look economic.

Printer Ink And Blood

Printer Ink And Blood

Yes, I know… I read too much.

Nov 26, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | | Leave a comment

I still beat old tired hacks to good stories

Although I’ve drifted away from most media related material, I used to like spotting viral or mainstream media material days before some tired old hack, probably desperately looking for stuff to go running to their editor in the hope of winning a cheque in return, spotted the same items.

Last week I spotted a drone ‘scare video’ produced around the idea that AI would be out to ‘Kill Us’ if we didn’t ban such things as so-called Killer Robots.

Notable since it used sunny EDINBURGH as the setting for its dystopian assassination scenes.

It’s taken almost a week, but someone at the BBC eventually raised the appearance of this video – and its setting.

Try harder… we’ll wait for you 🙂

Edinburgh used for ‘killer drone’ film

Little Red Drone

Little Red Drone

Nov 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

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