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Tom Worthington With Tom Worthington FACS, Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Mission Improbable: Mobile Internet from Trains, Boats, Busses and Balloons, 24 April 2002

In the movie "Mission Impossible" one character is depicted using a mobile telephone to transmit data from a high speed train between London and Paris. This actually does work and it is possible to use the Internet, send e-mail and transmit web pages from moving trains, boats and vehicles:

From the Eurostar Train London - Paris, October 2000

Waterloo International Check-in Staff Serving Breakfast Eurostar

  1. Waterloo International
  2. Check-in
  3. Staff Serving Breakfast
  4. Eurostar
The trip to Paris was not part of my original travel plans. I sent the announcement of my Oxford talk for inclusion in UNESCO'sObservatory on the Information Society. In response I received a note from Richard Cadiou, who organised the Netcetera Virtual Election coverage, which Ihelped with in the National Tally Room in Canberra in 1996. He is now working with UNESCO in Paris on a range of websites, including the Observatory on the Information Society. Through Richard I arranged to visit Philippe Quéau Director of Information Society Division UNESCO. This was a good excuse to try theEurostar train through the Channel Tunnel from London to Paris and when I contacted Eurostar PR they provided me with a free return ticket, as I was writing this travel report.

From: London to Paris By Eurostar, 19 October 2000

From the Ship M/S Teaterskeppet, Sweden, June 2001

Johan Hjelm Ferry and the Teaterskeppet On the Teaterskeppet

  1. Johan Hjelm: Getting on the ferry to the boat
  2. Ferry to the Teaterskeppet
  3. On the Teaterskeppet

... The 11th Annual Internet Society Conference "INET 2001" is tagged "A Net Odyssey - Mobility and the Internet", 1-8 June 2001, Stockholm. The conference will be looking at mobility not only in terms of the technology for use with wireless devices, but also for wider access to the community and relevant governance to achieve it...

The day ended with a ride around the islands on the converted fishing vessel M/S Teaterskeppet. This was courtesy of Ericsson and I uploaded the photos of the ship to this web page live on-board using my Ericsson mobile telephone.

From: Internet Mobility - A report from the Internet Global Summit, 15 June 2001

From a Double Decker Bus, Cambridge UK, November 1996

Here are some photos transmitted from the double decker tour bus while travelling around Cambridge:

Double decker bus1 The River Cam2
  1. Double decker tour bus outside the US War Memorial
  2. The River Cam
In 12 to 27 November 1996 I travelled to Windsor and Cambridge in the UK. The main reason was an invitation to ameeting on the Internet publishing and professional licencing issues by the British Computer Society to the ACS and others. Also I had a friend teaching at Cambridge and there was the opportunity to visit IT researchers there. More generally I had been addressing various issues to do with on-line publishing and wanted to collect my thoughts on the issue and perhaps set them down for presentation. Cambridge, as a city of learning, appeared the ideal place to do this.

From: Cambridge live from a Double Decker Bus, November 1996

From a Hot Air Balloon Over Canberra, 16 August 1996

Tom Worthington &  Senator Kate Lundy1 Other balloons2 Parliment House3

  1. Tom Worthington & Senator Kate Lundy: on way to launch (transmitted just after lift off). This photograph subsequently appeared in the Australian newspaper Tuesday 20 August 1996 (page 33).
  2. Other balloons below us
  3. Parliament House and view south over Canberra

Why do it?

The 14th World Computer Congress in Canberra in 1996 featured Mobile Communications. To promote the event, myself as President of the Australian Computer Society (host for IFIP96) and Senator Kate Lundy (one of the speakers), transmitted photos live from a hot air balloon over Canberra.

How it is done

Photo of Tom Worthington & Senator  Lundy, Copyright (c) Canberra Times 1996 Equipment: Digital camera , laptop computer, GSM digital mobile telephone and PC card data adapter.

  1. Getting the photos: : Kate Lundy used the camera to snap photos in the usual way. Instead of film the digital camera stores the images in a non-volatile "Flash RAM" PC card. I then loaded the photos as data into the laptop computer, by removing the PC card from the camera and inserting it in the computer. The photos were then edited and compressed to make them suitable for transmitting, using software on the PC.
  2. Transmitting the photos: My GSM digital mobile telephone was connected to the PC with a cable. The computer's software then commanded the telephone to call the number of my internet Service Provider (ISP) in Canberra. The ISP's Canberra computer connected via the Internet, to my Web server at another ISP in Brisbane. The photos were transmitted to Brisbane and stored for anyone in the world to view via the Web at:
  3. Announcing the photos: I sent an electronic mail message is using the same PC, software and link to the head office of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) in Europe. Software on IFIP's system relayed the message to the Presidents of the 65 member societies of IFIP around the world. Also the message to some of the ACS's 16,000 members and other interested viewers in Australia and elsewhere.

Further Information:

Copyright © Tom Worthington 2001-2002.