October 16, 2008

Overdue update... Lambeth Country fair photo essay

These images are long overdue, but here is a small photo essay of the Lambeth Country Show in London from July 2008. I thought I'd better post them before daylight saving ends!

lambeth country show
Colour co-ordinated couple

lambeth country show
On the ground

At the train platform

Toffee apple cops

Lunchtime on the grass

abandoned baby
An abandoned baby in front of a ride

A forlorn stuffed tiger

In other news, my London taxi photograph from March 2005 is officially on a corporate charity Christmas/greeting card range being produced by Kingsmead Publications, which is cool. Also, an external shot of Sealand is being published by Life Books on 3 November as part of a new title. The book is called Strange But True: Incredible Stories, True Tales and Fantastic Photos and you can buy it for 13.19 from Amazon.

Posted by kimgilmour at 10:45 AM | Comments (2)

January 10, 2007

Sealand up for sale!

The Principality of Sealand, the 'world's smallest country' (an anti-aircraft gun platform taken over by the Bates family in the 1960s) that I visited in 2002 and took pics of, is up for sale.

You can apply to Prince Michael of Sealand if you want to run your own nation. is Prince Michael told BBC Radio his family had been approached by estate agents with clients "who wanted a bit more than a bit of real estate, they wanted autonomy". He described Sealand thusly: "The neighbors are very quiet. There is a good sea view."

Posted by kimgilmour at 03:32 PM

June 08, 2006

Topshop emporium



The trendsetter-fashionstore-sixweekshelflifeemporium-youthbrand-thingy, Topshop, attracts fashion slaves of all ages. But mainly teenage girls. Six years in London and I finally succumbed to a purchase -- six pairs of underwear, this means I'll be able to wair them approximately once a week in succession before the pattern goes out of fashion, heaven forbid anyone notice I'm still wearing PANTONE 5405 Blue or whaever. Hmmm.
More pics later (taken with the Sony Ericsson K750i, with a large nod to my favourite photographer Martin Parr who took a series of photographs in Asia with the same model but it is happily coincidental that I happen to have the same model. We met him a couple of weeks ago at a book signing for his new publication, Mexico, which is an EXCELLENT book).

Posted by kimgilmour at 10:30 PM

April 19, 2006

Go to Stonehenge

Every day, thousands of tourists, mainly based in London, go to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath for the day. There's not much left of Stonehenge unfortunately, and its mystery can be often overshadowed by the throngs of coaches, people, sheep, the surrounding highways and, of course, the ubiquitous audio guides. We went one morning whilst staying in Bath for Easter.

Posted by kimgilmour at 11:10 PM

August 03, 2005

Sealand revisited - tonight on BBC2

Tonight, comedian and 'cult leader' Danny Wallace begins his six-part quest on BBC2 to start his own country. He begins by seeking advice from Prince Michael Bates of Sealand. (Naturally, their production company needed to contact me to find out exactly how to get in touch with Sealand - after all, the Prince is quite an elusive chap.)

Anyway, it may feel like I'm flogging a dead horse, but if you haven't seen my Sealand photos then do check them out.

I promise I'll have more 'normal' photos soon, but I'm having quite a busy time lately.

Posted by kimgilmour at 01:28 PM

March 20, 2005

Southend-On-Sea Day Trip

First of all, I know I haven't posted in a while. This is because I had all my wisdom teeth out under general anaesthetic and the past couple of weeks I haven't felt 100%. Without boring you with all the details, I'm OK now, but it will take a few months for me to completely recover from some minor complications - still, better than the discomfort my teeth have given me over the past 3 years. So. Yesterday we decided to go on a train somwherere. We looked at the map and as it was a nice day we thought we'd go to the sea.

We went to Southend on Sea, one hour from Liverpool St -- a truly British town with a 2km pleasure pier, the longest in the world (you can either walk or take a train to/from the shore). We saw skateboarders, old people with motorised buggies, chavs, teenage mums, tourists, punks, kids and regular people like us!

Metal Detector Man
A man goes metal detecting during low-tide, Southend-on-Sea

Southend on Sea condiments table
The end of the pleasure pier has some tacky souvenir shops, a couple of greasy spoons and a take away fish and chips shop featuring... condiments!

All Day Breakfast
Southend-On-Sea's promenade features even more fish and chips shops. Miraculously this place does veggie burgers too!

Tarot cards
Again, the promenade is full of relics from its heyday. Here, a clairvoyant's booth sits nexts to a toy shop; although obviously both are currently not trading. Thankfully an old person's motorised scooter is there to add some life to the scene.

Wimpy's restaurant
Just when you thought Winpy's had been outlawed, along comes one, again on Southend-On-Sea's promenade! This one has table service.

When you get off the train at Southend Victoria, you can't help but notice that there are a lot of chavs in the area. For the uninitiated, a chav is not so much a social class as a fashion-based alternative movement, who wear clothes which are somwhere between 'bling bling' and Eurotrash - and the clothes and jewellery are usually either fake or tasteless. They wear labels like Burberry, Von Dutch and Juicy Couture. Or usually rip-offs of these, as many aspiring chavs are teenagers who don't have the income. Chavs have come of age in the last couple of years and are prevalent in Essex (ie where Southend-On-Sea is). Yesterday we saw many in their pastel off the shoulder t-shirts coupled with (branded) tracksuit top and bottom, hoop earrings and extremely tight ponytails. The more daring girls will wear a mini-skirt with tall boots (one girl had these massive Uggs, and an extremely tight, low cut top). Many non-Chavs like me will turn their nose down on a chav, but chavs are usually proud to be one, and they are certainly intriguing characters. For more see ChavScum.

Last of all, the sea! It is a seaside town and all!

Posted by kimgilmour at 04:23 PM | Comments (7)

November 27, 2004

Robert Frank at the Tate

Second attempt at viewing the excellent Robert Frank exhibition at the Tate Modern - this time, it was open, instead of being booked out for some 'charity' event like last time. Well worth looking at if you're in town - a truly superb selection of prints, and the London ones are amazing too - enough to make you want to take photos of London businessmen rushing around the City!

Anyway - definitely inspired me to go take more photos :)

Posted by kimgilmour at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2004

Churchill's Bunker, London Open House Day

Built in 1939, Churchill's Bunker - Paddock - was a top secret wartime bunker meant to house Churchill and his war cabinet. However, he only ever used it once for a war cabinet meeting, in October 1940, and absolutely hated its dampness.


Paddock sits under some Stadium Housing Association homes in Brook Road, Neasden, North West London. Over the years that it has been abandoned, funky mould and calcite stalactites grow. The many rooms - some functions of which remain unknown to this day - included a place for the war cabinet to meet, a BBC radio broadcast studio, telephone exchanges, a diesel generator, what was one of the oldest air conditioning systems in the world (not working now!) and a military control room.


You can only go visit a couple of times a year - and during London Open House day today, Rob and I joined a group of about 23 others and wandered along the muddy, sticky floors, mouldy ceilings and rusty equipment.


The photo at the very top of this post depicts the old telephone exchanges which linked up to the Cabinet War Rooms, among others. The others are just eerie atmospheric type shots of what else you can see. For some colour photos taken in considerably more llight than we experienced, see Subterranea Britannica's exhaustive galleries.

Posted by kimgilmour at 10:14 PM | Comments (3)

July 05, 2004

Little India, London


Southall - just 15 minutes by National Rail from Paddington - is the ideal place to visit on a sunny weekend (except when it takes an hour to wait for a train going back to Paddington...). Indian and Bangladeshi shops selling groceries, clothes, furniture, movies and more, along with some great restaurants and pubs, make it well worth the occasional visit. Better than Brick Lane for character, anyway.

Posted by kimgilmour at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 30, 2004

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

The roof of Greenwich Foot Tunnel, London. You can have a look at the entire tunnel entrance here.

Posted by kimgilmour at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2004


A Mario Bros figure adorns a desk at the MTV UK corporate offices. (Canon EOSD)
Also - I've gone back to the dark ages and purchased an old Pentax K1000 - just like I used at university from 1996-7. I bought one second hand at a New York market for $100 in 1999 and it lasted for about 100 rolls before finally giving up (it may well have had a problem that was easy to fix, but I left it at a relative's place in Holland 4 years ago!), so I bought another one off eBay a couple of weeks ago for 65 pounds. I took few B&W photos at Southall (aka 'Little India') last weekend, so I'm waiting to finish the roll and see how those turn out! It's a real 'workhorse' student camera, but takes great pics.

Posted by kimgilmour at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2004

Department store shelves

Things I can't afford - or, more to the point, simply things I think are overpriced for what they are.

Posted by kimgilmour at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2004

Treehouse, Regent's Canal

Another Regent's Canal photograph taken last month. This one's of a treehouse!

Posted by kimgilmour at 08:03 PM | Comments (2)

April 30, 2004

Little Venice


A bit of an overcast day - but aren't they all these days? Little Venice, Warwick Avenue.

Posted by kimgilmour at 08:56 PM | Comments (1)

April 12, 2004

A London Canal walk

A photo tour along London Canals
Kensal Green to Camden Lock

Itis brilliant and invigorating to take a walk along Londonis quiet canals. We started out where the Grand Union Canal meets Kensal Green, just past the Sainsburyis supermarket.

Further along, you can see flats overlooking the canal n they begin to vary in quality, from council estates to private apartments. This particular shot (above)looks just like a quiet Venetian canal, particularly with the boat in view!

What you might not realise is how much wildlife thrives along the canals. You get all sorts of ducks, plus heron and mallards.

Further on, you see bits of community: the Meanwhile Gardens and more flats, as well as glimpses of streets that run along the canal. Eventually, you will get to Little Venice. Many people live on the narrowboats and you can see mini kitchens and bedrooms if you peek through the windows, and some have a table and chairs outside so you can enjoy the sunshine and have some friends over for a drink. More later. In the meantime, some sites to check out are the London Canal Museum and Jasonis boat tours.

Posted by kimgilmour at 10:15 PM | Comments (3)

March 17, 2004

Hula Dancers at MTV

hula dancing toys, mtv

Went to MTV Networks to take photos for a piece my colleague Chris is doing for our magazine on MTV's online strategy. We got to wander around some of the MTV online team's desks - they're all very kitsch, full of plastic hula dancers, Potato Heads, plastic ducks, snow domes and other popular paraphenalia. One of the executive offices we went into had items like an MTV Awards statue on the desk, a framed article on Crowded House's last gig in Sydney, photographs of pop stars like Kylie Minogue, a toy slot machine and so on. All the desks there have their own mini television hooked up to MTV, although the screens' volume was on very low. The photo above is of what adorned the top of one of the "dividers" between the open plan desks.

Posted by kimgilmour at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2004

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

While I find the time to actually take some photos of London, an old one taken in New York back in 1999. Speaking of museums, we went to see the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Hayward Gallery last weekend...

Despite lacklustre reviews, I enjoyed it -- sure, there could have been a few more famous images, and the canvases were greyer and duller than expected, but it was really fun. I especially liked looking at the original comics that he was inspired by, and working out how everything came together from the source material. I still don't like the space at the Hayward though! It's too meander-y.

Posted by kimgilmour at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

Hyde Park, London

Hyde Park, London

Posted by kimgilmour at 02:03 PM | Comments (3)

December 29, 2003

Barcelona Pics Part 1

la pedrera

There was snow in London today! Yes, I know what you're saying; it was only a mere flurry, interspersed with a hell of a lot of rain (I had no umbrella on the way to work). But for someone who never saw snow fall until she was a week shy of 21 (an even briefer series of flurries during my second trip to London in the Christmas of 1997), this is good.

Ah, the photo. Excuse me while I get off the topic of London for a bit; because we've just been away from here on a brief holiday to Barcelona. Although it only takes about 2 hours by plane (including time spent on the ground) it can take about seven hours "door to door" if you include transport to and from the airports, check in times, baggage collection and inevitable delays. We weren't even flying EasyJet! Anyway, this photo is from La Pedrera (Casa Mila), which was one of the several houses we toured while there last week.

It's also known as the stone quarry because of its rock-like exterior and wrought iron balconies. Designed by Gaudi (of course), the tour of the building includes a great trapise through the odd chimneys, air vents and sculptures on the roof - so choose a day when it's nice and cloudless! This is one photo I took while there which I quite like... mainly cos of the striking colours.

The whole roof is quite organic and marine in its feel, and has an elliptical doughnut shape to it. Rhomboid stairs ripple up and down erratically, encouraging everyone to clamber around. The only ugly thing about it was the need for a wire fence around the interior ring of the roof. You gaze past this to see an inner circle of its other levels, one of which includes a museum of Gaudi's work and another that demonstrates what a bourgeois family living in the apartment block would live like.

Posted by kimgilmour at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2003

Blast from the not-so-distant past: Sealand

By Kim Gilmour

In August 2002, I took a day trip from London to visit the offshore "principality" of Sealand, a disused gun platform off the coast of Harwich to interview its Ryan Lackey, the founder of Sealand's offshore hosting company HavenCo. The company claims to be able to host contentious content simply because it's "outside" the UK. But is it really its own sovereignty?

Anyway, it was a very surreal place. You get winched up by a crane to get there! As we thought, Ryan has since left Sealand to pursue other dreams. I took loads of photographs which I've had on my other website for a while, but you can see some more of my Sealand photographs, and a copy of the whole article as it was published in Internet Magazine. By the way, HavenCo is now closed due to an acrimonious split between founder Ryan Lackey and Prince Michael. amid security fears. It's an interesting story. But read on for mine...

Wish You Were Here?

prince michael bates and ryan lackey, august 2002It's a beautiful day on the Essex coast and for the past two hours I've been sitting outside a sleepy cafe, in Harwich Town Quay with Steve Hill, Internet Magazine's now former news & features editor.

We're waiting to take a L300 speedboat ride to the principality of Sealand, but our pilot, 'Prince' Michael Bates, is late.

Although it might sound like an amusement park, Sealand is actually an old World War II gun fortress about 10km off the east coast. This rusty, dilapidated platform plonked on top of two hollow concrete pillars in the North Sea claims to be its own sovereign state. It also claims to be a truly secure data haven--which is what we're off to look at.

Sealand's wafer-thin claim to sovereignty began in 1967 when Michael's father, Roy Bates, declared the site his own and crowned himself king of Sealand. After a few legal skirmishes, Sealand received a limited degree of de facto recognition--until 1987 is was outside British territorial waters, so the UK wanted nothing to do with it. The main reason it still operates as a micro-country today is because no one has taken any major legal actions against it.

Sovereign status doesn't necessarily mean earning potential, and Sealand had no real source of income until 1999, when 23 year old American Internet geek and cypherpunk pioneer Ryan Lackey set up a colocation style Web hosting business there. Called HavenCo (www.havenco.com), the business was financed by a few angel investors, including Avi Freedman, a Net expert who's now number two at Akamai.

HavenCo's proposition appealed to those who appreciated the notion of a free Internet. A physically secure fortress in the middle of nowhere manned by armed guards, it offered encrypted data, anonymous network traffic, tax avoidance and, most of all, immunity against draconian information laws such as the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIP). It essentially offers the political freedom to post almost anything you like online, without fear of legal ramifications.

As HavenCo states on its website: "Sealand currently has no regulations regarding copyright, patents, libel, restrictions on political speech, nondisclosure agreements, cryptography, restrictions on maintaining customer records, tax or mandatory licensing, DMCA, music sharing services, or other issues."

The strategy worked. HavenCo has been profitable since the summer of 2001, thanks to low capital investment, low expenses, a focus on business users and a steady revenue stream. Customers can do whatever they want once they buy a box at Sealand, as long as it's not related to spamming, child pornography, terrorism and there's no hacking originating directly from HavenCo's servers. Anything else goes.

Across the sea

Prince Michael finally arrives, dressed more like a playboy than a prince. "Sorry I'm late," he says, leading us towards his speedboat. "I was at a 56th birthday party and I've got a hangover!" He grabs a couple of harnesses--"these might have come straight out of a fetish shop!"--and gives us a couple of flimsy red life-jackets. Then we're off, guided towards Sealand by the small GPS system on board.

Also in the speedboat is a large fridge that Ryan has requested, four oscillating fans, and three other people, all in their late 50s. One of them, a white-haired man, was apparently the birthday boy, and the couple sitting in the back, Angie and Michael NumberTwo, are his friends. Like us, it's their first trip to Sealand.

The voyage is meant to take around 20 minutes, but we're too preoccupied to keep track of time. The trip is a real roller coaster ride--Michael takes great pleasure scaring us by tilting the speeding boat from side to side, laughing maniacally at the fear in our faces. Angie is screaming and there's froth everywhere.

As we approach the tiny fortress Michael accelerates towards it at full throttle. Just as it seems we're about to crash into the one of the two concrete towers, he whizzes between them.

When he finally slows down, we get our first look at Sealand. It's small--smaller than I had expected. The platform is about the size of a tennis-court, and I can see four or five people beside a yellow crane peering over its edge.

I tell myself to have more faith in my flimsy harness as I'm hooked to the crane and lifted up. Within 30 seconds, my feet reach the platform and I'm slowly lowered onto the rusty deck by amiable-looking guards in green overalls and orange hard hats.

Ryan is also there, a pale, shaven-headed, bespectacled figure, quietly spoken and intelligent, and dressed from head to toe in black.

Security clearance--taking place in the kitchen--is informal. Before stamping our passports, the security guard tests the stamp on the vinyl tablecloth to make sure it's facing upright, then wipes the ink off with his sleeve.

steve on sealand
"Have any refugees sought asylum here?" asks Steve.

"No," he says.

Into the depths

Sealand reportedly has a big stock of firearms that it uses to defend itself, but we don't see any. They've got rid of the rusty old gun that had been sitting on the platform for decades--Sealand's very remoteness makes it secure territory and HavenCo is a real, serious business.

Ryan disappears down one of the steep narrow ladders into the windowless, humid Network Operations Centre located in one of Sealand's columns. We're not allowed to see customers' server boxes for security and privacy reasons. But we do discover that pure nitrogen was never pumped into the rooms to stave off rust, exploding another Sealand myth--there's no rust beyond the platform and helipad because the pillars are made of concrete.

We begin the interview in Sealand's living room, which is under the helipad.

livingroom.jpgThe room Looks like a student bedroom, full of mismatched third-hand furniture. But it's airy and bright, unlike the spooky, black depths of Sealand's columns, There's a disused jail in one, just below the dimly lit gym and Ryan's sparse bedroom.

Not sued

So, who on earth uses HavenCo? Is Sealand home to dodgy money-laundering schemes, defamatory content and vast amounts of online pornography?

"Fifty per cent are online gambling customers," Ryan reveals. "Maybe 20 per cent are Internet payment systems customers. The rest are miscellaneous, such as security infrastructure companies, or they're sold through resellers."

Because gambling is mostly illegal in the US, betting entrepreneurs have flocked to HavenCo. They choose it above other offshore havens, such as those in the Caribbean, to avoid costly licensing fees.

So why hasn't the US government taken any action against HavenCo's American customers, who are so blatantly avoiding tax?

"It's very complicated to tell where an Internet business is based," says Ryan, "but where the server is based is an easy way to check. People can also know where your staff is based, but that can be virtual. And a lot of online bank accounts like PayPal are pretty virtual. You're not going to be able to get away without having an Internet server for your business. You may be able to distribute them but then you'll be a victim of all the laws, rather than a single one."

Escaping the law

Ryan is a passionate advocate of free speech online. Business has improved as a result of increased surveillance following September 11. Many people feel new laws are threatening their civil liberties and have scrambled to HavenCo to preserve them. "It's been good for us because a lot of people are afraid of the very draconian laws being passed in the US, and they want to get out in advance of those," Ryan says. HavenCo claims it will destroy a customer's box if it's ever forced to hand over customer data to the authorities. Presumably it'll burn and dump them in the North Sea.

Physical security was also an issue. "Customers were worried that [their servers] could be damaged in an attack," Ryan says. "But we're pretty secure. We're not going to become collateral damage."

There is, of course, a limit to what HavenCo can host. "If we had Osama bin Laden hosting here, we wouldn't even be a smoking pile of ash--we'd be vanished completely."

Ryan believes that if oppressive laws such as RIP start being enforced heavily, people will have more incentive to move offshore. But he doesn't want to spend the rest of his days on the fortress hosting sites that would be banned elsewhere. "If we go back to the US and the UK and they're wretched places to live, well, that's sort of annoying because I don't want to be on Sealand for the rest of my life."

On average, customers pay around $1,500 (around L960) for a box, $750 (around L480) for setup costs, and another $750 a month for colocation and 128k of bandwidth.

This means you won't usually see everyday folk posting dubious or copyright-protected content on HavenCo's servers. But companies hosted at HavenCo are beginning to resell shared hosting services. Ryan also has several side projects that test jurisdictional issues, such as the online publication of the controversial DeCSS source code--the computer code that reads decrypted DVDs. In addition, he's developed a voice encryption system using Bluetooth and an iPAQ PDA, an offshore stock market, a tamper-resistant, anonymous payment service, and he's working on a system to allow GSM text messaging from satellites.

He's also made an anonymous remailer available, which is used extensively on Usenet. He says the 10 complaints or so he's had about it in the last year were "silly".

In fact, Ryan doesn't get many complaints at all. "Anything that's likely to be a problem is either too high profile or too high bandwidth to host here. And if you're going to run a secret server where you don't need to get the benefit of jurisdiction, you might as well take a stolen credit card number and go buy a server at a company with thousands of servers. They're never going to look at yours, so as long as no one reports it, your server will continue operating. People who are going to do a kiddie porn ring are going to find other ways. Once you're willing to break the law there area lot of options for you."

Are HavenCo's customers law-abiding citizens, then? Ryan has a well-prepared answer. "Our customers don't want to break the law, they want a different set of laws they can comply with. It's similar to the way people avoid taxes rather than evade them, by moving assets offshore. These businesses comply with regulations, but accomplish the same purpose as not paying your taxes."

Porn to be wired

But where's the porn? Actually, nowhere--yet. Although HavenCo's prime source of revenue is currently online gambling, Ryan has big plans to host lots of pornography at Sealand in the future. "Hosting porn is something we're working on," he says. "We have porn payment systems, but not porn itself, as we don't have the bandwidth."

Infinite bandwidth will arrive on Sealand within the next 18 months. "At that point, I want to host a 40 gigabit per second porn server with payment systems integrated. It'll provide money and a huge amount of network traffic. And the more network traffic we push through, the easier it is to hide other customers' network traffic in that."

And this would make Ryan's hosting services even more attractive to his mysterious customers. "It also makes it cheaper for us to buy transit because of economies of scale. So porn, well, it's sort oficky, but it's a good industry for us to be in."

But buying transit from carriers is not a problem. HavenCo runs its own local Internet registry and pays its bills on time. Although Ryan won't get into specifics, it's clear HavenCo uses several suppliers and adopts what he calls "miscellaneous network connection" methods. A satellite dish is in plain view on Sealand, but there are other links, "Satellite is one component of our network, but you can't use that as your primary thing because there's latency and the gambling providers are all concerned about that," he says.

As for who the customers are exactly, Ryan is tight-lipped. In the past he's hosted Tibet Online, the website of the exiled Tibetan government. Some systems have also put their index servers there, but not their main conduit services.

Ryan clearly supports particular causes. "There's a certain religion that's really unpopular with Internet users--Scientology," he comments. "A customer should be online in a couple of months with all their secret documents. It'll be very interesting."

Plain brown wrapping

Customers usually choose to pay HavenCo discreetly. "Most pay by wire transfer, or some sort of Internet payment system like e-gold," he says. E-gold (www.e-gold.com) uses realgold to guarantee the value of its payment systems. The real gold stays in a vault, while the ownership changes hands.

The Internet payment systems HavenCo hosts provide similar types of services. "They're more privacy-oriented. They don't reveal information about their payments."

But what about money laundering? It's not an issue, Ryan claims. He's got it all worked out. "[Payment processing systems] are generally restricted to small transactions and maximum amounts. It's harder to launder money through them than in a suitcase. If you're laundering, you want it lobe under one per cent of the total volume of the system. Our customers doing payment processing have volumes of $ million a year, so you couldn't launder a worthwhile amount through the system.

"In theory, I have no problem with people anonymising their financial transactions. From a practical standpoint there's no way you can do that and still interface with existing banking systems."

Ryan's side projects and own personal interests suggest that he's moving away from his current hands-on role at HavenCo. A lot of his time is spent speaking at hacking and cryptography conferences, so he gets ample time away from the fortress, HavenCo may also set up data centres in other locations, although right now that would mean competing against itself.

His dream project is to raise $10 million so he can build a rocket launcher somewhere in a "nice remote location".

It's time to finish the interview as we have to get going to catch the day's only boat outta the place. This time I'm lucky enough to be able to sit in the vessel as it's lowered from the platform into the sea. Everyone else has to be winched down--with no harness--on a wooden swing. But we're old hands at this capernow. Our stomachs have settled enough for us enjoy the bumpy ride back to Harwich.

Reflecting on our little excursion, I decide that although HavenCo is a great idea and Ryan is really passionate about what it stands for, anyone who'd want to live on that place for more than a day must be crazy. Even if they are defending other people's precious content and defying the laws of other countries by creating their own jurisdiction, Sealand's a spartan place.

And the bottom line is, HavenCo is a business, not a non-profit organisation set up to let Web activists get their voices heard without fear of being taken offline. Ryan himself represents an exception to this, but if and when he leaves, who will go to Sealand to ensure HavenCo's philosophies remain? There may be people who would jump at the chance, but in reality it's not a very nice place to live, It'd have to be someone truly dedicated to the concept. (Post script: Ryan left HavenCo in mid 2003 to do other pursuits, putting HavenCo's future in doubt.)

Wanna work for HavenCo?

Ryan tries to spend half his time on Sealand. "I don't know how you'd describe the living conditions here," he says. "They'll be familiar to people who've squatted in buildings in Amsterdam, because of the industrial space. This room has been done up in the last two months, but the rest has been left over since WWII."

For this reason, HavenCo's finding it a bit hard to find interns and full-time staff. Around 5-10 employees do remote admin. "As you can see from the conditions here it's not quite five-star accommodation... or four-star... or even two-star."

Ryan suggests he's on the lookout for interns who might want to work on their own software projects while also doing technical work.

He gets a lot of interest, especially from recent college graduates and security experts. "We have hundreds of people send in resumes. But it's hard to get people to stay once they show up, because then they realise they're stuck here for a couple of weeks at a time. It's mostly the philosophy that attracts people here."

Ryan himself lives on the Internet, spending 18 hours a day online. Even if he's travelling, he still has to make sure there's a terminal nearby. "I'm always logged on," he says. Ryan spends his spare time on the Internet emailing, downloading MP3S and DivXs, playing computer games or using Internet Relay Chat.

COPYRIGHT Kim Gilmour and EMAP 2002.

Posted by kimgilmour at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

Primrose Hill, fallen leaves

A few years ago I took a similar photo of leaves and frangipani in Newtown, Sydney, and decided to do the same here. I just like the contrast between bitumen (what do they call it here?) path and autumn leaves.

My next plan is to take photos of my local area's laundromats! The bizarre neon lighting, 50s style setup and interesting laundromat inhabitors all make for surreal viewing when you walk down the street at night.

Posted by kimgilmour at 09:37 AM | Comments (2)

November 15, 2003

Primrose Hill in the autumn

Spotted this sign, "And the view's so nice" on the path leading up to Primrose Hill last Sunday. They could have chosen a more creative word like "misty". But that doesn't sound so complimentary! The leaves are looking great this time of year!

Posted by kimgilmour at 09:33 AM | Comments (3)

October 29, 2003

Almost that time of year...

This rather plain looking photo was taken early this year one morning in Regent's Park, on my way to Primrose Hill, but I don't mind it! I seem to have put a lot of London snow photos in here! If you like you can see Rob's snowy New York ones on his site. I think we like the snow because we were both brought up in Sydney, where it never snows at all. There are some great thunderstorms there, though!
Too bad snow is white - we won't be able to use the Polaroid manipulation to smush it around!! :)

Posted by kimgilmour at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2003

Blaine's box

We went past Blaine in his stupid box (see Polaroid Manipulations for our attempts with the Tower Bridge) yesterday and encountered about a billion people all looking up as soon as he stood up to take a pee... there were even street vendors! Behold the glorious light shing from above as Blaine watches over this procession of zoo visitors! (That's sarcasm, folks!) We didn't stop to loiter, we kept going. That was also the first time I'd seen the Mayor's building in real life, too - might take some more pics of that later.

Posted by kimgilmour at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2003

Tottenham Court Road Tube

Headache-inducing tiles, perhaps, but the busiest tube station in London takes its symmetry seriously.

Posted by kimgilmour at 03:30 PM | Comments (1)

Mrs Wilde the candy floss seller

Get your lardy ice cream here! Who is Mrs Wilde? How long has she been making candy floss, and how long has the packaging had that scary clown on it? Does she ever leave her van?

Posted by kimgilmour at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2003

2 miles from Hampstead

Another snowy London photo

Posted by kimgilmour at 11:09 PM | Comments (4)

A trip to the zoo...

20 million of these cute little things are caught each year for use in Chinese medicine. Around three were on display at London Zoo.

Posted by kimgilmour at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)