Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The rain in spain falls

mainly on those who don't own umbrellas and insist on going out in it.

I did a quick radio thing on NearFM on Sunday last. I wouldn't rate it as one of my better performances, partially due to the nature of the topic and also my bery blocked nose. However last night I had one of my more satisfying games of indoor soccer. I felt pleased enough afterwards that I would rate it 7/10. 10 being me playing was well as I can without being inspired, when I'm fit enough to last the whole game and warmed up enough to move well from the get go. I could and should have scored more than the one I did, but it's a matter of playing regularly and getting into the flow I think. At the very least, my passing was more productive. Even when I passed to the opposition (due to mistaken identity), it was solid, crisp passes to feet! I still need to work on my momentum, when I'm running at people I'm quite concious of perhaps flooring them after I've laid the ball off. And you don't want to come down hard on that surface. Or have someone like me come down on top of you either.

We noticed with 5 or so minutes to go that there was some considerable noise coming from the roof and it turned out to be quite a heavy rain shower. I walked back to the IDC straight after as I had not brought a towel with me and I prefer to walk after the games and warm down a bit before showering. The walk back was very wet, but not cold so it was quite enjoyable. I really like that sort of warm shower. It's so invigorating, and for me the big pleasure is the anticipation of getting in somewhere warm and dry after and knowing that is part of our human triumph over our surroundings that we can provide such places for ourselves. One of those Our humanity is our strength moments, as opposed to Our humanity is our weakness.

Seems like the weather is suiting some others nicely too. I think summer in Ireland matches much more to spring in other locales. There is something cleansing and fresh about the atmosphere.

As for the remaining doings of the period since I last posted An Taisce Limerick organised a walk long the banks of the city canal which is being redeveloped as part of a series of Walk and Talks over the summer. The weather wasn't great but it wasn't terrible and who would plan anything expecting good weather in this country anyway. The redevelopment is to mainly planned to kick off in August and much if not all of it should be done by the end of the year. Another walk perhaps on the subject of pedestrianisation of part of the city centre. Or we could just call it a junior pub crawl!

I've introduced jim in the house to 'Clerks' so another devotee of Kevin Smith is born. I really enjoy his movies, though there could be a small beardy tonnes of fun identification thing in it too.

Landlord John is back and since we now have two johns in the house we may have to start calling Stifler, 'Stifler' to his face or john boy to avoid confusion.

I also installed the Irish MUI for Windows and now find I can't uninstall it! I'll just have to tosaigh to get used to it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Home and back again.

Popped home on Thursday, had to sign some stuff Friday morning then back to Limerick Friday afternoon. Had a few drinks with Mom on Thursday night, and squeezed in a meeting on the planning process too! The Healy-Rae's were out in force, well both of the juniors. It seems to they must view Johnny O'Connor as a threat in the next General Election for them both to be there, especially when Danny Healy Rae is a councillor in Killarney, not Killorglin. 'Dolly' Michael Healy Rae is our local clone. I'm afraid I couldn't keep my mouth entirely shut and had a go at both of them. Especially, when he was comparing the number of refusals for planning permission in Donegal with the Killorglin Electoral area including Ring of Kerry. I helpfully pointed out that we had a tourist industry something which Donegal doesn't have so much (Odd I think as Donegal is comparative much more unspoilt compared to Kerry these days)

I know people get more aware of their mortality as they get older but I'm getting more and more ticked off at the folks. The whole, 'we mightn't be here next year' comments are one thing but being told how to turn the water off and on for the house is just taking things too far. They be lying out clothes next.

The construction of the Killorglin Manhattan proceeds apace. The scale of the site is quite something, and my inner engineer forced me to take a quick shot, with the phone so it's not great. Still you are see the underground car park area is progressing nicely.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Republican nonsense, or more from the King

Cats chase mice, report reveals!

Fantastical nonsense from Hibernian Insurance today about the accident rates on bank holiday Friday and the number of men compared to women that make claims on their insurance.

This delight piece of opinion is available here

'Road traffic accidents increase by more than a third on the Friday of bank holiday weekends, according to a leading insurance company.

Hibernian Insurance says it receives on average 35 per cent more claims on bank holiday Fridays that on an average day.

The Hibernian "Crash Report" contains for the first time a detailed examination of the company's claims records over the past four years.

The report also adds fuel to the age-old battle of the sexes about who is the better driver. It says: "Men are also more likely to have an accident, and make 24 per cent more claims than women." ' Also, male claims are for a higher value than women!

A fact buried in main report is that Friday are the highest claim day of the week anyway. There is no reference to how much more traffic is the road on bank holiday Fridays. If traffic were up by 50% and claims by 40% then it could be said that accident rates actually drop on these busier days. Sadly, the report doesn't bother to tell us this.

As for male claims being of a higher level to those of females, that couldn't have anything to do with the fact that male earnings tend to be higher for men than women. So, loss of earnings claims will be higher. Something the Equality agency could have told them. We really should get these two together. Also, men's cars will tend to be larger and more expensive. There is no reference to what impact the proportion of females drivers tend to be on provisional licenses and the attendant impact that has on women not claiming as it would have a significant impact on their premiums such that it is not worth claiming. And of course, there will be a greater proportion of male drivers in their 40s/50s/60s who are more comfortable with making claims. The report doesn't mention at all the proportions of male/females drivers on the road, nor the amount of miles the two genders do respectively each year either. Of course, you know that the more you drive has no impact on the likelihood of you being in an accident.

I believe the media has a role to play here, instead of just spewing out this stuff for the insurance industry. Why not do some investigation of the figures and then look for some really interesting stats. Such as when time on bank holidays do the accidents occur, on what type of roads, and compare those figures to other Fridays not just 'an average day'? where was the driver coming from? how far from home were they? Do many people have crashes down the country late in the evening after spending 5 hours getting out of Dublin for weekend? Might they have not been better off getting the train?

What next, Amber Solaire reveal 'Sunburn occurs mainly during the daylight hours.'?

Bringing up baby

I would like to say that I support the introduction of common, national program of sex and relationship education in all Irish second level education providers.

However, I would allow parents and schools to have an opt out on the single proviso that they sign a consent form exempting their offspring / pupils from lone parent support while they are under 18.

In other words, if you don't want your child to receive such information in school, and if you believe that it is your role as parent to provide such information and advice for your child and that you should take full responsibility for doing so and that includes the consequences of your failure to do so.

If as a result of your decision that your child should learn about sex and relationships from you they later become pregnant then you and not the rest of the public should shoulder the burden of that decision. Once your child is 18 and an adult in the eyes of the state then they can avail of the same provisions as everyone else. Until that time you as their parent should take care of them. After all, you decided they didn't need to know about 'that sort of thing' and as their parent you know best!

Thursday, May 19. 2005

Cleaning House

Some may notice and others may not, that I've deleted my original entries and reposted them. I say that these are the same as what was originally posted. The purpose was to get rid of those rather nasty trackbacks. Some people may think I talk a lot of crap but that stuff was nasty.

I've suggested in the forum and I'm going to outline it in greater clarity here that we need to ensure that parents take greater responsiblity for their offspring. With this in mind, I suggest that we create a license for the purchase of alcohol and cigs. To get this license you need to be over 18 / 16 in the case of cigs, and have attended an education course ( a couple of days, which should be part of a civics course in the secondary education cycle). These licenses are then issued in the form of an id card. You would not be required to produce this id card for any other purpose than the purchase of alcohol or the consumption of same on a licensed premises. And intriguing possibility that would arise from having such cards is that parents could lose their drinking privileges for the misbehaviour of their offspring while they are minors.

Another proposal is that we appoint the Finnish model of progressive fines, whereby fines are linked to income so that richer groups don't feel that they can buy their way out of the sanctions of society. However, this would also mean that irrespective of your financial situation you must pay something.

The King is dead, long live the Republic!

It appears that the Blogs may not be much longer for this world. As a result, I have taken it upon myself to preserve the wise words of one of the contributors. What strange old world is this, that has such geezers innit?

1 - In the Beginning there was darkness,

and what was so bad about that?

2 – So, young man. Where do you think you're coming from then, at this time of night?

It is intended by the provided of this page that matters political should be presented by wise personages or people of sufficient belief in their own rightness that they will post opinions and in doing so an opportunity is provided for those matters to be discussed. Well, that is sort of how it was explained to me!

So, what do I think politics is? this is the "what's it all about, Kingy?" moment.

Two words. Choice. Change.

These twin Ccs are for me what defines all forms of politics and all political viewpoints. Depending on your views you either favour more choice in the world than there is at present or you favour there being less choice available or that the choice be available to only certain people. Similarly with change you either believe the society that you live in needs to change in some or all areas, or you believe that everything is fine as it is.

I believe in making as much choice available to people who are deemed by our society to be adults as is possible. Restrictions on those choices should only occur where they infringe on the rights of other people both adult and non-adult to make choices of their own.

I believe that to do this the society in which I live needs to change. Many of those changes would be quite radical. However, I don't propose that this change happen overnight. Indeed, I believe the society is currently unprepared or ill-equipped to take on such adult roles.

One might say we need to embark on a state of permanent revolution!

Isn't it time it was your choice for a change?

3 - Pearl's a Sinner.

In a recently released, secretly taped conversation with a friend, Pres. Bush spoke of how he wouldn't fire gays because he was himself a sinner. The nature of the remarks themselves did come in for some comment in the media, and to be honest the ‘I’m a sinner’ defence is a little too much of a catch all. For example one might just as easily say “I can’t fire homicidal maniacs from the cabinet because I’m a sinner”. Not that I’m personally implying that being gay is equivalent to being a homicidal maniac. Still, it occurred to me that one aspect of the President’s behaviour was not as widely commented on. The consistency between what he had said in that conversation and what he has done in office, and how rare such consistency appears to be in public life.

Odd as it may sound he was saying something in private and demonstrating in public something that we could do with seeing more of in public life. Consistency is sadly lacking in the practice of modern politics. In part because too many people are primarily, indeed we might say solely concerned, with ‘winning’, even if that means completely changing their own expressed views in order to do so. For me this can only be possible with a complete denial of that which a person should be in politics for. What I believe people should be in politics for is the furtherance of ideas they actually believe in.

Politics is meant to be the contest of ideas of how we can live our lives, and it is up to the voters to decide which ideas are most appropriate, or which sit most comfortably with them. The voters should do this after being presented with these ideas by people of ability who have given their all to show why these ideas that they have chosen to articulate are the best and most appropriate to a given situation. If the person presenting the ideas simply changes their mind in order to get themselves into a position of power or influence then what is the real difference between they getting elected and someone else who originally held those beliefs?

Being a partisan politician and expressing at the limit of your voice, to stretch your abilities to attain a position to be able to do what you hold in your heart to be true and to use your mind and your skills to defend those same beliefs is part of what constitutes the democratic politics of the republican model we have.

Hypocrisy is often mistakenly identified in people who say do as I say and not as I do. In actuality true hypocrisy is to expect people to do something that you do not believe to be the right thing in the first place. If the President was being properly hypocritical he might have commented that he saw nothing wrong in being gay but that he was going to fire people to assuage the Christian right or that he thought being gay was a terrible thing but than he wouldn’t be taking any action because it was likely to be politically dangerous to do so.

I seem to recall Neal Stephenson making a somewhat similar point in The Diamond Age. He probably made the point a lot better though.

4 - Whatever happened to...

It might be possible, if we examine the broader picture, to drag the discussion, began by Dr. Ed Walsh, out of the mire that Mr. Kevin Myers comments dragged it into a few months back. Much has been written about the specifics while missing some of the elements of the broader picture. It is often overlooked that the overall increase in percentage terms that lone parents constitute of the national birthrate is as much due to increased numbers of people in relationships being unable to afford to have children due to burdensome mortgages and insane commutes, as it is to do with an increase in numbers of people having children alone.

Article 41 of the constitution states "The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home."

This would appear to be part of the reasoning behind having specific payments for parents that are caring for their children who are not married. Society and parents would be better served if we removed the distinction between parents that the One-Parent Family Payment creates by removing this payment completely. In turn we would increase the payments available to all families by way of moving the money currently given directly to the unmarried parent to child benefit. This change would at a stroke remove the opportunity for abuse inherent in One-Parent Family Payment, whereby a couple pretend that one parent is raising the child when both parents are in fact together.

This increase in child benefit being means tested in incremental steps if necessary to ensure that it is targeted at those who need it most. People who have made a public commitment to each other and who take the responsibility to provide a secure home for their children are both forced out of that home to work in order to afford it, to spend increasing amounts of their lives commuting to work, and to spend mortgage payments levels of money on childcare. We should be able to rebalance the state incentive to those who are prepared to make a commitment to each other and to their children without leaving anyone in poverty as a result.

Parents are parents and children are children. It is unclear why the state should give money to some and not to others based on factors other than economic circumstances.

5 - The Hokey Cokey

You can get some feel for the campaign so far at MGB's Blog of illusions.

All in all, the "YES" to a coke boycott campaign has rested on the fact that people who work for Coke and are union activits get murdered by paramilitaries in Colombia (presumably by right wing ones, but since no one has been nicked for it, it remains a presumption).

What is unknown is do non-union Coke employees get murdered in Colombia at all? Or at a higher/lower rate than the union members? What is the murder rate for other union members in other companies in Colombia? My sources suggest that the turnout will fall short of what is needed for a binding referendum. In UL, this figure is about 1800, it has to be 20% or more. With only one sabbatical officer position up for contest, interest is very low in the elections in general and the "YES" campaign have not made the necessary efforts to educate or enthuse the electorate. I'd reckon it will fall well short of reaching 1500, and also that the YES campaign will struggle to get 35%. Following on to the NUIM rejection of this issue and NUIG decision that it wasn't worth putting to the student body; it may be that the folks outside the pale are less willing to indulge their inner flake.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

BBQ, Barbie U

In the course of investigations into the garden at the back of the house, I discovered a strange device which questioning revealed as a gas barbeque. Turns out it belongs to the landlord, and after some efforts at cleaning (which involved lots of elbow grease and 'product') it looked reasonably safe to operate. So, I sent a mail around to various people of interest to tell them to come over on Saturday evening and let me test my culinary skills. OK, it really said this

"We are provisionally naming the date of June 11th as the 1st and potentially only xxx Cxxxx Bxxx BBQ extravaganza of the summer. (that's next weekend, not this weekend)

You are also free to bring some grub if you wish but we will be attempting to handle that end ourselves. If people have particular interests, needs or desires (no caviar requests considered) re: food let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Hopefully, the weather will be kind. Or kinder at least.

Directions: drive into blah, blah.

Invitations are explicit.

Some patrons have queried what "
Invitations are explicit." means. Essentially, it means everyone who gets this is invited, and if they have friends, significant others, unattached female friends, sisters of marriage age! etc, feel free to bring them along. I think we can work on the basis that there will be single gentlemen present given the fact that the house population consists of single men.

However, you should know them! People you don't know well, or meet for the first time on the street or in the pub on the way to the party, ladies or lads of negotiable virtue, or people of our mutual acquaintance who I've not invited are not to presented at the door like an offering from a domestic cat.

If in doubt, just say "hey, can bingo bob come?" or "hey, is bingo bob coming?".
And I'll either yah or nay it.

PS, bingo bob isn't actually invited. He hogs the games room."

I fired up the bbq last Monday and as a test did a plastic FGB burger. Which was edible but not terribly inspiring. Still, I planned to use proper meat for the main event.

However, on the Friday night there was a IDC gathering to say "mfruph" to Breege. Which made my time available to sort things somewhat more limited than I'd intended.

On the day itself I had to run about getting stuff. Mike Mulcahy was a big help in doing this especially with the car. Thanks again!

We had a reasonable mix from folks from the IDC (work) and others of my aquaintance (play? though I'm not sure if I understand 'play' so well anymore after the most recent of the 3 mobile ads, like the one with that lady with the huge hands, and also the singing cherry). Those there included Iride, Nicola, Serena, Lui, it was somewhat day of the Mikes with Michael Cooke, Michael Barry, Michael Mulcahy, we had Edu, Eddie and Eamonn leading the indoor soccer contingent, Tony and a young lady of his acquaintace, sadly they left earlish for a 21st. Sean of the Dead, or rather Sean of the house graced us with his presence after sending the day recovering from an LIT inspired hangover. John Browne of winning Eurovision money fame, and Hilary and Jamie rounded out our gathering. The food seemed to go down ok, and no one as yet has complained of tummy troubles. Sadly, there were some who couldn't make it, amongst them there should be a special mention to Nev, Ronan and Michelle who were out of town, but told me in advance/made their excuses. Thankfully, on the night we were spared any evildoers/gatecrashers which may have had as much to do with they being out of town, locked up or just not that interested in coming. More on that sort of thing here. There again, Eddie and Eamonn mentioned about seening a BBQ up another road with lots of ladies, so the local bad folks would most likely have gone there. Anyway, everyone there was most welcome and I believe enjoyed themselves and hopefully the next night I might get a chance to spend more time away from the bbq itself. And I might be able to chance inviting people from out of town, given that I feel more confident in not poisoning people.

In fact there was such excitment we forgot the coleslaw and potato salad. Along with the potato salad, cheese, coleslaw I've got loads of party related stuff hanging about. That said, the cleanup was quite straight forward, helped by the absence of smokers, who will use just about anything as an ashtray. Bad smokers, bad!

And how does Barbie fit into all this? I don't think she does really, there again, I'm not sure that anything really fits into Barbie either, least of all Ken. And isn't that one of life's mysteries? We see all these products advertised with Barbie, Barbie skiis, Barbie hosts a bbq and Barbie power lunches, Barbie goes to the Opera and yet if she did all these things, she couldn't possibly look like she does. So I say 'Eat the burger' and leave worrying about the consequences to later in the gym. It's not much of philosophy, but what is...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Sullivan's Salon Model for Requirements in Software Development

Software development has many challenges in satisfying clients. One of the biggest is arriving at a product which matches what the client is expecting. This is not necessarily the same thing as what the client wanted in the first place.

Iterative development tries to ensure that the gap between the two viewpoints of the software development team and the client never becomes too great.

There is another industry which has to constantly manage client expectations so that the end result is both satisfying and expected. Hairdressing. Successful hairdressers operate by securing repeat business, for this to happen in competitive environment their customers must be satisfied when leaving.

We each have certain concepts of a hairdresser based on personal experience, for example they are perceived as confidants of their client in large part because they talk with them so much, getting to know their moods and most importantly their likes and dislikes. Most traditional hairdressers will have a considerable number of images in their 'shop' window and placed on the interior walls, and also various lifestyle magazines placed about the waiting areas.

The purpose of all these images is to educate the client as to potential directions to take that are fashionable at the time. However, it should be noted that rarely do clients emerge from the salon with a hairstyle that is exactly what was in the images the client has seen. How is this? The constant chat, or interplay between the hairdresser and client is essence of the iterative process at work. They must establish if the client has strong ideas about how their hair should look at the end. One of the first steps is to discuss the existing 'model', are they happy with it? when was it done? what was done at the time?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cork, and croker and corkedness

Went to Cork yesterday for a talk of effective software development. They said then that the contents would be put on the web but I'm still waiting!

It was an interesting line-up. Michael Cusumano (who mentioned something about coming to UL at some point) and Tom Gilb were interesting speakers and the local industry heads were well worth hearing too. For me, the emphasis on the lack of precise in language that we as software heads and indeed as 'micks' use and the damage it leads to in software projects as the mismatch between what the customer is expecting and what the software team are developing gets ever wider as the project progresses.

Also, the question was asked from the audience as to how to get/find/catch good software engineers and the point was made by Tom Gilb that we should look at software engineering as separate and distinct from the soft-working (or was it softcreating) of coding, much as we now see the software Architect's role as distinct from the practice of coding. One thing that came out of that discussion was the need for greater ability in Irish software engineers and graduates in general to be more forthright and confident, and able to speak up at meetings and so on. Essentially, we don't teach social skills in our education system. While many thought the 3rd level institutes should be doing something around this, I personally feel we're losing that battle in 2nd level.

One speaker Cusumano emphasised the need for software development teams to be collocated to be successful. Not a great thing for Ireland if low cost based locations like India and China are going to be our competitors in the software creation marketplace.

Another spoke of the dangers in ambiguity in requiremens documents. I began to wonder if the reduced opportunities for face to face meetings and rich verbal communication inherent in non-collocated, distributed development teamd might not be a benefit as being separated forces us to ensure that much of the communications be written down. Writing as opposed to speaking tends to focus the mind more on the content and structure of the information we are delivering, and on the nature and needs of the other person we are delivering the information to. Both the focus on the person and the structure should lead to a reduction in the ambiguity of the content. We are more consciously aware of constructing something that we will not have the same opportunity to finesse in delivering, much as film acting or acting for camera differs from theatre acting. In writing, we have control over the construction phase but not over the delivery. In face to face communications like speech, we can become aware earlier on that our approach is a little off and change direction. In contrast, we have no such awareness or control over how our writing is delivered, so it (the written document) will plough on regards of the reaction and inflict ever increasing damage on top of the initial mistake whatever that may have been.

One of the odd things is that with writing, you have an actual record to assist in recovering from misunderstandings whereas with spoken communications, as much effort will go into establish what was actually said as into what was really meant. I should write more on this elsewhere.

Some people didn't notice my absence. Apparently you now have to give advance notice via your blog for anyone to recognise what you are up to. Note to self when next planning world's biggest robbery of turf, must enter in blog a week in advance.

The dubs are playing Meath on Sunday. The GAA needs a good run from the Dubs. And I'd like to see one too, only for Kerry to end it in September!

As for Cork itself, it's all to easy to forget how different Cork is to other places in Ireland. Or at least, how different Cork thinks it is. And it makes for bewildered looks on visitors faces when they hear people reference to the capital and they wonder if Ireland is like Australia, or Canada with the capital being somewhere other than the largest city.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lies, damn lies, and the lying 'people' who tell them

As you get older, you get somewhat more tolerant of lies and other communicative nonsense. Then something comes along and wallops ya in the gob, and you're instantly reminded of all the waffle you've heard down the years.

Take this one for example, "I like a man with a sense of humour". How many people(men) have heard that said or read it a magazine catering for the more deadly members of our species? And we all know it's nonsense. I mean if the quote was 'I like a man with a big wallet', or with "with a nice car/house/motorbike", you'd believe it. After all, how many dull as ditchwater men have you seen with a attractive young lady on their arm? Security, physical attractiveness in reality score much bigger on the radar, and indeed human genetics have a lot to do with this. So why the lies? Because people like to feel that their choices are their own.

Now, this isn't to say that men don't lie. We do, and quite good we are at it too. However, it's the nature of the lies rather than the extent of it that differs between the genders. Men tend to lie to realise some goal or objective. Women tend to lie, mostly to themselves, more as part of an ongoing process. Where women's lies are longer term, men tend to lie on a short term basis.

That is perhaps one of the reason's men get caught out so easily. The problem is that post realising the goal the lie was intended to achieve that the average male ceases to make any real effort to continue to support it. Without active support the lie collapses in on itself and all hell breaks loose. Some might reasonable compare this with how many men behave towards their offspring.

The alternative is that the lie itself is the goal. A woman will happily continue to dye her hair for years, long after everyone else recognises she is not a real redhead, or that grey is now her predominant colour. This she will do, not because she is trying to convince anyone else that she is redhead, rather because she has convinced herself that she is redhead and the dye process is just something she does once a fortnight.

So, next time you see that geezer with the ponytail, the receding hairline, the midlife crisis, the customised Harlay and the young totty on his arm, just remember he probably isn't getting the laughs because he's the funniest person in the room. Or is he? And which is the bigger liar?