Friday, November 28, 2014

Getting Work Done

You have a small job that needs doing.  Say the replacement of a fitting in your house or car. 

You have a choice of two workers.  You think the job should take about an hour.  Each of the workmen quotes for the same time, say two hours.  But that’s acceptable, it allows for contingency, the almost inevitable exposing of hidden issues, the development of requirement, and more importantly it is a standard figure that all workers quote for this type of task.  

One knocks off the work in a hour.  Doesn’t tell you she has finished.  Doesn’t bother you with the inevitable little difficulties encountered.  Just finishes the work and goes home.  Great.  But you wish she had told you of these things, so while inner workings exposed you could have got a few other things sorted, without the extra cost of a new start.  You wish she had shown you so you would know what to expect when problems recur.  You wish she had paused to allow review and further improvements.

The other worker keeps you thoroughly informed of every issue, every variation, every achievement.  That’s good, it means that while the box is opened up for the fix, other improvements can be done at virtually zero marginal cost.  But it is bad too, because it is draining of your own time.  And the job itself inevitably takes longer than the first case.

It is obvious and predictable to say the ideal worker should be a blend of the two types. We never have the ideal.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Psychic message Madame Artura

Yesterday I got a message from a real psychic:

"I am now Madame Artura, twitter psychic - send me your bank details and I will send you some guff about one of your dead relatives"

It was routed through the account of near neighbor and local hero Arthur Smith

so clearly not a scam

bank details below for any psychics looking up


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Simply Drugs

There seems to be a very basic divide in society. It defines where you stand in the political spectrum, as evident in the major split just this week on drugs policy. The media too prevent these two as the only choices in every debate. Simplistically, where you stand on this basic question is even taken to embody your general attitude to life, whether we will be your friend enemy or be your friend.
I'm not even talking of the obvious and unarguable fact that there is a spectrum of drug power and danger, obviously there is, but I refer to something else, the fundamental attitude toy have to any individual drug ...

It is either prohibit and penalise and punish
it is support and offer treatment

The first of these is the choice of the fascist, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the ignorant anti-scientific blockhead

The second is the woolly liberal, the focus of right wing outrage, the one who wants to spend your hard-earned taxes on benefits and treatments for s scroungers and layabouts.

But there is a third option. A way both groups above can be satisfied. Really. I don't necessarily endorse it but it really needs more press...

Friday, October 31, 2014

True Believers

Another week another beheading another advance of IS

Meanwhile the #notinmyname bandwagon repeats that these are not representative of true M's

Yes - we do not expect that M’s everywhere need to state again, every time it happens, that it is nothing to do with you.

However - IS and Al-Q and the rest are not real M but western M's are? Rubbish. They are M just as you are. Accept it.

They and their teachers simply choose to emphasise different parts of the book to you and your teachers. They might choose to take certain bits literally, you might choose to ignore certain bits, should we have an objective competition to see who adheres more?

It is not simply a case of numbers here, of IS being only a small minority. You know full well that even your definition of whether you are a true believer is not defined by democracy.

There are explicit passages that they use to explicitly justify their actions.

They believe their interpretation of the book as you believe yours.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Every new system we build is by definition new, therefore not clearly defined, therefore subject to change.

During many years trying to develop massive princely systems, I always believed there was a more agile way.

From the agile manifesto, my personal top five:
1. Released development is the measure of progress.
2. Welcome changing requirements - even late in development.
3. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
4. Promote sustainable development - should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
5. Simplicity - minimizing the amount of work done.

And to prove this is the right approach - wherever a group is relatively free from red tape, as in some business units who happen to be independent of formal IT, this is how we develop.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Busk Off

I don’t think I frequent the high street as much as I used to. Many high streets are struggling. Those opinions are not really related. Nevertheless:

• You don’t allow traders to set up stalls in the middle of a prime location (like a pedestrianized high street) without significant rent, so why buskers who are far more intrusive

• You don’t allow the music from top shop or record shop to spill so far out of the store that it can be heard at the other end of the street, so again why can street musicians do it

• You choose to select the music that you play on your device, you individually choose the song or album or even if you use it for radio then you choose the radio station – you do not have a radio station imposed upon you

• You choose the times when you want to listen to music and the times when you want to go to the shops and the two do not necessarily have to align

• Just because some people like a particular band does not mean that they have a right to make everyone else listen to that particular band

The local council may do nothing about this, and I may avoid the high street because of this, we'll see.


Moved onto a new mobile phone contract. It is with one of the big 4 network providers but it is ridiculously cheap. How? Although the contract remains directly with one of the big four network providers, the sale was effectively through a broker and customers are expected to claim cashback Yet there are only two ways the broker can make money from this.

1. They expect people to misplace or forget the payback periods, to not bother with the deliberately archaic methods they insist upon for reclaiming.

2. The more cunning method. They sell policies, collect full subsidy up front from the network provider, then conveniently go insolvent before the cashbacks are due.

I can handle the first. This post is basically a reminder. But I vaguely expect the second.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Getting High

Being high up. Mad. Paying good money to go up to the top of the Shard or any other tall building is mad. You can get basically the same view from thousands of office windows. And that view is usually rubbish. You are so high up that you see very little.

Personally I think I get a much better view from my own kitchen window. You can see the details of the trees and features. You can sometimes see little animals.

The only reason that so many people think the view from the tall towers is great is because they have allowed so many other tall towers. Basically they block off light forcing new ones to be even higher.

Yes it is all about us vs them. If all other buildings around you were two storeys high, you would get a much better view and a much better life from a four storey block than you would from a twenty storey block in the midst of other twenty storey blocks.

The density argument is rubbish too. Central Kensington is one of the most densely populated areas in Britain and central Amsterdam is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe – both have strict planning laws restricting height, yet they have some of the most desirable housing in the world.

Most families want a house with a garden. Surveys prove that. But developers make more money from massive apartment blocks and try to convince you that the view is great.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

And five from fiction

1. 1984 - George Orwell
2. The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts - Louis de Berniere
3. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
4. The collected short stories of Isaac Asimov
5. obviously, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Five Books

1. The Language Instinct - Steven Pinker
2. The Ancestor's Tale - Richard Dawkins
3. A Mouthful of Air - Anthony Burgess
4. Spell It Out - David Crystal
5. Common Sense - Tom Paine
As for fiction, five to follow later

Thursday, August 14, 2014

More reasons to cut your child

To avoid having to tell people if it’s a girl or a boy

To hang bits of metal from the holes to accessorise

To avoid possibly difficult argument later when the cold might not actually want it done

To provide a permanent mark of ownership so people know they belong

To support the gold and jewellery business who would otherwise go bust

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Possible reasons to cut your child

People in our culture have been doing it for hundreds of years

It has to be done anyway so just get it done as soon as possible

I know a little baby who barely cried so it can’t hurt much at all

My family/friends did it and I don’t know of anyone that got infected

It is my baby so I can do whatever I like to it

Friday, July 11, 2014

Finally a proper personal status update

Got a bit of time out of the office today, finally. Five separate assessments crammed in.

Met the teachers of both my children. My car had its annual MOT check. I had a routine dentist appointment. Had to make time for a medical visit too.

So five separate verdicts:

• Splendid progress, pretty damn excellent all round

• Most areas well above average, freakily unnaturally brilliant; a few areas well below but nothing serious

• Some parts excellent, but some things really in a bad way need major changes

• Just normal really, in a good way, just as expected for age

• Very tired, on last legs, not much more life expected

Not necessarily in order.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Ha lal again

Halal meat is in the news again. It has been fed to us and our children without being clearly labelled by vast stores and restaurants. Yet the question around halal remains a very simple one - if we are to eat animal products, do we search for ways to ensure that those animals can live and die in a manner that reduces their suffering, or do we prejudice that search by pre-defining an ancient religious solution?