Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Goodbye, Eurostar

I left work a little early today as I had some calls to make, which could be done from home.

I knew that today was the last day of Eurostar at Waterloo so I changed my route so that I could cross the main concourse before heading down to the drain.

None of the press reports have picked up on it yet but I could swear that the singer on their make-shift stage (with at least five TV cameras trained on it) was Lily Allen, attempting to sing "Waterloo Sunset".

Most odd.

Monday, November 12, 2007

When did that happen?

IBM snaps up Cognos. No, not IBM buying Cognos... I know when that happened.

Look at the first line of the report:

"IBM, the software and consulting giant..."

Now, I must admit I don't make a habit of reading news reports about my employer but that is the first time I can recall anybody describing IBM as a "software and consulting" company.  Perhaps the message is starting to get through :-)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Speed limits and the enviroment

John Redwood (yes, him) blogged today about the A13.  This is the main road from the East End to the M25 and is one that, whenever I hire a StreetCar, I seem to use more than any other.

As he says, it has the potential to be a very useful road but the planners have decided that, for large stretches of this modern dual carriageway, the speed limit should be 40mph.

As I am paranoid about getting points on my licence, I tend to obey speed limits in urban areas and so have tried various techniques to regulate my speed, which is harder than one would expect - primarily due to the fact that the road could clearly safely support speeds much higher.

The technique that works best is simply to drive in a far lower gear than necessary. The increasing engine noise works very well as an alert if one's speed begins to creep up.

As Mr Redwood pointed out in his article, this has the perverse effect of causing more fuel to be burned than is necessary, and probably results in lower air quality for nearby residents I imagine.

There is definitely scope here for the creation of a truly unholy alliance between motorists and environmentalists to campaign for a rule change of mutual benefit.  Bring it on!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I am Alan Partridge

Apparently, I use "normative" language to promote a "positive" agenda.

The country's best talk show host, Alan Partridge, once suffered from a similar problem:

"Philip Parsons in the Times called the show moribund. Well I looked up moribund in my dictionary..."

In these more modern times, I asked google to help me understand what "normative" and "positive" meant...

And Richard Murphy, my accuser, was completely correct.

Taking the second definition, we get a sense of what he was driving at:

"Refers to value judgments as to 'what ought to be,' in contrast to positive which is about "what is."

He believes that positive language is the preserve of economists and those "on the right who buy the conventional economic model"

Again, he may well be right.

So, the question is: how are those who believe that economics does have valid points to make on political matters - and who believe that outcomes matter more than intentions - to communicate effectively with those who don't?

If the "normative" folk aren't going to switch into "positive" language, the only option is for the "positives" to move in the other direction.

So, readers, what would a sane economic argument look like if it were presented in a normative manner?  Anybody know? Anybody want to take a stab?!

Richard writes to his MEPs*

All nine of them. The mind boggles. How on earth can I have nine of them?!

Claude Moraes MEP
Charles Tannock MEP [REPLIED]
Robert Evans MEP
Gerard Batten MEP [REPLIED]
Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP
Syed Kamall MEP
Mary Honeyball MEP
Jean Lambert MEP


Saturday 10 November 2007

Dear Syed Kamall, Robert Evans, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Charles Tannock, Mary Honeyball, Jean Lambert, Gerard Batten, John Bowis OBE and Claude Moraes,

I read with astonishment today that the EU's accounts have not been signed off by its auditor for the last twelve years - and look likely to suffer the same fate again this year. This is a disgrace, and borders on the corrupt.

Please can you let me know what you are doing to ensure the EU sorts out its accounts?

Furthermore, please can you confirm that you have supported, and will continue to support, those EU workers, such as Marta Andreasen, who speak out on these matters, at great risk to their livelihood?

Yours sincerely,

Richard G Brown

Thanks to "Write To Them" for the technology and "Burning our Money" for the idea.

[UPDATE 2007-11-11 12:38: I've already had three replies! Will update the names as more replies come in. Have also updated affiliations. Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, Green, UKIP]

optimizin ur it environment

Oh dear.

The lolcats have an alternative take on my employer's homepage...

[via b3ta - where else?]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A million messages per second

So, we've announced WebSphere MQ Low Latency Messaging...

I've been following the development of this product inside IBM with interest. Many of my clients are in the financial markets and, hard as it may be to believe, data volumes of this magnitude are not in the world of fantasy for them.

I'm looking forward to talking to them about it!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Scratchcard players can't compare negative numbers

Good grief.

The scary thing is that this story is completely plausible:

"A LOTTERY scratchcard has been withdrawn from sale by Camelot - because players couldn't understand it.
The Cool Cash game - launched on Monday - was taken out of shops yesterday after some players failed to grasp whether or not they had won.

To qualify for a prize, users had to scratch away a window to reveal a temperature lower than the figure displayed on each card. As the game had a winter theme, the temperature was usually below freezing.

But the concept of comparing negative numbers proved too difficult for some Camelot received dozens of complaints on the first day from players who could not understand how, for example, -5 is higher than -6."

If some people are so numerically challenged that even a scratchcard proves beyond them, then that has to be an opportunity here... I just don't know what it is.

via Chicken Yoghurt

Is this true?

The BBC's Newsnight had a lighthearted piece on "Stella Artois" last night.

I stopped drinking Stella several years ago as it would reliably leave me with the most terrible headaches the next morning. They felt different to the muzziness one might ordinarily suffer from after drinking too much and I didn't like it.

However, that wasn't really the point of this posting...

One of the interviewees in the piece was an anthropologist and she made a remarkable claim. She suggested that, when offered a drink that somebody thinks contains alcohol, they will subsequently act as if it did, even if it didn't. That doesn't sound credible.  Is it?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Runaway Trains

Apparently a Docklands Light Railway train escaped from a station without a "Passenger Service Agent" onboard.

The Londonist asked what Serco could do to stop it happening again and so remove the possibility of a stranded trainload of passengers on a viaduct somewhere if a train broke down.

They needn't worry. Serco should launch a "Citizen Reserve Driver" programme and sign up thousands of Docklanders.... just think of the sheer number of geeky train passengers who would pay to be allowed to drive a DLR from time to time :-p