Thursday, January 31, 2008

More money wasted on IT

More taxpayers money has been wasted on a computer project, this time in the blood bank. It constantly amazes me that the government keeps starting IT projects, having them fail and writing off the money. I feel like quitting my job, setting up my own IT contracting company and just milking the government. IT projects are difficult but come on people, learn from your mistakes and get it right sometime.

Monday, January 28, 2008

HSE Hiring Freeze

This morning as I listened to the news headlines I was pissed off to hear the latest service scam being run by the Irish Health Service Executive. Last September the HSE announced that they had exceeded their budget by €245 million and so were introducing a recruitment freeze. Then, just before Christmas they relaxed the freeze but on the 8th of January they announced that any posts that had been vacant during the freeze and had not been filled by the end of December were being abolished. Brilliantly simple.

The managers cant do their jobs and control their budgets so they freeze recruitment of front line staff. Then after the freeze ends they use the fact that they didn't hire anyone to do a job during that 3 months as proof that no one is needed to do that job and therefore they can abolish the posts, probably earning themselves a bonus for not being able to do their jobs in the first place. The more I think about it the more I admire the sheer dilbert quality of this. Has anyone contacted Scott Adams because this would make a great cartoon, if people weren't dying as a result.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life on Mars?

Looks like the Chinese have found life on mars, and it's the little green man we all hoped for.

However for those who like their alien life forms to come with pointy ears perhaps this will be of far more interest, the teaser trailer for the new Star Trek movie.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Criticising Bertie is Treason

Mary O'Rourke accused Enda Kenny of a “disloyal treasonous act” for being critical of Bertie Ahern's personal finances while Bertie was out of the country. In case you were wondering what treason is defined as in Ireland then this section of the Treason Act, 1939 may prove useful.

WHEREAS it is provided by Article 39 of the Constitution that treason shall consist only in levying war against the State, or assisting any State or person or inciting or conspiring with any person to levy war against the State, or attempting by force of arms or other violent means to overthrow the organs of government established by the Constitution, or taking part or being concerned in or inciting or conspiring with any person to make or to take part or be concerned in any such attempt
The Treason Act also deals with the punishment for treason

(1) Every person who commits treason within the State shall be liable on conviction thereof to suffer death.

So does Mary believe that on top of being critical of Bertie Ahern, Enda Kenny is attempting by force of arms or violent means to overthrow the Government? If she does and if she has evidence to back up her serious accusations then she should disclose that information to the Department of Justice. The Act also a section to deal with people who don't reveal what they know.

3. —Every person who, knowing that any act the commission of which would be treason is intended or proposed to be, or is being, or has been committed, does not forthwith disclose the same, together with all particulars thereof known to him, to a Justice of the District Court, or an officer of the Gárda Síochána, or some other person lawfully engaged on duties relating to the preservation of peace and order shall be guilty of the felony of misprision of treason and shall be liable on conviction thereof to penal servitude for a term not exceeding five years or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
If on the other hand Mary just believes that anyone who is critical of Bertie is a traitor then she has a whole other set of problems that she needs to deal with and announcing them on the national airwaves may not be the best way to work them out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

10 things you didnt know about Bertie

Following on from the lies told by Enda Kenny about Bertie Ahern I thought I'd clear some things up with 10 things you didn't know about Bertie.

  1. Bertie hand prints every Euro in circulation in Ireland, such is his concern for the Irish economy. Prior to the Euros introduction he used to hand draw the old Irish 20 punt note.
  2. Bertie is responsible for the collapse in the US dollar and the rise of the Euro. His declaration at the Mahon Tribunal that dollars don't exist caused a rush on the market.
  3. Everyone knows Al Gore invented the internet, but less well known is the fact that Bertie invented email. Apparently he hated envelopes.
  4. Bertie invented internet banking. He found going to bank branches to be tedious and unnecessary. He was the first man in Ireland to do all his banking from a pub.
  5. Bertie personally designed the new Croke Park. The reported gap in the stands by Hill 16 doesn't actually exist and is just media speculation and leaks from the engineering inspectors office that say his design is not complete and full of holes.
  6. Bertie has years of experience in the construction industry and is a fully qualified brick layer, carpenter, architect, crane driver and plasterer. Each evening after work he likes to spend hours on DIY and improvements to his friends houses.
  7. It was the rumour that Bertie was being called up to the Irish soccer squad that led to the confrontation between Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy. Roy had seen Bertie kick a ball during a visit to Old Trafford and wanted Bertie to be named Captain but Mick didnt agree and wanted him named manager. The experience Bertie gained negotiating a ceasefire in the resulting Second Irish Civil War helped him find a solution to the Northern Ireland Troubles.
  8. Bertie personally brought peace to Northern Ireland. He confiscated all the guns, melted them down to make the tracks for the Dublin Luas and hosted meditation classes for Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.
  9. Bertie had trouble with his hand writing early in his career. It was messy and hard to read. Berties great friend Charles J Haughey spent many hours sitting with the young lad helping him practice his signature on pieces of paper until he got it perfect.
  10. Bertie introduced Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski. He believed that Hillary needed something to cry over if she was to ever have a chance of becoming the first female president of the USA. He also helped New Hampshire when they didn't know how to run the recent primary and loaned them some world class voting machines.
All of the above may or may not be the truth, who really knows. But we do know that anyone who doubts the power of The Bertie is just a bare-faced liar.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Edmund Hillary

Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Everest has died. I mention it here because though Hillary was from New Zealand when I was a kid I assumed he must be Irish. You see from 1976 to 1990 a man called Patrick Hillary was President of Ireland and my childhood logic assumed two famous people with the same unusual name had to both be Irish. I've always found my own stupidity to be amusing :-)


While I think many nurses, gardai and teachers do have genuine cases for pay increases I'd like to point the other civil service unions, currently on TV and radio complaining about benchmarking, to the following resource through which they can seek the pay increases they feel they deserve: Irish Jobs.

If things are that bad in your current job do what the private sector workers do, stop complaining and leave. Stick it you that manager who refused you a pay increase or grade promotion. Show them you wont be pushed around and ignored. You are not enslaved to the civil service. No one is going to stop you taking your valuable skills elsewhere. On the other side there are plenty of people in the private sector who would like a shot at what they see as your great pension and work conditions to fill your position so then everyone will be happy.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

No Wi-Fi for Dublin

Dublin City Council has decided to not provide a city wide WI-FI service. There were two reasons for this.

Firstly at €27 Million it was deemed too expensive. In an era when many tourists coming to Dublin are bringing WI-FI enabled devices like mobile phones, PDA's and laptops could reliable access to WI-FI have made their stay more enjoyable? How about business people stuck in taxis on the way to meetings, would easy and cheap access to the internet have been useful to them? In truth there would have been many financial reasons to justify the expenditure.

The second reason given by the council is a little more honest, "the plan would be contrary to EU law on state aid". In plain speak, there are too many companies making too much money from either providing expensive and limited WI-FI in spots around the city or selling 3G services that depend on absence of WI-FI. The city council is not allowed, or perhaps just not willing, to provide a service that would challenge those companies. A service will be provided on a test basis to areas like Ballymun and Ballyfermot, where there is a lack of coverage, or in other words areas that seem less profitable for private companies than the City Centre or Dublin 4.

There are a few free WI-FI spots in bars and restaurants around the city and the council will provide a service in libraries and public buildings but for the moment most of us will have to continue paying private companies.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My New Old Camera

My girlfriend bought me a present for Christmas at a camera market in Canada before returning home to Ireland. A Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. This is a rangefinder camera from the 1960s and I love it. She, being deep down inside a true photographer though these days she hides it well, said I should learn to use a real camera and not always use my modern DSLR.

I have to admit it has been a struggle. First of all it uses 35mm film and it's been a few years since I even loaded film. Two wasted photo trips around Dublin taught me the proper way to load film. Unfortunately my third trip started well but ended badly when I realised that the sprockets in the camera chewed the film. Also the exposure settings are fun. I'm so used to the camera guiding me to a correct setting and then using the screen to examine the results that the first few clicks on the Minolta and I was looking at the back of it's leather case wondering where the photo was. The battery in is drained, probably since the 1970's :-) so I'm still using my DSLR to meter and then try to guess myself. It's harder work than I would have thought. I'm probably learning more in an hour than I learned in months before hand.

I'm determined to keep trying. Its hard to explain but this old camera really appeals to me and to others. It's a proper old camera. People don't mind you pointing it at them. A big DSLR with a pointy lens poked in their faces seems offensive but a 50 year old silver camera with half the photographers face still visible draws more curiosity than annoyance. As I walked down Grafton St one guy stopped me and asked me about the camera. He was a pro that uses Leica and other range finders for proper Street Photography. A long chat ensued and I realised that there is a whole side to Irish photography that I never really see.

I love the click it makes when I press down the shutter release. It's not a button flush with the body as we have today, it's a rod that sticks out of the top of the camera. I love the the feel of the film advance lever. I've taken shots just to wind on the film. I'll continue to work at it and, hopefully, eventually I'll get a roll of proper B&W photographs which even if they don't meet the grade technically will mean a lot more to me than my gigabytes of digital photographs because they required more time investment, more effort and more thought. Thanks Lauren :-)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Spaceship Two

Look what's coming on Jan 23rd, Space Ship Two. Cool, very cool. Though it'll be the end of 2009 before the comercial flights start.

[via Engadget]

The EU made me do it

The government has announced, late on a cold Friday when they think most people wont really notice, that "it has received legal advice that confirms schools here must pay water charges based on usage levels and cannot be exempted". This is because an EU directive says they have to charge all non-domestic users for water.

Bertie, if you go to jail I doubt it will be because you wouldn't charge children for water to flush the toilet and wash their hands.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year (and a belated Merry Christmas) to everyone.