Archive for May, 2006

Missed summer of code

In the midst of my exam revision it would appear that I have missed the deadline to apply for the Google summer of code 2006. While this is disappointing, I realise that with the busy summer I have lined up I probably wouldn’t have been able to dedicate the required time anyway.

What I hope to do now is keep an eye on the progress of the projects this year, subscribe to the blogs, get a better idea of exactly what these folk get up to and then apply as early as possible next year, possibly having a full resumé and project plan in place well before applications open.

It goes without saying that congratulations go to all those who have got onto summer of code this year – I wish you the best of luck :)

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TIM development continues

I have been looking at the number of bugs submitted for TIM and there is plenty to be cracking on with, so once again thanks to all who have been testing and enjoying using the application. I was speaking with Niall on MSN last night and there was a hint of interest in assistance with the development of TIM so we may well have more people on the team soon, and so be able to make it a lot better.

I have allocated some time to more TIM development and bug fixing in a week or so’s time (when it won’t ruin my ability to code in Java), and will try to get a second alpha release out a few days after. Beta shouldn’t be far after that, assuming of course I don’t decide to make the application more feature right and thus plunge it firmly back into dev status. I hope to at least get a release candidate version out for those who want a bug free version of what they have already before adding more features though.

Watch this space :)

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Statistics are pointless

One of the main reasons we want statistics is to save us time; after all if we know whats effective, useful and likewise what isn’t then we can better use our time for that given task in the future. Or so we think. See lately I have realised that in the majority of cases the actual gathering of statistics related to tasks takes longer than the tasks themselves, and that doesn’t include analysing the things afterwards. Then there is the cost involved; not only are you being less productive and so not making as much money, but you are also paying out additional sums for the purposes of statistical analysis and the gathering of information. This basically spells bad news for the world in general.

Almost routinely I am stopped in the street to be asked to answer a survey taking 20 minutes or so of my time, many of them these days offer to pay you! Now while this might sound like a good deal for the average person in the street, its a big waste of our time and I almost always give them the brush off. But lets think for a minute what its costing the people who are gathering the stats. First, theres paying the people to ask questions, and paying the people who answer them if applicable. Then there is the production of the questionaires, both the printing and the research used to make sure they are the most effective they could be (they usually pay a group of people to do this). Gathering the information comes next; collating, indexing and analysing it. This takes time and money of course. Afterwards you then have to review the compiled stats wasting more time and then publish them because after all, you’ve spent so much on them you may as well let the world know. You then find that half the people who find the stats coming their way ignore them, the other half dispute them saying that they are flawed.

So what does this mean? In essence, stats are pointless and a huge waste of our time, money and quite frankly our lives. I’m not prepared to spend my life filling out forms rather than working on something productive, especially if the results of such efforts are ignored for the most part. Call me a cynic if you like, but if you were self-employed I think you would soon find that you’d rather be doing things that earnt you money than things that wasted your time, made you just as tired and didn’t earn you a penny.

Having said all of that, the next question is where do we point the finger of blame; who spends the most time on stats, who spends the most money, what do we have to do to change the statistics culture? It may surprise you to learn that the areas of society that gather, collate, analyse and ignore the most stats are none other than our own government. If this doesn’t bother you it should; what it means in real terms is that your tax is being spent on things that don’t benefit society at all, and that the time of people who work in the public sector, who’s jobs exist to make the life of the general public better, is being used for the generation of statistics rather than the job they were hired to undertake. Has anyone ever thought that rising crime figures are actually the fault of the fact we have crime figures at all? If police spent the 40% of the time they spend behind a desk filling in forms and generating statistics out on the street fighting crime, perhaps the figures would be so low we wouldn’t have to record them. It’s certainly food for thought.

So next time you get stopped in the street and offered a fiver for 20 minutes of your time, just think where the information is going to end up. More likely than not you would be better off just ripping the top sheet off the clipboard and placing it in the nearest bin, after all when its gone through the whole system it doesn’t really end up anywhere different.

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Set them up, knock them down

The exams are being crossed off the list at a nice pace now. After having just over a weekends gap I will only have one left by the end of this week. Maths on Thursday, so I have a little time tomorrow to look over some last minutes bits and ensure my revision so far has stuck.

I’m looking forward to getting them all out the way as I have lots of other things lined up which are looking increasingly more interesting than revision ;)

The exam today went well though so thats always a good thing, in fact exams so far have gone well as a whole, so as long as that is reciprocated for the last two, I’m going to be as happy as I can be till I get the results.

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Sarann Punches Matt

Matt needed to sober up before leaving the quilted llama this afternoon so as a joke said Sarann should punch him. Sarann was rather more keen that anticipated however, and cheered on by a group of us the fatal blow was delivered, lol ;)

You can download the video here

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Radio Shows Online

I have taken a few minutes break from revision and collated all my past radio shows from URY and made them available for download in chronological order on the radio page. Anyone who was curious as to what I sound like (if you have never met me in person) or what I sound like on the radio (if you have), feel free to take a listen. If you are a jazz, blues or fusion fan then I highly recommend it; the music selections were made carefully and should appeal to a broad audience.

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Time travel possible

Reading new scientist this week revealed yet another theory that may facilitate that elusive dream of time travel. This time however there may finally be a theory that can eventually be tested on earth. While the technology doesn’t at present exist, it won’t involve black holes, huge rotating cylinders or other such “impossible to simulate” stuff, so it might just be a window of oppertunity. Food for thought anyway; around exam time there seems to be no shortage of people who would love to turn back to clock having had a peek at the paper and put in some extra revision.

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Free Server Monitor

Have you ever wanted to check your server is up and running and if not be sent an e-mail to say so? Better still not be charged for it? Now you can! I came accross Site Uptime today, and while I’m sure they have been going for a while I haven’t noticed them before.

They provide a free service that allows you to check an unlimited number of sites/servers/services to see if they are “up” at intervals of 30 minutes, send reports to you every month on downtime and number of outages and when they all occured and the icing on the cake; a link to place on your website that allows others to view stats on the uptime of your server/sites. Ideal for web hosts or those who pride themselves in having a site that is accessable for the majority of the time.

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Another one down

Blitzed through another exam today, felt it went pretty well, so hopefully I won’t be disappointed. I’ve now got two Java orientated exams left and maths. It feels like I’ve been revising and taking exams forever, but its not long now and then I can get on with other programming and not worrying about course bits.

Grabbed a drink the the union bar after the exam with a group of computing folk, after all, who can say no to a drink after an exam? If you’ve done well its celebration, if you’ve not its drowning your sorrows, either way, drinks win. Not wanting to be away from e-mail for too long we headed off to the computer lab after and ended up doing very little (as expected), but I got into a lengthy but interesting discussion on pretty much everything with Michelle, so that was cool. There was also the fun of printing off lecture slides for tomorrows open notes exam. While printing notes isn’t usually fun, getting 500 odd sheets from the printer because people kept forgetting to set multiple slides per page (that and some machines just wouldn’t do it even if you set them to) did enhance the amusement factor somewhat ;)

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In the library

I’m in the library at the moment, taking a break from the grind of work for a little while and listening to Paul Carrack on my MP3 player. Thanks to Jim for introducing me to this rather enjoyable album; Blue Views. Suffice it to say, any break time is a good excuse to blog!

This place is still packed, and combining that with maths and algorithm revision it doesn’t make for a large amount of fun it must be said. Still, with the exam tomorrow I can’t afford to be lax at this stage.

In other news, Laura came over last night. Hadn’t seen her for months (literally) so that was nice to catch up and that. We drank wine and watched Doom. Crap movie for a plot line, but hey, its got big guns in it and after a few glases of wine, large monsters committing acts of murder is always good fun ;)

I bumped into a couple of people I knew in SoC earlier today and once again found myself dispensing some kind of computing advice. Im starting to think I have a red light on my head with a sign on top that says “Get all your free tech help here!”. While I don’t mind helping people I really ought to start charging – I could make quite a bit of money, either that or stem the flow of questions at least by a small ammount by placing an additional sign “Repeated questions in a short space of time may produce annoyance – don’t annoy the techie” or similar. I really need to get out more *sigh*.

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