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Fireworks – I’m glad something works October 31, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General.
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I’m just sitting here at the moment watching the 9 o’clock news and in particular an article on the attitude that will be taken towards fireworks this Halloween. In addition to listening to the news I’m also listening to the incredible racket outside of fireworks going off in all directions. I think that the no-tolerance attitude is failing somewhat as the fireworks have been exploding for nearly 4 hours solid now and all from the same direction. I’m not making light of the problems that the Gardaí face in policing this issue but maybe it’s time that we reviewed our attitude to legalising fireworks in this country. It doesn’t seem to be a problem in many other countries and the supply of fireworks to the republic doesn’t seem to be a problem either so why not just make it safer for all concerned and legalise the contraband, eliminating the dodgy goods that don’t have to meet standards. Just a thought…

Feck the Government October 29, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General, Politics.
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Today I went for a run, gym-bound as the weather was less than I was willing to put up with. Whilst puffing my way through several kilometres on the threadmill my thoughts unwittingly turned to politics. I got thinking about how much I always wanted to run a marathon and then how I should do it for charity. From there I chose my charitable cause, as always, to be the fight against cancer – like so many others I too have lost family to this awful disease. Then I got thinking about the state of cancer care in Waterford and exactly how little the government are doing to help the people around this area.

Some weeks ago I watched Bertie babble away in typical fashion about whether or not Waterford will receive university status – he somehow managed to convince most people that a continuation of the set out process was a vote of confidence (not me though). To think that we are so neglected in terms of educational status let alone decisions that decide the lives of cancer patients, really sickens me to the core. So for all of you self-centred, narrow-minded, amnesiac, Fianna Fail voters out there in Waterford, do me a favour: Ask yourself what your city has ever gotten that was of any use from Fianna Fail and then not only should you not vote for them in the next election, just don’t vote at all! Remember roads that disturb natural flood planes and cause flooding after 4 hours of rain in surrounding areas are not a good thing, especially when the traffic problems at the other end, that were supposed to be solved, still exist. There is a theory that the only reason the outer ring road was built was to increase the value of land there so that it could be sold for development not so that people could go from Dunmore to Cork more easilly. Think about it!! Send a message that will really make a difference; losing faith in the democratic system and not voting will say more than a vote for an independent who probably has no chance of election or any real say in the way the country will be run.

Aaaaaaahhhh Again October 27, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General.
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It’s rarely that I follow up one of my own posts within 24 hours but when it’s something that I am incredibly passionate about then exceptions will always exist. This morning I noticed that my last post had already been tracked by podcasting.ie and I was delighted to see such a fast pick-up. Sadly however, having just listened to the podcast that was supposedly influenced enough by my posting on road deaths to have referenced it, I was horrified.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am always happy to be referenced but if somebody gives a reference then surely some of the original content should be mentioned or discussed. Sadly the podcast spoke about road deaths and again blamed young drivers solely. The podcast presenters even went so far as to imply blame against the Polish community but not once did they offer any discussion on the sector of the Irish population that is responsible for 77.2% of all driver road deaths in Ireland, the over-25 age bracket. The facts are there in my blog – why do people choose to ignore them? Like I said in my last post, I don’t want anything except proportional representation and that means discussing the problems outside of young drivers. Let’s hear an unbiased production!

Things that make me go… Aaaaahhhh!!! October 26, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General.
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Those who know me, those who read my blog, and those whom have come within earshot of me will know well, my feelings on the media farce that is young drivers and young anything else that causes a problem. This last week has seen more carnage on our roads and I was not surprised to see the headlines. The Irish Times (October 23rd) lead with “Four men aged between 19 and 21 were killed” (this was a two car collision, the cause of which was unknown and the fault of which could only possibly be attributed to at most 2 people). Also in the same edition of the Times “Young drivers to be target of tough new proposals” a bid by the transport department to comfort the established driving community against these horrible young drivers.

On October 22nd the RTE 9 o’clock news lead with the headlining story of “Deaths of 6 more people, all of them young men”. After the headline however, the details emerged that this headline included passengers of cars and a 32 year old man (I thought that young was under 25?) who was a pedestrian, not even in a car! At the end of the report having gone through all the usual inference of young men this, young men that, the reporter Eileen Whelan stated that Garadí did not yet know the cause of the crash but yet we are left with the impression that it was just wreckless young males – all of them in a combined effort, passengers and all, who caused the crash.

Today I hear Noel Brett (CEO – Road Safety Authority) on the radio talking about the problems of being tired at the wheel and again he will be launching a campaign for this and again with a focus on young men! So, let me get this straight AXA sponsored ads tell us that young men drive too fast (seemingly the only ones who do), young men take too many chances (again seemingly the only group that do), young men drink and drive (again seemingly the only ones who do), young people never wear seatbelts (seemingly they are again alone here) and young people never look before crossing roads (again unqiue to the under-25 population). And now Noel Brett is telling us that young men are more likely to grow tired at the wheel than anyone else. Sweet mother of Jesus! How is that possible? How are young men/people the cause of everything? Even those things for which the Gardaí do not yet have an explanation? Even those things that statistics will indicate otherwise (e.g. drink driving)? Am I the only person who sees a problem here?

The young have always been such an easy scapegoat for those in more senior age brackets. “Ah sure ignore him, he’s young and headstrong” – a common phrase that we’ve all heard. The sad reality is that this is a reflection of the way people were brought up – to dismiss the opinion of youth and as a result to opress the young as if it was a rite of passage before they can be accepted. The young have also become a convenient source of income for big companies such as insurance companies. Young people need to drive, catch-22, they have to pay whatever the insurance company wants irrespective of their attitude to driving. Hardly seems fair but it keeps the older age brackets happy because it apparently doesn’t effect their premiums then (although I doubt this very much). Even still many young people cannot afford the outrageous premiums quoted and are then bankrolled by parents (anyone see any logic here?). If you really think that your young son or daughter is that much of a risk that they should be quoted far more than you for insurance then why are you paying their premium? Shouldn’t you be encouraging them to take the bus or something? Do you not care about them?

For years, I have been on the campaign trail of equal rights for young people, I have taken cases against insurance companies, sent God knows how many registered letters, spoken on record to newspapers and written to other media and politicians. The fact that this media farce continues and worsens is sickening to me. Since these people love their statistics, let’s look at some statistics shall we? According to the CSO figures for 2002 16.7% of the overall young male population in this country is aged between 15 and 24. The actual figure for all under 25 males is 38.5% of the entire male population. Now let’s throw young females into the equation: 36.5% of the entire female population is aged between 0 and 24. Now let’s take senior citizens, 65 and over: over-65’s account for 9.7% of the male population and 12.5% of the female population. Now let’s put it all together under-24’s male and female account for 37.5% of the entire Irish population and over-65’s account for 11.1% of the overall Irish population. That means that 48.6% of the country is under 25 or over 65 (incidentally, 16.4% of the population is aged between 15 and 24). Meaning that 51.4% of the population is between 25 and 65. A pretty even split you will agree.

Now let’s look at the 2001 end of year, annual report from the National Safety council. Of all drivers killed on the roads in 2001, 35 out of 139 were aged between 15 and 24. That’s 25% of all driver fatalities were aged between 15 and 24. 14 out of 139 were over 65 – that’s 10% of all driver fatalities. This leaves 65% of fatalities within the 25-65 year-old bracket and obviously 75% above 25 years old. So simple math ensues: 51.4% of the population suffers a driver fatality rate of 65% and 16.4% of the population (ages 15-24) suffers a fatality rate of 25%. Out of this 25%, 3 out of 139 drivers were under 17 and therefore not possibly insurable, legitimate drivers and must be removed from the statistic as honest road users (equalling 2.2% of all driver fatalities). This means that in effect only 22.8% of all accidents in 2001 were caused by 16.4% of the legitimate population. 22.8% of all drivers killed on our roads in 2001 were between 17 and 24 and yet that same age group makes up for nearly all of the media publicity and certainly all of the TV adverts. Even though 77.2% of accidents are not caused by drivers between 17 and 24 we see fit to blame them for everything.

The facts don’t lie and honest statistical interpretation does not lie either. What I have aimed to show here is that the proportionality is roughly the same across all age brackets. I, unlike others, do not see fit to blame an age group. We should not show negative bias towards young or old when the figures show that the trend is linear across the board. If anything we should be focussing on where the largest proporation of accidents occurs. Oddly enough, this is not the 17-24 year-old bracket, although you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise based on media campaigns.

Let’s stop this lunacy of blaming the young now. Highlight it in any way that you can: Talk to your politicians, appeal to the advertising standards commission for equal representation of old and young in road safety adverts. Talk about it with your friends, family, the general public, politicians. Blog it! Bring people’s attention to these real figures that can be verified so easilly. Don’t wind up in a situation were it just becomes accepted and not questioned. Some day you’ll have children of your own, do you want them to suffer without just cause? Let’s see the truth really come out! Stop protecting the insurance companies – they certainly will not repay the favour!!

Coverlipse October 18, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Technology, TSSG.
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Been looking around now for a while for a nice way to track coverage through the IDE rather than having to run a separate build every time I want to check something. Up until now I have been making do with a 30-day trial of the omnipotent Clover. However, I’ve finally gotten a chance to try out the eclipse plugin known as Coverlipse (installable by pointing your eclipse site update manager at http://coverlipse.sf.net/update/).

It integrates reasonably well with eclipse and although it runs a little slower than the Clover plugin it provides pretty much the same data and poses little overhead in terms of learning. It’s worth a try if any of ye are tearing your hair out with coverage problems and constant separate builds when all you want to check is a single class for coverage stats. source: Coverlipse

Web Rage October 17, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General, Technology, TSSG.
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Just when you thought you were safe behind your PC from the various dangers of road rage, shopping rage and good old general rage – they bring you WEB RAGE! Yes, in today’s news from the BBC is a story about two men who exchanged insults in a chat room that resulted in one of the men driving 70 miles to attack the other. Not really a spur of the moment reaction. You would think that after a 70 mile journey across the UK the assailant would have come to his senses, sadly not… source: BBC NEWS

Hasta la Vista October 16, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Technology, TSSG.
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Paul W has a valid point in his posting today on Microsoft’s Vista licensing model. I have heard others talk about it previously but the proposed license structure is simply unworkable. Basically the activation strategy has been taken one step further and severly limits the number of times you can change your hardware before forking out for new a Vista license. As Paul says, tell you families, friends and go further, tell the community. No matter what your flavour of OS, this could set an awful and worrying precedent. source: Life is grand サ Vista licensing

Ireland off the hook October 13, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General, TSSG.
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An unadapted subject line from The Register. For some reason or other the EU has decided to let Ireland away with not providing location information for callers to emergency numbers (e.g. 999 or 112). The national authority for Ireland has spoken and assured the EU that the service is now available – apparently this was enough to make up for years of non-compliance. Perhaps when the EU heard about the huge physical line monopoly they simply forgot about all other charges… source: The Register

Pimp or Pump? October 13, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Humour.
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It’s more than often that the ramblings at The Register provide me with cause for a giggle or two but the problem posed in this latest post is mind blowingly hillarious. What it all boils down to is the ultimate question, “Does pimping a blow-up doll infringe upon your country’s prostitution laws?” source: The Register

Putting Things in “Prospective” October 11, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Technology, TSSG.
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We were lucky enough today to secure the services of Tom Raftery, to give us an overview of blogging in a business capacity and to advertise the power of blogging to a mostly vanilla audience. During Tom’s talk he spoke about the importance of “prospective search” for tracking information being published about you in blogs and other RSS publishing platforms. More importantly Tom spoke about the value of tracking competitors in a business capacity to see what they are up to and try to gain an edge that way.

This was a topic that I have often practised but shamefully never spoken about. It was only when one of the presentation attendees turned to me and said “did you know about that?” and I responded “yes” that I was rebuked for never telling them previously about the value of a custom search feed in an RSS reader. Basically a prospective search is when you attach your RSS reader to a feed conjoured by something like Google Blog Search and then wait for updates to that feed that will only occur if new information matching your search terms hits the blogosphere. Pretty simple really but immensely powerful. Anyway many thanks to Tom for the presentation and discussion today and also for giving me a post topic to air this evening.