Khaos

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Eighteen!

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

When describing the age difference between myself and my baby sister I have often said, “I’ll be 40 when she’s 18″.  That year has finally arrived, Sarah is 18 today and I’ll be 40 soon.  I’ll have to come up with a new phrase.

Sarah

Happy Birthday Sarah!

 

YAPC::Asia 2006

Monday, December 19th, 2005

Marty and I are going to be in Tokyo during YAPC::Asia as Marty is taking me to Tokyo to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. When I asked him about this coincidence he told me it was destiny.

Now I need to decide if I want to submit a talk. Going to a YAPC might not be the most romantic thing to do on this trip but since we are going to be in the area it would be a shame to miss it.

Too Busy to Blog

Friday, December 16th, 2005

I keep meeting people who tell me that things should be winding down as it’s nearly Christmas. But I appear to be busier than ever. I have been out every night this week and tonight I’m going to the BLUG Christmas dinner.

It’s been a very strange week. But I did find out that I’ve passed my law exam.

Carrickfergus Borough Council Minutes

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

Reading Tony’s post regarding the minutes of Belfast City Council meetings made me curious about my own local Council. The Council website contains minutes for the Council meetings from February 2001 until September 2005 in Word format.

I decided to read through some of the more recent minutes to get some idea as to what the Council is about. I was really not expecting Council meetings to be opened with a scripture reading and prayer. The meeting on 1st August 2005 even had a short sermon. Why on earth would there be a sermon at the start of a Council meeting?

I was also surprised at some of the colourful language used to describe the Planning Service. Phrases like “monumental blunders”, and “the Planning process was a shambles and lurching from one crisis to another”. I’m going to have to read some more of these things as I still don’t have a clue what the Council is about – but just not tonight.

Online Christmas Shopping

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Marty and I buy Christmas presents for about 40 people. This year I’m determined to buy at least 90% of these online. I keep records of our previous Christmas spending and last year I still had to trek round shops to get about 30% of the gifts. (I do realise that most people don’t chart their shopping progress using spreadsheets and graphs but I like to.)

So far this year I’ve only been to two shops. One of these was in Amsterdam and I didn’t go in looking for Christmas presents. The other was Toys R Us. I had thought to use their online shop to buy presents for my niece and nephew but the shipping costs put me off. These aren’t obvious as they don’t appear on the basket. The basket told me that a higher rate applied but didn’t say what this was. I clicked on the appropriate link and was told the following:

“When you add products to your shopping cart the appropriate charge will be added automatically but not displayed.”

Why? If the charge is applied surely they could show me this on the basket page. Having to start the checkout process just to find out the delivery charge is a waste of time. And once I realised that they were going to charge me £4.95 to have one item delivered I decided to call in to one of their shops on the way home from work last Wednesday night instead of ordering online.

It did have one nice feature. When I went to checkout the site informed me that there was a multi-buy offer that I hadn’t made use of. There has to be a better way of saying this than “You have not qualified for the offer (s) below:” – but it’s still a good idea.

This year my shop of choice is Amazon.co.uk. It gets easier to use all the time and their pricing is very competitive.

Weblogs and Why I Read Them

Friday, November 11th, 2005

I really like Jakob Nielsen’s article on “Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes”. Mainly because it has reminded me that blogs are actually web-sites. That sounds silly but I don’t read blogs on a web browser but through an aggregator. The only time I’ve looked on the web at some of the blogs I read has been to find the RSS feed.

I’m not going to redesign my blog based on his guidelines because I don’t write this blog for a wide audience. I don’t really expect it to be read by anyone other than people who know me. One of the issues he talks about is trust and the problems that new readers face in trusting what has been written on the blog. He suggests having biographical information on the blog about the author and also having a picture of the author. Neither of these things would make me trust an author. I’m not even sure that it would make me think that the site was more credible.

I’ve taken a look at the blogs I read to try to work out why I read them. I have them divided into three main categories. The first of these are “work” blogs. I have to read these or I wouldn’t be able to work from home effectively. Then I have a category for “people I know”. I read lots of blogs just to help me feel connected to people who don’t live close to me anymore or to keep up to date with what’s happening to a variety of people in the Perl community who I only get to see at various conferences and events during the year. It doesn’t matter to me if their writing isn’t well structured or if they like to give their blog posts strange non-descriptive titles like “Skadi, a muse by my side, a bride at my feet, a skate through obsession”.

The third category is “people I don’t know”. Why do I read these blogs?

I read these blogs because they have been recommended to me by people I trust. It’s not that I trust the authors of the new blogs but that I trust the opinions of the people who recommended them. One of the blogs in this category belongs to Simon Willison. I only started to read this blog because Tony linked to it at some point in the past. I knew nothing about Simon other than the posts he made. I didn’t recognise him when I met him at EuroOSCON and it was only when he posted “Things I learned at EuroOSCON” to his blog that I made the connection. Once I’ve had a blog in my aggregator for a while I make the decision to keep it or not based on whether or not I want to read it – at that point other bloggers opinions don’t matter.

So trust, when I first read a blog, isn’t about how well a site is designed or how much information I can find out about the author. It’s all about the other bloggers who recommend the site and the other people who take note of the opinions found in it.

Study Break

Monday, October 24th, 2005

My law exam was strange. I arrived about 15 minutes before the exam started and got shouted at for being late for the announcements! It was just like being back at school. I didn’t get to speak to anyone in my class before the exam. Probably just as well. The guy sitting in front of me had spent weeks trying to learn off 200 cases. He got his wife to ask him about these every night at dinner. I’m not sure I would have wanted to know this before the exam started – bad enough to find out about it at the end.

The paper was split into two sections – contract and tort. The contract paper wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be but the tort paper was harder. Both of these are very large sections of law and none of my favourite torts came up in the exam. The paper only had questions on about 25% of the tort course so I assume this happened to lots of people. This is the first time that I didn’t answer any of the essay questions. Unfortunately they were rather dull and I find really hard to write essays under exam conditions unless they give me something to rant about. Instead I answered four structured problem questions. My tutor recommended that we avoid the essays as it’s easy to misunderstand the question. But I think it would be just as easy to mess up a problem question in the same way.

I’m really looking forward to a time when exams can be typed instead of written. I find it really hard to write for 3 hours. My hand goes into cramp and my already bad handwriting gets much worse.

The results aren’t out until around Christmas Eve – lucky me. Hopefully I’ll do O.K. and will discover that really the exam isn’t all about memory. Talking to various people after the exam I was concerned that they had spent too much time trying to remember cases and statutes and not enough time trying to work out what the questions were really about.

Problems with Buses

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Marty and I have been taking a bus from Aalsmeer to Amsterdam each day to get to the conference. As part of the route the bus goes through the flower auction in Aalsmeer. But today, for whatever reason, the gates at the flower auction didn’t open to allow the bus to get through. The driver tried to get in touch with someone to get the gates opened but had no success at all. After about 10 minutes another bus approached that was coming out of the auction and the gate opened for it. Our driver quickly put the bus in reverse, changed lanes, and tried to drive the bus through the gap before the gates closed. He just wasn’t quick enough. When he realised that the bus wouldn’t go through the gap he jumped out and tried to use his body to stop the gate. This didn’t work either – he didn’t get crushed but he also couldn’t keep the gate open. Eventually another bus approached that was leaving the auction. This time we did get through the gates because we drove through before the other bus could.

On the way back to Aalsmeer on Monday night I got to find out how scary it is when a bus gets lost and drives down a road towards the oncomining traffic. To say nothing of what happens when a bus driver tries to reverse a large double length bus in a confined space.

I was going to write some stuff about the actual conference but I have another bus to catch.

Strange Morning

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

This morning I got to hear Autrijus and Allison read poetry, listened to Leon playing groovy music on his PSP, and watched a crazy french man in a pink t-shirt dance to the batman theme! Where else but EuroOSCON 2005?

Memory Feat

Monday, October 10th, 2005

Hopefully someday law exams will change and the primary skill that is being tested won’t be memory but rather understanding.

The material I’m sent about the exam implies that the examiner is looking for understanding but the only way to get a high mark is to back up every point made by referring to a decided case. The course covers around 700 different cases. You are also expected to know the details of around 30 statutes. I wonder how many of these I will be able to remember tomorrow?