Archive for the ‘Legal and Political’ Category


In my neck of the woods new rules were introduced from midnight that ban family gatherings, social events, allow only one visitor to our home and require us to stay within our county (radius 20km) with few exceptions. This is the middle of five levels of restrictions designed to limit the spread of  SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes CoViD-19, which spilled into the domain of humans sometime around the end of last year. About 30 million worldwide have contracted the virus, two-thirds of those have recovered (to varying degrees) and about 1 million have died.

A viable vaccine might be developed in the next 9 months (based on the many mid-2021 estimates), so this could be the half-way point. We [click title to read more…]


/ˈtəːmɔɪl/ – A state of confusion, disturbance or uncertainty. A very apt word, not for the word games I was playing over the holidays, but for everything else that’s going on around us. Facing in one direction I find my British cousins, friends, co-workers, or at least neighbours, convulsed in the throes of Brexit. The consequences of this poorly formulated plan to extract the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union project are vague at best and potentially disastrous at worst, and it seems that no matter what happens, roughly half of the UK citizens who express opinions on the matter will be disappointed. It’s an unhappy state of affairs, and not likely to get [click title to read more…]

Looking back

Everyone is busy predicting what’s going to happen in 2017. So, while the eternally optimistic are having their annual conflab with the doom-and-gloom tribe, I’ve just had a peek over my shoulder to remind myself of what’s just gone.

January saw both Alan Rickman and Terry Wogan shrug off their mortal coils, while scientists finally completed row 7 of the periodic table of elements (and thus one of my favourite temporary names, ununpentium, is no more). The departure of Irish stars continued in February with Frank Kelly (feck!) and we had another General Election, which was inconclusive and resulted in weeks of negotiations before a government was formed. We also had LIGO’s announcement of the first observation of gravitation waves! [click title to read more…]


As a computer scientist, I believe myself to be somewhat competent in the ability to understand complexity, but today I was totally stumped by a communication from my bank. At first it appeared to be offering some clarity regarding a certain ordinary banking process, but quickly descended into total gibberish. I reproduce it here as a perfect example of non-communication:

Important SEPA notice for Direct Debit payers If you make regular payments to your credit card account by Direct Debit but make an additional payment before the scheduled payment date, please note: we will reduce your next Direct Debit payment by an amount equal to that additional payment IF we receive it by the [click title to read more…]


Anyone familiar with the work of Claude Shannon, his contemporaries and successors will have a good sense of the difference between data and information, but in today’s hectic world of real-time system telemetry, Web statistics and service metrics there is a palpable blurring of the two. I marvel at how some people believe that increasing the volume of measurements or the frequency of sampling is going to provide them with the information they crave. In reality, they are getting more and more data, but not a whole lot of information. We say “here are the figures you requested” and they ask “but what do they tell us?” And there is the essence of the problem: we get more data but [click title to read more…]