Yesterday we got some information about how open the Irish postcode system will be funded. Essentially the idea is to pay for its setup and operating costs out of a charge to end-users for the database – charging for access to the ‘facility’, if you like. This ‘licence fee’ is a rather humdrum traditional idea about charging for things to do with computers and information.
This new electric car chassis concept, the Tabby caught my attention. Worth also checking this coverage from Bloomberg. Now, this isn’t really meant to be a finished car; it’s supposed to be an open-source platform for building a finished vehicle, electric or otherwise. But they are talking about being able to build a car for ten thousand euros with this kit. Read the rest of this entry »
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Microsoft Word is a software program with serious issues. But is the issue really with the program, or is the issue with the whole idea of a print-oriented word processor? Read the rest of this entry »
The Seanad debate trundles on with discussion of power grabs, costs, referendum powers and so on. What is getting lost is the issue we should all be obsessed with – the consistently bad quality of decisionmaking at the highest levels in Ireland -.
As a nation, we make too many bad decisions. Our political machinery makes these decisions apparently without being fully informed of the full range of options available, or indeed of the consequences of the options chosen. And sometimes we just seem to sleepwalk into these mistakes. The job of a well-formed Seanad should be to awaken us and our politicians from our stupor.
As a nation, we are mad for opening up media outlets. We have over 20 daily or weekly newspapers of national scope (see lists for Ireland and Northern Ireland) and countless local and specialist publications. The Internet is a facilitator for new publications and there are plenty there too. This continued expansion seems like the future.
Some optimists in the industry believe new revenue streams will open up as web users get used to paying for their content. (see this report about the Irish Times’ plans and this one in relation to the Independent.)
I think that on the whole, the opposite will happen to Irish media on both scores. Read the rest of this entry »
The Irish Times reports this morning that an ambulance was sent to a wrong address and that as a result receipt of medical attention was delayed. The child subsequently died. This is a great tragedy, most of all for that child’s parents, but also for us all. We can cure cancer, but we can’t get an ambulance out to a dying child.
[updated with new information 22 June, see below] Read the rest of this entry »
Late last year, the ECB issued a press release and this document about the cost of making a payment (like handing over cash, writing a cheque or sending a payment by direct debit). The question it prompts is ‘why does it cost so much to do something as simple as making a small payment?’ More worryingly it makes you wonder, ‘Why is cash still the cheapest way to do payments, despite all the problems of security, handling and so on that go into a cash payment’? The document is as as infuriating to digest and understand as it is interesting in its subject matter and approach.
NamaWineLake comments on the €3.6bn Irish government mis-accounting scandal. Basically, the national debt was miscounted and the boss of the Department of Finance (Kevin Cardiff) was called into the Public Accounts Committee.
NamaWineLake says that the error was (a) statistical and (b) not a cash item and suggests that the matter is therefore less serious. I think this is a mistake.
It is not true to call the error simply a ’statistical error’ or to forgive it because it was not a figure that directly relates to cash or because it does not directly effect interest payments. It is an accounting error. (Arguably, accounting is a species of statistics, but that would require a tendentious argument.) Regardless of what type of error it is, it is a very significant error indeed. Three billion, six hundred million euros is an awful lot of wonga, whatever way you consider it.
I’m writing someone who has worked in various ways with government over the last several years, in particular in relation to technological projects. Principally these were:
- postcodes (through my role with NSAI/ICTSCC)
- various transport IT projects, including the integrated ticketing system, ‘real time passenger information’, and the ‘travel planner’.
Without exception the outcome from these projects has been disastrous. The problems were perfectly forseeable. My conclusion is that our whole procurement system is broken and this is actually damaging our country. This is not just about spending too much, it’s also about total failure to deliver.
The dream that once was eircom was that a 75-year-old semi-state company could be transformed into the major national broadband provider through the combination of union/worker ownership and private capital. That dream now seems to be well and truly dead. What put the nail in the coffin in the last week or so is that eircom’s cable competitor, UPC, is now offering 12 Mbps speeds as its entry-level broadband service. This means that UPC’s cheapest broadband package is faster than eircom’s most expensive.
This is bad, but it isn’t necessarily fatal. Eircom can come out of this, but it will require some big steps.