Monday, October 20, 2008

Ikea "group-buy" idea...

I am moving house (again) at the moment.
Because of this redecorating the new abode is being considered. As someone who lived on the European continent I have been exposed to the phenomenon that is Ikea. Great furniture etc. at dirt cheap prices. Especially great if you have kids that break stuff at an alarming rate.
Living in Ireland I am now faced with the problem that the nearest Ikea is an 8 hour round trip. Not exactly shopping inducing distances...
So while pondering this over last night I come up with the idea of an Ikea "group buy".
The idea is fairly simple;
We get a large enough number of interested parties, we compile a list of what everyone wants, money gets collected (incl. a small fee for collection) and we drive up in a van/lorry/truck to pick up the items.
Some of it can be dropped of on the way back and for the rest we can decide on a central location for pickup (a lot closer for everyone that Belfast).
I put the idea out on Twitter and got enough positive feedback to take this further.
So what I suggest is that anyone who is interested or who has suggestion just posts this as a comment to this post.
I will then look at all the comments and see if I can organise the whole thing...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

No Tweets today...

I will no longer post my Tweets on this blog and will remove the ones already there until such time that Big brother will stop looking over my shoulder and "penalizing" me for my comments...

04/07/08: Update.
I've received a number of messages from people asking me what this post is all about so I've decided to expand a little on the original message.
I've been (automatically) posting my Twitter messages on this blog using "LoudTwitter".
One of my more recents Tweets included a comment that was slightly critical of an Irish state body. Someone inside that organisation read the comment and took offence. This led to the same organisation pulling the plug on sponsorship that had been promissed for a business networking event that I am organising. Petty really...
I offered to discuss the circumstances of this comment but there was no interest in this.
What's more, since this happened the same IP address from within the same network checks my blog several times a day now. I can only guess why as it is private blog with very irregular postings. Obviously they do not have anything better to do.
What's more; I have never seen any visits from this organisation on my business blog which contains postings that should be a whole lot more interesting.

Anyway, because of the fact that the event that I am organising is aimed at helping start-ups ventures and new entrepreneurs and the fact that any sponsorship would only be used to benefit these parties by providing prizes that will help them to develop their venture, I have decided that rather than persist and maybe cause more damage, I will remove all twitter messages and not post any new ones...

It's a shame but so be it...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sensitive condoms...

This is too good to even comment on:
"A musical condom designed to play louder and faster as lovers reach a climax is to go on sale in Ukraine. Grigoriy Chausovsky, from Zaporozhye, said his condoms came fitted with a special sensor that registers when the condom is put on. It transmits a signal to a miniature speaker in the base of the condom which play a melody.
He told local media: “As the sex becomes more passionate, it registers the increased speed of the movements and plays the melody faster and louder."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Security issues at Shannon airport..

I am a regular visitor at Shannon airport. Either traveling myself or picking up - dropping of people. One thing that surprises me every time I go there is the lack of security.
Now I am not talking about the security inside the airport affecting travellers but rather about the perimeter security.
The airport is surrounded by an industrial estate, fields, a fuel storage facility and water. The only visible security is a little guardhouse manned by (at most) two unarmed airport security staff. Lately that checkpoint has also been unmanned.
I doubt it that there is any covert security.
That leaves a multitude of avenues of attack open to anyone with bad intentions.
Seeing that a large number of US troops travelling to and back from the Middle East make stopovers at Shannon as well as (allegedly) the odd rendition flight and visit by US dignitaries this would make it a high value target.
Now I am not going to outline details here as I do not intend to provide a manual for suicidal idiots. However off the top of my head I can come up with 4-5 possible attack scenarios with an above average probability of success. Combined that with the fact that terrorists nowadays are not too concerned with a escape route or their own survival rate and the tendency to commit suicide attacks that net a single digit number of "kills" and you can see where I am going.
I am sure that with the ERU being deployed in certain areas of nearby Limerick they can spare a few men to carry out a risk analysis and provide adequate perimeter security.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A taxing time...

I recently wrote about my experience being audited by the Irish taxman.
This "story" got a huge amount of exposure and ended up on the front page of the two major Sunday newspapers in Ireland. This was followed by articles in another Irish newspaper on Monday and mentions in a raft of other Irish media (radio, blogs etc.).
The story was even picked up in my homecountry, The Netherlands, and got a similar level of exposure there. It was featured in several newspapers, blogs and on an online radiostation.
In the days following this I was asked by a lot of people if I wasn't afraid of "offending" the taxman. To be honest i was a bit taken aback by all the media exposure but seeing that I was not critical at all of the taxman i expected it to be taken in good spirits.
Obviously I was wrong.....
Yesterday a big brown enveloppe from the Irish revenue Commissioners arrived in my mailbox. It contained a lot of forms and a covering letter. It now turns out that they are auditing my personal finances.
I am expected to produce within the next 21 days:
- Records relating to all my sources of income from 1/1/05 to 31/12/07
- Bank, credit card & loan statements from 1/1/05 to 21/12/07
Now again, let me repeat that I have nothing to hide and am not reluctant to provide this information. However it is a huge pain in the behind and will take up quite some time to collate. These people don't seem to realise that I have other things to do....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The power of blogging.....

I put a post up here last week on my experiences with the Irish Tax auditors and how they use social & business networking profiles as basis for an audit. It was a quick post made without too much though. I did NOT expect loads of hits or feedback.
I can now see how wrong I was.....
The story was first picked up on Friday and included in Damien Mulley's "fluffy links". Since then it has been on the front page of two major Sunday papers, mentioned (and discussed) twice on Irish radio and was included in last Monday's Irish Independent newspaper.
Internationally (yes!) it has been mentioned on an Dutch radio programme and has been listed on two Dutch news websites.
It has off course also been picked up by a number of blogs and today it made
I just hope that the taxman realises that I am not being paid for this!

For those interested following are links to some of the sites mentioning the story:

Monday, February 25, 2008

The HSE needs to go to war.

there was an article in my local paper last week. It exposed a directive issued by the HSE that ambulance drivers in "some cases" (read most) have to bypass the A&E unit in Nenagh hospital and bring patients to the A&E facilities in Limerick, Laois or even Kilkenny hospitals. This would all require a traveling time of well over an hour. Now any person with half a bit knowledge of trauma medicine knows of the so-called "golden hour". Experience has proven that a patients chances of survival greatly increase if he/she receives treatment within the first 60 minutes after receiving the injuries. If treatment occurs outside these 60 minutes the chances of survival decrease rapidly no matter how experienced and well equipped the ambulance crews are. So this decision clearly diminishes the survival chances of any person requiring A&E treatment in the Nenagh catchment area. This is again a decision that typifies HSE policy.
Operational and management decision are made by bean-counters without any regard for the patients.
We now have a healthcare system in Ireland that drives trauma victims around the country for over an hour, has people on trolleys in hallways for days on end and can't even do a simple thing such a process and analyse an X-ray immediately.
This is ridiculous and unacceptable. In Iraq and Afghanistan injured soldiers who have their limbs blown of by an IED have a better chance of survival than a victim of a road traffic accident in Ireland. I strongly suggest that we scrap the whole system of healthcare currently in place and replace it by something along the lines of what the US military currently has deployed in the various theatres of operations. We need to setup a number of primary/trauma care facilities across this country so that any sick or injured person is never more than a 30 minute ride away from one of these. Structure these facilities along the lines of the Combat Support Hospitals. Anyone coming in to these will be subjected to triage and treated accordingly. Once a patient has been diagnosed and stabilised they will be either discharged or "passed up the chain" to a more specialised treatment facility/hospital.
These primary care units make more sense than a full hospital facility in every county and are a lot more cost effective. Staff them with a mix of trauma surgeons & nurses and assign no more than 2 administrators. Have all primary care units managed from a central facility located somewhere else in the country but staff this central management office with medical staff re-trained to management duties and not just bean-counters.
You can then close all the general hospitals and replace them with a number of specialised treatment centres across the country. All cancer patients go to centre X, all paediatrics go to centre Y etc...
A system along these lines will be patient-centric and ensure (for as far as this is possible) that any patient will receive the best medical care possible.
I know that with the way the system is structured at the moment that if any member of my family develops a serious illness that I will put them on the first flight out of this country...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Irish Tax office catches up with web 2.0...

I had the great pleasure this morning of being subject to a tax audit.
It was announced by a letter that I received a few weeks ago so it wasn't a surprise.
What was a surprise was the fact that the person conducting the audit had printouts of all my online networking profiles. That's Linkedin, Xing, Facebook etc.
I ended up being questioned on the content of these profiles. Not that I have anything to hide but some content was out of date leading to some digging (no not on the tax people.
This really annoyed me and I clearly pointed out that these profiles held no legal validity and if they had no right to use them as part of an audit.
It adds another chapter though in the number of privacy issues for people using online networking sites. Not only can friends, foes and potential employers view and use your profile information and activities, now the tax office will use this information also....
Scary really....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dell (Top class) Tech support.

Below is a real life email exchange between Dell support and a customer. Names have been deleted to protect the innocent:
For your information, the customer is in Ireland and has submitted this through Dell's Irish website

Hi there, Pierre



----- Original Message -----
From: "UKI_TS_Dimension_Support"
To: <*************>
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 11:53 AM
Subject: Re: Case #: 20080207134925189 (KMM12755180I57L0KM)

> Dear Customer:
> Thank you for contacting Dell.
> I apologize for the inconvenience that I am unable to understand the
> issue
due to language barrier. Please reply back to the same email providing a brief description of the issue in French so that I would be glad to assist you.
> I assure you that I shall take the initiative to resolve this issue as
soon as I receive the above information in French.
> Thank you for choosing Dell.
> Respectfully,
> **************************************************************
> Original Message Follows:
> ------------------------
> * * * This is a feedback Message from the Dell Online Communications
Center. * * *
> Customer Information:
> **************************************************
> Name: **************
> Email:**********
> Daytime telephone number: XXXXXXXXX
> Service Tag:XXXXXXX
> eTrack: ****************************
> **************************************************
> System Label:XPS/Dimension 210/9200C
> Problem:Computer
> Operating System:Windows Vista
> Problem Description:
> ERROR CODE: 0F00:065 D
> :137 B
> **************************************************
> Sent to:
> Referring URL:
> Date submitted: 07/02/2008