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Europe

Sunday, 17 December 2006
Shooting it up in the subway

subway

Lastnight I was out and about shooting some more Christmas house bling.  Although most of the photos didn’t work I did manage to get a few decent photos including one of the giant lawn ornaments of Oxted - watch this space in the coming week. I also walked through this subway that connects Old Oxted and (new) Oxted.

This evening we went to Chennai Dosa restaurant in West Croydon. The reviews (follow the link) seem to be mixed, and the views of our small party were equally mixed. It’s cheap, and quite good, but I didn’t think the food was as tasty as at Delhi Wala. After the meal it was a dash back to catch the first installment of The Hogfather on TV. I can’t wait for Part II tomorrow.

Posted by bigblue on 17/12/2006 at 10:36 PM
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Saturday, 16 December 2006
How do the ants do it?


If we were an ant colony we would fail

I will never forget this quote from a customer, commenting about problems on the project we were working on. I work on implementing large-scale Enterprise Software applications and it is always worth bearing in mind that such projects can fail, and that from time to time they do. As I understand the theory, most IT projects do fail when measured strictly by the four criteria of:

Most projects get around this by keeping the project sponsor happy and adjusting deadlines/budget/scope.  Sometimes, as a consultant, you can make a difference. The rest of the time you are the dog with the nodding head riding along in the back window of a car.

Often we look to simplistic analogies to explain what we do. I recently stumbled across a conversation about this in the blogsophere.  For example see Thomas Otter on Lego, Enterprise apps, Design, SOA and Hasso Plattner and Venture Chronicles on Lego blocks, software design mentality and random thoughts and the other articles they link to. My own thoughts are that people use Lego as a simplistic analogy to represent the engineering and construction industries, with which we have much in common. I still love Zachman’s Information Systems Architecture (ISA) Framework. Zachman drew the parallels between information systems architecture and classical architecture, and the need for us to adopt similar disciplines to deal with the complexity of our systems (Just google it).

Going back to the video above it refers to the case of Collin County, Texas vs Siemens Business Services. In 2004 Collin County signed a contract for 8 million US dollars with Siemens for SAP applications. Not long after, Siemens encountered problems meeting the contract’s requirements.  In March 2005 after Collin County had already spent 1 million US dollars, Siemens stated they could not complete the project. As a result the County sued Siemens and SAP’s public-services unit for 10 million US dollars in damages.  There’s an old article in Information Week.  I don’t know what the current status of that case is.

Posted by bigblue on 16/12/2006 at 10:52 AM
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Delhi Wala

Delhi Wala Restaurant

This is the window of the Delhi Wala restaurant, 11 King Street, Southall near the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara.  The high street in Southall is decked with Christmas lights. Or perhaps they are Diwali lights - they have been up since before Diwali and some of them consist of giant red chillis! I assume though that this photograph shows a Christmas tree and not a Diwali tree ...

Raghs and I had supper here yesterday evening after work. Delhi Wala is a strictly vegetarian restaurant, and I notice from a recent newspaper report that vegetarians are smarter people, or rather smarter people are vegetarians. It’s explained in the Indy article. The article also lists The benefits of forsaking meat:

  • A vegetarian diet tends to be lower in fat, higher in fibre and vitamins
  • Vegetarian diets are associated with lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less obesity
  • Vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, less diabetes and may have less risk of cancer and dementia
  • The Vegetarian Society, claimed to be the oldest in the world, was founded in Ramsgate, Kent, in 1847. Mahatma Ghandi, George Bernard Shaw and Linda McCartney were members
  • ‘Vegetarian’ is derived from the Latin vegetus, meaning ‘lively’ and was intended to be suggestive of the English ‘vegetable’.

If the reporter has got their facts mixed up and those aren’t the benefits of forsaking meat but rather an entry in the Which of the following items is false stage of a quiz show, then I would guess that the last point is false on the basis that it is highly unlikely that the word vegetarian was chosen to mean “someone who is lively” rather than “someone who eats vegetables”.

Posted by bigblue on 16/12/2006 at 06:32 AM
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Friday, 15 December 2006
A lift at Heathrow

Heathrow lift outside

I recently had cause to visit Heathrow airport. This is a view of the lift at the short stay parking garage at terminal 4. It strikes me as strange that the button to call the lift is about 1,6 metres from the ground, and not accessible to someone in a wheelchair. I would have thought that this was illegal under the Disability Discrimination Act.


Heathrow lift inside

Inside the lift it is a different story: the bottom button (“door open”) is a mere 1 metre from the ground, which is fine for people in wheelchairs (but awkward for everyone else).  This is not illegal and I have no problems with it (unlike the buttons outside the lift). However it brought to mind the following puzzle:

A man lived upon the top floor of a thirty-five floor block of flats. Every morning, when leaving for work, he would get in the lift from the thirty-fifth floor to the ground floor. However when he returned from work in the evening he would take the lift only to the twentieth floor where he would exit the lift and walk up the stairs to his flat.  However if it was raining he would catch the lift all the way to the top floor. He is not climbing the stairs for exercise, so what explains this behaviour?

The answer is that he was a short man who couldn’t reach the 35th button in the lift - he could only reach the 20th. However if it was raining he had his umbrella with him and would use this to push the higher button.  Another variation on this puzzle replaces the “if it was raining” with an “if there was somebody else in the lift”.

So my variation on the story would involve a man or woman who hangs around in the parking garage at Heathrow until someone comes along and catches the lift. If someone doesn’t come for a long time then he or she misses their plane…

Posted by bigblue on 15/12/2006 at 05:24 AM
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Thursday, 14 December 2006
Abstract

abstract

This is a photograph of the Godstone Green Christmas lights. Click on the image to see a detailed study rather than an enlarged version.

Checking through my server statistics last night I saw that suddenly I am getting a lot of hits on the term Christmas lights. Doing my own search on this term I I discovered the famous Mousehole Christmas lights in Cornwall. The annual surge in interest in Gallettes des Rois also prompts me to get the ingredients for this traditional cake/tart - normally eaten on Epiphany in France.

Posted by bigblue on 14/12/2006 at 05:53 AM
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Wednesday, 13 December 2006
On Godstone Green

Godstone pond

This is Godstone Pond, on the Green in Godstone, Surrey.  I mentioned the other day that Godstone is the crime capital of our district.  You wouldn’t think so looking at this photograph. It’s a pity about the light pollution in the photo through.

Posted by bigblue on 13/12/2006 at 06:04 AM
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Tuesday, 12 December 2006
Happy People

Happy People at Odeon

This man and woman burst out of a backroom and started handing out sample deoderants to bemused theatre-goers streaming out of a performance of Happy Feet at the Odeon in Tunbridge Wells on Saturday night.

I hadn’t been to see the movie - I went with Mudkip’s parents to see Pan’s Labyrinth a Spanish film by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro which is on release with English subtitles. Writing in the Observer, Phillip French comments on the duality of the film plot - where the protagenist, a young girl, experiences both fantasy and reality worlds:

In this magical and immensely moving film del Toro presents both the narrative strands as equally real, equally plausible. There’s no attempt to rationalise Ofelia’s parallel universe by suggesting it’s a dream or a fantasy . In fact the two sides of the film come together to constitute an allegory about the soul and the national identity of Spain, and in a wider sense about the struggle between good and evil, between the humane and the inhumane, the civilised and the barbaric. Ultimately in a dramatic sense that struggle comes to turn on the boy who becomes Vidal’s son and Ofelia’s brother and whose fate and future unite the fairy story and so-called everyday reality.

Posted by bigblue on 12/12/2006 at 10:23 AM
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Godstone Green by night

Godstone Green by night

This tree on Godstone Green is an example of the kind of Christmas bling that meets with my approval. It’s quite tasteful and attractive: a subdued colour which is not continuously twinkling or otherwise being annoying. Only two trees on the green are decked with these lights - one is dark blue and the other light blue.  This is the darker one.

Posted by bigblue on 12/12/2006 at 05:09 AM
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