Freedom, system thinking, politics, science, education, economics, pirates

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Don't get your hopes up

When I saw this headline I thought they meant something else...

never mind

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Apple magic mouse - first look

Apple have a new mouse out:

I went into the Apple store today to take a look: Wow! this thing is brilliant. People will be buying Macs just so that they can get one.

Book Review: Why Your Boss Is Programmed to Be a Dictator by Chetan Dhruve

This is a nice little book. Chetan is a systems thinker and he uses this technique to analyse the behaviour of bosses. I'm pretty familiar with this way of thinking and the worldview that goes with it, but possibly someone who is new to it would take more convincing of Chetan's argument.
The conclusion of the book is that to change managers' behaviour you need to change the way they are appointed. Sadly this is unlikely to start happening any time soon where I work, so it leaves me a little depressed to think that there is nothing I can do about it, other than leave.

Thinking about the boss problem, a cause is the ownership structure. Not only, as Chetan says, are all the bosses afraid of their bosses, the CEO is afraid of stock market analysts - maybe this is an idea Chetan could explore further.

Chetan is not able to propose easy fixes, because the causes run deep, but perhaps this book will be the beginning of a movement.

The book is an easy read and entertaining with a good selection of anecdotes & stories to illustrate his points.

If you liked "I want you to cheat" by John Seddon you'll like this.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


...stop digging.

In the Telegraph

"MPs are to be offered a pay rise to make up for a loss of income from expenses claims under plans drawn up by Gordon Brown to quell a growing back-bench rebellion."

They can't miss a chance to show off their they-just-don't-get-itism, can they?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Legge up

Over at Samizdata there is an excellent post:

about the Legge report. I so hope the MPs refuse to pay and try to take the whole thing to court - they'll look like a bunch of tools and never ever see public office again.

Did they not read this part of the form

"I claim reimbursement of these costs which I incurred wholly, exclusivly and necessarily in the performance of my Parliamentary duties.

There are major doses of they just don't get it to be found everywhere. Even my favourite socialist Frank Field is whining about his cleaning & gardening bills.

So I popped over to Frank's to give him some advice, from a non-party voter.

Update: Frank hasn't published any comments; I wonder why?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Jan Moir of the Daily Fail

Twitter's take:

"Jan Moir is a Daily Mail (UK) columnist who wrote a column questioning the circumstances surrounding Boyzone singer Stephen Gately's death. People are tweeting their thoughts on her take, which are largely negative."

Says it all really.

If you haven't done so yet, pop over to and click on Jan Moir in trending topics. She is a class act.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

iPhone apps

Here's a list of the apps on my iPhone:

Facebook - nice interface for simplified facebook access

tweetie - fot twitter - good for managing your account, adding follows

TweetDeck - better for reading tweets than tweetie, but not as good for managing the account

Google reader - newsreader, easy to use

To Do's - very simple to do lists - should come with the iPhone

google app - voice activated search is awesome

Google earth - just like the PC version, but multi-touch control is better

Tunein – iCarRadio - hundreds of radio stations streamed across a GSM signal

TVGuide - now & next tv guide

Evernote - online storage of lists, links &photos

Jotnot - document scanner using the built in camera, squares up a document and ads contrast

Flixter - search for movies showing at local cinemas

Taptu - directory of iPhone optimised websites

iMathematics - maths handbook of formulae with scientific calculator and wolfram alpha access

Sky News - top news stories

Telegraph - simplified news interface

Wikipedia - optimised wikipedia interface

AccuWeather - location aware weather forecasts withhourly and 15-day forecasts

rightmove - how much is the house for sale in your street?

Ocado - online grocery shopping, very nice & simple

Amazon UK - iPhone optimised interface

eBay - iPhone optimised interface

BlogPress - post to your blogspot blog

AroundMe - find shops and sevices based on current location - yellow pages search tool

Yelp - similar to around me , slightly different database

Rise&Shine - bed side alarm clock

WiiTrack - find WiFi hotspots

Bell&Ross - clock based on the famous watches

FREE Wi-Fi - durectory of public wifi access points

RulerPhone - measure the world around you using the iPhone camera

iHandy level - electroic spirit level and angle finder

StepTrakLite - pedometer

Zipix Lite - fixes exposure and contrast in photos with one click

Shopping List Lite - make a shopping list and check off as you go

Flickr - search and upload to flickr

ITN News - similar to sky news app

NetNewsWire - newsreader - I prefer Google Reader, but this is a usable RSS reader

Microsurface - play with the touch controls using your photographs

Jaeger-LC - catalogue of beautiful watches

IcanHasCheezBurger - lolcats

XKCD - web comic

fix my street - complain to your council, it works!

urban spoon - restaurant finder

Tioti TV - tv guide, better than TVguide with more functions

Pirates lite - dualling pirate ships ahoy! Arrr

FreeCell - card game, free because you have to se an advert before each game

ParaPanic - save the cartoon parachutists

Sol Free - selection of patience card games

StoneLoops - match the coloured stones

GumDrops - match the coloured drops

Minesweeper - straight from windows

Centipede - by Atari - faithful recreation of the arcade game

Bejeweled - match the coloured jewels, by Popcap

Paper toss - throw balls of paper in a wastevasket (better than it sounds)

Pac-Man - faithful recreation of the arcade game

DietWordPop - word building game

Distant Assassin - shoot the cartoons

Solitaire city - another patience card game

UNO free - SNAP with a twist

Maze finger - drag your finger around the maze - harder than it sounds

iDaft - play your own mix of Daft Punk

TonePad - your own little Tenori-On

Tap Tap revenge - guitr hero type game

touch chords - learn guitar chords

iShred - guitar simulator

fluid - touch control demo, realistic liquids

Shazam - identified music tracks being played

Guitar rock another guitar hereo type game

Nubi D0 - to do list - more comprehensive than To-Do

Yahoo - search, directory and utilities

Autodesk fluid - another touch demo

Ruler - measure small things with an on-screen ruler

Chain Rxn - addictive bouncing ball game

SketchBookX - draw with your finger

Sky Sports Football Score Centre - real time football results and game information

ECB Cricket - excellent live cricket scoreboards

Yetisport - throw the penguin

RedLaser - fantastic bar code scanner and price comparator

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Dave's graphs

At last a politician has said it. A lone parent with two children pays a marginal withdrawal rate of 96% at an income of £150/week.

Here is a pile of figures and graphs observing the take home income for people in different circumstances with different incomes:
Yup, it is the government's own document - they know; yet still they do it.

I'm guessing Call Me Dave was shown page 43, there's Tracey in here council flat with two young children. If she gets a job making £150/week, she'll be allowed to keep 4p in the pound of what she earns. That is like a tax rate of96%! How hard would you work for 4% of your salary?

But it's worse than that: if she lived in rented accommodation, rent paid by housing benefit, until she earns more money, she would need to exceed £450/week to reach a point where working pays more than 4% of gross earned income. They should have shown Dave pg. 58

Hang on! What about the people down the street, nice hard-working married couple, surely they can't get caught in the benefit trap? They're on page 109.
Steve and Wendy, three kids: Aiden 6, Molly 7 and Kylie 13. They live in a rented house.
They have to earn £640/week (£33,600/year) before their marginal withdrwal rate drops from 90% to 70%!!

So, Dave has found this out, he has said he thinks it must stop - I wonder what his policy will be?

Here's the graphs:

Tracey, in a council flat or house:

Tracey, in a private rented house or flat

Steve & Wendy: