Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sunday, When The Lights Went Out...

So the Great Powerdown of 2012 went ahead, and was successful (thanks for asking), at least from an IT perspective. In a departure from normal practice, the project manager actually stayed onsite to supervise, something for which we were most appreciative, not to mention quite relieved.

We had a 6:00 a.m., or in military speak, oh-six-hundred (What's the "oh" stand for? "Oh My God, it's Early!!!") hours, start, in order to shut down systems gracefully rather than let them crash, which would have been extraordinarily bad, and handed over to Facilities at 7:02, at which point the word was given, and the lights went out.

After that it was home for breakfast and waiting for the call to return for the inevitable powerup and testing, which was due to commence at 6:00p.m.

I also had to decide what to do with a set of car keys I found on the street on my way to work that morning.

Quite by chance, I crossed Marlborough St. at a point closer to Parnell than I would normally have done, and came upon a bunch of keys evidently dropped by someone the previous night. There were the usual house and assorted keys, some colourful keyrings attesting to the fact that the owner enjoyed visits to (or souvenirs from) Ibiza, and a switchblade key for a Volkswagen of some description.

There being no cars in evidence, I was unable to see whether the key fit anything, so I resolved to turn them in at my earliest convenience at the nearest Garda station. Which I did.

I handed the keys over to a bored-looking cop at the desk and explained where and when I had found them. He examined the car key and told me it was one of a new type, and that if I took it to a VW dealership they'd be able to tell me the make and model of the car it belonged to, and possibly identify the owner.

There was a brief pause.

As impressed as I was with modern automotive science, I wasn't particularly interested in identifying the car, and said so; I told him I figured the car's owner would stop in at the police station on the offchance that someone had handed in the keys.

The cop thought about it, said okay, and took my name and contact number.

"Just in case," he said.

"So if no-one claims the keys in a year and a day, do I get to keep the car?" I asked, jokingly.

He had nothing to say about that...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Oh, How We Laughed...

This weekend, my colleagues and I will be assisting our facilities management team with a building-wide powerdown in order to allow them to upgrade the building's electrical generators.

The announcement went out three weeks ago, and after the inevitable wrangling and disagreements, it's on for Sunday.

A final reminder went out reminding people to make sure to power down their desktop PCs and such on Friday evening before leaving, (because power will be unavailable between 0700 and 2000 Sunday) and we got this reply back:

"Saturday's (!) fine with us for the powerdown, but we'll be updating the website on Sunday (!!)so we'll need access to email, intranet and server <xxxxxx01>, as well as a phone contact in case there are any issues. Thanks. (!!!)"

Needless to say, we were too busy rolling around the floor laughing to reply immediately, but my team leader pulled himself together and sent a carefully-worded reply to the individual concerned.

Who didn't understand.

"But we have to update the website - we need access."

"There'll be no electricity."

"But - "

"No electricity, no lights, no comms, no PCs, no servers, no network, no intranet. No access."

"But I don't think you understand - "

At which point it got ridiculous. It seems his team interpreted "No power" to mean that the network would be unavailable. Curious, because they work in Communications, and I thought we were quite clear.

Can't wait for the next instalment...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

I Hate This Town...

As I may have mentioned previously, it has been our custom, where I work, to go away for a weekend around Christmas, if for no other reason than to get us out of the city and give me a chance to learn how to declare "I love this town!" in the local language, something I am now able to do with confidence in France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary and, if we ever go there, Klingon.

It's something, however, I am less likely to say about my hometown these days.

Dublin has degenerated into 'Land of the Junkies' - where every street corner seems to have either a dealer or a hophead, one with the jitters looking around for cops that rarely materialise, the other so spaced out of it that he wouldn't know it if they did.

They wander out into traffic and pick fights with each other or with humans, or meander their way from one end of the street to the other, wailing in barely-intelligible English for their friend/supplier/other, frequently passing each other by without noticing so that the cries and responses grow to resemble a sort of 'Junkie Sonar':


They push baby buggies (with or without infants in them) out into traffic, almost daring it to hit them, and lurch about like the walking dead, all the while looking for their next fix.

It'd be almost funny if it wasn't so godsdamn tragic...

And then there are the pushers.

On any given day, I watch from my office window and see guided tours of the Henry St/Moore St area, where groups of people are told of the history and traditions of the quarter, and its place in our revolutionary story. And on any given day, these groups are within reach of up to three drug dealers spotting for each other while trying to stay out of the view of the so-called "anticrime" cameras.

The police do their best (and indeed have redoubled their efforts of late) but a lot depends upon their witnessing a crime before they can intervene, and their resources are stretched thinly enough that they can't be everywhere all the time. Indeed, the afore-mentioned dealers have a network in place that warns them if a Garda appears anywhere in a three-block radius. The bastards even use Bluetooth.

We've taken to giving them names - there's Scarecrow, a gangly, bespectacled individual who carries a phone in one hand and watches for police; Poison Ivy, who runs a flower stall that also sells contraband tobacco; the Ear, a guy who, like Scarecrow, acts as spotter but wears a bluetooth earpiece. You get the picture.

Merchandise is stashed in a refuse bin on the corner; occasionally we'll see a dealer running after the council workers who empty the bins if they've been by too early.

There's also a mobile 'stash', held by an elderly gentleman who looks like somebody's kindly old grandfather and goes about with a tartan pull-along shopping trolley.

Every now and again the police cruise by and disrupt business; for a short time, they even stationed a uniformed officer on the street corner. But that just succeeded in driving the business somewhere else. Three days later, they were back.

It is to our shame as a society that this situation exists and is allowed to continue.

And as much as I love my city, I sometimes really hate this town...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Rise of the Machines...

The Telegraph and other sources today reported that

"Driverless cars are to be allowed on the roads of Nevada, which has become the first state in America to allow the vehicles to apply for their own driving licences."

Developed by Google, and following exhaustive testing, the cars will be allowed to drive their passengers, freeing them to take care of such tasks as texting, drinking coffee and even reading newspapers.

Any enterprising businessperson should be off and running with this, which of course has applications in public transport.

So it shouldn't be long before we see the emergence of things like this:

Just goes to show that, in Nevada, you can bet on anything...


(Note: I had planned on posting this last year, but somehow couldn't bring myself to click on "Publish"). My dad passed in...