Monday, November 30, 2009

They don't make 'em like they used to...Hawaii Five-O.

When I was growing up in single-channel television land an absolute "must see" every week was Hawaii Five-O, which aired from September 1968 to April 1980. The theme music is well known and the introductory sequence would not be out of place in today's special effects CGI enhanced television and film. Here is the opening sequence via YouTube which I came across today (while of all things I was looking for a graphic of a Google Android phone!):

Jack Lord (as Steve McGarrett) was the coolest guy on the planet. Each episode built up to the inevitable climax where McGarrett would say "Book 'em Danno" - the Five-O team always got their man. Classic television - one of my favourites of all time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Problem-Solving Techniques: #2 Value Analysis

The second video in my series of Problem Solving Techniques has now been posted to YouTube and also embedded below:

I plan to create about 20 of these videos which are based on problem solving techniques from my book "An Introduction to Business Systems Analysis". At the end of each video I shamelessly plug the book - from now on I will mention that all royalties from the book will be donated to the National College of Ireland Foundation. The videos in the series I plan are as follows:

MoSCoW Analysis
SIPOC Diagrams
Weighted Scoring Model
Project Network Diagrams
Cause and Effect Diagrams
Use Cases
Check Sheets
Capacity Planning
Pareto Analysis
Simple Estimation
Value Analysis
Work Volume Measurement
SWOT Analysis
PEST Analysis
Activity Sampling
Cost-Benefit Analysis
SREDIM Process Improvement
Flow Charting
Radar Charts

If this is successful (and I have not yet decided what my measure of success will be) I may follow on with several more. Walter Michalski's excellent book "Six Sigma Tool Navigator: The Master Guide for Teams" contains no less than 222 analysis tools. While my own book is a very modest effort at describing problem-solving techniques, I am also interested in the power of the Internet and will use Blogger, Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube to promote the book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Problem-Solving Techniques: #1 Pareto Analysis

I have started a new series of videos on YouTube - "Problem-Solving Techniques". I plan to do several of these over the next few weeks and months - hopefully up to about 20 altogether. The first one is about Pareto Analysis and is 6 minutes and 50 seconds long. It is a quick summary of what Pareto Analysis is all about. Here's the video:

I haven't recorded a video in several weeks and it took several takes to get above done. I made this by creating a series of slides in PowerPoint which I saved as .TIF format (this is good quality for graphics). I then recorded the audio at my desk using Audacity and imported both the .TIF graphics and the audio into Windows Movie Maker. I'm pleased with the quality of the graphics and audio (though I still "Eh" and "Um" quite a bit).

More videos on the way in an effort to promote my new book.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I hate Graffiti and all other Italian foods

This morning I had the pleasure of painting over some graffiti on the outside wall of my house. "CC+V->" decided to leave a mark - he/she/it has written on other walls in the neighbourhood. I don't know whether to be angry or just laugh at this. Since Man lived lived in caves he has been writing on walls - leaving marks that people wonder over thousands of years later. "My" graffiti artist's work lasted on a few hours on my wall - it will not be available to archeologists to ponder over in years to come.

What makes people write on walls? Some graffiti is quite good to look at, but most meaningless scrawls do nothing for me. This type of Graffiti Tagging is supposed to be a personal signature - no doubt there is a caveman's desire in the mind of the graffiti "artist" to leave their mark for posterity. Or is it just pure vandalism - the result of a juvenile alcohol inspired act of destruction?

I have often thought that there should be a punitive tax on the spray cans that are used to deter graffiti artists with high costs - legitimate users of the spray cans can claim back their tax. I am lucky that in the 15+ years I have lived in this house that today was only the third incidence of graffiti on my wall (the first was by my own daughter Kate and a neighbour Fraser). Across the road my neighbour has constant difficulties with graffiti - CC+V-> also marked his wall.

So - my message to graffiti "artists" is: Get a life, and sign your real name if you've got the balls.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Leather's Echo by Jim Brophy

I have borrowed a copy of a book about the history of Wicklow GAA written by the late Jim Brophy as part of the GAA's Centenary celebrations in 1984. Thanks to my good friend and colleague, Leo Casey, for persuading his wife Máire, who is Jim Brophy's daughter, to part with this precious book for the weekend. My grandfather PJ O'Loughlin was County Secretary from 1935 to 1940 according to the Wicklow GAA website, though Brophy's book states that it was from 1935 to 1942. I have written in a previous post about my Grandfather and his connections with the GAA, and also another post about my fond memories of him (he died in 1965). Wicklow is one of only two counties (the other is Fermanagh) who have not won provincial football titles, and of course have no All-Ireland Senior titles. However, Wicklow did win the All-Ireland Junior football title in 1936 when my Grandfather was County Secretary - he's the guy on the left in a suit in the picture (taken from Wicklow GAA website) below:

Also in the book are references to when my Grandfather first became Vice-Chairman in 1932, and then County Secretary in 1935 - below are two images extracted from Jim Brophy's book:

A surprise for me, and my Dad when I spoke to him this morning, was that PJ had played hurling for Carnew Emmets and even won the Wicklow Junior Hurling final in 1932 - see extracts from Jim Brophy's book below:

Dad recalls PJ playing hurling at the back of the family farm in Tomacork (a townland just outside Carnew), but did not remember any mention of above achievement (Dad was born in 1931). Nor indeed did he remember that there was once a hurling team in Tomacork. Interestingly when I read out the names of the Tomacork, it turns out that Pat Holmes was a "Son" Holmes that worked for my Dad on our farm whom I remember well. He was a wonderful story teller - I especially recall his ghost stories and tales of Wicklow Rebel Michael Dwyer.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

That Goal...

Like most Irish people this morning I'm gutted that the Irish football team have failed to qualify for next year's World Cup. It was a wonderful game to watch, with Ireland dominating much of the match and taking the lead with an excellent Robbie Keane goal (32 mins - see it here on YouTube). It was long wait to the end of the game, but Ireland were worthy winners of the game in normal time. It all ended in extra time with "The Hand of Gaul" - as Thierry Henry made an excellent hand pass that would be praised if it was in a Gaelic football match in Croke Park. Even Henry admitted it himself - Oui, il y avait main.

Now there is much discussion in the media this morning about this - "France/Henry cheated" is the jist of it all. Had Ireland won in similar circumstances we would be passing it off as "cute hoorism". I don't really think that video refs are the answer - players will always try to get an advantage by fair means or foul. Duff goes down very easily to win free kicks - remember his dive vs Spain in the 2002 World Cup? (perhaps justice was done then when Harte missed the ensuing penalty). The Ref should have spotted Henry's hand on the ball, but McShane (in the picture above) should have prevented the cross, and Gallas was given an easy header to score - we were not properly organised for the free kick that preceded the goal. Very sloppy defending contributed to the goal just as much "The Hand of Gaul".

At least we have something to moan about for years to come - the English are still moaning about the "Hand of God" when Maradona scored for Argentina in the 1986 World Cup. Pity - a World Cup run would have done the country some good and got us out of recession just like Gary Mackay did in 1988 (see his goal on YouTube)

Honesty is a quality demanded in most professions and in our personal lives. We all hate cheats no matter what, but I guess we all cheat at least a little sometimes. Sport is riddled with cheating - drugs, hand balls, and even "ordinary" fouls are all cheating. It will never go away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Not once, but twice....


This evening I had to stop for petrol at Texaco just past the Merrion Gates. Just as I was finishing I noticed an idiot (man) in a Merc lighting up and then driving off - no more than 2 metres from where I was standing with a petrol nozzle in my hand. Clearly the "No Smoking" signs did not apply to him! Go ahead stupid and smoke yourself to death, but try not to take the rest of us with you in a fireball in the middle of a petrol station. Just when I was getting over this, another idiot (this time a woman in a more modest Nissan) did exactly the same thing in the same place!

Now how stupid can people be? As Niall Toibin once said "They don't come much thicker than that!".

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tricked by HMV in Liverpool

While in Liverpool last month I purchased the new remastered Beatles CD box set - it cost £179. I felt this was expensive, but worth it given the euro/sterling exchange rate. It was also a nice feeling buying it in the home of The Beatles. Anyway - the Sales Assistant (who was very helpful) persuaded me to sign up for a purehmv card, especially since the purchase was going to be worth a lot of points. I was told I could use this in any HMV store, including Ireland and on-line - this sealed the deal.

I only remembered the card this evening and went on-line to register. Well Surprise! Surprise! - you must be a UK resident and have a post code to register (see screen grab). There is even a useless option to select your country from a very long list on the registration page. Now I'm not really too bothered about this as I do not buy much in HMV - but the Sales Assistant informed me that I would start off with almost enough points for a £10 voucher as a result of my purchase. I feel tricked - a lot of Irish people go to Liverpool and I'm sure that the Sales Assistant, who knew a lot about the purehmv scheme, should know that it was a waste of time getting an Irish person to sign up?

In protest at this (admittedly small) faux pas I will tear up the card and not purchase anything from HMV this Christmas. There is a price to pay for annoying your customers!

Irish Art Fair 2009

I attended the Irish Art Fair in the RDS yesterday afternoon with Roma, and Dorothy who provided us with free tickets. I'm one of those "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like" type of people, and much of the paintings on show went way beyond my limited artistic knowledge. However, there was lots to keep even a philistine like me entertained. We have several paintings by some of the exhibitors at home - Honor Hales, Barbara Boland, and Louise Mansfield. Each of these three artists had splendid work on display - Honor Hales has especially come a long way since we bought a painting some years ago, beautiful art. Anything I liked coast a lot of money - I'm talking €1,500 plus. There was very little for the bargain hunters and cheap-skates like me. Despite the Recession, many artists had the red dots signifying a sale on many paintings, and the wrapping service at the exit was doing a brisk trade as we left. I didn't feel the urge to buy anything, and left empty handed.

I bumped into my cousin Kevin Shelley who was working at the Event. Kevin is my age and we spent many holidays together when we were kids - we had a great chat about family.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

30,000 miles of riding!

Just noticed on my odometer that I passed the 30,000 mile (that's just over 48,000km to those of you in decimal land) mark this week on my Harley-Davidson motorcycle. While no doubt that a few of these miles were by mechanics road testing the bike after a fix/service, but I have enjoyed almost every mile. There was one day in pouring rain in riding through Wales and England (see Rain, rain, and more rain! post) - I am normally lucky with the weather.

I have the bike almost seven years (since January 2003) - so that just over 4,000 miles per year. This is not actually a lot - two trips, one to Portugal accounted for 3,210, and one to France accounted for 2,072 miles. This is just over one sixth of all my miles. For the rest - it is mostly in and out to work (15 mile round trip), I don't use the bike every day, sometimes taking a bicycle.

I hope to keep the bike until I can no longer ride when I'm an old man! This should give me another 25 years or so riding, which if using the mile rate above will mean that I will ride another 100,000 miles.

So - here's to the next 100,000 miles!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Windows 7 Upgrade Experience

This evening I upgraded the OS on my computer from Windows Vista to Windows 7 - it was quite a lengthy upgrade. I started at about 6.30 and as I write this (11.45pm) it is still finishing off re-installing software that it removed throughout the upgrade process. I had to cancel the upgrade to manually remove the Google Toolbar and McAfee Security - it could not handle this. Later in the installation I had to cancel again because it wanted me to remove iTunes - I guess this is Microsoft's way of saying "Up Yours" to Apple and Google! Each Re-start was manual and I had to start to Upgrade all over again, as well as manually removing each program.

Each of the seven programs that were uninstalled (with the exception of iTunes) was re-installed automatically - though user intervention was required. Several re-installs required that the computer be restarted, but I chose not to do this in case things were lots on re-start.

At least while the upgrade is taking place I can still work on the computer. I have already noticed some differences in appearance, but the one thing that worked really well is that all my settings are still in place, with user accounts, files, and network connections all working fine. Overall, if it wasn't for the delays encountered with Google, iTunes, and r it would have been a smooth experience.

Monday, November 09, 2009

1977 CCR Old Boys

On Saturday last I donned the tuxedo for the second time in two days and went along to the Cistercian College Roscrea (CCR) Past Pupils Dublin Branch dinner. We met in the Ginger Man for a pint beforehand - present were Pat Cleere, Mark Ryan, Liam Lenehan, George Mellotte, John Irwin, Kieran Walsh, and Geoff Coman. At the dinner we joined up with Eugene Hardiman and Paul Heslin. Many of us had met in early October - this time the evening lasted a lot longer. I also got talking to some lads from my brother Joe's year (1978) who were all curious as to how Joe is getting on.

There were some speeches, with Past Pupils Union President Gerry O'Meara bringing us up-to-date with what was going on in the College. I had a long conversation with Gerry later on about my Mum's side of the family (the  Byrnes) who I thought originated from Gerry's home town of Lorrha, Co Tipperary. Gerry kindly emailed me this evening with news that there were no Byrnes in Lorrha matching my description, after he had spoken with his own Dad. Rubgy player Gavin Duffy (a CCR old boy) also gave a good and interesting speech, which was probably of most interest to rugby heads.

We had good banter and craic - washed down with a liberal quantity of pints. It's a long time since I walked so crookedly out onto the street! One bad mark for the Davenport Hotel - the food was poor and there were no potatoes for our table as they had run out. For boys who had lived on potatoes in the 1970s this was an unforgivable oversight.

Any CCR old boys reading this - keep in touch.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

My first Debs Ball

I was at my first Debs Ball last evening with Kate and her classmates from John Scottus School (JSS) at the former Berkeley Court Hotel. Having gone to an all-boys boarding school (CCR 1972-1977) I did not have a Deb's Ball, though when I went to FCJ Bunclody I could have gone to its Debs Ball - but I chickened out.

Kate looked beautiful (click on  photo to see for yourself!) - the guy standing to her right is her very proud Dad. Kate's partner Luke, her friend Viv and her partner Mekon came to our house for a glass of bubbly before we set off. We had a Reception in the School before going down to the hotel. There were quite a few parents in attendance. All the JSS kids looked great - many obviously spending hours to get ready! They were all having a good time.

After dinner, the parents adjourned to the quieter surroundings of the piano bar for more chat. We left about 12.30 after a very enjoyable evening. There was no ceremonial pomp or speeches (just one presentation to Jessica the organizer) - so my first Debs passed off peacefully.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Everton 1 - Aston Villa 1

For the third time in October I was in the UK - this time in Liverpool to see Everton vs Aston Villa in Goodison Park with Brian courtesy one of his Bakery Suppliers. We had perfect seats on the half-way line - the TV cameras and the commentators were just above us. There were nearly 40,000 people in attendance and they certainly created a great atmosphere. The football was mixed with some great skill and many errors in abundance. Overall the quality was a lot better than the Championship matches I had previously seen. In the end, a 1-1 draw - the result was about right. Very enjoyable match - my first one in the Premier League.

I had arrived in Liverpool very early and got to see a Remembrance Ceremony at the Cenotaph where there were two companies of British soldiers who had just returned from Afghanistan - they received a heroes welcome from the large crowd. Several wreaths of poppies were laid at the cenotaph. I bought a poppy - something I've never done before. It was a solemn event as this group of soldiers had lost eight comrades killed in Afghanistan - they all looked so young.

After the game Brian and I had a few beers - we first stopped in The Queen's Arms on the way back from the match (we had also called in on the way to the ground). Next was an Irish bar called The Slaughter House and we then headed for The Sultan's Palace for an excellent Indian meal. After eating too much we stopped off in Liverpool's oldest pub called Ye Hole in the Wall.

On Sunday Brian headed off to Ulverston at about 11.00 and I went down to the Docks. I went to the Slavery Museum which is excellent, followed by the Maritime Museum which had lots of stuff about the Lusitania and the Titanic, which was also excellent.

Very enjoyable weekend !