Freesteel Blog » 2007 » September

Monday, September 10th, 2007 at 12:06 pm - - Machining, Whipping 1 Comment »

Pycon 2007 in Birmingham was a success. I gave my 9:30am talk about the UN hacking on the first day, and my attempt at giving a flash talk about CAM algorithms on the second day to a much larger audience was ruined by my computer failing connect to the projector. (If it works one day, it’s reasonable to expect it to work the next day on the very same projector!)

Someone else has done some good blogging on the conference. I have come away concluding that Python is the right thing to do. Seeing as it’s all that builds the UN site, and somewhat fundamental to the machining (particularly the Adaptive Clearing), this is mighty good.

There is no excuse to not up-grading all our unit test capabilities, or learning more about parallelism. You hear about it everywhere now as something that’s about to break through.

Must go to lunch now after having wasted the whole morning wikipedia-ing some UN things. I need to write some good instructions on the site before I promote it at the start of the 62nd session when there’s going to be stuff happening and it’s worth telling people (who generally have a short attention span) to have a look.

Friday, September 7th, 2007 at 4:34 pm - - Whipping 1 Comment »

Me and my loud mouth. Someone is scheduling me to moderate some kind of panel discussion on 19th October about public procurement of IT. Oh dear. Better do a bit of homework. Last year I blogged about an FOI request I had got back from Becta about their framework agreements — a device for side-stepping EU procurement law.

Time for the follow-up.

To: Head of Internal Communications and Information Management (Becta)
Date: 7 September 2007

Sir,

According to your website[1] as well as a previous Freedom of Information request[2], I understand that Becta signed an “Infrastructure Services Framework Agreement” with 16 framework suppliers, including Northgate Information Solutions Ltd., in the summer of 2006.

Section 8.2 of the agreement[3] states that:

“The CONTRACTOR shall provide management information reports to BECTA for no charge on a quarterly basis… including the details specified in Schedule 7… The CONTRACTOR acknowledges that BECTA will publish such management information (whether via its website or otherwise) and consents to such publication.”

As I have unfortunately been unable to locate these quarterly management information reports from likely places on your website[4], I am requesting a copy of all such reports from Northgate Information Solutions, as well as any related documentation, such as Improvement Notices (outlined in section 8.4).

Many regards,

Julian Todd.

[1] http://news.becta.org.uk/display.cfm?resID=19098

[2] http://www.freesteel.co.uk/pdf/FOI_reply_Julian_Todd.pdf

[3] http://www.freesteel.co.uk/pdf/IS_Framework_SOT_combined_FINAL.pdf

[4] http://localauthorities.becta.org.uk/index.php?section=pf&catcode=ls_pict_04&rid=13167

Still no response back from the Information Commissioner about my FOI problems with Bristol. The deal was I had thought Bristol were buying their kit from Northgate using this Becta framework thing, but it appears that they have used an even dodgier mechanism involving a fake shell company known as a Partnership. Still, if their name shows up in Northgate’s management reports to Becta, then I’ll know that Bristol have been lying to me.

Monday, September 3rd, 2007 at 11:47 am - - Machining, Whipping

I’d sat in the heat of a psychology conference in Arezzo for 5 days. (I had partner membership, for wives, so I wasn’t supposed to go to any of the talks.) Becka found a good room. I hacked on the computer to the extent that I could, sitting on the floor behind a plant pot at the only place with a power socket. No blogging happened, surprisingly.

The journey back should never have worked as it involved four legs bought separately so that no transport provider was responsible for a missed connection, thus enabling the next transport provider to fundamentally screw you because you had a dated ticket. What they need is the idea of stand-by tickets. I’ll take the next available seat, of which there are probably many on the next train.

The 5pm train from Arezzo to Bologna was half an hour late.
The 8pm train from Bologna to Milan left 5 minutes late, so we made the connection.
Milan train station is a sight to behold, a wonder of fascist architecture. No interesting eating places were for blocks around. A lot of walking down dodgy streets got to a pizza place which did the trick.
The Milan to Paris overnight train in an oven-like six person sleeping compartment left at 23:35, arrived at 8am. We took the tube to Gallieni, the international bus terminal.
I would have rather taken the train to London, but owing to not having booked 60 days in advance, it was not economical. The bus left at 11:30am and got to Victoria coach station 8 hours later. London underground was heaving and very difficult with the baggage.
After curry near Euston, the train to Liverpool left at 8:50pm and arrived in Liverpool after midnight.

I’m feeling low now, what with all these machining bugs I need to fix on Martin’s computer, since it’s the one with the copy of HSMworks.

Actually, it’s not that bad. There’s far less of it that when I was coding Machining Strategist (it’s the low user base at the moment that doesn’t shake them out), but it’s difficult to get into the routine.

I’ve been talked into giving a talk at PyCon in Birmingham this coming Sunday. Should be fun. It’s only half an hour long, so all the asides have to be trimmed out of it.