Each year for the past twenty years I recall someone mention the idea of moving the UK’s time zone to CET, or changing daylight savings or some other such tinkering with the clocks. As I have come to understand time more and more this confuses me more and more. Not that I am confused by the concept of changing a clock, I’ve done that enough that it doesn’t matter to me, but my confusion is to why we need to change a unit of measure rather than changing our attitudes. One of the arguments for changing timezones or using DST is for “safety”, the idea is that if it is too dark in the mornings people going to work or school are more at risk. It is also said that energy can be saved because people wouldn’t use so much lighting if the clocks were different.
What this fundamentally ignores is the fact that time itself is not really variable, not on a scale that matters to our daily lives anyway, in each SI day there are 86,399, 86,400 or 86,401 seconds (yes there are not exactly 24 hours in a day because the earth isn’t perfect). When people talk about fiddling with the time they are really just doing it for political reasons, to assert themselves and their own importance. If it really mattered about the time at which children went to school then schools could open earlier or later, businesses can make their own decisions about when to open and operate. I currently work at a business that opens at 08:30, but I have started at 05:00, 08:00, 09:00 and 10:00 in differing jobs. Delivery drivers, bakers, presenters and many more people get up at a time that suits their work (Shift Work). I once worked with a team that didn’t even assume a 24 hour day, they worked on a short but intensive cycle over many days, living on site and then had a long period off at home.
I imagine the counterpoint to the argument is that if schools started earlier then people would be in difficulty if their employer didn’t change the hours. But already it is difficult for people who are constrained by employers who enforce archaic working practices, changing the clocks isn’t going to make better employers and if children went to school earlier then it wouldn’t be as bad for parents worrying about getting to their 8am start at work. There is supposedly evidence that indicates that some deaths on the road, especially those of commuting school children, can be attributed to poor light levels. Well, I would point out that if the children were to leave school when it was more light (irrespective of clocks) then they would be equally likely to be outside on the streets (doing whatever children do) afterwards which wouldn’t make it much more safe.
We have just returned from a weeks break to Austria where we visited Salzburg and Zell Am See.
We stayed at the ‘Schwaerzler Hotel Neutor’ in Salzburg (Austria) at the beginning and end of our journey and I can say that it was a pleasant hotel, ideally located at the edge of the Old Town.
We then took the train to Zell Am See, Kaprun and rented an apartment at the north end of town (Steinergasse) directly from the owner using Owners Direct. The apartment was well placed for access in to town; rather at the budget end of the scale but very capable.
It was quite basic but sufficient for our needs. We had a bit of a panic because the key handling agent wasn’t answering the phone when we arrived and the owner booked us into the Hotel Zum Hirchen which was very nice (he didn’t make much profit out of that week!). In the end it turned out that there was just an unfortunate miss-understanding during a difficult period for the agents, we entirely understood and were happy with the actions of everyone in the end.
We walked A LOT. We walked up to the cable car and took it to the Schmittenhohe, walked over to the next peak and back. Also walked to Schuttdorf via the lake and back via the hill walk. Found a really surreal bar open half way up the hill with a very drunk postman entertaining the confused travellers. Took the Schiff boat round the lake and generally relaxed (despite all the walking).
It was verrry quiet, we were told by friends, but a few places were open but not every day. There were a surprisingly large number of young Arab families there on holiday. I assume someone had the idea of advertising to them to fill the off-season. Few things more surreal for a westerner than seeing a lady in a full burqa at the top of a 2000m Austrian mountain. Not that I mind, I would say they seemed like they were enjoying themselves but many of them looked surprisingly bored!
Eating out was incredibly good value compared to many European countries (I’m looking at you Belgium and the Nordics!) and you never went hungry with the portions. Overall it was a great trip and when my partner told her mother about it she wanted to go. So looks like another trip next year!
(Updated: 13th Oct 2009)
From an email I received yesterday:
One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he asked about his bill and the barber replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The florist was pleased and left the shop.
When the barber goes to open his shop the next morning there is a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.
Later, a policeman comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The policeman is happy and leaves the shop.
The next morning when the barber goes to open up there is a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.
Later that day, a professor comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you I’m doing community service this week.’ The professor is very happy and leaves the shop.
The next morning when the barber opens his shop, there is a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen different books, such as ‘How to Improve Your Business’ and ‘Becoming More Successful.’
Then, an MP (a member of Parliament) comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The MP is very happy and leaves the shop.
The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen MPs lined up waiting for a free haircut.
And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the members of our Government
This June there will be local government and European Parliament elections in the UK, this will occupy many peoples minds and for the first time it will challenge me personally. Mainly because it looks like for the first time ever: I will be voting.Yes, I am twenty nine years old and I have not yet voted. Personally I have always disliked the idea and these are my reasons:
Continue reading “Politics in the UK (or anywhere)”
This is an email I sent out today to someone I am working with elsewhere but I also think it’s about time I shared my recent thoughts to a wider audience:
All current issues aside the work I have been doing over the past year has presented a few issues which are encouraging me to wonder if there is place for a corporately sponsored open STB project. I know there is Dreambox but these are expensive and have had various political issues. I also know there is MythTV and the others but they are heavily PC dependent. The concept would be an open platform based on a modern STB design optimised for simplicy and power (possibly a PVR). We could manufacture in modest volumes enough to supply the demand and possibly could sell them at wholesale pricing. It would be a hardware only sale with software to be determined on the project basis. We could support the project through administration and hardware, but further we can drive the project by offering ‘bounties’ on features that are requested by potential corporate customers. In effect we could offer two teirs of product software the "community edition" which is free, but offers only community support and the "commercial edition" which would offer features for the ‘bounty’ with a professional code compile service for validated code.
This is just something I am bouncing around in my head and I wanted to put it around before I built a proposal out of it. Please let me know your thoughts on this.
I think it could fly, I think it could be useful and I think it would address many peoples problems. I’ve had requests for close to 50,000 boxes on different projects, but because each one of them was so small there was no way we could put development resources behind them. Put together that much hardware is reasonable business and I think something that’s worth paying attention to. The ‘bounty’ would fund peoples time to work on the project, or perhaps reward them for their work.
I welcome your feedback…