Wednesday, August 20

Olympics meets Data Visualisation

I can't keep quiet about the Olympics any more - what an absolutely fantastic job so far by the British team! As the East Coast of Australia is only a couple of hours different to Beijing, the TV coverage here has been extensive (although because it's not on the ABC most of the events have to compete for air time against the adverts - any given hour of programming could have up to 20 minutes of ads).

These are some of the things I know for sure about the Olympics.
  • I know that London is going to struggle to match the spectacle of the Beijing Opening Ceremony, and probably shouldn't even try to compete.
  • I know that Michael Phelps is a machine, and I know that I've been making the mistake of eating his diet without doing his exercise for far too long. (Joke, by the way. Honest.)
  • I know that the pressure of 1.3 billion people's expectations resting on one man's shoulders is too much for anyone to bear.
  • I know that no other countries need to bother turning up to the velodrome in four years time.
  • I know that despite this, none of the cyclists will get more than a passing mention come December and SPOTY.
  • I know that if we can stay in third in the medals table, and be behind second place by less than one Michael Phelps-worth of medals, there should be an open top bus tour when the athletes return.
  • I know that our success is really winding the Australian media up, though the general populace doesn't really seem all that concerned, as long as Australia is doing well.
On that last point, I was driving home yesterday listening to Will and Lehmo and I was almost crying with laughter at their "The Brits must be cheating, call in with your proof" section (my favourite one - "They must be shipping in good athletes from elsewhere, I saw one of them smile the other day and he still had all his teeth". Followed closely by "One of their cyclists had an engine in his back wheel! He tried to hide it with a cardboard disc and claimed the noise was coming from spokey-dokeys!"

Qualifications required to survive in Australia: Sense of humour (check).

I also know that the New York Times medal map is one of the most visually pleasing ways of representing data that I've ever seen. And believe me, I've seen some web dashboards in my time!

Tuesday, August 12

Ahh, memories ...

I saw one of these pulling out of the basement car park at work yesterday:

It's a Maserati Quattroporte IV. I was very tempted to get one of these instead of the Ghibli, because it's far more practical, but in the end decided that it was too ugly. Having now seen one in the flesh up close, I have to say it looks a lot better in real life than it does in photos.

Cheap, crappy digital cameras seem to be able to get things all out of proportion.

Anyway, perhaps it was for the best, I have enough trouble with the Ghibli's ground clearance, imagine that plus an extra foot or so in the wheelbase and that's just asking for trouble.

Also on the way back home, I followed a Ferrari 360. I can honestly understand owning a GT car like the Ghibli, or a luxury sedan like the QP over here in Australia. Distances are huge, comfort is a big factor. But the Ferarri? C'mon. The speed limit is 60mph, and the standard of the roads is pretty awful. I can't imagine that it would be a pleasant experience to drive a supercar in Melbourne. Especially given that over here, every hoon's first car is a V8 that's older than they are, and they're all going to want to try it on at the lights.

Timesheets suck

Actually, I'm not sure if it's timesheets that suck, or my old umbrella company that I was using whilst at Deutsche Bank, but it turns out that I have unclaimed time from that contract. I like the way this comes to light nearly a year after the contract has ended. It's not a huge amount, but still it's better for the money to be in my account if you ask me.

The thing that gets me, though, is that the people who told me about it are the outsourced HR department, who run the timesheeting system. Now, I admit that I always used to suck at entering my timesheets on time (Hi Toby!), in fact I used to suck at getting pretty much anything administrative done on time (Hi Carl!). One thing I do know for a fact though is this: once I did get round to entering these timesheets, I always, without fail, sent it off to the umbrella company.

Now I'm here in Australia and my PC is at home with all my timesheet records on it, so we'll see how this saga goes.