Showing posts from 2010

Social Networking & Location Based Games in 1812

Today is the draw for Spain’s Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo . It is indeed a big lottery, the biggest in the world. Tickets cost €20, but there is a very large number of prizes and some are very big. The ritual draw has been conducted in the same was since 1812. Wooden balls spin in large globes, one containing numbers and the other prizes. One school child sings the winning number, and a second sings the value of the prize. This shepherd like singing wafts from televisions, radios, and web browsers the length and breadth of the land and it goes on for hours. The Christmas lottery is hugely successful. One report puts the participation rate at 98% of the population. Many people who do not gamble the rest of the year, buy a Christmas lottery ticket. But the lottery’s success is due to more than tradition and scale. Despite its age, it has two very modern ingredients: social networking and location based gaming. One aspect of the Spanish lottery that makes it different from th

Hotel Termal Burgo de Osma. Remarkable Building. Unremarkable Hotel

This is an amazing building that is well worth a visit. Built around an old university, the building is respectful to the magnificently detailed stone structure but at the same time is modern, airy, and stylish. The glass dome at the center of the quadrangle that covers the underground spa. The building is a triumph of architecture and interior design. The rooms continue the innovative mix of the old and the new. The underground pool area, which is free to guests, is very impressive. But Hotel Termal is a very good illustration of the difference between a great building and a great hotel. The service is terrible. The staff, if you can find them, are surly and unhelpful. One gets the impression that they would prefer if you simply went away and judging from the largely empty cafe and restaurant, it seems most guests have. If facing grumpy staff does not start your day badly, the breakfast buffet will surely disappoint. The food in the café is embarrassingly poor and seriousl

CAO Denial of Service Attack - My Arse

The Irish Times today reported that the Central Applications Office website that students use to accept their college places was unavailable for a time this morning due to a denial of service "cyber-attack". A denial of service attack is not like a hacker attack where a criminal tries to gain access to a server in order to read some files contained on the server or to modify the contents in some way. During a denial of service attack the criminal attempts to overwhelm the web server with thousands and thousands of bogus requests for web pages. The requests become so numerous that the server cannot handle the traffic and so legitimate customers cannot access the site contents either. It is as if seventy thousand customers tried to get through the front door of a shop all at the same time. In extreme cases the web server is so overwhelmed that it just keels over and dies. Since a denial of service attack does not really get the attacker anything, most DoS attacks are moti

Charter Cities

I read an article about Charter Cities lately and I'm facinated. I was thinking about something like that, but my ideas were not at all on the scale being considered. Econimist Paul Romner has really thought it through. The idea is that a first world country would lease land in a third world country and administer it. It is fairly radical, and of course politically incorrect, to suggest that anything other than infrastructure and geography is holding back the thirld world. But corruption, poor government, and poor policy making also plays a factor. The classic example is Hong Kong which did much better than mainland China despite similar conditions. I have been thinking that the transition in Cuba, when it does come, could be more successful if the government of Spain loaned the country a large number of civil servants. They are largely incorrubtable, well qualified, and Spanish society has experience with transition from a totalitarian dictatorship to a democracy. More abo

Your Country Your Call - Cisco Sponsored Censorship is a very interesting site where people are invited to make proposals for improving Ireland. The project has a prize fund of EUR200 000 and its major supporters include the President. Cisco is one of the main corporate supporters. Some of the proposals are very good and very interesting. Some are just interesting. Contributors can comment on proposals and vote for them. I proposed the following: Allow the public to pose questions to the Taoiseach and Minsisters online to be answered in the Dail (9 votes) Allow taxpayers to allocate a portion of THEIR tax to what THEY think is important (12 votes) Make Ireland a digital privacy safe harbour for data (9 votes) Open source text books (12 votes) The most popular (non-spam)  proposal has 609 votes, so I am not expecting a trip to the Aras to collect my EUR200 000 any time soon.  I did make one other proposal which got 32 comments, but you can read neither the post nor the comments. The m

Air France Overnight Bag - some thoughts on lost luggage

[I found this cleaning out my website. It was written in 1999. There were no blogs back then] Should you ever have the dual misfortune to transfer through Charles de Gaulle and find that your baggage did not do the same, be sure to ask for your consolation prize. After you have been told that your transfer time was too short, despite being six hours, ask for your Air France overnight bag. This is a veritable treasure trove of chinese plastic goods and French perfumes, that will keep you in top condition over the following days. Well, following day anyway. In addition to the obligatory tooth brush and toothpaste it contains a handy T-shirt, proudly boasting that it is a gift from Air France. What it should say is "my bags went to France, but all I got was this lousy T-shirt." Designed to prevent you sleeping naked while your clothes are located, this one-size-fits-all T-shirt affords discretion to only the shortest of men. A fold out hair brush with a mirror for a