Welcome to The Perfect Curve.

There are 141 posts in total.

It could be the dead wot won it

simon gray - 2017-06-08, 09:02:15

According to the polls - varying widely between an increased majority for the Conservatives down to a hung parliament, with one little-reported poll (done by an ad agency rather than a traditional polling organisation, but with a track record of getting its guesses right) even showing a Labour win, the election is too close to call. The fact of there being such a wide variation in the predictions in the final polls from each organisation is evidence enough it's too close to call, even with some polls predicting a big Conservative win. 

So of course people are hanging their hopes on the poll which shows the result they'd rather see, and hanging their hopes on the demographic which is mostly likely to vote for the result they'd rather see. 'The old could win it', Conservative supporters say, 'The young could win it', Labour supporters say. 

With it this close to call, there's one demographic nobody has thought of who could win it. The dead. 

Eh?

In the olden days it was a pretty tricky process to get a postal vote - you had to satisfy your local elections office, and even prove so, that it would be physically impossible for you to get to the polling station on Election Day. More recently in an effort to boost turnout the requirements were dropped, and postal voting was made available on demand to anybody who asks for it. 

So it's feasibly possible that there are people who applied for postal votes, sent them in, and died before [...]

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Word clouds

simon gray - 2017-05-31, 21:12:40

Six years after everybody else realised word clouds are a bit rubbish, one of our candidates has cottoned on to word clouds.

 

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Political campaigning

simon gray - 2017-05-25, 10:06:16

Here's my handy cut out and keep guide to effective political campaigning:

When campaigning one needs to realise who one is campaigning to - you're not campaigning to committed supporters of the other side, you're campaigning to uncommitted supporters, or undecideds. Whilst it's unlikely that party-supporting Facebook groups will contain many undecideds, there's a reasonable chance that they might contain uncommitteds.

What this means is that when campaigning - whether that's going into the lair of the other side or what one posts into one's own timeline - you need to craft your message in such a way that it'll appeal to the uncommitted / undecideds. 

Calling the other side a bunch of nasty loony idiots, or posting pictures of their leader looking ugly next to pictures of your leader looking inspirational, might make you feel good and get you lots of Likes from your side's supports, but as a campaigning method it's probably the worst thing you can do. Insulting the uncommitteds on the other side is only going to turn them into committeds, and make the undecideds more likely to swing away from your side than towards it.

#politics 

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The modern toaster

simon gray - 2017-04-27, 20:49:18

The Sky At Night 60th anniversary show mentions that the computers which took the Apollo missions to the Moon had the processing power of a modern toaster. 

Which is impressive enough, but it does prompt the question - what does a modern toaster do with enough processing power to send three people to the Moon and back?

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Modern Twitter

simon gray - 2017-03-14, 18:25:47

‪The realisation that modern twitter is the modern equivalent of the person on the bus who shouts random abuse at random strangers as they walk past. ‬

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simon gray - 2017-02-28, 09:20:48

Recurve if every time you see a reference to the White House Chief of Staff you think they're talking about the hip-hop / soul artiste Prince Riebus‬.

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Applying for a copy of a Birth, Marriage, or Death Certificate

simon gray - 2017-01-20, 16:08:44

tl;dr - Applying for a copy of certificates from your council's register office is considerably more painful than it should be. And for online applications, it probably makes more sense to signpost people to the central government General Register Office site.

A couple of years ago it occurred to me that I didn't know where my copy of my birth certificate is, and that it might be a good idea to get another one. When I went to the website of the council where we lived until I was 10, I saw there was no online process to order copy certificates, meaning an order process of sending a cheque or postal order through the post. Since I've not had a chequebook for about 10 years, that meant going to a post office to buy a postal order - and Birmingham city centre only has two post offices, meaning most lunchtimes and near-closing time the queue is out the door and down the street. So since I had no pressing need for a copy of my birth certificate at that point I didn't pursue it.

Time passes and more recently a need for my birth certificate arose - but of course this problem of having to go and get a postal order still got in the way of me stirring myself, until last week I eventually hauled myself out to the post office queue to pay £11.25 for a £10 postal order. And by this time, the deadline for [...]

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In group Public / Third Sector Digital

Young people and their phones

simon gray - 2017-01-04, 12:49:33

‪So here's a thing just occurred to me - what's the difference between a young person always fiddling with their iPhone, and a middle-aged person in a suit always fiddling with their Blackberry?‬

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Left luggage

simon gray - 2016-12-22, 09:46:58

If unattended luggage left on the station concourse could potentially be a bomb (needing to be removed and destroyed by the 'security services'), how come taking it to store in a left luggage facility removes the potential for it to be a bomb?

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Patatas muy bravas

simon gray - 2016-11-12, 14:14:43

Like patatas bravas, but sufficient food to be standalone lunch. 

Ingredients

  • Small potatoes
  • Celery (chopped)
  • Leek (chopped)
  • Tomato (chopped)
  • Garlic (chopped)
  • Chilli (chopped)
  • Smoked paprika
  • Plain paprika
  • Swiss bouillon powder
  • Lemon juice
  • Mayonnaise

Steam the potatoes, whole. 

Whilst they're steaming, start frying the chopped leek and celery, and then add the potatoes when softened along with the paprika. Lots of paprika, and then a bit more paprika. Once that has established, add the tomato and garlic and a sprinkling of bouillon powder alongside any salt and pepper you might be into. When it's looking nearly done, add a splash of lemon juice, stir it in, and serve with a blob of mayonnaise on the side and the chillis sprinkled over the top. 

#cheatcuisine #lunch 

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The failure of politics

simon gray - 2016-11-05, 17:22:31

Whilst the referendum itself was David Cameron's hubris, the constitutional controversy which has come about this week is entirely the fault of each and every one of the 650 MPs and 812 lords who were too bone idle or too incompetent to give the Referendum Bill the proper scrutiny during its passage through parliament to ensure all the Is were dotted and the Ts were crossed. No wonder the overriding theme of every Adam Curtis documentary the last 15 years has been about the failure of politics to organise society. 

#politics #AVeryBritishRevolution

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Local Government Digital Service Standard Summit, 19 September 2016

simon gray - 2016-09-19, 13:20:35

Earlier in 2016 the Local Government Digital Steering Group, of which I'm a member, held a workshop day at the Government Digital Service to discuss whether there was any mileage in creating a local government version of the GDS Digital Service Standard. Not surprisingly, there was overwhelming agreement that it was indeed a good idea, so the steering group set to work in collaboration with local government digital practitioners up and down the country to create one - the Local Government Digital Service Standard. Today there's a summit at City Hall in London to share the work that's been done so far, gaining insight from people working in central and local government in their experiences of using the standard - and an important point being emphasised that it's not about creating a whole load of bureaucracy, and neither is it about replicating the same thing across hundreds of councils - it's just about creating good digital services.

Here are my notes from the morning main speaker sessions.

Natalie Taylor, Head of Digital Transformation, GLA - City Hall and the Digital Service Standard - Building the new london.gov.uk

  • changed the focus to be based on user needs and user research.
  • Introduced an agile development methodology, with clear roles. Daily stand-ups, sprint planning, retrospectives, show and tells, and moved to fortnightly sprints with continuous development and testing.
  • Reduced the content by 75% to make it better written and relevant to the users, by proper talented content editors.
  • Got successful buy-in from senior management, [...]

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    In group Public / Third Sector Digital

Reckless acts

simon gray - 2016-09-02, 09:11:56

Dude just ran in front of a tram carrying a roll of poundland binbags. Buying binbags from poundland was a pretty dumb thing to do. 

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Pork fillet on a bed of leek and celery sauce with orzo pasta

simon gray - 2016-07-21, 14:28:19

Ingredients:

  • Pork fillet
  • Leek
  • Celery
  • Orzo pasta (or rice)
  • White wine
  • Calvados (or brandy)
  • Stock cube
  • Double cream
  • Garlic
  • Tarragon
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

Set your piece of pork fillet cooking the way you like to cook it. Because I'm a bit pretentious and have a sous-vide, I cook mine at 62C for about an hour. If you don't have a sous-vide, either follow the cooking instructions on the packet, or cook it the way you usually like to cook it.

Start your orzo pasta cooking. Although it's small it still takes a bit longer to cook than you'd think, but because it's small you've got to be more careful about stopping it sticking to the pan than than usual pasta. If it's cooked before the sauce is cooked, just turn the heat off.

Chop the celery and the leek as finely as you feel motivated to, and fry in a pan for a few minutes, then add the garlic to fry for a few moments more; add a fair amount of white wine and a bit of calvados and reduce for a bit, then add a big dollop of the cream, the amount of salt and pepper you like, and the tarragon. Let all that bubble nicely for a while; the final consistency you're after for this is creamy, but not too thick nor not too runny - whilst it's cooking if it's getting too thick then thin it down a touch with some milk, but keep it on the thicker side of how you want it. When [...]

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Please note! This is work in progress - if you have come across it by accident you're free to stick around, but please be aware not everything will work as intended yet. I have a To do list.