It was tough to settle on just the one rant today but the general election had barely been announced before I spotted the first reminder on twitter about the Lib Dems broken tuition fee promise…
Yep, no arguments there. Broken promise. Bad. Still, Nick Clegg did actually apologise, which is something. And, to be fair, Labour had already let students down on tuition fees. Is that broken promise a good enough reason not to vote Lib Dems though?
I guess it’s hard to quantify or compare broken promises. (I’m not a student, although I have another reason for caring about tuition fees who is rapidly growing up.) Having said that, there seem to have been a few broken promises about lately. “We say: yes to the Single Market”, “Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week”, “There should be no general election until 2020”, and so on.
Perhaps if the only dishonest politicians were Liberal Democrats, I might vote for a party that supports brexit. (More likely I’d spoil my ballot again.) Back in the real, post-truth, world, I’ll probably be voting for the only pro-EU party I can.
Earlier in the week I was pondering some blockchain gamification with @howard_is, inspired by a recent GameOn challenge for early professionals in IBM. After helping out with a run through of the IBM InterConnect Fabric Composer lab this morning, it seemed like a good opportunity to make a start.
Instead of running yet another car auction, I think it could be fun to have a demo based on a ‘business’ network for playing games. To keep some similar elements to the more common trading examples, I’m currently wondering if keeping tabs on multi-player adventure games would work. This is the model I’ve come up with so far, and it seems like something that could be hooked up to a simple text based (powered by Watson Conversation of course!) or graphical game interface.
If you’re interested in playing with your own blockchain network, fire up the Fabric Composer Playground and have a go. If you want to know more @danielselman will be at InterConnect next week, or get in touch with the community. Better yet, join in!
If you’re unfortunate enough to follow me on twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I’m currently just a bit grumpy about the UK’s crazy course towards the worst possible exit from the EU.
To be clear, unless someone can convince me otherwise (I’m still waiting for a reply from my pro-brexit MP), I will be voting to remain in or rejoin the EU at every available opportunity. I’ll also be at the Unite for Europe march on the 25th March.
But the thing that really makes me grumpy is the lack of any kind of sensible opposition. What usually gets me yelling at clouds is when someone pops up moaning about the pledge to spend more money on the NHS. (Apparently some people don’t think the bus was really misleading but the billboard seems less ambiguous.) The whole thing reminds me of a larger scale version of distracting a toddler. Oooooo, look, squirrel…
Photo © Patrick Wagstrom
Even if, and this is clearly never going to happen, the current government suddenly do decide that they’ll give any of the supposed £350 million to the NHS, it kind of misses the bigger picture. That £350 million is already worth less than when it was plastered on the side of a bus and we haven’t even started to leave yet. Pointing out that the Conservative manifesto included a commitment to the single market would probably do more to help the NHS than complaining about a bus. Actually ensuring MPs get a meaningful role in shaping the UK’s future relationship with the EU might also be a good idea. There are plenty of issues that will impact the NHS at least as much as extra funding, all of which deserve more scrutiny than they are going to get as things stand. For example, the European Medicines Agency or staffing from the EU. I’ll stop before this turns into even more of a rant but the point is that Brexit could mean anything and it’s about time we started taking it seriously.
It’s not that I don’t have a problem with misleading busses. For some reason you can get away with saying whatever you like in a referendum, which needs to change if we’re going to persist in having them. I’d personally prefer never to have another referendum again but if we must have one, perhaps it could be on the NHS? Unless the government know the will of the people on that as well.
The Watson Conversation service now includes built-in support for a few new entities. These system entities make it much simpler to identify numbers, currency values or percentages in a conversation.
The only slight gotcha is that system entities are not enabled by default. I would definitely recommend enabling all the system entities when you create a new workspace- there’s no downside and you’ll start seeing what system entities will be matched in the try out panel. (It’s also worth checking for new system entities when you make any changes to an existing workspace!)
I’ve recorded a quick demo on YouTube if you want to see system entities in action, and there’s a demo workspace in the conversation-starter project on GitHub.
More than a year seems to have vanished somewhere since I left MDM for new adventures with Watson. It’s even been a few months since the new Conversation service first appeared on Bluemix, along with the tools I’ve been helping to build.
If you’re interested in Watson Conversation, or just curious about what I’ve been up to for the last year, these are a few blog posts which I’ve come across which explain everything better than I could:
This thing seems pretty popular, so there are videos too!
There are even a few GitHub repositories:
And of course, tweets
If that’s not enough, you can ask questions on Stack Overflow and dw Answers, or join the Watson Developer Community.
If you’re building something with Watson Conversation, I’d love to hear about it! And finally, if you have any tips or tricks that you could share, I’m trying to collect some for a conversation-starter project on GitHub.
Updated: lots more links!
Arg. I had been mostly managing to avoid looking directly at the referendum, unfortunately a ‘myth buster’ and some ‘facts’ dropped through the door today.
FACT: Adding ‘FACT:’ in front of anything you like doesn’t make it a fact!
I know, life would be so much more fun if that did work…
Sadly there has been a distinct lack of facts from both sides of the debate. If I’m being charitable, that could be because the whole thing is a massive unknown. The substitute has not exactly been constructive though.
Perhaps it would have been better not to have the referendum at all? Our recent track record of referendums hasn’t exactly been stellar, and the EU referendum in particular is even more problematic. Perhaps we could all agree to stop having referendums whatever the result is this time. Or would we need a referendum to decide that?!
I did at least spot a couple of more interesting looking articles during the predictably depressing campaign:
Plus this discussion on twitter:
I know that the EU is far from perfect but unless I hear any compelling reason otherwise, I think I’ll be voting remain on Thursday. There are probably pros and cons for either choice but ultimately where you draw borders is so completely arbitrary that I’d personally prefer to live in a larger area that allows free movement of people, than a smaller one. I don’t want to live in a gated community for similar reasons!
I also tend to agree with Ben Goldacre’s reasons.
Having said all that, the real issue of the whole campaign is, why isn’t the official leave site on a .uk domain, and why isn’t the official remain site on an .eu domain?
Update: Uh oh…
Last week we finally escaped the minion for a day off. To make absolutely sure we couldn’t be followed, we left dry land and headed for No Mans Fort!
Somewhat surprisingly, I had a better 3G signal in the middle of the Solent than back at home! There was a good chance to see some of the history of the fort- there are still a few bits that haven’t been renovated, although I would definitely like to visit Horse Sand Fort one day.
We eventually got some lunch and, rather than follow the crowd to the tables in the middle, we found a sea view.
Not a bad spot for a nice cup of tea and a sit down at the end of the day either.