5 November 2009
Still more clarification
From correspondence it seems there's still some confusion about who we're calling "incompetent". It's not the Debates Office in the Houses of the Oireachtas - in all our time doing this.we can count the number of mistakes we've found of theirs on one hand.
Posted at 18:30:00 | Link to this
18 October 2009
Why you're not getting email alerts.
The lazy, incompetent fools who get paid substantial amounts of your money for not doing the job they're paid for, in respect of publishing the Official Transcript of Dáil proceedings, have now actually surprised us.
They're now not bothering to correct their errors at all, which is a new and unpleasant departure from their previous form, where they'd shove any old rubbish up and then quietly airbrush their failings out of existence in the ensuing day or two.
What do we mean? Almost every single day the Official Report is full of errors, especially ones where they take tables which are embedded in written answers to questions, remove the table title, and then call it a major debate heading and wreck the day's page index.
See for yourself:
- October 8th: Garbage.
- October 13th: Truly Spectacular Garbage.
- October 14th: More Garbage.
- October 15th: Yet More Garbage.
Previously we've either fixed it ourselves (yes - one volunteer is often able to do a better job here than a well-paid company full of people who don't care about your tax money or the quality of their work), or waited until the next day for a fixed version when it's too broken to work with.
However, we're not currently able to fix a lot of this, and the Oireachtas is no longer bothering to correct the errors at all.
Until they do we can't send you your email alerts because (as a famous IT saying goes) Garbage In, Garbage Out. Unlike your national parliament we do our best not to send complete rubbish to thousands of people every day, so the alerts have been suspended all week.
Hopefully someone in Kildare Street will wake up eventually. Until then, please accept our apologies.
Update at 2300: We've managed to manually-correct the past four sitting days, and have sent a bumper batch of email alerts this evening. Additionally, in future our automated systems will simply refuse to accept Written Answers sections from the source material which contain the most-obvious formatting error detailed above. This means that Written Answers will in future take substantially longer to appear at all on days where the printing company responsible for the mistakes can't find their own arses with both hands -- and at the moment that's almost every day.
On the plus side it means that KildareStreet will always be less broken than debates.oireachtas.ie, your "Always Wronger For Longer" government-funded disaster area.
Update, the next day at 2pm: The first two source files above have just been silently corrected.
Update, the next day at 2.30pm: ...and there go the other two. Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a way of making this work without our having to kick you up and down the street in public?
Posted at 18:00:00 | Link to this
14 October 2009
KildareStreet.com is officially Ireland's Best New Web Application after Saturday night's 2009 Realex Irish Web Awards ceremony, held at the Radisson Hotel in Dublin.
We're a little surprised, and absolutely delighted. John Handelaar picked up the metalwork and made a few thank-yous, which we're going to record here for completeness.
- To the 80-odd judges who between them decided we were somehow more deserving than the other great sites and projects in our category,
- To Red Cardinal and RealEx Payments for sponsoring our category and the Irish Web Awards, respectively,
- To Sabrina Dent, who did not realise quite how much time and effort would be going into KildareStreet instead of into earning actual money for the household when she married John and has yet to raise any complaint about becoming the main earner,
- To that small band of people in the Oireachtas who have done their best under what must be rather difficult circumstances and have never been anything but polite to us even when we're publicly annoying the people they pay to produce the Official Report, and
- To the people who help KildareStreet in practical ways but are not publicly acknowledged, even (to John's horror after stepping off stage) when some fool forgets
to mention them while collecting the award:
- Mark Coughlan and Elena Egawhary, who helped compile the canonical list of all political donations to TDs and Senators reported to SIPO which we'll be adding to all TD and Senator pages in the coming weeks,
- Simon McGarr of McGarr Solicitors for unpaid assistance on our imminent incorporation,
- and particularly Gavin Sheridan, who you can thank for literally nagging this site into existence and making sure the development work required for KildareStreet to exist was ever actually finished.
As hinted above, we have a To-Do list as long as several arms here and you can expect to see a great deal more information about your elected representatives appearing on these pages in the next month or four. Onwards and upwards!
Posted at 00:40:00 | Link to this
13 October 2009
We've just made a few alterations to TD and Senator records to reflect changes in party whips, changes in party existences, the extremely-imminent departure of the Ceann Comhairle, and the death of a member of the Seanad.
We've also received a list of spokesperson roles for the Labour Party from its press office (thank you, Shauneen Armstrong) complete with start dates for those roles and will be adding that information to the relevant TDs and Senators tomorrow. If you are in any way connected to Fine Gael and can persuade someone there to furnish us with a similar list, please let us know.
Posted at 23:40:00 | Link to this
17 September 2009
And the counter's back!
Evidently the taxpayer-funded work on the Oireachtas Record, which you pay for, is still not worth doing properly to the current tender holders. The clock goes back up, updated of course to reflect the now-very-long-indeed period that's elapsed since the last time they actually did the job they're being paid for on the day it's supposed to be done.
For the record: two weeks late (compare the timestamp in the footer to the day being transcribed) will not suffice. -- John Handelaar
Posted at 21:40:00 | Link to this
17 September 2009
Now merely counting the seconds until these idiots are fired.
They've had two months to contemplate the possibility of doing their jobs properly, but here we are after the summer recess and at the time of writing the evidence from looking at the official record from yesterday is:
- All the same amateur, sloppy, lazy, stupid behaviour remains from before, except
- They've now found a brand new way of cocking it up to add to the dozens that previously existed. Today they're not even bothering to tag Written Answers at all.
You can expect a return for the Big Counter of Idiocy, it would appear, later on today.
-- John Handelaar
Posted at 14:03:00 | Link to this
15 July 2009
'Cockup' sidebar removed on a technicality
Despite our helpful hints and tips the Dáil record limped off the stage for this session with another week of complete failure. This one is still broken after a week at the time of writing.
So why has the Big Graphic of Fail been pulled?
The Seanad hasn't gone home yet, and yesterday's rendition of the Seanad debates XML file is without error. So despite the fact that at the present time it seems that the Dáil record will never be published correctly ever again, I'm pulling the day counter box from the home page.
Fans of the image in question can take heart - we're certain that it will return with a vengeance in September.
-- John Handelaar
Posted at 17:10:00 | Link to this
9 July 2009
A quick note to the Houses Commission and Cahill Printers
Hi there! Apparently keeping a running tab on how long it's been since you didn't screw up the Official Record has had no effect whatsoever on your motivation to do your job better. And you only have one day left to make the counter box go away before the recess starts and the number in it just keeps on rising until September.
Here's a quick rundown of what you need to do to make us stop taking the mickey indefinitely:
- The <MainHeading> containing the attribute "WA" (Written Answers) MUST be the last one in the file. All those times you keep adding extra ones inside answers because you think it looks nice on paper? Those are all errors. If you want a bold table headline, put it in a <P> tag and make it bold.
- Similarly, <Table> elements which are part of Answers, whether Oral or Written, are part of the answer. One of the consequences of that fact is that they must be spoken by someone, so must only appear inside a <Speaker> element. All those times you just chuck a Table in randomly in roughly the right place without paying attention to context? Those are all errors as well.
- Check your own work. Go to the version you're publishing at debates.oireachtas.ie and click on 'Collapse All' on the left hand menu. If you see ANYTHING which is obviously not a major debate heading, or if there's anything AT ALL on the list after "Written Answers", you're doing it wrong.
- If Beverley Cooper Flynn cast her vote today for anything, it is Not OK for you to leave her person ID out of that <YesVote> or <NoVote> element because... Jesus, we don't know why you keep leaving her out of votes, just knock it off.
If anybody there has any questions you can contact us at team [at] kildarestreet.com or ask the Debates office for my phone number.
-- John Handelaar
Posted at 20:10:00 | Link to this
1 July 2009
You won't get your email alert today because the Oireachtas debates production system is garbage operated by people who don't care about the quality of their work.
[June 26] You know what? I'm done being polite about this.
Every single day this week, the official report has been dripping with errors and stupidity. Just now they updated the file from yesterday and instead of simply adding the remaining debates, the new file destroys yesterday's written questions in the exact same way that we keep pointing out.
Tuesday's debate record was unparseably-broken until yesterday morning. Wednesday of this week is currently complete garbage (update: this was finally fixed on July 1st, a week after it was originally broken), and now Thursday's stuffed as well.
There are three sitting days each week. This week they screwed up with all of them.
Until they're done messing around I can't make the manual edits (which, by the way, takes about three minutes - not three bloody days), and until I've fixed their mistakes I can't send your email alerts. I'm sorry about that, but you know who to blame. Since about 20% of you work in the immediate area of Kildare Street I can only suggest that you take the matter up with local channels.
Finally, I'm sure readers will be thrilled to hear that the geniuses responsible for this rubbish are about to be re-awarded the contract.
Update, 2009-07-01: the two broken reports were finally fixed on July 1st, twenty minutes after each other, and five and six days late, respectively. Apparently the only thing which makes the official site work properly is having us shout at them loudly and in public. So be it.
Posted at 19:25:00 | Link to this
11 June 2009
Yes, they're at it again
Our apologies -- the official report is once again in a state of utter nonsensical garbage because someone's published a debate XML file which can't possibly even validate under their own rules. (Hi, guys! Want us to stop calling you out? Stop screwing it up!)
Stepping into an overly-specific technical domain for a moment, and to ask a question which only they and we understand: why --
- ...do you use a DTD which permits you to enter Question elements under a 'General Debate' heading?
- Conversely, if the DTD isn't broken and in fact doesn't permit that, why aren't you USING IT to validate your output?
- And since when was <table> a valid element to start a Debate section with?
We ask because these three points, if understood properly, would cover almost every single cockup you've made since we launched.
You know how to find us...
Posted at 17:45:00 | Link to this