Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Why the Tories may have persuaded me to tactically (against them)

Unlike 90% of the Welsh population, I don't hate the Tories - I just dislike them and wouldn't trust them. It's from their candidate in Cardiff West, Angela Jones-Evans, that I've received the most election material (around 6 or 7 different items), and what's pissed me off is the bull shit that's on it.

On a leaflet titled 'Our NHS' (which gives details of what David Cameron will do to the health service, despite it being a devolved matter), Angela claims she lives in Riverside, which I found strange as I know that she lives in Pontcanna. I raised this in the comments section of a post on the Cardiff Guardian blog, and the owner of the blog decided to contact the Angela to clarify where she actually lived. Her response was that Pontcanna is technically in the Riverside ward.
I could understand it if a Labour, Plaid Cymru or Lib Dem candidate had middle class guilt about living in a big house in a posh area, but I thought (and agree) with the Tory principle that if you work hard and therefore deserve getting paid lots, then you should not feel ashamed of living in a nice house in a nice area.

Another leaflet fro Angela arrived yesterday claiming that Plaid Cymru and Lib Dem voters will be voting for the Conservatives just to keep Gordon Brown form getting back in (although he's not standing in Cardiff West b.t.w.). There's even a quote on the back from 'Oliver from Llandaff' who says "I used to vote Lib Dem but want to see change in Cardiff West and Angela has won me over". By sheer coincidence, I have a Tory friend named Oliver who lives in Llandaff and as well as working for the Tories has been a Tory activist since he was in his nappy.

I'm sure this all pretty lame stuff compared to what is put in a lot of election leaflets, and for all I know all the other parties are doing the same, but this just riles me as I know it's all bull shit. Tories go on about change, but they're just carrying on the same tradition (of all parties) of trying to mislead people and treating the voting public like idiots. We want less of this, not more.

Nothing to do with Angela this time, but Quentin Langley, a Tory academic in Cardiff University is urging his party's candidate on Ynys Môn to target the second-home vote.

It is certainly a seat which the Conservatives can win from, technically, fourth place. It contains more English voters than almost any other in Wales as well as a great many native Welsh speakers.

One campaign idea which might have merit would be trying to persuade second home owners to vote in Ynys Mon rather than in their other constituency, though that might alienate other voters and might be difficult to organise in the timescale available. [taken from Plaid Wrecsam]
That is unforgivable. Again technically perfectly legitimate, but morally it is totally wrong and completely undemocratic.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tocynnau am ddim i Faes yr Eisteddfod, dydd Sul 1 Awst 2010
Free tickets to the Eisteddfod Maes on 1 August 2010

Cynllun mynediad am ddim
Ffurflen gais am docynnau am ddim i Faes yr Eisteddfod, dydd Sul 1 Awst

Llenwch y ffurflen hon i wneud cais am docyn rhad ac am ddim i Faes yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, ddydd Sul 1 Awst. Bydd tocyn yn cael ei anfon atoch drwy’r post yn ystod yr wythnosau nesaf os ydych yn llwyddiannus.

Hoffai Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru ddiolch i Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru am ariannu’r cynllun mynediad am ddim. Rhaid cwblhau pob rhan o’r ffurflen.

Edrychwn ymlaen i'ch gweld yn Y Gweithfeydd, Glyn Ebwy ar 1 Awst!

Free entry scheme
Application form for free tickets to the Eisteddfod Maes on 1 August 2010

Complete this form to apply for a free ticket to the National Eisteddfod Maes on Sunday 1 August. Tickets will be sent through the post during the next few weeks.

Applications from Blaenau Gwent and the Heads of the Valleys will be prioritised until 1 May when applications from all over Wales will be processed.

The National Eisteddfod would like to thank the Welsh Assembly Government for funding the free entry scheme.

We look forward to seeing you at The Works on 1 August!

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Minority Languages and social networks

I'm taking part in exciting event next month called Hacio'r Iaith (Hacking the Language), a sort of BarCamp meets Hack Day with the emphasis being on looking at the use of Welsh on-line and exchanging ideas about potential future use.

There's a wiki for the event (rough translation by Google here)

Traditionally, if that's a word that can be used in this context, anyone who attends a BarCamp is encouraged to give a short presentation. I'm considering giving mine on social networking/web2.0 sites in minority languages, in particular ones that have been created from scratch as opposed to localised versions of other services. I've got e-mail address of a few Basque and Scottish Gaelic speakers that I can interrogate, but I'd like to find out whats happening in other languages, like say Irish, Galician, Breton etc. I found an useful table on the Web2.o article on the Basque Wikipeda which compares popular sites with local variations.

I'd love it if anyone could provided me with something similar for other languages, and if possible with numbers of member/users if applicable.

Related post
Welsh Wide Web

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is rather good: The 'official' unoffical Eisteddfod mash up.

Stwnsh 'Steddfod is a mash up website for the 2009 National Eisteddfod in Bala.

It includes
  • a comprehensive GoogleMap of the town that shows the location of all events and campsites as well as permanent local amenities like cash point, petrol station and supermarket
  • tweets on Trydar (Twitter)
  • photos from Flickr - there's already some on there now taken by people working on site
  • and most importantly (in my opinion) a list of events. The Eisteddfod's own website does on OK ish job of listing official events that take place in the pavilion and other large stages (albeit in an awkward mix of individual PDF and Word files - see bottom right on above link), but there's no central place to advertise the many small fringe events that makes the Eisteddfod tic.
This website shows that there's valuable (ok, that's questionable) Welsh language content out there that can be re-used and brought together to provide useful information. I don't think the Eisteddfod realise that it would be in their interest to help promote more of what takes place on and outside the maes during Eisteddfod week and how it can either draw new people to the festival or encourage those who visit to stay longer. If it wasn't for work commitments, I'd have really liked to be at Gorsedd y Gîcs (Geek Meet) on Thursday, but will probably have to make do with a single visit on the last Saturday.

Stwnsh 'Steddfod was knocked together in less than a week by a small group in their spare time.
If the Eisteddfod was clever, it would create o competition for next years Eisteddfod (in Ebbw Vale) for young (and old) website creators to come up with something similar, but better.

See also:
Newbie guide to the Eisteddfod (mainly in English)

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Chwarae teg to The Telegraph

I'd never thought I'd say this, but fair play to The Telegraph. All too often, the (very few) stories in the London papers about Wales, particularly the Welsh language are limited to 'daft' tales about people getting their heads stuck between railings or some lazy piece about the inconvenience that bilingual signs cause to visitors from England.
In the past to days there have been two stories regarding the Welsh language, neither positive unfortunately, but that's not due to the Telegraph. It's important that these injustices are widly reported.
The first, Welsh campaigner refuses to sign prison release forms written in English was about veteran language campaigner Ffred Ffransis' latest stint in prison. He was sentanced to 5 days imprisonment for an incident that happend 8 years ago.
In Parc Prison (in Bridgend, Wales), he was not allowed to take a Welsh New testament with him as they already provide English language bibles. As a vegetarian, he would have had to sign a special form to request vegetarian meals, but as the form was in Enlgish only, he decided not to sign it and there fore ate only potatoes. He was entitled to be relased afer three days, but again was presented wiyth an Englsih only release form , which he refused to sign. Eventually the prison allwed him to be realeased early without signing the form - they probably couldn't wait to get rid of him!
The second was about a Patagonian woman who was sent back to her home country after British immigration officials refused to believe she was travelling to Wales to learn Welsh. Acording to the newspaper paper reviewer on Radio Cymru this morning, this story not only appeared on the front page of the Telegraph, they also wrote a comment piece on it (well, why pass up the change to bash the beaurocrats!).
Both stories seemed to be written in a sympathetic tone.
The second story is quite worrying as many people travel to Wales each year to learn or improve their Welsh. Each summer, Cardiff University hold a four week long intensive residential course (for all levels), which attracts around a dozen Patagonians each time, as well as North Americans, people from Europe and Japan. A similar week long summer courses are held at Coleg Gwent in Abergavenny who also attract learners from abroad. Next year, I've been asked to organise activites for Cymdeithas Madog's trip to Cardiff next year - Cymdeithas Madog are a North American Society who organise annual week long Welsh courses in various locations in the US and Canada, but come to Wales every 4/5 years. Their last visit was to Carmarthen when around 80+ members came along. These visitors spend a LOT (bearing in mind how much North Americans eat and how much Patagonians like to drink - just kidding, guys!), so let them in, for the sake of the Welsh economy.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Golwg 360 public money spent in India?

[This entry is a translation of this post on Cachu 360, a blog set up following Golwg's calamitous launch. BTW, a week following it's launch, Golwg 360 has now gone into beta!]


Has £200,000 of public money from the Assembly been spent on an inferior web service from a company in India? That’s the question raised by an unforensic study of websites that is now available for all to see on-line. There is an obvious link between the Golwg 360 website and a company called IndInfoTech from Hyderabad, India, which “specialises” in developing websites. Was public money spent outside Wales – or out side Britain even? Was any money at all spent on the Golwg 360 (beta) website?

The beginning of the journey

(Very) late one evening, Cachu360 (beta) was looking if there was any news available from anyone Golwg 360 (beta).

On google, I searched for Golwg360, and off we go.

[Screenshot] First page result Google search for ‘Golwg360’

It’s quite funy that the first words Google use while presenting the information about Google 360 is “Yn anffodus” (Unfortunately). Isn’t technology great?

Cachu360 (beta) ploughed on… Went past a few interesting pages, but nothing new.

[Screenshot] Ordovicius’ comments about Golwg360

On and on through the search results until I reached pages 5:

[ Screeenshot] Page 5 o f the Google search for ‘Google 360’

There, half way down the page was a link with the words “Telerau ac Amadau” [sic]. Now then – this reminded Cachu360 of something…

Termsandconditions.aspx

One of the first things we saw on the launch day of Golwg 360 was that Golwg 360’s ‘terms and conditions’ page was empty – and also that it was named in: Termsandconditions.aspx.

With this link, “GolwgN” (Golwg Newydd/New?) was in the list of directories – the content in Welsh was obviousr – although full of errors. Cachu360 wanted to find out who and what would want to mention Golwg’s terms and conditions!

Click!

[Screenshot] Golwg 360 "Amadau" [sic] (Terms) on IndInfoTech.net’s site.

Well, well! This is rather detailed content considering it’s not even Golwg’s website. Having said that, the design reminds us of something as well. The content certainly refers to Golwg360. The web address is also very similar to what we see on Golwg360:

  • http://indinfotech.net/GolwgN/Termsanconditions.aspx

  • http://www.golwg360.com/Termsandconditions.aspx

From reading the terms, it’s fairly obvious that these were the terms that were supposed to be on Golwg360’s on the first day.

I wonder if the whole Golwg site is there?

Cachu360 shortened the web address to “http://indinfotech.net/GolwgN/” – to see if there was anything to see there:

[Screenshot] The web address that was guessed to get to the main Golwg 360 test site

[Screenshot] Golwg360 test site

Well I never! The whole Golwg 360 test site is there! Who would have thought!

Golwg 360 test site

It’s incredible for any project’s test site to be open to the public. It’s even more incredible that a test site is open to search engines. Any half pan web developer would have been able to hide such sensitive content as Golwg 360 from visitors.

But there we go, here’s Golwg 360 site on a second on-line server.

It’s possible to see the Golwg 360 more or less exactly as it was on the day of the launch. It’s possible to click on the stories, laugh at the design, mock the stretched images – all the things that’s possible to do on the real Golwg 36o site.

It’s interesting that no new articles are live after May 7th. There’s plenty of live articles before then, but it’s obvious there is no connection with Golwg data-base after that date.

[Screenshot] Article on Golwg360, showing the date - 7/5/09

[Screenshot] Article on Golwg360, showing the date – no later than 7/5/09

This reminded me of a comment I read on maes-e:

“There’s only one ‘small’ problem that’s causing all the technical problems (and this should have been sorted by now, temporarily, at least..) – we tested the system rigorously on the development system and the live system was different.”

It’s therefore obvious that this was the test system used to develop the Golwg 360 site.

A week before the launch they moved content feeding links to a new server, leaving this as a reminder of how Golwg 360 was (at it’s zenith?).

Who hosts the test server? Indinfotech

We were told that Tinopolis, Golwg, Telesgop and TV Everywhere had all assisted in Golwg 360’s efforts – although it was asserted that non of the public money was spent on the site.

It’s obvious that the test site was driven from indinfotech.net’ domain, but there’s no website to be found by following that path.

My next step was to discover who had registered the domain name. This is possible by using he “whois” service on- which lists various links regarding those who’ve registered domain names. Personal registrations can remain private – but companies generally have o register publicly..

[Screenshot] Whois search for indinfotech.net

[Screenshot] Search result for indinfotech.net - "Administrative Contact: Indinfotech srikrishna Nakka (rani(yn)indinfotech(dotyn)com)Fax: +1.4253730689 13605 NE 8th St ,#202 Bellevue, WA 98005 US"

There’s a link between according to the search result between indinfotech.net and indinfotech.com, which isn’t rally a shock.

He interesting this is that there is a website at indinfotech.com:

[Screenshot] indinfotech.com’s website

From reading the site, it’s obvious that indinfotech is a general computing services company.

[Screenshot] A page on indinfotech.com

There’s also an option to chat ol-line! Shall we click?

[Screeenshot] indinfotech.com can’t hold a discussion on-line despite their website encouraging people to contact them this way.

O dear – the site’s broken. What a surprise.

Headquaters in Seattle, workers in India

But wait! What’s this? On the “Team” page – there’s details about the company’s structure.

[Screenshot] The "Team" page on indinfotech.net’s website – mentioning that the technical team is all based in India.

Here we’re given a description of the workers location. There’s a headquarters in Seattle, but all the technical staff are in India India. This company is therefore one of the new norms of the general business world:

Companies with a source of cheap labour in one country sets up it’s headquarters another country to win contracts in that country, and then outsource then ‘export’ work to be completed at home.

An example of an organization in Wales that has used such a business service (successfully and to a good standard) is the National Library – which had a similar company transfer it’s old inaccessible books into accessible electronic text files It’s headquarters was here and the work was done abroad (if Cachu360 remembers correctly, apologies if the exact facts re incorrect)

Golwg360 – Arloesi* (Pioneering) in India?

[*building up to it’s launch, Golwg were forever using the word ‘Arloesi’!]

On indinfotech.com’s site, documents show the range of their services – and shows examples of what they’ve done in the past:

[Screenshot] PDF page on indinfotech.net’s site showing the services

[Screenshot] PDF page on indinfotech.net’s site showing websites they’ve created

O dear… India 360?

As a further malicious step, I used a service that checks that different websites are complying to on-line standards… Yes, well, can I just say IndInfoTech has just the qualifications to assist in the development of …

[Screenshot] Validation report for indinfotech.com - showing 44 serious errors

As Cachu360 writes this, there are 122 serious errors on Golwg360.com’s home page…

Questions

  1. To close, it must be asked – after seeing the “evidence” above – was the public money spent on Golwg 360 go to Seattle and India?

  2. Why was the majority of the development done outside Wales, when the development work would have been incredibly valuable to the Welsh on-line community in Wales - Golwg 360 (beta) precise audience?

  3. Has Golwg made a mistake by moving from publishing in print to on-line publishing?

  4. Does the public deserve better, considering all the public money given to a private company?

  5. Does Dylan Iorwerth know what the “internets” [sic] is?

  6. Are Wales’ web tubes too full for us to appreciate Golwg 360?

Answers to just the first two questions would be more tan enough for Cachu360

(beta).

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

History of Welsh medium education

Trip yr Ysgol (School Trip) was shown on S4C a few weeks ago (and is on-line for another 7 days). The hour long programme, presented by rugby player Nicky Robinson charts the rise of Welsh medium education in Wales, from the first privatley funded school in the 1930's to the present day where more than a quarter (if I remember correctly) of all pupils in Wales are now taught through the medium of Welsh.


The programme was quite light hearted and possibly a bit too superficial in parts, but it gave lots of important dates and statistics which were new to me. Nicky (accompanied by pupils for Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg, Barry) intervied people with links to the various school featured - they even visited my old school, Ysgol Glan Clwyd, which was the first Welsh medium secondry school in Wales.


As almost all the pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg came from homes where no Welsh is spoken, the programme inevitable touched upon the use of Welsh outside the classroom and how relevant they see it in their lives - but that's another subject for another programme (or even series!). when they talked to present day students at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, they obviously had quite different experiences of the language. Corrie from Barry complained that he knew of no Welsh rappers - Corri, if you're reading this, then check out Dybl-L, Cofi Bach a Tew Shady, Y Tystion, Y Diwygiad, Lo-Cut a Sleifar and many more on MySpace/YouTube.


I can understand why, but the programme didn't really show how hard it must have been to persuade the authorities of the need/demand for Welsh medium education, something that persists today. Obviously new schools can't be opened overnight, but as Trip yr Ysgol showed, demand has been high since the early 1980's, and demand outstips demand in many aeas, mainy due to poor planning and serious underestimating on behlf of clue-less education departments.

In 2007, a survey by Wrexham council of parents of under 3 year in olds showed that 60% wished for their children to be taught in Welsh.

According to RhAG a survey conducted by Swansea County Council showed that 28% of parents want Welsh medium education for their children. If a Welsh school were available conveniently, the percentage would rise to 38%.


In Cardiff, demand is just as high, and a bitter dispute has centred around one school in particular, Ysgol Treganna in Canton. the school is at bursting point with many children being turned away, even those with older siblings at the school. Succesive administrations have failed to come up with suitable solutions, and almost all plans involve relocating or closing English medium schools, which of course causes resentment. My local Labour councillor did little to help this when comparing Welsh medium educaiton to "ethnic cleansing". There was a programme about the school on Taro 9 (a sort of Panorama programme) last week, which I managed to miss.

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