Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Planning for my retirement

I recently had a pension review meeting with a pension expert who advised me that I had enough money in my pension plan to retire now. Even more significantly he told me that my pension payout would only increase by a very small amount if I continue working until I am 65. As a result I have decided to retire in August on my 61st birthday.

Deciding when to stop working is only part of what I need to plan. The more important part is to plan what I will do with my new free time. I have come up with the following ideas (more or less in descending order of priority):
  1. Cycling: At the moment I cycle every weekend. Once I retire I will start cycling during the week as well. 
  2. Lecturing: A few years ago I used to lecture to night students in Trinity College. I found this to give me a large amount of personal satisfaction. As a result I signed up to lecture in Independent College  2.5 hours per week. If this works out I  will increase my hours.
  3. Night classes: My local school offers a wide range of night classes and I intend taking some of these. Last year I took gardening, guitar and pilates. In the next academic year, I have signed up for follow on classes in badminton, guitar and pilates as well as a workshop entitled ready for retirement.
  4. Age Action run classes to teach basic computer literacy for older people. I intent to volunteer as a tutor. 
  5. Open source: I have always wanted to see what it is like to be an active contributor to an open source project. I have not yet decided what project to pick - suggestions are more than welcome.
  6. Men's shed: There is an active men's shed in Mulhuddart which is not too far from me so I plan to try it out. 
  7. Book club: I am a keen reader so I think I would enjoy being part of a book club. I am sure I will find one which is close by which suits me.
I don't think I will be bored with all of these diverse activities.

Monday, July 3, 2023

A new attitude to best before dates

When I was young I was thought to respect best before dates and never eat anything whose best before date has passed.

Now it seems that the advice has changed to be more of a suggestion. For example, look at the label on this carton of orange juice.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Nobody cares why you follow an influencer

The rise in popularity. of social networking sites in recent years has led to a corresponding growth in the number of influencers.

Some people follow influencers for positive reasons (e.g. they admire  their fitness/beauty regime). In other cases people follow influencers that they dislike (e.g. people might follow Andrew Tate so they can criticise his statements). However, the sponsors who pay the influencers don't care why you are following someone - they simply care that you read the influencer's posts.

You should be aware that if you read postings from someone like Andrew Tate, you are effectively paying his salary.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Pressure prediction analysis

Previously, I analysed how accurate various weather prediction services predicted the temperature a number of days in advance. Today I will look at their predictions for wind speed.

Here is the summary data

Here is a chart of the data for people who prefer visual:

Points to note
  • Openweathermap seems to be the most accurate by far.
  • has similar accuracy openweathermap for one day in advance, but when predicting further into the future both darksky and are similar.
  • The error from openweathermap seems to be much larger than other services. I checked and this error is genuine.

Like the last time, this analysis lumps all cities together for an average result. I might do some analysis later on performance per city.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Moving desk

The office space at the IBM campus in Damastown is very much under utilized since the return from COVID. As a result IBM decided to consolidate people into a smaller number of buildings. This should save costs in lighting and heating and also save on our emissions.

Some of my colleagues were worried that we would have less natural light in our new area, but I found it to be quite bright. In addition a big plus is that we can walk to services like the canteen, gym etc. without having to go outside.

The move went very smoothly because I used the move as an excuse to dump many old documents from my filing cabinet. I hand carried my belongings from building 6 to building 3 without the need for assistance from facilities. Below you can see my nice neat new desk.

my new desk at work

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

First day back in the office feels strange

Back in April 2019 I switched from mainly working in the IBM office to working permanently from home. The switch from office to home working was sudden and felt strange. I was working from home one day (as I occasionally did back then) when I got an email from HR telling me that the IBM offices were closing with immediate effect and everyone was to start working from home until further notice. I didn't have a chance to say good bye to my familiar desk. In fairness there was a process whereby I could get my manager's approval to visit my desk and retrieve anything important, but I didn't feel the need to use this process.

I have been getting along OK working from home for the last 18 months, but when I got another notification that the IBM offices were opening again I was excited to get back to my old familiar working environment. I had to book a desk via an online tool which was configured to only allow 15% occupancy, but I was lucky enough to be able to book my desk.

When I got there it was eerily quiet and I realised that hardly anyone is taking the chance to work in the office. None of my direct team is here and a quick walk about the building I work in told me that I could count on one hand the number of desks which are occupied. A lunchtime walk around the campus revealed that the only building with more than 10 cars parked outside it was the building occupied by our digital sales organisation. This is strange because this team spend their time working electronically with clients in different countries. Obviously they see the benefit of having an in-person link with their colleagues even if they are very proficient in using online collaboration tools to connect with client's.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Meditation App

I used to be a sceptic about the benefits of meditation, but now I practice it with the zeal of a convert. Recently, I have started to use the Do Meditate App on my phone. This is a very simple but still powerful app to help my meditation practice.

One of the features of the app is that it tracks the number of days without a break on which I have completed a meditation session. Recently I managed to get a streak of meditating for 60 days in a row. I strongly recommend that you try it out yourself.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Rainfall accuracy

In my previous analysis of forecast accuracy, I didn't look at the prediction for rain. Part of the reason for this is the fact that some of the services don't provide their rainfall reports and/or predictions in an easy to analyse format e.g. it might say 'light drizzle', 'cloudy' or heavy rain.

The one exception to this rule is the forecast service which provides rainfall predictions and reports in mm/hour. I thought it would be too strict to expect the forecasted mm/hour to match so I instead translated into rain or dry values.

This means that we can have 4 situations:
  1. pred_rain => we predicted rain and we got it
  2. unpred_rain => we didn't predict rain but we got it anyway
  3. pred_dry => we predicted dry weather and we got it
  4. unpred_dry => we didn't predict dry conditions but we got it anyway
I analysed 1 day and 7 day predictions for a selection of cities and I noticed a few key facts:

  • Rain forecasts in Luxor are 100% accurate, but this is because it never rained at all in Luxor during our time to track. This is in stark contrast to the results from other cities I looked at.
  • In Dublin, forecasts are about 82% accurate for the next day and 66% accurate for one week in advance.
  • In Galway, forecasts are about 75% accurate for the next day and 60% accurate for one week in advance. This is only slightly better than random coin tossing which we would expect to  provide 50% accuracy

Here is the raw output if you want to look closer:

1 Days in advance for Dublin
Total 2316
pred_rain 240 10.36%
pred_dry 1662 71.76%
unpred_dry 216 9.33%
unpred_rain 198 8.55%

Correct 1902 82.12%
Incorrect 456 19.69%
7 Days in advance for Dublin
Total 2232
pred_rain 84 3.76%
pred_dry 1398 62.63%
unpred_dry 408 18.28%
unpred_rain 342 15.32%

Correct 1482 66.40%
Incorrect 492 22.04%
1 Days in advance for Galway
Total 2346
pred_rain 330 14.07%
pred_dry 1422 60.61%
unpred_dry 276 11.76%
unpred_rain 318 13.55%

Correct 1752 74.68%
Incorrect 606 25.83%
7 Days in advance for Galway
Total 2256
pred_rain 180 7.98%
pred_dry 1164 51.60%
unpred_dry 474 21.01%
unpred_rain 438 19.41%

Correct 1344 59.57%
Incorrect 654 28.99%
1 Days in advance for Luxor
Total 2346
pred_rain 0 0.00%
pred_dry 2346 100.00%
unpred_dry 0 0.00%
unpred_rain 0 0.00%

Correct 2346 100.00%
Incorrect 0 0.00%
7 Days in advance for Luxor
Total 2238
pred_rain 0 0.00%
pred_dry 2238 100.00%
unpred_dry 0 0.00%
unpred_rain 0 0.00%

Correct 2238 100.00%
Incorrect 0 0.00%
1 Days in advance for Coral Springs
Total 2364
pred_rain 708 29.95%
pred_dry 996 42.13%
unpred_dry 402 17.01%
unpred_rain 258 10.91%

Correct 1704 72.08%
Incorrect 1110 46.95%
7 Days in advance for Coral Springs
Total 2268
pred_rain 594 26.19%
pred_dry 846 37.30%
unpred_dry 498 21.96%
unpred_rain 330 14.55%

Correct 1440 63.49%
Incorrect 1092 48.15%
1 Days in advance for Perth
Total 2382
pred_rain 168 7.05%
pred_dry 1974 82.87%
unpred_dry 108 4.53%
unpred_rain 132 5.54%

Correct 2142 89.92%
Incorrect 276 11.59%
7 Days in advance for Perth
Total 2262
pred_rain 132 5.84%
pred_dry 1740 76.92%
unpred_dry 228 10.08%
unpred_rain 162 7.16%

Correct 1872 82.76%
Incorrect 360 15.92%

Friday, October 25, 2019

Post Tricycles

While I was out running this morning, I happened to spot a man delivering the mail. This is not really worth mentioning except for the vehicle he was using to transport the letters and parcels. I have often seen mail delivery people use a bicycle, but the large sack of mail tends to make it hard to cycle safely. This guy was using a tricycle which had a huge box of mail being carried very efficiently.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Accuracy of temperature predictions

Using the weather data I collected previously, I wanted to figure out which of the forecasts services was making the most accurate forecasts.

The way I calculated this was by comparing the temperature predicted in x days time with the actual temperature reported by the service. e.g. if the provider predicted on 1st/Aug that the temperature would be x degrees in 5 days time, then I compare this with their actual reported temperature on 6th/Aug, This absolute error is then averaged across all readings from  all cities

Here is the summary data

Here is a chart of the data for people who prefer visual:

Points to note
  • I eliminated one reading from weather underground 6 day forecasts because it would have re-scaled the chart (probably indicates a programming error on my behalf).
  • In general the forecast accuracy decreases as the number of days increases.
  • is best for next day, but bluemix and darksky are equally good further out.
  • OpenWeatherMap and Weather underground are significantly worse.

This analysis lumps all cities together for an average result. I might do some analysis later on performance per city.