Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Here have some money, that'll fix it

So once upon a time, in this little country in the South Pacific, the people voted for politicians who decided that should an accident occur causing injury, then payment would be made for rehabilitation and loss of function from a fund set up for the purpose.  Employers would pay into this fund, the amount would be set depending on the risk of injury in their industry, and everyone would live happily ever after.  They called this the Accident Compensation Corporation.

There were some difficult cases - burglars who were injured in the middle of a crime for instance, people who shot themselves, drunk drivers who smashed themselves (and often others) up, that sort of thing - but the fund covered everyone.

No longer did doctors need to fear being sued - no one got sued for harming anyone any more.  The Medical Council of course still had power to censure errant doctors, but those who were injured, or the bereaved of the deceased, were all paid out of the fund, and life went on.

Some people, whose injuries were very personal and included mental injury, had their files handled by the Sensitive Claims Unit.  Confidentiality was paramount.  These claims might involve circumstances of rape, of incest,  of mutilation.  Sensitive stuff indeed.

Then one day, someone at ACC made a mistake.  An email was sent to a completely unsuspecting person, who happened to be a client of ACC, and attached to that email was a database of 6,748 other clients of ACC.  The data included their names and details of their injuries.  Included in these 6,748 clients were about 250 clients whose cases were being handled by the Sensitive Claims Unit.

The media had a field day!  Allegations and finger pointing, truths, half-truths and non-truths made their way daily into the TV news and front pages of the newspapers.  Records of meetings were produced, the shakey truth began to emerge, and then ACC decided to fix it.

Yes, ACC knew what fixes everything.
If they accepted a claim, and paid money, (which began to happen less and less frequently) then the client went and got professional medical help, and everyone was happy.
If they declined a claim, because the claimant was, say, over 60, (so therefore it would be a fair bet that there was some physical deterioration due to aging) on the grounds of normal deterioration (even when it was pretty clear to everyone else that the injury was caused by the accident concerned), they knew that withholding the money required for physio and medical attention caused more pain.  Or if they declined a claim because there was a delay filling in the forms, they were soon made aware that non-payment caused stress, anxiety and a longer recovery time.

The problem was that at some point over the years, they had stopped seeing their clients as people whom they were set up to help, and instead viewed them only as economic drains on the fund, whose duty it had become to protect.

So they knew how to fix the stress and pain of those clients whose sensitive claims' confidentiality had been breached.

They offered them money.
Not a lot of money apparently.  It's said to be in the "low hundreds".
But hey, money fixes everything doesn't it.
That'll solve it!
That'll make it go away!
That'll make them live happily ever after!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Just bought an iPad, love it!!!

And pondered the changes in 30 years of computing!
My first one was a Sinclair ZX81, which I acquired when my BIL upgraded.  This was such fun, but compared to my iPad......  well this WAS 30 years ago!  You had to write code to get it to do anything, and it used your TV screen as its monitor.  It had a stunning memory of 16K, but was a great way to learn to understand computer code!

Windows 2.0.png
Screenshot of Windows 2.0
Not sure what came next.  It was big, - from memory it was an IBM - it took 5½" floppy disks, it played games which seemed pretty up there - Digger comes to mind, Pacman, Space Invaders - and again I think there was a fair bit of code knowledge required to get it to operate.  But with everything running on DOS of course, well there was wasn't there.

Oh and Word!  I remember Windows 2.0, and  Word 5 white text on a blue screen!   Very basic!
Word 5

But it could do some very cool things. 
Oh the memories!  Windows 286!  386! DOS prompts!  The difference between forward slash and back slash!

The first time I discovered Mail Merge I think I fell in love!  Not sure which version - sometime in the 1990s. How clever was that!  And Excel.  Wow.  There was a programme!  I spent a fair bit of time finding out how to get these programmes to do their utmost - I read the manuals (yes, really!  And they were GIANT books too!) and spent untold hours on the computers, just doing stuff.

And now here we are.
A computer that fits into my handbag, that I can surf the net on while snuggled up in bed!!

When the young chap looked at me with a "old lady.  Won't have a clue" look and reminded the iPad salesman that their shop provided an hour intensive one on one training on the iPad for only $99.99, I smiled politely (as old ladies do) and thanked him.  Should have said "sonny, I was writing code for these things before you were born!"

And if I've confused my 81 with a different version or my 2.0 with the 2.1, well, put it down to the monumental degree of change there's been in this field in my last 30 years!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Music and Memories

Last night on the car radio there were the Byrds with "Wasn't born to follow".  Brought back memories of late 60s, "Easy Rider" that I saw with the boyfriend of the time.   Been listening to Andrew Bird ("Armchair Apocrypha") and the Avett Bros ("Emotionalism") lately, and there's something very reminiscent of the very early 1970s about them - my early 70s anyway -  and together with the Byrds I was whisked back more than 40 years.

A group of us young things from the accountants' office we worked at, took off one Friday after work to someone's holiday home in Taupo - at the time it was about 3 hours' driving time, over mountainous roads.  We went in Lou's Mini, and stopped on the way, at BayView for fish and chips before getting into the real driving.  Not a good thing to do, scoff f&c before squeezing into the back of a two door Mini to travel the Taupo Road!  Especially for one such as me, prone to travel sickness....  But we rocked along to Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Rod Stewart, Badfinger, Rolling Stones and other unremembered cassettes that were the favourite of someone there!

We had a ball in Taupo - hot pools (it was winter - probably about this time of year), music of course, drink and socialising,  and just hanging out and enjoying the break.   The Avett Bros reminds me very much of an unidentified LP we listened too around that time, and over that weekend.  I have no idea who that band was, but such is the power of music that after listening to the Avett Bros a few times over the last week and then hearing the Byrds, I was instantly transported back.

I don't think anything is as efficient or powerful in time travel as music!  Maybe NASA could do some work around it...