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Postcodes in Ireland

Up until now, Ireland has not had a postcode system for postal addresses. This sometime made the ordering of goods from abroad quite tricky, as even our neighbours in the UK were confused that we didn’t use postcodes.

At the end of June 2015 an organisation called Eircode will be rolling out postcodes to 2.2 million homes and businesses across the republic.

The format of the new Eircode will be a 3-digit alphanumeric ‘routing key’, followed by a 4-digit alphanumeric ‘unique identifier’. The routing key will identify the area you live in, and in Dublin it will mirror the current postal district codes (D2, D6W, D15, etc.) The unique identifier will be a random selection of numbers and letters that identify your house or apartment. The unique identifiers of neighbours will bear no relation to each other, and cannot be used to infer a neighbourhood or street.

Source: Eircode
Source: Eircode
  • The Routing Key will always start with a letter A, C, D, E, F, H, K, N, P, R, T, V, W, X or Y, and will be followed by two numeric digits (0-9) – except for the area of the D6W where the letter W is valid on the 3rd digit.
  • The Unique Identifier will comprise a mixture of letters and/or numbers – letters A, C, D, E, F, H, K, N, P, R, T, V, W, X or Y, and numbers 0-9. No two houses in the same street will have a similar codes, and no two houses of the same name will have a similar code.

Hopefully the new postcode system will allow the more accurate routing of the emergency services and postal/courier services – and hopefully it’ll be adopted into satnav systems, to help the rest of us navigate more successfully.

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Improved music while you work

Sometimes in the office I find it helpful to listen to music. Simply the process of putting on a pair of headphones helps me zone out of the distractions of the office, and concentrate better on the task in hand.

My problem was that I wasn’t convinced the quality of music produced by the work laptop, and so I tried to see what I could do to improve the sound quality.

High Quality Streaming

The first thing was to ensure the source of the music was as good as it could be. There are music services like Tidal that offer lossless audio – but they charge double the price of other streaming services, and its debatable whether you can tell the difference unless you have very high-end audio equipment.

I use the Spotify premium service, and they offer a high quality streaming option in their desktop app (see Edit->Preferences). The high quality option doubles the bit rate from 160 kbps to 320 kbps, which should improve the quality of the music.

Better Headphones

Music through a €5 pair of ear-buds is never going to sound as good as through a €500 pair of audiophile headphones. But again, there’s a balance to be made here – and a law of diminishing returns. As you spend more, the incremental improvements get smaller and smaller. As such, I’d say don’t spend over €200 for headphones in a noisy office environment.

When buying new headphones, you’re looking for good noise isolation. You don’t want your music interrupted by the conversation across the room, and similarly you don’t want your music to leak out and annoy your colleagues. Look for closed (or closed back) headphones to avoid noise leakage.

For very noisy offices, you might want to consider noise-cancelling headphones, which alter the audio to try and actively block out ambient noise. They are useful if you do a lot of air travel, as they are designed to block out low frequencies (such as airplane engine noise) – but there are disadvantages to using them. They are often more bulky, they need battery power to operate, and the noise-cancelling effect can reduce the audio quality.

Bulldog clip providing a handy place to hang the headphones
Bulldog clip providing a handy place to hang the headphones

External DAC

Once you have a good quality source of music, and good quality headphones, the only thing that can let down the music is the thing that sits in the middle – the computer. The headphones socket of your PC can often let you down in terms of sound quality, and an external DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) will go a long way to improve the quality.

I have a DacMagic XS which has provided me with a noticeable improvement in sound quality. It’s tiny – smaller than a matchbox – and plugs into one of the USB ports of the laptop. I then plug my headphones in the other end. It’s small enough to look unobtrusive on my desk, and can also be used to improve the sound output of a smartphone or tablet.

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Why you should probably quit your job, right now!

Most people delay the decision to quit their job for far too long. They put up with a stressful or unhappy position, and sometimes put their physical and mental health at risk, in the hope that things will improve.

Most of the time, that never happens.

The colleagues that piss you off, the boss that bullies you, or the customers that treat you like shit. You can put up with them all for so long, thinking that if you “just hang in there” things will get better. However, most of the time people don’t change. If a co-worker is a jerk today, then he will most likely stay a jerk for ever. And no amount of wishful thinking on your part will make them behave better.

Many organisations tolerate bad behaviour in their staff, as long as the staff member remains fairly productive. A weak management team will often try to ignore a problem, rather than tackle it head on. It’s much easier to ignore incidents of bad behaviour, and hope they will sort themselves out.

But people don’t change. A person that is not tackled about their bad behaviour will take it as a mandate to carry on. And before you know it, it’s the accepted culture within a team.

I worked for one place where a team leader was a bully. He used to belittle and humiliate team members in front of the rest of the team. Many of them complained to the owner of the business, but because the bully was one of the best performing employees, the owner refused to do anything about it. And over time people learned not to bother complaining, as nothing would be done. Morale hit rock bottom, absenteeism was at an all-time high, and productivity dipped – all of which fuelled more bulling.

It was only when about half the team members quit and left the company that anyone took notice. And by then the damage was done.

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Sometimes the only option available to staff is to vote with their feet, and quit a company.

It might seem like a drastic measure to quit, particularly if you’re not sure of getting rehired elsewhere. And sometimes the decision comes down to the balance of job security against being happy.

Indeed, the chances are there are a good portion of people reading this article, right now, that are miserable at work. And my advice to you, is to quit your job – today!

The feeling of finally being free from the toxic environment will be amazing.

Sure, the prospect of being unemployed can be scary, but maybe not as scary as you think. Indeed, I quit a job about 8 years ago, and moved to a new country with no work, no home and no friends – and within weeks I had found a great job, a lovely new home, and some great friends. I took a leap of faith to leave behind a situation where I wasn’t happy, and I found the experience liberating – even life-changing.

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UPC mess up house move disconnection

I’m moving house next weekend, into somewhere that already has UPC service. As such I needed to cancel my UPC at my current address.

To cancel you are required to give 30 days written notice (email to resolutionteam@upc.ie), which I duly did, noting the exact day I wanted to the services to cease.

Unfortunately today they’ve cut me off 9 days early! I have no TV or broadband, and because its Good Friday, there’s almost nobody working in UPC today.

I did speak to someone, and asked for my account to be re-enabled for 9 days. But they say the only way I can get TV and broadband connected is if I sign up to a new 12 month contract, which is ridiculous!

So I’m sat here in complete silence. Can’t watch TV, can’t use broadband. I can’t even download a new book for my Kindle.

They claim to have tried to call me 3 times in the last couple of weeks, to confirm the disconnection, but I never received the calls, or any voice mails asking for me to call back – so they decided to go ahead anyway.

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Your 10 tips for how to write the best blog post

  1. Everyone loves a list. Don’t bother writing in paragraphs – nobody will read it! On the modern interweb people crave bite-sized chunks.
  2. Pick a number – any number. Tell people how many things will be in your list, so that their expectations are set. Some classic examples include: 3 steps to heaven, 50 ways to leave your lover, 12 days of Christmas
  3. Make it personal. People are more likely to click on links that begin with the word “You” or “Your”, as they will think it’s about them.
  4. Make it a question. People want content to address a specific question they need to solve, so always include one of the following words in your title: how, when, where, who, what, why
  5. Positive Adjectives. People don’t want to read a good list – they want to read a great list! Use overly-positive adjectives to heighten the importance of what you’re saying.
  6. Stick to the point. Don’t deviate off-topic in the middle of the list and start talking about something else.
  7. Always back up your laptop. See point 6.
  8. Try not to run out of content. It can be tempting to pad out the latter items in the list with waffle, if you’ve run out of things to say.
  9. Save the best for last. You want to end your list with your strongest point, so that it ends on a high.
  10. Recap and recycle. If you run out of things to say, repeat some of your former points, such as creating a numbered list, beginning with you or yours, with a question and a positive adjective.
  11. Never write too many steps!

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