ZOIS Blog

October 28, 2011

Interesting Job of the Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 9:46 am

[Picture: Movie poster]

Hakuna Matata

The Daily Mail not withstanding, here’s the now weekly interesting job of the week. I’ve taken to amusing myself with typing the odd speculative query on the JCP Mirror database and seeing what pops out. I’m posting the result on the @JCPM_Feedback Twitter account, and it appears here too.

Martin’s interesting job of the week — Be a lion in the West End: http://zois.com/IWM78977

And here’s an invitation too. With over 7,000 postings per working day, and some qualifications in Mathematics I can say I’ve er, loads, of source material. If any of my many readers come across something then do let me know. Attribution assured, if it is desired. Or you could just go running to Richard Littlejohn. Irony works for me.

October 27, 2011

Tweeting JCP Offices’ Redirection Services

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: , — Martin Sullivan @ 2:04 pm

The following post, it should be noted, has been superseded. Read it in a historical context knowing that, although the links all still work they’re now using the official system under the covers rather than some scrape-and-cache hack of my own artifice.

A number of 'official' Jobcentre Plus (JCP) offices are now active on the micro-blogging site Twitter. There they fall into two broad categories, those that use ZOIS redirection services and those that don’t. Although the redirection services are dealt with at length in several places on various ZOIS web-sites, I thought I’d produce a quick guide for the uninitiated. I could then point to it from my own Tweets, usually directed at new JCP Twitter users. Although it probably merits something a little more formal, a Blog post is a good place as any to start.

[Picture: Movie Poster]

An excuse for another ‘Tweety’ movie poster

Jobcentre Plus vacancy postings appear on the Jobseekers Direct web-site, these days. There they have to be searched for, even if a reference is readily to hand. Once found the vacancy details are subject to a rapidly expiring session-identification mechanism, that defeats bookmarking and, more importantly, direct linking. Clicking on these things after a little while either gets you a cryptic ‘session expired’ message or dumped unceremoniously back to the front page. JCP Twitter using offices seem to find this out early, and it leads to tweets, as these things are known, that contain instructions to go to the Jobseekers Direct web-site and search for a vacancy reference, rather than a simple link.

While perhaps understandable, the vacancies don’t last for ever, it is very frustrating. And it lead to the indignation that spawned the unofficial Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror. Part of that work included a redirection service that allowed a click-able link to be produced that displayed the original posting. It did this by effectively going ‘under the covers’ and doing a Jobseekers Direct search on the users behalf. This was rapidly found by others, and lead to one or two problems. Don’t you just love the Internet? It also lead to rework that made the whole thing a good deal more efficient and cached. Latterly, a URL shortening service has been added and a number of the official twittering JCP Offices are using it.

The ‘original’ vacancy will have expired by now, but you get the idea.

Briefly, as an example:

[Picture: Movie poster]

Sharing data is good

I hope that you find this service of use to you too. Feel free to experiment with it. The official position, from Whitehall and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) seems to be ambivalent. I’ve not been encouraged, but I’ve not been told to stop. Indeed, the JCP Mirror work is mentioned on a ‘.gov.uk’ web-site.

Twitter and social-media are important. And although I look down my aged Lisp-programming nose at them, they are not just for organising riots. Any number of geeky wonks and wonkets seem to be saying so, but you, my dear JCP Office, are doing something about it. You are David Clark’s “code and consensus”; I like this grass-roots approach, and I’ll help in any way I can. I’ve a number of experiments in this field running at the moment too, and I’ll write them up shortly. Your feedback would be very much appreciated.

Update Jobseekers Direct have now introduced a non-expiring ‘direct’ link of their own. It re-writes, under the covers, to a normal session-id larded effort, which in itself is un-bookmarkable. These links have the form:

http://jobseekers.direct.gov.uk/detailjob.aspx?j=<reference>&direct=1

The ZOIS hacks, described above, still work, but now use this mechanism rather than the preceding mini-scrape and cache system. They will continue to work as expected. 2012-04-04

Update: I’ve now written my Twitter experiments up as a ‘Technical Note’, http://www.zois.co.uk/tn/tn-2012-01-01.html, entitled “Timely Notification using Micro-Blogging“. The executive summary is that I don’t consider it a success. 2012-04-26

October 26, 2011

A Blog for ZOIS

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror,Omphalokepsis,On-line Transaction Processing — Central Administration @ 9:42 am
[Picture: Stag House, Kirkgate, Cockermouth]

Stag House, Kirkgate, Cockermouth

This is the main News site for things ZOIS. The original ZOIS sites were largely concerned with On-line Transaction Processing (OLTP). This was joined by the Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror, a pro-bono effort that attracted some attention; was closed and is now sort-of back again. Slight, oblique, quasi-official disapproval hasn’t stop me banging on about it, though.

Tags and categories allow the navigation to the current major interest sections: On-line Transaction Processing, Lab Book and Universal Jobmatch.

Martin Sullivan, Cockermouth, March, 2013.

October 25, 2011

The ‘Daily Mail’ Finds an Interesting Job

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 1:23 pm

Well, I’m not the only one doing this “Interesting Job of the Week” thing. No less a person than Richard Littlejohn, long-term right-wing commentator for the Daily Mail is doing it too. He’s found a vacancy entitled “Knife Thrower’s Assistant“, posted by the Blackpool South Jobcentre.

Applicant must be 18+ This vacancy is due to start on 27/10/2011 and end on 29/10/2011. Previous experience would be advantageous but not essential as full training can be provided. Ideal candidate must be comfortable having knives thrown around them. Auditions will be carried out at The Pleasure Beach at the Globe Theatre on the Tuesday 25/10/2011 at 11am. The employer has claimed an exception under the Equality Act 2010 .

As one might expect, there’s quite a spin on the Daily Mail’s version of this. All I can say is that the Audition has come and gone, and that Polish is not a language requirement. Any and all applicants should note the extremely short-term nature of vacancy. It looks like somebody got their publicity.

It’s also nice to see that they’ve added a hyphen to the compound adjective “knife-thrower’s assistant“. It maybe the Daily Mail, but they’ve got standards.

October 21, 2011

Interesting Job of the Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 9:54 am

The now weekly interesting job of the week. I’ve taken to amusing myself with typing the odd speculative query on the JCP Mirror database and seeing what pops out. I’m posting the result on the @JCPM_Feedback Twitter account, and it appears here too.

Martin’s interesting job of the week — Playground Designer in Ulverston: http://zois.com/BAO35244.

I’ll take a little time-out to do a bit of promotion, that’ll probably verge on a rant. This vacancy was originally tweeted in @JCPM_Furness, although you’ld probably have missed it. At the time I write this, @JCPM_Furness has all of 4 followers, only one of which looks like he might be interested in vacancies posted at his local Jobcentre Plus office. This sorry state of affairs seems to be down to automated Twitter feeds being heavily marked down in Twitter’s search mechanism. It’s understandable, I suppose, or we’d be up to our necks in spam and repeating posts.

Regrettably, then, it means that my earnest good works are all but invisible to their target audience. I must look to people to spread this by word-of-mouth. And that includes you, Dear Reader.

 

October 20, 2011

EURES Scrape Restored

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 1:08 pm

The secondary scrape of EURES broke, sometime over the weekend. It looks like one or two minor tweaks did it. So after a bit of investigation and fiddling the scraper has been restored.

We use the EURES web-site to do a ‘back-up’ scrape for the Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror. The EURES site provides a pan-European access to various government Jobseeker web-sites within the EU including the UK ones. In this regard it is something of a mirror for Jobseekers Direct and we only scrape Jobcentre Plus originated vacancies we’ve not seen.

 

October 15, 2011

Steve Jobs and I

Filed under: Biology,Personal Observations — Martin Sullivan @ 8:24 pm

The late Steve Jobs and I never met, and I doubt very much he’d have heard of me before he passed on. I, like much of the planet, knew who he was, though and I morn his passing. But perhaps not in the way most other people do. He and I shared a vaguely similar medical diagnosis, so when asked, I used to compare myself with him. Less so now.

(more…)

October 14, 2011

Zois.com Now Search Portal

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Martin Sullivan @ 3:59 pm

Since the redirection service using zois.com is being used reasonably extensively, I thought that I’d extend it slightly and put a search portal in there too. So welcome http://zois.com, which automatically redirects to a minimalist search form using the JCP Find code.

This interface can be plugged into Tweets and the like. I can hear Google quaking in their boots. The usual exhortations on Feedback apply.

Interesting Job of the Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 10:27 am

The now weekly interesting job of the week. I’ve therefore taken to amusing myself with typing the odd speculative query on the JCP Mirror database and seeing what pops out. I’m posting the result on the @JCPM_Feedback Twitter account, and it appears here too.

Martin’s interesting job of the week — Be a self-anointed ‘special one‘ for the Olympics next year, zois.com/NCS55695.

October 13, 2011

Variable Width Form Fields

Filed under: Lab Book — Martin Sullivan @ 10:33 am

I thought I’d write this up, for the technique has been noted elsewhere on the Internet, but not as prominently as I would have expected.

HTML form elements contain various components that can be sized, for example the text element. They do this with an optional size parameter. This allows a fixed size, measured in pixels or characters, depending upon the element involved. Practically this leads to display problems when the page is very wide or very narrow. But there is a hack.

It was found through experimentation that the ‘text’ element could have a variable width if the size value was replaced by an in-line style element. Thus:

<input type="text" name="pattern" value="" style="width: 70%">

rather than

<input type="text" name="pattern" value="" size="15">

For in the latter the input element is stuck with a 15 character width size, rather than being able to re-size dynamically.

This technique is used in various places on other ZOIS sites.

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