ZOIS Blog

February 28, 2012

Hunting the Snark

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Martin Sullivan @ 2:39 pm

[Picture: Illustration from 'The Hunting of the Snark']

Hunting for your local Jobcentre

For reasons I can’t remember I visited the various Manchester Jobcentres. Not actually, you understand, but virtually from my mountain fastness, on the sofa, from a lap-top. I was slightly surprised to find that what had been a Jobcentre in Fountain Street appeared to now be a betting shop. I therefore re-invented the Jobcentre as a ‘Virtual’ one, for they still appeared to be posting vacancies with their own proper Office Code. I’ve written about it here in this Blog. But Manchester Fountain Street wasn’t the only one. A number of other offices don’t appear to have a bricks-and-mortar presence and I feel that a bit of automated research would be in order.

It isn’t that easy. The original Jobcentre finding web-site location appears to have been an early victim of the Jobcentre Plus web-site reorganisation a couple of years ago, when Jobseekers Direct was ‘invented’. The official site is now los.direct.gov.uk which isn’t the most user-friendly thing that I’ve come across. A number of folk are also of that opinion and therefore there are a number of web-sites available which claim to fill the need of identifying your local Jobcentre. I suppose, upon reflection, mine has modest ambitions in this area too.

Anyhow, since my list of Jobcentre address’ seem out of date I resorted to scraping this Direct.gov web-site in its entirety. The web-site only affords the ability to type in a postcode and then be advised of your local Jobcentre. This it does grudgingly, sometimes giving the address for a “Benefit Delivery Centre” some distance away, that’s not open to the public. The addresses that it does return, when it returns an address for a Jobcentre, can be incorrect and have caused problems when an attempt was made to use the postcodes found therein. Needless to say, scraping this thing is quite hard work in its own right, it required a largish input of ‘candidate’ postcodes and the results examined for real Jobcentre Plus offices. But I’ve now a list and I’ve put it up, as is traditional, in Comma Separated Value (CSV) form on the FTP site.

[Picture: Cockermouth Jobcentre, ex Google Street View]

Cockermouth's closed Jobcentre according to Google.

I’ve compared the results to my existing list of Jobcentre Addresses, known to be posting under their own, proper, Office Code and found about sixty-odd anomalies. I had hoped to try and make a link between known Jobcentres, complete with their Office Codes, Twitter names and so forth but this is proving harder to execute than I expected. Not all of the list seems complete, some major omissions appear in the ‘official’ list. Central Coventry, for example, has lost Cofa Court and now just has “Cannock Benefit Delivery Centre”. There are other omissions that I can’t be that certain about. Are they now-closed Jobcentres still posting zombie-like with their old Office Code? I thought I’d try and ascertain this by looking the address up on Google Street View and seeing if there was still a Jobcentre in the picture. This is not as accurate a method as one would have hoped for. One particular example has a Jobcentre in the middle of a Nuclear Power station and Cockermouth still seems to have a Jobcentre too.

I therefore must throw this open to crowd-sourcing, in the hope that local knowledge can be shared nationally. So, please, please do send feedback. Except for viewers in Northern Ireland, that is. They’ve their own separate set of Snarks to hunt.

February 27, 2012

Additional Interesting Job of the Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 5:38 pm

As you’ll have seen, every week I find an interesting job. I’m posting the result on the @JCPM_Feedback Twitter account, and it appears here too. Sometimes a really interesting one sneaks under the wire, when I’m not looking. So here’s an occasional example.

Martin’s additional interesting job of the week — Be a Football Pundit in Manchester (and Helsinki): http://zois.com/FTS155180.

We are looking to recruit real Football fans for an internet commercial. You will be working between 10th -14th April 2012 and 24th – 27th May 2012 in England and Helsinki/Poland. You will need to have a full valid passport and you must be a genuine football fan as you will be discussing football in detail.

The original reference may be available.

February 26, 2012

The Guardian Scrapes Too

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Martin Sullivan @ 3:12 pm

Trawling the Internet, as one does, to find out how my pro-bono efforts are received I came across this. It is an effort by a Guardian journalist Lisa Evans to examine postings on the Jobseekers Direct web-site and ascertain just how many of these are ‘real’. They did this be doing a scrape, which wasn’t that complete and may have included duplicate data. In response to this I posted a comment that pointed to ZOIS‘s efforts in this area. Sadly the link to the FTP site didn’t get posted correctly, but I’m sure that folk would realise that and discover it for themselves.

Simon Rogers, the editor of this particular part of the on-line paper, was kind enough to re-tweet this to his followers on Twitter. An anticipated spike in demand for the FTP site didn’t emerge, however.

This interest in the data per-se, rather than the vacancies that purport to advertise, is interesting in its own right. How ‘meta’ is that? I’ll return to this in a later post, but suffice it to say, you don’t have to be an ace SPSS-jockey to note some interesting numbers from this and I’ll be a Social Scientist yet.

February 25, 2012

Interesting Job of the Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 4:22 pm

Every week I find an interesting job. I’m posting the result on the @JCPM_Feedback Twitter account, and it appears here too.

Martin’s interesting job of the week — Make Blackpool Rock, in Blackpool: http://zois.com/BLO109265.

Must have previous experience. Your duties will involve wrapping and rolling of rock, cleaning duties, packing and any other related tasks. You will be required to work a probationary period of 1 week.

It seems to be part-time too.

The original reference may be available.

February 24, 2012

Twittering Jobcentres Discovered This Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 9:57 am

Seven new Twittering Jobcentre accounts have been discovered this week. Elsewhere we’re continuing to see ‘churn’ with some accounts taking over others and some closing entirely.

This weeks discoveries:

@BarnsburyJCP is nice to see, they’ve been twittered in an unofficial capacity for sometime as part of the @JCPM_Barnsbury experimental Twitter feed. @NewWalkLeics is New Walk Jobcentre in Leicester. It joins @Charlesstleics, Charles Street, and @LeisJobCentre which I think is Wellington Street. If I’ve got those the wrong way around, let me know.

@Redbridge3, which seemed to claim to a be a ‘new’ official JCP office has now been withdrawn, leaving the inactive @RedbridgeJCP as the apparent Twitter face of Illford Jobcentre. @WoolwichJCP has changed its name and now calls itself @WoolwichJobs. It’s still the twittering face of Woolwich Jobcentre in east London.

Arbitrarily, I’ve decided that Birkenhead Jobcentre, at least, is represented by @WirralJCP, now they’ve been twittering for a while.

Finally, the seemingly experimental @JobsAndSkills account has been withdrawn. It appeared to be engaged in a series of experiments to produce a Jobcentre Direct vacancy link that didn’t stop working after half an hour. Presumably these experiments are now complete, but until the results are put into production the world still has the ZOIS hack.

Twittering Jobcentres are listed on @JCPM_Feedback/jcp/members, save those who’ve taken to blocking me (and those are listed on this Blog). A comprehensive inclusive list of Internet-active Jobcentre Plus Offices, including those that are using Twitter, can be found as a CSV file on the FTP server.

February 20, 2012

Ratching References from Tweets

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 3:50 pm

[Picture: Movie poster]

Cutting out a good reference

Folk are using the Redirection Service and it seems to be an important and successful part of my pro-bono work. It is still useful to investigate Twitter to find folk who are using links provided by the Jobseekers Direct web-site and then put them right about the ephemeral nature of these links. A bit of code has been written, in Perl, to help in these matters. It uses Marc Mimms’s Net::Twitter module to execute a basic search, “jobseekers direct” seems to produce a number of candidates; then it uses Gisle Aas’s LWP::UserAgentmodule to explore the Tweets. In particular the Jobseekers Direct link is examined to find the reference of the vacancy in question.

Things are slightly complicated in this instance for the expiring-link is almost always encoded with a URL-shortening URL, like t.co. It is thus necessary to use HTTP::Request and HTTP::Response rather than a simple ‘get’ to examine the intermediate link, for a simple ‘get’ will follow the redirects to the expired page. The intermediate link will be the Jobseekers Direct one and will have the reference to the vacancy embedded within it. (more…)

February 17, 2012

Interesting Job of the Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 2:19 pm

Every week I find an interesting job. I’m posting the result on the @JCPM_Feedback Twitter account, and it appears here too.

Martin’s interesting job of the week — Pay a fee to organise Parties in East Anglia, Ladies only: http://zois.com/NOS141940

Applicants must be aged 18 or over. This is a self employed vacancy. Must be female. A fee of £3.50 is required weekly until your targets are met. Must be confident with an outgoing personality. Own transport is advantageous. Excellent bonus scheme available. Duties include selling merchandise with product demonstrations in peoples homes.

Yes, you read that right. If you don’t make your sales targets, you pay them.

A recently seen vacancy, posted in error, it was claimed, had folk working for their unemployment allowance at a major Supermarket. It created quite a buzz, but if you dig a little you can always find better.

The original reference may still be available.

Etymology and Oaks

Filed under: On-line Transaction Processing — Martin Sullivan @ 12:29 pm

[XKCD cartoon, part]

See the full thing at xkcd.com/1010

I’ve been in correspondence with an old Transarc hand about how Encina‘s name was derived. I understand from him, and he writes as a former colleague of Jeff Eppinger, that Eppinger named Encina after a part of Stanford University, where he taught. That ‘Encina’ was derived from the common Castilian Spanish name for a large specimen of Quercus ilex, still found there. So I stand corrected.

Jim Troester, for it is he, also corrects my spelling of TOP END. It’s two words fully capitalised. I’ve now made the appropriate changes to pages elsewhere. I thank him for his feedback and I’m pleased to see somebody is still reading my ancient Transaction Management scribblings.

Twittering Jobcentres Discovered This Week

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: , — Martin Sullivan @ 9:30 am

Ten new Twittering Jobcentres accounts have been discovered this week. Elsewhere we’re starting to see ‘churn’ with some accounts taking over others and some closing entirely. I’m trying to keep up.

This weeks discoveries:

@SeftonJCP seems to be twittering on behalf of Bootle, Crosby (both of Merseyside) and Southport. These offices were once part of the shrinking @MerseysideJCP bailiwick.

Illford in east London is served by their local Jobcentre. This now appears to have two Twitter accounts, @RedbridgeJCP and @Redbridge3; Redbridge is the London Borough in which Illford resides. If somebody knows which ‘Redbridge’ is which, please send feedback.

Elsewhere @TredegarJCP’s account has been closed, they briefly appeared to be twittering on behalf of Tredegar. @NEJobcentreplus, who represented Colchester and Harwich has also closed. An enigmatic @EssexJCP has recently appeared, though. Could this be a county-wide version of the old account?

On the blocking front, @DoncasterJCP has now dropped off the Twitter list and has joined the handful of so-minded blocking Jobcentre accounts listed elsewhere on this Blog.

Twittering Jobcentres are listed on @JCPM_Feedback/jcp/members, save those who’ve taken to blocking me (and those are listed on this Blog). A comprehensive inclusive list of Internet-active Jobcentre Plus Offices, including those that are using Twitter, can be found as a CSV file on the FTP server.

February 16, 2012

For “JSA+EXPENSES”

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Martin Sullivan @ 7:06 pm

This vacancy (BSD/27441) has created a little Twitter storm, as it appears to ask people to work far a large, profitable supermarket for their Jobseekers Allowance.

Tesco, the company involved, and the DWP have spent most of today saying that it was mistake. The original posting was noted on 2012-02-09 and a record appears of what was scraped in the Jobcentre Plus Mirror Database. The original vacancy has now disappeared from the official Jobseekers Direct web-site and, in the spirit of things, I’ve marked this as such in the Mirror too. It was published without an end-date and thus would have been ‘live’ for a month.

Folk using the Redirection Service will have noticed that vacancy will have gone. It does seem to have lingered a little longer in the caches some other ‘redirection services’, who’s code is inspired by ours; Jobhits seems to be the primary example.

I don’t feel it’s my place to make comments on the merits and ethics of Sector Based Work Academies, of which this vacancy was supposedly a badly formed example. I’ll leave that to others, but do take a look at an Interesting Job that had a similar background, and hasn’t attracted quite so much attention.

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