January 1, 2012

Mobile Jobseekers Direct

Filed under: Personal Observations — Martin Sullivan @ 11:16 am

One of the delights of the otherwise soul-destroying Jobcentre Twitter Pilot work is the observation of a grass-roots movement of ‘official’ Tweeting Jobcentres. I keep an avunclular eye on them. There have been a few announcements made lately on these things of a Mobile version of the Jobseekers Direct web-site and I thought I’d investigate.

[Picture: Screen shot of Jobseekers Mobile Site]

Other ugly mobile sites are available

It starts with¬† an invitation to send a text ‘Jobs’ to 83377. When one does this an automated reply is sent back, with a link, asking you to type http://m.direct.gov.uk/jobs into your ‘phones browser. The reason for this circuitous route is unclear, but it may be a data-acquisition effort, for now they’ve your mobile phone number.

The above link will not work in a standard browser, for user-agent strings are examined and the URL is re-written to use the start page of the main Direct.gov.uk web site. The site, can however be viewed in a ‘normal’ browser by visiting the slightly more obscure URL: http://m.direct.gov.uk/jobController?action=job.

As you can already sense, this is a site that’s trying too hard to be clever. So, once at this home page, one can start to explore. A normal browser may be used for this, not just a mobile one, the re-write strangeness only extends to the initial pages.

There are two search boxes on the first page. The top one is for the Jobseekers part of the site, and the second part is for the rest of the mobile site, presumably. You are curiously invited to restrict your search to an individual street, with the proviso that it may not work in Scotland. Consider the usefulness of this moot.

Persevering, entering a town name gets you a sizeable list of possible matches, they include local employers and landmarks. Only one may be selected and under the covers this selection seems to be converted internally in to a full postcode, but you then get a page of job classifications. Picking one, gets you a further set of job classifications which further tightens the search and leads to a yet another form. This asks you to characterise you job in terms of distance, job type (permanent or temporary) and how far back in time you want to search. Negotiation of all these drop downs eventually will get you a list of job titles. As with the ‘classic’ site, the search results can be a little odd in terms of geography.

The links displayed are vacancy titles that can be clicked upon, and this brings up further details of the vacancy, but not all of it. A further ‘details’ link needs to be accessed to get it all. The user has to thus negotiate six screens on a mobile phone before getting the reward of details of a vacancy they may be interested in. In a brief exploration of some such details it was noted that the embedded URLs, such as they may be, are not clickable nor are any attempt made on click-to-call with telephone numbers. The links themselves, though, do not expire, unlike those found on the ‘classic’ site. Which is something, I’d guess.

In matters of taste and what constitutes good web design, one needs to remember to be circumspect if not effusive, least your humble efforts be held up to critical and uncharitable scorn too. But this site is truly a barely-usable gargoyle.

Should mobile browsing be desired, therefore, I would suggest that the classic site be viewed in a relatively recent and capable web-browser. Some, such as Opera¬† make a decent fist of displaying a wide, gaudy web-site on a small format. The recent Jobseekers Direct web-site seems to display with some degree of usability on most smart-phone browsers that I’ve seen, though. And at the risk of bragging, you could do worse than use the ZOIS web-site (http://zois.com) which has been designed to be use on narrow bandwith-challenged devices from inception.



November 26, 2011

Cockermouth Gets a New Letter

Filed under: Personal Observations — Martin Sullivan @ 12:04 pm

There is a pub in Chester called the Marlbororough Arms, a blatant misspelling of its original name and ‘Marlborough’. It received this moniker in the 1980s when, as a part of some corporate brewery inspired branding, it got a new sign. These things arrived in several bits from some central place. Once erected the fault wasn’t spotted for several days, or so it was said, and the Landlord made it stay. It had become something of a conversation piece.

And now I’ve done something similar for the Cockermouth Film Club. The Club’s web-site having gone into abeyance, I thought to enhance the web presence by other means. It meant a new Twitter account and the Facebook page would be given a slightly more meaningful name. Facebook allows you to do this and I decided ‘CockermouthFilm’ would be appropriate. I therefore waded through the menus to do this and I thought that I’d done this correctly. Fingers and typos however mean that this page is now http://facebook.com/CockeremouthFilm — the highlighting is mine. Well let’s hope that it turns into a suitable Marlbororough-like conversation piece, for Facebook will not allow you to change the name again (or delete it). The only way that this can be fixed is to create a new page and delete the old one.

If you know how to fix this, by some secret-squirrel method that I’ve missed, then please do contact me. Until then it stands as a chastisement to my cavalier typing and crap orthographic skills.

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.


August 11, 2011

Being Blocked?

Filed under: Personal Observations — Martin Sullivan @ 1:53 pm

One of my ever-present fears is that somebody may think ill of the scraping that I seem to be involved in. I’m constantly getting worthy requests for scrapers that will examine more commercial things than Jobcentre Plus and its successors. These I’ve largely done, the organisations do seem to be more-or-less engaged on what I’d regard as altruistic activities, even if they charge for them in some round-about way. When they run these scrapers, in production, I insist that they do it on their Internet estate, rather than this activity appear to come from ZOIS. Nevertheless, significant amounts of traffic come from ZOIS as I work-up and test these things. I’m paranoid that somehow I’ll acquire some undeserving reputation and encounter some dubious firewall activity as a result. These fears had been unfounded, but now Jobserve, the veteran contractor jobs database, has blocked us. Or so it would appear. They’ve not seen fit to enlighten us, don’t respond to e-mails and it only appears to be one IP address. Of course I could be wrong and it may be no more than the misconfiguration of a router, or some such, but if there are others out there with similar problems I wouldn’t mind hearing from you. (more…)

July 14, 2011

Pollarding at Stag House and Kirkgate

Filed under: Personal Observations — Martin Sullivan @ 2:01 pm

I live on Kirkgate in one of the properties which has a cobbled court-yard of sorts in front of it. There is a Horse Chestnut tree set to the front of this area and the same situation is repeated a number of times down the street. We’re at the southern end and the street runs north-south. It is indeed picturesque although the cobbled area toward the lower northern end does become something of a car park. The Horse Chestnuts are pollarded. (more…)

July 4, 2011

A Return

Filed under: Omphalokepsis,Personal Observations — Martin Sullivan @ 5:17 pm

Stag House

Stag House, Kirkgate, Cockermouth

This is a return for the WordPress-powered ZOIS Blog. It has still got the same theme, but the old posts have now disappeared.

This post was originally stuck on the front page, as a kind of greeting, but it’s been replaced by something a bit more succinct.

Although the rest of the ZOIS sites have News type entries, I think I’ll use this as a central consolidated point for it all. I’ll have to be careful, this sort of Blogging software generally makes drivel writing easy. Not that I write drivel, of course.

The original ZOIS Blog was private only, and largely concerned On-line Transaction Processing (OLTP). And if anybody else is now reading this, then this new one has now become public, obviously. I’ve made a restart on this by re-posting news type entries that has appeared elsewhere on the main ZOIS and home web-sites, in one form or another. They will be joined by assorted previously unpublished material, and new things as they appear.

The chief distinction with former efforts is that it won’t be confined to just OLTP, or indeed the Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror, but to other things as well. Eclectic things. Things which interest me. Oh Dear, self-opinionated introspection, I’ve gone all Bloggy now too.

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