Irish Citizenship based on ancestry - the easy way!

Saturday, 18 February, 2017

My grandmother was Irish and, as the Irish government allow individuals to apply for citizenship based upon ancestry back to their grandparents, I thought it would be good to go ahead and do it. So two years ago I started putting the paperwork together, this being well before Brexit, and certainly before anyone thought Brexit could actually happen!! If you Google Irish Citizenship you will probably end up at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service which details the various ways to apply, including by descent. You can apply through them (as I did), but the process is long, slow and relatively expensive. SO DON’T DO IT!

The easiest (and cheapest) way to apply is through a Foreign Birth Registration (FBR) via the Passport Office which will then allow you to apply for a passport (and passcard). The workflow (and online application) are here.

HOWEVER, you will need ALL original paper evidence for the citizenship, which means the relevant grandparent’s birth/marriage/death certificate, relevant parent’s birth/marriage/death certificate and your birth certificate. If it’s the maternal line then EVERY change of name requires documentation (which means marriage) - I’m not sure why they required death, but they did.

Certificates can be original CERTIFIED copies from the General Register Office. You can order UK certificates here.

and if you don’t know the register reference you should be able to find it at FreeBMD.

The grandparent’s Irish birth certificate can be searched for at FamilySearch and ordered from the Irish Government.

Divorce certificates (in the UK, and if relevant) can be more problematic/expensive as they are recorded in the county court where the divorce was recorded (and you need to know it). You need the reference number otherwise there is a search fee.

The process was rapid, efficient and painless (as long as you have the certificates)… well well worthwhile!

Best discount code ever??

Wednesday, 11 January, 2017

This might just rank as the best discount code Ive ever received, courtesy of Pixellu with their new SmartSlides beta… Judge for yourself!

Maths - the magic number (or magic bullet?)

Wednesday, 4 January, 2017

A really interesting news story from October (I know - it’s sat in my bookmarks staring at me!) on the BBC titled Maths becomes biology’s magic number… it’s a good point that Tom Feilden makes about the nature of inter-disciplinarity and how different subject areas draw upon one another and interbreed to use existing methods/solutions to new problems.

As the introduction to this, he quotes Sir Rory Collins (Oxford University) as saying: “If you want a career in medicine these days you’re better off studying mathematics or computing than biology.” But actually, you could replace “medicine” and “biology” with a range of other subject areas, including geography. Maths (and related areas in computer science) is the language of nature, of science (something Galileo commented on). Maths provides a descriptive and analytical framework for understanding, analysing and communicating scientific ideas and a lack of mathematical ability is something that continues to vex educators around the world (see the ASE for a guide).

So it’s a timely reminder where our current capabilities lie and how we need to build communities that can identify and explore the pressing research requirements that society will have in the future.

Keep it simple…

Friday, 2 December, 2016

Sage advice from John Lilly:

My big lesson was the importance of a simple message, and saying it the same way over and over. If you’re going to change it, change it in a big way, and make sure everyone knows it’s a change. Otherwise keep it static.

…and that goes for any type of communication. Keep the core message simple to understand because whilst the implications may be profound, your target audience needs to be able to take it in and interpret it unequivocally.

Lies, damned lies and Sainsbury double-speak

Monday, 3 October, 2016

So a nice piece of environmental marketing below from Sainsburys, but it does frustrate me as a scientist when you see qualifying statements that introduce uncertainty. OK, so, the original statement:

We Harvest Rain
That’s a good statement - up front, some environmental credentials. A positive message

By saving water…
Saving? I assume they mean harvesting, but at least they are trying to use a different word. Collecting maybe??

…we halve the amount of mains water we use…
two qualifications here. Half the mains water. OK, so we dont know if they used anything other than mains water and of course we don’t know the base. What are they comparing this to? Last year? Ten years ago? And just for this store? All Sainsbury stores? All Sainsbury owned/operated buildings, including warehouses and offices?

… per sq ft…
COME ON PEOPLE!! Sainsburys, you moved to grams and litres, as much as some of your customers didn’t like it. WE ARE METRIC!!

…of sales area
Ermmm…. another qualification. I’m guessing, if this is across ALL Sainsbury facilities, then warehouses will make up the vast amount of the floor area. Taking into account what the base is actually measuring against, how does this change from half.

Sorry Sainsbury, BIG fail on the marketing front. Be honest - because every little helps.

Boaty Floats… err, sinks

Tuesday, 10 May, 2016

Well, as I noted last week Boaty McBoatface lost out to David Attenborough…. so Boaty was sunk. But NERC have now floated his boat… or rather they have sunk it! Yes Boaty will be the name of an ROV. Perhaps the most famous ROV in the world!

Pie on Boaty McBoatface

Friday, 6 May, 2016

The whole process for naming NERCs new polar research vessel twists and turns through the media. The fact that naming a polar vessel actually made the news is pretty good in and of itself - how much the general public is aware of polar science is somewhat of an unknown, but it was great to see some coverage of the vessel itself. That then hit a whole new level of media frenzy when Boaty McBoatface topped the poll of votes - and what better way to get (unexpected) media attention and so public interest. This then sunk into farce when the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee called NERCs CEO and Head of Communications to give evidence as to whether this was a good process. Committee chair, Nicola Blackwood (MP) commented:

“My committee wants to explore this as an example of science communication. Was it a triumph of public engagement or a PR disaster? We’ll also want to know how Nerc intends to build on the mass coverage they’ve attracted and engage people with the vital polar science that Boaty will be enabling.”

I can’t think of a more pointless exercise - surely there are plenty of examples of science communication that could be pulled together rather than hauling two people up to London. Of course, this was all deflated with the news that the ship will be called the RRS Sir David Attenborough, which is a bit of a let down. I wonder if the committee would review whether the MPs expenses scandal was a triumph of public engagement or a PR disaster. It certainly got people interested in politics again!

Monopoly Map

Tuesday, 29 March, 2016

Vaguely following on with the underground map meme, I thought it would be good fun to locate all the Monopoly squares on a map of a London and visit them. A quick google shows that this is a popular pastime and, indeed, a popular pub crawl (perhaps one of the more energetic ones!). But it’s always more fun to piece together your own, so here’s My (well my son’s) stab at pinning the different locations. Of course you can argue over Water Works, Electric Company, Jail, Chance Community Chest, SUper Tax, Income Tax and Free Parking as much as you like. They aren’t specific locations in my book so I don’t care!! But damn the person who put Old Kent Road on the board - one out of the way journey!

What are the British Isles?

Tuesday, 22 March, 2016

A seemingly simple question but one that causes no end of confusion because it is both geographic and political and using it the wrong context can cause no end of upset!!! Is Northern Ireland in Great Britain? Or the UK? Is Jersey? Where does Ireland fit in?

To bring some clarity the EUler diagram (below) from Wikimedia helps considerably and visit the Terminology of the British Isles page. In short its easiest to refer to the British Isles when thinking geographically of all the islands, whilst the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or UK for short) when talking about the commonly designated political entity.

Too good to be forgotten

Monday, 21 March, 2016

Too good to be forgotten (from Radio 4 Analysis) talks about “corporate memory loss”, that is the body of knowledge about how a company “does stuff” that is lost when people move companies or move jobs within a company. The brain drain. Now for everyday tasks, or tasks which are heavily prescribed (and often mandated), that is not a problem - have a manual, train people, do the job. But for those “professional” tasks where complex bespoke processing is required, that is usually not possible. And for those tasks that are unusual or “singular”, you learn when it happens the first time. As an individual you can then do it again in the future - but as a corporate?? As the programme notes, for things like recessions, market crashes, cold war…. these collective memories have or are being lost. The programme offers some pointers for how this knowledge might be preserved.

However this is not a new problem and has been around for millennia, although the rise of big business and, in particular, the fast turnover in jobs, makes this more acute. It reminded me of the work of Steve Denning who presented at a TedX event on the knowledge management he introduced at the World Bank called the springboard story. He presents in his book The Springboard. And specifically this was a short, focused, story designed to stimulate energy and enthusiasm, leading to change. This can be used as a leadership strategy or, in the manner originally used at the World Bank, making knowledge available, retaining, storing, managing that information. His strategy for developing the stories follow four steps:

1. True story: factually and authentically
2. Positive: inspire people with a positive story, happy ending
3. Minimalist Telling: not entertainment, stripped down, streamlined, core information
4. Contrasts Before and After: make it clear what the benefit is. This is the “take home”

Sage advice and worth thinking about within the context of your own business or industry.