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Showing posts from August, 2010

Hotel Termal Burgo de Osma. Remarkable Building. Unremarkable Hotel

This is an amazing building that is well worth a visit. Built around an old university, the building is respectful to the magnificently detailed stone structure but at the same time is modern, airy, and stylish. The glass dome at the center of the quadrangle that covers the underground spa. The building is a triumph of architecture and interior design.

The rooms continue the innovative mix of the old and the new.

The underground pool area, which is free to guests, is very impressive.

But Hotel Termal is a very good illustration of the difference between a great building and a great hotel. The service is terrible. The staff, if you can find them, are surly and unhelpful. One gets the impression that they would prefer if you simply went away and judging from the largely empty cafe and restaurant, it seems most guests have.

If facing grumpy staff does not start your day badly, the breakfast buffet will surely disappoint. The food in the cafĂ© is embarrassingly poor and seriously overpri…

CAO Denial of Service Attack - My Arse

The Irish Times today reported that the Central Applications Office website that students use to accept their college places was unavailable for a time this morning due to a denial of service "cyber-attack".

A denial of service attack is not like a hacker attack where a criminal tries to gain access to a server in order to read some files contained on the server or to modify the contents in some way. During a denial of service attack the criminal attempts to overwhelm the web server with thousands and thousands of bogus requests for web pages. The requests become so numerous that the server cannot handle the traffic and so legitimate customers cannot access the site contents either. It is as if seventy thousand customers tried to get through the front door of a shop all at the same time. In extreme cases the web server is so overwhelmed that it just keels over and dies.

Since a denial of service attack does not really get the attacker anything, most DoS attacks are motivat…

Charter Cities

I read an article about Charter Cities lately and I'm facinated. I was thinking about something like that, but my ideas were not at all on the scale being considered. Econimist Paul Romner has really thought it through. The idea is that a first world country would lease land in a third world country and administer it. It is fairly radical, and of course politically incorrect, to suggest that anything other than infrastructure and geography is holding back the thirld world. But corruption, poor government, and poor policy making also plays a factor.

The classic example is Hong Kong which did much better than mainland China despite similar conditions.

I have been thinking that the transition in Cuba, when it does come, could be more successful if the government of Spain loaned the country a large number of civil servants. They are largely incorrubtable, well qualified, and Spanish society has experience with transition from a totalitarian dictatorship to a democracy.

More about Cha…