Bioinformatics 5 Weeks Down

This was a pretty tough week.  Interesting but tricky algorithms to implement.

I had another case of an algorithm that was running really slowly.  In fact I started it before I went to bed and it was still running when I got up in the morning.

So I rewrote it, and it ran in like 20 seconds!  Just goes to show, choice of data structures and algorithms are soooo important.

Now onto week 6!

Wow Councils are Really Improving

A wee while ago, I did a story on how The Hutt City Council was removing development levies (euphemistically known as contributions)  for new industrial builds.  Well now Rotorua council have gone even further, they’re removing ALL development contributions!

From Bob Dey:

Rotorua council cans most development contributions

on Monday 16 December 2013 in Funding, Infrastructure, Land use, Sectors 0

Rotorua District Council has stopped collecting most development contributions and will scrap the policy as part of its 2014-15 annual plan process.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said last Tuesday Rotorua would be the first council to scrap the levies in their present form and was doing so to boost growth by removing a disincentive, and to align with legislation introduced on 4 November.

Under the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3), the range of infrastructure that can be financed by development contributions will be clarified & narrowed. The bill also encourages greater private provision of infrastructure through the use of development agreements.

Mrs Chadwick said the council had collected only about half the forecast revenue from this levy in the last 4 years. For the balance of this financial year, it expects to forego $250,000 in revenue by ending the levy.

“Rotorua District Council is of the view that foregoing some revenue by ending development contributions will be more than compensated by the additional economic growth we would expect by creating a substantially more investment-friendly environment for our district.

“It’s a simple formula really. If we increase the number of businesses & residents in our district, then we have more people paying rates, and the cost of providing services to our community is shared over a larger population. That’s the goal we’re signalling in our draft Rotorua 2030 vision, and this is just one of a number of creative measures that will help get our local economy moving again.”

The council will continue to levy water & sewerage charges, but will remit other contributions with immediate effect. The new arrangement applies to building, resource & subdivision consent applications approved from 5 December. Development contributions invoiced earlier could be eligible for remission.

Mrs Chadwick said the levies on a typical new house could fall by 46%, or about $8000.

Links: Better local government
Improving development contributions

Attribution: Council release.

 

This is actually pretty astounding.  Councils are now starting to say what developers have been saying for over 5 years now.  Which is that development contributions increase the cost of housing and doing business and actually don’t bring in a lot of income for councils because people just stop developing.

And so by removing them, more development will happen and so more rates will be collected.

 

Bioinformatics, 4 Weeks Down

So 4 weeks and 26 programming assignments completed now.

Gotta say I’m enjoying it immensely.

It’s quite hard but I seem to eventually muddle my way through the assignments.  Sometimes with a bit of help from others posting on the discussion forums.

Had a fun time optimising one of my programs a couple of days ago.  This is what I posted on the Coursera forum for this course:

By the way, what are people’s runtimes? I spent some time optimising yesterday and got my run time down from 2 mins to under 1 second lol.  I was using a list to store nodes and traversing that list to find the node in the list of 2000 or so with label ‘234’ or whatever. 

So then it occurred to me that I could have an indexing array.  With the node label pointing to an index in the node list.  And then I slapped my forehead, said “Doh!”, not for the first time in this course.  This is of course exactly what a dict is, so instead of having a node list, I have a node dict! 

And another thing: Profiling:  It’s absolutley wonderful in Python.  Took me about 15 mins to grab some code off the net and add it to my program.  It shows where all the time is spent, number of calls to each function AND runs in real time! i.e. doesn’t slow down the program!  All built in too: http://docs.python.org/2/library/profile.html

So onto week 5 now and I’ve done 2 out of the 5 so far but only a few days left for the other 3…  I’ll get them done somehow.

This course is considerably better than many I took at university, paying fees for.  This course is free!

 

Judgement Against Fortlock Security Systems (2008) Ltd

Well 2 court cases in 2 weeks, and 2 wins.

These are the only times I’ve taken a party to court.  Normally I just say “To Hell with it!”, pay them the full amount and never use them again.

But with Fortlock Security, their service has been just so hopeless and they’ve refused to acknowledge it to the point of beligerance, I felt I had no choice.

So I now have judgement for the full amount of $2006.58.

Patrick Shields from Fortlock tried to get the court date shifted (adjourned to the new year) but failed in this and then didn’t show up at court.

The referee spoke to the guy I now have looking after the system (if anyone wants a reference for a good security systems technician, ask in the comments or email me) and was satisfied that parts had been replaced unnecessarily and that costs have been incurred by me unnecessarily.

So, like I say, be very careful in dealing with Fortlock Security Systems.

UPDATE: 19th December 2013: Well I have to congratulate Fortlock Security Systems because they have paid.  The money is in my bank account now, in full.  So although I wasn’t happy with the service and having to take them to court to get redress, I am happy to give credit where credit is due and say that they have paid promptly – as per the judgement issued.  So at least they have settled and this is all put to bed now.