Archive for December, 2006

“Admin costs are dead”, apparently

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

From Intelligent Giving:

ADMIN COSTS ARE DEAD. With the new accounting system enforced by the Charity Commission (“SORP 2005”), which nearly all charities are now observing, it is now impossible to work them out – and we will have to drop them from our site in the New Year.

The change represents an over-reaction (presumably an uncontested one) by the voluntary sector’s lobbyists. Clearly the public wasn’t consulted about the new SORP; but the public wants at least *some* clue of how much is spent on support costs. Now it won’t have anything to go on at all.

It’s a pyrrhic victory and a big shame: it won’t increase the public’s confidence in charities; it will just make people more suspicious.

I haven’t really got anything to add to this – I’m still in holiday-mode so haven’t looked into this any further. I’ll try and find out more in the New Year, but thought it was interesting enough to post now.

Toejam And Earl is now available on Wii Virtual Console

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I was showing a friend the Wii Virtual Console and noticed that a bunch of new games have been added since I last looked – including Toejam & Earl!

I loved this game as a kid, and bought it straight away. Nintendo seem to be adding new titles to the Virtual Console library regularly, and I can see this costing me far too much money… Damn nostalgia 🙂

A list of current games is being maintained on Wikipedia, and the official list is on I hope they add Toejam & Earl II soon!

Eating is a benefit

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Some flyers have appeared in the canteen at work advertising a new benefit hopefully coming soon for us. The idea is that we will be able to transfer money direct from our gross salary to our ID badges which we use to buy food in the work canteen. In this way, we make a saving by not paying NI and tax on money we spend on food and drink at work.

When you add up the amount I spend at the canteen for lunch each day, as well as the amount at the coffee bars and vending machines, this could actually add up to a nice amount of money!

I already do this ‘salary sacrifice’ thing (paying for stuff out of gross salary to save money on tax and NI) on pension contributions, and childcare vouchers. Thinking of food and coffee as a benefit sounds strange though! 🙂

Youth Achievement Awards as an alternative to MV?

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

I’ve mentioned before that the Millennium Volunteers’ Award of Excellence (currently the main accredited award we give to young people in Solent Youth Action) might not be around forever, and that one of the focus’ of the new V charity is formal recognition for volunteering. As such, it is useful to know what alternative programmes are around.

Which ones will the young people that we work with get the most of? Which one has the highest profile and, which are likely to be around the longest?

With this in mind, I’ve been reading about the Youth Achievement Awards run by UK Youth – a national youth work charity.


Chris Huhne is the new chair of Make Votes Count

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Make Votes Count is a cross-party campaigning organisation which aims to call for and win a referendum on changing the way we elect Members of Parliament to a more representative system. I am a big supporter of this, and have been a campaigner for Make Votes Count for a couple of years.

So, I was interested to find out this evening that Chris Huhne MP has formally taken over as Chair of Make Votes Count. I used to work as a volunteer for Chris – including as a team leader on the campaign team to get him elected as MP last year. I rarely see him nowadays, but I think he’s a good choice and will make a good Chair. Congratulations and good luck, Chris!

Strings in C can span multiple lines

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

I came across a multi-line string while doing an inspection on a colleagues C code. I’ve never seen this sort of thing before, and didn’t know it was possible.

Something like this:

    char* welcomeMessage = "Hello "
                           "Dale. "
                           "How are you?";

    printf("%s", welcomeMessage);

will happily print out “Hello Dale. How are you?”.

It seems that you can define a string literal in C across multiple lines, without any need for a concatenation character (like ‘+’ in Java and C#).

I like that, even though I’ve been writing C for years now, I still occasionally come across little bits and pieces in the language that are new to me. And doing code inspections and reviews of other people’s code are a good way to share this sort of stuff and learn from each other.

Help is available from LearningNet

Monday, December 18th, 2006

I had an interview with someone from LearningNet today.

LearningNet is a workforce development project created by a group of voluntary sector organisations. It aims to identify and meet the learning needs of staff and volunteers working in the voluntary and community sector.

They’re an interesting organisation that I first heard of a little while ago. They’re working with us in Solent Youth Action to produce a learning needs analysis of the staff and directors.

For the staff, it is an opportunity for a thorough and independent review of their training needs which is not normally possible within an organisation as small as us.

Perhaps more importantly, for the trustees, it is an independent perspective on any gaps in our knowledge and skills. As volunteers from a variety of professions who came together to start this organisation essentially in our spare time, I think this is very valuable. When we started, we knew nothing of the laws or regulations we would encounter in starting a charity and company, being an employer, leading an organisation, or managing hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money. We’ve learnt a lot, but what don’t we know? What skills don’t we have that we don’t realise – skills that could potentially help us to do a better job? Or more worryingly, what don’t we know that could help us avoid a future pitfall we haven’t considered?


How to avoid the housework when you’re still feeling ill

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Grace doing the hoovering for me