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Palty or Parliamentary?

A "parliamentary" train service is one that's run on a railway to meet minimum legal requirements.

The term originates from a requirement on all companies to provide at least one train a day at rate of an old penny a mile calling at all stations, so that rail transport would be available to all. Some companies embraced the requirement and provided and provided plentiful, good cheap and popular services. Others did the minimum they had to - often running the train at an awkward time of day, making sure that it failed to connect at junctions, and so on... their purpose being to encourage travellers to use other, more expensive services.

These days, the term's often used to describe the service on a line that's still required for diversionary purposes, for empty trains to the depot, for freight - but is still technically open for passengers. And the service is provided at a useless time of day when the train companies have a spare train and crew available to run it. In our own area, the loop that avoids Bristol (known as the "Rhubarb Loop") has a single passenger train, in one direction only, at around lunch time. And there's a train from Ruislip that arrives into Paddington at 11:32 on Monday to Friday mornings and leaves again at 11:36. And it's the only regular passenger train using that line. There are parliamentary stations too - our example is Pilning, with one train a week in each direction.

I've travelled on the Rhubarb loop train. I was the only passenger, and the train crew checked that I really did NOT want to travel to Bristol Temple Meads. And reading reports of the train from Paddington, you'll see comments like "there was just me and another enthusiast on the train; we were outnumbered by staff".

It's been suggested to me that the trains that serve Melksham are a parliamentary service. No - they are not parliamentary. They are just paltry. This morning, I've travelled on the 06:38 train for the second day this week, and on both days there were five passengers joining the train even at that hour, and another seven or eight on the train from stations up the line such as Chippenham. And in the evening, I arrived back in Melksham on the evening train last night... around 20 people got on at Chippenham to make the journey joining perhaps a dozen travelling through from Swindon, 6 got off and 2 on at Melksham, leaving 28 passengers carrying on to Trowbridge. This is not the modern parliamentary train; this is simply a dreadful service.

So... if the service was not dreadful, would it be used better? All the evidence points to it. Chat to the faces that you see frequently on the train, and thay all say they would use it more if it was a bit later (morning) and / or earlier (evening). Significantly, they say that they can't use the trains on days that they may get delayed because there's no evening service. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of potential use. For everyONE who's at the station at half past six in the morning, and happy (or at least accepting) they won't be back until after seven in the evening, there are dozens more who would us it at a more sociable time, and there are further dozens who would use it if it were a true service with trains through the day - something available within an hour or so (earlier or later) of when you wanted to travel.

A Parliamentary service has no real passenger use. Our TransWilts service does have passenger use - shown by the 32 on the evening train on a typical weekday. And those numbers - though low - provide evidence for (and make it a prime candidate for) improvement.
(written 2013-04-30, updated 2013-05-04)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G501 - Well House Consultants - Customer Service
  [72] On Customer Service - (2004-10-03)
  [91] On line every 24 hours - (2004-10-17)
  [126] Feedback shows the tip of an iceberg - (2004-11-22)
  [150] Confession - (2004-12-13)
  [189] Tuesdays and Fridays - (2005-01-25)
  [195] Customer service - examples to warn us - (2005-01-30)
  [233] Giving customers best value - (2005-03-02)
  [265] Business practise, 2005 style - (2005-04-03)
  [327] How far should our support go - (2005-05-28)
  [350] Want to be one better - (2005-06-17)
  [393] Trainer answers phone - (2005-07-28)
  [440] Upgrade! - (2005-09-09)
  [482] Different ways of selling - (2005-11-01)
  [552] Keeping Customers Informed - (2006-01-02)
  [566] May all your screw-ups be big ones - (2006-01-16)
  [569] Instructions for bright people - (2006-01-19)
  [609] Been on a course, but still not got it? - (2006-02-16)
  [621] And the staff put the icing on the cake - (2006-02-23)
  [628] Active Learning - (2006-02-28)
  [650] A person of few words - (2006-03-18)
  [717] A customer service company - (2006-05-11)
  [725] Better communication - (2006-05-19)
  [841] Forum help - a push in the right direction - (2006-08-21)
  [852] Eventful evening - a lesson in looking after contacts - (2006-09-02)
  [944] Just ******* Google it - (2006-11-25)
  [961] Products that our customers want more of - (2006-12-03)
  [966] CSL, KISS and RTFM - (2006-12-05)
  [1007] Friends and family - (2006-12-25)
  [1046] Bounce, bounce, bounce - (2007-01-20)
  [1262] Keep in touch with PHP, Perl, Python and old friends too - (2007-07-09)
  [1319] Customer feedback - lifeblood of a business - (2007-08-25)
  [1434] Market survey - to learn, to prove a point, or to sell your product? - (2007-11-17)
  [1446] An answer to a student asking 'Help' - (2007-11-27)
  [1516] Pictures you can use - for free - from our library - (2008-01-23)
  [1606] Sheep Shearers, Marathon Runners and Ocean Sailors - (2008-04-09)
  [1637] Providing exceptional service - and carrying on doing so. - (2008-05-09)
  [1835] 23:30 bookings and midnight checkins - (2008-10-12)
  [1985] Learning to program as a part of your job - (2009-01-10)
  [1991] Rules for a King - (2009-01-13)
  [2015] Service Excellence Awards - (2009-01-30)
  [2049] Why Choose Well House Consultants for your course? - (2009-02-20)
  [2102] What do people think of our Apache httpd / Tomcat course? - (2009-03-24)
  [2124] Building down expectations - (2009-04-09)
  [2236] Alumni - revisiting and supporting the old University - (2009-06-13)
  [2258] Questions I have been asked on answering the phone - (2009-06-26)
  [2530] Taking a knock over Santa - (2009-12-08)
  [2650] Getting a phone line changed ... - (2010-02-25)
  [2880] Getting in touch - Please allow me to see you when you are online - (2010-07-21)
  [2961] Initial handling of phone calls and walk in visitors - (2010-09-19)
  [3073] Customer Service - the boundary - (2010-11-27)
  [3103] Thank you - and Happy Christmas - (2010-12-24)
  [3271] The importance of feedback - (2011-04-30)
  [3294] It's not just about the jam in the sandwich - (2011-05-19)
  [3378] New product - ensuring that supply matches demand - (2011-08-03)
  [3808] Can you put names to faces? - (2012-07-19)
  [3835] The Information age - not yet truly with us? - (2012-08-12)
  [4078] Train works for me! - (2013-05-02)
  [4232] Not wanted here - hotel guests who will not be happy - (2013-12-30)


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Some other Articles
Pushing down the advertised price, pushing up the total price charged.
Fancy a day at the seaside? Weymouth from Melksham
Melksham Area - Unitary Council results, May 2013
Palty or Parliamentary?
Web site - fully back!
Further recent PHP examples
A comment on comments in PHP
Learning about Object Orientation in PHP - a new set of examples
Splitting the difference with PHP
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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