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February 2004

Communications Revolution

GUARDIAN -- Between October 1983 and December 1986, I flew over Africa and landed on a concrete airstrip around once a month. Just beyond the concrete runways, twinkling taxiways and running water was a land awaiting the Industrial Revolution. Although many poor nations are still waiting for the appliances that make life more convenient, they have something worth noting--mobile phones.

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Sunday editorials

SBP -- Three editorials caught my attention today--two about immigrants and another about e-voting--all from the Sunday Business Post.

David McWilliams thinks "Irish women stand to gain more than anyone else from immigration."¹ Stand inside Powers' Newsagent in Kilkenny's John Street and you can hear Filipinos asking Tim Power about part-time jobs, followed by working women asking for cigarettes from behind the counter. Each needs the other to get by.

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Clay Shirky on VoIP

SHIRKY -- Clay Shirky presents a compelling view of why firms like Skype may succeed in turfing Eircom from its dominent telco position by replacing that system of voice calling with something so very this century. Eircom is interested in VoIP, but would never bring it to mrket because doing so means admitting to shareholders, regulators, and customers that both their monopoly strangehold and artificially high voice revenues are going away. As a result, expect that Eircom lobbies the Communications and Enterprise Minister, the Comreg and IBEC that important compliance guidelines need to be screwed into Irish space. Set those standards down first then take a break of a decade before offering VoIP services to customers.

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Kodak Organic Film

KODAK -- Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) consume significantly less power than common liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), which require backlighting.¹ OLEDs also offer several exciting advantages over common LEDs: the materials do not need to be crystalline (that is, composed of a precisely repeating pattern of planes of atoms), so that they are easier to make; they are applied in thin layers for a slimmer profile; and different materials (for different colours) can be patterned on a given substrate to make high-resolution images. The substrates may be recycled--made of inexpensive glass or flexible plastic or even metal foil.²

The first active-matrix OLED display on the market provides a 2.2-inch screen for the Kodak EasyShare LS633 digital camera.

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EFI Logo Competition

CREATIVE IRELAND -- Electronic Freedom Ireland have launched a logo competition to judge a winning design that visually identifies an organisation that defends against infringement on the civil liberties of computer and Internet users. EFI emulates EFF, with articulate positions concerning free speech online, electronic voting, email and sms spam, employee surveillance, user monitoring, and electronic data retention.

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Tom Moylan on utopia

KILKENNY -- Tom Moylan followed me home from Temple Bar yesterday. I carried him in my thoughts because his take on Utopia is much wider-ranging than any other coverage of the topic. He offers an hour-long lecture that deftly steps around several examples of "utopia" being hijacked in popular culture before embarking on a deep excursion of literature that gives listeners a brief tour of utopia through the ages.

After listening intently to his ideas, I personally conclude that utopia is a dream of a better life. It is a description of those who try to create that better life. In many ways, it is the semi-monastic existence of my aunt. She has spent more than 50 years as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity and now lives in a vibrant community of nuns in the middle of Manhattan. I wonder if she would think she is in utopia?


Worthwhile Sig Element

NTK -- I am making a list of signature elements that deserve a place for posterity, including this warning:

Remember: Your work email may be monitored if sending sensitive material. Sending attachments is forbidden by copyright protocols of the Geneva Convention. Your computer may be impounded by law enforcement authorities if you fail to comply.

Adapted from Need to Know.