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February 2006

January 2006


I RATIONALISE AWAY some of my packrat tendencies by pointing to my gene pool where you would find my mother sitting on a house jammed with treasures discovered at garage sales. I also claim rights to keep old things because of the rationale explained in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers. Written by Leonard Koren, wabi-sabi is "the Zen of things." Koren writes how things can be beautiful even when "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete." In other words, wabi-sabi "is a beauty of things unconventional." Dale Dougherty stumbled upon these same words and says wabi originally referred to "the misery of living alone in nature" and sabi meant "lean" or "withered." Over time, Wabi-Sabi came to mean an appreciation of the simple things in life. In Ireland, wabi-sabi would equate to "organic" or maybe even "sustainable."

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Blogs as focus groups

SHORTLY AFTER A local entrepreneur visited the Tipperary Institute Skunkworks with an idea, Irish blogger Piaras Kelly affirmed the entrepreneur's idea--without hearing the concept first hand. Kelly wrote about how blogs and podcasts can be most useful and in his essay he suggested tactics that the entrepreneur will use during the months ahead. For all the moaning about the ultimate utility of blogging, I believe every daily reading of my information aggregate reveals something worth actioning in the real world. That information aggregate comes from a stream of bloggers often writing about things I don't understand. From practise, I have learned to listen to those I don't comprehend when those people sit in places I respect. Without ever exchanging business cards, I have come to know very informed people. They have informed my judgment and that means local entrepreneurs who come looking to improve an idea will have the benefit of hundreds of minds who generously share of their expertise.

Piaras Kelly -- "Say something interesting or don't say anything at all" with shoutback comments from third level students.
Michele Neylon -- "Blogging Seminar IIA"


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Revisiting referrer summaries

STATCOUNTER registered your visit if you read these words on my weblog but there's a limit to the accuracy of all web stats. For instance, if you want to draw conclusions about return visitor habits, you should know that if you try to tie user sessions to a particular IP address, you will be inducing some errors in your research. I believe that at least 20% of the visitors to my website change their IP addresses on return visits. They hop around because their ISPs dynamically reassign IP addresses. At least 5% of my visitors refuse cookies or use cloaking. That means more than a quarter of my visitors are statistically absent from effective tracking. I imagine this is the same error rate accepted by major e-commerce websites like Aer Lingus or Amazon. Those sites reward customer loyalty when you sign in and give them a more accurate means of tracking your use of the web site.

Adam Fields -- "What's the big fuss about IP addresses?"


Best practise in blogging

ON THE DAY Michele Neylon asks for ideas for an IIA blogging seminar scheduled for 1400 on 8 March 2006 in Dublin's Hilton Hotel, Elaine Larkin rewarms comments from solicitors and from Tom Murphy. The solicitors say you can be sued for making defamatory comments. Tom Murphy offers some common sense ideas. The article does not cover how people can blog anonymously while using US hosts to sidestep the long arm of Irish law.

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Wireless DIY

CORY DOCTOROW points to a wonderful free book that describes how to assemble and maintain a wireless network. "Wireless Networking in the Developing World" is expertly written, including parts by William Flickenger ("Wireless Hacks") and Thomas Krag ( Many of the writers have built and deployed wireless networks under austere conditions. The book enters the public domain thanks to a very liberal Creative Commons License that encourages others to build on this work. Portions of this work appear as related topics in the data communications course at Tipperary Institute. The comprehensive diagrams, descriptions and background information contained in this excellent resource means you could build a wireless network without referencing the internet. For those in rural Ireland, far from traditional internet access, this book helps set down all the steps, equipment and tests needed to connect people over broadband. What a wonderful use of Creative Commons licensing and a community wiki.

Limehouse Book Sprint Team -- "Wireless Networking in the Developing World"


Free Airspace

ANYONE WHO FLIES the continent of Europe knows how unrestricted Irish airspace is by comparison. Here is what I have observed.

1. You can land on open areas away from populated towns without reporting it as an off-airport event. Try that in Germany and the Polizei are on your nose before your propellor has stopped rotating. In Ireland, they take you down to the pub for a well-earned pint before helping you on your way.

2. You can fly over housing estates at 500 feet above ground level and as long as your engine is no louder than a boy racer's motor, you are good to go.

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Ripping for the weekend

iPod and readingIT'S FRIDAY! And that means it's time to rip for the weekend. My ripping isn't track-to-iPod anymore. Instead, I normally spend an hour pulling down podcasts for weekend listening. My aching laptop cannot run podcatchers in the background anymore because I have no scratch space to give away to audio downloads. That means I flip around to fav podcasts and to the Podsafe Music Network for downloads. There are no wasted clicks because all those at the top of my listening preferences have fresh content every weekday. Before I get started on my ripping, I wanted to mention that Adam Curry has a must-hear episode--DSC 324 (direct link to MP3). It contains excellent real-world examples of how conversations sell products. After listening to it, I have to resist "BUY ME" urges for coffee, the countdown clock and new music. Recommended.

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Rendition Flights Ireland

Exiting C-141RENDITION FLIGHTS are not a good thing but those who think Irish inspections of US flights through Shannon Airport will either reveal irregularities or uncover rendition passengers are living in a parallel universe. Let me tell you one over-reaching fact about rendition airlift missions from my past career as an airlift planner, command centre controller and aircraft commander: once a USAF aircraft with the Stars and Stripes on its tail lands on foreign soil, the cargo aboard that aircraft is considered part of the sovereign territory of the US. Some might think that is an obnoxious perspective but it is the framework of reference that I taught to upcoming aircraft commanders and it was the principle that guided the military's command and control of assets while transiting the airspace and territories of other countries.

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Rebooting the iPod

BECAUSE I USE my iPod (Thanks again, Tim!) for dragging and dropping data over a slow USB connection, it occasionally hangs and then refuses to reconnect to my four-year-old Windows XP laptop. Sometimes the iPod hangs after it gets a little spike from AC-powered speakers. However, it returns to service once rebooted. In my case that means depressing and holding the centre button with one finger and the top menu button with another finger. Hold for six to ten seconds until the Apple logo appears. Nothing happens unless that Apple logo appears. Once rebooted, I recover drag-and-drop operation for my iPod and I can use the iPod to cue up songs and voices on our podcasts from Ireland. Your mileage may vary. serves audio to offset earbud boredom.


TY 20M

TIP OF THE HAT to Twenty Major who figured out how to convince Blogger to send all his blog entries as part of his RSS stream. This means my mobile news reader scrapes 100% of everything written as part of every main blog entry. Other Blogger sites that I read aren't configured that way. Getting total coverage on my Nokia 9500 FreeNews reader helps students who are addicted to Twenty's and who would rather follow the news and views there than listen to lectures in class.

FreeNews gives me superb reading on my mobile phone.