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September 2006

Rainy Day BarCamp

Barcamp SnapBARCAMP IRELAND failed to make the daily theme cloud on but that lack of electronic social networking on the day does not diminish the power of the face-to-face social networking in Cork's Webworks. Self-organising events like BarCamps do not allow participants to attend all the sessions since up to three scheduled talks occur simultaneously. Two sessions made their way into our research notebooks for upcoming podcasts. We also made a 55-minute podcast that includes segments in it. [45.6 MB 112 kbps MP3 file]

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There is no war on terror

IT COULD BE that my brain is getting mushy after too many episodes of That Guitar Man, but I resolutely do not believe in the war on terror as orchestrated by the executive branch of the US government. Let me explain--I hope you read to the end.

Thirty years ago, I took a college course from a trained assassin. He knew terror first-hand. He was an instrument of the US government. He taught me and 10 others the theory, the tactics and the strategy of the anti-terrorist elite--all for college credit in an "International Relations" module. In his first hour of instruction, he laid down the facts that about combating terrorism, including the principle that you do not mount a traditional frontal assualt. You train your response to come down the smokestacks as laser bombs, into bedrooms cloaked in black, or through the walls of sitting rooms with a battering ram. This is a dirty business and not very civilised. You do not marshall forces in a line as rank and file. You do not take up arms in a hostile territory as a standing army. Most of his examples were non-American, including Viking invasions of Ireland.

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Comment Spam Round 13

THIS WEEK RESULTED in me manually cleaning a minimum of 300 comment spams from my moderation queue during each of the past four days--that's more than 1000 unwanted spams in a work week. That's more spams than I've endured in three years with Typepad. I resorted to a manual clean-up task since it appeared that a combination of comment moderation and manually blocking unwelcome IPs was working. Sometime later this weekend, I will reopen my comments and see what happens.

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When a real university podcasts

IRISH PODCASTING is really a little tot in a shop full of big players. Take academic podcasting, for example. Several third level institutions in Ireland, including our stuff at, play around with education and podcasting, but when you look at the service statistics, nothing in Ireland can compare to the University of California in Berkeley. They have served 132,253 streams and 19,087 downloads in less than one academic year. Check these numbers out from Obadiah Tarzan:

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Would you like a FON Router

FON RouterWANT A FREE FON router? Would you be prepared to plug it in, register it and keep it running for at least six months? See me at BarCamp Ireland to register for one of the 20 routers available for your use from FON, the largest WiFi community in the world. FON members share their wireless Internet access at home and, in return, enjoy free WiFi wherever they find another Fonero’s Access Point.

More about FON.

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Google Reader Has That New Yahoo Mail Look

THERE MUST BE a conference that all UI designers attend where everyone affirms the 2006 look because I noticed the new Google News Reader interface looks like Bloglines, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook Express and a raft of other pane-based, bold-when-new products. But maybe it should look that way because Google Reader is actually an in-box for the web. Importantly, the free online Google News Reader works better now than it did six months ago. I accidentally clicked into it from an old notebook, scraped a screen and played around a bit. Fast and friendly news readers are important when you don't have more than two hours a day online. The Google News Reader looks like it deserves a solid recommendation for those who want to manage and read their news for free through a web browser. I haven't figured out what all the widgets do (like the "share it" option) but I'm sure those things will become more apparent after I play around with Google News Reader a little more. If you're interested in more, watch a one-minute video about the Google Reader.

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Easy Enough for Your Granny

Walkman phoneAS ADAM CURRY has shown, if you want to make podcasts accessible to your granny, you need to make them sound and act like radio. Curry's natural pipes help, warmed to a familiar resonance with a stereo valve processor. It also helps to have a call-in service that all sorts can use. Podshows like Adam's, Dawn and Drew's, and David Ippolito sometimes sound like rewinds of late night truckers with meandering thoughts. But that's a radio formula and in a space where people like to listen to themselves, the voice call-in channel is an essential part of the wiring.

We do it here: and you can ring up if you like. Remember, you don't need an iPod to hear a podcast. Students in Tipperary Institute often carry them around on their Walkman phones. In fact, we've seen grannies listening to tracks on their Walkman phones.
Elly Parker -- "Getting Granny Podcasting (or Encouraging Web Usage in Non-Technical People)"

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Gavin Notes Bertie

GAVIN SHERIDAN is back with a note about the mainstream televised appearance of Bertie Ahern. The appearance arose on the heels of disclosures concerning the Taoiseach's "debts of honour" which is kinda like "Ah, sure, Bertie, get your hands out of your pockets! This round's on us!"

I once thought that the most defensible reason to compensate politicians above the level of equivalent senior managers was to ensure they could walk away from donations and generous constituents. Now I wonder how nationally elected politicians can justify the occasional top-up from their "friends" while continuining to draw down on generous salaries, expense accounts and secure pension benefits.

Gavin Sheridan -- "Back for a note"

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