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August 2008

Sunday Take on Tech

Sunday Take on Tech 31 AugWE SPOTTED SOME INTERESTING things about technology (the shot at left is actually about technology) in the Irish Sunday newspapers today and we tried talking about our discoveries while standing behind our car along the Golden Road in County Tipperary for less than 10 minutes. Our home's wifi node powers the pavement and that's what we used to upstream this 7-minute videoclip. There are things we read that connect to thoughts shared by Pat Phelan, Damien Mulley, Mike Kiely, Conor O'Neill and Tim Kirby. We have an opinion about the limited ability of the 3G iPhone's basic navigation skills. And some of the Lenovo laptops interest us--they're slim and energy-efficient. The Corvette ZR-1 isn't fuel-efficient [16], but it's a fun drive for guys who lust for serious motors. We also spotted some things about visitors from Silicon Valley attending a two-day event in Trinity College Dublin, but we tweeted those details instead of publicising the event [0] here.

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Counting Down to Podcamp Ireland

Mike on Camera 1PODCAMP IRELAND returns to Kilkenny on Saturday 27 September along with 90 people interested in learning how to improve the way they use social media to better communicate. With attendees descending on Hotel Kilkenny from Channel 4, digital media, and web development agencies, this day-long free event features three major strands that will interest storytellers and media developers. The underlying theme probes the best ways to create messages online about science and technology that appeal to teenagers and young adults. Programme developers like Jonathan Sanderson (RTE Scope television series) will join a day of lively discussion with primary and secondary school teachers active in the promotion of maths and computing in their schools. The Robocode team from Tipperary Institute will conduct a special Schoolbots session for teachers interested in helping their students qualify for the national competition.

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Attention Crash

The Medici EffectLIKE SEVERAL OF MY COLLEAGUES, I have too many things bubbling up on my computer--all vying for attention. I try to handle all these pop-ups but there's just too much noise. People with more experience than myself say there will be an "attention crash" smacking into the workplace and it's going to hurt. It's going to affect our ability to think in private and to collaborate effectively. We just cannot keep working effectively if the flow of inputs keeps accelerating. As humans, we cannot manage a crescendo of attention-grabbing tasks. As Steve Rubel said more than a year ago, "Human attention does not obey Moore's Law." After letting a tweeting Twitterstream impact my workday for eight consecutive months, I need therapy. I want to return to the point where I can write and respond in a timely fashion to email. I need to serve student requests within a day of their surfacing on our virtual education system.

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Cork TechLudd Takeaways

Blog Training in CorkTHE BATMOBILE ENJOYED A breathy run down newly-completed Irish motorway segments between Cashel and Cork tonight, landing next to the Schweizer glider at the Cork Airport Hotel for the TechLudd meet-up that Anton Mannering arranged there. Nialler9's latest podcast (episode 18) is just long enough to cover up the wind blast from motorway speeds between Tipperary and Cork. And FIR on my Nokia E90 filled the time on the way back to Cashel. A planning pop-up meant I spent less time in Cork's trendy airport deco hotel than I spent behind the wheel but that's part of the risk  you take when you juggle too many things in tight spots on calendars. Nonetheless, the short 45 minutes I spent with the group of 20 attending TechLudd in Cork made the evening worthwhile. I can see why Damien Mulley likes training people at the airport (that's his session on the flat screen at left) and from cross-talk, I know hundreds of happy faces will enjoy the Irish Blog Awards in the Cork Airport Hotel in February 2009.

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Jaiku Has Returned

Jaiku Message

AT SUNRISE IN IRELAND, my Nokia E90 connected to Jaiku after more than a week away. During that time, Jaiku's backroom team endured a server power problem, moved from one data centre to another, but without porting Jaiku onto the Google Application Engine. When the service restarted, it meant waiting for DNS settings to propagate and users had to approve a new privacy policy. All these things meant a week's downtime while opening Jaiku to all comers. The subsequent Jaiku Fail-o-thon upset some hardcore users who believe they have been long-fingered and abused by Google, owners of Jaiku. Personally, I like the tone and functionality of Jaiku over Twitter, the favourite child of Ireland's connected generation. Jaiku gives me textual information (free SMS from Jaiku), a presence-aware mobile phone client that tells the world where I am, and threaded discussion that offers some sanity among all the babble that a wide-open Twitter has become. I know I'm a different kind of infomaniac than others who fill their days with meaningful exchanges in the Twitterverse. I play on Twitter as well but I straddle both communities since the voices and the functionality in one space are very different. Skipping around the two places (Twitter and Jaiku) is like walking parts of Parnell Street in Dublin. You're still on Irish soil but the faces and the conversations are often worlds away. Perhaps you need to walk with my earbuds to appreciate the metaphor. I like having Jaiku back--faster and with a deeper history than Twitter--and I like having free access to both communities. You might too, or you might prefer just to subscribe to the flow and read a day's babblings in two screens of information. All it costs is your time.

I am topgold on both Twitter and Jaiku.
You can subscribe to my Twitter RSS feed or my Jaiku RSS feed. It's less tedious than hanging out on screen.
Fabsh said, "Oh look, Jaiku is back from its massive Fail-a-thon". Jyri says, "A part of my job has been to make it easier to share things on Google."
Previously: "Trying to fit into Twitter"


Misleading iPhone Ad

i and eTHE MEDIA GUARDIAN report that the television advertising for Apple's iPhone has been banned by the UK's advertising watchdog for misleading consumers after it over-hyped the internet capabilities of the smart phone. The advertising does not point to the phone's powerful, energy-draining 3G capabilities. Instead, the ad shows how well the iPhone zips around on its Safari browser, with images zooming in on a weather forecast for Cape Town and a map of how to get to Heathrow airport. "You never know which part of the internet you'll need ... which is why all the parts of the internet are on the iPhone," voiceover says. And therein lies the rub because in many people's minds, you need to see more of the internet than the iPhone can show. According to the Media Guardian, "The Advertising Standards Authority received two complaints that the claim was misleading because the iPhone did not support Flash or Java, which are both integral to many web pages. Apple said the aim of the ad was to highlight how the iPhone can offer access to all websites, while many other handsets only offer lower-level access to WAP versions of sites or those selected by service providers." In our hands-on experience (sample at left), the iPhone failed to play YouTube videos and it wouldn't run several plug-ins that our Nokia E90 can operate for video playback when browsing.

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Currently Using PhoneSOME MOBILE PHONES (like my Nokia E90 at left) let you associate special ring tones with specific contacts. That way you know if your other half is ringing because your ears pick up on the distinct ringer. I like that functionality because I need to stay close to those who are part of my special network. Some industry colleagues and members of my working groups in college also get special ring tones associated with them too. When they ring or text, it normally means co-ordination is required so it pays to pick up and talk with people in that node of my professional network. Outside these two degrees of separation comes the realm of popular social networking. Even though I chat to "friends" inside these social networks, few of them are in my pocket as mobile phone numbers. None of them merit a special ring tone. So in my books and in my pocket, the true measure of connected networking is all down to getting close, connecting in real ways. You cannot beat the emotive channel of voice when it comes to meaningful networking. Now it's off to sync a new phone with those special ringtones.

Sent mail2blog using my Nokia E90 and O2-Ireland Typepad service on the back roads of South Riding.


Tweetrush Tells Me

Tweetrush Data on My Day

AN IRISH-POWERED TWITTER stats package called Tweetrush [2] gives first-generation snapshot data of usage across Twitter so I started probing it to see what I might discover about the electronic water cooler preferred by some early adopters in Ireland. In the graphic above, it's easy to see when I don't tweet. The lower bars on the graph are UTC times I'm reading, speaking or working face-to-face with people. In one quick glance, I can tell when my most productive hours occur and they happen to be the times when I'm less active on Twitter, a site that gets no fewer than 30 tweets from me on an average day. Tweetrush data has encouraged me to throttle back on those tweets, just in time for the start of a new academic year. After nearly 8000 tweets, I've concluded that I can get greater value per page load in my newsfeed aggregator instead of listening to Twitter. However, I get better tips on breaking news from Twitter, but only if it lands on my mobile phone. The mobile dimension is very important for me, since I'm untethered from my desk for most of the day as I try to fit into Twitter.

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Screams Overhead

Wires That SingFOR A LITTLE OVER a decade, I lived for the high-pitched whine of turbine engines and the smell of JP-4 in the morning. That life style was to change dramatically 20 years ago as I walked the line and set up a refrigerated van under the screams of jet aircraft in the overhead traffic pattern at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. I had a new release from Tracy Chapman in my BMW 320is because her mellow take on "Fast Car" seemed just the ticket for my unbridled runs down the A6 between the Saarland and Heilbronn. I lived my work in a strategic command centre, trudging 156 feet underground in a blast-proof stairwell before pressing the keys on a two-foot-thick concrete door and taking my position behind two 30" colour monitors, astide a phone bank comprised of 38 hardened lines (six hotlines to people with potent buttons on their pagers), directly in front of a teletype machine. You didn't get the smell of JP-4 down there, just like you didn't get any sunshine during your 12-hour shift. And you didn't go topside for your time at work because you were the go-to guy when things happened. You were the traffic cop. So it was a special break in my work life that let me walk the line up top exactly 20 years ago, looking the part (see left). I took the time off to attend an Apple Users' Group meeting in Kaiserslautern and to help some friends set up a refrigerated van so we could sell ice cream to bystanders in a crowd estimated to reach more than 100,000 people for a nice day forecast at Flugtag 88. As it turned out, I was setting up just east of Ground Zero for the worst airshow disaster ever recorded in Europe. And as things later unfolded, the screams of the jets overhead would translate into a burning horror on the ground that still cause me sweaty nights when they weave their way into my dreams. My personal therapist during those moments is Tracy Chapman. Her "Fast Car" looped in my blue Air Force truck as I bounced around the tarmac setting up for the show. And "Fast Car" represented serenity among the carnage during the massive clean-up operation that unfolded after 28 August 1988.

NOTE: The photo is from walking the line at an earlier Air Show that I helped organise.
Previously -- "Summertime Ice Cream Memory" on Irish Typepad 23 August 2003 and "No Chocolate. It's Flugtag." on 28 August 2005.
Roland Fuchs -- "Ramsteim 1988: Diese Homepage ist den Opfern der Flugschaukatastrophe vom 28.8.1988  in Ramstein gewidmet bei der mehr als 70 Menschen starben. Hier möchte ich beschreiben wie ich den Tag erlebte und was diese Katastrophe heute noch für mich bedeutet."
Wikipedia -- "Ramstein Air Show Disaster"


Sunday Qik Tech

Bunny in The Butler GalleryWE START A QIK FLICK through some of Ireland's Sunday newspapers in search of interesting angles related to technology, starting with Atsushi Kaga in the Butler Gallery. There's a subtle technical touch to his playful work that we noticed in Mother's Tankstation in Dublin and saw a few weeks ago in Kilkenny. Our Sunday newspaper round took us into France while thinking about Conor O'Neill's holidays along with Bono's noise, a probable cause of Spanair's crash in Madrid, ice cream from County Kerry, videos you can easily convert, mobile phone masts you can live with, speed limits that are smart to set, music, Facebook, ex-girlfriends, renewables, skimming, food, data protection, photographing your home, Rick O'Shea and Jon Stewart. More details follow below the break.

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