MOST IRISH BROADSHEETS give a large swath of coverage to the terrible tragedy in Mumbai last week. It emerged that those terrorists were receiving instructions from Pakistan, some using Blackberries to clarify details with their handlers.  At least 195 people died in these attacks, which some experts believe were accompanied by warnings up to six months ago. In an accompanying Qik video [28 MB 3GP file], I skim the Sunday Times, Sunday Observer and Sunday Business Post, finding a few interesting items related to technology along the way. In practical terms, I think it's important to notice that many five-star hotels in Ireland now offer sumptious accommodation at half the normal booking price of the Celtic Tiger era.  On the street, petrol is now priced below the price point of Christmas 2007, cyberchondriacs now rule the waiting rooms , and some High Street retailers fear they won't sell many pairs of socks in 2009. Details follow in the shownotes and on the Qik video.
FIVE YEARS AGO on this blog, before the rise of the social media experts, we thought there were inherent limitations in social networks. I think these limitations still exist:
-- On 29 Nov 03: "Social network software feels very bubblesque." Today: Even the most vibrant ecosystem (see right) has a bubbly feel to it, like it cannot truly scale to a meaningful conversation hub linking millions so it has to strip functionality (i.e., IM hooks or SMS-out) to ensure real-time performance.
-- On 29 Nov 03: "Connecting people through people seems compelling, but people need help with complicated tasks (finding a job, an apartment) not complications surrounding new network nodes." Today: Are you really giving up email for direct messaging from microblogging?
-- On 29 Nov 03: "In my experience, the best social networks are the smallest." I'm constrained by the Dunbar Number and by the satisfaction of knowing that my real social network fits inside a 25-man life raft.
ACCORDING TO MY WATCH, it's time for a recession in Ireland. The big hand is on 25,000 (the number of people who have emigrated from Ireland this year) and the little hand is on 8, the number of special offers that I've examined for deep discounts on things I could use during these tighter times. So in a fit of positive action, we pointed the Batmobile towards Limerick, the city my mother wants to revisit before she's boxed up. Mom remembers Limerick for the mighty Shannon, the Limerick City Gallery of Art, the big castle, the Milk Market and the Pound Shop. In fairness, mom remembers Limerick in the reverse order that I cited those landmarks. I'm working hard to scope out the perfect route for 80-something mom to walk in the city of Limerick and it means keeping her away from hoodies, a common urban species found in the town. Today, we marked another street as a no-go zone because of pack-running hoodies (two sets of young Gardas were always within 80m of the packs) and we also discovered a nest of shops and a well-regarded cafe we know mom will enjoy as she spends her American dollars in Limerick shops. We returned with recession-proof socks, encouraged by our success under the proud red flags of Munster.
ONE OF OUR goals in the creative multimedia programme at Tipperary Institute is to meet inspirational people. Doing that well means achieving two underlying goals. First, we want to meet creatives who might be in a position to give advice to the teaching staff about the quality of third year projects, availability of meaningful work placement and the possibility of evaluations for academic work completed by students in the BSc programme. During this Thanksgiving weekend, I want to share my gratitude to Roseanne Smith, Sabrina Dent, Martha Rotter, Ken McGuire, Pat Phelan, James Corbett, Brendan Hughes and Tim Kirby. Inputs from each of these people have helped the senior lecturer team in Tipperary Institute develop the BSc curriculum along a flight path that ensures a perfect touchdown in Irelaand's creative multimedia industry. If I had the budget for a Mount Juliet tweet-up, I would love to accommodate that crew and their guests for an immersive weekend on the grounds of a place where I have absorbed some of the most invigorating ideas as a curriculum planner. But since this is a recessionary period, my blog post of thanks is as far as I can offer.
Sent mail2blog using my Nokia E90 O2-3G service in County Limerick, Ireland.
ACCORDING TO THOMAS, our local Mini Meister, the final boat of electric Minis has sailed for the United States, bringing to 500 the number of those electric runabouts on American roads. We have been following the Mini since late 2001, when its solid reputation as an economy go-kart left its mark while dusting us off on the Irish motorways. And now, BMW is making one version of the Mini a fully electric green machine with an estimated range of 150 miles. That's enough to float our boat for a return shopping expedition to Dublin. The American pilot project will test the Mini E in California, New York, and New Jersey as selected customers can lease the cars for one year. Just like a new BMW, all repairs will be warranted by the lease. Thomas doesn't think there's a possibility of an Irish leasing arrangement because there is no trained Mini E technician in Ireland. BMW Recovery Service will dispatch a technician to travel to Mini dealerships if a car cannot return to base.
FIBRE UNDER THE PAVEMENT would generate more tax revenue for the Irish Exchequer than a fresh layer of tarmacadam on the roads. That's the point made by nearly every Irish Minister for Communications in the past five years. At the moment, there's a pot of €435m sloshing around the Irish Government's books, due to be invested in the next generation of Irish broadband. I would be happier knowing the money was going into making it less expensive to connect to backhaul services so that small companies could work out a rate with a middleman and then know they could get onto a main trunk line for less than the €6000 figure that's often batted around. For me to break open the pavement and join onto the Metropolitan Area Network that runs outside of our Cashel office means spending at least €4000 for the pavement works, then an equal amount to share backhaul with another company. That's $10,000 to spend in order to get 20 megabits per second of uncontented broadband service. Then an annual subscription fee between €4000 and €6000 to keep the broadband pipe lighted up. For some, that's the cost of doing business. But that price point isn't achieveable for most of the small business owners I know in Ireland.
AFTER READING MARIE BORAN'S review of the Nokia E71 in the Digital Ireland section of the Irish Independent, I was surprised that she was hit with the same dose of techno-lust that affected her while checking out the iPhone. It's down to "the looks" the "ultra-slim body with curved edges" and the versatility to work in both casual and business settings. Like my Nokia E90, you can customise the desktop shortcuts on the E71. And being an E-series phone, the Nokia E71 offers those enterprise functions we need (i.e., wireless keyboard connection, easy muting of phone calls, text-to-speech message conversion, PDF reader) along with a potent mixture of Series 60 applications available throughout the internet. And one other thing makes the E71 a useful device when it reaches the end of its normal lifespan: real Bluetooth A2DP capability. That means the phone can stream music clips to earbuds or to many car kits. If I had a five-year-old Nokia E71, it would be the music player my six-year-old daughter would get with her Bluetooth earbuds. And because both of those items would be hand-me-downs, we would enjoy knowing that she could entertain herself at no cost while we avoid sending old phones into the landfill.
Bonus Link: SonyEricsson HBH-DS980 earbuds.
FOR 12 CONSECUTIVE YEARS, I have watched American Thanksgiving roll by on my calendar but I haven't been near an American dinner table for the occasion. I pretend to observe the occasion by locating an Irish carvery serving turkey and dressing on the day but sometimes that's difficult. So today, it's a turkey breast sandwich with avocado served on Pat the Baker white bread. Somehow, that combination feels like it will take the pain out of missing this traditional American holiday.
ALTHOUGH I MISSED the 2008 it@Cork conference because of compelling semesterisation issues, I didn't miss most of the early action at the event because I was following on a virtual back channel. I don't know if the organisers planned to activate this back channel, but I think it is worth mentioning the power of this citizen-generated communications. We microblogged on Twitter and Jaiku during Podcamp Ireland. That's not possible with Twitter, unless you subscribe to a hashtag (like #itc08 today) and watch it bubble back to life. We used it to great effect at Reboot inside a Jaiku channel that occasionally comes back to life with thoughts about next year's event. Some of the functionality would be possible through PeopleBrowsr, if conference organisers arranged a group there. And it's easy to set up a Friendfeed room around an event, a group or an initiative like FIR listeners or fledging communicators have done. We're lucky to have some very proficient live bloggers in Ireland and I've discovered as long as I'm following their short bursts while they're seated, it's often better than burning up the carbon to attend myself. This live blogging skill set and all these microcommunities have evolved with cloud computing. There's no need to set up a dedicated host to empower an audience with a back channel. But there's certainly a need to tell your virtual audience that the channel exists and it's good etiquette to explain to those who paid to attend that some people in the audience are giving away the information to people stalking their microblogs.
RACHAEL COOKE, A CREATIVE multimedia degree student in Tipperary Institute, took "best reviewer" honors in the Newstalk-LouderVoice competition this week for her cameraphone review. George Hook, the presenter of The Right Hook national drivetime radio show, announced the results. Rachael wins a prove sponsored by 3 Ireland, taking home a SonyEricsson Walkman phone and a set of Klipsch earbuds. But she also takes home maximum marks for a "technology review" item in the continuous assessment portion of her Media Writing module. It might be a perfect ending if Rachael can also get approval from Clarify PR to keep the cameraphone that she originally reviewed since it continues proving its worth as a mobile learning platform in her college studies.