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November 2009

To Improve Buffering

Asus Eee PC 701 VideoBUFFERING POWER--the one thing that has kept me away from ultraportable laptops. I'm always in search of ways to improve local buffering when I've done all I can to the bitstream itself. Sometimes Chrome gives me better buffering than Firefox. Killing all updates and anything else that might leech bandwidth also helps. I've also embarked on a Christmas goal--a new laptop--involving twice as much RAM as I currently use. I'm also tweaking my hardware acceleration (i.e., turning off hardware acceleration). Every media application needs different aspects of computer hardware. By turning off hardware acceleration, I can get better audio streaming resutls. That's because applications themselves will be able to set the requirements themselves and not be forced to use one universal setting. Hardware acceleration has been to known to cause choppy PC playback, application crashes and slow streaming video problems. Here's how you control hardware acceleration on a Windows PC:

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Future Third Level Education in Tipperary

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Science Week GamingTIPPERARY INSTITUTE FACES widespread reform in order to avoid closure. I work in Tipperary Institute as a creative multimedia lecturer. I've never worked with such a high percentage of mature students before and it's for their future success that I hope the institution is able to flex with the demands of austerity. Ireland's leading austerity pundit, Sean McCarthy, has recommended Tipperary Institute be closed or merged with another third level institution. Unless something like this blog post derails the process, it appears the future viability of Tipperary Institute lies in its merger with the Limerick Institute of Technology. Nonetheless, a high degree of uncertainty bubbles over on Facebook and in the classroom concerning the weight of the ax to fall. The biggest motivation for me to write this post comes from late night cross-talk with my students. They want to read a public statement from me that indicates we're on track with the academic goals we set last August. I'm on track but I know there are issues when trying to fold things together. With mergers come cutbacks and if Tipperary Institute's future is driven by bean counters, the only way entire programmes will continue is by a lot of bums on seats. Said another way, there's every prospect of some programmes in LIT being throttled back to support manning requirements in County Tipperary. And there's a very strong prospect that several accredited third level programmes in Tipperary Instiute will be changed to boost their enrollment numbers or to divert Tipperary staff into Limerick to support programmes in need of qualified lecturers. I don't sit at a management table but I know what I'd recommend.

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Innovation for New Growth

Tagged as BernieIRELAND SECURED AN important portfolio in the European Commission when Maire Geoghegan-Quinn was allocated the research and innovation portfolio in Brussels. The EUR 53bn budget she will oversee is central to providing high quality jobs and prosperity to Europe. The EU wants to build smart economies. Ireland needs to pull out of the tailspin that resulted from a risky overdependence on property. I sit a few metres from several programme specialists involved in developing and delivering academic courses to students who are interested in learning about active homes and passive homes. These green tech specialisms are well suited to builders who want to diversify beyond the construction industry. I work directly with creative multimedia students who want to produce more content in shorter time frames than earlier graduates. That's happening in Tipperary Institute, accelerated by a change to semesterised teaching schedules and our use of pocket media services such as Qik. We also produce items such as the encoded graphic at left. You need a phone equipped with a Microsoft Tag Reader if you want to watch what happens to this quilt-like image.

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Memory Full Limits My Main Computer

Memory FullMILLIONS (14m) OF PAGES appear on Google when asking for information about "memory full Nokia" like I did. Unlike many of the people complaining online about a lack of main memory, I believe mine is totally a result of (1) too many message attachments in email, (2) too many (hundreds) of old SMS text messages inside custom folders, (3) the presence of several bloated Java programs that insist upon installing themselves on the main phone and (4) the presence of full-featured guidebooks attached to Nokia Maps. Brendan Coleman, the local Nokia repairman, tells me I could do a factory reset (*#7370# with lock code 12345), then reload sections onto the phone one at a time to see which bogs down the phone. I my case, I know the "settings" menu has issues, so I'm manually going to pull off a dozen wifi profiles and remove and replace the special profile application that I really enjoy using. I may have to remove some of the US map data from the phone as well because the phone wants to update the map guides whenever I have the GPS and map funciton running. All things considered, the Nokia E90 continues to serve me as a daily phone two years after I slipped it into my pocket. The photo (above right) shows a normal day's work on a phone that's been dropped onto concrete five times since November 2007.


Tip: If you get a message saying the phone fails to start up and should be brought to the shop, you can execute a master reset of the phone. To restore the phone to its "out of the box" settings, you shut it off. Then you hold down the green dial, the number three and the asterick key simultaneously. You have to hold them down for around 20 seconds. This will reboot the phone from its factory settings and also power it on.

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Ideagen in Clonmel

Ideagen Should ConnectALONG WITH 37 OTHER people, I attended Ideagen in Clonmel, coming with a fluffy idea and looking for a bright spark that might suggest a way to distill a business process from the idea. My focus: pocket media production services. The gist: to produce and deliver trustworthy information onto portable small screens or onto sitting room television sets. But as events unfolded, I discovered I was in the wrong Ideagen venue with my idea. That's ok--I know where to go (WIT Ideagen meeting) with the concept we're developing. Enterprise Ireland (EI) is leading a series of networking events designed to show the reach of industry-led research in Ireland. Specific strategies unfolded in the Clonmel Ideagen meeting, especially for those interested in green technology. At least four EI staffers worked the floor, explaining the way stimulus packages worked and helping people hook up with potential collaborators. I think events like Ideagen are helpful but I wouldn't normally be attracted to an evening as structured as the Ideagen format. That said, spending 160 minutes with a cordial group of like-minded people was an effective use of time and I'd certainly recommend anyone involved in a start-up to carefully read Ideagen literature to determine whether a nearby event suits. You can get more details from ideagendotie on Twitter and ideagen on Facebook. Below the break, I cite a cross-section of specialisms attending Ideagen in Tipperary.

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Digital Culture Learned from In-Class Production

Love Life Love MusicONLY A FEW WEEKS separate academics from Christmas Break, something I realise I need more than ever when I listen to the audio snippets recorded and produced by third level students in Tipperary INstitute. Today's session [41 MB 96 kbps MP3 file], engineered by Eamonn Healy and produced by Shane Egan, includes an hour of information related to an upcoming revision session for my Media Writing class. Watching our current crop of first year students step up and create useful audio content all within the space of an afternoon tutorial session makes me realise how important it is to record audio time capsules for future review. Our current digital lifestyles are throwaway sessions. We channel surf, barely scroll down to read an entire page of search engine results, and laugh out loud on YouTube before scanning and viewing another clip. Online writing is 140 characters or boring. Attention spans have declined while digital appetites have increased. So no matter what the time pressure, I'm going to craft a way to produce at least 60 minutes of audio content during scheduled class meetings next term. Today's episode (Educast 158) includes audio harvested from Last.fm playlists, a few sections of top tier podcasts and the usual assortment of student commentary.

Educast 158


Direct link to audio: http://podcasting.ie/podcasts/educast_158.mp3

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Emergence of Facebook Community

After the flood

THREE YEARS AFTER I first started skimming Twitter and four years after latching onto Facebook, I have to say that Facebook delivers more of a community spirit. It's all the more evident when part of my Facebook newsfeed delivers real-time community-centred. This real-time evolution towards authentic communications happened because genuine people are trundling onto Facebook with really interesting streams of information, from textual to photographic to video to audio clips. This change of Facebook's value surprises me because my initial impression of Facebook came through an inundation of applications. I used to loathe visiting Facebook because I would be confronted with dozens of pokes, quizzes, and games that just got in the way. But after manually deleting or blocking hundreds--yes, hundreds--of Facebook apps, I've a clean sheet when opening my Facebook account. On top of that, real people from decades ago have connected with me on Facebook, resuming communications as though we were between rounds in the pub. But over on Twitter, things are different. What should have been an elegant microblogging platform has now evolved into a faceless mass of wannabe celebrities jostling with each other while their PAs tweet a version of Hello! Lite. Other faces have evolved their microblogging into a clever form of in-stream advertising. I'm getting a rising number of porn bots in my "replies" tab. Twitter is evolving in a direction that doesn't suit my lingering attention. Its evolution has me subscribing to selected people and to the "favorites" that some power users want to share. Next week, I'm recording a conversation with Liam Burke, the guy who cajoled me onto Twitter in 2006. I'll share those thoughts here as well.


I am topgold on Twitter and Facebook.

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Noticed at the Pickets

Mike Shoots GerryALL ACROSS IRELAND pickets block access to State agencies today. Creative spaces like our Studio Six in Tipperary Institute (at right) were closed for use. This strike action will cost me around EUR 200 today while the Irish Exchequer pockets the change. That was Christmas shopping money for me and it would be nice to know that the Irish Exchequer is earmarking that savings for the annual Christmas social welfare payment for people who need the seasonal money. However, it seems the monetary savings culled from a day's unpaid wages will be used for unsubordinated debt such as bailing out the banks, funding 2010 Mercedes cars for ministers, or paying pensions for politicians under retirement age. Nothing done on the picket lines will change government policy towards the National Asset Management Agency or towards perks for politicians. However, it is fair to assume that the Minister for Finance will conclude that clipping one day's wages from people in my pay grade could be done without collapsing household budgets like mine. Speaking for myself, I would trade a pay cut for job security. I believe that should be the negotiating position for public service unions, even if it means forking out another 10% of wages to help stabilise Ireland. Some kind of action has to be taken to throttle back outgoings. I don't think it's sustainable to fund Ireland's public sector at the current rate when depending upon a tax base the size of Birmingham, England. It's time to cut the cloth to fit.
Sent mail2blog using Nokia E90 Typepad service and free wifi at The George Boutique Hotel, Limerick.
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The Rock is Closed Today

Rock of CashelSTRIKES ACROSS IRELAND have closed the Rock of Cashel today. Irish trade unions have slipped into a rut of unwarranted industrial action instead of engaging with the Irish government about actions they could take to ensure more efficient government spending. Failure to curb Ireland's excessive borrowing will only result in the country losing its economic independence. This does not seem to bother union leaders who want to extend the period of Ireland's borrowings well into the next decade. Doing that will ensure my daughter pays back my salary through taxes on her wages when she leaves college. That's not the kind of gift I want to leave behind. I also despise the divide that union-dominated work practises are creating in my workplace along with the fracture the unions have fostered between the public setor and the private sector. It's not "partnership" in any sense of the word. It's acting the maggot, plain and simple. Union leadership should be knocking on the Minister for Finance's door--or sitting in the back of the government Mercedes for private chats--and lay out a short sheet of things worth cutting. Let's front up the government and cut ministerial drivers. That will pay for primary school construction programmes. Let the public service union keep the issue of ministerial pensions paid before the age of 65 a hot topic. Nobody thinks it's prudent for a country with the population the size of Philadelphia to continue paying for largesse.

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Emergency Comms

Civil Defence EmergencyIRELAND HAS experienced some of its worst flooding in 800 years and with the ravaging waters saturating the land, my thoughts turn to emergency communications. As a driver, I would have been served by road closures coming straight into my car radio like with German autobahn updates. Only two regional radio stations in my area use the technology that causes newer radios to boost their volumes when triggered by a critical minute of information. I don't understand why the Irish broadcast spectrum doesn't use the traffic advisory function (PTY on many car radios). Thousands of motorists would have been well-served by updates about road conditions, civil defence musterings and special services. On another note, I wonder if formalised and authenticated channels of communication exist between county engineers and semi-state agencies like the Electricity Supply Board. I raise the point because radio reports talk about Cork City Council being surprised by the hundreds of millions of tonnes of water bursting the banks of the River Lee--as though the relevant authorities weren't talking to each other. That's disconcerting, because citizens deserve the reassurance of knowing critical public safety actions are undertaken expeditiously. As someone who used to manage phone banks for aircraft emergencies, I became accustomed to working with authenticated messages nd dedicated hotlines. Listening to some local radio reports, it sounds lke voice mail and text messages facilitated part of the emergency actions. That doesn't sound right.
Sent mail2blog using O2-Typepad Nokia E90 service while Foursquaring in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland.
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