I GOT A SONYERICSSON SATIO at no cost from O2-Ireland on an upgrade just before Christmas 2009 but I haven't been able to use it as a live event device. It excels with still photography (12 Mp camera) and my daughter likes watching her Peppa Pig episodes on the phone and on the television when the phone's TV-out connects to a big screen. But as a day-to-day live event device, the Satio just doesn't meet my expectations. A lot of the problems with the phone occurred because of system software weaknesses. Something wasn't baked correctly in the factory, so the Symbian S60 fifth edition operating system would do unwelcome things like lose time or fail to release resources to the telephone itself. A few patches later and the phone acts like a phone and all the applications run as smoothly as on other S60 v5 devices in my home. But there are inherent issues with being able to use the phone quickly as a recording device and that means I've parked the Satio in a purse where it's doing fine taking snaps of the toddler growing up or sending MMS clips to grandparents a hundred miles away. The Satio's build has survived several dropped moments in the toddler's hands. Its screen can survive deep bites by a two-year-old and a glass of Guinness didn't seep inside its tightly wrapped body. So I think the Satio will be chugging along with Mia as she heads off with other junior infants in a few year's time. But for me, the high-resolution Satio won't be in my pocket as my favoured device to record fast-paced events unfolding around me.
I SEE SPRAY AROUND PLACES like Donastia (at left) and think "Art" while others cringe and think "vandalism" yet if you talk to the people who think Ireland is on the cusp of having a golden age in animation, those visionaries will tell you that local authorities should make it easier to draw, spray, and sketch. During the next two days, I'm examining ways we might offer creative third level students a pathway into animation and visual design. Truly gifted students already know how to draw anatomically accurate characters and some 14-year-olds already sketch muscular horses in full gallop. I see a smattering of that talent in Tipperary Institute among a cluster that cannot put their pencils down. They draw (some call it doodling) in class. They draw on the bus. They render their fizzy drinks onto paper pages. And a decade later, they might end up on the short list for an Oscar because creative visual talent starts with talented drawing skills. Build a portfolio, take a year-long drawing studies course, and progress to a higher national diploma. And then, there's a whole ecosystem of art and technology waiting in the wings of 2D and 3D animated film making.
Dara Flynn -- "How to achieve a fairy-tale ending" in the Sunday Times, 14 March 2010.
FOUR SUNDAY BROADSHEETS from Ireland, reduced to 12 minutes on Qik. I cull the Sunday newspapers every week, looking for themes that emerge across several titles. This week, it's champagne lifestyle, competence (more like incompetence), events, innovation, lifestreaming, real ireland, recession and technology. You can get the whole story by watching the pages turn on Qik or just subscribe to the flow and let the clips fall into your newsreader.
The lead stories in those four newspapers today concern clerical sex abuse, security policy flaws in a 60 million euro Health Services computer system, and a slur by a national talk show against the Minister for Health.
THE INNOVATION TASK FORCE presented its final report on the same day as Robocode 2010. I spent the day with several hundred members of the next generation of Ireland's smart economy, knowing the innovation task force report would emerge in my Google Reader. It's a coherent document and a by-product of several intense months of work. I like how the recommendations do not resonate with all the members of the Innovation Task Force, in the same way that I like all the noise that comes streaming onto my mobile phone and laptop through the day. A lot of the information in front of me needs to be filtered and the critical stuff needs to be actioned--like the flowplan shows at right. Noise about entrepreneurs is the most important noise percolating through all the information I let slide through my spam filters. It's good that the overall focus of the innovation task force document is on the entrepreneur. The emphasis on the entrepreneur retiterates a common belief at Limerick OpenCoffee that Ireland's economy depends upon individuals making a difference. If anything emerges from the hard work of the Innovation Task Force, I hope it's a series of supports that fosters genius, courage and insight. If you want to read the entire document, you can get it HERE [1.6 MB PDF].
ROBOCODE 2010 took over the Thurles campus of Tipperary Institute yesterday and it proved to be an event worth watching. Some of the leading creative talent among young Irish programmers spent the day with their electronic bots clashing on a large auditorium screen. A clever team from the University of Limerick walked away on top, but not after a hard-fought final round against the Waterford Institute of Technology. Some in the audience know that a schoolbot from the Gort Community School also had a hand in the action because that second level bot seemed to find and fight WIT every single round. Schoolbots are used to spice up the action and that's what happened in Robocode 2010. A group of multimedia students recorded the action so I expect to see a few clips of the raucous crowd emerge during the next three weeks. In the meantime, here's a two-minute view from the non-programmers. You can click the image at right to hear the Qik clip.
I MISS USING my IBM Transnote--a sweet little piece of technology with many attributes imitated by tablet computers.
From the look of things, Apple will also have a tablet computer on the market, one without a keyboard but with a touchscreen more sensitive than the Transnote. You needed a stylus to work with the Transnote's screen and that same stylus could be used to take notes with ink and store them in bespoke software. That cost more than I could afford because I needed to use special paper in order to take notes quickly. I liked the durability of the Transnote but its Windows 98 operating system got bogged down by some of the Adobe software that I installed on it. I suspect the little Transnote would have run much faster if I had kept it with the standard Microsoft Office software.
IT HURTS TO WRITE about failure but failure is what I sometimes see when I click through my Flickr photostream, viewing photos of some classroom sessions. I have a series of random moments snapped during first year classroom activities in Tipperary Institute and it's unusual if more than half of the people in the photos actually graduated. My shots are anecdotal evidence only. They aren't valid as a retention planning statistic because when you look at Irish third level students who are just starting their higher education, you're seeing a group that might not be fully committed to continuing. Lack of an education grant has knocked more than 10% of my current first year students out. The programmatic side of web development and server-side modules also challenge many students who don't have a strong maths background. But no matter what the explanation, these numbers count when viewed by the Minister for Education in Ireland. Because if the staff of Tipperary Institute cannot increase the numbers of full-time students, the Minister will cut his losses and shut the college. The Minister is driven to this action by the McCarthy Report's analysis of the cost base of the institute. Even though Tipperary Institute was set up with a rural outreach remit, the sands have shifted and the paymaster (Department of Education and Science) wants to see academic results. And that means more than two in six have to graduate from their full-time studies.
Only two of the six first year students in the photo (above left) actually finished their BSc in Creative Multimedia.
Noel Dundon -- "TI will close if minister does not approve proposal" on the front page of the Tipperary Star, March 11, 2010.
IN WHAT HAS become Ireland's loudest gathering of high-achieving third level gamers, Robocode 2010 kicks off in the Thurles Thunderdome with more than 200 participants and box kickers. The competition pits third level teams on a large auditorium screen with their electronic robots firing for effect until one bot is left standing around 3PM in the afternoon. In the middle of the skirmishes, third level lecturers in a Code Bunker reviews what's under the bonnets of the competitors. If a team (normally three students) cannot defend the origin of their robot's code, they're booted out of the competition.
Over the years, I've learned to think as aggressively as the electronic robots on the Tipperary Institute screen. And I normally return home as tired as after an afternoon in Semple Stadium.
I spent part of the morning discovering that a time-worn Canon XM1 camera likes to talk to my new Windows 7 laptop. I think my cat is not impressed, however. It's important to be able to leverage equipment that might otherwise be relegated to the box closet. The Canon DV camera is a long-standing piece of equipment that cost more than 2000 euro around the time the Celtic Tiger started roaming Dublin. That means you can find those cameras for less than 300 euro in pawn shops around Ireland today. Another 10 euro connects you to a laptop via Firewire. Then you need something to capture the video. This video was captured on tape, then pulled into Premiere Elements. I could have pulled it directly into Camtasia or used the camera in Online Meeting Rooms. We'll discuss how to do all these things during the 2010 Schools Conference in Tipperary Institute this May.
NIXERS JUST GOT more juice through the clever guys behind Fiverr. You can get small jobs done for five dollars by people registering their skills on Fiverr. It feels like an Etsy-Craigslist mutant with attitude. Teach an Irish phrase every day for a week and earn a fiver (actually only three euro when all the cuts get taken). Get a quick-and-dirty SEO answer. Get fast results in social media space and hire a retweeting expert. I like the five dollar Photoshop jobs the best. Others below the break.