FIVE YEARS AGO TONIGHT, Aileen McKeogh lost her battle with cancer. In the funeral announcements, her family recalled her love of flowers. In the ensuing years, I always think of Aileen on the 23rd of May because it's a special day in our home as it's also my wife's birthday. I worked with Aileen McKeogh while teaching web development in Arthouse. Because of her foresight, Arthouse took a leading role in the training of web designers throughout Ireland in an era before Google, mobile browsers, or data on phones. Aileen left Arthouse for the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire. Her work in Dun Laoghaire was instrumental in the establishment of the MAVIS programme, the visual arts degree earned by several mid-career artists I've discovered while attending MAVIS seminars. I think the legacy of Aileen McKeogh deserves more than pansies but I know if she was still alive, Aileen would enjoy knowing there's a vibrant plant named after her, enjoying the Irish sunshine.
RYAN TUBRIDY LEADS features in two segments of my weekly review of the Sunday papers, once for his take on Twitter and another time for his interview of Senator David Norris. Although Tubridy would have readers believe that Twitter "is a work thing," a quick scan of his public tweets suggests he's socialising with the medium. There's no harm in that, just as there's no harm in elected politicians tweeting from the Dail Chamber. Stephen O'Brien gives front page coverage to a draft proposal from the committee on procedure and privileges in which Irish politicians will be able to send and to receive texts, emails and tweets, as long as their activity does not interfere with a speaking TD or senator. I'm interested in how the sound system handles more than 100 mobile phone signals when they're all switched on. My 11-minute Qik clip takes a cue from the Taoiseach because I'm not trying to find news about the Irish comeback (not a full-blown recovery yet, in my opinion), innovation, the meltdown of the Irish economy, an event worth doing, privacy, and technology. More below the break.
I TAKE OUR TODDLER to the local playground and wonder if it's not part of an endangered species. It's a modern (and somewhat scruffy) playground with swings, modified monkey bars, and sponge mats instead of sand or concrete. No see-saws, no merry go rounds, and no tyres on fat ropes. In Cashel where we play, we have fun-sucking safety-improved low rise apparatus with short drops and safety railings. What's a fun-loving pre-teen supposed to do with his excess energy? When I was nine years old, I went down a very high slide (we called it a sliding board in my hometown) and it was so slippery I hit the tarmacadam at the bottom and embedded gravel into my butt. It was embarrassing to have my mom pick little stones out of my buttocks. I have been scarred for life and wonder if the Statute of Limitations has expired.
MY AMERICAN FRIENDS are starting to drop into Ireland for their summer vacations and I've rewarmed several of my data shock stories to let them know that their iPhone tap, listen and view addictions could set them back one thousand dollars when they return home to their phone bills. One quick insurance policy is to slip a Maxroam SIM into a phone or for me to give a loan of one of my O2 SIMs while friends visit Ireland. I've started watching my data usage with my Xperia X10 Android phone. I'm a hard user of Listen (at right) and during two days, I burned through my entire month's data limitation on my O2 account, notching up 2.8 GB of over the air data in less than 20 days on my account. That podcatching foray cost me nearly 100 euro. A quick call to O2 Customer Service got me hooked up with the Advanced Broadband Plan, meaning I'm saving five euro a month with the new contract. It's normally unusual for me to spend more than 100 euro every month with O2-Ireland, using more than 5 GB of data, sending as many texts to Irish numbers as I wish and getting free landline and mobile phone calls in Ireland. I'm with O2 for its signal strength and dependability of service. On some days, O2's broadband download speed is faster than I get from Eircom at home.
ALTHOUGH PODCASTING MAY BE FLAT, social audio continues to grow. One evidence of that strength lies in Audioboo, a free iPhone and Android application that I've used since discovering Neville Hobsonchattering there. I've made some audio clips with Audioboo too, including several done with an old Sony ICD MX-20 lined into my laptop to upload segments longer than the normal five minute limit. I got the idea from Christian Payne (Documentally) when I saw long-form Audioboo's dropping onto my SonyEricsson Xperia X10 Listen list. It's too early to tell if Audioboo will rekindle the chatty nature of early podcasts but the indications are favourable since it doesn't take more than a tap on a screen and a chatty voice to create and upload three minute clips (the average length of the Boos I hear). Since my complete Convoboo didn't upload to the Audioboo server (it was longer than five minutes, the cap on "file upload" at Audioboo), I'm putting the whole clip here on my blog. Enjoy!
HAVING CREATIVE TECHNOLOGY in your pocket creates the need to make things. That's what is happening to me ever since I got an easy way to make high-quality audio files through my pocket. I've other handheld devices like the Sony ICD MX-20 digital dictaphone but I still need to set aside time to upload and post the audio files recorded on it. When I use Audioboo on the X10, I'm able to record and publish in one easy process. Consequently, I'm walking around Cashel an hour after sunrise, recording the sound of the town as it awakens. And I'm also trying to put myself inside ruins from hundreds of years ago, imagining what early morning might have sounded like back then. In the case of Hore Abbey (above left), the roof was on the nave and all the walls ran from the ground to the top of the structure, so the audio footprint would have been different than now. In the 21st century, the early morning roosters share the audio spectrum with lorries on the motorway. I'm looking at ways of removing engine sounds from my clips but I know that if I do that, I won't be archiving an authentic record of the ambient sound from my local environment.
A CREATIVE TENSION exists between warm weather activities and online writing in my life. Because it's close to the Leaving Certificate exam cycle, Irish weather will accelerate to a range of high temperatures unseen even during an El Nino event. And the warm weather in May gives me an opportunity to make things outside. We have several months of unfinished work ahead of us as we change the way our outdoor garden looks. The approval authority is little daughter Mia. She's looking forward to a swing set and slide.
I RESHOT MY WEEKLY QIK summary of the Irish Sunday papers because Take One stumbled six minutes into the recording. It's an unususal day when I encounter a snag with Qik, something I can write with confidence after uploading more than 800 Qik clips. I showed workshop attendees at yesterday's ICT in Education Conference [#ictedu10] how to make a Qik clip and I deliberately dropped my Nokia E90 on a table to demonstrate how durable the handset has proven over the past three years. Now I think I might have actually damaged the phone (or its five times dropped to pavements have finally called time on its daily use). I'm keeping both clips up so I can talk with Qik about what I might have done wrong.
ONE OF THE TAKEAWAYS that deserves mention at the ICT in Education Conference is Audioboo, a free application that runs on desktops, iPhones and Android phones. My afternoon workshop in Tipperary Institute today shows how to use old recording technology to quickly make new audio clips that students can use to better understand learning materials. Click the video clip or the audio file to learn more.