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This is an excerpt from a dream (possibly a nightmare) I had last night.

What if we added a citywide chromakey feature to Limerick City. Chromakey is commonly known as green-screen or blue-screen, a technique widely used by photographers and moviemakers to modify a scene, mixing real and virtual (make-uppy) visuals. We could paint every ugly and derelict building with the selected colour; ugly-looking people, cats, dogs, cars, etc., would be ordered to be dressed or painted with the same colour. Then, the likes of RTE can superimpose whatever virtual landscape they want to support their message when making programs about Limerick. On a good day, we may add some visuals form Limerick 2030 (when the whole place is converted to a large shopping mall along the river Shannon, with a few rich and beautiful people strolling along). On a bad day, add some visuals from some battle zone or shot’m-up game. Or we can have virtual graffiti. Or just leave the undesired stuff blank.

That would leave room for re-branding.

I was delighted to follow the developments today in Limerick, culminating in the resignation of the CEO from Limerick City of Culture 2014. One down, a few more to go, before there may be a possibility to build a board and a structure that can actually see a successful year of City of Culture through. A proper board only needs one bean counter. I doesn’t need any Gombeen-men (or women). It needs people who are experienced culture workers, with roots in Limerick and with a global outlook.

A good working board should be able to multiply the State contribution of €6 million, raising funds from other sources, if the successful delivery so requires. A real board should be transparent, making a year-long experience of high impact possible.

It was a public meeting, following the resignations of the artistic director of Limerick City of Culture 2014, Karl Wallace and two of his co-workers.

Many of us at the meeting requested that the board of Limerick City of Culture 2014 take their responsibility and step down, or at least, that the CEO steps down. Over the past few days, all the bad headlines in media have been caused by the Board – not the culture workers or people of Limerick.

The honest questions from culture workers and members of the public were met with political platitudes, such as Pat Cox’s statement that Karl Wallace’s resignation “was only a bump in the road”. Cox also claimed that the board, altruistically, “works for free”. I think we need to see the full accounts and ledgers of Limerick National City of Culture 2014 Ltd if we were to believe that statement. From where are the €120,000 coming, to pay the CEO?

Limerick National City Of Culture 2014 Ltd (Company Registration Number: 533149) was set up on Tuesday the 24th of September 2013 in Limerick. The company’s current directors Conn Murray and Tom Gilligan have been the directors of 16 other Irish companies between them, 2 of which are now closed.

With the year 2013 now a closed chapter, here’s a short reflection….

Highlight

The highlight of the year, without any doubt, was the performance of Amhrán na mBeach (Song of the Bees) at Glenstal Abbey. It was the happiest moment. All events leading up to that moment were also very enjoyable, and sometimes scary. It wasn’t until the day before the performance I felt confident that the eminent monks would actually perform the choral part of the score (many thanks to Wolodymyr Smishkewych for making it happen). The rehearsal with the ICO in their studio was pure magic. Something happens when a score is moved from my imagination, through the computers, to the paper, to the musicians, and they play it. The Softday Apiary Ensemble also turned out to be a real buzz, and I hope the friendships that developed over all our workshops will remain and continue to develop in some future project. Jenny Kravis readings filled the space between the sonic elements, like beeswax between cells in a honeycomb – it made all the parts stick together in its final structure. It was also amazing to work with our friends Dave Carugo, Lette and Keith Moloney and Bob Corrigan who formed a professional audio, video and photograph team documenting the performance.

SotB

The feeling that washed over me at the end of the performance made me think that THIS I have to remember and THIS is the way I would like to feel more often.

Summer

When it eventually got started, the Irish summer was beautiful. I reworked my herbal garden and we had several pleasant evenings with BBQ and watching the sun set in the west.

bbq

Then, we went for a holiday break in Sweden to visit friends and relatives, which turned into a medical and emotional frenzy with elderly parents in different hospitals.

Migration

Moving the Interaction Design Centre, from Engineering Research Building back to the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. This was not an easy move, as we didn’t want to move.

Engineering Research Building

Engineering Research Building

CSIS building

CSIS building

We lost some high-quality space and we gained some. We’re building a new design lab in the CSIS building. In the CSIS building, the heating is insufficient during winter months. My office gets to a maximum of 15 degrees C with its only radiator turned on. I know, from having spent years in the building before, that in summer it will be too hot. Apart from the lack of climate control, corridors are very narrow and we are more isolated from our research students, not by distance but by the structure of the space.

Economy

The recession continues. From my perspective the cost of living in Ireland is increasingly expensive while net salaries continue to fall. The politicians and their mates are getting top-up payments, while the rest of us are getting cuts. The only way to survive the political Fine Gael + Labour propaganda is through positive disengagement.

protest(from Softday‘s Silent Protest)

If someone searched my office or my house, or even my car, it would be almost impossible not to disturb the precious layers of dust in what may look like chaotic piles of stuff lying around. The chaos is actually an illusion. If left undisturbed, I tend to know where things are. For many years, I have kept stuff around me when I work (and play). I don’t like the idea of filing cabinets, inboxes, outboxes and there are never enough bookshelves (or enough walls) available to hold all books. Anyhow, there’s all this stuff apparently lying about and it is probably possible to use some forensic archaeology technique to find out how long it’s been since I last accessed various piles of things. But if anybody else moves my stuff, I notice (and may not be able to find things).
Now, in the digital world it’s different. We’re forced by operating systems to have files and folders/directories, everything has a number of date and time stamps, permission settings, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have some kind of digital dust, slowly settling on our digital file systems so that we easily can detect if someone (3 letters, probably) have snooped around. Perhaps some accumulative encryption. Perhaps it should be probabilistic. For the intruder, the probability of any particular bit being 1 or 0 will be getting fuzzier over time.
All of this is, of course, pure speculative imagination. But the idea is tempting.

digital dust

On trains between Copenhagen Airport and the Swedish west-coast, you can observe all kinds of interesting human behaviour when people try to walk through the train. There are automatic sliding doors every now and then. Most people are familiar with the typical automatic door in for example shopping centres, that open automatically when you get within a certain range of the door. This is not the case on these trains.

sticker on train door

On the sliding glass doors, there is a small sticker with an icon, a hand and two arrows. I saw a number of people assuming that the sticker was a touch control, pressing their fingers against the sticker, hoping the doors would open, but this has no effect. Others make strange “Star Trek”-like salute gestures, but the doors remain closed. Some people look around and the sensor is located above the door. If a tall person approaches the door, it will open automatically. For shorter people, e.g. women and kids, the only gesture that will open the doors is by waving a hand above their head.

Proximity sensor
If Öresundståg were to change this, to improve the usability, do you think they would change the sticker (and if so what should it look like), or change the proximity sensor?

If  Irish politicians wanted to stay credible and trusted, they would force all the material, documents and recordings around the Anglo Irish Bank and all other connections to be published, on-line, on the web. Full open source disclosure, of more than 24 million documents.
First of all, it would open up the corrupt mess to citizens’ data mining, connecting the often murky threads and build cases against all those responsible. There will be nowhere to hide. As the Irish state cannot afford to have civil servants or consultants to work through this enormous material, enabling everybody to participate in this analysis could be a way forward. There is no need to have the truth filtered by expensive commissions, inquiries, solicitors, barristers, PR consultants, etc. Just give us full access to the big mess and I’m sure we will get it properly analyzed in a fully transparent way. Making all information available will also be a great source for research by future historians and economists.

This is the first year of IT Tralee’s Masters programme in Creative Media. Seven brave and highly motivated students showcased their projects in the Kerry County Museum – a great venue for this activity. The quality of the exhibits was extremely high.

It is wonderful to see how the creative academic programmes have evolved at IT Tralee over the past ten years. From an early start with undergraduate multimedia to today’s fully-fledged and hyper-creative Masters programme. I have had the opportunity to follow the academic staff at Tralee for several years, as many of them came to UL for their own degrees.  They have now improved and appropriated what they learnt into a very strong curriculum. The Masters course in Tralee is focusing on content creation and production. The location, region and culture in County Kerry lends itself well for providing rich contexts to build on.

The expo runs until the 20th of June 2013 and I strongly recommend you go and experience the exhibition.

Still from Thomas G. Dineen’s STRUCTURE video

SAMSUNGWall of exhibits from Patrick Tobin’s Collaborative Design.

SAMSUNG

Listening stations for Lea Parker-Bond’s The Blow-ins

Short video clip of Shane Murphy’s video-wall FLOW

Now in the second year, we’re building the design@UL exhibition in Limerick City with a selection of our students’ design work. It’s quite an interesting experience when faculty from computer science, architecture, civil engineering, aeronautical engineering, etc., come together and talk about how to design and exhibition. You would imagine that we’re all singing form the same hymn sheet, but as design can be so many different things, the creative cacophony can be almost overwhelming at times. I think it’s an excellent interdisciplinary exercise and as we learn to work together, new ideas emerge and are negotiated.
This year, the exhibition opens on Tuesday evening, the 28th of May at 18:00 and runs until Saturday the 1st of June. Admission is free, so please call in and have a look, talk to the students and enjoy the creativity.

IMG_1097

Web-hosting companies promise a lot, and sometimes charge a lot. You may think that you’re putting your site on a powerful server with excellent bandwidth and performance. It may appear to be so until you get some serious traffic to your site. The Irish ISP and hosting company Digiweb just proved that they cannot deliver what they promise. Just when we needed the to be there, Digiweb failed miserably. For two days in a row, their servers DoS, keel over, etc., when our users, try to access our site. Shame on you Digiweb. It’s time to consider another hosting solution.

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