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Category Archives: Irish

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.

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.


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

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

Over the last few days,  we’ve heard the usual Irish patriarchs rant about the value of life, etc., in Irish media. This is, without any doubt, in relation to forthcoming political and legal decisions following on from the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar (who was denied proper medical treatment in Galway University Hospital while suffering from a miscarriage). It is appalling to see and hear the Irish politicians running away from responsibility, as their self-deception continues.

What if a woman from another EU country, with proper laws and medical practice, had died in Ireland due to similar circumstances? Would the Irish government have dared to carry on with their inhumane, medieval shenanigans? It has been very close a few times that EU Citizens have been close to death in Irish hospitals due to the Irish Catholic delusions of medical practitioners and administrators.

As Ireland is about the hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the 1st of January 2013, I think all Europeans coming here should demand that the Irish government accepts that it is now the 21st century and by European ethics, standards and medical practice, every woman should be given proper medical care, including abortion.

Some other links:

Ireland – no country for young women

Savita inquiry-falls-apart

Abortion in Ireland, the X-case

European Court: Irish abortion laws breach of Human Rights

For about four weeks, sending and receiving SMS messages via O2 is limited to the plain ASCII character set. For most English-txt’rs, this not a problem as you tend to use just 25 characters. But if you, by any chance, send and receive SMS in other languages (including Irish), your intended messages will be garbled and distorted by O2 Ireland‘s network.

Here’s a test-message in Swedish:
“Där är öar i ån”

Result: “Ddr dr -ar i ln”

Here’s a test-message in Irish:
“Tá mé i mo chónaí i nÉirinn”

Result: “Ta mO i mo choani i nèirinn”

When I first noticed this problem, I checked O2 Ireland‘s web site (no luck there), then phoned their support line. After keying in Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that, I found myself in a computer-telephony queue for 35 minutes. Eventually a human being answered. He suggested that it was a handset problem, hence I found an older mobile phone in the house, slipped in the SIM and…. the problem was still there. Phoning back to the support line, it was now closed. When phoning them the next day, they agreed to provide a new SIM card, while I had discovered that the other two O2 phones I have also had the problem, which pointed – again – to their network. I picked up a new SIM card in the local O2 store in Parkway’s shopping Centre in Limerick and while in the shop, verified that the problem was still there. I then requested that the shop assistant make the call to O2’s support line, Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that, and tell me when she got through to a human being. After about 10 minutes a Manager (at least she claimed to be one) picked up the call and said they would now escalate the problem and ask their Technical Staff to have a look. I then asked her to try with her own phone, any old sentence in Irish with an accented character. She confirmed that her phone also had the problem.

A week passed by. No change, problem still there.

Another week passed, and I phoned O2 Ireland‘s support line again to get some feedback if their Technical Staff had any idea how to solve the problem. After the usual Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that, and five minutes waiting, a human answered and checked the reported issue, telling me their Techies had written back that it’s a handset issue. I tried to calmly explain to her that we had eliminated that possibility some weeks ago. She said she would raise the issue again.

Another week passed. The problem with a limited character set when sending and receiving SMS via O2 Ireland remains.

Last Saturday, in the pub, we did some extensive testing between phones, different networks, etc., and I have now verified that THIS PROBLEM IS O2 IRELAND‘s NETWORK that is a FAULT.

Here are a couple of screen shots from our testing:

mobile phones, side by side

another couple of mobile phones, side by side

I have a fairly good idea where problem might be, but I would have to charge O2 Ireland for consultancy if they want me to do the work that their Technical Staff should be able to do. Perhaps they don’t have any techies…. Or, perhaps they are just totally incompetent, or ignorant…

I will give O2 Ireland two more weeks to fix this problem. After that I’m changing operator, both for my personal mobile phones and for any business-related projects.

Some technical background reading: GSM 03.38

The Irish government got the outcome they wanted, a yes vote. While many of us are of the opinion that it was insane to sign up to a law that allows the Irish government to commit the country to some extremely strict and negative fiscal policies that are not yet clear, or, if actual policies will be in the shape or form outlined in the referendum propaganda.
So, what’s the good news about this? It is that now, the Irish government cannot blame the No-side for the continued sliding into debt and unemployment.
one Irish Euro
Some people wish for a Punt Nua, a reincarnated version of the Irish Punt, while others argue strongly against this and prefer to keep the Euro. With the current state of the Irish economy, switching to a national currency would send Ireland into a financial free-fall. It would work fine for buying and selling Irish stuff within the country. Exports would probably increase. You would also find that with 100 Punt Nua, you’ll get 15 Pounds Sterling when you visit Britain, 10 Euro if you go to France or Germany. With your 100 Punt Nua, you may get US$20 if you go to the USA. Your almost-for-free-while-we-rip-you-off Ryanair ticket would probably cost 500 Punt Nua, and that’s just to get you to Stanstead.

If we can stay in the Euro-zone, Germany needs to face up to reality and support closing down the defunct banks, without hitting the ordinary Irish tax payer, and bringing corrupt and greedy developers, bankers and politicians to justice. Real justice. All of this while injecting fresh investment in companies that make things, not only retail or perhaps the worst of all: import/export (which, to me, means money laundering). It is only by making things that we can work our way forward.

Vogon deodorant

A couple of weeks ago, our local community in Lisnagry and Annacotty in county Limerick discovered that our neighbour, county Clare, are planning to build a dual carriageway (what some would call a highway or cheapish motorway) straight through our local community. Their plans would require several houses to be demolished, farms to become unviable and the community segregated by a sacrifice on the altar of unlimited growth in road traffic.
Clare County Council claimed that they had made the plans publicly available already last year and that they had conducted at least one round of public consultation, which is really strange as none of us in the target area had any notion of this. Not even the farmers and landowners that the road would have a direct impact on (obliteration) had received any notice – no letter, no email, no carrier-pigeon, no nothing.
This, of course, reminds me of Douglas Adams‘ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where Arthur Dent‘s house is about to be demolished due to the construction of a motorway and while Arthur is trying to protect is house, the Vogon Constructor Fleet arrives in the sky and shortly thereafter demolishes planet Earth. The plans for the new intergalactic route, for which Earth was an obstacle, had been exhibited for several years at Alpha Centauri 4.1 light-years away, on public display in a filing cabinet in the basement of the Galactic planning authority.
The pure arrogance of post-Celtic Tiger politicians is stunning. Having read all available documents (they are still holding back the Constraints Study!), it is very clear that they have extrapolated growth in traffic volume exponentially based on a few years historical data when cars were whizzing around paid for by pretend-money from some of the now defunct banks and trucks were rolling in every second with globalised goods to be consumed in an ever-increasing death spiral by the happy Irish consumers. It is just tragic that Clare County Council and the consultants they hired have completely missed the fact the Planet Earth have just passed Peak Oil and it would be time to consider alternative economies and different ways of living, for example, growing your own food, use a bicycle and stop buying cheap and unnecessary garbage products from far away factories filled with child labourers.

One of the main problems behind the boom-to-gloom economy is the illusion that buildings create value, or at least some kind of buildings. As I’ve written before, making things is crucial for our survival, but to keep making the wrong things for the wrong reasons is counterproductive, or put it more direct – stupid. Making things is good if these things are needed. If they are not needed, don’t make them. This applies to buildings as well. There’s no point building a garden shed if you don’t need it.
But more seriously, do we need more shopping centres in Limerick? I read in the Limerick Post today that the current Mayor of Limerick, Jim Long, wants more of the UK chains further dilute the viability of the few existing shops in the city.

“…my own preference here is for the Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer and the Asda chain, so successful in the North of Ireland.”

Now, that is the most stupid thing I’ve read, when said by a Limerick politician while the Limerick City Centre is decaying due to that the City and County have built an almost endless number of retail parks (what an oxymoron!) around the city. For each big chain store that opened along Childers Road, Ballysimon Road, etc., the local and often family run shops in town were forced to either close or relocate. You get what you plan for.

Parkway Valley chaos

Looking at the Parkway Valley area, there was a plan approved to build one of the largest shopping malls in Europe, which is totally insane when you consider that the population of the Limerick area is only about 140,000. The originally almost useless land on the east side of the Singland plane was envisaged to be worth multimillions if commercial rents and rates could be extracted for every square meter of soggy old flood plain. With the current state of the site, with massive unfinished concrete structures in place, the land is even worth less, and in my opinion it now has a negative value as the land cannot be used for anything sensible.

With the so called Opera Centre (which is a silly name), we still have time to do something more sensible. I think we should apply the term un-building to the site, which basically means to remove the derelict buildings and restore the land to a state where grass, trees and plants can grow, people can walk, play and breath and perhaps even have a few allotments for growing vegetables. Just imagine how inviting the city may look if the entrance to the city centre was green. By un-building, we open up all kinds of possibilities for the future while being able to enjoy the place now.