/tonym - Tony Mulqueen's blog

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

tonym now blogs - anonymously - from The Traverse.

I think that after over 3 years of blogging from tonym, it's time to say goodbye to this one. I will be blogging elsewhere at a future date, and the friends who link to me and have formed a warm and supportive little community in hyperspace, will be told of the new address.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dad went to his rest yesterday afternoon. We had our chances to say goodbyes and he had caring and loving people round him all through his final 2 weeks of illness. Gerard Mulqueen, 1919-2005: Rest in peace, old soldier: Fortiter et fideliter, to the end.

Places to avoid on your annual holidays: the Failed States Index. It's saddening to see Nepal on this list.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Some good calls in this Cnet list of top ten tech we miss. I especially miss manned space travel, the Concorde, LPs, and those clackety-clack early IBM keyboards.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Check out the work of guerrilla artist, Banksy.

The modern ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in a first-world regional hospital is a quite amazing sight. In between watching my Dad hovering between life and death from renal collapse, I marvelled at the deck-of-Starship-Enterprise kit he was hooked into. Anyway, he has pulled away from the chasm, and in three or four days might even be downgraded to a HDU (High Dependency Unit). Not quite a miracle, not quite a cure, but damn good news either way.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blogging will be in hiatus for a while, as my Dad is entering his final days, and all bets are off.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It really is Nintendo War out there. Welcome to the US Department of Defence gaming community!

Monday, July 25, 2005

The BBC has an interesting piece on finding another part of the evolutionary jigsaw. Speciation - the breaking out of a species into two or more new ones - happens through geographical isolation - think the Galapagos, or different mountain valleys. But there isn't enough isolation to explain all the speciation that goes on. Scientists studying butterflies have observed a technique - a bit like a "team stripe" - that butterflies use to encourage two varieties to break out even when they are sharing the same habitat, Read about it here.

The rains came back in style over the weekend, but today is sunny, and in the rain washed air I can see every tuft of heather on Choghane Mountain. The land looks grateful - that was a hell of a dry spell.

Friday, July 22, 2005

"The following 10 Web fads still make us laugh, make us wonder, or make us feel guilty enough to update our blogs." Thanks CNET, this here blog is hereby updated.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Those weaned on the boxy Mendeleev periodical table of the elements won't warm instantly to this new version. Let's give it a chance though. More about this, and the entire slide show, here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Oh no, not another phucking ph-word! Phlooding is the latest (used to be called a DDOS where I lived - distributed denial of service) plods along the well worn groove left by phishing and pharming, and more are lurking in the linguistic long grass. Phie upon them all!!!

You blew me up, you bastard! The eponymous web site undertakes to store a suitably enraged photograph of yourself for use in case some of Bin Laden's minions assign you to an untimely end. Beats the usual bland and inoffensive image dredged from some wedding shot somewhere, ranged along with the bland and innoffensive commentary from "those who knew the deceased".

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Question: The number of people logged on to the internet at any one time is roughly:

  • (a) Half a billion
  • (b) A billion
  • (c) 50 million
  • (d) 100 million

The correct answer is ... (a) and is documented here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The specifications of Black Beauty, my new custom built PC.

  • 420 Silent fans and Soprano chassis: big, black, and very quiet.
  • Artic Copper Silent II SoA (3200+) special coolers for the hot Socket A area on the Athlon chip
  • Athlon 3 GHz chip
  • DFI Lanparty NFII Ultra motherboard with Serial ATA bus and Firewire
  • DDR-RAM, 1 GB main memory
  • 2 160 GB Samsung hard drives in RAID 1 configuration
  • Sparkle 6200 128MB graphics card
  • NEC 3540A 16x DVD+/-R/RW 4xL: Two DVD play/ DVD burner drives, very very fast indeed.

A credit to the builder, DM.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Finally. Broadband came to our house in Aughrim today (even the pandas got it before we did). In combination with Black Beauty, the new PC that D. built for me, the computing and communications experience at Bywater is changed for ever. Thank you D. Thank you Netsource. Eircom, I will maintain a dignified silence after the very hard day you inflicted on us during the changeover. And special thanks to N. the engineer who put in the system, for keeping a cool head while eircom-related mayhem and confusion reigned.

A requiem for the floppy: adieu,dear floppy, we will miss you - NOT.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Creepy little angels - a page showcasing the use of Photoshop to make portaits of girls more, um, angelic. More than a touch of Sister of Damian about this one ...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Underneath the babble of tech speak and the drone of propaganda, in this white paper I can hear the ... sound ... of... the ... future ... calling:: software defined radio.

Hottest weekend of the year so far. We had a good family gathering for Y's anniversary - she would have approved.

'Pyramid power' probes universe: scientists are building a massive telescope consisting of widely distributed pyramidal radio telecopes whose data is collated on a supercomputer, with the aim of seeing further into space.

Friday, July 8, 2005

The crackdowns continue in the piracy wars:
The release groups targeted by Site Down specialize in the distribution of all types of pirated works including utility and application software, movies, music, and games. Among the warez groups hit yesterday are: RiSCISO, Myth, TDA, LND, Goodfellaz, Hoodlum, Vengeance, Centropy, Wasted Time, Paranoid, Corrupt, Gamerz, AdmitONE, and Hellbound.

As Bruce Sterling pithily observes:
" .. if you're a pirate, lemme give you a hint. You should rename your piracy outfit something like 'the Loyal Consumers' or the 'Republican Campaign Contributors' rather than Goodfellas, Hoodlum, Corrupt and Hellhound.

The Onion announces the discovery of a new landmass between the East and West coasts of America. It will be named "the Mid West".
"I long suspected something was there," said Franklin Eldred, a Manhattan native and leader of the 200-man exploratory force. "I'd flown between New York and L.A. on business many times, and the unusually long duration of my flights seemed to indicate that some sort of large area was being traversed, an area of unknown composition."

7/7 was a black day for old London Town.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

God's Little Toys: a crucial essay by William Gibson on the digital remix society.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Travelled to Johnstone House at the weekend for initiation into Level One Reiki healing. A very positive experience which I hope to build on.

July 3 is a bit of an anniversary for me - the date I first started work in the software industry - at Retix. 16 years ago, baby.

Independence Day: I'll check in later with Slashdot etc to see how Deep Impact got on with its hot date with comet Tempel 1. More info here.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Department of ya-can't-make-this-shit-up: I'm currently reading The Men who Stared at Goats: here's a review. It's where the New Age is aligned with cutting edge US military thinking, meeting Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, not to mention Barney the Purple Dinosaur, on the weird way back out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Extreme life studies show that organisms live on Earth in environments as hostile as Mars: whatever about Men from Mars, there are almost certainly hardy single-celled organisms from Mars.

In the name of the Vader: Star Wars goes to church, as a Church of England pastor gets the Force behind him in a bid to keep congregation numbers up.

I've always had a fascination with sharks: some grisly details from Slate.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A right royal user interface review: Sony's new CEO Howard Stringer recounted a luncheon with the Queen to Sony shareholders. He told them that the Queen had struggled with certain Sony products. According to Stringer the Queen told him: "I have a lot of trouble with your remote controls. Too many arrows."

Too many arrows indeed: because electronics products are overloaded with features crammed onto tiny interfaces. Hopefully HRH is getting on better with her recent purchase of a iPod.

The mother of all snakeheads: read about Big Sister Ping, the Fuk Chiang triad and their human trafficking operations. Quenten Tarantino couldn't have made it up ...

Great weekend - the weather has turned cracker. On Saturday our *skip* arrived - we can clear out our junk along with tidying up after the tiling operations. On Sunday, we went on the magical stretch of the Wicklow Way between Ballinglen Ford and Tinahealy.

Friday, June 24, 2005

If you're having a bad day, this future timeline will help put things in perspective. Especially the stuff around the 6 billion year mark ....

Funny barbs on blogosphere, podcasting etc. to be found here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Snakes alive! Check out these drawings of the snake handlers of Appalachia.

We've had the tilers in working on our kitchen and main bathroom over the last week (or, "How to turn a functioning home into a dust-raddled bomb site where you can't find anything you want"). I'm like a serpent myself with all the disruption. The end-results are starting to look good though ...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's the summer solstice:

at heel spring of leaf turn
the runner dips his head
begins the race to darkness
the sower puts away the seed
the reaper sharpens scythe
the woodsman eyes the woodpile

The defintion of psychopath isn't confined to owners of personal dungeons - you could be working next to one. The Guardian offers this analysis of why corporations are attractive to pyschopaths - they promote them and make them your boss.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I recently tipped a friend off to the benefits of wasabi as an instant palliative for sinusitus. In a follow-up mail I documented two other practices I find successful, so I may as well blog them for any other fellow sufferers out there:

The Victorian method: get a basin and a towel. Tip a kettle of boiling water into the basin, followed by a few drops of eucalytus oil. Face down into the basin and drape the towel over the back of
your head. Enjoy the mini eucalyptus sauna.

The Asia method: sinal lavage. This tek grosses out most Westerners, but it's part of daily hygiene in many Asian cultures. You need sterile water (boiled and let cool to body temperature), a pinch of
salt (sea salt is best) and a small pinch of bread soda (neutralises the slight acidity caused by the salt). Quantity: about half a wine glass. Pour tablespoon-sized amounts into your other palm, dig in the nose, and snort the stuff. Expectorate as required. First thing in the morning and last thing at night are both good times.

(You can also get a saline solution to use for this technique from the pharmacist, but I find the above rough and ready recipe that works for millions of Asians works fine for me too).

If you do sinal lavage daily you will have a sinusitus free life, and you get much more oxygen out of nasal inhalation. Sinal lavage is part of many yoga practices, often preparatory to deep yogic breathing through the nose. In support of my theory that many hangovers are alcohol-aggravated sinusitis, sinal lavage is a Category A hangover cure.

I never made the connection as to why my sinusitus and/or hangover disappeared every time I went surfing until I realised that I copped an involuntary sinal lavage every time I screwed up a wave, which is frequently as I'm a useless surfer.

The only downside is that these ablutions have to be performed well out of earshot of sensitive or squeamish partners.

Thursday, June 17, 2005

Ireland's broadband scandal - we have nearly the worst access in Europe - continues to stink like surstromming: Comwreck as usual lays bare the mess.

This game is a nifty Java applet implementation of the old-but-gold Space Invadors concept/

As Batman Begins, let's check on the ever reliable How Stuff Works for the inside skinny on the Batmobile.

Quote for the day (courtesy of Andrew Sullivan):
"[We] have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. [We] have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows... Our unfortunate troops,... under hard conditions of climate and supply, are policing an immense area, paying dearly every day in lives for the willfully wrong policy of the civil administration in Baghdad." - T.E. Lawrence, Sunday Times of London, August 22, 1920.

The sting in the tail, of course, is the date: we've been here before. The Tommies of Lawrence's day called the region "the Messpot", and the name rings as true as ever.

And in the Department of "Looking ever more like Vietnam": long memories will recall "fragging" (Vietnam-war speak for "offing an obnoxious superior with a fragmentation bomb" - i.e. grenade-in-the-bunk job). This contemporary event looks strikingly similar.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

In my life, I've spent an awful lot more time reading pulp fiction than literary fiction - I'm currently on the last stages of the road to the Dark Tower with Roland Deschain and his ka-tet - so I appreciate this great resource: the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft online.

I don't normally bother linking to stuff I wrote, but I quite enjoyed writing this article. I see they're calling me a "veteran industry watcher" at this stage :)
(Bootnote: techcentral.ie seems to be toes up at the minute: here's the Google cache.

Well hokay then, here's a slightly better quote from the Jemser:
Would the departed never nowhere nohow reappear? Ever he would wander, selfcompelled, to the extreme limit of his cometary orbit, beyond the fixed stars and variable suns and telescopic planets, astronomical waifs and strays, to the extreme boundary of space, passing from land to land, among peoples, amid events. Somewhere imperceptibly he would hear and somehow reluctantly, suncompelled, obey the summons of recall. Whence, disappearing from the constellation of the Northern Crown he would somehow reappear reborn above delta in the constellation of Cassiopeia and after incalculable eons of peregrination return an estranged avenger, a wreaker of justice on malefactors, a dark crusader, a sleeper awakened, with financial resources (by supposition) surpassing those of Rothschild or the silver king.

On the IOTD (Interesting Thing of the Day) is an article on lucid dreaming (dreaming where you are self-aware of being in a dream). I've experienced lucid dreaming once or twice but never undertook the simple enough techniques to maximise the number of occurences.

The blogger, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

Well, actually, that quote was about the "artist" not the blogger, and it's from James Joyce, who we (dis)respectfully honour today on June 16, Bloomsday. The old geezer certainly came out with some awful tosh (as well as writing like an angel from time to time).

Bands that dress all the same seem fairly creepy in these indie times.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

IT'S EASY TO HYPNOTIZE - when you know how! This site (via BoingBoing) showcases the sleazy ads for hypnotism that graced the back pages of 1950's and 60's comic books and men's magazines.

A related BoingBoing story describes how a gamer was kidnapped under hypnosis and placed in a "real-life" facsimile of the game he was playing - then videotaped. Like the hypnosis ads, sleazy but fascinating.

Saturday saw a good outing to christen J&T's new kitchen. Good progress in house and garden: new tiles, gritted drives, catch up on weeding and mowing. We're starting to claim back control at Bywater! Nature always seems to have the upper hand in early summer.

And speaking of which, check out how quickly Nature has reclaimed this defunct garage in the heart of downtown Malibu.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Gatesy is a-comin after you, Steve - again. Microsoft are starting a music subscription service to compete with iTunes. BTW, I'm reading the (very unauthorized) biography of Steve Jobs - iCon - at the moment, and it's a cracker if you're into comp history.

I see the word chav has made it into the dictionary. The Irish sub-species is skanger: to assist in identification, here's a shot of some skangers in their natural habitat.

Speaking of new words, here's one from that chav heartland, soccer: bouncebackability. EG: "Crystal Palace have shown great bouncebackability against their opponents to really be back in this game".
I like it.
If your psyche had a dashboard, it would have a bouncebackabilityometer.

Coming soon: a radio controlled model of the Loch Ness monster. It paddles. It bobs its head up and down. You could certainly amp things up on some of Ireland's more atmospheric lakes with one of these babies ... watch em go running for their cameras, or maybe just running! Check out the Quicktime movie.

The spacecraft Deep Impact is en route for a collision with a comet - event horizon is Independence Day, July 4.

Contributed by Mark: Do you know your JavaBeans from your fava beans? Can you spot who's a Slashdotter - and who's a slasher? See if you can sort out the computer geniuses from the serial killers.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Send in the drones: the future of air warfare as seen by Wired.
UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) give rank-and-file soldiers powers once reserved for generals. They push generals into the thick of battle. And they're blurring the lines between the fighter jocks and the grunts on the ground. Firmly entrenched hierachies don't change easily, but drones are reshaping military culture.

A revolutionary new medical technique for combatting cystic fibrosis involves injecting the faulty gene that causes it - using a combinant of HIV and Ebola to inject it efficiently into the patient. The down-sides? Recombinant HIV or Ebola that could wipe out the human race (neither virus has recombined in the past, but this is new territory we're in here), or getting the gene splice wrong - potentially triggering cancer.

Connoisseurs of advanced weaponry have always been fascinated by the railgun. Yahoo reports that folks at the Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico have accelerated a small plate from zero to 76,000 mph in less than a second. It's still only a lab implementation, real battle-grade rail guns remain a few years in the future.

And another piece of SF in the making from Yahoo is a report on how the Japs (who else) are working on robot suits. Put one on and make like Superman ...

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Weekend on the tiles in town. We stayed at the Herbert, and enjoyed some good nosh at the Mermaid. I had a blissful few hours siphoning up sushi and saki at Aya. We went and saw the Orpen exhibition in the National Gallery. And some good retail therapy was had by us both.

Friday, June 3, 2005

Surprisingly old skool gum-shoe tactics are proving successful in the usually high tech world of hacker hunting.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Spotted at NextFest, Chicago's showcase of future technology:
Do androids really dream of electric sheep? Now you can ask P. K. Dick himself. This bust relies on 36 servomotors to mimic the sci-fi legend's facial expressions, and features a polymer called Frubber that looks and moves like human skin. The bot uses motion-tracking machine vision to make eye contact with passersby, and best of all, artificial intelligence and speech software enable it to carry on complex conversations. "It invents new ideas using a mathematical model of Philip K. Dick's mind extracted from his vast body of writing," says David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics. The mechanized tribute to the author is a fitting one: Having grappled with the question "What is reality?" throughout his career, Dick would have delighted in Hanson's efforts to blur the boundaries between humans and their android imitations.

The Millenium Simulation is the biggest computational model of the universe ever implemented (it requried 25 million megabytes of memory). The paper describing the experiment has some pretty awesome graphics.

At Network365 (now Valista) I worked as a tech writer on the team that built the first implementation of this technology, that turns mobile phones into credit cards, some three or four years ago. As DoCoMo is a Valista customer, I suspect this is the same software they are using to roll out the new service. It's funny to see ideas come to fruition - when I was at Retix back in the late 80s, I got used to explaining to people about "this thing called the Internet" and "this thing called e-mail" - now commonplace.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wired has a profile of John Piña Craven, a senior boffin with plans to harness the energy of the frozen deeps.

Thanks to boing boing for this link to a map of the world rated for risk by country - an overall colour code and then symbols for level of crime, political, medical risks etc. A cool bit of cartography, updated annually by the publisher, insurance company Aon. Compiled for the entertainment industry - think film makers picking a location - it's interesting to anyone with a yen for geopolitics or extreme travel. It's a bulky PDF but worth the load. Get busy with that zoom tool!

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Zen of Spam ... those inexplicable autogenerated names that keep contacting you about low rate mortgages, penis enlargements, cheap Viagra, low rate mortgages, cheap Viagra, penis enlargements, and so on ... have a weird low affect quality that make you imagine them as doomed low-res characters in a William Gibson short story. A sampler from my Spam tray:

James Benoit
Althea Reese
Freida Deleon
Milagros Mckay
Hassan Mohammed
Tisha Larsen
Rose Pruitt
Booker Sizemore
Kari Todd
Donnell Pollard
Porfirio Sullivan
Erick Carter
Monica Pineda

A. came up with this good piece on one of my favourite marine creatures: giant squid!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bugs in software: yup, know those guys. But bugs in a printer: check out this tale of how a printer in a Macedonian courthouse fell prey to cockroaches.

Time are in the course of constructing a list of the top 100 movies, based on a reader poll. Only numbers 1 and 2 are on this page just yet - happy to see that LOTR is in with a bullet at Number 1.
Ed update: as the page is building, LOTR is driven down the ratings - still it's certainly a top 100 natural.

The complete list is here.

The loneliness of the long distance voyager: Voyager 1, our longest running space adventure is currently in the course of breaching the heliosphere at the outer rim of the solar system. Finally, a working piece of human technology makes it into interstellar space.

Spielberg is in the middle of doing War of the Worlds. ET turns homicidal - Wired has the full skinny.

From WordSpy, a citation on the theme of Irritable Male Syndrome:

It has to be said that her husband, Prince Philip, hasn't helped the monarchist cause by asking an aboriginal leader: Do you still throw spears at each other? The Prince, bored by more than half a century in the passive role of royal consort, specialises in this kind of remark. On a visit to China, he once referred to the Chinese as slitty-eyed. The Australian tribal leader, William Brin, to whom he addressed the enquiry, said he wasn't offended but surprised. I just told him: 'No, we don't do that any more', he said. There has been the predictable outcry, but it doesn't seem an altogether unreasonable question, given the tendency of some Australian aboriginals to emphasise their tribal roots by dancing semi-naked, painting their bodies, and doing other old-fashioned things. Who knows? They might easily still throw spears at each other. But obviously it was unwise of the Prince to ask the question. It may be that he suffers from the newly identified irritable male syndrome.
—Alexander Chancellor, "The Good Prince," Slate Magazine, February 25, 2002.

Given that I'm a republican (in the sense of anti-monarchist) libertarian (in the sense of anti-ruler), I have a surprisingly soft spot for old Phillers, who often gets a drubbing for simply saying what's on his mind. So many public figures blather on in platitudes.

We put in some new decking in the front garden. Here's a cute shot of an early adopter of life on deck.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Force is a Tool of Satan. Star Wars fandom, you have been warned ...

How's my robot driving? Artifact from the future, courtesy Wired.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The End of the World: cool flash vid spotted by a study-bound Caoimhe. A long loader, but worth the wait ...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Only in blogland - this community is devoted to sightings of the number 47 (cf Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Deep Thought's answer to "what is the meaning of life?").

Ed note: J. reminds me that 42, not 47, is the answer Deep Thought coughs up. Which begs the question: what's the story with this 47 bunch then?
Their story is that 47 is the "quintessential random number of the universe". Sez who?? All integers are equally random. It's prime, and about halfway between 0 and 100, is all I'm conceding on this one. It's in the same league as think-of-a-vegetable-Answer:-carrot and think-of-a-number:-Answer-7.
It gets more bizarre. Check out the link to the 47s of Star Trek.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A cartographer working on the OpenEir project (mapping Ireland to provide public domain maps) observes that the image of West Limerick from space shows evidence of an ancient crater produced by asteroid impact.
The enhanced image on flickr gives an even better idea of where Corbett is coming from.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Merriam-Webster have published a list of top ten words not in the dictionary, after polling their readers. You'll enjoy this - unless you're some kind of lingweenie!

Idyllic weekend at Mount Juliet. On Sunday, I caught the fish of a lifetime - a beautiful 14 pound spring salmon fresh off the sea. Piccie is on flickr.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Looking forward to the weekend - going to this place to do some salmon fishing - balm for the soul!

Word for the day that's in it - tridecaphobia: Irrational fear of the number 13.

Starry starry night ....

The constellation is of course Ursa Major.

It's Raining MP3s: this site is a bodacious MP3 aggregator, linking to dozens of free MP3 sites. Time up upgrade to a bigger iPod ....

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Dogs of War come home - to no home. A tale from the South African badlands ...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Buds of May - put down some bedding plants in the front garden at lunchtime.

My last phone was a Motorola V3, one of the earliest and most iconic clamshells. Clams have a reputation for clapping out early due to the hinge, but this one didn't. It soldiered on and on for 5 years: at the end the hinge went and for a few weeks while I was dithering about its replacement, the hinge was held together with cellotape. By the time it went, it didn't owe me a dime.

Its replacement: another Moto V3 - the RAZR. It's not an especially advanced phone - no MP3 players (I've got an iPod for that), no organizer (I've got a Palm for that). And a cruddy little camera, like everyone else. But it is thin. Very very thin. And strong. And made of metal - not plastic. Iconic Moto looks and build quality that will last for years, plus Moto signal quality - the tops - are the reasons for my new best friend.

The crappy little camera isn't too bad for small images viewed onscreen, and I've naturally posted the first results on flickr.

Letter to Times time again, let's see if it makes the cut.


Martin Mansergh (Irish Times, Saturday, May 7) spoke eloquently of the
charms of Ireland's regional airports, and their potential as
ancillaries of international air travel. Why not break the Dublin
logjam with a purpose built-airport in the midlands with the following

* Annoying but feasible distance from the capital, to suit the profile
of low cost carriers
* Region in need of boost to economic infrastructure
* Flat country with good approach paths, uncluttered by nearby
international airport

And a bonus point:
* Local with expertise in these matters

Surely the answer is obvious: Dublin Airport (West), Mullingar?


Note to overseas readers: Mullingar is home of Irish low cost air travel supremo, Michael O'Leary. The letter is only half joking BTW, an Irish Midlands international hub would actually be a great idea.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

All you need to know about unicorns, including methods for catching one.

The company that urged us all to Think Different takes a somewhat grouchier line with the blogging community that thinks and cares about Apple. Fie on you, Jobsie!

Spotted on boing boing: Dracula blogged - it's the original Bram Stoker, set up as a series of blog entries. Given a lot of the book is in diary form, this is quite a neat idea.

A bit of a battle keeping on top of the garden this weekend, which did it's usual summer thing and went gonzo over the last couple of weeks. Dodging showers and hail-squalls, insterspersed with blasts of strong sun that had me down with heatstroke on Monday. Anyway, cleared when Jim is putting a new fence for the veg patch, and we opened out the area between the boules court and the pond syste, Looks great.

Friday, May 5, 2005

Here's a great story from Dervala - about home ownership, how lives happen, and meeting people on the bus.

May the Force be with you NOT: 40 great reasons to hate Star Wars.
Lucas has never made the mistake of saying that he is bigger than Jesus, but the internet has come along to say it for him. If you Google "The Bible", you get 11.5m links. "Jesus Christ" gets 8.1m. Star Wars beats them both put together, with 25.2m. It isn't as big as God (72.2m), but then He's been around for a lot longer.

BTW, this is a good example of a 21 century meme: everything can be Googled (although the actual Google search results on this phrase are mostly negative). And also BTW, I don't recall it did John Lennon or the Beatles any actual harm to claim being bigger than Jesus. If anything ...

Yes, you can try this one out at home, folks: measuring the speed of light with a chocolate bar and a microwave.

Word of the day - white coat effect: n. The elevation of a patient's blood pressure readings caused by being in a doctor's office or clinic, or by being in the presence of a physician.
Closely related to CEO effect (male only): you're about to take a leak in the company urinal, then the CEO comes in and occupies the one next to you and then ... the waterworks somehow just dry up ...

has a good review of Irish hosting services, which seems to be a maturing market.

There's a good moment in Blade Runner where the main character has the realisation: "Memories: you're talking about memories ...", a very Philip K. Dick moment, as PKD had a real fascination with the theme of memories, implanted, supressed, or otherwise manipulated. Today, Karlin Lillington writes in the Irish Times about blogs as memories, specifically about the difficulty of migrating a blog from one environment (e.g. blogger to Movable Type) while retaining all the old comments etc. I had my own memory moments there recently when my Blogger software burped and sent months of blogstuff into electronic void. These days I back up the blog to hard disk on a regular basis. tmulqueen.blogspot.com might be a dimly lit and thinly populated corner of the blogosphere, but it holds my memories ...

Quote from KL (IT is subscriber-bound):
A personal weblog might not seem like the most crucial historical information, but consider what happens generally when links change or pages are taken down - how easy it is to erase the past deliberately or lose a historical record of this period in time, when much goes up on the web that isn't recorded in any other way for posterity (print, video or sound).

In my own modest case, I weighed the attractions of trying something new in blogging software against a responsibility I felt for maintaining my weblog's past for other readers, and decided the past had to win out against the present. For now, anyway.

Hopefully, the upside to this will be that KL will continue to update her blog, which has been in hiatus for some time now ...

An interesting tale of how an entire industry - online gaming - has been transformed for the worse. The likes of Everquest from Sony are massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) in which people all over the world play/battle together to acquire accoutrements such as swords, rings of power, etc. The next logical step is to allow people to trade with money in such items - except this somewhat subverts the idea of games as arenas of skill for the amateur player. Unfortunately the next logical step after that is legions of drones in Far Eastern countries banging away in teams to acquire said swords, rings of power etc. And the step after that: the whole ethos of Everquest et al = gone to hell in a handbasket.

Thursday, May 4, 2005

The Wired Top 40: Yeah, you'd have called a lot of these yourself. Still makes interesting reading, Wired-style.

India puts the first civilian stereoscopic mapping satellite into orbit.

The most innovative feature of the 1.6-tonne Cartosat-1 is its pair of cameras, which will give stereo images of the earth's surface that can distinguish features down to 2.5 metres across. They will directly generate three-dimensional maps that have until now been achievable only indirectly, by combining data from a large number of satellite passes over the same place.

I think we can safely assume the military have been doing this stuff for years in various countries. The article makes some useful points on how the India space program has been focused on helping India's people - for example, this satellite is employed for planning power lines rather than spot-on missile trajectories, hence fewer headlines.

Word of the day: information tamer
n. A technical writer who specializes in explaining complex concepts from fields such as science and computing.

And you thought that all us tech writers were a sad, nerdish lot, blogging away endlessly about recent discoveries in cosmology, the latest news from Google, new uses for coffee grounds, peer-to-peer file sharing and origami sites. When in fact we are - drumroll!!!! - INFORMATION TAMERS. Pass me over that whip, Indiana ...

Google's new "accelerator" also acts as an anonymiser - in the sense that you're anonymous to everyone except Google, which is not quite the dictionary definition.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

As we approach the centenerary of E=mc2, scientists around the world are polled for what they'd most like people to cop on to. I like this one from Freeman J Dyson:

The main thing to understand is that science is about uncertainty. Science teaches us to have a high tolerance of uncertainty. We do not yet know the answers to most of the important questions - nature is smarter than we are. But if we are patient, and not in too much of a hurry, then science gives us a good way to find the answers...

First ever infrared view of an exoplanet - a planet orbiting a sun other than our own. 2M1207b is an extrasolar planet orbiting the brown dwarf 2M1207A, a star in the constellation Hydra approximately 200 light years from Earth.

Moved 2 ton of wood into the woodshed yesterday: that should keep the stove fed for a while.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Stretching a little mini-break out of the May Bank Holiday. Saturday, went to Leighlinbridge and bought a trailer. Sunday morning fossicked for timber and cut up a barrowload with a new chain saw. We then went to friends J&R for a very pleasant afternoon's socialising. Monday was quiet and restful, ensured by constant pouring rain. Today is starting just as rainy, but I'm hoping to get mulch and timber from Woodfab in the new trailer. Tomorrow: some serious retail therapy in Dundrum Shopping Centre, Ireland's new shopper Mecca.

Friday, April 29, 2005

I haven't seen the movie, so I won't panic. But even the warmer reviews of Hitchhiker's Guide are lukewarm. Maybe better are some good memories of Douglas Adams.

Freshly squeezed Clockwork Orange anyone? Happy slapping is the latest UK-based - where else? - craze which involves slapping complete strangers while your moron associate videocams the reaction on his mobile. I wonder how the genius who came up with the fusion of phone and camera would feel about this particular application of "the mobile lifestyle".

We've always been fascinated by the idea of a secret garden. Well it seems Dublin has one. It's called the Grove. Presumably the owners, An Taisce, are the people to approach with a request for the neccessary key:

From today's Irishman's diary, in the Irish Times:

A verdant woodland corner of Donnybrook, close to the centre of Dublin, is destined to stay like that for ever: it can never be built on.

The Grove occupies a fifth of a hectare of land at the corner of Morehampton Road and Wellington Place, close to the underground Swan river. Thousands of motorists drive past it every day, yet few know what an oasis of natural tranquillity and wildlife lies behind the gate and the high walls.

The Grove is owned in perpetuity by An Taisce. Together with the Upper Leeson Street Residents' Association, it is responsible for maintaining the area, with its many trees, plants, birds, other wildlife and pond.

Open days are held from time to time and schools also pay visits there; by its very nature, the Grove cannot be opened to the public on a regular basis, but anyone who is really interested can borrow a key to the gates of Donnybrook's little paradise.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Firefox is starting to gain traction in the browser wars, as IE sees market share slip and the Moz crew double their slice of the pie. In a related story, the Opera CEO promised to swim to America (from Norway) if download numbers of Opera 8 reached 1 million within four days. When they did break the 1 million mark, he gamely set out, but had to be "rescued". Now, whoever said the Norwegians are a humourless, irony-deficient lot ...

The scene is definitely warming up these days. Time some of the dead tree media sat up and took notice ...

Interesting thing of the day has a nice piece on the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient Greek artefact that looks likely to have been an analog astronomical computer - in use about a thousand years before the generally accepted first instance of such a device around 1000 AD.

CXOs (Chief Whatever Officer) titles have multiplied in recent years like the spawn of Satan: here's a list - (thanks, WordSpy!):

chief academic officer
chief accounting officer
chief acquisition officer
chief administration officer
chief administrative officer
chief advertising officer
chief antidiscrimination officer
chief awareness officer
chief banking officer
chief branding officer
chief bridge officer
chief brokerage officer
chief budget officer
chief business officer
chief change officer
chief chocolate officer
chief client officer
chief commercial officer
chief communications officer
chief competitive officer
chief compliance officer
chief concept officer
chief content officer
chief corporate officer
chief country officer
chief creative officer
chief credit officer
chief crisis officer
chief customer officer
chief data officer
chief delivery officer
chief demonstration officer
chief dental officer
chief detail officer
chief development officer
chief disciplinary officer
chief distribution officer
chief district officer
chief diversity officer
chief eating officer
chief e-business officer
chief e-commerce officer
chief economic officer
chief education officer
chief election officer
chief electoral officer
chief energizing officer
chief enforcement officer
chief engineering officer
chief enthusiasm officer
chief environmental officer
chief equity officer
chief ergonomic officer
chief evangelistic officer
chief evil officer
chief evolutionary officer
chief excellence officer
chief executive officer
chief experience officer
chief financial officer
chief fire officer
chief fiscal officer
chief fun officer
chief futurist officer
chief glitch officer
chief growth officer
chief hacking officer
chief health officer
chief housing officer
chief imagination officer
chief immigration officer
chief informatics officer
chief information officer
chief information security officer
chief ingenuity officer
chief innovation officer
chief intellectual officer
chief intelligence officer
chief internet officer
chief intimidation officer
chief investigating officer
chief investment officer
chief IT officer
chief janitorial officer
chief knowledge officer
chief law officer
chief learning officer
chief legal officer
chief leisure officer
chief lending officer
chief liaison officer
chief linguistics officer
chief loan officer
chief logistics officer
chief management officer
chief marketing officer
chief media officer
chief medical officer
chief memory officer
chief merchandising officer
chief morale officer
chief negotiating officer
chief networking officer
chief nuclear officer
chief nursing officer
chief officer
chief operating officer
chief operations officer
chief opportunity officer
chief people officer
chief personnel officer
chief petty officer
chief pharmaceuticals officer
chief pharmacy officer
chief planning officer
chief police officer
chief political officer
chief policy officer
chief press officer
chief privacy officer
chief probation officer
chief procurement officer
chief product officer
chief professional officer
chief program officer
chief programming officer
chief protocol officer
chief purchasing officer
chief quality officer
chief race officer
chief recruiting officer
chief relationships officer
chief reputation officer
chief research officer
chief resource officer
chief response officer
chief restructuring officer
chief revenue officer
chief risk officer
chief safety officer
chief sales officer
chief science officer
chief scientific officer
chief security officer
chief smart officer
chief snacks officer
chief software officer
chief solutions officer
chief staff officer
chief strategic officer
chief strategy officer
chief talent officer
chief technical officer
chief technology officer
chief training officer
chief trust officer
chief turnaround officer
chief underpants officer
chief underwriting officer
chief usability officer
chief veterinary officer
chief vision officer
chief visionary officer
chief warrant officer
chief web officer
chief weeds officer
chief wireless officer
chief Xbox officer
chief Xeroxing officer
chief zoom officer

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I've come up with a word to describe something I can't find a word for (if you know of a word that describes it, let me know): Shadowfind: to find something by means of its shadow.

As an example - the Long Stone is Ireland's highest standing stone, and although I've never visited it, I know it's in the vicinity of Punchestown Racecourse, Kildare. A few years ago, I was banking a glider about 2,000 over the racecourse (the gliding club airstrip is also in Kildare) in slanting late evening sunshine. I tried hard to spot the Long Stone, but what I saw first was its giant shadow, poking a long finger to the east across verdant Kildare sward. Backtracking to the west found the slim gray pencil of the stone.

Trekking in Nepal, I always watched out for the majestic lammergeiers, Himalayan griffon with 9 or 10 foot wing spans, and an effortless soaring flight. Easily spotted against the blue sky, but almost invisible against the cliffs - the same colour as their plumage - where they spent most of their time working the up-drafts.

The give-away was the shadow, often mistaken for the bird itself, so clearly etched by Himalayana sunshine. Only when it rippled over an irregularity would you realise you were looking at the shadow, not the bird. Backtracking found the griffon.

Sun and shadow played an important part in the air-battles over the Yala River, Korea, between the the US Sabre F-86 and Korean Mikoyan-Guryevich MiG-15. The technically superior MiGs could not only climb faster than the F-86s, but could fly higher too. They could hang around up there, and when their shadow fell on a US fighter wing, that was the signal to strike - screaming down "out of the sun" and zooming back up towards it after a dog-fight. None the less, the kill ratio was heavily in favour of the US, partly due to the morale and hunger for "ace status" (5 kills) among the pilots, who were only allowed 100 missions before being retired back to the US.

Listening to: Wings of Steel by Collide.

Whether you love or hate Steve Jobs, a new, indeed as yet unreleased, biography - iCon - is worth watching out for. Apple are so pissed that they chucked Wiley's entire line of books out of their Apple Stores.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Knew this was out there somewhere, but only found it today: the Amazon page listing all the MP3's you can download from them for FREE (they're promoting CDs of course - but it shows how Amazon often get it where others (RIAA, come out with your hands up) don't.

Word for the day: epiphyte - plants that grow on air. For those without a Webster account:

Any plant that grows upon or is attached to another plant or object merely for physical support. Epiphytes are found mostly in the tropics and are also known as air plants because they have no attachment to the ground or other obvious nutrient source. They obtain water and minerals from rain and from debris on the supporting plants. Orchids, ferns, and members of the pineapple family are common tropical epiphytes. Lichens, mosses, liverworts, and algae are epiphytes of temperate regions.

High quality star maps aren't cheap. Boing boing has spotted the first availability (under Creative Commons licensing) of a fine set of FREE star atlases in PDF format.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Left the following comment on the merger between takeover by Adobe and of Macromedia over at Caoimhe's:

I'd be more concerned about innovative Macromedia products that have a heavy overlap with established Adobe products. For example, Fireworks has a huge overlap with Photoshop - even though it is infinitely superior as a Web graphics tool. And Macromedia recently released a tool called Flashpaper - it turns any document into a Flash object - and of course competes directly with Acrobat as "the one file format to bind them all". If I was on the Flashpaper team I'd sure be burnishing my CV right now.

The Reg shares my pessimism on this move: it's bad for online tools.

On Saturday, worked up the start of an article (IT Governance and Compliance, what a gripping topic - NOT), and then trucked up to Enfield for a Reiki session. This was very relaxing and peaceful, even the long return journey in miserable conditions didn't take the sheen off the experience.

Much energised the next day, polished off the article first thing, then a great day's work in le jardin: gritted a damp area round the side, lots of mulching and border work, and planted out lots of stuff - rockery plants, a rose. C&S came down for one of A's delectable chicken roasts, and a fine evening ensued. The day was as brilliant as the Saturday was awful - clear and sunny, with a blue, Paul Henry-like mist on Croghan mountain.

Friday, April 22, 2005

On the origami thread, Mark offers this topical theme: fold your own Pope's hat.

Studies show: E-mail rots your mind faster than marijuana. And as for blogging ...

Word of the day: entheogen
(en.THEE.oh.jun; TH as in thin) n. A drug or other substance that engenders a deeply spiritual experience. And we're definitely not talking about e-mail here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Remember the Big Lebowski line: "You are about to enter a world of pain"? Via Boing Boing, here is a world class, I'm-gonna-get-medieval-on-yo-ass rant by a lecturer who had his laptop stolen while giving a lecture. Read and shiver ....

Ever wanted to try your hand at origami? Here's a few patterns to get your folding fingers busy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Oxyrhynchus is one of the most important archaelogical sites in the world, and certainly the most important in Egpyt. What has just been announced there is little short of re-discovering the Holy Grail: the decoding of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, the greatest hoard of classical manuscripts in the world.

wikipedia has the story: Oxford University announced that its joint project with Brigham Young University using infrared technology developed from satellite imaging has been extremely successful in recovering much of the missing or damaged script, including previously unknown works of Sophocles, Lucian, Euripides, Parthenius, Hesiod, and Archilochus. The news led to great excitement, with many hailing the finds as a "classical holy grail" and wildly speculating on the possibility of new classics sparking a "second Renaissance."The amount to be deciphered by this technique is potentially huge: what has already been read is a very small fraction of the number of hitherto unreadable fragments, and scholars have talked of a possible "20% increase" in our number of Classical texts.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Truncation strikes again. Someone at Blogger is obviously trying to tell me to archive older stuff - I just wish they did it in a friendlier way than throwing away all my entries for a few months.

I like this guy's attitude. An Aussie surfer fights off a shark using his board - and about half an hour later, after the beach is closed, he's spotted out surfing again on a borrowed board.

Return match with the fish. I rocked up after work with proper tackle, in perfect fishing weather (i.e. it was pouring rain). Just as I got bait in the water, the weather cleared up in that magical Irish spring way. Dramatic clouds on the hills but a limpid blue sky overhead, from which descended a trio of mallard ducks coming in to land, hunching their wings to reduce air speed, webbed feet slightly comically braced out to the front to brake them when they hit the water, now mirror smooth to receive their refelections. Reflection meets ducks .... swooosh. Three ducks bobbing.
And as the anglers among us will recognise, limpid blue skies and mirror-smooth water = not a hope of a fish. Sure enough, not a nibble for the remainder of the hour I spent at the pond. Magical lighting though ...

Near squeak on vaster scale, involving a Near Earth Object: Astronomers have calculated that the 1,000ft-wide asteroid called 2004 MN4 will pass by the Earth at a distance of between 15,000 and 25,000 miles - quite a narrow miss. The worry is that the wobble in the asteroid's orbit caused by the Earth's gravity could mean it whaps us next time round.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Had a very near squeak just there - I found to my horror that Blogger - on let's be fair, maybe just a disruption in the Force - caused all the entries in this blog between March 22 and last November to vanish. Let this be a lesson to back up more often. Not that my many readers - hollow laughter - would miss much, but blogging works for me as a diary and no one likes to see a chunk of diary vanish.

However, there was a happy ending. I searched for one of the obliterated entries, and lo, there the whole thing was in a Google cache. All hail Google, and caching! Ironic that one Google product should rescue me from the vagaries of another. I will now forthwith do some blog-backing (scribbles addition to task list).

Thirty five years on, IEEE Spectrum tells the full inside story on the rescue of Apollo 13: an enthralling read.

On Saturday, did the first big mow of the year - the grass is finally starting to grow, signalling the true start of Spring. Many of the trees are well in leaf by now too. Weny up to Ballycoog after knocking off, to check out a new walk. Lugnaquilla still has some snow on it, so Winter won't quite be bustled out the door yet.

On Sunday, it just poured and poured, the kind of steady all-day downpour we haven't seen in a while. Lunch and the papers at Macreddin's instead of bashing the garden - a nice relaxing change. Took on the rainbow trout in the local lake in lashing rain. The fish were taking like mad but I lost every single one as I was using hooks that were way too small. Exciting but frustrating! I plan a return match this evening with bigger hooks.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Word for the day - retail anthropology: basically, studying people the way Diane Fossey studied chimps or anthropology studies folks with bones through their noses to lure us into the fabled "Zone 4" where we do our heaviest spending when shopping.

Resurrection ecology: bringing the past to life - literally.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Well then, what if it was legal? Matthew pens an amusing rant.

This site now has StatCounter installed: for me, it's fascinating to see the variety of likeminded souls who drop into this wee space. If any of you folks fancy crosslinking, just use the tiny mailto (Mail tonym here) at the top of the page to get your URL to me. And enjoy!

Word for the day: mycoremediation - the repair of poisoned or degraded habitats by sowing them with mushrooms, which can swiftly hoover up and destroy the badness. I even like the sound of it. Say it slowly now: my-co-rem-e-dia-shun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

There aren't many who can out-geek me quite so effortlessly. Mark of Malmo offers this fascinating list of things to do with used coffee grounds.

I'm not saying there was a "Let's pretend we didn't see that" moment when studies of the Colombia launch showed some of the foam may have come unstuck. We're all a little more aware now of the effects of even lightweight objects when subjected to massive acceleration - seven dead astronauts later.

But what was really missing was a fully thought through plan of what we would do if takeoff damaged the Shuttle to the point where a safe entry was no longer possible - and this was only verfied once they had made orbit. Well, it seems that Nasa have finally put together such a plan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Nerines and crocosmia (aka Montbretia) were planted on Saturday: time to start getting lots of late summer and autumn bulbs into the ground.

Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones would seem to be what I need for the iPod.

Yicky keyboards: a biological war-zone.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Great weekend in the garden. R came to visit, and we planted a big bamboo as well as lots of tree ringing, rockery building, ditch enlarging and other heart-warming landscape improvements. Then on Sunday I got busy with the bluestone and mulch matting, and suddenly the rockery looks all kosher.

We went down to Rathmore Garden Centre and got some Alpines for the new rockery and an Exothera - a white-flowered climber.

Friday, April 8, 2005

I was very moved by Bernie Goldbach's tale of the demise of Chuckie, and his last ride. All dog owners dread that day - hopefully a long way away for our robust young Scooby, a Glen of Imaal terrier.

Thursday, April 7, 2005

There's some great gadgets over at Hippyshopper.com - a site for the gadget freak with a green streak. In today's page, I like the Cube thingey that absorbs light during the day and re-emits it at night. Psychedelic wheel lights for your bike would be just the ticket for Dublin streets - have the cars crash into someone else instead of you! The Wheelsurf monowheel vehicle (could only be from Holland) also looks like a blast.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

From Wired: Roboshark!! The robot-slash-submarine is able to mingle with the great white, and not draw their attention, thanks to a closed-circuit pneumatic propulsion system and cleverly disguised cameras.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

How do you know it's time: via IrishEyes via KL. A guide to dog owners on facing into that inevitable day ...

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets! After the latest hiccup for Charles and Camilla - their wedding coinciding with the Pope's funeral - bookies are taking bets on a range of options. For example: "Snowstorms or floods are ranked at 100-1, while the likelihood of aliens landing in Windsor on Saturday morning is 10,000-1." Perhaps more realistically, "the public can gamble at 33-1 on whether a fed-up Camilla will stand Charles up on the day".

We all love our daily fix of boing boing, but the blogosphere - including in fairness, boing boing themselves - guffawed mightily at this April 1 parody: boring boring.

It's possible to have just too much security, as this Malyasian businessman owner of a S-class Merc found out the hard way. His car was biometrically protected by fingerprint recognition - straighforward enough to bypass once the thieves get the car back to their high-tech hangout. But to expedite getting there without the encumbrance of a kidnap, they just hacked off the car owners finger.

Shades of Minority Report eyeballs here - and the article goes on to expand the point that too much biometric security in general can be bad for our health and safety.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Very sunny but bitter cold - a wind is howling down at us from the Arctic.

Il Papa passed away on Saturday, RIP. A man who inspired in me a mixture of respect and rage: respect for his dynamism and a simple, clear way with words that always got his point across, rage against his staunch and unbending conservatism.

Over at the Observer blog, they were more concerned about making their Sunday paper deadlines. See the snit, and page down to see the comment I posted.

A decent amount of gardening done this weekend: weeding on Saturday, planting out on Sunday: camellia, hellebore, geraniums, and a bunch of little traditional rockery plants. And a wonderful dwarf willow - extremely colourful and variegated: salix integra "Hakuro-Nishiki", by the stream between the two ponds.

Drove over by Avoca and Redcross on Sunday for some bevvies with friends C & S: Lily White's is a neat little boozer, albeit a bit mundane and plain-people-of-Irelandish. We liked our kiddies portion of chips and sausages for a mere EUR 4, though, and the service was friendly (over-priced and under-friendly Laragh Inn take note please). We've taken to cutting over to the N11 at this point, combining a scenic run though the very pretty country round Avoca/Redcross with a smooth run into town on the recently upgraded N11.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Future horoscopes ...

More on the WiMax thread ... this could really be the way forward for mobile computing ....

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Check out this great collection of cheesy Chinese poster propaganda. "We were standing at the edge of the Abyss, but we have taken a Great Leap Forward ...."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

2nd. birthday in blogland just slipped by back there - I started in March 03. Blogs are a useful antidote to the years-fly-by syndrome that kicks in after 45 or so. A lot really does happen in 2 years.

NASA measure light from a non-solar planet.

Via Dervala:

"The Hmong have a phrase, hais cuaj txub kaum txub, which means 'to speak of all kinds of things'. It is often used at the beginning of an oral narrative as a way of reminding the listeners that the world is full of things that may not seem to be connected but actually are, that no event occurs in isolation, that you can miss a lot by sticking to the point, and that the storyteller is likely to be rather longwinded."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Freak out those guests. This animatronic deer head can do a range of greetings, or even a rendition of Sweet Home, Alabama, lending a suitable beware-of-owner note to the visitor experience. And better still, no animals were harmed in the making of this product!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Saturn's moons just get more and more fascinating as Cassini checks them out. This one looks like it could have ice volcanoes.

The 2005 Bloggies are out: these blog awards always point you to a few new nuggets, as well as old familiar blogmates. I like this piece on how to blog, which won best article.

Luak (the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak, a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia) came up in a conversation with S. I note that its purveyors won the 1993 Prize for Nutrition at the Ig Noble Awards (the satirical mirror image of the Nobels). More info on luak (and coffee in general) here and here.

The Ig Nobles are a rewarding browse. I especially like the invention work of Troy Hurtubise, whose work includes designing a suit of armour that is proof against attack by grizzly bear. (He tested it out by having some large bikers with baseball bats stand in for the bear: the baseball bats got trashed, but the armour stood up ...) (Further bootnote: by an odd coincidence, the Simpsons episode on that night was the one where Homer is attacked by a bear at the town dump, and humiliated by having his terror captured on CCTV and broadcast on the local TV station. He develops a phobia about bears which can only be overcome by facing his adversary, and to do this his has to put together, guess what, a suit of bear-proof armour ...)

Our trip was a good success: the cottage was well beyond our expectations - beautifully decorated and very secluded on a farm near Adare. We rambled round the village - seen by many as a US-oriented tourist trap, but in fact chock-a-bloc with great ecclesiastical sights and a wonderfully landscaped manor. On Friday, we had a magical trip to the Lough Gur region, visiting the great Stone Circle of Grange and the Cistercian monastic site of Monasteranenagh (this backgrounder contains a link to an excellent if somewhat flowery lecture on the abbey's turbulent history.

A sad note was struck by the early death of an old classmate, ND (I went to Crescent College, Limerick for my secondary schooling). More happily, we had a visit from old comrade S, and an entertaining evening was had by all.

Back at base, we had the fun of spotting the International Space Station do a fly-pass at 8.15 on a clear, star-lit evening. A. and I did some pottering on our boules court, and played the first game of the year.

Today it's back to work and normal weather form with lashing rain.

Monday, March 14, 2005

In keeping with a long-held tradition of working myself into the ground in the run-up to a holiday, I went out edging some lawn and mulching the borders on Saturday, in a cold north westerly wind. Definitely feeling pretty crook as a result. The results look good, however, and a couple of days mulling over hot whiskeys in the Dunraven Arms in the next few days mightn't be so bad either.

Mark shares this link to memorable quotes from The Big Lebowski.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Worried about that awful faux pas you made recently? Don't. Most people are thinking about the same thing as you are: themselves. It's called the spotlight effect.

Via Gibson: An automate is a combination of art, sculpture, and mechanics used to create articulated, moving models resembling life and fantasy in all its forms.

Prepare to be astounded ....

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Mount St. Helens in Washington state has erupted, sending a plume of steam and ash 7,600 metres into the air.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

I came across a story that gave me pause in the Daily Kos: Read it, it puts some things in perspective.

Monday, March 7, 2005

In what is by definition a feather in the cap of constantly checked and updated Wikipedia, the latest dead-tree edition of the Dictionary of National Biography came in for a bit of shellacking about factual errors.

Had a pretty social weekend: visited old college mate JJ and family on Saturday and went for lunch with old pals C+S, J+T in Wicklow town at the weeping THAIger. Thai food and a truckload of drink was consumed at the latter: many laffs ...

Friday, March 4, 2005

Blogging as the New Journalism? Think again. In this court case, a judge rules that bloggers aren't entitled to the same dont-have-to-reveal-sources protecion that "real" journalists enjoy. One up for Apple (of all people! shame ... ) and one down for bloggers.

As part of the farewell ceremonies, check out these early Doonesbury strips of the character Duke, (loosely) based on our late and lamented HST.

Via boing boing: Two Towers translated into leet gamerspeak
A reader writes, "The author of F3ll0wsh1p of teh R1ng has now written a follow up, also in l33t 'Teh Tw0 T0werz'"

[Somewhere, under the mountains]
Gandalf [Glamdring] Balrog
Gandalf [Glamdring] Balrog
Gandalf [Glamdring] Balrog
Gandalf [Glamdring] Balrog
Gandalf [Glamdring] Balrog
Gandalf [Glamdring] Balrog
Gandalf: "U. R. PWNED!"

[Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are running across Rohan]
Gimli: "FFS speed hax!"
Legolas: "LOL, N00b!"
**Aragorn spots the fallen broach
Aragorn: "Sif teh leaves of Lorien fall. They give +2!"

[At Isengard, Saruman is with a group of Wildmen of Dunland]
Saruman: "Teh Rohirrim are tards!"
Dunlander: "Sif leet! Damn retards!"
Saruman: "Joo bring teh pwn. Go and pwn those n00bs!"
Crowd of Dunlanders: "WOOT!"

From this morning's Irish Times, some thoughts on WiMax, penned by Danny O'Brien on the West Coast of the US:

ISPs around the world are interested in solving (the last mile problem) with a bi-directional radio link, like mine, and they're looking for cheap standard to hang their hat on.

That is what's promised by WiMax: a high-speed, long-distance standard that could come to replace and complement DSL/T1 coverage in areas where managing copper has been a 30-year nightmare.

WiMax will make installations like mine easier and cheaper to roll out.

For ISPs it solves the 'last mile' problem: how to get that last mile or kilometre of internet from your service provider's internet connection to you. In WiMax's case, the 'last mile' can, theoretically, stretch to 30 last miles (although more practical-minded testers feel 10 is a more reasonable limit for the technology).

But long before WiMax reached consumers, the hype - and backlash - about this technology sloshed around a frenzied market.

WiMax has been said to be the defeater of 3G. Intel and other WiMax boosters predict that even laptops will become WiMax receivers, and transmitters will be as ubiquitous as mobile cell towers. Others, tired of waiting for the real standard, see the 'WiMax revolution', like so many technology revolutions, as just tech companies inventing themselves a new market.

In fact, perhaps WiMax has been over-hyped and shortchanged all at once. Will you be kicking up your phone's video link to a WiMax connection while bungee-jumping from a hot-air balloon by 2007? Probably not. The problems WiMax solves aren't glamorous. It may, however, fill some very profitable niches.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Via WaPo, some meditations on the latest from Google: a toolbar that adds "useful links" to a web page you're looking at. Seems to me that however convenient, this is an infringement of intellectual property. As the article observes, MS tried something like this a few years back - it bombed. For instance, Barnes and Noble found all their ISBN numbers linked to Amazon pages - not funny. B&N had to add their own internal ISBN links - at least Google don't have the brass to change a link that has already been authored.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Via boing boing, some hilarious pisstakes of corporate motivational posters, based on comix (anti)heroes.

Monday, February 28, 2005

The 10 greatest rock and roll myths, according to the Observer blog. Plainly, hits are good for myths.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Apple are stepping away from Firewire, all in the cause of chasing those bucks in Windows-owner pockets. They'll be using USB 2 in future gen iPods.

A while back we had a list of Apple's top ten flops: maybe it's time someone started a list of 10 great technologies they walked away from. This one's a cert for that list.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

"to toss ice water on fevered egos, to lament the false idols of celebrity in all its forms, to tread the swiftly flowing currents of the most popular culture in world, offering life preservers of our baldest intentions, culled from the tidal wave mob mentality ...". Here's a good obit for HST.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This quote from today's Irish Times raised a smile:

Sean O'Casey - Irish playwright and arch lefty who hated P.G. Wodehouse - called him a "performing flea".

Wodehouse characteristically responded by saying that he believed that O'Casey "meant to be complimentary, for all the performing fleas I have met have impressed me with their sterling artistry and that indefinable something which makes the good trouper". O'Casey's famous remark later became the title of one of Wodehouse's many books.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson has checked himself out of Planet Earth. Whether he's gone to Hell or Heaven, the noise levels there have just gone up a few decibels.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Life on Mars? More likely than not, say NASA scientists.

Electric paper - a display with the daylight readability and high resolution of paper - comes closer to reality with this announcement by Ntera. The revolutionary display, which uses a reflective layer of titanium dioxide, is being developed by this Ireland-based company.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Humans are not the only farmers. This interesting article reviews the "competition".

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day! For my dearest darling, A., a rose.

A productive weekend: JF finished the new fence (creating a whole new wind-sheltered front garden area). I tapped away on the area where the new decking will go. The weather is balmy for February and there's a noticeable stretch in the evenings ...

Simulations by the Max Planck Society show how growing black holes regulate galaxy formation. The press release is worth a look just for the stunning graphic of a birthing galaxy.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Good dins with L. last night in Caviston's, Monkstown. I had: cup of seafood chowder, two Rock oysters, and a squid salad. Washed down with Pinot Grigot white. Yum!

Later today I continue the culinary theme with lunch in the Market Bar with assorted scribes and hacks. The bill is on our mag so there should be mighty quaffing and feats of trenchermanship.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I like the idea of information foraging, which views humans as informavores, snuffling and rooting through the information undergrowth and consuming the odd morsel. Seems like a good metaphor for blogging to me. It could even be extended to the animal equivalent of marking, which is what a blogger does when linking to something (squirt!).

Enjoy this gallery of the work of André Kertesz. Just click on the tab under the thumbnail of the first photo (oh, and the Skip Ad link while you're at it. The work is of near-Cartier-Bresson brilliance, and well worth a look. There's a decent backgrounder here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Mark made a point about the slow demise of Hotmail. My comment agreed, as follows:


Early Gmail adopters (who included Mark of Malmo as I recall) saw that THE WHOLE POINT of an e-mail collection is to be able to search it - not micromanage a poxy 2 MB Inbox that goes toes up every time someone sends you a large file.

For instance, with Gmail, a working journo can tag e-mails about a particular article, and when collation time arrives, group them all (a job that formerly took significant time and attention), and get to work.

Any lamer Product Manager who sees this as using e-mail disk space as a "dumping ground" and condescends to considering "adding the feature" has truly earned their spot in deserved oblivion.

A good list of the ten best blogs: At /tonym, we're already linking to the reliably zany Boing Boing and the reliably irritating Instapundit, but the others are well worth a click or two ...

If you've never heard of Yma Sumac, change that here and here.

Happy times! The blog turned up an old friend from college days who lives over the hill from me. Possible plans for a get-together include hewing down some "curse of Leylandia" trees and drinking absinthe.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Another Image from the Future, courtesy of Wired.

Quite the item for coping with incompetent or aggressive fellow drivers: this custom set of wheels comes complete with fully functional flamethrower ...

The war against the cane toad just got louder, as Aussies try a new dodge on curbing this rogue imported species. Unfortunately, it seems the ockers need a spot of education on the difference between hostiles (the cane-munching giant toads) and the good guys (friendly native Australian giant frogs) ....

I have a great fondness for planting trees, and fortunately, a small bit of land to do it on. A couple of weeks back I put a dozen and a half holly trees in the hedging. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be looking out for a chance to get some willow slips (traditionally called "sallies"). Of all trees, these are the easiest to root from slips, and they also have the charming characteristic of being one of the first to show new growth in Spring, with an early February burst of glowing catkins.

The following is cogged (apologetically) out of today's Irish Times - it's worth publishing:
Celebrating trees

Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.
- (George Pope Morris, 1830)

Or, the song would now go, in the age of sustainability, "if you're going to cut it down, plant another in its place".

Nine thousand years ago this land was covered in dense forests of oak and elm under whose canopies myriad other trees, plants and animal species flourished. Gradually these vast forests were torn down to make way for agriculture. Only as late as the early 20th century, when trees occupied as little as 1 per cent of our land, was the idea of replanting taken seriously. Even then it was as the crop of second choice, confined largely to land deemed unusable for agriculture, more suited to the now ubiquitous fast-growing conifer.

Today, we are at last beginning to rediscover the importance of trees - one-in-10 acres is now afforested and the national target is to treble that by 2035. Just as important is the need to increase the broadleaf and biodiversity share of that planting. The truth that we are all too inclined to forget is that trees are hugely important to us, physically, emotionally, artistically, and even spiritually. They are our lungs and the great woods are nature's cathedrals. They are venerated in many societies as repositories of ancient mystical powers, lore and customs.

"No bit of the natural world is more valuable or more vulnerable than the tree bit," Seamus Heaney has written. "Nothing is more like ourselves, standing upright, caught between heaven and earth, frail at the extremities, yet strong at the central trunk, and nothing is closer to us at the beginning and at the end, providing the timber boards that frame both the cradle and the coffin."

We, and those who share this shrinking planet with us, need the tree more than ever. Not least because in a single year a mature beech tree releases enough oxygen to keep a family of four alive - a typical tree absorbs a tonne of CO2 for every cubic metre's growth and produces 727 kilogrammes of oxygen. And even the humble, fast-retreating hedgerow is home, one survey has recorded, to as many as 37 species of shrubs and 105 species of wild flora. Not to mention fauna. A single oak recently felled was found to be populated by 57 different lichen, and oaks are known to harbour up to 284 insect species.

Today, we celebrate the magnificence of the tree.

Monday, February 7, 2005

A great weekend: Saturday was a gem day - took Scooby for a walk, and spent more time stopping and chatting to people than walking the dog. Everyone loosens up when the first pet day of the year arrives. Saturday night we went to the Stonecutters for dins and met up with friends and neighbours.

On Sunday, it was woks at dawn as we put on a big SE Asian feast for family and friends: J&S&S had bailed us out mightily over the Christmas with plumbing skills (my own plumbing skills don't go much past turning a tap on and off). Anyway, we were very happy to put on a feast, and ended the night watching Howards End (a free DVD of which came with the Times - wheeee-ee, you can't beat free - great movie too ...)

Friday, February 4, 2005

Since living in Canada a bunch of years back, and owning a .22, I've had a healthy respect for the junior infants of the rifle world. This comes as no surprise in gun-strict Ireland, where .22s are treated as in the same league as elephant guns. In Canada, they hand them over the counter like pea-shooters. Anyway, here's some photography capturing the effects of .22 calibre shots on everyday objects.

After just one day, I got sick of my new XP interface and hacked all
the settings, Start Bar etc. back to "Classic" so now it looks just like it did before the changeover. Goodbye to all the big cheery Fisher-Price toolbars
and the Teletubbies-on-acid colour schemes: all looks professional and
restrained once again.

Colleague John Braine sez: "There's a fine line between genius and insanity ."

Monstrous coyote dog hybrid terrorizes neighborhood. In the Chino Hills, a wild animal resembling a mix between a coyote and dog is reaching great heights to kill family pets, leaping fences as tall as 6 feet to attack small animals in yards. The thing seems to be a coy dog - a dog coyote hybrid about 20 pounds heavier than a regular coyote.

So that's where all the matter went. Scientists have long been puzzled that the universe's theoretical amount of matter and the measureable amount of matter were way out of whack with one another. They posited the existence of baryons in dark interstellar clouds, but these entities proved hard to find. Recent discoveries posted in Wired come up with a possible solution.

A new study conducted with the help of the Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed the existence of baryons in at least two giant, intergalactic clouds of super-hot gas 150 million and 380 million light-years from our planet.

And on less scary, and erm, weighty matters: spotted by monasette: Nothing sums up the glory of modern life in the west more than the front page of last week's Galway Advertiser. In the bottom corner was an advert for cosmetic surgery - a picture of generous cleavage with the tagline (across the aforementioned mammaries) - "The result might be a handful, but dealing with us is not". (Groan)

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Finally dragged kicking and screaming into the wonderful world of XP, after scratching along with rock-solid (by MS standards) w2000 for the last couple of years. Changing OS environments is bad for the nerves: so many little things that have to be restored to working properly again.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Emission nebula NGC 604 lies in a spiral arm of galaxy M33, 2.7 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum. This is a site where stars are being born. It looks awesome.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Xeni objects to this Gandhi-based telecom ad for "tasteless appropriation of the dead", but hey, c'mon, it's not bad.

Hat's off to Mike from Hobart for this list of top 10 most ridiculous
black metal pics of all time
. De-commissioning and putting permanently beyond use seriously required by this lot.


"Who's there."


"Interrupting C --


There's a German proverb I like a lot: "Only those who work make mistakes."

And my addendum to that is: "The harder you work, the more mistakes will be pointed out to you by people with time on their hands." On that note, check out this list of Apple's top ten flops.

(Ed note: No mention of the Newton!? Shurely shome mishtake?)

This is lifted outright from today's BoingBoing as there isn't a proper link. Xeni writes:
PalmOne Treo smartphones have a feature called "CoverUp Sound" where you can trigger sounds to play in the phone conversation.

I hear that this application is popular in Japan with cheating "salary men" husbands. They'll trigger sounds of a train station, a busy office or a bar, while explaining to their wives why they won't be home until later. Single men trigger the sound of a girl in the background saying "come back to bed" to make their male friends jealous.

I use it to insert a bad connection effect: "I can't hear you, you're breaking up on me, I'm losing signal, I'll have to call you back about that. Kshhhh."

posted by A Seeker after Knowledge 3/07/2003

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Editor and writer, web and multi-media developer, journalist, blogger. Interests: Gardening, cooking, hiking, Buddhism and yoga, music, travel, life, the universe & everything.
Living somewhere near here:

Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Click the piccie for a bigger version ...
Previous blog: Winter 2004-5

Blogs we like
Blogcritics: news and reviews
Flickring in the breeze - tonym's photostream.
Halfbakery - for half-baked memes.
: well worth watching.
Interesting thing of the day - is interesting.
365 and a Wakeup - is a US soldier reporting from the Iraq front lines.
Dervala is a thought-provoking read.
Sonja and Eddy are housebuilding in Germany.
Caoimhe .... is way cool.
William S. Lind military .... AND intelligent.
She's a Flight Risk ... and on the run.
North Atlantic Skyline: the West's awake
Informed Comment from an expert on Iraq
Karlin Lillington is on the move.
Quondam Confederate: Mark is in Malmo
Slugger O'Toole: drunk as a rule, but well up on politics
Banana Republic Daze: is pithy and topical
Oblomovka in California
Textism: rarely updated, but succulent.
Melanie - this really is a blog.
Meanderthal Man - in search of the Missing Think.
Tom Chi making music in Seattle.
The Homeless Guy - out and about.
Babblogue is quirky.
The Agonist - somewhere in Texas (when he's not touring the Silk Road).
SlashDot - geek central.
BoingBoing - a directory of wonderful things.
Bernie Goldbach - is under way in Ireland.
Ideas Asylum - for insanely good ideas.
D2R - for tech talk.
Last Daze of Eamo - for an eye on the comics.
Tom Murphy - has a PR angle.
QuantumBlog - for scientific updates without all that Slashdot attitude shite.

Dept. of War-blogging Just to keep an eye on these guys and be reminded that the neo-cons aren't going away any time soon ...
Den Beste - good on engineering topics, rabid on everything else.
John Robb - war-blogging from the armchair (which is the closest to a war-zone most of these guys get).
Instapundit - for breaking news, and a right-wing take on same. "If you've got a modem, I've got a (bigoted) opinion".
Andrew Sullivan - a right-winger who writes well.
... and if you want to get the taste of these guys out of your mouth, visit: Press Action

Winter 2004-5
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March 2004
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March 2003

Just in case they ever come back to life, and to remind one of the perils of hiatus ....
William Gibson - he's back in hiatusland.
Where is Raed? used to blog from Baghdad
Ilonina - was random.
Paulianne was diarying in Diois
Eric Raymond - an individual, but one who doesn't keep his site updated.

I live in Ireland, in a lovely part of the country called Aughrim in the county of Wicklow. I work in South Dublin - it's a long commute - but 2 days a week I work from home. Whenever possible, I walk with my dog Scooby (Scooby's a feisty Glen of Imaal terrier with loadsa character) under beautiful Croghane Mountain.
About the name Mulqueen Mulqueen is a Clare sept, first recorded as a bardic tribe in the annals of the Dal Cais in the 10th century. I'm from Limerick originally myself, and the name is mainly found in south Clare, North Tipperary, and Limerick East. The name is O'Maolchaoin in Gaelic - the "Maol" (as with all the many Irish surnames beginning in "Mul") means "bald". It doesn't mean there were a lot of hair-challenged gents back then! The tag refers to "tribes wearing horn-less helmets" - it wasn't just the Vikings who wore horns, many Irish tribes did too. The "chaoin" means "gentle" in the sense of well-bred (the sense that survives in "gentleman" or "gentility"). Presumably the bardic (poetic) activities are referred to here :-) Anyhow, some of us are still writing - there is a disproportionate number of Mulqueens working in Irish journalism. Heraldic elements in clan history generally tend to be much later additions, but for the record the Mulqueen coat of arms holds a lion and a heart, and the motto: "Fortiter et fideliter" - brave and true.
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