• Kerataconus and Me

    imageWell this is not a technology related post, but I get asked about it alot and people have sketchy details about what it is (ie. they know my vision is messed up). Keratoconus (from Greek: kerato- horn, cornea; and konos cone), is a degenerative non-inflammatory disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than its normal gradual curve. In plain English, light bends in a distorted way to make vision ghosted, blurry and less sharp. Glasses cannot fix this problem as they fix issues with your natural lense behind the cornea, as usually it has improper focus.


    Thankfully it is a rare disorder, perhaps genetic and it only occurs in 1 out of every 1,000 people or so, I am wearing hard gas permeable (Oxygen can go through them) lenses which are the biggest pain in the world to wear, hard pieces of plastic literally sitting on your eye. This is a short term solution however, as my eyes will continue to degenerate for the next 20 years or so, then will be most likely followed by a Cornea transplant (ie. I recieve some other [usually dead!] persons’ corneas). There is technology being worked on, such as slicing the cornea and inserting half a contact lense (literally) in each side to prop it up. Most likely I am more fortunate then a person diagnosed with it 10 or 20 years ago, as time is on my side. The reason I don’t talk about it as I don’t want it to be a sop story or people to have pity, it is just a fact of my life, one which I am optimistic of for the future. Maybe awareness can help raise money for reasearch and such forth, that would make make me happy. Really my only cause for concern is this: will computers catch up enough on screen readers and other disability technology by the time I am blind??!!!! The Wikipedia article is fantastic, and was my first port of call about it when I found out I had it:

  • Irish Elections and Creative Commons

    This is the text of an email I sent to RTE. In America, CNN Television network is allowing the copying, remixing and free use of presidential debates as long as they are given credit, I believe RTE should follow its lead and extend to other programs:

    First of all, sorry this isn’t to the right department, I couldn’t find the right one. The technical department which runs the website would make likely be able to deal with and respond to this issue.

    • I would like to say thank you for the fantastic RTE.IE live service. I am writing this email to ask you follow America’s CNN in releasing Irish Election broadcasts under a permissive license, like Creative Commons. This would allow people to reproduce the content freely, and give RTE the credit it deserves. Like Democracy, Culture wants to be free and open to the people. This could serve as a trial to Creative Commons licensing other RTE produced programs.*
    • Thanks for your time, I look forward to your comments/response on this issue!*

  • Ultimate Games Disc

    I got inspiration over this past Easter holidays, being bored, I gave Linux Gaming a shot. I am not much of a gamer myself and most websites aren’t very helpful or have too small a focus (only shoot-em-ups, or only certain Linux distros etc.). Inspired by the fine folks at and, I announce my own project: Ultimate Games Disc. UGD is a project I think I can make very successful. My aims are as follows:

  • Apple / EMI Deal - Thank the EU?

    I heard the news one hour before it was announced: Apple and EMI are going Digital Rights Management (DRM) free, albeit at a slightly higher cost and quality. One of my pet hates is people who bash the European Union, often citing I will admit its not glowing charachteristics. These same people never admit the things Europe does right, which may well be this hopefully landslide affect against destroying DRM. To quote The Register:

    In the space of 24 hours Apple has gone from announcing an all-singing, all-dancing DRM-free deal with EMI, to facing the possibility of being slapped by EU fines of up to 10 per cent of the firm’s worldwide annual turnover.

    And it is not alone - the major record labels, including EMI, could also be hit by the same fines.

    As we reported earlier, the European Commission has issued a Statement of Objections “against alleged territorial restrictions in online music sales to major record companies and Apple”.

  • My Top 10 Applications of 2007

    Here’s a few items I’d like to share with everyone as I find them extremely useful, hopefully you will too, thats if you have never used them! My Top 10 Apps of 2007 in descending order:

    10. Spybot Search and Destroy

    • Always a must on spyware infested Windows XP installs I come across (Unfortunately all to often). It removes a lot of the bad stuff, and my most used feature is system startup section, as I can stop all that crud from loading and slowing everything to a crawl.

    9. iTunes (OS X Version)

    • Apple’s Music player definitely has a nice feel to it, shame about the copy protection from the iTunes Store. That doesn’t really impinge on my use of it however, I use it to manage my iPods , Podcasts etc. and occasionally l listen to Internet Radio.

    8. The Gimp - Ugly as sin, but useful as anything you’ll ever find for free. The Gimp is the image editor of choice when I do my (admittedly very light) photo editing. It also cross platform, on Linux, Mac and Windows. While there are alot of other good free image editors, for all round utility I find the Gimp has it sewn up.

    7. ** ***Google Earth *- Okay Google Earth is pointless for most things, but it is nice to watch a tour of famous landmarks you have never seen (Eiffel Tower anyone?). While its utility is perhaps limited, it still provides good fun and a break from productivity.

    *6. **Spotlight, Beagle & Google Desktop *- Whatgood is any system if you can’t find anything? I have to admit I am a neat freak when it comes to files on a computer, I have them properly hierarchically sorted, I only wish I was as organized in real life. But for those occasional files I misplace, these three utilitys are invaluable. Spotlight on Mac OS X launches most of my prigrams, Beagle on Linux is super fast and unobtrusive and on Windows it doesn’t get better than Google Desktop with all those handy widgets for information blurbs.

    5. OpenOffice / KOffice / NeoOffice- All the suites are free, and they come with great legacy document handling. I don’t use office applications a whole lot for personal use, but these two I would would pay cold hard cash for, because there that good. I use Koffice on Linux where possible, due to its improved speed (as I use KDE Desktop). Koffice will be going multiplatform by the end of this year, and OpenOffice is working on a native Mac OS X port (a void which NeoOffice already fills), all in all a good time for free office suites.** **

    4. ** Google Talk *& Adium* - When on Windows, its got to be Google Talk, even better now that they have a gadget (it’s on my contact page). When I am on my Mac laptop, its got to be Adium. Adium is the first Open Source application on this list, and for good reason, it has made beautiful use of GAIM libraries to craft a stunning messenger application. Linux messengers miss out for a variety of reasons, but Psi came close to the two above. **

    **3. **iPhoto - An OS X only app, it is a beautiful centre-piece to the invaluable iLife suite from Apple. iPhoto lets me export whole albums as movies (which I then upload to YouTube), original sized pictures and more. It makes my life easier so much so, I have stopped photos being put on any other machine in my home network, they go straight to iPhoto, waiting to get to a critical mass to be wiped and copied to a DVD and my protable hard drivr, which iPhoto does in a few clicks. It does it with style als0, something which Apple is now much lauded for. Although it doesn’t come close to what photography pro’s want, it makes my life that much easier, plus I get all those nice embarrassing ones (of other people) on my iPod ready to be shown on the move! iMovie missed out as we don’t really video anything important in my household.

    2. Mozilla Firefox - While it still has quirks as all browsers do, nothing makes me feel as good about the web as Firefox does. Its myriad of extensions and huge community which keep it secure is just somethings worth mentioning about this wonderful browser.

    1. Amarok - Without a doubt the best music manager on the planet. I am amazed at its handling of Digital Music Players, including iPods. It is lighting fast with a proper database behind it, so even if you have a large music collection as I do, it will not go slow or die on you. Its built in music store serves fresh mp3’s, and its onscreen display of songs lets you know what tunes you’re listening to. It has a million and one scripts to make it do anything, an alarm clock perhaps? done. Tell your friends what your listening to on your contact list? done. A web interface so you can use a remote or laptop to control it? done. All of these are a few clicks away, even for new users it’s a breath of fresh air. Visualizers, faders, any music type you can dream of is playable, I could go on all night, Amarok has it all and more. Like Koffice it is only really on Linux (well, Unix-based) at this point, but its development team are promising OS X and Windows versions. My bet is it’ll fly faster off the shelves than Mozilla Firefox has…

    I plan to follow this up and make a series, I have a lot to say! As I am know by a lot of people who know me as “the” Techie person, I plan to write a few short posts on cleaning up windows, saving space on OSX etc. and other interesting stuff alot of people ask me questions about.

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