Post Archive

2019

Scraping Transaction Data from KBC Bank

  • 1 min read

In a previous post, I mentioned importing transactions using ledger/hledger and plain text accounting. As my former bank PTSB recently raised their fees, I decided to move to KBC. I was excited to see, as part of the open payments directive, they have a nice developer portal. I reached out to KBC’s dev team, but alas they are only accepting registered companies, who meet stringent criteria. They told me they hope to open it up soon to end users, I live in hope!

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2018

Favourite Podcasts

  • ~1 min read

Over the last while I’ve been collecting wonderful podcast episodes from the hundreds of hours I’ve listened to. I’ve even workshopped some of my favourites with colleagues and friends (they all approve!). Luckily a neat service called HuffDuffer allows you to create a personalised feed from episodes spanning any podcast you see fit. All you need is a direct link to the MP3 or indeed any format audio file.

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Python 3 In-Memory Zip File

  • 1 min read

In Python, BytesIO is the way to store binary data in memory. Most examples you’ll see using zip files in memory is to store string data and indeed the most common example you’ll find online from the zipfile module is zipfile.writestr(file_name, "Text Data"). But what if you want to store binary data of a PDF or Excel Spreadsheet that’s also in memory? You could use zipfile.write() (designed to take binary data) but then you can’t specify a filename (since our in-memory file was never written to a location on disk). The reason for this is simple: for a web request or for a test case, you shouldn’t need to store any files on disk.

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The year of self hosting

  • 1 min read

Over the last month or so, I’ve come to embrace my home server setup and how powerful it can be. Here I have this small little Intel NUC Server, for which I promised myself I would do lots of cool and interesting things with.

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2017

Scraping Data from your Bank in Python

  • 4 min read

As part of my previous posts, I talked about ledger and plain text accounting. The only part missing is that you need a method to import transactions from your bank. For this I have been doing this by hand, bi-weekly. I would have to do the following:

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Slack Bots for Work

  • 1 min read

In a previous post, I mentioned how I get notified of the restaurant menu via a Ruby script. Recently I’ve moved to a totally different product area and the main communication channel we use is Slack. Naturally enough, I ported the Ruby code I wrote, and it now posts the menu every day to our Slack channel.

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2016

Run Command on SSH Login

  • 1 min read

Do you need to run a command on SSH login? There are a lot of solutions on the web for this, but most of them are very complex. I stumbled across this easy method of using the authorized_keys file, simply add command="ls -l" (replacing ls -l with something a bit more useful like tmux or screen) in front of the key fingerprint. This also means you can have different commands for different keys if you choose.

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iOS Shells, Prompt vs. Mosh

  • 2 min read

I’m a big fan of the shell and the productivity it brings, you can have a text editor, command to run a server and more within easy reach. I use a shell at work, at home and on the go. On the go could be using my iPad or iPhone. One of the first SSH clients on iOS was iSSH, which I used many years ago. After this, Panic released a professional class application called Prompt. Prompt is what I’ve happily used for the last few years, but the 10 minute background process limit is a constant pain. Just a quick switch away for a few minutes, and you have to reconnect. That’s fine once or twice, but when it happens many times it seriously slows your productivity.

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Plain Text Accounting

  • 4 min read

For the last few years, I’ve always wanted to budget properly and see where my money was going. But like all habits that are good for you, looking after your finances takes time, care and attention. I started off by researching the market for budgeting software. A lot of the prepackged software out there was very US-centric, including Quicken, Microsoft Money and Mint.com. I eventually settled on and bought a license for You Need a Budget, because: it had a budgeting methodology, very good Euro support and was cross platform with Adobe Air. YNAB lasted me well for a few years, with its pretty graphs and ease of expense entry. I even liked their much pared-down companion iOS app at the time.

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Newsfast MSc Project in UCD

  • 2 min read

As part of my masters degree in University College Dublin, we undertook a group project which focused on building a technology product. I’m very proud about how we ran the project, so I’d like to give an overview of it here! The product is a technology news application, which personalised your news feed based on your interests. I like to think of it as Facebook meets Techmeme meets your favourite RSS news feeds!

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Automatic Newsletter Cleanup in Gmail

  • 1 min read

If you haven’t tried Google Apps Script, I found a really nifty use for it: smart filtering for email. Wait, shouldn’t I just use Gmails’ built-in filters? As it turns out you can’t - my filter needs to act on email that matched that filter in the past. So in other words: a filter can only act on email it actually “filters”, which kinda makes sense! I’m a big fan of automation (and email is ripe for automation), as you can see from my post on meetings in Outlook.

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iPad Pro Review

  • 1 min read

After some thought initially on a new laptop, I decided to spring for an iPad Pro 12.9”. So far I am really glad I did, the computer comes with me everywhere. I bring it to work, to visit family, on trips and everywhere in between.

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Remote: Office Not Required

  • 1 min read

I recently read Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier-Hansson (who created Ruby on Rails) and Jason Fried (who co-founded 37 Signals with Heinemeier-Hansson). This book is really a case study in why the future of work will be remote, of which the book did convince me (but I would say, I already believed).

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Mechanical Keyboards

  • 1 min read

Early last year, I purchased two Code Keyboards (one for work and one for home). The Code Keyboards are designed by Jeff Atwood (who founded Stack Overflow). Mechanical keyboards are “old style” in that the switches are from an era where everything was mechanical, unlike today where everything is glass. So mechanical keyboards have ardent fans and people who don’t really care for them.

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Roost Laptop Stand

  • ~1 min read

I backed the Roost laptop stand on Kickstarter, which already had a successful run in their first Kickstarter campaign. I’ve been delighted with the result so far, it lives up to the promises of being super light but yet durable and strong. Here’s a photo of it:

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Automated ‘Push’ Restaurant menu

  • 1 min read

I love trying to automate the world, it just feels like magic some of the time! I also really enjoy information coming to me, instead of having to seek it. As we are still only in 2016, we have no world killing Artificial Intelligence (yet). So we have to start small, ease the first world problems! So I decided to make my workplaces’ restaurant menu come to me!

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Adventures with Docker

  • 1 min read

I’m a huge fan of Docker ever since I started to use it, approximately a year after it was started. It’s one of those technologies where when you start to use it, you immediately know it’s going to be a sea change in how things are done in the industry. It’s definitely going to be more impactful then Virtual Machines.

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2015

Deliveries App

  • ~1 min read

Deliveries helps you track packages from major shopping (Amazon, Apple) as well as nearly every major package distribution company like DHL, UPS and FedEx. I’ve used the app for years and it’s really impressed me.

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Editorial App

  • ~1 min read

Editorial is an iPhone and iPad plain text editor that’s great for markdown1. It also has some nifty automation workflows, in which you can use Python scripts. These can search the web, scrape data, transform text and much more…

  1. Markdown is a lightweight markup format, created by John Gruber of Daring Fireball. 

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Services I pay for

  • ~1 min read

In alphabetical order:

  • Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk - usually buy electronics here!
  • Apple’s App Store - I use iOS & Mac heavily, buy a lot of apps!
  • Dropbox - sync files across computers
  • Evernote - I store a lot of notes here.
  • Fastmail - My email, contacts, calendars
  • Hover - great place for domain names (like this one).
  • Lastpass - excellent password manager
  • Newsblur - Personalized RSS for news junkies
  • Pinboard - stores all my bookmarks (also archives the sites)
  • Trello - I’m planning a holiday via Trello

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2014

Drafts App

  • ~1 min read

My favourite text capture app on iOS bar none is Drafts by Agile Tortoise. What makes it the best?

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De’Longhi Magnifica ESAM4200 Bean to Cup

  • 1 min read

I’ve had this DeLonghi machine for a year and a half now, and I possibly am slightly a little in love. It was the best rated coffee machine (at time of purchase) on Amazon and it doesn’t dissapoint. For the purpose, it’s wonderful:

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Mac Mini Server

  • ~1 min read

I recently purchased a Mac Mini Server, for this site to run on. It’s hosted on my home broadband connection, but it’s just really for small time side-projects like this site. Also it’s a way to play around with Docker, VirtualBox, Node.js and all those other fun technologies I don’t get time for.

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All Music Radio

  • ~1 min read

On holidays in Lithuania recently I was eating in a restaurant and noticed the music was all in English. It’s not the first time I’ve noticed a non English speaking country playing all English songs in bars, restaurants and taxis. Rather what was unusual was the very few ads and the fact it was an American station.

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Math can help you outsmart the MTA

  • ~1 min read

I heard a behavioural economist on the radio this morning, he was talking about rising house prices in Dublin and the tricks the industry uses to get you to overpay. Turns out you can mitigate these tricks with a bit of knowledge, as this proves:

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Bell Curve is Wrong

  • ~1 min read

Interesting study here: apparently performance of people in a company is never related to a bell curve, but is more like a ski slope. So the majority of people are carried by the few in terms of performance. What I really want to know is pay for these people like a ski slope? Cause I bet it ain’t.

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iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

  • 1 min read

Interesting announcements yesterday by Apple, finally releasing an iWatch. A lot of the talk on tech sites was reminiscent of the famous CMDR Taco (of Slashdot) line: “Less space then a nomad. Lame.”

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CSThesis: Create Professional looking thesis

  • ~1 min read

As part of my undergradute thesis, I found a template (for LyX) to ease the pain of formatting a thesis in LaTeX. Making it look just right to me was very important. If your are writing a thesis, perhaps you feel the same way? If so, read on…

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2013

Why GNU Grep is fast

  • ~1 min read

Worth a read for those wishing to optimise programs that process a lot of data. It proves that less really is more…

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Fish Shell for Ubuntu and OS X

  • ~1 min read

A great guide to get up to speed with Fish shell. What is Fish? It’s a shell written from the ground up to be more easily understandable the the traditional shells (bash, tcsh). I don’t know yet if I’ll switch (anything you can do in Fish can be made to work in Bash). It’s an interesting concept and I’ll try it for a while…

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MSc in Computer Science at UCD

  • 1 min read

I’ve recently decided to further my education by applying for a Masters in Computer Science at University College Dublin. It’s very different from a traditional masters course in that it is very much focused on industry, the term the University uses is “Negotiated Learning”. It was a colleague of mine that introduced me to it, I was not even aware that there was what I would call ‘non-strict masters’ (that is not a set-in-stone syllabus/research direction).

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Quickly navigate your filesystem

  • ~1 min read

The article is a great tip for those who spend a good chunk of the working day on the command line. I made some adjustments to Bash completion code to get it to work on Mac OS X:

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Visit to CERN

  • 1 min read

I am currently in Switzerland on a business trip. In between work, I managed to get some time over the Swiss national holiday to visit the CERN. CERN is world famous for the invention of WWW and of course most recently, the almost certainty that the Higgs Boson (aka. “The God Particle”) - the particle that gives energy mass - exists.

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SSH Config Aliases

  • 1 min read

If your like me and you deal with a lot of servers for development or test and do it from a Unix machine, I’ve got a really handy tip: SSH hostname pattern matching.

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Custom Colourful Bash Prompt

  • ~1 min read

Bash, a command line shell is one of the most used pieces of software in my daily work. I like scripting repetitive actions to save a lot time (it brings me great joy!). One of the simplest and easiest customisations is to add a bit of colour to your otherwise boring bash prompt (otherwise known as $PS1):

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Document it Please

  • 1 min read

Very good technical documentation skills are a must for any Software Engineer - to explain how a system works in detail forces you to think about the flaws present within the design. “Bad smells” of documentation often can be a sign of weaknesses on your product. Is this section too verbose or did we make it too complex for the customer? Should we explain ancillary parts of our system (either operating system components or other applications?) within our documentation besides the inherent risks (out-of-date documentation)?

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Tor Talks

  • ~1 min read

If you haven’t heard of Tor, it is alternative internet - one with privay in mind. I’ve recently started to watch a lot of technical talks online. The two main guys behind Tor are some of the best speakers I’ve seen. They describe in great detail how open source works and the myriad of open source projects around Tor in this talk:

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Stitcher is (audio) podcasts done right

  • 1 min read

Just a quick post about a great application I’ve seen mentioned by Cali Lewis: Stitcher. If your a talk radio fan like me, you’ll really appreciate this app! Ever since I switched from an iPhone 4 to a Galaxy S3 and stopped using Apple’s Podcast application it has been frustrating to keep up to date with podcasts.

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2012

First Experiences with an ARM Chromebook

  • 3 min read

I  recently bought a Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch). I am fascinated by living tied to the web, indeed my honours computer science thesis deals with this in relation to mobile applications (and hybrid half-app/ half-website). Spurred on by the excellent reviews this Chromebook has gotten (“It’s $1,000 worth of design made with $100 worth of materials” - The Verge and “You simply won’t find a netbook this nice for that little money.” - Engadget).

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Chrome vs. Internet Explorer Audience

  • ~1 min read

Lately both Google and Microsoft have been advertising their respective browsers on British Television (received in Ireland by the vast majority of the population). It’s interesting the different approach each company is taking.

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Grab the Popcorn!

  • ~1 min read

Fresh from the “interesting but pointless facts” desk comes this little kernel (I apologise!) of truth:

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Tonsillectomy

  • 4 min read

I’ve recently undergone a tonsillectomy - the process of removing the lymph node tissue hanging idly at the back of your throat. I know I write mainly technology articles, but I thought a departure was warranted from the usual faire.

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The Linux Desktop has a place

  • 2 min read

I’ve seen an article by Miguel de Icaza, a great developer oft criticised for his love of Microsoft technologies on Linux. His latest piece is about his love for Mac OS X as a desktop and how he used to feel guilty about it (given his very impressive open source credentials).

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Review of Steve Jobs Biography

  • 1 min read

I recently finished reading Steve Jobs, the biography by Walter Isaacson. I can’t add much more then the extensive coverage that it has recieved in the press to date. Instead I paraphrase really badly a friend of mine, Noel Hudson:

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Notepad++: A Great Windows Editor

  • 1 min read

I spend a lot of my day in heavy development tools such as Eclipse1, but often for editing simple XML I just want a quick tool to make fast changes. If I use the CLI (or Linux) it’ll be Vim, if I’m on Mac it’ll be Textmate but on Windows it’s Notepad++. I haven’t found an editor on Windows as clean as Notepad++ (if you use a tool professionally, you get to know it’s quirks pretty fast) for editing text of any kind.

  1. Eclipse is an IDE primarily for programming in the Java programming language (which is what I use). 

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Record your terminal session

  • 1 min read

As I’ve mentioned before1, I regularly watch technology podcasts and I’ve had a subscription to sites like Lynda.com. Between those and Youtube, I’ve watched an awful lot of technology how-to videos and 90% of them are quite poor in terms of editing, sound and being coherent/properly scripted. Sometimes though it’s a joy to genuinely learn something new in a short, concise and to the point video.

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Ikea in the TV Business?

  • ~1 min read

Ikea the TV Business? Who would have forseen the day. After looking at their video I must say I can see the reasons quite clearly: TV’s look awkward in almost everyones home. They don’t fit in our units, the cables are in awkward positions and you can never find the remote1. I’m a fan of all things cheap and Ikea I must confess, so I’ll be watching this development with great interest!

Article: Ikea furniture with integrated TVs and sound systems coming this fall

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The Best Cookbook

  • ~1 min read

I’ve only recently started cooking meals from scratch and it’s a worthwhile experience! By my side is an awesome cookbook produced by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

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Very Simple Java Twitter Bot (Twitter4J)

  • ~1 min read

Below is code for the start of a Twitter bot I am going to build in Java. It’s the most basic way of getting Oauth working (with any account, not just your developer account) and it shows your timeline and can update your status - that’s it for now. The neat thing is it uses Java’s awesome serialisation, so you only should have to authorise your twitter account once!

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Is 4K the new 3D? - The Networked Society Blog

  • ~1 min read

I’d love to own a 4K screen, the more lifelike the images the better it’ll be for movies. I’d imagine filesizes are 4x as large as HD also, which will be an issue that might kill off optical storage (and require better broadband). It’s a shame the author tried to compare it to 3D (which objectively is still a flop) but he mentions the issues in that technology (namely: field of vision).

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Nuke support in UK hits record high

  • ~1 min read

If only we had such sense here in Ireland, we can’t meet our commitments and it will hurt the economy in the long run not to go nuclear. The ESB has said “sometime in the 2030’s we will need to look at it” - why not look at it now? These projects take 10-15 years at least to implement properly.

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@ACR884 Tech Slot #002 - Tablets

  • ~1 min read
  • iPad
  • Motorola Xoom
  • HP Slate
  • Android tablet apps
  • iOs tablet apps

In this episode Patrick and Neil discuss the main players in the tablet market as well as Neils top Android and iOs tablet apps.

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2011

Don’t get a Kindle

  • 1 min read

The headline is misleading - I actually love my Kindle. I have read several books I otherwise would have not read. What I don’t get is why otherwise well-healed and technology literate folk dismiss the Kindle out-of-hand. The most common reason? It’s not dead-tree paper. You can’t hold it. You can’t feel it. Yet the biggest thing they dismiss is me. It’s personal. I have an eye condition which means I wear hard plastic contacts all day long - my eyes get very tired, very easily.

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All About Platforms

  • 1 min read

If your passion is in technology, you often sigh with the marketing buzzwords used in sales. Cloud Computing doesn’t actually mean anything specific (or could mean a lot of things). It’s that a lot of things to a lot of people who makes it useful as a term, an  ideology, a way of explaining why you-oh-so-need-to-do-this-now. Cloud computing for me is a platform description. I think of the myriad of hosting companies who offer a platform to build your service atop.

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Hollywood Tech

  • ~1 min read

I always enjoy watching shows like CSI for the over-the-top depiction of current technology. They obviously have people in know, it’s not like the script writers of major shows cannot get someone to consult them on technology (or maybe they don’t - sometimes I do wonder).

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Faster with Arch

  • 1 min read

I have recently switched my main desktop over to Arch Linux. If you have never heard about Arch Linux, it is a “roll your own” Linux distribution. This basically means from start to finish, the whole process is custom. Whether your system has a Graphical User Interface (GUI) or sound is totally up to you.

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Website Improvements

  • 1 min read

I haven’t been posting much lately because I have been working hard to improve the experience of visiting this website. You may ask what does that mean? - well it is simple. I love going to websites that are uncluttered, provide useful information and are to the point. It’s also small things like having a really fast page load time. So here’s a flavour of some of what I have been working on lately…

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Reflection on 9-11

  • 2 min read

It’s been 10 years since the anniversary of 9/11 and much of the world has changed a lot in that period. We’ve had full body scanners at airports, marshalls on flights, bombs hidden in toner cartridges and two wars. I reflected on this and remembered two really good articles I’ll share here on the topic. Hopefully we’ve changed for the better.

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Review of the Motorola Xoom Wifi

  • 3 min read

I recently bought the wifi version of the Motorola Xoom. I did not get the 3G version to keep costs down (no second carrier subscription in addition to smartphone I own). Here’s my review, let it be noted I’ve been an iOS user since version 2 (iPhone 3G) and although I have used devices from Android 1.6 and up - I’ve never ‘lived’ with them.

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Tech Video Podcasts Worth Watching

  • 1 min read

I try to listen to as many podcasts (netcasts?) as I can. They fall in to two categories: Irish radio and technology. Luckily, there is so much competition in this space it’s hard to pick the best - so quality is high!

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Software Engineering Job

  • 1 min read

I had been applying for jobs since I started my last year in college and I am delighted to say even before I completed my final year, I have gained full time employment. I would say it is luck, but my family thinks it’s down to a lot of hard work and good grades! Either way, it’s a great feeling in probably the most competitive jobs market (for potential employees) in years.

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Final Year of Honours Degree, Complete

  • ~1 min read

It has been a whirlwind four years, but this day marks the cessation of my full-time education for my honours degree. It is an overwhelming feeling of relief, joy, sadness and all of the emotions you feel when leaving an institution that has been a huge part of my life, if only for four short years.

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Cleaning your PS3’s fans?

  • ~1 min read

Below is a neat trick to clean out your Playstation 3’s fans if they become a bit noisy. Before I have used a can of compressed air, but this method is really neat and definitely lowered the fan sound emanating from my PS3.

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GeoCampus

  • 1 min read

For my final year project, I have done a web application on the concept of replacing traditional web applications. I picked an area I was deeply interested in, smart phones. I am an avid iPhone user and I have bought Android phones also, they are great devices I can’t imagine not having now that they are here. As part of my thesis I touched on the old way to develop apps, using Symbian C++ or J2ME and we’ve come a long, long way since then.

For those interested, I will publish copy of my thesis after November 2011. I won’t publish it here just yet, as the examiners have yet to pour over the contents and grade it.

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Sennheiser HD595 Review

  • 2 min read

During last summer I purchased a set of Sennheiser HD595’s - a great product for Audiophiles. I have to say for someone who constantly listens to a lot of music - good headphones like these are a must. They are expensive for sure, but Sennheiser do seem to have a great durability and solid build quality. This is my first set of such high quality headphones, so bear that in mind - I can’t speak for other manufacturers in this space.

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iPhone 4 Review

  • 2 min read

I purchased the iPhone 4 shortly after its release in Summer 2010. I have obviously been so quick to review this device, the iPhone 5 is upon us! My philosophy for reviewing items is you have to live with them. Well boy have I lived with my iPhone 4! As I write this on it, I do marvel at how good the hardware is. I’ve dropped this extremely expensive device on occasions too numerous to count, so luckily it is designed well.

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Thoughts on IPv6

  • 2 min read

A multitude of websites have been reporting the impending doom of ipv4 exhaustion, which is going to happen soon. All the top level address’ will be gone, but the regional registries will still have stocks of address’ in to 2011. As a user of ipv6, I thought I could share sone thoughts/insights on the events ahead…

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Output Percentage of File (Bash code)

  • ~1 min read

I wrote this script recently for a friend in a job who needed to output a certain percentage of a log file, but no more and no less. This was in Linux using bash, so I had a go at writing a solution, which you see below. Posting this up in case it’s useful to anyone else!

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2010

My Top Chrome Extensions

  • 2 min read

Below I present some very useful extensions I use while using Google Chrome, in no particular order.

imageAdblock

  • Blocks ads just like Firefox extension and makes the web less junky to look at. You can whitelist good ads, and an argument could be had your harming websites revenue stream, but a lot of nasty tricks such as spyware, malware have used ads as a vector to spread. Not least the dishonesty some sites use in splitting up articles in to 10 pages to pump ad revenue.

image KB SSL Enforcer

  • If you don’t know what https or ssl means don’t worry. All it is encrypted webpages which protect your information between you and that website. Commonly used in banking online, it is now spreading to sites like Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and the like as a more secure way to protect your information. This extension turns it on without you even noticing!

image Vanilla

  • not that nice flavour of ice-cream! - A Cookie Whitelist Manager that helps protect your privacy. Automatically removes unwanted cookies.What are cookies? Little text files that website use to remember who you are. It’s okay if you have an account and log in, but the trouble arises when nefarious people use it to track which sites you visit.

image Bookmark Sentry

  • A bookmark scanner that checks for duplicate and bad links. I imported 100’s of bookmarks from firefox collected over about 4/5 years at least. Websites change, move content, you can accidentally bookmark a website twice. This helps get your bookmarks working for you and being useful again!

image Site to Phone

  • sends links from your browser to your phone or tablet - be it Android, Nokia, or Apple iOS device. You bookmark a page on your mobile device and install this nifty extension in Chrome, when you click the button, next time you open that page on your mobile deivce, it will open it automatically.

image Webpage Screenshot

  • does what it says on the tin, but can take a screenshot of the whole page of a website, no nasty scrolling and trying to stitch to halves of a screenshot together, works like magic!

image

Google SSL Web Search

  • protects your web searches from prying eyes. Can use an option in Chrome or be set as the main search engine.

About:Flags (Chrome Beta only for now
Most people won’t know about Chrome’s about:flags (open a new tab, enter about:flags, hit enter), similiar to Firefox’s about:config and possibly just as dangerous, it presents “under the hood” options normal users wouldn’t need to touch. Some of them are very cool to use and will no doubt cement Chrome’s market share gains. Here’s my favourites:

Tab Overview: Enables Expose like Mac OS X interfaces for swapping between tabs, very cool1

Disable outdated plug-ins: Disables plugins if Chrome knows about security problems with your old version of the plugin. Not only that but offers to update.

XSS Auditor: Adds protection from Webkit to prevent sites trying to steal information you have on the other (crazy non-real-world example would be Yahoo! trying to get Google login info) Replace Google with any site and Yahoo! with a nefarious one.

Instant: Like Google instant web search like I do? You’ll love this that loads webpages as you type. Example is www.google.com, then erase com and put in ie and you never had to press enter once to visit Google.ie, like magic!

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First Video Blog!

  • ~1 min read

Below is my first attempt at video blogging. If I get used to it it may be easier to explain my point of view or give reviews! I have liked hiding behind words up until this point, so this is a new venture with my iPhone 4.

imageYouTube Video

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iPad Evolution?

  • 1 min read

Since Apple released an iPad there have been various competitors announced, so it got me thinking what would it take for me to buy one? I haven’t bought the first generation iPad because the lack of a camera on a device so obviously good for fullscreen video calls has baffled me. I guess they have to store up some ideas since they need a new hardware iteration every year, Apple’s revenue model depends on that vital hardware refresh cycle.

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Alternative Interpretation of the Prodigy

  • 1 min read

So I was listening to some music, thinking about the announcement today on Anglo Irish Bank that we have 32% national debt and my generation will be expected to pay that. Kind of depressing if you ask me, but no one does, ’cause the media has got that one all wrapped up. So I asked myself, is their anything new we can learn, while I was listening to the Prodigy classic� Breathe. So I came to the realisation there can’t be anything added, or can there?

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Garmin Zumo 660 Motorcycle GPS

  • 8 min read

It’s been over a week since I received my Garmin Zumo 660 Motorcycle GPS unit. I thought I’d give it a run-down for potential buyers on my experience for the first week. Firstly I should mention, I’ve never owned another Garmin unit, and had two mobile GPS’ units before (one being Nokia N800 with Bluetooth external GPS and other Apple iPhone 3G). The reason I bring this up is that a lot of the reviews I’ve seen written compare it to it’s predecessor, Zumo 550, which obviously I can’t do.

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BSc in Computing

  • ~1 min read

Wow… what a weird feeling, I have a degree under my belt. Three years, many friends and a lot of hard work later! The degree itself was based on my father’s business Grogan Burner Services, and trying to solve a real world problem of using Excel spreadsheets. We used Python, Google App Engine and a lot of Javascript to create a modern, sleek Customer Relationship Management system. All the code is open source, under GPLv3. Our thesis, including code is available below for those interested. We got top honours for the submission in ITB.

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Haiku: Open Source BeOS clone

  • 2 min read

I usually listen to podcasts on the excellent Twit.tv network and it goes without saying Floss Weekly is one of my favourites. A recent episode covered Haiku - an open source operating system based on the design of the old BeOS. What’s very interesting about BeOS is the design, an integrated all in one operating system - and the fact Apple almost purchased it. That’s amazing to me, literally in one fell swoop, if Apple had of offered the 200 million Be Systems wanted, there would be no NextStep into Apple and by extension - Steve Jobs. It’s especially poignant since Apple just surpassed Microsoft to become the second most valuable American company.

The most spiritually similar of todays operating systems would be Mac OS X, as it brings the integration BeOS was after. I’ve only played with Haiku in a virtual machine, but already I am impressed. It’s a well designed system, not as buggy as I expected - it’s only on alpha2 after years of development. There’s already a lot of applications, all native and therein lies the fault. The Web browser (not surprisingly) is the buggiest of all the applications I tried. Most apps are small one purpose apps, not hard to see a unixy philosophy. One of the developer’s mentioned a port of QT, which could bring QT based apps such as Skype, KDE apps.

Apps or Web?
I think the biggest use of Haiku could be on net-books, it performed extremely well in limited virtual machine - so it’s a pity there’s no commercial sponsor to push it out. The developers mentioned a port of Java or GTK is not on the radar, so you can kiss good-bye to any Gnome or Java apps (Firefox, Chrome, OpenOffice.org), but they mentioned they will target web apps. This seems very curious without a major web browser, as anyone knows the web should be standards based but how often have we seen “Supports Chrome 3+ Firefox 3+ Safari 4+ IE7+” so if this is the agreed upon approach - they really need a major browser. As a computer science person, the design of the system interests me the most, vs others, but I haven’t dug too deep yet, when I do, I’ll be sure to post.

Hardware Support
I haven’t dug in to this either, but anecdotally a good guess would be hardware support would be poor. The main hurdle and the majority of code in Linux is purely based on the millions of hardware combinations PC-based (X86) have to use. This is why for any traction for Haiku, I think hardware support needs to be OEM based, possibly like the white-label EEE PC netbooks.

If you like trying different operating systems, have a copy of VirtualBox or VMWare (and by extension a decently fast computer) give Haiku a try!

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WebM promises Open Web Video

  • ~1 min read

I’ve written about my desire for open web video before, and now it looks as if it’s finally going to happen. Lead by Google’s acquisition of On2 technologies, the VP8 codec has been renamed as “WebM” and open sourced. Vorbis will be the audio. Matroska the container for the new format. An Open Source developer for x264 does a great teardown of the format vs. h.264 here. The patent minefield stateside is still not clear by any means, but with a strong backer like Google, it’s probably the best protection your going to get. Announcements, including links to nightlies, dev and beta channel browsers with WebM support are below:<

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Honda Bros Motorcycle

  • 2 min read

I recently purchased - known as a cult motorbike - a Honda BROS (known in the US as a HawkGT). It is a 400cc V-Twin 1991 model, with 33BHP / 24.6Kw out of the factory. That put’s it under the legal limit for a learner motorcycle in the A category of license in Ireland. I’ve been progressing through bikes, slowly gaining confidence and experience. I posted about my Yamaha YQ50, My Yamaha YP125 (Majesty) and now it’s a Honda BROS’ turn!

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A Bit of Bau

  • ~1 min read

This is a 3rd Graphics project we presented as a group for Computer Science. I’d like to thank Mark and James, my team members, for all their hard work! The subject of Bauhaus was previously discussed in my graphical representation of a 3D chess set. The music is courtesy of Jamendo, and is free ;) Enjoy it the video!

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Donating to Charity

  • 2 min read

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while, probably since 2006. (Almost) everyone that I know of donates to charity on a regular enough basis. I’m a college student so I don’t donate as much as I should. But it really annoys me how the “main” charities run a campaign of guilt and spend millions on it. I’ve donated money to all of these charities, the third world aid charities. All of them spend far too much on paying people commission and advertising. One that I can think of off hand is asking people who donated more than €250 to sign a form and send it back.

This to me is astonishing, do people ignore letters from the charity asking for a simple tax refund (a tick box affair). This leads me to a few scenarios:

  • The Charity constantly bug people for money by letter - leading to people ignoring them
  • People have no emotional and very little other connection to the cause - merely donating for self appeasement

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Computer Graphics: Bauhaus Chess Design

  • ~1 min read

One of our projects this semester is to make a Bauhaus Chess set in a program called 3DS Max (created by Autodesk). 3DS Max is a modeling and animation tool built specifically for creating 3D representations and models. Being a lover of Open Source, when we we’re told although Blender was considered, it fell a bit short for some reason, so we had to use 3DS Max.

3DS Max is not bad to use, some of the tools are nice if your not an arty type (like me) and prefer more technical and structured things. Some of the effects (like glass and water) give a really nice effect to add to the model your designing. Also as part of the project we had to have an accompanying website, which you can view at bark4mark.com/bauhaus

Here’s some pictures of my chess set:

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wpid-PastedGraphic1.GlsQjyPCQX1D.jpgwpid-PastedGraphic2.XeD1j6zEjkT2.jpg

If your interested, definitely check out the website. If you like my (pretty average I think) models and have a copy of 3DS Max, you can Download my .max file and play around with it. All my material is released under CC Attribution Non commercial license (see copyright of the blog).

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Interview - Being a Woman in Computer Science

  • 4 min read

One topic that rarely gets coverage that I’ve seen is how women get along in male dominated environments, such as Computer Science. For me it has never mattered someone’s gender - I love using, tweaking and learning about computers and if you share that interest - the more, the better! It has been shown very young children are conditioned from a very young age by gender rules - shown by Prof. Robert Winston in Child of Our Time programme. So I’ve often wondered in a very skewed ratio of males to females (as generally there are more females than males in society) would affect a Woman’s choice of even considering Computer Science, since so few actually do. So I set about asking our class representative, Lauren Butler, her thoughts on Computers, doing Computer Science and being an authority figure in a male dominated class-room, my questions and her answers follow:

NG = Neil Grogan - LB = Lauren Butler - ED = Editor

NG: What first sparked your interest in Computers?

** LB:** Learning computers in Secondary School, seemed like a cool thing. But obviously I had been playing computer games for years since the Sega Mega drive came out so in a way I had probably been into computers and not really realized.

NG: Do you remember the first Computer you got?

LB: Some Toshiba piece of heavy brick like crap but it had Windows XP on it yay, the battery charger connection broke and couldn’t power it anymore so now it’s dead and good riddance I say.

NG: When did you first realise you’d like to do Computer Science? In School? Or after?

LB: Secondary School filling out my CAO application because I couldn’t think of anything else. Guidance councilor said to do arts (typical response to a person that doesn’t know what to do) but I wanted to be a Garda (ed: a police officer in Ireland) and computers was my fall back. Long story short the Gard’s didn’t want me after the whole application process so I went to my plan B…computers.

NG: Would you describe yourself as a Tomboy? You seem to fit the description of Heterosociality, ie. Preferring (or at least having to) have more male friends than female.

LB: Yes I’m a tomboy, obviously it’s kinda of weird for a girl to like computers and computer games. I do have a lot of guy friends and I do find them easier to get along with but I have a good amount of girl friends too.

NG: Do you remember you first perception of the female to male ratio of the class in first year (approx 3:40) ?

LB: “JESUS I Can’t believe I’m going to have to be in a class with all boys…oh wait there’s 4 girls over there”

NG: Did the fact that Computer Science is male dominated influence your choice negatively or positively?

LB: Neither. but I do get on better with boys than I do girls so In a way it’s kind of better for me to be in a male dominated environment.

NG: Do you feel female lecturers have been tougher or easier on you that you share gender? (ie. Common experiences)

** LB:** I don’t think they have been tougher but I do find they can’t interact with me as well as they do with the males

NG: Do you feel male lecturers have been tougher or easier on you that you differ in gender?

LB: No I don’t think they have been either but I may get away with being a bit ditsy at times

NG: Do you feel the fact the male to female ratio is skewed will help or hinder your career prospects?

LB: No I don’t think it will affect it in any way and it should or at least I hope it will be based on academics.

NG: What would it take to encourage more Women to consider Computer Science? What would you say to sell it to them as a profession?

LB: I honestly don’t know but the fact that you can get into basically any part of the computer industry by doing this course could be an incentive.

**NG: **Do you feel any aspect of the course is more male orientated? I remember one lecturer saying female students excel at coursework, but this reverses as projects come in later years, which males apparently do better at?

LB: No I don’t think it’s more male orientated but maybe that lecturer thinks the more hands on stuff is more male orientated but if like me who is a tomboy that sort of thing should be more interesting, i.e fixing computers that’s my favorite thing, one of which we don’t do enough of.

NG: As Class representative and a leader of the class, do you feel being a woman has positively impacted the class – i.e. That different experiences & differing management styles of Women can be a unifying force?

**LB: **I really don’t think I have had any sort of impact on the class, I’m just a very open person and I’d like to think that anyone in the class could come and class to me.

**NG: **Do you ever wish people would stop focusing on this male/female thing and that it all should be a meritocracy? It’s it stupid me asking these questions (have we already moved on?)?

**LB: **I personally don’t see it being focused on the male/female thing. Especially now being in third year where we are being placed in groups to work on projects, we all use our talents and abilities to achieve a good grade. Defiantly in my group I work in I have never had a problem with my gender being focused on, as long as every one pulls they’re weight who really cares about gender.

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Technology New Years Resolutions

  • ~1 min read

Some people make new years resolutions about eating healthier, exercising more etc. I find that boring, who doesn’t want to be healthier? So I am making a list of technology resolutions:

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Dogs chew things?

  • ~1 min read

Lesson learned: never leave a expensive. Take these pictures I shot after the dog attacked my motorcycle! I still love dogs as pets, they are man’s best friend and just like best friends they can screw up. The only thing I am most upset about now is the dog can’t pay for the repairs… Forgive and forget Fritzie? Thats a girl…

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Back to Top ↑

2009

Best KDE/Linux?

  • ~1 min read

image via tuxradar.com For me it’s definitely Kubuntu, but I can see why they choose OpenSuSe. May I just mention the virtual machine builder system is awesome, pay attention Mr.Shuttleworth! Although PPA builds come a close second for useful online tools…

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Why Should I Care What Color the Bikeshed Is?

  • ~1 min read

“The really, really short answer is that you should not. The somewhat longer answer is that just because you are capable of building a bikeshed does not mean you should stop others from building one just because you do not like the color they plan to paint it. This is a metaphor indicating that you need not argue about every little feature just because you know enough to do so. Some people have commented that the amount of noise generated by a change is inversely proportional to the complexity of the change.”

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Sony Subsidises Supercomputers for the US Military?

  • ~1 min read

Ars has a great article about how Sony through the Playstation 3’s awesome power (can’t you tell which of this generations consoles I own?) and subsidy (based on recoup of selling games and hardware - a model pioneered with the PS1)

With respect to cell processors, a single 1U server configured with two 3.2GHz cell processors can cost up to $8K while two Sony PS3s cost approximately $600. Though a single 3.2 GHz cell processor can deliver over 200 GFLOPS, whereas the Sony PS3 configuration delivers approximately 150 GFLOPS, the approximately tenfold cost difference per GFLOP makes the Sony PS3 the only viable technology for HPC applications.

Calling the PS3 “the only viable technology for HPC applications” is wildly overstating it, but we get the picture.

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Is a Mac Pro overpriced?

  • ~1 min read

Gizmodo seem to think so:

The $2,500 Mac Pro, desperately in need of a refresh, gives you a 2.66GHz Quad-Core Xeon (essentially an i7), 3GB of RAM (triple channel, but seriously?), 640GB hard drive (again, seriously?) and a nominal graphics card. Spend $800 more and you’ll get a another processor and 3GB more RAM.

The $2200, 27-inch iMac obviously includes a screen, plus you get a 2.8GHz Quad-Core (i7), 1TB drive, 4GB of RAM and a nominal graphics card.

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3G Coverage in Ireland

  • 1 min read

I recently used Twitter to post about my journey on public transport from Kilkenny to Dublin. For people outside of Ireland the total Journey distance was about 90 miles.

I used only my iPhone on the O2 network and close to 50% of the time it seemed like I had 3G. This was on a train moving at speed, and YouTube played very well with little to no stutter. It did drop to Edge the other half of the time, with about 30% of time I still got speeds web browsing was acceptable on. So in summary: 80% of the time it was possible to surf the web.

After that Journey I was also on a Dublin Bus, and I had full 3G coverage which comes as little surprise as Dublin Bus only serves densly populated Dublin and it’s environs.

A few days later I went on a road trip to Athlone, and the coverage on the M4/M6 was not as good as I’d hoped. My theory on why the train was better is the fact on the routes I’ve been on a lot more urban areas are visited, thus the rollout has been very good to densely populated towns, but along motorways which are far away from such places: your sadly out of luck.

Hutchinson Whampoa (aka 3 Ireland) have recently got the national broadband contract to supply rural areas with 3G coverage, so most of these areas should be covered in the next few years. I should note wireless broadband is hugely needed for mobiles etc,, but a fiber optic service is really what the government should be sticking money into!

Overall I am very happy to recommend 3G for mobile usage with small devices. People with Laptops should explore their options and try find something else first, like DSL, Cable or fixed point wireless. These can be slightly more expensive then bargain-basement 3G but worth it. As the old adage goes: sometimes you get what you pay for…

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iPhone 3G Review

  • 6 min read

I recently got an iPhone 3G and away from all that Apple mania; I thought I would give an honest review. This is framed in the mindset of all the past Nokia devices (which I have posted about here also) which I have owned.

Okay so where to start? Well I think a good place would be what I could have bought instead. Strange place for a review; but its good to see what is out there and what I was looking at beforehand.

  1. Nokia XpressMusic 5800 Nokia make great phones; I have stuck to the reliability of Symbian on their earlier phones for quite some time. I love Nokia; they mean reliability when you need your phone most - always a top feature other manufacturers never got quite right. Maybe its part inertia on my part - I can’t really say. Long story short is that this was a major competitor: over the iPhone it has expandability and a lot more hardware features (like RDS Radio), can play a lot more formats also. Downsides: Got terrible reviews for poor Symbian integration with touch; that plectrum looks downright stupid; it is not as sleek as iPhone in form factor (although it is smaller), screen didn’t seem as good to me.
    image

  2. HTC Magic imageFollow up to the HTC Dream or GPhone; this Android device has probably the coolest developer OS around. Lots of activity is going on around Android at the moment; so the first phones to land in the UK and Ireland should be more polished (using next gen Android: CupCake). Their is even rumors it will be adapted and put on net books: possibly making it the standard of mobile devices if given enough time. This will only bring more cool apps in time and reduce Apple’s iTunes Store lead. Downsides: Not available yet; so I couldn’t buy it. Doesn’t have as much apps yet. Isn’t as polished in the software interface as iPhone. All of these can be resolved with time however…

  3. Palm Pre imageI hold out a lot of hope for this! Also Linux based; it promises a cool, open Web developer community as all the apps are online. Web apps need a lot more thought for offline use in my opinion, so I am reserving judgement on this. The interface seems to rock; and developing for it looks super easy… Downsides: not out yet, thus lack of Apps and pricing info.

  4. Some junk WinMob imageSays it all really: a smart-phone but for less than a good plain old non-smartphone. Always made by some obscure Taiwanese outfit - not that is a bad thing; after-all most iPhone parts come from there. For those on a budget this was my last option; but darn cheap; just over €115 for one! I could have bought one for every member of my immediate family for the price of one iPhone: makes you think, doesn’t it?

On to the review of the iPhone:

Pros:

Beautiful Interface:
It looks amazing: lets be honest. I have never seen a phone look quite this good.

Fingers:
imageUsing only your hands is great; lets face it: you cannot forget your hands. You can forget a stylus and even the iPhone itself; but those hands are sticking with ye!

**Time: **
I use my phone for time; Apple has it displayed elegantly, in the same place, almost in all the phones’ screens. I love this as I can keep myself aware of what I have to do next… All in glorious 24hr goodness, they way time was meant to be displayed…

Lots of apps:
The App store grows bigger every day and all those little useful Apps are really handy.

**Quick Interface: **
The software interface is very fast at getting you to where you want to go; to that Twitter application or your Web mail etc.

Maps and Location based services:
I have seen the future: and it is the Internet that is location aware. iPhone has taken the first tentative steps in this area with allowing apps to use location; as well as building it into the camera and maps applications.

Great iPod:
Apple doesn’t lie on this one. It is a great iPod. The best? I haven’t decided yet… but it’s not far off…

Safari:
imageIt is the real web you get on an iPhone. Not only that: it is surprisingly comfortable to navigate with. I haven’t seen a mobile phone device come this close before. The N810 has a great browser with flash; but all round Safari wins on ease of use. I heard the earlier versions were very buggy; maybe I got in just as Safari matured properly.

Accelerometer:
Changing the view of applications as you rotate the phone was a masterstroke. Some things just need to be viewed vertically; others horizontally. The iPhone just makes it happen: seamlessly.. no buttons and no fuss. Thumbs up!

SO-SO

Camera:
Not a lot to complain or praise about the camera. It does it’s job… Their is no flash or other trickery other phones have to offer; so any sub-optimal light and the iPhone may as well just not have a camera…

Cons:

imageCost:
Its darned expensive! I bought it contract-free and to say it burned a hole in pocket is an understatement.

One Inbox:
Nokia has this one on the button. I don’t care whether its SMS, MMS, E-Mail or a message through telekinesis: put it in one place please… It’s easier to check; and logically it makes more sense to not have to visit ten apps for each. Bonus points for allowing developers to hook in things like Twitter..

Smudgy:
It smudges and scratches like nothing I have seen. They tried to make it too shiny; at the cost of usability. I would prefer a grippier, less pretty surface: but I am sure I am in a minority on this. I could probably have even been overheard muttering “Smudgy piece of ****” . Add to any price the cost of a cover…

**Keyboard: **
imageYes I know how ugly hardware keyboards look: but they do work. The on-screen keyboard to me: sucks. I much prefer the N810’s on-screen one that I can use with my thumbs. Using my index fingers just doesn’t feel right; and more to the point: all onscreen keyboards are crap. This is a major TODO for any willing iPhone competitor…

Background Apps:
This may sound like a minor niggle: it’s not. Only apps you can run in the background is the phone, iPod, Safari and Mail. I don’t even think Safari and Mail are true background apps; in fact I know they aren’t: they suspend when they are not at the forefront.

Status:
iPhone OS 3.0 is set to fix notifications; apps will be able to display a number next to their icon. I personally don’t think that is good enough. Is a notification area as seen on other phones (you know for like calendar?) too much to ask? I would prefer that as the idle screen rather than the pretty picture.

Activation:
I already feel Apple doesn’t trust me; but to force me to run around trying to find a computer with iTunes to activate the thing (I wasn’t near home) is just pure stupid. Do it over the air (for free; at your expense) or just don’t bother. Fail on this, major fail.

Rat race jailbreak:
Apple should just give up.. People are going to crack these no matter what. You only inconvenience your customers (hint: not the networks; us little people) with all this DRM nonsense. EA has it right: do the minimal DRM for contract purposes.
image

Pay to release even a free app:
Its a shame Apple thought 30% markup wasn’t steep enough… But even developer of free applications have to pay $99 to release it on the store. It would be fine if you could get the app another way… This just causes more junk apps to appear at a cost… If they did this on OS X it would be suicide; why not open up the iPhone to free software?
**
**
No 3.5G:
I expect this was due to power; which is totally forgivable and understandable. But a nice feature would be 3.5G for extra speed; I expect this and 4G (WiMax?) will appear in later models..

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Eircom Responds…

  • 1 min read

Dear,
[My Name]

eircom has not agreed to block any Internet sites from being accessed by
end-users. As part of the settlement of the above proceedings, it was
agreed that eircom would not oppose an application by the Plaintiffs to
seek to have eircom block access to the Pirate Bay website. The Music
Industry will still have to establish, in the normal way that there is
an appropriate basis for the relief which they seek from the Court.
eircom is not supporting or consenting to the application. The
settlement makes no provision for any site other than the Pirate Bay
website.

It is important to note that:

  • eircom will not monitor its customer’s activities at any stage.
  • eircom will not implement any form of monitoring equipment or software on its network.
  • eircom will not provide personal details or any information relating to its customers to any third party, including the record companies.

No personal data will be transferred from eircom to the
record companies which would enable any customer of eircom to be
identified. eircom has agreed to keep confidential and will not
disclose any information concerning its customers to the record
companies and it will in particular observe in all respects the laws on
data protection.

With Thanks
Thomas Ryan
Head of eircom Customer Care

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This post is censored by IRMA

  • 3 min read

I always hoped for better for Ireland; but it seems the thieving hand of “rights” organizations which pretend to represent the artist have struck gold. Being able to cajole and bribe the largest Irish Internet Service Provider (ISP) - Eircom; has worked only too well. Although Eircom has said it will only obey by having a court order - it has agreed never to oppose these - which makes it complicit in the act of censorship. My Letter to Our ISP, Eircom, IRMA, EFF:

Dear [OUR ISP],

We are a loyal customer of yours. We are writing this because we’re concerned about recent news regarding IRMA (Irish Music Rights Ass.) relationship with your company (the recent letters sent out).

It would seem that they are seeking to become self-appointed censors of Irish Internet communications. We do not think that a third-party company should be permitted to arbitrarily decide which Internet sites Eircom users; or more importantly any Irish Internet user should be allowed to visit. Will IRMA want to block sites that merely link to copyrightable material, proxy sites that circumvent the block, blogs that criticize its actions? This is a very slippery slope and should be nipped in the bud.

In the recent high profile case against The Pirate Bay in Sweden; IRMA’s handlers (IFPI, RIAA) have shown their hand: they don’t even understand the underlying technology. John Kennedy, CEO. IFPI:

Kennedy said he qualified as a lawyer since the 70’s but hasn’t practiced recently. He was asked if he understood BitTorrent. Kennedy said he did, but in “very vague terms.” When the defense lawyers asked more detailed questions, about uTorrent for instance, Kennedy said he’d heard of it but had no idea of the details. It was very clear he knew nothing about any remotely technical issues.

This is the the kind of people who wish to regulate the Internet. Questions need to be asked that if you follow IRMA’s requested actions does this open you up to legal action for any other kinds of material which rights holders are protective of (Church of Scientology) ? and can you retain common carrier status like An Post; and need warrants issued instead of some rights organisation sending you a vague letter pretending to represent XY&Z ?
We understand the ‘concern’ about Internet piracy. Artists definitely need to be paid for their hard work. It is an important issue in this day and age, and it must be addressed correctly. Censorship is not the answer. It is avoiding the issue. As has always happened in these cases, it is normal customers who are inconvenienced and have their free speech restricted the most. We need solutions that work, not knee-jerk reactions that are doomed to fail. We recommend you read the EFF’s whitepaper on a better way forward for online music. http://www.eff.org/wp/better-way-forward-voluntary-collective-licensing-music-file-sharing

There are opportunities here that are being missed. I think it would be for the benefit of both artists and music fans if a solution could be found that combines the technologies developed by the pirates with a fair system for paying artists.

**There was a very similar case in Italy where ISPs were forced to block The Pirate Bay’s website after pressure from the music industry (the result was that Italian traffic to the site increased by 5%) . The ban was judged illegal in court under European Directive, 2000/31 CE which is also applicable in Ireland. **

If this ban goes ahead, Eircom and indeed Ireland will have a tarnished image on the world stage as a place where misguided efforts to protect revenue supersede freedom of communication. We would also be strongly considering abandoning our Internet subscription for an ISP who doesn’t cave to these demands, and we imagine many other business’ will too.
Please, make the right choice. The world is watching. Your decision will have an important impact on the future of the Internet in Ireland.

Yours faithfully,
[Footer]

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Love letter to IRMA’s Solicitor

  • 2 min read
  • This post is a continuation on the previous one. IRMA is the Irish Music Rights Organisation which represents the big four record companies and their bottom line: never the artist. They have recently tried to regulate the Internet and have forced the biggest Irish ISP: Eircom; to use the three strikes rule and boot people off the Internet… No Judge, no Jury, no evidence of a crime.. Just an IP address and a sanction which you cannot contest.

* I have sent a poignant email to IRMA’s solicitor based on their letter of attack on the ISP’s. If you think any of the language is too harsh by me; please have a look at a sample of the threat letter this solicitor sent out here. This is a legal firm who were suing individuals for thousands of euro; which I would hazard a guess most couldn’t pay. So in my eyes this is a form of legal terrorism; and a joke letter to give this solicitor a heads up that there are people out there like me who read and know the tactics of the Irish Music Rights Organisation; and the parent companies like IFPI, RIAA and the Anit-Piracy Bureau they spring from…. It is my opinion that nothing short of punishment (jail time) for frivolous threat letters should be carried out, plus damages (x10 like they do in their cases) to individuals and companies wrongly stressed out by this. I will compile a blog post of all the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that IRMA has spread soon; and a rebuttal of why their actions may even increase piracy. One thing is for sure; my analysis will be a whole lot cheaper (free) and probably more accurate!

Note: I have taken out names, but the legal firm and the acting solicitor can be examined in the letter above \^

Dear [Solicitor for IRMA’s name],

It is my position that you are morally bankrupt through your actions via IRMA vs. ISP’s. If you need independent advice on how this technology works (I am in Computer Science; but I can explain things slowly; so who knows?) I would be most delighted to help. Please note my hourly rate is at least twice yours; but I’m worth it!

I look forward to hearing from you in 7 days; lest I contact a credit agency for non-payment. As this email constitutes services rendered by me. But I am willing to trade for legal advice on disbarment of a solicitors firm I know which abuses the law; only because I am a reasonable person!

Kindest Regards & Love,
[My Footer]

PS: This is intended as Humour… only slightly…(joke!). I will publish any response you make on the Internet; so keep this in mind; if you don’t wish it so; don’t respond.

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Ubuntu in four years

  • 1 min read

Last year was me celebrating four years of using the best operating system out there: Linux and the best distro Ubuntu. Ubuntu was my first foray in to Linux; and I haven’t left it since; although I have tried all the other major distros. I started with the first version of Ubuntu; Warthy Warthog:

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KDE 4.2 Beta 2

  • 2 min read

Recently I downloaded the Kubuntu packages of the new KDE 4.2 beta 2. For those of you who don’t know; KDE is the K Desktop Environment; which includes a window manager (KWin), common desktop applications, its own menu (Kickoff), browser (Konqueror), file manager (dolphin) etc. Basically it is the most popular desktop environment on Linux next to Gnome.

image *KDE 4.2 Beta 2 with Kickoff Menu visible

* **What is so special about KDE? **
The philosophy of KDE is the advanced configuration it allows through its Graphical User Interface (GUI), this is versus Gnome which chooses sane defaults and leaves configuration in hard to reach places and out-of-sight. This isn’t to say KDE doesn’t choose sane defaults; it does and is very user-friendly. KDE has always been the more Windows-like of the major desktop environments and this hasn’t really changed in KDE 4.X series. KDE is available in popular distributions of Linux such as Kubuntu, Mandriva, OpenSuse. The special part about 4.X series is that for the first time for any Linux desktop environment; it is fully cross-platform, easily installs and works on Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X.

image KDE 4.2 Panel; with KOrganizer calendar open

Whats new in 4.2?
Stability. Ever since KDE started the really beautiful 4.X branch they have gotten harsh criticism for stability problems. This is not surprising as KDE 3.5 was the result of years of bugfixing and stability fixes and was really rock solid stable; in fact I don’t remember it crashing at all in the times I used it; but I have been a Gnome user for a while. This criticism was deserved; but perhaps premature: KDE always stated this almost ground-up rewrite of everything major wasn’t going to be pretty and it wasn’t. I used KDE 4.0 and KDE 4.1 and both crashed frequently; especially Plasma since it powers almost everything on the desktop.

Desktop Effects
With this release comes the introduction of desktop effects; if your graphics card is supported. I think this is a great move since projects like Compiz required hacked in dectection of KDE or Gnome and I suspect this was coded in; it really makes sense to have desktop effects in the core; as it will really help stabilise them as the KDE4.X branch matures.

  • Better Customisation
    You can now control height and length of the menu bar; as well as add many more plasma applets to it. The Kmenu replacement Kickoff has stepped up to the plate in this release and features almost a complete set of icons for any application (much to my chargrin in earlier release a lot of ? icons could be seen). Also more customisation and preference panes of Plasmoids are allowed.

image Desktop Effects in KDE 4.2 Beta 2

Full major feature overview is here.

So whats the final assessment?
When this is released I definately recommend you try it! This is the first release of the 4.X branch I would be happy to install and support on my family’s desktop. Since I don’t often get to access it physically to fix problems; this is one area I couldn’t trust either 4.0 or 4.1 to behave. It still isn’t as feature-completed or as stable as 3.5 series; but in my opinion it is damn close and approaching fast; get it while its hot!!

Kubuntu Instructions to get KDE 4.2 Beta 2 on Kubuntu Intrepid 8.10

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2008

Firefox and Opera lead the web video way

  • 1 min read

I downloaded Firefox 3.1 beta 2 (after trialling other development snapshots over the last few months) to see Ogg Theora video support is coming on really well. Opera, as well as Mozilla has committed to including this royalty-free video codec for web use. This is really good news; as one Opera Developer said:

Something however is still not quite there about web video. The video solutions mentioned above are proprietary closed solutions that rely on plugins to display in a web page - what we need to make video a first-class web citizen is an easy, open solution to integrate video into web pages, and native support for video in browsers.

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Profiling Firefox Extensions I have installed

  • 2 min read
  • My Current Firefox Extensions: A-Z*
    imageAdblock Plus; because ads are for people that don’t know how to avoid them! Not only do they stop your banwidth from being wasted; they make a ton of websites more usuable. It takes care of Flash Ads as well as static ones; using a filter that is constantly updated. So even if some of the webs more devious and sneaky advertisers try to circumvent it; AdBlock can have a fix to everyone online within hours. It is definately my favourite extension! I don’t block certain ads like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (the ones with decent reputations) as that is how the people behind really good websites I frequent make a living. But for all the rest trying to do pop-ups and pop-unders; I am sorry your days are numbered! (Some people higly recommend flashblock but I haven’t had a need to use it with AdBlock Plus yet).
    image

CustomizeGoogle adds neat tricks to Google services such as always using a secure connection to Gmail; links to other search engines, page histories, Favicons to search and streaming results pages. Comes in handy once in a while; but I don’t use it daily.

imageFireGPG adds the full encryption and signing power of PGP to your Firefox browser. They have built in buttons for Gmail and right click options to sign, decrypt, encrypt and much more. A must have for privacy-aware people out there. Only downside is you need to create a Web of Trust with the keys you choose to use.

imageFoxmarks: synchronises your bookmarks, passwords accross any computer with Firefox installed (they have plans for Internet Explorer and Safari). It is definately my most used extension; comes in handy almost daily. I use a lot of different computers; and Foxmarks keeps them all in sync! Only thing they are missing is extension syncing (while keeping your preferences); but hopefully that will happen in the future!

image
Gears: enables offline access in Google Reader and Google Docs. I have been hoping for awhile that they would extend this to gmail; but no such luck yet. It is mildly useful; but I wouldn’t use it daily.

imagePingFire allows you to use Ping.fm service to send quick status messages to Bebo, Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku, Blogger, Wordpress.com and 100’s more. Really useful to alert people to what you are up to!

image SpeedDial: Opera’s innovative approach has been replicated in 100’s of Firefox Add-ons; not least this one. But this is very handy when you have a handful of websites you visit every day. It has a window with squares filled with images of the websites which you most frequent. It makes checking news and your favourites websites a breeze. Customisation options for the tinkerers among us are quite good also….

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Research proves video games lack harm

  • 2 min read

imageI am not a big gamer; I primarily love systems and how they work. I do own a PS3 (amazing hardware I might add) and I prefer FPS and generally devious natured video games (like the GTA franchise). Does that make me a bad person who wants to kill people? Of course not; nothing could be further from the truth. But some people stick their fingers in their ears and shout “LA LA LA Columbine LALALA Terrorists LALALA Violent Video Games!”. They say it is destructive to childrens young precious minds. The “Think of The Children” argument always disgusted me; its like shouting Fire in a packed room when their is no danger: it is false, just to garner attention and a sickening twisted version of the facts. Are violent video games harmful to kids? Probably; I wouldn’t advocate giving them access since they; just like movies are clearly rated for Adults. *

imageWhat is so hard to understand about that? Its is clearly an issue of parenting and morals whether you allow your child access to such material. So it is clear the real issue is the lack of proper guidance by parents; either to not bother enforcing the ratings, block their children from receiving them as gifts, or monitor to check if they spend pocket money on such items. They gladly do so for other adult items like adult content, movies, cigarettes and alcohol; why not video games? Today’s consoles even have ratings built-in (PS3, Wii, Xbox 360) which are enforceable by a password the parent can set. This makes it a breeze to block adult games and really hard for the average child (never mind adult) to circumvent. They could still play it at a friends house of course; you can’t lock your children down, but even so you can actively limit their exposure to such material. The study points out what others and I have always known: Video games don’t corrupt a mind by themselves, other factors (mainly social/upbringing) have a much bigger impact (Highlighting mine for brevity):

Research at Smith & Jones seems to imply that feelings of anger and powerlessness often pre-exist a compulsion to play violent games. In some cases these people find each other in the gaming world and form a bond based on those feelings of alienation and anger.
Mr Bakker believes that if there was more commitment from parents and other care givers to listen to what their children are saying then these issues of isolation and frustration could be dealt with at source and bring many young people out of the virtual world and back into real life.

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SSH Guide

  • 2 min read

**Note: This Guide was written for use by my Computer Science class

on Linux (and Mac OS X where noted). I haven’t used SSH on Windows; but hopefully someone can make sure this guide works also on Windows by noting differences). SSH comes with nearly all Linux distros and all Mac OS X releases.
**

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Web Multimedia Project 1

  • ~1 min read

As part of Computer Science you do a couple of general modules which are general in nature about computing; but I think that just reflects the broad use of IT in every part of society today. As things go digital or are created digitally; understanding of this concept is vital; that is where Web Multimedia comes in. For my first project of this second year; I had to do a movie made of stills with custom sound effects. Restrictions on sources of images and sounds (very high percentage had to be self made). Here it is:

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Gmail Video Chat

  • 1 min read

image I am an avid Gmail user through Google Apps. I use the calender, chat, code, sites, pages, docs the whole lot. One of my friends even jokes “You should just work at Google Marketing”. Yes I like most of Google’s products; but I am a products guy; I use whats good, cheap and fast (pick two). Google has the cheap down due to ad-revenue; for the moment anyways in the current financial turmoil.

So I was delighted when I seen Gmail Video and Voice released. I have used it on my computer and I can say thats its really good: better than SIP video; better than Skype on the quality front. Google Talk has always had the clearest voice calling from my usage of it vs. the others.

My family use Gmail; I have converted almost everyone I know to use it. Most of my Computer Science class have it (some just use the student hotmail); so I will really use this feature. There are a few problems however:

  • Google Talk itself has no video; a curious decision
  • It is not encrypted like Skype; there should be an option
  • No Linux client: Unbelievable when Mac OS X is supported!
  • Not compatible with Nokia Internet Tablets; an early testbed for Google Talk Video
  • Open Standards but not Open Source: patent issues with licensed video codecs

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Innovation Right Here - Dept. of Education is Wrong

  • 2 min read

I usually get both of Ireland’s daily national papers to my email inbox every morning. I think it’s very important to catch up on the latest news; as I think you are more informed and have conversation pieces to talk to people (for those awkward silences where “Ye the weather is terrible” just won’t do). So I was highly informed when I read this piece: DCU head hits out at ‘out-of-date’ O’Keeffe.

“There is a tension between the traditional expectation that universities will primarily teach students, and the more recent requirement for universities to underpin economic development and attract corporate research and development into Ireland . . . not to mention the role of universities as agencies of cultural regeneration and of tackling disadvantage and structural poverty,” said Prof von Prondzynski.

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Domo Arigato, Mr.Roboto

  • ~1 min read

Seriously: what an awesome song. Every Geek should love it! It’s got the famous line “My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain IBM”. If this is not in every Geeks top ten songs; then I resign! I even listen to it as I type this! Anyways enough sounding like a DJ who just got his Payola check off the RIAA; I’ll just post the free video so y’all can watch…. :

Barenaked Ladies also do a cover of it interspersed with their own song (King Of Bedside Manner):

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Hurling - Four in a row?

  • 1 min read

One cannot help but be amazed at Kilkenny; true masters of the Irish Gaelic Sport of hurling. I mean as my previous posts mention I have moved to Kilkenny; and rural South Kilkenny at that. They live and breath Hurling down here: it’s literally a way of life. That is why they are so good; no mystery here folks: its is literally bred into children in schools and everyone plays it. More people playing means even though Kilkenny is only around 100,000 people it still has a large amount of people to pick from and they get the best training which equals the best results.

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Geek Thug - “I Had to Beat Up a Girl”

  • ~1 min read

I just read one of the most informative and insightful blog posts of my entire life. Half serious a guy takes a look back at when he had to beat up a Girl. Weird stuff!

Yes, you read that right, I had to beat up a girl … not a woman. She was asking for it and she deserved it.

I Had to Beat Up a Girl

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Yamaha YQ Aerox - best moped ever?

  • 1 min read

Well I think so! Got one there 2 months ago and forgot to write a blog post about it. I got a ‘01 model for a bargain price I believe; but this theory has yet to be tested (I’ll wait for a year to be up). As I mentioned before in previous posts my parent’s house is now in a remote location with no train/buses anywhere nearby. So transport was essential! At this time also there was a major crack down on learner drivers not being accompanied by a fully licensed driver (of two years). So by the time I’d saved the money for the car; got 10 lessons and convinced anyone I knew with over two years full driving experience to accompany me; even to work - was just to much hassle - hence the moped which has no such onerous requirements. In fact only one it does really have is that you can’t have passengers - I won’t be carrying anyone anyways - so I am not too bothered. Anyhoo take a look at the photos I took when I got it. I have done it up since then: new tyres, resprayed exhaust, full service; new mirrors; repaired exhaust; flushed out radiator and put in proper coolant just to name a few. So it sounds allot better and drives better than ever!

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Summer - One Month On…..

  • 1 min read

Well one month in Summer 2008! Summer has been okay so far; I’ve had nothing much to report hence lack of Tech posts. Sure the iPhone 3G looks good, Google/Yahoo/Microsoft spats interesting but after a while it become a bit circular and repetitive.

I’ve recently started working at the UK’s leading retailer for touring/car/bike and accessories; as well as a move to the south east of Ireland; that much further to the capital: Dublin. It’s Ireland’s smallest city and home to Ireland’s very first Parliament about 400 years ago: Kilkenny. It’s steeped in culture and it’s the only city in Ireland to rival Dublin’s culture, nightlife and restaurants and hold it’s own.

I am trying to acquire a moped (aka. Scooter or Italian ‘ped) to have a run-around to work and back. I am doing it in reverse however as were still moving to our house in the county of Kilkenny (in the city rentig at the moment until it’s ready!). I’ll be getting Scooter first, then license so in other words it will be arseways! Their is always a backlog in summertime as students like me clamour to get driving!! Whoops should have scheduled during the leaving cert (Ireland’s answer to SAT/GCSE)!!

More will follow soon as I complete the move and get the bike; expect a few picture posts dedicated to the bike!!

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I’ve decided - I’m decidedly middle class

  • 2 min read

I had a trip in to the faire capital city of Ireland today: Dublin. Okay I’ll get this out of the way: I had a Frappacino in Starbucks and I’m a student; so not too poor of a student ;)

But I saw the inside of Brown Thomas for the first time. I don’t shop for fashion at all: but what I found was the kind of vulgarity and fake-ness I’d expect of London or New York; not Dublin. To paraphrase Bono: “In America if you have your mansion on a hill people look up to you and think ‘I want to be like him and afford a house like that one day’; if you have the same mansion in Ireland people say ‘look at the fucken eejit on the hill with that house; thinks he’s god or sumthen’” and that to me was always an endearing part of Irish culture; people around you being the great leveller if you thought you were the bomb. Inside BT (Brown Thomas) was all the names you’d expect; all the major names more at home in Paris, London or New York. I confronted my friend who was showing me round about my opinions (in my usual polite manner: just say it). To my surprise he agreed 110%. Yes he said: for the people who buy this stuff can tell who else is wearing it; and I think he meant that by this logic movers and shakers also wore all the brands to look the part. Soon after he told me he was also learning Golf because he knew it would be a great benefit for his future career: “All important people also play golf” he assured me.

I see this divide in society and I admit it bothers me. Where I go to College, there is an estate across the road which is by any standards not had the full benefit of the Celtic Tiger (the Irish Boom Economy). I get the bus from this place and everytime it bothers me that I see some social problems: everything from unruly kids trying to ruin the place to alcholics. But I also have people in my class from that estate: some of the nicest you’d ever care to meet. I’ve been asked by them my opinion on where they live and what do I think other people think.

Then comes my home town. It is on the border of Dublin (city) and Kildare (farmers and horsebreeders) and we’ve got a mix of both. But Leixlip is decidedly middle class; low enough crime; not much social tension to be heard of; certainly nowhere near the likes of South Dublin (seen as upper class) or North Dublin (seen as lower class). Which is why I don’t feel comfortable in either: maybe middle class is the real stigmata?

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Will Google Buy Skype?

  • 1 min read

It’s been all over the tech news world lately; apparently Google is muling over taking Skype off of Ebay’s hands. Ebay has already written down the value of Skype as a large loss on their purchase price of $2.6 billion in stock and cash. But wimageould Skype’s G-branded future be any better?

I think it would be. Skype is a strong international brand for voice calls, instant messaging and video calls; but of course it competes directly with Google Talk. Skype as a company has made a lot of mistakes; but they actually produces some of the best technology for p2p VOIP out there in the marketplace. Skype is particularly strong in redundancy, cost of network operation (since it’s p2p every user carries’ each others traffic; most people have no idea of this fact) and routing around the most draconian network admins out their through their routers.

All of this is a strict propreitary network and is centrally controlled at the moment for Ebay. All voice is encrypted accross Skype; but it is well-speculated that Skype has a back door to snoop on anyone it so wishes (although it would never publicly admit to this). Legislation hasn’t caught up to protect voice calls like they are on “traditional” PSTN [Pretty Simple Telephone Network].

I think Google could open up Skype’s network; to what extent is anyone’s guess. I hope they integrate XMPP like Gmail Chat capability (which is an open standard); and do the same for voice/video (could take a while based on patents) . I predict the client will most likely stay propreitary and closed-source; as opening it up could reveal back-doors; patent and copyright issues and more. But overall I think the transaction could go quite well for both parties…

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Letter to EU Commissioner on 95 Year Copyright Extension [Updated]

  • 4 min read

I recently read a Slashdot article “EU Commissioner proposes 95 year copyright”. I am a staunch supporter of the European project; or at least the ideals it is based on to create a peaceful, demcratic union of countries with a common background and share similiar goals. Intrigued by the article I read it only to find out that a local man who used to represent my area was responsible. I had to write to him to ask how he lost his mind….

Dear Mr. McCreevy;

I am writing to you from Kildare. You have served our county over the years; and I even thought you would become Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) one day (being the Minister for Finance is a front-runner position- let’s be honest) but then you went to Europe.

But that’s not the subject of this correspondence. I am writing to you to voice my disgust for your proposed levies and taxes in conjunction with an even longer copyright extension. What are you thinking Mr. McCreevy? The average musician does not live for 95 years. I am responding to points made by you in the International Herald Tribune (Original article: AP Newswire; Published 14/02/2008) and the legislation proposed at your level in the commission (through which you will have direct influence).

  1. Your Misguided view of copyright:

    “If nothing is done, thousands of European performers who recorded in the late 1950s and 1960s will lose all of their airplay royalties over the next ten years,” said EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, the union’s internal market chief. “These royalties are often their sole pension.”

I don’t know about you Mr. McCreevy; but I will have to set aside money from my earnings for my pension;. why shouldn’t artists? Copyright is supposed to encourage innovation; not reward old creations. Copyright on these works should have rightfully expired on these a long time ago; forcing these musicians to create more music we all love and enjoy, instead of idly collecting money for work done sometimes as much as fifty years ago. These Musicians were already paid for their works a long time ago; and they signed it over to a [record] company. You are only enriching a company that contributes zero cultural value back by extending a copyright term. This has been proven time and time again if you would do your research.

  1. Extra Copies / Levies

    The EU executive also wants to look again at reforming copyright levies charged on blank discs, data storage and music and video players to compensate artists and copyright holders for legal copying when listeners burn an extra version of an album to play one at home and one in the car.

Why should as a consumer I have to pay twice for a music recording? You know this will only have the effect of driving up the cost of a CD and increasing piracy? “You can’t charge me twice if I choose to pirate it!”; and this is how a lot of consumers will see it; like double tax evasion only easier with less risk! You must recognise also that the music collection agencies are run by cartels that is the music industry (Big Four: SonyBMG, Warner, EMI, Universal ) which is almost never fair to artists? (Look at SoundExchange in the United States for this). What about when I use disks for backup of my data (which is the only reason I use them for) why should I pay royalties for music I never pirated? How also can you tell which artists deserves more royalties than the next? You can’t; and that is why this idea is so stupid you should put it to bed now!

  1. Who it benefits?

The extension would not benefit only stars such as French crooner Charles Aznavour or British pop star Cliff Richard, McCreevy said. Session musicians who played on a recording would also be able to draw on a new fund.

Ah-ha-ha-ha You see Mr. Mc.Creevy case in point! These men actually own; or have very liberal licensing terms with their record companies; allowing them in the first place to be spokespeople for longer copyright terms. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of artists; who don’t have that luxury. Please remind me what exactly these men have contributed to society musically in the last few years? Oh riiiiiight; thats nothing; zero; zilch! What about others of that era? Elvis? dead and buried! Beatles? no longer around! and I could go on and on and on about how they are literally getting money for nothing….. The only beneficiary will be the record companies who own the recordings to 70’s and 80’s material which is lucrative (for this see Michael Jackson owning some of the Beatles catalogue).

My plea to you is to stop this insanity and work towards less copyright restriction not more. Copyright was originally designed to safeguard an original author to make back the time and the effort he/she put into the creation which benefitted society (ie. compensation usually in the form of monetary gain). With this understanding it’s plain to see these people have long since got back many times the creative energy they put in and societies debt to them has long since passed.

Regards,
Your former constituent;
N Grogan

14/02/2008

P.S. I am eagerly awaiting you reply and any comments you have on what I have said…

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Why I think Amarok rocks….

  • 2 min read

I just purchased an Amarok hoodie andt-shirt; and I couldn’t be happier supporting one of my favourite open source projects! What makes it so good? Have you ever heard of Amarok? Chances are if your an OS X or Windows user; you haven’t. All this is about to change! The amarok team are busy porting it from it’s UNIX underpinnings to Windows and OS X.

Whats to like about Amarok then?
image
also is cool phonetically: am a rock!

  • Album covers in full glory (see picture right)
  • Full lyrics support; even for the most obscure songs you have laying around!
  • Wikipedia integration: truly a gem; you can do what Amarok says “Rediscover your Music” in looking up artist, song or album in the free encyclopedia.
  • Playlists form the backone of the player; great for people like me who like to compile sub-sections of songs for car journeys and the like!
  • Smart playlists: you get playlists which can update based on how your rate them; which artist or what genre; sorting conditions ar infinite! Example is a 5 Star playlisat with all my top rated tunes!
  • Dynamic playlists: built from your static and smart playlists; it can show the last X songs you played and Y upcoming. So I could select my 5 star faves and my Strokes favourites; set it to show 5 last played songs and 15 upcoming. I never need to edit the playlist again as it will auto choose and update the list!
  • Statistics: Show all your stats on your collection! From favourite artists to most played albums: it’s all there waiting!
  • Last.fm & Tags: Tag and compiles your music listening tastes with integration in the most popular social music site online!
  • IPod integration is second to none (as well as many 0ther popular players!)! Amarok will convert it to mp3; sync podcasts and playlists; transfer ratings and even submit listened tracks to last.fm!
  • All the added extras: Equaliser with presets; Random and Repeat capability; Visualisations! You can even sort you collection by mood with Moodbar installed!
  • Scripts!?! One of the coolest thing is scripts: think Firefox extensions only slightly more powerful!
  • Built-in editing of song names; album names and all info! Don’t bother telling Amarok to add the music you just ripped; as long as it’s in your music folder its automatically picked up and added!
  • An intuitive interface: built for function and power: Amarok is almost perfect in its balance between feature and function. The OSD )On-Screen Display) with show you any details your playlist does; like Artist Name; Album name; Rating and how long a track is!

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A few days with A Nokia N810

  • 3 min read

image

I last discussed the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet in October; when details were only starting to filter out. It wasn’t expected for Nokia to introduce an upgrade to the N800 Internet Tablet (which I also reviewed here) so soon. I certainly don’t envy the position of a small team getting the hardware and software for a mini-computer right in such a short space of time. But needless to say the N810 feels right; in fact it feels more right than the N770 which I thought had the best design of all (be it functionality not so much style). The N810 has bags of style; in a flashy brand-new-car sort of way; it looks expensive and I believe Nokia plays to this in their pricing.

Well the best new feature has to be the operating system: OS 2008. It is clean; stable enough and illustrates beautifully in a Apple Mac sort of way when hardware and software are matched beautifully you get an unrivaled product. But that runs on N800 also; so why bother with the N810? GPS is inbuilt for one; but the mapping software is pretty horrible. Luckily the Open Source MaemoMapper is the original (and still the best) GPS program for any maemo platform (OS 2007, OS 2006). No offence to WayFinder but their software isn’t ideal and feels like a shabby port to the Internet Tablets; like it was ripped off another device and thrown at Nokia’s devices. Nokia also dropped the ball in other areas; such as keylocking and the home applets: home applets are little bubbles of information you immeadiatly see on the N810’s home screen. The problem you ask? The move (by design; older OS ones were fixed) and the keylock made to keep them stable is not functional as I believe it could be. Why can’t I set an auto screen lock when I flip the keyboard back in? That kind of commission is what I’d call a ‘schoolboy error’.

image

Apps make any device and the N810 has a few good ones; but nothing totally wow or killer just yet. Skype as many people are aware is semi-included in the device (after a download) and as of yet unlike its desktop Linux counterpart; it lacks full video support (on a device with a decent vga webcam camera

  • no sense here!). There is also full GoogleTalk integration; with SIP support coming up (perhaps with full video on SIP; maybe as of yet with GoogleTalk if they adopt SIP?). Other than that great apps include FBreader a great Windows/Linux ebook reader; and some fun pass the time games like TuxPuck, IceBreaker and LXDoom can be downloaded. What about the apps included I hear you ask? Well the Web Browser is quality from Mozilla and far outshines the Opera browser which graced both the N770 and N800. Updates are not really noticeable in the core non-essential apps like Email (an awful excuse for an email client), RSS reader (decent enough) and Filemanager. To the core I suspect they made a bevy of changes; but I’m not that hardcore so I’ll skip technical details like that; needless to say its startup time was reduced; battery life seems longer; and it feels more responsive on OS 2008.

So should I buy it? If you don’t have a N800 I would say definitely go for it; as long as you thinkimage the price is right. As with any tech device; shop around for a bargain on the price over Nokia’s retail listed price. Who is it aimed at? People in college like me who like to keep in touch with friends; read their pdfs docs; and cringe to be away from some sort of connectivity. This also applies to business users who would have similar uses with clients; but unfortunately the necessity of a second device in non-wifi connected areas kills this devices true potential until Nokia decides to inbuild 3G or Wimax.

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2007

Nokia N810 Tablet to hit the shops soon…

  • ~1 min read

Nokia have announced an upgrade to the N800 Internet tablet, called the N810. I suspect its called that because it is more of an incremental upgrade than a total visual refresh it was going from an Nokia 770 to N800. Here it is:

image

(Picture Courtesy: Internet Tablet Talk)

It sports a nice new hardware keyboard; inbuilt GPS (For satellite mapping) and OS 2008 (an upgrade to the operating system it runs). The N800 will also benefit from OS 2008, which will include GoogleTalk, Skype, Mozilla browser, among the usual such as its email client, media player, file manager, control panel, assorted games and an image/PDF viewer. The one feature it will emit is an inbuilt FM Radio, which was axed to make the N810 a smaller tablet. It still retains the best screen size for web browsing, bluetooth connectivity, and of course Wifi which is central to the tablets existance! No word on what easter eggs are included if any; on the N800 it was a radio and the N770 it was the microphone. Engadget has a great writeup on it, choc-a-bloc full of high resolution photos with size comparisons to Apples iPhone.

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Apple Mac OS X: the most popular Desktop Unix?

  • 1 min read

Apple does it again: explosive growth in the computer market, no doubt in part to its Macbook/Macbook Pro line of laptops. As Ars Technica points out:

As predicted last quarter, however, Apple broke its tie for third place with Gateway by shipping 1.33 million units and growing by a whopping 37.2 percent (double that of any other US vendor) from third quarter 2006 to claim 8.1 percent of the US market for the quarter. These numbers also continue the company’s trend of steadily gaining market share every two quarters for at least the past year.

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Linux and Patents: Just Patently Wrong

  • 2 min read

So I read the news Novell and Red Hat are being sued for patent infringement. This is all about multiple workspaces that can hold various graphical user elements, a Xerox Parc patent which dates to the early 1990’s. Xerox Palo Alto Research center invented the graphical user interface in the 1980’s, only to been, licensed and used by Steve Jobs in Mac OS Classic. Now IP Innovation, a submarine patent troll, who make no products and bought the patent want their payday. The logical step is to go after the biggest infringer to set a precedent for your patent, and then make your way to all the smaller companies who infringe. Well logically of course that would be Apple or Microsoft. Apple has already paid them a reported 20 million dollars, and well no-one knows what Microsoft has done, but this fish is smelly. From the Register Article:

The complaint, available here as a pdf, says “the Red Hat Linux system, the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop and the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Server all breach held patents. The companies seek increased damages for the willful infringements of their patents and an injunction to prevent further infringements”.

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Planning the Computer Build

  • 1 min read

Planning to build a computer can be fun also. Researching parts, making sure they work well together (if they are on Manufacturers QVL). Making a list of all the parts you need is the beginning of the purchasing, assembly and then seeing your machine in action! Lots of guides online help with the planning stage; but nearly all are advice and tips. How do you know which is biased? Are the benchmarks relevant to what you are building your machine for? Probably not most of the time. If you’re not a hardcore gamer like myself, your machine can mid-range and cheaper than a pre-built solution, saving you money. I am using my machine as a long term investment: I plan to have it long into the future and just replace components. I think that could save me at least €3000 over ten years (two €1,500 machines every 5 years, not beyond possibility) if not more. I can also re-use perfectly good parts when my other machines have departed to that big waste recycling plant in the sky.

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Computer Systems - Dismantling PC’s is fun!

  • ~1 min read

I found a new pastime: dismantling pc’s. It my not sound like great fun, but its a challenge to do it right and make sure you don’t break your pc at the end of it all. Nothing feels of so much relief when you see the BIOS boot up again after ripping everything you can out and cramming it all back in. It stands to you in developing problem solving skills, which of course employers love. It is so much more visual than any theory, plus it is what the majority of people like: physical objects like Lego going together. I am writing this on a computer I stripped everything out of at the moment: a Dell 3100c, a Celeron D machine I bought in August of last year. Today I dismantled a very old Optiplex PIII, and the difference between the machines is marked, even though there are only a few years between them. I have included some photos below to show the inside internals:

Here is My Dell 3100c Internals:

Here is the shell of a computer I am building:

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Apple - Play Nice….

  • 2 min read

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Is the much beloved Apple the new Microsoft? First there was IBM, the big all crushing corporate machine that was humbled by the next big giant in the form of Microsoft, so it seems Apple’s turn is long overdue. The next few weeks are crucial to this crossroads in which Apple finds itself: It owes a HUGE amount to the BSD (an open source Unix clone) which is the foundation for not just OS X, but the iPhone and now the iPod Touch. Basically without the kernel that runs these fantastic devices, Apple would still be up shit creek without a paddle. Granted the iPod would have been a huge success probably still, but OS X’s core is the foundation for the real money making Apple will do over the next few years, a point that is not lost on Mr. Jobs as the company intelligently markets different segments to different markets of which I have first hand experience of: Go to the Apple site for education and they extol the brilliance of a Macbook and make they deal sweeter by throwing in an iPod Nano. But if you go to a link I was provided in a college advert; they bring to a page pointing out key areas a mac can make a difference. I picked Computer Science naturally, and the site extolled the virtues of Open Source, a Unix base and programming tools like Xcode.

So whats the big deal? Well the fact the new iPods are locked solid with a new encrypted hash, meaning nothing besides iTunes will work with the new iPods. The iPhone also gets similar treatment, no third party development is allowed: no only Apple Applications are allowed. This stinks to high heavens of monopolistic behavior akin to Microsoft or IBM of old. Not to mention gouging both networks and customers with the iPhone. Apple may not yet be important enough to endure the wrath of the European Union Antitrust bodies or the US Department of Justice; but they are certainly on a slippery slope as the popularity of their products and lock in seem to increase day by day. Interestingly enough Apple may be also feeling the heat of Linux, with the much-famed poster child of the free software revolution now making it into Apple’s marketing material; meaning Apple sees Linux as a future threat. After taking so much from Open Source, including the GNU Tool chain, the BSD Kernel, the Samba Networking protocols to interact with Windows (to name a few) Apple should be a good free software citizen and not aggravate core customers like myself of which Open source is a key factor in OS X.

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Comp Sci - An Interview with Stanford’s Undegraduate Professor

  • ~1 min read

This is the guy who runs Stanford University Undergraduate programme. He talks about the future of computer science:

  • Computer Science will evolve more than most other subjects as it expands into other areas, especially Biology and other areas people don’t normally associate with it
  • Industry ties with Colleges are going to be very important
  • Computer Science with Law is the next big area

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Review of the Official Ubuntu Book, Second Edition (2007)

  • 2 min read

imageThe Ubuntu Book (2nd Edition) is a nicely put together book for dealing with the Linux operating system in a number of clearly laid out and well presented chapters. Chapters are as follows:

  1. Introducing Ubuntu
  2. Installing Ubuntu
  3. Using Ubuntu on the Desktop
  4. Advanced Usage and Managing Ubuntu
  5. Ubuntu Server
  6. Support / Typical Problems
  7. Using Kubuntu
  8. Ubuntu Community
  9. Ubuntu-Related Projects
  10. Using Edubuntu

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Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown

  • ~1 min read

imageI have got a place in a 4 year Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Computing, or more commonly known as Computer Science (or comp sci as I am lazy and like to abbreviate). This means I might be blogging slightly less sometimes, but it should be a hell of a lot more interesting and I promise to keep my posts not too technical as I have up to this point.

I would like to thank you all for subscribing and I hope you’ll enjoy what is to come in the future!!

Many Thanks,
Duey Finster
DueyFinster.com sole author/blogger/all-round-technophile

from my house then its a bus)

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Microsoft settles with Eolas over Internet Explorer

  • ~1 min read

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Microsoft has settled with Eolas over a number of patents regarding browser plugins which chicago based Eolas filed patents for in 1998. A jury in Chicago then found Microsoft guilty of infringing on Eolas’ patents and was told to pay $521m US Dollars in ‘damages’. That ruling was overturned and a fresh trial ordered which was due to start very soon, but it seems Microsoft has decided to pay out:

imageDetails of the settlement have not yet been released but Eolas Technologies’ chief operating officer, Mark Swords, told the New York Times that a certain number of Eolas’ shareholders would get US$60 to US$72 per share.

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Gutsy coming along, Update to Dell Windows Refund..

  • 1 min read

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I just tried Herd 5 of Gutsy Gibbon, a beta release which will be Ubuntu 07.10 released in October. Obviously it is still early stages and a lot of things aren’t working quite as they should, but it looks very promising. Here’s some new stuff which should hit the final release:

  • Compiz Fusion - Pretty Graphics that leave you in awe…
  • Bullet Proof X - Making sure you’ll never see a terminal prompt not of your own choosing, basically the graphics server should be ‘bulletproof’
  • Appearance Manager - Making it easier to change yourbuntu’s look and feel
  • Better Driver Support - More of those restricted drivers to make sure you can see your screen and use your wifi card
  • Simplified Codecs install - It will now be painless, install ubuntu-restrictedcodecs (or kubuntu-restricted codecs) and you can see Youtube in all its glory, play a dvd, watch that porno WMV file (just kidding but I think thats all WMV is used for) and other such niceties of the propreitry world we have to put up with
  • Firefox Codecs Plugin - Firefox will be hooked up to the package manager and prompt to install Flash/Java if you haven’t got it already, much the same way it prompts to get a codec when you throw a file at it that it cannot play in the movie player. The free software Gnash replacement for Flash will come as standard and can play Youtube Vids.
  • Dual Screen Glory - If your like me you have a nice and small portable laptop, but that screen just won’t do all of the time, thats why I personally have a 19” to plug my 13” MacBook into. With Gutsy I should be able to plug and play over DVI.

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Dell refunds me for Windows!

  • 2 min read

As many of you know I am a Linux and Mac aficionado. For my Linux machines, all of them are Dell. I have been always pleased with Dells prices, how their machines work with Linux, their customer service and the fact they are made in Limerick, Ireland (I am from Ireland). I politely emailed Dell (well got up on my high horse), heres my first mail:

I would like a refund of Windows XP since I am installing Ubuntu Linux on the computer when I get it. When I turn on the computer I am going to decline the EULA, and I am within my rights to request this refund (as part of Irish consumer laws). This also applies in Britian, see here: ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6144782.stm )

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Have you got viruses or spyware? Here’s my tips!

  • 1 min read

I come into contact everyday with people asking how to fix their machines due to the inevitable spyware and viruses found on a Windows machine. Lately I have been switching people to Ubuntu, and even getting them to buy machines to install it on (Dell). But I understand and have no zealotry for Linux when it comes to fixing peoples’ real world problems. I always mention Ubuntu as a matter of course, and also Macs. I follow up peoples Ubuntu installs with friendly emails explaining the free help open to them, but also as common (probably moreso) are my emailed tips to people guiding them how to fix there Windows XP computer. So I’ll list the steps here which are generic and should help anyone out their with such problems; this is not a miracle cure and I fix these problems on a case by case basis, so expect better perfromance, but not a new computer!!

  1. Go to Control Panel (Click on My Computer, then a link to it appears at the side) > Add/Remove Programs
  2. Remove all Norton Antivirus and/or Symantec Security products
  3. Download This: Avast Home Edition 4
  4. When Avast installs and asks to perform a boot time scan, click: yes, then restart your computer as it suggests
  5. Register for a (free) Avast Home Edition 4 Serial key
  6. Start Avast from the Start Menu (Start > All Programs > Avast). It will flash an “A” on a round ball in the status area, click it and enter serial number recieved in email
  7. Download: Spybot Search and Destroy
  8. It will guide you through this when it starts up the first time: Backup your registry, download all available updates, immunise and then do a full scan (it sounds harder then it is), then remove all spyware

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Seven financial reasons not to use Windows

  • 1 min read

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I recently read a very insightful article on 7 factors every company should seriously consider about Microsoft Windows, here they are summarised:

  1. Licensing Costs

    Everyone in the IT industry today knows that proprietary operating systems and the applications that run on them will cost you a lot of money on licensing fees. According to a recent Forrester study, U.S. companies overall are expected to spend $100 billion on software maintenance in 2007.

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HP to Follow Dell into Open Source? and Ubuntu Home Server

  • 1 min read

HP it seems is responding to Dell’s initiative to sell Ubuntu on their computers. With the Ubuntu Dells reportedly selling very well and Dell rolling out the program worldwide, this hasn’t escaped the notice of the world’s number one computer manufacturer - HP. This is speculation from blogs that has been going on for months since Dell started to offer Ubuntu. The Direct to Dell Blog states:

This recent post from Tom Dryer caught my eye a couple of days ago, and thought I’d comment on it here. If the rumors about HP offering Ubuntu are true, we’re glad to see other vendors join us in support of Ubuntu and open source. We welcome HP and other system vendors that want to join in this initiative.

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Windows Vista Security - Better than Linux?

  • 2 min read

After reading a nice article written by Jeff Jones, a security researcher for Microsoft. He says he isn’t biased, saying he worked over 75% of his career outside Microsoft, using Slackware Linux, Unix, HP Unix etc. He claims Windows Vista has less security holes than popular versions of Linux, such as Ubuntu (he also compares Red Hat, Novell, Mac OS X). First let me say why his facts are distorted, and why he knows his facts are distorted. His facts do raise an issue of slow patching of vulnerabilities across the software Industry, but Linux performs the best consistently because anyone can audit the code. Here’s why his comparisons are uneven:

  • Linux is open source, so various tools can be used to find vulnerabilities. We don’t have this luxury with Windows, any holes found are needles in a haystack, but the target of the Windows monopoly allows greater incentive to find these needles
  • Linux has used SUDO and ROOT users properly since its inception (Think of Administrator in Windows). Anyone who is not a root user on Linux cannot install programs, make system wide changes, and you can even stop them from using USB keys, CD Drives etc if you are paranoid. Now this has received much attention, Vista has retroactively inserted this kind of security, but by my experience, it is very obtrusive, and can be switched off. Root in Linux is alot harder to stop, and theres no graphical way to do it, so the average user won’t.
  • A link to my second point above, Programs in Linux can only access what they need to, the home folder of the user that is running it and very little else. I don’t know what the case is in Vista, but in Windows XP, almost any program could destroy your system, by picking at the much famed registry.

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Threats to Democracy

  • 1 min read

After reading about Tom Cruise being banned from filming at certain German military sites because of his belief in Scientology, I was a bit outraged at first, despite my abhorrence of their beliefs, which I think are crazy and nonsensical.

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Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Defence Ministry said on Monday. Cruise, also one of the film’s producers, is a member of the Church of Scientology which the German government does not recognise as a church. Berlin says it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.

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Leopard - Worth the wait?

  • 4 min read

If you haven’t heard of Apple’s latest Operating system, have a look at Wikipedia Article on Mac OS X Leopard. Here are some of the features:

  • Time Machine: an automated backup utility which allows the user to restore files that have been deleted or replaced by another version of a file.
  • Front Row currently only available with the purchase of a new Mac, but will be included with Leopard. It has been reworked to closely resemble the interface used by the Apple TV.
  • Photo Booth, currently only available with the purchase of a new Mac, but will be included with Leopard.
  • Spaces: an implementation of “virtual desktops” (individually called “spaces”), allowing users to have multiple desktops per user and be able to place certain applications and windows in a desktop. Users can organize certain Spaces for certain applications (i.e., one for work-related tasks and one for entertainment) and switch between them. Exposé will work inside Spaces, allowing the user to see at a glance all desktops on one screen.[9])
  • Spotlight incorporates additional search capabilities such as Boolean operators, as well as the ability to search other computers (with permissions).
  • Redesigned Finder: a redesigned Finder based on iTunes 7.
  • New Desktop: a redesigned desktop, which is comprised of a redesigned 3-D dock which uses a new feature called Stacks, as well as a new menu-bar which adapts itself to the desktop so menu-bar text is easily readable.
  • Quick Look This allows documents to be viewed without actually opening them in an external application.
  • Universal access: significant improvements to applications including VoiceOver, along with increased support for Braille, closed captioning and a new text-to-speech engine.
  • Enhancements to Mail including the additions of RSS feeds, Stationery, Notes, and to-dos. To-dos use a system-wide service that is available to all applications.
  • Dashboard enhancements, including Webclip, a feature that allows users to turn a part of any web page into a live Dashboard widget, and Dashcode to help developers code widgets.[14]
  • iChat enhancements, including multiple logins, animated icons, and tabbed chats, similar to features present in Pidgin, Adium and the iChat plugin Chax; iChat Theater, allowing users to incorporate images from iPhoto, presentations from Keynote, and videos from QuickTime into chats; and Backdrops, which are similar to chroma keys, but use a real-time difference matte technique which does not require a green or blue screen. iChat will also implement desktop sharing, a feature previously available with Apple Remote Desktop.[15][16][17]
  • Enhancements to Parental controls include the ability to place restrictions on use of the Internet and to set parental controls from anywhere using remote setup.
  • iCal calendar sharing and group scheduling.
  • Leopard will also include the software assistant known as Boot Camp, which has been available as a beta release download for Mac OS X v10.4 from Apple’s website since April 5, 2006.This assists the installation of Windows XP or Windows Vista to a separate partition (or separate internal drive) on Intel-based Macs.
  • Menu Bar The new menu bar is now transparent and is no longer rounded like all previous Mac OS versions.
  • Safari 3.0 will be included.

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HP Photosmart R927 Review

  • 4 min read

I just bought a HP Photosmart R927, an 8 Megapixel camera from Hewlett-Packard. While I had seen and briefly used one before, I was excited again upon using my own one (as all tech people are [read: geeks]). First of all don’t confuse me as anyway into photography: I’m not and far from it. I had a criteria in mind when I purchased and this was it:

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Bill Gates lists Vista ‘innovations’

  • ~1 min read

Hard to believe really, Mr.Gates lists Windows Vista ‘innovations’. Now Apple has been shipping everything he mentions since 2005, and I have tried Vista, it doesn’t even surpass Apples’ attempt at the software (which should be his aim). Some things have been around for years, but it’s how well your software can do it is the key. Personally I wouldn’t tout features that another competitor does better, but thats just me. It seems irresponsible and unbelieveable the head of a public company can say and get away with this - not knowing the competition that is. I wouldn’t trust my money to anyone who does not keep up with the latest and greatest trends in the industry.

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Dell Sells Ubuntu 7.04

  • 1 min read

Dell Computers has started selling Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on consumer machines in the United States. This can only be good news, as a supporter of Linux since late 2004/early 2005 I am fully behind this initiative to put Linux as a choice in front of people who buy computers. They are testing the market at the moment which explains why they are shipping stock drivers with the hardware, and no multimedia codecs (which is unfortunate, but understandable that this deal was done in 60 days). I think this is quite an achievement for Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu Founder), as they get to do the traditional Linux business model: you pay for support, and if you don’t need it, you don’t buy it. This could confuse some people in the shorter term, but long term its a winner: Dell does what it does best (Hardware) and Software is left to Ubuntu’s parent company Canonical. This is opposed to Microsoft getting Dell to provide support for both hardware and software, sometimes a messy business in which the consumer does not know which to turn to and can often be left out in the cold. I hope Dell extends this to Europe and 6the rest of the world soon, and makes a decent stab at promoting a free software desktop. Dell list advantages in one of their videos:

  • Free to use
  • Upgrades are free
  • All major software included
  • Not prone to Viruses/Spyware/Malware
  • As easy (if not easier) to use than Apple Mac OS X / Microsoft Windows

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Update on RTE and the Creative Commons

  • ~1 min read

Unbeknownst to me, with my quick thinking on the positive developments regarding CBS releasing democratic debates under a permissive license in the United States has caused quite a few Irish bloggers to echo my call on RTE’s stance on releasing the Irish Election 2007 debates. If you agree we should be allowed to download, remix and share the debates while giving RTE credit for production, please:

Sign the Petition!

UPDATE: Poll is now closed as the leaders debates are now finished. It was not my petition, I would have left it open to deliver to RTE anyway in respect to other programming for their consideration. Thanks to all who voted!

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Kerataconus and Me

  • 1 min read

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.

imageimage

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerataconus

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Irish Elections and Creative Commons

  • ~1 min read

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!*

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Ultimate Games Disc

  • 1 min read

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 OpenSourceMac.org and OpenSourceWindows.org, I announce my own project: Ultimate Games Disc. UGD is a project I think I can make very successful. My aims are as follows:

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Apple / EMI Deal - Thank the EU?

  • 1 min read

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”.

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My Top 10 Applications of 2007

  • 4 min read

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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Mac iPod Video Tutorial

  • ~1 min read

I recorded a tutorial, showing people how to extract YouTube (and other flash based sites videos’) and get them onto your iPod. It was recorded on my Mac, so unfortunately its Mac specific, but really only iSquint program is, so if anyone can suggest a replacement on Windows or Linux, I will add it to the details of the video. I use Garageband for audio, iMovieHD to edit the video and audio and Copernicus to record my screen. I started by getting everything I needed ready (all the Firefox tabs etc.) and hit record in Copernicus. I imported that .mov into iMovieHD, and then proceeded to open Garageband, watch the video and talk myself through my own recording. I saved the voice part in Garageband, exported it and then imported it into iMovie. I checked to make sure the audio and video lined up perefectly (what I done on screen matched what I was saying) and then exported it as a .mov from iMovieHD. Then I uploaded the result to Youtube, which I think for a first try ain’t bad!! Watch it here:

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Tor helps Privacy

  • 1 min read

Tor
LogoTor, (or The Onion Router) is a service which connects people all over the world with one aim: privacy. Tor protects from traffic analysis, basically where you have been. Benn to you Banks website? Feel like buying something off Amazon or Ebay? Your behaviour online is by no means private, you hand over your numerical address, browser details, country, city, versions of which plugins you use, where you came from, just to name a few. You may have seen on sites something to the effect of “Welcome Google user!”, that website knows exactly what you typed to get to it. Tor routes your online activity through different computers, for example mine went through an educational institution in the US and an Internet Service Provider in the Netherlands.

But if you want privacy you have something to hide! Not true. You don’t hand over records of everywhereTor
Logo you go in reality, nor documents, or details of medical conditions etc., their is a genuine use case for privacy in the modern world which is sadly being eroded. I just watched ABC news repeat on Sky News, and it reported of the FBI sending letters out asking for information from librarys, banks and every institution inbetween. It involved no court, no checks and balances, nothing. Tor is also used by the law itself, to conceal government surveillance of illegal activity (for example, child pornography). So not only is Tor needed, but it can extend to everything online, Instant Messaging. Tor limits abuse with a high degree of success and it is cross platform, on Linux, Windows and Mac. Get it here: Tor.eff.org

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Open Sourcing your CV

  • ~1 min read

Just like software. it can be really useful to open source other things in life, collaboration is nearly always a good thing. John Buckman, CEO of Magnatune Records knows this principle all too well. He gave a speech at a Red Hat conference a while back, and he talked about the importance of music artists sharing the “source”, i.e. basically sharing the method of how the produced the music in the first place. This allows easier mixing, and a higher chamnce your work could be featured on TV or in a film, and you get paid

  • the open source model applied to music.

I am trying this technique with Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Once it was launched for Google for your domain, I immeadiatley searched for files to put on it, unfortunately, I had no such luck, all my files were pdfs! I stumbled across my regular writely account (old Google Docs and Spreadsheets), and found some files I had forgotten all about. I shared my CV with some family members, and already I am getting real good feedback, I wonder what else the open source model ccan be applied to? See Red Hats intriguing “Truth Happens” advert:

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UK Parliamentary debate “Copyright is not a pension fund”

  • 1 min read

I found this doing a search for Domino Records DRM. I looked up some of my favourite artists to see if they were part of the “MAFIAA” that is the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), not surprisingly some were (70% of sold music worldwide is put out by this cartel). I got rather confused when a Franz Ferdinand album appeared on the list, when their debut album did not. Seems the record label did a deal with Sony for distribution. I found a piece of information quite old now (May 2006), but interesting anyway:

“Opponents also challenge the idea that back catalogue revenues provide investment for new ventures and to support new artists. Peter Jameson of the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) argued in The Guardian on 24 April that such investment had contributed to a boom in new British music, citing artists such as Arctic Monkeys, James Blunt and Kaiser Chiefs. However, Arctic Monkeys are with Domino Records, which was founded in 1993 and rarely re-releases records that predate itself, and James Blunt was signed by the US label Custard Records, which was set up only in 2004 and so has little back catalogue material to release; the same is true of Kaiser Chiefs, who are signed to B-Unique, which was also founded in 2004. Those are hardly good examples of recording companies that rely on significant revenue from the back catalogue profits that would be under threat if we were to stick at the 50-year copyright term.” ( Via Digital Rights Network and associated other sources)

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Updates and New look

  • 1 min read

Wordpress
LogoJust a note on the new look, hope you like it. I am very fortunate to be running Wordpress, the world’s best blogging tool (and it is open source). I looked up the fabulous theme site to go with it, and I came across this one and liked it very much. The last design was my own, but I had awful trouble implementing to look the same in all browsers (especially Internet Explorer, even the latest one, argh). I know the old one can be improved, so I am submitting to WP Themes directory, which I will update this post with the link. I love the new theme, it brings what I couldn’t to the old one: choosable colours and sameness across browsers. I’d like to thank Justin Winslow for that! Did I mention that the exact same colours are used in this theme? It brings a total different look though, the power of perception! So now you know these are the official DF’s colours!

Further to this, I appreiciate the way posts (on their own page) now take up the whole page. I don’t know about all of you, but I hate intrusive sidebars. Sidebars in general are a necessary evil (for navigating the site!), but I am also happy this design is more “ergonomic”. I have also added one more adblock, so now the top and bottom of posts will feature ads by Google. While I don’t make a lot of money at all, every bit goes towards my costs and promotes two software packages I recommend personally anyway: Firefox and Google Pack. I see this as a win-win situation, so I hope readers won’t mind. The ads in the sidebar should no longer feature any Microsoft advertisements, as I have done my best to filter them through the competitive ad filter. Microsoft’s policy on just about (almost) everything is contrary to my opinion, so I don’t feel I should give them exposure. But credit where credits due, hopefully when I see good things I’ll write about it!

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Nokia N800 Review

  • 5 min read

Nokia
N800I have one of those new Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, as many of you know I was one of the first to buy its predecessor, the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. What do I think? Well I have put of writing this for 4 days, as I wanted to really test it out. Before I start, I should say I was part of the Nokia Developer Device program, and I got the Nokia N800 at a big discount, €300 off the €399 retail price in fact. Under headings below I will take about the N800, and compare it to the 770:

Battery Life:
This sees an improvement in the N800 alright, as it is meant for standby. The N770 hadn’t got great battery life really at all, so it seems Nokia payed more attention to the fact it is a communications device, and like phones it needs the juice for use! I guess part of this is that they cut out lots of unesscessary stuff from the Linux kernels boot up, as the device also boots way faster, and has more of a touch a button and your in business type-of-feel.

Ergonomics & Design:
This is a dissapointment on the N800. It looks nice, all the buttons on the front are okay, but the ones on top are disastrous. I bet a marketing person, or a designer who knows nothing (but should) about ergonomics got a hold of it. It feels like buttons on a phone at the top of the N800, hunched together as they have no room. I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t use these so often, but they are used by almost every program you want to use on the N800! The N770 had much better idea, spaced out the Zoom (+ & -), fullscreen (on/off) and the power button.

Bluetooth:
Still relatively the same as the N770, yet Nokia have modified software so that it will accept Bluetooth keyboards, headsets(? Haven’t tried) and other devices officially through the control panel on the device. This marks a push by Nokia to sell all of these when you are buying the N800, which is an improvement in my eyes.

Storage:
Big improvement here, the N800 not only accepts paltry RS-MMC cards, but SD amongst others. Not only that but the device has two memory card slots, each capable of 2GB cards. The N770 recieved critiscism for using a format not widely in distribution (RS-MMC), so they listened to what the feedback was. Now its a snap for me to swap in my camera’s SD card and look at those photos on the move!

Memory:
Also a huge improvement. The N800 comes with 128mb RAM, and it shows. Since I have hNokia N800 with
Headphonesad the device, I had as much as ten windows open (Browser, RSS Reader, Maemo Mapper, Media Streamer etc) and it ran like as smooth as any device I have ever used. I guess they are really optimising the software for the platform, which shows, like in the boot time above. The N770 had 64mb, a slower processor and you felt it. It did what it was supposed to, but under 4-5 windows it would screech to a halt, not good for a tablet. You had to resort to memory swapping applications (basically using the memory card as RAM).

Web Browsing & Messaging:
Web Browsing seems the same as the N770, it mighty be faster, but that could be due to RAM. A huge dissapointment is no Flash 9, which means no Youtube or other flash content. Did I mention this is a huge mistake? People who buy these devices expect their favourite websites to just work, so a big thumbs down on that front, but hopefully it will be fixed. Messaging is superb on the N800, and its touchscreen thumb keyboard is a joy to use. I feel I could type faster on it given enough time compared to a real keyboard, so this is definately good. I am a big fan of Google Talk and open standards jabber, so I love the voice calling part of it. It seems crisp, clear and almost as good as normal phone. I have tried a video call, and well it is not as good as I expected. The camera doesn’t seem good quality, but it serves ita purpose. I tried Nokia Video call feature, and well it was also not good. It dropped voice, video was grainy and the software not on the N800 was for PC only, not Linux or Mac. I guess this is because Nokia don’t own a messaging service, but I have one piece of advice: don’t bother. Better leave the messaging to people in the know, like Skype. Although Skype is against everything I believe in (open standards) its inclusion in the N800 gives better choice, and should be welcomed.

Personal Information Management:
A big let down I am afraid. Being a Mac user, I expect seamless integration of contacts and syncing. Maybe Nokia’s PC suite works with the N800, I have’t tried. But that said, why doesn’t it sync with my Nokia 6234 phone? With GoogleTalk set to include SIP calling, and Skype has SkypeOut, I need an easy way to reach all my numbers, to avoid my mobile phone networks high prices! I don’t think they worked on PIM features since the 770, and it shows. This is fundamental to a communications device!

Overall, the N800 is a nice device and a definate improvement on the 770, but I have a few software and device design issues. I understand their is limitations in price (what market will accept) and that maybe Nokia were on a deadline, release something after Christmas to boost sales which I imagine level off. That said the N800 is not a PDA, or a phone, so what is it? A tiny laptop? This one I think even confuses Nokia, but I like it. It makes the Internet Tablet range stand out, and they mean different things to different people. I give it 7.5/10 which can rise to a nine if Nokia fix some issues!

Read another great review by Luis Villa on Planet Gnome.

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Vista is released; Ubuntu gets .exe!

  • 1 min read

Well as I write this it is a few days after Vista’s launch, and it has yet to set the software market alight. But this is nothing new, it happend with XP. How do you convince people the latest and greatest is worth the money? Microsoft is in a tough position due to stiff competition - old, working, fully-compatible windows machines don’t disappear into thin air. There has been a lot more FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt)abput Vista already from the Free and Open Source camp. Some of the harsh critiscims will be justified, others probably not. Regardless this will not hurt Microsofts marketing whatsoever, the average user doesn’t share concerns over digital restriction/rights management - yet. Microsoft say it will be on 100m PC’s by years end. I don’t think it will be as fast as Microsoft would like, due to: 1) People wait for service packs. 2) People don’t upgrade PC’s as fast now. Most things people identify their computer with is increasingly online, a worrying trend if I were Microsoft, this creates platform independence for the average user, granted not the gamers, or other highly specialised software vendors.

Ubuntu/Debian are working on a Windows installer. This is great news which I welcome 100%. I think Ubuntu could eclipse Firefox as the Free/Open Source poster child if it plays it’s hand correctly. Top of the list would be the best migration of settings from Windows possible- Language, Keyboard, Preferences, Address Book etc. Make this as seamless and as thoughtless as changing from Internet Explorer to Firefox, and it is nothing surer to be a huge way of increasing Linux installs. Picture this: no CD-Recordables to be burnt, no settings to set, 10 minute .exe click install just like any Windows application and you will see what I mean. Add to that no partitioning (Ubuntu uses a disk image in Windows), no modification of Windows file and an Add/Remove option to get rid of it, and instantaneously you see the appeal, I cannot wait for this project to be mature, and heres hoping Ubuntu use it for mass distribution. It can instantly be that cure all for viruses, spyware etc. we have all come to accept on the windows platform, but why?

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My Plan to Digitise my past, for the future

  • 1 min read

I am embarking on a journey I believe everyone should: digitise as much photo, video and documents you can. It serves as a record of your existance, a guide to people of what your life was like. Why? is the most obvious question you might ask. Well I will tell you what prompted me, which is the culmination of a lot of different things.

This brings me to the first reason: Television. I find shows fascinating where people discover their ancestors were orphans, incredibly wealthy or died from exhaustion in a mine. It really makes you think what makes you the person you are, so to speak. David Attenborough says (although I have paraphrased) that if people look back at his 100-150 hours of television, they will get a snapshot of what the glaciers, mountains, desert and animals were like in the latter half of the twentieth century, not a complete picture, but one nonetheless of what Earth was like at that time.

If not for other people, do it for yourself is another reason. Memories are their to cherish and recall. As I try to quantify the future I feel that if I have any childeren, it will be incredibly weird they have been missing a whole segment of my life. But no better time has existed to preserve these memories, in an age where digital devices are commonplace and cheap. They also are disposable though, so I will have to be careful to keep my data in a medium that can be read, a challenge in itself. But I believe I am up to it, and I hope to have every photo, video and document I have in a digital format sometime in the near future.

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BBC to host Multi-OS Debate and My First Web Auction

  • 1 min read

Tux, the Linux
PenguinBBC are putting together a Mac, Windows and Linux user, to debate the pros and cons of being a users for each operating system. While this in itself is good news (more airtime for alternatives), most of the comments are highly in favour of Linux, then Mac and lastly Windows. This is part of the BBC’s coverage of Windows Vista. My hope for the future is that Mac and Linux gain at least 10% each (20% total) over the next 5 years of the home desktop market, as this will push innovation forward, like AMD and Intel competition.

I am selling my first item on auction giant Ebay, my Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. It has served me well, but I recently got a mail the other day that prompted me to sell my 770. It was Nokia: they informed me since I was one of the first to purchase the 770 and I was an influential blogger, they are giving me a lot of money off, and are going to let me have the n800 for a token sum. Hopefully the auction will go well, I will get the n800 and have a bit of cash to spare. Not bad as one might say!

Nokia 770 Ebay
Auction

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Get the facts, about “Get the Facts”

  • 1 min read

Just a quick blurb about some things Microsoft like to say: Don’t believe it, well at least not it all anyway. On the Irish “Get the Facts” page (on Windows Server vs. Linux), they make critical errors of judgement a person reasonably well versed in computing could deconstruct. First of all, Linux isn’t a server, its a kernel, like the Windows kernel. So comparing “Windows Server 2003” to “Linux” is misleading to say the least, and stupid to say the most. You could run any server software on Linux you wished, even Windows Server 2003 if Microsoft ported it! For the sake of argument, I think they are comparing themselves to Apache, which runs 60% of worldwide servers[1].

It gets better though! They use Case Studies to show companies who have switched. Now what they forget to mention, out of the case studies is that some of the companies still use and sell Linux solutions to customers (like Rackspace and GoDaddy)! It took me <15 seconds to search for these companies on Google and find that out. Please Microsoft, save some face and release actual independent verifiable data. Fact is I would not buy off a company who can’t even defend and sell its products properly.

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Engineering Drawing

  • ~1 min read

Google Sketchup Logo, Copyright
Google
Inc.Just a quick post on Google Sketch UP for Mac (also available for Windows), it is a very nice application. I drew my Engineering project (Leaving Certificate) on it, to see if it was easy enough for a novice (Read: Me) to mess around and get something functional out of it. Most people have heard of Computer Aided Design, but usually the applications are expensive to say the least. Not so with Google Sketchup, it is totally free and can import some of the most popular 3D drawing formats. It is easy to use, but difficult to master is how I would best describe this product. The video tutorials Google provides on their website is a huge help, and got me off to a good start. They represented what every tutorial should be: short, snappy and to the point. The User Interface should be designed a little better and be a little clearer, but for a free product, it does exactly what it says on the tin. So I got down to business, and I present my very first drawing in Google Sketchup:Engineering Project (c) Neil Grogan. Kindly Hosted by
Imageshack

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Back to Top ↑

2006

Free Domain name off AOL, too good to be true?

  • 1 min read

AOL, the longtime dialup king, who esperate to keep customers at its’ site who have switched to broadband, is offering free dot com and dot net domains. There are a few caches however, one must be in possession of a US mobile phone (cell) number. Luckily I have a cousin stateside willing to help out ;-) . I got to register NeilGrogan.com (My actual name) which I hadn’t bothered with before. AOL is the legal owner however, so has all the say legally to the name. At the minute it provides 100 2GB email accounts with the free domain, and if you visit the address online, it redirects to an AIM Pages profile of the owner (for all intents and purposes, it’s another social networking site). Its a good way to drum up interest in its online offerings, but they should be more flexible. If anyone is in any doubt, this is just an ‘alright’ kind of deal, AOL say they will give you the option to buy the name back in the future, but I won’t hold my breath.

I am a longtime Google Apps For your domain customer, which like AOL is totally free. Google however help you to register your own domain (which is not to far off market price at $10) so you legally own it. Google offers webspace (Google Pages), email (Gmail), Instant Messaging (Gtalk) and a start page. If anything AOL have a lot of catching up to do, but who knows, maybe Google will provide free registration in the future? It all depends on ad revenues likely garnered from the services they offer. Microsoft also offers a similiar service, but I have yet to try it out……

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Irish Blog Awards

  • ~1 min read

Well apparently I am a new kid on the block, according to the Irish Blog awards blog). Irish Blog Awards from what I can gather is a new event, hoping to happen in March 2007. They have an impressive list of backers, so I expect significant (although maybe minor) coverage in the media. Unfortunately they called it Duey Fensters, but I thank them for the link nonetheless! These are the categories that will be adjudicated on:

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Nokia 6234 Video Test

  • ~1 min read

I recently got a hold of my Christmas present in advance, a new Nokia 6234 from Vodafone Ireland. I did a short video test, maybe this could be the start of my VideoBlogging career:

Well maybe not! But I do hope to have more videos on my blog! The video is of me describing my living quarters and about my laptop. I needed to be a bit closer to the phone as hearing me is difficult sometimes (not so in real life!), but basically I just point out what you see and explain the phone won’t sync address+calendar with my macbook :-( (My old phone did just that :-) ). I don’t really mind, bluetooth works a charm and I can exchange files between it. All I need now is a super 2GB mini memory card, for some quick music on the go!

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Home made server…

  • 1 min read

I managed after ages of trying hard, to get my NAT transverse to work :-) !! This means the computer sitting in my house should be reachable worldwide at dueyfinster.com. It’s login screen is from Ampache music center, a php+mysql solution to a large music catalogue such as mine. It means (for those who can login :-) ) that my whole collection is streamable, downloadable, rateable and generally all round goodness and what you’d expect from a top class open source media+web application! I am excited about this, as I have already tried it from a remote family members house. Unfortunately it does not work too well half way across the world in the US (speed is *really* slow I have been gleefully informed), but I am not too bothered, upgrades in speed will come with better broadband (which may be years, this is Ireland). I am trying to restrict peoples usage of it at the moment, as I really do not want a letter from my Internet Service Provider!

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IEDR too stringent? Sorry about my email!

  • 1 min read

We all want to stop spam and phishing domains, it hurts the Internet and confidence in it. Their is a lot of debate on this issue, even from the registrars. But I believe, as I know there are probably many out their like me, that the Irish Domain Registry have taken this one step too far. One only has to look to Slashdot to see what the rest of the world thinks about our backwards, censorship-driven domain registry. My favourite rule they have about domains is perhaps the one which requires the least amount of bureaucracy:

Personal names must consist of the initial letter from each of two or more of the words which comprise the legal personal name of the applicant, in the order in which these words occur in the name, followed by any two digits to be requested by the applicant. As an example, John Citizen could register jc01.ie.

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Wiki goes live, downtime and Macbook Back!

  • 1 min read

I have a Wiki for messing about! I haven’t found a purpose for itDuey
Finsters Logo yet, but I’d like to have it all set up incase one day I turn out to need it (maybe for collaboration or something?). If you have any skill at themin’ MediaWiki (the most popular wiki software, run but Wikipedia, no less) please, please get in touch! I would do it all myself, but my time is constrained at the moment, but I will eventually do it myself I suppose ;-)

Some of you may have noticed downtime lately, that’s because of the wordpress.com domains add-on is a shambles, at least for dot-eu anyhoo. Support tried to be helpful, and to be fair it was a new feature, but I wasted $10 (about €7.50) for nothing, as I couldn’t use dueyfinster.eu with it. Half of it was perhaps my fault, as I couldn’t use MX records (for redirecting mail requests) to my GFYD so I tried to add more nameservers, having the first pointing at Wordpress.com and the rest pointing at Google. Needless to say after to-ing and fro-ing I decided to keep my self hosted solution, as it offers total control (such as my own template, javascript, etc.). That is why the site was down, it kept resolving at different locations :-( I got the Macbook back from Mactivate, complete with a new logic board (aka. the PMU I often and painfully referred to in my earlier posts).

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Macbook Issue Identified

  • ~1 min read

Turns out my prediction wasn’t quite correct, it was not the Power Management Unit (PMU), it was the heatsink. Mactivate have informed me they have one on order from Apple, so it will take a bit longer than I anticipated to get my Macbook back. I found this strange as I had not experienced random shutdowns like the ones that have been widely reported across the web. it was like I described in my earlier post, something to do with the battery not being able to charge. Then again, I am no expert on this and their is wide evidence (over 1600 people have identified heatsink as a problem in their Macbooks) that the heatsink is a definite issue. Sounds like good or bad I will have a lot more to say about Apple Computer in the future, thats why I have decided to add them as a category.

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Internet Explorer thanks Firefox, sincerely?

  • ~1 min read

Reading my favourite tech news site: Slashdot ( /.), I see the Internet Explorer team have sent the Firefox Team a nice cake:

MS IE Cake for Firefox
2

One comment I read said it all really:

Seems even the IE team knows that IE is dead.

As for the ex-lax, bugs, pubes in the cake of course none of that is true. Those things would only be possible if someone at Microsoft actually made the cake, and that’s not how MS does things. They knew they couldn’t make a good cake so they just went out and bought a cake from someone who already knew how to make one and then stuck their logo on it and called it theirs.

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Blog Updates, Calendar Updates, broken Macbook

  • 1 min read

Well first of all, there has been some blog updates, inspired no less by my Grandfather! He’s at a fragile old age, so he can’t read the screen all too well. This is not a problem however, as he sets all fonts to 16 and higher in Firefox (which is out of beta and into version 2.0!). That got me thinking, as I really struggled to read this page being marginally away from the screen, as I am a Keratoconus sufferer. As a result, I have enlarged all fonts in my blog, in an effort to make them more readable… I encourage everyone to do the same, or at least follow the web standards so that it can be properly auto resized by browsers.

Also I have updated my Calendar for well into 2007! All the dates I can forsee have been duly added and accounted for. Please consult to it and collaborate (if you have a google account, you can add appointments, invite me to yours etc.) I use it all the time (especially as I have iSync), which syncs it to my Nokia 6021) and iPod through iTunes) Google now sends me an SMS (although it costs standard rate [13c per message for me] :-( ) two days before every appointment as a friendly reminder.

As the title reads, my Macbook was well and truly borked, well at least the charging function is. I rang Apple, which were more helpful than I expected. They offered to send me a replacement charger, which I offered to take, but the operator agreed with my assesment that it was the Power Management Unit, and that another AC adaptor would not cut it. I have since taken it to an Apple service center, called Mactivate. Also just a quick footnote, but I recently read of spammers hiring people in the third wirld to read capthcas (like ones I use) and post spam. It seems I may have been affected by this, luckily it was still filtered by akismet!! muhahahahaha

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Best Bush Satire, Ever.

  • ~1 min read

This Ladies and Gents, needs no introduction, for you all know George W. “Dubya” Bush. What you may not know is the Daily Show, which is a popular news satire show in the US. If you have time I recommend you have a look on YouTube for more videos…

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Google buy YouTube, GTalk for everyone and Blogger Bliss

  • 1 min read

I haven’t posted in a while :-( Ah well here it goes: Well we’ve all seen the news Google has bought YouTube for a reported 1.65 Billion US dollars, the deal was reportedly sealed at at Dennys in California (gotta admire that style and sophistication). I think its way overvalued Youtube, at 24m per employee! We all know it serves 100m videos a day, but it has been living off measly venture capital and hasn’t got a verifiable steady income stream, which I guess is where Google enter with Adwords….

Gtalk has now opened up to everyone with an email address, this is great news for Jabber. While [email protected] was okay, people prefer to have one unified address (well I do) for email and instant messaging. Also comes news of deal with Skype, and old news of AOL joining their IM services with Google Talk. This is great for the Jabber Platform, and should halp fight competition from the recent Yahoo-MSN messenger tie up, hooray for open standards!

I am seriously thinking of moving this blog to blogger, and migrating from (the wonderful) wordpress. I want to do this of reasons of cost (for one, I pay hosting) and I want to trial hosting it myself, with Blogger as a backup. I don’t think I will ever get slashdotted now, but it always helps to have as robust of a network as Google does behind you. That is the reason I use Google hosted, it is reliable and dependable , not to mention feature-rich.

I would also like to quickly metion Firefox 2, which is in beta stage at the moment. I am writing the blog post on my MacBook through it, and the spell checker is smething quite special (It has a red line under that purposeful spelling error as I type, rather useful!). Anyways, I hope to post more often and soon…………..

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Macbook Update, Fonero Haven, Commercial Darknet and College!

  • 2 min read

I have ordered and I am expecting delivery of my brand new Apple MacBook (or BlackBook as some call it)! It will be a Black, 2Ghz Core Duo, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB HDD (5400 RPM) MacBook, complete with a remote, Bluetooth 2 and Wifi functionality. Not mention cool applications such as iSight built in Camera, Front Row ( a media center) and Spotlight search technology. It cost me close to €2.000, so hopefully it will be worth it ;-)

I have also joined, for a month, a commercial darknet. Don’t know what that is? It is basically me paying for an extra layer of security, 128-bit encryption to a Swedish Internet service provider. Why? Well that means that if my ISP ever got a court order from a company, they would not have any records on me, since it will be encrypted, leaving them with no trace of what I have been upto. Don’t get me wrong I am a totally law abiding person, and the law says I have a right to privacy. I am just enforcing that right, in case my ISP was collecting anything (BT is my ISP), like my passwords. I also share my connection through my FON router, so as I will be using VPN encrypted network, I can prove 100% it wasn’t me who abused my internet connection, clearing me of liability. Ars Technica has an interesting article on the matter. That said, I have heard little of file sharing implications in Irish Law.

Also, I am one of the newest members of the FON community Wifi project. What the hell is this I hear you ask? Basically you share your internet connection, either for free (like I do)or for a small fee to others. If you share yours for free, you get free access to other FON routers worldwide. If however you “milk your wifi” (aka. make people pay) you hve to pay to use other foneros[sic] routers.

I see Leaving Cert results are out today! I am not looking forward to the year ahead, my last year of secondary school, 6th Year. I will be sitting the Leaving Cert next June, and well to say its no easy task to do well would be an understatement! I do Physics, German, Engineering, Irish, English, Maths, Geography which all will be tested! I wish everyone who has done it, the very best of luck this year, and I hope they all get the results they want. Each of your six best subjects is picked, all weighted on points and automatically submitted to the Central Applications office which holds a list of predetermined points on courses in registered institutions. Based on the availabilty (read “supply and demand”) is whether you get the course, as points fluctuate. They have rounds of offers, until all places are filled. No idea what I want to do, but I am looking in the sub <350 points range, shouldn’t be too hard to achieve!

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Why I am getting an Apple MacBook

  • 2 min read

I feel I need to confess why I am buying a MacBook, have I turned soft to my Open Source/Free Software ways? No, definately 100% NOT. I’ll explain why: I think Apple Computer has an incredible product in Mac OSx. For anyone who has not used it before, pop into a 3G store and ask to have a go. When someone releases a good a product as that, they deserve money, in my opinion. Under “the” free software license (GNU General Public License) it is permissable for anyone to charge for software licensed under it, as long as an offer of source code is given (for 3 years afterwards). Deep down I love Ubuntu, and I will install it as soon as possible when they release a version for the Intel powered Apple computers. In fact I will use my Laptop to showcase Ubuntu you had of told me November last year I’d spend well over €1,000 on an Apple Computer, I would have told you that I hated Apple, and would never consider it! What has changed my mind? I got a iPod Nano for Christmas ‘05 and thought it was great, but the Nano on its own still wouldn’t convince me to get a Mac.

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Law and the Interweb

  • 1 min read

I am writing this because, I regret to say, the stupidity of humanity. People nowadays define their own law on the Web and the Internet (don’t know the difference, you should), while disregarding real life. Maybe its a lack of understanding about technology or law, I don’t know. One things for sure, common sense can go a long way. Take for example this website on the Commitments, which prohibits linking from unauthorised sites! You see? I just broke the law right there, amazing dontcha think? The person who designed or put the statement up, is a total complete and utter idiot, and I don’t care if thats considered slander! Imagine if every site was to do this? Search engines would be just another litagation filled business, like so many other. With Lawyers reviewing every site to go into the database, Google would have a handful, maybe a 100 sites, instead of the usual billions it indexes.

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New Design, Ranking, Gmail Hosted, OS 2006 Finale and YouOS

  • 1 min read

Hope you like the new look Duey Finsters. Like Google style hoo-pah, we are still in “Beta” mode (or is it “Alpha”? Depends on who you ask!). I would be extremely grateful for people to report issues, with the folloxing browsers IE 5.5, 6 & 7, Opera 9, Firefox 1.5.X , Mozilla 1.X , Safari on all platforms Windows, Linux and Mac (BSD if you want!). Great news also in ranking, the site has gone from 8.5 millionth, to just under 4 million (#3,945,836 to be exact) in three and a half months! I am working on releasing the design to OSWD and in Wordpress theme format, for others to extend and enjoy (If you feel like helping out, contact me).

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My Letter to U.S. Dept of Commerce, RE: The Future of the Internet

  • 1 min read

This is my letter to U.S. Dept. of Commerce, stating what I believe should happen to the Internet. Fell free to email your opinions to them directly: ** [email protected]**. As a net citizen, get your voice heard on the most important public debate of our times! Dear Sir/Madam, I, as a citizen of Ireland and the EU, think with respect, the Internet should have a world governing body, fairly appointed by each country who has more than 30% of their respective populations online. For those under 30% they should get to have a sub-committee, to prioritise and promote the Internet in their countries. I think while although ICANN has generally not been a bad governing body, vast improvements can be made, such as not allowing pressure from companies to increase domain prices, when the cost of providing them has come down dramatically over the past few years. I do recognise, that the Internet was partially created with the help of U.S. government funding, but this comes from the people of America, who would want the Internet to be a force for change, like for example, the way it is helping Chinese dissidents.Also, as with all US government generated ideas, it is free from patent and copyright which applies worldwide, such as NASA images, for example. This should be true of the Internet also, as it is with GPS (which I use regularly, Thanks for that!). I am not a whole believer in the U.N. however, I think the Internet governing body should be free form all Government and International organisational pressures (but not those that seek to limit abuse, such as child pornography, obviously). I thank you for offering a public debate on this issue and I sincerely hope the outcome will be of benefit to everyone living on earth.

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Questions, Hosting and IT 2006!

  • 2 min read

I recently found a great documentary, about 9/11, entitled Loose Change 9/11][]. It is easily the most powerful about the event, much more so than Fahrenheit 9/11. In fact I would even argue, that if this documentary had of aired during the U.S. presedential election, I would have bet on a different result. Backed up by trusted resources such as the BBC which confirmed at least 8 of the 19 highjackers are alive and well. Filled with outrageous facts, it sets the scene for either a highly competent Bush regime that new what it was doing, or the worst domestic tragedy that happend under maladministration. Either way the American people have serious questions to ask, which I hope in time will get the aired in time. Maybe George W. is taking a leaf out of Charlie Haugheys book? That is that corruption can be a force for the good of the public, and my rich friends?

Also I would like to unreservedly apologize that this site has been down for so long. The thing is my ex-hosting provider, which I won’t even honor with a link, was an incompetent mess. I have now moved to an Irish company, Hosting365.ie, which gives me freephone support all for a little extra money. Also their premises is in Dublin, which means I can call in at any time and I get the protection of Irish Law (even though we know its a mess [e.g. Mr.A child abuser being set free], I still think we have an alright civil liberties protection, even though I know nothing about law, so I am most likely misguided, anyhoo!) of course not without paying the 21% VAT, which needs to be lowered might I add.

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FON, New Job and Commuting!

  • 1 min read

I regularly read other Irish blogs to see whats happening and whats the latest tech thing amongst others. It seems that may have come to fruition, with FON, a community wifi project, sending me out a free router!! I am exicted about this, as I hope to convince all my neighbours eventually to get it, and maybe who knows, I may even achieve the biggest fon hotspot, if I take my campaign estate wide, to neighbours all around! I want to “eat my own dog food” as they say, so I will wait until I have recieved and used my router before I recommend it to non-technical people. I have read of long delays on FON’s forums, so I expect iot should be here within two to three weeks, maybe a little longer. Also it comes with a european plug, not a Irish/British one, which is a bit of a disappointment that I will have to root out the screwdriver to make it fit!!!

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Best Radio Podcasts

  • 1 min read

Even while podcasts are relatively new (well a couple of years - like blogs), Irish Radio Stations are surprisingly well in on the act. Even our incumbent state broadcaster, RTE, is podcasting en-masse on both RTE Radio 1 and RTE 2FM. To recieve podcasts, you need podcasting software, start by getting Juice Reciever(Formerly iPodder), available for Linux, BSD, MAC and Windows. I will start with my top 5 Irish Radio podcasts:

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Google will organise your life

  • 1 min read

Google have released a calendar, as part of their mission to “Organise the Worlds Information”. While it is what you expect from Google, the Calendar did not impress me a whole lot. It does have an intuitive interface, that is easy to use. It does integrate with Gmail, although the full extent has yet to be seen, as they fall short of mentioning it in Gmail at all, but I would expect this to change. I see great potential for users though, and where Google is heading. They will eventually integrate it with GoogleTalk and Gmail, producing a hybrid interface where you can organise a conference on GoogleTalk, schedule it on your calendar (which is syncronised with your PC and your workgroup server [therby informing fellow employees]), submit video of it to Google Video, write minutes with writely, email minutes with Gmail, that mail (with document and video) being attached to the meeting on the Calendar, which is in turn archived on your PC in Google Desktop and your Gmail Drive. While that is only one scenario, it is very possible. Google have already leaked information on their eagerness to hold the entire contents of ones’ hard drive on the internet.

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Ekiga’s Vorbis

  • 1 min read

I am all for open standards, but they face huge problems. Not least is lack of intergration between them. Take SIP used by VOIP providers, such as OpenWengo. While OpenWengo is open source, and it is SIP, they are not helpful in informing you how to use other clients, or dial other OpenWengo users from other networks.

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Europe’s New Voice

  • 1 min read

As tech savvy readers will be aware, dot EU is the latest domain to go into public use. What is a domain? A domain is the name used for internet site like “dueyfinster.eu”. It has already sold over 1.25 million names already, this entering the third day of the public sale. Their have been bitter critics of how it has dealt out, with heated arguments over some domains such as Polo.eu, which was claimed by no less than 3 entities: Volkswagen, Ralph Lauren and Nestle. Volkswagen won out eventually, all because they got their application in first.

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Mozilla’s Millions

  • 1 min read

Only now is it truly becoming clear, their is [serious money in Open Source][]/ With Mozilla reported to have made tens of millions of dollars. One blogger reported 70m was made by the corporation, with a Mozilla insider confirming thats a reasonable ballpark figure. Christopher Blizzard, board member of Mozilla, had this to say on his blog:

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Just Klik it!

  • 1 min read

One of the biggest complaints of Linux is that software doesn’t install to well, or is very difficult to install. “Dependency Hell” (When software relies on other bits of software to work), used to be quite commonplace. Ubuntu has cleaned a lot of dependency hell up, and a new program for installing software from the internet, is included in the new version, due to be released 1st June 2006.

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Virtual Ubuntu

  • ~1 min read

So you have heard of Ubuntu, maybe they have even shipped you a free disc or you have downloaded one? Like most users, even advanced PC users, they get nervous about installing Linux and afraid of what they might have to learn. Touted as the brighest star, Ubuntu really does outshine other Linuxes, with usability, features and great range of software. Now you can try Ubuntu on Windows.

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Linux VS. Windows

  • 3 min read

I use Linux, I also use Windows. I see the merits of the two, as they are different. Most people don’t see this distinction, that although the two OSes do many of the same functions, they remain lightyears apart. I have to admit I preach Linux to the hilt, I shouldn’t, but I do. I get skeptical Windows users who ask me what Linux does better, and I am stuck for an answer, as it does a lot of tasks better.

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Gallery, Riots and Policy Change

  • 2 min read

Well I can’t believe I only had one post in February! A lot has happened since then, with Danish cartoons, Dublin Riots and a few policy changes to the site. First of all the cartoons, I mean, whats all the fuss? Christianity is banned in Saudi Arabia and Muslims in the middle east just don’t get the idea of ‘free press’. No one should be allowed to immigrate to the western world, if they do not hold the core values which we hold, such as human rights, free of expression/press and other values. Should we worry about the middle east? Not at all, they’re behind the times, their loss. Why is it that movies which parody Christianity are so popular with Christians (like Monty Python)? We have evolved and can tolerate jokes and laugh at ourselves, many, but not all Muslims have not learned to do this, but they will, its called evolution, and sooner or later, it will hit the middle east. I am not defending the Cartoons, and I know Muslims do not produce images of Muhammad, and offense to this, I can understand. But they need to relax, maybe try some of the many drugs they like to export to us?

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German Trip

  • 1 min read

I recently travelled to Munich, Germany on a recent exchange (1st-9th Feb, 2006). Not knowing what to expect, I found a very different Germany from the text book one you read about (Bavarian Trad Dress, Beer-drinking, Pretzel Eating, Sausage loving etc!). Of course all of these elements were present, but I think a modern German society closely reflects American one, in a lot of ways. Germans are the largest group by ethnicity in United States, so maybe its just German culture prevalent in America?

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Wiki, Awards and Wifi

  • 1 min read

Well the last couple of weeks have been interesting! You will notice the website is now a wiki based on Wikipedias engine, metawiki. I had a load of problems with making the theme work with a wiki with loads of menus. I think I did well considering I only spent about 3 days doing it. The code still aint how I want it and some features were lost, such as rss and del.icio.us bookmarks. But pages are now easier than ever to navigate and comment on which brings more features.

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New Year, Lets Review!

  • 1 min read

Well another year has passed, so I thought I’d make a short recap of it, and tell you what I am looking forward to in 2006. The year was firmly in the hands of mother nature as we saw in both Pakistan, New Orleans/Gulf of Mexico and the Tsunami’s after effects. International consensus was reached at the G8 as London was being bombed - not by the IRA, but by their new enemies in the middle east. Iran esculated its pressure on the world by resuming its nuclear activities. George W. Bush took office in January, much to the distaste of the Daily Mirror in the UK, who scored their most famous headline, “How Could 59,054,087 People, Be So Dumb?”.

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2005

Million Dollars, Nice!

  • 1 min read

A student in England has almost reached his target of one million dollars, and he is only 21! He came up with the idea after jotting down ideas before he went to bed on how to become a millionaire before he went to university. Then he came up with the million-dollar idea, sell pixels at USD $1 a piece on his homepage, MillionDollarHomepage.com . This man is Alex Tew, hailed as an advertising genius by the many companies who are using his site to make Internet history.

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Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

  • 2 min read

I got it! UPS delivered the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. What can I say? It is pure magic! The features are great, it includes:

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Google Video

  • 1 min read

What a fantastic service Google now offer with their Google Video platform. There are a couple of reasons why I like it, mainly because it is available to upload your videos on all platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac) and is available on Mozilla-based browsers (Firefox, Netscape), Opera and Internet Explorer.This is important in creating a better all round user experience. If only Yahoo! would follow Googles example and open up Launch Cast to other browsers besides an outdated version of Netscape and Internet Explorer.

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Click Online

  • ~1 min read

In case you have never looked at it, Click Online is the flagship technology program for the BBC. It broadcasts on the Internet and can be viewed even on a 56k modem. I have been watching click online for over a year and a half now, I first saw it on BBC World, while holidaying in Portugal. It also broadcasts on BBC News 24 at 7am on a Sunday morning (I have never seen it at this time!). Although by its nature a technical program, it is very much aimed at the average PC user and so most things are explained fully.

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Eurosceptics

  • 1 min read

The British Press annoys me so much, they way they constantly get it wrong across the board about the EU. I am a fond supporter of the EU for all its faults and cracks. But I love freedom of the press and like organisations who uphold basic journalistic standards, such as the BBC. This leads me onto the evil man behind it all, Rupert Murdoch owner of The Sun, BSkyB Television, The Times and other media outlets. It seems all he pushes is his agenda, whether it be the Bush Right-Christian agenda on Fox in the US or Eurosceptic view in his British interests.

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The Future…..

  • ~1 min read

While using instant messenger I had a brainwave, what will the tech landscape look like in the future? So here is What I think could happen: IBM will buy Sun MicroSystems and make a new opensource OS, it will be based on Ubuntu. Microsoft will purchase AOL and roll out its products on the Web, such as MS Office, it will have a slow start to Vista, but it will pick up through peoples eagerness to buy the latest hardware. Google will buy Opera, invest in Mozilla and consolidate Opera into Mozilla, it will also buy Adobe (for their PDF format), get its way to publish an online bookstore through Google Book Search. Yahoo will continue to buy extra companies to add to its list of a zillion services, such as Flickr and Del.icio.us.

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In Sickness and in Health!

  • ~1 min read

I have a throat infection, so I get a week off!! I went to the doctor and I am on vibramycin antibiotics. I was coughing blood (not nearly as nasty as it sounds). Now I can get some relaxation in before Christmas!! I hope to do a guide to restricted formats on Ubuntu soon, especially W32 Codecs and how to get all the good formats it offers (Divx, MPEG1-4, Windows Media, Quicktime Media and RealMedia)

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Wireless, New Design and Web Services

  • 1 min read

Welcome to the new and improved Duey Finsters. As I mentioned before, I hope to receive a Nokia 770 Internet Tablet soon, so I will be checking the free wireless services offered by Eircom in Dublin and at McDonalds restaurants.

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2004

Duey Finster

  • ~1 min read

Awake Mornin at nearly six am I am writing this at six am in my cousins home because I heard this is a good way to get a gmail invite!

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