Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blogger Beta Templates Update

I previously posted about the fact that I could not import my existing blog template in to the new Blogger Beta and that Blogger were going to provide the ability to manually edit templates and to import old ones.

Well it's a good news bad news type of morning. Good news, Blogger have updated the Beta to include manual editing of templates. Bad news, there is a new template language and the new editor rejects my old template as being badly formed XML. Thats possible I suppose, if the old Blogger was very forgiving. When I created my template I simply took an existing template and altered it in the blogger text editor to look the way I wanted so I could have missed something. Still at least Blogger have acknowledged that people really wanted the ability to edit their templates manually and, like I've said before, it is a beta.

I am going to have to spend some time over the next few evenings getting a HTML editor and trying to first fix my old template so it's readable in the new Blogger and then I'll probably have to just write a new one using the new template language.

Test blogs are now recommended by Blogger for anyone altering their templates. Dont touch your main template without verifying your new template or altered template works in a test blog first.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blogger Beta Search Problem

I've just noticed that the Search This Blog option (top left of the page) only searches my current posts. I had to search for the name of a pub I'd been too a few months ago and though I knew the title of the post search returned back an empty result. I ended up loading each month I thought it was in and searching the page.

Template import has not been made available yet and the spell checker still wont let me click away from it's list of options. Blogger Buzz is rather quiet with only two posts (non beta related) since the beta announcement.

I shouldn't complain, it is after all Blogger BETA.

CNN leave microphone on

Ah classic. CNN left anchorwoman Kyra Phillips microphone on while she went to the rest room. Nothing really embarrassing, at least from a bodily function perspective like in Naked Gun, but she did describe her husband as "handsome and he is genuinely a loving, you know, no ego" and her sister-in-law as "just a control freak" on national television.

The real shame is this was during a live broadcast of George W Bush's from New Orleans. It would have been far more entertaining if she had been complaining about Bush, or even better if the handsome comments had been about Bush and not her husband. That would have been hilarious.

I have to wonder if the sound men of the world have a grudge against President Bush this is not the first time they "forgot" to turn off a microphone.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sectarian school busses?

I would have thought this kind of thing had died out in the 1950s but in Ireland today there are (or were until lately) State funded school buses reserved for children of specific religions. In this case two Catholic school children attending a mainly Protestant school in Limerick were refused permission to use a school bus. The reason was that the local VEC said the bus was just for Protestant children who live more than 3 miles from their closest Protestant school.

The family understandably threatened legal action and the children were given passes to use the bus. In Ireland of 2006 how did anyone think that what can be seen as a sectarian school bus was a good idea and there would not be law suits.

I realise that the policy is probably just a reflection of the penny pinching common in the public services of todays Celtic Tiger, but I have to wonder how many other school children are refused the use of a school bus and are told it's because they go to the wrong church on Sunday instead of the truth that the local authorities are too cheap to put on enough school buses?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Roy Keane and Sunderland

It's official, Roy Keane has signed on as manager of Sunderland. You have to say the man likes a challenge with Sunderland having lost the first 5 games of the season. Though they did just win today's game so the mere mention of Roy Keane must have inspired them because it sure wasn't Niall Quinn their current Chairman/Manager.

It will be some change for the players to go from mild mannered Quinn to take no prisoners Keane. Theres a new sheriff in town and he ain't gonna take no guff about having a broken metatarsal or a concussion from any player. Get up off the ground and run it off. Sunderland will have to start winning now because when they loose the players will be too afraid to go back to the dressing room. Actually come to think about it, Roy at 35 and retired for the last 6 months will probably still be the best player in the dressing room if they hit an injury crisis.

But the big game of the season is now Saturday, 25 November 2006, Wolverhampton v Sunderland, 15:00. Roy Keane V's Mick McCarthy, the great managerial show down.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Peoples Photography

The annual Peoples Photography open air exhibition at St Stephens Green. While the weather could have been better for the poor photographers sitting by their sections watching for rain showers, the quality has, in my opinion, gone up this year. With a mix of amateur and professional there was a wide variety on show, some were basically good holiday snaps, some were beautiful panoramic taken with special cameras.

Friends of mine had displays there and they always ask me if I'll take part, my answer is always the same, I simply don't have enough good photographs, but maybe next year if I get enough photographs from my Australia trip.

I've never been able to find a list of exhibitors web sites so this year while I walked around I picked up some business cards and noted down some other web addresses. I'm posting them here for people who couldn't make it to the exhibition but would like to see what was on show.
Blake Coverdale
David Gray
Eddie Mallin
Hugh Gordon
Jon Cheung
Kevin A. Logan
Mark Russell-Hill
Marko Hauke
Metamorphic Media
NMS Photography
Oktober House
Paul Fitzgerald
Peter Cox
Purple Productions
Richard Murphy
Sarah Ann Woods
Stephan Jaeger
Tim O'Brien

(This is far from a complete list but those are the ones I got while walking around. If anyone has more to add let me know.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Che Guevara Lynch

Did you know Che Guevera was part Irish? I didn't, but apparently his father was a Lynch. This street performer was on Grafton Street today telling people. Though I think it was a bit of viral marketing for a little cigar shop that just happened to be behind him.

Poor Teddy

That teddy bear statue that Dublin Council has put on Grafton Street seems to have been in the wars. Graffitied and now being used as a clothes line. I wonder how long it will be before someone hangs a suitcase from it's arm as a hint to the Council.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Blogger Beta Templates

OK, now this is a pain. It appears I have to redo my template for the new Blogger Beta if I want to use labels. That's bloody annoying.

Update: It looks like I'm stuck for the moment. The prepacked templates are ok and can be configured, somewhat, but I prefer my old template. Fortunately the folks at Blogger Buzz say they are going to add in the edit html functionality in "days not weeks" and allow users to add labels to existing templates.

First post with new Blogger

I moved my blog over to the new Blogger Beta tonight. I didn't even realise I could move it until I clicked on the link on the Dashboard to "learn more" about Blogger Beta. Then I found I had the option to move my blog.

The only strange thing about the move is that I had to use a Google account instead of my old blogger one so my login to blogger changed but that's not too bad. I suspect Google want to create user accounts that have all blog, mail, calender, chat etc together. I wonder will they change the look and feel later and rebrand Blogger as Google.

Some observations while writing this post, Google have changed the spell checker. When I click the spell check button for this post the check occurs in the current page not in a separate popup window. It now recognises the word "blog", but not the word "login". Rather annoyingly if I click on a misspelled word to see the spell check options I don't seem to be able to click off that without selecting another misspelled word or selecting a suggested spelling.

I also have the option to allow or not allow comments on a per post basis and I can also change the time and date of the post. I'll have to look into using labels instead of The editor window doesnt seem to have label options. Perhaps after I post this I will get the option to add labels.

Anyway I'll play with the new blogger over the next few days. You may seen some weird posts from time to time so please ignore them.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Size matters

Poor old Pluto, out on the edge of the solar system, cold, lonely and now unwanted. Astronomers have voted to remove planet status from Pluto. From the BBC:

The scientists agreed that for a celestial body to qualify as a planet:

  • it must be in orbit around the Sun
  • it must be large enough that it takes on a nearly round shape
  • it has cleared its orbit of other objects

Pluto was automatically disqualified because its highly elliptical orbit overlaps with that of Neptune. It will now join a new category of dwarf planets.

Of course when they say "Sun" I take it they mean Star and by clearing its orbit of other objects they dont count moons or Earths moon would disqualify it as well.

Basically what it all boils down to is that Pluto is now too small for scientists to call it a planet and that is because there are other items in the solar system that are of a similar size, or bigger. Therefore astronomers created a measurement and stated that Pluto was now too small to be a planet, regardless of any attachment others may have to the idea. There are now 8 planets not 9.

Just be thankful that these astronomers are not politicians. "We're sorry Ireland, your land mass is too small to qualify for nation status, please hand in your passports and pick up your new French ones". Or vets, "We're sorry miss, your pet is too small to qualify as a dog, we have reclassified it a gerbil."

I do have to wonder what will happen when they go home to their wives tonight, "Hi honey, how was the conference. Oh by the way while you were away I reclassified some of your vital parts...."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Roy Keane to manage Sunderland?

RTE reported on the 9pm news that Roy Keane was about to become the new manager of Sunderland, the Irish times is now reporting the news.

After Niall Quinn became chairman of Sunderland he appointed himself as manager of Sunderland. He then lost 5 matches in a row and fired himself, the atmosphere in his house must be very strange this week :-)

Anyway it looks like he may have now signed Roy Keane up to manage the team, at least for the next 5 matches, then Jason McAteer may get a shot, followed by John Aldridge, Denis Irwin, Tony Cascarino.... :-)

Update: TV3 just reported that Keane will be manager before Sunderlands next game on Monday.

Update 2: BBC have the story now. It may be true. :-)

Update 3: It's true, Roy is manager of Sunderland. He signed up yesterday and gave his first press conference.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

TD Expenses

Damien Mulley has a table with the expenses of the nations TDs. The expenses seem to run from €13,373 to €75,501 €79,429 for ordinary TDs while ministers seem to scrape a more meager existence on less, though they do get more free perks from the state.

With an election coming up next year it would be nice to know how much the people calling to your door looking for your vote are billing the tax payer for the expense of doing things like calling to your door looking for your vote.

Update: Senators are Damiens Blog as well, the highest expense claim coming in at €80,827. Though most of us normal citizens don't get to vote for that democratic body.

I have not listed the names because I think you should look at the list yourself and find your own local TDs or senator instead of just reading the top and bottom claimants.

Update 2: Damien went to the Oireachtas press office and asked for the information, the result was a 250 page document. He then made it available to all of us, fair play to him. Get the full story here.

Want to go back to College?

According to ENN (quoting the Irish Times) hundreds of unfilled college places will be advertised by the CAO on its website. Many of the courses are in the science, engineering and computing areas, you know, courses that get you real jobs ;-). I suppose these days all the kids want to be accountants or doctors not engineers and programmers.

I don't know what the story is with mature students but if anyone ever considered going back to college they should look into it now as this could be the perfect opportunity to get a place in a good technical course.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Just not Cricket

The English are going mad because the Pakistani cricket team got upset when accused of ball tampering and refused to come out after tea to continue a cricket test match. then when the Pakistani team finally did come out the Umpires got into a hump and refused to come out saying the Pakistanis had forfeited the game.

The game goes on for weeks, they play all day long and stopping for tea and someone gets upset when a player picks at the leather of the ball. If I had to play cricket I'd probably pick all the stitching out of the ball, doodle on the bats and use the stumps to draw Xs and Os in the clay.

Get over it lads, its just a game and everyones been accused of ball tampering at one stage or other (including the now deeply offended English).


It's that time of the year when the lovely girls from all over the world gather to express their Irishness by going on national (international?) television, answering some questions and doing a party piece. Yes it's the Rose of Tralee. No swimsuits, no Miss World type "I want to save the children", no sexy clips with the girls in the pool telling us what country they come from.

Each Rose gets 5 or so minutes in an evening dress talking to Ray Darcy telling "funny" anecdotes and feeling the mortification that comes from knowing a nation is watching. Seeing cows on the road and loosing ones make-up seem to be the highlight of some Roses week in Kerry. It's daft, it's naff, it's twee, but in a bizarre way it is consistency in a world gone mad after all it has been running, in what seems the same format, since 1959. Hundreds of thousands of people will watch it but does anyone know or care who won it last year?

However someone should double check party pieces before letting the Rose on stage. I think I just saw the Cork Rose do her party piece which was her ability to dislocate her shoulders. WTF? What ever happened to traditional party pieces like Irish dancing, singing or martial arts in an evening dress.

RTE is doing a live web cast for those people who think being out of reach of the RTE transmitter would save them. I've had my fill of it now and am switching to Newsnight.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Just Grin and Bear it

Dublin City Council seem to have swapped the statue at the St Stephens Green end of Grafton Street. This time they have put up a giant metal teddy bear striding down the street. Very weird, though fun, I just dont want to know how much it costs. Add to that the rabits in the O'Connell Street area I have to wonder who we have picking the statues for the city (and what they are smoking).


Does anyone remember where we left the summer? Today it seems we put it down somewhere and forgot where. I spent the day going from shop to shop spending just enough time in each to get what I wanted and dry off before going out in the rain again.

I pitied the artists taking part in Peoples Art at St Stephens Green, they spent the day sitting in heavy rain showers while their paintings got soaked. By the end of the day some of them were not even bothering to try to cover their work anymore. Next week is Peoples Photography. I know some of the people taking part, I hope the weather is better for them.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Miss, please remove your underwear and step through the scanner

I spotted this story on Boing Boing this morning and at first I didn't believe it, but a quick google search returned me and official statement from Birmingham Airport.

As part of the international crack down on liquid explosives on airplanes the authorities have banned all liquids and liquid type substances. Included on the list from Birmingham Airport are
NOTE: The definition of liquids includes gels, pastes, lotions, liquid/solid mixtures (excluding lipstick) and the contents of pressurised containers, e.g. toothpaste, hair gel, drinks, soups, syrups, perfume, deodorant, shaving foam, aerosols, gel pens, gel bras (my emphasis) etc.

Gel Bras? How are they going to search passengers for gel bras, apart from the obvious Benny Hill technique? "Miss please step over here so I can inspect your breasts for explosives". Actually there's a point, what about breast implants? Will women with breast implants have to provide a doctors certificate? Crazy.

[via Boing Boing]

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Soccer nightmare

Current scores (9pm):

England 4 - 0 Greece
Rep of Ireland 0 - 4 Holland


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New Blogger Beta

It looks like Google have finally gotten around to bringing out a new and improved version of Blogger. At the moment its only for new users and selected existing users but it will be rolled out to the rest of us eventually.

The look and feel is very similar. The main changes that I am interested in are categories and WISWIG editing of templates. The categories are called Labels. I've been using just to categorize my blog posts for my own use so it would be great to be able to do something similar for people who read my blog. The editor for templates seems a little vague and limited but anything would be an improvement over having to edit html. I wont change my template using it but it's nice to know it's there for new bloggers. They also seem to have fixed Publish which will hopefully stop those frustrating Publishing... 0% screens I keep seeing. There are other additions like RSS feeds which are nice but not on my short list of things I'd like to see changed.

I've signed up for a new account so I can play around with the new settings, which only makes the fact that this blog has not been moved over yet more frustrating. They call it a Beta, but then again Google seem to call everything Beta these days and people still use their applications.

Rain stops play

Yes! It's raining! For the last week I've faced the prospect of having to take part in the company golf outing with the knowledge that the last time I had swung a golf club, longer than a 9 iron, in a game I was my early teens. I have since tried hitting golf balls at a driving range and have come to the conclusion that I may be better off using the Happy Gilmore style of golf.

Now I've been saved, or at least granted a reprieve that could hopefully bring me up to my holidays and save me until next summer. It's raining and the general consensus is no one wants to spend the evening wet and cold. Thank god for fair weather golfers.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Carry on restrictions to Ireland?

There was a discussion on the Ryan Tubridy radio show this morning with representatives from Dublin airport. One of the contributors had flown from Paris to Dublin yesterday and despite there being no carry on restrictions on flights to Ireland the Air France desk refused to let him bring carry on luggage. He had called Air Frances customer support number the day before and they had told him there were no restrictions. The people on the radio show assumed that the check-in people in Paris thought that Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, damn those stupid Germans ;-). Still the point is valid, lots of foreigners dont know Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom so could apply the same restrictions to flight travelling to Ireland.

A listener txted in to point out that they had been made check in their car keys, house keys, mobile phone etc and then when they got to Dublin Airport their luggage was missing. If you are traveling through the UK and are not allowed check-in luggage it may be a good idea to leave a spare set of keys with a friend who could meet you at the airport in an emergency and remember their contact number (keep it on a piece of paper in your wallet) otherwise you could be stuck in the airport.

Either way it appears the travel restrictions are now being relaxed but you can assume that there will still be disruptions for a couple of days and some airlines may take longer than others to reinstate hand luggage. The announcement said passengers would be allowed one small item of hand luggage, half the size of previous allowances. Why they think a bag half the size of the old luggage will be safer than the older full size one is safer I dont know, all I know is I now have a carry on bag that is too big for "the long term" as will many other people. Electronics are allowed but liquids are still banned. Am I cynical when I point out you can buy drinks on the plane....?

Update: Reports on TV at the weekend said the terrorists had planned to buy new MP3 players in duty free and then modify them on the plane to make a detonator. As one friend of mine pointed out have you ever tried to open an MP3 player to change the battery or something simple? It's hard enough to do when you are at home never mind when you are about to commit suicide, jammed into an airplane seat and holding a bottle of explosives. The shoe bomber didn't manage to light a fuse on his shoe with a box of matches, how well do you think he would have done with a screwdriver and an MP3 player?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Flickr Groups and Cameras

From time to time I take out my camera to try different things and if the shot doesn't work out I'm never really sure if it's because I made a mistake or because the lens or the camera just was not capable what I wanted.

Now I can check because I've found a Flickr group with over 5000 photographs taken by people using the same camera I own. That's a great resource. If I search through it I should be able to find examples of what the camera can really do and then set out to learn how to do the same.

A quick search shows there are lots of groups for other cameras and manufacturers, I dont know why I never looked for these before.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Far and Away the worst movie I've ever seen

Far and Away is on RTE at the moment. I now know that I'd only ever seen the end of the movie and having now seen the beginning I realize two things. First, I should have gone out on the beer tonight. Second this really is an awful movie.

If the characters were Jewish it would be anti-Semitic, if they were colored it would be racist, but because they are Irish it's funny. Now I'm not suggesting we should start taking ourselves too seriously and scream racist every time someone pokes fun at the Irish, after all we are good at poking fun at ourselves, but if it stops shite movies like this making it through post production then it may be a good idea to play the racist card from time to time.

UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council is meeting to vote on a resolution about the Israel-Lebanon war. It's live on television at the moment and is even webcast online. It is interesting to see the procedures and how they run. Ghana has the presidency and their representative invited the representatives from Israel and Lebanon to sit sit at the council table for the upcoming discussion. I wonder if we will get another Kruschev style shoe incident, I doubt it, the days of Kruschev diplomacy are gone and they wouldn't have made it to the council table if everyone had not already agree to the resolution.

The resolution calls for an ceasefire and that civilians should be protected that leads me to think they don't expect the ceasefire to be immediate or to hold. Israel will withdraw in parallel to the deployment of 15000 UN peace keepers and the Lebanese army. They are calling for an arms embargo on Lebanon, thats bit unbalanced since the US is shipping tonnes of arms to Israel. The US is giving more financial aid to Lebanon and getting the private sector (*cough* Halliburton *cough*) involved in rebuilding the infrastructure.

We'll see if anyone actually acts on it and how long a ceasefire holds, Hezbollah are not at the council table so I imagine they will do whatever they want regardless of who votes for what in New York.

Update: The resolution has passed unanimously. It is Resolution 1701. I hope it's number isn't a reflection of its chances of becoming reality ;-).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Airline Carry on Restrictions

Today in the aftermath of the attack that didn't happen there are still restrictions on carry on luggage if you are flying to the US or flying from or through the UK. You are limited to essentials like your passport, wallet and tickets in a clear plastic bag. Michael O'Leary boss of RyanAir was on the radio saying that we cannot ban carry on luggage just because of a few nutters. While his company would like to get rid of checked in luggage entirely and he is biased he has a point about not giving in to terrorists. If you alter your life in radical ways do they not win at least a partial victory? Importantly he and the Irish media seem to think there is a real possibility that carry on luggage may well be banned on many flights from now on, even after the immediate “threat” recedes. That would be totally insane.

Can you imagine spending up to 12 hours on a plane with nothing but your passport, wallet and flight tickets. Thats cruel and unusual punishment. Next imagine what it would be like to fly to Australia without an overnight stop (as I am going to so later this year). For close to 36 hours if you count flight time and transfers in airport terminals people might not be allowed to carry anything onto planes except the above items. If you check your luggage all the way through what will you do during those hours in airports? Will you have to buy a newspaper, book or magazine in each airport when you arrive, and dump them when you go to board the plane? Will you also have to buy a new toothbrush and other items to freshen up and then dump those before boarding? Since you would have no mobile phone you would also need to use a credit card or get a small amount of local currency and coins to use in pay phones before flying on to your real destination.

Personally, the only thing that may save me from 36 hours of torture is that I am not flying through Heathrow, the UK, or the US as I did during my last trip down under. So far these rules seem to apply only to flights leaving England or heading to the US, as far as I know. If they expand them beyond that then God help anyone who has to fly.

Update: I just heard on the BBC news that passengers will be able to bring on any items they purchase in duty free. Naturally, there's money at stake there.

Update 2: The travel restrictions are now being relaxed but you can assume that there will still be disruptions for a couple of days and some airlines may take longer than others to reinstate hand luggage. The announcement said passengers would be allowed one small item of hand luggage, half the size of previous allowances. The example shown on tv was a laptop bag. Why they think a bag half the size of the old luggage will be safer than the older full size one is safer I dont know, all I know is I now have a carry on bag that is too big for "the long term" as will many other people. Electronics are allowed now as well.

Parking at Dublin Horse Show

Two friends of mine have a stand at the Dublin Horse Show. They only run the business part time and they mainly just take part in big shows like the Dublin Horse Show. Last year when they got their exhibitors pack they also got a form to fill out for parking at a local cricket club, price €40 for the 5 days of the show. Fair enough, they used the park for the whole week. This year when their pack arrived there was no form so they rang the club and were told that parking was now €60 for the 5 days and that they would just pay €12 each day since they refused to take an advance payment for the full 5 days.

Everything was fine Wednesday morning, the first day of the show, €12 one days parking. Then Thursday they show up again and this time the parking had gone up to €15. When they quizzed the staff they were told that the management had just told them to charge the €15. I wont find out the price today since they are moving to another car park that is a little further away but cheaper.

Now I don't own a car and I just use public transport like the bus and the LUAS so I don't know if €15 is a fair price for a days parking, I think for parking in what amounts to a field it's pretty steep but supply and demand has kicked in. However I have to wonder at the rip off republic attitude that is so ingrained in people these days that they can inflate prices by 50% a year and then throw another 25% on top of the new price when people pay the first day. They have driven away customers by doing that but they will probably still get others who show up for the day and do not realize that they are being price gouged. They will still have a full car park and a fuller bank account but it does leave something of a bad taste. If you want to charge €15 charge €15 from the start, don't keep increasing the prices and see how far you can push the customers.

Update: Today they parked in Wanderers FC Rugby grounds just down the road and there is a free shuttle bus to the RDS. That cost €5 for a days parking. BIG difference.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fear my Key Fob of Death

Ah, the joy of the current War on Terror. Governments can pretty much order the public to do what ever they want and take away any rights they dont like and if anyone asks why they can just give vague answers like "an ongoing and sustained threat" or "a terrorist plot has been disrupted". Of course if nothing happens thats not because the government was wrong, it is because they were right and they have saved the world, once again, three cheers and pass the ballot box.

This morning people traveling from the United Kingdom were greeted with the news that some of them were planning to blow up airliners going to America. The explosives were supposedly in liquid form and would be taken onto the planes in carry on luggage. So the British government reacted by getting airport staff to hand search people boarding planes and to ban all but minimal carry on luggage in a clear plastic bag like cash, tickets, passport and medical essentials.

The authorities are now forcing people to check all hand luggage, like brief cases, handbags and electronics, including laptops, iPods and, shudder, KEY FOBS. Those little pieces of plastic that open doors in offices. They have things like RFID chips in them to allow the door to recognize the cards. Obviously the terrorists were planning on using these little pieces of plastic as detonators or something. What else do we know will have similar chips in them? Yup, passports! For security reasons we now have to put chips in passports but ban chips in key fobs. Course you couldn't use a passport for the same purpose, no, sure if you blew up your passport then you wouldn't be able to get through immigration at the other end.

The whole thing seems more than a little stupid, but one thing makes me suspect it's a hoax. One simple little image. Airports full of people in queues. If there really were terrorists with bombs trying and failing to get on planes the authorities would have cleared the airports. Do these key fob detonators only work at altitude, is that why my keys don't explode when I throw them onto my desk and should I be concerned the next time I get in an elevator?

So dial up public concern, increase travelers paranoia and present a strong united front against terror to the world, after all if people didn't think there was a terrorism threat they may look at their politicians and think why on earth do we vote for those muppets.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dublin Mayoral Carriage

I just spotted the Dublin Lord Mayor’s State Coach being transported through Donnybrook on the back of a truck and with a Garda motorcycle escort. The truck was just a vehicle transporter so the carriage was open to the elements and swaying precariously on its 117 year old suspension. It was probably on the way to the Horse Show in the RDS, I hope it makes it.

(Note: The photo is from last St Patricks Day)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What's a Sex Bomb?

Saw this sign on a couple of shops over the weekend. I'm not sure what a sex bomb is, but I'd like to go with my mental picture of a rocket that scatters beautiful Victoria Secrets models around a battle field. It would certainly be an effective weapon to disarm most armies, even fanatical ones. Can you imagine even Hezbollah staying in their trenches if lingerie models were landing around them? Puts a new spin on make love not war.

Intercity Trains

I traveled up from Cork at the weekend on one of the new Intercity trains recently brought on line by Iarnrod Eireann. They are a vast improvement over the old trains. For starters the air conditioning works. Monday was a pretty warm and sunny day, by Irish standards and the train was actually slightly chilly. The seats are comfortable though of course they are new so are more padded. There also seem to be more of them since some tables have been removed and an extra row of seats inserted instead. The intercom is still a little difficult to hear, but there is an illuminated sign scrolling messages. At the exit doors of each carriage there is a map displaying the route of the train, while I didn't see them in operation it appeared that they would track the progress of the train.

The food cart was out of service for some reason and while I didn't go to the food carriage the people sitting beside me did and they were talking about how much better it was with a wider selection.

The journey took just 2 hours 55 minutes and got into Heuston on time again a nice improvement on the old service, I once took a train that caught fire never mind the times they just broke down.

One way journey was €54, which to be honest is a bloody rip off, but at least the train looks modern and safe instead of the old ones that looked like they got them from a third world scrap yard.


Had a long busy weekend so I didn't get a chance to update my blog. In fact from Friday 8:30pm until Monday 8:30pm I had no internet access at all.

For starters I went to a friends wedding on Saturday down in Cahir in Co. Tipperary. Congratulations to John and Maggie, here's wishing you many happy years together. I suspect Maggie choose a hotel with no wifi access because she knew John and his friends would just bring laptops and PDAs to her wedding. :-)

Then on Sunday I headed down to Cork and Cobh to visit another friend. Cobh is a beautiful little town and I spent so much time taking photos with my new camera that I almost missed my train back home yesterday. I then headed into Dublin to take some photos and again try out the camera in evening sunlight.

By the time I got home last night all I could do is throw some photos up onto flickr and watch some TV so I'll try to catch up on the blog today.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fujifilm FinePix S9500 Observations

I know, I know, another new camera post but thats what I spent yesterday evening playing with, unless you'd rather I post about packing my suit for a wedding at the weekend :-).

I haven't really gotten to use the camera in anger yet but I already have a couple of observations.


  • Nice Zoom. It's much handier having 28 to 300 in one lens rather than the 2 I had on the film SLR

  • All the functions, and more, that I had on my film SLR (Sigma SA7) seem to be present, except depth of field preview, but with a digital I can see the real photo. Really I don't use a lot of the more advanced features that others use, I'm a glorified point and click user.

  • Tilting LCD. I never thought about it before but while testing the camera I realized how useful it it.

  • xD Memory cards are interchangeable between it and my olympus compact. I hadn't realized the DCIM folder was actually part of a standard (pdf link). The photos from each camera just go into the appropriate sub folder and can be viewed on both cameras.

  • Dell Axim views the photos on the compact flash. Just insert the compact flash and it picks up the photos. Plus the card did not need to be formatted so the old pda files are still on the card. Now I have to get the Axim uploading photos to flickr and everything will have fallen into place.

Cons: (more like nitpicks)

  • Manual focus is strange. The focus ring is small and while it does work it seems to require a lot of turning compared to my older SLR lenses. Focusing now takes a little more effort than I like, I'll probably get used to it. That said, I need glasses for a short sighted astigmatism so manual focus if always fun and I tend to depend on the camera to tell me when I am in focus.

  • The Electric View Finder is frankly, bollocks. It works but a real SLR view finder would be a lot better. The colors are washed out and there is a refresh lag, you get used to it but its there. On top of that I cant use the EVF with my clip-on sunglasses (made for the glasses before anyone laughs :-)). The polarization on the lenses screws up all LCDs, so with the EVF it puts a big black line through the picture. I have to try it with proper sunglasses and see what happens. However I'll live with that because at the end of the day, it's not an SLR.

  • It's hard on batteries, the alkaline ones that came with the camera yesterday are already on red. Alkaline batteries were always just going to be a backup anyway since I plan to buy NiMh rechargeable ones, I'm told they last several hundred shots. (Update: I bought a set of 2600 mAh ones at lunch time, the guy in the camera shop estimated they would last 200 shots and they take 14 hours to charge. Hopefully I'll try them at a wedding over the weekend and see how long they last. I have normal batteries as a backup)

  • This is probably a complaint of other digital SLRs but there are a hell of a lot of buttons to press while spinning dials and looking through the view finder. I have a lot of things to learn before it becomes second nature.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Camera Update

My new camera arrived, about 21 hours after I ordered it. Three cheers for I ordered it at 2:30pm. They had it packed and ready for shipping by 4pm. DHL picked it up in Manchester at 4:30pm and it arrived here before 11am this morning.

Since I'm in work I have to wait until lunchtime and this evening to play with it and hopefully I'll have some nice photos from the weekend to post next week.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Digital Camera

I finally gave in today and bought myself a good digital camera. After delaying and procrastinating for months I came to the conclusion at the weekend that film is just too expensive. I spent 19 euros getting two rolls of film developed and put on CD using 1 hour development because I wanted the photos that evening. Throw in the cost of the film and it was closer to 25 euros. Now I know when I'm in Australia I could easily take two or more rolls of film in a single days shooting, probably more.

I had a couple of conditions,

  1. It had to have a good lens, just one lens, something like a 10x zoom with a reasonable wide angle as well.

  2. Preferable it had to take xD cards so that I could use the same cards in my compact Olympus as well.

  3. It had to allow me to use shop bought batteries not just a propriety rechargeable. I don't want to miss a days photographs because I couldn't recharge the batteries each night. If I can throw several packs of ordinary batteries into my bag as a backup to my rechargeable ones that would be great.

  4. It had to be, relatively, reasonably priced, I didn't want to bring a 1000 euro digital SLR and lenses backpacking in Australia. I will probably buy a digital SLR next year after returning.

In the end I picked the Fujifilm FinePix S9500. It ticks all the boxes, plus it's 9 megapixles. It cost 515 euros including shipping so not cheap, but hopefully worth it and thats basically 40 rolls of film being developed. I ordered it today and DHL tells me it is some where in the East Midlands of England. Fingers crossed I'll have it for the weekend and I'll have some photos to show next week. Then hopefully I'll have some good photos from Australia to justify the price.

The Power of Words, Bush Style

Here's a very funny video from Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central. It sums up the last 5 years of American foreign policy in 4 minutes :-) (Click the picture below)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Summer TV

God, summer TV sucks. Nothing on but bloody "reality" TV. RTE have Charity You're a Star, a bunch of obscure Irish celebrities trying hard but failing to entertain, with the exception of Kathryn Thomas who will always have a special place in my heart. There is even a gaggle of politicians taking part so you know there is an election coming. It's for charity so they try to claim it's in a good cause but maybe it would have been better to just donate the cost of making the show to charity and put on re-runs of No Frontiers.

TV3 and UTV are both showing Love Island. A show whose very idea chills me. Get a bunch of celebrities and instead of making them sing put them in swimsuits and try to get them to mate. It's basically a live paparazzi show.

And of course Channel 4 and E4 have Big Brother and multiple BB spin offs. You can watch people sleep for almost 24 hours of the day.

At least it's making me get out and get some exercise.


Fidel Castro is ill and has stepped down, temporarily, to have surgery for intestinal bleeding. The worlds media is jumping at the chance to get a headline that doesn't mention the Middle East. To be honest, apart from a group of people living in Miami and a bunch of old CIA people with long memories in Washington does anyone really, genuinely care what happens to Castro?

This is basically just an old family feud with one set of cousins not talking to another set because of some argument they had 40 years ago and which is now of no relevance. Vladimir Putin isn't going to suddenly decide it would be a great idea to put some nuclear missiles on Cuba and even Bush isn't going to decide that it would be a good idea to invade Cuba. The island is a hang over from another era, like an old cassette tape player in your wardrobe, or beta-max video player in your attic. Gathering dust but not getting in your way. Sure the Cuban regime has been accused of human rights abuses and Cuba is not a democratic country, but there is a long list of countries that the same could be said about and who have a bigger influence on world affairs (most of the Middle East for starters).

So Fidel goes to hospital, maybe he dies this year, maybe he dies next year, maybe he dies in 10 years. Really it will have no impact on the world stage, except maybe allow to Americans to buy some cigars at lower prices.