Monday, September 28, 2009

Voting Card

I got my voting card for the Lisbon II referendum. Somehow the polling day has crept up on us and as usual my apartment has not been canvassed by either side. Not that I particularly care about canvassers since I've already made up my mind which way I'll be voting, yes. I think it is best for the country to be close to the EU and I believe a No vote will see us pushed to the margins if not on paper than certainly in the minds of the other EU governments.

O2 strangle hold on iPhone comes to an end?

Good news from The Guardian this morning, O2 UK's two year exclusive contract with Apple for the iPhone in the UK is coming to an end. Orange is entering the iPhone market later this year. That means for those of us who use the iPhone in Ireland there might be hope that O2 Ireland will soon face similar competition. I am almost 1 year into my 18 month contract for the iPhone 3G so I wont be switching networks straight away but I hope that with some competition in the market O2 will be forced to finally implement the features they have ignored up to now.

Visual Voicemail: now it's not a big thing but for some people it was an important feature when the original iPhone launched two years ago. A year and a new iPhone later O2 just announced it was too expensive to implement the advertised feature and they were shelving the project.

Tethering: a simple feature available on many other phones and just recently introduced on the iPhone 3.0 OS. Unfortunately O2 have not been keen to allow iPhone subscribers to use tethering. It appears they were worried that tethering, supported with other phones and contracts, would destroy their broadband market if it was allowed on the iPhone.

Hopefully O2 Ireland have a similar 2 year contract to O2 UK which might mean other networks should be preparing for the iPhone sometime between now and March next year. That might see me and other iPhone users getting more and paying less sooner than that if O2 wishes to keep their current subscribers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Airships Return

The US Military is looking to deploy airships in Afghanistan which can stay at 20,000ft for 3 weeks and can watch the battlefield.

The airship, that wonderful military technology of the first world war, is now about to hover gracefully over the people who figured out how to shoot down Soviet helicopters with RPGs. It sounds and looks cool from the video but I hope they remember the other technological advancement made for airship crews during World War I, parachutes, because 3 weeks in a floating target has got to be one of the worst assignments going.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Emigration is back

RTE news is reporting that net emigration has returned to Ireland for the first time since 1995. In the year to April the number of people leaving this country grew from 45,300 to 65,100 while the number of migrants to Ireland fell from 83,800 to 57,300.

30,100 East Europeans left the country and 18,400 Irish.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

LCD Ads in Magazines

BBC News just showed a piece discussing the future of adverts in magazines and a new LCD advert page in Entertainment Weekly. The consensus was that it was novel but the advertisers would not get their money back based on approximately £20 per magazine.

Maybe in pure circulation of Entertainment Weekly they wont but for that £20 they just got 5 to 10 minutes of news and discussion on BBC News showing parts of the adverts for Pepsi and CBS shows including Big Bang Theory and NCIS as well as several appearances and mentions for Entertainment Weekly. For a station that does not show adverts like BBC News they just gave Pepsi, CBS and Entertainment Weekly a great free advert. You can bet other news stations will do similar. Suddenly £20 each for a few thousand magazines seems like a pretty smart investment when you are the first with these screens and can get the news coverage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My head hurts

After watching this video describing the 10 dimensions I think my head hurt in at least 7 of the 10 ;-) Some where around 8 I was thinking, right they are just making all this up now but when I got to 10 it did make a little sense, I think.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Liffey Swim 2009

Congratulations to all the participants in the 2009 Liffey Swim. I understand over 200 men and 70 women took part this year. They had a lovely sunny day for it and that brought out the crowds of spectators along the quays and over the bridges. Special praise has to go to the swimmer who while bringing up the rear of the mens race was still gracious enough to joke with the crowd. At the Ha' Penny bridge some jokers cheering on the swimmers shouted "you're going the wrong way". The swimmer looked up seemed to smile and shouted "Oh Really? Thanks!" turned around and started swimming back up the river to the amusement of all present.

I have not been able to find official results yet but from what I can find out the mens race was won by Pat O Driscoll of the Templeogue Club. More photos from the swim can be found on my Flickr account and in the Dublin Blog Flickr Group.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back to Photos

It's been weeks since I took any photos. Kinda got out of the groove and had too many other things on to be lugging my camera gear around with me. Still I went into town on Wednesday with the intention of taking some photos. It was fun to get back into it again and I did get at least one photograph that I liked. A photograph of the Ha'penny Bridge with the sun setting behind it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

iPhone 3.1 and Tethering

Apple announced iPhone 3.1 and iTunes 9 yesterday and part of the upgrade closes off the hack that people used to enable tethering. Basically networks like O2 Ireland have exclusive deals to supply the iPhone and cant be bothered to implement the features of the iPhone. No Visual VoiceMail and no tethering. They don't need to invest the time or money in the infrastructure because they can just pay Apple for exclusive deals and the only people who suffer are the consumers. Monopolies suck.

Still no movies of TV shows in Ireland, that's not O2's fault but it's just another indication that the Irish consumer is being screwed at every turn.

The sooner Vodafone and other networks get the iPhone the sooner we will get iPhone services from O2.

[Update] Looks like there is no support for ringtones either in the Irish iTunes store, or I should say I cant find it where Steve Jobs said it would be, replacing the podcast button on the iPhone iTunes app. Not that I particularly want to download ringtones but I'm sure other people do and I cant understand why they are not allowed here as well.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Property Tax in Ireland

The government seems to be giving up on ever restarting the stamp duty gravy train they have lived off for the last decade and instead now wants to tax residential homes. In other words, we taxed you when you bought the house and now we want to tax you again because no one else is buying houses. Add to that the plan to tax children's allowance, pension lump sums and the sale of rezoned land and the government could well be facing protest marches numbered in the hundreds of thousands instead of just the thousands that brought down the medical card changes.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Cowen upset to be asked questions

Poor Brian Cowen, you almost start to feel sorry for him then he turns around and cries like a baby to random journalists. The leader of this country comes back from a few weeks of holidays and claims he was ambushed by questions on the new Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy.

Tubridy asked him questions about the economy, his role in creating the economic bubble that had burst so painfully and Bertie Aherns timing in stepping aside to let Cowen come to power just before the bubble burst. Tubridy did also ask Cowen about reports of his drinking but the leader of Fianna Fail managed to deal with the question in a good "everyone enjoys a couple of drinks at the weekend with friends" kind of way. Perfectly valid, who doesn't like the odd drink at the end of a hard week in work. I watched the interview on RTE Player and initially I thought that Cowen had come out of the interview quite well and he had gone up in my estimation. A man trying his best in difficult circumstances and holding on to the belief that what he is going is the right thing for the country as a whole. According to a survey run by the Sunday Independent 41% of people who watched the interview thought the same. Not bad for a politician who prior to the interview had a 15% approval rating.

Now it turns out that after the interview Cowen sat in his dressing room removing his makeup and cried to a Sunday Independent journalist that he had been mugged by Ryan Tubridy. For anyone who doesn't know Tubridy the idea of him "mugging" Cowen is laughable both physically and mentally. Tubridy is a light weight fluf TV presenter whose idea of heavy weight issues is a debate on who had the better tailor Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. Cowen on the other hand is supposed to be the elected Taoiseach of this country, though he wasn't actually elected Taoiseach, he was appointed Taoiseach when Ahern resigned.

Whatever sympathy I had for Cowen after the Late Late Show interview vanished when I read his comments to the Sunday Independent. First of all why on earth is he crying and whining with journalists after coming out of a TV studio? Who allowed that to happen? Someone should be fired, either his press secretary for incompetence or Cowen for insanity. Secondly after all that has happened since he became Taoiseach where does he get off being publicly annoyed at any questioning. The man has led us into the greatest recession in decades. He has overseen a property bubble and crash. His budgets bought elections by putting this country into hock to pay for benchmarking. Yet at no stage has he faced the public and answered their questions as a party leader seeking election. I suspect Cowen now will never face questioning from the public. He'll be dumped by Fianna Fail before the next election. He is a millstone around the party, a walking talking PR disaster, stumbling from one bad news story to another. Get rid of him now and salvage what little is left of the government and the Fianna Fail party. Feel sorry for him if you want, he'll just go cry on the shoulder of a journalist and moan about how unfair life is.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Dublin in 1911

The National Archives of Ireland have released the 1911 census. This is a fascinating resource with scanned copies of the original forms filled in by households around Ireland available to download. Personally when I downloaded the form for my grandfathers family I discovered that my great-grandfather was born during the famine. My great-grandparents spoke both Irish and English, something I can not do and neither could their children. They had 10 children 7 of which were still alive at the time of the census, my father remembers that another 2 died young after the census. Those were harsh times in Ireland.

But my family came from outside Dublin, for Dublin people there is even more than just their family history. The website contains lots of information about the city in 1911.
There were, by 1911, 330 trams operating on lines which ran for 60 miles along the city’s roads, drawing the suburbs tightly to the city.

Those trams ran on 17 routes around the city. Today the Luas has 2 routes, covers 15 miles and has 40 trams. Maybe in some ways times were not so bad in 1911...