43km today

Out towards Bray and then a bit in the park to top it off. Haven’t been doing much beside smaller spins in the park and similar, also no commute for the summer so I need to keep up smaller spins and the bigher ones if I’ve any hope of getting decently fit.

Cycle lanes on the N11 vairy from some of the best further away from the city (and, at that, still not the best in terms of world standards, still lots of poor design in places), to some of the worst near the city.

Famine & Byrne

Famine & Byrne, and Bertie Bills

Famine & Byrne

The blog of the guy who did that Famine & Byrne / Hardtimes stuff, ‘Will Saint Leger’, is here. The design of his “Bertie Bills” is great, on that he says:

The day before Bertie Ahern resigned from office, I loaded Molly Malone’s statue with £50,000 worth of ‘Bertie Bills’ for anyone to take away. People seemed reluctant to take dodgy money from a complete stranger, of course that wouldn’t be a problem for Bertie.

And he makes Victora look far more attractive than in real life. More on his site/blog and his flickr page.

(via @pkellypr)

Twitter for busy bakeries

Baker Tweet is an interesting little device allows busy bakeries to tweet what is fresh. Twitting from presets by just a flick of a dial and pressing a button. When they are not so busy, they just have to log into bakertweet.comto change the presets. It was made by digital creative agency Poke who says they are “based across the road from the Albion [the first bakery to have the device installed, @albionsoven] and, perhaps selfishly, we wanted a way to get the freshest baked stuff first. Then we realised it could be a great tool for bakers everywhere”.

(Via Ben Terrett’s flickr stream)

Games Toaster and me

I’ve gradually being doing less and less work on my computer games website, Games Toaster. Little at all in the last year. Craig Gallagher has now all but taken over.

In an email recently to a few people I said it’s now the best part of a decade since the site started. But I really started what became Games Toaster more than a decade ago. Sometime around 1997 I started up a hints and cheats website on Telecom Eireann‘s tinet.ie web space (Wow, I feel old!). Anyway, the site was moulded into a news and reviews site at the start of 2000. I call it ‘the site’ but what I still see as one site was renamed (the Irish Gamer, and Gamire.com before Games Toaster) and redesigned a number of times.

I didn’t have childhood dreams of wanting to become a journalist.  The closest things to that were wanting to become a photographer (something I’m thinking of looking into doing along side writing) and my friend and I recording our self pretending to be DJs or when younger pretending we were Sky News reporters (both not something I ever really want to do). Running the site has changed my life. It got me interested in journalism.

At some point I realised I like the writing part more than playing games. I still like computer games, but journalism is my first love now, and I hope I can make a living of it. Craig is more review focused, but the high point of the site for me was when I was writing a lot of news and features other than reviews. When we were doing something different than anybody else. Covering stories nobody else was, or just with an Irish angle, but also asking questions nobody else was. When games made national news, sometimes we were just covering stories far more informed than the professional general media.  May not sound like much to most people, but I love this kind of stuff. For example, the feeling when I was the only one in a packed press presentation to spot a planned feature was in clear breach of copyright law was great, that I pursued the story and seemed to be correct was even better.

I’ve learnt a hell of a lot from it way before doing my HND. From researching and writing to attending press and other events. It also got me travelling more than I would have, first to Dublin and over to the UK, and also to LA which pushed me to go even further afield.

So, a big thanks to anybody who help me out on the site. Including all the reviewers in those years (more than six, I think, including one from the UK), to companies who gave us review copies and answered our annoying questions when the site was more news focused, to Google News for picking us up and giving us a wider readership, to those who complained about us and made us better and, most of all, to all the people who read the site.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

As Patsy McGarry of the Times wrote the other day:

But there was also the parallel, deeply dark underbelly of the church at that time, as disclosed yesterday. The commission report records such levels of depravity and barbarity in the treatment of thousands of children by Brothers, priests and nuns that one can only conclude that it illustrates nothing less than an utterly dysfunctional and deeply corrupt institution.

It is such corruption as results from the regular and unaccountable exercise of absolute power. Then, as the great, Catholic, historian Lord Acton observed “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The report illustrates voluminously the absolute corruption of an absolutely powerful institution.

We — as in Ireland in general, and maybe humans in general — learn too little or too slowly from the past.  We continue to ignore problems of the most vulnerable in society. Not at the same scale, but without protections in place, absolute power can easily occur on a smaller scale. We can’t say ‘never again’ when measures are clearly not in place to protect against abuse happening again.

Dublin cycle chic

Want to promote cycling in Ireland? Marketing it, and stop the scaremongering

Dublin cycle chic

Mikael Colville-Andersen, who runs Copenhagenize.com and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. In his own words: “The main point with my blogs is that if cycling is to be an everyday activity then it can easily be done in everyday clothes, like millions of Europeans do every day”.

In a post about the Velo-City conference, he points to a post by Guillaume Van der Stighelen, co-founder of marketing company Duval Guillaume, where Van der Stighelen talks about marketing cycling as a ‘hero brand’

“Most arguments are rational. Less CO2, more mobility, healthier. Well, those drivers know that. But that doesn’t convince them apparently. Let me tell you what the argument is: status it is”.

I suppose Colville-Andersen himself has gone some way in helping branding cycling — on his blogs, talking to the press from a few countries, and in video form:


Copenhagen – City of Cyclists from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

More here, here, and here. And they even cycle in the snow in Denmark.

So, in Ireland, if government at local and national levels are serious about increasing cycling they need to stop the scaremongering nonsense and the misuse of taxpayers’ money on promotion of yellow vests and helmets. If you want to make sure cyclists are visible enforce the law of bicycle lights use. If you’re going to push cycle helmets which have flawed research backing their use, then promote motoring helmets too.

If you’re, say, the Labour Party and you talk about “Dublin Must Become A Copenhagen Or Amsterdam For Cyclists” then you don’t wear pointless helmets at your photo-shoot. If you’re the Green Party you should need to be told this in the first place. Err… but at least they are being green by reusing the one helmet at their photo-shoot?

Oh, and that’s not Copenhagen in the photograph above, it’s Dublin. And just to prove it’s possible to cycle like a normal person and it’s not a once off, here’s six more people cycling in Dublin, just one is wearing strange gear:

There's always one...

(the 6th person is behind the camera)

ADDED: Pushing ahead with the measures outlined in the recently published National Cycle Policy is needed too, but the importance of marketing is still a missing part of government plans. And not only is government at different levels not marketing cycling, their cheap but false safety promotion makes cycling appear more dangerous than it is — they enforce the myth that cycling is dangerous.

Broadband speed matters

oecd1

Ireland is ‘‘slipping in broadband league” according to the OECD’s latest broadband report. The full results are are on the OECD Broadband Portal (source of the charts). Penetration is the main news angle — broadband penetration has increased in Ireland, but we’ve been oven taken on the league table.

Out penetration is mostly low speeds broadband of “up to 1mb,” and mostly below “up to 5mb.” Above shows the average advertised speed, we’re in fifth last place. The true problem with speed is shown in the fastest broadband speed where we come in at forth last. Thus when it comes to penetration of high speed broadband, we’re just starting off — we need a new network. And upload speeds are worse, which means slower upload of video and images.

Speed matters and in coming years it will start to matter more and more. At the moment I’m down the country and Eircom is reminding me how far behind we are — the “up to 1mb” connection I’m at isn’t working at 1mb, and earlier — when more people in the area were online — it was even slower.

On cost, the OECD report Ireland ranks badly and it doesn’t even take into account of our high line rental which is needed for most connections.

oecd2