Friday, April 21, 2006

Nuclear Winter - RTE's new policy of fear and scare

I watched Duncan Stewart's programme on from Chernobyl last night and it was powerful stuff, it really seems that its a forgotten tragedy even to the local authorities and the government. Poor healthcare and poverty I can understand not agree with but understand. The fact that the sarcophagus or cement containment shell is failing and the government there seems quite slow to address the issue which is something I can't. Charities like the Chernobyl Children's Project can highlight and speed the addressing of healthcare issues but the lads in Minsk should really get a grip and provide a final solution to the containment problem once and for all.

RTE is of course pushing its own political agenda given its programme schedule yesterday also included a Orson Wells War Of The Worlds type intro to the Pat Kenny morning radio show with a explosion at Sellafield rather than Martian invaders being the hoax subject. Following hot on the heels of these programs will be a docu-drama TV show called Fallout on Sunday and Monday dramatising again on the theme of a Sellafield disaster (lads & ladies for those of you based in Dublin, well ...). Highlighting Ireland's lack of disaster readyiness is to be applauded but then I'm sure if anyone has read articles by Tom Clonan (Morning Ireland Interview on the issue) you'd already know how unprepared we are in Ireland. My beef is that I come from a scientific / engineering background and whilst Nuclear energy is dangerous I've got to agree with a letter in the Irish Times from another Limerick based engineer Duncan Martin who points out that all energy technologies are dangerous even if the dangers are more akin to maintenance or construction dangers. Looking to my own research field that being Interaction Design and Human Computer Interaction as well as work by Kim Vincente on Human Factors as well as the drive towards safety design by Fadier et al (both inspired by amongst others, Rasmussen on Risk Management) and basing in Liam's human-centred perspective where design is predicated on a understanding of human activity in the world, I argue that even something I dislike like Nuclear power can be built and used safely in Ireland if we consider a activity based design paradigm to address some of the major concerns with a technology such as fission based Nuclear power plants. Making technology, any technology an evil bogey man is not the answer - questioning its use and appropriateness for the situation in a reasoned fashion is only common sense but picking a worst case scenario as a four horsemen of the Apocalypse type standard bearer is just ridiculous.

Another major problem I have with this program, is that RTE have refused to allow the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland to be involved in the drama (consulting, technical advice and ensuring factual accuracies) and as such there is a very large question over whether the scenario being depicated is realistic in any fashion (I'll add it is probably true, given Tom Clonan's comments on the radio this morning plus the minister's weak replies). Following a doctrine of fear and scare mongering is beneath our national broadcaster and instead it should focus more on sponsoring more programs like Eco Eye and showing the positive directions we can take to improve our nation. Overtly following any particular national agenda by the state broadcaster is a murky and dirty path that courts trouble, maybe not on this issue but what about the next one ....

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Long weekend

With various bits done for CS4358 and the lecture later, its time to do a little blogging!

So just to comment on Connie's blog entry on Chivarly by saying yip it's dead as I'd love to see any ``young woman exercise her modesty in becoming a lady!''. Other news is that Steve's car is fixed after the breakin. Gareth is making me wish Easter Sunday was today so I could get back on chocolate!

Speaking of candy, here's a link to some eye candy - the Panoramic Photograph Collection. Another bridge across the Shannon but at Foynes via Limerick Blogger.

Digital Rights Ireland are keeping an eye on the new Defamation Bill. The Boston Review has a serious dose of reality from the ground in Iraq.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Anything Goes - Bruce and Luisa!

Went with Steve and Conal to see Bruce and Luisa in the Limerick Musical Society production of Anything Goes by Cole Porter and it was brillant! Poor Steve nearly lost his voice as we were all laughing and enjoying it all. There was some serious talent and the singing wasn't bad either ;-) It's running until Sunday night so if you're looking for something a little different for the weekend, I'd highly recommend it as a excellent night out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Linkage and random bits

So if you feel like your Mac still isn't cutting it - how about using it for home monitoring ?

On the download score, two very eagerly awaited bits - Eiffel Studio and the latest Freenet ( new large scale Darknet version ) which offers three really useful new features 1) operation over UDP rather than TCP, 2) transparently operate through firewalls and 3) a new simpler API for third party developers. Freenet now offers a new software foundation for building collaborative trust network services and applications which can scale to larger groups over 200 which until was the upper limit or so for Darknets. Speaking of such issues - A List Apart has a nice article called "Anonymity and Online Community: Identity Matters" which touches on community management for online communities.

From the desk of Don Norman, we've got two interesting articles "Emotionally-centered design" and "Why doing user observations first is wrong". A nice quote from the second article is "Field studies, user observations, contextual analyses, and all procedures which aim at determining true human needs are still just as important as ever – but they should all be done outside of the product process. This is the information needed to determine what product to build, which projects to fund. Do not insist on doing them after the project has been initiated. Then it is too late, then you are holding everyone back.".

For interesting speculations about the Irish elections you should check out the new site. On another point, I don't have a Tree house fetish but you have got to admit they're cool!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Meetings and Dictates

fait accompli - An accomplished, presumably irreversible deed or fact.
dictate - A directive; a command.
disgust - To offend the taste or moral sense of; repel.

Three hours of a meeting last night and I think the three definitions above sum up both the meeting and the feelings of all those involved. I only wish I could add the following definitions but alas there wasn't any

clarity - free from obscurity and easy to understand; the comprehensibility of clear expression
communication - the activity of communicating; the activity of conveying information

I wonder when a democratic organisation became a autocracy ?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Weekend Fun

Weekend Fun
Originally uploaded by bluepelican.
This has been just a great weekend for catching up with everyone. After the match, it was into the Green Onion with Ivan, David and Alan where we bumped into Denis who looked like we'd interrupted something but sure what are we to think when he and Cat are off looking for sites.... Sunday was lunch with Aidan, Alan and John at the Mill and bumped into Cathal and Sarah too. Then Alan called over and we had a good chat about his payroll excel module that he's working on. All I can say is that Micro ISV's are the way forward and Alan's idea will be a perfect example. Its really good but damn that NDA I signed.

I found a great quote from the author Robert Heinlein which goes like this "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write a sonnet, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." and sure I'm not about the diaper or butchering but I'm getting there !