27 September 2002

Interested in having a look at the current blazing bestseller in Ireland? And what a rivetting read it is: The Second Interim Report of The Tribunal of Enquiry Into Certain Planning Matters and Payments -- aka the Flood Tribunal Report -- can be viewed as a PDF file for free here. Be warned, such is the demand for the report -- which implicates former Minister Ray Burke on corruption and 14 people for hampering the investigation -- that it is downloading very slowly. [UPDATE: the site has apparently had over 19,000 hits today]. I've created an internal link with today's Irish Times front page opinion piece for those who want to know what this is all about (as the front page stories are accessible to non-subscribers, I figured my bosses won't mind [grin]).

As the piece notes:

Even after the scandals of recent years, this report has the capacity to astonish. Mr Justice Feargus Flood has called a spade a spade. There are no prevarications, no weasel words, no get-out clauses... Mr Burke's entire career in public life stands condemned, from the time he was gifted his house in 1973 to the substantial payments which flowed to him throughout the 1980s.

If you go to this page, you can also download all 30 of the individual appendices full of the evidence. Of course, you can buy the whole massive thing for the princely sum of 1 (due to the excellent decision of the Flood Tribunal to make it accessible to the public) from Govt Publications in Molesworth St, Dublin. Kudos to Justice Flood for pulling no punches and taking this democratic action on pricing. BTW the report is supposed to be a great read.

2:52:28 PM  #   your two cents []
Etain Doyle, the Telecommunications Regulator, will be on Pat Kenny's radio show Monday morning and he is inviting people to send in questions for her regarding broadband networks and anything else of interest. You can email the show at todaypk@rte.ie.
11:56:05 AM  #   your two cents []
Who wants to marry a sysadmin? "We're getting fatter and paler by the second."
11:32:12 AM  #   your two cents []

For those interested in the wardriving/warchalking discussion yesterday, here's a link to the study done recently on the dispersal and nature of Dublin WiFi networks by Niall Murphy & Co. at Enigma Consulting. You can generate a cool little map of Dublin's networks, from his results, here. The question of legality seems a bit hazy without a clear precedent (ie, someone taking the issue to court). A discussion in Buswell's last night with some of The Usual Suspects who think this makes a better Thursday night pub discussion than topics like sports, sex or religion yielded nothing more than an argument as to the moral rightness or wrongness of piggybacking on someone else's network. Of course government scandal got a good look-in as well in the evening's blather, now that former ministers have been formally implicated in self-improvement schemes (aka bribes and corruption).

10:48:25 AM  #   your two cents []

It comes as no surprise to me to learn that -- contrary to what the IDA has been telling American companies for over a decade -- Irish students are actually among the worst in Europe at foreign languages. From Emmet Oliver's piece in today's Irish Times [paid sub required]:

The Euro Student Survey found that Irish people in general "have little competence in continental European languages" and about half of all students, even with the benefit of second-level education, cannot speak a foreign language.

This is similar to other countries in which English is the main tongue -- there's just little motivation in daily life to learn a language (although, of course, plenty of motivation for cultural, social, philosophical and just plain fun reasons. Plus you're less likely to order something really disgusting off the menu when on holiday abroad). Having spent far too long at university (skulking around Trinity College) as a postgrad, I knew that this govt-sponsored image of a nation of happy, fluent French/Italian/German/Spanish speaking students was a bit of a wheeze. You can read the report on this and other aspects of student life here.

10:06:24 AM  #   your two cents []

Fancy some planet hunting? Global call for extrasolar planet watching: Scientists "are now searching for amateurs worldwide to monitor stars already known to have planets orbiting them, and have posted a list of target stars and predicted transit times at www.transitsearch.org." [New Scientist]

9:47:50 AM  #   your two cents []
Worried about mind control and radiation from aliens? Try the aluminum foil deflector beanie. (Note nice discussion at bottom of the site's homepage on why I say aluminum, you say aluminium; let's call the whole thing off...)
9:11:42 AM  #   your two cents []
Danny O'Brien [wave!] has  a superb column in today's Irish Times [paid subscription required] on Silicon Valley pioneer and 'Robespierre' Lee Felsenstein:

We talk about about how the latest boom attempted to make heroes and business leaders out of engineers - who'd rather just make stuff. "I think that hackers might work better when they're not being put on pedestals," he says, finishing off the fries. "We like something to work against; some private mission to pursue." Some new underground revolution.

9:07:41 AM  #   your two cents []

The FT assesses the challenges of opting for a dual 2G/3G phone in the European market, and notes a mixed reception for the first 3G handset, Nokia's 6650, released yesterday. Analysts say the pricing is good but have doubts about the technology working smoothly (gee: what a surprise!).

9:00:19 AM  #   your two cents []
P2P foes defend hacking bill. <<Supporters angrily defend a proposed law that would permit copyright holders to assail peer-to-peer networks, saying it has been mischaracterized by opponents. >>[CNET News.com]
8:55:02 AM  #   your two cents []
Profits from piracy. <<Evidence is mounting that cracking down on software copyright infringement may not be good for business. Case study: Microsoft in China.>> [Salon.com]
8:53:26 AM  #   your two cents []
Francois de La Rochefoucauld. "We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones." [Quotes of the Day]
8:52:55 AM  #   your two cents []

From a new KPMG study highly critical of media companies (read: music companies) for spending billions on protective measures that annoy consumers rather than taking any kind of proactive approach to what is clearly an enormous marketplace:

Responses indicate that the media industry has yet to find its footing in the digital age. Rather than embracing the Internet as an inexpensive means of delivering top-quality creative content to the consumer in a highly customized format, industry executives remain mesmerized by the destructive potential of online piracy. Rather than go on the offensive, the industry has hunkered down in a defensive stance.

...The bottom line is that media companies need to shift their focus from a circle-the-wagons defense of digital intellectual property to innovative strategies for managing online content as a core revenue source.

There's a ZDNet article on this here.

8:52:37 AM  #   your two cents []
Bill could spare Webcasters from silence. <<Online radio companies would gain a six-month reprieve from new copyright fees under a bill introduced in Congress. Will it buy them enough time to prevent their shutdown?>> [CNET News.com]
8:40:30 AM  #   your two cents []
"Critics call the software parasite-ware and stealware. But the sites that use the software, which is made by nearly 20 companies and used by dozens, say that it is perfectly legal": New Software Quietly Diverts Sales Commissions [New York Times: Technology]
8:38:51 AM  #   your two cents []