Monthly Archives: June 2010

Extremes & Contradictions

I don’t have much time for blogging these days. I’m just about keeping up with the news. That’s what I’m doing right now – reading the Irish Times online.

Something that caught my eye:

On the one hand, the number of rich people in the country is getting richer.  In 2009, an additional 1,800 people in Ireland joined the ranks of the HNWIs (the High Net Worth Individuals). This represents an increase of 10% over the previous year.  In the “ultra-HNWIs” (those having investable assets of $30 million or more) also increased last year, up 18 members to 181.  The report goes on to say that our figures in Ireland drag behind larger increases in these categories than is found for other countries. It seems the recession has passed by some people. Or are these people in some unique position to be able to benefit from a recession. I wonder what industry they work in?

On the other hand, 29% of Irish households could struggle to pay bills or buy food and other important items in the next 12 months.  15% of Irish households couldn’t pay for essentials, 35% of Irish households have difficulties paying healthcare for their families.  It’s not pretty.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The gap widens. Is this typical fallout from a recession?  If so, when does the situation begin to rectify itself.  Economists feel free to jump in with the answers.  Do economists have the answers?  Like all experts they too disagree with each other.

It could be worse.  In the UK, the royal head has spent a whopping £1.2m on entertainment. Then again, she is entertaining 500,000 people annually. How much would you spend on entertaining 500 people, or even 50 people?

It’s now nearly 1am and my insomnia is not going to vanish with such thoughts of extremes and contradictions.  Sometimes, all we need is a comfortable bed, our health and the knowledge that we can get by on what we modest income we have.



So busy that Firefox is rebelling

I’ve been busy with both personal and work stuff over the last few weeks and keeping up with internet activities hasn’t been easy. Firefox has had enough and has ordered me that it will continue to run sluggishly and crash on occasion unless I reduce the number of tabs I have open.

Here’s a sample of what it’s collapsing over:

  • From CNN: how to avoid looking like an idiot on Twitter. The main rules seem to be – don’t be a show-off, don’t be a moan, engage your followers by asking them a question or for advice, don’t overshare.  All very sensible.
  • 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie.  Twitter has a new tool that lets you embed Tweets into your blog or website.  The idea is going down well among but not the implementation.  “Ugly” seems to the conclusion word of choice.
  • Mobile broadband from Vodafone – hotspots and not so hotspots on the map. This has got to be the worst map ever in terms of interactivity.  Try checking your area and its surrounds and see for yourself.
  • French Open tennis site. Yes, I know it finished last Sunday, but I’m still playing catchup
  • The pre-Wimbledon tournament in London – Such a shame that Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal are in the same half of the draw here –  a final not to be
  • The Arena di Verona, more specifically the schedule for the world famous summer opera festival. The if / when on holidays not decided yet, but this looks truly amazing.
  • The UCD Geary Inst discusses the fee situation in Irish third level education. Apparently, the abolition of fees back in the mid 90s didn’t contribute to those from a lower socio-economic status attending third-level. So there.
  • A nice list of useful things that Google tools lend to. Do you know what a Knol is?
  • Follow research and universities on
  • List of free screencast software – just in case you or your institutions budget isn’t recession-proof.  Wish I had more time to play with these.
  • O’Reilly Radar applies the Disintermediation concept of e-business to the world of education.  The growth of e-business caused intermediaries such as travel agents  (intermediating between customers and their holidays) to adapt or fade out.  Apparently, the intermediaries in the education world are the education institutions and their staff.  In a self-paced, self-directed, self-driven world, alas, they are not needed.  The comments are interesting, e.g. “Knowledge dissemination is easily disintermediated. It is harder to do that for critical thinking skills and for professional practical skills”.  Sounds sensible.
  • Powerpoint is thy enemy, death to Powerpoint…. Or is it just that this particular slide is overpopulated?
  • A snazzy powerpoint presentation tool –
  • I went to this Mulley-run “Measure it” seminar weeks ago, and only now am I following up.  Nothing against the content (which is excellent, by the way), I’ve just been so busy. Interesting insightful comments from Barry Hand on the event.
  • I’m always amazed at how the research publication process works. Researchers spend hard earned time and effort on research, they work equally hard to get it published in a recognized journal for which they get paid zero, then their institution library has to pay a subscription fee to share the article with the institution.  It doesn’t seem right.  But there is another side. The DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) is making inroads in making things right. “This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. We aim to cover all subjects and languages. There are now 5070 journals in the directory. Currently 2090 journals are searchable at article level. As of today 401207 articles are included in the DOAJ service.”
  • Blogging the Humanities on the 3rd June. Missed it!
  • Bring all your online social stuff together on the web together with
  • Event list from the Innovation Alliance between UCD and TCD, been running since March, and I haven’t got to any of them L