Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A day in life

It's been a good day and a difficult day. I've finished some good code for the Olde PhD (+ future research). It's real-time and making lots of noise - controlled noise. Justin phoned and told me that he now has funding in place for the Metamusic project, which is also good. Mona's health is still not OK, and I'm starting to feel bad as well. I suspect that after all those years we're kind of linked together both in mind and body. This makes one think about what the hell am I doing in my research. These computers are pretty irrelevant at the end of the day. We should work more on health and quality of life.

Monday, June 28, 2004

txt u ltr

So, the paperwork has been cleared. Sean and I have a new commission from Lyric FM. I've put up a first teaser on our softday site. This will, of course, be the most amazing composition and project, so far. You will all be able to contribute. Beware: everybody with a mobile telephone is carrying a musical instrument! More details will follow...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

When will we ever learn

During World War 2, Sweden allowed Hitler and his Nazis to transport troops to the occupied Norway through the then neutral, but friendly, Sweden. The Norwegians have never forgotten this. They haven’t forgiven it either. Now, we have the same here where Bertie and Mary are welcoming GWB and allowing him to send young innocent people to and from Iraq and Afghanistan, through the neutral but friendly Ireland. When will we ever learn…

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

A Midsummer night’s Dream

This evening, which leads to the shortest night of the year 2004, we sat outdoors watching the sunset over the green hills of County Clare. Tomorrow will be the longest day of the year. With Tor, Oden, Freja, and all Asar and Asynjor. May all the Gods of Valhalla be with us!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

creativeVision 2004

I visited the annual degree/diploma exhibition of the Limerick School of Art and Design – creativeVision2004. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the artistic year. Hundreds of works in all kinds of media, from ceramics, paintings, mixed media and installations to interactive media work.
Julie Fitzsimons’s ceramic lamps are really amazing, a feel of sea shells and mystery.

Briona Gallagher’s Fashion & the cross images are impressive. I particularly liked the Last Supper…

Aoife Murphy’s music and installation was really great. It really appealed to me and it’s impressive how much work she has produced, bridging the gaps between visual, auditory, spaces, places and cultures.

I also liked the stone carvings of Dolores Nally, again and exploration of male-female, retaining the integrity of the stone while making organic patterns.

Finally, I think Celene Murphy’s Shangri-La was an extremely strong video piece. Some people left during the showing. I saw it twice. I think it’s about male-female, perhaps rape, but definitely about power and violence.

Friday, June 18, 2004


It’s been an interesting day. Some PhD stuff done (never enough!), wrote research report and a budget, answered a Zillion emails. Later on today (after sleeping for perhaps 4 hours), I’m taking Mona to the Doc for further check-up. In the afternoon I’m looking forward to having a chat with Joe and if Bruce is lucky we might have a demo.
I cooked Bouillabaisse tonight. It’s one of my favourite fish dishes. This evening I used tuna, salmon, cod, prawns, mussels, clams + a tonne of vegetables + a bottle of white wine. And loads of garlic, of course.
On Saturday, the School of Art and Design here in Limerick are having their Degree Show. This is often one of the highlights of the artistic year. Some years, you see the influence of boring old lecturers; other years you see the results of fresh and original ideas. And, you always meet interesting people.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Mostly Harmless...

The blogs are spreading. We now have Lui, Ian, Martina and a group blog for IDC.
The big questions are: who will continue to write and who will continue to read and comment. I think blogs are a very interesting form of conversation. For me, I think it’s a way to get rid of excessive amounts of adrenalin, or, a way to say small nice things about the world we live in.
The last couple of days have been crazy. Mona, my wife, has been ill and I’m really worried about what’s going on. The local medics and hospital staff have been really nice, but we’re still not out of the woods. I’ve been trying to write a number of things, ranging from PhD-stuff, to admin stuff and research reports. At times, I’ve been so over-stressed so I’ve been trembling. Not good. Not good at all. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to have a normal life, whatever that is. But I’ve never had one. Only my life. And that’s pretty complicated. If life were easy, everybody would be doing it.
We watched a nice old Stanley Kubrick film this evening – Dr. Strangelove. It’s amazing how relevant the issues still are, despite the disappearance of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War. The actor doing General Jack Ripper (!) looked very much like GWB (scary). Which brings me to my next thought.
So now we have an imagined War on Terrorism, which is a total oxymoron and lie. I’ve only had a single year of formal military training (about 28 years ago, and before that, a couple of years of voluntary study of air force stuff), but as far as I know you cannot fight a War on Terrorism. The latter is not localised to a country or territory. There are no declarations or protocols of conduct. No laws. Before terrorism, we (or rather they) had the problem of Guerrilla tactics. You can’t have a War on Guerilla[s]. It’s also an oxymoron. It’s insane. When will people of this lonely planet finally notice the lies we’re being fed through mega-media and start thinking (according to Ripper, above, the problem is Fluoridisation of drinking water, a Commie-plot to contaminate our clean bodily fluids – same idea as Kathy Synnot in the recent EU election ;-). We need to stop the oil-profiteering and energy-guzzling b****xes of Planet Earth. When I’m finished with the PhD, I definitely will spend some time on sustainable tech (and a wee bit on Music).
At the end of the day (perhaps 20 million years from now) Earth will finally be pretty Mostly Harmless (Thanks Douglas!). Humans (and a lot of other things) will probably be gone. Entropy wins. Still, if your lucky, the atoms, or in worst case the quarks, of your mind and body will still be somewhere in there ;-)

Friday, June 11, 2004

Who'll inherit his Rhodes?

Ray Charles is dead. His music will live forever. He’s one of my absolute total incredible favourite love-his-stuff-with-my-whole-body-and-soul guys on the planet. When I heard of his death today, I went to my stack of CDs for my Ray stuff. Funnily (or strange) enough, my favourite Ray Charles song I don’t have with Ray himself. It’s “What’d I Say”. I only have it with Jerry Lee Lewis…
Ray is also the King of the Fender Rhodes. I love my Rhodes, so did Ray. Even if they give you a full grand costing-a-bloody-fortune piano, for real soul stuff the Rhodes is essential. Although my latest MIDI modules have a number of different Rhodes sounds, it doesn’t sound the same as the Real Thing. Just as Ray notes in the Blues Brothers movie about a keyboard’s “action”, so do I. A few times when playing gigs and we’ve allowed other musicians to use our gear, other people using my Rhodes does not sound right. They don’t have the soul. I’d say there’s soul food in Valhalla tonight. Ray is rocking the joint. There’s no stopping, no end. The music goes on. Play it again, Ray!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Incompetent Technology Division

At work, the University of Limerick, we have a group of people called ITD – Information Technology Department. Recently, and over the last couple of days, they apparently had a problem that one (out of 256) computers in our user group (IDC) had been used for hacking. Hacking. First of all I’m delighted that our students actually hack. In my mind, that’s real programming. That’s exactly what I’m up to tonight. The friggin operating system isn’t good enough, other people’s lousy software is crap, and eventually you get angry enough at the sheer incompetence and ignorance and sit down and break your brain to write something that’s better. Much Better. Just to prove that the ignoramus are as incompetent as they appear. Well. To cut a long story short, our beloved ITD people decided to block all IP addresses in our block, all 256 of them, hence our web servers, groupware, etc., does not work for the outside world at the moment. If they get their act together, you’ll get my photos in previous postings. Otherwise, I’ll move the files to a server in the free world.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Life and weather

Thursday was a soft day… Not really raining, but all surfaces outdoors get wet. I think Hundertwasser has a point there – colours and textures only come to life when they are interacting with water. I got some PhD work done, but there’s still a lot to write. A lot…

Wednesday evening was beautiful. Warm, blue skies and everything. The grass has been cut in the field in the back of our house. Comparing to last year, it’s two weeks earlier! We did a BBQ and had our dinner outdoors – a couple of home made burgers, bread and salad, with herbs and rocket from our own garden. And, of course, a couple of glasses of wine.

En evening like this really makes we wonder. What’s life all about? This of course, living! Enjoying nature, listening to the birds singing, touching the grass, feeling the soft warm air against your skin, having a quiet conversation, playing with the dog.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Oil and Money

It’s all about this, isn’t it? I think we’re starting to see the scenario now. Some people are sitting on a smaller amount of oil. They love money. They see other people, who have a lot more oil, not giving an ant’s fart about them. The aforementioned people would like to make more money from oil, their own and other’s. First problem is that you can’t raise your price as the friggin Arabs has much more of it and, in fact, control the supply side of the market. So what do you do? Well, you pick one of the Arab countries and go to war. If you’re really lucky, you might even get control of their oil as well. In any case, you’ll make more money of the little rock-juice you have, as the prices go up and up and up. If, by any chance, your war-making is compromised (e.g. no weapons of mass-destruction; not bringing peace, rather torturing and killing at least as bad as it used to be), you tell you electorate that the terrorist threat is increased (while your intelligence people don’t raise the alarm, as they’ve been burnt several times already by your lies). Yes, as before, I’m writing about by view of GWB and his friends.
Why don’t we see that this oil thing is screwing us all! It doesn’t matter if we can manage to pay factory workers or nurses less to keep inflation goals. GWB, his friends, and the Arabs will wreck the industrialised world economy anyhow. And the situation is getting worse as the industrialised world is spreading. India and China’s oil consumption is currently increasing by 150-200% per year…
We need other forms of energy.
Sometimes, although it makes me a bit sad (not for my own sake, but for all the people that will suffer more if things get really difficult), I’ve been thinking about designing a sustainable place to live, especially when I get older. West Clare is so far my geographical preference. Still, it’s challenging when you ask yourself how you will heat your house, transport yourself and whatever goods, get clean water (normally not a problem in Ireland!), get light during long dark nights, grow food that won’t kill you, etc. It not easy, but it must be possible. The nice thing with West Clare is that if all things fail, there are always nice scenic cliffs around to jump from, to be recycled without any extra cost.
To close this note, I’d like to say that it is ridiculous to allow GWB to land in Ireland (Shannon) in June. The Irish government is putting Irish lives at risk by allowing this. The main risk is probably not terrorists. It is that some of GWBs security people will shoot people that are there to tell him to bugger off.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Book in the post

I just received my copy of Ben Shneiderman and Catherine Plaisant's latest book Designing the User Interface. I'm delighted that he took our comments and feedback onboard and the index now includes terms like sonification. I'll read it thoroughly over the next week and drop a note about it.