Tuesday, August 31, 2004

John Hunt

A very good friend died today, or rather yesterday, John Hunt. I had the opportunity to get to know John through the Hunt Museum, or vice versa. When we (Mona and I) had moved to Limerick, Ireland, in 1991, we wanted to understand the country and its people, so I signed up for a course in Irish Archaeology. After completing two years of night classes, I found and advertisement in Limerick Leader that the Hunt Museum (which we had visited, at UL, during our first pre-immigration visit to Ireland in the spring 1991) was looking for Docents guides. I applied and was accepted into the program. This is also how I got to know Mairead Dunlevy – the most amazing, passionate and learned curator any museum on Earth could have. Every now and then, John was around, talking about the collection, art, archaeology, or, just having a pint and a chat. I guess it was John who enabled me to attempt experimental archaeology in Craggaunowen as well. I think he really liked the methods involved, and also that we allowed the public to be involved in our exploration of pre-historic methods.
Last time I had a good chat and a pint with John was at the opening of an exhibition in Castlebar where he had asked me do to the honours. Last summer, leading up to the Living Exhibition in the Hunt Museum, I missed the occasion when John was around, but I think and hope he liked what we were doing.
You will have a very special place in my heart and mind forever. I already miss you. Not that we met that regularly, but when we met I felt we were on the same planet, wavelength and fellow human beings. I hope I will get the time to sit and contemplate issues we did discuss and never resolved. I will enjoy it and I’ll try to anticipate your responses. One day we might meet again, I hope.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Repeat exams...

I hate repeat exams. Not as a student but as lecturer. Apperently one (1) student last term didn't make it and therefore I had to write a completly new exam paper. This is silly. To write an exam paper, I probably have to read and think more than any of the students ever did during the course. It wouldn't surpise me if the bugger doesn't show up, hence my effort will be totally waisted. OTH, I'll have some good questions for next year in store ;-)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Bugs fixed

Finally, fixed my callback bugs, redefined my filter coefficients and – yes, it works. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Now the code ticks, tacks and tocks, and makes various noises that should map quite well to the Tactex device.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The curse of callbacks

I've had a good day. I found a bug in my sound model code - fixed. Then I decided to change my filter model as I wasn't happy with the way it sounded.
As the filter (and the rest of the synthesis) runs in a callback controlled by the audio device driver, the debugger just refuses to give me more info. Forget printf's as well.
Apart from this, I also added a test tone, just to verify that the main code is working OK. That worked .
I'm currrently trying to decide if I should stay hacking and hope to make it for an 11 o'clock meeting tomorrow morning (red-eye syndrome), or go to bed, try to sleep and still show up in a mess after dreaming of hex dumps.
I'll print the code on paper tomorrow and use the olde bio-debugger (=brain)...

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Incompetent Technology Division strikes again

So, UL's ITD has yet again managed to shut down our email systems and proper network access. The university went off-line Saturday morning for network maintenance and came back on-line late in the afternoon. After this latest maintenance, the email servers cannot be used for sending email and appears to have great difficulties receiving email from the outside world. Perhaps this the ultimate fix for all the spam we've been getting ;-) Just screw up the whole system. Unfortunately this has the side effect that we can't use the system for real communication.
By the way, it's almost the same with the new voice mail system they installed. They have now upgraded it so that the usability is now at an all time low. What used to take 2 button presses now requires 3, and what number is "delete" at one level is something else at another level in the incomprehensible hierarchy of voice menus. The system now has a web interface as well that is weakly integrated by the handset control dialogue, hence it's now possible to totally confuse your setting between handset and web. And, it cannot be accessed from outside campus.

To err is human, to totally screw up, use a computer - or even worse, ask ITD to fix it.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Back to Guerin's

This evening we went to Paddy Guerin's pub in Castleconnell. It was long overdue. Liam, Bill (Liam's father), Annette, Thomas, Mona and yours truly. We had a wonderful evening, full of conversation and interaction, and of course a drop of Guinness or two to oil our thoughts. I can definitely say that I've missed Paddy and Mary and their absolutely outstanding pub. It's the best!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Light, or rather sound, at the end of the tunnel

For several months I’ve been fascinated by the sound works of the Garrison Keiler show on RTE radio, especially his sound effects guy, Tom Keith. Eventually I Googled him and found a number of interesting links. This resulted in a serious hit on Amazon, 8 books on sound effects and sound design that I had missed in my previous research. At the moment, I’m reading and reading – going YES YES YES! This exactly the material I need to finish my PhD ;-)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Sunny Sunday in Limerick

It’s been a beautiful Sunday in Limerick. Sunshine, blue skies (most of the time ;-).

I went for a walk down to the river Shannon with Charlie. On our way down, I told him to find a stick so that we have something to throw (and fetch) in the river.

Well, I guess dogs are like their owners. It’s all about how you define “a stick”. Today he found a piece of a fence, or whatever it is.
Eventually we got down to the river and we found a piece of wood that was slightly easier to throw.

We also walked down to the old pipe bridge, where the river Mulkear meets the Shannon.

It’s a real pity that the bridge isn’t done up and in working order. Just imagine what a great walk, or bicycle route, this would be – all the way from Lisnagry to UL and all the way to the city.
Also, spotted some nice looking and pleasant scented orchids.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

New Rhythm and Blues Quartet

A very good friend, Kathy, phoned the other day. We had a nice chat and she told me about this band that’s making some really good music – the NRBQ. I’ve ordered CDs via the Net! Let the Good Times Roll!

US Intelligence

We’ve all heard over the last couple of days how the state of alert has gone to Orange in Washington DC, New York and Newark. Why Orange? Why don’t they use Pink, Purple, or Turquoise? Based on my info-feeds, I reckon Bushie-boy and his fe****ers are just trying to do the Good Olde 1984 on the US citizens – Keep them scared.
On another note, I think it’s really strange that, in English, we call this “intelligence”. In my mind, intelligence is associated with things like IQ. Perhaps that’s why we have expressions like “military intelligence”. Assuming that the Unit of Measurement is Tary, it might make sense, i.e. milli-Tary intelligence ;-)
So, to finish this one, the lowest known amount of intelligence is pT, presidential-Tary, or pico-Tary. The record holder is currently Mr George W. Bush.

More bored band...

Over the bank holiday weekend, the Irish government released their latest report of progress. This included, according to Irish media and apart from LUAS, things like broadband. I absolutely do not believe it! Just the other day, I surfed to the Irish government web site regarding broadband. Answering all their questions and at the end of the session, after entering where I'm living, I was advised that I can get mediocre broadband via satellite at a cost of over 200 euro per month! This is unreal! I'm living 2.1 miles from the nearest optical fibre. I'm about 4 miles from the National Technological Park and the University. I can only see one reason for things being so bad:

1. The Irish government haven't a clue what broadband is.

2. The Irish government love the monopoly of Eircom and will protect it until
the end of their lives.

3. Total utterly incompetence by all Irish ISPs.

4. F*****ng capitalistic bastards trying to make as much money as possible from Paddy O'Everyone.

This is NOT acceptable. I'm considering buying some optical fibre and lay it out in the ditches and dykes between my house and the university. Then I'll be on a fairly good VPN and the Internet, at (relatively) full speed at almost
no cost.

So, what's acceptable cost for a real broadband connection? Well, In most parts of the world, people pay between 20 and 30 euros per month for 512k to 2 Mbps. In some cases, like mine, you need some kind of symmetry as you might want to put up a Home Server (or proxy) that you can access from your office (or anywhere!). Some of us are net contributors to the content of the Net, hence we need reasonable upload speeds as well. Anyhow, I suggest that anybody doing business, having shares, or anything with Eircom STOP today. Just STOP. Leave them in Ballygobackwards. Let's move on. If we ever going to have an information economy, it won't be given to us by a government or semi-state company. We have to claim it. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, roll out and interconnect your optical fibre;. It's cheaper and more reliable.