Mar 25 2009

Irish Government Censorship

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 10:49 pm

A very interesting story about Government censorship has been unfolding in Ireland over the last two days. Indeed, if not for the Internet then the story would have been successfully squashed by now!

It all started with a practical joke in which paintings of the Irish Prime Minister, who was naked, were hung in two popular art galleries in Dublin. The national broadcaster RTE provided coverage of the story.

Here is a screenshot of one of the paintings in case the video gets removed:

Painting of Brian Cowen (From RTE News)

Painting of Brian Cowen (From RTE News)

Initially this was just an example of Irish humour, but it quickly took a sinister tone. First RTE was pressurised into removing the video from its web site, and it was subsequently forced to issue the following apology:

The Government then continued to flex its muscles today by sending the police into a radio station that covered the story. The police were demanding the name of the artist. More information about this can be read in Gardaí visit radio station in Cowen painting inquiry.

The police identified the artist in one of the fastest investigations ever undertaken, and they are currently preparing a prosecution. The police also seized five other similar paintings. More details of this are described in Teacher questioned over Cowen paintings.

My opinion on all of this is that it is outrageous that the Government is putting so many resources into trying to bury this story. I am also delighted with the responses of the online community, and I hope to play my part also :o

I am also really surprised that the Governemnt, or even the Prime Minister, did not seize the opportunity to turn it into good publicity.

For more coverage of this story from the Irish blogging community take a look at the recent posts by Maman Poulet, Damien Mulley, and Caricatures Ireland. This last web site has a very good caricature in The Taoiseach has no clothes and RTE has no balls: the Brian Cowen Nude Caricature.

Brian Cowen Caricature (Copyright Caricatures Ireland)

Brian Cowen Caricature (Copyright Caricatures Ireland)

The t-shirt version of it looks great in Get your b*ll*ck-naked T*oiseach t-sh*rt.

I also think that this is yet another example of how a small story becomes a huge story when somebody tries to censor it! A perfect example of this is all of the other caricatures that are now appearing on the Internet, such as the caricatures in Photoshop Cowen extravaganza. I think that some of these are very funny, while others are not. However, I think it is vital in a democracy that they are all available to the public!

I have been following this story, and the associated outrage, all day on Twitter. I must admit that I really liked the real-time nature of this, although it was a distraction :o

It is also very interesting to see how the global media is covering this story. The story is covered in the UK in Naked taoiseach paintings removed, Cowen artist ‘could be charged’, and Guerrilla artist hangs nude paintings of taoiseach Brian Cowen. France is reading about the story in A poil, par Robert Solé, and the US is reading about it in Ireland: Nude Premier Paintings Appear. Perhaps the most ironic, or even worrying, coverage is by the Chinese in Naked Irish PM portraits removed. I am sure that it is also being covered by many other news agencies of which I am not aware!

The story has also made it into Wikipedia, where it is known as Picturegate. Perhaps the Irish Government will try to remove this next!

I wonder how this story will continue in the following days!

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Mar 12 2009

Eircom Broadband in Rural Ireland

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 11:17 pm

Eircom has been in the news over the last few days due to its broadband strategy:

An Eircom executive has said that people in rural Ireland who live more than 5km from a telephone exchange will never get broadband.

Eircom’s Paul Bradley said that even when the local exchange is upgraded to handle broadband, a modem will not connect as the signal becomes so weak after 5km.

I must admit that I do not see what all the fuss is about. Eircom is simply stating the obvious! You can read more about this in Eircom accused of abandoning rural Ireland and Eircom broadband spend under review, committee told.

It is not clear to me why people in rural Ireland have an expectation that they should be able to avail of the same level of broadband as people who live in urban centres. Do these rural dwellers also expect the proposed Metro for Dublin to extend to their towns? Or do they expect that they can have gas connections to their houses? There are advantages and disadvantages of living in rural or urban areas, and that the associated differences must be recognised!

Indeed, the story gained enough momentum to be featured on national television this evening. You can watch it online on at Eircom re-thinking rural broadband rollout. Damien Mulley, for whom I have a lot of respect, appeared on the program. However, I disagree with him on the significance that broadband has on rural Ireland. As part of his argument he compared broadband access in rural locations in Ireland with broadband access in Amsterdam! I think that this is a very flawed comparison for the obvious reasons!

I also disagree with what Damien said about Eircom blocking access to certain web sites, and in particular, he mentioned The Pirate Bay. I am currently using Eircom to access the Internet, and I appear to have full access to The Pirate Bay. Furthermore, I previously described how many ISPs blocked access a certain web page in Extreme Child Pornography Prevention Measures, but Eircom did not, and still does not, block access to this web page.

In my opinion, it would be significantly more beneficial to Ireland to have investment into providing greater bandwidth and more services into a few well chosen urban locations. In other words, concentrate resources to create a silicon valley in Ireland, rather than create a mediocre service covering the entire country.

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Jan 23 2009

All Ireland Broadband

Category: eGovernment,TelecomsTeknovis @ 7:46 pm

Yesterday the Irish Minister for Communications announced details of the all Ireland broadband Internet access roll-out scheme. The essence of this is that every part of Ireland will have broadband Internet access by 2010, thanks to an investment of 223€ million by the Irish Government.

At the moment 10% of the population do not have broadband Internet access, and these 10% live in areas that represent 33% of the area of the country.

Three has won the contract to supply this broadband Internet access, and it will do this using 3G technology. I might be incorrect, but I think that BT actually installed, commissioned, and operates the 3G network in Ireland for Three.

More details about this can be read in Plan to bring broadband to entire country by 2010.

The Irish Minister for Communications seemed quite ecstatic when he was announcing this yesterday. He seems to have the opinion that this will enable significant numbers of new companies to develop, and that these companies will employ many people, and this will lift Ireland out of recession. Yes, really!

I have a more sceptical view :o

From the maps that I saw in the television interviews it seems that the areas in Ireland that will benefit from this scheme are all in really rural locations (mostly the West and South-West). The population densities are very low in these areas! Also, the existing levels of business activity in these areas is extremely low! I do not think that broadband Internet access will change any of this!

So ultimately I think that this scheme means that the majority of Irish tax payers will subsidise a very small minority. I also think that people who live in these rural areas must accept that they cannot expect to have the same levels of service as people who live closer to metropolitan areas. (This of course works both ways.)

Damien Mulley also got some air-time to comment on this government initiative on the RTE news yesterday. I am not sure why, but I feel that he gave a more positive response to it in the television interview than he does on his blog article National Broadband Scheme Launch. Maybe I am wrong about this, because I only saw the television interview once.

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Jan 09 2009

2009 Irish Blog Awards Nominations

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 8:20 pm

The Irish Blog Awards are now accepting nominations for 2009 on 2009 Nominations. The available categories are:

  • Best Popculture blog
  • Best Blog from a Journalist
  • Best Food/Drink Blog
  • Best Fashion Blog
  • Best Arts and Culture Blog
  • Best Political Blog
  • Best Group Blog
  • Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog
  • Best Technology Blog/Blogger
  • Best Sport & Recreation Blog
  • Best News/Current Affairs Blog
  • Best Specialist Blog
  • Best Newcomer
  • Best Blog of a Business
  • Best Music Blog
  • Best Personal Blog
  • Best Humour Blog
  • Best Photo Blog
  • Best Blog Post

Further details of each category are described in 2009 Nominations. Well done to Damien Mulley for organising these awards!

I certainly will be voting. My problem is that I have definite ideas about which blogs to nominate in certain categories, and I am not aware of even a single blog in other categories!

I think that the launch timing of my blog was too late to enable it to mature sufficiently to be considered for the best newcomer category :(

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Nov 21 2008

Golden Spiders Awards Winners

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 8:26 pm

The 2008 Golden Spider Awards were announced last night in Dublin. Congratulations to all of the winners!

The Golden Spider Awards are in addition to both the Net Visionary Awards and the Irish Web Awards. It is impressive (or surprising) that there is room for all three awards in Ireland!

The winners that caught my attention were:

  • TV3, because its website has improved significantly since I last saw it.
  • Ordnance Survey Ireland, because its online mapping facility is really cool! (I wonder will it remain free!)
  • Sentry Wireless, simply because I never heard of it, and it is in an interesting space in the market!
  • Damien Mulley – Irish super-blogger!
  • Boards.ie. I am familiar with this website, and it deserves recognition for taking the generic concept of a bulletin-board and turning it into a popular website. I wonder has this been replicated in any other countries? I am not actually very fond of Boards.ie, because I find it is full of opinionated local trivia that is of little use.

Most of the other winners are easy viewing :)

However, I have to say that I am slightly sceptical of the Golden Spider Awards due to the fact that so much money is involved in them!

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Oct 31 2008

IIA Net Visionary Awards Winners

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 2:37 pm

The winners of the IIA Net Visionary Awards were announced last night at a black tie event in Dublin. Some of the nominations, and indeed the eventual winners, are very interesting. Congratulations to all involved, and in particular to Blacknight for picking up two awards!

The first winner that caught my attention was Pixie. I heard of them before, but I never actually visited their website. It seems to be very user friendly, and I happily browsed through random photos for a while. I think that they are in a very competitive market, especially if they want to have a global audience rather than an Irish audience.

The other winner that caught my attention was lichens.ie. Yes, this really is an entire website about lichen! The website is well designed, and it is interesting to look at, even if you are not a biologist! I really like the magnifying glass cursor that appears over the photos on the top of each page.

Of course, I am not saying that the other sites are not worthy of a look either!

There are several other similar types of awards during the year in Ireland, such as the Irish Web Awards and the Irish Blog Awards. I think that both of these are the brain children of Damien Mulley. I am not familiar enough with them to know the differences!

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Oct 30 2008

Searching for Blue Jumpers in Irish

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 11:19 pm

There is currently an explosion of websites appearing online with information and details about blue jumpers in Irish (“geansai gorm”). Some examples include:

If you would like me to add your website to the above list then let me know. However, I do not think that Google has indexed Teknovis yet :o

So what is the cause of this sudden explosion? It is a SEO competition that was launched by Damien Mulley last Tuesday. The full details are described in his blog post titled “Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest SEO of them all?“.

Good luck to all who enter!

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