And Hello from Carlow

Have you ever gone to Google Maps to see your own house from satellite and discovered something, well, weird nearby. Well this is what happened to someone I work with (his parents house is near this shot).

Proof, if proof was needed that the Irish Ploughing Championships needs a new specialist section. Or possibly a way to make a fortune for advertising on fallow farmland…

Here, Carlow says "Hello". The link if you want to look for yourself is… 53.31855,-7.56631 

We need to talk about Paddy's

Podcasting does odd things to time. You are listening to a up-to-the-second broadcast, but its a few days old. That's why I'm talking about March 17th now. The Morning Ireland (yes I listen to the second most depressing Irish broadcast, I need the updates live, and the details via download) presenters were, as an aside commenting that they would get in trouble for calling "Saint Patrick's Day" by the more commonly used name "Paddy's Day". The English don't have Georgie's Day, the Welsh don't have Dave's Day and the Scottish don't have Andy's Day (unless Andy Murray is playing tennis).

A note to American readers, March 17 is not "St. Patty's Day". Patty is the feminine of Patrick. St. Patricia's Day (or if you prefer St. Patty's Day) is August 25th, and features dried blood coming back to liquid form. Which is slightly creepy.

The thing is, Paddy's Day didn't loose its "saint" by accident. March 17 is both the feast day of Saint Patrick, and the international day of celebration to be Irish. To be a "Paddy". Think of it as an Irish Pride festival.

Paddy used to be, and sometimes is, a derogatory term for "an Irish person". The nickname of "Paddywagon" for an American Police van was a commentary on just how many Irish men had joined the US police forces. Somewhere along the day we claimed it back. "Paddy" is rarely used as a derogatory term,  "Mick's" and "Tadhg's" are usually used in the way "Pommies" or "Yanks" are used, but it used to be worse. Paddy's Day would be the equivalent of the US's Black History month using the name starting with a "N" and ending with a smack to the mouth, but we embraced it. We made it out own.

And on the run up to March 17th, hundreds of landmarks around the globe were coloured green to celebrate this little country.

Paddy's Day is not about Saint Patrick. Its about being Irish and Proud. And maybe a little bit of snake banishing.


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In pictures: The world goes green for St Patrick’s Day
The Great Wall of China and Downtown Disney Orlando joined a host of major landmarks and iconic sites around the world in lighting up green yesterday.

Turn to page 9 and start coding

If the book gets made, I think it might get a quick run through at at least one Coder Dojo. All the better for the second draft.?

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A coding textbook for Irish secondary schools could be written in one day
The attempt is under way today at Facebook’s European HQ in Dublin as part of International Open Data Day.

Eat me

Coming to a fridge near you… +CoderDojo  the Ice Cream.

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CoderDojo named cream of the crop in Ben & Jerry’s social entrepreneur competition
Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and a panel of leading business minds have named CoderDojo as winner of the Irish leg of the Join Our Core social entrepreneur competition. CoderDojo scoops a cash prize of €10,000 and its logo will be included on Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream tubs next year.

Cheese, onion and Chocolate

I can only assume that the Tayto cheese and onion crisp chocolate bar is a childhood dream come true for someone. In the days when mixing your snacks together (probably with fizzy orange and birthday cake in the mix) was a good idea, you would try it.

It tastes exactly like what you would expect crisps (potato chips for the Americans) and chocolate to taste like. Mouth feel is chocolate and crisped rice (there is rice in the ingredients). The combination does not work.

Part of this is that the childhood version would have been Tayto and +Cadbury UK Dairy Milk. Rumour has it that Butler's chocolate was used. Every chocolate maker has a slightly different taste, this mix was tweaked the wrong way.

Glad I tried it. But no. Until the Smokey Bacon Tayto Crisp and Chocolate Bar that is.

Just saying that this is Dublin

"I still believe in Bewley's"… I think that's the only line you would need to change to do a version of this in any Irish town or city. I still believe in Sir Henry's, I still believe in King John's, I still believe in Eyre Square…

So take a walk through very late night Dublin City, with salty (NSFW) language and a fundamental truth, "there are ten good reasons to go, but a thousand tiny ones not to, and you can't tell which is which anymore."

I have been busy with nerds

It seems like months ago that a US based TV crew came to film a Coder Dojo session and interview a few of the participants.

Well folks the video is up and it shows sessions in the NCS Cork and the Science Gallery in Dublin.

There are Coder Dojos all around the world now, we really need to see if Coder Dodo Antarctica is possible (I suspect a "R" workshop would be best there).

And yes that is me, looking terrible as usual, in the clip. But its also some amazing minds coding, modding and creating. for details of your nearest Dojo.
Above all, be cool…

Welcome to the House

I don't know if I'm able to get on the list yet, but Coder Dojo is going to be running a session in Leinster House on Wednesday July 18.

For the non-Irish on the feed, Leinster House is the Irish Houses of Parliament building (housing the Dáil and the Senate). Needless to say its a big deal; I'll have to wear a clean hoodie.

Coder Dojo is less than a year old, I'll have to check my diary later, but it started towards the end of August 2011 with the first class in the National Software Centre in Mahon, Cork. Technically I was too old to go, but I came along and tried out learning simple HTML with the kids that the classes were intended for. (I learned about the Marquee tag, and vowed never to use it outside of demos and jest). Shortly afterwards I started mentoring to active coding minds from age 8 to 16 mostly (no I didn't ask the young lady her age, but the junior certificate hit this year). There are now 41 dojos in Ireland and 104 across the globe.

The dojos have no money. Its all volunteers and donated time, places, some equipment and usually a BYOD (bring your own device) setup. And while we have a minor Minecraft addiction, its also a Minecraft server build and machinima project, so it sort of works out. The lack of a government having to pay means that they like it.

The fact that its a group who said "sod it I'm going to do it myself" is something a government might want to be worried about. Imagine what a bunch of 9 year olds could have done with the old voting machines about to be scrapped.

Exciting times.

Reshared post from +Siliconrepublic

Irish Government to host CoderDojo at Leinster House on 18 July

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Irish Government to host CoderDojo at Leinster House on 18 July
In a fitting way to mark the first anniversary of the founding in Ireland of a revolutionary and international movement aimed at fostering crucial coding skills in kids as young as seven, the Governme…

Dance robot dance

“Dance, Its all I want to do” — Kylie Minogue “All The Lovers”

All me to introduce you to a very special Cork woman; Joanne O’Riordan.

She is a young woman, born without limbs, who uses technology everyday, much like us all, to have an average life. I didn’t say “normal”, mainly because I’m not sure what normal is. She has effectively changed government directions already, and she isn’t even past starting yet.

She has put up a challenge to the technologies communities around the world to build her a robot.
I’m not sure she is actually after a robot, a robot being an autonomous artificial form. I suspect that a limb she can control is a but closer to what she is after.

But its a challenge.

However I’m offering a sincere possible counter challenge. Learn how to build one yourself.
I’m a mentor at CoderDojo in Cork. I’d also like to learn and teach how to make a robot. A controlled limb. A walking bi, quad or hexapedal creature.

But be adventurous, why build a limb to pick things up, when you could create a being to dance. Change expectations, challenge what others think is the norm.

Create something, something designed to cause wonder.

Build something, learn how to build something, teach others how to build something.

So, care to take up the invitation? (And I’m looking for an excuse to use a few books)

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post, and I’m playing catch up,  on the themes of  “Dance”, “Dominion and stewardship” (robot is based on the Czech word for slave), “Sincerity”, “Change” and “Invitations”…
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

How to attract lots of tourists to Ireland

Small conversations on Twitter can sometimes lead to other things. What came up from George was this video of the opening credits of Hawaii Five 0.

Then Conor O’Neill pointed out that the TV show probably caused a huge increase in tourist numbers to Hawaii. So I got to wondering if it is possible to crowd source a script for a television series to show off Ireland at its finest.

A procedural drama might be easy, but there are a few catches. Only a few squads work throughout Ireland, homicide naturally is one of them, but most murders probably won’t attract a lot of tourists. Actually that isn’t true, deaths, even fake ones attract crowds, but would they spend?

Instead, let’s look at romance. Supernatural romance. Vampires are very popular when it comes to romance at the moment. Look at True Blood or the Twilight series for proof. However, the vampire area crowded. So let me think of a different set of supernatural lovers.


Fae, Bean Sí, leprechauns, the fairies. Those stories that lasted a long time in Ireland, and in the Irish legends they were mostly human adult sized and frequently mistaken for beautiful men and women (there are a few children sized ones too). Eoin Colfer is still writing about them in his Artemis Fowl series. His is a coming of age story for a master teenage criminal who keeps crossing paths with the fairy police force responsible for covering up the existence of the mystical folk, the L.E.P. Recon squad. I think this story should be about someone human discovering that the tales of the Bean Sí and the changelings aren’t fairy tales.

Fae Play. Cute name. The building works on the Hill of Tara that came about through the M3 should be a nice starting ground. What would happen if the people in the fairy tales, from Tír na nÓg, from the Fenian Cycle, from the stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann showed up. Them or, more sensibly, their descendants (the really odd thing about the ancient Irish gods was that they could grow old and die. Eventually, even if it takes 300 or 900 years, so descendants it is).

The series would be set in modern day Ireland, and with creatures across the land and tied to nature, they would naturally be set in places able to show off some of the country’s beauty. I can almost see selkies surfing in the North West.  A kelpie in Killarney. A kiss in the moonscape of the Burren.

Could it work? Goodness knows, but given that “supernatural romance” now has its own section in book shops, it worth knocking together something to make in to a web series at least.