Archive for September, 2008

Breaking news Facebook

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

I see my company launched a Facebook page/group for its Breaking News section.

It looks like it started back in August and it seems many invites were sent out recently. It’s a step in the right direction.

Yahoo f**k up

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

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Good stuff Yahoo, put a pic of Obama next to a headline about terrorism. I imagine the picture was added automatically because of the related keywords – but shouldn’t they really check it before it goes live?

Update: Someone/something from Yahoo visits within 10 minutes.

25 minutes later and it still features on the main Yahoo News world page:

yhoogfront

Afghan poppies

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

The movement of a turbine into Afghanistan makes for fascinating reading. The Economist concludes:

Electricity is the basis of any long-term economic development, which in turn is essential to winning hearts and minds. Without power there can be no factories to draw young men away from the Taliban; and without refrigeration there is little hope of developing, storing and exporting crops other than opium poppies.

But Anthony posed a question yesterday which I thought was interesting.

Why not buy the opium from the Aghan farmers, and then destroy it? In other words, pay more than the going market rate for the opium and then do what you want with it. It would kill the opium supply to the rest of the world, pacify Afghan farmers by avoiding destroying their crops, and boost the Afghan economy?

The Media Elite

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Hehehe.

Energy security

Friday, September 5th, 2008

I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago with an officer from a British navy ship that had docked in Cork. The subject of the conversation varied, but it tended towards military/strategic plans of Britain and the US.

What I pointedly asked was why the British had embarked on a massive navy building programme in the last 10 years, specifically the Queen Elizabeth class carriers and the Type 45 destroyer. Besides replacing older generation vessels, to me it seemed to indicate something beyond current trends in conflict (counter-terrorist Littoral ships).

Since navies have to be planned decades in advance, I often look at them to see what the possible future strategic planning of nations are.

The discussion took place just prior to the conflict in Georgia. He indicated with some frankness that the first priority was securing shipping lanes, and the chief symmetrical threat was considered to be Russia, not China. Though China was an up and coming power, its abilities in terms of blue water navy was decades away.

Discussions then ranged around a number of topics, including possible defences against super-cavitation torpedoes, possible defences by carrier groups against supersonic cruise missiles, submarine defence mechanisms (specifically against ultra quiet subs such as the German Type 212).

Then it turned to energy security. Obviously in naval terms there are very few specific regional choke points. The Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, the Straits of Hormuz and the Malacca Straits are among the most notable. Since, I argued, so much of Western energy supplies are via Hormuz, and it borders with Iran, it would seem to be a weakness in energy security.

The solution he suggested was an interesting one. Navy survey ships, he said, from both the US and Britain were concentrating their efforts almost entirely on West Africa. Angola, for example, passed Nigeria to become Africa’s leading oil producer this year, at over 2.5m barrels of oil a day. Their reserves alone are estimated at over 10 billion barrels. The US imports 7% of its oil from Angola, about three times as much as it imported from Kuwait just prior to the Gulf War in 1991.

Other West African nations are also beginning production and the EIA has a good report here. It also reports on gas availability. Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania are also new producers.

And what is the biggest advantage of this region for the West, and our energy security? All that lies between West Africa and Europe/US is the Atlantic Ocean – no choke points. And their navies to secure the shipping lanes.

Update: I meant to add that earlier this year the US reactivated its Fourth Fleet after being deactivated for 58 years. This should allow the Second Fleet operate on the eastern Atlantic, while the Fourth concentrates on the Carribean and western Atlantic.

Builders’ loan plan to lure buyers

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

RTE reports that builders are offering interest free loans to lure buyers. They must be getting desperate.

A simpler way to lure buyers would be to drop the over-inflated prices. The advantage of these loan offers is that it gets buyers in at the current property price now, rather than at a lower price later.

I think anyone who falls for this latest ploy by builders is crazy.

That is unless the Government try to prop up the property market in the forthcoming budget. Depending on the measures introduced, it may have the effect of stalling property price declines. I feel though that any effort to interfere in the market will only have a short-term effect, and more like prices will continue to fall.

Palin’s speech in Wordle

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Twitter testing

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I’ve been playing with Twitter for the past few days. It’s certainly an interesting tool, and one that I have been enjoying.

You can follow me here: http://www.twitter.com/gavinsblog

Wordle in newspapers

Monday, September 1st, 2008

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Well the Irish Examiner, after much pitching by me, was brave enough to implement wordle usage. I reckon it might be the first Irish paper to use it.

I think it is effective. It draws the readers eyes in, and gives a sense of what the speech itself contains. What do people think? Is it something that could be used more in other contexts?

Tools of the trade?

Monday, September 1st, 2008

I have assembled some of the tools I will be testing over the coming months. Here they are:

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Well, except the MacBook Pro, which has been the best laptop I have ever had, and is now over one year old. Besides it is an EeePC 901 (12Gb solid state, 8GB SD, 1.6Ghz Atom, webcam, mic, Windows XP), a Canon 20D (extra battery pack/grip, 4GB CF), and a Flip Ultra.

The Flip Ultra has been interesting. The testing has shown that the mic is incredibly receptive, and the video quality is higher than I expected. I uploaded test footage to my YouTube account and it did degrade slightly, but it was still perfectly watchable.

I am taking a leaf out of the book of Jeff Jarvis, Michael Rosenblum and Howard Owens. Is this the kit all journalists should have? Maybe, maybe not. The DSLR is clunky, a point and shoot might be better. Better yet might be a new Nikon D90, which is a DSLR and a HD video recorder.

But for now I will make do with what I have, and see how effective they are as tools of the trade. Georgia should provide an interesting test bed if nothing else.

Gustav from space

Monday, September 1st, 2008

I took a screen grab of the satellite images of Gustav as it nears the Louisiana coast. Man it’s huge. If you use Google Earth’s measurement tool, it is about 1,000km by 900km in size. The green is the radar signal.

Gustav Google Earth Sep 1

In this picture I measured the circumference of the main part of the storm, it came at over 3,000km.

Gustav size - 3,000km

On this picture you can see the distance between the two red marks, it’s almost 1,000km.

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And here it is without the labels…

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Hi Stumbleupon..

Monday, September 1st, 2008

I seem to be getting deluged with people visiting from StumbleUpon… I’m not sure why though?

Welcome to the blog and feel free to browse around. :-)