Archive for January, 2009

Apture for WordPress

Friday, January 30th, 2009

I first started experimenting with Apture a few months back, and have since turned it off. While I loved it, it had a habit of chewing up memory on my server. To me it was a combination of ease-of-use, along with providing readers with quick links to rich content. Indeed, I would call it the most impressive plugin I have ever used in all the time I have blogged since 2002.

Rory O’Connor of HuffPo has gone a step further and called Apture Web 3.0. Says he:

Is Apture “a paradigm shift in publishing and online communication,” as Harris would have it? Decide for yourself – but there’s no doubt that it provides new tools to users that enhance their online experience, and allows bloggers such as yours truly to add true context to what I post. Sure, I could add the same content by copying and pasting code from, YouTube, but Apture makes it dead simple to add and share content on the Web. So what’s not to like?

If it wasn’t such a resource hog I would add it to all the blogs I host. As yet, I have not seen any other Irish bloggers try Apture, but I would encourage any bloggers out there to give it a go. Once you get the hang of inserting the extra content (wiki links, photos and videos), you will find yourself doing it to all of your posts.

Other plugins I have been playing with or plan to install are Open Calais by Thomson Reuters and Searchles.

Update: I’ve reactivated Apture for further testing. It is one of my favourite plugins, of all time. I must ask everyone if they like it too.

Back to reality

Friday, January 30th, 2009

My first full day of news and it aint pretty. Near riots in Waterford, Dunne nearing bankuptcy, Quinn saying he lost €1bn in Anglo, and some unbelievable scheme of local authorities to rent empty houses at prices way over the odds.

Eddie Hobbs was also getting berated by some for suggesting that recent graduates should leave the country. I can’t think of many reasons to stay, especially with Lenihan and Cowen fumbling along. Australia and Canada do seem like good options for many, rather than the slow motion train wreck this country is facing.

Back in Ireland

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Back to reality. Ugh. For a while there I wanted to change my citizenship.

How many people were at the inauguration?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I, like many others, was asking that question throughout the day. Being on the ground it felt like Croke Park times 20. Slate asks how best to reach a figure:

Thanks to advances in aerial digital photography and computer image-processing, it’s now possible to get a fairly exact head count—without a magnifying glass. As Farouk El-Baz of Boston University explained in a 2003 Wired article, the best way to obtain an accurate image is to fly over the assembly at peak time and take a digital photograph (resolution 1 foot per pixel) from 2,000 feet or less. Using satellite images, an Arizona State University professor calculated that about 800,000 people attended the inauguration Tuesday—considerably fewer than the AP estimate (based on photographs and comparison with past events) and less than half the Washington Post number (based primarily on security agencies on the ground).

I think Slate is looking at it from the wrong perspective. To me the core issue is mobile networks, not digital images. Why don’t the US cell network firms, which deployed extra cell towers all over the mall, just release the data on how many people had cell phones in the area and then use this information for some free publicity?

Perhaps certain people like myself might have more than one phone on them, but most won’t. I imagine it would be fairly easy to tell how many people were on the mall by counting the number of active cell phones in the area.

Where I was on inuguration day

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

It is interesting to look at the photos from today, and they are all over the web. But in this photo, I was around this spot on the day Barack Obama became president of the United States.

Picture 3

I was there. How happy I am that I planned it early, and made it happen. I recommend an inauguration visit to anyone.

U2 at the Lincoln Memorial

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Bono sings Pride (In the name of love) and City of Blinding Lights at the Lincoln Memorial concert. I was about half way down the reflecting pool. Great day. Great crowd. Great memories.

Inauguration photos

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

It is a difficult thing to describe. I was among the million in the crowd, and had a front row seat to history being made. Among the highlights though were the reaction of the crowd to George Bush – wholescale boos. This was followed by everyone singing “na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye”.

After Obama became president, the music started – hail to the chief came on and the people around me began dancing. People smiled and danced with strangers, the atmosphere was one of sheer delight. The crowds were tremendously positive, and despite being squeezed and jostled everyone was polite and friendly. The crowd also reacted well to the gaffe during the swearing in.

Here are some of the photos from today’s inauguration.


More below the fold.

Inauguration day

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Heading down to the national mall now… looks like 2 million people will turn out. Will take a few photos. :-)

In the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Garth Brooks does shout. The crowd went wild. The ground shook from people jumping up and down. Unbelievable.

Lincoln Memorial concert pictures

Monday, January 19th, 2009

If anyone was wondering how many people went, all I can say is that a huge amount went. I have never seen so many people congregate in one place. This photo demonstrates, almost:


All the way from Lincoln to the Washington monument. Estimates are 500,000 people, which I would agree with.

Lots more in the Flickr set.

I have some video, will try and upload soon.

Off to Inauguration 2009

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Tomorrow I head to Washington to go boozing celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. Blogging will be lighter but you will still be able to follow me on Twitter for text and photos and on Qik for live/recorded video.

Anglo Irish Bank nationalised

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

The Government has finally seen sense and nationalised Anglo Irish Bank. We will have to see how good a job they do of it.

The Government has today decided, having consulted with the Board of Anglo Irish Bank Corporation plc (“Anglo”), to take steps that will enable the Bank to be taken into public ownership.

This decision has been taken after consultation with the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator which has confirmed that Anglo Irish Bank remains solvent.

Anglo Irish Bank is a major financial institution whose viability is of systemic importance to Ireland. Anglo has a balance sheet of some €100bn with a substantial deposit base which the State is determined to safeguard. The Government has made clear that it will ensure its continued viability. Anglo Irish Bank will continue to trade normally as a going concern, with appropriate Government support as necessary. All Anglo employees remain employed by the company.

The funding position of the bank has weakened and unacceptable practices that took place within it have caused serious reputational damage to the bank at a time when overall market sentiment towards it was negative. Accordingly the Government believes that the recapitalisation is not now the appropriate and effective means to secure its continued viability. Therefore the Government must move to the final and decisive step of public ownership.

The Government believes that the prospects for the institution are solidly underpinned in the new structure, with the benefit of state ownership and a renewed management and Board. In the current circumstances the State is the only available potential owner.

The recently appointed Chairman of the Board, Mr. Donal O’Connor, will stay on as Chairman. Anglo will be managed on an arms length basis as a commercial entity. A new Board will be appointed having regard to the need for appropriate continuity.

Shareholder rights will be respected in this process. The relevant legislation outlines a process for determining compensation as appropriate.

All customers of Anglo Irish Bank can be assured that the full amount of their deposits and savings are further safeguarded by this action. They can also be assured that they can and should continue transacting with Anglo as normal and there is no need for customers to take any steps as a result of this announcement. Anglo Irish Bank will communicate directly with all customers in the coming days.

Information will be available on the websites of Anglo Irish Bank, the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator, and the Department of Finance. Customers with particular queries may also phone Anglo Irish Bank or the Financial Regulator.

Creditors (including bondholders) of Anglo Irish Bank can be assured that it will continue to service its obligations and will repay its debts at maturity.

The Government has prepared legislation to put this decision into effect. This will be presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas on Tuesday.

Tomorrow before the markets open, it is expected that the Irish Stock Exchange and the UK Listing Authority will announce that Anglo shares will be suspended from listing on the Stock Exchanges.

The Minister said “I would again stress that this Government decision safeguards the interest of the depositors of Anglo, and the stability of the economy, given the significance of Anglo in this regard, as already recognised by the European Commission. The bank will continue to operate as normal and depositors and creditors should continue to transact as normal.”

Customers of all financial institutions can have confidence that the wider financial system in Ireland remains well capitalised and liquid and that the Irish authorities will be proactive to ensure that their interests are protected and their deposits and debts are secure.

The Government will ensure the continued viability of all systemic financial institutions.

The Government remains fully committed to the recapitalisation proposal already announced in relation to AIB and Bank of Ireland. These plans include injection of core tier 1 capital in the form of preference shares and underwriting of further core tier 1 capital issuance.

Schwarzenegger: A state of emergency

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Things are looking bad for California.

Earth observing

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Some spectacular images from NASA’s Earth Observatory via the Big Picture blog.

Cowen’s IMF comments

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I know some readers may have thought I was joking when I said that I thought the IMF would be called in this year. I wasn’t. Ireland is essentially bankrupt. That Cowen is using it as a threat to public service unions is incidental – IMF intervention is a very real possibility.

The lads over on the pin are having a field day with this one. As Blaker says: “If you work on the basis that what politicians actually say in public tends to be quite a bit less dramatic than what is actually happening then I would suggest that we are quite a way towards this actually happening.”

I also like the way politicians talk about public sector pay cuts as if they themselves are not part of the public sector. I also like how RTE report on public sector cuts as if they themselves are not publicly funded.

Cowen should be more careful though. When news of the comments came out, the CDS on Ireland rose by 5 basis points. That’s effectively the cost to insure Irish debt. The euro also fell against the dollar on his comments. Indeed, next time Ireland goes looking to borrow money, it may be more expensive to borrow thanks to Cowen’s comment this morning.

More broadly, the euro is looking increasingly vulnerable. Spain, Italy and Greece are all facing serious problems with debt and debt ratings.

And by standards set by our former esteemed leader, Bertie Ahern, Cowen is talking down the economy. We all know what Ahern thinks of those people.

Irish Times

Update: Cowen denies it. Not surprising.