A Review to a Kill (dedicated to Bairbre)

26 Nov

Now I know what you’re all going to say, I realize  it was voted the worst Bond film of all time, and  perhaps Rodger Moore was too old at 57 to be cavorting about on top of the Golden Gate bridge, never mind having rigorous sex with a intimidatingly muscular  Grace Jones. Sir Rodger himself has said it was his least favorite of his Bond legacy.. but here’s some reasons why I like it..

1. The Song…

Until we DA-ANCE into the FIY-UR!!!

Banging Tune! Duran Duran a great choice..has that “more is more” 80s attidude…drums, hair, mad synth, confusing lyrics like

“Could it be the whole earth opening wide
A sacred why, a mystery gaping inside
The weekends why, until we…..DA-ANCE into the FIY-UR”

2. Tanya Roberts as “the blonde tool in the white dress”

worst-james-bond-movies-stacey-sutton

Ok…Ok we all know what she’s in the film for, a bit of alright for the lads to look at, but who couldn’t commend her for not getting her lovely white frocks dirty no matter how many elevator-shaft fires, mine-bombings or axe-fights between zepplins and Iron bridges she gets herself into. We’ll overlook the fact that her leading man was like more of a pervy uncle, (Tanya was 30 when she played Stacey Sutton), at least they spared us a double entendre with her name, unless that’s gone over my blonde head too.

3.  This Robot

robot

Certainly one of the cuter gadgets to emerge from Q’s lair. It’s up there with the cake-robot Rocky gives Paulie on his birthday in Rocky 4 in terms of “gratuitous uses of robots in 80s movies”.

4.  Grace Jones as Mayday

Grace-Jones-View-Kill_610

Some woman for one woman! Look at her there throwing lads about the place. She has what looks like terribly painful sex with poor Rodger’s todger, murders a few people (with that glare I’d say…), wears some mad hats but eventually turns good in the end, redeeming herself on one of these things ….

rail pump car

  to thwart the evil Zorin’s wicked plans. Good girl yourself Gracie!

5.  Christopher Walkin as Zorin (the Baddie)

walken

Oh-ho ye bad pup! Once the darling of the KGB he was turned into quite the rascal, drugging his horses with adrenaline and the like. Rumor has it that he was the by-product of steroid experiments gone awry (this dodgey looking nazi vet-doctor’s work no-doubt)

carl

Anyway, that’s nothing compared to his master plan of FLOODING SILICONE VALLEY!!!!!!!! in order to gain a monopoly on that whole growing technology industry, and remember he was stockpiling microchips, the clever lad.

6. The Action Sequences

You’re really spoiled for choice, if the opening credits with one-legged ski-surfing on near vertical slopes doesn’t tickle you, well there’s plenty more nail-biting stuff. Who could forget Bond’s scramble after Mayday on the Eiffel Tower (complete with every french stereotype you can imagine).

Or indeed the GTA of a firetruck through San Francisco, another nod to Miss Roberts for keeping her whites pristine…

and last but by no means least…..

(00)7 .

View-to-a-Kill-Unreal

The man himself! He may not have been young, he may not have even been middle aged to be honest, but face it most of us still would…

notions.

12 Nov

calling fairy buns cupcakes. notions

quinoa. notions

ginsing. notions

roquito peppers. notions

the vintage cocktail club with its 14 euro drinks and 8euro brussel sprouts (seriously!). notions

menu

“artisan” coffee. artisan crisps for fuck sake. notions

weekend “spa breaks” to Kilkenny and Sligo involving white robe selfies. notions

paninis. bagels. ciabattas

craft beers. whiskey appreciation.

educate together schools. notions

knowing the difference between burritos, quesadillas and chimichangas. notions

hair /beauty salons exclusively for children. notions

the animal hospitality industry.

starbucks and their pumpkin spice lattes.

orla kiely bags and purses.

michael kors.

the scourge of nespresso machines.

murphy’s sea salt and brown bread icecreams.

muphys

Rachel Allen and her fecking gob. notions

the rise of the samurai man-bun. notions

café en seine. notions

shellac nails. sally hansen airbrush legs.

teriyaki anything. pulled pork. notions

kale juice. innocent smoothies

hunter wellies.

the ifi cinema.

notions.

Skype Grannies and the Holy Trinity of Aunties

4 Oct

Another week and deeper and deeper into literature…

My supervisor warned me about going on educational crusades but I really can’t help myself..in the past week I’ve dissected Transition Year, had a rant at teachers over the Junior Cycle reform (sorry Robbie), decided to help a Transition Year group with their oversees development project in India. None of this is directly relevant to my research by the way..oh and I’ve also learned to knit (we’ll get back to that).

I’ve also been fortunate enough to stumble on Sugata Mitra’s ideas on education, he’s currently setting the world on fire through his Ted Talks… He’s the guy who brought us the “Hole in the Wall” experiments. He explored the idea that children will teach each other (and hard stuff too!) without direct instruction from teachers. He reckons that what children need to learn they can get from the internet and “Grannies”. He linked “Skype Grannies” from the UK to Indian slums to encourage the children, ask them about what they were learning and practice some English. A “Granny” doesn’t necessarily need to be a subject expert, nor to they really need to know anything about the subject..they just need to do what Grannies do and say things like

“Oh that looks nice, I could never do that when I was your age, aren’t you great!”

 

 

 

It got me thinking of all the Grannying that goes on in my life. I don’t have any actual Grannies, they both died a long time ago but what I do have is the  Holy Trinity of aunties. My mothers sisters are not so much digital immigrants as digital asylum seekers. They are all ladies of a certain vintage. One of the possible three has a mobile phone, however it has never crossed the threshold of the front door. I frequently get phone calls to “fix” televisions that “look different to the last telly”, show them how to use microwaves or read out text messages. Whilst none of the trinity would be able to tell you very much about my course they will still tell anyone who’ll listen that their niece is at Trinity College studying “the computers” and “is great”. There was a postal race between them when I first accepted the course to get the cards in, another one when I passed first year (even a “few bob” for a celebratory mineral included..), there were pilgrimmages to Lourdes, Medjugorje and even Lough Derg to offer up prayers for my success. There were packets of biscuits, new socks and holy medals sent over. Dinners were made, tea was poured and ears were offered when I called in to them. None of them wrote my papers for me, sorted out ethics or proof read my work but it didn’t matter… I could do all that once they believed in me and gave me the granny treatment.

I promised I’d get to the knitting… one of the Trinity is a ninja of the needles and some of my classmates have had the honor of receiving one of her sought after baby cardigans. Sadly she hasn’t been well for a lot of this year and last week I thought it may have been a good time for me to help out with the demand for jumpers put upon her. I asked the help of “someone who looked like they knew” a bit about knitting in a craft shop (another Skype Granny no doubt) and she helpfully pointed me towards what I needed. I arrived up to her, needles and wool in tow and she was delighted to be of assistance. With great patience and encouragement within an hour she had me knitting the basic stitch away merrily and I haven’t stopped since. I’m looking forward to seeing her again this week for “knit-one-purl-one” and hopefully by Christmas you could all be the proud owners of egg cosies.

I haven’t named the members of the  Trinity for fear of retribution, they may not be bloggers but they have their ways..I got into bother with them this Summer over a Facebook post that had a bold word. I don’t know how exactly but within three minutes of the post I received a call that had come from three other calls. I hope they won’t mind this one too much…

knitting

 

 

 

Here I go again (but not all on my own)

27 Sep

Well what a year…

This time last year we were a group of bright eyed, bushy tailed enthusiasts that turned up to begin our 1st year of the M.Sc

One year on.. we’ve had laughs, tears, successes, failures, frustrations, pints, sandwiches, arguments, friendships, cat fights, coffees, agreements, disagreements, fears, farts, cakes, cocktails, mints, skypes, texts, weddings, pregnancies, births, new jobs, new homes, new cars, new haircuts, gigs, holidays, hikes, lock-ins, break ins, Christmas, Easter, jokes, smokes, gossips, giggles, pressures, pains, lessons, messings, doodles, googles, swims, gyms, The World Cup, (I lost my cup in the postgrad room if anyone finds it), Ebola, Rose of Tralee, Isis, the Magaluff crisis, Molly Malone moved, the Trinity College Door rammed in, Rolf Harris, trips to Paris, Sam left Dublin, lovely Hurlin’, Junior Night, we lost some along the way but not the times we shared with them, we were glad to see those who came back through that door this week, not all of last year was fun but not all was bad either…

You never really get to choose the people you work with, like last year we were thrown together to share the same bit of carpet for 10 hours everyweek. Very much like a family, you don’t get to choose them and you won’t always get along with them but weirdly enough they do become your family for those 10 hours and more.. Id have never made it though last year without my classmates and I know the only way I’ll make it this year is with them.

So having that all too familiar feeling of tiredness, worry and injustice at spending a Saturday at the laptop screen…

Never work with animals, family or facial hair

20 Nov

I had high hopes for this unit of learning. I had visions of a sleek website where everything would be either be grey, white or black and all so seamless. I dreamed of a bidding war between top camping gear brands for me as a top consultant in their website design. I would always wear black in these dreams and work in an office straight out of IKEA (no idea why)

This was all until I faced up to what I had to work with- a basic grasp of moviemaker, a flirtation with scratch and an increasingly love/hate relationship with you know who (rhymes with wordstress). My romantic notions were deflated when I realized all the painstaking effort and skill that goes into making these things seem easy.

I began with building a game/simulation in Scratch which in retrospect I spent far too much time on, however I did experience Papert’s “hard fun” as I learned to think like a programmer with generous guidance from a friend getting me started. I then turned my attention to my video tutorials. Being a veteran of moviemaker for children’s self produced efforts, directing a tutorial proved to be a different experience.

It wasn’t until I actually began filming that I overhauled my storyboard bearing in mind what the film was intended for; instruction. (If anyone watches these things for fun they need help) Problems I had never thought of were creeping up at each turn and not just the dog wandering into the shot; Placing of items, noises etc..

I must give credit here to my older brother for agreeing to star in the video tutorials .He is raising funds for “Movember”. Although the mustache was too distracting to feature in the video, I made a donation to the cause in return for a show of hands and a masculine voice. I had initially intended to use a voice over but considering the potential for problems with that I played it safer with simultaneous audio/visual recording. I only fully appreciated the use of subtitles in instructional videos when I saw how much better mine became with their inclusion. They seemed to help get the point across anyway. I can see a stove while someone is talking about it and ooh look it says something about it too!

None the less… subtitling is a job in itself! Making sure enough time is given to read them, that titles are in sync..Minor edits to the project could upset everything and have you start again. By the way did anyone else notice moviemaker initially turn its nose up at mp4 files before deciding to like them later (after spending precious time finding a way to convert to wmv)?

Content creation aside, the task of hanging the unit together on the web scared the life out of me. This was the part I really wanted to delegate to one of my imaginary tech minions (these come with the job mentioned before).

To my shame links have never been more to me than a ctrl + c, ctrl + v effort, now after some initial  guidance I can make links from images and in the text. I also saw how I couldn’t link between wordpress pages unless they were published which could have seen me further frustrated. I also need not have feared my first ever uploads to youtube, nice to contribute! Embed is a dirty word but videos were fine, shame that wordpress didn’t like my Scratch Project enough to take that as well..you can’t have everything.

I’m happy now that the unit works in its raw state. It may not be  the monochrome vision I  dreamed of but there’s a lesson here in looking at function before aesthetics and an appreciation that those who get paid for this kind of thing are a skilled bunch indeed.

I will finish this post with a photo of my brother’s mustache, who never had its fifteen minutes of fame (My videos are actually about six minutes in total anyway) Take it away mo’bro.

Image

The New Sculpture; An Inspiration To Us All

19 Nov

Image

 

They say that there is a collective subconscious, that we can all be thinking exactly the same when nobody is brave enough to put their idea forward. Take the example of the new sculpture by the Physics Lawn (Isn’t it wonderful that we are studying in a place like Trinity where there’s a small bit of grass titled thus?) 

Like all pieces of art, the sculpture is left open to the interpretation of its audience. At a glace it will inevitably remind us all of something as we try to make sense of it in the spirit of constructionist learning. Perhaps it took some of us back to a childhood; blowing bubbles in a sunny garden at our 5th birthday party while wondering why the magician looked and smelled a lot like Grandad.  Maybe it stirred hope for future developments in science; stem cell research and such (I’ve no idea what stem cell research looks like but I’m assuming it would be blobby).

My mother, with a keen eye for visual arts has dubbed it “futuristic”. An accurate observation that many of us have seen a future with an increase of unnecessary steel spheres about the place.

I took one look at the piece and was taken back to the days of my young retail experience (if you want to hear the rest of that story its a two drink minimum after class this Friday) Sharing this with my class peers, I learned that I was not the only one who had such an interpretation and that we could try to make sense of the sculpture by contributing our thoughts.

In a way I see the sculpture as a metaphor for the course. We have a place to study, to meet, to learn, to talk, to share. What we will take from the course will depend on our interpretation of what we have been given. There is no prescribed outcome except that piece of paper and the other possibilities have no walls or ceiling. It’s scary becoming a master of your own learning but we’ve been masters of our learning all our lives as I see it. Maybe for a time it seemed that our learning was in the hands of someone else with a set curriculum, The Government? The Industrial Revolution? Big Brother watching?

With the freedom to learn about what you want comes the challenge to decide what is relevant to you but I believe that with sharing our own interpretations of course experiences we can start bringing out the best* in each others thinking.

 

*or then again…(see you all Friday :P)

 

turn it up, turnitin, let me begin…(House of Pain et al, 1992)

7 Nov

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the minute you’ve taken a break from worrying about one aspect of a problem, your brain will helpfully provide another.

My position paper began as a jolly exploration into how Scratch is a fantastic tool for collaborative learning through programming. Not so jolly when I realized there isn’t a sentence written in support of that statement however many articles I scoured.

Here is what my brain had to say…

Well I’ve read enough about Scratch so it’ll still have to be something about Scratch..maybe I shouldn’t have picked Scratch. Ah I know loads about Scratch. No I don’t. I’ve seen Scratch used its brilliant for lots of stuff. Eh something about children programming is a good thing..whats his face with the beard said that (Papert). Something about Scratch and programming. Doddle. WHAT???!!!!!! what do all these words mean in these articles about Scratch and Programming???? RECURSION???????? ARGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHCup of tea. Better.I must be an expert now I’ve read  every article going on Scratch to teach programming. I know nothing about programming. Should I have picked something I knew loads about already? I don’t know loads about anything…yes i do..no I don’t……. 

Then endnote came along to join the party. I was scared of him too but he was quite helpful (the one that was paid for on Daddy’s laptop, not that cheapskate basic I met online..) Today it was time for a sharp intake of breath and to see if what I wrote so far (by no means the final draft) was actually completely plagiarized, paraphrased and pirated without my knowing. Ah you see, ignorance of the law is no excuse!

I said a prayer and uploaded my draft. Well I was initially overjoyed when I saw that a 1% similarity to other published work was detected, then it seemed too good to be true. In this draft I have no direct quotes nor to the best of my knowledge have I paraphrased from literature but there really are only so many ways you can list the concepts of programming and say who did what where! Again Grace, ignorance of your paraphrasing will not pardon you from paraphrasing.

This is all irrelevant anyway. Every time I look at the paper I’m pulling it apart  so I can either worry about that or turnitin. What turnitin really needs is a gauge to tell you how much of your paper “is a load of shite” and the helpfully suggest how to rectify this.

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Scarier than Halloween; The position paper and the death of my social life

31 Oct

The great and wise Jerry Fish once told me that “Worrying is praying for something that you don’t want.”

Well I’ve done my share of worrying about you know what this week along with everyone else on the course. If you’re not worrying you have either been 7 weeks late to the course or some sort of wizard and I salute you.

However, there is a time for worrying and a time for doing something about it. Now the doing something is tricky I admit. I trust I’m not the only person who has had their hopes dashed scrabbling for journal articles this week. I’m not the only person who had a breakdown trying to use Stellar Search. I’m not the only person who hasn’t a barney on how to use Endnote. I’m not the only person who has doubted then overhauled their topic several times.

But I had to do somethingWhether that was writing bits and bobs in a word table or sticking post-it notes on my desk in what (I hope) makes me look like a tortured academic genius, I was slightly less worried than when I was doing nothing but worrying.

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So tonight saw me do battle once again with PDF, with second guessing every word, with thinking of ten things wrong with what I’m doing at once. I could have found ways to worry and procrastinate like trick or treating (we got just one lonely ghost calling here by the way, I’ll share the spoils in class), or gone to town in fancy dress, or joined the ladies for Hocus Pocus on TV3 and popcorn, but that’s not going to get this paper gone and until I figure out how I’m going to keep trying.

At least the dog sits at my feet for moral support, even if she’s scared by the bangers we’re of some comfort to each other at this scary time of year.

 

Accessibility, a four year old and a fortress

30 Oct

At any family function there’s always the poor sod that gets put at the kids table. Same goes for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs and funerals. “Sure she’s a teacher she loves kids!” equals Grace left with the smallies everytime. Now don’t get me wrong the company of the under 12’s has never scared me but the status of “Pied Piper” as I was called last night snuck up on me quick.

Yesterday evening I agreed to babysit for a friend’s four year old nephew at a hotel wedding. The deal was I’d arrive at the afters, see what the little guy wanted to do whether that was stay near the dancing grown ups or head to his room to watch a movie. After seeing what the afters had to offer he was less impressed and we headed upstairs to see what the room had to offer.

First port of call was the TV… a babysitter that began to evolve in the mid 20th Century. Very little on offer by way of programmes (X factor, Graham Norton) But indeed there was an “on demand” movie service menu with ten suitable options. Naturally none of these were to his tastes and only a documentary about dinosaurs would do. Of course this to the boy was a reasonable request… in his world no one has ever had to wait for their personal tastes in entertainment. I dutifully handed him my iphone and within seconds he’d located the youtube app, only needing my assistance in typing in “Every dinosaur documentary ever”.

All was well until the curse of the iphone battery struck.. two bleeps.. one to herald 20%..another 10%.. time was running out and his own battery life was still a healthy green. I then saw that the TV was part of a system that included web access, games and the like. My first idea was to access my netflix account via the web.

hotel_keyboard_face

fig. 1; Phillips, TV/Internet Keyboard

This was what we had to go on. I didn’t get any further than accessing the hotel home page and a game of “ping pong” which was unplayable for the boy (it then occurred to me he’d never used a keyboard). We hatched a plan. Back to basics with a pen and paper and we penned a formal letter of complaint to the management. Our main qualms were

  • The lack of dinosaur documentaries on demand
  • “Terrible” internet
  • A “stupid” keyboard

We posted the letter away (it may amaze you all to know that all hotel rooms have a secret post box in the trouser press cupboard) We received a reply too.. mostly threats involving pillows and farts, but it seemed like accessible technology was not advancing in our room anytime soon.

We reverted to a traditional constructivist approach and built a mattress fort.

Waiting on the Bus; Where would I be without the Dublin Bus App?

22 Oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

photobus-2

 

 

I recall the first time my German friend tackled our public bus service in 2006. She waited in earnest for the bus to come at the written time provided as any sensible German would. No bus. Thirty seconds later I see her fidgeting. Still no bus. One minute later and two watch checks. Still no bus. Two minutes. She’s really rattled now! She coughs and asks in a polite Bavarian tone “is there problems today with the buses?” I reply in the negative having seen none on fire or face down in the river. Three minutes. She taps at the timetable. I explain that in Ireland the time tables provided only state when the bus leaves the terminal with times provided for when the bus should arrive at your stop. Not exactly scientific but a system no less! Fifteen minutes go by and she points out (quite rightly) that by the timetable’s contract the bus should have been here three minutes ago. By now I’m shamed into admitting that indeed the timetable is a lie and that the bus just comes when it comes. Knowing no other way, I was a given a vision of more efficient way of life when she described this as “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”.

Realtime displays are fine, with their orange lights bringing the good news- 2min until a 9 or 10min (and time to go to the shop)

However there is no Realtime display at my stop, another cruelty Dublin Bus has inflicted on its northside patronage along with removing my bus shelter. It seemed I was destined to brave the elements for hours, daring to hope as I squinted northbound.

Then the Dublin Bus App came into my life. In just a few clicks I can enter my stop number (on my list of favorites) and the App will show whats on the way in realtime. If I’ve ventured somewhere strange and wonderful the route planner will get me from a to b, even telling me how long a walk it is between my transfers. Never again will I wait in the rain for an hour but will sit in the comfort of my home leaving two minutes to spare.

My mother (who is yet to embrace the dawn of the smartphone) is also a fan, thinking the app is pure wizardry. She has phoned me from the actual bus stop while I’ve been in a different country to channel the power of the app. She has told elderly relatives I have “the gift” when it comes to Dublin Bus, whenever I leave the house with her to pop into town one will magically appear.

Aberacadabra, take me back to Cabra…

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