Posts

The war on intelligence

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I’ve got some basic knowledge across many fields, but I’m not an expert in any of them by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, I even flunked out of school! Still, I’m not completely braindead. Moreover, I’m aware of my deficiencies, try to read up on things that I’m not up to speed with, and am not above changing my opinions on  topics, an approach that has served me pretty well so far. I mean, it has gotten me out of long-term employment and into a job that is generally reserved for college graduates. Yet, for some reason, I find that this approach of always learning, always wanting to improve yourself, more seems to be becoming more and more of a rarity. Indeed, the very concept of intelligence, the very idea that being smart is something desirable, something positive, appears to be becoming more and more of an object of scorn and ridicule, something to demonize rather than a goal to thrive for. For an exam…

Moving Cork? Why light rail is a bad idea!

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Public Transport in Cork – A contentious topic to say the least, and certainly one that I apparently can’t escape as a blogger. A few months ago, the rather ambitious Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy was released in draft form. I never got around to writing a post about that as I had some rather more pressing issues to deal with, namely a new job that wasn‘t running smoothly at the time. Still, it was almost impossible to escape the talk about one of the core components of this draft strategy: A light rail line running from Ovens in the west of the city to Mahon in the east. It was an audacious move, and I‘m convinced that it will never see the light of day. I‘ll admit, I was absolutely thrilled by the idea at first, but after spending some time thinking about it, it became clear to me that not only would this project never see the light of day, it would be a spectacularly bad fit for Cork. Now, don‘t get me wrong, I‘m a fan of any type of rail transport, and would absolutely…

Wake up and smell the coffee!

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Cities change. That’s no great secret to anyone who has more than a hand full of working brain cells. With that change also comes the fact that buildings, shops, or other places you may have come accustomed to simply fade away, relocating, closing due to old age or other reasons, and that new businesses move in. This is normal, change and evolution are the two most fundamental driving forces in life. Resisting these forces is impossible over any extended period of time, and those that try will get crushed in the attempt sooner or later. That doesn‘t stop many from trying though.
Here in Cork, a frequent target of this ire has been something seemingly innocent: cafés. Yes, you read that right, and no, I didn‘t sprinkle any LSD into your coffee! And no, we‘re not just talking about the big chains like Costa, Caffe Nero, or Starbucks here, but independent cafés as well. It seems that for some, the very concept of a coffee house is like waving a red flag in front of a particularly ill-temp…

For those in peril on the sea

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Okay, before I get started just a little word of advice. I’m livid, absolutely raging, so be aware that this post will contain quite a decent helping of colourful language, likely accompanied by liberal doses of four-letter words. You have been warned!
Over recent years, I’ve become pretty desensitised when it comes to news stories. Ever since both the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump over in the US, humanity seems to have started regressing ever more rapidly. Still, there are some institutions whose work is so universal that you’d think that they’re above the increasingly roiling sea of racist, sectarian, and partisan turmoil and acrimony. Well, on Monday morning I learned differently. It turns out that the Daily Heil, sorry, I mean the Daily Fail, oh damnit, I mean the Daily Mail (insert ten minute break here as I had to wipe up the bile forced up by even typing the name of that „paper“), that bastion of racism and xenophobia, ran a story on Sunday that outlined th…

The Walled Isle?

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There’s one thing that’s always puzzled me about Ireland. Well, okay, there’s a bit more than just one thing, but this is one that stuck out. When you drive through Irish towns or cities, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed it. Many housing estates are surrounded by large concrete walls. Indeed, even the gardens of houses themselves are often separated by similar walls, only slightly lower than the towering perimeter walls. The same goes for industrial estates, and even bus stations or train stations. Hell, even parks are more often than not totally enclosed. Even the apartment complex where I live is effectively walled off. Granted, the architects were pretty sneaky about it, but it is still a fully walled-off and gated complex. Perversely though, the one type of property that you’d expect to be fortified to the hilt is often just secured by chain-link fences or old drystone walls: military bases. It’s something I saw with my own eyes on Haulbowline Island, the headquarters of the Irish…

Met Éireann - Far more than a joke!

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When I came to Ireland all the way back in 2012, one of the first organisations of the state I really had any noteworthy interest in was the Irish meteorological service named , rather creatively, Met Éireann. My first impression was, to put it mildly, underwhelming. The website looked old-fashioned even by the standards of 2012, the app was equally unremarkable. Communications-wise, a closed-up clam would have been more talkative than the Met Éireann of the time, who seemingly didn’t exist outside of the realm of either the RTÉ studio or their own HQ. Both their Facebook and Twitter accounts hadn’t seen any major activity for months by the time I started following them back in 2013. It almost seemed as if the organisation was run by your stereotypical technophobic German bureaucrat, despite being an Irish body. In this way, the meteorological service did not differ majorly from their counterparts in Bus Éireann, Irish Rail, or any other Irish state body back in 2012. Their reputatio…

National Geographic - How NOT to do an update.

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One of the most lasting memories I have of my early childhood is flipping through my parents’ collection of strange, yellow-framed magazines that they kept in the living room. I couldn’t read at the time, and even if I had been able to read, I wouldn’t have understood a word since they were printed in English, but I was completely enthralled by the images and the maps printed in those magazines. I would later learn that the magazine in question was National Geographic, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since, although I was only an irregular buyer. Still, I see why the magazine has such a stellar reputation. The articles are more often than not thought-provoking and interesting, and the presentation is top-notch. The images are often simply spectacular, as are the illustrations and maps.  However, it was not until around 2016 that I really took an interest in the magazine. It had always been one of the more expensive magazines you could buy, both back in Germany and here in Ireland…

It's been a long road...

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Saturday night, I once again stayed up far later than I should have. For some reason, I’d started to read through some of the older entries on my German blog, which by the way will be celebrating its tenth anniversary later this year. That’s right, I’ve been a blogger longer than I’ve been active on Facebook, and that got me thinking just how much my life had changed since then, both on a personal, career, and on a technological level. I decided against writing a blog post then and there, I mean, I have to sleep some time. However now, sitting on my balcony and enjoying the balmy air after that storm we had on Friday, it does feel like the right time to put my thoughts onto paper.
Back in 2009, my world was still a lot smaller for a change, limited to the area around Frankfurt. I had landed a job at DHL less than two years earlier and had only barely managed to land a permanent contract for the first time in my life. I had a small, but cosy apartment in Frankfurt’s commuter belt, and…

A Changed Company? - Thoughts on Microsoft

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Microsoft – Now there’s a name that’ll get the blood of any IT interested person boiling! The guys from Redmond have had to fight an uphill battle in public perception for some time, and to be fair, a significant part of the bad PR they’ve been getting is their own making, a combination of poor product design and spectacularly bad market assessment and communication. Windows 8 was “special”, as in “Oh, he likes to cut the heads of dolls” special, Windows Phone was, unfortunately, an unmitigated disaster, while the company’s attitude towards open-source has traditionally been hostile, to put it diplomatically. Add to this the fact that the company has a de-facto stranglehold on the desktop OS market, on workplace productivity applications (hell, we even used Microsoft Office at Apple!), and a dominating position in the server market, and you get a company that is not particularly popular. At the same time, you would think that a company has such a stranglehold on all major fields of t…