Monday, October 26, 2009

Fleetwood Mac at the O2

Roma and I went along to see Fleetwood Mac at the O2 last evening - the line-up was (as in photo above) John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and Lindsay Buckingham. They range in age from 60 (Buckingham) to 63 (Fleetwood). For a bunch of old codgers (as I heard them referred to in the radio afterwards) they put on a fantastic show. They were not promoting a new album - so we were not treated to the dreaded "Here's a song from our latest album....". Instead - they came to play all their hits and this is what we got. We had excellent (expensive!) seats right in the middle near the front for a fantastic view of all the proceedings.

All the hits from "Rhiannon" to Seven Wonders" were played. Buckingham and Nicks still have some chemistry on stage (though she kept leaving the stage - sometimes to change clothes). Buckingham put in a virtuoso performance on guitar - which he changed for nearly every song, he ranged from hard rock, to acoustic, to picking and slapping. Neither he nor Nicks have lost anything in their voices - though at times her voice was drowned out by the music. Highlights for me were thumping versions of "Chain", "Tusk", "You Can Go Your Own Way", and the acoustic solo of "Big Love" by Buckingham. For an encore they brought the house down with "Don't Stop".

While Buckingham was the real star of the show, Mick Fleetwood played a storming session on drums - including a long solo as part of the encore. Not bad for a man of 63! Nicks was excellent, though I thought she looked tired - or maybe it was too much eye make-up that made her look like this. She's 61 - but still hot!

Before the show we had dinner on the MV Kill Airne on the Liffey. While this is a pricey restaurant it was very enjoyable and within walking distance of the O2. It's only my second time there and it is a nice setting with excellent food.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More YouTube Success

I continue to be fascinated about how many people are viewing my YouTube channel videos - last Friday (23rd October) the total viewings reached 30,000. The rate of viewings has increased over time as I add more videos.

My first video was posted on December 11th 2007. My channel reached 10,000 views on 8th April 2009 - 16 months later. It took only four more months before the view figure reached 20,000 on 10th August. The next landmark of 30,000 views was reached in only 11 more weeks. I'll be interested to see if the rate increases further.

Some people have asked me if it is possible to make money doing this. I'm sure it will be possible some day, but not now. It is important to point out that viewing figures of 30,000 for my channel is an extremely modest number of views, with many others doing the same thing with hundreds of thousands of views. I do have plans for further videos - I have been exploring the possibility of introducing a series of problem-solving techniques.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tales of Ballycumber at The Abbey

I went to see Sebastian Barry's new play - "Tales of Ballycumber" at the Abbey Theatre on Saturday night. Barry lives near Shillelagh - about four miles from where I grew up and his kids attend Carnew NS - where I also went to school. I had read previews and learned that the play is set in a fictitious Co. Wicklow townland between Shillelagh and Tinahely. I felt like I was at home during the play as the south Wicklow accents were delivered like natives.

Stephen Rea is the star of the show - he never left the stage throughput the 1.5 hour play. He had plenty of stories about the area that struck home with me - I loved every mention of Coolattin (where I play golf), and the references to the Fitzwillliams (Lords of the manor in Coolattin), Hacketstown, Humewood, as well as Shillelagh and Tinahely. I called Mum and Dad to check if the story about Lady Fitwilliam's husband eloping with John F Kennedy's sister was true - it was.

It was a smashing play- Stephen Rea would make for a natural Tinahely or Carnew man. Difficult at times to accept the theme of suicide, but with a very simple set (daffodils throughout) it was a very entertaining evening.


Restaurant Review - Talbot 101

Roma, Dorothy, Peter, and I went for a quick pre-theatre bite in the Talbot 101 on Talbot St. There were many other theatre goers there too and the place was very vibrant and almost full. We decided to go for the Early Bird menu and I had a delicious salmon an prawn mix in crispy file pastry. For main course the "Jane Russell" sausages and mash were excellent. Just time for a quick coffee before heading off to the nearby Abbey Theatre. Thoroughly recommended - excellent food, quick efficient service, and very friendly staff.

It's been a while since I was down this area of the city in the evening- there are quite a few groups of young people hanging around who are quite obviously either stoned, drunk, or both. They leave a lot of litter around, are very noisy, a bit intimidating - the Gardaí seem to leave them alone as long as they do not cause any trouble. I felt a bit relieved when we drove towards home - preferring to go for a pint in The Wishing Well rather than staying in the city centre.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

MoSCoW Analysis

Today I used a new (to me) tool in class - the MoSCoW analysis technique. The capital letters in MoSCoW stand for:
  • M - MUST have this
  • S - SHOULD have this if at all possible
  • C - COULD have this if it does not affect anything else
  • W - WON'T have this time but WOULD like in the future
We were discussing the design of databases in a Technology Fundamentals class. I set the students to work in pairs and design a database for their local Chinese Takeaway - they were allowed to add anything they wanted. Below is a photo of their suggestions (taken with my spare mobile phone that I use for class):

We then went though each item and labeled it with M, S, C, or W in an effort to decide what should be in the database. I used a Chinese Takeaway example because almost everybody will be familiar with ordering food for delivery from their local restaurant. The students seemed to enjoy this exercise and by the end we had agreed on what should be in the database, and what is less important. Hopefully they will found the exercise useful and imformative. I found it useful and informative too!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekend in Holyhead

Roma and I went over to the Holyhead Lions Club Charter night dinner which was held in the Valley Hotel in Anglesey, Wales. It was a quick visit - we left Dún Laoghaire on the Saturday afternoon HSS, and returned on the Sunday morning sailing. We traveled with four of Roma's Lions Club companions - I was not really looking forward to the dinner. We stayed in the Travel Lodge near the ferry port - very comfortable, clean, and tidy (recommended for a quick stay).

Holyhead is a quiet town - the centre is a bit dull on Saturday afternoon with a lot of shops closed. We stopped for a pint and a game of pool before going to the dinner in Valley. The evening was a long one - we had a lot of wine. I won a bottle of Rosé in the raffle. We got home around 1230 - phew!

I was missing the Ireland vs Italy World Cup qualifier - brother Joe was sending me text messages with each score (2-2).

The Welsh Lions were extremely nice and welcoming - they couldn't do enough to make us feel comfortable - even sending a bus to pick us up despite the short distance from our hotel to the ferry port. Thank you to them all.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Weekend in Liverpool

Last weekend Roma and I went to Liverpool with The Beatles very much in mind. We had to fly to Manchester on the way out, but this was very pleasant as was the train trip from Manchester to Liverpool. Very little to see from the train on a very wet day, but I did see the newish City of Manchester stadium in the mist.

On Friday night we stayed in the Hard Day's Night Hotel which is a Beatles themed four-star hotel. It was very nice,and while it was a Beatles theme throughout (we had a huge poster of John Lennon over our bed) - it was not over done. The hotel is a very central place to stay, it is right beside the Cavern Club - and is a most pleasant hotel to stay in. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, though Beatles-themed throughout was called Blakes.

On Saturday we had a tour of the main Beatles sites with cabbie Jay from the
Fab Four Tours. Jay was an excellent tour guide who knew everything about The Beatles - he brought us to each of the four houses where the Fab Four grew up, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, Eleanor Rigby's grave, and the place where Lennon and McCartney met - St Peter's Church. Lots of nostalgia - we also saw the spot where Julia Lennon, John's mother was killed, and the Empress Pub that featured on the cover of a Ringo Starr album (Sentimental Journey), Ringo's boarded up old house. The tour was made special by Jay - he was very friendly and was happy to take photos and let us out wherever we wanted to go. The picture to the left is of him and me at the barber shop mentioned in the song Penny Lane. In between us on the poster in the window is a picture of Jimmy Osmond of "I'll be your Long Haired Lover from Liverpool" fame) getting his hair cut - Jay had been his cabbie on his tour. Definitely worth doing this tour, though you don't get into John or Paul's house as they are owned by the National Trust and must be booked separately.

In the afternoon we had lunch in The Pumphouse after which I went to The Beatles Story on Albert Dock while Roma hit the shops. The Beatles Story is excellent, but when you know a lot about them already - there is not much new to learn. At £12 it is definitely worth going to. After such a Beatles day we went for a pint in the Fab Four bar. Liverpool Central was hopping - every pub had loud music - The Cavern Pub was a bit of a kip, so we didn't stay. For dinner we went to Piccolino's Italian restaurant where we had the best table in the house at the window. Smashing food and a very pleasant atmosphere.

On Sunday we did a little bit more shopping - I bought a Let It Be t-shirt which has the picture to the right. This is my favorite picture of The Beatles as it is really how I remember them - I was only 11 years old when they broke up. We also got t-shirts for the girls - Yellow Submarine for Vicki, Help! for Kate, and another Let It Be for Claire. I also bought the obligatory fridge magnet - Sgt Pepper! I did treat myself as well by buying the recently released remastered stereo box of all the Beatles albums which I have been listening to since the weekend. Expensive, but worth it! Finally, we dropped in to the Tate Gallery for a quick look - that's all you need for "modern art". While a Picasso and an Andy Warhol painting were worth looking at, I'm afraid that the rest was completely lost on me.

Overall a great weekend from which I will have very special memories. This was a birthday present from Roma, so it was also my final fling in my forties. I'll have a job following that for a birthday present for Roma next year!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

CCR Old Boys Get-together

I joined several of my old Cistercian College Roscrea (CCR) classmates for dinner and a few jars in Bewley's of Ballsbridge last evening - we were the class of 1977. We had good fun at first trying to remember all the names - there were 13 of us in total. Apart from shorter hair - some of the lads have not changed a bit (Geoff C, Ali B, John I, and Paul H) - the rest of us were a bit grey or folically challenged. It was nice to meet after such a long time - I think it must have been 1977 since I last met Mick L who I was sitting beside at dinner and who regailed us all of tales of rich Americans buying multi-million dollar yachts. It was also nice to discover that in the group was a fellow Harley-Davidson rider (Pat C) - we promised each other that we would meet for a ride out.

Good luck to John I in his new businees opening next week - I'll be sure to call in. Mick L started a new job yesterday - good luck to him. Happy 50th birthday to Barry O'S on Friday 9th next. Good luck to Brian C in running the country

Monday, October 05, 2009

Damien Mulley at the Institute of Business Analysis and Consulting

I attended the lunchtime seminar hosted by the Institute of Business Analysis and Consulting today at lunchtime. The speaker today was Damien Mulley - well known blogger, and expert on all things technological. His talk was on "Social networks: The foundation for long-term business relationships with your customers". I missed the start, but I was impressed by Damien's knowledge of social networking tools. He is clearly an enthusiast of social media - he was bursting to tell us about Twitter, blogs, bebo, and facebook - he used some good examples to support his points. He is much in demand and is quite often interviewed on RTÉ radio whenever there is a technology item. Anyone new to social media at the seminar will be impressed by the possibilities of networking on the web - how to make money doing this is another thing. An enjoyable seminar!

While in Liverpool at the weekend I noticed signs for facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and others in the windows of the first floor office suite, and advertising that they provide advice on all things "socila media". It turns out that this is a company called Digital Liverpool - clearly there is money to be made providing this type of advice as companies seek to make the best of social networking.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lisbon Treaty Referendum - it has to be Yes

Tomorrow is the Lisbon Treaty Referendum (part II). I will be voting "Yes" early in the morning before I head off to Liverpool for the weekend - here's why:
  • I voted Yes the last time and have not changed my mind
  • 63% of people in the Dún Laoghaire constituency voted Yes the last time
  • I support the real reasons for the Treaty - making the EU work better
  • I actually believe that Europe should move closer to a Federal system
  • We (Ireland) cannot manage on our own
  • 26 out of 27 EU countries have already ratified the Treaty (Czech President still to sign)
  • All major political parties are recommending a Yes vote
  • Not that I listen to them much, but Trades Unions are also recommending a Yes
  • Employers are recommending a Yes
  • Michael O'Leary says Yes
  • Brian Cowen says Yes
  • Anything that the following people/groups are against, I am for: Sinn Fein, Coir, Joe Higgins, Declan Ganley & Libertas, Patricia McKenna, Richard Boyd-Barrett, UKIP.
I will miss the posters though!