Monday, December 31, 2012

Review of 2012

It's the last day of 2012 and before I look forward to 2013, here's a quick look back at 2012 and what it meant to me.
Image source:

The Good

Undoubtedly the biggest thing for me in 2012 was my YouTube Channel passing the 1,000,000 views mark on 30th April last. As I write there are 1,089,630 for the year 2012 and it should pass the 2,000,000 views mark during March next year if current trends continue. The views fell during the Christmas holidays, as they do every year, but should pick up again in January. As there is a release of a new version of Microsoft Office next year, I should be able to add updated versions of my most popular videos.

Closely associated with above, I switched on monetization on my videos to allow Google to display ads. While these are probably annoying for my viewers, it makes a little extra cash for me. Since the switch-on in June the channel has earned over $7,000, averaging just over $1,000 per month. I'll put more effort to getting more and better content onto the channel to try and improve this.

100 Corners
I had a great time during the summer riding around the coast of Ireland on my Harley-Davidson from Dublin to Sligo. Since then I have been re-living the trip by writing it up into a book. One of my hopes for 2013 is that I get this book published. Despite a lot of bad weather, I got to see so much of Ireland that I had never seen before. This project is not yet finished.

My Blog
I enjoyed writing on this blog during the year - this will be the 243rd post of the year, a little down on 2011. As my 100 Corners project takes up a lot of my spare time, blogging is one of my activities that I have devoted less time to this year. I will blog in 2013, but the book project will be prioritized. I want to get back to writing a bit more about educational matters - this I can do at work. Finally, I got a new title for my blog "Careful with that axe, Eugene", it sounds a bit cooler than before.

During the year I received two awards: The first was the Irish Blood Transfusion Service's Gold Drop Award for reaching 50 donations. The second was the National College of Ireland President's Award for Innovation in Assessment. While these are modest achievements, it's nice to get recognition like this from time-to-time.

The Not So Good

We had the highs and lows of sport this year with Katie Taylor giving the whole country a boost when she won the gold medal in London, but the let down of the year was the Irish soccer team at the Euro finals. I felt before hand that there was a very strong chance that we would lose all three games, but that the Croatia match offered a chance of getting something. It was not to be and I, along with most of the country, felt a big let down.

Our Country
Ireland is still in a bad way and there seems to be no end in sight, despite what the economists and politicians tell us. I am one of the lucky ones who still has a job, but the College is not immune to the financial difficulties of Government funding for Higher Education. The HEA's response to HE Institutions' own assessments carried out this year uses very tough language about savings that need to be made and the need for more clustering and mergers between institutions. I think 2012 was the beginning of the end of Higher Education as it is in Ireland, and that 2013 could be an even tougher year for us all. This is clearly a major worry for my colleagues and I at NCI.

According to the Irish Independent today, 200 people a day left Ireland during 2012, a level not seen since the Great Famine of the 19th century. One of the emigrants this year was my daughter Claire who now lives in New York. We miss her and of course wish she was here, but opportunities for her, and many of her generation, lie elsewhere. 

I don't think I ever officially resigned from anything before, but in October this year I resigned from the Governing Body of NCI. It, and the aftermath, was not a pleasant experience - but I had over-stepped my role and felt I had to "go".

100 Corners
It was a pity that I did not get to finish this trip in one go. Looking back I feel that I let the rain beat me and I guess I was also a little homesick. I abandoned the trip in Sligo on a very wet day and with very bad weather forecast for the next two days I didn't have the stomach to continue. 2013 will put this right.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Shackleton Endurance Exhibition

The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is running an exhibition of photographs of Sir Ernest Shackleton's famed, and failed, expedition to cross the Antarctic in 1914-1917. The exhibition is being held in the ferry terminal building and cost me €5 admission, which was worth it.

Image Source:
The story of survival, bravery, cold, ice, endurance, and navigation is now well-known due to a revival of interest in Shackleton in the past few years. This is due to a number of books, eg Michael Smith's excellent "An Unsung Hero", which was about Tom Crean, and the 2002 TV movie "Shackleton" starring Sir Kenneth Branagh in the title role. Another revival of interest is the example of Shackleton's leadership, management, and decision-making skills  which I know is sometimes used in Management classes as a great example of how to do these things right. 28 men took part in the expedition, and thanks to Shackleton's skills - all survived the disaster.

The Exhibition features all the well-known photographs saved during the expedition. There are also some silent movies from the trip - all taken by Frank Hurley. The photos in the exhibition are made from the original glass plates that Hurley made on the expedition. While it was nice to see these copies of the photos, I had seen them all before in various books and TV documentaries. Probably the best bit for me was to see a full scale model of the lifeboat, the James Caird, which Shackleton, his navigator Frank Worsley, and three others used to sail the 800 miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia. The exhibition allows you to test your navigation skills with a sextant in front of a film of high seas, a computer screen displays the results of your "navigation". It was the first time I have ever held a sextant in my hand and needless to say I would have missed South Georgia by hundreds of miles.

The Exhibition is well worth seeing if you are not familiar, or just know a bit about the Endurance Expedition.  Apart from the sextant, there is little new for those whose have read about and are familiar with this incredible story.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

East Pier Battery/Fort in Dún Laoghaire

Today, Roma and I decided to walk the East Pier in Dún Laoghaire Harbour, something we have done together many times before. It's a great place to meet people and you will nearly always bump into somebody (as we did) doing the same. It seemed that EVERYBODY was out to walk off some of the Christmas cheer. Some brought their dogs, the evidence for this was unfortunately scattered like a mine-field on the pier. At the end of the pier is a former fort which was closed many years ago. I had never seen it open, but today Teddy's Ice Cream were open for business inside the fort. 

We went inside for the first time and had a wander around. There are numerous brass plaques on the walls pointing our the Officers Quarters and the WCs. A large upside down bell is still in situ and you can also see what looked to me like rails on the walls for large cannon to be swivelled around in case the pesky French tried to invade. It was obviously quite a feat of engineering to build this in the 19th century, there are massive granite blocks everywhere to see. Though there were major renovation works last year, it is still a little bit dilapidated. This could be a fantastic new amenity for Dún Laoghaire, especially in the summer when Teddy's are likely to sell more ice cream!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Republishing audio files with

I noticed recently that audio files that I have published on this blog in the past through ODEO are no longer available. Since I recently signed up to I have moved my audio files there and hope that they will be available for a bit longer. So here's a selection republished:

Wedding Message for my Mum and Dad from
Paddy and Kathleen Byrne, 22nd October, 1958.

Radio request for Roma and me from 
our wedding day, 13th September, 1986.

My Dad (Joe) singing "If I can Help Somebody".

Dad singing "Fr O'Flynn"

Dad on The Derek Mooney Show.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!!!

It's Christmas Day and it is 20:05 as I write this post. We had had a wonderful day in our family, tinged with a little bit of sadness that Claire is not here. She called us nice and early (late her time in NYC) and it was great to hear her voice so early in the morning. As a young girl, her voice was often the first we heard on Christmas Day: "Mummy, Daddy, look what Santa brought.....!!!"

I am well dressed and will also smell well, the highlight for me is Sarah Millican tickets to her concert in the Olympia. After presents I went down to the St John the Baptist Church in Blackrock for choir - the third day in a row. I loved the sound we made over the Christmas festivities, and also the applause for us all at the end of Mass, especially for the final hymn - Adeste Fideles.

After a wonderful dinner cooked by the fantastic Roma with help from Kate and Vicki, I am just about able for the Downton Abbey Christmas Special. 

Merry Christmas to all friends and family!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It's the 24th December and that means just one day until Christmas! I have been wrapping presents for most of the morning and still have some last minute shopping to do. I've done most of my own shopping on-line this year, but did also make a trip to the shops in Henry St too. I chatted briefly to our postman this morning and he told me that the amount of on-line shopping and parcel delivery through An Post was "phenomenal" this year. No doubt it will be more next year.

Like us, many families in Ireland will be without loved ones for Christmas. This year will be the first Christmas without Claire who is based in New York. In the photo below, taken in Sept/Oct 1988, Claire is just a few weeks old before her own first Christmas. While it won't be the same without her we know she is having a great time in NYC. I plan to hook up the computer to the TV and Skype her  into our kitchen.

Two sleepy heads!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reflections at the end of Semester I

Today is the last day before the Christmas break and it is the end of the first semester of the academic year. This was my tenth first semester since I joined NCI full time in August 2003 - modules taught were IT Project Management, Business Systems Analysis, Management Support Systems, Business Data Analysis, as well as some classes on 4th year projects.

The Business Data Analysis (statistics) class was the most challenging as I took this module over from a colleague who had left the College. I decided from the outset not to use other lecturers' notes as I prefer to create my own. This helps me get to know the subject a lot better and makes it easier to teach. It has not been since I was studying for my PhD in the 1980s that I had used statistics in any meaningful way. I also used marked weekly exercises in this class instead of tutorials and it seemed to work fairly well. It helped that the class were final year students who are keen to do well.

Each year I feel that the semesters are passing by quicker and quicker. While there is a lot of work preparing for classes and assessments, this too is getting easier for me. I have almost all continuous assessments for the semester graded (excellent results all round!). Students will be back in January for exams, so they will have a busy Christmas (hopefully) studying. I wish them all well.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Educasting 20 with @mike_kiely @pamelaaobrien @topgold #StudentVoices

The last in a short series of discussions with Bernie Goldbach of Limerick IT - click below to hear:

In this Educast we talk about reaching out to students in the class, discussion forums, formative feedback, using Facebook, communication channels, using student email accounts, and I end up with summary of a meeting held in DIT this week.

During our conversation about connecting with students we talked about the line between official communication channels with the likes of Moodle and Outlook, versus the unofficial channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Bernie made a great statement when mentioning that there is a problem with "the creeping line of connectivity and expectation of service". In other words if we are seen to be spending too much time on the highly visible social networks, we might have a problem with students who are waiting on grades and feedback for an assignment.

Many thanks to Bernie for the invitation to be part of Educasting - his enthusiasm for everything audio, technical, and educational is infectious. I wish there were more like him in third-level education.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Educasting #19

Part two of my conversation with Bernie Goldbach (@topgold) and Pam O'Brien (@pamelaobrien) is now available on This educast also features Barry Doyle (@truered74), click below to listen:

Among the items we discuss is a simple, but brilliant, idea from Bernie where he gets students to discuss the 10 most highlighted sections in a Kindle eBook, and he records the conversation into a 20 minute audio file. Simple, but it works. Students using technology to engage with a text in a way that is both modern and cool.

Note: this blog post is written using Google's free iPad App for Blogger.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cinema Posters

Last evening I was out to dinner with my in-laws and we had a fascinating session looking over some old cinema posters. My late father-in-law, Billy Bourke, ran the County Cinema in Castlebar, Co Mayo for many years and he kept all the cinema posters from this time. There were dozens of posters featuring James Bond, Carry On, Clint Eastwood, Walt Disney, you name it - if it was shown in a cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, the poster for the movie was on view last evening. All the Bourke family were there, and they each had the opportunity to take home any poster they wished. We selected the following few, and had great fun doing so:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Old Gadgets

At a class this week I brought in a Psion Organiser II (model XP) to show my students what one looked like and to relate the tale that I have had this gadget since 1988 - it is older than most of the students. I bought a battery for it (no re-chargeables in those days) and turned it on - it is still working! I also took my old 3Com Palm III out and inserted batteries into it and it worked too, though it took a few efforts to get it going. Neither device has been switched on for at least 10 years.

After switching them on I immediately looked to see what was on them, but of course all data and information is log gone. I had wondered if there was any information/files/data still on them, but found nothing. What a pity - it would have been interesting to see what appointments I had in 1989, or re-read anything I had written 20 years ago. I'll keep them for as long as I can and they are still working - maybe they might be worth something as antiques in years to come?

Following on from my Educast chat earlier this week where I talked about capturing student voices, I had a thought that wouldn't be great if we were able to keep old files, emails, documents written a long time ago? Today's students submit essays and their writings through Moodle and Blackboard, and of course they are easily stored on computer. With so much stuff on-line nowadays, it is likely that we will all be able to keep our digital voices potentially for ever. Is my generation the last last one who will not have a digital archive for their entire lives? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Educasting 18 with @topgold and @pamelaaobrien #StudentVoices

Today I had the pleasure of being involved in the Educasting #18 Boo with Bernie Goldbach and Pamela O'Brien, both of Limerick IT. The topic of our Educast was "Student Voices". We did the conversation over Skype, and Bernie has used Audioboo to record and broadcast. Click below to listen to what we had to say:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why Penalty Points Work

On December 10th 2009 I wrote about getting my first penalty points, they were for speeding in my car at 68 kph in a 50 kph zone outside St James' Gate brewery in Dublin.

I feel like a saint!.
Image source:

Well - now that three years have passed, these penalty points have now expired - yippee! I now have no penalty points for the first time in three years and no longer have to declare this on insurance forms. I can also drive/ride without the stigma of having points, and also not have to worry too much about adding to this total. 

Since December 10th 2009 I feel as though I have been an absolute saint on the road. I did not want to risk getting any more points, so I have been paying total attention to things like speed limits and how fast I am going much more than I ever did before. I'm guessing that I have looked at my speedometer more times in the last three years that I did in the previous 30 years. For the past three years I have been holding up traffic behind me and looking at other people driving like lunatics with the (pompous) thought in my mind "If you had penalty points you would not drive like that". Having penalty points definitely slowed me down and made me pay more attention. I even ride at under 30 kph in Dublin City centre (no one else seems to do this)!

Maybe this is why they work? Everybody takes chances on the road. You get to see this a lot from a motorbike as I always get to the top at the traffic lights. If penalty points make the recipients (like me) behave even a little bit better and obey the rules of the road, then the roads will be that little bit safer for us all.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Clever Advertising by Amazon

I got a nice surprise today when I noticed at lunch time an ad for my book on I thought Wow, Amazon are advertising my book! See two ads below for yourself below.

Upon reflection, this may just be some clever work by the folks at Amazon. First, I didn't pay for the ad, so I started to wonder how it appeared on an American TV News web site. What I'm sure has happened is that Amazon paid for an ad, which when served on the ABC News site displays recommendations based on my Amazon user profile. I checked to see if I was logged in on Amazon, and sure enough I was. When I logged out the ad was no longer served. I'm guessing that Amazon have figured out a way to target ads based on profiles from their own site, and serve them on a third party site. About a month ago I got an email from Amazon recommending my own book to me, so now they can target ads on any site based on recommendations.

Still cool to see my book advertised on a big American web site.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

President's Award for Innovation in Assessment

At the National College of Ireland Graduation ceremony on 22nd November last, I received an award for Innovation in Assessment from President of NCI - Dr Phillip Matthews. This award recognised my method of assessment in Project Management modules where I use the weekly tutorials for marked open-book exercises which assess student's knowledge of the most recent work covered in class. The tutorials are supported with my video channel, and I am available in class to help students through their work. This is a popular method of assessment with students as they prefer it to projects, essays, and presentations. What is not popular is that I don't tell them in advance which of the three hours a week I will hold the tutorial - this has a remarkable positive effect on attendance.

Yesterday I finally got my hands on a photo of the occasion - below I am receiving the award from Dr Matthews:

(Yes I know - I forgot to tuck my tie under the front of the gown!)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Budget

This year's Government Budget seems to have affected everybody (I hate the use of that word "hit"). From the €1 extra on a bottle of wine to the new property tax, I (along with everybody else) will be paying more tax.

I'm no accountant or economist, and I've no idea if this budget will get the country back on its feet. I just hope they (that Fine Gael/Labour Government that I did not vote for) know what they are doing.

So be it - if they take away half our money, we'll just have to live on the other half.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Microsoft Community Video Tips Channel (@MSVideoTips)

Microsoft as part of their MVP Inititative have set up a Community Video Tips YouTube Channel to help new users learn about how to use new and updated Microsoft technologies. They have completed one programme and are now on the second series.

Image source:

Anyone can submit videos up until December 16th next, I have submitted several of my own to hopefully contribute to this community.

Check out the Community Video Tips channel - there is lots of great stuff there and not just in the English language. Microsoft have their own videos, for example in their Office on-line Help, but is is also great to see them acknowledge the many teachers/trainers/instructors that are out there showing learners how to use Microsoft products. It is a great Community idea as there are so many people sharing their videos on YouTube. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Clever idea: Shahi - a Visual Dictionary (via @tombarrett)

Here's a useful free on-line tool that combines search, photographs, and a dictionary. Shahi, is a visual dictionary created by Abdullah Arif (@abdullaharif). It is a simple, but clever idea - enter the word you want to search for: first you will get full definitions from Wiktionary, you can then have displayed alongside this user generated images from Flickr, a graphic search from Google, and a feed from Yahoo! (which was not working when I tried it). 

I looked up the word "axe", and here are the results:

This saves looking up items separately on different websites. Of course this will all depend on how content is tagged, as you can see above there are photos of an axe that you can chop things with, but also ones of a body spray. In the Flickr feed there is less accuracy with photos of people and even a tree (which presumably was about to be chopped down with an axe). Abdullah's work here show how so much stuff can be combined on the web to give very useful learning tools. But also shows that we all should be better at tagging our content.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Two more Statistics videos

This week I have added two new videos to my YouTube Channel - these are based on the Chi-Square Test and the ANOVA test.

Chi-Square Tests (often referred to as Goodness of Fit) are used to compare the difference between expected and observed results. In the video below I outline this using dice. Each dice has six sides, so if it is a fair dice I would expect each number to show up 100 times if I rolled the dice 600 times - this is the expected value. When I actually conduct the experiment, and roll the dice 600 times, I count the observed results and use Chi-Square to compare if there is a significant difference between the observed and the expected data.

The second video is about Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). This is typically used to compare the means of three or more groups. ANOVA analyses variance between the different groups of data, and within each sample Excel needs the "Analysis Toolpak" which is a suite of statistics tools. In this case it will generate an ANOVA table and an F statistic with which we can test for significance using F-distribution tables.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How To... Calculate Student's t-Statistic in Excel 2010

Part of my Business Data Analysis (Statistics) class is to cover Student's t-Test. This is a test to figure out if there is a difference statistically between two samples. Excel has the "Analysis Toolpak" Add-In that can do the donkey work for you, though curiously it is not available by default and must be switched on. It took me a while to get the video right for this as there are quite a few different ways of doing the same thing.

In the video below I compare the means of two samples and determine that there is a difference statistically between them. The video was recorded using Snagit.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Kevin Myers is wrong about the Niall Mellon Township Trust

First - a declaration. I am married to the wonderful Roma who this year volunteered for the third year in a row for the Niall Mellon Township Trust building blitz. I have not done so myself. I don't know nor have never met Niall Mellon or Kevin Myers.

Niall Mellon and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma.
Image source: Niall Mellon Township Trust Flickr page.
I read Kevin Myers' article, "We're addicted to house building, but why indulge it in South Africa?" in yesterday's Irish Independent, and have come to the conclusion that he is talking through his arse. Myers rejects the idea that it is a good thing for hundreds of Irish people to go to South Africa and build houses for people who live in the township slums. Over 100,000 people have been housed by the NMTT, all who would still be living in cardboard huts if Myers had his way. 

The NMTT is a charity which raises money through its volunteers, but Myers rubbishes this (and shows off his prose writing skills at the same time), when he thunders "Just about all the grisly, patronising pieties that have bedevilled Irish life down the years are embodied in the Niall Mellon Trust" because of Ireland's "frenzied addiction" to building. He wonders why Africans can't build houses themselves (they haven't got the money Kevin), insults President Zuma by referring to his penis (not much NM can do about this), curiously refers to the number of white farmers and their wives "butchered in their homes" (NM not responsible for this either), and the number of unemployed people in the RSA (again, not much NM can do about this).

Kevin Myers is a bitter and grumpy old man, who clearly gets annoyed when other people try to do some good. He clearly was stuck for something to rant about yesterday and thought why not have a go at Niall Mellon. Myers should read the Parable of the Good Samaritan and see if he recognises himself in either of the first two people to pass the beaten traveller.

Judging by the comments on the article, a lot of NMTT volunteers disagree with Myers as well, one writes "unlike most of you begrudgers in Ireland sitting on your back sides doing nothing Niall Mellon actually did something which has proved extremely successful". Well said!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Graduation at NCI

Yesterday was Graduation Day at the National College of Ireland at the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) and it was great to see former students dressed up in all their finery and academic gowns. The CCD is a super location for the ceremony which can be a bit stiff at times with all the Latin and formality, but it is one of my favourite occasions of the academic year.

Image source: gradireland.
Graduation comes at the end of a long road for most students. It is a proud day for all graduates as they accept their scrolls in front of their families. All have worked hard to get their degrees and diplomas, and to reach the end of this particular road on their life's journey. I wish all my former students the very best of luck with the rest of their lives, I am glad to report that almost all students I met yesterday had found jobs or were in postgraduate study.

Graduation Day is also a proud day too for all the staff of NCI. Seeing our students graduate makes me feel that the work we do is worthwhile, and that we live up to our Mission Statement:

To change lives through education.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Study - "Students prefer good lectures over the latest technology in class"

Now here's a report that I'm not sure I agree with: Léo Charbonneau, writing for the Canadian University Affairs website states that in a survey of "15,000 Quebec university students shows they’re “old school” when it comes to teaching technology". The full research study by Venkatesh and Fusaro is only available in French, so I can't delve into the detail.

A packed lecture theatre in Singapore.
Image source: Yahoo! Singapore News.
Charbonneau's article tells us that students "want to listen to a professor who’s engaging, who’s intellectually stimulating and who delivers the content to them". Lecturers on the other hand think that their students "feel more positive about their classroom learning experience if there are more interactive, discussion-oriented activities". This creates a dilemma as students and lecturer's perceptions are not the same on what the best way to learn is.

Most lecturers in the survey reported using some kind of technology in the classroom (presentation software being the most popular). I too use a lot of technology in the classroom - in fact when our network goes down or Moodle is unavailable, I am quite often stuck for what to do in the class. I feel students almost expect some kind of technology use in my classes, and I will not be dropping it in response to the above survey.

Of course there is a difference between "good lectures" and bad ones. I remember some excellent lecturers from my College days who did not need technology to make them better. As for some of the poorer lecturers that I've had - give me technology first any day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Visit to Google Offices, Dublin

Yesterday evening I attended and event for NCI postgraduate students at the Google Docks building in Barrow St. It was a very interesting evening that was well attended by over 100 NCI graduate students. We were given ppresentations on how Google search works, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), AdSense, and AdWords. All very informative and delivered by people actually working on each project for Google, we were not given a sales pitch. It was nice to see that one presenter is an ex-student of NCI, while two otheres are current students. Surprisingly (to me), none of the five presenters was Irish.

Image source: Wikipedia.

I have heard a lot about the Google offices and they certainly are colourful and cool. It was 6.30 when I arrived and a lot of Googlers were leaving work for the day, I was stuck by the diversity of the (mostly young) employees as they were leaving - I'm certain this is a great place to work. I wished I was about 25 years younger so that I could have blended in a bit better.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Panis Angelicus

No - I have not gone mad and suddenly become a Latin scholar. Panis Angelicus (Bread of Angels) is one of the best known hymns/songs in Latin and our Church Choir performed this for the first time today. I was a bit nervous as there was just two men in today and though both of us are basses, we had to sing as tenors for part of the hymn. It's difficult to reach the high notes, but we managed to belt out a few lines, and we were pleased with our efforts. Quite how it sounded to the rest of the people in the church I do not know.

Count John McCormack was one of Ireland's most famous tenors during the 20th century, and he was particularly known for singing Panis Angelicus at the 1932 Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin. Below is a YouTube video with photos of him singing this song (there is about a minute lead in before the singing begins) - this is how it should be done:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I like Twitter, but....

Every morning while I am having a cup of tea and still trying to wake up I do three things on my iPad: I check personal email, the Irish Independent front page, and Twitter. I see what all the early risers in Ireland, such as @topgold and @brianmlucey are up too. I also listen to @morningireland on the radio, and like to see what is happening around the world with @storyful. 

Image Source:
However, I am not a very active person on Twitter. All my blog posts automatically go out on Twitter (Facebook and Linkedin too), so this creates at least some activity. Occasionally I re-tweet what others say. I also do not have Twitter on at work - it is quite addictive and very distracting.

There are many Twitter statistics available and I was interested to fine out that I am the 36,973,895th registered Twitter user out of a total (as I write) of 637.4 million Twitter users. This makes me on Twitter longer than 94.20% of all other Twitter users! This information is from

I have seen how some educators, such as Jane Hart, use Twitter for educational purposes and I would certainly like to explore some possibilities with this tool. Students also follow me and I (mostly) follow them back. There may be endless possibilities for using Twitter in third-level education, but its flaw is that to do this you also can't help seeing tweets from the likes of @stephenfry, @DustinOfficial, and @RossOCK!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Office 2013 - First Thoughts

I have just heard about Microsoft Office 2013 (I think this is the same as Office 365?) and checked out the video below to find out some more about the next generation of office tools. I use Office 2010 at work and Office 2007 at home - so I'd like to upgrade to 2013 if I can. The general theme seems to be to make "things" easier to do. I like that idea, because sometimes easy things are made difficult when there is no need to do so. I'll keep an eye on this and hope to get Office 2013 soonest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2,000 Subscribers to Learn with Dr Eugene O'Loughlin YouTube Channel

Yesterday afternoon, my YouTube channel recorded a new landmark when Odeisk from Algeria brought the number of subscribers to the channel to 2,000. Once again I am astonished and humbled by this number of people who want to watch my educational videos, and I thank each and every one of the 2,000 people from all over the world who I hope get some value from the channel.

As I've mentioned before on this blog in relation to the views figure, 2,000 subscribers is way more than the number of students that I have taught here at the National College of Ireland since I joined the Faculty. This is a nice way to reach beyond the classroom in to the world outside NCI.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Roma in South Africa - @IrishTownship

Roma is with the Niall Mellon Township Trust's 2012 building blitz in Capetown, South Africa. It is her third occasion to volunteer and as you can see in the photo below she has already got into the swing of things! Yesterday she was helping out with roofing and ceilings - I must find some jobs like this for her when she gets home. More Grey Team photos on Facebook here.

You can see on the T-shirts some evidence of the great work that the Niall Mellon Township Trust has being doing - over 100,000 people housed in the 10 years since the Trust started its work. This is the last year the Trust is working in South Africa, next year I believe there is a plan to change to building schools in Kenya. 

Way to go Roma!!!

Careful with that Nail Gun, Roma!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blood Donor Awards - @Giveblood_ie

On Friday evening Roma and I attended the Irish Blood Transfusion Service Awards ceremony at the Northbrook Crowne Plaza hotel in Santry where I received a gold drop to mark 50 blood donations. In all there were 166 people receiving this award - a process that took quite some time. We had a nice meal and got to meet some other donors from around the Dublin area. I look forward to the 100 donor ceremony in a few years time.

Yesterday I went down to see Mum and Dad in Ballingate and I thought it would be a nice idea to get a photo of myself with my Dad Joe and my brother Joe - both of whom have gold drops as well. Dad told me that he started to donate when his own father (PJ) got ill with leukaemia and needed many transfusions. The transfusions kept him alive for a lot longer than he would have done without them. Dad felt that he should "give something back" and kept up the blood donations for many years. He introduced both my brother and myself to donating blood.
You too can donate blood - visit for details. New donors are always made very welcome by the Transfusion Service staff. There is no longer a free bottle of stout, but you can get a nice cuppa and a delicious scone (plus some free pencils!!!).

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama Wins!

Congratulations to US President Barack Obama on his re-election victory today. I'm sure that most Irish people are pleased that he won, given that he is "one of us" from Moneygall!

Image source:
I watched the early results come in, but when I saw the exit polls for Florida, Ohio, and Virginia shading it towards Obama I felt that he had done enough to win and went to sleep. I was interested to see that the exit polls were a very good match for the actual outcomes (something we talked about when discussing sampling in Statistics class today).

Perhaps the most telling comment I heard of TV news this morning was an analyst on FOX News saying that Romney "ran out of white people to vote for him". The Republican Party must dump the Tea Party and right wing policies if they are to win back the middle ground. If Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum had been the Republican cancidate, Obama would have won by a land-slide. The next election in 2016 will be interesting as there will be no incumbent President. The choice of candidates will be important - the search is on for an African American woman with  Latino blood!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

America Chooses

Today is Election Day in the United States of America, when voters choose their President for the next four years. I have been following the campaign closely and am fascinated by how close the race is. I am also fascinated about how just a few so-called swing states will decide who wins the election.

Image source: Business Insider.
There is no doubt that if I was an American and had a vote that I would cast it in favour President Obama. While he has had a lot of difficulties with the economy, I feel that he is better for America, and the world, that he continue. My sense of Romney is that he talks tough, but that when/if he gets to the White House that he will find it impossible to create 12 million jobs and to do something about Iran's nuclear capabilities. I think Obama is less likely to plunge the world into the threat of nuclear hostilities by doing something stupid like attacking Iran.

A real feature of the campaign has been the negative advertising - both sides producing vicious tales of indecision and lies about their opponent. I'm not sure that I would like to see that in Irish elections, but it would make for a more interesting campaign. Expect to see respect and humility from both men once the outcome is decided.

Flaws and all - this is democracy at work. Obama proved in 2008 that you do not have to be rich to win the Presidency. Romney may be about to prove that money can't buy the Presidency. Whatever happens, who the next President will be is rightly decided by the people. 

Good luck to all Americans today, and that whoever you choose will be the inspiring President that not only America, but the World needs.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Hopify Obama and Me

Figma is a Facebook app that allows you to add your photo to the famous Hope-style photo of President Barack Obama. It's simple and fun to use - it's a great app to cut out background and is very ingenious in how it works. So I thought I'd publish the results of my "work"! Needless to say if I was American I'd be an Obama supporter...

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Some Good Advice from James Caan about Job Interviews

Looking for work and taking part in interviews is one of the toughest things I've ever had to do. I don't think I ever felt 100% happy with my performance and in many ways I didn't see too much difference between the last two successful job interviews I had (here in NCI in 2003, and in CBT Systems/SmartForce in 1989), and other interviews where I did not get the job. In my time I have been the interviewer on many occasions and have seen people perform great in the interview, as well as others who were dreadful.

James Caan (not the actor!) offers some tips and advice on job interviews, especially to graduates - I wish I had his advice when I finished College, I might be Professor of Zoology in a University by now? In the video below, Caan gives us "Two killer questions to close the deal on a job offer", and some other advice. 

His videos are a must for any graduate seeking employment.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Monkstown Pharmacy - 21 Years in Business

Congratulations to Roma and all the girls at Monkstown Pharmacy on reaching 21 years in business today. It seems like only yesterday when Roma told me she wanted to take over King's Chemist on Oliver Plunkett Road in Dún Laoghaire. She has built this into a great community pharmacy serving the people of Monkstown Farm and beyond. There are cup cakes and other goodies available in the Pharmacy today to help celebrate the occasion.

Roma looking good this morning outside Monkstown Pharmacy.
(How did that bike get in the photo?)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How To... Edit a Basic Gantt Chart in Excel 2010

The most popular video on my YouTube Channel is "How to Create a Basic Gantt Chart in Excel 2010" - as I write it has 183,042 lifetime views. A similar video for Excel 2003 has 89,089 views. I get a lot of questions in the comments fields about other things that Excel can do with Gantt charts - usually I suggest to the viewer that they try a "proper" project management software tool like Microsoft Project.

Today I tried to see what else I could do based on feedback received on the channel. In the new video below I show how to link end dates with the start date and duration, change task colours, assign resources, and add labels to Gantt chart tasks. It's a bit of a mish-mash, but hopefully people will find it useful - check out for yourself:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Careful With That Axe, Eugene (with apologies to Pink Floyd)

Courtesy of @pj_wall I have found a new title for my blog that I like. It is "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" which is the title of a 1968 song by one of my favourite bands, Pink Floyd. According to, this song was released as the B-side of the single, "Point Me At The Sky." The title is a reference to the first line of that song: "Hey, Eugene, this is Henry McClean". There are very few lyrics in this song, but it features a scream by Roger Waters which is also used at the beginning of Floyd's biggest hit "Another Brick in the Wall". Here's a version taken from Superstars In Concert at Earl's Court on 18th May, 1973:

Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album was played constantly in the Common Room while I was at boarding school in Roscrea, iconic songs like "Time" and "Money" are very familiar to me. But I must confess to not being aware of the Axe song.

I hope that Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and Syd Barrett don't mind me stealing their song title. It's a cool line and gives me a much cooler title to my blog than "Eugene's Blog".

Saturday, October 27, 2012

One and a Half Million Learners - Wow!

Yesterday my YouTube channel Learn with Dr Eugene O'Loughlin passed the 1,500,000 views mark - WOW!!! I still can't believe that my modest efforts at creating a few handy videos are being watched by so many people, I am both humbled and astonished by these figures. The channel has grown a lot since I set it up in April 2006. I now have 81 videos in my "How To..." and "Problem-Solving Techniques" playlists. The "How To..." videos are by far the most popular. Below is a graph from YouTube Analytics:

The first half million views mark took 4 years to achieve, the second half million took six months, while the third half million has taken six months as well. Another interesting fact is the estimated 4,676,030 estimated minutes watched - this is the equivalent of 8.9 years! On 17th October last was the record day at 5,330 views. While the trend above is upwards, I have noticed a slow down in the rate of growth over the past week. I also expect a dramatic fall off at Christmas/New Year time, this happens every year. Nevertheless, if this keeps up the channel can look forward to hitting the 2,000,000 mark sometime next March/April.

Thank you so much to all my viewers!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Amazon Author Central Launches in UK (and Ireland)

Amazon have released a version of their Author Central today for Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire HD - they have allowed book authors to set up an "About Me" profile for some time, I had already updated my profile as author of An Introduction to Business Systems Analysis. What I hadn't done before is check out some of the new features that are available to authors. Author Central provides "Sales Info" details - so far this is just the bestseller rank, no doubt in future it will provide more detailed analytics.

For my own modest single book publication I can see today that my booked is ranked #288,328 on the bestseller list today, that's down a whopping 58,137 places since yesterday. On drilling down a little deeper I can see the ranking for all of 2012 and that the ranking jumps up and down quite a lot. The highest position in 2012 was at the dizzying high of #46,523 on February 8th last (#779,025 was the lowest). I suspect that each peak is a single sale of the book, there are 25 peaks which indicates I've sold 25 books through Amazon over the past year!

Image Source: Screen shot from Author Central Page

The Amazon page indicates that there are over 6,239,000 books in the bestseller rank list. At least my book is in the top 5%, which also tells me that an extremely modest number of sales gets you high up the list, and also that Amazon list an awful lot of books that don't sell very much at all.

Expect Amazon to step up their publicly and author available analytics in the near future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

College Faculty Survey Finds Their Use of Social Media Has Evolved

Pearson Higher Education and the Babson Survey Research Group conducted an annual survey of nearly 4,000 teaching faculty from all disciplines in higher education which examined both the personal and professional impacts of social media (via PRWeb).

The key findings of the survey (quoted below from the PRWeb report) include:
  • 64.4 percent of faculty use social media for their personal live, 33.8 percent use it for teaching
  • 41 percent for those under age 35 compared to 30 percent for those over age 55 reported using social media in their teaching
  • Faculty in the Humanities and Arts, Professions and Applied Sciences, and the Social Sciences use social media at higher rates than those in Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Blogs and wikis are preferred for teaching, while Facebook or LinkedIn are used more for social and professional connections
  • 88 percent of faculty, regardless of discipline, reported using online video in the classroom

Faculty are becoming "more comfortable" about the wider adoption of social media, and are getting less and less concerned about the use of social media. The top two concerns are "privacy and the integrity of student submissions" according to the report. As you can see below Facebook is the most used Social Media tool for personal use, while Linkedin is the most used for professional use:

Chart source: How today’s  higher education faculty use social media by Pearson Learning (click to enlarge).

I'm delighted to see such a high percentage of Faculty using online video in the classroom. But I am also struck that with such high rates of adoption of Social Media among Faculty, and the near total adoption by students, that more effort is not put into trying to use the likes of Facebook and Linkedin for learning. There's a business opportunity for some young entrepreneur here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"How to get hired in IT" presented by Tom Bentley (SAP)

Here's an excellent video from GradIreland TV featuring Tom Bentley of SAP who is speaking about the recruitment process and what graduates should do when applying for jobs. It's aimed at IT graduates, but much of what he says can be applied to job applications in general.

One quote from the talk that I really liked was "Every time you apply for a job, change your CV". Bentley states clearly that each job is different and he gives some examples of how and why you would change your CV depending on the job you are applying for. The video is nearly 14 minutes long, but worth watching the lot if you are looking for a job in IT.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Shout Out for Carnew TDC (Meet Bob)

It's great to see organizations like Carnew Training and Development Centre (TDC) using innovative ways to promote themselves using YouTube. Carnew is a small town in South Co Wicklow. I grew up three miles from Carnew and it is where I went to school until 1971. Carnew TDC have created a video about Bob, someone who left school early but returned later to upskill at his local Training Centre. This is a super video and worth checking out. It is also entered into the Better Together Make a Difference to your Community video competition. You can vote for Carnew TDC here - I think this is well worth supporting.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Changing Role of the Business Professor

There was an interesting interview on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 during the business news with Joe Haslam who is professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School in Spain. While the interview was about the economic situation facing the Spanish Government, I was most interested in his comments towards the end of the interview where he pointed out that the role of the professor is changing.

Image source: Joe Haslam Google+ profile.
Haslam (pictured) makes sense when he tells us in the interview that a list of publications "as long as your arm" is not what "business schools look for" anymore. To appear to be "relevant", professors have to be "actively in the market" and "doing the same things that the students are doing" - this makes his business school different to a University environment.

Well "Here, Here" I say!

My last journal publication was in 2005. Since then I have published a book, one other book chapter, and a few conference papers. In short, my academic research output is dismal when compared to what is expected of other third-level lecturers. This should not be a surprise to anyone as I do not conduct any research, nor do I have any research students. Most of my non-teaching related activity is in YouTube and Blogging.

I can see this idea trending a bit more. Soon academics will be judged not just on how many journal papers they have had published, but also on what their personal web site looks like and does, what their Twitter activity is, what subjects they are blogging about (and the frequency of posting), and what third-party blogs they read and are subscribed to. All this is easy to track with analytics. It can take months to research and write a paper, and more time for publication to take place - easily leading to a year or more before your work can be read by your peers. With a blog, you can publish instantly. You can even write your own book and publish it yourself whenever you want. 

Keep up!