Monday, January 30, 2012

New Semester

Our new Semester at NCI started today and there was the usual buzz about the College with returning students  meeting up for the first time since the exams earlier this month. January 30th is a late start compared to other colleges, and we have a 14 week semester to get through. This leaves quite a lot of pressure on the busy April/May exam period.

Image link to Daily Clip Art.
The students that I feel most for are those in their final year - I have three such classes this semester. For many, this will be their last semester in third-level after several years of study. A different world awaits after the summer exams. Some will continue on to postgraduate studies, some will get jobs, and sadly some will not get jobs or will have to emigrate. Many will end of in jobs or fields of study far away from what they studied in NCI. So to these students I wish you all well in your final semester in NCI - enjoy it while it lasts!

I've put a link to a graduation graphic for final year students in the hope that it inspires each of you to one last effort at college so that you too will be jumping for joy and proudly waving about your parchments when you graduate. You can so it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

750,000 YouTube views - a nice ring to it!

My regular readers will know that I like to keep an eye on my YouTube Channel view data - this evening the channel passed the 750,000 mark! On September 27th last I (boasted) wrote about reaching the 500,000 mark.

Once again I am both humbled and astonished that so may people find my videos useful - never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would reach so many people. Thank you so much to all my viewers for viewing the videos and making so many kind comments.

As a YouTube Partner I get quite detailed analytics for my channel - below is a chart of the last 30 day's viewing data:

Viewing figures dropped dramatically over Christmas and the New Year, but it is now picking up again - on Wednesday last 2,809 views occurred.

1,000,000 must be next - a real landmark to celebrate no doubt!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today at the Blood Platelet Clinic

In October 2010 last I signed up for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service's platelet donation programme (I blogged about that here). Today I hit the 50 donation mark for which the IBTS has an award of a gold drop (in the shape of a blood drop). I already have both the silver and gold pelican pins which I got many years ago for (I think) 15 and 25 donations respectively. 

Image link to
In addition to hitting the 50 donation mark, I also join a select club in my family. Both my Dad Joe, and brother Joe are the proud holders of gold drops for 50 donations. They did it the hard way - mostly donating at mobile clinics, while I have easier access to permanent clinics in Dublin. Also - as platelet donations take a long time (I was in the clinic for nearly two hours today), each donation counts as two due to the time and the amount they can take. So I was fast-tracked to 50 so-to-speak. Nevertheless I'm glad to do this - it is a very pleasant experience, the staff at the clinic are wonderful and I think I'll keep going back for more. 

Why not consider donating - check out the IBTS Give Platelets page for more information.

I made good use of my time in the clinic by watching two lectures on Justice by Professor Michael Sandel of Harvard University on my iPad. I watched Episode 2 of a free series of lectures - this one was about putting a price tag on life and how to measure pleasure. Well worth checking out - and FREE too!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Failed effort to find my Great-Grandfather's World War I service record

My Mum's paternal grandfather, James Burns, served in the British Army in the First Word War. We know he joined up at the outbreak of the war and that he survived all the horrors of battle - though he was wounded in the head with shrapnel. We do not know what regiment he served in, or what battles (if any) he fought in. Neither do we know his number or if he won any medals. In fact we know very little about his service record.

I used to try to find him myself, but with no luck. James Burns was a very common name - I did find one report showing the details of 35 (Yes - thirty-five) men whose names were James Burns that were killed in the war. Horrific.

At the end of last year I engaged the very helpful folks at to do a professional search for me. But alas - they could not find him either despite their exhaustive searches. An extract from their report for me is as follows:

The Royal Irish Rifles at the Battle of the Somme
(1st July, 1916)  - Image link to Wikipedia.

The absence of a service record means one of the following:

  1. His record was destroyed or lost (by far the greatest probability)
  2. He carried on to serve in 1921 or later
  3. He served in one of the Guards or Household Cavalry regiments (unlikely)
  4. He did not serve in the army
  5. He served under a different name.

Many records were indeed lost due to fires and the recycling of paper due to paper shortages. There is also the possibility that name he used when joining up was different from that which he used normally. His name used in the 1911 was "James Burns" - see census return here. The census form states that he "Cannot read". Somewhere along the line "Burns"changed to "Byrne" which is my Mum's maiden name.

It is believed that James Burns died in an asylum in 1925.

I'm not sure what I'll do next - but I will not give the search for his service record.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Losing a Pet

When I was a small boy, about 5 or 6 years old, I had my own dog. His name was Dino (after the family pet in The Flintstones), and he was a terrier. He was the only pet I ever could call my own, and I loved him dearly. Growing up on a farm was an ideal place to have a dog - I played with him all the time.

It happened so quickly. Dino and I were walking along the road near our farm - as we had done many times before. 

A lorry passed us by.

In a split second - Dino was dead and I saw it happen. This was the saddest day in my young life and I cried for days not understanding that we couldn't play together any more.

Yesterday, our cat Harley that we had for just four months, died on the road outside our house. 

Girls - I think I know how you feel.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How did you spend your time here on Earth?

I now have my Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail nine years - it was in mid-January 2003 that I bought the special Centenary Edition with some of the proceeds of my redundancy payment from SmartForce. Yesterday the clock passed the 40,000 mile mark. In recent time I have questioned whether it I should continue to keep it. While it costs very little to run and it's fully paid for - in times of recession it is a luxury to be going in and out of work on a Harley. Thankfully - such thoughts only last seconds and I remind myself about the great experiences I have had and what owning a Harley means. Check out the following ad for the Harley-Davidson V-ROD to see what I mean - "It's time to ride".

Copied from American Iron Magazine (May 2004)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review - "Revolution: A Photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913-1923" by Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc

Picture books are quick to read though I don't think I have ever read one cover to cover before. Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc has put together a fantastic collections of photographs in Revolution: A Photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913-1923. Not quite coffee table stuff, but an excellent book to dip in and out of from time-to-time.

Image link to Amazon.
As several centenaries are coming up (1913 Lockout, 1916 Rising, 1919-1921 War of Independence, and the 1922-1923 Civil War) over the next few years, I'm sure there will be many more books on this dramatic period of Irish history. Many of the iconic photos from this period are present - Pearse surrendering, de Valera under arrest, and artillery at the Four Courts. However, it is the many photographs of people who died in the conflict that make this book. Photos of RIC men, IRA volunteers, British Army, and Black & Tans who were killed in the conflicts show that it was at sometimes a vicious time. Probably the most macabre ones are the series of photos (p151) of Thomas Whelan and Paddy Moran joking with their guards just before they were hanged in Mountjoy Jail on 14th March 1921 (Ó Ruairc annoyingly uses the word "hung" instead of the more correct "hanged" on several occasions).

Lots and lots of gems to see - I think my favourite is the one of Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, and Michael Collins at the 1921 All-Ireland Final in Croke Park. Sad to think that both Collins and Griffith  would be dead within two years and that de Valera would go on to greater things in Irish politics. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Business Systems Analysis

I have just finished a two day class with 16 students for the course HETAC Certificate in Business Analysis. There are three modules on the course and I deliver the Business Systems Analysis module. NCI delivers the course on behalf of the Business Analysts Association of Ireland - a new course starts next week.

This is one of my favourite modules to teach - I have lost count of how many times I have delivered it (I'm guessing about 15-16 times). The students are all working in many different types of organizations - in the past we have had students from the Gardaí, banks, civil service, consultancy firms, software companies, and leading edge organizations like PayPal. They are always a great mix - many are already practising Business Analysts, or working in a role that involves business analysis activities. They have always been a joy to work with and the over 300 students who have gone through the course make teaching a pleasure for me. 

It should also be said that the class is a good one for sales of my book. Almost all students who have taken the course since the book was published have bought it, and many past-students from previous classes have also bought it too. The book has sold about 400 copies, and I suspect that the 300 mentioned above account for the most part of this (A BIG THANK YOU TO YOU ALL!).  Nevertheless, it has sold outside this group and from time to time I see it "Out of Stock" or "Only 1 left in stock" on Amazon. This is nothing to get too excited about as I am told by my publisher that they only ever keep 2-3 books of this type in stock. As I write, my book is ranked 654,810 on the Amazon best sellers list. At its rate of sale it will be out of print in about three years! Proceeds of the book are donated to the NCI Foundation office - I don't have exact figures, but I estimate that it has raised over €1,500 for the Foundation. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

At last - I have an iPad

Short post (I'm bragging again!) - I bought a second hand nearly new 16GB WiFi only iPad today and have just started setting it up. I'm so excited to add the iPad to my digital life - lots of apps and "stuff" to load. I even had to add "iPad" to my dictionary so that it would not show as a spelling error.

Image link to the Mobile Beat site.
According to this report - the iPad has "88% of global tablet web traffic". Here's hoping that I can add to that!

One of the main things I want to do is use this device at work and for educational purposes. One of my first ports of call is "The Inside Lane" - a blog by Nigel Lane with several resources for iPads in education. I'll be looking for more, but today I am an iPad newbie. After set up and sync, my iPad (I love saying that already!) looks like my iPhone (I've loved saying that for a few years now) - same apps and layout. I'm looking forward to setting it up and connecting to WiFi. No doubt I'll write more about this!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Analytics and Education

I recently posted about Google Analytics and quite coincidentally I just read today an article by Marc Parry of The Chronicle of Higher Education about analytics being used in education: Colleges Mine Data to Tailor Students' Experience. As I am learning more and more about analytics I am fascinated at the areas to which it can be applied - from sport, to finance, to pharmaceuticals, and even to making cement. In the past educators have tried to link performance with data culled from Learning Management Systems (LMSs) - but now analytics is taking things to a new level.

Parry writes that "colleges are converting the student experience into numbers to crunch in the name of improving education". Analytics are being used to pair students up to help each other, form groups for study, help applicants choose the right college and the right course, show early warning signs of student disengagement, and even to predict grades. There are ethical and privacy considerations to consider too - in the future tools like Facebook may replace LMSs.

I like the idea of using educational data to predict student performance. Every college has masses of data stored in Student Management Systems for many years now. The Central Applications Office (CAO) also has masses of data on Leaving Certificate performance. Combined with demographic data a clear picture could be drawn on the profile of successful and unsuccessful students. Think of this in the hands of a career guidance teacher who could help a student with a certain set of grades in particular subjects by showing how previous students with similar records have performed in their college courses of choice. Not 100% accurate, but an indicator nonetheless.
Image link to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
As Parry states: "No one quite knows where education's analytics revolution will lead, but it's a safe bet that today's experiments will seem crude compared with what's coming".

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs was a hero to many people - he had legions of fans of Apple die-hards who hung on every word he said. His products are in many homes and business throughout the world (about 10 in my house). Walter Isaacson has written a super biography based on Jobs, though it could be argued that it is also a history of technology and Apple the company since the 1970s.

Image link to
Simon & Schuster.
If you lived through the decades from the 1970s to today, and have been involved in technology - a lot of this story is familiar. Apple vs Microsoft, the Macintosh, open vs closed systems, the iPod/iPhone/iPad, the hoopla - but Isaacson adds a narrative that is entwined with Jobs' life that is fascinating, brilliant, historical, and delivers a "warts and all" account of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs never got to read this book and I'm certain that his first reaction to it would be "This is shit" as he said about many things. Isaacson recounts all the rudeness, anger, stubborness, ignorance of rules, pettiness, as well as the more well-known obvious brilliance, creativity, and success that he had. He sure did cram a lot into his life, and will be remembered for many years to come. While there is no doubt that he was the dominant figure in Apple, he was certainly not a nice person. Isaacson does judge Jobs, though on page 565 he does state that "The nasty edge to his personality was not necessary", and on page 564, he calls him an "asshole". There is a quote on page 517 from who called him a "techno-dictator" - this is the description I liked best.

I like to learn something new from a biography and there is certainly a lot here for anyone interested in how one of the most successful companies ever was built up by Jobs (and thousands of other Apple employees). I did not know he was a nasty piece of work, and I am certain that he could have achieved much the same without being such a bollix. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Google Analytics

Google are making a pitch for a big presence in the Analytics space. They already offering free courses, certified partnerships, and free tools (see They also have a paid Google Analytics Premium service. 

Google are looking to use analytics to do things like improve customer retention and customer service. You can also use it to check what browsers visitors to your site are using. To get their point across, Google have made a very funny video that anyone who has shopped on-line will "feel the frustration" with. Check it out - it's just two minutes long:

I am reading and investigating more about analytics in preparation for developing new courses in NCI on Business Intelligence and Analytics. It's a fast growing area with a definite skills gap - a gap we hope to reduce in NCI.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How To... Calculate Mean and Standard Deviation in Excel 2010

My first YouTube video of 2012 is a simple one - it shows how to calculate a simple mean (average) and standard deviation. These are quite easy to do (if you know how) - so this video shows some basic use of the Excel AVERAGE and STDEV functions. I spotted another video doing the same in Excel 2003 in preparation for a Student's t test, and thought it might make a nice simple video for my channel. I'm not good at statistics, but am considering some basic stats videos for the channel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yet another newspaper article saying technology will change education

Last Friday's Irish Times featured an article by Ian Campbell - Moving to transform the educational environment with the latest technology. Campbell writes that "THE ROLE of technology in the classroom will be a hot topic for the Government in 2012", and he quotes liberally from Steven Duggan who is a former teacher and is now worldwide education strategy manager for Microsoft. Duggan declares that the classroom is “Like teaching a blacksmith skills in the age of the’s 100 years out of date". 

Image link to Lee Hughes's blog.
Every now and again somebody pops up with the idea that technology can transform education. Duggan claims that "the quality of an education system will never exceed the quality of the teaching". Partly true I agree, but he neglects the student's own ability to learn with this statement. What about on-the-job learning, mentoring, coaching, and going to the library as well as using virtual learning environments. Duggan's statement is 100 years out of date - I exaggerate not!

Duggan does make an interesting comment about class size (presumably in second-level education): "In terms of educational performance, we see that most successful countries focus on professional development over classroom size. The classes may be bigger but, if pupils have the best teachers in front of them, it doesn’t matter". I like this focus on professional development - we could learn a lot from this in Ireland.

People need to get a grip - please, no more articles about how technology will change education. It already has changed education for over 40 years! My French teacher in Roscrea (John Shanahan) used a tape deck and photographic slides to teach us French - not a blackboard or computer in sight. This was in 1972. Computer-Based Training (CBT) has been around since the 1980s (I know - because I worked as a CBT developer in 1989). We are still struggling with the best way to use it.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Super resource for Educators - Irish Teacher Blogs

Irish Teacher Blogs is an aggregate blog that pulls together posts from a number of Irish educators - "Eugene's Blog" has recently been added! There are about 50 blogs listed - many I was already familiar with, but I was really surprised that there are so many people blogging about education in Ireland. I'm sure there are many more not yet listed - so keep an eye out as more are added to the ITB list.

There are quite a lot of educators from all levels in Irish education blogging - ranging from Damien Quinn's excellent Seomra Ranga (which provides resources for primary teachers), to Nigel Lane's The Inside Lane (which is an excellent resources for iPad/iPhone users), to Catherine Cronin's Blog (she writes about technology in third-level). 

The only problem is... keeping up with everybody's blog posts! So the ITB aggregate blog is a really cool way to at a glance see who is posting about what. Well worth checking out.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Some Old Family Photos

Last evening Roma and I attended a surprise 70th birthday party at The Dropping Well in Milltown for my Mum's cousin Brendan Byrne. Happy Birthday Brendan! It was great to see so many cousins from my Mum's side of the family - the Byrnes. I had a great time talking to her cousins Madeline and Eileen about my grandparents and family history. Madeline gave me some photos for my Mum - I made copies and want to share some here.

The first photo is reproduced from a much smaller brownish style photo that a graphics artist has touched up. It features my Mum Phil as a very young girl - that's her at the bottom right. I'm guessing she is about 2 years of age which would out this photo taken in about 1936. I'm told that the photo was taken in a field near Hazelhatch on the Kildare-Dublin county border where the family lived at the time. The man behind Mum is her Dad - Paddy Byrne, and the lady to his right is his sister Eileen. The other girl is Mum's cousin Madeline (mentioned above), and the boy is her brother Seán.

This next picture is one of my Mum Phil which I have never seen before - it looks like she is playing scales on the piano! Even though she encouraged all of us to play the piano (and forced us to take lessons - lots of them!), she never learned herself beyond the basics. 

I don't know where this photo was taken, though as it came from Madeline I'm guessing it is late 1960s. Doesn't she look well!

Finally - this last photo is one I have seen many times before as it was in our family album for many years. There's no doubt that this was taken about 1968/1969. From left: my brothers Joe and Brian, my Mum, my sister Kayo, and me.

With a cardigan and short trousers, I am clearly making an early fashion statement. Thank goodness I later got braces to fix those teeth!

Photos like these are rare and precious, and I learn a lot from them. In addition to bringing back fond memories, I am fascinated that photos such as the one above with my Mum as a young girl with her Dad are now posted in a blog over 75 years after it was taken. Nowadays digital photos are much more of an almost daily commodity, with millions being posted on the Internet every day.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Is 99.9% "Good Enough"?

While doing some research on the concept of "Good Enough Video" today, I came across a video which asks the question - "Is 99.9% Good Enough"? The video is not on YouTube and I can't embed it in this post - so click here to see a full preview of the video. In the first example it gives, if 99.9% is "good enough" - 470 entries in the New Webster Dictionary would be misspelled. Here are some other examples (USA figures from
Image link to

  • 3,000 newborns accidentally falling from the hands of nurses or doctors each year
  • 4,000 incorrect drug prescriptions per year
  • 400 letters per hour which never arrive at their destination

Yikes! Like many others I'm sure, 99.9% sounded OK to me. While 100% is theoretically possible to achieve, the Six Sigma quality standard measures the top quality as 99.9997%, which is the equivalent of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO). If this was applied to the above three instances, the figures would look like:
  • 10 newborns accidentally falling from the hands of nurses or doctors each year
  • 13  incorrect drug prescriptions per year
  • 1 letter per hour which never arrives at its destination
That's better!

As the video states (quoting from Thomas Fuller) "Good is not good - where better is required". So the next time somebody says to you that something is "good enough" - think again.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

45 Ways to Promote Your YouTube Videos!

Fabrizio Van Marciano writing in Magnet4Marketing summarizes nicely 45 Ways To Promote Your YouTube Videos.  Van Marciano shares with us "45 positive ways in which to promote your YouTube channel and in theory get more people viewing your videos". Some of these I am doing already for my own channel, but others are very interesting too.

Image link to the Home Jobs web site.
I'll not list the 45 ways here - but some are worth considering. The first few "ways" can be summarized by embedding and linking to your YouTube channel at every opportunity (web sites, presentations, emails, Twitter, Facebook, etc). Van Marciaino also suggest advertising your channel and even putting the URL on your business card. You can also buy targeted YouTube views and channel subscribers! He also suggests blogging about the channel and creating a Facebook fan page.

These 45 ways are listed on the Magnet4Marketing web site for on-line marketing and blogging tips. More and more companies are now using YouTube channels to promote their products and services. Even SkillSoft (who I worked for from 1989 to 2002) have got in on the act by creating a SkillSoft Channel. Guys - you really need to read Van Marciano's 45 ways to get the view numbers up :-)).

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

How To... Create a Stacked Chart in Excel 2010

Just before Christmas I created my final video of 2011 to add to my Learn with Dr Eugene O'Loughlin YouTube channel. In one of my Project Management classes we learn about Resource Allocation as part of Human Resources Project Management. A simple way to display how resources such as people, are allocated over time is to use a stacked chart created using Excel. In this video I show how to create a stacked chart in Excel using a fictitious project team of four different types of people. Stacked charts are easy to draw, so I have embellished this video by showing how to change the chart type after the original is drawn.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Book Review - "Galileo's Daughter" by Dava Sobel

My first book to read on my new Amazon Kindle was about Galileo Galilei and his daughter Sr Marie Celeste. While the book is dominated by Galileo himself - his scientific discoveries, and troubles with the Church, a great part of the book features correspondence from Marie Celeste to her father (no letters survive from Galileo to his daughter).

Image link to
This is a very enjoyable book. For those very knowledgeable about Galileo himself there is probably very little more to learn about him. His discoveries and achievements in life are described, but from about the middle of the book on it comes alive with Marie Celeste's letters. Much of the letter's contents are about trivial matters - eg, cooking, fixing shirt collars, and about growing vegetables. She also prays a lot for her father and it is clear that she loved him a lot and followed his life closely from behind the confines of the walls of the enclosed order of Poor Clares nuns' convent. She also pleads for money and help a lot - the life of a nun in the first part of the 17th century was indeed a very tough one. Plague features a lot outside the convent walls. Dava Sobel weaves a web of life from the surviving letters - she has the skill of the historian and well as an eye for a good story. Marie Celeste is the true hero of this story and Sobel brings her to life. 

My experience of reading with the Kindle was good. I read a lot on the plane. The text is easy to read - very clear. However, the ebook does not have any graphics as the paper has - I don't see why this is the case as the Kindle can show graphics. I also found the format of the book was littered with errors - new lines starting in the middle of a sentence happened a lot. There are also asterisks displayed from time-to-time - possibly referring to a footnote (which is not visible) or to the extensive bibliography at the end of the book. The Kindle may be more suited in its current format to fiction rather than non-fiction. I'll judge this more when I get more books.

Overall - a recommended read. But due to the many errors on the Kindle version I think the paper copy might be a better option.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011 in Review

It's January 1st and time to look back on 2011 - a strange year for everyone. Here's some thoughts:

I like numbers and statistics - I have been absorbed with my YouTube Channel all year and watched it grow. According to Google Analytics it was viewed 490,001 times in 2011 (including 676 on Christmas Day!) and 543 new subscribers were added to the channel. At current rate of progress - I expect the total number of views (currently at 696,762) to pass 1,000,000 and the total number of subscribers (currently at 746)  to pass 1,000 by mid-2012. For me the YouTube channel is the most worthwhile thing I have done in 2011.

My Blog
In 2011 I wrote 262 blog posts - 46 more than in 2010. During the year I also moved the blog to and I continue to enjoy writing on anything that takes my fancy. My main topics are about Education and YouTube - but I also wrote about politics, family, some reviews, sport, plagiarism, travelling, broadband woes, my Harley-Davidson, and Preston North End.

Lucky Moment
This has to be the day just before Christmas when I was not killed crossing the road by a car. In what would have been an accident that would have been entirely my own fault, I did not look right and almost paid the price. Thankfully the driver of the car was far more alert than I was and he evaded me quite smartly.

Biggest mistake
In what seemed like a good idea at the time, in 2007 we signed up and paid a deposit on an apartment in Spain. Almost four years had passed when out of the blue we got notification last February that the apartment was ready and that we had to pay the balance. I found out this week that 27 of the 32 apartments in our block are either owned by the banks or the developer (Polaris World). Only about 900 of the original 3,000 apartments planned for the resort have been built. The place is like a ghost estate - the "town centre" is also deserted. Though we could not get out of the contract to buy the apartment - I feel that finally signing and paying for this POS will be seen by me as a huge mistake for many years to come.

Funniest moment
I find jokes and funny stories hard to remember - but one moment stands out. Last September my daughters "acquired" a cat - they called him "Harley" in an effort to get me to like him. At every opportunity the girls try to show me how cute he is. One Sunday afternoon I was watching football on TV and the cat was curled up in front of the fire. My daughter Claire came in and immediately said to the cat "Look at you watching football with your Daddy!". I burst out laughing.

In the summer I rode my Harley to Murcia - 2,420 miles (3,895 kilometres). I loved this trip and want to do some more. Owning an apartment in Spain (see above) will most likely mean that we will use it a lot - I may not ride that far again in the summer as it is so hot. As in two previous trips to Europe on the bike, part of my trip was through Normandy - I would really like to spend more time there. Anyway - the trip last summer was memorable, and reminded me that I am still  young at heart and able for more.

The saddest events of 2011 for me were the death of my aunt Breda Quinn (who is also my Godmother) and my cousin Janet Edwards - in both cases after long illnesses. May the Lord have mercy on their souls. During the year we celebrated my Dad Joe's 80th birthday, Roma's and my sister Kathleen's 50th birthdays, and our own 25th wedding anniversary. 

Finally - 2011 was a year in which technology became even more ingrained in our lives. I ended the year with the fantastic Amazon Kindle. Throughout the year I spent a lot of time on-line managing my Blog, YouTube channel, and my site. It was also a year in which I went to battle with Eircom and overcame some broadband woes. Steve Jobs died. Twitter became a revolutionary tool possibly more powerful that bullets and bombs in the Arab Spring. Apart from the Kindle I acquired no new gadgets in 2011. My computer at work in now in its sixth year, I have my iPhone 3GS for almost two years, and my home computer is three years old. 

2011 is dead, long live 2012.