Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who Am I? The Genographic Project (Part 3)

When my (and everyone else's) ancestors first migrated out of Africa around 60,000 years ago, they were not alone. At that time, at least two other species of hominid cousins walked the Europe/Asia landmass - the Neanderthals and Denisovans. Most non-Africans are about 2% Neanderthal - according to the Genographic Project I am 2.9% Neanderthal and 2.7% Denisovan!

Everyone living outside of Africa today has a small amount of Neanderthal in them, carried as a living relic of these ancient encounters. A team of scientists comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have between 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA. Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans have no Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors did not migrate through Eurasia.

According to a report by John von Radowitz in today's Irish Independent Cavemen died out 'as they bred with early humans'Neanderthals "are often depicted as dim-witted evolutionary losers, but Neanderthals were not driven to extinction by their lack of brains" and that it is "likely that they disappeared 40,000 years ago due to interbreeding and assimilation with early human ancestors".

So there's a thought - I am 2.9% "caveman" because one of my ancestors shagged a Neanderthal!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who Am I? The Genographic Project (Part 2)

Below is a "Heat Map" form the Genographic Project showing the route my ancestors took to Ireland - very strong Celtic connection. Since I know of no non-Irish people in O'Loughlin and Byrne ancestors, this is no surprise. The map is based on my paternal line, which is more accurate than the maternal line for everybody:

From the report:

The map of M222 shows a distribution that peaks in Ireland, where it experienced successful expansions as a result of founder effects. This haplogroup has been linked to Niall of the Nine Hostages, one of the kings who united tribes in northern Ireland during the 5th century AD and may have had a large genetic impact on the region. The frequency drops to across the rest of the British Isles and southern Scandinavia.

My maternal line "Heat Map" is as follows:

Basically - we are all related through our mothers!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Who Am I? The Genographic Project (Part 1)

For Christmas last year I received a great present - a DNA kit to take part in the National Geographic's Genographic Project. The idea is a simple one - you supply a DNA sample (inside cheek cells), and send it off to be analysed. A few weeks later, the results are available on-line. In the first of a series of posts this week I am sharing my own results - this will be of most interest to my family, so if you are not an O'Loughlin or a Byrne, I won't be offended if you close this page now!

The first surprising thing to find out is that the common direct maternal ancestor to all women alive today was born in East Africa around 180,000 years ago, and that the common direct paternal ancestor of all men alive today was born in Africa around 140,000 years ago. Not quite Adam and Eve as they lived 40,000 years apart and they were not the only man and woman alive at those times. But only their direct ancestors survive today.

The first result from my DNA was both unsurprising and surprising at the same time:

The 42% Northern European is a component of my ancestry that is found at highest frequency in northern European populations—people from the UK, Denmark, Finland, Russia and Germany in the Genographic Project's reference populations. I am 37% Mediterranean (people from Sardinia, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia), and 19% Southwest Asian (this component of my ancestry is found at highest frequencies in India and neighbouring populations, including Tajikistan and Iran). The big surprise was to discover that I am "2%" Native American! There isn't an explanation of this on the Genographic Project site - all it says about this is:

This component of your ancestry is found at highest frequency in the populations of the Americas. It represents the signal of the original settlers of North and South America who arrived via the Bering land bridge between 15-20,000 years ago. Interestingly, the only other place in the world where it is found—at frequencies of 2-3%—is in central Siberia and Mongolia, the likely place of origin of the first Native Americans.

My results were most similar to the Northern European reference population that is primarily German:

The dominant 46% Northern European component likely reflects the earliest settlers in Europe, hunter-gatherers who arrived there more than 35,000 years ago. The 36% Mediterranean and 17% Southwest Asian percentages probably arrived later, with the spread of agriculture from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East over the past 10,000 years.

My second reference population is Greek:

The results tell me:

This reference population is based on samples collected from the native population of Greece. The 54% Mediterranean and 17% Southwest Asian percentages reflect the strong influence of agriculturalists from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, who arrived here more than 8,000 years ago. The 28% Northern European component likely comes from the pre-agricultural population of Europe—the earliest settlers, who arrived more than 35,000 years ago during the Upper Paleolithic period. Today, this component predominates in northern European populations, while the Mediterranean component is more common in southern Europe.

More results tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way" now available to order on-line #WildAtlanticWay

I have just completed what I hope is the final review and proof read of my new book before it goes to the printers this week. It will take a few weeks for printing (which is taking place in Spain) to happen and I am hopeful that I will finally get my hands on a copy before the end of May. A book launch is planned for early June. The book is available to order from the Liffey Press, and though it is listed on Amazon - it is not yet available to order. Very exciting!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Article in "Ireland of the Welcomes" magazine #WildAtlanticWay @Irelandofthewel

I wrote a short article based on a section of my book, "Exploring Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way", for the May/June edition of the Ireland of the Welcomes magazine. For the first of what I hope are two articles, I chose to write about riding around Achill Island and the Mullet Peninsula in Co Mayo - it is an abridged version of the same sections in my book. 

Writing for a strict 1,500 word count limit is a different experience than writing for a more open ended book. The first thing I did was to extract the relevant sections from the book, but then I had to reduce this by over 1,000 words to hit the 1,500 word count target. None of the photographs I sent in were used - stock photos from some library were used instead which are much more suitable for a glossy magazine. Next up I'm hoping that a further article, probably based on northern Donegal, will be accepted for the July/August edition!

Friday, April 18, 2014

5,000,000 @YouTube Views on my Learning Channel

Sometime this past week, the number of views on my Learn with Dr Eugene O'Loughlin YouTube channel passed the 5,000,000 views milestone. I'm guessing it happened on Wednesday, but it is no longer possible to tell as YouTube Analytics now only reports data up to 24-48 hours later. The chart below plots the daily views from 5th November 2007 to 16th April 2014. The Estimated Minutes Watched figure represents 22 years and 107 days of viewing, but this only dates from 1st September 2012.

Click chart to enlarge.
To each and everyone of the over five million viewers I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks for taking the time to watch my videos (and click/view a few ads from time to time!). What started out as an experiment in one of my classes has grown to be a significant part of what I do in the education field.

Keep on learning!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Microsoft FINALLY allow embedding of YouTube videos back into PowerPoint

About 12 months ago, Microsoft removed support for embedding YouTube videos in PowerPoint following a Cease & Desist letter from Google.  In an announcement on the Technet Blog, Microsoft report that:

PowerPoint 2010 and 2013 for Windows originally included support for embedding YouTube videos that were in an old format that YouTube no longer supports. As this old format started disappearing from the YouTube service, the support for YouTube videos in PowerPoint started faltering. These changes led us to disable support for inserting online videos from the product because we could not reliably support playing back YouTube videos.

The next time you update Windows, it will include a fix for whichever version of Office (2010 or 2013) that you have - alternatively, the link above to the Technet Blog has links to the updates which you can install manually.

For the past year there have been many comments on my YouTube videos, that showed how to use embed code to display a video in PowerPoint, from people who could not get my instructions to work. I made "Work around" videos (using Developer Tools) so that people could continue to use YouTube in PowerPoint. The new embed code works fine and does not need to be changed. This means I will have to remove some of the videos showing the work-arounds - I will also be interested to see if there is a noticeable effect on the analytics for the channel. 

One more time - here are my two original videos (one for 2010 and another for 2013) that show you How To Embed a YouTube Video into a PowerPoint Presentation that now work properly:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Choosing a Book Cover for "Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way" #nearlythere #WildAtlanticWay

I got the first mock up of potential book covers for my new book: "Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way" - there are three to choose from (click each one to enlarge):

My favourite so far is the middle one, despite the other two having the iconic Old Head of Kinsale in the background. Comments welcome!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Status Quo at the O2

Denim jeans - check. Denim jacket - check. Long hair - oops, I left that behind in the 1970s! Rockers Status Quo were in Dublin last evening for an almost sell-out concert with four of the band's original members (Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, John Coughlan, and Alan Lancaster) treating the audience to the typical Quo sound. 

The O2 probably broke a Guinness World Record for the most middle-aged men wearing denim in one location. Lots of leather too. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way since the 1970s most of us lost our hair - there were a few lads there with a full head of grey hair to make the rest of us jealous.

The concert was billed as a "Back2 Sq.1" tour and I see from some on-line reviews that they only played songs from before 1976. Most of their songs from this period were unfamiliar to me as I was only just getting into them then. Just looking at the list of songs they did not play: Rockin' All Over the World, Whatever You Want, In the Army Now, Pictures of Matchstick Men, Down the Dustpipe, Living on an Island, What you're Proposing, and The Wanderer - I can't help feeling disappointed with the gig. Caroline and  Down Down got the biggest applause of the night, but many people afterwards felt that the lads would come out for a second encore and blast out the songs we all came to hear.

The energy of these ageing rockers was fantastic, particularly John Coughlan on drums and Rick Parfitt on rhythm guitar (does he ever get fed up playing the same cords over and over?). I hope they keep on rockin' and come back some day to play their big hits. The have been on the go in various guises since 1962, but this was my first time seeing them live. I had their 12 Gold Bars album on cassette tape a good few years ago, so I've just bought it again on iTunes and am listening to it as I write this post. For some nostalgia, check out the YouTube video below with the lads performing Rockin' All Over The World in 1977:

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

“Never memorize something that you can look up.” Albert Einstein

Today's Irish Independent in a article by education correspondent Katherine Donnelly, reports that "Students lose marks for stealing ideas from internet". The report refers to the Leaving Certificate Art and Construction Studies exam where students were found to be "falling foul of examiners for copying designs rather than developing their own ideas" and were guilty of "entering the subject titles in internet search engines and or downloading the first few concepts and ideas that emerge with little or no evidence of additional research on the part of the candidates". Hmmmm... quelle surprise!

Albert Einstein (c1947).
Image source: US Library of Congress.
Albert Einstein is often quoted as having said "Never memorize something that you can look up", and with the easy availability of Google - it has never been easier to look up anything on any subject. I am not bothered by Leaving Certificate or any students looking up the World Wide Web for ideas. In fact I often ask students to look things up in class or to find stories/articles about a particular topic. So far this year I have not had to get students to put down their computer screens in class. I used to do this a lot, but have now lost that battle. My sense now is that the benefit of students who will use a computer in class for course or module work out-weighs those who choose Facebook. I still don't allow Facebook, games, etc in class - mostly on the grounds that it disturbs those beside and behind a student engaging in this activity. However, I know some do it anyway!

In a sense I am encouraging the "look it up" education paradigm - I see no reason why preventing or not allowing this adds value to a student's education. We need to be better at using this fantastic resource rather than moaning about it. The report referred to in Katherine Donnelly's article was written by the State Examinations Commission, which concludes that educators should "encourage students to go beyond replicating an existing design that they have sourced elsewhere so that they can demonstrate higher order skills". Now that's better!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Tweeting my way around the #WildAtlanticWay

Since January 1st last I have been tweeting (almost) every day some photographs of my trip around the Wild Atlantic Way. I'm pleased to see a lot of people following me, retweeting, and favouriting my tweets. It has meant lots of new followers and makes me optimistic that my new book, "Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way", coming out soon, will sell a few copies. At the moment I am tweeting about one of my favouite places, Achill Island in Co Mayo. A most picturesque place is Keem Bay at the end of the island - below is a photo opportunity with my t-shirt bearing the title of this blog, and Keem beach in the background. Lots more tweets to come!

Friday, April 04, 2014

10,000 subscribers to my @YouTube Channel - #WOW #ThankYou

This morning "sreeramajayam200" became subscriber number 10,000 to my Learn with Dr Eugene O'Loughlin YouTube channel. 10,992 people have actually subscribed to the channel since the first person did so on 28th September 2009, but some will have unsubscribed and YouTube also delete inactive accounts. I still find numbers like this awesome and unbelievable. I can recall that I got excited when the number of views on the channel reached 10,000, almost five years ago to the day, and even wrote a post, YouTube - 10,000 Views!, about this on April 8th 2009.

In the next couple of weeks the channel will pass the 5.000,000 views mark, and I'll be sure to post some of the analytics that make up this landmark figure.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all my subscribers!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Simpsons Caricature #EgoMoment via @fiverr

The Fiverr website provides a service where you can have your photograph drawn in the style of The Simpsons. For $5 I just had to give it a go and I sent a photo to the website where within 24 hours they provided me with a new cartoon version of myself. I wondered what photo I would use so I sent in a more formal version of myself - photo taken in 2010 when I was a member of the Governing Body of the National College of Ireland (taken by Bonnie Cullen). I think I'll use it as an avatar for the next while!