Tuesday, September 9, 2014

When and where to check-in

Location based social networks like Foursquare are quite controversial. They seem to be gaining in popularity, but at the same time many people avoid them as being a form of submitting to surveillance.

I think that the key attraction is that it forms a game. For example, the Foursquare user who checks-in somewhere most frequently in a 3 month period is elected as the mayor of that location. One time, I was very proud to be declared mayor of my local gym - even though I am sure many people went more frequently but just didn't check in on Foursquare. On the other hand, I was less thrilled to find out that I had become mayor of my local dentists.

Another key factor to remember is that checking in is voluntary. It requires a few clicks on your smartphone to check-in to somewhere and this is not something that I could do accidentally and reveal that I was somewhere that I ought not be.

One dangerous feature introduced by the new Swarm appp is called neighbourhood sharing. If you enable this feature it automatically reveals to your friends the neighbourhood that you are in. This is not quite as bad as revealing your actual location - for example if I revealed that I was in Castleknock I could be either working from home or dropping into my local pub for a quick pint during the work day. Nevertheless I recommend that you shouldn't enable this feature if you have concerns about your privacy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What is the Strange Weather Hackathon?

The Science Gallery is currently hosting a weather themed hackathon in conjunction with their Strange Weather exhibition. The general idea is that teams will spend two days trying to do their best to answer a challenge related to how we deal with climate change.

For example, I am part of the "Woodville" team and we are trying to answer the challenge "What should I plant so that it will be suited to the expected future climate in my part of the world?". We are leveraging predictions for the likely effects of global warming which means that people will need to plant different crops than were traditionally planted in their area. Our team discussion document is hosted on hackpad. You can click here to see the latest version of the app on our web site (hopefully it will be working by tomorrow evening)..

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Weather Station comes back on-line

My old weather station equipment suffered damage and so no data has been reported for the last few months. Luckily I got a birthday present of a new weather station and so my weather site is back online again. Unfortunately the twitter feed is not being updated, but I will fix that soon.

As I was setting up the new station I realised that the clock on my Tonido plug was seriously wrong. For some reason the date skipped forward from 2nd of December 2013 to 16th of April  2030. This means that the forecast data I have been collecting was incorrectly dated. When I get a chance I will write a script to fix up all of the data.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

KDE Remote Desktop Client (KRDC)

I recently switched my work laptop from Ubuntu to RedHat. Since Remmina is not in the default repositories that came with my new client I decided to use KRDC instead.

Overall I must say I am quite impressed with KRDC, it is easy and intutive to use. Its tabbed UI and storing of bookmarked sessions remind me very much of Remmina.

The one problem I have with KRDC is that it refuses to remember the passwords for each of my saved sessions. A dialog comes up prompting for the password with a check-box "remember this password" - I select this check-box but I still get prompted for a password the next time I connect. I assume this is a bug which will be fixed soon, but it is only a minor nuisance (I have a lot of passwords to remember).

A feature from Remmina I miss is the ability to automatically configure sharing between the local and remote machine, but again this is a feature I can live without for now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Race to Truth

The most recent book I read about cycling is The Race to Truth by Emma O'Reilly. It tells the story of how Lance Armstrong's soigneur changed from being a big Lance fan into a Lance hater and finally back to a balanced view of him. In the last chapter she outlines how she made peace with Lance and she even argues that his lifetime ban from sport is too severe. Overall I think it is a very interesting and well written book (apparently she had no ghost writer).

It is an interesting contrast to Seven Deadly Sins by David Walshe which I read earlier this year. David Walshe clearly views Lance Armstrong as cycling's enemy number one and he shows no sympathy with the view that Lance was simply part of a cycling culture which almost required doping.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New cycle route beside Royal Canal

The towpath of the Royal Canal between Castleknock and Finglas has recently been upgraded to form a beautiful cycling route. I cycled along there one day recently and was delighted to see four separate families of swans with cygnets. All credit is due to whoever was behind this project.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rejoining the Gym

My friends know that I am very keen on staying fit and active so they would be surprised to know that I let my gym membership lapse at the start of this year. I found that I rarely visited the gym in the last year because I have a cross trainer at home and I prefer cycling laps of the Phoenix Park to cycling on a stationary bike.

However, I have changed my mind again and decided to rejoin my local gym. My resolution for the new academic year is to attend classes.  I will be regularly checking-in with Swarm/Foursquare and expect to regain the mayorship soon.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Swarm v Foursquare

I have been using Foursquare for a number of years. In general I find this to be a useful and fun application for letting my friends know where I am, although many friends express puzzlement about why I would willingly disclose my location.

Recently Foursquare started encouraging me to try out their new Swarm application. Initially I was reluctant and stuck with the app that I already knew. However,they finally disabled check-ins with Foursquare and so I was forced to install swarm.

My first impressions of Swarm are quite positive - it looks like a nice upgraded version of the Foursquare app. However, I don't see why they had to split off check-ins into a new app. It seems that mashable agree with me.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Father-Daughter Triathlon

Yesterday, myself and my daughter Niamh got to take part in the TriAthy triathlon event. It was an absolutely lovely day weather wise with bright sunshine all day.

Apart from the enjoyment of the event itself, we had great father daughter  bonding while we were training for the event. I don't think we put in a huge amount of preparation, but Niamh is already very fit from Hockey and other sports and so we managed to complete the event without any great difficulty.

The official results don't seem to be up on the web site yet, but I think our time was quite respectable. Perhaps TriAthy will become an annual event for us. Roll on the wicklow 100.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Starting Triathlon Training for 2014

The days are beginning to get longer and so I think it is time for me to be working on my fitness, This morning I cycled to work the long way in order to get a few more km on the clock.

This year, to help with my training, I joined Fingal Tri triathlon club. Hopefully I will soon gain enough confidence to join some of their training sessions. I might even be wearing their stylish gear at TriAthy this year.