Fighting disinformation requires us all to contribute

I encountered two interesting conversations on twitter today, leading me to the conclusion that we won't be able to comprehensively deal with disinformation online any time soon.

The first is the following from Tadhg Hickey:


If you can't read that screen-grab, this is what he says:

Not telling you kids what to do, but I stopped engaging with

… [more >>]

Comparing Y2K action against Climate Inaction

In November 2021, David Quinn tweeted the following:


I quote-tweeted a response to that, and I am including it here, in slightly-edited form, to make sure it's preserved.

I first heard of Climate Change (then called Global Warming) in 1981/2, while I was still in primary school.

I first heard of the Y2K problem … [more >>]

Éibhear's Swan Songs

In 2020, I was working for a consultancy company on a team delivering a major change for a government client. We were a tight-knit team, and enjoyed working together.

A tradition was for one or another (or a third) team member to post into the chat system a link to a Youtube video, which would be the "song for the day" to give us energy. It didn't happen every day; maybe once or twice a week.

I never posted anything, though, and … [more >>]

The 3 Rs of self-hosting -- looking for help

As mentioned elsewhere on this site, I run a number of services myself. A couple of them are hosted by my hosting provider, Blacknight, and the rest are hosted in my own home. Some definitions of the term "self-hosting" would exclude those services hosted by the ISP (this site, and my e-mail service), but given that I am the administrator of both and decide how each is used … [more >>]

I have turned on comments on this site

I have, at last, turned on comments for this blog. The comment policy for the site can be reviewed here.

If you have any feedback, please let me know (in the comments, if you wish!). … [more >>]

A case for anonymous pull requests

I've just joined an interesting, open project, and they are – at the moment – using GitHub to manage their collaboration across a geographically diverse membership.

The thing is – and I know this will be a surprise to some, and totally not a surprise to others – I don't have a login for GitHub, despite being an avid coder and promoter of FLOSS since a time long before any of GitHub or git or subversion were twinkles in their respective daddies' eyes.

Initially, I had … [more >>]

Upgrading and containerising Matrix Synapse and PostgreSQL to ensure you have the latest version

This post is a long-time coming, and it may be too late, but I wanted to note what I did in case it's useful for others. It describes how I prepared my use of matrix-synapse for the deprecations, first of earlier versions of python, and then of PostgreSQL 9.5 and 9.6.

Prologue (TL;DR)

The quick and the short of the actions are:

  1. Create a temporary matrix-synapse docker container to generate a set of clean configuration files … [more >>]

Back on Morning Ireland

I was asked to come on to Morning Ireland again this year to talk about @theauldsthretch, and just like last year it was great fun.

This time, it was Rachael English doing the interviewing. I was thrown a bit at the start when – during Rachael's second question – someone from the studio started speaking in my ear over her, and I didn't know either when the question ended … [more >>]

My initial impressions of WhatsApp and what's up with it

After many years of resistance, I have at last signed up for WhatsApp, and I have to say it's all I thought it was going to be: a half-baked solution that has captured so many people who don't (yet) appreciate what they've opened themselves to.

The installation process was straight-forward enough. You download the app onto your 'phone and you tell it your 'phone number, and bang, you're ready to go.

Except you're not.

Uploading 'phone's … [more >>]

Imagining Stanley finding Livingstone

The following is a wee script I wrote today for a sketch. It's a take on Henry Morton Stanley encountering Dr. David Livingstone in November 1871 in what is now Tanzania in Africa.

Dr. Livingstone sitting, drinking from a coffee-cup and reading a Gray's anatomy.
Stanley struggles into shot, panting
Dr. pant, pant Livingstone pant, I presume?
2 doors down, on the left. I'm Mister Deadrock
Stanley, confused, starts to walk away
No no. I

… [more >>]

A short story about the Dogs Trust Short Story competition winner

My daughter, Amy Rose, 8, entered a short story competition hosted by Dogs Trust. We were all stunned at the quality of her submission. You can read it below, but one of the things that I enjoyed about the process is how she targetted the 500 word limit as she composed the story. She did so well, that the first draft overshot the limit by something like 20-30 words. She … [more >>]

Capturing an org-mode entry using speech to text

I have a Cosmo Communicator from Planet Computers. I got it primarily because I need a 'phone with a physical keyboard, and I need a 'phone with a physical keyboard for 2 main reasons: I prefer the tactile nature of physical keyboards, allowing me to look at the screen as I type, and I depend GNU/Emacs and org-mode for organising my … [more >>]

Interview on Morning Ireland about @theauldsthretch

Yesterday morning, 14th January, I was interviewed briefly by Áine Lawlor of Morning Ireland regarding the @theauldsthretch twitter account.

You can access a recording of the interview here, and I also have it available as a download here … [more >>]

Some questions and answers about The Grand Auld Sthretch and @theauldsthretch

We're coming to the end of a new season for the twitter account @theauldsthretch, and as it now has more than 31,000 followers, it's no longer easy for me to answer individually all questions that may arise. Therefore, I'm putting together this set of questions and some short answers

A quick note on the terms "the shortest day" and "the longest day". I use these terms from time to time to refer to the winter solstice … [more >>]

The EU Council's proposed plan for encryption and why it's broken

A proposed "Resolution on Encryption" is under consideration by the EU Council.

The proposal encourages the EU to work with technology companies to develop mechanisms to allow security services to read messages that would otherwise be encrypted beyond their access.

Some technical proposals have been published over the last few years that seek to address the challenges and concerns with this approach to criminal investigations. Some of these are well-considered proposals … [more >>]

My blog is now available (only) over HTTPS

I've been trying to figure out how I can get Let's Encrypt SSL cert configured for my blog for the longest time. Today, I cracked that nut.

This blog is now available only over HTTPS, which means that the traffic between you and the server that hosts the blog is encrypted.

I don't use the blog to capture any personal information from anyone (except myself). In fact, the site is completely read-only, but HTTPS also prevents the … [more >>]

A grown-up proposal on end-to-end encryption from Matrix.org

A quick one.

The guys over at Matrix.org (Matthew Hodgson, specifically) have posted a proposal for addressing the concerns of the police and politicians around illegal material being available on the internet through channels that employ end-to-end encryption.

As you can tell, I'm very much a "you can't do that" person … [more >>]

An introduction to a series of self-hosting Free Software package reviews

I am a fan of the idea of selfhosting, where people create and use their own internet service instead of using one of the large services that we all have come to love to hate. I would also regard myself as an advocate for selfhosting.

For example, instead of using WhatsApp, I have built my own implementation of the … [more >>]

An alternative search engine for news

Australia is forging ahead with its plan to require Google and others to pay the news industry for sending it traffic.

As has happened in other countries, the Australians should prepare themselves for Google just upping sticks and leaving, resulting in far less internet traffic going to those news sites … [more >>]

Restyled web site

I've done a complete restyle of the web site.

I'm a massive fan of emacs for a very long time, specifically org-mode (for nearly as long). More and more, I use these tools for my writing, whatever the context, and many years ago I went looking for a mechanism to blog through emacs and orgmode.

I eventually found o-blog, which I have been using ever … [more >>]

Short example of why a magical encryption key won't work as governments might hope

There have been calls from police and other government agencies all over the world to ban the use of end-to-end encryption messaging services, in order to more easily fight against all the things that these agencies believe to be bad. I'd like to demonstrate how this won't work.

PGP is a method of encryption, typically used for e-mails. There are many software packages for computers and hand-held devices like 'phones and tablets that provide PGP encryption, but they … [more >>]

Encryption Key for An Garda Síochána

It's being reported (following some lobbying, no doubt) that the new government is considering providing a power to An Garda Síochána to use an "electronic key" to access encrypted communications, the logic being that this will be the best way to combat organised crime.

Let … [more >>]

The Newspaper Industry Continues to Shoot Itself in The Nose to Spite its Feet

Yet another letter I wrote to the Irish Times, which they struggled to decide whether to publish or not, and came down on the side of "caution".

I remain convinced that the continued claim that the large (unnecessarily, and likely underhandedly) successful new internet services owe money to the newspaper industry because they reach readers better is – and there's no better word for this, IMO – arse.

I include hyperlinks – the bedrock of the World Wide Web, and the feature of the

… [more >>]

Solstices and Equinoctes

I really need to get a publicist. This post should have gone up at the end of November, not December.

In the run up to the winter solstice this year (2019), and for the day beforehand and for the day itself, there was a lot of confusion on twitter (well … more confusion on twitter than is normal anyway) as to whether and why the winter solstice fell on the 22nd December, and … [more >>]

Resources for theauldsthretch

I've added a new top-level menu item above that will bring you directly to resources created for theauldsthretch. Let me know by tweeting @theauldsthretch if there's anything you would like added to this site. … [more >>]

Electronic voting in 2007

The following was a "Letter to the Editor" I sent to Village Magazine back in August of 2007. I forgot about it. I'm printing the unedited version that I sent here.

A chara,

I am responding to the article that was sent to me by your FeedBlitz system regarding the report on the study into why so many young people don't vote, and the conclusion it came … [more >>]

Even the really horrible candidates should get a preference from you, just... not a high one.

Update [2024-05-24 Fri]

What follows here is an explanation why I completely fill out a multi-preference ballot when I vote in elections in Ireland. I think everyone should consider this, as it's a statement of who you don't want elected as much as it is of who you do want elected.

However, how any one person votes (even that they don't vote!) is the business only of that person, and I hope the reader fully understands

… [more >>]

Response to consultation on so-called "Harmful Content"

The government of Ireland is running a consultation process as it develops plans to implement the EU Regulation of Harmful Content on Online Platforms and the Implementation of the Revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive. The consultation web site can be accessed from here, the explanatory notes are here, and the questions can be downloaded from here … [more >>]

Copyright protest on the 21st March

On the 21st March, I shut down this website for a day in protest at the proposed EU Copyright Directive. I outline my concerns here. … [more >>]

Paywalling twitter rant

The following tweet popped up in my time-line this morning (11th March):


In case you can't read that, the tweet is by Tom Hamilton (@thhamilton) the text is

All these people complaining that an article is behind a paywall, god forbid that anyone should ever recommend them a book.

I quote-tweeted it as the start … [more >>]

Reporting bugs (Éibhear's opinion, FWIW)


I'm old. I'm so old, I was already a development team lead and systems designer before DevOps was a twinkle in anyone's eye, or before The Agile Manifesto was anything more than some scratchings on a paper napkin.

What follows is a guideline for how testers were to report bugs to me and my team. Younger people (or those not-so-young people who pretend they're trendy) will argue that with all these new, modern automated testing systems, this … [more >>]

Article 11

This is the text of a "letter" I sent to the editor of the Irish Times on the 26th January, 2019. It wasn't published. It is now. For anyone who reads this blog – if there is anyone at all – the pitch might seem simplistic. This is because I was seeking to make the point to those who would not have technical backgrounds, who would not be familiar with the context, or who are focussed on other issues and are not aware

… [more >>]

Copyright theft and the National Anthem

I wrote this some months ago, but didn't post it for some reason, so I am doing so now.

In July last year, the Seanad issued a report on what to do regarding "protecting" the national anthem. The newspaper reports are here ("Committee calls for national anthem guidelines and formal Irish sign language version"), and here … [more >>]

Some questions for the "5 Eyes" countries on what they think they can do

As one commenter put it, "Here we go again".

There's something up with the so-called "Intelligence Community" that convinces them that there is a technical solution to the social and political problem that exercises them the most these days.

And, what is that problem?

It's that people talk to each other, and often want to do so in … [more >>]

Post-script on why you should stop trying to stop people from using encryption

Quick summary: Forcing internet messaging services to permit only weakly-encrypted communications so that governments can access them easily, will not impact bad actors, but will seriously impact innocent people who want to obey the law. Read further for my explanation.

In my previous post, I outlined the abject pointlessness of governments' attempts to force service providers to weaken the encryption used on their messaging … [more >>]

You just can't stop people from using encryption, so stop trying to

I've added another post, intended to be read after this one, outlining how not only will government efforts to reduce the usage of encryption not work for its intended purpose, but that the real affect will be to innocent people doing innocent things.

There is yet another story in the news about how the US Government is trying to compel a voice messaging service … [more >>]

So you want to edit/correct/clarify/retract that tweet?

Some years ago I wrote a post proposing that Twitter could (should!) implement a retract button.

I still think the proposal is valid and compelling.

I recently listened to the great Techdirt podcast episode where Mike Masnick (@mmasnick) talks to Cathy Gellis (@cathygellis) and Parker Higgins (@xor) about "Old Tweets & Your Permanent Record … [more >>]

With marginal knowledge comes marginal power

As a designer of back-end IT systems, I regard error management and error reporting as something to consider at the start, rather than at the end.

Some years ago, I designed a file-handing system, where we identified a little over 100 different error scenarios to manage.

The system acted as a file-movement inferface between our internal system and an externally-hosted service. Between taking files off the end of one pipe and placing them onto another pipe, there was a need … [more >>]

Voting with your conscience

The following is a reproduction of a tweet-storm I put up in October of 2017. I have edited it slightly to correct 1 typo, and to improve the flow.

The phrase "voting with your conscience" is bullshit at the most basic level.

It's intended to highlight how brave someone is by voting against a popular position due to some deep-seated moral concern with the consequences. It is particularly "heroic" when it … [more >>]

Proposal to link social media accounts to government-issued IDs

I drafted and sent the following to the editor of the Irish Times on the 4th April, 2018. By today, the 18th, it hadn't been published, so I'm guessing it won't be. Here it is.

If you're unfamiliar, the Public Services Card is an initiative of the Irish Government, and has been credibly accused of being a national ID card being introduced by stealth. The proposal I discuss below is another piece of evidence supporting that position. #+END

… [more >>]

Mention in today's Irishman's Diary

It's probably too late for this posting to be of any value, but if you're here upon Frank McNally's suggestion in his Irishman's Diary column today, then the explanation he mentions is here … [more >>]

Licence to copy

Remember Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant Massacree?


It's an near-19 minute song in which the protagonist tells the story of how he was arrested for littering. He and a friend brought a pile of rubbish to a dump, but it was closed for Thanksgiving, so they tossed it over a cliff. They were caught, convicted, fined and ordered to pick up the rubbish.

Some time later … [more >>]

File names, and what you need to know


If you work in any capacity with Microsoft Windows (especially if you're working in IT), you should always set Windows not to hide the extensions of filenames.

Microsoft and Microsoft Windows has taught us some core facts about files over the years:

  1. All files have extensions to their names *.jpg, *.gif, *.xls, *.docx, etc.
  2. The extension of a filename tells you what the file is all about:
    • *.jpg is an image file,
    • *.gif is a … [more >>]

Heros have it hard, y'know.

I went on a business trip once to Utrecht in The Netherlands.

Got the 0600 flight from Dublin, so was up at 0430.

It was a long day of meetings: I was shattered when I got to the hotel restaurant for dinner at around 1830 (Dutch time; 1930 Dublin time).

As I waited for my order, I picked up one of those small rolls of bread, and a butter knife. I began to cut through the bread with the knife. The butter knife. I … [more >>]

When does the Grand Auld Sthretch in Dublin start?

Update December 2020
I've moved the previous update notifications to the bottom of this post to get them out of the way.

In 2016, the winter solstice will fall on the 21st December. The moment of the solstice will be 10:43am in Dublin. The sun will rise in the morning at 8:38:24, and it will set in the afternoon at 16:08:08. This will give us 7 hours, 29 minutes and 44 seconds of daylight … [more >>]

I'm back on the market for work (Updated [2016-12-04 Sun])

Update [2016-12-04 Sun]
I have a job. On [2016-11-23 Wed], I started with Version 1 as a Solutions Architect. Very exciting!

Following an excellent year-and-a-half as a consultant solutions architect in AIG Europe in Dublin, I'm back on the hunt for a new job. If you're looking for a solutions architect with a keen focus on delivery quality, perhaps you might want to check out my Hire Me! … [more >>]

Meeting Terence Flanagan, a general election candidate [Updated slightly]

This morning I met Terence Flanagan, and it didn't go well for either of us.

Mr. Flanagan is a Renua Ireland candidate in Dublin Bay North in the 2016 general election (taking place today, 26th February, 2016). He was elected in the last general election in 2011 as a Fine Gael candidate in the former constituency of Dublin North East.

Some time after his old constituency was abolished and … [more >>]

The case for a retract button

We're gearing up for an election here in Ireland, and many are well prepared. For example, just a few days ago, Politwoops Ireland was launched.

Others are not so prepared: many candidates in this election will go back through their twitter time lines and remove those tweets that will inhibit or – at least – not help their re-election campaigns.

I've often wondered why people delete tweets. There are many reasons, and – in my opinion – not all of them … [more >>]

Stealing from the public domain is still stealing [Updated]

In response to this story in the Irish Times (regarding the Fianna Fáil bill to return Ireland's National Anthem into copyright, also reported in the Journal.ie), I sent a letter … [more >>]

Beach Art

I was at the beach today, and drew this in the sand:


It took about 30-40 minutes to complete. It was cute watching how people would walk towards it and then veer around it. … [more >>]

Parking in Clontarf

If you've ever attempted to drive up or down the southern end of Vernon Avenue, you have probably been blocked by traffic caused by cars parked illegally. Here is how it works.

Ah! Feck it! I'll just throw it here. … [more >>]

Documentation and versioning, Part 3 of 2

In part 1 of this series of 2 – now 3 – posts, I highlighted some of the worst examples of when document versioning can go wrong.

In part 2, I lay out some guidelines that will help keep document versioning under control such that it's understandable and predictable … [more >>]

Documentation and versioning, Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of this formerly two-part, now three-part, series of posts, I explored what can happen with document versioning if there's little or no discipline.

In this part I set out to offer some simple suggestions to make versioning of documents predictable and understandable, which will make the documents themselves more accessible.

The following small set of rules on versioning can greatly … [more >>]

Documentation and versioning, Part 1 of 2

In all software engineering projects, documentation is critical.

This is the first of two posts where I discuss my experiences and insights about project documentation – particularly how versions of documents are recorded – offering some simple suggestions for improvements that you might not yet have considered.

Documentation serves to record things like why you're doing what you're doing, how you are doing it and how to pick up from where you left off. I've seen more than a few projects fall into … [more >>]

Knowing more about the herd

On the 11th June, it was announced that a new case of BSE had probably been found in Ireland. This is, of course, disappointing; the week before Ireland was declared to have a "negligible risk" status as regards BSE. Ireland's status is probably going to be raised to "controlled risk", which happens to be the risk … [more >>]

CVs and copyright

Yesterday, I posted a (long, unfortunately) discussion on using open formats for a CV, and why it's a good idea even if others think otherwise. One point I made is that recruiters make changes to candidate's CVs, even if that's only to place their branding on the document prior to sending it out to clients.

This is an interesting practice … [more >>]

Document Freedom Day, my CV and who owns it

Yesterday, on Document Freedom Day, I posted the following on LinkedIn:

Today is Document Freedom Day, when we celebrate being able to store our data in formats that will be available to us no matter what happens to the companies that create them.

Today is the day when it is appropriate to ask: is there a good reason to require me to give you my CV

… [more >>]

How can encryption be regulated?

So, the United States government and the government of the United Kingdom both think that it's right to weaken encryption schemes and to require internet companies to support governments' endeavours to decrypt private messages.

Don't worry, they say, we're the good guys … [more >>]

The value of encryption

There have been recent calls around the world to restrict the use of VPNs. Variously, they're offered for differing reasons:

  • VPNs are encrypted connections, possibly to servers outside your control, and therefore, you can neither eavesdrop on nor control what an internet user is doing.
  • VPNs facilitate access to services outside the internet users' "market" area, thereby allowing them to avail … [more >>]

For whom do you make your decisions?

What is it with companies that allow low-gain business initiatives interfere with the security of their customers?

Imagine the following conversation in a company that manufactures and sells door locks:

Product Development: "We've got this great idea for generating revenue from our products after we sell them. We build a set of hooks to into our locks that will allow callers to hang their marketing flyers"

Engineering: "What? Sorry?"

PD: "Yeah, y'know. Like the flyers that advertise pizza-delivery

… [more >>]

Generating a word cloud using GNU/Emacs and org-mode

I posted a word-cloud to Google+ today: https://plus.google.com/115884503870283339998/posts/Ee8vQ2gQVfy, and I'm going to attempt to show how I did that.

  1. I created an org-mode table with the following columns:
    • Technology – The technology of interest.
    • Weighting – a font-size weighting derived from the No. Months value for each technology.
    • No. Years – the number of years I have worked with each technology.
    • No. Months – the number of months I have worked with each technology.
    • Red – the red … [more >>]

An Garda Síochána and the cancellation penalty points

Following up on an earlier post.

A story today on RTÉ provides some of the details of a report into the allegations of the corrupt cancellation of penalty points by senior members of An Garda Síochána.

There's lots to know, but the shocking point for me is that 6 senior members of the … [more >>]

It's /my/ privacy I want protected, not yours! [updated]

I happened upon a blog entry by ISP head Michele Neylon, and some of the commentary, especially that of Brian Lowe [see update below]. I wanted to respond to Mr. Lowe, but I need to login with my Facebook credentials to do so. I don't have a facebook account, so I'm commenting here:

Hi Brian Lowe,

I attended my GP shortly after the Snowden

… [more >>]

The Department of Education's Primary Online Database

The Department of Education and Skills is developing a database to assist is in analysing aspects of how students progress through the education system in Ireland.

I agree with the intent of this database (based on my understanding of it, that is), but have loads of concerns around how this database is structured.

For a thorough analysis of the state-of-play, I suggest reading the following:

How not to do field validation

Many years ago, I attempted to set up an ireland.com e-mail address. At the time, the site was being operated by The Irish Times newspaper, but today it's a tourism site.

I filled out the details page, and when I submitted the form, I got the following:

"Surname can only have the characters 0-9, a-z (lower case), @, - or _"

One of those double-take moments, as I'd never heard of anyone with a @ or _ in … [more >>]

Device privacy and application permissions.

I own a Google Nexus 7, on which I have CyanogenMod installed. I use Google Play for apps. By and large, the permissions that an app 'requires' can make sense. However, sometimes they don't:


So, an app for getting news wants information on my identity, my location, my personal files, my camera and microphone, the wifi connections my tablet records and what uniquely identifies my tablet.

What could RTÉ want with this information … [more >>]

I'm looking for work

I am currently in the market for a job. You can find my details on this page. Please see my CV or my PGP Key page for how to contact me via e-mail. … [more >>]

Please send me encrypted e-mails

I'm not a terrorist (though, I would say that, wouldn't I?).

I'm not a member of a criminal gang (that too!).

In fact, insofar as I can, I obey the laws of the land and any other land I happen to find myself in.

Despite that, I ask that you send me encrypted e-mails, using my PGP key.

I also ask the you generate a PGP key-pair so that I … [more >>]

Assumption of innocence in a democracy.

In a proper, functioning democracy it is assumed that we all obey the law. We are all presumed to be innocent, not just "until proven guilty" of an offence, but – more mundanely – in everything that we do. In the absence of supporting evidence, the authorities are not permitted to regard anyone with suspicion.

This is why the police must get warrants to spy on someone.

All of this is logical, of course: in a democracy, the police ultimately work for the people. For example … [more >>]

Encryption protects your privacy. And mine.

Edward Snowden said that "Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on." The US government still can't break good encryption. Its efforts to corrupt encryption algorithms have recently been exposed, making it completely untrustworthy on that score also.

On the 12th August, 2012, the NSA collected 33,967 address books from GMail users … [more >>]

The technologies I have experience with

For reference purposes, I'm putting my current CV's technology experiences here:

  • Operating systems
    • GNU/Linux (14 years); Sun Solaris, SunOS (17 years); cygwin; MS Windows; HP-UX; IBM AIX; SGI IRIX; MIPS ABI platforms; Fujitsu ICL/NX SPARC; Apple Mac OS X, 8.x.
  • Development languages
    • SQL, PL/SQL (20 years); Shell scripting (ksh, bash, sh, zsh) (20 years); Java (16 years); HTML/CSS (18 years); C (6 years); PHP (2 years); lisp (18 years); Oracle Pro*C (4 years); Oracle Forms … [more >>]

Bugging of conversations by An Garda Síochána (Updated).

When the news of the Garda Commissioner's "retirement" was revealed, it was reported to be related to the co-incidental news that some 'phone conversations into and out of garda stations were recorded, had been since the '80s, and had been stopped last November following consultations between the Commissioner and the Attorney General.

There has been some concern expressed about whether conversations between prisoners and their lawyers had been recorded: a gross violation of a citizen's rights.

This is unlikely.

An article … [more >>]

Out of the office and still having fun

When working for Oracle Corporation I was signed up for any mailing list that suggested a hint of a topic that I might have been interested in. Consequently, I would have received e-mails from anywhere, and e-mails that would have been received by any one in the then-40,000 staffed company.

As is expected, too, I subscribed to the convention of setting up automatic replies for when I was out of the office.

In September of 1999 … [more >>]

It's nearly like grieving...

There must be five stages for the religious right to lose a policy that used to belong to it:

  1. "That's blasphemy!"
  2. "It's unnatural!"
  3. "Society will completely break down!"
  4. "It's just my opinion, but if you disagree with it you're being mean."
  5. "La la la la! I can't hear you!"

The main 2 differences between this and the 5 stages of grief are that there's … [more >>]

Transferring your secret PGP key from one device to another.

I use PGP a lot, primarily for encrypting files or file-portions that I might want not to slip into the wrong hands.

I also use many different devices (3 personal laptops, 1 Nokia N900, 1 Nexus 7 tablet, and so on), and I like to access the data I'm looking for from the device I may currently be on.

This means I need my PGP secret key available to me locally: it's unwise to access a secret key across a network … [more >>]

Blog re-launch and PGP key

I've been using emacs heavily (and delightedly!) since I was a green software engineer in 1995.

I discovered org-mode about 4 years ago, and I love it, especially for writing.

For various reasons, I've dropped off using my blog, in part because I was never really impressed with Wordpress' blog-post-writing interface. So I've stopped posting, and now I'm back.

I've working on o-blog … [more >>]

"Irish Revolutionism is Half-Baked"

The above is the title of an excellent article by Constantin Gurdgiev in the March-April edition of Village Magazine. I'll link to it when it comes available online (if it ever does!). Best line: "We have never learnt that any vested interest, no matter how small, must be treated at a political level as a monopoly-seeking cartel."

It's likely that I disagree with most of Mr Gurdgiev opinions, but this piece expresses very clearly what I believe to be a … [more >>]

Reconstituting the Oireachtas

Following a discussion with a colleague of mine, Cormac Daly, I drew up this document describing a proposed reform of the Oireachtas. In June 2009, I submitted it to the Department of the Environment for consideration. … [more >>]

... they have no word for ...

There is a snopes-confirmed apocryphal story that former US President George W. Bush commented to then British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the problem with the French "… is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur". As much as I would like to think it's true, it happens not to be.

However, that's doesn't stop us from having fun with a bit of word-play. I would like to come up with … [more >>]

Ireland inc.

Is there anyway that we can get people to stop using the term "Ireland Inc."?

It's disgusting.

It suggests that the responsibility of the government is to maximise profit.

It suggests that spending is irresponsible, unless it can be shown to be maximising profit.

It suggests that those who don't agree shouldn't be considered.

Ireland is a country. It's not a company. The how and why of running it is, and should be, completely different to a company.

Stop it … [more >>]

Mandriva Linux, encrypted partitions

I have recently upgraded my main home system from Mandrake Linux 10.1 Official to Mandriva Linux 2006.0 (Official). There have been some issues with this and the first that I have solved is as follows:

I used the drakloop facility in the older version to create an encrypted partition in my home directory. Whenever I logged onto the system using KDM, I was prompted for my passphrase in order to allow the partition to be mounted. However, after I upgraded the system … [more >>]

When all else fails...

… sue your customers.

There have been various acts performed by businesses, small to large, around the world to protect their markets. These often involve dodgy deals with partners, defamation, "lock-in" and threats.

The recent SCO vs. The World lawsuits have demostrated a new strategy: sue your customers. SCO sued two of its (former) customers, Autozone and Daimler Chrysler, essentially because they switched from SCO's products to competitors'. The expectation, one can assume, was that SCO's current customers would think twice about … [more >>]

Sun JDS and Linux

In an entry I put up in January, I put forward a theory that Sun was using GNU/Linux for its JDS until such a time as OpenSolaris was ready for it. This appears to be now, believe it or not. I'm quite surprised at this as I though it would be a few years before OpenSolaris would be ready for … [more >>]

The language snob strikes...

From this story on BreakingNews.ie:

A legal adviser to Saddam Hussein today criticised jailers of the former Iraqi dictator for allowing half-naked pictures of him to be taken.

What, prey tell, are half-naked pictures? … [more >>]

Quis custodiet custodiens?

The following is the text of a letter I sent to the editor of the Irish Times on the 11th March, 2005. To my knowledge, the Irish Times didn't publish it.

The Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven and the Birmingham Six were all imprisoned for lengthy sentences on terrorist charges that were eventually shown to have been false.

In November 2004, at the behest of the Governments of Italy and Switzerland, the FBI raided the data centre of the Indymedia organisation

… [more >>]

Innovation for the sake of..... innovation

On the 18th March this year, there was a "Commercial" supplement to the Irish Times celebrating Microsoft's 20 years of operations in Ireland. In it, there was a piece featuring Cathal Friel, Chairperson of the Irish Software Association, who made some rather disparaging comments about "open source" and those who develop Free Software.

Many on the fora I contribute to (ILUG, the Irish Linux Users' Group and IFSO, the Irish Free Software … [more >>]

Yay for democracy and the separation of powers

Picture this scenario:

A bank levies charges on you for services. However, the bank never told you that there was a charge, and you believed that the services involved were covered by the other charges you pay.

After a number of years, the bank announces that its legal department had advised it that the charge was not legal. However, there is still a cost to providing the service, and therefore this charge will be properly announced, notified, approved and regularised.

There then arises the … [more >>]

Sun, Open Solaris and the Java Desktop System

We all remember the excitement when AIB announced its plan to migrate its desktop systems to Sun's Java Desktop System (JDS). Touted as a triumph for Linux and its arrival in the IT market (especially the desktop market), many people told me that it was a great boost.

I was never convinced.

For instance, the license that JDS comes with is quite onerous … [more >>]

Luas and the walls of Trinity

A story in today's Irish Times suggests that the extension of the Luas between Stephen's Green and Abbey St. will cost around €70m. This doesn't contradict the earlier story, which estimated the cost at less than €100m.

Another story in the Irish Times describes how the best route for this extension (do we really call it a "spur"?) would be down Dawson St., along Nassau St., down Grafton St. (the non-pedestrianised bit), through College Green and O Connell Bridge to … [more >>]

New line linking Luas Green and Red lines

A story on the ireland.com breaking new web site (registration required?!?) mentions at the bottom that the new Luas line linking the Red and Green lines would "take 18 months and cost under €100 million," according to the Rail Procurement Agency.

It is my belief that these costs and timelines are vastly underestimated in order to make them more palatable to journalists, opposition politicians and the public alike. I will be watching them … [more >>]

I chose to comment.

A few days ago I received an e-mail with the subject "FW: I chose to Forward" that had been forwarded on to me. It was at least on its fourth trip, as there were many "> > > >"s in front of every line.

The e-mail tells the heart-warming story of a young disabled boy who was allowed into a softball game and permitted to get a home-run by the other boys despite the fact that it would not have been possible if … [more >>]

Firefox on Windows: Login Hell

Firefox has a new version out: 0.10.1 (or 2.0PR – for "Pre-Release"). We're getting very close now to 1.0 – at which point, I'll probably find something else to tickle my fancy, but that's beside the point.

However, with the change from release 0.9.x to 0.10.x, there seemed to be a change in the way that the user is authenticated on a proxy server. I work in a … [more >>]

Improvement on the PATRIOT act situation

In somewhat of a follow-up in this previous entry, there is news that some provisions of the PATRIOT act that was used against the people involved are unconstitutional. Again, I say to all those who argue that if you do nothing wrong you've nothing to hide: that's an argument that not even courts will accept. … [more >>]

ISP disaster.

My ISP, name2host.com, lost their data centre recently, and we lost all access to our systems recently, including our website and all the e-mail accounts. The guys are seriously annoyed about this, and I have a lot of pity for them. They have managed to get a data centre for the moment, but it's horrendously slow, and I still don't have reliable use of my preferred e-mail address.

I will have to make a decision … [more >>]

Woohoo! I got a story on Slashdot

I got a story on to slashdot. I don't submit often, and the other two I have submitted were rejected, so this came as a bit of a surprise.

One of the lessons I did learn, though, is not to give my e-mail address in plain format: my spam count has trebbled overnight!

Éibhear … [more >>]

"But, if you've nothing to hide..."

News just in from Slashdot: apparently, the US PATRIOT act has been used to investigate someone accused of copyright violations.

Let me be clear about this: violating someone's copyright is not an act of terrorism. No argument to the contrary, in my opinion, can hold water.

The US PATRIOT act was rushed through the US Congress in the weeks following the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Many … [more >>]

Scipio: Life summary

Publius Cornelius Scipio (later known as Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major) was born in the year 236 B.C. and died 53 years later in 183 B.C. A patrician, he fought in Spain with his father's army, before assuming command at the young age of 25.

Contra all traditions, he also attained the highest political position, consul, at that age. Normally, and traditionally, a man would not be elected consul until he … [more >>]

Electronic voting and the next election

All of this is speculation.

Later in the summer or some time in the autumn, there will be a cabinet reshuffle. I guess that Bertie Ahern will try to answer the protest vote by promoting fresh blood. We'll see some younger ministers, and quite a few current guys will be put out to pasture. Top of the list, I expect, will be the directors of elections – John O Donoghue and Martin Cullen. If not for their poor performances in their jobs to get … [more >>]

European Parliament

Just a quick one.

The analysis of the EU parliament is being conducted. It's a great pity that we weren't able to reelect Patricia McKenna, only slightly tempered by the joy that Royston, Bertie's cyphre, was not elected. Can't quite dance in the street, though.

One thing that will need to be considered, however, is whether the new parliament will likely support the European Council of Ministers' interpretation of "no software patents" or whether it will attempt to return to … [more >>]

Installing Fedora Core 2 from a hard drive

As posted on the ILUG mailing list.


I don't normally do this, but I had to solve a problem that's possible for some to encounter. Any and all of the below can be contradicted or improved upon. Feel free.

I downloaded Fedora Core 2 last week with the intention of installing it on a desktop system I use here for experimentation. The system already runs Fedora Core 1. Here is what I did to install FC1:

  • Downloaded isos and put them … [more >>]

The name

Just a quick note on the name: provocatio is a latin term dating from around the 5th century B.C. Rome, at the time, was ruled by an aristocracy known as the patricians. These were the people who could trace their ancestries back to the founding of Rome in 753B.C. Initially, the Roman Senate was mad up of patricians. Initially, all the office-holders (magistrates) were patricians.

There was another group of people living in Rome at the time, and they were known … [more >>]

Provocatio, by Éibhear

And here it is. Éibhear's blog.

This is just for fun, and nothing here is to be taken too seriously. However, the intention is to improve my prose and to learn how to blog effectively.

I decided to start a blog nearly two weeks ago, and figured I'd use the time I was in Spain on holiday to work things out. I brought along my yopy to do the work. One I had it all sorted out, I … [more >>]