For Irish learner drivers, speed limits are targets

Just a comment on Irish speed limits. Last night a wee boy was killed in a housing estate in Kilkenny, where apparently the residents had been trying to put up speed bumps for years. We have a similar speed issue in our place here in Dublin, where I see kids on bikes every day and motorists playing F1. Everyone sane of mind knows that in an estate, the likely scenario is that a child will jump out in front of the car so most people drive accordingly… I would hope.

Now – I’d like to contrast this with the way Irish learner drivers are being taught to drive. Apparently here, you are marked down for ‘progression’ if you go down a narrow and very residential road where the limit is 50 km/h at say 30 km/h because you’re afraid of killing a kid. I let you ponder the folly of that for a moment: you are told to speed up and hit the speed limit and you are marked down.

When I heard that, I’ll tell you steam came out my ears. I’d kick an instructor out of my car for saying something so stupid. Speed limits are not targets. The government says so. The driving instruction system of this country, however says different. *hits head against brick wall*

The lost generation

Is Generation Lost like this old typewriter? Perfectly functional but unusable?

Is Generation Lost like this old typewriter? Perfectly functional but unusable?

My very first full day’s work started at 7am, in the cold clinical lighting of a giant underground kitchen. I was using a large butcher’s knife to chop a full-bodied, cold, slimy calamari into tiny dices for the lunch buffet of a prominent 4 star hotel on the outskirts of Paris’ CDG airport.

Fighting nausea, shock and homesickness, I was also being yelled at by the head chef for not cutting small enough dices and not going quick enough. By the time my work experience was done 6 months later, I had brulee-d the tips of my fingers with a crème brulee dish, spilled a lobster into a customer’s lap during an ill-fated understaffed seafood themed night and been told in no uncertain term by a senior male supervisor of the front desk that if he saw another un-made-up rosy cheek or a whisp of unruly hair escaping, he would fire me on the spot. Read more of this post

New projects for 2014

Detail - Douglas Donkey. Acrylic on canvas, approx 60cm x 72cm. Price: €120.

Detail – Douglas Donkey. Acrylic on canvas, approx 60cm x 72cm. Price: €120.

So 2014 is starting off busy here. I’ve got a handful of projects on the boil. One of them is still top secret but very exciting and all will be revealed soon…. The others are not top secret but just as exciting. First up, I’ve set-up a technology blog to centralise all tech news that I see every day in my job as a freelance tech journalist. I’m fairly immersed in some pretty cool technology and I wanted to have a place to centralise it all and make some sense from it.

So without further ado I unveil my sister blog, TechByHeckhttp://techbyheck.wordpress.com. Feel free to nip over if tech is your thing, like it, follow it, subscribe to the Twitter account (@TechByHeck) and let me know if there’s anything you would like to see covered.

And now for something completely different: I’ve also launched an art venture called LeKrazyZoo, where I paint and sell colourful animal paintings aimed at little (and big) kids and generally deal with all things fluffy and colourful. Feel free to join this wee community on Facebook and help me get inspired to keep painting animal portraits of all kinds:) https://www.facebook.com/lekrazyzoo

Happy New Year to you all!

Some Irish technology action at the close of 2013

The gallery at the new HD studio at the IADT Dun Laoghaire

The gallery at the new HD studio at the IADT Dun Laoghaire

My ‘heck-tic’ (see what I did there?) end to 2013 included some welcome action from the Irish technology front. I reported from NetApp’s European partner Insight event for ChannelPro, which they held in Dublin for the second year in a row. This event highlighted trends like the impact of all-flash storage on mission-critical storage arrays and of cloud.

Also in Dublin, the opening of Ireland’s second all-HD TV studio at the IADT in Dun Laoghaire was a pretty big deal, which I wrote about for IBE. I then provided readers of Sports Video Group an overview of the broadcast technologies behind the production of Ireland’s gaelic games and how new trends like 4k and second screen are faring in this space. Read more of this post

IKEA: a customer service tragedy in 4 Acts

ikea-logoSince I have genuinely tried to sort this out with IKEA and am getting nowhere and it’s costing me time and money, I will put this out there in the hope that someone up in the arcanes of the company will realise what a mess their system is when the “Computer Says No”…. It may even give you a laugh on a dreary Monday morning.

I hereby introduce my IKEA saga: “A customer service tragedy in 4 acts.”

ACT 1: I tried to purchase an IKEA conference table from the IKEA show floor in Dublin, ref number xxxxx. It was out of stock. I was told to call and check its availability as they were due a delivery between November 18 and 24. I called back on the 18th and was informed they had 13 in stock. Read more of this post

Synaesthesia is more common in autism

Synaesthesia, a mixing of the senses where by people see colours associated to sounds they hear or link musical notes to tats, could be more prevalent in people with autism according to new research by the journal of Molecular Autism.

Scientists from Cambridge University found that whereas synaesthesia only occurred in 7.2% of typical individuals, it occurred in 18.9% of people with autism. The scientists tested and confirmed the prediction that if both autism and synaesthesia involve neural over-connectivity, then synaesthesia might be disproportionately common in autism. Read more of this post

Discussing Irish abortion laws and Ireland’s Budget 2014 in French

Here are recordings of the two latest topics I’ve spoken about on Dublin’s NearFM as part of French language programme ‘Qu’est-ce que c’est le Craic’.

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