RTE Innovation Show Podcast

I had a nice conversation with Aidan McCullen for his RTE Radio 1 Extra Innovation Show in early August. Available on the RTE site HERE, or listen to it now, below!

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Mike Flanagan Galloping Gael Tapes June 1976

This is the taped log of Mike Flanagan’s (Dad’s) unfinished June 1976 Trans-Atlantic Solo attempt. Forty years ago this month.

It is 45 minutes long, and unless you knew him or are interested in what it must be like to sail off alone into the North Atlantic, this is probably not for you.

Recorded between the 5th June 1976 (start of the OSTAR race) and some time before 22 June (when Galloping Gael was found without her skipper). Sound quality is not the best, due to it being 1976 and having been recorded during howling gales.

Last words on the tape:

“Looking at the progress it is difficult to imagine that I’ll be back in two and a half weeks, but is is still possible”

Mike Flanagan aboard Galloping Gael

Mike Flanagan aboard Galloping Gael

No. It wasn’t.

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The 90’s seem so long ago….

Two publications were launched this week covering the birth of the internet in Ireland. Seems like it was somebody else, but apparently I played a small part. Good story anyway 🙂

IOL Entry from Niall Murphy’s (The Forrest Gump of Geeks) personal Internet history:

The IOL Entry for John Sterne’s Irish Tech Archives:

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It Was 20 Years Ago Today…..

Ireland On-Line
It was 20 years ago – 15 May 1992 – that I opened the doors at Ireland On-Line. Operating out of my house in Galway, and with only a credit card as working capital, it was the culmination of 9 months of dreaming, planning and learning, and the start of a fantastic adventure.
The aim was as simple as the name suggests – I wanted to put Ireland online. To bring the World to Ireland, and Ireland to the World.
The Internet was as yet unheard of except within the hallowed halls of academia, but I was convinced that this global network had the potential to transform this country, and would ultimately affect every aspect of our lives and businesses, and allow a new generation of Irish to remain in Ireland yet enjoy the benefits of a global economy and opportunity.
Now, looking back 20 years later, I am amazed at how much of what I predicted and imagined has come to pass. We live in an Ireland today which, although beset by some short-term setbacks, has been transformed in terms of our ability to transcend our borders and small population. Our opportunities are global, and our reach infinite.
With Ireland On-Line, I  – at first alone and later with others –  had the honour of leading and shaping an entirely new industry. It was all uncharted territory. A blank slate. The only rule: there were no rules. The only certainty was continuous change. We made it up as we went along, but we did so with a conviction that this was important and long lasting and so wanted to do it right. Our belief in what we were doing, and that it was bigger than any of us, kept us going and pushing forward when few others shared our vision.
Over the next seven years, IOL grew from a single employee to over 120,  and remained the largest ISP in the country, maintaining over 60% market share despite ferocious competition from larger, better funded rivals. We achieved this through the strength of our team, and a  shared determination to succeed.
It was an amazing, magical and exhilarating time and I am immensely grateful to have been a part of it, and to have shared it with the incredible people who made IOL what it was.

While the brand Ireland On-Line as been neglected and allowed to wither by the to-and-fro of the corporate world, it leaves a legacy of which I am immensely proud.

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First computer I ever used. bless it :-)

First computer I ever used. bless it 🙂

Sinclair ZX Spectrum turns 30, gets immortalized as a Google Doodle

Today’s Google UK doodle celebrates both St. Georges Day and the little home computer that became a British phenomenon, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. To be competitive with the rival Commodore 64, the 16KB of RAM-packing machine retailed for just £130 ($210 in today’s money), punched well above its own weight and was often the first computer bought by techno-phobic families. Designed to be as programmer-friendly as possible, the founders of Shiny, Rare and Blitz Games studios all cut their teeth …

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Quote: “So my model is kind of a reverse…

"So my model is kind of a reverse “end result justifies the means”. Hell no, that’s the stupidest saying in the history of man, and I’m not even saying that because it has been used to make excuses for bad behavior. No, it’s the worst possible kind of saying because it totally misses the point of everything.

It’s simply not the end that matters at all. It’s the means – the journey. The end result is almost meaningless. If you do things the right way, the end result will be fine too, but the real enjoyment is in the doing, not in the result."

-Linus Torvalds

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However scary a No vote might be in Ireland…

However scary a No vote might be in Ireland's upcoming referendum on the EU Stability Mechanism treaty, a Yes vote seems to me even scarier!


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Happy Birthday Linux!

Wow, 20 years.

I still remember the fun I had back in 1992 installing the MCC Interim 0.95c+ on an old 386. The entire distro consisted of two floppy disks – a boot/root disk and a utilities disk.

Unfortunately it did not come with the drivers for my hard disk so I had to compile them myself. This required using my floppy disk as swap space in order to get enough ram to compile a kernel with my driver (no modules in those days!). Took like 12  hours but at the end of it, to my surprise, it booted up and I was presented with a shell!

No networking, except to localhost (lack of drivers) but coming from DOS as I was and having struggled to run a multitasking BBS on DOS/DesqView for so long, I immediately fell in love.

I was in the process of building Ireland On-Line and had been running a BBS under DOS/Desqview. When I saw Linux I realized that *nix was the tool for the job, so switched to what was at the time the only PC Unix I could get – SCO (yeah, I know). However, less than 2 years later, by the time that Linux 1.0 came out, I had completely switched over all our servers to Linux and IOL was the largest ISP in the country.

I reckon we were one of the very first commercial companies to build their entire infrastructure on Linux.

Best move I ever made 🙂

Thanks Linus.


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ICT Expo Asterisk Presentation from 2005

Back in 2005 I had given a couple of talks at the Dublin ICT Expo – one on Asterisk, and one on Xen. Two of my favourite technologies at the time (and still are!)

For posterity (and because I have not put anything else into my Asterisk section), here is the Asterisk one. The Xen presentation is here










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Old Presentation from 2005 on Xen

Back in 2005 I had given a couple of talks at the Dublin ICT Expo – one on Asterisk, and one on Xen. Two of my favourite technologies at the time (and still are!)

After the show someone approached me and asked if I would give the Xen talk to the monthly System Administrators Guild of Ireland meet-up. I said “sure thing!”.

When I arrived to give the talk there were a good 30 people there. I began by introducing myself then asked everyone to let me know who they are and where they worked – it turned out, about 20 of them were from Google! Man, did I feel like my (purposefully) high level overview of what Xen was to be inadequate! Grannies and sucking eggs came to mind.

Anyway, I gave the presentation and we all had a good chat and pints afterwards, but it did remind me, in future to find out who the audience is!

For posterity, the original presentation slides are attached.


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