« August 2003 | Main | October 2003 »

Must-link-to: ISSN and weblogs

Must-link-to: ISSN and weblogs More than a must-read, Joe Clark's Compatibility of Weblogs and ISSN is a must-link-to.

[via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report]

September 26, 2003 in WebLog Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Laundering on the iterative wash cycle.

AIRSIDE -- When you next use your word processing suite, are you really using the extra features that persuaded you to buy the new upgrade in the first place? Would you have accepted easier use over new features as a purchase decision? When was the last time a software maker said 'Buy this - it's easier to use than our last version'? Thought not.

We're all software junkies. Your addiction is part of their business model. We all wait in anticipation of the next 'fix' - the new release. And they have us by the short and curlies - they stop supporting older software!

The thought came to me as I was using an ancient copy of Office the other day - it integrated so well into my 'modern' desktop. The heavy revolutions of new releases were completely lost on this piece of software - to no detriment I might add.

Doyen of the usability police, Jakob Neilsen, calls for 'good software'. A better user experience - and bug fixes across all new releases before the addition of new features.

And what does make for good software? BFG's new intake of students will ponder this early in their course. For something that we deal with every day of our lives, a wild array of answers might be forthcoming - especially from IT professionals. To the uninitiated, a difficult front-end often obscures powerful software to the acolyte. The presence of contextual markers that strike for ease of interactivity - navigational waypoints by which users can refer - are often completely absent in new software releases and Open Source programs.

A fundamental understanding of software and how people use it - interactivity - lends to better usability, and in turn - better software. The easiest and simplest user interfaces are notoriously difficult to design, made more so in complex software [read 3D]. To what extent is an intuitive interface the foundation for successful software, especially in a medium with which the user might have no previous experience?

Much front end design follows convention - a user expects to see 'save' under 'file'. But don't expect to see many tabbed palettes; UI real estate is rapidly being snapped up by the patent lawyers.

Of course software sells like soap powder - each iteration is new, improved, and hangs on a fashionable meme. No-one bothers to question what they have been sold the last five versions.

The truth is, like soap, all software does pretty much the same thing. New iterations usually seek to merge features from other bits of software as people change the way they work. A future version of Outlook, for example, might offer RSS aggregation and syndication, much the same as newsreaders allow you to do today. This time its centralised and sanitised for the corporate desk. 500 bucks please.

But the new features coming at you in the next release of your favourite program might be obtainable elsewhere. Anyone looking for true value for money [it's usually free] and a sharper edge to the way they work should look towards the Open Source movement.

It is here that you will find genuine stars, years before they hit the big time on the Microsoft stage. Here budding usability experts get the chance to pay their dues, design and implement. Good design and documentation skills are always in demand. Without the spin.

Just say no ;p

September 23, 2003 in newMedia Design | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reply to open letter, - Sean Dolphin, Chair of Fingal Council

Sean Dolphin - Chair of Fingal County CouncilMr Sean Dolphin has posted a reply to the letter sent to him from newmediacuts. Here is the text.

Many thanks for your e-mail Tim.

Regarding Ireland AM during the week, if you feel you were mislead then I

On September 10th, the first day in which Fingal Co Co decided not to lift
untagged bins, I went to Portmarnock where a bin lorry was blockaded in
St. Anne's Estate. I subsequently travelled along the route that bin lorry
was to take, and over 90% of the bins presented for collection had been
tagged. The figure prior to this had been 63% according to my info, and
the point I was making was that I believe that figure had risen to over
90%, and certainly if the reported large increase in big tag sales is to
be believed than this is a fair comment.

Certainly the notion that this campaign represents some kind of mass
movement is plainly incorrect.

What the vast majority of people I spoke to take exception to is their
right to a competent and efficient refuse collection being denied by a
minority of people, very many of whom aren't even from Fingal. I agree
with this assessment.

To be fair, what is equally misleading on your part is to suggest that Mr.
Higgins and Ms. Daly are in prison because of their political viewpoints.
Their campaign was both undemocratic and misdirected, and they are in
prison as a result of their contempt for the law and the authority of the

One thing we can agree on: I have never voted for Fianna Fail, and that
trend is set to continue....

Yours sincerely

Sean Dolphin

September 22, 2003 in Civil Liberties | Permalink | Comments (1)

Issues from the Waste Heartland

Two public representatives - Clare Daly and TD Joe Higgins - got one month's jail yesterday, for the peaceful protesting against the new waste charges adopted by Fingal Council in Dublin. I met Clare several times last year - she helped greatly in our campaign to close off any plans for an incinerator in Lusk when I was working on the LuskPeople.com web resource.

I am angered by Clare's jailing, and interpret it to be a gross abuse of state power - she is a committed and honest politician, a people's broker who works tirelessly on behalf of the people who elected her to the Fingal council. A month's jail, when a fine might have sufficed, is unfair and most draconian in its nature, yet it might still serve to motivate and catalyse thousands of people to action -- against a Government that believes its own press releases a little too much, and that treats it's electorate in a most cavalier and charlatan fashion.

Most of the local people in Lusk that I have spoken to see the new bin tag system - where a prepurchased bin tag must be attached to the wheelie bin before it is collected - as unjust and yet another tax on an already sorely-taxed PAYE worker. There is general and genuine anger and resentment among a populace that has had it's fair share of waste - the Ballealy landfill dump for Dublin is just a mile away.

There is mistrust too, that this charge has been introduced as a precursor to privatisation. Most people here see Waste Management as a Government responsibility, and not one that should be proferred on to a private company interested in profit.

Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen, accused Clare of 'political grandstanding' yesterday - the day that this mother was jailed for her sincere, democratic views. Since Clare was elected to Fingal Council on an anti-bin tax ticket, how could that possibly be?

There are the first signs of a campaign of misinformation directed to the Socialist Party - of which Clare and Jim are members - that is more intense than normal, as illustrated in Minister Cullen's statement and also in TD Jim Glennon's statement calling for Jim Higgins to resign from the House. Could it be that the more astute in the Government view the anti-bin tax campaign as a very tangible focal point for opposition to this Government, that crosses social, economic and political divides?

Many are aware of the 'polluter pays' policy. But without adequate support for the doorstep recycling of waste, restrictions on excess packaging sold to domestic households 'over the counter' in shops and supermarkets, and the fact that this method of waste disposal is not 'annualised' per household - instead we have charge-per-bin-presented - many also find this system to be unfair, unjust , anti-family/household, and doing little to actually reduce the volume of waste while increasing the quasi-council/privateer coffers.

It is also becoming obvious that Fingal council have managed the public perception as to the introduction of this charge very poorly. The public palette for extra charges might have been softened slightly had we been presented with recycling bins - promised many years ago - hand-in-hand with this charge. Instead we see nothing new for our money.

Many people in Lusk and throughout North Dublin are shocked by the jailing of public representatives yesterday. No amount of 'public perception management' will undo the injustice of the jailing of two honest politicians, while so many on the other side of the political divide who have admitted to crooked dealing and car-park-handshakes have never seen the inside of a court room.

Clare Daly will be elected as a public representative for Dublin North at the next General Election, should she decide to run.

Yesterday's events have assured this.

September 21, 2003 in Civil Liberties | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Open Letter to Sean Dolphin, Fingal County Council Leader

Dear Sean,

As a resident and tax payer in Lusk, I write to express my concern at the
recent turn of events in the bin charge campaigns. We now have two public
representatives who have been thrown into prison for their political
viewpoints, quite ironically on the day that Robert Emmet was sentenced to
death some 200 years ago - for his political viewpoint.

I also saw you on TV-am the other morning, and I am fortunate to be quite
knowlegable in the bin charge campaign, having followed in closely for the
last few months. I was the main mover behind the LuskPeople and No
Incineration Lusk campaigns, so as waste charges go I more or less know
what I am talking about. I thought that you mislead people by saying 99
percent of people are paying for their bin tags, your own people in the
council had been saying 66% earlier in the week. It is not a small
minority, as you said, who are refusing to pay for their bins to be picked
up, but a large proportion of tax payers and residents who see this as yet
another way to screw the PAYE worker in this country.

Jailing publicly elected politicians and people who are against this tax
and protesting in our democracy against the introduction of this tax will
only serve to motivate thousands of people like me to fight against this
introduction even more so. Martin Cullen said yesterday that Clare Daly
was 'political grandstanding' - she was actually elected to Fingal County Council on a
no bin tax ticket, so I find his comments as insulting to the
intellligence of the electorate and general taxpayer as can be.

I will never vote FF/FG again. I know many others who are lifelong
Fianna Fail/FG supporters who will never vote for those parties again.

Believe me, Clare Daly will be our next public representative for Dail Eireann - at
the expense of a FF or FG seat.

I usually pay for my bin tags. Yesterday I did not - under protest. My bin
was not collected.


Tim Kirby - Lusk North Dublin

September 20, 2003 in Civil Liberties | Permalink | Comments (0)

Contact numbers for anti-bin tax campaign - Fingal

fingal anti-bin tax campaignEmail your messages of support for Joe and Clare, demand that they be released and demand that the bin tax is abolished.

  • William Soffe - County Manager - [email protected]
  • Sean Dolphin - Fine Gael Chair of the Council - [email protected]. Phone him at [code from NI and Britain] 003531 or 01 890 5025 (w)
  • The Council address is - Fingal Council, County Hall, Main Street, Swords, Fingal County Dublin. Phone 003531/01 8905000
  • Fianna Fail - Tel 003531 or 01 6761551 Email: [email protected]
  • Progressive Democrats - Tel 6794399 Email: [email protected]

For further information, Cllr. Ruth Coppinger (FABTC Secretary) at 087 673 0187

September 20, 2003 in Civil Liberties | Permalink | Comments (0)

Digital alters the news landscape

Poynteronline.org uses the Isabel hurricane to illustrate the use of moblogging. The site has links to the various photo blogs that have come online in the last day or two.

It's not that the journalism profession has seen an upswell in employment. Rather, it's because a growing number of citizens -- often, victims of the storm's wrath -- are serving as volunteer journalists for this major news story, their work being published by professional news organizations as a supplement to the reporting and photography of professional journalists.

"We media" has joined "we-tell-you media."

September 19, 2003 in WebLog Publishing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anti-bin tax campaigner Clare Daly jailed for a month

In what might prove to be the catalyst to further,more widespread protests in the anti-bin tax campaign, Socialist councillor Clare Daly has been committed to Mountjoy jail for a month, along with TD Joe Higgins, for their part in the anti-bin tax campaign, widely reported in newmediacuts.

RTE News reports --

Mr Justice Iarlfhlaith O'Neill said he appreciated that Joe Higgins and Clare Daly breached court orders as part of a political campaign and their motivation was sincere.

But he said they had been engaged in a deliberate and calculated contempt of the law and the authority of the court. He said this was regrettable and reprehensible in Mr Higgins' case as he was a member of the Dáil.

He sentenced them both to a month in Mountjoy Prison, beginning today. Mr Higgins and Ms Daly were led away from the courts by gardaí and are now being held in the Bridewell Garda Station.

As he was taken away, Mr Higgins said his committal to prison was an outrage.

Mr Higgins and Ms Daly have been leading a campaign against Fingal Co Council's decision not to collect rubbish from householders who have not paid their waste charges.

Speaking at a meeting yesterday, Clare said -- “While we were in the High Court on Wednesday the people of Cabra and Rivervalley blocked three more bin trucks. That’s the real story here, ordinary people protesting against the non-collection of rubbish by unelected and undemocratic County Council bureaucrats. I have a mandate from the thousands of non-payers and from the voters who elected me to campaign to get the bin tax scrapped. Threatening people with jail won’t stop the protests. We will stand by the thousands in the communities”.

It is ironic that this occurs on the 200th anniversary of the sentencing of a great Irish patriot - Robert Emmet. In his final speech before sentencing, he noted that history would be the judge of his actions, and that he was motivated from social, moral and political conviction. It is a terrible judgement on this country that politicians that act from the same motivations are treated severely compared to those politicians who have acted selfishly and corruptly - as we have seen from the host of tribunals that this country has spawned, and the lenient sentences for contempt of court and judgements [if any] that have been handed to the guilty. More news as it breaks.

September 19, 2003 in Civil Liberties | Permalink | Comments (0)

WebLogs in and around the classroom

Weblogs are increasingly being used in education by researchers, teachers, and students. Professors are keeping research blogs, requiring students to blog, or creating course weblogs. Students are keeping course blogs or personal blogs. Scholars are studying and writing about the weblog phenomenon while keeping weblogs about weblogs.

The list is growing quickly. Here is a smattering of what is going on in and around Academia.

September 18, 2003 in Distance Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Isabel Live Blog

Well I guess it had to happen - a live Typepad blog has opened up at Tom Bridge's site detailing an eyewitness account of what some are calling 'the perfect storm'. One of the beauties of Typepad is the unlimited blogs that you can publish - each with individual feeds and properties.

I've mailed Tom and wished him the best of luck, and how happy we are that the hurricane isn't heading in the other direction ;p

September 18, 2003 in webCulture | Permalink | Comments (0)