Team KCLR Cycling For Chernobyl

Team KCLR on Day 2
Team KCLR on Day 2 – L-R: Fitzy, Stephen Byrne, Edwina Grace, John Walsh, Myself, John Keane

For the past few weeks, some of the on-air team of KCLR have been prepping for the annual Mary Slattery Memorial Cycle, a charity cycle run each June bank holiday weekend by the Chernobyl Kilkenny Outreach Group for Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International.

Having taken part myself the past two years (including the near biblical conditions of 2012), the weather turned terrific for the 2013 outing, kicking off in Cork after the birthday celebrations on Friday night to make it to Dungarvan on Saturday and on to Kilkenny yesterday.

Team KCLR on Day 1
Team KCLR at the first water stop on Day 1. L-R: Stephen Byrne, John Walsh, John Keane, David ‘Fitzy’ Fitzpatrick, Myself. Pic: Edwina Grace

I could have done with a few more weeks on the bike in the build-up but came through both 80+ km days without any real physical or mental difficulties. The longest I’d managed to put in on the bike all this year before the weekend was a 36-ish spin on Friday morning before handing over the bike so squeezing in 160km unscathed over the weekend is a good result.

Also a good result is word that by Saturday evening, the fundraising efforts of the cycle had generated over €37,000 with cards and donations still coming in across the weekend. There’s an auction for two tickets for Bruce Springsteen in Nowlan Park that continues until the end of KCLR Breakfast with John Walsh tomorrow morning and text lines are still open for late donations by texting DONATE CHERNOBYL to 57777 (1.50 per message).

There’s nothing like a weekend on the bike to give you back the appetite you had for cycling. Such is the case with the Cork to Kilkenny cycle and with the grandest of stretches in the evening upon us, it’s time to capitalise on that. Wedding looming and whatnot.

To all involved in making the cycle possible – you’re all stars. Honestly, you can’t find fault or flaw in any of the organisation for the weekend, everyone crossed the line in high spirits, still in one piece (albeit some more sore than others) and more again pledging to join in the craic next year.

Here’s to making it four years running…

Turning Attentions To Arts & Culture

Love Arts Culture

THE ARTS, with theatre in particular, is quite close to my heart. One of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in years finished recently when I wrapped up a six month artist residency at 76 John Street, Kilkennny with The Devious Theatre Company. The purpose of the residency was to allow the company time to develop, plan, plot, grow professionaly and stage some new work. Three new productions, two festivals and a partridge in a pear tree later, I find myself having kick-started a new blog, Love Arts Culture. This due largely in part to reading anything and everything the arts office has had to offer over the past six months and using the residency as a catalyst to get a focus for a new blog.

Love Arts Culture gives me a home for arts related musings, photographs and theatre coverage, with a spillover of content from DTC and other arts-related projects I’m involved in.

The idea of kenmc.com as a technology blog, for the past 12-18 months, has certainly faded with more of my attention heading towards the arts and groups that I’m involved with both personall and professionally, so parking it all under the one banner makes a lot more sense.

It’s in the infancy stages for the moment but I’ll be giving it some good development time over the next few weeks and we’ll see what comes of it. Whoever says blogging is dead must be having a laugh. As for the content here on kenmc.com, it has certainly changed direction over the past six years or so (or it must be close to six years anyway). This blog itself will be subject to some revision in the coming weeks but for now, you’ll find more of my ramblings over at LoveArtsCulture.com, AnyGivenFood.com and with some photos in the mix, documenting the 29th year, over at 365.kenmc.com.

Do stop by and check out the blog. You’ll also find @LoveArtsCulture on Twitter and Facebook here.

What Is Being Creative?

What is being creative? from Kristian Ulrich Larsen on Vimeo.

We may not always create or invent, but we always learn when we try. If this phone ever goes from concept to production, you can count me in.

The flip phone is based on a concept conceived during a six-week long workshop by Kristian Ulrich Larsen, Ewa Sendecka, Jeppe Vestergård and Victoria Kusk. It was then developed further for a semester by Kristian Ulrich Larsen as part of an MA program at Kolding school of design, online at dskd.dk.

Yanko Design are behind the physical design of the phone. Spot the Android screens then follow it up on Wired and Engadget.

So much Science and Technology in Cycling

Gravity Works
Creative Commons License photo credit: Let Ideas Compete

THERE IS so much technology in cycling. I don’t think I realised it at first. But over a month on from picking up a bike and telling myself I’m cycling to Sligo (which is this Friday), I’m finding out that there is an insane amount of technology behind cyling. Between power output monitors, wireless this and ANT that, GPS tracking, speed and cadence monitors, heart rate monitors, ultra light-weight this and paper thin that, percentages here there and everywhere, there’s an incredible amount to take in.

All of this has got me thinking that cycling must be a techie’s dream when it comes to sports.

Admittedly, I’m not the most sporty of people. Yes, I love my sports, but I’m very much the armchair supporter. But spending the last five weeks out on the bike has gotten me wired into the sport (literally) on a completely different level.

I’m logging my routes with a Garmin Edge 500 (and running with a Garmin Forerunner 405). I have fitted wireless sensors to the back of bike and pedal shaft to track my speed and pedal rate over the course of a cycle. I’m wearing a heart rate monitor (quite comfortably) under my jersey which, when monitoring heart rate zones, is driving me on or reeling me in, depening on how things are going. These both talk wirelessly to the Edge unit which sits on the cross bar. Once I get home, I sync the Edge up with Garmin Connect which has been mapping my route under GPS with access to stats on length, time, speed, heart rate (max / min / average / zones), temperature, altitude, grades of hills and a whole lot more. Connect it up with Google Maps or Google Earth and I can play back the entire journey and get a solid overview of where things need to be picked up or where things were going quite well.

These small gadgets are teaching me a lot about my own body and level of fitness, what energy is being used and much more besides.

But I’m only scratching the surface.

Everything about the bike is driven by science and technology. Races are won and lost on the time difference created between bikes that are carrying one kind of bottle holder over another, or the position of a saddle, handlebars, the compounds used in the chains, gears, tyres – it’s like looking at a Formula One car for all the world (without the insane budget, and the fact that it’s a car), but you can see where I’m coming from.

Stepping away from the bike and I’ve spent the past month analysing food – what foods work well in what situations, ways to replenish energies, recover after long rides. Combine the two (the food and the bike) and I’ve got a very different outlook on things food and fitness-wise to where I was a month ago. All of this is building up of course to me cycling to Sligo on Friday. We start Friday, do 80 miles and continue Saturday with another 70 or so. If you had asked me to cycle 150 miles at the start of the summer I would have told you where to go in no uncertain terms.

But the techie in me is being driven towards it as I’m mad for the stats that come out the other side, stats that in a large part have come down to your own physical input. When all is said and done and I get back to the office on Monday morning I’ll get them uploaded here. Even before we get the cycle done we’re already talking about the next trip, and the one after that. God only knows what I’m after letting myself in for…

Kilkenny Arts Festival Needs You

I’m back on the festival trail again this year with the Kilkenny Arts Festival and they’re looking for volunteers (see Facebook) on the ground and on the road from August 5th to 20th (the festival itself runs from August 6th to 15th this year). There is no previous experience necessary for festival volunteers, with the minimum requirement being that you are at least 14 years old. If successful, you’ll be briefed on your role a full week before the festival, though the closing date to get your application in is this Friday July 23rd.

Days volunteering may be short, long, a real mixed bag of things but it can be a great way to see a festival and meet some new folk at the same time.

The festival team are also looking for drivers throughout the festival. If you’re aged 25 or over and have a full, clean driving license and are interested in working as a driver on the festival, get in touch with Valerie on 056 7763663. Drivers with Class D (minibus) licenses are also required. The forms are also available to download here.

Note: The above clip is part of a conversation I had with Theatre and Dance curator Tom Creed ahead of this year’s festival. Thanks to the Project Arts Centre in Dublin for letting us use the space in the afternoon. I’ll be blogging my way through the Festival over at KilkennyArts.ie.

May Everyone Everywhere Find Their Way

It’s rare enough that I’ll pop my head up to share an advertising video, but the theatrical side of me really likes this extended viral for Nokia’s SatNav campaign. Between work and new ventures in the past two months I’ve found myself on the road a lot, have taken many wrong turns in Dublin, some wrong turns in Cork, but having a sat nav in the van and on the phone eventually brought me back to Kilkenny.

I’ve strayed from the N95 as my primary handset in recent weeks but for road and street warriors packing any of Nokia’s recently released handsets, there’s some free maps to be had with Ovi Maps.

Now to break out the notebook and get me some blog posts…

Apprentice Applications Close May 3rd

The Apprentice

APPLICATIONS to be on the third series of TV3’s The Apprentice close on Monday May 3rd. I’ve followed the show for the past two series, loved it and sure enough, while good chunks of the show are shot for a TV audience, you’d have to admit that the series makes for great viewing as the candidates are put through their paces to become Bill Cullen’s “apprentice”.

Last time around saw salesman Steve Rayner beat Steven Higgens to the punch in the show’s finale with Rayner getting a €100,000 contract for is efforts.

From TV’s application –

A selection of applicants will be called to take part in an interview process on Saturday 8th May with the possibility of progressing to a further round of interviews on Tuesday 11th and either Wednesday 12th of May or Thursday 13th of May.

Please be aware that your interview may only take a few minutes due to the large number of applicants. It is essential to come to the interview well presented and with good reasons as to why you should be Bill Cullen’s next Apprentice.

Please note that if you are one of the successful applicants who make it through to the televisions series you will need to make yourself completely available for an extended period of filming between June 14th 2010 and August 21st 2010.

If you’ve been sitting at home watching the last two series, reckon you can do better, why not make the application?

Start your application here at TV3.ie.

The Blog Awards, The Video, The Aftermath

SATURDAY took myself and a few hundred bloggers on a journey across the country to Galway or the fifth annual Irish Blog Awards. We had the motorway up, the scenic route home and in between had a fantastic evening / night / morning in the Radisson Blu in the centre of Galway, the shindig organised by some mighty fine people, assisted by other allstars, and attended by bloggers from all walks of life (more on that below).

I’ve made it to the awards the last four years, enjoyed two great years of it in Dublin, last year in Cork and this year in Galway. Shows like this take a hell of a lot of ingredients, time, money, the patience of saints, sponsors, promotors, advertisers, volunteers and more. Behind the scenes there’s an army of people making contributions from writing up the awards, judging, submitting videos, laying out chairs, providing props, music, food, goodie bags – the whole nine yards – but it has to be said, when it comes to showtime, everything is so smooth, so energy filled and runs so well that by the time you hit the bed after the awards you’ll be planning and booking for next year.

Or at least that’s my take on it anyway and nominated or not, I’m already looking forward to 2011.

Each year brings new faces, new conversations and given the majority of bloggers (I would hazard a guess) are Twitter users in some capacity, the ability to recognise people across the room has gotten a lot easier too. I could namecheck people for the night given how you couldn’t move 20 feet at times without running into someone for a chat but needless to say, it was a great night out in Galway and one that anyone with a remote interest in blogging would really benefit from attending.

The video above is one myself and Ross put together as one of the category introductions for the night. Sneaking in the door at 8pm I gave up my (what I would deem) traditional front-row-ish seats for one right at the back of the room, making it quite easy to duck out the door if the video went horribly wrong. Alas, the laughs were there, the comments and feedback for the 60-second piece were great and I didn’t have to prop up the bar as much as I had anticipated. If there’s an opening for more videos next year you can chalk us down in advance.

In the aftermath of everything, there were agreements to meet up for pints, talk of organising trips up to Belfast or getting people to Kilkenny for a session. Some of those on my “pint list” I didn’t get to link up with but we’ll do something soon.

I found, as I’ve done the past three years, that a trip to the Blog Awards is a great motivator for your own work. Come January of this year I started making more time for the blogs I’ve authored over the past few years. This one alone has seen more posts in the first three months of the year than the last six of 2009, DeviousTheatre.com is going strong and expanding its arts coverage, KilkennyMusic.com has had a recent facelift and online strategy put in place and it’s all coming up blogging here in Kilkenny. With the Irish Web Awards just over six months away we should get a nice, timely kick in the arse to look after our bigger sites as well.

In summary, my thanks to the Blog Awards Army. That includes Damien, Rick, Darragh, Steph, Anto, Brian Greene (whose 90s set could be heard no problem on the garden rooftop after midnight), all those who put together videos, all those who accepted awards, all those who attended, all those I got to chat to, the Radisson Blu hotel (who do an absolutely fantastic breakfast, welcome you off the elevator AND put a Sunday paper in your hand), the new faces and usernames I picked up, the old faces who continue to be great people, Edwina for this most excellent photo and all those who continue to read, write, comment and rate Irish blogs. Yes. All of you, and that lot, are in that army.

Now, it’s back to work.

Let The Tech Investments Roll

Just Some of the Social Networks SocialGrow Loves
Creative Commons License photo credit: SocialGrow

PayPal. eBay. Facebook. LinkedIn and, now, IBM. Between them in recent months they’ve announced hundreds of new jobs.

PayPal had announced recently that they were adding 200 to their Dublin base, Brian Cowen had a smile on his face when he let the news out that eBay would be creating up to 150 jobs, Facebook had announced they would double their Irish-based workforce from 70 to 140 after only one year here while LinkedIn announced yesterday that they were setting up their European HQ in Dublin to link up with new offices in London and the Netherlands. This morning saw The Irish Times carry a story on IBM creating up to 200 new jobs in Dublin.

When I started in college in 2001 we were told we’d be lucky to get any kind of a job in the technology sector. Particularly anything to do with the internet.

If I was sitting back in the canteen in WIT reading the business section of this morning’s national papers I reckon I’d be doing so with a smile on my face. If the big hitters keep investing and reinvesting, something has to be going right somewhere, yes? That said, those hoping to apply for new positions created by the companies would do well to register for their services and brush up on how everything works.

I would be interested to see the figures on LinkedIn’s plans for job creation or its expansion into Ireland but if the big companies keep on coming, how many more from the picture above will we see open doors here? Anyone taking odds on a Dublin-based European HQ for Twitter?

WiFi Digital Camera Addon – Eye Fi

8GB Eye-Fi cardWIRELESS TRANSFER of photos in an otherwise non-wifi enabled digital camera. How? Eye-Fi. Yes, I would like one of these.

Try as I might, I usually end up walking away from the house or the office without the cable to connect my camera to the laptop. When it comes to transferring photos on the move, that can be a right pain in the neck. Sure enough, you can pick up digital cameras of all shapes and sizes (that might cost you a bit more on the credit card) packing WiFi transfers, GPS, location tagging and the likes. But for those of us looking for a WiFi option, the Eye-Fi might be just the ticket.

According to TUAW, you can set the card “to automatically upload to iPhoto, or just to a specific folder on your computer. You also have the option to have your pictures uploaded to MobileMe, Flickr, Evernote, Picasa, Facebook, and many other places (see chart in new window). Videos can be uploaded to Flickr (only 90 seconds maximum, though), Picasa, YouTube, Facebook, Phanfare, and Photobucket. You can even set it up to send notifications via email, Facebook, Twitter, or SMS when transfers start, finish, or are interrupted.”

It’s a Class 6 wireless SD card meaning it should shift around 6mb a second and Amazon have the new 8GB model on pre-order for the princely sum of $149.99.

It might seem a bit on the steep side for an SD card. Argos are happy to flog them for anything up to €60 for an 8gb SDHC card, and if the Euro conversion rate at €112 or so held up, an extra €50 isn’t a bad price to pay to get full WiFi capabilities for your digital camera.

If you’re thinking on buying, check the Eye-Fi support site for compatible cameras.

Note: Did I actually say “just the ticket”?