A car you can download

Posted: June 25th, 2014 | Author: antoin | No Comments »

The Tabby, an open source car, is now available for download. The idea is that this open car ‘platform’ can be customised for particular needs in particular markets. Cars could be produced in batches of hundreds or thousands or even as an individual item, to meet an individual need, but still be based on the core platform.

A little like the way every Android phone and iPhone is built on the same basic platform, but can be customised in umpteen ways by the owner to meet their particular need.

illustration of Tabby Car

Tabby Car from OSVehicle

I look forward to hearing from experts how open this design actually is, and what can really be done with it, and what price point it could be done at.

A short guide to buying health insurance in Ireland

Posted: February 4th, 2014 | Author: antoin | 2 Comments »

There was an interesting article in the Irish Times today about health insurance in Ireland by Fiona Reddan. It was interesting, in that it addressed some questions and queries about health insurance, but not that helpful in that it didn’t provide any answer to the question of how to get the best value for  your health expenditure. It also stepped around the obvious conclusion: private health insurance is good value, if you can afford it. So, here is my short guide to buying health insurance. Read the rest of this entry »

The MOOCs and the A’s, B’s and C’s of education.

Posted: January 14th, 2014 | Author: antoin | No Comments »

In 2012MOOCs promised, in a roundabout way, to change the way education delivered. In mythical MOOCland, education would no longer be tied to place or constrained by numbers. It didn’t quite work out that way, but like any trip to a far off land, the MOOC experience teaches us some  ’home truths’ about education. The educational system isn’t really about delivering educational excellence and a lot of the time, it isn’t even about delivering education. Rather, the education system is actually focused on delivering adequate outcomes and protecting social cohesion. Read the rest of this entry »

How not to lose mail; how not to lose €3.6 billion

Posted: January 13th, 2014 | Author: antoin | No Comments »

The Department of Finance loses mail. When you are responsible for cash flows amounting to billions of euros per year. I used to lose mail too. Really, I was very disorganised. Read the rest of this entry »

Charging for Postcodes and the Legendary Ryanair Toilet Levy

Posted: November 19th, 2013 | Author: antoin | 4 Comments »

Yesterday we got some information about how open the Irish postcode system will be funded. Essentially the idea is to pay for its setup and operating costs out of a charge to end-users for the database – charging for access to the ‘facility’, if you like. This ‘licence fee’ is a rather humdrum traditional idea about charging for things to do with computers and information.

Read the rest of this entry »

An electric car, by the kilometre.

Posted: November 3rd, 2013 | Author: antoin | No Comments »

This new electric car chassis concept, the Tabby caught my attention. Worth also checking this coverage from Bloomberg. Now, this isn’t really meant to be a finished car; it’s supposed to be an open-source platform for building a finished vehicle, electric or otherwise. But they are talking about being able to build a car for ten thousand euros with this kit. Read the rest of this entry »

Why the kids shouldn’t have to use MS Word

Posted: October 12th, 2013 | Author: antoin | No Comments »

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Microsoft Word is a software program with serious issues. But is the issue really with the program, or is the issue with the whole idea of a print-oriented word processor? Read the rest of this entry »

Too many bad decisions – why the Seanad matters

Posted: September 23rd, 2013 | Author: antoin | No Comments »

The Seanad debate trundles on with discussion of power grabs, costs, referendum powers and so on. What is getting lost is the issue we should all be obsessed with – the consistently bad quality of decisionmaking at the highest levels in Ireland -.

As a nation, we make too many bad decisions. Our political machinery makes these decisions apparently without being fully informed of the full range of options available, or indeed of the consequences of the options chosen. And sometimes we just seem to sleepwalk into these mistakes. The job of a well-formed Seanad should be to awaken us and our politicians from our stupor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Patronage not profit. The future of Irish news media

Posted: August 23rd, 2013 | Author: antoin | No Comments »

As a nation, we are mad for opening up media outlets. We have over 20  daily or weekly newspapers of national scope (see lists for Ireland and Northern Ireland) and countless local and specialist publications. The Internet is a facilitator for new publications and there are plenty there too. This continued expansion seems like the future.

Some optimists in the industry believe new revenue streams will open up as web users get used to paying for their content. (see this report about the Irish Times’ plans and this one in relation to the Independent.)

I think that on the whole, the opposite will happen to Irish media on both scores. Read the rest of this entry »

A proper address can be a matter of life and death

Posted: June 21st, 2013 | Author: antoin | 3 Comments »

The Irish Times reports this morning that an ambulance was sent to a wrong address and that as a result receipt of medical attention was delayed. The child subsequently died. This is a great tragedy, most of all for that child’s parents, but also for us all. We can cure cancer, but we can’t get an ambulance out to a dying child.

[updated with new information 22 June, see below] Read the rest of this entry »