Irish Innovation Environment: Aspirations vs Reality

This piece ran in the Irish Times on November 2nd last.

“The best small country in the world to do business”. Our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, first asserted his global ambition for Ireland during his general election campaign in early 2011. This week Dublin hosts many technology entrepreneurs from around the world, for the 2015 Dublin Web Summit. Continue reading

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Time for a further smartphone revolution..

I wrote this just before Apple announced its pencil and the iPhone 5 lookalike the iPhone 6.  It was published on 16th September..

“Smartphones are really complicated. Just for the basic stuff people have a hard time figuring out how to use them.” As Apple CEO, Steve Jobs so observed when he launched the very first version of the iPhone, at MacWorld in January 2007. He criticised the competing smartphones at the time as being overly complex to use. They had tiny awkward keypads in the bottom half of the phone, which in turn squeezed out the available space for the screen. Continue reading

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Airbnb – trust, regulation and the sharing economy

I wrote this when Airbnb made the headlines in Ireland after agreeing to share the details of who had been renting what in Ireland,  with the national tax authorities,  the Revenue Commissioners…   It was published by the Irish Times on August 24th 2015.

The accommodation letting company Airbnb made the Irish headlines this month by agreeing to share information with the Revenue Commissioners. Airbnb hosts who have provided their private accommodation for hire will have their details forwarded by the company to the tax authorities, who in turn may presumably make enquiries about any undeclared rental income. Continue reading

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‘StageFright’ in Android

I wrote this piece on the susceptibility of Android to the ‘StageFright’ hack.  It was published in the Irish Times on August 3rd 2015.

Worldwide shipments of smartphones have just had a stellar quarter. According to research firm IDC, global shipments between April and June reached 337 million units, up nearly 12% from the same quarter last year. Continue reading

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Wearables – and the Tudor Queen

Published in the Irish Times on July 6th last – just after the Fitbit IPO..

The Tudor Queen, Elizabeth 1st, was reputedly amongst the first in the world to wear a clock on her body, an ‘armlet’ received as a New Year gift in 1571 from the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley. Some believe they were lovers, despite her reputation as the Virgin Queen. The device itself was a richly jewelled armlet “in the closing thearof a clocke, and in the forepart of the same a faire lozengie djamond without a foyle, hanging thearat a rounde juell fully garnished with dyamondes and a perle pendaunt.” It sounds more spectacular than even today’s US$18,000 Apple Watch Edition but unfortunately the device itself, or even a sketch of it from the time, has not survived.

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Advertising, Art and Technology

Published in the Irish Times on 8th June last

Ad vertere: to turn towards something. Advertising has been with us since the early Egyptians used papyrus to promote sales messages. Marketing strategists organise campaigns with almost military-like efficiency to evangelise and crusade for their brand clients. Continue reading

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Self-driving heavy lorries

This piece on Daimler-Benz’s self driving truck technology was published on May 18th last..

“My first customer was a lunatic. My second had a death wish”. It seems that Karl Benz did not have high confidence in the safety of his new product, the 3 wheeled patented ‘motorwagen’ powered by his internal combustion engine, also patented. He sold just 25 of them between 1888 and 1893, when he then launched a 4 wheel version. In 1895 Benz built the first truck powered by an internal combustion engine, followed later that year by the first bus. Continue reading

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