Coronavirus: King Canute and human nature

The current business challenges from the pandemic reminded me of challenges I had faced during my career as CEO of a public company,  including the 9/11 attacks, the Dotcom crash and the Lehman banking collapse in 2008.  I then remembered a discussion with my then Board Chair about King Canute..

My piece here was published in The Irish Times on March 12th last.

In the spring of 2000, I recall participating in an intense boardroom debate on whether we should be concerned by early indications of a potential crash in the internet economy. The Nasdaq index was falling, and some high-profile start-ups were rumoured to be under pressure. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The USA 5G challenge: Huawei and Socialism in the Grand Old Party…

This piece was published in the Irish Times on 13th February 2020.

American cellular mobile networks are delicate. If, like me, you are a reasonably frequent visitor to the US, then you will probably have been frustrated by weak or even absent wireless signals and frequent dropped calls when you do have a connection. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Starlink et al: Satellite-meshes for the internet?

This piece was published by the Irish Times on 16th January 2020. My Company IONA Technologies, was an important infrastructure vendor into the Motorola Iridium satellite mesh in 1990s: satellite-meshes are now making a come-back,  at a time when various jurisdictions worldwide are looking to control their citizens access to the global internet..

Two weeks ago Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a further 60 satellites for its Starlink programme to build a global broadband internet infrastructure. To date 182 Starlink satellites are now in low Earth orbit, with a further 60 planned for a launch later this month. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adopting a “no-commute” culture…

This piece was published in the Irish Times on 12th December 2019:  why are Google and Facebook and other majors building campuses in Dublin city,  rather than using the cloud?  After all, aren’t they promoting cloud computing?…   And if Ireland is hosting some many data centres,  which are heavily impacting our national grid and power generation,  shouldn’t there be wider benefits to society at large in doing so?….

When I was a software chief executive, my mentor strongly coached me to “invest in ideas, not materials”. He asserted that creativity and invention, insight and imagination were highly prized. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If someone offered you €10K to move out of Dublin, would you?

This piece was published by the Irish Times on 21st November 2019.

I was intrigued last week to read the announcement by a new San Jose-based company founded by three ex-Google staff, which is offering to pay $10,000 (€9,000) to each San Francisco Bay Area resident willing to relocate to places such as Salt Lake City or Sacramento. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grammarly, proof-reading and copy-writing – and Trump’s finger mistakes..

I wrote this piece while reflecting on how Grammarly has just reached “unicorn” status… It was published on 30th October 2019.

“Covfefe” [sic] has become an internet meme, Dadaist in its obscurity and nonsense. US president Donald Trump used it in an apparently incomplete tweet in May 2017, while referring to media coverage of his activities. Some – such as the imageboard website 4chan – have opined that the president has become a meme himself, since he seems to expressively tweet his mental state. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dangerous software, software best practice and professional ethics.

I wrote this piece after discussions with a colleague, reflecting on how over our careers, computers have become so much easier to use but paradoxically as a consequence, so much easier to mis-use. It was published on 26th September 2019.

Some 75 years ago, there were but a few electromechanical computers worldwide, used to break military encryption. Even just 40 years ago, at that time it seemed audacious that Microsoft’s Bill Gates would envisage “a computer on every desk and in every home”. Today, almost every individual, every company, every government and every society worldwide are directly or indirectly influenced by computers. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment