Me, Unemployed Life and Going to the Greendale Jobs Club

On the last day of the Greendale Jobs Club in Dublin 13, Trina asked me to write feedback for their blog. I was delighted to help them and give them the positive review they deserve for the help they gave me and to fourteen other people. Please see

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On the last day of the Greendale Jobs Club in Dublin 13, Trina asked me to write feedback for their blog. I was delighted to help them and give them the positive review they deserve for the help they gave me and to fourteen other people. Please see an excerpt of it below. 

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A few weeks ago, I received a letter from the Social Welfare Office who volunteered my services to the Greendale Jobs Club for two weeks.  It contained a thinly veiled threat that Jobseekers Allowance may be withdrawn had I not turned up.  I was not exactly amused with this letter, nor would you be.  However reticent I was, I told myself if I had to go, I had to go.  Living on social welfare is not a happy place to be.

You do ask yourself what can you be doing for two bloody weeks that you’re not already doing.  Was the Greendale Jobs Club really going to stretch the monotonous task of job-searching for two weeks?  From 9:30am to 4:00pm for two weeks would probably make you want to run headfirst into a wall from 9:30am to 4:00pm for those two weeks.  I mean you tailor cover letters and curricula-vitae and send them left, right and centre in hope one of them might stick and you get a job offer.  Mostly, you’d be lucky if you get a response.  If you’re lucky.

The lack of closure in a way is more tortuous than a rejection letter as you live in false hope that you may be needed.  It’s not Hell.  It’s worse than that.  It’s Purgatory.  Hell is at least a definitive place whereas Purgatory leaves you at crossroads where all signposts are marked ‘Nowhere.’  It is a place so empty and dark.  It’s both claustrophobic and intimidating.  I therefore told myself that the Greendale Jobs Club is a lot better than sitting at home where there’s a temptation to either do nothing or procrastinate.  I had to give it a chance.  It was not in my interests, nor the other unemployed individuals, not to give it a chance.

It can be read in its entirety here.

Tech Wars

The days are counting down to Microsoft unplugging the support system for Microsoft XP (8th April, 2014). No longer will you be able to go to the Microsoft hospital to download updated drivers. That is a sad day.

The days are counting down to Microsoft unplugging the support system for Microsoft XP (8th April, 2014).  No longer will you be able to go to the Microsoft hospital to download updated drivers.  That is a sad day. 

The idea is that Microsoft wants the faithful Windows XP end-users to bury their old computers and buy Windows 8 machines.  As I still am an XP user that puts me and all XP users in a quandary.  Do I migrate to Windows 8 or not?  My poor laptop has seen better days.  Not only has it got the mental scars; blue screens of death or constant hanging, it has physical scars.  Some bits of it are, and I’m not joking when I say this, falling off.  Every so often the poor computer’s disk whines like it has a chesty terminal cough.  That’s ‘terminal’ as in about to die as opposed to computer terminal.  Okay, that was a bad joke.  Also, perhaps symbolically, it is about 8 years old.  That’s probably around 500 in human years. So, there is no point in me upgrading this poor computer, but should bite the bullet and buy a new one.  This feels like I’m writing my laptop’s obituary.  Strange, as I am currently writing this on it.  My laptop probably hates me for this.

The question still remains.  Do I buy a Windows 8 computer or not?

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There are not really that many alternatives to Windows. Sure there’s Apple and Google Chrome but I have issues with both.  Probably similar issues with Windows 8.  With each, it would be learning a new system.  I at least have the advantage that I’ve used Apple systems before.  All-in-all they’re not bad.  The cycloptic like mouse takes a bit of getting used to.  The keyboard I found strange.  Although in fairness, every new computer means a new keyboard.  Similarly with each operating system, each would have different programs all of which would mean you’d have to get used to them.  One Apple laptop I used didn’t have an octothorpe (#) probably one of the most important symbols in computing today.  Well, it is important on Twitter. 

I haven’t used Chrome Operating System before.  Google calls these ‘laptops’ ‘Chromebooks.’ It is a Linux based operating system designed to work primarily with web applications.  I want my computer to be more than a ‘web-application.’  Google encourages everything to be online.  I, on the other hand, like my files closer at hand.  It’s a bit like the book or ereader argument. I prefer the tangible things in life. Also, I don’t want to be constricted to using only Google products.  That said, if I use an Apple or Windows system, I would be constricted by their respective compatible programs.  A Chromebook would probably be fine for people who only use computers just to be online.  I don’t think this is the right computer for me.

I have used Windows 8 (inc. 8.1) but I have a problem with its design.  It’s trying to move everything to the ‘App world.’  Installing third party programs is very difficult.  These need to be installed on the desktop interface and some have compatibility issues.  This tells me that software companies still have to reconfigure their programs to be compatible with Windows 8 and its variants.  That said, software companies will eventually issue fixes for, or update their programs for Windows as Microsoft has the most users.  Windows 8 isn’t my favourite Windows system and it does take a lot of getting used to as Microsoft have designed it from scratch.  This means that what you were used to in different Windows systems, it may not be the same in Windows 8.  Several people I know have ‘downgraded’ to Windows 7.  Still, as Microsoft has the largest market and has the majority of hardware and software to choose from, it has to remain an option.

Another option would be to have a Linux based computer.  Linux systems are like snowdrops, no one Linux laptop/computer is truly alike.  End-users may have the same systems – Mint, Puppy, SUSE, Manjaro, Ubuntu etc – but their operating systems would be totally different as each person tailors their system to what they want.  Linux users would suggest the fact you create your own system is the beauty of it.  The fact there are so many Linux operating systems (distros) alone sounds complicated.  Now that would mean a lot of getting used to but I would love it.  Eventually.  The good things about Linux are that its fast and free. Yes free. You don’t have to pay a penny for it. There are some systems that you can pay for but these would be geared towards companies. Also, unlike Windows’ systems its less susceptible to hackers and viruses. The problem with Linux distros is compatibility.  There are fewer programs to choose from than the other systems.  Also, and perhaps more importantly, compatible hardware is difficult to come by.  You may be able to get printer to work, but it uses every cartridge even to print black.  In Microsoft, you don’t have this problem, which leaves me in a quandary.

Twitter, It’s Not You, It’s Me.

When I first joined Twitter, I did not know what to make of it.  I followed people left, right and centre.  Metaphorically and politically.  I posted the odd message and replied the odd time.  Then I was about to dump it.  That was before there was a debate about the quality of Irish television.  After that, I was addicted.

Now comes the difficult part.  Because Twitter uses follow quotas, it did not make sense, to me, to follow people willy-nilly.  Rather than follow any Joe Soap, I changed tack.  The best value I could get from Twitter was to engage with Irish people – a lot of whom were people in TV and Media.  It was what I was studying.  It made sense.  I now follow and engage with people I find useful.

It also means I do follow people who don’t follow back.  Their opinions are interesting to me, so my follow:followers ratio is around 9:8.  Therefore, every so often, I pare down my followers.   It’s a difficult job as I’m doing it manually now as Twitcleaner has retired.  Unfortunately.  It was the least intrusive of the Twitter ‘following’ apps.  (I am not a fan of the apps that tweet a report of your apps each week).   I started to unfollow people I don’t engage with.  It is not a personal thing.  I am just not an automatic follow-back person any more.  To me, Twitter is more important than that, it is how you engage with people and how people engage with you.

It’s not you, it’s me.  Okay.  It is a little bit of you, but it’s me too.

Making a Hames of Hames

Following a long Twitter discussion to the etymology of ‘to make a hames of’ with Stan Carey (@stancarey) Gerard Cunningham (@faduda),  Karenwq4 (@Karenwq4) and Ciarán Ferrie (@ccferrie) I compiled a list of Irish words where the phrase could have derived from. The only certainty is that ‘to make a hames of’ something is of Irish origin.

Éamann (n. rapparee)
éamh (vn. of éigh, cry, scream)
éamh (int. Bah!)
éigean (m. violence)
éimear (emery)
éimigh (v.t. refusal, denial, rejection)
féimheach (bankrupt) (v. féimhigh)
géim (v. low, bellow, shout, roar)
séimhigh (v. Thin, attenuate)
séimhní (a. tame Could even be an ironic use of English word ‘tame’)
téamh (vn. of téigh, heating, warming)

This is in no way a definitive list and is only speculative.  As the Irish can be playful with the English language and have been known to use it ironically, I have added these words in.  Honestly, I would have a tough time making a case for all or any of the aforementioned words.

For further information on the etymology of ‘to make a hames of it,’ please read Stan Carey’s blog: http://stancarey.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/making-a-hames-of-it/.

The Twitter thread can be found here.

The BAI in Action Today

The Limerick Leader reports the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has rejected an appeal of a James Clark that Dara O’Briain blasphemed on The Late Late Show last November regarding a stump at Rathkeale. Clark suggested that O’Briain’s comment was ‘blasphemous, insulting and showed his clear lack of knowledge.’

O’Briain was promoting BBC‘s Three Men in a Boat when he stated: ‘I kept trying to steer us away from things, like they kept on wanting to go to Rathkeale. Do you know what’s in Rathkeale? The Holy Stump, the bit of a tree. I can say this now. It’s a tree. It could look like anything, a bun in a tree. It looks like isobars. I had to keep steering them away from this.’

RTÉ responded to Clark’s statement that ‘most people in Ireland today would be highly sceptical of claims of apparition and would find nothing wrong in such claims being satirised or treated as suitable subject matter for jokes,’ and added no other complaints of this nature were made.

Furthermore, RTÉ added ‘If upsetting one viewer was sufficient to uphold a complaint, many programmes would regularly find themselves in breach. No one was harmed by this gentle and unmalicious joke.’

Clark suggested in his complaint that O’Briain did not know ‘its (the stump’s) importance to Ireland.’ I’m not sure which is more laughable the complaint, or the suggestion that a stump is of religious importance.

In another matter, Tom Dunne today on Newstalk apologized for comments by Nell McCafferty made on air yesterday (11th March 2010) who made personal derogatory remarks about the Mary Harney, the Minister for Health. On a lighter note, Brenstrong, on Twitter, suggested ‘No one should apologise for nellgate. That way, Mary Harney will understand the frustration of no one being responsible.’

Introduction of Google Chrome

The world is goggle eyed with Google.  Talks of Twitter being googled and now Google is to launch a new operating system in ‘an attempt to re-think what operating systems should be’ and is due to be available to consumers in 2010. 

Why am I talking about an operating system on an Irish Media blog?  Well the power of Google has seen it be the top internet search engine, buy Youtube, and be dominant in any field it wants.  Hell, Google could open a typewriter factory, and people will start buying typewriters again.   

I like the fact that the system will be Open Source but it could threaten the lesser used OS’s such as Apple and Linux.  The Apple OS has long been the standard of computing for media (hence the link) be it design or film editing.  Google’s compatibility with software is yet to be questioned.  When Google puts itself into the OS market, will it break into Microsoft’s dominance, or could it also damage Linux, Apple, etc.