Category Archives: General

Olympian John Treacy Praises Sports & [Exercise] Engineering Degree at NUI Galway

Pictured at the launch of NUI Galway’s B.E. in Sports & Exercise Engineering were (left-right) the University President, Dr James J. Browne; Professor Ó Laighin, Head of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway and Course Director; one of the first students on the new course, Ruaidhrí Molloy; and John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council.
Pictured at the launch of NUI Galway’s B.E. in Sports & Exercise Engineering were (left-right) the University President, Dr James J. Browne; Professor Ó Laighin, Head of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway and Course Director; one of the first students on the new course, Ruaidhrí Molloy; and John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council.


Olympic silver medallist and former double World Cross Country Champion, John Treacy, today (Friday, 10 July) officially launched NUI Galway’s B.E. in Sports & Exercise Engineering.

The degree programme, which incorporates significant elements of Anatomy, Physiology, and Mechanical Engineering with a major in Electronic Engineering, puts particular emphasis on ambulatory monitoring of human performance, movement assessment, and systems and devices for the assessment of sport and exercise.

Speaking at the launch, John Treacy, who is now CEO of the Irish Sports Council, said: “This whole area is hugely important. I see tremendous potential in this combination of engineering and sports science. In elite sports we deal with tenths and hundredths of seconds. Winning often comes down to a technical edge so having professionals trained in Ireland in this area will be of great benefit”.

The first cohort of students taking this focused interdisciplinary programme have just finished first year and are destined to graduate with a unique skillset for a growing industry according to NUI Galway’s Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin.

Professor Ó Laighin is Head of Electrical & Electronic Engineering and Course Director: “Professional sport is a worldwide multi-billion euro industry and plays a central role in most western societies. Today technology is used on a regular basis to improve sports performance in elite athletes. The Sports & Exercise Engineering programme at NUI Galway will provide graduates with the skills and expertise to design systems and devices for the evaluation and execution of sport performance across a broad range of sports”.

Professor Ó Laighin sees the Exercise Engineering component of the programme becoming increasingly important. Exercise Engineering is expected to play an important role in the management of two major healthcare crises for the Western World, obesity and ageing populations. “There are numerous health benefits associated with physical activity, including a reduced risk of premature mortality and reduced risks of coronary heart disease. Regular participation in physical activity also appears to reduce depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance ability to perform daily tasks throughout the life span. Exercise Engineers will design systems and devices to promote increased adherence to exercise”.

The programme in Sports & Exercise Engineering is offered by the College of Engineering & Informatics in collaboration with the College of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences at NUI Galway.

As part of their studies, Sports & Exercise Engineering students use the facilities in the newly opened Sports Centre at NUI Galway. A new high-spec Engineering Building will add to facilities on campus by 2011.

NUI Galway is also offering two additional new Engineering degrees, which will have the first student intake in September. These are B.E. degrees in Energy Systems Engineering, and Engineering Innovation – Electronic.

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Mum, Mary Casey Breslin (1950-2009)


My mother, Mary Casey Breslin, died two weeks ago today. It was a terrible shock to all of our family, but I wanted to say a few words about her so that you would have an idea about what an influence she was on my life and the lives of many others.

Firstly, Mary was a loving and caring wife and mother, who amongst other things made sure I always had the best of everything, protected me from any perceived harm or injustice, and nurtured and encouraged my love for learning. She was a formidable woman, and always strived for perfection for both herself and her family. She was the kind of customer that you would either love or hate to have in your establishment, as any flaw or deficiency would be exposed!

She had a huge network of friends that she helped through both actions and words. She was one of those people that you could always call on if you were in trouble and needed help, advice or information.

Mary was an extremely intelligent and organised woman, and showed throughout her life how she was able to adapt herself to new situations and take on a variety of challenges. Having being forced to give up her civil service job in the tax office when she married (a regulation at that time), her jobs included homemaker, senior administrator in a car rentals agency, and part-time book keeper for local businesses.

She was also very modern and took to technology very easily. I remember when I was in Virginia in 1996, we used to communicate via a precursor to internet chat (VMS Phone) as international phone call prices were exhorbitant at that time. She used the Web for buying books, paying bills and internet banking, but also mastered services like boards, blogs, Skype, PayPal and eBay with ease (she racked up more positive feedback in a few months on her eBay account than I managed for many years!).

Mary loved many things, including: her family, her two grandchildren, her home and village, being beside the sea, Elvis, the comedian Dave Allen, holidays in San Francisco, Cyprus and Rome, Pope John Paul II, Hummel figurines, “The Past is Myself” by Christabel Bielenberg, Bjorn Borg, repeating baby stories about John, the Royals, TV soaps, the Thorn Birds, QVC, style and fashion, making greeting cards, the odd sherry, Italian food, the burned bit at the end of a roast, dolphins, gardening, the colour turquoise, and much more. We loved her too, and we always will.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam.

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or might or pain can reach you.
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.
May you continue to inspire us:
To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

– John O’Donohue

Upcoming events of interest…

  • For those in Ireland or abroad who are interested in the Semantic Web, the 2nd Vocabulary Camp (VoCamp Galway for short) will be held in Galway on the 25th and 26th of November in DERI. VoCamp is an informal (free) event where people can learn about or create lightweight vocabularies / ontologies for the “web of data”. Places are limited to 30, so you should sign up quickly if interested…
  • The next day (27th of November at 6 PM), I’ll be giving a talk for the IET and CompSoc on the Social Semantic Web in DERI. As I’m currently co-authoring a book on this topic, it’s a good time to discuss this area.
  • Finally, the W3C Workshop on the Future of Social Networking will be held on the 15th and 16th of January next in the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona. The deadline for submitting position papers is on the 20th of November, but position papers don’t have to be long or complex: a one-page description of your views on the current needs of the industry would be a very useful contribution to this workshop.

BlogTalk 2008 Summary

Well, I’ve been on a well-deserved break (in my opinion anyway!) for the past two weeks so it’s time that I caught up with all the stuff I’ve only been tweeting about in the meantime…

Picture by Paul Downey.

First up, it’s a summary of BlogTalk (and WebCamp). Actually, a lot of people have blogged about the event, including Martha Rotter (who has a great overview), Mark Bernstein (with some valid criticisms regarding the conference’s focus that we need to look at; see also Mark’s vidcast), Salim Ismail, Stephanie Booth (1 , 2; thanks for the videos!), Will Knott, Phil Whitehouse (1, 2), Jure Cuhalev, Jan Schmidt, Donncha O Caoimh, Sven Latham, Ben Ward, and Gabriela Avram (1, 2, 3, 4).

But I’ll add to these voices by saying that I was very pleased with how things went: the atmosphere was quite relaxed (at least, outside the confines of my own head), and the size was probably just right (sometimes you can’t plan these things). Although we had about 110-115 registrants, there were about 80-85 present at any one time, and I think the audience felt comfortable with posing questions to speakers (and to each other) which led to more interactive sessions than there may have been otherwise. The panel discussions also went quite well, and I hope that we will have more of these in future events. As regards next year’s conference, we have had an interesting offer to host the event in Korea. We are also looking at Seville for BlogTalk 2010.

Unfortunately, I incorrectly thought that Intruders.TV would be recording the talks from the event, but some entrepreneuring attendees managed to video some of the talks using a combination of webcams and cameras (see the videos and slides page for those that we’ve managed to gather so far; if you have any more, please let us know; I believe Intruders.TV will have interviews with some of our speakers later). You can also view an assortment of photos via Flickr.

On behalf of the programme chairs for BlogTalk 2008, I would like to thank all of the participants at the conference, our invited speakers, the presenters, our reviewers, the excellent hotel staff, and especially our sponsors (without whom the fees would have significantly increased since they paid for two thirds of our almost €30k budget). Finally, I would like to ask attendees if they would be so kind as to complete our post-conference survey here.

"The semantic web enables us to use portals in a more intelligent fashion, so we can do business more efficiently"

The Irish Times: Innovation

The Return of the Portal

Haydn Shaughnessy

March 10, 2008

In a perfect world, the internet would have evolved in a planned and orderly way, and that means, quite illogically, that Web 2.0 would not have followed Web 1.0.

The plan hatched by experts at the World Wide Web Consortium, the body that supervises web standards, was for the second generation to be something a little different to Bebo and Facebook, called the Semantic Web.

“It means adding more meaning to the web,” says web expert John Breslin of NUI Galway, “so that people and computers can work together more easily, so that computers in fact can do more of the work.”

Put simply, Web 2.0 was supposed to be the time when search engines worked perfectly. And the semantic web is the technology that allows you more of a push-button approach to information issues, so you are not overloaded, but enabled.

Today marks the launch of the first such project for the buying public – the New York launch of, a global initiative to link art collectors (the buyers) with artists, museums, galleries and information sources including the leading art publications, auction house information and prices. It is the first major application of the semantic web to a consumer service.

Continue reading "The semantic web enables us to use portals in a more intelligent fashion, so we can do business more efficiently"

XTech 2008, May 6th-9th 2008, Dublin, Ireland

Call for Participation for XTech 2008

Proposals for presentations and tutorials are invited for XTech 2008, Europe’s premier web technologies conference. The deadline for submitting proposals is January 25th, 2008.

XTech 2008 will be held from May 6-9th 2008, in Dublin, Ireland.

XTech’s theme this year is “The Web on the Move”, focusing on the emerging portability of data, applications and identity on the internet. We will explore the benefits, issues, practicalities and fun of a web built on open standards, open source and commodity technology.

XTech presentations should inspire, educate and challenge. Your audience will be people like you, responsible for steering the technological direction of their organizations and the web as a whole.

Last year’s schedule can be viewed on the XTech 2007 web site.

Please direct any questions to the conference chair, Edd Dumbill.

View the calls for participation and submit a proposal

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Social platforms
    • Design patterns for social software
    • Social network interoperability
    • Internet application platforms (Facebook F8, OpenSocial, etc.)
  • Identity management
    • OpenID
    • Practical security
    • OAuth
  • Ajax
    • jQuery, YUI, other toolkits
    • Offline applications
    • Comet
    • Professional Javascript
    • Flex
  • The web of data
    • Collective intelligence
    • Semantic technologies
    • Search
    • Markup and meaning
    • Freebase, Twine, Google Base
    • The place of XML on the web
  • Data and databases
    • Client-side databases
    • REST-oriented databases (e.g. CouchDB)
    • XML and RDF
    • Messaging architectures
    • XQuery
  • Operations and programming
    • Web application frameworks
    • Virtualization and appliances
    • Application scaling
    • Multicore and concurrency oriented programming
  • Mobile devices
    • Commodity mobiles
    • Android, iPhone
    • Hardware hacking and personal prototyping
    • Geolocation
    • Getting the mobile mindset

(Note: DERI will be a co-host of this event.)

SIOC tutorial accepted for WWW2008

I’m happy to announce that our tutorial proposal on SIOC entitled “Interlinking Online Communities and Enriching Social Software with the Semantic Web” (Uldis Bojars and John Breslin of DERI, NUI Galway, Alexandre Passant of EDF R&D / LaLICC, Université Paris 4) has been accepted for WWW2008, the 14th International World Wide Web Conference to be held in Beijing, China in April. The abstract is as follows:

This tutorial will give an overview of current research issues and solutions for using Semantic Web technologies in order to enrich social software and to interlink online communities. We will discuss current standardisation activities as well as research prototypes, focusing on the work of the Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities (SIOC) project. This initiative recently produced the W3C Member Submission for the SIOC Ontology, which describes a standard way to represent rich data from online community sites and Web 2.0 tools in an interoperable form using RDF.

On a larger extent, we will cover additional topics such as search and browsing based on community metadata, large-scale data integration in decentralised communities, and linking social media contributions to the social graph. We will also focus on implementations of tools that work with SIOC data, providing the audience with the know-how to build such systems using open-source APIs and frameworks. We will also discuss how the technologies described in this tutorial can be applied to enterprise scenarios, and we will detail some commercial applications that are now using SIOC.

Finally, we will describe how a network of interlinked communities powered by semantic social software can lead towards the creation of Social Semantic Information Spaces.

A full list of the accepted tutorials is available here.