Category Archives: Television

Be Bert. Be Ernie. Just be.

I’ve had this Bert and Ernie t-shirt for 12 years, but it was lost in a press for a while and it’s starting to get very worn. So, since I haven’t been able to find anywhere online that sells them, I scanned in the picture. Now I can make some backups (and remixes)!

You can see the results above. The first image is the original scan; the second is a vectorised version (via CorelTRACE and some hand editing / filling in CorelDRAW); the third and fourth are just with some background and illumination effects in Paint Shop Pro. I lost some of the original shadows and finer details but can probably add those later…

Advertisement Lost in Galway / Stars at Galway Film Fleadh

From Galway First:

Star Trek fans are called Trekkies, but watch out for the Lost-ies. Fans of the inexplicable and never-ending TV series are planning to come to Galway this week to honour the conferring of the star of several episodes of the series, who is receiving an honorary degree at NUI, Galway.

Fionnula Flanagan is an Emmy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated Irish actress. She trained in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and has appeared in numerous films, including The Others with Nicole Kidman, Transamerica and Waking Ned Devine, as well as television series and stage productions. She came to prominence in Ireland in 1965 as a result of her role as Máire in the Teilifís Éireann production of the Irish Language play, An Triail. Ms Flanagan established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of James Joyce in the 1967 film version of Ulysses.

But as far as fans of Lost are concerned, she will forever be that mysterious white-haired woman Ms Hawking who appeared in the “Flashes Before Your Eyes” of Lost. Message boards online pertaining to the series have revealed that dozens of Irish Lost fans are to come to Galway to congratulate her on her conferring.

So, if you see any black smoke, polar bears or see Mutton Island being moved mysteriously this Friday, don’t panic. It’s just all in a day’s happenings on Lost.

The honorary conferrings are on tomorrow here in NUI Galway. Funnily enough, I think the first thing I saw Fionnula Flanagan in was actually Star Trek (The Next Generation). But I loved her best in Paddywhackery on TG4 in her role as Peig Sayers!

In other news, it was announced yesterday that the 2008 Galway Film Fleadh will play host to some international stars including Peter O’Toole, Jessica Lange, (President!) Bill Pullman, and Alex Gibney, the 2008 Oscar winner for Best International Documentary.

Brewster Kahle's (Internet Archive) ISWC talk on worldwide distributed knowledge

Universal access to all knowledge can be one of our greatest achievements.

The keynote speech at ISWC 2007 was given this morning by Brewster Kahle, co-founder of the Internet Archive and also of Alexa Internet. Brewster’s talk discussed the challenges in putting various types of media online, from books to video:

  • He started to talk about digitising books (1 book = 1 MB; the Library of Congress = 26 million books = 26 TB; with images, somewhat larger). At present, it costs about $30 to scan a book in the US. For 10 cents a page, books or microfilm can now be scanned at various centres around the States and put online. 250,000 books have been scanned in so far and are held in eight online collections. He also talked about making books available to people through the OPLC project. Still, most people like having printed books, so book mobiles for print-on-demand books are now coming. A book mobile charges just $1 to print and bind a short book.
  • Next up was audio, and Brewster discussed issues related to putting recorded sound works online. At best, there are two to three million discs that have been commercially distributed. The biggest issue with this is in relation to rights. Rock ‘n’ roll concerts are the most popular category of the Internet Archive audio files (with 40,000 concerts so far); for “unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, forever, for free”, the Internet Archive offers bands their hosting service if they waive any issues with rights. There are various cultural materials that do not work well in terms of record sales, but there are many people who are very interested in having these published online. Audio costs about $10 per disk (per hour) to digitise. The Internet Archive has 100,000 items in 100 collections.
  • Moving images or video was next. Most people think of Hollywood films in relation to video, but at most there are 150,000 to 200,000 video items that are designed for movie theatres, and half of these are Indian! Many are locked up in copyright, and are problematic. The Internet Archive has 1,000 of these (out of copyright or otherwise permitted). There are other types of materials that people want to see: thousands of archival films, advertisements, training films and government films, being downloaded in the millions. Brewster also put out a call to academics at the conference to put their lectures online in bulk at the Internet Archive. It costs $15 per video hour for digitisation services. Brewster estimates that there are 400 channels of “original” television channels (ignoring duplicate rebroadcasts). If you record a television channel for one year, it requires 10 TB, with a cost of $20,000 for that year. The Television Archive people at the Internet Archive have been recording 20 channels from around the world since 2000 (it’s currently about 1 PB in size) – that’s 1 million hours of TV – but not much has been made available just yet (apart from video from the week of 9/11). The Internet Archive currently has 55,000 videos in 100 collections,
  • Software was next. For example, a good archival source is old software that can be reused / replayed via virtual machines or emulators. Brewster came out against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is “horrible for libraries” and for the publishing industry.
  • The Internet Archive is best known for archiving web pages. It started in 1996, by taking a snapshot of every accessible page on a website. It is now about 2 PB in size, with over 100 billion pages. Most people use this service to find their old materials again, since most people “don’t keep their own materials very well”. (Incidentally, Yahoo! came to the Internet Archive to get a 10-year-old version of their own homepage.)

Brewster then talked about preservation issues, i.e., how to keep the materials available. He referenced the famous library at Alexandria, Egypt which unfortunately is best known for burning. Libraries also tend to be burned by governments due to changes in policies and interests, so the computer world solution to this is backups. The Internet Archive in San Francisco has four employees and 1 PB of storage (including the power bill, bandwidth and people costs, their total costs are about $3,000,000 per year; 6 GB bandwidth is used per second; their storage hardware costs $700,000 for 1 PB). They have a backup of their book and web materials in Alexandria, and also store audio material at the European Archive in Amsterdam. Also, their Open Content Alliance initiative allows various people and organisations to come together to create joint collections for all to use.

Access was the next topic of his presentation. Search is making in-roads in terms of time-based search. One can see how words and their usage change over time (e.g., “marine life”). Semantic Web applications for access can help people to deal with the onslaught of information. There is a huge need to take large related subsets of the Internet Archive collections and to help them make sense for people. Great work has been done recently on wikis and search, but there is a need to “add something more to the mix” to bring structure to this project. To do this, Brewster reckons we need the ease of access and authoring from the wiki world, but also ways to incorporate the structure that we all know is in there, so that it can be flexible enough for people to add structure one item at a time or to have computers help with this task.

20071113b.jpg In the recent initiative ““, the idea is to build one webpage for every book ever published (not just ones still for sale) to include content, metadata, reviews, etc. The relevant concepts in this project include: creating Semantic Web concepts for authors, works and entities; having wiki-editable data and templates; using a tuple-based database with history; making it all open source (both the data and the code, in Python). has 10 million book records, with 250k in full text.

I really enjoyed this talk, and having been a fan of the Wayback Machine for many years, I think there could be an interesting link to the SIOC Project if we think in terms of archiving people’s conversations from the Web, mailing lists and discussion groups for reuse by us and the generations to come.

Mo shaol mar muppet (My life as a muppet)

20071103h.jpg Thosaigh “Tar ag Spraoi Sesame” (“Play With Me Sesame” as Béarla) ag craoladh ar TG4 maidin inniu! Bhí phairt an-bheag agam sa chlár; seo é an scéal…

Cúpla mhí ó shin, bhí mé ag éisteacht le Ray D’Arcy ar Today FM agus chuala mé go raibh Telegael ag lorg daoine chun na guthanna éagsúla a dhéanamh do leagan nua Sesame Street as Gaeilge (“Sráid Sesame”). Tá Gaeilge cuíosach maith agam, ach nílim líofa… Ach bheartaigh mé iarrachtaí a sheoladh isteach in aon chor.

Rinne mé cheann amháin le Big Bird agus Grover (20071103a.mp3), cúpla ceann eile le Grover (mo cheann is fearr, ceapaim; 20071103b.mp3; 20071103c.mp3), Cookie Monster (20071103d.mp3; 20071103e.mp3), agus Ernie freisin (20071103f.mp3) – tá an chuid is mó as Bearla ach tá Gaeilge ann freisin.

20071103g.jpg Tar éis sin, fuair mé iarratais ó Phádraic Ó Neachtain (Telegael) chun teacht isteach agus triail a dhéanamh don phairt Grover (saghas agallamh, beagnach!). Fiú gur theip orm an phairt sin a fháil (sheoltar a lán daoine agus aisteoirí freisin taifeadaí isteach, agus tar éis sin bhí an cinneadh deireanach ag Sesame Workshop sna Stáit Aontaithe), bhí seans agam teacht ar ais chun cúpla guthanna breise a dhubáil dun chlár (Herry Ollphéist, ar dheis, ina measc).

Céard faoin toradh deireanach a craoltar inniu? Rinne Telegael an-jaib le Tar ag Spraoi Sesame! Cheap mé go raibh na guthanna go léir an-mhaith, agus táim ag súil go mór le níos mó Sesame ar TG4…

As Béarla (in English):

20071103h.jpgTar ag Spraoi Sesame” (“Play With Me Sesame” in English) started broadcasting on TG4 this morning! I had a small part in the series; here’s the story…

A couple of months ago, I was listening to Ray D’Arcy on Today FM and I heard that Telegael were looking for people to do various voices for a new version of Sesame Street in Irish (“Sráid Sesame”). I have fairly good Irish, but I’m not fluent… But I decided to send in some efforts anyway.

I did one with Big Bird and Grover (20071103a.mp3), some others with Grover (my best, I think; 20071103b.mp3; 20071103c.mp3), Cookie Monster (20071103d.mp3; 20071103e.mp3), and Ernie too (20071103f.mp3) – most of them are in English but there are some in Irish too.

20071103g.jpg After that, I got an invite from Pádraic Ó Neachtain (Telegael) to come in and do an audition for the part of Grover (sort of an interview, almost!). Even though I didn’t get the part in the end (a lot of people and actors too sent in recordings, and after that the final decision was with the Sesame Workshop in the US), I had a chance to come back and dub a few extra voices for the show (Herry Monster, right, among them).

So what about the final result that was shown today? Telegael did a great job on Play With Me Sesame! I think all the voices were really good, and I’m really looking forward to more Sesame on TG4…

Paddywhackery #2

Fuair mé ríomhphost ó Paddy C. Courtney inniu le ceangal go réamhbhlas den chlár seo chugainnPaddywhackery“. Bhain mé an-taitneamh as an chéad cheann agus mar sin táim ag súil go mór le clár a dó, dé Céadaoin ag 9:30 IN ar TG4.

As Béarla (in English):

Had a message from Paddy C. Courtney today with a link to a sneak preview of the next episode of “Paddywhackery“. I enjoyed the first one so looking forward to episode two, Wednesday at 9:30 PM on TG4.

UPC considering Irish Slingbox introduction

I read John Kennedy’s Silicon Republic article about UPC possibly introducing the Slingbox to its Irish customers with interest. I love the Slingbox idea, and tested out the system last August (see 1, 2).

Irish customers of UPC’s digital TV service may soon be able to watch their favourite TV programmes on a computer anywhere in the world if new services being studied by the company’s Irish management are deployed. (More)

I’m not sure though what the difference would be between getting a Slingbox from UPC or just popping into Curry’s to get one (I saw them there last year)… Maybe someone else knows.

Trying out Joost beta

Thanks to a friend of mine who is working for Joost (and who I would like to thank but won’t reveal for fear of invite spam), I’ve been playing around with their P2P streaming video service that is now in beta (formerly the Venice Project).

I installed it on my IBM R50p laptop, running XP. The install process was easy, just had to type a directory name and off it went. It’s very easy to use, the interface is nice with semi-transparent menus, and there were a good few content channels on there ranging from MTV shows to Fifth Gear to anime to National Geographic to record label streams. I liked the way you can choose what programmes in the channel you want to watch – no waiting around (apart from a 10-second startup delay). I didn’t have any stuttering but would need to try it out on wireless or elsewhere to see how it performs.

Some screenshots below… In the first, clicking on the icons on the left, top and right will bring you into the channel list, provider information and customisation views respectively. The second shows a subview of the channel list, displaying which programmes on a particular channel you can choose from. The last is the customised view with all the widgets I’ve turned on, including chats and feed reading.


So, can I see myself using this to watch content? Yes, and if I can get it displaying on my TV, even better…

Selling a bunch of interesting Irish / general domains…

It’s spring cleaning time, so I’m selling the following domains at Sedo:


Anime, J-Pop

Blogs, Social



Irish Cities