Screenshot 2019-10-22 at 13.28.17

There has been a lot of heated discussion this year about the new National Broadband Plan in Ireland. This umpteenth iteration of an attempt to bring broadband to the Irish masses is set to cost in excess of 3 billion euro. However I am not here to discuss this monstrosity of a plan. No, I want to share an insight of the realities of currently getting broadband in Ireland and the issues and obstacles encountered. Issues and obstacles which will not be removed by the new plan either.

Let me give you a bit of background; I live in a rural village of which there are many in Ireland. It has approx 1200 inhabitants, a busy Main Street, shops and other businesses. About 1.5 years ago I moved to a different house in the town. In the previous house I had DSL standard broadband. It was supplied by Eir over a copper line but they marketed it as “Fiber Broadband”. My new home is, in a straight line, less than a mile away. For reference the telephone exchange lies halfway between these two locations. In made the in hindsight stupid assumption that getting a broadband service in my new home would be no problem. WRONG!

I asked Eir to move the service to my new address (something which involves the baffling requirement of setting up a new account) and an engineer duly arrived. After some looking around the engineer notified me that he could not connect me as I did not have an active phoneline and that I had to contact Eir requesting that a new phoneline was installed. I contacted Eir and came up against the first hurdle: the house on which I live is part of a development of former holiday homes which used to belong to a hotel next door. The hotel burnt down many years ago and has never been rebuilt. It turns out that the phone lines going into all of the houses run to the hotel and into the hotel’s telephone exchange. Which was burnt to a crisp. So there was no connection to the main telephone network. So I suggested that Eir connect the existing cabling to their main network. But that was a too straightforward idea; issues of site access, costs etc came into play at this stage. In short a mountain of bureaucracy was thrown up. As I am not easily deterred I started looking at suggesting different options. Did I mention that for my job I design and build communications networks in disaster areas? No? Well that experience helped…
We looked at digging trenches for underground ducting (out), repurposing some of the existing ducting (also out). Eventually the decision was made to put up a number of old school telegraph poles at the back of the houses, run fiber on these poles and via a pole on a neighbouring property connect all this to the main telephone network. Added benefit was that we would be the first houses in the town connected with *real* fiber.

Once everyone had decided that this was the best, and quite frankly only, option the process was put in to motion. There were several stages of the plan:

  • Design the site plan.
  • Place the telegraph poles.
  • Put fiber on the telegraph poles.
  • Mount distribution units on the poles.
  • Blow fiber in the underground ducting from the houses to the exchange.
  • Connect all the bits together (fiber on the poles to the underground fiber, underground fiber to the equipment in the exchange and distribution units to the individual homes).

One would expect somehow that all if not most of this work would be done by the same crew. WRONG!

The work is managed by Open Eir who contract all the actual work out to KN Networks. KN in turn uses a different crew for each part of the process. Not only that but the coordination and communication between these crews and between KN and Open Eir is atrocious. To give you a timeline: I started trying to get broadband in May 2018. The first telegraph poles were put into place on June 20th 2019. They took 2 days to install.
Fiber was put on the poles on July 8th 2019. The distribution units were put in place 2 weeks later. On 13/8 an installer arrived at my house supposedly to instal my internet service. However it expired that his work-order stated “an installation over copper”.
I helpfully told him that it should be fiber as there is no copper line in place at all. I even pointed to the fiber cable on the pole beside my house and yes he confirmed that he could see it too. But no, his work order said “copper” so he could not proceed and left. I duly called my contact in Open Eir who told me that yes all the pieces were in place but no, they had not been connected yet. “When will that happen?” I asked. “I don’t know” was the less than helpful answer.

We are now near the end of October and the last update I was given was that all the pieces are connected bar the last connection at the exchange. I was told this several weeks ago. “Any idea of that will be done?” I asked. “I have someone calling out to do that this afternoon” was the reply.
Now, nearly 18 months since I started this process I still have no connection. Not only do I not have broadband, the other 21 houses in the development don’t have any either.

“But the National Broadband Plan will solve all!” that I hear you say. Really? Really? When it takes this, long, such a huge amount of work and cost to (not even) connect a few houses less than 500 yards from the nearest telephone exchange? I see the NBP resulting mostly in burning through that 3 billion euro of tax payers money…..

I came across a good read on why you should use the  DuckDuckGo search engine over Google.
While the article obviously slanted in favour of DuckDuckGo it was worth reading as it went in to detail on how Google tracks you online behaviour. This is been more valid when you realise that your Android phone is owned by Google and that recent revelations have shown that apps included in the factory install of your smartphone will still track you even when you think you have opted out. Read more here..

Aside from all those privacy concerns it’s also worth knowing that different search engines use different algorithms and that search results can and are heavily manipulated. Especially Google is very heavy-handed in this.

So as a quick ‘n dirty test I did a quick ego-search on my name using Google, DuckDuckGo and Bing. The below screen grabs show the first page of search results and the differences are obvious.

Tip-of-the-day: Use DuckDuckGo as not only are the results more reflective of the actual content of the WWW but they also do not track you.


Syrian conflict for dummies.

Posted: September 30, 2016 in news
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Image courtesy of The Atlantic.

Image courtesy of The Atlantic.

With the recent images of the bombings of Aleppo plastered all over our screens people tend to (understandably) get very emotional about the whole thing and with emotion comes loss of focus.
I’ve been following to an extent what is going on and what is happening so here’s a “Syrian conflict for dummies” and my insight on how a sustainable solution could be reached:
There are broadly two sides in the conflict: there’s the Syrian government (led by Assad) and then there are the rebels.
Both sides are Muslim but the government side is Shiite while the rebel forces are largely Sunni. Shiite’s are a minority group within the islam world (<10%) and tend to be more “modern” in Western eyes while Sunni’s are more traditionalist islamic. This is partly due to the former believing that religious leadership is hereditary while the latter strictly observes the ancient scriptures.
The difference shows in it’s most practical sense by the fact that the rebel forces are riddled with AQ & ISIS forces.
There are of course the Kurds but these want independence rather than regime change in Syria so I am just (while I think that they’re a great ally of the West) going to leave them aside for the moment.
So the rest of the world is faced with a choice between two sides: The more modern/western government or the traditionalist/hardcore islamic rebels riddled with terrorist groups.
And here comes the twist; the USA (and Europe to some extent) has decided to support the rebels. Yes that’s right, the group containing strong elements of the organisations responsible for the many, many terror attacks across the globe in the recent decades.
Russia on the other hand has put their might behind the government forces.
Why? I’m sure that it’s not because of love for Assad but rather because Russia is seeing the bigger picture and taking a long-term view. If the rebels are allowed to win this war than Syria will turn into a failed state occupied by a number of radical islamist groups who will not only continue to fight each other but who will continue to plan and execute attacks on the rest of the world. It would be as big or even bigger mess than Libya is now.
If the rebels are defeated however then we are left with a more moderate state with not only an ideology more favourable to the western world but a state and a government which owes a huge debt to whichever countries helped it to defeat the rebels. At that time the opportunity to either replace Assad or to force him to stop committing atrocities against his own people presents itself. It’s good old-fashioned nation-building.
So as a conclusion ask yourself this; what do you want the future Syria to be like? Another radical islamist breeding ground or a country with a government which is not only respectful of its own citizens but also a country which is sympathetic to western democratic values and beliefs?

At some point in the past David Furnish, husband of celebrity crooner Elton John went of to the USA where he engaged in a threesome with another couple. Now you, I and every other right thinking person would have never have found out about this (or want to) but darling Elton threw a hissy fit when one or more of the UK redtops reported on this. Elton dug into his substantial moneybag and went to the UK courts to secure an injunction. One that would stop *any UK public medium* from mentioning this story or anything related to it. That in itself constitutes an unacceptable level of censorship but that alone wasn’t enough. Elton John, or rather his expensive legal team, are now trying to enforce this UK ruling outside the UK. They have written to private individuals, social media companies (Twitter in specific) and hosting companies as far as the USA demanding that any content mentioning Elton & David in this context be removed. All this under threat of expensive legal action.

I even received an email from Twitter because I had shared a link to such an article published on an US website. Apparently Twitter had been contacted by the John’s legal team because my tweet infringed on UK law. The email and my reply can be read below.

twitter 1

twitter 2

My good friend and fellow agitator Paddy manning wrote a piece about this whole issue for the MercatorNet website but after prompt and heavy-handed legal threats this has been taken down. It is worth noting here that MercatorNet is based in Australia so logically should not be subject to UK law. However a courtcase to establish this would be long and costly and would quite probably bankrupt an organisation such as Mercatornet. Eltons legal team knows this and uses this to bully their way.

All this constitutes a very serious breach of freedom of (online) speech and goes contrary to anything that “the internet” stands for as a relatively free and unregulated medium. It certainly pisses me off!

So as a way of saying “up yours”to Elton and David, and “well done” to Paddy Manning I am sharing his whole blogpost below. I am also saving the blogpost as a PDF and uploading it to a number of filesharing sites. Just to make the point that one rich bully can’t control the distributed nature of the internet.Or to paraphrase King Leonidas I of Sparta:  μολὼν λαβέ



Under the headline “The Perfect Marriage” the Daily Mail gushed in prose so breathless anaerobic life forms sprouted spontaneously on the screen:

Eleven years ago this month, Sir Elton John proposed to his partner, David Furnish, thus formalising a relationship that — as the whole world knows — has blossomed into one of the most blissfully happy of show business marriages. We know this, of course, because Sir Elton and David have been generous enough to share almost every detail of their relationship and family life through the pages of celebrity magazines, in high-profile TV interviews and on social media.

Leaving aside the need to wipe one’s screen & overdose on anti-nausea medication, there cannot now be a literate person in the British Isles who does not know that Elton John, and his husband David Furnish, are the couple at the centre of the long running “PJS” super-injunction. The journalist who typed that saccharine fogged horror knows, as everybody with access to the internet knows. The courts have become Canute’s courtiers standing in a digital tide.

Furnish flew to the US for a tryst with a gay couple who subsequently (no honour amongst sluts) tried sell a kiss-and-tell to the Sun newspaper. The Sun, preparing the article, contacted lawyers for the couple. The Elton Johns were granted a ferocious super-injunction to protect their privacy largely argued on the grounds of protecting “their” children. Mr Furnish was not being unfaithful; Judge Jackson noted that “the spouse of PJS accepts that theirs is not a mutually exclusive sexual relationship”.

The internet is international, not bound by a London court and sites on servers in California, Canton and Cavan can be read by English men and women, making the court’s action seem futile but with the great blunt mace of the super injunction the court may fiercely coerce silence. The English can read news on foreign sites but they will be punished for discussing it. This is late Tudor England with electric light. The court has infantilised the English in a desperate attempt to preserve a propaganda Potemkin village for the English establishment.

What does it matter if some guy flies to America for a night of sex with two other middle aged men? We are all adults, are we not and is not their private life their own? Who are we, mere humans, fallible and frail, to judge.

Who are we indeed.

The tawdry private life of the (any) couple, the arrangements they make for their own amusement wouldnt matter if they had not spent some much effort convincing us that they do. A fictional version of their life together has been slathered in every media outlet that can print or say the home life of our own dear queen and this has been for brutal political purpose: same sex marriage is good, surrogacy better. The press is for propaganda and the commoners as a have a no right to know the truth or competing versions of the truth. The court, wittingly or unwittingly has made itself partner in a vicious hypocrisy, defending the illusion of the Elton John’s family life against its sordid reality and worse, pretending to do it for the children so that the great and good may go on lying.

Little argument can be made for the saving children from the putative damage of the relationship’s public exposure when they are living with two selfish hedonists who obtained them by purchase. If the story behind the super injunction casts a cold light on the Elton John’s understanding of marriage, it must cast an icy glaze on the horrid practice of surrogacy: a combination of eugenics, prostitution, kidnapping, slavery and child abuse regarded as a a thing of beauty by every fashionable clown.

Not buying the Sun for a few days in the Elton John household is a better option than coercive national censorship. If you make your relationship a lodestar of public policy, the public have every right to hear about that relationship’s reality, even if that makes you blush, sweat or squirm. Elton John regularly uses his relationship and those children to bolster arguments for issues as far reaching as transgender bathroom rights in North Carolina.( The super injunction is a wealthy elitist having his cake and eating it but being backed by the public courts in the act.

If public policy is to be argued and defended by reference to one’s own family, it is a logical quid pro quo that one’s family life is publically reportable. A family of conservative Christians leveraging their family life for influence would find a very different reception to request for privacy no matter how the courts ruled.

The Supreme Court, by re-instating the injunction thrown out by the Court of Appeals, has placed the lives of the rich, famous and who have children out of bounds. Because the Elton Johns are wealthy and have children, the rules that apply to media reporting their sexual escapades are markedly different to the reporting of childless Darren and Mandy from Dagenham. “Love rat Darren ate my hamster” is permissible but the exposure of celeb parents with the funds to persuade the state of the value of their privacy is anathema.

This creates a strange, unlegislated, new restriction on press freedom. Kiss-and-tell and Darren-broke-my-bed stories may be distasteful, boring, reassurance for the miserable that nobody is really any better, a way of keeping everybody in the mud, but they are the price of a free press. That price is worth paying many times over.

Giving the right to decide what can be reported or what is news to anybody other than those who buy papers or consume news, is toxically dangerous, undermining the ability of media to report the actions of the powerful and leaving the public less trusting with each omission, each breach of the trust that we will be told the story by somebody competing for our attention.

Tinfoil hats and conspiracies thrive in the half-light these injunctions generate. They have no place in a net linked world or in a free country.


Smack that b*tch up….

Posted: December 11, 2015 in news

government meme

This started out as a Facebook rant but as it got rather long I decided that a blogpost would be a more suitable medium.

It is worrying how many new laws and legislative changes are happening in Ireland lately without people really noticing.
Take the whole discussion on parents giving their own children a little slap, It’s been part of raising kids without any issues for centuries but recently there has been a lot of discussion on the topic with certain people in the government suggesting that it should be banned by law.
And hey presto, as of midnight last night it is now against the law to discipline your own child in that manner.
How the hell did that happen?!

Apart from the speed with which this happened the actual law change is worrying. It is yet another step by the state to remove powers from the parents and the family and put them firmly under state control. There was no need for it as excessive use of physical violence against anyone, including children, is already punishable under law.

No, this legislative move is part of a larger agenda. Just look back at what else has been done recently;

The Childrens Rights referendum; promoted as improving child protection but more children have died in child care than ever before since this was passed. All it did was give the to take away rights from the family & parents and put them under state control.

-Sugar tax & alcohol minimum pricing: The state clearly thinks people are too stupid to be allowed to decide what to eat and drink and that financial punitive measures are the best way to put the dumb-asses in line.

Banning smoking in a car with children: This is an interesting one. While smoking in a car with children is insanely stupid do we require a law to enforce this? What’s wrong with education combined with social pressure?

Removal of history from the school curriculum and replacing it with “politics & society” classes; this is nothing but a cynical ploy to indoctrinate children at a young age. Especially considering that the “liberal progressive” groups such as the “Gay & Lesbian Equality Network” are given a big part in deciding the contents of these classes. Not a single centrist or conservative organisation has been approached for their input.

The most worrying aspect is that none of these new laws, legislative changes and other measures have been initiated based on majority demand. Instead we policy is now being driven by the state itself (rather than the people) or by minority lobby groups. The state is simply looking to increase its power, especially now that the power of the church and the financial industry is waning. It has ceased to be representative of or acting in the interest of the people.

And that my friends is the end of democracy….

In the run-up to the recent Irish marriage referendum I and others like me repeatedly pointed out that the proposed constitutional amendment would bring with it a whole raft subsequent legal issues affecting a wide range of areas.
We pointed out that the proposed legislation was part of a larger agenda, one of radical social change which will transform our society in ways most people could not imagine.
The response from both the government and the squealing hordes of “Yes” campaigners was that nothing was less true and that the Marriage Referendum was only about “the love between two people” and that we were making “Gra” the law. Besides the sheer idiocy of suggesting that legislating emotions is a good idea this has been proven to be purposely misleading campaigning.
Less than two weeks have passed since the referendum and already we are seeing a raft of social change legislation being proposed.
In the last week alone there has been a strong push for the repeal of the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution which would mean the removal of the equal right to life of an unborn child to that of the mother. If this is repealed it will open the door to abortions right up to full gestation.
There’s the issue of euthanasia. Nobody likes the thought of terminally ill people having to suffer without a glimmer of hope on the horizon. But we only need to look at countries which have legalised euthanasia in the past to see the “mission creep” to a state where euthanasia is being performed on children and not only on people who are terminally ill but also on people with depression who have “lost the will to live”.
Both proposals concern legislation allowing the early termination of life and even an staunch agnostic as myself can not see the benefit in this.
However one issue is even more topical than the previous two and that is the issue of trans-genderism. Our papers, news-feeds ad social media have been inundated by news about Bruce Jenner and how he is now a woman.
Bruce has had cosmetic surgery to make him look like a woman and this is being celebrated in the media as the summum of heroism.
The blanket media coverage of this is nearly so complete that one would be excused for not noticing that the Irish government is about to pass a quite drastic gender recognition bill.
While it should be perfectly acceptable for people with genuine gender issues (especially trans-sex people) to be given recognition under the law this bill goes far, far beyond that.
The original bill included sections which required that a medical opinion ( from a psychiatrist or endocrinologist) was required before people could be legally change their gender. Protest by hard-core LBGT activists has led to this being removed from the act. People can now “self recognise”. What that means is that anyone over the age of 18 can basically wake up tomorrow, shout “I’m a woman” in case of a man or “I’m a man” in case of a woman and they will be given full legal recognition of this without any qualified proof whether they are actually transgender or if they just are suffering from severe psychological issues. It’s worth noting that people identifying as a different gender after undergoing severe mental trauma is not an uncommon occurrence.
The original bill also included a section that basically stated that if you changed gender once it was for life. There was no option for flip-flopping at a later stage and “identifying” as your original gender. This section made perfect sense as legally changing your gender required a medical opinion hence a person had been diagnosed as genuinely transgender. Having removed the required medical opinion from the bill our legislators have recognised the legal loophole that would exist with allowing people to self-identify, i.e. people can be wrong. So they had no other option but to introduce open-ended legislation allowing people to *legally* change their gender as often as they wanted.
The result is a complete and utter legal quagmire.
One of the first casualties is family law. The current legislation states that if one partner in a marriage changes their gender (be it legally, via surgery or both) that the marriage would become void. After all marriage is a legal contract under law and if you change one of the parties in a contract as well as the terms and conditions such a contract would be voided.
It’s known as the “forced divorce clause”.
The marriage would also be voided because under Irish law two people of the same-sex cannot be married.
While there might still be valid legal grounds to seek to have the marriage voided it will not happen automatically anymore once this new bill passes. The other partner will possibly have to request for it to be voided or even file for divorce (which would quite likely still require a separation period).
All in all, the raft of social change legislation being foisted upon us is demolishing not only the fundamentals of our society but also of our legislation. This while at the same time being presented as simple, stand alone changes which will have no further impact than allowing people to love themselves and each other.
Unfortunately nothing is further from the truth.
samuel l equality

Note: the below blogpost pertains to the upcoming Irish constitutional referendum.

We’ve seen them all, those lovely visual messages produced by the “yes” campaign in the upcoming marriage referendum. Images of people of different and the same race, sexuality and walks of life hugging and high-fiving each other in a visual extravaganza of being “all about the love”. One would be hard pressed to object. After all who would not support equality and love?
Well as it happens it’s the “yes” side who do not support equality. Especially pertains to equality of law and equality of freedom of expression.
Take the example of the recently erected (pardon my French) mural on Georges Street in Dublin. The multi-story mural depicts two men embracing. No problem with that. The artist responsible for the mural, Joe Caslin, has publicly stated that the mural is on support of a “Yes” vote in the upcoming referendum. Again, perfectly fine and something that should be allowed. However, and here is the problem, murals like that require planning permission. Especially if they broadcast a political message supporting one side in an upcoming constitutional referendum. It’s similar to election posters, the public display of which is tightly regulated with substantial fines being levied for breaches.  It comes as no surprise then that the Planning Enforcement section of Dublin City Council has issued a statement that “the mural is under investigation and Section 152 Warning Letter has issued in relation to mural.”.
Did the “yes” side think that they were exempt of the applicable legislation?
Well apparently they do! Following the news that Dublin City Council is enforcing the existing legislation the “yes” side has started an petition demanding that the mural in question be made exempt from the applicable legislation. So clearly, one law for us and another for everyone else. Ironically, at the same time they are caterwauling about the message on the poster from the “no” campaign.
Posters which it’s worth noting are displayed legally and which are not in breach of *any* regulations. They have even gone as far as tearing down posters (posting pictures of this on Twitter).
Clear and obvious proof that a fair referendum where the electorate can cast an informed vote is not something which they desire. This is not a unique phenomenon, if we look at other countries or jurisdictions we will see that the introduction of legislation similar to the proposed constitutional amendment has across the board lead to a reduction in civil liberties and freedom of speech. The main difference in Ireland would be that if the referendum returns a majority yes vote such a reduction in civil liberties and freedom of speech would be enshrined in our constitution.
That’s why we should ask ourselves, is granting a tiny minority (gay people make up less than 3% of the population) their wishes worth the loss of civil liberties and freedom of speech for all of us?