Claude Shannon

What we talk about when we talk about digital

Suppose I’ve composed yet another brilliantly astute tweet but before I dispatch it to my tens of followers I ask you to guess it. Not just the undoubtedly on-point sentiment but every single word. I’ll make it easy and just limit it to lowercase letters but I’ll also need some special characters like # and @, quote, full stop, comma and space. So let’s say … Continue reading What we talk about when we talk about digital

The Path to Wisdom

“Where is the wisdom that we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge that we have lost in information?” T.S. Eliot ‘The Rock’ Because they invite error we should be wary of interchangeable terms and there are few that invite more than the terms data, information, knowledge and wisdom. The first two are easily muddled while the last two seem either elusive or too loaded … Continue reading The Path to Wisdom

Validating forms using Regular Expressions

Regular Expressions, though long considered a staple of any coder’s arsenal, can be used by anyone who has the tortuous task of finding the appearance of a word in multiple docs but only, say, when that word is in caps. InDesign stalwarts will be familiar with GREP which uses Regular Expressions to search for patterns in text and we can think of it as advanced Find … Continue reading Validating forms using Regular Expressions

The Four-Dimensional Human

It’s early 2000s Dublin and the author is on a night out with his fellow students and a tutor. The group are in mid toast when feeling the phone vibrating in his pocket he furtively replies under the table drawing a colourful scolding from the tutor. Looking back the author sees the beginnings of our current predicament – one in which we are “shimmering between two places” – at … Continue reading The Four-Dimensional Human

UXDX 2016

Design events are ten a penny these days but there was nothing typical about the UXDX conference focussing as it did on product from the perspective of User Experience and Developer Experience too. DX is a relatively new term but one that considers how to optimise the development process whether through automation or organisation. Talks covered the gamut from designing experiences and workplace cultures to digital transformation within organisations … Continue reading UXDX 2016

Learning Tech Labs – Cognitive Science

The Learning Tech Labs sessions have proven to be a unique forum providing an opportunity for a dialogue between education and emerging technology. This month’s was something different with two talks in and around cognitive science – one on learning and another on perception. Superintelligence When we encounter a term we’re unsure of, chances are we’ll just Google it – a common diagnostic response that produces … Continue reading Learning Tech Labs – Cognitive Science

Instagram new icon

Out with the old – The Instagram Redesign

When it comes to rebrands the response tends to be, by and large, negative. This is especially true for the digital products we use – we feel so personally invested in them because they’re a conduit for sharing our parts of our lives with family, friends and the world at large. Instagram’s rebrand was no exception to the now familiar hysteria which typically surrounds a … Continue reading Out with the old – The Instagram Redesign

Offset 2016

Since 2009 Offset, Dublin’s creative get together, has ballooned into a design event of international renown. Punching well above its weight since year one it should rightfully be mentioned in the same breath as that other stellar annual conference that up to recently took place in Dublin 4. While it doesn’t share that event’s scale or swagger it has brought heavyweights to Dublin that may otherwise … Continue reading Offset 2016

Interaction Design Education Summit 2016

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Interaction Design Education Summit in Helsinki. It was part of the IxDA Interaction 16 event but these two days were focussed on design education. I wrote this piece on the Digital Skills Academy blog. I possibly reported on Andy Budd’s talk a little uncritically. His discussion centred on the failings he perceives in design education, particularly in … Continue reading Interaction Design Education Summit 2016

UX event

UX and AI at UXCamp Dublin 2016

I was only able to make the morning session for UXCamp Dublin (20/02/16) but very glad I could.  If you’re not familiar with BarCamp it’s essentially a flatter, more ad-hoc style of conference. Flatter in that it dispenses with much of the speaker / audience division (since anyone can be a speaker) and ad-hoc since much of the schedule is arrived at by consensus before kick off. Overall this UX event was very well … Continue reading UX and AI at UXCamp Dublin 2016

Learning Tech Labs – Technology in Schools

The most recent Learning Tech Labs event took place on February 10th in Google, Dublin. Its focus was firmly on secondary education and technology. As was noted by an attendee, the distinction between technology education and technology in education is often muddled. The first speaker of the evening was Claire Conneely, Google Ireland’s Education Programme Manager who discussed Google’s education programmes for students and teachers and their commitment to interest in … Continue reading Learning Tech Labs – Technology in Schools

CSS: currentColor

In the absence of widespread support for native CSS variables we can still take advantage of one type of variable – currrentColor. This permits inheritance of the color property to other properties in the element’s rules as well as the child elements. This way we only need to set the color value and it’s updated everywhere it’s used. There’s good support for this and even though the use … Continue reading CSS: currentColor

Learning Tech Labs January Meetup

Last week in the Science Gallery Learning Tech Labs hosted its monthly MeetUp bringing together educators, entrepreneurs, developers and those interested in the implications of technology in training and education (the distinction between the two is best characterised by Ken Robinson – most parents would be happy to know their child is receiving sex education in school; less so training). We often hear of the benefits … Continue reading Learning Tech Labs January Meetup

Make It New: The History of Silicon Valley Design

In “Make It New: The History of Silicon Valley Design” author Barry M. Katz chronicles hardware and software development from the under documented perspective of designers who “waged an ongoing guerilla campaign to to gain a hearing from the engineering overlords”. Within the book there are two examples of early computer design and the hardware and interaction design they changed . It’s tempting to think of hardware and … Continue reading Make It New: The History of Silicon Valley Design

A Brief Beginner’s Guide to Binary

We all know computers deal in 1s and 0s but it’s not always that clear what binary is and why it’s even used at all instead of good old decimals. Wouldn’t it make more sense to write eleven as just 11 rather than 01011? The binary system was in existence well before its application to computer science and came to us from George Boole via Leibniz who … Continue reading A Brief Beginner’s Guide to Binary

Amusing Ourselves to Death

By rights Neil Postman’s 1985 tract on television’s perniciousness should be a relic or at least a curiosity but despite being written amid the Reagan administration parts of Amusing Ourselves to Death seem as relevant as ever while others less so. Evoking Orwell, Huxley and McLuhan Postman casts his gaze over television and by extension mass media’s reach. That said, when he talks of the primacy of … Continue reading Amusing Ourselves to Death

The Golden Ratio as Design Strategy

The Golden Ratio is one of those design concepts that’s often discussed but not entirely well understood but whether you believe it to be divine or bunkum it’s worth knowing about. First up, it’s not a magic bullet; despite what Dan Brown may say it’s not encoded with divine hermetic powers but it does turn up a lot in art and nature whether it’s the Parthenon or The Last Supper. In … Continue reading The Golden Ratio as Design Strategy

FFmpeg for video encoding

A couple of weeks ago I needed to trim an MP4 file. I didn’t necessarily want to re-encode besides I was on a machine without a media encoding application. I thought I’d try out FFmpeg which is a command line video and audio transcoder. To install FFmpeg I used Brew, the OS X Package Manager (Windows users can investigate Chocolatey): $ brew install ffmpeg It takes a … Continue reading FFmpeg for video encoding

Rebase 2015

I was lucky to attend the Rebase design event last week. It was a packed three days that kicked off with three talks at Wednesday evening’s Fringe event in NCAD. Fringe Event The first from Love & Robots‘ co-founder Kate O’Daly showcased their phenomenally interesting work with customisable fashion accessories and 3D printing bridging design and technology. Check out their customisable bow ties to see … Continue reading Rebase 2015

Creativity Inc

Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc.

If you’re in the business of creativity but allergic to business books try Ed Catmull’s ‘Creativity Inc’ , a business book sure, but one in the guise of a whirlwind narrative on being at the apex of bleeding edge technology and the hard graft of the creative process. Catmull earned as a doctorate in computer science discovering amongst other things, texture mapping, at technique that’s used by all 3D graphics applications … Continue reading Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc.