Tuesday, 27 November 2007

See You When I Get There

Passport and tickets in hand I am setting off to the 2007 NEC Motorcycle & Scooter Show in Birmingham, UK.

The camera is packed too so there should be plenty of pictures on my Flickr page by the weekend for all of you to enjoy.

Right time to go!

Keep the rubber side down.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The End of The World?

You read it here first...the end of the world order:

"The whole world order would crumble, everything that was built in the past 50 years would be meaningless. All the flash points in the world would erupt."

-Branislav Ristivojevic, spokesman for Serbia's DSS party, 19th November 2007, on what would happen should the world recognise a unilateral declaration on independence by Kosovo.

Hold onto your seats...

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Australia Chooses a New Direction

Republicanism, ratifying Kyoto and combat troops out of Iraq...these are just a few items on the table with the election of Kevin Rudd as the new Australian PM. So 11 years of conservative rule has been ended with the Labor Party coming to power.

After 4 terms John Howard is now out of the office and currently facing the 'double whammy' of losing the seat he has held for 33 years. Of note though is that the loss is not generally being contributed to the new Prime Ministers foreign policies that will lead to a distancing from the USA which has been a firm supporter of Mr Howard. Instead it was domestic issues relating to anger over workplace laws and rising interest rates that spelled the end with a swing of 6.3% to Labor.

So record levels of low unemployment and an excellent economy could not save Mr Howard his job! While Labor have 7 more seats then required to form the new government. Also the US finds itself with one less staunch supporter, with the loss of the UK's Tony Blair earlier this year.

The Sound of Drums

Among the noise of the war drums there are some voices worth listening too.

Certain elements within Iran may be determined to snub the USA by any means possible, but all things being equal, this helps elements within the USA justify one final push under the 'Bush Doctrine'.

"Will A Strategic Bombing Campaign Defeat Iran?" by Chuck Spinney is well worth a read.

"Peace - in international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting", The Devils Dictionary 1911

Saturday, 17 November 2007

DCU Open Day 2007 (Day 2)

It is over...

Wow, what a busy day! I do not think any of us expected today being that busy. Most of the other stands were surprised too. In fact we stayed later today then yesterday, only getting away after 4pm.

But why? I hear you ask...well the whole point of the Open Days are to promote DCU as 'THE' University to go to and I believe we successfully did that. With a combination of our collective 'personalities' and lots of candy (whole other story!).

DCU Model United Nations did very well out of today. Again pushing the IR & EPL courses while showing how the MUN is the society that is best suited for EVERY course in DCU and that zero experience is necessary. The fact that we are such young society seemed to prove a positive aspect. So many people...so many questions...so much promoting...so much FUN!

Also of note was the amount of parents today. Most were very impressed at our little society and several commented that we better represented the various courses then the dedicated staff on hand. But it was also a big team effort as we brought prospective students to the stands they were most interested in, those other stands repaid the favour and sent scores over to us.

So once again, another very positive day, promoting DCU and the Model United Nations, while also having a fun time doing it and meeting many very keen people...who might just be first years next year.

Again, thank you to the staff of DCU who helped to organise this great day and to all of the DCU Model United Nations Team that helped out at the stand over the 2 days. Well done.

Of course...go to my Flickr page for more pictures!

Friday, 16 November 2007

DCU Open Day 2007 (Day 1)

We survived...watch the day unfold on my Flickr page!

Day 1 of the 'DCU Open Days' is over and we can safely say it was a complete success. This was the busiest DCU Open Day ever! Getting more people in one day then the whole weekend last year, so estimates are in the 5,000 mark and at times it certainly felt that way.

What started out as the DCU Model United Nations Society display soon also included the Law & Government main 'go to' desk...then the European Business courses came on board at some stage and finally we also found ourselves promoting the Uaneen Modules. So we were a very busy bunch.

At various times the vast majority of the society dropped by and helped out by talking to passers by and generally whipping up interest in our still very new society. The pictures I took really do not do the team justice...there were times when all of us were dealing with 'groups' of prospective DCU students. The vast majority certainly seemed very keen and interested in our activities, especially when we started introducing them to the benefits of being part of a society that blended debate with acting, taught the skills of research and professionalism, while living up to the spirit of the United Nations.

All in all, this was a brilliant day for all involved and hopefully we gave the prospective students one more reason to choose DCU.

While I must also extend a thank you to the staff of DCU who helped put this together and most of all a MASSIVE THANK YOU to the DCU Model United Nations team who helped out through the day and several of which have pledged to help me out tomorrow!

See you there...

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Speed of the Sound of Lonliness

It was Cork...but not as I knew it! Pink lighting along Oliver Plunkett Street and down the center of Patrick Street were the only disturbing changes. Everything else is...is Cork, boy!

Hillbillies on the Grand Parade still makes the best chicken fillet burgers in the country (if not world!), Zanzibar on Cook street is still funky with great food and Lancaster Lodge still fulfills all the needs of the traveling biker (relatively secure parking and central location).

Which brings me nicely onto the matter of Karma (my Kawasaki ER-6F) in 'tourer' mode. Well, she handled the whole trip up and down with no problems. Easy overtakes when needed and effortless cruising at legal-ish speeds. Loaded with a 3 case pannier system (see my Flickr page) and enough gear to ensure fresh 'civvies' for each day and night out. In fact, the top case just had the hand muffs and cover in it. I noted that at approx 120-140kph she would hover just above 6,000rpm. I adjusted the rear suspension from my normal of 4 with the cases commuting (factory set at 3 for just rider) to 5 since I had more weight then normal. It seemed to do the job and have no complaints. I filled up going down then again coming back up, so €14 each way.

The only changes I would make for similar/longer trips is maybe getting Kawasaki's higher screen option so you do not need to get down so low for the windy bits. Other then that, i would not hesitate to consider her a great (if not best) budget all-rounder. She gets hustled through Dublin traffic all week then gets to head down to the other end of the country for the weekend without missing a beat. While still getting flattering comments every time I park up.

I took note of the amount of fellow bikers out there on the roads and the various machines that were being ridden. In fact, I did not pass the same machine twice! Though I must comment on one worrying trend, the BMW's rider's inability to acknowledge a fellow biker. I realise they have much to do in their cockpit's and I am surprised that BMW does not offer a button to perform some sort of automated response. While everyone else seemed eager to make some kind of gesture! Anyway, maybe this was an exception, rather then the rule.

Oh yeah, there was the little matter of a Model United Nations simulation in UCC. I was part of the team representing the 'Kingdom of Belgium', and the topic was 'the role of PMC's in conflict zones'. I know, if you are into that sort of thing it was very interesting. This was my first MUN simulation so spent most of my time trying to figure out how to raise an issue. It was done over 1 day and was a great introduction by some very impressive UCC MUN members ('thank you' goes out to them). I probably could have done with a week there to get my head around the etiquette, but with my slight aversion to social settings public speaking will always be a hurdle, but I am doing this for the experience and insight more so then any future career path.

All in all a great few days away. Digging up old memories, visiting old haunts and generally feeling...well, much older!

Keep the rubber side down.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Ready or Not

Cork, here I come!

Bags are packed and the bike is loaded, tomorrow I hit the road and will be in Cork city for the weekend. My main reason for going down is that I am taking part in a Model United Nations training session between UCC and DCU.

Though my other reason is that I have been looking for a destination for a weekend trip since getting my first service out of the way. Yes, it is great getting to commute every day on a motorcycle, but we both deserve a bit of fun, so Cork is the perfect opportunity. I lived there between 1998-2003, so being back for a few days will be good and throw up a few dusty memories. I have heard the place had been polished up a bit, hopefully not too much!

So once the trip is over I will have had my first 'longish' trip in the saddle with Karma, hopefully it will give me an idea of how I want to do things for next summer. The idea being, that I will make a trip to the UK or Europe to catch a MotoGP and/or a World Superbike Round.

"A good long ride can clear your mind, restore your faith, and use up a lot of fuel." - Anon

Keep the rubber side down!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Falling Foul of the Monkey

It is a about time I come clean and share my experience with Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon).

As you will have guessed from the tone of my previous posts I have been very impressed with the Ubuntu OS since moving over (completely) a few months ago. So it was with great excitement that I began the upgrade to Gutsy.

The upgrade itself was bit of a struggle, but this was to be expected as everyone wanted to upgrade at the same time. My specific problem was that half way though (about 400MB) my connection would go down for some reason. After the second time this happened I decided to download 'alternate' version, basically a CD-ROM image designed to upgrade computers not connected to the Internet. This worked first time.

With the newly burned CD (checked for integrity) I proceeded to upgrade 7.04 to 7.10. Like the first time I installed Ubuntu this went smoothly without any problems. Once complete I connected to the net and found another 110MB +/- of upgraded for my system. Again, no issues!

Then the big nasty surprise...compiz (the funky graphics) did not work. Trying to turn them on at any level was like watching paint dry. Everything was slow and sluggish. Worse, it still is! From what I can figure out from weeks of scouring the web my (and many others) graphics cards are likely to have been 'blacklisted', which means that there is a chance that compiz (in conjunction with other things) could cause a crash so the graphics do not worked until the problem is fixed. There is an option to by-pass this and use them anyway, but I have not risked that yet.

Other then the graphics everything works perfect. A few things have been streamlined and a few new handy GUI's have been thrown in. All-in-all, a very good package. My enthusiasm is slightly curbed because I do miss compiz. But with any luck one day there will be an update and my screens will be all bouncy again...I do love the bouncy!

Moving swiftly on, I still believe Ubuntu to be the best OS out there when you look at value for money...at 'FREE' it is simply unbeatable. The support that is provided by the Forums is brilliant, somebody seems to know how to figure out your problem. So stop wondering and give Ubuntu a try, you certainly have nothing to lose!

Open source for open minds!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Pilgrimage 2007

The annual pilgrimage is just 3 weeks away, the NEC Motorcycle & Scooter Show 2007 opens the doors to the public. The flights are booked and the tickets are somewhere in the post!

All the major manufactures are confirmed: Ducati, Royal Enfield, BMW, Honda, Hyosung, Benelli, Victory, Yamaha, CCM, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Suzuki, KTM, Buell, Vectrix & Kawasaki.

There are also several new features to this years show, ensuring that it will always be fresh. It is also great to see the Italian manufactures back, missing last year due to the conflicting Milan and Birmingham show dates, hence the Birmingham Show being relatively late.

To anyone of you who can not make it I will be taking plenty of photo's that should end up on my Flickr page not too long after the pilgrimage, but they are no comparison to viewing, touching and even getting your leg over the latest (and some of the most expensive!) motorcycles available.

So if you can, get yourself some tickets!!!!

Keep the rubber side down and I will hopefully see some of you there.

Riding With Team Roberts

After entering into a competition I got an email today informing me that my name will be on the Team Roberts MotoGP bike for the last race of the season this Sunday!

By CLICKING HERE then select the 'Logo Left' sticker on the bike. A quick search with your PDF reader for 'KD' will find my place of the Team Roberts bike.

A big thank you to Team Roberts and with rumours that they may be switching to Ducati's next year...I just can not stand the wait.

Now get out there and win me some points!