ASONAM 2011 - Summary

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This year the 3rd conference on Advances in Social Network Analysis and Mining was held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Kaohsiung is the 2nd largest city in Taiwan with around 2.9 million inhabitants. During my short stay there I couldn't help but notice that Taiwan (or at least Kaohsiung) is a blend of Japanese efficiency and cleanliness, with Chinese culture and influences.

The organisation of the conference was impeccable. Everything functioned perfectly, the internet always worked, the guests were well looked after and the presentations all went smoothly. Lunch boxes were provided everyday and the two dinners provided, particularly the banquet served on the 41 floor of Kaohsiung's highest building, the Tuntex Sky Tower (an 85 story skyscraper), was exquisite. The real motor behind the organisation were the student helpers directed by I-Hsien Ting. The students were omnipresent, ever smiling and always ready to help. A truly good job.

These are some noteworthy papers that I came across during the conference (mainly through the sessions I sat through). This is not an exhaustive list by any means. For more information and a summary of each paper consult the conference program on the ASONAM 2011 website.

Matteo Magnani and Luca Rossi. The ML-model for multi-layer social networks. - In one of the best papers in the conference, the authors propose a model to combine the various heterogeneous online personas in a unified network perspective. I believe that the topic of multi layer networks will receive a lot of attention in the near future, making this paper particularly relevant at this point in time.

Chien-Tung Ho, et al. Modeling and Visualizing Information Propagation in a Micro-blogging Platform. - This is another best paper award winner exploring information propagation in micro-blogging systems (using Plurk). The three research questions explored are:- (1) How to quantify a person’s capability to disseminate ideas via a micro-blog. (2) How to measure the extent of propagation of a concept in a micro-blog. (3) How to demonstrate and visualize information propagation in a microblog.

Iraklis Varlamis and George Tsatsaronis. Visualizing Bibliographic Databases as Graphs and Mining Potential Research Synergies - In this paper the authors use power graphs, a graph lossless compression technique developed for biological networks, to visualise bibliographic networks. I see a lot of potential for power graph visualisation in social networks. This paper is a good idea generator in the visualisation field.

Tomoyuki Yuasa and Susumu Shirayama. - A New Analysis Method for Simulations Using Node Categorizations - This is another interesting paper using visualisation that explores Self Organising Maps to cluster and then visualise similar actors in a network.

Juan Lang and Felix Wu. Social Network User Lifetime. - The key question explored in this research is 'what keeps users engaged and active in social networking sites'.

Michael Farrugia, Neil Hurley and Aaron Quigley. SNAP: Towards a validation of the Social Network Assembly Pipeline. - Some shameless self-promotion here. The main theme of this work is how can we collect a ground truth dataset to validate our social network inference method from electronic data.

Marina Danilevsky et al. SCENE: Structural Conversation Evolution NEtwork - Can you identify someone based on the change in his communication pattern while chatting to someone else? A very interesting question studied using IM data, with initial promising results.

Fergal Reid, Aaron McDaid, Neil Hurley. Partitioning Breaks Communities. - Is a non-overlapping or an overlapping community detection approach for clustering a graph? In this paper the authors use the measure of 'breaking cliques' to evaluate different community detection algorithms on various datasets.

Charles Perez et al SPOT 1.0: Scoring Suspicious Profiles On Twitter - Beyond the great title this paper analyses tweet content to identify suspicious profiles. Interesting analysis.

The conference had also 6 interesting keynote speakers. Two of the keynotes by Arno Reuser and Johnny Engell-Hansen were related to open source intelligence and how social networks can help intelligence services. Philippa Pattison presented research on statistical models (ERGMs). Yutaka Matsuo discussed web mining to develop personal search engines. The prolific author Jiawei Han gave a summary of work from his research group in Illinois on data mining algorithms. The last keynote was by Ming-Syan Chen on information processing in social networks.

Some pictures of the conference are already uploaded on the conference Facebook page

Next year the conference is in Istanbul, Turkey

IIHF Ice hockey world championships 2011 - Slovakia - Enhanced Twitter Feed

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
7-May

Arrived in slovakia. #iihfwc11 here I come! Slovenskoooooo!!!!

@Violet_NL I'll get nash for you don't worry :) pity as soon as I arrived slovakia got knocked out

8-May

I had forgot about slovak hospitality. I had 3 lunches in 5 hours.complete with beer,wine and shnaps http://yfrog.com/gy3bthpj

@Violet_NL lol indeed I thought so too. The 3 dish was pizza overtopped with 3 types of cheese. Don't want to know my calorie count for 2day

@NHLfanDenmark doing latenight stuff - lol! Tomorrow slovakia - denmark. Pretty useless game apart from taking revenge for last year's 6-0

9-May

it's the last game slovakia will be playing in the #iihfwc11. Come on Slovensko at least beat Denmark and take revenge for last year !

glad to hear the slovak support being loud at a 12.15 game and after a big disappointment #iihfwc11

danes score on a great counter attack after an attacking start by slovakia #iihfwc11

the slovak defense misses Zdeno Chara too much! for Slovakia's sake Boston should win the Stanley Cup now #iihfwc11 #nhl

GOLLLL!!!! Jurcina draws 1-1. Nice game so far. Slovkas are believing in themselves #iihfwc11

it was Stumpel that scored (deflected). now power play for the danes. #iihfwc11

@Violet_NL @NHLfanDenmark being a rangers fan i have no particular sympathies for the Bruins as a team, but Slovaks above all :))

GOOOLLL!!! SATAN!!!!!!!!!!!! #iihfwc11

first period over 2-1 for slovakia. slovakia are playing without fear of losing today. much nicer hockey that way! #iihfwc11

After scoring in the first, Satan is on fire in the second period too. Hit the post and had few shots on goal. #iihfwc11

Strebak - head shot on danish backup goalie

a few golden opportunities for slovakia which ended with Satan getting into a fight. told you he's on fire #iihfwc11

last 20 minutes for slovak team in this championship. 2-1 in the start of the second

GOLLLLLLLL!!!!! HOSSSSSAAA!! Finally, Hossa is on the board! #iihfwc11 on the power play!

danes with 5-3 power play! 2+2 and 2 minutes. long PK for slovakia #iihfwc11

1killed. 2minutes left to PK. great work from Halak in last 2 mins #iihfwc11

looks like slovakia are going to play the whole 3rd period with man less. another penalty for Slovkia #iihfwc11

4-1 Richard Zednik scores with less than 10 minutes to go! #iihfwc11

@NHLfanDenmark it seems like it doesn't it. i wish they had spread it out a bit better too.

nice to hear the enthusiasm of the crowd in the last game. #iihfwc11

slovakia end their adventure on a high note - if you can call this a high note (it's as high as it gets given the circumstances) #iihfwc11

marian hossa gets the best player of the game for team slovakia #iihfwc11

RT: @IIHFHockey Advice to Hab GM Gauthier - sign Jagr! He's got something going with Plekanec. Jagr would basically play for free to wear the CH.

The foreplay is over! Wed moving to bratislava to enjoy the next 7 games live. Looking forward for all but rus-can will be awesome #iihfwc11

10-May

Slovak uber deliciousness. Pierogi (dumplings) filled with bryndza cheese and potatoes. Yummm http://yfrog.com/hsbrntvj

@Violet_NL what to do in slovakia on a 'free' day?: spend the day programming (work), eat a lot and go to a cryo-chamber in the evening

In banska bystrica: found a shop with a great selection of german board games, agricola,small world,dominion,catan... #slovakia #boardgames

Testing my new slovak mobile internet for live tweeting tomorrow. Non hockey fans beware :)

@Violet_NL no worries I did it just for fun to see what it is. Just froze for 1.5 minutes at -100 degrees celcius. Quite an experience

@Violet_NL not really. i was quite a bit skeptic at first but after doing it i'd say its not that bad. its like a reverse sauna :)

@Violet_NL yes kind of, but it's mainly used for fast muscle regeneration for athletes, parkisons disease, scoliosis, immunity boosting etc

11-May

my first day of actual holiday started by getting the GRPS internet to work on Slovak 02 and a promising start from my split classifier.

Weird and wonderful slovakia: RT @TheSlovakDaily: Police catch Slovak cannibal red-handed http://nblo.gs/hI2Mr

Tickets: check, hockey shirts:check, spirit: check. Bratislava here I come!! #iihfwc11

Very interesting 1st period. The jagr-plakanec line is superb making it seem like czechs are playing against children #iihfwc11

5 on 3 for usa. Pavlec look shaky but usa not capitalising. Ok he just made a good save now.

After end of second period czechs lead 2-0, with another Jagr goal. Starting a 'get Jagr back to the NHL' fan group very soon #iihfwc11

Great goal by plakanec puts the czech republic with a foot and a half in the semis. 3-0 wit 9 minutes to go #iihfwc11

Jagr single handedly annihilates the usa. A hat trick for the veteran mastermind and 4-0. Crowd is eurphoric #iihfwc11

Mark Messier presenting awards at end of game #nyr #iihfwc11

==Czech Republic - USA game report and pictures==

Pavlec posts a shutout and gets best player award. He must have read my tweet and decided to prove me wrong #iihfwc11

Next game in line finland - norwary. Nice to see a lot of finnish brothers (also known as crazy bastards) at the game. Go suomi! #iihfwc11

@IIHFHockey weren't cameras supposed to be allowed at the games as per website?!! Security is disallowing cameras

0-0 after the first period, half of which was dominated by the finns and the other half with a mild reaction from the norwegians #iihfwc11

RT @DannyTBHotStove: RW-Richard Panik, 20, drafted 52nd overall in 2009 NHL Entry Draft has signed 3-yr Entry Level Contract #TBLightning

Norway's reaction turning more concrete. Finns need to be careful. Ok penalty shot for norway!! #iihfwc11

Norway score 1-0 #iihfwc11

Finland score 3 goals on power plays to make the score 3-1 with 4 minutes to go in the second #iihfwc11

Fast beer drinking skills come in handy when you're not ready to miss any part of the game #iihfwc11

==Finland - Norway game report and pictures==

After gladly seeing the Finns beat the last outsiders of the tournament 4-1,I'm on my way to the anticipated final Russia - Canada #iihfwc11

@Violet_NL today is the night of the great nash plan. I've got my trap set for after the match!

Overwhelming amount of russian supporters at the game. Looks like they're playing at home. Winner of this game will meet finland #iihfwc11

Sparks already flying between players. Hot game #iihfwc11

This is one tight game even though canada leading 17-6 in shots on goal. Score 0-0 after the first period #iihfwc11

Scraping blood off the ice. Its indeed a battlefield out there. Canada leading 1-0. #iihfwc11

Second scrubbing lol @Violet_NL :))) yes at game great great atmosphere. Got only phone for pics cause they didn't let me in with camera

WOOOWWW that must be the best goal of the championship!!!! #iihfwc11

Wooww!! That match should have been the final. Great game with russia coming on top 2-1 #iihfwc11

==Russia - Canada game report and pictures==

Russians celebrating their win in a rainy bratislava night. Tomorrow first czh - swe then rus - fin. Should be interesting #iihfwc11

13-May

Best pissoir ever - this was in a microbrewery in bratislava - patronsky pivobar #slovakia #iihfwc11 http://lockerz.com/s/101221256

First semi final between sweden and czech republic about to start in 10 minutes. Later its the finns vs russia. Another hot game #iihfwc11

At the start of the 3rd period sweden are leading 2-1 over czech republic. Deservedly one would add #iihfwc11

Sweden score again on a counter attack 3-1 #iihfwc11

WC over for the czechs 5-2 with 1 empty net goal. Now my wish for sweden finland in the final is 1 step closer #iihfwc11

==Sweden - Czech Republic game report and pictures==

Crap picture of the fan village with the 3 towers in the background #iihfwc11 http://lockerz.com/s/101281138

Rus-fin is the most balanced game support wise so far #iihfwc11

@aquigley it's hockey the finns are playing their arch rivals the russians. I'm actually at the game and it's crazy. Great fun. Still 0-0

A splendid goal in the second period puts finland in the lead. Very exciting game, still wide open #iihfwc11

Best goal of the tournament by Mikael Granlund of Helsinki IFK

==Finland - Russia game report and pictures==

Thank you blackberry for not dying even if I starved you to death

And finland make it to the final. Suomi now is your time to make history since 1995. #iihfwc11

14-May

==Went back to BB for an off day off hockey and ended up watching the Eurovision for which neither the dot not Slovakia qualified==

I thought I was going to avoid the #eurovision this year but no. Guess as someone said it's malta only national sport so I have to see it

@biggibabe any bets on it? Comments on twitter on #eurovision just make it worth watching just for a big laugh.

@biggibabe I'd bet on moldova in top 10. uk relegation zone, ireland in top 5. #eurovision

@biggibabe I agree. I think it was the first time ever that my musical tastes were accepted by such a wide audience ;) #eurovision #metal

RT @UlfVinr Serbia - please tell me I'm not having an acid flashback! Please? # eurovision

Wow positively impressed by georgia! Rock on babe! I think you'll get my vote (so you're not going to win) #eurovision

#Eurovision uber shite list: uk, sweden, russia but sweden can win only if they lose tomorrow #iihfwc11

Georgia and estonia get my votes. Ireland get my moral support #eurovision

@aquigley ireland have a good chance here. Catchy song and good visuals. @biggibabe indeed. Let's hope so!

@aquigley lol lol you read well between the lines :) I was loyal to my music roots not my adoptive countries

@aquigley did you vote from oulu for finland to give 10 points to ireland :)

Someone should build a eurovision predictor and gauge the 'geography' effect #eurovision #ml #datamining

15-May

Managed to get in late for the game thanks to taking a wrong bus (daft) and game time change. As soon as I entered I saw 3 goals. #iihfwc11

Glass smashing break at the game. Czh leading 4-3. This game really should go to OT. #iihfwc11

@biggibabe yeah a bit all over the place, they should keep scoring though #iihfwc11

The czech republic wrap up this game and the 3rd place with an empty net goal to make the score 7-4. Russia too many mistakes. #iihfwc11

The czech republic receiving the bronze medal #iihfwc11 final score 7-4 http://lockerz.com/s/101912693

==Czech Republic - Russia game report and pictures

Bit nippy outside so fans waiting for the final inside the big tent in fan village #iihfwc11 http://lockerz.com/s/101924867

@_Karoliinka_ enjoy the czechs deserved it

Guy at the supporters shop said everybody is looking for finnish stuff. I like to hear that. #iihfwc11

The arena is shaking! Finns bringing down the place. Leading 3-1 #iihfwc11

And that's how a great week should end - with a win! The finns overdid it, winning 6-1. I picked them as winners before the start #iihfwc11

Finland win the gold medal!!!!!!!!!! http://lockerz.com/s/101985485

==Finland - Russia game report and pictures==

16-May

This short holiday was an absolute blast. It exceeded even my very high expectations in all aspects. Driving back home happy and refeshed.

Tree ring layout paper gets best paper award at ACHI 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Our temporal tree rings layout paper got awarded a best paper award at ACHI 2011

Abstract:
Many of the current dynamic network visualisations methods or techniques rely on node-link force-based models that were originally developed for visualising static network snapshots. In this study, we diverge from this traditional layout approach and develop a layout for ego networks that places the time dimension in the foreground, by turning time into an element of shape. In addition to this we develop an interactive system that enables the visualisation of multiple networks simultaneously by employing small multiples. Using the proposed layout and analytical system as a grounding visual structure, we visually characterise dynamic network events in 3 different networks; the evolution of the biotechnology field, a phone call data set and a network of passenger connections of an airline. From this analysis we propose a range of ego network visual motifs that can be used as templates to identify and characterise events that are occurring in a dynamic network.

motivational_example.png

You can download and read the paper here

Visualizing the performance of add / drop decisions in fantasy sports

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How often do you get the feeling that as soon as you drop a player in your fantasy league, his stats sky rocket? All too often I’d say. Well, I set out to do a post mortem analysis on how effective my add / drop decisions were now that the regular NHL season is over.

The aim of the visualization is to plot the performance of each player that ever was part of the fantasy team, highlighting the period when he was part of the team. The visualisation plots the total number of fantasy points of each player per week (using a sliding window weighted average to smoothen the curves). If the player was on the roster during that time period then the line is highlighted in red. If the player was not on the roster then there is only a blue line (and the red line on 0). Injuries are shown with a discontinued line (i.e. the player did not play any game that week).

The visualisation is aimed to help analyze player adds and drops, to see where the player was picked up based on his performance. For instance one can see examples of good decisions - adding Thomas Vanek towards the end of the season and dropping Paul Stastny towards the end of the season. From the charts one can also see the variance of each player with mountains and valleys (Gaborik, Havlat,Sharp) and the respective consistency of other players (Henrik Sedin, Christan Ehrhoff and Niklas Kronwall).

The data extraction, from the yahoo sports website, was automated using Excel’s data capture and a few macros. The visualisations were generated using Google charts.

Year in Review 2010

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January: Started the year skiing then Lisbon, NY and got the blackberry!
February: Winter Olympics & Started Dancing Classes
March: Journal paper accepted with revisions. Saw swallow the sun. Played in Czechoslovak badminton tournament. Travelled to Slovakia by car.
April: Easter wedding planning. Avoided the ash cloud.
May: Went to China. Luxembourg backgammon open :) Saw Bolt Thrower with Olli
June: World Cup & Wedding Planning
July: Got Married!!!
August: Pretty relaxed month. Went to Malta for b'day week.
September: Honeymoon & Nice Conference
October: Won 1st live backgammon tournament. Panama.
November: Book chapter, dark days and work
December: It's December. Typically eventful Christmas lunch and Christmas at home after 3 days stuck at airports

Project of the Year: Wedding (and honeymoon)
Best Holiday: Honeymoon in French Polynesia & California
Best Concert: Bolt Thrower in Luxembourg
Best Book: Stieg Larsson's Trilogy & Under the Dome (Stephen King)
Best Film: Avatar & Inception (Tie)
Best Album / Music Video: Shit music year by maybe Finntroll or Dimmu
Purchases: Blackberry / Kindle (Present) / Canon 550D
New Places Visited: Lisbon, Panama, China, French Polynesia, Nice
2010 Game: Some new boardgames (Citadels, Settlers, Dominion, Tichu) - BSW
New thing tried in 2010: Dancing
Favourite Pub: Twelfth Lock (again)
Band discovery of the year: Bolt Thrower

2010 Update

Monday, June 7, 2010

The blog called for attention a few weeks ago when Seth reminded me that I had to pay the yearly maintenance fee. To feel that I’m not wasting money (I really am but I don’t feel like killing it yet) I decided to write an update post while stuck in a long traffic jam on the 1200km journey back home from Slovakia.

Wedding BouquetWell, the most important thing that's going on at the moment is the wedding planning. Back in the time when I used to scout for new and interesting blogs, the first mention of the word wedding (or kids) used to be enough to skip the blog. Blogs of this kind usually meant either a post for each invite sent and each flower chosen, or detailed accounts of each nappy change for the kid. In turn I promised myself to keep my wedding prelude as quite as possible. I'm allowing myself one tiny outlet for the record, just to prove that I this thing actually happened.

In a simple sentence I can sum up my wedding planning experience like this:- it's not half as complicated or troublesome as most people make it out to be. Perhaps I'm saying this because I'm lucky enough to be with a sane and most practical woman, or perhaps it’s also because I'm not having the wedding in a wedding crazy country where the wedding has to be planned more than 2 years in advance. Another thing that definitely helps is treating the whole thing as a project for two, biting into it a bit by bit, together. Cooperation from parents on both sides, with the right level of interest and without being too intrusive doesn’t hurt either.

In effect, planning a wedding is like throwing a big party. All you have to do is find a place, get some food and drink (sampling both before and playing God with dish decisions - perhaps one of the most satisfying parts of the planning), get some cool clothes (= shopping for the ladies), get some music and outsource your pictures while throwing in a couple of decorations and an exclusive afterparty - a cracking honeymoon. I’m happy to say that I helped in almost everything from the wedding hall to choosing the bride dress (and yes I saw the dress cause we’re practical). We planned and organized this in 3 intensive weeks over a period of six months, with remote administration in between. With one month to go I think we've covered most of the ground that we needed. I still need to get a pair of shoes, decide on the suit and send off the last couple of invites (to those lazy buggers who haven't sent their home addresses yet) but everything is under control.

Forbidden CityIt's not all wedding bouquets and wedding cakes though. Last week I was in Beijing for a business trip. Luckily I had some free time to see a couple of main sights and buy half of the tea in china. The most impressive was the forbidden city. To think that the emperor build this magnificent playground (with 9999 rooms and 100,000 eunuchs) for his wives is mind blowing in itself. Even more mind blowing is the mind behind the great wall, another must see which I managed to slot in between meetings. I was surprised at the cleanliness of the place, or rather the lack of dirtiness, although smog was a real killer on some days. The traffic is crazy both in the amount of cars and the rackless driving (people in Beijing seem to drive with their hands fixed on the horn). Anyone who cycles in Beijing must be a stuntman. One surprising thing were the body temperature machines, that scan your body temperature as you pass by (I think this was introduced after SARS).

Surely someone is going to want to know about food. Yes, the food is different from "European" Chinese food, although it’s mainly because of the ingredients more than the style. The style and idea is similar but the diversity of ingredients is considerable. From my limited experience the Beijing cuisine was quite dry i.e. not soaked in soup like sauces like some takeaways. Also, I never found typical Chinese takeout dishes like sweet and sour pork or lemon chicken. Peking Duck (a must in Peking) is served identically to restaurants here and the taste is also very close. My culinary regret was that I didn’t try the sea cucumber (expensive). I found a few turtle dishes but due to moral reasons I didn’t order any. I had no problem having shark fin and shark lip soup, and intestines with chilli, but I didn’t find any dogs that I could eat (no moral objection as long as it’s not a pug). The Chinese beer that we tasted was quite watery, but the green tea is wayyyyyy better than the tea-bagged green tea you can get here. The difference is huge.

Top 10 Albums of 2009

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1. Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
2. Spiritus Mortis - The God Behind the God
3. Hypocrisy - A Taste of Extreme Divinity
4. Forsaken - After the Fall
5. Ajattara - Noitumaa
6. Swallow the sun - New Moon
7. My Dying Bride - The Lies I Sire
8. Behemoth - Evangelion
9. Katatonia - Night is the new day
10. Nile - Those Whom the Gods Detest

Year 2009 In Review

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January: Usual quiet January period spiced up by getting a wii for myself. We played a classic prank on Germany with the bean smoothie.
February: Brother came to Dublin amist a lot of snow. Attended the Loyalty 09 conference in Vienna and went for the first of 3 business trips to Denver.
March: Pushing on with the Masters' thesis work - finalising entity resolution.
April: Went to Sardinia for Easter for the memorable Sardinia '09 summit.
May: Enjoyed some time in Luxembourg in the beginning of the month. M came over to Dublin for her birthday.
June: Working hard on cutover. Decided to switch Masters into a Phd. Went to Tuska.
July: System cut over. Slovakia long weekend break Dobsinka ice cave + wedding date set, U2 concert date.
August: Denver Business - Paris Oyster pleasure - Malta family 30th wedding anniversary, and the month is over.
September: Vancouver SocialCom conference and short holiday.
October: Moved to Luxembourg, Denver business, backgammon Irish open, started 2 NHL fantasy leagues and Slovakia make the world cup.
November: Prague weekend break, working on AVI Paper, started ice skating classes.
December: AVI Paper and Christmas period.

Project of the Year: F9 cut over
Forsaken Project: Blog (you can still see the 2008 list on the main page)
Best Holiday: Vancouver
Best Concert: Amon Amarth & Entombed in Dublin
Best Book: The pillars of the earth - Ken Follett
Best Film: The hangover
Best Album: Candlemass - Death, Magic, Doom
Best Music Video: Behemoth - Ov Fire and Void
Purchases: Wii, Diablik (Netbook), Bose Headphones, Switched from meteor to vodafone
New Places Visited: Denver, Paris, Vancouver, Prague, Barcelona
New Fad: NHL Fantasy league
2009 Game: Backgammon
New thing tried in 2009: Playing in a backgammon tournament, (proper) ice skating
Favourite Pub: Talbot Downs
Band discovery of the year: Spiritus mortis / Gojira

Winter TV season is starting

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The winter TV season has just started. The TV Remote has a good reference schedule complete with Google calendars not to miss any episodes. This year I'm watching:-

  1. Family Guy
  2. How I met your mother
  3. Big bang theory
  4. It's always Sunny in Philadelphia
  5. The Office
  6. Desperate Housewives (compromise with the Miss)
  7. Cleveland Show (still trying it out)

While mentioning Google Calendars: Google have added a great feature for sport enthusiasts called Sport Calendars. You can pick your favourite team from the major sports and major competitions and import the whole season calendar. The nifty thing is that after the game the scores get updated in your calendar automatically. Cool!

Update

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I've kept my promise and haven't updated the blog before the end of September. In the event of the life changing event of the year, I've decided to blog from the bus on the way to Luxembourg which will become my new home for the next couple of years. This is also a test and proof of the new ultra mobile, paperless, high tech lifestyle that I'm planning to adopt throughout permanence in Luxembourg.

Since the last real personal update there have been some major developments. In order of importance:-

  • I'm getting married next on the 10th of July next year in Slovakia.
  • I'm to luxembourg permanently
  • I've come to an agreement with my current employer to continue working for the same company from home with monthly visits to Dublin.
  • I've switched my masters into a Phd which means I will continue researching for at least the next two years.

I've had some serious considerations of mercy killing the blog but I haven't had the courage to do it yet. I think I'd rather let it die a slow painful death in the off chance I get an urge to broadcast my madness to the world. I was hoping to write a bit more on the academic aspect of my research but until now I haven't had enough motivation to do so. The paper writing schedule is quite relentless and it seems that writing papers dries up all my writing mana.

On my interests side, things haven't changed much and I'm glad that I kept a very consistent backgammon playing routine. The average playing time per day is quite scary but it's enjoyable especially since JD became more obsessed with the game than I am. Last Sunday we went to our first South Dublin Backgammon Tournament and got badly thrashed. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the welcoming members of the Dublin club. I'm planning to schedule my visits to Dublin to coincide with the club meetings apart and metal concerts. Now that I've separated form my two live backgammon partners I'll probably spend more time on FIBS (email me for username to play on FIBS) along with trying to convince the misses to take the game seriously.

My latest fad is fantasy NHL leagues. I got the NHL yearbook on my trip to Vancouver and got sucked into ice hockey once again. I've drafted two teams in the yahoo fantasy leagues and am looking forward for the season to start. This year is the Olympic games year, so following the NHL should give a good indication of things to expect at the Olympics. Slovakia's chances of getting anywhere are pretty grim at the moment though. I also got a NHL2K9 on the Wii, which I almost mastered before having to abandon the console for the lack of space in my suitcase.

Twitter is taking over (at least till the end of summer)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I gave up hope that I'll be updating the blog before the end of summer and/or before I move to Luxembourg. I'm posting interesting links every once in a while on twitter, so if you want you can follow me there.

Inbox - Quotes are back

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's been a hell of a long time since I posted some quotes but I've got two that are just pure class. Probably no one apart from close friends will understand either, but they need to be stored for reference.

This happened while playing 20 questions with the theme being - Person
M: What's the nationality?
J: Dottian
M: Sex?
J: Female
M: Profession?
J: She was a teacher ...
M: I don't want to know what she was, I want to know what she does now!
J: Nothing .....

"Ok. I don't wonder that. You are quite special after all. That meeting remains in my heart for times to come. I appreciate your choise and I don't want you any harm " (picture of a rose) You have a strong attitude, a cat like presence and the classy feeling that you radiate".

Andrew Maxwell on SUVs

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maxwell should be made Sir! He's definitely my favourite comedian at the moment.

Check this one out too

Balls on fire

Monday, March 16, 2009

This deserves a quick break from my writing!

Genitals on fire

Via DavidThompson

So what's happening with me anyway?

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm writing this in an airport bar in La Guardia airport waiting to fly to Denver. There's no free evil internet so I can sit around reading or writing instead of browsing, updating status or twittering. I know I can be writing sections of the thesis, but this is a perfect way for creative procrastination.

The beginning of the year was characterised by a long wait to go to the US for a business trip which is only materializing itself now, in the beginning of March. In the mean time, I struggled with the increased work load at work after two colleagues left. I was also battling the problem of entity resolution on my research project, which took much more time than it should have.

My aerial carbon footprint has worsened, especially now that the new boss threw me the title of 'senior technical project manager', which basically just means that now I'm doing all presentations, travel and follow ups. I also attended a conference on customer loyalty (Loyalty09) in Vienna. It was very interesting and potentially helpful to my final thesis.

In January I visited the Miss and discovered her proneness to gaming addiction. This amused me and excited me far beyond her expectations. The underlying reason was my current addiction to backgammon. I got totally obsessed with the game, and I'm now trying to take it to new levels and participate in competitions. I'm fully conscious that in a busy time this is not ideal, but a man has to enjoy himself without work too.

February flew like a humming bird in the early morning, loads of wing beats with little distance covered. I know I was working and I had a fantastic weekend in mid February (not to mention the V word), but that's about it. Work, study, travel and backgammon. There was also a funeral of my mums aunty, which had my flying to Malta in what was probably the busiest week this year. Ah, yesterday I saw Anathema live in Dublin! Kicked ASS!

Facebook stole my blog

Sunday, March 1, 2009

This blog started out as a personal public diary to motivate me to record potentially significant moments of my life. I was always a fan of diaries, yet I suffered the typical lack of consistency in updating them after the initial furore of buying a new diary. Keeping a blog on the web was meant to keep me motivated to write more, as friend read and indirectly pushed me to write.

The motivation worked for a couple of years, especially after moving to Dublin, when I used the blog as an excuse not to call home and force its readership. I also tried to create a professional spin-off the blog in the tech section, and a special interests section in the travel section. Readership of these sections was quite poor and all attempts at resurrecting these section with new content and layouts were squashed to bits. Granted the attempts here were half baked but they still don't warrant having 0 subscribes to the RSS feed for months.

Now, after a couple of years updating this blog, motivation is withering. There are a couple of reasons for it. Primarily it's the obvious reason of being busy and distracted with other things, but there's more than this. If you're motivated in doing something then you'll find time to do it no matter how busy. The problem with the blog is that this motivation is getting lost.

I think the main reason for this is the lack of success of the blog. This is reflected in the lack of comments and the low number of RSS subscribers. Personally, comments are the most important indication of readership because they turn passive readership into interactive discussion. In this blog comments are practically non existent.

This is where facebook comes in. On facebook you interact with your friends. It's all about interaction. Also on facebook the audience, or at least the audience that matters, is much bigger. The battle between the 'personal' blog and facebook presence is a head to head battle. The two things serve for the exact same purpose. Why spend an hour writing a post on the blog which no one reads, when you can spend 2 minutes updating your status for everyone to read and get comments on. It's easier, faster and has a better outcome.

The same thing applies to twitter. Twitter takes on the blog when it comes to posting links of interest, main trains of thought, and replying to people. Publishing and consuming little snippets of information in this hyper fast environment seems to be the way forward. I was a religious blog reader till a few months ago, but now my twitter feed is enough and probably more than enough. If I want to keep in touch with friends I can check them out on facebook as they all have pages there, unlike blogs which weren't all that popular with the word-unfriendly people.

So what's happening to the blog? Frankly I don't know, but the motivation to write is vanishing like money in my pocket. If you're interested in my personal pursuits then my facebook profile is the way to go. If you like the links then join my twitter feed. Otherwise the blog will still be here but probably updates will be sparse.