Sounds of the Irish Smoking Ban

The Irish Smoking Ban

It’s hard to believe that smoking was banned in the workplace in Ireland in 2004. It was a huge change but very welcome (by most) and the best thing a Fianna Fail government ever did.

Listen to this Witness podcast on the subject here to be brought back eleven years.

Since the ban it became clear that a bunch of dancing sweaty people consuming alcohol are a smelly lot but the increased ventilation that some nightclubs have installed has helped. :)

Samy is my Hero

Samy Kamkar

I started listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast after Matt Mullenweg was interviewed by him and I’ve been hooked since.
Tim’s interview with Samy Kamkar is really interesting as he’s the guy who launched the Samy computer worm that infected MySpace back in 2005. It was a little chunk of Javascript code that added itself to MySpace profiles, added Samy as a friend and added him as a hero of the visitor. They took down MySpace to clean it out!

Since then he’s had a really interesting life and the interview covers many subjects like hacking online dating and opening locked cars by hacking their key fobs. Nice to see he’s a Vim user too! :)

Check it out here.

Is it better to be fearful or fearless?

“It seems like such an odd bargain. If you have no fear, more terrible things will happen to you, but you don’t personally experience them as terrible. If you have a lot of fear, fewer bad things are likely to happen, but it’s very probable that your life is more painful to you. So is it better to be fearful or fearless? Which side of the continuum do you choose?”


From NPR’s new podcast, Invisibilia, Fearless. A transcript is also available.

NPR’s Serial podcast was the hottest thing last year in the podcast world. People started listening to podcasts who had never done so before to follow the story. I hated it. They dragged things out and I got bored and unsubscribed after 3 or 4 episodes. Invisibilia is NPR back on form. It’ll blow your mind. Great show.

What’s Bill Gates up to now?

It’s still weird to me that Bill Gates is one of the good guys now. As head of Microsoft he was a ruthless business man who ran a monopoly that every Linux user despised. Since then Microsoft has faltered, or at least the computing arena has changed since the nineties and they’re still catching up.

Anyway, he and his wife now head the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that do amazing work combating disease and helping projects all over the world. For a taste of what they do here are two podcasts worth listening to:


  • Bill Gates on the Nerdist Podcast. I loved hearing his anecdotes from the early days of computing but what was more interesting was hearing about the fight against polio.
  • Scientific American have a two part show here and here that I’m listening to now.

The Great War Diaries

This is an amazing podcast by the BBC about how ordinary men and women experienced World War One. Stories are brought to life by dramatizing what happened using sound effects and actors.

If you’re a fan of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast you may remember in Blueprint for Armageddon IV Captain Charles May’s story was told. He wrote a touching letter to his wife before he was due to “go over the top”. You can find it and other stories in this Independent post.

Captain Charles “Charlie” May, 27, thinking of his wife, Bessie, and baby daughter, showed none of his comrades’ enthusiasm to go into battle.

A member of the 22nd Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, 7th Division, he wrote to his wife on 17 June, a fortnight before the bloody first day of battle of the Somme: “I do not want to die. Not that I mind for myself. If it be that I am to go, I am ready. But the thought that I may never see you or our darling baby again turns my bowels to water. I cannot think of it with even the semblance of equanimity.”

Over the months his attitude changed to resigned fatalism. May’s final diary entry at 5.45am on 1 July, reproduced from Malcolm Brown’s history of the Somme, was among the last testaments to be written by the 19,240 Britons who would die on the Somme that day. “No Man’s land is a tangled desert,” he wrote. “We do not yet seem to have stopped his machine guns. These are popping off all along our parapet as I write. I trust they will not claim too many of our lads before the day is over.”

Suspecting he might not return, he asked his friend, Captain FJ Earles, if he would look after his wife and daughter. May led his men over the top at 7.30am that day. The 22nd Manchesters made progress across No Man’s Land, but the machine guns he wrote of cut down many of the battalion – and May was among the dead. Earles kept his promise, and later married May’s widow.