Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Reflective Post (Thing 9)


So, time for reflection again. This is something strange for me, so I took a break from blogging and stayed away from my blog, Facebook and other social-media platforms for a couple of days, rather like when one goes on a religious retreat, you are cut off from modern life and it gives you time to reflect on your life.

I’ve finished the first 8 things of the Rudai 23 course but I realised very quickly after doing Thing 8 that I didn’t like the outcome so I did another one.  (Now, I know at this stage during the reflective process I’m not supposed to make judgement but I wanted to retry the exercise to see could I do better and am a little happier with the outcome).  In general, I’ve really enjoyed blogging, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years so got the perfect opportunity to do it now.  

Thing 3 - I have already covered in my reflective blog here, it was a good lesson and meshed together my experience and knowledge well. 

Thing 7 - Creating an exhibition was great fun, it can be viewed here.  This is very useful for showing a series of images on a given topic, perhaps showcase some old reference or local collection items in the library, show a series of photos taken at an event or a series of photos taken at an actual exhibition.  I will definitely do an on-line exhibition again.  On the page above I also created a short how-to video on finding material on our digital archive.

Thing 8 - Creating an infographic was great fun also.  As the nature of online activity revolves around images these are a great way of getting information seen.  It can be clearly seen on social media that posts with links and images outrank other types of posts in numbers reached and engaged.  With limited time and attention span for your post to get noticed by the viewer, images via exhibitions and infographics are so important.  My first attempt at an infographic was not very good as I didn't put enough thought into the message I wanted to get out and didn't have my information collected properly so I did it again here about my favourite author Stephen King 

I’ve had really good experiences with most of the exercises except for Thing 5 where I couldn’t get any of the suggested programs to download due to firewall and privacy settings in work.  During my blogging I noticed that images kept disappearing.  I figured how to resolve the problem and the solution is hereThis was frustrating but I loved finding a solution. 

The main lesson I learnt is to have your information, images and ideas well organised and prepared.  Also rereading and editing your post a few times before publishing is important.  I actually type my blog in word beforehand for two reasons...

1.    So it’s not sitting on my blog website where I can accidently post it before it’s finished
2.    To perform spellcheck, grammar check and layout.

To judge how successful my blog is, I’ve considered the look of my blog, the accessibility and ease of ability to read it and how easy it is to search my blog for particular posts & themes.  I’ve played around with the template to

1.    Make the colours and size of font easier to read
2.    Remove a distracting background image and colours behind the text
3.    Have a accessible sidebar with all the important information about me and the blog.

Here is an example of the evolution of the sidebar...

My sidebar is now visible all the time (previously you had to click on a menu), my avatar is on top, contact email, labels to help viewers find topics immediately and then the monthly timeline after that.  I’ve also removed the use of colour for the most part.

The final analysis is right in my wheelhouse, I’ve been keeping track of my stats (stats do NOT include my own visits) and was delighted to hit over 1000 page views on 31st October 2017 so that’s a success for a month of blogging!

Blogging is a great way for one to get your thoughts on paper and share them with the world.  From a nerds point of view it’s the perfect medium to communicate my hobby and passion to other like-minded people.  I also like following other blogs, this is a great way to help filter stuff you are interested in, not like Facebook who decide what you should see – including adverts.  After the course I will continue blogging on all things Sci-fi, Horror, Fantasy, Gaming and Scrabble.  Before I started blogging I already knew what I would be blogging about so this helps to keep to a theme.  For people just starting the course without a clear idea where there blog was going it would be more difficult – kind of like not seeing the woods because of the trees.

In future blogging, I will prepare my information and content better beforehand and pay more attention in creating an easy-to-read blog that is visually attractive and interesting.  Ultimately, like Facebook and Twitter, content is King so ensuring the best quality content is the most important “Thing”. 

King is King (Thing 8)

(This is my second attempt at Thing 8.  I didn't spend enough time thinking about what I wanted to communicate and gathering my information previously so I've done a new one.)

Friday, 27 October 2017

Thor Ragnarok Review

Thor Ragnarok movie review

“Thank the God of Thunder it is fanastic”.

(Spoiler Free)

We went to see Thor Ragnarok at the recently opened cinema in Wexford – The Arc Cinema.  The place is fab, lovely staff, comfy recliner seats, great picture & sound and the toilets are spotless.  The Arc Cinema gets 10 out of 10.

Finally, after months of trailers shown in the cinema and teasers on the net Thor Ragnarok graces the big screen.  With a star-studded cast of Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Idris Elba (Heimdall) & Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster) this movie had the potential of being superstar heavy with no substance.  Thank the God of Thunder it is fanastic.

Yes...there has been too many superhero/comic character films over the last 3 years (don’t even mention the crud of Batman v’s Superman) but Ragnarok is my 3rd in the top three.  (Obviously Logan is 1st and Deadpool is 2nd).  In this outing, the God of Thunder has his toy hammer smashed by his mean older sister so a family feud ensues of epic proportions.  This gives the Hulk some great lines, really funny (and a little bit rude like the Carry-On films, adult humour that kids will laugh at but not really get).

After watching Jeff Goldblum on the Graham Norton show a couple of weeks ago, he was his usual weird self, now that’s a man that doesn’t interview well, although I think he was a little drunk on throat lozenges so I was concerned with his role but he was brilliant.  Funny & cruel in equal proportions, he is one of many characters that make this movie accessible for all the family.  On the scale of rulers he’s still not the worst by any yard stick you could use, especially when you include baboon faced Trump.

So the nuts and bolts.  Good story line although a little bit predictable, it ties together other Marvel characters really well especially Anthony Hopkins’s moments & Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role of Dr. Strange.  At no stage did they seem as cameo appearances.   The special effects were simply awesome, seamlessly tying CGI & real-life together and the soundtrack is amazing.  That iconic Led Zeppelin masterpiece – Immigrant Song – is brilliant , the only but I have is that that sh!t should have been cranked up much louder, the walls and seats of the cinema should have been vibrating to immerse you in the battle scenes.

There is however a general problem that I see more and more all the time now.  Movie producers and especially Disney always have the classification in mind so it sometimes can take from a production.  We see movies that have violence and massive battles but then when it comes to the filming it can’t be shown.  The worst example of this modern-day phenomenon is that useless pile of crap – The Hunger Games.  Let me explain.  The first movie is a story of children killing children with projectile weapons, knives and bare hands.  This topic and subsequent movie should have an 18’s cert.  But no! Lionsgate decided it’s going to be a PG13 so gut the movie of its substance, not that it had much to start with.  Most of the superhero movies fall into the same pit of despair, the original artwork and storyline in the comics are reworked to suit the classification and to market the movie to family audiences.  So the go-to-plan is to minimise the gore and then make jokes about the violence.  I’ve never believed in the rubbish that films and computer games turn children into psychopaths & murderers, parents need to take charge, grab the remote control from the kids (cold dead) hands and just not let them watch violent films.  This then allows me to watch a movie that hasn’t been castrated of its main plot and action.  So we can go full circle and can consider both Logan & Deadpool, both R rated, violent, rude and brilliant.  Guess what!  Don’t complain that it wasn’t suitable for your 12 year old to see.  They are bloody R rated for a reason.  It didn’t stop both movies being ridiculously successful.

Sorry...let’s get back to Thor.  It’s a PG13, Disney family romp so there is a little bit of “we are killing loads of people but let’s not make an issue out of the attempted genocide of a whole race” but I think they get the balance right of making a family friendly movie that adults will still enjoy, this is of course helped with the double meaning jokes. 

Overall, a great film, awesome special effects, tying together the Marvel universe characters with a good story, albeit a little predictable (losing 1 planet) and the Disney-fying of genocide (losing 1 more planet) so a planet rating of 8 out of 10.

John "The Captain" Ryan

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Fixing Broken images in Blogger

So, since I’ve started blogging, pictures previously working have stopped loading and are showing the broken image icon, like this:

Icon for broken images or pictures

Initially I thought it might be happening because files might have became corrupted, went missing or the wrong file-type so I re-uploading all my images to my blogger account and deleted the old ones.  I then edited my posts and inserted the newly uploaded images.  This didn’t work.

So, I Googled the problem with mixed suggestions, none of the solutions sounded easy or plausible to me.

I then went to the Blogger Help Forum and found I wasn’t the only person with the problem and the Blogger team gives a variety of solutions (link at end), I tried a few & found this the easiest solution...Don’t be scared.  It looked complicated but was okay.

1. Edit your post and change the view to html (red circle)...

Change edit in Blogger to HTML format

2. You will see loads of scary code but don’t worry (honest).  Hit CTRL & F and look for 1.bp.blogspot, 2.b.blogspot or 4.bp.blogspot.  You will find one at the start & one at the end of the code for your picture.

Change edit in Blogger to HTML format

3. Change the number 1,2 or 4 to number 3.

4. Update your blog and hey-presto

Link to other solutions...

Hope this helps

John “The Captain” Ryan


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Mr Mercedes (TV series & book review)

Mr Mercedes Stephen King Book TVSeries Review

Disclaimer...I am a huge Stephen King fan and also love Brendan Gleeson so this is a slam dunk really.  The book & TV series are a delight and should be near the top of your pile to experience.  This is a review combining both the book and TV series (Although I have only watched episode 1-4)

We have the perfect pairing of writer and main character, Stephen King, who turned 70 a couple of weeks ago and Brendan Gleeson, a little younger at 62.  Two veterans of their art.  Brendan Gleeson is the perfect actor to fill the role of the vexatious retired detective who won’t leave that one unsolved case alone and Stephen King, has written a fantastic tale of intrigue with a little bit of reality and of course his trademark violence (but not too much).

The TV series reunites producer David E. Kelley with Brendan Gleeson, they previously worked together on Lake Placid, another great film with the delight of Gleeson’s sarcastic humour probably baffling some audiences but genius to Irish viewers.  I loved the part when they were looking for Gleeson’s deputy and found a toe.  When Gleeson was asked “is this the man that was killed?” Gleeson’s sarky answer was “He seemed...taller”.

Mr Mercedes is a departure for King (I will blog later in the month on the evolution of King’s work) but still remains true to his style of lovingly developing characters (whether they live or die) with a slathering of ugly reality.  The violence is portrayed brilliantly in small sharp bursts, it’s chilling and realistic, not like the boring “blood n guts” disgusting journey one takes with the likes of Saw & Hostel.  King’s use of violence is measured and dealing with the aftermath is as important as the act itself.  The reason I have always loved King’s work is that the psychological thrillers/horrors like Cugo, Misery & Dolores Claiborne are realistic; you can imagine these things actually happening.

The book is well balanced, developing the different storylines of the characters and then drawing them together with ease.  This is another characteristic of King’s writing, a well crafted plot that intertwines beautiful, and yet, is never predictable.  I also love the play on words, for example when the killer is contacting Bill Hodges he uses the name “merckiller”.  This can be read in two ways...Mercedes Killer or the more literal Mer...C...Killer, i.e. mercy-killer.  Little things like this are not accidental and to me are moments of genius.

A trademark style of King at the beginning of a novel is to introduce and develop characters, but as a veteran reader of King I know not to get too attached as I expect some of them will die...and Mr Mercedes does not disappoint – pigs in blankets anyone!  Most other authors only spend time developing characters that will remain, those characters who will die (or are the mass murderer) are looked over and only covered in a cursory manner.  For those who have read/watched the Stand you know what I mean...When Harold sets of the bomb you never expected Nick to die (Oops, spoiler alert). 

The TV series has been adapted really well.  This is aided with a simple story by King and the skills of the director David E. Kelley who has worked on some awesome series like LA Law, Chicago Hope & Ally McBeal to mention a few of his award winning hits.  The only criticism I have is the casting of Mary Louise Parker in the role of Janey Paterson.  Parker is a confident brash actor, fantastic in Weeds & one of my favourite series – The West Wing - but, in my opinion not a good match for the character of Janey Paterson.  Maybe that’s a problem only in my mind or maybe she is a little typecast in the role of a strong and confident lady, whichever is the case, she doesn’t work for me in this role.

In the last couple of years we see TV series taking over the entertainment industry.  Simply put, if this wasn’t the case so many top actors wouldn’t be moving into TV rather than the big screen.  This evolution has only been good for writers of the longer novel that lovingly develop their characters and plots for our enjoyment.  King has already had the adaptation of Under The Dome and 11.22.63 and you can clearly see the input he has had into these 2 productions and Mr. Mercedes.  Gone is the day where Hollywood buys the rights to the book and can then run off and do what they want.  (Unfortunately Under the Dome had one huge flaw...both in the book and the TV series, the ending was dreadful)

Anyway to summarise, the book is awesome, the TV adaptation is true to the book and really well crafted.  With only one negative of the casting of Mary Louise Parker, I give Mr. Mercedes a rating of 9 out of 10 planets.

Review Rating

John "The Captain" Ryan

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

My Fascination with all things Star Trek.

by John "The Captain" Ryan

As a child of the 80’s I remember watching re-runs of the Original series and being constantly fascinated with the different worlds & ideas.  For me Star Trek is the embodiment of science fiction, the big what-if scenario with a dose of science based stuff thrown in.  It was a glimpse into the future.  As Roddenberry put it…Wagon Train to the Stars.

First Dog in Space
(Laika, Keystone/Getty images)

Even now, over 35 years later, if my dad (now 73) sees me watching any kind of science fiction he starts telling me, for the zillionth time how when he was young they read comic books about going to the moon and then they all watched the space race.  Comic books were becoming reality. He, and many others, followed with rapt attention the first satellites to orbit the planet, the first dog in space (Laika, 1957 and how the bloody Russians didn’t care about getting him back), he laughs at the antics the American crews used to get up to when contacting Earth and retells the story of Apollo 13, as if anyone on the planet doesn’t know the story at this stage. “Houston we have a problem”
But for me, Star Trek could be the same.  Is Star Trek a window into our future?  In the late 80’s when RTE broadcast the Next Generation, I remember watching it thinking…”It’s Star Trek but not as we know it”.  At the tender age of 11 I didn’t understand the idea of a series reboot but I didn’t care.  This was something new, crisp, clean and fun.  Exploring space and travelling – for the first time – where no ONE had gone before, as opposed to the Original series where no MAN had gone before.  Obviously women were superior in the 1960’s and had gone there first, much like the American’s beating the Russian’s to the moon.

The ideals in Star Trek, did and still attract me.  Equality, free medical care, free education & a society devoid of money.  Futuristic ideals that sound fantastic (albeit naive), some would say sound Communistic (go Russia!) and others who think it’s all just fiction.  But since Star Trek aired over 50 years ago we see laptops and handheld computers, Mobile phones (cell phones if you’re American), 3d printers (aka replicators), mass freely available worldwide communications and freedom of information, universal translators – there’s an app for that called Voice Translator by TalirApps which understands 71 languages, androids like Data, the list goes on…

Androids are real
(Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro (right) and Geminoid HI-1)

So what’s next?  Research is currently being funded into FTL, (Faster Than Light) travel so will we see warp speed any time soon, I hope so.  The Mission to Mars is probably the most exciting project of our time.  Mars is the stepping stone of the human race on its voyage into the universe. Human settlement on Mars will aid our understanding of the origins of the solar system, the origins of life and our place in the universe. As with the Apollo Moon landings, a human mission to Mars will inspire generations to believe that all things are possible, anything can be achieved.  I like this idea.  Will we get there, who knows, but what will we accomplish on the way; we will inspire young people to become scientists, engineers, doctors, jet propulsion experts.  In the mean time what will they discover and invent.  That’s the ball game folks.
The social and political debates that Star Trek explored are the most important things to me.  In the Original series, there were constant debates about society and they were the only TV series that got away with it because it was based in the future so wasn’t real.  TV history and real-life history changed when Kirk and Uhuru (Nichelle Nicholes) kissed, but Roddenberry got away with it whilst planting the idea of interracial relationships in the psyche of Americans.  Don’t forget this was the 1960’s, race riots & protests...
Star Trek was the first show to cast an African American woman in a role that was not a servant/maid or second class citizen.  In an interview, Nichelle Nichols, who played the black female communications officer, said that the day after she told Roddenberry she planned to leave the show, she was at a fund-raiser at the NAACP and was told there was a big fan who wanted to meet her. Nichols said,
I thought it was a Trekkie, and so I said, ‘Sure.’ I looked across the room, and there was Dr. Martin Luther King walking towards me with this big grin on his face. He reached out to me and said, ‘Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am your greatest fan.’ He said that Star Trek was the only show that he, and his wife Coretta, would allow their three little children to stay up and watch. [She told King about her plans to leave the series.] I never got to tell him why, because he said, ‘You can’t. You’re part of history.’
When she told Roddenberry what King had said, he cried.  She went on to recruit & influence generations of African American astronauts. Check out this video -

Nichols also influenced another of my favourite actors – Whoppi Goldberg – a regular in the Next Generation – to become an actor.  Nichols has said in multiple interviews that Goldberg told her that as a child seeing Star Trek for the first time, she ran around the house screaming, “Hey Mom! Look! There’s a black woman on the TV and she ain’t no maid!”
 Throughout the three year run, individual episodes made strong comments on sexism and feminism, racism and improving race relations, as well as militarism and peace, all major social issues during the late 1960’s, and to a different degree, social issues of today.
Do Andoids Dream of Electric Sheep?

In the Next Generation, the idea of ownership, freewill and sentience were constant themes for Data’s character to explore, which, for me made his character so much more interesting.  In fact, it was probably the characters redeeming quality (as opposed to Wesley Crusher who was annoying all the time).  In today’s context, this equates to slavery and the trafficking of people/children for prostitution.  In my college years I remember conversation about philosophy and faith – Star Trek being a constant reference.
In the Outcast (117th Episode, S05, E17) there is an interesting story of a race called the J’naii.  They are a race with no gender.  When the main character of the story admits to identifying as female after being seen kissing Riker (that bloody kissing again) it leads her down the path of receiving, against her will “Psychotectic Therapy”.  Basically being changed to having no gender.  During the episode Worf admits to being uncomfortable with the J’naii due to pre-conceived ideas of gender but changes his mind by the end of the episode.
There’s not a lot of difference between this story (aired in 1992) and the constant struggle by LGBT people for equal rights.  You need only look at countries like Qatar that put LGBT people to death and most of the African countries where “Conversion Therapy” is regularly used.  Whilst sometimes, the treatment of LGBT issues in Star Trek have been clumsy (and some would say haven’t gone far enough) hopefully this is all about to change with the new series, Star Trek; Discovery, which has just hit our TV screens touting an openly gay character played by a gay actor who should understand how to play the part.  Let’s hope it works.

Constant complaint I hear include...We shouldn’t care about LGBT stars coming out...We shouldn’t care if LGBT characters are on TV...What do the Gays need Pride for?...These questions I will blog about next week.
The older I get (over 40 now) I have become to realise that the themes explored in Star Trek endure for decades after their first airing.  This makes Star Trek timeless and always relevant.  At this stage it should be put on the leaving cert curriculum.
John "The Captain" Ryan.
#Sci-Fi #geminoid #sxsw #StarTrek #LGBT

Monday, 16 October 2017

Tintern Abbey Exhibition

(Thing 7 - part 2 of 2, see methodology here)

Tintern Abbey, Wexford.

Tintern Abbey, Wexford
(Source - Flickr - Photo by Stewart Black - CC BY - further info)

The Cistercian Abbey of Tintern Minor in Co. Wexford was established over 800 years ago so tracing any documents about it's foundation, is, as you would imagine difficult.  The original charter is based in the UK but this amazing find was unearthed in the depths of the Wexford County Library Local Collection and is the only catalogued copy of this document in Ireland.

Tintern Abbey, Wexford

Tintern Abbey, Wexford

Tintern Abbey, Wexford

Tintern Abbey, Wexford

Tintern Abbey, Wexford

For a short how-to video on finding and downloading available material in Wexford County Council Public Library Service digital archive watch this: 

Tintern Abbey is a wonderful place with beautiful grounds and I would urge everyone to pay it a visit.  Here is a photo taken there...

Tintern Abbey in Wexford covered in snow

(Photo by Marek Czerwinski - CC BY SA- more info here)

The scanned document above and many more fascinating items in the local collection can be viewed by making an appointment with Susan Kelly (Local Collections Librarian).  The Library Archive also houses some amazing material, appointments can be made with the County Archivist Grainne Doran to view some of these items.  Contact both through Library Management Services:

Wexford Library Management Services
Co. Hall,
Y35 WY93
Tel: +353 53 919 6561


John "The Captain" Ryan


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Online Exhibition - Methodology (Thing 7 - Part 1 of 2)

This is a lesson I have been looking forward to do, I’m the only member of staff that has been working on creating new content for our on-line archive which is here

A lot of the existing content was copied over from Hyperion which was our previous DAMS – Digital Archive Management System.  Most of the issues we have been asked to consider for this lesson have already been resolved in Wexford.  Between our Archivist – Grainne Doran and our Local Collections Librarian – Susan Kelly they look after both the hard-copy and digital-copy of our material and since the funding/resource restrictions are finally lifting they are developing programs to make more of our collections available.

I was also part of the team creating content for the World War 1 archive on the Europeana Collections website when we took photos of objects, photos of the people telling the stories of their family members that took part in the war (as they now became part of the narrative), scanned documents provided and recorded Oral History interviews.  This material can be found on the Europeana website.

Whilst fulfilling a request to source material I found a document about Tintern Abbey.  It is theonly catalogued copy in the country (on Sierra anyway) so I’ve decided to create a digital copy.  However, our existing DAMS – Vital – is currently being assessed as to how we are going to continue using it, where our data will be stored and how it’s being paid for.  This means adding new material is on hold. 

So I am going to create a Tintern Abbey Exhibition and

1. Create an online exhibition showcasing this document and a few other photos of the site.  

2. I wanted to create the document in PDF so the text will be searchable just like all other documents containing text available in VITAL but had problems embedding the file after uploading it to my Google Drive so I scanned the document and created images.  

3. I double checked with our Local Collections Librarian as to what documents were free from copyright

4. Create a screen-cast video on finding and accessing other documents on VITAL

5. My Exhibition is here

John “The Captain” Ryan


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

My journey so far doing the Rudai23 course (Thing 6)

This is a reflective blog based on the first 5 elements (Things1-5) of the Rudai23 course. Blogging lends itself nicely to being reflective and putting a structure to your thoughts and before knowing about Thing 6 I had already done one here.

This process is supposed to enhance my learning and application of skills through critical thinking and self-reflection.  Self-reflection is something I have been doing for years, being a gay person has made me reflect on who I am and what I want to do in life.  Whilst being gay is a little more normal now, it still causes one to think about one’s family, faith, place in your community and society.  It challenges one to step outside of society norms and plough your own path.  For a lot of Irish gay people losing your faith is a major life changing experience but it is necessary as in their eyes we are “inherently evil” and one cannot be happy with that hanging over your head.

The critical thinking element of this lesson is more difficult for me.  In work, I deal with (& love) data, spreadsheets, reports & the facts to be reported.  I know it’s a rather singular mindset but it’s what is drilled into us from doing our Junior & Leaving Cert exams... i.e.

·       Here is a list of facts. 
·       This is what the examiner wants in the answer...even though the question says “What is YOUR opinion”, they don’t want your opinion, they want their “correct” opinion regurgitated back.
·       Do NOT think for yourself.
·       Do what you are told
·       And here’s the next list.
·       Wash, rinse, repeat.  

When you look at how every month we report statistics to the LGMA, it’s no different really.  The Service Indicators - footfall, issues, events, new membership, active membership – do not measure the intangible, the uncountable elements of the job.  But for me these are what matter, like nurturing a love of reading in children, providing outreach to isolated communities and even speaking to a lonely person.  This lesson asks us to do something that we never learnt in school or have to do in work.  This will be a challenge.  I will also give observations about the course and (cheekily) suggesting some small improvements. 

Things 1-3.

Every day I like to learn something new, I read every day (not trashy newspapers), I try to expose myself to new authors (currently reading Zero World by Jason M. Hough) and I’m an avid Scrabble player so love learning new words.  Play Scrabble for a while and rejoice when you see RETAINS on your rack and smile when you can recall all 11 anagrams.  I volunteer to help run the Wexworlds Festival in Wexford, this keeps me on my toes with current and new trends.  The last couple of years have been a steep learning curve for the festival as all of the committee are learning new skills.  If something crosses my path that I do not understand, I educate myself and make a decision as to how I feel and what my informed decision is.  (I hate that quote “Everyone has a right to an opinion”.  No they don’t!  It could be a stupid, racist and a hurtful opinion.  Educate yourself and have an informed opinion)

I consider a day that I haven’t learnt something new, met someone new or tried something different to be a waste of a day.  

Learn something new everyday
(source - here)

Some will have noticed that my blog is a little bit different that most other people doing the course.  Most have approached the project from the point of view of being a librarian, some people’s “Thing 2” was their journey on becoming a librarian and they will be using the course to learn new skills and eventually enhancing the experience of the person visiting the library (either walking through the doors or engaging on-line).  Whilst I will be learning the same “Things” I will not be doing this.  Why? 

I am not a Librarian, I am a clerical officer and have worked in many different offices in Wexford County Council since 2001. There are other staff in Wexford County Council Public Library Service assigned the duties of website management and different social media platforms.  I have very little input into our existing web presence.  I provide I.T. support to our branches but this is not seen or experience by the public, although this has given me a lot of knowledge and I.T. experience.  I have had to learn and upgrade my I.T. skills due to volunteering with local LGBT groups and the Wexworlds Festival, so this has also given me a lot of I.T. knowledge and experience. 

I will be using this course to tie together a mix of my existing knowledge and the new things I learn.  I hope this will then manifest through my blog and promotional work I will be doing for the Wexworlds festival.  Knowing beforehand that my approach would be different than a lot of people, I decided to blog about what I know and love.  This made Things 1-3 easy, mostly consolidating my existing knowledge.  I’ve had in the back of my mind to start a blog for a couple of years so now I have the perfect opportunity and reason to do it. 

Things 4 & 5

For Things 4 & 5, things (excuse the pun) got a little more complicated, but not outside of my ability.  From the start of the course it has been quite cumbersome to use the different elements due to heightened security measures following the Wannacry ransom-ware virus.  This is unavoidable from both our point of view and the course providers.  It requires staff where I work to get a member of I.T. to download and install each program/app and unblock different websites, for example Youtube, Blogger, Flickr, Powtoon & Screen-o-matic.  There are 11 of us doing the course in work so this is a lot of work for the I.T. department.  Neither Powtoon or Screencast-o-matic for Thing 5 would work at all for me. It will be hard for some people to persevere with the course if this continues for all of the lessons especially if they are fitting the course in between their normal hectic duties.

One suggestion I would make is to give a complete list of all programs and apps that will be used so participants can be better prepared.

Ease of Use & Practicality

The first thing I want to mention is the size of the text in the emails is too small.  Font size 12 is the acceptable standard size for text, course emails are in Georgia 6.5.  Please make it bigger.  (For those printing, Arial 12 is a good balance between readability and ink-economy.) When thinking about the ease of use and readability of my blog, I use font size Calibri 11 which I like and the size is good. However, whilst I love the graphic on the top of my blog...

Picture at top of blogger page

I don’t like the layout further down the page, the picture that defaults is too big and I would like to see the first couple of lines of text of the blog so I will need to play around with the layout and templates a little to get it more to my liking.

Layout of blogger page and template

This would be the first constructive reflection I have that I need to work on.  I will probably have to lose the image at the top for a more favourable template.

I am fairly computer savvy so for the staff that do not have the experience the course is a little more difficult.  I suppose that’s part of the point in the whole course, learning skills you do not have, but for some the learning curve will be huge. I remember coding on a Commodore 64 in the 80’s so have grown up with computers.  Oh how I loved Windows XP!

As with life, you need to move on or become a dinosaur.  This course has been great for me.  It’s been an easy way to bring together the scattered I.T. knowledge and experience I have gained over the last 30 years.  I really enjoy having a blog and fully intend continuing it after the course. As the saying goes “Write what you love”.

I really enjoyed Thing 4, and can see huge potential.  I am an amateur photographer & making a video of photographs was fun and easy with Quik. I can see this having a practical application when there has been an event on in the branch.  Thing 5 has also been useful making video screen-casts.  I plan on making a whole series of how-to-videos for patrons about all of our e-services.  Hopefully management will like them. I had to source a different program to use other than Screencast-o-matic and eventually found CamStudio.  This was another great program to use and was very intuitive.  The ability to add text and speech, ensuring both deaf and visually impaired users can follow the video is good.

In conclusion, I’ve enjoyed the course so far and am looking forward to the rest.  I still have a few gaps in my knowledge, like how to tie-in and manage different social media platforms and twitter but will be adding these to my repertoire.  Next thing to do is have to look at the layout of my blog to make it more appealing, then onto thing 7 and apply for my Visual Communicator badge.

(from Library Association of Ireland’s point-of-view, maybe consider changing the size of the text in the emails and providing a list of programs/apps we will be needing our I.T. depts. to give access to and install)

Live long and Prosper
John “The Captain” Ryan


We're QUEER and we're HERE (to stay)...Part 3

Part 3 of 3 (Part 1 is here & Part 2 is here)

The YES campaign. 

To learn more about the amazing journey read this book - Ireland Says Yes - and even see a picture of me in it somewhere.

Around the country following the Noble Call, many groups were setting up (or re-energising existing groups) to fight. 

This was the only fight that mattered...
There was a sense of dread, anticipation and hope... 
But many had one thought in common... 
Let’s do this once, it might nearly kill us but let’s do it once... 
Get it right and WIN the first time... 
Lay it all out on the battle field... 
I could not have lived with myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to win this fight... 
The lives of all my LGBT friends and future LGBT people in Ireland were at stake... 
If we lost, there would be devastation...
It would precipitate a mass exodus of LGBT people...
It would send a message that Ireland didn’t care...
It would send a message that LGBT were NOT equal...
It would embolden bullies and homophobes to continue their actions...
No, too much was at stake and we couldn’t lose this time.

Looking back, I never thought of myself.  I never thought I would meet someone and get married, I was fighting for that fundamental, inviolable, inalienable right of Equality.  See at the end of my blog how ironic this was.

In Wexford we were a little slow to get going.  This, I’m sure is partly due to the work EAGLE had done about a decade before.  Outside of Dublin, Wexford had a huge LGBT population and it was a favourite place for LGBT people to visit.  As we know there has always been an acceptance of LGBT on stage so boosted by our popular Opera & Light Opera festival this provided a backdrop for LGBT people to gather outside of Dublin.

Everything kicked off in earnest on 29th March 2015 in the Riverbank Hotel in Wexford.  Patrick Morris, a native of Crossabeg working in Dublin set the ball rolling with a volunteer information evening.  He created and managed the social media channels for Wexford. He gathered support from all corners including political parties and the church.  There was a huge, positive response and things quickly gathered pace.  I had saved my energy and came on board at this stage knowing that there would be a 2 month marathon and lasting until 10pm on 22nd May was so important.  I’m not going to go into the whole campaign but there were a few moments that cannot go unmentioned...

·       The NO side on a regular basis threw out propaganda, lies and red herrings.  Our response, headed up by a fantastic team was factual and was always positive.  Our campaign from the outset was one of positivity and love.  I was so proud to be a part of the campaign.  A brilliant moment was touring Hook Lighthouse with the team, including Wexford man Colm O’Gorman looking out to the sea for red herrings.

·       Blocking traffic with the YES Equality bus on Castle Hill in Enniscorthy was funny.  We wanted the bus under the castle for the photo opportunity.  We ended up pushing a car up the hill as the driver couldn’t perform a handbrake start.  It could have turned into a bit of negative press but we didn’t let it.  Badges to all the people stuck in traffic and a smile soothed the massing crowd.  After the official photo op the amount of people who stopped to get their picture by the castle was crazy.

·       The turnout was amazing, the canvassing fun although harrowing.  It was the first time that straight people had a tiny window into the world of hate and discrimination LGBT people experienced.  It was really important to have a debriefing every evening after the canvas.  I always made sure to talk to newcomers, to thank them for their help and support.  It was very emotional. 

Taken in May 2015 at the Bullring, Wexford Town

Taken at Siptu offices in Coolcotts, Wexford

·       Myself and Shauna Scott knocked on every door in Castlebridge and spoke with people, we didn’t just put flyers in doors and run like our opponents were doing.  It was really important for me that my neighbours would see me & speak with me.  The personal touch was an important part of the whole campaign.

·       Social media was amazing and played a huge role in the campaign, for the first time energising young people to vote.  Remember the whole home to vote campaign.

·       The ballot box in Senator Jim Walsh’s village recorded one of the highest YES votes in Wexford.  I have the tally slip from that ballot box framed.  Vindication at last!

My favourite moment was this photo, myself and my dad just after 7am when we had voted on 22nd May.  We couldn't wear our badges inside the polling station but once outside we could. (Harvey Milk day, not by accident)

Proud father & son after voting in the Equality Referendum in May 2015

My favourite story also involves my dad.  Martin Ryan, now 73 is a man of strong faith and goes to mass every week.  I found out he told my mam “if the no side wins I will never go to church again”.  I still get a lump in my throat when I think about this.

But now to the best part of my story.  Remember I previously mentioned Conor Vaughan Buggy.  Well Conor was an amazing activist and campaigner in Dublin during the campaign.  He also has an OCD for organising and timetabling.  He had organised our day during Pride, where we were meeting, walking, eating and drinking.  What busses to take.  Everything.  The whole kit n’ kaboodle.

27th June 2015 my life changed.  I had finished my journey and fight for equality.  During the campaign I had learned to speak about myself and came to respect myself.  The campaign made me a stronger, better person.  And then I kid you not, over a crowded bar I saw someone with his shirt hanging open flying across the floor like a little hairy superman.  I thought to myself “I need to meet him and get his number”.  Ten minutes later after a snog, exchange of number and jumping onto the last bus on the quay Conor said something along the line “What the f$ck John!”

We were a steady item within weeks.  After about the 3rd date my mother asked me had I met someone.  My answer was yes and you will get to meet him soon.  Within another couple of weeks we had met each other’s parents and by November 2015, Noel had left his job in Cork and moved to Wexford.

And finally.  3rd November 2017.  I married Noel Cunningham.  We became John Cunningham-Ryan and Noel Cunningham-Ryan.  My best man was Val Scallan Walsh, far right of photo below who started the journey with me back in 2005.

Taken on 3rd November 2016, John Cunningham-Ryan & Noel Cunningham-Ryan

(left-right. Best man Adrian Lemon, Noel Cunningham-Ryan, John Cunningham-Ryan & Best man Val Scallan-Walsh


John "The Captain" Ryan

IT, Chapter 2. (movie review)

After a 2 year wait we finally get to see what happens to the LOSERS. (source  fortniteinsider )  IT's been a long time coming, ...