News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 11th May 2015

Apple Inc. Expands Its Irish Plant Capacity

   

Apple intends to resolve demand and supply issues of its flagship products in Ireland.

The world’s largest company in market capitalization, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), is planning to expand production capacity at its Cork, Ireland-based production plant. The decision is being taken following a demand and supply issue of its key products in the global markets.

Apple entered the region in 1981 and currently has 4,000 employees in the country. The company’s Cork plant is considered to be a key plant and one of the most essential sites for Apple, apart from its headquarter in Cupertino, California.

The tech giant invested $334.3 million (€300 million) to establish the plant 18 months ago. It also leased out space in two office blocks in the city. According to reports, it could also nearly double its factory space, but it’s focusing on smaller expansions for now.

If the expansion plans are completed, experts believe that it will give a multi-million euro lift to Cork’s construction industry and generates hundreds of jobs. Apple is also joining hands with EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC), another US tech company that has around 3,000 employees in Cork, to become one of the largest employers in South Ireland.

In February, Apple announced that it spent $947.5 million (€850 million) to set up the data center in Galway, which led to the creation of 100 jobs. The investment was made to serve content for App Store, iMessage, iTunes, Maps and Siri for consumer in Europe.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook said, “We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent.”

Although it isn’t clear what the tech giant would manufacture with additional factory space, the Cork plant is known to produce Macs, instead of iPads and iPhones that are assembled in China. The company’s investment in Ireland portrays its long-term commitment in the country. Even after major controversies last year that Apple had to face in the US and UK over its tax affairs in Ireland, the commitment stands.

Everyone has a skill to share, even if you think it’s not much?

  • Do volunteer?

   

Everyone has a skill to share, even if they don’t shout about it… why not volunteer?

One of the first things that struck me about the Irish when I moved here six months ago is how self-deprecating Irish people can be. Having travelled a lot throughout my career, I can say that the Irish sense of humour is certainly unique.

That wonderful, self-deprecating nature can sometimes extend beyond humour though – to an unwillingness to shout about successes and what you do better than anyone else. One thing the Irish do very well, better than most countries in the world, is volunteering.

Volunteering is part of Irish culture. Right now, across the country, thousands of people are volunteering in their community. Some may not even think of it as volunteering – as to many, it’s a part of life. It’s hard to imagine what Ireland would be like withkout volunteering.

It’s estimated that between 25% and 40% of Irish people volunteer regularly. Ireland regularly comes in top percentiles of worldwide surveys on charitable giving and volunteering – recently taking the top spot in the Good Country Index and named the most charitable country in Europe by the World Giving Index for the third year in a row.

Improving employ-ability through skilled volunteering

Volunteering in Ireland is changing. It’s growing and evolving to meet the changing needs of both volunteers and charities. One in four volunteers who sign up through our I-VOL database are under 22 and we are seeing an increased interest among volunteers in improving their employ-ability through skilled volunteering.

Skilled volunteering is essentially lending your expertise to benefit a charity. Skilled volunteering has a huge positive impact for charities and boosts volunteers’ professional experience, improves employability and extends your professional network. In a survey that LinkedIn carried out with professionals, 40% stated that when they are evaluating candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience.

There are some incredible charities and community groups that couldn’t function without the help of skilled volunteers. Coder Dojo has developed into a movement with a network of volunteers teaching computer coding and software development to children across Ireland – expanding to over 48 countries across the world since 2011.

Another great example of skilled volunteering in action is the organisation Data Kind Dublin – an incredible team of volunteer data experts who work with charities to help solve problems through data analysis. We are currently working with Data Kind Dublin to help us better understand and meet the needs of both volunteers and charities.

What kind of skills do you need?

What you may have thought of as the more ‘traditional’ volunteering still happens, of course, on a large scale – whether it’s bucket shaking, garden painting or youth development, skilled volunteering is by no means replacing these vital ways of helping out. But volunteering is broadening – and I think everyone has something to offer.

When we say ‘skilled volunteering’ – it doesn’t mean you have to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer to volunteer (though there are great organisations that involve volunteers from all three professions). The professional skills currently most in demand by charities in Ireland are IT skills, customer service and event management. The ‘soft’ skill most sought by Irish charities is people skills.

For community and voluntary organisations, skilled volunteering can have an incredible impact. To take Volunteer Ireland for example, we recently recruited for a volunteer to help with an element of our digital marketing. Marcel, a recent graduate from Dublin, came on board to help us with our Google Adwords account. Volunteering from home, Marcel helped to boost our web traffic within a few short weeks. After a month of volunteering with us, he was snapped up with a job offer from abroad. Marcel enjoyed the experience so much that he has remained volunteering with us remotely.

For those who may be interested in learning or developing new skills, volunteering can be just as valuable. In fact, I’d argue that for anyone considering a career change, volunteering can often be more effective than the more expensive option of up skilling through courses. It’s often said that most of our learning in life is ‘tacit learning’ – learning through doing. Volunteering provides you with an opportunity to try and experience new skills and activities – to learn through your own initiative, and it costs nothing but time.

One in five people in Ireland would like to volunteer but don’t know how or where to get involved. That’s where we come in. This week is National Volunteering Week, supported by Salesforce, and we at Volunteer Ireland are here to help make it easier for people to get involved. Ireland is great at volunteering – and this week, let’s shout about it and encourage everyone to give it a try.

It’s our vision to help everyone in Ireland to volunteer and connect with their community. I honestly believe that when it comes to volunteering, everyone has a skill to share. Don’t hide your light under a bushel. You may not want to shout about it, but if you feel you have something to give – you also have so much to gain from volunteering. So whether you have skills to share or some time to spare, visit http://www.volunteer.ie to see how could make a big difference for a cause or community you’d like to help.

Nina Arwitz is CEO of Volunteer Ireland. This week, May 11-17, is National Volunteering Week, supported by Salesforce. To browse volunteering opportunities near you or find your local Volunteer Centre or Volunteer Information Service visit http://www.volunteer.ie

Going blind? This microchip might of help to you

  

Going blind? This microchip could help you

Researchers are developing a microchip that can be implanted into your eyeball to help combat the onset of blindness.

By attaching microchips to eyeballs, scientists can already restore vision in certain rudimentary instances.

But researchers in Vienna feel tweaking the electrical signals emitted by the implanted technology could advance the science further.

“Making the blind really see – that will take some time,” says TU Wien’s Frank Rattay, one of the lead authors of the report.

“But in the case of certain diseases of the eyes, it is already possible to restore vision, albeit still highly impaired, by means of retinal implants.”

Close, but no cigar

At the moment, basic chips installed in humans can convert light into electrical pulses, which are used to then stimulate the requisite cells in the eyeball.

Apparently, the problem is our eyes are immaculately complicated, meaning at the moment contrast is almost impossible to deal with – perhaps intelligent design was a little to clever, and we can’t quite grasp a digital substitute.

Generally speaking, the triggers that scientists can control in a damaged retina actually set off more than what they want.

“But it might be possible to stimulate one cell type more than the other by means of special electrical pulses, thus enhancing the perception of contrast,” says Rattay.

By using calcium as the particular measurement – concentrations, and the transport of such, proved key – the team discovered ON and OFF cells, which react differently to light.

This seems the key to the next stage of ‘curing’ the onset of blindness but, as Rattay says, “it will take some time.”

A small patch of the retinal network is simulated by a computer simulation. One retinal ganglion cell and 20 connected bipolar cells are modelled with experimentally traced cell geometries. A disc electrode, depicted as white circle when turned off and as red circle when switched on, activates both cell types simultaneously by generating an electric voltage across the retina.

The cells respond to electric stimulation by changing their membrane voltage. Biophysical models of the membrane kinetics in retinal ganglion cells lead to so-called action potentials cells – the most important signal mechanism in the human body. These propagate along the axon of the ganglion cell which projects towards the brain.

1Gbps ‘Fibre to Home’s’ in Mayo project launched by Eircom

  

1 Gbps ‘Fibre to the Home’ project launched by Eircom

A proposed solution to the impending National Broadband Plan was launched by Eircom in Mayo today, where it showed off its new 1Gb Fibre to the Home (FTTH) offering that will use more than 90,000km of fibre optic cable.

Belcarra Co Mayo was the site of the launch, with eircom showing off its wares by live-linking the Balla Livestock Mart with the local community centre and a primary school.

The full launch will be in August, with up to 66 different communities set to enjoy speeds of up to 1Gb per second.

“The rollout of high-speed fibre broadband to rural Ireland is the modern equivalent to the electrification programme,” said Eircom CEO Richard Moat.

“As a country, we have a once-off opportunity to build a future proofed high-speed broadband network to the benefit of hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses with the potential to revolutionise many aspects of rural life and reinvigorate rural communities.

“If successful in winning the National Broadband Plan tender, eircom will invest hundreds of millions of euro alongside the Government to roll out the best broadband technology available right across rural Ireland.”

Global sea-levels accelerating, say scientists

 

Sea-level rise is accelerating, not declining as some have hoped, scientists said on Monday citing meltwater from Earth´s ice sheets as the likely cause.

In 2013, the UN´s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the global mean sea level rose by 19 centimetres (7.6 inches) from 1901-2010, an average 1.7 mm (0.06 of an inch) per year.

This accelerated to 3.2 mm per year between 1993 and 2010, the IPCC said in its landmark Fifth Assessment Report

But in 2014, another study raised a big question.

In the past decade, it said, sea-level rise had been much lower than the previous decade.

That raised hopes in some quarters that, far from being an inexorably rising threat, sea levels could fluctuate in response to some hidden but natural variability.

The new study deals a blow to this scenario.

Both the IPCC estimate and the 2014 paper were based on satellite observations of sea levels.

But they were unable to take an important variable into account: something called vertical land motion.

This is natural movement in the height of the Earth´s land surface, which can happen through subsidence, earthquakes or uplift.

For instance, parts of the northern hemisphere are still rising after the end of the last Ice Age — the land was crushed by glacial weight and even today is slowly “rebounding,” thousands of years after the ice melted.

The new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, takes land movement into account, along with an important statistical tweak — hourly data from a network of tide gauges deployed around the world´s oceans.

It finds that the overall rate of sea level rise between 1993 and mid-2014 is between 2.6 and 2.9 mm per year, with a margin of error of plus or minus 0.4 mm.

The bad news is that the first six years of the satellite data — 1993 to 1999 — is the period that is most affected by these corrections.

For those six years, estimates have to be scaled down by 0.9-1.5 mm a year.

That mean in more recent years the rate of sea-level rise has actually increased rather than declined, according to the paper, led by Christopher Watson of the University of Tasmania, Australia.

The acceleration “is higher than the observed twentieth-century acceleration but in reasonable agreement with an accelerating contribution from the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets over this period,” the team said.

It is also consistent with the IPCC´s projections for an additional 0.07 mm rise in the early decades of the 21st century, they added.

The IPCC projected that the global mean sea level would rise by between 40 and 63 cm by the end of this century, depending on how much heat-trapping carbon gases are emitted.

These figures do not include margin of error. At the top end of the range, the 63 cm could be as high as 82 cm.

– Complex calculations –

Ocean rise has huge implications for the hundreds of millions of people who are coastal dwellers.

Their cities could be threatened by ground erosion, flooding and storm surges, and their groundwater imperilled by saltwater intrusion.

But it is also one of the most vexed questions in climate science, given the many uncertainties.

Computer models have to try to estimate how much of the rise is due to thermal expansion — warming of the water — or to runoff from ice sheets, glaciers or permafrost.

They also have to calculate the extreme time it takes for a vast body of water to respond to temperature change.

The IPCC said the loss of Greenland´s icesheet had probably increased from 34 billion tonnes per year in the decade to 2001 to 215 billion tonnes a year over the following decade.

In Antarctica, the rate of loss likely increased from 30 billion tonnes a year to 147 billion tonnes a year over the same timescale. (AFP)

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