Category Archives: Gaeilge

Memories of Musicians Institute

In spring 1985 I moved to Hollywood to attend Musicians Institute. On the first day of instruction all of us students (@500) gathered in the school’s performance auditorium for orientation. As a “getting to know you” exercise they had all of us in odd number rows (I was in row 1) turn around and introduce ourselves to the person directly behind us, then stand up and introduce that person to the rest of the class. Yes it took a while.

The fellow sitting behind me was a guitar student named Nick Nolan, about 19 years old. He was also the winner of the Van Halen scholarship that the school offered that year, having beat out several hundred other entries and earning some very complimentary remarks from Mr. Eddie VH himself. But Nick was a very quiet, humble fellow, and turned out to be my best buddy during my all-too-brief stay at the school. Just out of curiosity I did a Google search for Nick to see what he had been up to, and found that he’s authored quite a few instructional books and DVDs on rock guitar. I heard that he was also hired as a teacher at MI, but don’t know if he’s still there or not.

Leaving MI after only three months remains on my short list of big regrets. If I could have a “do-over” year, it would be 1985.

Curbing The Clutter

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Originally uploaded by lylamerle

I thought we did a really good job of cleaning house and getting rid of a lot of things that we’d likely never use again before taking off for Aotearoa in January. We sold a lot of things in a garage sale, some went to the Salvation Army, and anything left over was taken to the dump.

Our perspective on clutter changed a bit after our experience in New Zealand. We only brought those things that we felt we needed to survive, and likewise we bought few things that would need to be sold or given away before we left. Our house remained relatively clutter-free for those six months.

It didn’t take us very long after we returned to East Hawai‘i that we realized how much clutter was still left around the house. M?lia had stored two boxes of clothes and miscellaneous items that she was going to unpack when we returned. She sorted through them and we ended up giving away the good stuff to the Salvation Army and throwing away almost everything else. Marie and I have also been going through the house and getting rid of a lot of things, and hopefully we’ll be able to maintain a clutter-free existence for a while. There are still a few boxes to go through to get there, though.

Pixenate: Photo Editing On The Web

One of the reasons I had neglected to use pictures in posts here for so long was the fact that in order to do any kind of editing (other than simple resizes) of the pics I needed to fire up Photoshop. Let’s face it – I’m not that into photography to take the extra steps required. When Scott came onboard and began to use pictures in every post I decided I needed to get with the program.

A few weeks ago Walter Higgins posted a Jaiku asking for people with WordPress 2.5.1 sites who were willing to test his Pixenate plugin for WordPress. Always a willing guinea pig, I did and was quite impressed. There were a few little glitches to overcome due to the lack of some php functionality on my site, but Walter got that taken care of quickly. The WordPress plugin does not have all of the features of Pixenate yet, but they are working on it. Currently you can crop, resize, rotate, enhance and normalize pictures in WordPress. I’ll be happy when some of the other features come online as well.

Conversation On Hawaiian Social Network Space

I spent nearly an hour on Skype with Conn Ó Muíneacháin in Ireland this morning. The topic: minority languages in the social network space. I was sick as a dog all weekend, and while lying in bed had a lot of time to ponder our college’s next move in regards to providing telecommunication services through the medium of Hawaiian. While Conn has no specialized training in language perpetuation or sociology (nor do I), I felt that he is very much a kindred spirit in his desire to be able to use his language in as many daily contexts as are allowed by circumstances and by those he interacts with regularly, and provide opportunity for like-minded individuals to use the language as well as well.

When we started Leok? some 15 years ago, it was the only telecommunication system that was available to many users. Students by and large did not have email, and while many teachers and administrators did have email, they found Leok? to be a great way to communicate with other Hawaiian speakers, and we did provide a gateway by which they could communicate with the English speaking world via Internet email. As the years have progressed many Leok? users have availed themselves of free email accounts on services such as Hotmail, and more recently have discovered the joys of MySpace and other social networks. Consequently, the use of Leok? by speakers of Hawaiian began to decline.

I discussed this issue with Conn, and he pretty much echoed the realization I had arrived at – that the best we can do is to provide the opportunity to Hawaiian speakers to use the technology in ways that they would normally use technology anyway, and provide the tools to do it in Hawaiian if they choose to do so. It makes no sense to compel use of Hawaiian for people to access most of our services. For those that would prefer to do email, chat, or get involved in discussions in English, there are too many alternative for them to choose from.

If we were able to provide a perfect MySpace clone, only in Hawaiian, how attractive would it be to people? Social networking spaces are about building bridges and forming communities based on common interest (music, ultimate fighting, fly fishing) and shared experiences (families, classmates, neighborhoods). Language exclusivity would certainly throw a monkey wrench in that community building, and let to their own device people will default to the lowest common denominator anyway. In our case, this means English. If I built a social networking space that dealt with technology issues such as localization, UTF-8 support in Web 2.0 applications and other such minutiae, and restricted it to Hawaiian speakers, it would attract and audience of perhaps three (if I was lucky).

Conn pointed out that he uses Google as Gaeilge because it is available to him. We don’t have those kinds of services available in Hawaiian, and I have contacted the Google localization team to determine if it is feasible for us to localize some of their services into Hawaiian, and I am investigating others. I’m beginning to think that our limited resources and man-hours (mostly my own) would best be invested in localizing popular web packages like Moodle, WordPress, and Drupal which would be deployed on a large number of publicly accessible services, and the user could then choose to implement a Hawaiian language interface and provide content in the language as well.

I’m considering a three-pronged strategy:

  1. To continue to develop and support Leok? with a completely Hawaiian language interfaces, and maintain its Hawaiian-only content for communication between Hawaiian speakers who develop curriculum for immersion schools, train and provide other support services to the Hawaiian-speaking community. This includes our College, the ‘Aha P?nana Leo and a few others who function in a completely Hawaiian language environment anyway.
  2. To translate (if possible) the Lotus Notes interface into Hawaiian for the Hawaiian immersion sites, and work with the DOE to provide a Hawaiian-only environment with the predominantly English-speaking DOE Notes network. Most, if not all DOE teachers and students, including those involved in Hawaiian immersion already have Notes accounts. This lessens our support load and restricts it to localization and technical issues, not providing direct support to users.
  3. To provide Hawaiian localizations for popular open-source packages like WordPress and Moodle, which will allow users who wish to choose a Hawaiian language interface for their sites if they choose to do so.

Now I need to make two or three clones of myself to pull it off while I work on my Ph.d. in ethnomusicology!

Mahalo a nui, Conn, for being such a great sounding board.

Edge Case Becomes Edge Cast

I really admire Conn Ó Muíneacháin and the work that he has done for many reasons, not the least of which being such a strong advocate for the Irish language without approaching it from an academic or theoretical perspective. He simply does what he does in such a way that everyone knows this is simply the way manner in which he goes about his life. I was very much following his lead when I converted my podcasts to be exclusively in the Hawaiian language last year. Language blogs and language podcasts shouldn’t just be about the language but in the language, and discuss the depth and breadth of the cultures that they are used by.

It seems that Conn is on the way to being the first Irish language Internet media mogul. While I have no plans to “go pro” with blogging and podcasting, I’m certain that Conn’s work will continue to influence mine, much as Dave Winer‘s has done over the past dozen or so years.

Where Are The Irish Artists On The Grammy Ballot?

I’m a voting member of The Recording Academy, which is responsible for the Grammy Awards. It amazes me how few Irish artists get entered. There are a few this year, including Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, whom I had only known as a member of Danu. I checked out her website and her CD sounds awesome. I ordered a copy and got a nice email from her. Susan McKeown, Lunasa, and Solas are on the Traditional Folk ballot, and Enya on the Album of the Year, which has hundreds of entries. Any Irish artists I’m missing? I’ll hold onto my ballot for a few more days in case I’ve missed any deserving artists. I’m disappointed Lasairfhíona is not entered, I believe her “Flame of Wine” was released in this year of eligibility. I would have happily cast my vote for her.

The Hawaiian category is a bit weak this year, very few major artists, with a total of 29 entries, about average. Of course, I’m pulling for my partner Kenneth Makuak?ne there.