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Könnten Wir Bitte Ihre Leere Plastikflaschen Und Dosen Haben?

Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The city is regarded as the cultural centre of the Westphalia Region and renowned as the bicycle capital of Germany. Recently a friend of mine visited that lovely city and returned with the following true story.

Leading a group of some 20 other persons in Münster; my friend became aware that they were being followed, from a distance, by two elderly and possibly homeless persons. My friends group paused for a while at a nearby recognised picnic site, to consume some snacks and drinks, before being approached by these gentlemen, who inquired formally in German, “Könnten wir bitte ihre leere Plastikflaschen und Dosen haben?”  One of the company who spoke the German language translated; “Please can we have your empty plastic bottles and cans”?

My friend explained that in Münster as indeed in Germany, a deposit refund system was in place, to repel the growing plastic waste crisis. Every drink can and plastic bottle collected, when returned to vendors, is rewarded by a payment of 15 cents each, which had been previously charged when the product was initially purchased. These two men would redeem €3.00, if 20 plastic or metal drink containers were returned to vendors.

The returned containers are then reused or recycled. This system of recycling has proven to be extremely effective in the recovering of up to 98% of all such containers.

Drink containers are the convenience packaging for products used for outdoor recreation.

Here in Ireland our metal cans and plastic drink containers are to be found dumped in every nook and cranny. “Tidy Towns” judges, together with the “Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL)”, regularly highlight the issue within towns and villages, but rural country areas remain ignored with same items dropped to roll around on our streets; to be thrown into our gardens and unto our road sides by passers-by and motorists; while also being dumped into our rivers and onto the 7,000km of our golden beaches, to become the flotsam and jetsam of “God knows where,” depending on the currents and Tides.

The “Repak Model” of recycling is seen as being adequate by a short sighted Irish Department of the Environment. However, while it may be profitable for Repak; do take a look around our streets and you will see Ireland operates a “one use and then litter” model, with immediate change now fundamentally crucial. It would appear that our appointed legislators are possibly under pressure, from waste collection business operators, latter who only manage to recycle about 39% of our cans and plastic bottles (given to them for free), leaving 61% (43,000 tonnes) to decorate our green landscape.

But imagine the difference it would make to our unspoiled coastal regions; our rural countryside, our villages, towns and cities, if a deposit refund system were to be put in place, in a state that is growing more and more dependent on regular foreign Tourism.

The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark have operated successful ‘deposit refund systems’ for years. The UK have just announced they are about to introduce a similar deposit refund scheme, while Ireland continues to drown in its own litter, dependent on individuals to come out, voluntarily, to pick up and clean up after those who dump their unwanted garbage.

God be with the late 50’s, when my friends and I would rush down to the village with our empty ‘Taylor Keith’ cochineal reddened, fizzy, lemonade bottles and with the refund, buy a few Peggy’s Legs or a few strawberry flavoured Bubble Gum Balls, [latter banned in my house because same were seen to be ‘dirty’ and ‘unmannerly’, according to my grandmother, especially “in front of other respectable visiting adults.”].

Here in Ireland we will probably have to wait until the EU make ‘deposit refund systems’ compulsory, and the sooner the better. Understandably reverse vending machines operating a deposit-and-return drinks container regime, is not as popular with our elected County Councillors, as are Parking Metres in our town centres.

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Storm Emma Halts LIT Thurles Games Fleadh 2018

LIT Thurles Campus

Games Fleadh 2018, which was schedules to take place at LIT Thurles Campus tomorrow, (Wednesday, February 28th, 2018), has been postponed until Thursday March 22nd, 2018, courtesy of expected blizzard “Storm Emma”.

The organisers of this popular all-island games design and development event, have reviewed the weather forecasts over the past 24 hours, and have decided to postpone the 15th Games Fleadh in the interest of commuter safety. A Yellow weather warning for several counties, including Tipperary, has now come into effect with Met Éireann expected to issue a Red weather warning in the next days or two.

Game Design and Development degree lecturer at LIT, Dr Liam Noonan stated, “The key issue for the committee is ensuring that all visiting teams, judges, sponsors, schools etc can make it safely to Thurles for the 15th Games Fleadh. The weather warnings over the last few days left us with concerns as to the well being of those travelling to this popular  event. We therefore have taken the decision to postpone the event for a few weeks until March 22nd, when we look forward to welcoming once again students, parents and those with an interest in game design and development, to this free event.”

Weather experts have predicted a polar vortex will blitz Ireland with its worst snowfall in 36 years; to materialise over the coming days, with up to 65cm of snowfall expected to fall on higher ground across the county between Tuesday night and Friday.

If you would like to track the expected “Storm Emma” blizzard over the coming days simply click HERE courtesy windy.com.

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Busiest Year Yet At LIT Thurles Games Fleadh 2017

LIT Thurles Campus

Some fifteen LIT Thurles students in total have been recognised for their achievements in game design and development at Games Fleadh 2017.

The Games Fleadh is an annual all-island games design and development competition for third-level students. Same took place on March 8th last on LIT’s Thurles campus; latter home to a B.Sc in Computing in Games Design and Development.

The 14th annual Games Fleadh event was once again supported by Microsoft Ireland; EA Games; First Data; Game Sparks; Game Stop and the Irish Computer Society.

With over 30 teams taking part in various game design and development competitions, the event organisers are happy to report 2017 as their busiest year yet. All entries were viewed, played and tested by over 400 members of the general public, who flocked to the event.

Judges included representatives from EA Games, Game Sparks, and First Data, who each reviewed the individual entries; scoring the students on their game creations.

Fourth year Game Development students Declan Cordial, James Walsh and Shane Hayes with their entry ‘Fragments of the Damned’ won ‘Best in Original Audio Music’.

Third year Game Development students Joe O’Regan, Sean Horgan and Brian Ryan won ‘Best Windows Game’ with their entry ‘AntiBody’.  Another 3rd year Game Development team made up of visiting Canadian students Christopher Law, Noah Petrides, and Settimio Falsetto, were awarded ‘Best in Team Performance’ for their game ‘LightWave’.

Second year Game Development students Alex McAllister, Eoghain McGrath, Luke O’Brien and Nathan Dunne, were awarded ‘Best in Game Design’ for their game ‘I Wanna Be A Racing Game’.

First years LIT’s Robocode Team comprising of students Ciaran Bent, Rory Ryan and Owen O’Dea were placed 3rd in the national Robocode Competition, which involved programming software tanks using the programming language Java.

Congratulations to all those competing.

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Thurles Hosts Ireland’s Largest Computer Gaming Event

Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) situated here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, will be hosting Ireland’s largest gaming event this year on Wednesday next, March 8th 2017. The theme for this years 2017 event is “Racing Game”.

LIT Tipperary is home to Games Design & Development with a BSc (Honours) obtainable in Computing (Level 8). For further information on this graduate programme click HERE.

This year the Games Fleadh will also feature games development and research discussions with industry veterans and researchers. Companies and organisations taking part in discussions will include Microsoft Ireland, EA, Imirt, Game Sparks and SimVirtua. The full list of speakers is now available on their Gamesfleadh.ie page.

Games Fleadh 2017 while open to the public for free; tickets can now be reserved on their tickets page here.  For more follow @gamesfleadh on twitter .

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Enigma Cipher Machines – The Tipperary Connection

 The Stoney Family of North Tipperary

turing

Alan Mathison Turing OBE FRS (1912 – 1954).

The Stoney family (latter family name originally Danish), were once prominent landlords, here in North Tipperary.
Ethel Sara Stoney (1881–1976), was born on November 18th, at Podanur, in the city of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, India, the daughter of Edward Waller Stoney (Borrisokane, North Tipperary) and Sarah Crawford (Cartron Abbey, Co. Longford); Protestant Anglo-Irish gentry.

Her father was Chief Engineer of the Madras Railways, which played a pioneering role in developing railways in southern India, before being merged in 1908 with Southern Mahratta Railway to form the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway.

Educated at Alexandra School and College, Dublin, and at Cheltenham Ladies College, before attending lectures at the Sorbonne in Paris, she returned to join her parents in Madras, preferring to use her middle Christian name that of ‘Sara’. On October 1st 1907 she married Julius Mathison Turing, son of Reverend John Robert Turing and Fanny Boyd, in Dublin.

Many television viewers recently would have watched the film “The Imitation Game” which starred amongst others Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. This film, which grossed over $233.6 million at the box office, was based on the life of Sara Turing’s son Alan Mathison Turing.  Born on June 23rd 1912, the second and last child (after his brother John Ferrier Turing) later he would be regarded as being one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century.

Those of you, our readers, who viewed this film (Highly recommended viewing, I might add) will be aware that Alan Turing was educated at Sherborne College and Cambridge University, and received a PhD from Princeton, having sailed on the liner Berengaria to New York arriving at Princeton in September 1936. A brilliant mathematician and cryptographer Alan was truly the founder of modern day computer science and artificial intelligence and designed a machine to help break secret Enigma encrypted messages [1] being then circulated by the Nazi German war machine during World War 2.

[1]  Enigma devices were electro-mechanical rotor cipher machines developed and used in the mid-twentieth century to convey and protect sensitive commercial, diplomatic and military communications. Invented by the German engineer Arthur Scherbius towards the end of World War I, these early models were also used commercially by Japan, Italy and most notably Nazi Germany before and during World War II.

Many readers however will not be aware that Alan’s mother was a member of this same Stoney family who once resided at Tombrickane, Kyle Park, Borrisokane, North Co. Tipperary.

Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once stated that Alan Turing made the single biggest contribution to the Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany, possibly saving the lives of an estimated 2 million people, through his efforts in shortening World War 2. Churchill was first introduced to Alan Turing during a visit to the highly secretive Hut No 8 at ‘Bletchley Park’, establishment in September 1941. The following month Turing and three other cryptographers wrote directly to Sir Winston Churchill seeking further administrative resources; a request which Prime Minister Churchill immediately made available.

Described as one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century, in 1945 Turing was awarded the OBE by King George VI for his wartime services which included (between the years 1939 – 1942), the breaking of U-boat Enigma messages, thus ensuring allied victory in the battle of the Atlantic. His work continued to remain top secret for many years and Turing machines still remain, to this very day, a central object for study in the theory of computation.

Apart from his work in breaking Nazi Enigma codes from 1945 to 1947, Turing worked on the design of the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the British National Physical Laboratory and presented a paper (February 19th 1946), laying out his vision for the first detailed design of a stored-program computer.

Alas, in 1952 his brilliant career was to be halted; brought about by a short homosexual affair with a 19 year old, named as Arnold Murray. “Eaten bread is soon forgotten” as my grandmother used to say, and Alan’s private life would now come into conflict with an ingrate society displaying short term memory.

Turing and Murray were both prosecuted for homosexual acts, (under section 11 of the then Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885), then considered illegal whether carried out in private or in public. Now with the loss of security clearance to fund his work, Alan chose chemical castration as an alternative to the punishment of a long gaol sentence.

Between 1953 and 54 much of his work in biology and physics remained unfinished and on the 7th of June 1954 Alan was found dead as a result of cyanide poisoning, in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Although suicide was suspected, Alan left no suicide note, having eaten an apple apparently laced with cyanide. This apple however was never fully tested, leaving his mother to never accept the Coroner’s suicide verdict or indeed understand Alan’s actual motivation to end his life.

Certainly his humiliation by prosecutors and the cruel effects of his hormone treatment would have greatly influenced his then mental state, but it was not until September 2009 that former British Labour Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown would make a formal apology on behalf of the British Government, firstly recognising his contribution to World War 2 and secondly for Turing’s treatment stating ‘he deserved better’.  On the 12th of June 1954, Alan’s body was cremated at Woking Crematorium, St John’s, and his ashes scattered.

Perhaps the apple with the bite taken out, which constitutes the logo on the back of your iPhone or MacBook Pro after all remains as a tribute to Alan Turing, although Apple the American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, apparently dismiss this association.

Regarding his mother Ethel Sara Stoney from North Tipperary; her death came during the early part of her 95th year, on March 6th 1976, while she residing at Stoneycrest, Churt Road, Hindhead, Surrey, England, and following her death, like her son, she too was also cremated.

Perhaps someone will unveil a small commemorative plaque during 2017 in memory of Sara and Alan at Borrisokane; if only in our quest to encourage elusive tourists.

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