Why do children love the Lonely Beast – who, on the face of it, should be quite terrifying – so much?“I think kids kind of identify with him. They like lots of bird pooping for starters, and fart noises,” deadpanned Kelleher.The “silly stuff” on this educational app makes it feel like a game rather than a chore. “If they don’t notice they’re learning, that’s brilliant,” said Kelleher. “They can focus on numbers and counting and the ABC.”We drop a lot of things in for parents as well. I don’t think a huge amount of our age group that read our app will recognise the beast is dressed up as James Joyce. But it might lead to conversations with the kids.They launched the first app “out of disgust that there was nothing very good in that particular area”, but since then the level of quality of children’s apps has “soared”.On their first venture they were told that an Irish accent would have a negative impact on the Lonely Beast’s success. “The opposite was true,” recalled Kelleher. “We were really stubborn about it. It’s Chris’s voice, his is an Irish accent. People have responded to it really well, particularly in the US.”The app has been downloaded as far away as Mali, Nigeria, and New Zealand, showing that an Irish brogue is no impediment to international success.Though Kelleher describes their success as “a mixture of stubbornness and luck”, there’s clearly much more to it than that.For a “tiny operation” that is based in a shed, the Lonely Beast team are able to tap into what makes kids tick.There’s no formula – “it’s all very much in flux” – but that’s what makes the job so exciting. Kelleher learned to code two years ago, which perhaps adds to the newness of it all.As for the Lonely Beast himself, he’s the mysterious lumbering figure who keeps drawing people back to the books and apps.“I think you can project an awful lot of personality onto what is essentially a very simple shape of beast,” mused Kelleher.“You wonder what’s going on in his head. I think there’s an air of melancholy there, which has always been a feature of the best kids books I’ve loved.”Read: Irish ‘Lonely Beast’ app featured on US Apple TV ad> http://youtu.be/dJLS4rEvIxY(Lonely Beast Apps/YouTube)HE’S A LONG-limbed, mouthless hairy beast; he sometimes dresses like James Joyce; he farts in the bath… and children love him.This curious figure is the Lonely Beast, and he has gathered quite an international fanbase since artist Chris Judge first dreamed him up.Now, following on from a series of books, the beast is back with his second iPhone and iPad app, Lonely Beast 123, which teaches children how to count.It went straight to number one in the Kids and Education categories in the Irish app store on launch week, and named as a best new app by Apple, building on the existing success of the Lonely Beast items.The Lonely Beast teamJames Kelleher is one of the three men behind the Lonely Beast app team, alongside Chris, the creator and designer of the Lonely Beast, and Simon Judge, who creates all of the music and sound effects.The latest app was four months in the making. “Generally the way it happens is we will sit down and we’ll have an initial meeting where we throw some ideas around,” explained Kelleher.After they settle on a theme, they each go and work on their own parts: Chris does the sketches, Simon creates the music and sound effects, and James the coding. From this, a prototype emerges.To give this latest app a gentle narrative, they situated it in the Lonely Beast’s house, where children can follow him around and learn about numbers through his everyday activities.The trio rely a lot on intuition. “We go on what we hope kids will like – and we’ve been relatively lucky.” People have been amazing. We get emails from people in Japan who notice tiny little details that we sweated over in the making of the app and we assume 99 per cent of people won’t notice.
“I am thrilled to sign a new IRFU contract and to continue playing my rugby with Munster. In 2013 I learned a lot as a player with my province, Ireland and the Lions and I hope to continue to develop and push for honours over the coming years.” Munster head coach Rob Penney joined his young star in greeting the news with pleasure, given that Murray is already a key component of his side.“We are delighted that Conor has signed a new IRFU contract which will secure him to Munster until the end of the 2016 season.“Conor has illustrated in recent months the value he brings to not only Munster but to the national team as well At 24 he is still a young guy and he has the potential to go on to become one of the best scrum-halves in the game.”IRFU CEO Phillip Browne – who now must ensure other top Irish players such as Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip are tied down new deals – echoed Penney’s sentiments.Conor has made a significant impact on Munster and Irish rugby since making his breakthrough in 2011. We are delighted that he has signed a new contract that will keep him at Munster until the end of the 2016 season.”The hope is that this deal being sealed encourages the likes of O’Brien, Heaslip and others to commit their futures to the IRFU and the Irish provinces. After very different news had been rumoured to be on the way today, Murray’s re-signing is extremely welcome.‘If a player gets three concussions in a season they should get expert neurology advice’Marty Moore delighted to avenge 43-0 hammering at Franklin’s Gardens CONOR MURRAY HAS signed a new two-year contract with the IRFU, keeping him with Munster until at least 2016.The 24-year-old had been linked with a move to French club Toulouse in recent months, so this announcement comes as some relief in Irish rugby circles. Murray has won 22 caps for his country, while also appearing in the two final tests of the Lions’ tour to Australia this year.The Limerick man made his provincial debut against Connacht in April 2010 and has gone on to rack up 49 appearances, including a start against Perpignan in the Heineken Cup last weekend. Unfortunately, the scrum-half sustained medial ligament damage to his right knee in that game and will be out of action for up to 6 weeks.Commenting on his new deal, Murray said:
Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming echoed this view, saying: “We need to see this witness in private session and then decide do we want to hear him in public session.”He cautioned against hearing from the whistleblowers in public session given that the committee has never met with them before, and said that it is important to establish their willingness to appear publicly before deciding the best course of action.Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said that the hearings with the whisteblowers “should be in public session unless there is some compelling reason to the contrary”. McDonald added that she sees no reason to “mark them out exceptionally as being a danger of using or abusing the platform of the committee”.Labour’s Gerald Nash said his “instinct” is that the meeting should take place in private session.Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy questioned whether the committee had even agreed to bring in the whistleblowers, saying: “As far as I am concerned no decison has been made to call in the whistleblower, and I am not necessarily sure that this should fall to the PAC.He echoed the views of Fleming, Nolan, and Nash that it should be “in the first instance in private session”.Meanwhile, Ross has been criticised by Fianna Fáil’s justice spoksperson Niall Collins for his comments this morning. Collins said he had “serious concerns about the approach that certain members of the PAC are taking” towards the gardaí.“Ross expressed surprise and disapproval at the fact that the most senior Garda officer in the country referred to ‘subordinates’ and presented it as evidence that junior Garda ranks are treated as ‘second class citizens’,” he said.“This betrays a worrying lack of understanding and respect for the nature and role of An Garda Siochána.”Poll: Should the garda whistleblowers be brought before the PAC?‘The facts as I know them’: 11 things we learned from Martin Callinan’s evidence to the PAC MEMBERS OF THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are divided on whether or not they should hear evidence from garda whistleblowers in public or private session.Committee members are set to come face-to-face with at least one of the two whistleblowers who have alleged that fixed charge penalty notices have been cancelled corruptly and illegally – claims that were robustly dismissed by the Garda Commissioner yesterday.The allegations are being advanced by a serving garda, Maurice McCabe, an ex-member of the force, John Wilson, both of whom committee chairman John McGu inness has indicated are willing to appear before the PAC.However, it is not clear if they wish to do so in public or private session.Martin Callinan told PAC members yesterday that he intends to take legal advice on whether or not to challenge the appearance of the whistleblowers before the PAC and could go to the High Court in the coming days to get a temporary injunction.But even if the PAC can hear the whistleblowers’ evidence, members are divided on whether it should be in closed or public session.Earlier, independent deputy Shane Ross indicated a desire for the PAC to hear from the whistleblowers and challenge them in public, telling Morning Ireland: “We want to give fair play to everyone, we want it done in public.”But in a tweet this morning, the Labour TD Derek Nolan warned that parliamentary privilege is “too powerful” to allow the whistleblowers to appear publicly until members meet with them first:
Yes (1216) YOU COULD SAVE up to €1,335 if you shopped around for your car insurance.That’s according to a survey by the National Consumer Agency, which looked at quotes from eight different insurers in Ireland, with a quote being obtained for each of eight different driver profiles.There was found to be a difference of up to €1,335 on third-party, fire and theft cover and up to €1,038 on fully comprehensive cover between the lowest and highest quotes for a 20-year-old student from Mayo with a full licence and driving experience of less than one year.Some people prefer to stay with their long-standing insurers, while others like to shop around.So, today we want to know: Do you shop around for your car insurance? No (1341) Poll Results: I will from now on (194) Sometimes (276) YesNoSometimesI will from now onVote
A FIELD OF more than 10,000 adults and children will take part in the Mini, Junior, Mile and 10km Great Ireland Runs at the Phoenix Park this Sunday.Favourite in the men’s 10km race is Kenenisa Bekele, the defending champion and course record holder, triple Olympic gold-medallist and world record holder at 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres.Not too shabby. However, our money is on Minister for Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, who has signed on and, rumour has it, stretching his calf muscles with a steely grimace in the vicinity of the Dáil. ‘Leo’s doing what now?’ Bekele looks worried. (©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)If Minister Varadkar, last seen [sportingly] taking part in Hell and Back trials in February, fails to keep pace with the impressive Bekele, former Leinster rugby player and The Voice talent-spotter Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin can take up the challenge.The midfield battle for supremacy will, no doubt, feature Keith Barry, Matt Cooper, Brian Kennedy and Keith Duffy.Bekele will be strongly challenged by his Ethiopian compatriot and current world 10,000 metre champion Ibrahim Jeilan. Both men are seeking places on their national team for the World Championships in Moscow in August.Elite womenGemma Steel of Great Britain will defend her title against Irish gold medal winning European cross country team member and defending national champion Linda Byrne.Both will be pushed hard by Spanish number one Diana Martin, British Olympian Julia Bleasdale and Italy’s Elana Romagnolo.Two other faces to look out, and cheer, for on the day include Irish Olympic Silver Medallist Sonia O’Sullivan and television host Grainne Seoige.Our money is on the serious-looking chap, Ibrahim Jeilan. (©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)RTE Two television will broadcast the run, sponsored by SPAR Ireland, live in a special programme.Personal late entries for the event will be accepted at Life Style Sports in Blanchardstown on today (until 7 pm) and Saturday, 13 April (10am to 4 pm) subject to availability.Spanish and German heavyweights kept apart in mouth-watering Champions League draw‘No doubt about it, Paul O’Connell is going on the Lions Tour’ – Shane Byrne
THE JURY AT the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar has returned a unanimous verdict of medical misadventure.After two hours and 45 minutes of deliberation, it also accepted the coroner’s nine recommendations, with the foreman stating it “strongly endorses” each and every one after much consideration.The cause of death of the 31-year-old dentist was septic shock, E.coli in the bloodstream and a miscarriage at 17 weeks.In his verdict, Dr McLoughlin expressed his sympathies to Praveen Halappanavar, telling him: “You will always be watched over by the shadow of your beloved Savita.”Earlier, Dr McLoughlin charged the 11-person jury, giving them two options – to return a verdict of medical misadventure or to return a narrative verdict.He noted that a medical misadventure verdict does not infer criminal or liability. It is also not cause of death. Immediately after the verdict was read, the coroner and the legal team for Galway University Hospital clarified that the medical misadventure is not cause of death nor a contributory cause of death.“The verdict of misadventure does not mean that system failure or deficiencies contributed to her death,” explained Dr McLoughlin. They are findings in relation to the management of her treatment.Many of the coroner’s nine recommendations will have implications across the country’s hospitals.Ms Halappanavar’s death has brought the issue of Ireland’s abortion laws back into the global spotlight and making comment on the topic today, Dr McLoughlin said, “It is not for the court to advise the Oireachtas but they may take cognisance of these proceedings.”However, in his first recommendation he described current Medical Council guidelines on abortion as “very brief”.He recommended that the guidelines be enhanced to advise doctors on how they can intervene in relation to terminations when there is a risk to the life of the mother.He said that doctors practising in good faith “should not have to labour under the threat” of sanctions as serious as removal from the medical register or prison.That recommendation was accepted by the jury.Earlier today, Dr McLoughlin heard a submission from Mr Halappanavar’s lawyers and a response from the hospital’s legal team. The jury was not present.On arriving to Galway County Hall, Mr Halappanavar told reporters today marks the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary. This fact was also noted by Mr Gleeson during his application.Savita inquest: Key moments from Galway Coroner’s Court
THE IRELAND U19 women’s team made history yesterday by booking their place in the semi-finals of the European Championships in Norway.Appearing at the competition for the first time, Dave Connell’s team took maximum points from three games by following up victories over Spain and England with a 2-1 win over Sweden.They fell behind to Stina Blackstenius’ opener but McCarthy equalised with a looping header on 21 minutes before Connolly’s brilliant free-kick went in off the crossbar ten minutes from time.Ireland play the Netherlands on Thursday. Source: faiofficial/YouTubeThree wins from three sends Ireland U19s into first ever Euros semi-finalShamrock Rovers book semi-final meeting with Bohs after win over Cork
THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS Minister, Charlie Flanagan, is being criticised after Ireland abstained from a UN Human Rights Council vote on Gaza yesterday.The vote on whether the Commission of Inquiry should be started to investigate Israel’s offensive was backed by 29 other countries.Labour TDs, Michael McCarthy and Derek Nolan, have criticised the decision along with members of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.Attempts were made to contact Minister Flanagan for his reaction to the criticism but no reply has yet been received.‘Shameful Act’McCarthy said he was ”surprised to learn of the Government’s decision not to support an international inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza”. Ireland’s abstention today at the UN human rights council is a disgrace— Michael Mc Carthy (@mmccarthy_mc) July 23, 2014 Source: Michael Mc Carthy/Twitter Ireland was among 17 countries that abstained. The US was the only country to vote against the proposed inquiry.Nolan said, “To condemn Israel is not to condone Hamas, and intermixing the two gives a false impression. It was open to Ireland to propose a separate motion concerning the indefensible actions of Hamas.”Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and Brendan Smith commented:Ireland once had a proud tradition of strong, principled and independent foreign affairs policy. The decision to sit on our hands and abstain from what should have been a very clear position on this UN resolution is a dereliction of this country’s proud history in foreign and humanitarian affairs.While the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams described it as a “shameful act of political cowardice”.The Israeli government is acting with impunity and the EU and the Irish government are failing to stand up to Israeli aggression.The statistics of death and destruction, and in particular the slaughter of women and children, has to be stopped.“The government should move immediately to expel the Israeli ambassador in a clear message of condemnation of the actions of the Israeli government.”Read: Why did Ireland abstain from a UN Human Rights Council vote on Gaza?>
Bethesda Softworks did a great job with the follow-up to Morrowind and the publisher/developer won itself a lot of fans releasing Oblivion across PC and consoles. But talk of a sequel to Oblivion, which would be Elder Scrolls V, was quashed by Todd Howard in 2009 when he said there were no plans to make it.Jump forward to the end of 2010 and rumors are surfacing that Elder Scrolls V is now in advanced development. A source speaking to Eurogamer Denmark (translated) has said he’s seen official game documents while also mentioning “Dragon Lord” and “The Blades” as featuring in the game. Voice actor recording is also thought to be underway.Recording voices means the game is is likely pretty far along in development. Comments made by Howard during Quakecon this year also suggested the game is in an advanced state even though he wouldn’t confirm what the game was:One thing I can say is that from when you first hear about it to when it’s out will be the shortest it’s been for us. It’s pretty far along. When we show it, we want to show a lot, because there’s a lot of game there to play right now. This is one rumor a lot of gamers will be hoping is true as a sequel to Oblivion is almost guaranteed to be hit.Read more at Eurogamer, via 1UP.com
Have you driven all of your friends away with you ping-pong obsession? Good news, Joola has your back. The hourglass-shaped iPong will shoot 100 balls at you, so you can train for that table tennis tournament at work. The black tower features three different kinds of adjustable spins, including underspin, topspin, and heavy topspin. You can also adjust the frequency from easy to advanced. According to the company, this version of the iPong is improved for 2011, though it doesn’t say how. The four pound device will run you about $600. Or you can, pick up an old one for less than $200 over at Amazon…Check out video of the 2011 version in action, after the jump.