404 Dublin: Tech Geeks, Coders & Information Over-Loaders

It was a clear day at the Kilmainham Royal Hospital as hundreds of attendees, young and old, descended upon the doors of what was to be one of the biggest networking events in Dublin this year. The clear skies and sun’s shining rays reflect the tone of optimism throughout the day’s events as neither a bored nor sullen face were anywhere to be found.

All attendees are here for a purpose, be it to have their talents noticed as serious budding developers, or to attract those freshly out of college and looking for work to be noticed

The tech-meetup “404 Dublin”, named after the infamous computing error ‘404: file not found’, is an annual tech meetup for representatives of companies all over Dublin, who work to show off their best to prospective employees looking for long-term working positions.

Companies such as the Irish branch of IBM software, networking and website builders Accenture, LifeRay and of course Irish-born gaming developers ‘Demonware’ were all in attendance here to attract the best and brightest possible and shine among their competitors.

One of the flagship attractions of the tech-meetup was IBM’s presentation of the ‘Hackable City’, a remote-control 3D-printed landscape modelled after the Lunar base of the 1986 film ‘Aliens’ by Ridley Scott. The hackable city’s main purpose is to train in new employees to IBM headquarters to understand how to practice defending a series of network coding from potential hackers who will regularly change their patterns of attack.

The small landscape sports several buildings, a tower, small satellite dish, missile launch-pad and active train with two available parallel tracks.

Each of the buildings possesses a series of lights which can be hacked into to change their colour scheme through coding; the launch pad can be sent into a rotating frenzy as can the satellite dish and the model train can be derailed onto the adjacent track.

Essentially, hackers with the right knowledge of coding can affect a feature of the landscape and test the alertness of the defending hackers by forcing them to find the code which changed everything and fix it. If they so desired, the attacking party may even change a few of the model’s features at once and throw the defending team into a chaotic situation very quickly.

Maria Hyland, the presenter of the model explains that trainees are taught how to both defend and hack into the system. The Hackable City initially began as a concept with which to demonstrate the monitoring capabilities of another IBM product Qradar.

With malware built into it, the system is already filled with bugs; this, however, emulates a real-life threat that hackers would indeed use in real-life.

Maria explained: “The reason we built this was because we wanted a better way to demo to our customers and talk to them about security in a way that they could understand. This is a physical kinetic city that they can interact with and it’s a network; we have a product, called IBM Q-radar that monitors the network and so it allows us to demo the product and ultimately sell the product hopefully! But we also use it for training a lot, training in skills for defending the network.

“We would use it on these simulated training exercises called ‘Red/Blue’; they’re the attack and defence games. We divide them into two teams, the red team being the attacking team and the blue team the defence. They are immersed in a realistic simulated scenario and it would have a lot of the latest threats and malware built-in.

“They swap over, and the idea being, that if you learn more about a hacker and how they operate, the types of tools they use and how they think, well then that puts you in a better place then to defend your network. As the blue team monitor the network, they’re trying to see can they spot what’s happening, maybe they won’t? There’s a lot of noise that goes on in a network but a lot of good stuff as well, so you have to work your way thought the noise to defend the system.

“We only came up with the idea for the Hackable City in 2016. At IBM we have a summer intern program called ‘Straight Blue’ and part of that program would mean taking groups of students and dividing them into groups of four to work on a project over the summer.

“It’s something we would consider an innovative project, and this was one of the projects last year. There’s a real mix of skills, there’s electronics, there’s software development, security, design; so right across the [board] … there’s pretty good experience.”

In the world of artificial design is the Virtual Reality simulation known as ‘DEEP’. ‘DEEP’ is a simulation resembling an underwater environment with fantastical sea-life and plant-life awaiting the player. The sole purpose of the game is to explore, and this is achieved by taking in deep breaths which are monitored by a motion sensor strapped to the player’s waist.

Being virtual reality, the player is required to wear a headset over their eyes, allowing them to completely immerse themselves in the alien environment. The developer of the project, Owen Harris, has been working on the project since 2013 and developed it to help those struggling with their mental health.

“’DEEP’ is a meditative virtual reality experience that you control by breathing. You move through a psychedelic underwater world and as you breathe in you move upwards and when you breathe in you move downwards.

“It’s being used in a number of different ways; some people are using it as a hypnotic trippy experience and some people are using it for an intervention for their anxiety and anger issues. I took inspiration from scuba diving, yoga, and just wanting to create a nice space to hang out in myself,” says DEEP co-developer Owen Harris.

“Stuff responds to you in the game as you explore; the fish will get curious and swim over to look or they’ll swim away from you, also the plant’s bio-luminescence is linked to your breathing. It really is an exploration experience rather than a ‘shoot fish’ one. I myself have anxiety and bouts of depression and … ‘DEEP’ is extremely effective; on a scale of one to ten, if my anxiety is at a seven, then ‘DEEP’ will bring it down to a five.

“It’s going into a special needs school and a mental health clinic next year in the Netherlands. Hopefully one day it’ll be available for people’s homes, but we’ll have a few technical and financial challenges to make that happen such as making it run on mid-range computers and possibly the PlayStation VR.

“There’s a team of behavioural scientists over in the Netherlands who study its effects on teenagers with anxiety, depression and anger. Two papers have been published so far and it’s been researched extensively. We even have a young lady who is doing her PhD on ‘DEEP’, so we’ll learn more as time goes on.”

Aside from these featured attractions, there were, of course, the panels which played host to developers and publishers who gave their advice to the hopeful tech-heads in the audiences looking for the best way to start up their independent small-time companies.

The evening events of 404’s closing ceremony took place in the church of the Royal Hospital, its stained-glass walls radiating the perfect scene of accomplishment for the organisers of the meetup as the setting sun filtered through.

404 was kicked-off by show-stealer ‘Cello Fortress’ an interactive simulation in which four members of the audience were given video game controllers to play the role of four small colour-coded tanks. Their objective in this game was to navigate their way through a labyrinth based on the inner woodwork of a Cello as they were bombarded by the obstacles and enemy units in the game.

What truly made this game a spectacle for all, however, was that the game’s creator, Joost Van Dongen, himself controlled the enemies encountered in the game via the specific melodies he played into his cello, hooked up to a laptop. If he played a soft rhythm, then the crossbow units would fire at the player’s tanks, if Van Dongen played a strong rhythm, then the environment of the level itself could also become a hazard, shaking violently and paralysing the player’s tanks if caught in the targeted vicinity, thus leaving them open to fire from the enemy units.

Four rounds of awestruck players emerged to play this spectacle and explored far into Van Dongen’s constructed levels. His years of professional cello playing and the ability to predict his opponent’s movements proved too much for each of the players who were unable to finish this level.

Speaking to Mr Van Dongen afterwards, he revealed that Cello Fortress has never been released for commercial use as of yet, but has instead been used as his party-trick on worldwide technology and gaming tours. The reaction from the crowds witnessing the game suggested that this is indeed a wonder among even seasoned developers and programmers and had even been nominated for ‘Best Entertainment Game Design’ at Dutch game awards.

The idea of an individual hooking up a classical instrument to a computer to act as a human-controlled level is indeed a novel one. However, it is also one that will likely remain something of a niche to admirers due to the necessity of the player to be able to play the instrument particularly well.

With Van Dongen’s demonstration of this little-known wonder for the audience it was going to be difficult to live up to such a spectacle. However, on par with his performance were techno DJs ‘Live:JS’ who compose their musical stylings with specifically pixelated sounds akin to those found on the early Nintendo Entertainment Consoles.

Both hailing from England, the pair have been composing since 2010 and rather than turn-tables, utilise differing digital equipment to play and remix their music. Sam Wray, for instance, uses Gameboy Advance consoles hooked up to transformer sound systems to produce -bit psychedelic beats. With a projector above displaying clips from children’s cartoons from the 1980s and 1990s to touch their audience with a heavy dose of nostalgia, what better way to accompany a childhood gaming console’s sound effects than a stream of clips to send memories flooding back to the audience?

Since the events of 404, DCU’s Helix played host to the world-renowned Cyber Threat Summit on October 24, which featured a projector interview with none other than Edward Snowden. Further technology events are now on their way to Dublin such as the TAtech Europe gathering in March next year and the Tech Expo Dublin taking place in the RDS in 2019.

Though it was only a single day event, Dublin’s 404 Tech Meetup has indeed left its mark in the Irish technology community, attracting more international IT firms to set up in Ireland with the knowledge that a proposal to start business in Ireland will be met with passion and enthusiasm.

By Henry Phipps

Dude-Fest – Where have all the women gone?

We, as Irish people, love a good festival. Every year we wait patiently for the likes of Electric Picnic or Body & Soul to throw out their ever-expanding lists of who’ll be rocking the fields that summer, before spending the equivalent of a month’s rent on tickets, tents and tins of Carlsberg … a typical cycle which we are well accustomed to. However, have we ever stopped to take a critical look at who exactly is playing our festivals? Well of course not, we’re too busy trying to decide which low-cut vests to buy or whether or not Penneys is the best choice for high-quality wellies.

It’s a sensitive issue and one that has lead to vicious debates on certain online forums, but the notion of a gender gap within music festival line-ups is one that we shouldn’t actively ignore. Are less women being booked to make room for successful male artists? Are festival organisers conscious of this? In order to gauge this accurately, let’s take a look at the line-ups for the past five years of Forbidden Fruit, a popular Dublin music and arts festival which takes place each summer.


After a thorough examination of each year’s line-up, it was concluded that more than 260 male acts were booked for the festival, with only 34 female acts being booked within the same time. Bands and groups comprised of mostly male musicians totalled 19 while two groups which were comprised of mostly female members were booked during the same time period. Groups with a perfect balance of male and female artists came to 14. This shows, as displayed in the graph above, that over 79 percent of acts booked for the festival for the past five years have been solely male while only 10 percent have been female. The question lingers, is this acceptable?

“As someone who has had experience in working at festivals in Ireland, everything from smaller niche festivals to Electric Picnic, I am not shocked by the current stats on the lack of female performers at festivals,” explained Ellen Clarke, a BA Creative Cultural Industries graduate who has bountiful experience in festival production after working on the likes of Electric Picnic.

“In my opinion, even the smaller organisations that label themselves as conscious of these recurring issues are still falling into the trap of inviting more well-known male artists to be part of their events because they feel that it will give them the publicity they need. This is creating a vicious cycle which needs to be broken. I am not someone who believes that there should be a 50/50 split in male/female involvement but the representation of the female side is clearly extremely lacking and this, in my view, is not because the right people aren’t available. It’s more about organisers and management overlooking these people,” said Clarke.

Breaking a cycle such as this one can be a difficult task. Festivals like Forbidden Fruit have been going on for a number of years now, typically run by the same promoters, booking agents, stage managers, etc. What they believe to be the right way of doing things, from booking acts to deciding which style of barriers they’re going to use, will undoubtedly be hard to change. However, we are beginning to see conversation take place surrounding the issue. This can only be positive of course.

Last March, the popular Irish music blogger Nialler9 publicly voiced his concern surrounding the lack of female artists booked for Higher Visions, a electronic music festival which took place on St. Patrick’s Day in Bellurgan Park, Co. Louth. He openly tweeted his annoyance towards the festival promoters which in turn led to an open online debate with popular Dublin DJs such as DJ Deece and Kaily getting involved. Some praised the blogger for raising the issue, while others were quick to defend the new festival claiming that it wasn’t a conscious decision.

Recently a local house DJ, Conor Foley, experienced a similar situation when he reiterated Nialler9’s point in the Four/Four music group, an open forum which focuses on Dublin’s nightclub scene, on Facebook. His post wasn’t warmly welcomed and was received with mixed opinions from commenters.

“From my experience, most promoters are aware of the idea of a gender gap. Some choose to not believe it’s due to anything untoward or in their control such as structural sexism and whether that is due to convenience or not we’ll never know,” explained Foley.

“Promoters do have a tough job booking the right lineup at the right price as is and often the equality of the lineup is understandably left til the last thought. A booker for the Red Bull stage at Life festival told me recently that one year he had the lineup locked in for the full weekend and only realised then that he hadn’t included a single female, which he regretted deeply,” he continued.

A similar study was done in the US by Alanna Vagianos of HuffPost where she looked at the gender gap within American music festivals. To quote her, she believes…

“The root of the disconnect between the number of women on stage and the number of women in the crowd may lie partially in the male-dominated subcultures these festivals were founded out of.”

Should Ireland follow this example of ignoring the problem and pretend that everything’s all good? For the future of our incredible music scene, let’s hope not.

By Conor Shields

RHA Gallery to host Dublin Doc Fest

Dublin Doc Fest will take place on the 11th of November in the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery, Dublin 2.

The short documentary festival, founded by filmmaker Tess Motherway in 2013 uses alternative screening spaces like the National Library of Ireland to showcase the work of filmmakers against iconic Dublin backdrops.

According to Dublin Doc Fest, the festival’s objective is “to create a new platform for short documentary film in Ireland – to give it its own space and context for exhibition – in carefully curated programmes.”

The festival will kick off at 6:00pm and will run until 10:45pm.

The first programme of the documentary will include five short documentaries: Become Invisible (director Edward Costello), Barber Shop Clacton-on-Sea (director Luc Vrydaghs), Se Shin Sa (director Eunhye Hong Kim), The Rock (director Hamid Jafari) and UZU (director Gaspard Kuentz).  

The second programme will begin at 7:50pm and features: (Almost) Freedom (director Puck Lo), Whatever the Weather (director Remo Scherrer), and Different Names for Bullying (director Marco Poggio).

The third programme begins at 8:35pm and includes: The Fourth Kingdom (director Alex Lora-Cercos), Familiar Tale (director Sumie Garcia), Rose Amongst Thorns (director Kris Van den Bulck) and the Sound of Winter (director Tizian Büchi).

The last programme will commence at 10:05pm and includes two short documentaries – All Skate, Everybody Skate (director Nicole Triche) and The Truth About Irish Hip Hop (director Gavin Fitzgerald).

Short documentaries are important for Irish film, and particularly important for emerging filmmakers.

According to Tom Wallis, Marketing and Programming director for Dublin Doc Fest, “Short form documentaries are vitally important for film culture, because this is the genre where a lot of filmmakers hone their craft before getting into feature film production.”

Wallis explained: “Sometimes even experienced filmmakers work in the genre to try out new techniques or to explore pet projects. And yet, there are virtually no commercial outlets for short documentaries, which means few people have access to them. Film festivals like Dublin Doc Fest give these innovative films by emerging talents an audience.”

Tickets are €12 for a student and €15 for a regular ticket and are available on Eventbrite.ie.  A limited number of tickets will also be available to buy at the door.  

By Jenna Cox

Face your fears at Farmaphobia

Looking for one last scare this Bank Holiday weekend? Get yourself down to Ireland’s number one Halloween attraction Farmaphobia before it closes for another year on November 1st.

Based in Causey Farm in Co.Meath, Farmaphobia consists of a number of spooky attractions constructed on a traditional farm. The farmhouse, buildings and fields are all transformed into terrifying experiences for just one month each year.

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The Field of Screams at Farmaphobia

When booking your trip to Farmaphobia you have the option to choose between a scream pass and an X-scream pass. The scream pass price ranges from €18 to €20 and gives you access to three of five haunts. The X-scream pass price ranges between €27 and €32 and allows you to have access to all five haunts the farm has to offer.

Myself and four other reporters for The City visited three of the five haunts on Thursday night and this is how we got on.

The screams from the attractions could be heard from the moment we left the car and entered the farm. Scattered around the grounds were scary decorations and props, such as bonfires, guillotines and even a life sized Georgie from It, complete with his red balloon and severed arm.

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Life size Georgie from Stephen King’s IT

Our scream passes gave us access to three haunts. On arrival we were given a wristband that was marked each time we entered a haunt, ensuring each visitor could only enter once.

Vamporium and Mutation Morgue are set up like your standard haunted house, complete with dark rooms, small spaces to crawl through and terrifying actors who aren’t afraid to get up close and personal. To enter the Mutation Morgue, each visitor is put into a drawer that resembles a morgue refrigerator – an aspect of the experience that I can imagine would not be enjoyable if you’re claustrophobic.

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Morgue trays are not for the claustrophobic

What seemed to be the main attraction that everyone was talking about was the Field of Screams. This was the only attraction that we had to queue up for, meaning it is one of the most popular attractions Farmaphobia has to offer. Serving Stephen King’s Children of the Corn vibes, the Field of Screams is a maze cut into a field of corn that you have to stumble around in the dark in whilst being chased by crazy rednecks and lumberjacks with chainsaws. Be prepared to get dirty as even on a dry night we stumbled out of the field with mud up to our ankles.

The three attractions take roughly an hour to complete, but then you can explore the farm, get some food and take pictures with some of the terrifyingly brilliant decorations. With roughly a ninety minute drive between Dublin’s city centre and Causey Farm, Farmaphobia is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to be truly frightened this Halloween.

You can get your tickets at www.farmaphobia.ie

By Cara Croke

Ten things to do in Dublin for Halloween

In order to get into the spooky spirit, here’s a list of fun and frightening things to do in Dublin this eerily festive season.

1)  Samhain Tours & Tales at the GAA Museum


This family friendly event consists of a scavenger hunt through the grounds of Croke Park, searching for Séamus the Samhain Scarecrow, who guards the elusive Harvest treasure. Following this, visitors will be entertained by the renowned storyteller, Eddie Lenihan. The whole family will be enthralled as Eddie tells the tales of his own childhood Samhain adventures and recalls hurling with the fairy folk. Tickets for adults cost €16, for children €12 and students or OAPs, €14. A family of four ticket is €50.  Each ticket includes a hot Halloween drink for all adult ticket holders, a small gift for all children and late entry to the GAA Museum. This event runs from the 28th October to the 1st November.

2) The Macnas Parade

This is an annual spooky, elaborate, night-time parade, performed by the world-renowned theatre group Macnas. The city is transformed as the group showcase their enormous, creepy floats through the city centre, while actors jump out and walk alongside them in an unnerving manner. The whole event gives off a chilling, demonic vibe, especially as it takes place right after dark, to give it the full effect. This is actually the last event in the Bram Stoker Festival and is a free event, suitable for all ages. It takes place on Monday 30th October at 6pm and the starting point is on Moore Street.

3) Bram Stoker Festival


As we all know, Bram Stoker was the Irish author most famous for writing the novel Dracula. For the past few years during the month of October there has been a festival in honour of the man himself and the creation of vampires. This year is no different, in fact it’s bigger and better than ever. There are tons of events which the Bram Stoker Festival are holding between the 27th and 30th of October, including a screening party of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a screening and live score performance of Vampyr, the Irish horror expo, Al Porter’s camp Dracula, and many more. The festival includes a wide variety of events all held in Dublin, which are not to be missed.

4) The Nightmare Realm


mb nightmare realm 2017 01_preview

The Nightmare Realm is an immersive, haunted house like no other. It plays on your deepest fears and twists them into reality. It’s an extreme, horror filled walkthrough event which has been torturing its victims in Cork since 2009. However, this is its second year in the RDS in Dublin, and this year it’s even more petrifying, grotesque and thrilling than ever before, with three different scare attractions. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and strictly suitable for teenagers and adults only. If you book your tickets online they’re slightly cheaper and range between €16-€21 depending on if you’re a student or adult, or if it’s off-peak or peak time.

5) Movie Nights at the Lighthouse Cinema


The Lighthouse is one of Dublin’s most iconic cinemas with its vibrant presentation and unique programming style. This Halloween season it’s showing a variety of horror flicks, including Carrie and The Shining. The bar in screen makes this cinema experience even more pleasurable, as patrons can enjoy a craft beer, wine or even cocktails while watching a film. If you’ve got an itch for horror, then check out your local cinema to see what seasonal movies they’re showing.

6) Spooktacular Boo at Dublin Zoo

This year, Dublin Zoo are hosting a family friendly event for Halloween, including creepy arts and crafts, spine-chilling keeper talks, spooky face painting, monster music on the Great Lawn, as well as many other festive activities. So bring the youngsters down to Dublin Zoo in the Phoenix Park on October 31st to enjoy all of this spooktacular fun!

7) Halloween mid-term activities at The Ark


The Ark, which is a cultural centre for children based in Temple Bar, has created eight days worth of Halloween-themed workshops and events to keep the kids busy throughout the mid-term break. The first programme kicks off on October the 28th with a ‘Make your own Deadly Dance Track Workshop’, which is a music technology workshop that enables children to become a dance music producer. The Ark’s other workshops and events include ‘The Supernatural Pop-Up Choir Family Workshop’, ‘Dracula’s Disco’ and ‘Spooky Songs and Sounds Workshop’. The programme finishes on November 4th with the beautiful show, ‘Strange Feathers’, which is an engaging, humorous, interactive, non-verbal show specifically designed and created for young children.

8) Enchanted Halloween at Malahide Castle

This Halloween you can experience Malahide Castle like never before. They are holding a spooktacular storytelling and sound experience for all the family. Visitors can interact with some of the oldest paintings and should listen out for creepy surprises as their storyteller shows them around the haunted rooms. No matter your age, all visitors will have a chance to play with the live sounds throughout the interactive exhibitions. This event is running from Friday the 27th October to Tuesday 31st October. Adult tickets are €8 each and child tickets are €10 each. Bookings can be made through their reservation team’s number only, on 018169538.

9) Samhain Festival

The Samhain Festival is a fancy-dress music festival like no other and this year it’s back and better than ever. It will be held in a brand new location, a hangar in Weston Airport, which has never hosted a gig before. The weekend festival is taking place on October 28th and 29th and the lineup this year so far includes Liam Gallagher, to headline Sunday the 29th October, with special guests the Strypes and Touts. The Saturday night welcomes Annie Mac, Eats Everything, Melé and Kelly-Anny Byrne to this spectacular gig. With the location this year being a bit unusual, there will be a dedicated shuttle service available to all concert goers from the city centre. Weekend ticket prices start at €99.50 excluding service charges.

10) DoDublin Ghostbus Tour



This is a chilling and truly entertaining bus tour incomparable to any other you’ve seen before. Passengers enter the bus and explore the sinister maze-like corridors and rooms below leading up to a stark Victorian theatre above, where the show truly begins. Passengers will be enthralled by their storyteller’s compelling tales which may leave you shocked, repulsed or horrified! You’ll stop off at one of the city centre’s creepy hidden graveyards and visit a medieval vault beneath Dublin Castle. You will hear of menacing Dublin surgeon Dr. Clossey, learn all about the art of body snatching, hear about the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s famous character Dracula, and much more. The tour starts at Dublin Bus Headquarters, on Upper O’Connell street, at 8pm Mondays to Thursdays and 7pm and 9:30pm Fridays and Saturdays and costs €28 per person.

By Alison Egan