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The Machine: A computer science education podcast

The Machine: A computer science education podcast

By Rob O'Connor
Faculty and students from Waterford Institute of Technology explore a wide range of topics related to computing and technology. Hosted by Rob O'Connor.

All opinions are personal and do not represent Institutional views.
Currently playing episode

Ep 25: Online Learning: The Student Perspective

The Machine: A computer science education podcast

Ep 30: Christmas Recommendations
Ho ho ho! Five of the regular podcast hosts from WIT got together to record a joint episode recommending some books, TV programmes, films, podcasts and tech that you (or a loved one) might enjoy over the Christmas period. Features Jenny O’Connor from The Nerve, Bruce Wardrop from Win Win, Niamh Maguire from Engendering Change, Tom Grinsell from WIT Talks Student Life and Rob O’Connor of The Machine. A very Happy Christmas to all our listeners. Recommendation Notes: Bruce Wardrop (Book) Atomic Habits – James Clear (Podcast) Real Science of Sport (Podcast) Where Is George Gibney? Niamh Maguire (Book) Girl Woman Other – Bernadine Evaristo (TV Show) - Rita Tom Grinsell (Documentary) The Wolfpack Insider [Tour de France 2020] (TV Show) Queen’s Gambit Jenny O’Connor (Book) Actress – Anne Enright (Film) God’s Own Country (Film) Only You Rob O’Connor (Film) The Midnight Sky (Tech) Nintendo Switch Extra Notes: Desert Island Discs, Bernadine Evaristo Desert Island Discs, Anne Enright
December 16, 2020
Ep 29: Developer Stories: Rocketship Park Games w/ Shane McCafferty
"LOVE: A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories" is the recent release from Canadian studio RocketShip Park Games. Rob spoke with their chief games designer and programmer Shane McCafferty (originally from Slieverue, Co. Kilkenny) about how he got into games development and the processes that led to LOVE. Shane talks about the emotional motivation behind the game, collaborating with other artists (both visual and musical) as well as detailing one of the tech used in creating the game. The podcast also includes some snippets of the music used in the game, written and performed by Waterford musician Neil White.  LOVE - A Puzzle Box Filled with Stories is available on Steam 
December 4, 2020
Ep 28: SEE Space Network
Quantum communication! Cybersecurity! Controlling tractors from space! Rob spoke with Mark White (Head of Research WIT) and Niall Smith (Head of Research CIT) about the newly formed SEE (Society, Economy, Environment) Space Network, Ireland's first space region as academics in Cork and Waterford join forces to forge links with the European Space Agency. Can Ireland have a positive impact on space research? These folks certainly think so! For more information visit
November 20, 2020
Ep 27: A Beginner's Guide To Cybersecurity
We have three IT security and forensics experts in the virtual studio for this episode! Rob knows next to nothing about cybersecurity so was able to honestly ask questions like "what is a denial of service attack?' and "how does encryption work?." Thankfully Judy Kelly (Security Architect with Red Hat), Jimmy McGibney and John Sheppard (both Lecturers from WIT) were on hand to provide the answers. It also includes some practical hints and tips on how you can best protect your personal data and devices. If you're searching for a starting place to understand computer security, look no further ...
November 13, 2020
Ep 26: Developer Stories: COVIDTracker App
The COVIDTracker app, developed by NearForm in Tramore Co. Waterford has become the basis for exposure notification apps across the globe. In this episode, Rob O'Connor speaks with Conor O'Neill, Chief Product Officer with NearForm about the history of the company, how the HSE first approached NearForm, how the app works and the technologies used to create it as well as addressing some of the criticisms of the app. Conor also explains the philosophy behind Open Source software and how this app exemplifies public private partnership. This is the first in our new series Developer Stories which will run periodically across the academic year where we learn HOW computing products are created and distributed. For more details on NearForm and their upcoming DECODED series of webinars, visit For more information on WIT, please visit
November 6, 2020
Ep 25: Online Learning: The Student Perspective
A companion piece to our last episode, this time Rob is speaking with two computing students - Sinead O'Neill (2nd year Computer Forensics & Security) and Dimitri Saradakis (3rd Year Applied Computing) - about their views on the online teaching and learning situation we find ourselves in.
October 12, 2020
Ep 24: Online Learning: The Lecturer Perspective
Rob O'Connor discusses the new academic year with Colm Dunphy and Siobhan Drohan and the shift from on-campus to remote teaching and learning. They discuss some things they enjoy and dislike, some tools they find useful and outline other observations and tips.
October 9, 2020
Ep 23: COVID-19 Treatment Research at WIT
Following on from our previous episode, here's a discussion about two more Covid19 projects that are being actively worked on during the lockdown by researchers from TSSG at WIT. Rob chats with Director of Research at TSSG Sasitharan Balasubramaniam along with Dixon Vimalajeewa and Bruna Fonesca to discuss "Treating Lung Tissue Damage due to COVID-19" and "Molecular Communication modelling of COVID-19 in the Respiratory System", projects that are collaborations with the PMBRC research group at WIT, Teagasc, the University of Tampere (Finland) and Rochester Institute of Technology (USA). The conversation goes off on a bit of a tangent about data sets, molecular computing, remote working and some other subjects. Please excuse the glitchy sound quality in places - obviously, due to the Covid19 lockdown this podcast was recorded remotely.
May 19, 2020
Ep 22: Technology vs COVID-19 from WIT Research
Applying their expertise in information communications technology (ICT), researchers from TSSG at WIT are working to develop both short as well as long term solutions for COVID-19. Rob O'Connor spoke with Frances Cleary and Stepan Ivanov of TSSG to discuss some of their projects including 1) ensuring social distancing though wearables 2) blockchain based certification of public health policies 3) clinical data as a service software platform and 4) contact quotas to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Details on these projects (and more) can be found on and Please excuse the sound quality in places. This podcast was recorded remotely over low-bandwidth internet connections.
May 1, 2020
Ep 21: Research at WIT
Mark White (VP for Research & Innovation) and Kathryn Kiely (Industry Services Manager) spoke with Rob about research activities at WIT. What kind of work goes on? How important is it to the Institute? What does it mean for students? What does it mean for SMEs? Recorded remotely during the Covid19 lockdown.
April 17, 2020
Ep 20: Danny O'Dwyer (NoClip)
Rob and podcast regular Colm Dunphy sat down with former student Danny O'Dwyer, now well known across d'internet for the documentaries he's created at NoClip and his work in the world of video games journalism. They discuss Danny's journey from student to web developer to games journalist to media entrepreneur. Danny was in WIT to chat with current students about the game dev industry and then facilitated a seminar for faculty about crafting digital stories. Thanks to the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning ( for funding this seminar.  You can find all of Danny's documentaries at 
February 7, 2020
Ep 19: Alternative Nativity Play
As a special Christmas treat, we present a radio nativity play which was produced by computing students from WIT back in 2012, made in conjunction with Beat 102-103. It was shortlisted for a number of radio awards at the time and always raises a smile from Rob when he listens. It's a fairly irreverent retelling of the famous story, so if you're easily offended please switch off now.  The bulk of the work was carried out by four students (in 2012!) who are now all working away with their own careers. We won't name names, but everyone involved should be proud of this work. It's mighty craic, as long as you don't take it too seriously. You might also recognise a few other familiar voices in there if you're an avid radio listener in Ireland. Hope you enjoy and a wishing all our listeners a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
December 23, 2019
Ep 18: FAQ on Computing at WIT
WIT has an Open Day coming up for prospective students. We thought it'd be a good to publish a podcast answering some of the frequently asked questions we're regularly asked about computing courses at WIT. We gathered a collection of Course Leaders from various programmes to have a chat with Rob O'Connor: Mary Lyng [BSc Software Systems Development]; Mairead Meagher [BSc (Hons) Applied Computing]; John Sheppard [BSc (Hons) Computer Forensics & Security]; Sinead O'Riordan [BSc Multimedia Applications Development and BSc (Hons) Creative Computing] and TJ McDonald [BSc Information Technology]. Details about these courses and more information about the Dept. of Computing & Mathematics can be found at 
November 20, 2019
Ep 17: Student Experience of Online Learning
Two students of the HDip in Computer Science at WIT were drafted in to describe their experiences of being a student on a totally online programme. Sarah Barron and Bernard Thompson were very generous and forthcoming with their answers! Also on hand were lecturing staff Eamonn de Leastar and Colm Dunphy to give the experience from a teaching perspective.
November 8, 2019
Ep 16: How The Internet Works
It's hard to imagine life without the Internet. Podcasts wouldn't exist without the infrastructure provided by a collection of interconnect technologies and networks. But how does it all work? Rob chats with networking lecturers Richard Frisby and Amanda Freeman-Gater to break it all down and explain the relevant protocols and standards that allow all internet services to operate. Follow The Machine @machine_podcast on Twitter or Facebook.
October 11, 2019
Ep 15: Teaching Kids To Code
As it's #CodeWeek across the EU, we thought we'd record an episode offering advice on starting coding with younger folk (primary and secondary school age children). We spoke about some of our personal experiences working with schools and mentoring with CodeDojo. On the panel were podcast regulars Siobhan Drohan and Brenda Mullally, along with another WIT faculty member Frank Walsh. Our guest was primary school teacher Kate Warren, Deputy Principal of Gaelscoil Port Lairge, who's partnered with Siobhan and Brenda to deliver all sorts of innovative activities based around coding and problem-solving skills. During the podcast, we reference a number of resources which are linked here: Scratch Jr - Scratch -  Sphero - Bee-Bot - Makey Makey -  Hour of Code - Coder Dojo - As always, if you'd like to get in touch you'll find us @machine_podcast on Twitter or on Facebook.
October 4, 2019
Ep 14: Tips On Buying a Computer
We've all gotten questions like "what laptop should I buy?", "any recommendations for a computer?" or "is this a good deal for a PC?" The short answer to all those questions is  "it depends!" Host Rob O'Connor goes through some of the considerations you should make when thinking about buying a new laptop/desktop/computer. The panel go through some of the headline specs of machines and then some other aspects that aren't always apparent to the novice techie.
September 13, 2019
Ep 13: I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now
In what is likely to be the final episode of The Machine for this season, Rob chatted with some outgoing final year undergraduate computing students about their time at WIT: Dimitra Zucharelli, Ciaran Roche and Emma Ní Bhriain. The offered advice they wished they could have heard as first years and discussed some of the technical skills they learned over their four years. They also reflected on the social and personal growth they experienced as students.  Follow The Machine on Twitter @machine_podcast or on Facebook at 
May 17, 2019
Ep 12: Tech News Roundup - Global Tech Workers, Myspace Data Breach and Google Stadia
Rob is joined by Siobhan Drohan and Brenda Mullally to discuss a few tech news stories making headlines this week.  - Canada is becoming a tech hub thanks to President Trump's immigration policies - Myspace loses all user data prior to 2016 - Google announces Stadia, their new cloud gaming platform Follow The Machine on Twitter @machine_podcast or on Facebook at 
March 22, 2019
Ep 11: Women in Tech
Four women chat about how they began their careers in computing & technology. Features Phil Healy (Irish Athlete and postgraduate computing student at WIT), Aisling Furlong (digital media consultant with Glanbia), Mairead Meagher (computing lecturer at WIT) and Judy O'Brien (final year student of Computer Forensics & Security). Hosted by Rob O'Connor.
March 7, 2019
Ep 10: Bluffer's Guide To Artificial Intelligence
Ahead of the AI2 Applied Artificial Intelligence ( conference taking place in Kilkenny this week, Rob sat down with Glen Collins (Conference Director) and Susan Gallagher (Engineers Ireland) to chat about some of the main technical issues surrounding AI in 2019. What is Machine Learning? How computationally intensive is it? Will AI take all our jobs? (No!)
February 27, 2019
Ep 9: Technology Enhanced Learning
How can technology assist in the learning experience? How have these systems evolved over the years? What kind of access opportunities to education can they provide? A very interesting discussion on this episode of the podcast between Laura Widger and Pete Windle of the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning (CTEL) at WIT, Emma Fahey a 3rd year computing student and our host, Rob O’Connor.
February 15, 2019
Ep 8: Evolution of Mobile App Development
How did we get here from there? Rob O'Connor is joined by podcast regulars Siobhan Drohan and Eamonn De Leastar  along with Jason Blood and Padraig Howlin of Distilled (DoneDeal, and to discuss how developing apps for mobile has changed from the early 2000s up to the present day. WAP and J2ME, evolving to iOS and Android platforms, eventually getting to the newer languages such as Swift and Kotlin and their associated toolsets. The panel also discuss the as-yet-unrealised goal of cross-platform development. Finally, Rob gets some cooking analogies in there too ...
February 1, 2019
Ep 7: Tech Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future
We have a festive themed episode today! Rob is joined by Mairead Meagher, Siobhan Drohan, Brenda Mullally and Colm Dunphy to reminisce about tech gifts from years gone by, make some recommendations for tech gift for this Christmas and even predict some trends for the future. Ho Ho Ho!
December 7, 2018
Ep. 6: Efficiency
This podcast is all about efficiency! The panel (Mairead Meagher, Siobhan Drohan, Peter Carew and Rob O'Connor) discuss the concept of efficiency, how it relates to computing and writing elegant algorithms. This is also the longest episode of The Machine so far, so they weren't very efficient with their chat in the studio ...
November 30, 2018
Ep 5a: BONUS! HDip in Computer Science/ICT Skills
A special bonus edition of The Machine! Colm Dunphy, Eamonn de Leastar, Joan Mangan and Rob O'Connor discuss the part-time HDip in Computer Science/ICT Skills currently on offer at WIT. This follows on from the previous episode in which the panel discussed how adult learners can approach IT. You can learn more about the HDip on offer at
November 16, 2018
Ep 5: Approaching IT as an Adult Learner
Eamonn de Leastar and Colm Dunphy join Rob for this podcast episode in which they discuss how someone might get into ICT from another industry. They discuss what skills an individual could bring from another industry into IT, whether programming is the only game in town (it's not!) and the importance of "soft" skills.
November 16, 2018
Ep 4: Beginner's Guide To Web Development
Eamonn de Leastar and Brenda Mullally join Rob on this episode of the podcast to discuss Web Development. They contrast the difference between the Web and the Internet, then look at static sites built using HTML/CSS before moving onto Content Management Systems. Finally they introduce the world of Scripting (Client Side and Server Side) and discuss Web Apps. They also give advice on how to start dabbling with some web development.
November 9, 2018
Ep 3: Data & Big Data
Everything you wanted to know about Data but were afraid to ask! Rob is joined by Brenda Mullally and Siobhan Drohan for a chat about Data. What is it? How is stored? What's Big Data and what does it mean for you? They also explore some ethical dilemmas. So this episode includes maths, programming, science, ethics and philosophy!
October 25, 2018
Ep 2: Advice On How To Start Coding
Following on from the last podcast in which the panel attempted to describe what programming is, this time the same group (Siobhan Drohan, Eamon De Leastar, Mairead Meagher and Rob O’Connor) talk about how a complete beginner can dip their toe in the world of coding. During the discussion, they mention a number of (mostly) free tools that you can find at the links below, presented in the order in which they appear (we think!): (Hour of Code) - Processing - The Coding Train - Free Coding Camp - Stack Overflow - Sphereo Mini - Coder Dojo - Scratch - Glitch - W3 Schools - Eclipse -
October 12, 2018
Ep 1: What Is Computer Programming?
In our first episode, Rob O’Connor chats with Mairead Meagher, Siobhan Drohan and Eamonn de Leastar about Computer Programming. They approach it from the perspective of an absolute beginner, looking at algorithms, languages, tools and eventually DevOps. The conversation also wanders into the gender divide in computing.
October 1, 2018
Ep 0: Trailer
A trailer for the new podcast 'The Machine' in which lecturers and students from Waterford Institute of Technology will discuss issues surrounding computing and technology.
September 27, 2018