Off out for the evening now. Thank you to everyone who read this site over the year and who contributed to posts and left comments and especially thanks to those that made me think in different ways and made me change some of my deep rooted beliefs about some things. Bye bye 2006.
Archive for December, 2006
If only I knew what I was talking about… this is a look back on 2006
Looking back at 2006
Internationally, 2006 for me was the year of YouTube. Easily attachable and watchable video finally happened. The promise from 10 years ago that there was more to the Internet than email and the blink tag became a reality. Bebo also continued to happen and I still don’t think it a bad thing. More on that in a few days…
In Ireland, I think 2006 started to give a voice to the person on the street. Digital Rights Ireland got some more traction and fought the Government in the courts to protect the common man, even if the common man wasn’t sure what data retention was all about. It also spread the word to a breed of people (bloggers and podcasters) that regularly spread the word to others.
Bloggers started to get some attention too via the Blog Awards and a good few follow-up articles through the year and one or two radio slots too. Hopefully this encouraged people to strike out and start their own blog or go out and subscribe to blogs for the first time. It may even have encouraged those that blog to blog more and expand their horizons.
Podcasting got some recognition too and it was great to see the Net Visionary Awards giving a nod to bloggers and podcasters. It is good that people are seeing that home-produced content can stand up to the stuff from the big boys and I think the Tuppenceworth paper round project showed that “respected” publications are a tad on the lazy side.
On the whole original content bit, it was nice to see that the press are paying attention to bloggers even if it is just to rip off their content or pictures. We were at least being read in 2006 (and copied and pasted) It’s a start. The story about the PSNI mySpace profile in the Tribune could only have been sourced from my blog. Cheers guys. Eventually they’ll swallow their pride and start crediting bloggers or else licence our content. Wouldn’t it be nice if they said “Hey we just saw your blog post on subject x, would you be interested in rewriting it for print form?”. It could happen…
Politicians too seem to be listening slightly to bloggers. 2006 saw bloggers in the audience in Questions and Answers and then asked back for hob-knobbing in the green room afterwards with the panelists. The nice part was that Q&A would love to see more people who have constructive and intelligent comments and questions and they see bloggers as fitting that bill or so it seems.
The Blogging the Election conference on a cold Saturday during a busy political week saw three politicians come along and give their experiences of blogging, along with other well known and infamous bloggers talking about the influence of blogs and blogging. The feedback seemed to be good, despite a catering fuckup and freezing cold! There have been a good number of politicians since who have started blogs and some are good while others are just press release archives. They’ll learn eventually I hope.
My own personal highlights had to be the Blog Awards in March and thank you to everyone who helped out with them. BarCamp Ireland was also a hoot and the Blogging the Election conference was superb. Hopefully there’ll be another politics and blogging conference in early 2007. Glad I worked with so many talented people during the year at those events.
What to look forward to in 2007.
Again, these are just my guesses and hopes for 2007. So, we as a group were copied and pasted in 2006. We were used as a fact-checking resource but what we found was taken (sometimes without attribution) and reused in more mainstream publications but mostly without our opinions. Hopefully in 2007, our opinions will also be used. We may see a few bloggers being asked to join the fold in newspapers or on radio. Already the Newstalk Saturday evening preview of the Sunday papers has bloggers on the panel.
The 2007 election may or may not be the defining moment of bloggers driving nationwide debate but I do think that there will be more opportunities for bloggers to say something or find something out and introduce a new perspective into political debate.
The rigourous fact-checking(of some) and lack of deadlines for Irish political bloggers could very well mean that a scandal that that may have slyed away from the public might be brought back into the spotlight by a blogger. Pat Leahy said 2006 was the year that the voters kicked back and perhaps 2007 will be the year that blogs help them kick back more. Harry McGee joined the blogging world in 2006 and maybe more will follow or at least more of his peers might start reading blogs. The questions to ask politicians post seemed to get some very good questions to ask and it would be nice if politicians were made to honestly answer questions like that. Maybe they politicians can be filmed when put on the spot.
Which leads me on to the Votetube project which could be the political tool of the common (broadband enabled) man and woman and could be the central store for incendary political content. Content that could piss off someone so much that they call shenanigans or create some kind of fuss or content that makes someone laugh so much at the clotheless emperor that it gets everyone to stop and notice it too.
I hope to see the new websites for the Indo, Business Post and Tribune pay more attention to blogs, rss, podcasts and video. Hopefully they don’t fuck it all up and charge for these new features. Might be nice if the Examiner got a little more interactive as well.
Lastly, 2007 will probably see me step down from IrelandOffline but not before I get some things done that I wanted to do in 2006. Again with an election year it might be good to have one final charge at making the Government and industry do something to bring about broadband for all. It is at least, worth a try.
Noel Dempsey is very much like an email auto-reply message you get after emailing someone that’s on holiday. This is Noel’s boilerplate in answer to most DÃ¡il questions on broadband and telecoms:
The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation.
That’s the double layered shield that Noel Dempsey uses when ever he is questioned on the Irish Telecoms market. Firstly “It’s not me, it’s the industry” and then after that it’s “Talk to ComReg, not me”. If pushed further Dempsey does like most of his colleagues, grabs facts given to him by his Dept and holds on very tight to them, repeating them again and again. Remember that bit in Peter Pan where you are asked to clap harder and louder to bring tinkerbell back to life? I think the Ministers do that with their soundbites. If they say it just one more time it might come true.
Some of the facts were dealt with in previous posts on this subject by me. We are told about all the broadband companies out there when in actuality the majority of them are resellers of eircom telecoms or broadband. If pushed just a little more on this then the Minister tells people to go off and set up their own wireless community scheme to get providers to them. All well and good but all through 2006 the Minister has told people to apply for Group Broadband Scheme funding when the scheme was closed for new applicants.
Even if you got your application in earlier in the year, there were numerous delays with getting the cash out of the Government, if you got someone to provide broadband to you. Again it is the same old issue. To get someone into your town or village you need them to have backhaul so what you are seeing is that providers are slowly moving from more urban centres to a little more rural areas. The IrelandOffline Irish broadband map shows that there are not blackspots as such but swathes of the country without broadband. The map needs a little updating but is accurate enough.
Over the years and again in 2006 we have seen shared excuses from eircom, ComReg about being 2nd worst in the EU15 for broadband. Noel Dempsey has at one point or another used all of these 7 deadly and sinful broadband excuses:
- Best growth rates in the EU. Stop saying we’re crap.
- Ireland was a late starter.
- Lack of cable competition meant no stimulus for eircom.
- PC Penetraton.
- Telecoms bubble.
- No demand.
- Large rural population/Population Density.
Over time IrelandOffline have proved all of these wrong when given opportunity to do so. It took a while but many now in the press question the excuses given and show them to be wrong. Instead of sorting this crap out Dempsey instead goes on the offensive and attacks IrelandOffline and others for pointing out these facts. Apparently fact-checking and pointing at international comparisons is being negative. Great gamesmanship there. The reality sucks Minister and the reality distortion field around ComReg and the DCMNR are making things worse not better.
The Minister and his Department will get away with this as long as he they are allowed to. So how does the Minister get put under more pressure about this behaviour? I think the Alternative providers need to get their ass in gear and come out hard in a united way. That means they need to stop sniping with each other and it means ALTO needs to get their house in order too.
It also means the consumers and the voters need to put the pressure on the Minister. My own view on how to do that is that everyone should target their local councillors and TDs and put pressure on them and educate them and their handlers so show what the real situation is. Have it trickle up to the cabinet that way.
I think more and more people should write to their local newspapers and radio stations and ask them to cover their dire broadband situations and drag on local councillors to listen to the problems. I also think a central source to show how crap the situation is would be of great use. Lack of demand? How about a register of demand in every constituency?
Broadband really does not seem to be a concern of the Government but then again there is an almost infinite list of issues that the Government seem to have marked as low-priority. 2006 saw nothing new from the Minister and all we actually got was the much anticipated Telecoms bill was delayed until at least 1007. Will it become law before the election?
Crossed wires. Pranking two Garda stations.
Irish Bebo Award – I’ll be launching a small competition for Bebo users soon.
Could they have picked a photo that makes the Pope look more evil? I think not.
Those defending a traditional wholesome Christmas are also the ones exploiting it for financial gain. I’m quite impressed with how they made a fortune playing this one.
FF TD Jimmy Devins suggests banning junk food ads from TV. What is his voting record for the ban on alcohol, just, you know, out of interest?
Via TechCrunch I ordered this documentary “In Search of the Valley”. Looks value for money until they add in 12 dollars for shipping. Would much prefer a digital download. I’m sure though you could learn more about Silicon Valley from a 20 minute conversation with Shel Israel. I certainly did when I chatted to him earlier this year when he was in Cork.
Via Fred Wilson. Real life story about a guy who goes off and raises millions and starts a medica researchcompany to search for a cure for a debilitating disease his kids have.
Marx Brothers humour:
More of it:
Traffic for 2006
According to my stats there were 423,110 page loads and 292,031 visitors for 2006. Play with the stats page if you like.
One final 2006 thanks to Blacknight.ie for surviving the July onslaught from the 10s of 1000s of people wanting to know how to get laid using a search engine and who moved 15gb of data a day from my site during it. Because so many people linked to my site over that get laid post, my overall google ranking went up, thus you can see that even when things calmed down after July, the average page views went up a good deal afterwards. Apparently that post is used as an example of how to get traffic in some blogging classes. Hilarious. Sex sells, as does zipping mickeys.
More here. Congrats to the Limerick Blogger!
I bash ComReg any time I can. To be blunt, my view is that ComReg are a cancer on the Irish Telecoms market. I don’t think it is intentional but at the same time their capacity for constructing grand delusions means they do not believe they have caused great harm to Ireland even when obvious to everyone else. Their level of incompetence and arrogance, to me, is legendary, from causing diplomatic incidents to a director threatening to increase wholesale dialup prices because we pointed out he did not do review flat rate prices yearly when he had the power to do so. (Generally this means prices for flat rate dialup can come down, but this chap said they could go up if we really wanted a review.)
The new commissioner Mike Byrne was in the consumer section of ComReg when they finally defined functional Internet access to be something which should have been 28.8kbps minimum. Trouble is this definition had so many loopholes for eircom that they still don’t have to supply you with a phoneline that can give you 28.8kbps dialup speed to the Internet. “Best Effort” is all through the definition but “Best Effort” is not defined. See if it was above 28.8kbps it would also guarantee your line would pass a line test forb roadband and if it didn’t then eircom would be obliged to replace the line.
Some of the facts about the Irish Telecoms regulator:
- Sanctioned line rental increases 3 times in 12 months so we are now 8 euros a month more expensive than the EU average.
- The Irish telecoms regulator has never fined a telco.
- Sent directives to o2 and Vodafone to allow in resellers, (MVNOs) got taken to court by the mobile giants and before the court case started, withdrew the directives and paid 5Million in legal costs to the mobile giants. Ultimately that money came from the consumer.
- Sent directives to eircom to get LLU working. eircom appealed and ComReg tried to force them to carry out the directives before the appeal started. eircom took them to court (remember this is outside of the appeal) saying they can’t be forced to do something they’re appealing during the appeal. The court agreed. Instead of the appeal continuing, ComReg withdrew the directives saying they will sort it without being forceful. That was nearly two years ago. Nothing has improved.
- Release reports just before close of business, usually on a Thursday or a Friday, (and now a Sunday!) ensuring a jurnalist won’t have much time to sort through the spin and uncover the real facts. The spin says that prices are some of the cheapest in Europe, the facts buried inside say that we are 2nd most expensive for phone bills.
- Issue a report on EU prices and slip Switzerland into a graph on mobile prices to make Ireland look like it isn’t the most expensive. I think an EU referendum is needed to allow Switzerland to join.
- Issue press releases about me when they should really fix the fucking telecoms market.
So ComReg should win an award for making fiction look like facts. Turning lead into gold. This press release from IrelandOffline is typical of the real facts in a ComReg report. ComReg release saying telecoms prices are below EU prices, the small print reads something like “national calls are below the EU average”. That’s what they mean by telecoms prices. They leave out local calls, they leave out calls to mobiles and they leave out line rental, because naturally what would they have to do with the bottom line on a phone bill?
In 2006 more delusions than ever before were released by ComReg, they jumped to the call of eircom more than ever when they tried to stop a story on telecoms with data I supplied to a paper. I’m not quite sure where in their charter interference with the press is but they did this anyway.
In 2006 they were partly to blame for Smart falling to pieces due to a crap and highly expensive LLU system which they signed off on and a telecoms market with prices so high it was hard to compete unless you resold eircom crap. Isolde Goggin resigned as chairperson and quit ComReg completely just before her successor was named. I think this is a bad sign for 2007. As in earlier posts I expect a status quo from ComReg while eircom run riot. The current ComReg is beyond salvation but they’re a most convenient shield for Noel Dempsey. Until there is career-ending pressure on him, ComReg will be left live.
Some Christmas song covers. We’re still enjoying Christmas, right?
Send your name to Mars. Seems you can have your name put on a DVD that gets stuck on some Mars lander or something. That’s right folks, put someones name down on the hitlist for when the alien overlords come a-visiting.
Episcopal parishes in Virginia plan to place themselves under the leadership of the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria … who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant.
Radiohead live during their OK Computer tour (I think).