Archive for January, 2008

● Fluffy Links – Tuesday January 29th 2008

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008


This is cool. Seán made a nice plugin for WordPress that makes images zoom in and out when you click on them in blog posts.

Staying nerdy. SoggyJazzbiscuit made an nice plugin that allows you to find creative commons photos (mostly they allow free use) on Flickr and provies code so you can embed them on your blog or website.

There’s a rumour going around that there’s a video up somewhere showing which Blogs got listed for Best Popculture Blog. Just thought you’d like to know.

The Limerick Blogger does it again. Now wanting to collaboratively subtitle videos. Great initiative.

Alastair Duncan was in Vegas recently and Jeremiah did a vid with him. Nice philosophy:

1. Listen to customers. Those that don’t are dying, those that won’t will. 2. Listen to yourselves. If what you’re saying isn’t credible, don’t expect consumers to believe it either.

What will we do with all the phoneboxes in Ireland? BT in the UK want rid.

This is why Ryanair has the best PR in Europe.

Inside the Airbus A380. Woah.

How to present like Steve Jobs. God knows techies need to learn better presentation skills.

Tom Petty – Free Falling:

Last dance with Mary Jane.

Pixies – Where is my mind?

Book week: Interview with Twenty Major

Monday, January 28th, 2008

The past 18 months have seen some very interesting things happen in terms of blogging. More and more blogs are being discovered and created and a lot of existing bloggers are upping their game and producing some fantastic stuff. Another very interesting thing to happen was that many bloggers started getting book deals. How about that? Already one blogger, the Bitter Pill had a book out for Christmas and we have the likes of Fiona from The Waiting Game, Grandad from Headrambles, Twenty Major and Kieran Murphy from Ice Cream Ireland getting deals. In the next few months we should see all their books come out. Twenty’s book is right around the corner.

As part of the build-up to the blog Awards, Fiona, Grandad, Twenty and Kieran have agreed to be on a panel to discuss their blogging and their book writing. It should be happening the afternoon of the Awards in Dublin City Centre. More details about this to follow. Really for my own curiosity and maybe it will also interest you, I did interviews via email with all of them. I only needed to strongarm them a little bit for them to agree. The kittens as a result will go unharmed. The first interview is with Twenty:

How long has the Twenty Majorfa blog been going now? Why did you decide to blog? You obviously have a lot to say, is it good to use the blog to unwind? Is it therapy?

It began in September 2004. As for why I started – good question. Almost impossible to answer as well. I just had an idea for the character and took it from there. There was no great plan or anything.

I think the blog does give me an opportunity to say things you might not normally be able to. I suppose it can be therapeutic in some ways although I’d never considered that before. It’s certainly cheaper than going to see a regular therapist – so perhaps the mentally ill should be forced to blog or we put them back behind 50 asylum walls and zap their brains with electricity. On live TV.

One blog post a day (at least), 5 days a week. It’s a tough thing to do. I don’t think I know many bloggers they are as dedicated. Why all this dedication?

Why not? I suppose many people blog for themselves and keep a fairly random schedule but I think part of the appeal, initially at least, was that people knew there’d be a new post every day so they’d come back and check. It’s something I still really enjoy so it’s not a burden (although there are days when it’s more difficult than others). Plus I suppose you have a responsibility to your readers too. If the blog is a success then they’ve played a bit part in that so it’s important not to slack off or lose sight of that.

Where does this inspiration come from?

That is the million dollar question and I don’t have any real answer. It just sort of spews out of my brain and through my fingers. I’d hate to try and find out more though. I remember once reading a short story by Isaac Asimov (I think it was him anyway) about some bloke who tried to discover why jokes were funny or what was the funniest joke ever, or something. He managed it but in the end nothing was ever funny again. Therefore if I find out where the crap all comes from I’ll never have any ideas ever again. Possibly. You can see how dangerous it might be to try though.

You’ve done extremely well at the Blog Awards the past two years. Were you surprised at how well received your blog is? Do you find there’s more pressure now with the awards, the book deal and a great deal of attention every single day?

It definitely was a surprise, yeah. I never thought it would be as widely well-received as it has been, nor was it my intention when I started to write a “popular” blog. I was just writing what I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it. I have a good laugh writing it and thankfully people enjoy the writing and the content. The wide range of people (in terms of age group, interests etc) that like it is the biggest surprise though.

With regards to pressure I suppose there is a bit because it feels like there are standards to maintain but maybe that’s a good thing. If you get complacent with anything, whether it’s a blog or work or feeding your cat, that thing will suffer. Especially the cat. The book was a different kind of pressure though.

Twenty Major isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. That’s rare, even in blogging. Is there something wrong with the world and us Irish when we are glossing over things and being too flightfully nice?

Well, you don’t mind complaining, do you? But I think it’s a very Irish thing not to cause a fuss, which is a shame when there’s so much to give out about. I think we’re getting better though, people seem more prepared not to just blindly accept things. I think the introduction of broadband helped. There was so much to complain about and so many people to do it that it just seems to have caught on a bit now. It’s the new craze that all the kids are into. Yeah.

What blogs does Twenty Major read? It’s a given that I’m first on the list, but what about the others?

My blogroll is a good indication of the blogs I read. I read as many other Irish blogs as I can as well. I do find I get a bit lazy though as I have so many in my RSS reader it could take up even more of my life so I tend not to add things for ages – then I realise a site I used to look at once a week is one I look at every day so I add it to the list.

I do hate being asked to single any out though. There are so many I’d feel like I was betraying the ones I didn’t mention.

Beardy people like yourself, John Waters and Richard Delevan seem to wind up the public a lot. Do you think it’s the beard that gets to people or is there some other factor?

Are you suggesting having a beard makes somebody more of a cunt? You could be onto something there. I saw a picture of Ronan Keating with a beard and it’s definitely made him more of a cunt.

On to the book. Well done on the book deal. How did that come about?

Thank you. Basically Hodder contacted me because they wanted to do a book about blogging. After some emailing we arranged a meeting, had a discussion about the book they wanted to do then I pitched them an idea about writing a book based on the blog and the characters in it. They asked to me to come back to them with a synopsis and a couple of chapters, which I did, and amazingly they liked it. They then offered me the two book deal. I said I would think about it. So I thought about it for a few seconds and said ‘yes’.

What’s your regime been like? You seem to have a very short time to get the first book out. How did you juggle that with the blog and with the other things you do?

It was very short and I wish I could tell you I was disciplined and did a bit every day so I wasn’t left with a stack of work at the end. I could tell you that but it would be a lie. I reckon about 50% of the first draft was done in the last month before deadline so that meant writing for 12 hours a day. Lots of coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Thankfully I have a very understanding editor who was a great help during the whole process.

It didn’t get in the way of the blog at all really because it’s usually first thing in the morning or last thing at night when I write it but I did find myself wondering had I used a joke in the book or the blog, or the blog or the book, and it did get a bit confusing at times.

Did you seek out advice from others on putting the book together?

Yep, thankfully I have a good friend who has experience of writing books and their advice was invaluable. I shall follow it more closely for the second book so I don’t end up with loads to do and fuck all time to do it.

Did you find yourself self-censoring things when writing the book or were there times when you thought “holy crap, they’re not going to let this through”?

No, I didn’t censor anything. I thought it was important that it had to be the same Twenty in the book as in the blog. There were things that you can say in a blog that you can’t say in a book however, so there were a few things that had to be changed/modified, but thankfully nothing that detracts from the story in any way.

There were some things that actually got through that I wasn’t expecting though, so kudos to them again. I wonder if they’ve ever published a book with so many swear words.

Your first interview about the books is apparently going to be with Barry Egan. Okay, maybe not but how do you feel about the impending publicity surrounding the book? How much are you involved with marketing it?

Heh, “Barry Egan meets Twenty Major”. Not a chance. At this moment in time I don’t know what exactly is planned in terms of publicity. It’s down to the publishers and the PR company to work that out. They’ll then tell me and I suppose I’ll have to decide what I’m comfortable doing and what I’m not prepared to do at that time.

I can assure you I am not interested in walking naked down Grafton Street with the book cover painted on my arse though. I think most people will be happy to hear that.

You’re one of many now getting book deals. Is this good for bloggers? What advice would you give anyone that wants to write a book, should they start off as a blogger too?

Yes, I think it’s great for bloggers. It’s great for anyone to get a book deal. I don’t know if somebody who wants to write books should necessarily start off as a blogger but what I would say is that blogging allows you to write, publish instantly and gain an audience of people who are reading you because they like what you’re producing.

Not every blogger is going to get a book deal, nowhere near it, but it does give people a platform to showcase their ability and not only that, have instant critiques of what you write (in the comments). There are some very, very talented writers in the Irish blogging scene and I think now that blogging is being taken a bit more seriously ( e.g not being written off as a nerdy pastime anymore) it is a good way for any budding writers to get their stuff out there.

When is the book out?

I think it should be in the shops in the second or third week of February. When I find out the exact publication date I’ll stick it up on the blog

Long List Sneak peak – Best Food and Wine Blog

Monday, January 28th, 2008

The listing is here. Stay tuned to the Awards website to get the full long list on Wednesday.

Praise: John Blackbourn

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I don’t do many of these posts because I’m a difficult person and worse to please but I thought I’d highlight the work of John Blackbourn as I’m quite impressed. I was intro’d via Conor O’Neill to him and had him rebuild Politics In Ireland for me which he did and made a fantastic job of it. I’m really thrilled with it and already have him lined up for the next few iterations. He also built for me and again I’m really chuffed at what he did. He was also the person that redesigned and rebuilt Irish Election and is doing a few more projects for others here in Ireland.

John built the nomination system for the Blog Awards this year and the judging system, that while is unseen is a really nice piece of technology that will make the headaches of assigning judges and counting their points a hell of a lot easier, especially with over 70 judges and 750 blogs to judge over two different rounds.

I’ve also booked John to do work for me on about three other projects I want to do for 2008. The best bit about John is you explain your idea and he’ll do it but also give suggestions that actually improve what you wanted and make it much better. There are lots of good programmers but only a subset have great creative flare but at the same time he’s far from being a prima donna so work gets done. I have found that some brilliant and creative types are a pain in the ass to deal with because they will refuse to do something which they disagree with. John thankfully is not that type. Maybe that’s why he gets so much repeat business.

● Fluffy Links – Monday January 28th 2008

Monday, January 28th, 2008


Jazzbiscuit, nothing to do with arsebiscuits, has made WikiCraic, a web app that shows you the live changes being made to Wikipedia by people from Ireland.

Klara has a new blog. Have a looksee.

Overheard in Cork.

This is a Facebook event for the 2008 Irish Blog Awards, if you wanted to spread the word via that.

I wonder can we break the 1000 comments barrier on this Twenty Major post?

uʍop ǝpısdn sƃuıɥʇ ǝʇıɹʍ ‘unÉŸ llıʇs ʇnq ǝǝɹƃǝp ɐ oʇ É¥sıplıɥɔ

Fun with record sleeves.

The Dáil ministers’ blog takes down Brian “Leno” Lenihan.

The most disruptive changes come from the high end of the low end.

Via Sinéad, Killer Vaginas

via Metafilter: Slo mo Skater vid with stuff blowing up

Wanted: WordPress plugin to search for and insert Creative Commons pics

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

I’ll pay too.

Maybe it’s out there already but I’d like a wordpress plugin for this blog that will allow me to to search using keywords for apt creative commons pics that I can use in blog posts. I’m tiring of my own text-only blog posts, there’s nothing like a picture to brighten things up but it’s a pain to find licence free pics.

So it would:
Bring me back a few photo options.
I’d pick the one I want.
It would then upload it, trim it (perhaps) and stick it into the blog post and give attribution.

Anyone know of such a plugin. Or want to make one?

Edit: Jazz Biscuit made this.

Which allowed me to do this after searching for “Dublin”:
Taken by: ralmonline

Skype Slapped

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Nice dig at Skype by outgoing eBay CEO Meg Whitman

Skype is doing more business as a four-year-old than eBay, Yahoo, or even Google did. We saw potential synergies between Skype and eBay. The next year or so will prove out if we were right. We’ve only had our management team in there for three months. Prior to that we had the founders, who are brave individuals, but were motivated by the earn-out.

Ah sure, there’s always Joost.

● Fluffy Links – Friday January 25th 2008

Friday, January 25th, 2008


Update: The links to the Examiner articles I dug at this morning stopped working so I’ve now linked to the versions in the Examiner archive.

Free badges.

Via Una The Vast Picture Show. The blog of Paul Lynch who is the film reviewer for the Turbine.

Shame on Rick. His first album purchase was Bruce Willis! Mine was Guns N’Roses. I just know someone has Mr. Blobby though.

Julian is talking about a European Wine Blogger event. Nice.

Kieran is talking about the rising costs of ingredients for his business and whether they should go organic.

Via Mick: Jesus light switch.

This is one to watch. A restaurant review in a paper ends up with them getting done for libel. Appeal happening now.

Corrections Department x2
The Examiner did a baseless frontpage story about facebook costing Ireland 700Million quid in lost productivity. Think about the amount of people in a workplace that read the Examiner every day. Look at all that downtime. Ban the thing! Update: Old link is now dead, how odd.

The Examiner seems to think Google is now spinning off companies such as the DNA analysis company 23 and Me. Wake up gobsheens, 23 and Me has a Google founder as an investor and his missus as the owner. Not. A. Spinoff. (Old broken link)

Cutlery on the top of your pen.

Mitt Romney likes black people. Foshnizzle. Gowl.

Sons & Daughters – Gilt Complex

Not this Sons and Daughters:

Helvetica is on Google Video (not for long I would guess)

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Helevetica, the documentary about a typeface is on Google Video right now. Go and load it up and watch. If you are into that sort of thing. It’s worth buying the genuine DVD by the way.

ComReg Report says VDSL not going to happen, kinda suggests ComReg is to blame

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Gowls. (Word of the week in case you wondered.)

So ComReg paid a lot of cash for a report on subloop unbundling in Dublin and it paints a dire picture for the future of broadband in Ireland. The idea of subloop unbundling is that instead of having equipment in an exchange, the equipment is in those tiny cabinets in the estate or in the basement of an apartment complex and VDSL which is like higher speed DSL will then bring you broadband on your copper lines. It’s like bringing fibre closer to the home but not completely there.

From page 6:

The largest costs faced by OAOs in deploying SLU are the charges for line rental, co-location at the street cabinet and the backhaul link to the MDF. In all three cases, it seems unlikely that competition will provide lower prices than those available from eircom. Therefore, the possibility of obtaining a fair price from eircom for these services will be important if OAOs are to be encouraged to deploy SLU.

On balance, therefore, we believe that an OAO can construct a positive business case for SLU in
the Dublin area, but only under the following conditions:
– there are significant reductions in the costs of SLU
– OAOs are optimistic regarding the incremental revenue from SLU over LLU
– OAOs only deploy to large cabinets (over 300 lines), and possibly medium-sized ones
(150–299 lines).

Remember line rental for LLU is 14.67 a month. Ripoff expensive. Then there’s paying to get to those small cabinets and if eircom doesn’t share em, you might have to build your own. Planning permission nightmares.

Sub Loop Pricing

The report tries to be positive but if you read it yourself you’ll see that they’re actually say NOT A CHANCE.

Still on page 6:

Given that the business case for SLU in the Dublin area is challenging, we believe that the business case will be difficult in other areas of Ireland, where the line density per cabinet is likely to be lower and the backhaul costs greater.

And from page 7, it’s like a list of things that will never ever happen:


Our study shows that OAOs can construct a commercially attractive business case for SLU under certain conditions. To ensure that they would be able to implement this in the future, it is important that any potential future VDSL roll-out by eircom does not have a significantly detrimental impact on competition, and we have the following recommendations:

  • Given ComReg’s responsibility to promote competition, it should now be considering how best to remove potential barriers (including supporting processes) to a successful deployment of SLU.
  • The component prices for SLU should be reviewed, both in absolute terms and relative to LLU.
  • It will be important for there to be a flexible and competitively priced wholesale bitstream product in addition to SLU.
  • Though eircom is planning to offer unbundlers adjacent co-location at its street cabinets, it will be important for OAOs to have access to eircom’s cabinets, since the installation of duplicate cabinets is likely to be uneconomic and/or suffer from other constraints such as local planning. ComReg should consider ensuring that eircom offers co-location space in its street cabinets. Further work should be carried out to establish the magnitude of the cost to eircom of deploying cabinets large enough to accommodate unbundlers’ equipment.
  • It will be important for OAOs to have access to an affordable, fibre-based, backhaul product from eircom as it would uneconomical in most cases for OAOs to replicate this infrastructure. Options for such a product include duct access, dark fibre or Ethernet products.