Archive for March, 2008

Angles and those that can see them

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Security professionals — at least the good ones — see the world differently. They can’t walk into a store without noticing how they might shoplift. They can’t use a computer without wondering about the security vulnerabilities. They can’t vote without trying to figure out how to vote twice. They just can’t help it.

Bruce Schneier in Wired

This is a love letter to Irish entrepreneurs like Pat Phelan, Johnny Beirne and Denis O’Brien (but not in the gay for them kind of way) and to people like Richard Branson. While I know Pat and Johnny well enough and don’t know Denis at all and certainly not like Sarah does I think the way they see the world as well as Mr. Branson is different to most people. O’Brien has shown again and again annnnnd again that he has an eye for opportunities and the vision to make them massive successes. Look at the Digicell empire he’s built when so many thought he could never tame the Caribbean and South American markets. He owns radio stations, taxi firms, football managers and job websites here in Ireland. Branson, well, Branson is into everything and doing very nicely thank you very much.

Orange Phone
Photo owned by hyku (cc)

Then there’s Mr. Phelan, now whether it’s the informal engaging attitude from him or maybe I’ve not met enough Irish business people but Pat is different. You talk to Pat about anything and he can see patterns and shapes in businesses so that he’ll find ways of making money from something that you would never see and I’ve not encountered much of that with Irish business people. From Chef to O2 voodoo doll material to big boss of MaxRoam and someone well regarded in Telecoms 2.0 circles.

And Johnny too, worked his ass off to build DownloadMusic.ie and kept going and pushing with that and along the way coming up with other ideas for other businesses and services and he’s far from finished. Pat and Johnny and the Collisons too! are of the Schneier breed, of the O’Brien breed, of the Branson breed, people that sees angles in things and they make them visible to the rest of us. They’ll never stop being like that, Pat’s busy flying all around the world but he’s already working on other pet projects and I’m sure he’ll do the same for the rest of his life. Johnny is the same with Grapevine and Patrick created an offline version of Wikipedia for the iPhone.

TV Testing Room
Photo owned by The Consumerist (cc)

In Schneier’s article he goes on to talk about a University that’s teaching people to think like a security consultant. It’s not a course on security but the security mindset. Do we have anything close to that in Ireland for business? Not exactly “Think Differently” since Apple fuzzied that one up but some kind of creative business planning classes. Is this why those business book shelves are so chock full of autobiographies as it shows you how others thought? Can this be thought or is it a natural gift that can just be coaxed out of someone and polished?

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Fluffy Links – Monday March 31st 2008

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Buy a tree and watch it grow using Google Maps.

See which Irish Websites are allowing Pornography to be posted to their website.

Books. David is obesssed.

Via Off the Meatrack Guy Kawasaki thinks Pat Kenny rocks. Not a fricking joke.

Which Irish ISPs are fecking with your Bittorrents? I’ve heard eircom are doing it and Irish Broadband but encrypting stops em. Log em.

Punished for paying by cash, this BT customer, solicitor and a granny too takes em to court.

Jazzbiscuit points out DownloadMusic.ie are releasing a USB stick album/compilation. Those who decide what goes on are known to us.

Now Levi’s are making a phone but it won’t fit into the famous watch pocket.

Some nice anti-quackary stuff on Autism.

Seal cub Hunt not ….

MacBook Air Parody with a Dell.

David McSavage threatens rape to shut up heckler at comedy gig

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Just got this from a friend that was at a comedy gig tonight.

It was amusing enough that David McSavage appeared as the closing act on a night that was supposed to be for “up and coming comedians” but, nevertheless, most people inevitably went along with it. Naturally enough, as with most performances, there were one or two people nattering down the back but for Mr. McSavage, this was too much to stand. He drew attention to them from the outset, condemning women for not being able to focus without talking to each other, comparing them to the Borg by all defending each other no matter what, while their boyfriends didn’t want to tell them to shut up lest they “not get their hole”. Fine so. The show continued.

Nevertheless, time and again, he kept coming back to mock the chattering two at the back. Until, finally, one of them left and he said he had wanted to “whack the faggoty fuck with his guitar”. Still, the audience – just about – stayed with him. Finally though, he pointed to the second remaining girl at the back and said that he wanted to “bring the black-haired one up to the stage and bend her over and wallop her over this chair while she struggled”. At this point, Aidan Bishop (brother of Des Bishop), the resident MC of the International, had had just about enough and decided to call time on the whole thing. Initially he sat on the stage to the right of David, but David continued with the insinuation of the above threat until he was told that it was best to end his performance. McSavage cited this as being “uncool” and told Aidan that it was sad “that he couldn’t even set up his own comedy club”, before telling the crowd and Aidan to “go fuck themselves” while walking off.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that it was the funniest thing the audience had seen all night from a lacklustre combination of so-called ‘new talent’, who had all been doing stand-up for at least two years.

Politics.ie won’t be shut down, moving to America as Bertie’s lawyers attack

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

They’ll be back soon so don’t worry. Just been chatting to Dave. servers for Politics.ie being set up in the States now.

In case you missed the action, Bertie’s lawyers got on to Dave Cochrane about his site Politics.ie when a poster on the forum said stuff they didn’t like. Now they are hurt and annoyed and all the rest that what was posted was there for 20 hours so not only want the name of the person who made it but a few more people who also responded to the post. Right. They also want an apology. Court order please for the IPs. Apology? Dave says no and is seemingly going to fight them. You’d think the Taoiseach’s lawyers would have enough to be doing what with the 440,000+ other things surrounding Bertie.

Anyway, Dave assures me they’ll be back and annoying legal teams once again but from a new location. This really smacks of a ham fisted way of shutting down the public from talking about Bertie and all the Mahon Tribunal stuff. John has his take on attacks on free speech here.

For Bertie:

How fucking much! Dept of Comms spent €423,938.18 til Nov 2007 on National Broadband Scheme

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

From a parliamentary question.

345. Deputy Damien English Information asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information Zoom the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement;

I removed everything bar the stuff on NBS and Regional Broadband Scheme. This is just on outside consultants.

Aneta Scieplek Advisory Services on NBS Programme 21,750.22
Arthur Cox Legal Advice in relation to the Regional broadband Programme 192,696.56
ESRI NBS Mapping Consultancy 15,247.50
Mazars Financial re GBS Scheme 46,391.90
Masons NBS Technical advice 147,672

Audi Godfather Ad

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Via Paul Dervan

This actor was in the original too. But not as the same person.

Shakes fist at dodgy dollar

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Because I had to buy more books on Amazon which I probably won’t read.

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After.
Of Human Bondage
Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace
Creativity at Work
Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh
79 Short Essays on Design
The Ghost Map

Tommy Broughan – behind the music

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

The secret history of Labour’s Tommy Broughan. Gold.

Patrick and John Collison on Late Late Show tonight

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Tune in to see their interview with Pat.

Meanwhile here’s a Q&A I did with Patrick earlier in the week:

So what will you and the other lads be doing with Live Current in Vancouver?
I’ll be overseeing the engineering side of things generally, and working with all of the individual product teams to get design, infrastructure, etc., done right. Harj and Kul will head the development of different products, and oversee the creation of the next batch of successful products for Live Current.

You were mostly based in Silicon Valley though of late worked out of Vancouver too. What are the differences between them in terms of tech culture and culture in general?
Obviously, the biggest difference is that Vancouver can’t even begin to compare with the size of the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem — and this impacts culture in everything from fundraising to hiring. More generally, though, Silicon Valley is very single-minded and growth-driven, whereas Vancouver tech folks seem to take life a bit easier. Perhaps because of that, they tend to have a slightly longer-term vision. Both lifestyles have their attractions.

Is this the end of 23 hour days for Patrick Collison, I really can’t see it to be honest.
Judging from things so far, I think any answer other than “no” would be some sort of clinical denial.

With your new free time what do you have planned?

I’ve always loved the idea of learning to fly (I was really disappointed to read that the airfield at Coonagh in Limerick is to close). So I’ll hopefully do some of that.

You routed around the “system” in Ireland and went to the States to build Auctomatic. Is it much easier to build a tech company over there even if you are a blow in from Ireland compared to being a native here in Ireland and setting it up?

Without a doubt. You’ve got to be careful here — on hearing this line, people will always say, “but look at successful Irish tech startup X”. Yes, there are successful startups here (and they deserve a lot of credit). But, with that said, I think it’s almost unarguable that it’s easier to build a successful tech company in the US. Things like the huge pool of talent, easy access to funding, chance meetings, and so on, are all mostly absent in Ireland.

People usually dislike this criticism because it seems unpatriotic. I don’t think it is. Nobody (that I know) is saying that Ireland _can’t_ match Silicon Valley — just that we need to do much more. Ireland certainly has its own unique advantages, and addressing some of our shortfalls could make a big difference very quickly.

Teenagers and early twenties entrepreneurs powering all the innovations on the web or that’s what it looks like. Do you think your age and not being tied down is an advantage?

The lack of responsibilities and commitments is certainly a big advantage. I don’t think youth per se makes a huge difference, but anyone who has mortgage payments, kids, etc., will certainly have to think more carefully about risky opportunities — and probably forgo some that might have led to big things.

How many random girls will now start adding you to Facebook, do you think?

I’m still waiting. It’s all just a matter of time… right?

I’m pursuing an action to protect my reputation.

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Damien Mulley -v- Sky Handling Partner Ltd Circuit Court No 855/2008

(I can’t comment further on this and I’ve locked comments too but a lot of you were asking for updates, now you have one.)