Archive for February, 2010

Data junkies

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Earlier I asked a quick question on Twitter, how many tabs did people currently have open in their browser. At the end of a day I might have up to 70 tabs open but I expected that to be a big exception since I do almost daily Fluffy Links and those tabs are the raw material. I expected maybe 5-6 tabs to be the average of people. The numbers are extraordinary.

The numbers:
7, 9, 7, 9, 60, 25, 8, 39, 64, 5, 4 (on phone), 1, 2, 2, 17, 10, 8, 1, 40, 30, 19, 12, 1 (phone), 147, 46, 7, 11, 14, 15 (phone), 1 (phone), 3, 12, 2, 5, 13, 11, 12, 12, 17, 115, 11, 5, 17, 13, 10, 6

A hell of a lot of double digits and even some triple digits there.

Twitter users are no doubt data junkies so these numbers are probably much higher than general web users. A question to ask though is with all these tabs open it’s even harder again to get the attention of someone. They click a link to your website, it opens in a new tab, they glance for a few seconds and then go elsewhere. At the end of the day do they come back and go through the site or just close the tab? From my own experience, my time online is spent with my head dug into GMail, Twitter, Bloglines and Facebook. Twitter and Bloglines are the sources of the tab openings.

So I wonder whether it’s obvious SEO is vital for most people but whether to get the attention of the 150,000 data junkie Irish Twitter users whether you need to do more to get their attention when they only have continuous partial attention.

Squirrel begging
Photo owned by sparkle1103 (cc)

Fluffy Links – Friday February 12th 2010

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Last few judges needed now for the Blog Awards 2010.

Interesting to see media interest around Toyota and how it went from a bit, to a good deal to stratosphere. Some are wondering is there too much focus.

Another fine post from WhatClinic who keep sharing their experiences. This one on bounce rates.

Cybercom are hiring. Media Innovation Director.

Wonders. Bespoke knitting where you can pick the granny. iPhones and sausages and more.

Jonsi’s new music video is just lovely.

Nick Carr sticks it to the Information Wants to be Free lot. That means me!

CIVIL CIVIC – Less Unless, again as heard on Jim Carroll’s show.

The €4 Million Govt website that you never heard of

Friday, February 12th, 2010

In a single sentence: 4M quid spent, no stats on usage.

The Irish Times today has a story on Mobhaile, which was a website created so county councils and community groups could have an online presence. My first interaction with the site was via blogs that it hosted for a time. I was reminded of it a few years ago by a fellow blogger and then saw mention of it last year too, so in December 2009 I did an FOI about it after reading Dáil transcripts pointing out at least 2M was spent on it. In turned out to be 4 Million.


The expenses for this system are below. Was it a success? Well they spent 4 million quid and then shut it down and how did they measure success? Well they didn’t know the number of visitors or logged in users as they never enabled logging of this information. That’s right, the most basic form of measurement of a website was shut off.

And the excuse:

“To put in Webtrends licences on each of those sites was an expense that we couldn’t have borne,” he said.

Which kind of conflicts with:

He added that the project saved a significant amount of money by moving to open-source software during its development.

Where are the log files? These are records under FOI. No records I was told. It’s perverse that with 4M quid of taxpayer money being spent, money on stats is deemed too expensive.

A huge issue here for me is where was the oversight? 4 Million quid, boom times or not (great excuse that), this is a serious amount of money. That would fund a huge amount of startups that could build something that lasts more than 3 years. Also, despite the site being shut down, hosting is still happening and being billed for?

All this information was required via FOI. Here are the released docs as PDF Attachments 1, 2, 3. OCRd Word docs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Please do go through them and share your thoughts.

Expenditure: Mobhaile
LA Claims paid out-eChampions/elnclusion 629,129
Travel & Subsistence 25,318
Training & Conferences 19,908
Advertising 17,079
Development Costs 1,482,092
Computing Costs 1,275,878

Accommodation Costs 48,426
Administration Costs 11,298
Salaries 431,418
Hosting 2006 58,661
Hosting 2007 ¦ 75,119
Hosting 2008 86,940
Hosting 2009 70,583
Hosting for 4 years: 291,302
Grand Total: 4,231,848

I asked for stats:

Details of the usage of the system from launch including number of logged in users, number of accounts/websites/subsites created and website statistics (unique visitors, pageloads) yearly from inception to the present.

And got back:
Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with that information as the web-trending software wasn’t configured to provide statistics on Mobhaile sites

“Web-trending software not configured” is a bit different to: “To put in Webtrends licences on each of those sites was an expense that we couldn’t have borne”

I asked a technology bloke about the hosting and he said:

It’s all hosted by the LGCSB, who for some reason have their own AS number (which they do not need, but gives them 7000 IP addresses that I doubt are being used :P). This is pretty darn expensive, since they end up having to peer with higher ISPs (they seem to be peering with C&W as a level 2 provider, which would not be cheap at all)

Here’s a Silicon Republic interview with Ray Rochford about it. Dial down the sensitivity of your bullshit meter.

Here’s where some of the money went.

Read through all the docs and see how this project changed numerous times. More costs. What I find amazingly interesting is the final document that was sent on, to me, reads like it’s explaining how 4 Million can be spent on something that’s now shut down and somehow was ahead of its time and opened the gate for iPhone and other buzzwords:

Finally, would the Mobhaile project be initiated again, if funds permitted? Yes, but in a different fashion. The toolsets available now for Communities are far easier to source, understand and maintain that they were even 3 years ago. The evolution of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and OpenID are three main areas of work that the Mobhaile team developed solutions for transitive Identity across all community sites and the idea of single sign on. In the current web2.0 environment where many of the toolsets provided by Mobhaile are now available for free (albeit with Advertising attached in some instances), I believe that there still is a role of co-ordination, training, understanding the different toolsets and harnessing the power of the internet for those who are less well off in the internet economy .The role (for someone) to help those less well off (in different terms) to learn, understand and harness the power of the internet-there still is a role to bring the disenfranchised in – or maybe to carry the franchise to them.

This is the copy of Mobhaile.

Mobhaile, mo problems.

Update: Six years ago people were questioning this whole project.

Fluffy Links – Wednesday February 10th 2010

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Good luck to Seán Fee on his next adventure.

In a Ben Dunne accent: Frank Prendergast does webdesign in Cork for THE INTERNET. Frank’s new website is really damned nice. Have a look.

Play games? want your thoughts. Survey here. It’ll take shorter than lining up that headshot. (Is that what it’s called? Had to ask Google for a cool gamer phrase.)

Can you shoot, edit and then screen a feature-length movie in 72 hours? Obama says Yes you can. So do these folks from the 72 Hour Movie. See it at the Galway Film Fleadh this July.

George Lee fallout DAY2! A supporter is disappointed by you George Flee.

Email productivity help.

Computer Juice, as heard on Jim Carroll’s show.

Fluffy Links – Tuesday February 9th 2010

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Win the book: Country Cooking of Ireland over on Foodfight.

Good take on the Fine Gael lack of reaction to George Flee.

Foursquare special offer in Jurys Cork.

So I’m speaking at the Media 2020 conference in April. It’ll be a quick piece about gadgets. Perfect excuse to buy an iPad so. Delighted to be part of a great lineup too.

Still time to book the Facebook for Business session in Irish Computer Society tomorrow.

via RM – Beau

Fluffy Links – Monday February 8th 2010

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The 2010 Blog Awards would like you to be a judge. Apply now.

Great site. Does what it says. Photowalk.

Congrats to Peter Tanham for entering the world of working for yourself.

This seems like the month of online crisis comms. Vodafone and Toyota this week.

Conor on shows you how to easily cancel o2 mobile broadband.

Startup corner.

Evernote on their pricing models. Love their attitude to free.

Nice idea about startup product ideas. Build fast, sell in volume.

Using Facebook to start your startup.

via John Blackbourn – Aliens rap. Amazing work went into this.

Google’s Tiger Woods Supwerbowl ad:

Mia Doi Todd – Open Your Heart

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Found via Facebook. Michel Gondry does a music video that could easily have been a Sony Bravia ad

Digital Festival Discount

Friday, February 5th, 2010

If you’ve not booked your ticket to the Digital Festival that’s on in Dublin on February 24th then perhaps this discount that they sent on might entice you.

The discount code is BFSDMULL which brings the ticket price down to €275+VAT @ 21%. So that’s 100 euros off. I’ll be availing of that myself. Some people I greatly respect and admire will be speaking.

UCC Lecture: “Risk Intelligence” – How expert gamblers can teach us all to make better decisions”

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Test your risk intelligence.

Got this via a press release:

As the current financial crisis demonstrates, many people are bad at thinking about risk. Expert gamblers, however, seem to be an exception. They are less prone to the cognitive biases that affect most of us and as a result, they can think about risk more clearly.

In the next lecture of the 2010 College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) Public Lecture Series at UCC, Dr Dylan Evans will present his initial findings from recent interviews conducted with expert gamblers and outline some ways for thinking more wisely about risky choices.

The lecture titled: “Risk Intelligence” – How expert gamblers can teach us all to make better decisions” will be delivered on Wednesday, February 10th at 8pm in Boole IV Lecture Theatre.

Dr Dylan Evans is Lecturer in Behavioural Science in the School of Medicine at UCC. He is the author of several popular science books, including Emotion: The Science of Sentiment (Oxford University Press, 2001) and Placebo: The Belief Effect (Harper Collins, 2003) and writes regularly for The Guardian. He is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association, and a Member of the British Fulbright Scholars Association.

Fluffy Links – Wednesday February 3rd 2010

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

FuelTweet is Twitter app that allows people to get petrol and diesel prices in their area and send in prices too via Twitter.

Blog Awards. Nominations closing very soon. Some stats: 825 separate sites by 1070 people got nominated so far.

Kids are knocking back even more media into their brains.

Kaiser Family Foundation Study which found that on average America’s 8-18 year olds devote 7hr 38mins a day to media use, up 20% over five years.

This American Life comes to the iPhone. And iPad too of course. Yes please.

Dublin Tweasure Hunt from Jentertainment on Vimeo.