Author Archive

Fluffy Links – Wednesday February 24th

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

New foodie blog Supper Satisfaction. Healthy eating from a guy who’s lost 8 stone so far.

Conor O’Neill is doing a poll on Where do you get *most* of your Irish web-industry business news?

Adrian Weckler on another post for businesses on proper use of email.

Conor also on why Google Earth just for Nexus is a bad idea.

I bet the same happens here. Councils give parking tickets to themselves, sue over nonpayment.

Dear Influential blogger, we’ll give you free broadband if…

Via Mark Hayes is the greatest Irish Music Video, ever. {{{{{ E V E R }}}}}
Crystal Swing – He Drinks Tequila

Miike Snow – Silvia

Fluffy Links – Tuesday 23rd February 2010

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

It’s not just Cork people you see, it’s Munster people who are over-patriotic. Munster – Nothing Else Matters.

Welcome to the blog.

Gerry Adams publicly questioned on his own blog about the absence of the Irish language from the recent historic Agreement at Hillsborough. And a little while later….

Google Streetview is on the way in Ireland. How to get you and your house removed from it.

Lot of biz related links today:

Old article but good. How to conduct meetings, Google style.

Product placements on RTÉ on the way.

Synergy Centre, the business incubator space at the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, is currently accepting applications for free one year intensive business programme. Deadline for applications is 26th February 2010. Apply here.

Not Robocop tech, but Innovator has identified 15 opportunities to develop new services, processes and products in the Civil Security Market. InterTrade backed workshops on this area.

My fav C words. Apart from Cork, chocolate and the usuals.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce members on Twitter.

Heard mention of these on Phantom yest.
Smoke Fairies – Living With Ghosts


Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I gave a talk at the Internet Growth Alliance‘s iGAP event last week. The title of the talk was Junkinomics, spammers and Obamabollox. I’ll expand on the first part of the talk in this post.

In the past few years many businesses didn’t consider what they did as a total act of survival. The Celtic Tiger made most people fat and comfortable (phsyically and mentally) and fed into a fantasty that doing nothing would still guarantee comfort. Yet even during the boom times people were still falling into complete poverty, people were homeless, pretty much lived a daily life of being starved and too many people were in constant survival mode.

Today if you walk around Dublin you’ll encounter junkies, beggars and homeless people every few minutes. They all want your money and there’s strong competition for it. Most people walk past them willfully ignoring them, pretending not to see them, some mightgive something and some will say they have no change. The style of the ask has changed over time, evolving to what works best/what will work for a while. It’s gone from aggressive demanding of money to politely asking for money for a cup of tea and thanking people no matter if they help or not (which makes some people stop and then give money as it ups the guilt perhaps.) I’ve noticed over time too that the “money for a cup of tea” ask has now changed to “money for a hostel”.

Access to the old Harcourt St. railway
Photo owned by Jacobo Tarrío (cc)

Last week at iGap I told the story of a girl who came up to me at the Luas Green stop opposite Stephen’s Green shopping centre asking for money. She told me she wasn’t a junkie and rolled up her sleeves to show me, she told me how her boyfriend had just left her, how she was 2 months pregnant and how she has nowhere to live and asked me to help with money.

A cold cynical analysis of this: She hung around at the richer Luas stop, the first leg in the journey of people to get out of the grime of the city. People almost relieved to get out of dodge and so will be slightly more irrational when handing over money. She started to build trust by showing me she wasn’t a junkie. She triggered emotional reactions by telling me 3 facts that would put me at unease and then gave me the opportunity to try and right some of these. She got a tenner off me.

To be able to get money from people with strong competition, from an audience that’s already jaded, you are going to have to adapt to it and find out what will get and sustain attention. In the right location a sign alone might work and get you small amounts of money (hello Google Adwords) but as the streets fill with more people doing the same, you’re not going to make as much. (Still looking at you Google Adwords) Knowing your audience, knowing what will get them to think and react is becoming more and more important. Do you change your message and go after small amounts in large volumes or do you tell a deeper story to a different audience? Watching what others are doing and seeing does it work is also needed and knowing how to adapt again when your unique message gets copied is also important.

It might be worth it for some companies to volunteer time with the “professional” charities who are experts at extracting cash from people even when many of them don’t have a tangible product. What they’ll teach you more than anything is how to understand people. You can donate to the Simon Community here.

Fluffy Links – Monday 22nd February 2010

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Donal is on the Afternoon Show today at 4pm. Watch if you can!

Movies by Moonlight in Blackrock Castle.

Bertie Ahern, true crime.

RTE Documentary on One now available as iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app. (Warning iTunes link)

Highly interesting. Realtime measurement of users on your site and what it means.

Via Slashdot. Jimmy Wales on innovation: Fail faster.

Leo Burdock‘s are on Twitter now.

Amzing links to rock and roll debuts on TV.

Hello Kitty, the musical/show. Crikey.

This fell into my inbox the other day, edited news reels about the Catholic Church’s sustained child abuse campaign:

Oh and this is apparently post number 4006 on the blog. Wow.

Government swallows little green pills for their Willie dysfunction problem

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Any excuse for a title like that. Loving the fact that Twitter are calling it #williegate and/or #willygate

See ya Willie.

Don’t forget to get your commemorative Willie tache. Willie O’Dea, tache.

Fluffy Links – Thursday 18th of February 2010

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Given this is Lent I’m hoping TUG will give up being cynical for it. Or even a percentage. Ah no, maybe next year 🙂

Crowdfunding an Irish book. Declan needs a few hundred people to commit to buying his book and then he can pubish it. Interesting way of getting it out.

New blog. Dublin Chamber of Commerce’s President, Peter Brennan, is blogging his year in office.

Most popular Facebook Pages in Ireland.

Speaking of which, load of jobs available in Facebook Dublin.

Radio DNS. Perhaps another future of radio using the Internet.

The Wisdom 2.0 conference looks quite interesting.

Wolfmother – Joker and the thief (Recycled rock)

Fluffy Links – Wednesday February 17th 2010

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Been an insane week so apologies for lack of posts here. A few quick links.

What should you as a webdesigner charge? James has some thoughts.

I’m apparently picking fights with people at the Digital Landscapes Conference on March 3rd. I guess they have me in for the big brother entertainment factor while others are taking the thing seriously and giving good proper insights to business.

One of the (I’m told by DMI) very view Google Analytics trainers is in Dublin next week to do two days of training in association with the Digital Marketing Institute. Details here.

Is this your password you see before you? Phew.

How to overcome creative block.

Safe haven for journos and content creators in Iceland? Interesting concept at least.

Guns n’ roses – The Garden

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.