Author Archive get it right

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

So my Blacklisting post got a lot of attention, here’s an example of getting it right when approaching bloggers or anyone really:

Hi Damien,

We viewed a link from for Cava Restaurant to – and just want to say ‘thanks’ for the link – your site is very informative.

Again – many thanks.

Warmest regards,


Imagine if every company thanked someone for a link, just like bloggers do when someone links to them. It says a company is listening, they’re thankful for the link and they don’t try and sell you anything in addition either.

Fluffy Links – Thursday June 12th 2008

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Una lists reasons to Vote Yes today. They’re good. I think we should vote yes too for many reasons including to not let Kiddie Gael ruin it all because of their antics.

Jazz has a bluffers guide to Lisbon.

More again on Lisbon from Alex.

Green Ink reintroduced me to this post on Didl. You musta check it out.

Ben talks about the biggest hype of this year with version 2.0.

Paul interviews Drayton Bird.

Fantastic in-depth interview with Kevin Fox from FriendFeed who previously worked in Google on GMail’s user interface in the area of user experience design.

Another contrarian view of the One Laptop Per Child project and the effectiveness of it.

Caught Lying – Dept of Comms lie to RTE’s Prime Time and more

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

So I did more FOI requests and found yet more interesting stuff. Ironically after mentioning before what one can find on the DCENR website, the Irish Times scooped me to my scoop and have an article about the info in the docs today.

In summary:

  • The DCENR deliberately misled Prime Time about the resources for the National Broadband Scheme for their investigation on Feb 14th.
  • Until Feb 2008 there was no fulltimer in DCENR assigned to the National Broadband Tender.
  • One of the only two people working on it left and was replaced in February by an existing DCENR staffer, all that experience and knowledge is gone.
  • For the tender to actually work from July onwards, there needs to be 3 more staff which it seems have not been hired.
  • If you go through these documents (which cost me around €150 btw, so much for Freedom of Information!) you can see this as a story of a few REALLY GOOD people in the Department of Communications doing their best to actually get something done in regards to broadband and massive stupidity and bureaucracy are getting in the way.

    So Prime Time asked the DCENR about lack of resources for the NBS, this is what the Dept sent to them:
    On page 3 of this pdf:

    Dated 14th Feb 2008

    NBS Steering Committee

    The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is led by a ten person Steering Committee, charied by DCENR’s Asst Secretary, Mr. Peter O’Neill who had overall responsibility for Communications Policy within the Department.

    It yammers on about other stuff about the Committee and makes it out like a lot of people are involved but further down we see that a Dept. official points out two non Department staff ARE the NBS.

    NBS Working Group
    The NBS Working Group (WG) is chaired by Mr. Ken Spratt, Principal, Communications Development Divison, DCENR. The WG also includes Dr. Yvonne McCarthy, Analyst DECNR, and Mr. Eric Tomkins, ComReg. Both Dr. McCarthy and Mr. Tomkins are full-time members of the Working Group.

    The WG is advised by Analysis Mason Group on the technical, economic and commercial aspects

    We now take a jump back in time to when a new guy took over the section and tried to get stuff done:
    Page 5:

    03 August 2006:

    Staffing issues are all tied up in decentralisation programme – in essence we cannot get staff from outside unless they sign up to go to Cavan and there are simply little or no volunteers for that. We are fast approaching major difficulties throughout the department and will be reaising these matters with finance in near future”

    18 months later, has much changed? No.

    Page 16 and Page 17

    Dated January 11th 2008
    1. Various recent developments have given rise to extreme pressure on existing staff within my area. Additionally, new divisional objectives for 2008 will require additional resources. Accordingly, I request (i) the filling of existing vacancies, with suitably competent staff, as soon as possible and (ii) the timely assignment of additional resources to attend to new work items. Requested:
    2 competent AOs and 1 competent EO immediately;
    May 2008 onwards: 1 competent EO, 1 competent CO plus additional resources required to implement any recommendations arising from the Next Generation Broadband Policy Paper.

    Recent Developments
    2. General: The existing bar on recruitment of new resources to the Department gave rise to staffing difficulties during 2007. In order to deliver on commitments, I had to resort to hiring consultants to fill two key AO roles ((i) Digital Hub/National Digital Research Centre and (ii) National Broadband Scheme.) I also had to use a Stagiaire in an EO role.

    5. NBS: Again, due to the existing bar on recruitment of new resources to the Department, I have no civil servant working on the National Broadband Scheme. (this was bolded by him) The work is being done by an AP level Analyst on secondment from ComReg and a former Stagiaire hired as a consultant (the hiring of the Stagiaire has given rise to an FOI request from the PSEU) The Analyst is due to take [REMOVED] in February and has been [REMOVED] she is unlikely to return before [REMOVED] begins. Her absence is requiring significant additional input to the NBS by me. A suitable replacement (with project management and telecoms experience) is required but is not available within the Department. The role will need to be filled as a matter of urgency.

    7. Anticpated developments with the National Broadband scheme
    A contract for the provision on broadband services under the National Broadband Scheme is expected to be signed in June 2008. Once a service provider has been appointed and begins to roll out services, the attention of the NBS section (Analyst on secondment and Consultant) will turn to monitoring the contract. [removed]
    The section will also need to handle matters that are relevant to the Department e.g. NBS customer queries, complaints, reps, PQs, briefing etc

    8. It is likely that the level of work will be quite intensive until such time as the scheme is completely rolled out (July 2008 to December 2009) and then begin to fall off from 2010 onwards. The section will require 1 AP (role will be filled by the Analyst until end 2009) and AO [removed], 1 EO and 1 CO

    On Page 49:

    I summarise below the staff changes which have impacted on my side since the end of 2007 –

    1 Niall bishop, who was working more than half of his time on the NDRC left the Department at the end of 2007 and I have not been assigned a replacement – this post was lost.

    2. Garry Purcell, who was working was the HEO in this area in 2007, was assigned out of this area to the NBS at the end of February 2008.

    3. While Roisin Garland, HEO, was assigned in Garry’s place in early March [REMOVED] and she was re-assigned to PAD in April 2008.

    End of Feb 2008 means after the Prime Time report. So what we have is the Dept telling Prime Time they are very well staffed for NBS when the reality was there were only two people and one of them was gone at the end of Feb and a new resource was only appointed later. That’s not fudging, that’s lying to Prime Time.

Pitching? – How to get blacklisted by me

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

It’s gotten to the stage now where people are pitching things to me a lot and are also asking advice on how to pitch something to journalists. There are loads of things that annoy me when people pitch to me but I let them slide. While I give flack to PR companies for the way they interact with me and others, most get it right and sometimes I almost wish that more companies would hire PR companies instead of trying to manage stuff inhouse when they really have no clue. I like getting pitches and seeing new tech products and services being demoed and am happy to travel to see new things. However some of the basics by some companies and individuals really really annoy me, perhaps those that work as journalists have to grin and bear it as they need to make nice the whole time. Not me. Life is too short to suffer fools. Here’s a list of things that will get you blacklisted by me if you try these on me:

  • Do not send me a twelve paragraph email describing what your business does. If you take 12 paragraphs to explain your product or company, your company is fucked. Don’t annoy me by sending me a fucking essay. I’d rather chat to an obnoxious arrogant jerk that gets to the point (I can identify with that) than someone that buzzes like a fridge and sounds like a detuned radio.
  • Do not deconstruct my feedback pointing out how I’m wrong and I don’t get what you are saying. Clarify things if you want but do not tell me how wrong I am and how I did not get your point. That’s insulting and it’s not an ego thing but if I give good feedback on something it’s because I know what I’m talking about.
  • Do not arrange a meeting with me and waste my time by then talking about what you could do. Tell me what you do and what you will be doing. Do not ask for coverage and spend the time telling me all the stuff that can’t be made public. How about something I can write about now, not next year? I could have been earning money while you talk crap for 45 minutes.
  • Further to that, do not spend the whole time badmouthing your competitors and hardly any time talking about what you have achieved. All that tells me is that you are a loser and your competitors are obviously doing better.
  • Do not ask me to try out your mobile software and assume I’ll install it on a one of a limited list of phones that your software works with. Send me a test phone or go away. Likewise, do not assume I will be running Windows on my desktop or laptop.
  • Do not send me a press release and ask me to review your product based on that press release.
  • Do not assume I live and work in Dublin and when you realise I live in Cork almost demand I come to you. I am not spending up to 200 euros for you to buy me a coffee. Ask me am I interested in meeting the next time I’m in Dublin, do not demand I come and have an audience with you. You’re not royalty. Most people get this right but I have been contacted by people who almost tut I’m based in Cork and then ask “Can you come to Dublin so we can have a chat?”
  • Do not EVER sign me up to your spammy newsletter because we emailed back and forth ONCE when you tried to pimp your product. I will make an effort to have the mostly useless Data Protection Commissioner do you for spamming. Likewise don’t add me to your press release list because I replied to your pitch with “No thanks”.
  • Do not offer me money or a bribe to talk up your product. Do not ask me for a list of bloggers who will write positive things about your service if you pay them. They exist but I’m not going to be the pimp that gets you your whores.
  • IMG_4269
    Photo owned by we must reinvent love (cc)

Johnny Beirne – Management Advisory Gun for Hire

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Instead of recommending Johnny in IM chats and in person when I meet people, I might as well do it here and just point them to this post. There are a load of individuals and startups that are looking to get advice on business in Ireland and Johnny is one of many that can help them out. Have a look at his LinkedIn profile to see his experience. Johnny is also one of the people behind and put together the Leitrim Business Network too. Go chat to him.

Fluffy Links – Tuesday June 10th 2008

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Oh look, the Business Post talks about the plans of the Irish Times. I think I mentioned that a while back.

Alan in Belfast talks about the new Belfast Mayor. Isn’t he a bit like someone from the League of Gentlemen?

Via Joël Céré What makes a good viral ad?

Cava in Galway
, nice Spanish food. Great Tapas. Price is so so, certainly not cheap.

Via Russell Daily Monsters.

Is this guy an honest politician or just a blunt one?

280 Slides. Apple employees build an online version of Keynote, a Powerpoint Competitor. Will they bought back into Apple?

Darth Vader theme on a Ukelele.

A nice new interface for ATMs.

This seems like a fake from Time Trumpet.

Young Fine Gael dress up as Gerry Adams and Mary Lou wearing a Union Jack

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Even though I’m in Berlin I thought you’d like this press release:

Date: Tuesday, June 10 2008
Time: 1.30pm
Location: Merrion Street entrance to Leinster House.

Photo Opp: Two male YFG members wearing lifelike face masks will dress as Mary Lou McDonald (in a Spice Girls Union Jack dress) and Gerry Adams in a Union Jack Tuxedo. They will hold a 6X4 foot sign emblazoned with “No EU = Britain Runs Our Economy”.

Have they totally lost the plot? They are out republicaning the republicans and have decided to dress in drag and demean Mary Lou by equating her with Ginger Spice? Given Fine Gael’s gimp-mask-wearing style cow-towing to Maggie Thatcher and the British Governments all through the few years they were in power, this anti-British sentiment is a bit rich.

It gets just that litte bit better as they start going all anti-Unionist. The proddyGaels will not like this:


SF prefer dependence on Britain to a stronger EU- YFG

35 years of saying “NO” would make Paisley proud

Young Fine Gael (YFG) has called on voters to reject the anti-European messages of Sinn Fein when they cast their votes on the Lisbon Treaty next Thursday.

“Sinn Fein has said they are pro-Europe. When you consider they opposed EEC membership in the first place in 1972, and have made persistent vicious attacks against the EU since then, this claim is completely laughable,” according to YFG President Barry Walsh.

“In 1972, prior to joining the EEC, Ireland’s economy was completely dominated by Britain:

* Interest rates were dictated by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer
o Currency levels were handed to us by the British Government
o Our agriculture sector worked hard to provide the UK market with cheap food
o Our biggest export to Britain was our young people, who worked hard to build up THEIR economy and infrastructure.
o We were the 2nd poorest country in Europe

“Since then however, we have broken free of their stranglehold:

o 1 million jobs have been created
o Our biggest exports, to the Single Market of 500 million people, are now our food and technology products
o €58 billion in funding has flowed into Ireland from the EU budget
o We are now the 2nd richest country in Europe.

“So it is clear that if the Irish people had listened to Sinn Fein in 1972, or at any referendum since then, we would still be in the economic doldrums and dependent on Britain. Perhaps this is the plan ‘B’ they are so anxious we vote for.

Cliff Notes via Slide Decks

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Robin Blandford is doing us all a fantastic service. As he reads a book he takes the key points from them and makes them into slide shows for all of us to consume. I’m not a fan of Seth Godin, I think he’s a windbag and loves his own brilliance far too much and that many of his books can be easily compressed into a single blog post. Robin has done this for Meatball Sundae and The Dip. He’s also covered Screw it, let’s do it by Richard Branson and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

second thoughts
Photo owned by twenty_questions (cc)

There are so many books that people recommend one must read if you are into tech, into business, into startups and into politics but it’s pretty damned hard to make the time to read these books while doing everything else. (My current unread stack is about 60) I wonder would it help everyone if we took the books we just read and make slide decks like Robin does. I’m sure the copyright police would get all upset and not realise that the summaries would probably promote sales not harm them. I know I’ll make some summaries once I finish my next books. Web Analytics Demystified and The Design of Everyday Things.

Anyone else want to do Slide Deck Summaries?

Fluffy Links – Monday June 9th 2008

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Take care Tom. Tom Raftery is off in a short few weeks to live in Spain for good. Conor is organising a going away dinner for him on June 17th.

Joe Drumgoole takes more of the PR bullshit from Enterprise Ireland to task.

Seán is back. Welcome back buddy.

Meanwhile John Kennedy joins us.

This has been all about the place but it rocks. Radiohead remixed.

Via Carol: Learning on the Open Social Web.

I think I’ll go order Mr. Amperduke. It’s cheap and guaranteed Irish and all that.

Know More. Nice site dishing the dirt (if there is any) on companies.

Whale Watching West Cork.

R2D2 – Steampunked.

o2 now have a discussion forum for their customers.

Via Allan

Wolf Parade – I’ll Believe in Anything

Sigur Ros’ New Album – Live Stream

Sunday, June 8th, 2008