Feb 172009
 
Irish Blog awards longlistThe finalists of the Irish Blog Awards have been announced!

Unfortunately neither this blog nor the SOHO Solo West Cork blog made the cut — but I can’t say I’m surprised. The shortlisted blogs are superb, and I’ve been neglecting mine a bit of late. I was plenty stoked just to make it to the long-list :-).

Anyway, this is just a quick post to congratulate all those who made it through, and to wish them all the very best on Saturday night in Cork.

If you haven’t already, check out the blogs that made the cut… they’re well worth a look.

Jan 232009
 
Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Image by kajvin via Flickr

I was reflecting recently on the Christmas and New Year break.

Over the holidays I took some time off, like lots of people, but as well as taking time off work, I also found myself paying little attention to the various blogs I look after (this one included). Family, friends, children and the like took precedence… which is only right and proper.

So why did I find myself feeling guilty for not blogging?

As I pondered this question I had to ask whether a line been crossed somewhere in my subconscious. When had blogging taken on such a level of gravity in my life. How could I possibly feel even the tiniest twinge of guilt for choosing to spend time with my family instead of posting stuff online?

It’s a fine line… and while it’s obviously important to keep a steady stream of content flowing on the blog(s) there are many, many things in life that are far more important.

Sometimes I look at the flood of posts from prolific Irish bloggers like Damien Mulley, Alexia Golez, and others in my feed reader and despair. Between work, family and other commitments I don’t have time to read all this stuff, let alone write my own.

But then I realised that it doesn’t really matter… not in the grand scheme of things. Different people have different priorities, are at different stages in their lives and are blogging under vastly different circumstances. A missed post here, a sparse week there… so what!

I enjoy writing the blog – that’s why I do it – but feeling guilty for not posting isn’t an acceptable part of the equation.

I purposely didn’t make a new year’s resolution this year… but in hindsight I think I probably will take up a belated one: I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT BLOGGING!

In 2009 I’ll post here and elsewhere when I can, when I want to and as time allows… without any guilt, remorse or regret for failing to maintaining a punishing posting schedule.

What about you?

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Jan 102009
 
Internet Addict
Image by husin.sani via Flickr

Always on internet should come with a Government Health Warning.

No, seriously, it should!

I’m sitting here at daft o’ clock in the morning writing this blog post wondering where the time went to.

My wife is away for a couple of nights, the kids went to bed almost eight hours ago and are sound asleep, and I should be too… but I’m not.

Why? Because we have always on internet, that’s why. I’m not going to call it broadband… because to do so would give it delusions of grandeur, but it is, demonstrably, always on.

And that means I’m always on. On the laptop, on the netbook, on the WiFi enabled mobile.

…must sleep. Kids will wake up early regardless and I won’t be able to cope if I don’t get four or five hours in. Will finish up tomorrow :-)

Rightmorning all!

Woken up at 7:30 by the little one. Don’t even want to reflect on how little sleep I’ve actually had. Looks like I’m running on caffeine today folks!

Now… where was I… oh yes, always on internet.

It’s like heroin… only worse, because while getting your fix online might make you look a bit geeky, it doesn’t have the same stigma attached to it as hard narcotics. At least not yet. But it is addictive, and if it’s suddenly taken away you do go into a kind of withdrawal.

But wait, you cry, while it might be an insidious habit, unlike a drug addiction it won’t lead you down a spiral of deceit and criminal activity to get your next virtual-hit, will it? I’m not so sure. Hands up how many people out there have casually hooked up to a conveniently unsecured wireless network “just to check e-mail”, or a profile page, or twitter or whatever?

It’s a slippery slope.

So, I’m thinking of starting a new group — perhaps on facebook (lol) — welcome to Internet Addicts Anonymous (IAA). To kick things off, I’ll go first:

My name is Calvin Jones and I’m a always-on-internet-oholic.

Admitting it is the hardest part — go on, try it for yourself in the comments below, it’s cathartic. I feel better already :-).

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Dec 152008
 

Google reader recommendations

This is what greeted me when I logged into my Google Reader account this morning.

Now, quite where Google got the idea that I’d be the remotest bit interested in vegan food I really can’t imagine. The concept of veganism is complete anathema to me. I’m a carnivore through and through – even took the pet ferrets after rabbits recently in the hope of securing some fresh wild meat for the pot (with no luck, unfortunately, but will try again soon).

It’s pretty hard to think of anything that would interest me less than a blog touting purely vegan fare.

I’m thinking that perhaps Google’s recommendation algorithm could do with a bit of fine tuning here and there….

Oct 252008
 

Had to write a quick post to announce the launch of a unique new wedding date site for couples in Ireland. I have an interest in wedding sites, mainly because we run our own photo wedding invitation business, and naturally we keep an eye on what’s happening online in the weddings space. (NB. I know our site is in dire need of a facelift – it’s on the To-do list).

Last week saw the launch of an exciting new website on the Irish wedding scene: Weddingdates.ie opened its virtual doors on Friday (24/10), and offers a unique facility that helps engaged couples in Ireland to select their ideal wedding venue.

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Simply enter your preferred wedding date and the county you want to get married in and Weddingdates.ie will return a list of venues in that county with reception availability on your date. It’s simple… and priceless. No more trudging through the golden pages and ringing around laboriously to come up with a shortlist of wedding reception venues who can accommodate you: Weddingdates.ie does it all for you.

This is very different to the swathe of run of the mill “Wedding directory” sites that simply list service providers. This is an indispensible tool for engaged couples.

When you’re planning a wedding anything that can reduce the time, effort and, lets face it, the stress involved is certain to be a huge boon. And that’s exactly what Weddingdates.ie offers.

If you’re getting married, or know someone else who is, why not head on over and take a look. If you’re a hotel manager, and your hotel isn’t featured, you might want to remedy that pronto!

The site is the brainchild of Ciara Crossan, who I had the pleasure of meeting briefly at a SOHO Solo / Cork Open Coffee joint meeting a few months back. Congratulations Ciara on a great concept, a great looking site and something that I’m sure will make life easier for countless Irish couples over the coming months and years.

Oct 072008
 

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Louder Voice knocks the socks off other peer review sites in terms of usability, design and its community-centric features. Another example of an Irish tech-company delivering a product / service that’s truly world class.

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And the newly launched Louder Voice for Business offers similar reviews functionality for your business website… which is excellent news for businesses who “get” the shift towards conversational marketing and online consumer engagement.

What is the Tuesday Push

I figured it was finally time for me to engage with this Tuesday Push malarkey (… I, know, I know… better late than never is probably going to be carved on my tombstone).

According to Damien Mulley, orchestrator of the “push”:

The Tuesday Push is a way for the small but growing tech community in Ireland to make some noise about ourselves by picking a good example of an Irish Tech Company and highlighting their product(s) every second Tuesday.

Louder Voice – reviews the way they were meant to be

The worthy recipient of this week’s “push” is LouderVoice (LV) – a great peer review site that makes reviewing products, services and anything else you can think of intuitive, easy and convenient.

You can post reviews via a variety of media: directly on the LouderVoice website, via SMS (so you don’t even need an internet connection – delighted or otherwise with that restaurant? Post a review while it’s fresh in your mind), through micro-blogging services like Twitter, you can even post reviews to your own blog and LV will pick them up from your RSS feed.

Cross-posting of reviews can work the other way around too (I think, although I haven’t done this yet): you post to LV via the web, SMS, Twitter or wherever, and LV will publish the review to your blog… which is a great way to keep things fresh and varied.

One of the best things about LV is the vibrant community of reviewers who contribute, which means that there’s plenty of conversation on everything from the best value wine to the latest tech gadgets to the most popular TV show and everything in between. It’s a community that’s growing all the time as word spreads and LV gains momentum, and as a consumer the benefits of exchanging information, ideas and opinions is obvious and compelling.

Reviews and your business….

But there’s another aspect to this conversation and interaction that’s often overlooked (and the reason I featured LV, complete with screenshot, as a great example of a review site in the Social Media chapter of “Understanding Digital Marketing”). This is a conversation you can participate in, yes, but as a business it’s also a conversation you can learn from.

Listen to people, find out what they’re talking about, what they like and don’t like. Even if they’re not talking about your product or services directly there’s a wealth of information and intelligence there that can help you to serve your customers better.

Of course, one of the best ways a business can use reviews in order to gauge consumer sentiment is to integrate review functionality into their own website – and if you want to explore the possibilities the all-new LV for business offers a suite of review services that are ideally suited to the purpose.

Anyway – the best way to find out more about LV is to start using it – so off you go and start reviewing – I’m looking forward to reading what you think.

NB. If you want your company to be considered for the Tuesday push you can submit your details online.

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Aug 132008
 

Thanks to Walter at Sxoop for highlighting this priceless flow chart of chit chat with a web designer via Twitter.

small_talk.gif (GIF Image, 742×914 pixels) - Scaled (69%)

 

Sums it up nicely really. I’m a writer, not a designer, but as soon as anyone finds out I do some website stuff… or I’m in any way involved in internet related work, this is almost invariably the way the conversation pans out!

Does this resonate with anyone else out there?

Jul 212008
 

Published in the WOW! supplement of the Evening Echo

One of the iMax cinemas at Futuroscope (Photo from Wikipedia) Do you ever curse the day the internet was invented?

The other day I found myself doing just that: damning the US paranoia of Soviet supremacy that led to the birth of DARPA… which spawned ARPANet, which in turn led to a global computer network that evolved into the internet we know and love (mostly) today.

The reason for my discontent? I was standing in a queue outside Futuroscope, waiting patiently to pay for the privilege of experiencing my idea of hell on earth. Why? Because the children had seen the website before we left home and thought it looked “cool”. When, by sheer coincidence, we ended up staying in accommodation nearby, that was it, my fate was sealed.

For those of you unfamiliar with Futuroscope, it is a theme park in central France, not far from Poitier, which boasts myriad attractions based largely around 3D immersive cinematography. That is to say that, unlike most other theme parks I’ve been to, most of the rides here are not actually rides at all. It tends to go something like this. you sit down in a seat and watch a film playing on a very big screen. Sometimes the seats throw you around in time with the on-screen action, sometimes you have to wear silly goggles, but basically it’s cinema… and generally bad cinema at that.

Continue reading »

Jul 032008
 

Published in the Wow! supplement of The Evening Echo

image Technology does a lot of things to make our lives easier. Every day we use our mobile phones, our computers, ATMs, credit card machines, POS systems (or computerised “tills” to you and me) digital television systems that automatically record the programmes we like… without tapes. The list goes on and on and on, and everything is talking to everything else over myriad global communications networks.

(image by Homer Township Public Library)

If you think about it for too long your brain starts to sizzle gently in your cranium… but that’s okay, because you tend not to. Most of us aren’t that interested in how it all works… we’re just happy that it does, because all of this digital wizardry makes our our lives just a little bit easier, allowing us to squeeze more into our busy lives. There are times though, when technology makes life harder, and that can be especially true for parents.

Why? Because technology is everywhere and our children are often better at using it, and embrace it more readily than we do. Mobile phones and the internet are obvious examples… while many parents struggle to understand them, to the children of today they’ve become practically second nature. That’s worrying on lots of levels – but mostly because it means we’re incapable of keeping up with them… let alone keeping track of them.

Continue reading »

Jun 172008
 

This week’s Career Moves is a bit interwebby, so I’ve posted it over on Digital Marketing Success instead of here.

It’s the first in a series of articles I’m doing for the Evening Echo on using the internet for market research when setting up/growing a small business.