Sep 252012

Like Irelands Wildlife on FacebookWoohoo! The Ireland’s Wildlife page I manage on Facebook sailed past the 4,000 “likes” mark some time last week, and continues to grow apace. It’s great to see the level of engagement on the page continue to grow, and is a good sign for the overall level of enthusiasm and engagement for wildlife and nature in Ireland.

The website is also growing steadily, and I’m trying to add content as regularly as I can to keep the momentum going. Part of what I’m hoping to achieve with the Ireland’s Wildlife website is to encourage more engagement with and empathy for nature and wildlife in Ireland. It also serves as a handy general interest hub of Irish wildlife content on the web, and offers a jumping off point to some of the great niche wildlife and nature resources out on the web.

I’m in the process of approaching potential advertisers to sponsor / advertise on the site — starting with leading optics manufacturers who have submitted products for review. My goal is to attract advertising that’s useful and relevant to Ireland’s Wildlife readers, connect advertisers with a highly targeted audience with an interest in wildlife and nature and get the site to start paying its way so that I can spend more time developing its content and features.

It’s early days yet… but I’m pretty hopeful that Ireland’s Wildlife has value, and that it will ultimately pay its own way, allowing me to develop it into the outstanding resource I know it can be.

For now though, it’s great to see the numbers continue to grow… and to look forward to a time when I can legitimately go out with a pair of binoculars and call it “work”!

If you don’t already “Like” Ireland’s Wildlife on Facebook, what are you waiting for? And don’t forget to check out the Ireland’s Wildlife website while you’re at it!

Dec 202010

email-at1Email is still an incredibly effective communications medium for small businesses. It’s a crucial part of my own marketing mix for my online writing business, and for many of my small businesses clients. Email marketing still has massive potential to help you grow your business.

New communications channels like social media are phenomenal for building an online community around your brand, and for interacting in real time with the portion of your customers who choose to engage with businesses through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. But how many of your customers really do that?

The answer is more every day, and I certainly wouldn’t discourage any business from looking at the benefits of engaging through social media. But think about this for a minute: out of all your customers and potential customers, how many do you think engage with brands on Facebook every day? Now compare that to the number of your customers who check email on a daily basis. Which number do you think is going to be the bigger of the two?

I don’t have figures handy, but intuition suggest that the number of customers checking their email is likely to be SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER. If you’re looking for the lowest common denominator in Internet Marketing… a medium that will allow you to reach the broadest potential cross section of your target market… e-mail is your man.

Using Outlook for your e-mail marketing? STOP!

One of the biggest email marketing mistakes small businesses make is to try and manage their e mail campaigns using Microsoft Outlook’s “Group Mail” facility. This is fine for sending e-mails to groups of colleagues or friends… but it’s not such a great idea for managing your customer email lists. Here’s why:

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Jul 212010

_DSC0993I’m delighted to report that earlier this week the Ireland’s Wildlife fan page I run on Facebook sailed passed the 1,000 fans (or “likes” to use the new Facebook terminology) milestone and continues to grow.

Even more exciting though is the fact that the level of engagement on the page seems to be increasing dramatically. More people who are interested in Irish nature and wildlife are submitting their photos, links and comments all the time. They’re answering each other’s questions, and establishing their own conversations on the page. Every day it feels less like an online destination and more like an online community, and that’s great to be a part of.

It’s also a reminder that I should plan some time to work on the accompanying website ASAP. It is on the way… honest!

Meanwhile though, if you haven’t seen the Ireland’s Wildlife page on Facebook why not check it out? There are some great posts up there, and it would be wonderful to get your input and insight up there too.

Dec 212009
Windows 7

Image via Wikipedia

Well, I’ve certainly enjoyed my stint with Ubuntu on my Acer Aspire One A150 netbook, but simply got tired of things not quite working properly, and “making do” with a sub-standard linux version of popular software, like Skype and Picasa, for example.

While there’s an awful lot to commend Ubuntu, and I would still heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a free, fully functional operating system, it still doesn’t have the mainstream support that an industry standard operating system like Windows does.

The final straw was when I couldn’t get my Vodafone USB mobile broadband modem working under Ubuntu on the Acer netbook. Mobile broadband, I figured, was pointless if I couldn’t use it with my mobile computer.

So, not without a twinge of regret, I created a bootable Windows 7 USB stick and took the plunge, replacing Ubuntu with the latest offering from Microsoft.

Boy am I glad that I did.

I was a bit worried about performance on the Aspire One’s atom processor with 1GB of Ram, but Windows 7 seems to fly… and everything just works.

Here are the only “issues” I experienced, and they were easily resolved:

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Sep 182009

I don’t often post product offers here… but I got a newsletter full of special offers from Pixmania this morning, and a couple of them were too good not to share!

Portable computing for less

First, they’ve cut the price of the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook, with 1GB RAM and a 160GB hard disk, by 20% to just €239 including VAT.

Inspiron Mini 10v - black

Sounds like a bargain to me!

It’s the perfect “Back to College” netbook for students who wants to travel light, packing a lot of punch in a neat, elegant package. There’s everything a student, office worker… or writer, come to that… could needs for productive working on the go. WiFi, communications and more as standard!


Backup and Storage aplenty

The other offer that really caught my eye was this 2 TB Iomega external hard drive that’s a lot of photos, audio and video… not to mention space to backup your valuable data… all for the remarkable 30% reduced price of €139.


2 TB USB 2.0 External Desktop Hard Drive


You’ll find other great offers on the Pixmania Home Page.

These two stood out for me, which is why I thought I’d share them here… but you’ll have to be quick… the sale ends in 5 days!.

Feb 102009

Yay! This blog, and the SOHO Solo West Cork blog that I look after, have both made it to the Irish Blog Awards longlist.

I’m delighted… although a little curious that I’m in the “journalist” category. I’ve been accused of journalism (very) occasionally, but have never really considered myself a journalist, as such. I write about stuff that interests me… and I’m very lucky that sometimes people pay me ;-)… but you won’t find me actively hunting down the latest scoop, or unearthing some nefarious government scheme.

This post is very much a case of “Better Late than never”. I meant to post about it last week when the longlists were announced, but decided to migrate to a new operating system (I ditched Microsoft Windows Vista in favour of the Kubuntu variant of the Ubuntu Linux Distribution — but more on that in another post) which took more time than anticipated.

So I’m rushing this out just before the shortlists are announced. Whatever happens I’m over the moon to have made the longlist… twice.

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 312008
Father Christmas // Santa Claus // Père Noël
Image by Stéfan via Flickr

Pat Phelan has decided that Christmas isn’t over yet, and is making like Santa, giving away a brand new phone and LCD TV on his blog.

Just head on over and leave a comment on Pat’s post before tomorrow evening to be in with a chance to win. And don’t forget, if you have an old phone knocking around, do some good and donate it to The Jack & Jill Foundation.

Good luck!

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Sep 112007
Published in the Career Moves section of the Evening Echo on 10/09/2007

What do most young people in Ireland want to be when they grow up?

The answer, according to a survey of 1,300 Irish teenagers aged between 13 and 19 for an RTÉ radio show last summer, revealed that a staggering 85% of boys and 80% of girls want to be… famous.

That’s right – famous!

The survey was carried out by researchers for the RTÉ radio show, Fame! It seems that while the government harps on about the knowledge economy, encouraging our bright young talent to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology and other fields, a worrying 56% of boys and 40% of girls surveyed said they would drop out of school for a shot at becoming a celebrity.

Instead of aspiring to become doctors, lawyers, scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, teachers, researchers or a host of other careers, the youth of Ireland (and I suspect much of the developed world) want to become the next Britney Spears, Roy Keane, or even… wait for it… Podge and Rodge! Apparently 35% of Irish teenagers genuinely believe that they’ll be famous when they “grow up”.

While this was only a one off survey, and isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of what Ireland’s youth is really thinking, it nonetheless has disturbing connotations. Somehow the celebrity image peddled by magazines like “Hello”, “OK” and “VIP” has taken root in the collective psyche of today’s youth. It’s an image of glitz, glamour, and easy money – which, for the average teenager, is a heady and compelling mix.

According to the survey half of the teenagers questioned thought being famous would be “fun”, nearly a quarter of them “just wanted to be on television”, 40% saw attaining celebrity status as a way of “proving people wrong”, while 15% believed that becoming famous would make them “more attractive”!

Of course, what teenagers are really looking for is celebrity, not fame. Celebrity is all hype and spin… smoke and mirrors. There’s no real substance to it.

Fame on the other hand, is different. Though often confused with its younger sibling celebrity, fame is a very different animal. Fame is a by-product of remarkable achievement: exceptional acting, outstanding writing, incredible cinematography, moving artistic talent, sporting genius, scientific excellence, a world-changing invention… whatever. Fame is usually born of hard work, talent, dedication and commitment.

Truly famous people don’t tend to set out with a career goal of becoming famous… fame is just a by-product of excelling in their chosen field.

Celebrity, on the other hand, is born on a whim, and has no material substance at all. It has nothing at all to do with talent or accomplishment – it’s more about column inches and air-time. Celebrity is manufactured rather than earned: a recent phenomenon spawned by a media hungry to exploit a public’s insatiable appetite for other people’s lives. Celebrity is about image rather than achievement, perception rather than reality.

Let’s hope that most of our teenage wannabes come to their senses sooner rather than later, and go on to pursue worthwhile careers in the real world rather than chasing shadows. With a bit of luck this unhealthy obsession with celebrity will turn out to be just another teenage fad….

You can see the results of the survey online on the RTÉ website.

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Aug 312007

On a whim earlier this week I rang Vodafone and asked about Mobile Broadband coverage in my area (I’d already tried O2’s offering with no joy).

They informed me that Rosscarbery, just down the road in one direction, had full coverage, while Leap, just down the road in the opposite direction, didn’t. It was, they advised, worth a try. So off I went to Skibbereen to buy my Vodafone HSDPA mobile broadband modem on a 14-day no quibble money-back trial.

Strangely familiar — Vodafone uses exactly the same hardware as O2

When I got home I found a very clear GPRS signal that gave me dialup-like speeds — which although better than the O2 experience, was pretty disappointing. I spent an hour or so wandering the premises, and found that occasionally the signal would change to 3G (weak, but there nonetheless) and speeds would climb slowly to peak at about 200kbit/sec. On a whim I went into the children’s playhouse in the back garden. It has an upstairs, and up there I watched in amazement as the signal changed to HSDPA and my connection speed soared to a very respectable 1Mbit/second. I downloaded the most recent version of in minutes — then went back to my home office (also in the back garden — some 15 metres or so from the playhouse) only to find I was back to dialup speeds again.

I went all over the house and garden — and the only place I could get a broadband signal was upstairs in the girls’ playhouse.

Talk about frustrating!

I rang Vodafone to see if there was any chance of things improving any time soon. They told me that there was absolutely no broadband coverage where I am, nor was there any planned for the near future. Apparently it was an absolute fluke that I got a HSDPA connection at all. So I tried it again, and sure enough, upstairs in the playhouse I get a 1Mbit/sec HSDPA connection most of the time. It’s bizarre!

Anyway, the modem’s going back next week — I can’t adjourn to the kids’ playhouse every time I want to access the internet.

So near… and yet so far….

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