Posted on Jul 6, 2010

Free Web Conference in Dublin

If you’re like me, passionate about everything web related but can’t justify spending €100′s on conferences like FOWA or Build then you probably love barcamps as much as I do.

The Dot ConfYou’ll also love the free web technology conference – the dot conf - being hosted by the National College of Ireland on July 22nd. It’s a fantastic opportunity to go and listen to some industry experts and a great way for NCI to promote their new MSc in Web Technologies course.

There is a diverse list of speakers, from journalists, educators, web professionals and technology advocates – all experts in their fields. As well as some “deep dive” sessions (hands-on workshops).

Personally I’m really looking forward to checking out the National E-learning Laboratory, who recently published some pretty interesting data on what Irish people pay attention to when using Facebook.

Conferences like these are a great networking opportunity (especially if you are self employed or “between projects” at the moment). Bring you business cards and wear your hottest geek tshirt, you just never know who you might bump into.

NCI is based in the IFSC – possibly one of the easiest places to get to in Dublin, so there’s no excuse not to attend.

Posted on Jun 24, 2010

6 Basic Tips For Good Website Design

There’s nothing more powerful than asking your users what they think.

With that in mind the Kilkenny Pembroke Hotel are running an iPad competition – for every person that gives them suggestions for their upcoming website redesign they get their name entered into a draw for an iPad and a stay at the hotel. Pretty clever, right?

You’re supposed to come up with 2 suggestions, but seeing as website optimisation and landing pages are of particular interest to me I accidentally ran away with my entry, so much so that Facebook refused to let me post it due to it’s length. Hence it now has a home here.

Some of the suggestions I’ve outlined below can be summarised into the following tips for commercial websites.

6 Basic Tips For Good Website Design

1. Make every call to action as obvious as possible.
2. Don’t give the user too many choices.
3. Never ask for too much information.
4. Don’t have too much text.
5. Remove any visual distractions from the calls to action.
6. Build trust by adding credibility logos.

Pembroke Hotel Website Redesign Suggestions

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Posted on Jun 23, 2010

Location Location Location – Booking Cheap Hotel Deals Online

I enjoyed writing the How To Get The Best Out Of eBay blog post so much that I thought I’d share another way I use the Internet to save myself money. Booking cheap hotel deals.

The last few years I’ve really taken to going on city breaks, especially to London. The problem is it’s really expensive to stay there. I’ve had some pretty bad experiences of staying in hostels and 2 or 3 star hotels in the suburbs, and spent an absolute fortune on these awful little places and then transport costs to get into central London and back.

Lucky for me I discovered the websites Hotwire and Priceline (who will accept your Irish credit card, but their listings are in dollars), and also realised how wonderful the Last Minute dot com secret hotel deals were. These sites offer extremely reduced prices on hotel rooms, except they don’t tell you the name of the hotel you’re booking into, until you have confirmed and paid for your booking. These sites take full payment for your stay at the time of booking – so you can’t change your mind, which is great for the hotel because they are then guaranteed you won’t go cancelling your reservation.

What’s The Catch?

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Posted on Apr 5, 2010

Fianna Failure on Twitter

Twitter is a great place to share and receive information about all sorts of things and each of the users are entitled to control who sees their tweets. This is why you are able to either have a public account or private one. You are also able to block users that you don’t want seeing your tweets. However, this doesn’t work very well with public accounts because all the user has to do is sign out of Twitter and then visit your profile page to read all of your tweets, but I suppose this is pretty inconvenient, even annoying.

fiannafailtwtsRecently Fianna Fáil, who runs a public account (obviously) blocked David the editor of Politics.ie. So, out of spite to Fianna Fáil, I have set up a new twitter account for anyone that has been blocked by them, this account will essentially tweet everything they do, except it will never block anyone, ever. You can follow this new account here.

This works because basically any public account on Twitter is the same as an RSS feed, you can even follow Twitter accounts in a feed reader (which is pretty handy if you don’t use Twitter but are interested in one or two people’s daily mutterings). To follow someone in a feed reader simply find the link to the RSS feed of their Tweets (underneath their followers mosaic) and add this URL to your feed reader the same way you would with a blog.

Now I’m no political analyst and won’t get into how ghastly it is for Fianna Fáil to block any member of the public from viewing their “informative” messages, but let this be a small lesson to them that they’ve absolutely no idea what they’re doing online.

Have you been blocked by Fianna Fail on Twitter? Has any other Irish political party started blocking members of the public online?

Posted on Mar 29, 2010

Irish Blog Awards For The Win

Winner TombstoneI was quite literally speechless on Saturday night when I heard I was a joint winner for Best Technology Blog at the Irish Blog Awards. I grabbed the fantastic Made In Hollywood “winner” tombstone (celebrating the death of blogging of course) as I was happier to prance away with that and let 3 time nominee, first time winner, Pat Phelan take the trophy home – a really well deserved winner. Though admittedly I’m looking forward to my own trophy making its way home.

In the past year my blog has transitioned from being considered a personal blog to a technology blog, but honestly I don’t think I could ever really separate the two. Since a really young age technology has been an integral part of my daily life and this blog has been my outlet for my passion for all things technology related, especially in the last year what with the publication of my blogging research,  subsequent end of my college course on Cyberpsychology and search for related employment.

I’m completely unable to express my passion for technology during my current full time job and if it wasn’t for blogging I imagine that passion might have wavered. I’m extremely thankful for blogging because of this and also because it has brought me to incredible events like the Irish Blog Awards and allowed me meet so many wonderful people, like the gorgeous ladies in the photo below.

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Posted on Mar 3, 2010

How To Get The Best Out Of eBay

eBay has really evolved over the years and has quickly become my favourite place to shop online. It should no longer be considered a place for second hand junk or bidding wars, it’s now a place of true commerce with options to “buy it now” or to even haggle with a seller by “making an offer”.

Instead perhaps consider eBay as a gigantic 24hour outlet mall that’s filled with stores like Schuh, that are just desperate to get rid of last season’s Converse. It’s also populated with independent retailers, that can’t afford the online high street rents but compete with the larger stores like Amazon by offering you brilliant price reductions on new products. Then there are the niche stores/individuals that sell really rare or unique items like the HP battery I got for my 5 year old laptop (€36.99 with free P&P from Hong Kong) or my new Vans with the black soles and purple/black checkered pattern (€45 including P&P from Germany, the same price as the high street but very rare so totally worth it).

However, shopping online isn’t easy. It can be time consuming and frustrating. There are just too many choices, and far too many links to click to get to what you’re really looking for. There are just too many variables involved. So I thought I’d write up a few suggestions on how, as an Irish consumer, you can really utilise eBay.

How To Get The Best Out Of

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Posted on Jan 12, 2010

The Internet: Home of the Insomniacs

I’m surprised the phrase “Couldn’t sleep last night.” has yet to trend on Twitter, it’s certainly a common tweet I see in the mornings during my commute to work. Not only that, flicking back through the wee hours of my stream it’s also pretty common to see “Still can’t get to sleep.” appearing at 3am.

I would argue that if you’re tweeting, you’re certainly not trying to sleep or doing what’s good for your body in preparation for shutting down for a few hours. I myself have suffered some restless nights and made a real effort to combat the problem, rather than accepting it and suffering through more zombie like days in the office.

Turn Off Your Computer 30 Minutes Before Sleep

If you’re suffering from occasional difficulty getting to sleep at night you should consider the effects of using a computer late at night. Studies have shown that the brain remains stimulated after using a computer (or watching television), which in turn makes your sleep restless. The simple act of shutting down the computer 30 minutes before you’re planning on going to sleep can help relax you.

Research has also shown that the bright light of your computer monitor (let’s also not forget that mobile phone screens also produce a bright light) suppresses the production of our sleep hormone melatonin. If you are suffering from an especially bad case of insomnia then try shutting down the computer at least two hours before planning on going to bed.

Though you may enjoy the calming effects of using the computer, your brain on the other hand is thinking “light = daytime”. Staring at your computer screen means keeping yourself alert and wide-awake and returning online to complain about your inability to sleep is simply aggravating the problem.

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Posted on Dec 14, 2009

Playing Top Trumps with Amazon Remembers

Amazon Mobile UK for iPhone was launched recently, similar to Google Goggles on Android phones, there’s a visual search option within this application called Amazon Remembers. Esentially it allows you to take a snapshot of any item and then attempts to match it with a product listed on the Amazon website. Pretty cool, right? I tried it out extensively and it seem to work perfectly with book and DVD covers and is okay with common household items too.

Wanting to push the application to it’s limits (a.k.a break it) I started experimenting with taking photos of people, to see how much everyone was “worth” – thus turning the search into a game of Top Trumps for Faces using Amazon Remembers. Some of the search results were pretty interesting. For example, my lovely girlfriend in her dressing gown was listed as a “Dark Grey Wool Womens Winter Coat” retailing at £49.99, whereas I was listed as a “Wooden Nose shaped Spectacles holder” retailing at £9.99 which meant she was worth far more than me, so I totally lost the game! However, it was a win all round because that made us both LOL ourselves silly.

Hopefully one of these days I’ll find someone with a lower Amazon Remembers face value than myself, I tried it on my Dad and it found a “Russell Collection Long Sleeve Easycare Fitted Shirt” retailing at £17.99, doh!

Amazon Mobile UK - Amazon Eurasia Holdings Sarl

Posted on Nov 25, 2009

Real Benefits of the new Retweet Function

I seem to be in a minority group that sees the potential that the new twitter re-tweet function brings. For someone that has worked on a method of highlighting Irish tweets for the benefit of non-twitter users and anyone offline for a long period of time, it’s possible that I’m able to see the potential a little more clearly.

The biggest benefit of the new retweet function is how it adds a method of highlighting localised trends. If 20 of your twitter friends retweet the same message you won’t see it 20 times, but you’ll see 20 “likes” beneath it instead, giving weight to the content of the message. It also stops your stream being diluted by the same message over and over again, which can be frustrating. And at the end of the day, if you’ve not had much time to use twitter you’ve got the “retweets” section to conveniently show you the highlights you’ve missed from your own personal stream that day.

The retweet feature also takes into consideration attribution; the original composer of the tweet appears in your stream and this is a wonderful way of discovering new twitter users. In essence it’s a solution to the fix @replies issue twitter had, everyone was so angry that they wouldn’t have an organic method of discovering new users to follow, now you do.

The other great thing about retweets is that it adds an extra dimension to keeping track of the tweets YOU find most interesting. If like me you use the favorite feature in twitter for something else entirely than the ability to view “retweets by you” will help keep track of the tweets you found important enough to share.

Overall I’ve enjoyed watching the evolution of the service and will continue to do so. I find it most interesting how, just like with Facebook users, change is scary and new but after awhile everyone gets used to it and moves on to being mad about something else entirely.

Posted on Sep 14, 2009

Social Media for Dummies

Stop spamming and start interacting.

Listen to the conversation.

Find the Conversation

Give insightful input.

Comply

3

Continue to provide feedback.

4

Comply Tweets like a Pro

Incentivise and reward.

6

7

Social Media for Business example, Thanks to Comply – who I am in no way involved with, but have just made a €20 purchase from them due to their successful use of Twitter.