TF1 – One of the best websites I have seen

One of the best kids websites I have seen is Tfou. Don’t let the fact that it is in French put you off – the fact that it is aimed at kids means that even your ‘quelques mots de Francais’ from about 20 years back will do. The name itself is a play on words of ‘Tu est fou’ meaning ‘you’re mad’!



The site is the kids version of TF1 – France’s answer to the BBC. I doubt if RTE have the budget to put this kind of thing together, but given that most of the characters are already familiar, surf away!


I’m also proud to mention I used to work with the guys that worked on this site (guilt by association). By the time I met them they had finished the content management system (cms) that powered TFou, and had sold their souls to work for a large US pharmaceutical company in Brussels. They weren’t exactly broken men, but they’d go back to work on the kids site in Paris in an instant.


Grabbing people's brains and shoving them into a PC

It didn’t go down too well when an elderly relative asked me over Christmas ‘what exactly do you do?’. After fobbing him off with the usual ‘something in computers’, he was shocked to find out that I spend most of my time ‘Grabbing people’s brains and shoving them into a PC’.

This kind of blog-related-violence is normally associated with Twenty-Major (Warning , Parential Guidance required , unless you’re over 80), so before you call the police , let me explain.

Look at your hands. Unless they’re scarred and calloused (from the weekend’s DIY) the chances are that you work in the knowledge economy. You could work for a Bank , Insurance company, Legal company or be a medical professional but most of your work consists of one thing:  You push pieces of paper around that have some magical value.
Or you would push pieces of paper around if it hadn’t all been computerised in the last 10 years. Now you swap files and emails to get things done.  And you swear on a regular basis when the computer can’t find the information you’re looking for, or someone doesn’t understand the email you sent them. But the important bit, the information processing,  still remains in your brain.
Red Piranha Logo

Which brings us to Red-Piranha (site update in progress) and the shoving of people’s brains into a computer. While we can copy an MP3 music file (with Adam’s and Bono’s imagination in it) and send it around the world, but we can’t photocopy your brain. We don’t want all of it, just the part that gets the magical value-added work done. The bits about drinking beer and playing volleyball on the beach we’ll quite happily leave with you.

So this is what Enterprise Web 2.0 is all about : getting the computer to take a load off your brain so that you’ll have more time to spend on the beach drinking beer. Chapter 3 (draft) of our Enerprise Web book has just been put online, which shows you exactly how to do this.

Irish Blog Awards Sponsor 2007

We sponsored them in 2006 , before they were famous. For 50 Quid we ended up in the Irish Times (I’m the one at the front wondering what’s going on behind me). Not a bad return on  investment.

This time around it’s a bit more expensive , but it’s good to give something back to the Irish Blogosphere. We’re not well versed on the black arts of public relations (most of our marketing spend goes to Google Adwords, plus the blood sweat and tears of 1 to 1 communication), but we’ll probably do some sort of tie in promotion for Irish bloggers.

Any suggestions?
Irish Blog Awards Logo

The secret world of the Irish Blogger …

Now that I’ve get the mobile internet thing cracked, I find myself wandering around public areas, eyes downcast in the manner of somebody looking for change to get the last bus home.

Dublin Connelly

The reason is the effect of the battery life of the mobile internet (HSDPA) card. Before I got 3 hours plus out of my laptop (unless I was running Oracle on it , in which case I got about 20 minutes tops). With the card, it’s about 2 hours. This means that while (at a gasp) I can cover a train journey from Drogheda to Dublin and back again, any delay means that I’m looking for a power outlet. Hence the I’m-not-really-looking-for-loose-change situations.

Spatial Ireland have loads of Google Maps, but no mashup covering ‘free powerpoint locations that won’t blow your laptop’. While I may put together a Mashup (if the guys from DartMap can do it then so can I), here’s the list to kick start things.

  • Dublin Connolly train Station, in Oslo Coffee Bar near the ‘Bean and Gone’ coffee shop end. Currently blogging from here – signal good , but the coffee is woeful.
  • Irish Rail commuter trains, look for the single seats near the toilet – there’s a 50-50 chance of there being a plug there.

Anybody have others to add to the list?

Update: Vodafone should give me Sales commission. While trying to as discreet as possible (if that’s the word for a red card and lollipop aerial hanging out of your PC) 2 people spent about 5 minutes each asking where they could buy one. Just shows that Ireland Offline is right about the (unmet) demand for broadband.

This is going to get ugly

This is going to get ugly. Yes, I’m learning CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) , the thing that does the pretty colours on this page. Normally , this sort of thing is done by Graphic Designers (the cool people who wear black), not people like myself (who spend too much time in the Server room). Think 3 year old kid with a paintbox , and you won’t be far off some of the weird and wonderful effects that you might see in the next couple of days.

View Paul  Browne's profile on LinkedIn Call me!

All because I want to add a photo to the top right corner. And stop the ‘linked in’ and ‘skype’ links floating all over the place.

LouderVoice solution to knowlege sharing

I’ve been following what Conor from Argolon’s blog for a while, so it’s good news that his startup Loudervoice is now going into (alpha? Beta1?) trails. Even better that the problem that he’s trying to solve is directly relevant:

Tired of having your knowledge and expertise under-exposed and unread? We aim to change that.

Louder Voice Logo

Having been through the ‘we’re-a-startup-going-to-change-the-world-oops-just-failed-miserably’ route, I’ll be interested in how his business model differs from the likes of Experts Exchange.

Update: For info , Experts Exchange business model is to allow people to post questions and pay for answers. The experts themselves receive nothing but ‘brownie points’. I can’t see why people would want to post and lose control of their information especially as you have to log in and pay to see the answer (not very Google-able), but lots of people do.

Update 2: Ok , this time, Loudervoice really is open for Beta. Really.

Enterprise Web 2.0 – Free Book

I’ll blog about it in more detail later, but I’ve just posted the first chapter of the Enterprise Web 2.0 book online. It is being written as a dissertation for the Msc. in Advanced Software Engineering in UCD , Dublin. The working title is ‘Financial knowledge capture using Rules , Workflow, Search and Enterprise Web 2.0‘.

Red Piranha Logo

To kill 4 birds with one stone, It also serves as a manual to the updated Red-Piranha project.[link to old website (search only). New website in progress] .

Struts 2 is the new Mini

No matter what car you drive , the chances are it was influenced by the Mini. Introduced in the UK in the 1960’s a whole generation of families was crammed into a car that popularized the notion of front wheel drive. While small , it was practical and drove so well it even starred in films such as The Italian Job. Recently, a more modern version was released with none of the parts but all of the spirit of the Original.


We’ll come back to the Mini, but if you build websites using Java, then at some point you have used Struts. The original Struts is proof that a framework / project / product doesn’t have to be the best to be the most widely accepted. It just has to be in the right place at the right time, and ‘do what is says on the tin’ – in this case a fairly useful implementation of the ‘Model-View-Controller’ design pattern.

So what’s the link? Seeing the original Mini from the outside may bring a smile to your face, but on the inside it’s cramped and unfortable. You may have happy memories of websites you built using the original Struts, but lately your thoughts have been straying to more modern frameworks, perhaps with Ajax and integration with Spring built in.

This is where Struts 2 comes in. Like the Mini, it has (almost) none of the parts , but all of the Spirit of the original. It’s based on Webwork which sounds scary, but most Struts Drivers will be able to climb in , find the Struts.xml file and get the engine running within minutes. Struts 2 is easier to drive (JavaBeans instead of Action Forms), more powerful (it can use Ajax and JSF) and comes with more optional extras (e.g. it’s integration with other frameworks like Webwork and Spring).

Best of all the Struts team have a clear migration path between the old and new Struts. You can use both side by side in your garage application, and change over the parts piece by piece. Spare parts for the original Struts will still be available for quite some time, both from the original team and the large dealer developer network that has built up around the framework.

What do you think? When Are you going to give Struts 2 a try?