BarCamp Belfast – Business Startup – Java – GIS – Semantic – Internet Marketing presentations

Summary of BarCamp Belfast – on the day presentations about Business Startup – Java – GIS and the Semantic web .

Link to slides for our presentation ‘Java Bites Back’ – what’s bad and good about Enterprise Java, e.g. compared to Ruby.
Barcamp Belfast Logo

Grainne Lennon from Intertrade Ireland talked about the Seedcorn Business Startup competition. More details on the competition are here. Probably good to enter to help knock your business plan into shape, rather than expecting to get the Eur100,000 prize.
Matt Keenan- from OpCode solutions (and one of the Barcamp organisers) – Starting your own tech business. Key points:

  • Cash is King.
  • Have a Business Plan – and don’t forget about your cashflow (spot a theme here?) as well as the usual revenue projects.
  • Remember your exit strategy when talking to investors – they will want their money back!
  • Enterprise Centres in Northern Ireland (38 of them)
  • Subcontract rather than Employees – reduces your exposure / liabilities.
  • Professional Contractors Group – free tax audit insurance , advice for members
Con Hennessy from OpenApp.ie – Open Source GIS (Geographic Information Systems), particularly in the Health sector.

  • (Open Source) Technologies used : Mapserver , PostgreSQL (Database), PostGIS , RProject (Statisical Analysis), GRASS , ZOPE (application framework) and Python
  • GIS Data is very expensive
John Breslin – Cloudlands – Presenting on the Semantic Web as part of Web 2.0.

  • What is Web 2.0 (second generation Web Architecture)
  • Users – Content – Tags – Comments
  • Sematic Web – Meta data (describes things on the web) and Ontologies (Dictionaries explaining the meaning of the meta tags)
  • Freebase – open , shared database of the world’s knowledge.
Colin Turner – Spreading Open Source Software via the Education Community.

  • Not everybody understands or agrees what is Open Software
  • Why isn’t free software used more in Education?
  • People reasons (lose budget , free = bad , software is flakey , where’s my supported)
  • Refuted (e.g. Quality, can get support , using software already)
  • Teach students how to work in distributed teams.
Alastair – Logon.ie

  • Blogs and SEO
  • Ezines – use Feedburner to deliver blog content via email
  • SEO Title Tag – manually set titles
  • URL rewriting
  • RedFly Marketing – PHP script – to test landing page options
  • Use subdomains (e.g. http://blog.firstpartners.net)

Easy(ier) Ajax with Struts 2

Some time back , I wrote an article for Java.net about How to add Ajax to your Struts Application. It’s pretty straightfoward (as is Ajax underneath all the hype), but it still involves too much JavaScript for my liking. Nothing against JavaScript, but if you write it , you have to support it. Far better to use a standard Ajax library , like DWR , Prototype or Dojo.

(As a reality check , if you don’t know what Ajax is , this article explains what Ajax is and what it can do)
Struts 2 Logo

Along comes Struts 2 (. Be careful – it’s good , but very different from Struts 1 – it should have been called WebWork 3). It does a lot of things better – for example , the way it’s Actions are normal POJO’s makes it a lot of things easier to unit test.

Struts 2 also gives you Ajax ‘out of the box’. No writing of javascript, no debugging against various browsers; just configure and go. A full description of how to setup Struts 2 to use Ajax is in this wiki article. The quick version is:

  1. Setup Struts 2
  2. Add the Struts-Ajax URL and Div Tag.

That’s it. Ajax without the fuss.

LinkedIn Vs Facebook for business networking in Ireland

Tom and James have been writing about LinkedIn and Facebook. Both are social networking tools. Tom reckons LinkedIn is Toast. James reckons we have too many of these sites.

Linked in Logo

I’m a big fan of LinkedIn for business networking and I don’t think it’s going to die just yet.

  1. LinkedIn does one thing (manage your business network) and one thing well.
  2. Facebook tries to do too much – it tries find everybody that I have ever interacted with, and list them as part of my network. I think the ‘look aren’t we cool for being online‘ thing is a little bit 1998.
  3. Anybody that I link to on linked in (a) I have met and (b) I would recommend to a friend. Facebook is more like those people that list everybody they have got a business card from at a long forgotten networking event.
  4. As a developer , an API is great and I’m glad LinkedIn is opening up (albeit under pressure from Facebook and others). 9 months is a long time to wait, but the ‘data is Intel inside’ means that it’s not worth me trying to pull my network over to another site just yet.

If you’ve already met me and want to connect, check out my LinkedIn profile. Scott Allen has more on the LinkedIn API. Pairup is a powerful site showing the value of the API – just enter your travel/event details, and pairup will suggest who in your LinkedIn network (and friends-of-friends) that you can connect with.

Is somebody trying to knock down your Blog?

You may have noticed that this blog has been up and down over the last couple of weeks.

Wordpress Logo

After much tuning and investigation (thanks to the guys at Rimu Hosting for your help) it turns out that (one of) the problems has been a flood of automated comments hitting the site in an aid to boost their google rankings. This wordpress referrer bounce plugin should solve the problem.

Update: Direct download link (it’s a bit hard to find on the site).

Blogging for Charity – should improve their Google page rank

I’ve been tagged by Ken to carry on Gavin’s blogging for charity idea. I’ve twisted the idea a little as rather than repeat an ever expanding list, I’ll add two of my own and highlight two on Ken’s List:

To continue the flow , I tag the following people:

What's better than a blog for getting more visitors to your site? A Wiki

Regular readers know that there are three parts to this site:

  • The blog (the part you are now reading) – aimed at business people with a passing interest in technology.
  • A wiki (more later) – undiluted techiness, and a scratchpad for various projects in progress.
  • The ‘corporate‘ site – the usual ‘happy people in front of PC site’, with standard ‘about us’ , ‘contact us’ and ‘what we do sections’. This is the part that thankfully, Eoghan is working to update.

If you don’t know already, a wiki is an easy to update website that almost anybody can edit. The most famous is Wikipedia, we use the same software , Mediawiki, on our site. It’s good / free /open software, and if you’re able to setup a blog , you should be able to get this working with little of no problems.

Looking at the stats for the last 18 months , I’ve noticed the following:

  • At the moment , traphic to these is split roughly 60-30-10 (should keep all you MBA types out there happy). 60% goes to the blog, 30% to the wiki and 10% to the corporate site.
  • Visitors to each section are looking for very different things – people tend to hit the blog via cross posting and general search terms (e.g. Java Dublin). People come to the wiki looking for very specific terms (e.g. Apache Lucene Exception). People come to the ‘corporate’ site, either after personal contact, or reading my CV from other channels.
  • The writing styles in each are very different. The wiki gets updated most , but is often a series of technical notes in various stages of completion. The blog is updated (on average) 2-3 times a week , with more composed items. The corporate site get’s updated roughly every 3-6 months and has a much ‘dryer’ official style.

All of which brings us back to why a wiki is even better than a blog for getting people to your site.

  1. The current wiki has only been working 7 months (since our last web hosts big crash) and already (without any serious promotion) is getting half as many hits as the (heavily promoted) blog. This is before we get into implementing Richard’s Search Engine Optimisation tips. From previous experierence, I would expect to get 4 times as many hits without too much effort.
  2. Wiki’s are updated even more often then blogs. Google loves frequent updates. Therefore wiki’s are even better than blogs for SEO.