What does FirstPartners.net actually do?

Damien asked for blurbs from the sponsors of the Irish Blog Awards as to what they actually do. After years of trying explain in our 3 minute elevator pitch, I think we’ve finally got the answer.

FirstPartners slogan

FirstPartners.net build the ugly bits of websites. Not the lovely front ends but the bits that do the heavy lifting – the bits that ensure your bank balance is correct, that your ticket is there when you arrive at the airport, or bits that capture your teams’ knowledge . We deliver using a combination of Enterprise Java Technology, our custom Red-Piranha framework and Agile project techniques.

More at www.FirstPartners.net

Irish Consultants .ie

I don’t normally post as the result of a mass email, but this is one of the more useful ones.

Irish Consultants Logo

Ken of Calmar has just sent out information on Irish Consultants .ie – it does exactly what it says on the tin.

It’s not just for Information Technology Consultants (where yours truly lives), but the site also covers:

  • Advertising & Media
  • Archaeological
  • Design
  • Environmental
  • Financial
  • General Management
  • Health & Safety
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Property Management
  • Public Relations
  • Research & Development
  • Risk Management
  • State & Semi State Agencies
  • Training & Development

Basic listing is free, although a ‘premium’ listing costs around 300 Euro. That sounds a very ‘Web 2’ business model , even if the site (thankfully) doesn’t use those words!

You know nothing about Project Management

I’ve written and presented quite a bit about Agile Project management, but I’ve to recognize that these guys are experts. This PDF is a 90 Page guide to Scrum and XP Project Management, written in a way that both Business and Technical people can understand.

Crisp OO Consultants Logo [Link to crisp OO and Java consultants]
It’s clear , it’s honest , and more importantly , it’s not trying to sell you anything (Rational consultants, you know who you are). Ok, they’re not trying to sell you anything , not unless you’re in the market for a bit of OO consultancy in Sweden.

Warning: Irish Rail website gives false information

Irish Rail Logo

If you’re planning to travel by Irish Rail, don’t trust the timetable information given out by it’s website. On a recent trip from Drogheda to Portadown, the actual outgoing and return times were between 5 and 10 minutes earlier, due to timetable changes made up to 6 months before. It’s all very well getting consultants to redesign your website , like CIE did recently , but if your organisation can’t keep it up to date , what’s the point?

There’s no excuse for giving out inaccurate information. Translink , the company that operates the northern half of the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise service, manages to display the correct train times. Incidentally , Translink is also publicly owned , so the ‘shrug shoulders it’s just public service’ excuse isn’t valid either.

Get your act together , and display accurate times, or don’t give out any information at all. I made the train , but how many people have been caught out by this? Bluire has found more reasons to be angry with Irish Rail.

Update: Red Cardinal has shown that at least the ex-CIE group of companies are consistent, with Bus Eireann showing an appalling web design for their site.

Update 2: Ken reports about a recent webchat with Irish Rail. Interesting reading.

Update 3: And I thought I had problems. This is much worse.

25,000 People Download Mans Brain from Internet

Yes, it’s incredible , but true. Red Piranha is everything (well , not exactly everything) that I’ve learnt in 7 years of Java consulting, all wrapped up in a nice easy to go bundle. It’s Enterprise software that gets knowledge out of people’s heads and into a PC (no , it’s not as painful as it sounds!).
Red Piranha Fish Logo

I hadn’t checked the stats for a while , so I’m astonished to learn that 25,000 people have downloaded a copy from sourceforge. What’s more amazing is that these downloads are for version 1 – a sort of ‘mini Google’. As I write this post the latest (beta) version is being made available to developers. This moves it firmly into the Enterprise Web 2.0 space, adding workflow, rules and rich internet application capabilities (including Ajax and mashups) – more on this blogpost.

By the way , if you’re looking for more information on Enterprise Web 2.0 , you can check out Jerry Bowles blog on this area.

Java Meetup in the Virtual Dublin Pub

Java Meetup in the Virtual Dublin Pub

By Paul Browne

Did you want to go to the recent Java Meetup (also here) but couldn’t make it? Were you washing your hair or doing your nails? Perhaps you were stuck at the other end of the country, (or some other country!)

So , for all you people who find it difficult to make it every month, we’re pleased to announce the Java Meetup in the Virtual Irish Pub at 7.30pm on Tuesday 25th July. We’ll be talking about ‘What technologies should I be learning in the next 12 months?‘. See the drama unfold – Will the server take the strain? Will there be more than one person there?

Stephen has already blogged about it , so that makes two. Thanks also to John for the original idea, Jakub for all the hard work in the getting the (real) Dublin Java Meetup to this stage, and Donal for the ‘try out everything before the day’ advice!
Seeing as we’re spreading our wings, we may even invite the .Net, PHP and Ruby guys (after all , enough of them turn up at the Java events !)
the quiet man

Update: The Virtual Pub is now live (here).

What you missed at the Dublin Java Meetup

15 people turned up to talk about Java yesterday evening in the Forum Bar Dublin. Actually we talked about the World Cup (Ireland didn’t make it , but we had the choice of 6 other teams, including Jakub who was very selfish and had two!), Ruby (which is going to eat Java’s lunch in some areas), PHP, Naked Objects (write in Java, deploy in .Net), JavaKicks (a Digg like service, targetted at Java), .Net, Enterprise and Financial software, Spring , EJB 3.0, Apache, Blogging , Web 2.0 , Ajax , Service Orientated Architecture, Government Tenders, the Dublin Contract market and a little bit about Java.

Can’t make it along in person? We’re going to do a 2nd Java meetup, but in a ‘virtual pub’ for people who find it hard to get to Dublin. We’ll still carry on with the existing (face to face) meetups. As an extra, at 7.30pm the last Tuesday of the month we’ll have an open chat session (We’ll setup chat software on this or another website).

So, for 7.30pm on Tuesday 25th July I’ll be online. We’ll start with ‘What technologies should I be learning in the next 12 months?’ and let things develop from there.

Fixed Price? Don’t get Stung

Chances are , you get get paid on a ‘Time and Materials’ basis – either as an employee or a consultant. Chances are, you’ve also thought that some extra work , perhaps at a fixed price, would be a nice sideline. Before you dive in, remember the following 5 key points.

  1. Write a Project Outline. Say exactly what will (and just as importantly) won’t be carried out as part of the project. This can take a lot of time to put together, but is essential to avoid trouble later. Even better get the client to pay you to write this, as it’s vital for them as well.
  2. Client dependencies. Do you depend on the client to get things done? If so, specify exactly what the must provide and when. Can’t specify exactly when you need (and there are many projects where this is the case)? Then do the work on a time and Materials basis only.
  3. Be visible to end client. The temptation is to go into a dark corner and start coding. The trouble is that you emerge blinking into the daylight at the end to find (i) The client frantic with worry about how the project is going and (ii) that events have happened that you sh. ould have known about. Price in regular time on the client site to keep in touch.
  4. Contingency. A wise man once said (In this case the instructor at the PMBOK course in Chicago): ‘If you can’t carry out the project with 15% time left over , don’t start it. For fixed price projects, make this something like 30% as the client will ask you to do little ‘extras’ and you can’t ask for extra money for every single one.
  5. Almost as important as knowning when to start (see point 1) is knowing when to finish. Document everything and do a final ‘handover’ day (a good idea is to hand over a CD whith all project deliverables on it). If you don’t do this, the project will never end, and you will never get paid.

Notice that all these items are about process , and not technology. Put simply; you can mess up your project just as easily using Java , PHP or .Net . Mess up as an employee or consultant, you get shouted at by the boss. Mess up on a fixed price and you’re into serious pain as you burn through (unpaid) extra time.

Not a Web 2.0 Company – Scandanavian Airlines

I don’t think these guys will be joining the Web2Ireland (even Web 2.0) group anytime soon. Basically , their website says ‘We couldn’t be bothered using any of the Ajax toolkits out there, so we’ll get you Mr Customer to do all the work for us’. I wonder what their look-to-book ratio is ( I used to do some work for Aer Lingus – LinkedIn Profile).

Scandanavian Airlines (SAS) Website.

Hint to SAS: Here is how to fix this (pdf), or hire us and we’ll fix it for you.

Or if you prefer , reassure yourself that you’re not the only airline with Ajax problems.
More blogposts on Ajax.