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

Business Blogging in Ireland – Who What When Where and Why

At yesterday’s Plato marketing training event, the topic of business blogging came up. Seems like our 100,000+ unique visitors is nothing in the blogging world, but most Small to Medium Irish Business (SME’s) would kill for that kind of traffic. So since I’m an ‘expert’ (and when exactly did that happen ?!) here’s the 10 minute guide to get your business on it’s way.

Plato rules presume that member companies remain confidential (until they choose to break cover!). So, if you want to leave a comment below (feel free to link back to your website) I’ll be happy to apply the advice below to your business. I don’t sell blogging advice (although there is a business idea!) – more Irish Business Bloggers there are the better (all, hopefully, linking from their websites back to here!)

What is blogging?

  • A Blog is a new way of doing that same old things. You already network, talk (and listen!) to your customers and are passionate about publicising the thing you love (your business idea). A Blog just helps you do the same things online.
  • A Blog is the easiest way to update a website. If you can email (remember how scary that used to be?) you can blog. And yes, I can give examples to back that one up. And that’s you updating it, not paying some web design company to do it.
  • A Blog is the quickest way to get a good website. If you haven’t a website, a blog is the quickest way to get one. It does most of the Vodoo Search Engine stuff out of the box. Likewise, a blog can easily added to your existing website.
  • A Blog is an online Diary. Think one of those reality TV shows. But about your business. And without Jade Goody in it. There is a reason that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Blogs’ score highest in the ratings – they’re all about people. Remember ; People don’t buy your business, they buy you.
  • A Blog lets you have conversations with your customers. It allows customers to say what they think about you on your website.Scary? Yes. But not as scary as not hearing what they are saying about you.Yes you can delete offensive comments, but I’ve only had to remove 2 out of 700 comments in the last 3 years.

The Who, What, When , Where and Why of Irish Business Blogging

Who should blog

  • You, as the owner of your business. If you have people who are equally passionate, then (a) you’re very lucky and (b) you should let them write as well. But chances are, it’s going to be you.
  • Blogging works very well for people in the professional services area. There are hundreds of people in IT, but blogging lets me stand out and gives me credibility.
  • I’m confident (and can give examples) of ways of how Hotels and Tourism, Shops and Engineering Companies can blog successfully), but it’s a little be fuzzier (i.e. not direcly linked to my personal experience)

What should they talk about

  • Talk about what you love – your business. But remember who you’re talking to; your customers, and people who will either link to you online, or recommend you to new customers.
  • I find a personal style works best. We’ve all seen the bland corporate website and we don’t believe them. Speak personally of your experience.
  • Set your own red lines, and respect them. I don’t blog about my personal life (or lack of it!). I don’t reveal customer details. But outside of that, if it’s interesting, I’ll talk about anything it.

When (or how much time is involved)

  • Like all marketing , you’re in this for the long haul. It’s important that you measure using Google Analytics (free). You’ll be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.
  • Blogging is cheap in money but expensive in your time. I reckon about 1hr per week for a post like this one, sometimes more, sometimes less.
  • Don’t forget the extra time involved in publicising your blog; leaving useful comments / links on other sites back to yours. But you’d be doing this anyway as you surf the web.

Where do people find out about your business /blog

  • Those comments on other (relevent) sites and more popular blogs link back to yours. If somebody likes your comment, then they will often come back to your blog.Remember, useful comments not spam! – your comment /link should always add to the site you are leaving them on.
  • Google loves blogs, because of all those incoming links.
  • The links on the top left of the page allow you to subscribe to this blog as if it were an email newsletter. Some people like this. Most people prefer RSS; Like an email newsletter RSS notifies you of new content but, RSS gives you a summary of all the blogs you are interested in. And it doesn’t clog up your inbox. I use Google Reader, but there is plenty of choice out there.

Why

  • Because you’d like more business. You do want more business, right? The only question: ‘is blogging the best use of my time?’

How
Two main choices, the second one being better as it gives you more choice.

  • Sign up for a free blogging account at Blogger.com (backed by Google)
  • Ask your (existing / new) web host for the following. It should cost a lot less then Eur500 , including the first year’s hosting.

I’d like WordPress (free) setup on my website at www.mywebsitename/blog. Use one of the standard templates. Please add Google Analytics (free) to the this template. Please explain where I can get the number (from Google) that you will need for the analytics. When finished let me know the address, username and password to log into my blog.

Remember, blogging is cheap to try out (in money , if not in your time) . It’s still new enough to forgive people who make mistakes. Dive in , give it a go, and when (not if) you learn something new, tell me about it.

And after all that, you couldn’t be bothered blogging?
Try LinkedIn.com. As a business networking tool , it’s excellent, with more Irish business contacts than anywhere else.

Business Blogging in Ireland – Who, What , When, Where and Why

At yesterday’s Plato marketing training event, the topic of business blogging came up. Seems like our 100,000+ unique visitors is nothing in the blogging world, but most Small to Medium Irish Business (SME’s) would kill for that kind of traffic. So since I’m an ‘expert’ (and when exactly did that happen ?!) here’s the 10 minute guide to get your business on it’s way.

Plato rules presume that member companies remain confidential (until they choose to break cover!). So, if you want to leave a comment below (feel free to link back to your website) I’ll be happy to apply the advice below to your business. I don’t sell blogging advice (although there is a business idea!) – more Irish Business Bloggers there are the better (all, hopefully, linking from their websites back to here!)

What is blogging?

  • A Blog is a new way of doing that same old things. You already network, talk (and listen!) to your customers and are passionate about publicising the thing you love (your business idea). A Blog just helps you do the same things online.
  • A Blog is the easiest way to update a website. If you can email (remember how scary that used to be?) you can blog. And yes, I can give examples to back that one up. And that’s you updating it, not paying some web design company to do it.
  • A Blog is the quickest way to get a good website. If you haven’t a website, a blog is the quickest way to get one. It does most of the Vodoo Search Engine stuff out of the box. Likewise, a blog can easily added to your existing website.
  • A Blog is an online Diary. Think one of those reality TV shows. But about your business. And without Jade Goody in it. There is a reason that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Blogs’ score highest in the ratings – they’re all about people. Remember ; People don’t buy your business, they buy you.
  • A Blog lets you have conversations with your customers. It allows customers to say what they think about you on your website.Scary? Yes. But not as scary as not hearing what they are saying about you.Yes you can delete offensive comments, but I’ve only had to remove 2 out of 700 comments in the last 3 years.

The Who, What, When , Where and Why of Irish Business Blogging

Who should blog

  • You, as the owner of your business. If you have people who are equally passionate, then (a) you’re very lucky and (b) you should let them write as well. But chances are, it’s going to be you.
  • Blogging works very well for people in the professional services area. There are hundreds of people in IT, but blogging lets me stand out and gives me credibility.
  • I’m confident (and can give examples) of ways of how Hotels and Tourism, Shops and Engineering Companies can blog successfully), but it’s a little be fuzzier (i.e. not direcly linked to my personal experience)
What should they talk about

  • Talk about what you love – your business. But remember who you’re talking to; your customers, and people who will either link to you online, or recommend you to new customers.
  • I find a personal style works best. We’ve all seen the bland corporate website and we don’t believe them. Speak personally of your experience.
  • Set your own red lines, and respect them. I don’t blog about my personal life (or lack of it!). I don’t reveal customer details. But outside of that, if it’s interesting, I’ll talk about anything it.
When (or how much time is involved)

  • Like all marketing , you’re in this for the long haul. It’s important that you measure using Google Analytics (free). You’ll be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.
  • Blogging is cheap in money but expensive in your time. I reckon about 1hr per week for a post like this one, sometimes more, sometimes less.
  • Don’t forget the extra time involved in publicising your blog; leaving useful comments / links on other sites back to yours. But you’d be doing this anyway as you surf the web.
Where do people find out about your business /blog

  • Those comments on other (relevent) sites and more popular blogs link back to yours. If somebody likes your comment, then they will often come back to your blog.Remember, useful comments not spam! – your comment /link should always add to the site you are leaving them on.
  • Google loves blogs, because of all those incoming links.
  • The links on the top left of the page allow you to subscribe to this blog as if it were an email newsletter. Some people like this. Most people prefer RSS; Like an email newsletter RSS notifies you of new content but, RSS gives you a summary of all the blogs you are interested in. And it doesn’t clog up your inbox. I use Google Reader, but there is plenty of choice out there.
Why

  • Because you’d like more business. You do want more business, right? The only question: ‘is blogging the best use of my time?’
How
Two main choices, the second one being better as it gives you more choice.

  • Sign up for a free blogging account at Blogger.com (backed by Google)
  • Ask your (existing / new) web host for the following. It should cost a lot less then Eur500 , including the first year’s hosting.

‘I’d like WordPress (free) setup on my website at www.mywebsitename/blog. Use one of the standard templates. Please add Google Analytics (free) to the this template. Please explain where I can get the number (from Google) that you will need for the analytics. When finished let me know the address, username and password to log into my blog.

Remember, blogging is cheap to try out (in money , if not in your time) . It’s still new enough to forgive people who make mistakes. Dive in , give it a go, and when (not if) you learn something new, tell me about it.

And after all that, you couldn’t be bothered blogging?
Try LinkedIn.com. As a business networking tool , it’s excellent, with more Irish business contacts than anywhere else.

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.

What is Java Me and do I need it?

James Corbett asked on this post

Any advice on mobile java (Java ME, formerly J2ME from what I understand)? I’m thinking of developing a mobile app, or rather getting someone to develop it, and it strikes me that Java ME is the most widely supported platform on consumer mobile

J2me picture

Java ME is the version of Java that run’s on small devices (like Mobile phones). Speaking as a Java consultant , here’s my thoughts on it:

  • Java Me is a cut down version of Java , so any Java Developer should be able to help you out. There are also a range of Emulators (things that run on your PC pretending to be a phone), so you don’t have to have 20 mobiles sitting on your desk for testing.
  • I think there will be a big demand for the sort of Games / Gadgets / Gizmos that people can show off on their mobile phones (look at the money paid out for simple things like Ringtones). The trouble is the route to market – how do you get your gizmo onto somebody’s phone and get them to pay you for it. It’s a lot easier if you have a friendly Telco like Vodafone or O2 on board.
  • Strictly speaking , Java ME is not the most widely supported mobile platform – that honour goes to XHMTL , a stricter version of normal web pages. This is the approach that Google takes with it’s mobile Gmail product. This also has the benefit of running on phones like O2’s imode.
  • There is the small problem of not every version of Java that runs’s on a mobile phone is the same – there is multiple versions, differences between the handset companies and even a couple of different subsets of Java.
  • Personally I’ve stayed away from it, given that mobiles will be powerful enough within 18-36 months to run the full version of Java. Any major investment of my time learning J2ME would be thrown away at that stage.

So , in one line: If you really need the extra power of Java on the mobile, it should be doable. But think long and hard about delivering it as a Web Application (using XHTML) instead. All depends on what you are trying to do.

    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.

    Irish Government looking for Podcasters

    The Irish Government are looking for Podcasters. More information is on the E-Tenders site (registration may be required). I wonder if any of the poster boys of the Irish Podcasting movement will take up on this?I’ll take back what I said in my earlier (slightly cynical post): Web 2.0 meets the government.E-Tenders Logo

    Summary of invitation for bids:

    Crossborder Visitor Podcasting Pilot for East Border Region

    Abstract:

    The BCDEN project has set up a series of thematic working groups in each of the three Crossborder sub regions and has conducted a consultation and needs analysis exercise with each of those groups. The objective of this process was to ascertain, based on the region’s current ICT needs, what pilots would help the participant local authority areas to adapt to, innovate and compete within the Information Society.

    Resulting from the aforementioned consultation exercise, the Tourism working group in the East Border Region (EBR) have selected Visitor Podcasting as one of the pilots they want to see implemented.

    The aim of this pilot is to explore the use of new media opportunities, namely Podcasting, to reach a wider and more mobile target audience to sell EBR as an exciting and vibrant destination.

    The objectives of the pilot will be to:

    • To deliver quality content to tourists through many different channels to increase the reach of communications
    • To promote the use of ICT in tourism within the wider Crossborder economy by using podcasting to attract more visitors to the EBR.
    • To increase the usage of ICT services by tourists
    • To enable cross advertising of other tourist attractions within EBR
    • To promote and facilitate Crossborder tourism

    Requirements
    ERNACT is now inviting tenders from suitably qualified application providers to successfully deliver this pilot by:

    1. Supplying audio, picture and where required video, to enable EBR to run a Crossborder Visitor Podcasting pilot to help them achieve the aim and objectives described in section 3.1
    2. Guaranteeing integration with mobile devices.
    3. Ensuring involvement in the pilot of at least 1 tourist attraction in each of the eight EBR council areas.
    4. Ensuring the crossborder theme is echoed throughout the pilot.
    5. Liaising with the necessary project stakeholders in order to ensure smooth delivery of the project.
    6. Imparting the necessary training to the relevant staff.
    7. Facilitating ongoing support to tourism staff over the lifetime of the pilot
    8. Project managing the entire roll out of the pilot

    Links to Irish Podcasters:

    Update (1) Tom Raftery is now looking for a partner to handle the paperwork. Best bet for Tom is to go for a medium sized IT company that’s already winning Government Business in other areas (as that is something the Government buyers look for). What you bring to the table is the podcasting expertise. I can give you the contact details of one if you’re interested – drop me a line here.

    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.