Facebook Dublin IT Contractors Group

Lets see if this Facebook thing can be better than LinkedIn for networking and getting new business.

People Around Campfire

As an experiment, we’ve just opened a Dublin IT Contractors Group on Facebook. No matter what the Technology is that you use, you’re welcome to come along and take part.

Does my CV look big in this?

In an ideal world, potential customers would read this blog then decide that they want to do business with me.

In the real world many of my customers haven’t heard of a blog, and are quite happy that way thank you very much.

Given that a lot of ‘selling’ to these customers is on a personal level, the fallback is to use the traditional common or garden CV. Which gives rise to the following problems :

  • Too Long or Too Short? : How do you get 13 years experience into a document without it looking like a version of ‘war and peace’?
  • The curse of the technical buzzword : You need to include the technical buzzwords (Oracle, Java, Agile etc) to show you can do the job (a lot of people just do a 1st scan for words like this). But, put too many in, and you just end up looking silly.
  • People or Technical skills: Apparently you can have great technical skills , or great people skills , but not both. How do you stop yourself getting pigeonholed? What about non-traditional experience (e.g. blogging, writting, speaking, training?)
  • Customer confidentiality: A lot of the stuff we do is internal to clients. But potential  clients need to know what you’ve done to judge your work. Where’s the balance?

You can judge how successful I’ve been here: Paul Browne’s CV online [pdf].

Yes, I’m slightly more available than normal in the coming months. Yes, I’ll consider proposals slightly outside ‘normal’ contracts, if the projects and upside are interesting. And yes , I may just take some time off that I’ve been promising myself (but I’ve said that one before). Email me at PaulB@firstpartners.net.
Note to recruitment agencies: I’m very happy consulting through FirstPartners. No, I don’t want a permanent job. No, Cork is nowhere near Dublin , but I will consider Belfast. No, I don’t believe that you’re in for anything other than the money – that’s ok , you probably have a family to feed; but let’s not waste time pretending otherwise.

Enterprise Java Developer Wanted

A good friend of mine needs an Enterprise Java Developer, to be based in Dublin Ireland (sorry , no Teleworking). It’s a contract position and the project is high profile and sounds quite interesting. The main reason I’m passing on it as the exact location is the only place where I cannot get to easily from Drogheda! One man’s poison is another man’s meat (or something like that).

With that information (i.e. next to none at all) I’m going to ask you if you’re interested. Yes , I could put all the buzzwords (the usual Spring , Ajax, JSF, EJB , Hibernate), but to be honest I don’t know where the technology road will take this project.

One small catch. We need to weed out all the muppets that are out there. So, you need to have been blogging about Java for the last couple of months. If you’re interested , leave a comment and I’ll pass on your details.

Just who is Paul Browne, Digital Video Research?

Well, it’s not me. Despite my best efforts at blogging over 2 years (and a bit of Search Engine Optimization), a Google for ‘Paul Browne’ shows that I am only number 3 on the list. Even worse , the ‘Dr Paul Browne (PHD) DCU’ hasn’t been updated for 3 years. What do I need to do to get to number 1, get Twenty Major to take out a hit on this guy?
Paul Browne Search on Google

On a related note, Jason Kolb has a list of things to do to protect your online identity (good). John Breslin has a list of (bad things to avoid) and we’ve blogged about this notion of ‘blogs as the new CV‘ in that future employers will want to be checking out your blog (as a harder to fake version of your CV).

Update: As of Sept 2007, a Google Search for Paul Browne now shows this blog in No 1. position (unless Google are doing some fancy personalisation of searches. Next step will be to trademark (or even better find a way to Patent) the name and charge all the other Paul Browne’s for it use.

You , Paris Hilton and the value of your Personal Brand

What do you , Paris Hilton , Jade Goody and the contestants on Celebrity Big Brother have in common? No, it’s not some sort of bizarre male fantasy, but the value of your personal brand. These are all people , who may or may not be talented, but have transformed themselves into household names.
Celebrity Big Brother Logo

Wait a minute you say – I’m a (delete as appropriate) :

  • Accountant, who thinks grey suits make people strangely attractive.
  • Banker , who plays the financial markets but only relates to people as costs on a balance sheet.
  • IT Geek and proud of it , even if I’ve nothing to do but blog on a Friday night.

What’s a personal brand got to do with me? I’m (thankfully) not about to release a fitness video or a perfume. That’s only for A, B or C list celebrities. Down here in the Z-List of Technology Blogging , you get draft Web 2.0 books , and you will enjoy them!

Maybe instead of brand , I said ‘reputation’ or ‘recommendations’ you would understand better – the notion that people know of your work , and are happy to employ you on that basis. Previously , this was by word of mouth. Now , with blogging , everybody can be a minor celebrity in their own niche. We’ve written about this before (‘are blogs the new CV‘), but with tools like LinkedIn, the trend is really taking off.

Two Irish people who understand the value of a ‘personal brand’ very well are David McWilliams and Sheila o’Flanagan. Both have taken what could be mundane jobs (Economist, Writing) and turned themselves into Stars. OK , Enterprise Technology is never going to have same mass market appeal, but just as David and Sheila are well known in our own little Irish pond, perhaps someday I could be the Jade Goody of the technology world.

Update:To show the power of blogging , when I did a search for David McWilliams site, despite his massive RTE exposure , it was Joe Drumgooles blog that came up first.

Update 2: In response to a question, the use of Paris Hilton in this blog post has nothing to do with Damiens infamous ‘how to use google to get a girl and get laid‘ blogpost. Nothing at all. It has nothing to do with Britney Spears either.

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).

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.

Web2Ireland – almost Mainstream

Been reading the various posts by bloggers on the recent Web2Ireland event organised by Enterprise Ireland.

(Photo of Marc Canter Speaking , by Dermod)

Prize for one of the better (and concise) definitions of Web 2.0 goes to Kevin Sherry of Enterprise Ireland:

Web 2.0 is the Second Wave of Internet Business Activity.

Having said that , my view is Web 2.0 is almost , but not quite , going mainstream (in Ireland at least). Judging by the people I met (more below) and the dress standards I would judge the audience as 1/3rd Business-VC (suit and tie) 1/3rd Techie (Jeans and T-Shirt) and 1/3rd Professional Technologist (Suit but no tie). This contrasts with the last Web 2.0 event , where the audience was almost exclusively techie, despite dual business and technology marketing.

You can judge for yourself from the agenda at the Web2Ireland site, but my only gripe is that I’m not sure if Enterprise Ireland got the balance right. Aside from Marc Canter (who managed to successfuly quote Joyce in a techie presentation!) the main speakers – Judy Gibbons from Accel and Jeff Clavier (Software Only) – were either VC or Angel investors. That’s not to say that they didn’t have a lot of good, interesting and relevant things to say (more below), it just meant that you had to bear in mind their angle on things (we want to lend you money). Given the success of all the people mentioned  this paragraph, I think they are well worth listening to. Adam Green , who despite being on a blogging break, hosted a very good lunchtime session (summary: ‘everything is XML’).

The key things I learned from the above speakers were (these are paraphrased , so excuse me if the quotes get lost in translation):

  • Web 1.0 is dialup , Web 2.0 is broadband.
  • Web 2.0 is part of a virteous circle, where each technology builds on the expectations – e.g. consumers now expect to find information online , so more information becomes available.
  • Web 2.0 is still incomplete , so need to navigate around what is possible and what is not. (e.g Netflix , started with posting out DVD’s , but will stream video as that becomes widespread).
  • Content is not scalable, but user generated content is.
  • ‘The customer is only one click away from never using you again.’
  • A valid business model is (still) seeing what has worked well in the US, then implementing it in Europe before the Americans can.
  • Only exit strategy is to be bought – forget about IPO’s.
  • Innovation comes from small companies.
  • Make your website / service addictive.
  • Leverage the power of community.
  • Enterprise Web 2.0 is not there yet , but it will be.

This last point is of particular interest, given that the stuff that FirstPartners build is increasingly Web 2.0 techniques and technologies applied to the problems of the Enterprise. That’s probably worth another , separate blog post.

There a lot of good people that I met on the day, but a lot of people that I either missed, or didn’t have enough time to complete our conversations. By way of an apology , I’ll use the power of WordPress to trackback to them. Their blogs are well worth reading for further information / angles on the event.

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Finding Good Ruby People

If you’re non-technical , or less technical than you used to be , it can be daunting sorting the good people from the bad (and believe me , I’ve met some of the bad ones).

This is doubly difficult for new languages like Ruby , where you might not have the expertise in house to sort out the most obvious blaggers. Java used to have this problem 5 years ago when it went mainstream , but there’s enough half-decent Java people in most companies to flag when something seems wrong with a CV / interviewee.

If you are looking for Ruby people (maybe attracted by it’s ability to do make the routine things easy , or by it being the lingua franca of Web 2.0) , then this article on O’Reilly maybe a good place to start.