Toddle – Drogheda man about to take over the world

I thought I was good at shameless self publicity. But Alan O’Rourke is even better at it. And he’s got a great business idea in Toddle (a very easy to use tool that allows people to send out dramatic, relevant emails).
Toddle - Alan O Rourke

The above picture is from the Irish Independent writeup on Toddle. And if you want to check out Alan’s mad-take-over-the-world-ideas , he blogs at PinStripe.

I’ll almost forgive him for being from ‘the faaaaaar soide’ – that’s the Meath side of Drogheda if you don’t follow our local tradition of ignoring people from the other side of the River Boyne.

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How NOT to do Web 2.0 – No Cork is not near Drogheda

Web 2.0 is great – it allows users to get involved on your website.

Allthetopbananas.com shows not how to do it. Just be lazy and not bother to tell your website that Cork is not near Drogheda (for our non-Irish-based readers, they’re at opposite ends of the country, about a 4-5hr commute!).

Why should I bother to report to you that ‘Cork is not Drogheda’ if you haven’t done your basic research and looked at the map? Save your ‘wisdom of crowds’ stuff for items that you can’t find anywhere else.

Mobile Internet without holding a PDA Brick to your ear

For a (semi) Techie, I’m not that much into gadgets. Until now , there are only three that I’d class as ‘must haves’.

  • Vodafone Broadband internet card – it means I can get the Internet on the train. Living in Drogheda with a lot of clients in Dublin, this means about 10 hours extra a week when I’m now connected.
  • Hard Disk TV recorder – most of the good shows are on after 10pm. I’m up early most mornings and that is way past my bedtime.
  • A Phil and Ted. You either know what this is , or you don’t , but if you have one you’ll swear by it.

Nokia 770
Now I’m going to add a fourth : the Nokia 770 , bought solely on Damien’s recommendation. It’s not a phone , more of a big screen that you can add your existing phone (it connects pretty automatically via bluetooth, and will use any available wireless network). It solves the problem of using internet on your mobile ; before you had to choose between a normal-ish phone with a tiny internet screen, or a large screen but having to hold a brick to your ear to make calls. It’s almost small – about the size of 2 decks of playing cards.

I was getting a bit worried before it arrived as Elly has one and is cursing it, but it solves two problems for me:

  1. If on the train / other location, and can’t use my laptop (e.g. I didn’t get a seat and I’m standing up), then I can still get (fairly decent) access to email and other online services (Google Maps, Del.icio.us bookmarks, LinkedIn Social Networking being the ones I’ve tried so far).
  2. When I couldn’t be bothered getting out the laptop (e.g. 5 minutes before a meeting), it’s useful for a quick check.

So, it’s not perfect , but it does the job that I want it to do ; for a little over 100 Euro – Bargain. Yes , it could be quicker, but it does a fairly good job of showing most websites (including this blog, the main site and the wiki). It’s a pity it doesn’t have flash, nor play the BBC internet radio , but I’m sure I can get downloads for it. It does do GoogleTalk for free Voip calls and have other internet radio stations. And , if you’re bored you can use it as an MP3 player. Battery life (4hrs) isn’t great, but (a) the charger is very very light and (b) if I need internet that much I’ll use the laptop.

An added bonus is that I’ve been looking around for a simple ‘Contacts Management’ solution. The 770 has one built in , with more that you can download /access online. Not holding my breath that it will solve this problem as well for me (would never have considered a PDA before), but icing on the cake if it does.

As a personal quirk , I like the fact that it’s an open platform (it’s Linux based). What it means for normal people is that there are plenty of 3rd party downloads if there (I’ve added a PDA and a console to monitor web servers) without having to pay through the nose. While I’ve dabbled with development for mobile devices, that wasn’t the main reason for buying this thing.

It will be interesting to see how Conor, Niall , Walter and Gordon are getting on with theirs. And to answer Michele’s question, the email client is ok , but I’ll end up usign Gmail (they’re hosting Firstpartners email , no synch issues.)

Update: Ken also has a review, with real life pictures (give a better flavour of the size of the thing, even though the screen is much sharper in real-life.

Drogheda Library follows the Ryanair Model

Think of Libraries as an early version of the internet, with books instead of pdf’s and web pages. You would think that as places of study , they would encourage student’s to use modern technology as part of revising for their Leaving Cert. Wrong.
Drogheda Borough Council Logo

Our local library in Drogheda has banned people from using laptops in the library. The excuse is that they can’t find a practical way of charging for the electricity they use. And don’t even think of asking for free wireless access. And all the student was asking for was a quick charge of his MacBook so he could do a final study session before his exam.
Forget about Web 2. If we don’t get the basics right we’re doomed.

Update

The Drogheda Independent has just picked up on this story (almost word for word). More to follow.

Update 2.

O’Reilly Radar have a very interesting related story (If Libraries had shareholders) with detailed graphs showing how people are using libraries less and less for the books, and more and more for the internet

Plato – more networking , people not computers

It’s a co-incidence of timing , but a reminder that there are many more meetups than just Barcamp (Dublin Event is on this Saturday).

Plato North West (Louth – Newry and Mourne) launched last night – thanks to Coca-Cola concentrates in Drogheda for hosting.
Plato Ireland Logo

Plato is a self help group for small business owners. (‘Hello , my name is Paul and I’m self-employed’). All the people involved are looking to grow their business. What Plato offers includes:

  • A support group of other people in similar situations that will meet regularly over the next months.
  • Networking opportunties , both within the group, cross border , and with other Plato groups (e.g Dublin, Cork and South East).
  • Clusters of companies in related sectors that would benefit from linking.
  • A struture to plan business expansion and a peer review to ensure you execute the plan.

Most of the details of the meetings are confidential , but I’m (happily) surprised at the cross section of companies involved. External companies can be invited in by consensus of the group.

Related posts: How to network , people not computers.

What you do if you weren't doing your current job?

What you do if you weren’t doing your current job? While we all harbour dreams of running a magically profitable coffeeshop, working only 3 hours a day, what would you really do if you wanted a change of career?

If I wasn’t in IT , I’d be in Finance, on the basis of …

  • My original degree is in Business (with French). Somehow I got seduced into IT (you don’t hear that very often).
  • Both Finance and IT require their own set of knowledge and expertise. Once you’ve acquired that expertise, the work can be quite profitable, as not everybody can do it.
  • Both are quite strong employment areas within Ireland, with the IFSC being one of the easiest parts of Dublin to get to from Drogheda (think Trains).

Sadly (but very sanely), neither Finance nor IT is considered ‘sexy’. There again, you can’t have everything. They’re both quite hard to explain to your Mum – as far as she’s concerned , I work ‘in computers’. This is akin to lumping Salesmen , Mechanics, road sweepers and Michael Schumacher in a category ‘something to do with cars’.

However , this lead-in does explain the contents of the ‘what’s Paul Reading?’ list. All links are to Amazon. I’d recommend all the books with the exception of the last one – it was written by a newspaper journalist and the slightly jingoistic style reflects this.

  1. Economist : The City – a guide to London’s Global Financial Centre
  2. Freakonomics
  3. Java security
  4. How the City Really works