Which of these people is going to win the 'Best Irish Business Blogger' Award?

Did we mention that FirstPartners is sponsoring the Best Business Blog award? As a taster, here are the profiles of the 13 people short listed for the award. Who will we be giving the prize to? Come along on the 1st of March , Alexander Hotel, Dublin to find out.

MaryRose Lyons Brightspark Consulting
Brightspark is a Dublin web design and internet marketing agency, run by Maryrose Lyons who has been blogging since 2003. So she probably knows what she is talking about. Maryrose doesn’t pull her punches (read her blog to find out who she called ‘a shambles’) and is recommended to people dipping their toes in the world of business blogging.
Bubble Brothers
The tagline to this blog pretty much sums it up : ‘Wine, Champagne , more’. These Cork Wine Merchants ooze sophistication, even when they branch out from wine to talk about pancakes, pizza and the Bridgestone pick of 2008. All on the one page. They’ll even sell you some of their stuff if you ask nicely.
Pat Phelan
Cork Based Giant Killer Pat Phelan is out to slay the telecoms monsters. Watch a blow by blow account on the roam4free blog. You’ll never look at your mobile phone bill in the same way again.
Keith Bohanna
Keith’s main job is as part of the Irish Internet Association and creative camp Kilkenny. Or maybe it’s as part of a startup , DB Twang, a site for Guitar enthusiasts Kilkenny Creative Camp. Or maybe it’s teaching other business people to blog. Whichever subject is, Keith covers them well on his site.
Ice Cream Ireland
Ice Cream. In a blog. From Kerry cows. What more do you need to know?
BH Consulting Blog
Brian Honan , one of Ireland’s top Security Consultants , will have you paranoid after reading his blog. And while everybody else except you gets hit by virus, phishing attempts and emails that knock over your PC, you’ll be glad that you listened to him.
The Blacknight Blog
Michele Neylon has been a supporter of the blogging community, since well , before they were called blogs. Michele runs Blacknight hosting based in Carlow. The Blacknight example shows how a company in a ‘commodity’ industry (web hosting) can stand out by showing a human face on their blog(s). At the very least , it shows faith in their quality of service.
O’Conall Street
Conall manages to make business and politics mix. A man who has journeyed from Dublin to Belfast via Spain, the SDLP and the Good Friday Agreement , he is currently head of PR Company Weber Shandwick in Northern Ireland. He’s also a Man United fan, but everybody has to have at least one flaw.
McGarr Solicitors
McGarr solicitors are the first point of call for bloggers in legal distress. The site is very much legal people who blog, rather than just bloggers with a passing interest in the law. The blog provides a lot of useful advice in areas such as Personal Injury, (accidents at work particularly) , Environmental , Planning and Employment Law. And they do the bread and butter buying and selling your house as well. .
Interactions
Annette Clancy is an organisational consultant, coach and psychotherapist. An unusal combination perhaps, but she helps people overcome their ‘stuckness’ and solve business problems. The blog isn’t afraid to venture into uncharted areas such as the role of emotion in the work place.
Worldwide Cycles
One of europes few specialist bike stores run by people who are still competing regularly. Barry, based in Tipperary, explains what those infestations of cyclists are actually doing on our roads. And what cyclists get up to with cans of Lynx. It will make 4×4 drivers think twice before overtaking with only inches to spare.
Fortify Your Oasis
Thinking of changing your job? Read this blog first. Rowan explains how to give your life direction, how to pick , then land the job that fits in with this. And shows you how to preform a graceful exit from the role your are currently in and hate. And he’s written a book about it, showing that bloggers can do ‘real’ writing as well.
Frank Fullard
Mayo based Frank talks about entrepreneurs and the businesses they start. And he’s not afraid to think small, taking a different view from many of the ‘we’re a startup, we’re going to take over the world’ blogs that are out there.

How do you follow up the Dublin Java Conference?

How do you follow up the Dublin Java Conference? 20 International Presentations, hundreds of attendees and the best speaker night out that I’ve been to in a while.

With the Dublin Java Pub Quiz of course (more info).

Tue 15th Jan, 7.30pm, Duke Pub , Duke Street , Dublin (Just off Grafton Street, round corner from M&S).

Would the last Java person leaving Ireland please turn out the lights?

Over the last 6 months, I know of 5 top Java guys who have either left , or seriously planning to leave, Ireland. I’m not happy about this.

Surprised?

Halfpenny Bridge Dublin

You’d think that I’d be delighted that the idea of the all the competition leaving. Reality is that all us IT Consultants live in an ecosystem: if companies don’t have a pool of talent available they will find somewhere or some other way of doing it.

All of the 5 guys have very different reasons for going (and they are guys, just to confirm the stereotype). All are going for very positive reasons. They want to go to the UK, USA, France and further afield. Some are going on spec, some have work with top companies lined up. There is a mix of nationalities, but all have been in Ireland for three years or more. These aren’t people who came to Ireland for a working holiday or are leaving do the ‘Big OE’ in New Zealand. They’re also people Ireland can ill-afford to lose.

The common thread in all the stories was that the Irish Property Market; It’s great to have an itch to travel, but you’re never going to leave unless somebody gives you a push. High rents and impossible property prices gave these guys (at least some) of that push.

Irish Java Technologies Conference – Live

I’m dipping in and out of the presentations at the Irish Java Technologies Conference (IJTC Dublin), so I’m not going to get to see the top 10 speakers. I will update this as it goes along, but my notes on the conference so far are ….

  • Bernie Goldbach came all the way from Tipp on the off-chance that he would get 3 minutes with Joel Spoelsky. Given that it’s a 4 and half hour round trip, I’m glad that he got his interview.
  • Joel, as ever, was a very good speaker. His message for software developers; soft rounded corners matter. Think iPhone instead of Samsung brick.
  • David Syer of Interface 21 was talking about what’s next for Spring (2.5 and 3.0). A lot of good stuff coming up; support for the latest Java Enterprise specs, Webflow , OSGi (deploy bundles , not applications), configuration using annotation instead of XML
  • Shaun Smith of Oracle. Covering building JPA Applications (Java and Databases) using Eclipse and Java. Now, I’m not a great fan of Toplink (I prefer Hibernate) , but the open source work including the work on the Eclipse IDE , and it’s support of the JPA (Java Persistence Architecture) standard, and it’s ability to transform Java Ojbects into loads of things (e.g. XML instead of Database Tables) is making me want to take a 2nd look.
  • Caught talking in the Lobby : Shaun of Oracle Toplink and Emmanuel Bernard of Hibernate. I was vaugely disappointed these two didn’t come to blows (being from rival projects). There were actually nice to each other and exchanged business cards. Fascinating conversation though …
  • James Strachan , Iona and Apache, speaking about messaging patterns. He takes the bean soup that is messaging and integrating your applications and makes it seem really simple. He’s also talking about Apache Camel, ActiveMQ and ServiceMix

Other People Blogging about this:

Links to our JBoss jBPM (Workflow/ Business Process Management) presentation slides to follow shortly …

Top 10 Speakers at the Irish Java Technologies Conference (IJTC Dublin)

Not (too blatant) a plug for the Irish Java Technologies Conference (IJTC). Although if you’re around Dublin on the 7th / 8th / 9th November I’m told you’re more than welcome to drop in. This post is more a quick review of the people who are speaking. It’s also an invitation to check out their websites and see if any of the technologies they are promoting could be of use to your project.

Dublin Jug Logo

Here are the top 10 projects that I’m looking forward to checking out.

10) Java and Microsoft SQL Server : It’s still a brave Microsoft person that comes to a Java conference. Shows MS recognition a substantial amount of Java deployments persist their Data to a SQL- Server database.

9) Eclipse STP (and SOA) – Service Orientated Architecture is the buzzword of the year. If anybody can put substance behind the hype , it’s the guys From Iona.

8) Eclipse JPA and Dali. Hibernate pushed Object Relational Mapping (ORM) to be the standard approach to database access. The manager of the ‘other’ ORM Project (Oracle Toplink) should give a interesting coverage of the tooling developments.

7) Apache Geronimo – by Jeff Genender from Apache Foundation. So long the ‘other’ Open source application server, this is now becoming credible in commercial deployments.
6) Java Update – Simon has been working as a lead Java consultant for Sun Microsystems. He’ll be talking about Java Standard Edition 6 and Java Mobile Edition. But what I’m really interested in is Java Enterprise Edition 5, Scripting, Java Realtime and Java FX.

5) If scripting is your thing fellow Onjava Blogger Dejan Bosanac is also speaking on this subject. He’s talking about Scripting within the JVM, which will be one of the hot topics for 2008.

4) iPhone v JMME – I don’t get the buzz around Mobile (give it another 18 months , we’ll all be running Java Application Servers on the mobile). But many people are interested in it – this talk is how to make you Mobile Java apps as slick as those in the iPhone.

3) JBoss Drools Engine (Drools)I’ve blogged (a little bit) about Drools before. I’ve also been fortunate enough to hear Mark Proctor speak and you will come out an convinced that the natural home for Business Logic is in the Rule engine.

2) JPA and Hibernate – There is a very strong possibility that Emmanuel Bernard will be returning to Dublin to talk about the Hibernate project that he leads. Having seen his recent talk, and given the level of interest in Hibernate, I expect a strong turnout for this one.

1) Spring 2.5 – Spring has been around for more than 5 years and is making serious inroads in the the Enterprise Java community. Sam Brannen (from Interface21) will give details on the latest on the major update to Spring (2.5) as well as what is planned for the future.

Disclaimer: I’ll be talking about Java Workflow (based on on JBoss jBPM). But compared to these guys, I’m way down on the Z-List of presenters.

Other People Blogging about this:

Ten Predictions for Post Tiger Ireland

If David McWilliams can take credit for the phrase ‘Celtic Tiger’, can I be first to use the phrase ‘Post Tiger Ireland‘? Looking 5 years out, whether or not the Irish property market has a hard or soft landing, Ireland is going to be a very different place.

We were looking at buying a car in Smiths Ford Garage in Drogheda. The Sales guy (very personable but old school salesman) knew that we were coming in. The car we looked at had a flat tire. In Tiger Ireland , this wouldn’t have mattered – he could shift his quota of cars in the first week of the month. In Post Tiger Ireland (TM), cars are still going to sell , but the salesman is going to have to work for his money – doing the basics like fix the tires and clean the car properly.

So, anybody want to put money on the following not happening over the next 5 years?

  1. Not a national disater:
    We’ll have a hard / soft / gentle as a feather (delete as appropriate) landing in the housing market. This will be talked about as a ‘national disaster’. It won’t be – the non construction 73% of the economy will continue along, maybe a little bit more cautiously, but it will carry on.
  2. We’ll find a way to ‘blame the Brits’
    (and everybody else) but unlike the last 800 years, we messed this one upselves. Don’t expect this to stop an unwanted increase in nastiness towards anybody looking non-Irish. The majority of the bullies will be those who left education early to take advantage of the construction boom and are now left high and dry. Sales of Harp Lager to increase?
  3. There will be an increase in the politics of envy.
    Before we were living the Irish Dream – everybody could make it big. Now, expect punative (an ineffectual) tax proposals on property developers , complaints (but nothing done) about high public sector wages and pensions and demands from the ‘losers’ to be compensated (reform of stamp duty anyone?).
  4. Ireland will become (even) more like Britain
    A mature but growing , first world economy. Yes, they’re our closest neighbour (geographically and culturally) , we support their football clubs and spend money in their chain stores. Expect the politics to become more similar – the key debate will be around improving the quality of public services (Health, Roads, Schools, Policing).
  5. At least one major multinational will pull out with job losses in the thousands.
    There will be demands for government to ‘do something’ (the time for action will be 5 years too late). Away from the headlines, Irish Startups (in knowledge sectors such as IT , Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals) will create jobs, but in smaller companies.
  6. Ireland will grow older.
    The average age of the Irish population will grow older as the baby boom passes. It’s possible that we could have too many schools in 15 years time – at least until the current babies have kids of their own. Another Irish Property Bubble in 2027?
  7. The ‘New Irish’ will draw more talent into the Irish Economy.
    Many ‘New Irish’ (choose this weeks PC term) are here to stay for the same reason that many Irish people still live in England and the US. Would you take your 5 year old daughter back to school in Poland if she only spoke English? ; Migrants tend to follow where friends and family have gone before. This will give the Ireland a boost as we get the cream of overseas talent, even when other EU desinations become available. Expect more Paul McGraths on the Irish Football team.
  8. Suburbs are the new Ghettos.
    Carbon taxes and higher fuel costs are here to stay. Traffic jams in Dublin are going to get even worse (think pre-congestion charge London). Doing an expensive 2 hr commute will become less and less attractive, especially when house prices fall. Poorly built boomtime housing will decay quickly when not maintained leading to a vicious circle of decline when those that can afford to get out, will.
  9. IT will be the major growth factor in the Irish Economy.
    Despite all the buzz around Green, Space and Nano technologies, few of these are ready for widespread commercialisiation. Not only will IT be the direct engine of growth, but it will enable growth in other industries (e.g. Irish Business using Skype videoconferences to offer Financial Services to the City of London).
  10. Something will happen that we can’t predict.
    In the 60’s , few foresaw the viciousness of the troubles. In the early 90’s , few predicted the robustness of the Celtic Tiger. What does this decade hold? A 9-11 with Irish linked perpetrator’s? Large scale social unrest caused by the Euro-straightjacket? Miracle cures for obesity, cancer and smoking? I have no idea.

There are some of these predictions (especially number 2) that I don’t like. What do you think?`]

More Blog Posts from Paul

How to fix Dublin Airport – and save the Irish Taxpayer Billions

Recently had to pop over to London to do some work for a ‘well known’ UK client. More details (maybe) later.

Dublin Airport is a mess. It’s more like Ellis Island, even at 5am in the morning – a seething mass of humanity trying to leave Ireland. At least it was better than the last time, with 100’s of school kids going out on ski trips. Did I smell that bad when I was a teenager?

DAA Logo
It’s going to get worse before it gets better, as the Terminal (‘due 2009’) is bound to get delivered late, overbudget , if it ever gets delivered at all. Here’s how to fix the mess in the meantime, and save billions.

  • The Aer Lingus Web Check In is excellent, and free. It means you get to the Airport , and walk straight into the (one) security queue, no messing about. Suggestion: Make everybody check in online for free. We know you can use the web – it’s how you bought your tickets.
  • Now that the half the check in desks are no longer needed, clear the floor space so that you no longer have to fight your way to the security queue.
  • Share check in desks. Other airports do it. It means that all Desks have a short queue, rather than the Ryanair queue snaking around the building.
  • Move all the Restaurants to airside (i.e. after security). Nobody goes to the airport as a ‘day out’ anymore. Change the restaurants so that they can be used only be people that have gone through security. This is half done already – all it would mean is moving the glass partition wall on the top floor of the aiport.
  • Get rid of a few shops and make more space for Security. Security is slow, as you often have to wait for people to put on their shoes, belts , coats etc on. If there was more space, these could move aside and let more passengers be screened by the same number of security personnel. If I want shopping , I’ll go to Dundrum.
  • Let people pay for FastTrack Security. No, its not fair, but neither is life. Let people with more money than time ‘buy’ a fast track security pass (e.g. as part of buying your ticket online). Use this money to open a new ‘priority’ security gate. The profits could go to having more security people on the existing gates.
  • Stop fast-tracking Z-List celebrities. I know of one family (who child was about to explode with a full nappy) only get taken to the head of the security queue because they were behind a minor actor who was (once) on Coronation Street. How does this help the Irish Economy?

A lot of these things are simple. Even the more complicated things could be sorted out with a couple of meetings and a couple of million thrown to whoever complains. Far cheaper than the cost (and delay to the Economy) of a new Terminal.