Blogging For (Creative) Beginners

I’ll be giving a half day beginner blogging course in Kilkenny in May under the ArtLinks banner. With details being finalised just before the weekend and rolling out with the new ArtLinks business courses being promoted for the summer, I’ll have to say I’m looking forward to giving the course and working with more creative types in Kilkenny.

That said, the course will be promoted to creative practitioners working within Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow and should attract a good blend of visual artists, musicians, writers and the likes. This will be the second course I’ve been involved in putting together for ArtLinks, having facilitated a “Getting Ahead In The Music Industry” day (my 90 minute talk focusing on effective use of the web for musicians) in Wicklow last November.

For musicians who are new to blogging and don’t want to wait until May for a chat, have a gander of Kyra Reed’s recent blog post for TuneCore on Why Every Artist Needs A Blog.

It is also nice to see that the Kilkenny Arts Office have also started the ball blogging about their Artist In Residence programme at the gallery at 72 John Street.

Delighted The Internet Has An Off Switch

In comments on my post prior to the weekend, Bernie Goldbach suggests that

you have to shut off the warbles, the beeps, the bubble-ups, and the vibrating text alerts at least once every three months.

To certify this, Pavlos adds

Isn’t it great when we find ourselves in places and situations where the absence of technology goes by unnoticed?

Such was the case for the weekend. Granted, there was no complete absence of technology – I did bring my laptop and Mbox in order to process some tracks from the One Take Sessions (two weeks ago this Thursday) and I did watch a few episodes of Seinfeld on DVD – but I did marvel in the ability to disconnect.

There is no land line in the house in Sligo. There is no land line for a reason. There is no satellite TV, pipe TV, cable TV or antenna capable of picking up a TV signal again all for a reason. I took joy in leaving my mobile phone in a corner of the house where the only useful function I could get from it is to tell the time.

The result?

A great weekend.

Kayaking across an open lake in high winds, walking mountain roads at 7am, tucking into a bag of chips at the Aclare St. Patrick’s Day Parade (which far surpasses the quality of the Kilkenny parade, at least from what I can remember of it anyway), enjoying quality pints in the local and all without a care for what’s happening in the online world.

Given I spend way too much time “connected” as it is, it’s a great escape to shut off for a few days and I’d advocate it to anyone – throw yourself into the outdoors for a weekend and forget about everything else, just for a little while anyway.

Internet Silence For The Weekend

Kayaking TrioJaiku off? Check. Twitter off? Check. Internet profile on phone? Still deleted. Last.fm Radio? Nowhere to be found. Paddle? Check. ProTools? Check. Boots? Check. Bike? Check.

I’ve been waiting for March to hit for ages, this stretch of ten days or so to be more precise. It’s close on two months since I’ve had the chance to get up to Sligo but come lunchtime today I’ll be counting down the miles to the lake, all in the hope that I’m getting a head start on the bank holiday traffic.

I’m imposing internet silence for the weekend. Twitter and Jaiku mobile updates are off. There’s no broadband connection in the house above – which surprisingly suits me this weekend – no dial-up connection and mobile coverage is sketchy at the best of times.

The lack of any decent speed internet connection doesn’t sway me at all at the lake. I know if I drive 7 miles up the road that I can get a wireless broadband connection. I know if I make the trip into Ballina (Mayo, we’re pretty close to the border) and could bring my laptop with me, enjoy internet access and coffee in the town, but I choose not to. There are enough natural distractions in the area to enjoy as opposed to spending even MORE time logged on.

Barring one appointment I’ve got on Saturday I plan on getting back out on the lake, tackling some more of the waves at Iniscrone (I’m guessing we’ll have the weather for it though I must look up the surf reports), cycling the mountain roads until my legs fall off and if I’ve enough energy left, flesh out an idea on paper that’s been bubbling away in my head the last two weeks (good bubbles) and I’m NOT leaving until I’ve got one new track recorded for delivery on MySpace next week.

If you’re emailing me, DMing me or looking for me in general, don’t expect to find me until Tuesday – or maybe Monday night, depending on what happens on the 17th.

Yes, some of us still believe that St. Patrick’s Day and it’s traditional Irish activities should take place on the 17th and not a bloody Saturday.

Then we’ll do it all again next weekend for Easter.

The Gamechanger: AOL Acquire Bebo In $850m Cash Deal

BeboOne of my former employers have announced that they’ve acquired Bebo
, currently ranked as the third largest social network in the US, behind MySpace and Facebook, and likely the widest used social network within Ireland. The deal sees AOL purchase Bebo in a US$850m cash deal, a price significantly higher than that paid for Intermix Media (MySpace) back at the end of 2005.

Of course, add two years worth of growth throughout the US and Europe, an opening up of the Bebo platform to accept third party applications and the price is likely to go up.

If AOL were looking for an “in” to the social networking arena, they’ve certainly got it now. The deal is expected to close some time in April, opening up a potential 40 million users to further AOL services (providing of course they’re not existing users).

I think it’s a great purchase for AOL and costs considered, it looks they’ve got themselves a decent price as well. Estimates on the sale of Bebo in the past 12 months have exceeded the US$1bn mark, TechCrunch reporting in February that Bebo may go for anywhere between US$1bn and US$1.5bn to Google while Yahoo was also rumoured to be looking into acquiring Bebo last summer.

From the announcement today, AOL chairman Randy Falco says

this deal is a “gamechanger” and will help power our strategic priorities across the board. Bebo is the best social media asset out there and has the most engaged audience and has seen great growth since its launch 3 years ago. We will be a social media powerhouse. 80 million unduplicated visitors when you count AIM and Bebo. Bebo will be connected to the largest distributed web audience and will circulate traffic from our sites to Bebo and the reverse and have the scale to grow Bebo worldwide. Joanna has impressed me with her vision for the new Web and better ways to connect and develop long-term relationship

Of course, the future of Yahoo itself has to be yet confirmed. There’s rumour today that Microsoft are set to announce their purchase of Yahoo at a 3pm press conference.

When all is said and done, congratulations to AOL on the deal, but does this mean I go back to using my ICQ account?

Update: Centernetworks has a live call with AOL (notes) here.

Two Jobs Of Interest

I thought I’d mention these two as they’re both quite interesting jobs working with two startup companies in Ireland.

Joe Drumgoole is hiring – that is to say that PutPlace.com is hiring and they’re looking for a Mac developer to create a Mac version of the existing PutPlace Windows client. PutPlace provide a means for organising your digital life – photos, video, audio, documents and more. You don’t need a lifetime of experience (though you must be good at what you do and have a few years under your belt working in Panther, Tiger and Leopard environments) and you don’t even have to live in Dublin (though you will be paid for relocation if you choose to move closer to the company.

As the job post says

PutPlace is looking for a developer to build a Mac version of its existing Windows client software. The ideal candidate will have demonstrable experience of building whole applications on Panther, Tiger and Leopard. Ideally with Objective-C using the Cocoa framework. Knowledge of Python, Django, SQLite and PostGres will get you bonus points. We pay market rates and above for the right people. We offer stock options and a health plan. We also give you the ability to build someting from scratch that will make real world users happy.

It’s a great opportunity to get in on the ground of a really interesting Irish startup. If you want to find out more, check out the job listing here or visit PutPlace.com.

If I spoke Irish and wasn’t working for myself, one position I would seriously consider is that of a trainee podcaster. Are Edgecast advertising for the first professional podcast job? They’ve got to be close to it anyway!

Edgecast Media, an innovative social media company, is the brainchild of Conn Ó Muíneacháin. While also producing award winning podcasts, Edgecast are behind the Irish version of Intruders.tv which launched last September. The Edgecast presence at numerous tech events in Ireland over the last year or so has provided some valuable and much needed audio and video exposure of startup companies in Ireland as well as extended coverage of new media events such as PodCamp Ireland, the Irish Blog Awards and more.

But – they’re also hiring and have been advertising for almost a month now a position for a trainee podcaster.

The position involves a good deal of radio production work for traditional broadcast channels, in addition to production and publishing of blogs, podcasts and other forms of internet media. The position would suit a recent graduate in radio production or multimedia. Applications will also be considered from students seeking temporary work-placement as part of a third-level course.

To find out more on the trainee podcaster position, click here to read the job post.

Positions like these with companies like these did not exist when I was leaving college – and that was only three years ago.

If you’re a Mac developer or an Irish-speaking soul with a strong interest in podcasting and new media then these are two positions which should not be overlooked.

USB Compilation Album For DownloadMusic.ie

In the aftermath of the Blog Awards and having a brief word (and subsequent emails) with DownloadMusic.ie’s Johnny Beirne, I’ve been asked to join a panel of well respected musicians and promotors (including the likes of 2FM’s Rick O’Shea, former Choice Music Prize winner Julie Feeney, WLR’s Roddy Cleere, Today FM’s Alison Curtis and more – full list here).

The purpose of the panel is to select 10 tracks from the DownloadMusic.ie catalog to go forth onto a USB released compilation album which will be sold online as well as being distributed to key media personnel around the country.

As panelists we’re given the task of listening through and rating a short list of 50 tracks from acts registered on DownloadMusic.ie, producing a final selection of 10 to make their way to the album.

I think it’s a great idea from the DM team who continue to help promote (and chart) music from independent Irish and unsigned acts. I’ve worked with a few acts in helping them get their music onto the service (it’s actually a rather easy process) and have seen bands reap the benefits of having their tracks available for download (both for promotional and commercial gain), particularly when the downloads are being tracked for places in the Irish music charts.

The compilation album too will be monitored by ChartTrack so with enough sales we might see a USB released album enter the Irish charts. If anything I’m looking forward to discovering more new music in the knowledge that the contributions made by the panel are further exposing some of the gems of the Irish music scene to a greater audience.

Getting Set For CreativeCamp

We’re getting set for CreativeCamp in Kilkenny this coming Saturday. You know it’s on in a castle, right? We’ve also got in the region of 100 people registered for the day and we’d love to see everyone who has registered so far there! Secretly I’m hoping for a 50-a-side game of football or hurling in the park… is it possible?

It is shaping up to be a great day. Myself and Keith will be in the venue tomorrow afternoon and Friday to check on a few last minute things before the doors to The Parade Tower swing open on Saturday morning.

The latest treat for those in attendance comes in the form of organic and fairly traded wine coming to CreativeCamp via McGovern’s Organic Wines. You can enjoy a glass, hopefully in the sun, or perhaps watching a screening of the first episode of a new web-based sitcom being filmed in Kilkenny?

There’s also talk of drinks afterwards as we know there’s a few people staying in Kilkenny. If you’re not booked into Kilkenny and need a few tips, I’ve added an accommodation list to the CreativeCamp blog with estimated walking times from The Parade Tower as well. With almost 20 talks on the day and some terrific sights to take in (do give yourself a chance to stroll around the castle grounds, feed the ducks, play on the swings) and a top class lineup of speakers across varying genres and backgrounds, the day is sure to present something for everyone.

Not to late to sign up – just click here to register!

A Lot To Be Said For Working From Home

There’s a lot to be said for working from home. For almost every working day since 2005 I’ve been making my way to the office, settling into my desk, my chair, the kettle nearby and not once can I remember taking a full day to work at home. Sure, often there’s times where I’ll start a job at home if I’m up early (early being in the 7am range, the “usual” being the 7:30am range) and bring it with me to the office for 8:30am. Or maybe I’ll go the other way, start a job late in the office and bring it home to finish off, just for a “change of scenery” at the end of the day.

Yesterday, however, I woke to heavy snowfall in Kilkenny, a headache and a general feeling of being unwell. No problem I thought, I’ll hang on an hour, down a cup of green tea, settle myself into the morning gradually and make way to the office for mid morning. No point in giving up on work though!

Having been out of the office Friday, the mobile was beside me and turned on by 8:30am. We switched our office mail over to Google Apps around last summer so the office mail went on for 8:30am, along with Google chat to keep tied into the office. Connection to the server in the office for projects and job folders? No problem. Couple the recent installation of OpenOffice, add some graphic packages, editors, XAMPP to back the webserver at home, bundle in my Skype Pro account (and recently installed desktop phone) and I’ve everything I need really to work a full day from the house.

Next thing you know it’s 11:30am and I’m finally getting around to that cup of green tea. At this stage I’ve three jobs cleared off my virtual desk, two training sessions arranged for next week and Friday through Monday’s email cleared.

When I realised the headache was subsiding and I could manage lunch I figured there was no point in going to the office as I was in full swing at home. I had recently reorganising my home workspace (effectively splitting it in two to handle audio recording and production on one side of the room and office work on the other) which was certainly a help. Plus, my actual physical office is located in an industrial estate between a control panel-building company and metal fabrication company. Every hour of the day there’s machines going off, delivery trucks pulling up outside, people dropping in and out of the office for one reason or another. Now, that’s not to say that I’m working in a completely noisy environment but there are certain stages of the day when it gets noisy outside the window!

Come the afternoon, the snow subsided outside, making way for rain but still there were no trucks, no machines and a full working day complete. I stopped for lunch for 20 minutes, grabbed a tea in the afternoon and that was it. Meetings arranged for the week, phone support jobs handled, all the time keeping touch with Aidan in the office, exchanging files over chat / email / phone.

I used to do that kind of thing in college, the odd time anyway. Get up early in the morning, abandon the walk to college in favour of working in a very quiet house to get some valuable project time in.

In speaking with Keith yesterday in relation to CreativeCamp it was suggested that your mind works in a different way when working from home, or your line of thinking is different. You’re getting on with the tasks at hand but you can approach them differently, cover some things you wouldn’t normally get done in the office environment.

Perk for me is the only other person there would be my brother, the rest of the family (and the dog) firmly installed in Sligo and at that he wouldn’t be back until 5pm anyway.

While I can’t say that I’ll make it a regular occurrence and it certainly wouldn’t be practical when it comes to client meetings, I was pleasantly surprised at the vast amount of work accomplished yesterday between 8am and 5:30pm.

A bit of peace, plenty of focus and barely stirring from the chair made for a fairly healthy work day, and certainly provided food for thought for taking other odd days to work at home.

The Blog Awards Rocked. Fact

Morning After Tea

At last year’s Blog Awards (2007), myself and the rest of the KKM crew had to cut the night short just after the awards ceremony to cover a few gigs in Dublin. This year, the crew was cut in half, there were no gigs to cover so myself and Ross found ourselves immersed in the 2008 Blog Awards at the Alexander Hotel in Dublin last night. Early in the door (my raffle ticket was 1-5!) and late back to the hotel (some time around 3am possibly?).

While I’ve already posted the list of winners from last night, I did want to flag a few things – mainly being the people I ran into on the night.

The Irish Blog Awards was full of legends. A huge room packed wall to wall with legends. The people in the room are the reason you don’t have to read the newspapers. They are the technology writers, photographers, musicians, food critics, fashion divas, arts lovers, business gurus, political thinkers, sporting enthusiasts and so much more. One cannot get over the sheer power of the Irish blogging community and the respect in which everyone is held amongst their blogging peers.

Loudervoice.com's Conor O'Neill with KilkennyMusic.com's Ross Costigan (oss237)After missing out on RedMum’s photo walk around Dublin, and failing to hook up with Phil and Andy in Wagamama (due to getting in late, trying to find the hotel and getting ready for the Awards) we did eventually arrive at the Alexander bang on 6:30pm.

Who did I get to talk to?

Paul Browne for a start. About bloody time as well, having missed out on a chat and pint at last year’s Awards. That can of Guinness is still in my filing cabinet and I swear I’ll remember the name of that river! Talk of the night ahead and kayaking over the west was had before being introduced to the first round of beers for the night with Darren Byne and Darragh Doyle – two of the soundest guys you could meet.

After scoffing a few Black Jacks courtesy of the LouderVoice.com sweet bag, I finally managed to shake hands with Conor O’Neill. It’s been too long a time coming! It wasn’t long too before running into David Maybury. Having first met in Kilkenny late last year, I’ve to thank David and Deborah for the aftershow party in Burger King somewhere in Dublin around 2:30am. I say “somewhere” as there was a lot of walking, plenty of joking, and next thing you know I’m sitting down to a burger of some description.

There was chat with RedMum, Phil O’Kane and Andy GoodOnPaper.

Johnny Beirne is a man I’ve to catch up with again and finish the conversation that never really got off the ground – we’ll do it again. I also decided that Marcus Mac Innes is a legend as well. Some mad conversation at the end of the night I’m having trouble piecing together. Needless to say there was a lot of laughing. Plus, I gave him one of the 5 mustaches I won which can be here.

Mustache's are the new thing... seriously!I got to catch up with Nialler9 (who did the double on the Best Music Blog) who capped off what’s been a terrific week, all things considered. AoifeMc bagged herself a gun on the night courtesy and it was nice to make the introduction before the night ran out. The same too goes for Sinead Gleeson, twitter / sunday cooking 2.0 cohort Alexia Golez (who is even nicer in real life as much as she in online, plus she had a kick-ass Thundercats tee on) and Paul Walsh.

I managed to snap Ina on video rummaging for a holiday break… 🙂 How did that work out in the end? Went looking for Sabrina Dent before the night was out – mission accomplished too. There was some strange tattoo checking with The Humble Housewife? After that, things get a little bit hazy.

I can go on, but in fairness I think I wound up talking to an absolute ton of people there on the night. God, I even made the dance floor for the last part of the night – big thanks to Brian Greene for the absolutely solid music through the night. No thanks to whoever kept laying on the tequila…

Mr Mulley certainly throws a solid bash, but it’s the Irish blogging community on a whole that make it happen and make every second worthwhile on nights like last night.

You can catch a selection of pictures I took on the night here on Flickr (will get them on Pix.ie shortly, I was told I’d be killed otherwise).

For the moment, it’s onward towards CreativeCamp this coming Saturday.

Those Irish Blog Awards Winners

Partly for my own reference for later on, and to give some link love to the winners, here’s the list of those who walked away with the trophies last night.

I had been featured under Best Technology Blog for kenmc.com while KilkennyMusic.com was included in the Best Music Blog, those categories going to Robin and Nialler9 respectively. Couldn’t go to two nicer lads! Fair play!

I’m currently shaking off a hangover, getting sorted with some photos from last night as well as the list of names of people I spoke to – yes, I saved them to my phone “just in case” the pints kept flowing. The pints, and shots, flowed until we were pretty much the last ones out the door so I’m glad I kept that list!

Full flashback / summary later this evening…