It’s Been A Busy Week, And Weekend

Well it’s certainly been a busy week, and weekend. I’m judging that partly on the fact that for both Saturday and Sunday (today) I find myself up and about pre 7am. No such thing as a lie-in here I tell you.

It has been a week of revelations – one that has taught me interesting things about close friends, current and future clients as well as highlighting the notion that everything has the chance to surprise you when you least expect it.

I also spotted once again that the iSight does, in fact, rock when it comes to Online Meeting Rooms 😉

It has also been a rather productive week. Despite knocking out 50 hours in the office, I also managed to squeeze some day time hours out of my week to plan a return trip to Canada towards the end of the summer, record some podcasts, assist two people in the setup of new podcasts, get involved in the running of two shows at the Rhythm & Roots Festival next weekend, sign a few cheques and contracts in relation to the performance of Trainspotting in June, meet and talk to all the cast and crew, finalise a PR strategy for an upcoming nationwide music tour in July (one Irish, one Australian act) and while I wait on the kettle to boil, I’m currently prepping for a 12 hour video shoot today in Kilkenny.

The video shoot should be fun.

But this trip to Canada – or anywhere else for that matter, can’t come soon enough!

Dressing For The 80s – Scottish Jerseys Wanted

This is more of an appeal than anything… following a hectic weekend of interviews, meetings, theatre and music activity alike, I’m on the lookout for some 80s football gear and if YOU could help, that’d be great!

Donning my theatre company hat for a second, I’ve been cast as Tommy in an upcoming production of ‘Trainspotting’ which runs in Kilkenny from June 24th to June 28th. While I’ll be spending time on the stage, I’m also producing the show and I’m looking for some items of clothing…

  • Scottish (national team) soccer jersey, home or away, size mens medium or large, era 1978 – 1988
  • Hibernian (hibs) soccer jersey, home or away, again with size mens medium or large, same era (mid 70s to late 80s)
  • Iggy Pop tshirts – same fit and size

If you’ve got any of the above knocking around that you don’t wear, don’t wan’t or alternatively would be willing to loan them out between the start of May and the end of June, I’d love to hear from you.

You can leave a comment on this blog post or contact me here and I’ll get back to you.

A Peek Into My World…

Google alerts are a handy tool. I use them for a stack of things, but mainly tracking mentions of KilkennyMusic.com, Devious Theatre and my own name online.

An alert arriving this morning flags an update to Katharine Blake’s blog as she’s published an interview I did with the Kilkenny People recently. I say recently but it must be about two months ago at this stage.

The interview and subsequent photo hogged the entire back page of the ‘People (great personal advertisement I tell you). The article itself proved quite interesting. While a lot of money had been spent on regular print ads a few years ago, it garnered nothing close to the response of this article (on all fronts – web, music and theatre).

The idea behind it was to go right back to the very beginning… school talk, college talk, work talk, music talk, right up to present day.

Yes, I enjoyed my few minutes in the headlines. You can read the article in full here.

Kilkenny Business Award Winners

Back in 2006 I shared a table with some of the McDonalds, Pack Publishing and Kilkenny Active gang, myself and John (Aidan was away on holiday) tucking into a sizeable steak as we’d been nominated for and were attending the Kilkenny Business Awards (nominated in the best service provider category). Nominees had a 20 euro (I think) discount on ticket prices, bringing the cost to 100 a head for the night).

The awards were held in Kilkenny on Saturday night in the Lyrath Estate Hotel and Keith has the lowdown on the results. You’ll be able to catch Keith in conversation with some of the winners on The Bottom Line, KCLR96FM’s business show which airs later tonight.

Overall, there were six categories with 39 finalists, I’ve highlighted the winners below in bold.

Kilkenny Retailer of the Year Award (Sponsored by FBD Insurance)

  • Lamber de Bie Flowers*
  • Pat McDonnell Paint Sales
  • Flowers by Lucy
  • Superior Tiles
  • Kilkenny Book Centre
  • Field’s Jewellers

Kilkenny Service Provider of the Year Award (Sponsored by Electro City)

  • Kilkenny Borough Council Garden Crew
  • Premier Recruitment Group,
  • Blue Wall Technologies
  • Springhill Court Hotel Leisure Club
  • C&C Security
  • Creative Catering
  • Taxback.com*
  • Gibbins Removals & Storage
  • James Phelan Demonstration Farm

Best Small Business Award 2008 (Sponsored by Kilkenny Chamber)

  • Vendemia Organic Wines
  • Surf Box/Ormonde Technologies*
  • Smart Placements
  • Rothe House Trust Ltd
  • Blueberry Larder
  • Kilkenny Print & Graphic
  • Hullaballoons
  • Kompass Records
  • The Reptile Village

Kilkenny Tourism Provider of the Year Award (Sponsored by Kilkenny Local Authority)

  • Team Dynamics
  • Tullahought Community Group
  • A Rural Experience
  • Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum
  • Springhill Court Hotel
  • Kilkenny Rivercourt Hotel*

Education & Training Provider of the Year Award (Sponsored by FÁS)

  • Empower Training
  • Sharon Roynane Kelly
  • Kumon Kilkenny
  • Busy Bees Early Learning Centres*

Manufacturing/Product of the Year (Sponsored by SEBIC)

  • QEF Ltd
  • Kelsey Horseboxes*
  • Chesneau Leather
  • Fineline Furniture
  • Enviroclad Systems
  • Moth to a Flame Ltd.

Taxback.com were also presented with the “overall winner” award on the night while Kilkenny’s Kieran Crotty was given a lifetime achievement award. For more background on the awards themselves, check out this article in the current edition (dated April 10th) of the Kilkenny Advertiser.

Biting The Bullet, Upgrading To N95 8GB

8GB Nokia N95I’ve been waiting, and waiting, for the Nokia N95 8GB to hit O2. While Vodafone have recently announced the dramatic price drop in the N95 8GB model (moving to Vodafone could bag you for phone for under the €200 price mark), I’ve opted to stick with my mobile operator and take the N95 upgrade, available from today online.

Of course, my local O2 shop knew about this but won’t have any phones in stock until the end of the week at the earliest. Carphone Warehouse didn’t actually know anything, their response being “It’s only available on Vodafone, you know that?” until directed to the O2 website. There doesn’t seem to be any physical stock available in Kilkenny, Waterford or Carlow (trying all the numbers listed on the O2 website, yes, I was willing to make an early morning Saturday spin 40 minutes and back in one direction or another) so I’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade the phone online, saving €30 in the process and picking up 300 free texts to match.

When I caught wind of the phone in August I thought, excellent, there’s my Christmas present. When asked what the next gadget I would buy was I replied “Nokia N95 8GB” please.

I learned a valuable lesson in the purchase of a sim free iPaq early in 2006 which didn’t last me six months so I’ve held off again and again in switching to a pricey mobile phone. However, in terms of productivity, further ability to work on the move, as well as tie in some terrific online resources (e.g. Qik) into activities outside of the office (thinking KilkennyMusic.com and The Devious Theatre Company), I feel I’ve made the right move.

The next part of the plan is to pick up an O2 mobile broadband connection before the end of the month, allowing me a bit of freedom when I hit the road for Sligo or find myself driven in the direction of the studio (which doesn’t have any form of web connection) later in the year.

While Carphone Warehouse couldn’t offer any assistance (I wouldn’t have bought the phone there anyway given the grief I had to put up with in 2005), the 3G store in Carlow (Meteor dealers) did tell me that Meteor are also bringing the handset to the market for April 21st / 22nd, something of interest to you Meteor contract holders looking for an upgrade in handset.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the phone arriving in the post mid-week.

iQ Boot Camp On The Way

iQ Content Boot CampThe annual iQ Content Boot Camp is on the way, taking place in the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in Dublin from April 22nd to April 24th. Early bird registration passes today but if you’re working in the web industry in Ireland (or anywhere else for that matter) and you’re available to attend, it would be well worth considering given the variety of courses on offer.

Here’s the lineup over the three days, with full details of each course available here.

Tuesday 22nd April

  • Killer Web Applications
  • Web Analytics 101
  • Kick-start Your Web Strategy
  • Email Marketing
  • Writing For The Web 101
  • Practical User Testing
  • Search Engine Marketing 101

Wednesday 23rd April

  • Writing For The Web 202
  • Personas – Getting In The Head Of Your Customers
  • Accessibility For Web Managers
  • Web Analytics 202
  • iQ FutureNow Seminar
  • Apres Boot (mid conference drinks)

Thursday 24th April

  • Information Architecture That Works
  • Web Governance
  • Online Advertising
  • Content Strategy
  • Website Healthcheck
  • Web Project Management
  • Search Engine Marketing 202

There are also free iQ Clinics running where you can make use of one-to-one sessions to answer any questions you may have regarding your own website.

How much? You’re looking at three-day packages starting at €1,100, with tickets also available on a one day or two day basis. For pricing and registration details see here or phone Liz on +353 1 8170768.

Waterford Institute of Technology Open Day

Waterford Institute of TechnologyWaterford Institute of Technology, where I spent four fantastic years between 2001 and 2005, are holding an open evening for CAO applicants and undergraduates on Tuesday week, April 22nd.

If you’re considering studying at WIT, make your way to the main campus on the Cork Road between 5:30pm and 7pm on the evening to meet and talk with students, course leaders and lecturers about the options available at WIT.

There will also be information available on accommodation services, career paths based on your course choice, clubs and societies and more. There are three information sessions scheduled to run as well at 5:30pm, 6:15pm and 7:00pm with tours of the campus also available. Refreshments are rumoured to be offered afterwards.

If you’re interested, you can register your attendance by emailing schoolsliaison@wit.ie or by phoning 051 845533.

While I might have changed certain elements of the course I did in college, if I had to do things all over again I’d still pick WIT. It is a fantastic college with great resources, staff and students alike. Here’s to hoping too that they eventually pick up the much sought-after university status.

Get Your Grill On With Open Coffee BBQ This Summer

The Open Coffee collective is moving away from coffee and biscuits in a cosy hotel / coffee shop / business centre / technology centre for one day this summer and switching the biscuits out for burgers, sausages and everything BBQ’able.

  • Where: Terryglass, Tipperary (Lough Derg)
  • Why: Sure why not? An outdoor gathering of Open Coffee attendees, fans and anyone up for a lake-side networking session and chinwag, possibly under the watchful eye of the country’s All Ireland BBQ Champion!
  • When: This summer, but you have to vote for your preferred date between June and July.

Whatever date it falls on will likely be midweek at some point in June or July which will mean you’ll need to free up some hours out of the office (should be no problem to regular Open Coffee attendees). Plus, word has the area will be that bit quieter midweek.

I think I can safely say I’ve been to Terryglass on just one occasion, but wouldn’t mind going back for a feed and a meetup in the summer. Anyway, didn’t you know that fresh air is good for you?

Evert has all the details here so click on to find out more.

MySpace, Record Labels Team Up For MySpace Music

The much rumoured and often spoken about ‘MySpace Music’ service has come to light, as I read this morning that MySpace have officially announced their new ‘MySpace Music’ service, a partnership between News Corporation and “three out of the four top record labels”.

The service is looking to become a one-stop shop for everything music; DRM free downloads and music sales, ticket sales for gigs and tours, band merchandise, ringtones – everything and anything goes.

It is a good move for the record industry and a great play for MySpace whose existing music service is used by millions of bands worldwide (I’m even in there) as a platform for showcasing music, listing gigs and connecting with fans.

Couple with that the ability to sell your tracks, merchandise and tickets directly through MySpace and you really have a powerful promotional tool for aspiring and established artists.

That said, with the deal seemingly focusing around the participation of three major record labels (EMI were holding out as of Friday), I would hope the the tools established by the service would be available to the smaller bands and those unaffiliated with record labels.

While the record labels look for ways to dig into online sales and catch up with the rest of the world, independent artists have been steaming ahead, safe in the knowledge that you don’t need a record label in order to release music. I’ve worked with enough bands over the last few years to see first hand you don’t need a record label to succeed and gone are the days of needing millions of dollars, pounds or Euro in order to record, launch and promote a single, EP or album.

Thomas Hesse, the President of Global Digital Business at Sony BMG Music Entertainment said in Thursday’s article on CNET that they are simply “aligning our efforts to reach fans through every conceivable platform”.

I haven’t seen any indication of what percentage of the market they’re trying to grab, likely away from Apple’s iTunes service, but here’s to hoping they don’t forget about the independent artists and make their new resources available for everyone.

Stumbleupon, Spammers and WordPress 2.5

While I’ve had a manic enough week in the office, I grabbed some time yesterday to poke around recent web stats and tackle personal email building up in my inbox. The two things I noticed?

Four out of five blog posts I’ve penned recently have been picked up by Stumbleupon users, so – welcome SU users. I hope you’ve enjoyed the articles you’ve found and have been reading – plus I hope the assistance with the Popularity Contest plugin has helped, though Alex King will be releasing a fully WP compatible version shortly.

The other thing I notice, as I sift through my email, is that the spammers were certainly out in force this week – trackbacks and comments alike. Clear out Akismet and it’s slowly but surely begins filling up again – and again, and again and again. Is there an issue with Akismet or has there just been a global increase in spam activity for the week?

Finally, I will say that I’m enjoying the use of WordPress 2.5. The media gallery has taken some getting used to but functionality-wise and from an end-user’s point of view I think it’s bang on.

Now, it’s time for the weekend.