WordCamp Ireland All Weekend

WordCamp Ireland

WORDCAMP IRELAND takes place this weekend, kicking off this morning in my own back garden (Kilkenny) where hopefully I’ll get to pop my head in for a few minutes over the course of the two days.

Langton House Hotel is the venue for the first Irish WordCamp conference and for bloggers, techies, non-techies and WordPress users of all levels there’s plenty to choose from. Things kicked off informally last night with some nibbles, drinks and a photowalk around Kilkenny and registration has just opened this morning for the start of talks proper. Up first are Hanni Ross & Sheri Bigelow, Leo Ibanez & Loughlin O’Nolan and Daryl Koopersmith all split across the three tracks – Intro, Bloggers and Tech.

Check the full WordCamp schedule.

Langtons are looking after the catering and judging by mentions of croissants and scones for the morning, lunches in the afternoon and the (ticketed) dinners in the evening, along with a special WordCamp cocktail menu, nobody will be going home hungry. There’s full childcare available, free wifi for all and plenty for speakers and attendees to link up with.

For those who haven’t picked up tickets yet, there are limited numbers available on the door with tickets today available for €50 and tomorrow (Sunday) available at €25.

It’s possible I’ll make an appearance this afternoon disguised as a clown (or I could be mistaken for a clown in the garb I’ll be wearing for the day) so if you see a grown man running in the door of Set Theatre wearing lime green dungarees, a bright pink shirt and a very white face, do say hello. To all those visiting Kilkenny for the first time, you’ve got the weather for it, you’ve got plenty to see and do so don’t miss out on what the city has to offer as well!

Follow WordCamp Ireland on Twitter.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! Artwork

Can't Pay? Won't Pay!

SURROUNDING YOURSELF with fantastic creatives (i.e. incredibly creative people) can be great for your health. It can be great for your sanity. It can inspire all kinds of creative thoughts of your own, bring ideas to life and much more. Of course, if you’re like me, it can leave you with a cap, a white face, a pencil moustache, incredibly large sideburns, a pink check shirt, electric green overalls and outrageous accents.

But in fairness, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of those creatives is fellow deviant, Paddy Dunne, who has produced the latest masterpiece. For the last few stage productions for Devious Theatre, myself, Paddy and John (Morton) have worked the angles and cameras coming up with funky setups and promotional imagery for the likes of Stags and Hens, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and next month’s production of Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! The phrase “I’ll just photoshop it in” took on a life of its own many moons ago, but “photoshop it in” he’s done and he’s created this gem.

Of course, we won’t mention his PPAI Designer of the Year nomination last year but you’ll find reference to it in the programme if you make it along to the show.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! opens in Set Theatre, Kilkenny, on Wednesday March 10th and runs to Sunday March 14th. Tickets, priced €13 are available from our online sales area. The early bird tickets (which were available at €10) have been snapped up but we’ve got plenty to go around. From March we’ll be taking a break from the stage for a few months, directing our theatrical sights into other areas online and off and this latest production brings a close to our Dario Fo season so we urge you to come out, you won’t be disappointed.

For more on the show, check DeviousTheatre.com.

Kilkenny Company & Movie at The Oscars

Oscar Nominated, The Secret Of Kells

THE SECRET of Kells has been on a good roll of late. Hell, it’s been on a good roll since the movie premiered last Spring. Of course, nothing says “good roll” than rolling on up to the Oscars as Cartoon Saloon’s The Secret Of Kells has been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 82nd annual Academy Awards. See full list of nominees here.

If Glen Hansard can do it, maybe the “luck of the Irish” can rub off as the Tomm Moore directed movie goes up against Corlaine, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess & The Frog and Up (which I loved in the cinema).

Congratulations to Tomm, Paul and everyone else at the Saloon who worked on the production, both in Ireland and overseas. It’s great to see another company from Kilkenny making a serious mark on the global stage.

dbTwang Is (Was) On Your TV

KILKENNY BASED startup dbTwang, which I’ve had the pleasure of working on in the past and am keeping a keen eye on, made the TV earlier today. An interview recorded with co-founder Fintan Blake Kelly (co-founder alongside Keith Bohanna) a few weeks back got it’s airing on Ireland AM today with Fintan filmed in Gerry Crowe’s store (Perfect Pitch) on Exchequer Street in Dublin speaking about the ins and outs of dbTwang.

Dubbed by Fintan as a “facebook for guitarists”, the site opened to full public usage late last year and if the RSS feed is anything to go by, there’s been a great uptake in registrations and submissions of guitars of late. For my own sins I’ve now got five guitars from my own collection listed up there (you might need to be logged in to see that link). While the site is gearing itself around the guitarist community with functionality now and in the pipeline to encourage conversation around the guitars, I’ve shied away from the community element but have used the site in its early stages to encourage me to learn more about my own instruments and document them for future reference / insurance purposes.

In a family full of musicians and growing up surrounded by all kinds of instruments, I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about the guitars themselves, the technologies behind them, the woods, the factories used, the whole nine yards – a learning process I’m using dbTwang and it’s records to navigate through.

There’s great things planned for dbTwang and if you’re a guitarist of any calibre it’s worth your while signing up for free and exploring not only the features of the site itself but the impressive and growing collection of guitars from users on board to date.

Check out the video above or here on YouTube.

Online Grocery Shopping – Part Two

Superquinn Shopping Delivery

FOLLOWING ON from yesterday’s foray into the world of online food shopping it’s safe to say that everything arrived, is packed away in the fridge or press and I’m stocked for the week.

From looking at the food on the table (in the above picture), *almost* everything arrived as ordered. As a follow up, I’ve broken the process down to a few areas.

Delivery

On the website I was quoted €4 for delivery, the window chosen being 10:30am to 12:30pm today. True to their word, at 11:50am the driver turned up with two crates, dropped them for unpacking on the table, got me to sign for the delivery and off he went. Charge on the bottom of the receipt reads €4. The bottom of the receipt also indicates that the goods were scanned and paid for at 11:16am this morning, so that’s a pretty good turn around (i.e. the dairy side of the order wasn’t out of the fridge all that long). Might be worth noting too that I didn’t order any frozen food and I’m trying to refrain from ordering anything frozen at all for the year. So far so good.

Substitution

Superquinn provide product substitution on your shopping list, where something you’ve ordered isn’t available. In my case, it was the beef strips for the stir fry. This is possibly due to ordering the beef strips as part of their online meal deal offering beef strips or diced chicken, plus fresh stir-fry veg as a bundle. Knowing I had some chicken in the freezer anyway, I opted for the beef, which now appears to have been unavailable in Superquinn Kilkenny.

That said, the diced chicken was available and it will certainly do. When ordering online, you do have the option of instructing your personal shopper *not* to substitute a product if it’s out of stock and if I was really picky I could have asked for beef regardless, break the special offer etc.

Pricing

On their website, it is noted that

Today’s price is an estimated total and may differ slightly from the original order value due to variables such as weight estimations for meat and produce, weekly specials, price changes or stock deletion

.

My order, at “today’s price”, yesterday, was estimated at €51.04. The final price, including delivery, came to €53.48 and there were a few differences on the final receipt.

The onions were ordered, I’d looked for 700g, the bag coming in at around 550g thus shaving a few cent from the order. Prices fluctuated here and there but most notably in the offers that weren’t adhered to. The site also has various price reductions running up to January 26th including 90c off packet soups (didn’t appear on the receipt), 89c off rocket salad (again, no go), 79c off fresh soup (no go), 95c off lemongrass noodles (again, no discount)… adding up to €3.53, plus the cost of the green tea jumped from €1.89 to €3.99 giving a total increase in prices to €5.63, yet the final discrepancy just €2.44.

Given there were certain things in the order that won’t need to be ordered again next week, I would expect things to balance out in week two and keep in line with my €50 p/w budget.

Overall

Overall, I’ve been impressed with it. Like I indicated yesterday, the online ordering process is a breeze, there’s full details available on everything going into your shopping basket and on delivery they provide you with a list of everything that was delivered

It would be nice if the printed dockets included notes on what was substituted, or differences in pricing, but other than that, I’m set for the week, didn’t have to leave the house and I’m willing to give it another lash next week.

Online Ticket Sales For Theatre Companies

Recorded reading of Can't Pay? Won't Pay!
Recorded cast reading of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay this past Saturday. That’ll be me pictured on the right of show, playing the role of Giovanni.

THE DEVIOUS theatre company, one of my other / many hats, have announced details of our first major production in 2010, Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! and I’ll be on KCLR96FM around 4:15pm afternoon chatting about the show. You can tune in via KCLR96FM.com (live stream link).

We do a lot of things online as a company, given we have no physical premises as such (bar sharing each others offices for the odd rehearsal / recording session). We blog, we connect, we share videos, tweet, hold our meetings online, use private forums for staff discussion, provide online resources, scripts and schedules for cast and crew, we advertise (and have completed a few useful Facebook ad campaigns), we podcast, we’ve an online CRM setup for managing contacts and suppliers and a whole lot more besides. The next logical step of course was to start selling tickets online.

I had long thought about it for the group, given the wide variety of venues we’ve performed in, the growing and varying audiences we’re attracting show-on-show, and the difference in management for pre-bookings or box office practice per venue that it would be good to introduce something online that we could manage ourselves, cost effectively as well.

Enter Eventbrite, which within ten minutes of using I had our December performance of Accidental Death of an Anarchist up and running, with five nights of tickets to buy for, connected out to our Facebook profile to plug the event there and (add on another five minutes or so) tickets available via DeviousTheatre.com with their embedding service.

So with a new show on the horizon and tickets gone to the printers, we figured we’d do exactly the same for our production of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! in March.

There were a lot of plusses for using the service. To start with, it opened the door to a potential new revenue stream for the group. We decided that 2010 would be the year we focus on turning the group towards a business, the first step for us in bringing the company “professional” (join the queue for the debate between amateur and professional theatre) and as such, revenue streams have to be looked at. We spend a lot of time, as a group, online in promoting and documenting our shows and we felt that online ticket sales would give us the ability to reach those that are the more serious web users, those au fait with booking online. We also wanted a way to provide ticket sales to people traveling from out of town, those who couldn’t travel to Kilkenny before the box office closed at six, or those who didn’t want to give credit card details over the phone. On both, accounts, it worked.

That was the test – would it work. I would have considered it a success if one person had bought one ticket online, at least we know it worked. But one turned into three, turned into 17 and more as the weekend theatregoers turned up with their pre-printed tickets (made available by Eventbrite), our door staff crossing off the checklist of those who registered and paid for tickets online (also made available by Eventbrite) and as a plus for us, we had immediate access for funds to use online in advance of the production. As the payments go from Eventbrite to our Paypal account, and we’re avid eBay users for sourcing props for shows over the years, we’ve created a stream of income we didn’t quite have before.

For some of those people attending Accidental Death of an Anarchist, who bought their tickets online, it was their first time to see one of our productions – a further success in my eyes. Would they have come to the show or traveled 30 miles to Kilkenny if they hadn’t been able to buy their tickets online? Maybe, maybe not, but they came. And as a bonus, we’ve decided that those who did purchase tickets online for our first show will receive a nice discount on the online purchases if they want to buy tickets for Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! online. A token gesture for us, yes, but at the same time we’re hoping it would encourage people to return again and enjoy another night at the theatre.

The tickets for Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay are on sale. You can pick them up online here and here. There is a booking fee of €1.07 per ticket sold online, something that we’re also able to manage ourselves and it’s how Eventbrite (much like the credit card companies or physical theatres) will make their money from box office sales. When Eventbrite deliver funds per show / ticket sold, those funds include the booking fee. Post-event we’re invoiced from Eventbrite to recoup the booking fee, and again, it’s a straight Paypal transaction. Outside of that, there’s no other cost involved. No membership fee, no setup fee, nothing.

So we add online ticket sales to our bow, and we know that it works. I’m still tempted into doing an online theatre production, or live-streaming one of our own productions but we’ll have to talk to the licensing powers that be about that one.

And yes, I’m sure there are other ticket-selling resources available but we’ve tried Eventbrite, made it work, had it generate revenue and open a whole other realm of online promotion for the group so we’re happy to keep going with it.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! runs at the Set Theatre, John Street, Kilkenny from Wednesday March 10th to Sunday March 14th 2010. Tickets available online priced €13 ex booking fee. Keep an eye on DeviousTheatre.com for more details.

Alas Poor Supermacs

supermacsPhoto via Twitpic, © Gav Reilly

Alas poor Supermacs, I knew ye well.

The taxi was called after nine for a few Christmas pints, having braved the drive from Sligo a few hours previous. The driver said “there must be something up” in town, evident by the large pillar of smoke rising over the skyline but by the time we reached the parade, restrictions were well underway. A quick detour around the town and five minutes later I’m standing on High Street watching Supermacs burn.

I remember when it opened, back in primary school at the time with some lads in the class tearing off in to town to be amongst the first few in the door and get themselves a free burger. Supermacs arrival in Kilkenny was massive, equaled, I guess, in size by the damage caused during last night’s blaze. For over an hour I found myself standing on High Street, blocked by the guards from venturing past the post office, watching on as a good half dozen units of the fire brigade went to work on containing the fire and stopping it spreading to the adjoining shops and apartments. Their efforts, if you read the Kilkenny People (here and here), were successful albeit having to return to a rekindled blaze in the early hours of the morning.

For many a year (before my appetite, diet and perhaps, sense, prevailed), Supermacs was a favoured haunt for secondary school Friday lunches or as a destination for post-pub grub on a night out.

The glass roof is gone, “other aspects of the building” have collapsed and ultimately it looks gutted but thankfully, not one person was hurt, injured or worse in the blaze.

Alas, poor Supermacs, we knew ye well.

Kilkenny Open Coffee Wednesday August 5th

IMG_6537.JPG
Creative Commons License photo credit: jwalsh

The August outing of Kilkenny Open Coffee takes place tomorrow morning (Wednesday August 5th) at 11:30pm and we’re back in the Kilkenny Cafe at Market Cross for tomorrow’s gathering.

Last month we had a nice sized meetup in the Kilkenny Rivercourt Hotel but given recent unreliable twists in the weather, we’re taking to The Meeting Room at the rear of the Kilkenny Cafe.

For those of you traveling from outside Kilkenny City, check here for a map.

You can now follow Kilkenny Open Coffee on Twitter.

Stags And Hens Trailer

More video for you this week (with more likely to come at the weekend). This time it’s the trailer we’ve just release for Stags And Hens, taking place at the Watergate Theatre in Kilkenny from Tuesday July 21st to Saturday July 25th. Next week we’re going to start giving away a few tickets for the show as well so if you want to be in with a chance of winning, you best get to following @devioustheatre on Twitter. Facebook ads kick in this week, more character promo posters get released, more mentions in the press, it’s full steam ahead.

The first of our video diaries went live earlier in the week as well, you can check it out here or keep an eye on DeviousTheatre.com for all the developments on the show.

The Game

A special FX test shoot that turned itself into a mini short, by good friend and partner-in-crime at Kilkenny Music and My Music, Ross Costigan and featuring another partner-in-crime, Alan Dawson.

Hopefully some of those scripts he talks about come to light soon. Better be a part in there for me. Or you’re fired.

Go enjoy The Game.