Archive for November, 2008

Mr. Arrington, I challenge thee to a duel…

November 29, 2008

.. a typing duel. Michael Arrington is so set on linkbaiting in his rant against netbooks (I know, I'm a sucker) that he completely forgets to make a coherent argument. In fact he could hardly have picked more moot targets for the titular three reasons why 'netbooks aren't good enough'. Let's take them one at a time –

Keyboard

Arrington says, "Any normal adult can’t type fast on it without constantly hitting the wrong keys because there is no space between them."

I say, "Last time I checked I was a reasonably normal adult and I'm 95% as fast a touch typist on the Dell Mini 9 keyboard as I am on the full-sized external – I know because I've tested myself"

And for the doubting Thomases among you I'll be giving 'demonstrations' at OpenCoffee Limerick next Thursday. In fact I'll buy coffee for anyone who beats me in a speed test on their regular sized laptop. So there!

Too Little Horsepower

Arrington says, "If you have an email application open and a couple of tabs in a
browser, there’s a lot of slow down. One Vista machine I’ve been
testing tends to crash after a few minutes of use."

I say, "Vista!?! So he got his hands on the only netbook (the HP 2133 Mini-Not) that uses Vista and decided to base his impressions on that. Now that's just ridiculous"

"My Dell Mini 9 runs XP with greater speed than the Inspiron 510m (full sized) laptop it replaced. I rarely have fewer than a dozen Firefox tabs open on it and yet never notice any sluggishness. Besides, these are netbooks, not desktop replacements – the whole point is quick and convenient access to web apps, checking email, Twittering and so on. Not the mathematical modelling of the stock market!"

The Screen

Now this one's the real kicker. Arrington says, "These machines have screens ranging from 7 inches on up. The worst
thing about the screens is vertical resolution, which is generally 600
pixels…. the iPhone or iPod Touch, with a tiny 3.5 inch screen, has a vastly better browsing experience than any Netbook"

I say, "Huh? What planet is this guy living on? The resolution of the iPhone is 320 x 480. On the Mini 9 it's 1024 x 600. Michael's problem isn't with the hardware it's with software settings. Someone needs to show him how to change the font size on his browser and view full screen with F11. Hey, you can even rotate the display if you just must read in an iPhone-ish portrait mode."

Which is a long winded way of saying Arrington you're full of s**te. But Don Crowley says it more eloquently —

"Netbooks are for those with a small budget or those on the move (In
which case it is the second PC). You won't use photoshop on a netbook.
Its surfing, email and office docs – preferably stored in the cloud. I smell a PR conspiracy here."

Innovative Irish fashion portal very much in Vogue

November 28, 2008

Catwalk (TV series)Image via WikipediaI was reading about the Innovation Avalanche on the ever excellent Trendwatching a few days ago when I came across one particular entry which sparked my curiosity. Irish fashion portal Catwalk Genius was highlighted under a section entitled 'Crowd Express', a trend tracking "everything funded, organized, sourced, managed and powered by crowds."

"Irish fashion portal Catwalk Genius has joined the crowdfunded fashion fray with its new Adopt a Designer
program, featuring fashion and accessories from independent designers.
Through Adopt a Designer, supporters of a participating designer can
buy shares (or "elements", as it calls them) in their work for EUR
14—plus a EUR 1 processing fee—in the hope of sharing in future
profits. Once 5,000 such elements have been sold, the designer is given
the resulting EUR 70,000 to create a new collection within 6 months. In
the meantime, supporters receive a limited edition piece created
exclusively for them by the designer."

The venture got further flattering attention on Trendwatching's sister site Sprinwise (another mine of information for entrepreneurs). And today Catwalk Genius hit the online pages of Vogue.

Clearly an exciting busines model and dynamic young company to be watched.

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Bytes ‘n Pieces

November 26, 2008

A view of the Upper Campus of the University o...Image via Wikipedia

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Social Entrepreneurs — Robert Mulhall, Lucca Leadership

November 25, 2008

The crowd at the 2003 Special Olympics World S...Image via Wikipedia

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland sends out a regular email update on progress from current awardees and alumni, news which is inspiring and enlightening for all entrepreneurs, not just those of the social mould. As such I'm delighted that the organization has agreed to allow the republication of those updates here.

These won't be full profiles, but useful jumping off points for those stories which interest you. I may also wrap my own thoughts or further insights gleaned from interactions with these entrepreners at workshops and other events.

Let's start with Robert Mulhall of Lucca Leadership. Robert was one of the first people I got chatting to at orientation day, though he was a level 2 awardee and I a level 1 (level 2 awardees run projects which already have a proven model and are
looking to significantly grow in scale and impact). A few things that struck me about him after only a few minutes of conversation were his confidence, determination and generosity.

In 2004 having volunteered with Lucca Leadership in
the UK for two years, Robert set up Lucca Leadership Ireland
with the help of some close friends who were inspired by a vision and
wanted to make a positive impact themselves. Lucca Leadership
programmes are designed for young people from all backgrounds to
experience what it takes to lead positive change. They help young
people to develop their confidence, leadership skills and
understanding, and a sense of responsibility to make a positive
difference in the world. Lucca Leadership programmes in Ireland include tailored programmes for
Transition Year students and youth organisations, mentor training
programmes and community days.

Robert believes that the best way to ensure the brightest future for
Ireland and the world is to create it. There are many problems in this
world: poverty, disease, inequality, war, abuse, suicide. However,
Robert strongly believes that without great leadership none of these
problems will be resolved. In caring for the needs of all,
transformational leaders look to co-operate and find that which will
unite, rather than that which only divides. Robert says –

“The people who inspire me the most are the young people who come
on our leadership programmes, who discover a confidence within
themselves and a sense of responsibility to take action and go out and
make the difference.”

Since September, Lucca Leadership has run more than 10 programmes with another 11 lined up before Christmas holidays. This has allowed Robert and Lucca to impact on more than 165 young people who are now in turn impacting on more than 2000 people through their community and school based projects. These projects range from raising money, repainting their school or supporting homeless people through the winter months with boxes of supplies. After a very successful session at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Residential in Maynooth in September, Robert is now working with several other Awardees, delivering leadership training to their organisations.

For example Antoinette Keelan’s programme for young people at St. John’s Education Centre has now been expanded to include two days Leadership Training for students provided by Lucca Leadership. St John’s is now providing extra support for the parents of its students through Solution Focused Parenting Programmes. This support will continue long after each programme has finished as a phone network link will be set up to allow the conversations and support to continue. The students now have also one on one development time to help them discover their individual talents and possible related careers in the future.

The latest news from Robert is that Lucca Leadership has been running programmes in Bath University, Limerick (2), Raheny in Dublin, Listowel, St John Centre with Sr Antoinette and the No Name Club in Croke Park, impacting overall on more than 130 young people. Robert will also be featuring (with SEI’s Annalisa O’Carroll!) on RTE’s Pobal programme at 5.25pm on Sunday November 30.

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Nooked turns Ryanair ‘advertising’ into ‘information’. Dave Winer beams.

November 24, 2008

Dave WinerImage via WikipediaDave Winer's views on the future of advertising have long caused controversy and sometimes seemed a little too extreme even to me but there's no doubt he's been on the vanguard of a radical rethink as regards interruptive commercial messaging –

"… advertising is on its way to being obsolete. Facebook is just another
step along the path. Advertising will get more and more targeted until
it disappears, because perfectly targeted advertising is just
information. And that's good!…. If it's perfectly targeted, it isn't advertising, it's information"

I didn't really comprehend that until I started following @Ryanair_SNN on Twitter a few weeks ago – a steady stream of offers from the leading European airline via Nooked – the Sligo, Ireland based 'feedcommerce' startup.

There are corresponding Twitter feeds for dozens of other airports which means you can zero in on the offers that are of interest to you. With this much control the lines between advertising and information have completely blurred. All that's needed now is a tiny extra step, whereby I can follow @Ryanair_SNN_BVA, etc, and then advertising truly is information.

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I’ve resigned as Prime Minister of Ireland

November 21, 2008

When the Irish Times opened up their Ireland.com domain to free email registration recently I quickly nabbed the novelty address of primeminister@ireland.com reckoning that would be far more beneficial to the cultivation of international relations than the parochial taoiseach@ireland.com 😉

I sent a few test emails without trouble and drafted a concilliatory message to Sarkozy before…. real world email got in the way. Sadly it appears I didn't read the Term and Conditions of use too well (who the hell ever does?) because I missed this bit –

In particular, "c. impersonate any person or entity, including, but not limited to, an Ireland.com official, forum leader, guide or host, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent an affiliation with a person or entity;"

That's the bit Ronan from tech support kindly pointed out to me this morning before adding – "Having an email name such as primeminister@ireland.com has the potential to be misconstrued, so we have had no alternative to lock the account."

Now why didn't I send that note to Obama while I had the chance?

FineTuna-ing Pixenate & giving George Hook a Louder Voice!?

November 18, 2008

Klipsch Audio TechnologiesImage via Wikipedia

Alan’s FineTuna got a really nice mention on TechCrunch UK & Ireland"Now there are as many image sharing services on the web as there are
fish in the sea. But FinaTuna is one I could actually see myself using.
It’s simple, intuitive and an absolute delight to use."

– Walter has announced Pixenate-on-Demand, "a low-cost and convenient way for web publishers to provide image-editing right from within their own websites." I did a screencast of Pixenate for Intruders.tv a while back.

– You too can have a LouderVoice than George Hook!! Conor was on the big man’s Newstalk radio show and offered listeners the chance to "win awesome Three Ireland mobiles and Klipsch headphones with LouderVoice SMS gadget reviews. Info on our site"

– Matt has ‘a quick startup formula‘ for students in Interactive Media and Software Engineering – "take your software engineers (and maybe some of the iMedia students)
and get them to create their own company. They can apply for funding
like anyone else, they can work together on projects and they can get a
taste of what it’s like to run a business. Add a
funder/mentor/visionary who can help them get started and you’ve got a
formula for churning out new startups."

– Joe Drumgoole has a scary post on the crisis in (Irish) Venture Capital.
            

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Google Video chat – watch out Cisco

November 13, 2008

Image representing Gmail as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Introduced to the market in October 2006, Cisco TelePresence has become the company’s fastest-growing emerging technology, with more than 100 customers globally. Telepresence is of course the very high-end of the video-conferencing market using large high definition screen, spatial audio and even matching room decor among remote offices – all designed to deliver the illusion to participants of being present, in the same room together.

At the low-end of video-conferencing we have ‘video-calling’ where services like PalTalk, TokBox and Sightspeed have been picking up the slack. In a sign of things to come peripheral giant Logitech recently bought Sightspeed, for $30 million in cash, with webcam integration surely in mind. But the leader of the pack has undoubtedly been Skype who offer an unmatched High Quality video service for those with newer computers and reasonably fast broadband.

Enter Google. Inevitably. The search giant has finally added video to Gmail Chat

"… and in the spirit of open communications, we designed this feature using Internet standards such as XMPP, RTP, and H.264, which means that third-party applications and networks can choose to interoperate with Gmail voice and video chat."

Interestingly, neither the official Gmail blog nor any of the mainstream commentary I’ve read make any mention of an important technology working behind the scenes – VidyoRouter. Indeed the only reference I’ve seen is at the bottom of the download thank you page. Astonishingly not even Vidyo’s own news page is trumpeting their big win. Regardless, their homepage explains what makes VidyoRouter rather special –

"Vidyo provides for high-quality, low-latency, highly resilient,
broad-based deployments over general-purpose networks with the
introduction of the first multi-point video conferencing solution
designed to work like the Internet itself. That’s right — out is the
old MCU-centric model and in is the first solution for video
conferencing designed specifically for the world of distributed
computing — all thanks to Vidyo’s unique intellectual property and the
advent of the VidyoRouter."

My new project is Vizitant, an effort to bring the benefits of video calling to socially marginalized groups like the elderly and carers. As such I’ve been doing a lot of research into these technologies and became aware of Vidyo a few months ago. But it was only last week that I eventually got a demo of what VidyoRouter could do, courtesy of Videnda, a trade only distributor focusing on VoIP and video conferencing solutions.

I wasn’t blown away by it – while it definitely stood up there with Skype Video it didn’t seem much if any better. But Liam at Videnda assured me it was due to my low-spec laptop and that performance is significantly better on a dual-core PC.

Indeed this performance issue is something Rafe Needleman also noted, in his review for Cnet –

"… the service was a resource hog on my 2-year-old computer; it used
up all my available CPU resources and made other apps slow to respond.
I’ve had better luck with Skype. Newer computers would probably not
have this problem."

Probably not. In fact it ran quite well on my Dell Inspiron Mini netbook. Regardless, the fact that Google is now putting it’s massive resources behind a large scale deployment of VidyoRouter means it’s not only gunning for Skype but inevitably for Cisco. No, not high-end telepresence, not yet anway, but low-end or consumer telepresence which Cisco is aiming to attack next year –

Chief Executive John
Chambers said the company will launch a consumer version of its
high-definition video conferencing system in around a year… "What you’re going to see is, over the next 12 to 15 months … high
definition capabilities for TelePresence into the home"

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You’re interested in entrepreneurship right? Then you have to read…

November 6, 2008

this post and comments, the most illuminating discussion I’ve ever read on the topic of entrepreneurship in Ireland.