Tag: Technology

Summer book recommendations II

Back at the end of June I posted about three books I had bought to read on my holidays. The three books were:

  1. David Weinberger’s Everything Is Miscellaneous
  2. Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur and
  3. Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

In my naivety I brought another couple of books along as well, just in case I managed to finish the three above! I’d obviously forgotten what it is like to be on a beach holiday with young kids. You have to be watching them the whole time, if not playing with them, and after the beach you are wrecked. Bottom line, I didn’t get nearly as much reading done as I had hoped.

In fact of the three books above, I only managed to read Wikinomics. I have started Everything is Miscellaneous (and it looks to be really good too) but having briefly skimmed Andrew Keen’s Cult of the Amateur, I decided it wasn’t worthwhile reading. On the upside, the Cult of the Amateur proved to be a fantastic book for killing mosquitoes – the weight of a hardback and the flexibility of a softback.

As for Wikinomics, I can’t recommend it highly enough. For me, it is the business book of 2007. It is a fascinating walk through incredible changes which are happening as a result of the new openness in the web today. Some examples from the book include:

  • MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, whereby anyone can access the university’s entire curriculum online, free
  • how Procter and Gamble CEO AG Lafley has stated that Proctor and Gamble aims to source 50% of its innovations externally by 2010 and
  • how IBM spends about $100m annually on Linux development but that it gets about $500m worth of development from that investment

If you haven’t read it, go out and get it now. Seriously. Do.

Could Microsoft tackle piracy through Open Source?

Tom’s on holidays, I’ll be your host for today. My name’s Frank P, you might remember me from such blogs as “BifSniff.com”,” FestivalShirts.net/blog” and “Aonach.com/chatter”.

Updated due to lateness of the hour when posting originally 😉

Well, despite being on holidays, Tom is not completely cut off from things technical – when I was talking to him today he had heard about the huge piracy bust in China today.

It seems Microsoft are chuffed with themselves for their part in the busting of two pirate software groups in China… the piracy groups were “in possession of illegal software with an “estimated retail value” of close to $500 million.”

“This case represents a milestone in the fight against software piracy—governments, law enforcement agencies and private companies working together with customers and software resellers to break up a massive international counterfeiting ring,” said Microsoft senior VP Brad Smith in a statement.

Lovely, says Tom, but if Microsoft really want to have done with people pirating their software Operating System they should just open source it.

Tom reckons battling piracy on a case by case basis like this is much like the little Dutch Boy sticking his finger in the dam – except in this case while the Dutch Boy celebrates, the dam is destined to burst in any case…

Open sourcing the software OS would indeed make pirating the software it redundant – if it’s freely available for a cost of zero, who’s going to go to the trouble of pirating it?

This is not the first time Tom has brought up the possible benefits to open sourcing for Microsoft.

Unfortunately, here’s where this post stops… this isn’t really my area of expertise, and Tom doesn’t have proper internet access going at the moment… this story really bugged him though, and while we were chatting about it, I said I’d get something up on his behalf – however I don’t know enough about the area to make a meaningful contribution.

I’m sure Tom will revisit on his return… but in the meantime, it’s over to you – what do you reckon? Should MS look at Open Sourcing their software OS? What would the benefits be? How would affect profits? How would any negative impact on profits be offset?

I look forward to being educated 🙂

Telephone hell with Dell…

Tom’s on holidays, I’ll be your host for today. My name’s Frank P, you might remember me from such blogs as “BifSniff.com”,” FestivalShirts.net/blog” and “Aonach.com/chatter”.

If you fancy being bounced around in telephone hell for a little while, try and call up the Irish Dell Outlet Store about the possibility of purchasing a machine on the UK outlet Store…

First you go through the usual press 1,2 or 3 etc… you’ll get through to teleperson one who will half listen to you and put you through to ‘someone who can help’… teleperson two will then half listen to you in a very bored manner and explain that you are through to the wrong person and if you want to buy a refurb machine you need to speak to someone in the Outlet Store. After you explain that you were through to the Outlet Store originally, you will be put through to teleperson three who turns out to be from the UK Outlet Store. He will listen to your question and explain that if you’re in Ireland you need to call the Irish Outlet Store – this is the UK Outlet store. He will patch you through to where you started, and after pressing the appropriate numbers you will be through to teleperson four – an Irish lady who talks to you as if you are stupid, stupid, stupid. At this point you will be bored and frustrated and, because of the day that’s in it, somewhat amused. The Irish lady will explain that there are two sites. One for the UK, and one for Ireland. No, of course you can’t purchase a machine from the UK Outlet store, that’s for people in the UK. There are no words to describe the patronising manner in which she will explain this to you.

If you’re in the mood, you can pretend to be as stupid as she believes you to be and keep her on the line for at least as long as you were in telephone hell for.

Firefox's marketshare now 27.8% in Europe?

Tom’s on holidays, I’ll be your host for today. My name’s Frank P, you might remember me from such blogs as “BifSniff.com”,” FestivalShirts.net/blog” and “Aonach.com/chatter”.

Damien asks us what our site stats for Firefox are after reading the results of a survey by XiTi monitor which shows Firefox having 38.6% marketshare in Ireland.

You can read more about the survey and it’s findings on itWire.com

A study of nearly 96,000 websites carried out during the week of July 2 to July 8 found that FF had 27.8% market share across Eastern and Western Europe

With regard to Damien’s question: For BifSniff.com Google Analytics puts Firefox at 39.54% for the month of June – that’s for all traffic not just European traffic (Northern Europe accounts for 50.48% of that traffic with Ireland accounting for 18.59%).

Win a t-shirt

Frank just told me he has a new t-shirt design site going on called FestivalShirts.

The site sells t-shirts to people going to festivals with slogans like “Will swap t-shirt for dry sleeping bag”, “I know where there’s a usable toilet” and “Don’t take drugs. That’s stealing.”

Frank now has a blogger’s t-shirt available and a competition to win a t-shirt.

To be eligible to win you simply link to the site with the words I want a t-shirt!

Let the games links begin!

Foxmarks to launch next great search engine?

Google had a great idea. Order your search results based on the number of times a site is linked to. Brilliant! A link to a site is counted as a vote of confidence in the site’s quality/veracity. And it works because people generally only link to interesting sites.

Foxmarks is a nifty little Firefox plugin which uploads your Firefox bookmarks to a central server, so you can synchronise your bookmarks across machines. Again brilliant – if you typically use more than one computer (one at home and one at work, for example).

I read today on TechCrunch that FoxMarks is going to use the bookmark information which users of the plugin have uploaded, to create a new search engine. Privacy concerns aside, I love it!

This is the 1,157th blog post on this site. I don’t have any numbers on the amount of outward links I have created in those posts but I imagine two per post would be a conservative estimate. So I have created, in the order of 2,300 links on this blog. And I write in and contribute to other blogs as well. Let’s say I have created (again conservatively) a total of 2,500 links.

Now how many sites have I bookmarked? About 160. Therefore, any site I go to the trouble of bookmarking, must be significantly more important than one I simply link to.

Foxmarks are taking the Google model of a link as a vote of confidence and replacing it with the bookmark as a vote of confidence. Will it work? Well, according to Mike Arrington, who got a demo recently:

it definitely has a “wow” factor. Searches for most things ended up with incredible results.

Foxmarks also shows if the results appear on Google and Yahoo, and on what page in the results they appear. For many of the queries, the top result on Foxmarks was quite obviously the perfect result – but it appeared, if at all, deep on the result set for Google and Yahoo. Terms that are likely to have a lot of SEO pollution (ecommerce in particular), the results were strikingly better on Foxmarks v. Google.

Having said all that, Google have their Google Browser Sync application which has similar functionality to Foxmarks currently, so fine tuning their search results with bookmark info should be trivial for them.

I hope they do because getting 1,210,000 results for the search term “Microsoft Hotmail deletes email” is just ridiculous, even considering how bad Hotmail is!

Paddy Valley trip – help needed

There is a contingent of Irish heading to Silicon Valley in December (2nd to 9th) to meet up and forge links with the movers and shakers in the mecca of the computer world.

The Paddy Valley Tour, as it is being called, has 17 Irish companies signed up so far. Many of those going are seeking to showcase products and to meet investors while there.

The organisers are looking for a little help:

There is a lot we need to cover so suggestions, reviews, tips and anything else is welcomed. We can’t do all of it on our own (and remain sane).
Things we need to do:

* Create shortlist of hotels to stay in that are central but also cheap.
* Create shortlist of venues for a showcase event. (A big room with connectivity and projector).
* Create shortlist of people to meet.
* Create shortlist of companies to visit both large and small.
* Create a list of potential companies.
* Cost of showcase.
* What can EI pay for or other Govt groups

If you can help with any of this leave a comment on the Paddy Valley site

Congrats Sir Tim!

According to an article on the BBC’s website, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is to receive an Order of Merit from the Queen of England.

I don’t think there is anyone who would argue with that award. Not alone did  Tim Berner-Lee invent the World Wide Web, but he made no attempt to patent it and that fact was one of the factors in its success.

Frankly, I don’t think there is a single person who has done as much to change the world for the better as Tim Berners-Lee.

Airport security is a joke

Not that we haven’t known that for some time but it was recently drilled home to me on my flight back from Madrid last week.

My son Enrique has asthma. He got quite bad with it earlier this year when we were in Spain and a Spanish doctor prescribed a cough suppressant called Expectu to help him sleep.

When I was in Madrid, my wife asked me to get another bottle of Expectu to bring home. So far, so good. Except, the bottles for sale in the pharmacies were 200ml and you can only bring bottles less than 100ml onto the plane (I only had hand luggage).

What did I do? I asked the pharmacist to decant the 200ml of Expectu into smaller bottles (in dreadfully pidgen Spanish!). He obliged and poured it into four 75ml bottles. I put these bottles into a clear plastic bag along with my deodorant and toothpaste fully expecting to be stopped at the airport.

Not a bit of it. Going through security, the guard took out one of the four bottles, checked the volume of it and, satisfied that it was less than 100ml, replaced it in the clear plastic bag!

Fantastic! For all you aspirant terrorists out there making liquid bombs – decant the bombs into small bottles if you want to get them onto the plane and you are sorted (oh, and just in case you thought I was serious, here’s why you should save yourself the trouble of trying to make a liquid bomb)!

Airport security is a joke!