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December 7, 2012

Bank Charges Bite

AIB bank charges for 1 quarter on my personal account

I never go into my local bank branch.

I only call the bank when there's a serious issue.

Most of my interactions with the bank (for my personal account) are via their online banking.

Now it seems I'm being penalised for using the bank ..

This sucks

AIB bank charges for 1 quarter on my personal account

So are there ANY banks in Ireland that don't charge €200 / year for doing very little? (It's not as if they can't "play with" my money or make money from me .. )

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November 28, 2012

Pushy Salespeople Suck


I'm not sure if this has got worse with the downturn or if I'm just noticing more of it, but there's a definite increase in pushy salespeople invading my inbox and plaguing me on the phone.

If your product is good and it's a good "fit" for a sales prospect then maybe they'll buy. Maybe they won't. It's probably down to a certain amount of luck combined with timing, pricing and other factors.

But the "hard" sell and the "pushy" sales methods are not going to work for me. Ever.

Last week, for example, a particular company tried again to sell me a service. I wasn't interested. I wasn't interested last week, nor was I going to be interested ever. It's not a service that we have any pressing need for.

So I gently tried to rebuff them, but the salesperson just wouldn't let go.

This evening I got yet another email from a company that I've already told several times to stop emailing me. We will never buy their products or services. Ever.

Yet they still persist.

Why oh why do people do this?

I understand that some people use outbound sales to generate leads. If done right it can work really well - I've bought products and services from a lot of companies that have done it.

But there's a very large gap between simply "doing it" and "doing it right".

If someone does not want to buy your product or service and they've told you as much, why on earth would you keep on pushing it?


Do you honestly think that selling is like some kind of war of attrition? That you'll be able to wear people down so much that they'll eventually buy from you simply to shut you up?

Answers on a postcard ..

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October 29, 2012

Behaving Like Cavemen Isn’t Cool

English: warning about stupidity

English: warning about stupidity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are some very cool, interesting and intelligent women working in the technology sector.

They're as good if not better than their male counterparts at what they do. I shouldn't even need to say that - it's 2012 - not 1912!

I was raised by my mother. She was (and still is) stubborn, opinionated, intelligent, hardworking and someone I have the utmost respect for. She raised me practically single-handed at a time when being a "single mother" in Ireland wasn't as "acceptable" as it is now. I owe a lot to her (and if she's reading this I hope she doesn't cringe too much!). A lot of what I learnt from my mother wasn't really obvious to me nor did I really appreciate it until quite recently - at least not consciously anyway. She brought me up to treat women in a particular way and also to believe that anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it ie. you shouldn't sell yourself short or restrict your ambition. She taught me to accept people for what they were and not to treat people differently based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any of those things that some people just love to be odd about. (Admittedly I don't think she quite got round to encouraging acceptance of stupidity, but I guess this is what this post is about .. )

Unfortunately there's still some very odd and quite archaic, if not almost "caveman like" attitudes from some men in the tech sector. The emphasis is on "some", as I personally hope we're all not doing this.. if we are then we probably deserve to be horsewhipped.

As a guy it's kind of hard to see this unless someone points it out to you. Fortunately some of my female friends have done just that.

I go to quite a few tech events around the world. My friends and acquaintances come from a very broad range of professions and interests. Some people I'd never have met if I wasn't working in the industry I work in. Some of them I now count as close friends, while others have nothing in common with me beyond the industry we work in. Quite a few of them are women and I was personally quite shocked and disturbed when I learnt about some of the behaviour that some people engage in with respect to women.

Stories I've heard over the past few weeks have involved quite shocking behaviour. I'm not sure if it's that some male delegates at tech conferences think they can "get away" with just about anything when they're "at an event", but if they act like this all the time I'd have to wonder about the future of the human race.

What am I talking about?

I guess I need to spell it out ..

Treating women like objects and making them feel uncomfortable because they "dared" to attend a tech industry event. A woman shouldn't need a chaperone when she's at a tech event, but some men are obviously behaving in such a manner that you'd almost think the contrary.

And don't get me wrong - a lot of the women I know in the tech industry are formidable - but just because they can stand up for themselves and deal with objectionable behaviour does not make it any less acceptable.

A couple of friends posted link to a couple of articles the other day that were really worrying, though they weren't about the tech sector they definitely struck a chord with several of my female friends. Unfortunately a lot of the people reading and commenting on the posts seem to focus on the bits they want to ie. they ignore what I'd consider most disturbing - the misogyny and sexism.

Of course there are plenty of stupid people - just look at some of the statements from US politicians in relation to rape in the last while. The comparison between extremists can be both amusing, enlightening and disturbing at the same time.

I don't have any answers. I have a lot of questions.

It's 2012. I can't speak for all men - and I probably wouldn't even want to try - but we have got to get away from the "caveman" attitude.

Any community, be it social or work related, benefits from a healthy and respectful attitude towards all its members.

A female friend, who shall remain nameless (unless they out themselves), posted something on Facebook that I thought was incredibly apt and well put:

women are being subtly and not so subtly ostracized every day, everywhere. no anger here, just stating the facts. the same way that racism is still alive and well despite constant positive changes, so is sexism/misogyny. obviously, all men are not to blame, and there's something to be said about women who, actively or passively, perpetuate this kind of discrimination. but that's another story.

I'm not a woman. I cannot empathise, in the true meaning of the word, with their experiences - I can but try to understand it. And it disturbs me.

We need to stop it.

That doesn't mean going "all PC" - I don't think anyone really wants that. But there's a big difference between treating people with mutual respect and acting like a caveman. Put it another way, if you treated my younger sister the way some of my female friends have been treated I'd probably knock you out cold. Just saying!

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October 3, 2012

Clever Marketing Doesn’t Have To Cost A Bomb


Every single day I get stupid, badly worded emails from people asking me to swap links with them.

They're usually badly worded and totally irrelevant to the site they're targetting (I've got more than a few .. )

However other companies do things that are probably marginally more expensive than sending an untargeted email but a hell of a lot more effective.
They manage to hit the right tone and engage.

For example, NameMedia (who run BuyDomains and Afternic) sent several people who are attending the next ICANN meeting in Toronto this:

Very simple. Very effective and I'll remember it for a long time - hell I'm blogging about it, aren't I?

Spike Badges sent me a sample pack of their products shortly after they launched. It was simple and I of course was delighted and told a load of people about it. I'll be taking a bunch of their product with me to Canada later this month for one of my American friends who saw me talking about them ..

And what about They sent some of their "early adopters" t-shirts.

What do all of these things have in common?

They're slightly different - they stand out. People talk about them and the cost to the company doing the marketing isn't huge - while the benefit can be much bigger.

Yet we still see boring and conservative marketing every single day.

I work in IT. I'm not sure if our industry sector is worse than others, but a lot of the marketing that IT companies do is terrible.

It's boring. Bland. It doesn't inspire or excite me. One advert looks like another and their press releases make me sleepy .. assuming I can even get past the first couple of lines.

Not all "clever" marketing is cheap and not all of it will work, but if you don't give it a go you'll never find out.

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October 2, 2012

Your Press Release Sucks

Kelly Hardy

Kelly Hardy (Photo credit: blacknight)

For a number of reasons I get sent quite a few press releases. Most, but not all, of them are technology related.

Unfortunately a LOT of PR agencies assume that recipients of their press releases actually care. I suspect most don't.

Unless you're a really popular brand with a zealous following (think Apple) I suspect your press release is not going to be prioritised.

If you put all the actual content into an attachment you're making it way harder for the receiver to work out what you're contacting them about.

I'm not sure what makes a "good" press release or what makes a "bad" one, but I've had some really really bad ones over the past couple of months.

First off .. attachments ..

If you're sending a release it's going to be text. Why put it in an attachment? If it's in an attachment I'll have to open it separately .. if you put it in the body of the email I don't have to - I can read over it quickly.

Links - why on earth do people forget to include these? Why should I have to go hunting for them?

Price - if you're selling a product or service then pricing info can be pretty useful

Images - do NOT embed them in Word docs. Seriously. Also - don't go sending 10 megs of attachments to people. Just link to the damn things. If someone cares enough to download them and maybe use them you gain - plus you can actually track the downloads

Dates - if it's for an event it's kind of key to know when it is

Location - same as above

(Tip: If you can't write coherent press releases outsource it to someone who can. We use Kelly - she's awesome!)

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September 27, 2012

Vila Grand Budva Possibly The Worst Place I’ve Ever Stayed In My Life


I'm just back from nearly two weeks in Budva, Montenegro.

Before I go any further let me make it very clear. I love Montenegro. I love the people. The weather's fantastic (most of the time). The food is great. Go there - you won't regret it ..

Unfortunately not everything in Montenegro is wonderful .. some things are just plain terrible.

Prime example of this is Vila Grand in Budva.

I had the misfortune to stay there for 5 nights.

According to's description of it:

With a spacious vine-covered terrace and air-conditioned rooms, Vila Grand is situated in the city centre, less than 50 metres from the beaches of Mogren, Pizana and Ricardova Glava. The villa has a swimming pool.

Equipped with high-quality furniture made of wood, all rooms at Vila Grand have a satellite LCD TV, refrigerator and compact bathroom. Most rooms have a balcony overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

Regional meals are served in Vila Grand’s restaurant. The terrace offers a romantic setting for a glass of wine.

Budva’s city centre is known for its Meditteranean-style architecture. The 24-hour reception staff can recommend numerous trips to explore the Budvanska Riviera.

Wow! Doesn't that sound lovely?

Unfortunately the reality is anything but pleasant ..

I booked online with my credit card and had to make a deposit of 20%. I don't really like having to do that, but once I'd made the booking I was then committed to the location, as I'd already made a payment.

Getting to Vila Grand wasn't easy. Yes, it is very close to the centre of the town, but the map on positioned it somewhere else, while the street address was somewhere else entirely.

When I finally arrived I should have smelt a rat..

To start with the guy at "reception" who was apparently the owner did not speak a single word of English. I don't speak Serbian. Usually, however, I can communicate using hand gestures etc., this time that was pretty much impossible.

The room turned out to be quite small and very basic. I could live with that..

The bathroom, however, turned out to not really be a proper bathroom. The "shower" was basically a hole in the middle of the floor beside the toilet in front of the sink ie. you were meant to just stand there and somehow hose yourself down. And of course the water wasn't hot. I'd hate to have been there in the colder winter months!

Of course there wasn't any soap, though the entire "hosing" process itself was pretty awful, as the plumbing seemed to be quite dodgy and the floor never actually drained properly.

As for towels etc., they were never changed. Not once.

The room wasn't cleaned once the entire time I was there.

And the keys to the room and front door of the building had to be carried at all times. Why? Because the 24 hour reception did not exist.

When I wanted to check out I had to hang around for nearly half an hour and ended up ringing the owner on his mobile, which I'd got accidentally.

They only took cash and of course did not give me a receipt!

And as for the meals and the terrace .. they're pure works of fiction. The only facilities the place had was a small coffee machine, which probably didn't even work..

As for the wifi .. I didn't know you could get 1 meg down .. well I have vague recollections of it . ..

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July 24, 2012

Olympics 2012 Restrictions


I won't be attending the Olympics in London, but I'll probably watch at least some of it from here ..

If you are attending you need to be careful about what you bring with you ..

There are several documents on the official London Olympics' site outlining what you cannot do or bring with you.

Here's a couple of the items that caught my attention (and since this post is critical of them I'm probably in breach of their stupid social media guidelines)

  • Excessive amounts of food - their wording. What exactly does that mean? Are they worried about people's health or have they got some kind of hidden list of criteria for what constitutes "excessive"?
  • Any objects or clothing bearing political statements or overt commercial identification intended for ‘ambush marketing’ - basically rules out most of my t-shirts so :)
  • Flags of countries not participating in the Games (this excludes the flags of nations under the umbrella of a participating country such as England, Scotland and Wales)  - so the IOC doesn't want people to show national pride?
  • Noisemakers such as hunting horns, air horns, klaxons, drums, vuvuzelas and whistles - banning vuvuzelas = a good thing
  • Items too large to be electronically screened - not a bad idea, but how big is "too large" ?
  • "Offensive weapons" - as opposed to "polite" or "politically correct" ones? Yes, I am being facetious but "weapons" would have covered it

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July 21, 2012

Gun Death Figures

Statistics showing the number of gun related deaths in various countries

I shared an image via Facebook last night, as it caught my attention and disturbed me. Sharing the image is an action that probably means a lot more than you'd immediately think and this was reflected by the level of feedback that I got on Facebook from different people.

Here's the image, which is from the Brady Campaign site, which has some pretty damning statistics on gun related deaths.

Statistics showing the number of gun related deaths in various countries

The Brady Campaign isn't about banning guns, it's about improving the legislation in the US to stop guns being made too accessible to people with a penchant for violence. They've also got a counter on their site which is pretty scary. On average 270 people are shot in the US every single day!

Ireland has very strict gun control laws, as do many countries in Europe. That doesn't mean that people don't get shot, or get their hands on weapons illegally. And of course you don't need a gun to kill someone - you can do it with your bare hands..

Personally I enjoy shooting, though I only get to do that when I'm in the US and I have no issue with people owning guns.


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July 19, 2012

Irish Mobile Operator With Sane Roaming In Serbia and Montenegro?

Montenegro Coastline

Montenegro Coastline (Photo credit: blacknight)

I just got back from Montenegro last night.

I'd a great time (check out the photos!), but I was really hampered by not having data either in Serbia or Montenegro

Vodafone have a network in Serbia, but for some stupid reason I didn't have 3G roaming with them. No idea why.

Once I landed in Montenegro I ended up without any data at all.

This is really really annoying.

I'm going back to the region again in September and I *need* to have data as I will be working from there for several days.

So which Irish mobile operators have proper roaming agreements with Serbia and Montenegro and can give me data in both countries?

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July 2, 2012

Dominos Ireland Misleading Customers?

Dominos Ireland advertise Paypal payments on their homepage

I don't know what Dominos Ireland are up to with respect to their site. It's quite confusing and misleading.

If you go to the Irish site and login you get the below front page which clearly says that Paypal is available as a payment option. It's been like that for a couple of months:

Dominos Ireland advertise Paypal payments on their homepage

Dominos Ireland advertise Paypal payments on their homepage

But if you try to pay via Paypal you simply can't:

Dominos Ireland only takes cash or credit / debit cards - no Paypal

Dominos Ireland only takes cash or credit / debit cards - no Paypal

No explanation as to why they're advertising it and not actually taking it.

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