Crazy things happen when your Internet is down

There’s nothing like a splash of cold water in the face to wake you up from a slumber. Similarly there’s nothing quite like having your creature comforts removed from you unexpectedly to make you re-evaluate things.

As I type this I am one of the lucky ones in my town to have electricity and running water. Our phone lines are down as is the internet connection. As we live outside the town, our power supply comes in from a different direction and wasn’t affected by the storm damage. We have our own well, so don’t rely on the public mains water supply.  The phone I can live without. But the Internet! Noooooo, don’t take my connection to the World away from me! I can’t check my emails, Facebook, Twitter, update websites or do anything online.

 

So I wondered what will I do, tidy the office or write a new blog post? A quick look around the office settled that one quite quickly! You the lucky reader get to benefit too from my decision, unless of course you decide to visit my office.

 

It’s a perfect excuse for me to update my blog which has been gathering dust for a while now (Ok, it’s not exactly crazy as the title would suggest, but I couldn’t think of any other title). I’m not going to be writing anything earth shattering in this post, it’s more of a kind of yawn and stretch to wake myself up and let you know that I’m going to be a bit more active here. I’ll be writing more about community resilience, the sharing economy, food and energy solutions and any awesome stuff I come across related to collaboration and co-operation. This is the stuff that is being done by people and communities throughout the World who have realised they need to work together to accomplish great things and not to rely solely on governments to sort out the economic mess we find ourselves in.

 

I’ll probably write a bit also about my latest ideas and new business ventures. This is not to put myself on a pedestal or say ‘look how great I am’, but more to organise my thoughts and also to hold myself accountable for what I might say I will do. There’s nothing like writing your thoughts and ideas down to get them organised. And if I tell you I’m going to do something, then I’ve got to go ahead and do it don’t I. See what I did there? Now I’m going to have to start writing more! It’s also said the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else, so get ready to learn!

 

Two years on Twitter

I’m coming up to my 2 year anniversary using Twitter. No, I haven’t been counting the days, there are easier ways to find out. Anyhow I thought I’d share my thoughts on the whole Twitter thing.

The first I’d heard of it was via an American, would you believe. I read in a Marketing Sherpa piece about a Peter Shankman who had set up a Facebook group called Help A Reporter Out, where journalists looking for sources could post their queries. The group soon outgrew the 1200 limit set at the time (or that was the limit on messages that could be sent out, I forget which) and a website was set up called helpareporter.com. In emails sent out there was always a mention ‘for urgent haros follow me on Twitter @skydiver’ . Out of curiosity I signed up.

Like a lot of people signing up without knowing how it works or who to follow, I floundered around for a while I’m sure, probably not talking to anyone but following links etc. I was probably following the social media gurus and blogging experts across the water. Then at some stage I found some Irish folk or they found me. I must admit it opened up a whole new world to me.

I never knew there was such a large online community in Ireland. It was almost like discovering a parallel universe. There were Open Coffees and Bizcamps and all sorts of digital meetups that I knew nothing about. The sad thing is most of these are promoted online, so if you’re not online in the right places you rarely find out about them, in my experience anyhow.

I’ve met loads of wonderful people and learned loads of fantastic things through Twitter. If you want to know something or have a query on how to do something most likely you will be able to find out via Twitter.

Once I got into it I was tweeting like a thing possesed, on my pc, laptop, blackberry and then iPhone. I couldn’t watch TV without tweeting about it and my viewing was often dictated by what others on Twitter were talking about. I’d switch to that program so I could join in the conversation. Ok, that probably sounds worse than it was. To put into context, to date I’ve 7287 tweets over 714 days, that’s an average of around 10 tweets a day. Of course some days there would be a lot more and other days hardly any or none at all.

Lately (as in the last few months) I haven’t been as active as when at my peak (on Twitter that is!). There are a number of reasons for this.

It takes time to tweet. Despite what is often said by the gurus, it does take time. Taking my average 10 a day and multiply it by 30 or 60 seconds (conservative estimate of how long it takes me to type a tweet) gives you 5 or 10 minutes a day simply typing. Now factor in time spent reading other peoples tweets, copying and pasting interesting links and following links to read an article or blog post that someone is sharing. It doesn’t take long before an hour or two is spent. Basically, engaging in conversations online (or offline) takes time, otherwise you’re just broadcasting.

Adverse effect on productivity. Because of the time spent on Twitter, especially during working hours, it definitely meant I was less productive on the tasks I should have been focusing on. It’s very easy to get pulled into reading tweets, following links and chatting away. Mainly because it’s so enjoyable. If major news starts to break, as it regularly does, then it’s very hard to pull yourself away. But now I’m happy to wait until I hear the news on radio or TV. I don’t really care if I’m not one of the first to know about some political scandal or somebody dying.

I like to daydream. This may seem at odds with the previous paragraph but actually it complements my productivity. One of the side effects of Twitter and the Internet as a whole is information overload. In any given day I could read dozens of articles and blog posts across a range of subjects. They would be informative, educational and entertaining. I enjoy reading them and have learned a lot, for which I am thankful. But it meant my brain was soaking in vast amounts of information without getting a chance to rest. Now if I’m waiting somewhere, waiting for something to download, waiting to meet someone or simply just waiting, I let my mind wander. I daydream, I engage in people watching, I think about issues affecting my work or private life. You need to give your brain a chance to wander to let the creative juices flow.

Plancast and Foursquare. These two services have eliminated some of my reasons for logging in to Twitter. Plancast keeps me updated on events that people whose opinions I value are attending. I get a notification email telling me that so and so is attending such and such. It’s a great tool. Foursquare allows me to ‘check in’ at various locations and posts it to Twitter and Facebook should I choose to allow it. So instead of Tweeting ‘I’m getting new tyres for the car’ I check in to the tyre shop on Foursquare and can also add a comment. I have another reason for doing this. If I’m in one of my customers premises, I’ll check in and announce it to my friends on Twitter and Facebook. This gives my customers some extra publicity and hopefully translates into extra business for them. You also get lovely virtual ‘badges’ for regular use 🙂

Family Time. This is the main reason I cut back on tweeting outside of work hours. I have four fantastic children, the eldest of whom is five years, the youngest is five weeks. From the time I finish work to when they go to bed only adds up to a couple of hours. The best gift you can give a child is your time. I try to give them that gift every day. Then when the kids are in bed there’s my wonderful wife who is also equally deserving of my attention. It takes me a good hour to check that she has completed the household chores to my satisfaction! What’s a man to do 🙂

There’s other minor things as well I’m sure, but I’ve gone on long enough. I’m not knocking Twitter, I still think it’s a great tool (if that’s what you call it). Social Media apparently affects the brain like falling in love. It triggers the release of the generosity-trust chemical in our brains, the cuddle chemical, in other words oxytocin. If that be so, I think my love affair with twitter seems to have come to an end, but we will always remain good friends

Funnily enough when I logged onto Twitter before finishing this post it was down. She must be sulking.

Nowadays I just get the chance to jump in and out occasionally and I find if I’ve missed a few days it seems to take a while to get back into it.

But who knows, maybe someone will come up with virtual twiagra and our love affair can blossom once again.


The Idiot’s Guide to Internet Success!

Q: How long will it take me to get insanely rich?

A: Depends on you. Probably two weeks. Some people take as long as a month.

Q: Does it take hard work or long hours to get insanely rich?

A: No. This is the Internet.

Q: Can just anybody get insanely rich?

A: Yes. This is the Internet.

Q: How do I proceed?

A: As you’re surfing around the net you’ll see banners and links that say things like “Make Fourteen Million Dollars in Ninety Days, Click Here to See How!” Simply click the link to get started.

Q: It won’t really take ninety days though, will it?

A: Of course not. They just say that so you’ll be pleasantly surprised and so it doesn’t sound like hype.

Q: Okay, I’ve found one that says “Retire to Your Own Caribbean Isle in One Month!” Is that good?

A: Perfect.

Q: What does MLM mean?

A: Nobody really knows. Morons Lose Money has been snidely suggested by the little-brains.

Q: I signed up and now I sell low phone rates. They say it’s the easiest thing to sell because everyone uses a phone. And since it’s MLM, by the time my third level is operating I’ll be making $345,915.45 per week.

A: Conservatively.

Q: They say the first step is to get my mother into the program. Why is my sponsor happy that Mom has Alzheimers?

A: Your sponsor is a shrewd business person. People with any sort of memory disorder make the best targ… uh, clients. You can switch your mother’s long distance carrier for her, and then start calling the other members of her support group.

Q: That sounds a little fishy.

A: The ends justify the means. You are offering people substantial savings on long distance. It’s for their own good.

Q: How else can I get new business?

A: Spam. Spam. Spam.

Q: I thought spam was bad.

A: No, spam is good. Anyone who says it’s bad is just jealous because their brains are too small.

Q: But won’t I lose my web host and ISP?

A: In the get-rich-quick business, it’s important to cultivate a zen-like non-attachment to service providers.

Q: What else can I do to promote my new business?

A: Here’s a list of suggestions:

–Sign up with a free website provider and fill your site with zany colors and flashy banners.

–Join every free banner exchange.

–Get your own free-for-all links page.

–Join every opt-in email list with the word Money, Rich or Lackwit in the title.

–Buy software that submits your site URL to the 15,000 most important search engines. –Buy software that submits your ad to the 50,000 most-read free classified sites.

–Hire a bulk emailer.

–Sponsor a golf tournament.

Q: Okay, I’ve done all that and I’m still not rich. I haven’t even driven my hit counter to its knees yet. What am I doing wrong?

A: It’s possible that you’re not very bright. Consult one of your friends who has retired on their Internet earnings.

Q: What if I don’t have any friends who have retired on their Internet earnings?

A: Then contact someone on the Internet who has retired on their Internet earnings.

Q: What if I’ve never heard of anyone retiring from their Internet earnings?

A: Well, then maybe you can be the first.

———————————————————-

Hope you enjoyed this and I must admit I didn’t write it, simply a copy and paste job from a joke newsletter I received (Yes, part of my job entails reading jokes for publishing them in the Tipp Tatler). Hopefully someone will read it before ‘investing’ money in some get rich quick scheme.

Now I’ve got to go and sort out the paper work to collect the lotto winnings from that country I’ve never heard of and help that widow transfer her deceased husband’s millions to my account.

Where’s my cheque book?

When I was a millionaire

Way back when I was a millionaire I spent the Summer on the Cote D’Azur in the South of France. Long days passed basking in the Mediterranean sunshine, swimming in the warm, clear blue waters of the Cap d’Antibes. I brushed shoulders with movie stars at the Cannes Film Festival and made numerous excursions to Monte Carlo, the playground of the rich and famous.

I did some work while I was there, an hour in the morning and an hour, sometimes two, at night. Not every day, but as much as was required to keep my businesses going. That was back in the early 90’s when there weren’t too many millionaires in Ireland. Life was good. I hadn’t a care in the World.

Recently I read a copy of Tim Ferris’ bestseller ‘The Four Hour Workweek’ as recommended to me originally by James Kennedy at Bizcamp Limerick.

It brought to mind my Summer in Nice living the millionaire lifestyle.

Technically speaking I wasn’t actually a millionaire. I merely lived the life of one.

Yes, I lived in the sunny South of France and did all those things I mentioned earlier. I did the things that a lot of us fantasize about doing if we won the lotto. The only difference being I hadn’t a million pounds. Not even close to it. In fact I was pretty much penniless. The business I had which required an hour of my time each morning required no training and very little skill or technical knowledge.

For an hour each morning along the Promenade Des Anglais I set up camp and washed car windscreens at the traffic lights. During that hour I earned, on average, more than I did for a days work in my previous job as a trainee accountant in Mullingar. Granted the career prospects were less appealing, but the hours were great. And you got a break every time the lights turned green.

My night time job was a little more glamorous. I had conceived the idea and being confident that it would work, I handed in my notice in the Brasserie where I had worked as a barman for 3 weeks. Then I planned to find an Art student to carry out my plan. A chance encounter by my flatmate with some Irish girls on my last day at work proved very fruitful. We were invited to a party in their flat that night and as luck would have it, one of them had done Art in college. I kid you not.

I bought a Polaroid camera and borrowed a sheet of plywood from a building site. The girls set to work and painted one of those things you put your head through to have photos taken (the photo below explains better:)). I set up shop each night in Marche Aux Fleurs, the centre of night life in Nice. There were several other street traders and entertainers. I charged 40 Francs (about £4 at the time) a photo (10 francs if you used your own camera). Each photo sheet cost around 5 francs if I remember rightly. At the end of the Summer when I was returning home I sold the board to a pub for 200 Francs.

Anyone for a holiday photo momento?
Anyone for a holiday photo momento?
The painting nearly completed
The painting nearly completed

It wasn’t very a very glamorous way to make a living. Although I did meet Goldie Hawn while trying to sell her a photo. Of course I didn’t realise it was her at first, until I stood back with arms folded and said ‘Jasus, do ya know something? You’re the spitting image of Goldie Hawn’. When she ran off into the crowd then I realised my missed photo opportunity.

About 2 weeks later after accompanying some friends to the airport I saw a fella who looked just like Bono pass me going into the airport. Get a grip on yourself Derry I said to myself, just cause you met Goldie recently doesn’t mean they’re all famous. A few later I got a thank you letter from my friends with following photo enclosed.

The time I nearly met Bono.
The time I nearly met Bono.

Anyhow, why am I telling you all this? I’m not sure myself. I think I’m re-evaluating my modus operandi. I quiet like  the thoughts of having more free time to play with the kids and romance my wife. I was never into flash cars or having the latest fashion (although I do like gadgets) or building the biggest house. I enjoy my work, so much so that it doesn’t seem like work, but it still has to be done. And that does take up my time. I like the idea of outsourcing and it’s something I will be trying to implement more and more of. With all the technology currently available it is possible to run a business from anywhere.

Then maybe I will be able to spend another full Summer in the South of France with my young family while only having to work a few hours a day. But not washing windscreens or selling photos.

Oh social meeja, social, social, social, socialmeeja

I was driving on the motorway recently at about 1 or 2am. As you can imagine it was quiet deserted and relaxing to drive on. To keep myself alert and awake I decided to write a song. Or should I say write new words for an existing song. I had used the same song many years ago while living in Paris and rewrote it for a party piece. Anyhow, this time around it’s based around social media in Ireland. I’ve mentioned names and websites that just fit into the lyrics or rhyme or just popped into my head at the time. So don’t feel left out if you’re not included but you can buy me a pint if you are 🙂

To give you a reminder of the air of the song play the video below

How’s it goin’ there everybody,
From LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter tonight.
Here I am in my old armchair
Is there anyone else online out there?
There’s my profile and my avatar
My last blog post didn’t get too far,
MySpace Bebo, it’s all uphill,
Years gone by, I’m learnin’ still.
Tweets and tweople everywhere.
If it’s Twitter you want,
You should go to Claire.

Chorus

Oh, Socialmeeja
Social, social, social, socialmeeja

Everybody needs a break,
Go talk shop or cook a steak.
Open coffee in lots of places,
You’ll always see familiar faces.
Others go to de-stress in France,
Visit Bizcamp if you get the chance.
Some people just love uploading,
Others could spend all day coding.
Blog awards come round each year,
I’ll win some time if I persevere.
Some jet off to ….. California
But I always go to Socialmeeja

Chorus

I always tweet on a Thursday night,
With me beer and me laptop screen upright.
I like to hit Facebook,
In around Friday afternoon.
This gives me time to get my thoughts together,
I don’t want to update about the weather.
Stumble upon or Digg it out,
You’d never know what it’s all about!
There’s a Dutchman who likes LinkedIn,
And a Peter that does landscaping.
And there’s Tommy, Bernie and Pat Fitzgerald,
Twittering photos all over the World.
Foley, Hookie and Rick O’Shea
On the radio every day.

Chorus

The multitudes, they flocked in throngs
Sharing videos and songs.
Facebook pages, get some fans.
With prizes, raffles, whatever you can.
Mighty craic, grumpy bollix,
Marketeers and followerolics.
Udoo, Igo and Krishna De,
Free API and the fail whale.
Connector nights and Twestivals,
I don’t seem to have any ‘normal’ pals.
Tweetups, Twineups, they’re here to stay
Britney put that thing away!
There’s YouTube, Podcasts, Loud reviews
Qik, Twitpic all citizen news.
Who’s following me, who’s following them.
This is heaven, social media hell
Who cares? Who can tell?
(Anyone for the 1000th follower now?)

Chorus

What happened then it made me frown,
A Denial of Service meant the site was down.
Mafia wars I will not play,
Don’t invite me now, please stay away.

………………………………..

And then I just got tired and decided it was time to stop. So if you feel like finishing the song or adding lines, whatever, be my guest.

This video caught my eye while getting the other one and I had to put it in. What with Arthurs Day and all that. You know yourself

Using everyday things in different ways

There is always more than one way to use most things. And no I’m not going to tell you about the 101 uses of vinegar.

Today I’d like to share some of the ways I use things to achieve different results than you would normally expect from using them.

Take Twitter, for instance. I followed a random French person just to brush up on my French. You see I studied it in school, lived there on and off over a number of years and quiet like speaking it. Living where I do doesn’t give me much opportunity to speak it, but I don’t want to lose it. So now, every so often, I get a French Tweet into my stream.

To find said person I used Twitter Advanced Search and in the ‘Places’ query I put in Paris, hit search and then when the results page showed up I had a quick look at the tweets and also used the translate button to determine who to follow. I picked someone whose tweets I could just about understand and who also tweeted in English occasionally.

Google is another tool with heaps of uses apart from just being a search engine. One such use that I always get a kick out of is using the reverse phone number search. Basically if I have a missed call on my phone I sometimes put the number into Google and hit search.

If there is a listing on the web somewhere for that number, such as a business name, then I have a fair idea of who might have called or why they might have called. I can then prepare to make a follow up call armed with the knowledge I now have. If they are a potential customer I can be ready to answer their questions and can have solutions to their problems already formulated in my head.

We are all accustomed to caller id on our phones, so you know the benefits of knowing who is calling you (whether to answer or not, should you put on your ‘telephone voice’ etc.). I would love a piece of software/application or something whereby I could route my phone line through the PC and if it wasn’t a number stored on my database, it would Google the number instantly and give me some idea in advance of who was calling.

It would be like having every number in the world stored in your phone (apart from blocked numbers or ex-directory I suppose). Maybe such software already exists, maybe somebody reading this will create it, either way, I’d love to have it.

There are a number of uses for Irish Whiskey other than drinking it. But as I don’t condone such wastefulness, you’ll not be finding out about them here!

What is it that you use in a different way than most?