Dubliners prepare for city-wide ban on TIE Fighters

No dogs, no Irish, no Tie Fighters

As reported in The Irish Times today (sub required – although you can see the picture without a subscription here), Dublin city will soon be a no-go area for groups of five or more TIE Fighter starcraft. As well all know, opposition parties have been calling for stricter rules for some time, but research conducted by the Government has shown that there is no evidence of a public safety threat from smaller formations of the craft.

(The above picture is actually of a new road-sign which is being put in place on certain streets around Dublin, notifying drivers of a ban on HGVs with five or more axles… as far as I know this is the sign which will be used across the city.)

RTE.ie revamped – quick review

I had a piece in the Sunday Business Post a fair few months ago about an upcoming RTE.ie redesign, and it looks like it’s finally made its debut.

(Before I begin, it seems like they’ve kept most of the links the same – good thinking there!)

The main page sets the tone for the entire site – it’s far cleaner looking than before with a pretty logical layout. The news, sport and entertainment RSS feeds are also available right from the index page, which is pretty nice, as is an imbeded video with some of the latest RTÉ News (it’s still realplayer, though!)

The News section is greatly improved in my opinion – the links on the left are made far more logical (although the archive seems non-existent at present) and there are very simple navigation links to the broadcaster’s main news programming (like Questions and Answers, Prime Time etc.) as well as features such as their current focus on road safety. Interestingly they seem to have ditched the old news dividers (home news, international news, business*, nuacht**) and instead have the main stories of the day in one page – the Full News Index seems to expand on this a bit too.

Within the actual news stories there seems to be far more options for related video/audio, and guess what? It now opens up in a new window, so you don’t have to download RealPlayer streaming files to watch them anymore! But on the negative side, it’s still RealPlayer.

* Business actually has its own section completely independent from News, more than before. It also has plenty of unique links on the left guiding to Business shows, information on the Economy, share listings etc.

** If I remember correctly the Nuacht page of old was only a link to the latest edition of an Nuacht from RTE One – there’s still a link to this in the Programmes box on the right.

The TV and Radio sections seem to have benefited the most from the update – the main radio page is much friendlier, with information on the more popular shows followed by links to the various RTE stations. ‘Listen live’ and podcasts links are featured quite prominently – with a pretty comprehensive list of subscriber feeds for each of their available podcasts. In general, like News, things seems to be far more logical than before.
Taking a quick look at one of the TV pages – Prime Time – things are again vastly improved. Where before the list of previous episodes would feature very scant information in a pretty dull list (one after another) the layout has now improved drastically. The latest episode is featured heavily at the top, with a section below listing the last few episodes across two columns… far easier on the eye. There’s also a calender there to easily get to a particular episode if you know what you’re looking for.

On the main TV page some of the previous issues are resolved – like that stupidly long list of RTÉ shows that used to feature everything they’ve ever made has now been transformed into a much handier list of current shows (although I hope they’ve kept their old show’s sites somewhere!)

Overall there are a few problems – the banner ad on the far right on each page is stupid, a complete waste of space in my mind. I’m also not sure if I like the big, constantly changing image on the main page and TV page – seems like a bit of a waste of space to me too. The shop also needs to be updated still… Oh, and did I mention the fact that the video and audio is still RealPlayer only?

Overall, huge improvement though – as always when compared to sites like BBC.co.uk it pales in comparison, but it’s never completely fair to hold those two unequals against each other.

Well done to those at RTÉ Interactive – a great redesign in general, at least that’s what I see from my very, very quick look at what you’ve done.

I hope the site will now evolve continuously rather than me having to wait another X amount of years to see any further change. It certainly seems to be a bit more dynamic than before – the last site was quite static with the odd image changing every now and again (with only the news section getting updated on anything close to a regular basis). And can we hope for blogs, like an RTÉ Editors blog?!!!!

Contribute to Dáil30.ie

The first Contribute appeal has been posted up on Dáil30.ie.

The site will be trying to make first contact with the various political parties in the coming weeks to see if it can get some early support for the project (in the way of agreements on interviewing their future TDs).

If you think you can help the site get in touch with the relevant people (or if you are the relevant people!) please let us know. If you’re involved in any of Ireland’s political parties and you like the concept, it would also be a great help if you were able to get some buzz going from within to put the idea on the political radar too.

Thanks.

Self confessed ‘techwreck’ finds a new nixer (and what’s up with The Sunday Times?)

Damien has the first of many (I hope) of his tech articles in today’s Sunday Tribune – well done Damien – good read and a great start!

It seems as though there are a few things going on in the Tribune that should be interesting to see develop… and it’s good to see a fellow blogger use the potential of the likes of Damien too.
As a quick aside – what’s up with The Sunday Times’ Irish section? Is it just me or is still stuck on January 14th? Maybe my link has been superseded…

Channel 6 to be available on Sky Digital

It looks as though Channel 6 has agreed terms with BSkyB to get placed on the Sky Digital platform.

The company sent out a release on Friday announcing a press conference for this week, at which their Spring schedule will be officially unveiled. The release also stated that an important announcement would be made at the event on the channel’s carriage.

Since launching, Channel 6 has only been available to NTL or Chorus subscribers, as negotiations to get onto Sky Digital collapsed without agreement. The channel secured a good placement on the NTL/Chorus EPG alongside the existing Irish stations, however such a deal was not available to them on Sky.

It is believed that they wanted channel number 106, which is taken by Sky One, which BSkyB refused to give. The station was offered a place in the high 200s, which would have buried them in a pretty awkward place, but they refused. Number 105 is free on the Sky EPG, but BSkyB weren’t willing to give that one up either as they expect UTV to take it at some point in the future.

It’s not clear where Channel 6 will now be placed, but that will probably be revealed on Wednesday. The company is still aiming for a 3% market share after its first year (the last count in October was at 1.2% nationally), and being available to nearly 1/2 million more homes would surely help them achieve that.

The full press release is available below the fold.

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Some interesting deleted domains (.ie)

John’s domain spring cleaning reminded me of one of my favourite “once every while” webpages that I like to visit: Blacknight’s deleted .ie domain list.

There’s plenty of rubbish on there, but you’re bound to stumble across a few funnies, as well as a few potential gems.

The current list is pretty long, but a quick scroll through it turned up a few available .ie domains that in my opinion could come in useful to someone, be it for an existing business or an entirely new service.

I’ve listed some of the better ones I found, along with the application I think it could have – I’ve also pulled up a few of the more bizarre ones too.
And do bear in mind that the names listed below the fold may not be available by the time you read this – one I picked out was taken just before I published this (also bear in mind that there are countless undiscovered gems available in the world of .ie that don’t appear on any list).

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Win a Pocket PC with Roam4Free

Roam4Free.ie launched last night, and to celebrate they’re offering bloggers a chance to win a Pocket PC.

All you have to do is write a review of the site on your blog and link to this post – you’ll then be entered into the draw. The most helpful reviewer will be given the prize.

Late last year I was the lucky winner of a Nokia N80 phone through a similar competition held by Pat at Roam4Free – that time it was for comments on their draft site design.

I know I have a slim chance of getting two out of two, but what the hell – I’ve nothing to lose (in other words, expect a review up soon)!

Congratulations on the launch, and best of luck in the coming months.

Introducing Dáil30.ie

What I’ve been referring to as “the project” lately has just been (in)formally launched.

Dáil30 is my attempt (planned attempt?) to interview and podcast each member of the 30th Dáil Éireann once it is voted in – something I hope will act as an introduction to the people who lead us and as a snapshot of modern Ireland and a historic Dáil*.

I’ve been itching to throw this out into the wild for some time, having hatched the idea a fair while ago. Besides a handful of people I’ve kept it largely under wraps and I hope those who ramble over to the site will see the potential in it that I see.

The site itself is in its infancy and has plenty of work ahead of it – I expect by the time the podcasts begin it’ll be a very different place (I kind of hope so too!).

So please give it a visit and tell me what you think of the concept and the site – good or bad. Right now I’m looking for people to discuss and as time progresses I’m hoping people will be able to contribute their own ideas and talents.

* Besides being the 30th Dáil, it is also likely to be in sitting during the 90th anniversary of the 1st Dáil and will probably see out the first decade of the new millennium amongst other things.)

Irish News launches Ireland’s first online TV news service (SBP – 21 Jan 2007)

An article of mine on a new online TV service for Ireland, in.tv, from today’s Sunday Business Post:

The Irish News, based in Belfast, will launch the country’s first full online TV news service tomorrow, called INTV.

The website, www.in.tv, will offer news, sport, entertainment and religious content, as well as discussion programmes and features. Irish News has had a limited amount of video content on its main website, Irishnews.com, since September and developed the new free-to-view service with media company Gat€49.

‘‘It is, in many ways, a step into the unknown and no one can say how it will develop,” said Noel Doran, editor of Irish News, ‘‘but it’s changing times and you’ve got to look at these things very closely.

“There’s a lot of pressure on newspapers generally to attract audiences in different ways.”

While he would not say how much the newspaper was spending on the website, Doran said it represented a ‘‘significant investment’’ for the company.

The site’s sports coverage will be presented by Setanta Sports broadcaster Graham Little, while Andrea Devlin and Aislinn Hagan will present news. Doran said a number of the paper’s existing staff have expressed an interest in working on video content.

‘‘A number are already involved in a couple of pilot schemes, particularly in sports and entertainment,” he said.

‘‘It won’t be a question of the entire editorial staff becoming multi-skilled, but a relatively small number have expressed an interest in getting involved with the online side of things and we’re happy to facilitate that.”

Online content is becoming increasingly important to newspapers as they try to counteract declining sales figures, especially among young people. The Irish Times recently relaunched its website, Ireland.com, featuring free video clips and breaking news services.

Some of Ireland’s other big national and regional newspapers, including the Irish Independent, the Sunday Tribune and the Belfast Telegraph, are preparing to launch new websites in the coming months.

Many British newspapers have invested heavily in online content in recent years, with the Guardian achieving the most success from its downloadable audio content and Comment Is Free blog.

It’s a pretty interesting idea and great to see a newspaper on this island start to think about online content – something that papers in England have been doing for a long time.

Hopefully The Irish Times has gotten enough positive response from its very slight toe-in-the-water attempts of late and will start to push the boat out a bit more now. Anyway, if what I’ve heard about the new versions of other newspaper sites is true then Ireland.com is going to look very antiquated very quickly.

Be my host – UPDATED

Update: I’m pushing this back up to the top as I’m keen to get this sorted as soon as I can.
My RBN filing was registered quicker than I had expected, so I’m pretty much ready to go, all I need is a suitable host.

Below is a quick rant on what I’m looking for – suggestions, recommendations or warnings are all greatly appreciated.
Development of the project is moving ahead quite well, and I’m pretty much ready to launch the initial site now.

And so, I’m looking to the issue of hosting. This site (adammaguire.com) is hosted by Godaddy, a company I chose because 1) they were dirt cheap and 2) I heard they were good value for money.

While this site has never caused too much demand on their servers anyway, I can say that I’ve had no problem with them at all, besides being limited in a few of my options. Despite this I’ve decided not to reside with them for the next project.

Why?

Well because I need to think ahead.

Perhaps it’s optimism, or an attitude of ‘better safe than sorry’, but should this project be in any way popular at any point I want to have a set up that won’t buckle at the first sign of traffic, and that’s easy to alter and upgrade should that be necessary.

I’ll need to have decent, reliable storage, plenty of bandwidth (later on in the year, although not right now) and I want to have as much freedom as possible in adding fancy features (not like I can design them… just the ones I find for free around the place!).

Also, I need to know that should the worst come to worst, I’ll be able to ring an Irish helpdesk and get it sorted quickly with the help of people who don’t sneer at you for not knowing javascript. One of the reasons I’m skipping Godaddy is because I can’t rely on US tech support that a call to costs twice as much as the hosting package did in the first place.

So, I’m looking for recommendations. I’m willing to pay that bit extra for hosting because I see the reliability of the next project as quite important. If adammaguire.com goes down for 24 hours, so be it, but I’d rather not see that happen to the new project and I appreciate that getting that guarantee costs a little extra.

(Just before the high, high end suggestions start coming in, I want reliability but I don’t need even close to the biggest package going, and probably never will. Most of the hosting companies I’ve seen seem to have adequate basic packages as far as space and bandwidth goes, at least for the time being, I’m looking for the one with the most options, most reliability and best support.)

Oh, and I’m planning on getting a .ie domain too, so a good price on them would be preferable (but again, I’ll pay the few quid extra if it means getting a solid hosting package too).