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Friday, December 19, 2008

kisc gmail gadget

If you loved the Kandersteg International Scout Centre Webcam Gadget for iGoogle as much as they did in Switzerland to even mention me on their webcam page:


Use this fantastic widget to keep an eye at the Centre from your own personalized Google site! To insert the KISC Webcam to your iGoogle, click here! (thanks Darran for creating this widget!).
Well the you will love this! (Thanks for the kudos too!)

K.I.S.C. Webcam in your Gmail!

As you can see, a little version of the Webcam right there in your Gmail, which I have open way more than iGoogle! So here is the step by step guide on how to add it:
  1. Click on Gmail Labs in Settings
  2. Scroll the the bottom and enable: Add any gadget by URL
  3. Click Save
  4. Click on Gadgets in Settings
  5. Paste in the address for the gadget:
    That's it! If you want to move it around, like above chat, go back into Labs and enable: Navbar drag and drop.
      Met Éireann Gadget
      On the topic of Gmail Gadgets, Peter created a nice Met Éireann Gadget to keep track of the weather!
      Add this line to the Gadgets page:

      Thursday, December 18, 2008

      my opinion of irish opinions

      Over two years ago I signed up for Irish Opinions. They take all your details and areas of interest and in turn send you surveys to complete online. Each survey has an estimated completion time, cut off date and reward. They usually last anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes and the reward is usually from €0.50 to €2.50.

      This has been an easy deal with the amount of surveys increasing from 1 in 2006, 10 in 2007 to 15 so far this year. I have earned about €40 which I can redeem for HMV, Tesco or Amazon vouchers.

      The last few surveys had really annoyed me. I got one this morning that was the final straw!

      I received an email as usual telling me there was a survey waiting for me. I clicked on the link, nearly as soon as the email appeared in my inbox. Standard first question pops up; Age and Sex. When I fill it in I get this response.
      Thank you for coming through to our survey, unfortunately we already have enough responses for this survey.
      We hope to invite you to other surveys in the very near future.
      Please wait whilst we register your participation...

      This wasn’t the first time this has happened to me, several surveys in the past couple of weeks I didn’t fit the criteria or the quota was already reached. I fired off an email to them asking why they sent me a survey they knew I wouldn’t be able to complete due my age and sex (which they already know). I was fobbed of with a generic reply about sometimes the quota is reached on a survey.

      I’m fed up with them wasting my time asking me to do surveys that they would know I can’t complete if they looked at the details and surveys about myself I’ve filled out.

      I have decided to cash in my rewards and just stop. Once I receive them I’ll be closing my account. Thanks for Isabel… if that is your real name!

      P.S. I sometimes lied on those surveys when they got too long and I just wanted to finish!

      Monday, December 08, 2008

      dell laptop repair

      Yesterday, the graphics card on my laptop went again for the second time. I bought it in September 2007 and I got 1 year next day on site repair and 2 years complete collect and return repair.

      Last June I had a similar problem and it was fixed the next day by an engineer who came around to the house and replaced the motherboard. Great stuff!

      This time around I’m not covered by the on site repair. So I rang support and went along with the various checks they did over the phone. He then said he would send an engineer out to repair it. Great stuff again I thought! So he booked me an engineer for Tuesday.

      Photo owned by refeia (cc)

      Today I got a phone call from Dell and the conversation went something like this:

      Me: Hello
      Dell: Hello Mr. Crowley. This is [Subject Name Here] from Dell.
      Me: Hi. How’s it going?
      Dell: Good. I’m wondering if you are willing to have your laptop sent to us for repair?
      Me: Didn’t you organise an Engineer to come tomorrow and fix it at my home tomorrow?
      Dell: Yes we did. But it looks like your warranty doesn’t cover the next day on site call.
      Me: How long would it take to get my laptop repaired if I sent it to you?
      Dell: About 5 working days.
      Me: So I could have it fixed tomorrow or wait 5 more days?
      Dell: Yes. We would prefer if you sent it to us.
      Me: Right. I prefer the engineer to come tomorrow.
      Dell: Ok. You are aware in future you are only covered by our collect and return service.
      Me: I know. That’s why I was surprised you were sending someone tomorrow.
      Dell: Ok. Thank you Mr. Crowley.
      Me: Thank you, bye now!

      Score one me not Dell :-)

      Friday, December 05, 2008

      screw u xbox live

      Microsoft really knows how to rub some people up the wrong way. This week, my friend Brick got first hand experience of how ridiculous their online gaming system (Xbox Live) runs.

      Quick introduction to Xbox Live: When you connect your Xbox to the internet, you register your gamertag (nickname). This gives you a gamercard (like an account id) showing your gamerscore (how many points you earned playing different games). There is two types of memberships; Silver and Gold.
      A Silver Account is free and allows you to chat with friends, download content from the marketplace. A Gold Acount allows you to do all that plus play games online with other people and friends. Currently the price for 12 month Gold Membership is €59.99 in Ireland and Europe. However in the United States, this is only $49.99 (~€40)

      1. When Brick was in the States he signed up for a free Silver Account. He created his gamertag and built up a gamerscore playing games. When we returned to Ireland he transferred his account over to his own Xbox 360 and continued to play and earn point on his gamertag.
      2. This week he decided that it was time to get a Gold Account so he could play with his boyfriends friends online. But since he signed up with a US account, it would not be possible for him to pay for it unless he has a US credit card billing address.
      3. He rang Microsoft at Xbox Live to change his account to an Irish one so he could pay for Gold Membership.
      4. He was told: no. It was impossible. They didn't even want to listen to his problem or reason for the request. 
      5. The only way he could pay for a Gold Account was to registered a new gamertag. He would loose his gamerscore, stats, friends list and current gamertag (which he was quite attached to).
      6. So Microsoft were refusing to accept €59.99 off him, right there.
      7. A little bit annoyed at them he ploughed on with the online payment system on the Xbox, hoping they wouldn't notice that the billing address for the credit card wasn't in the US.
      8. After his second payment attempt his phone rang. It was his bank wondering about the suspicious activity on his account. He explained his problem to the nice lady on the phone and she turned off all security for his credit card. He then put through the order, this time it was manually authorised, billing his credit card the US amount for a US 12 month Gold Membership, about €40!

      So Microsoft wouldn't take the whole €59.99 off him when they had the chance. Instead he ended up paying two thirds that, and next year won't even think about getting in touch with Microsoft when renewing his account! They will keep losing about €20 a year all because they wouldn't play nice on the phone and accommodate him by changing his address!

      Note on US accounts: There is more free downloadable content in the marketplace than you can get on an Irish account. Brick can access this straight away, but there is no reason why you can't sign up for a free Silver US account and avail of the free stuff. Most of my friends have two accounts!

      Tuesday, December 02, 2008

      fake christmas tree

      Following on from Dec's post on Christmas Trees, I thought i'd share my thoughts. We have always had an artificial/plastic Christmas tree and I don’t see the problem really. There are many advantages to a fake tree:

      • They pay for themselves the following year
      • They are safer. They are made with fire resistant materials they don’t go up like dried out trees do
      • They don’t loose their needles
      • There isn’t an issue with sap (sticky stuff not anything here)
      • It is environmentally friendly. And don’t listen to those people who tell you that are from a controlled forest. What happens to your real tree when you’re finished with it? You gotta pay for a wood chopper, or chuck it in a car park/recycling centre and it will set on fire? Right?
      • They save time. No need to search for a nice tree
      • They are allergy friendly. Nothing on a fake tree will cause you to sniff your way through the month of December if you suffer any allergies!
      There are a few advantages to having a real tree (so my argument is kinda balanced):
      • Help the local economy
      • Cheaper to produce.. yes it is true.. 
      • The smell of a real Christmas tree.
      That last point would be a very strong reason to have a real one. This however can be artificially created too! Just buy a load of Royal Pine car fresheners and stick them around the tree, out of sight. This will give you the real smell you were looking for, without having to go get a real tree!
      Anyway, with trees like the following video ... why would you ever consider a real tree again!
      P.S. I notice from a comment that they were first invented by those who make toilet brushes! Classy!

      Tuesday, November 25, 2008

      google a to z

      * I use this on a regular basis.
      Some others that I use that are not included: AdSense, Alerts, Blogger, Chrome, FeedBurner, Gears, Gmail, iGoogle, Mobile, Pack, Picasa, Toolbar, Translate and of course Web Search!

      Monday, November 24, 2008

      kc's queue cam

      Following on from the KISC webcam gadget I made for iGoogle, (which can be found here) I made a similar one for the K.C's Queue Cam.

      I know how lazy people are when it comes to things:

      • Finding the K.C's site and webcam page
      • Getting the address of the webcam image
      • Search for a webcam gadget to allow you to put in the address
      • Adding that to your Google homepage
      • Then edit it so it shows the KC's Queue Cam
      So i've done all the hard work for you. With this gadget you can add it directly to your iGoogle page or to your own site/blog. Enjoy!

      Thursday, November 20, 2008

      teacher training in ireland

      So now I need some teacher training, to become a teacher and all!

      There are a few courses around Ireland that will train you to become a teacher. The main 4 are through the National University of Ireland. Cork (UCC), Galway (NUIG), Maynooth (NUIM) and Dublin (UCD). DCU and Trinity (TCD) also run courses and Limerick (UL) does a nice Business Teacher course too.

      So to apply for one the NUI courses, you have to go through a similar process to that of the CAO, through PAC (Postgratuate Applications Centre). You apply for an application form pack and receive it in the post. No online applications here, these guys want to keep it old school!

      Be warned, the closing date for entry into the 2009/10 course is December 1st 2008! A whole 9 months before hand.

      Draußen nur Kännchen
      Photo owned by germanium (cc)

      I’m at this point now, just about to get everything together to send it into PAC. Lets just recap on what I’ve had to do... so far:
      • Request a application pack from PAC.
      • Paid a € 80 application fee through the bank (not online).
      • Got an official copy of my results from CIT where I did my undergraduate degree (luckily I still have the originals I obtained from last year for my masters application. It cost me € 20 or something).
      • Copied my degree results and masters parchment.
      • Got those photocopies certified as true copies.
      • Got a stamp for the confirmation post card.
      • Now just go to the post office to get the evidence of postage page stamped.
      This is only the tip of the iceberg with what I'm sure will be a bureaucrats dream. Next time I will tell you about the teaching council of Ireland!!

      Wednesday, November 19, 2008

      becoming a teacher

      Since I don’t have much to blog about these days, I’m going to bring you on the journey of becoming a teacher in Ireland.

      First of all, why do I want to become a teacher? Lets look at the pros and cons of going down the road of teaching.

      The Cons

      • Dealing with kids all day
      • Some kids don’t like to learn
      • The pay
      • Bureaucracy
      • The nicknames
      • Dealing with parents
      • Lack of respect among other educated professionals
      • Car getting keyed
      • Early mornings
      • Uncertainty in the current economic climate
      The Pros
      • Teaching people
      • June
      • Influencing them to do my bidding once they have grown up (may involve subliminal messaging in my teaching methods.. haven’t quite figured this one out yet.. I’ll keep you posted)
      • July
      • Job satisfaction
      • August
      • Job security once you have one

      D 411 Connected Classroom
      Photo owned by sridgway (cc)

      So I’ve now talked myself into taking the first steps and consciously making the decision to become a teacher. What is next?

      I need to be trained. More next time..

      Wednesday, November 05, 2008

      bold blogger

      So I'm back to give you an update since I've been practically gone for the last month and a bit. Besides that last post which lowered the tone of the blog completely.

      Yes I sold out, but I do have a canned response to those emails that I get enquireing about advertising on here and what do you know someone took me up on the offer! Thanks to Mike for writing it, my first guest blogger (kinda)

      Anyway, since I was on here last I finally got myself an iPhone and I'm loving it. Besides a slight problem at the start with the side of it and I promptly received a replacement from Apple so they are still my friends for the time being, and o2 haven't been as terrible as they make out (besides ripping me off with my contract.. but i'll live with it)

      I've also had a bit of a Holiday when Lena came over to visit, which is a nice break to work work work during the week. We spent the weekend in Dublin, taking advantage of a Getaway Break! You know, so I could experience what I'm working on first hand!

      I climbed Carrauntoohil with my Rover Scouts. I've climbed it before, but it was good to get out and up it again. We had an Investiture at the top and all, the First Rover Scouts to be Invested in Douglas and the County!

      Kerry, 2 Nov 2008

      What else? Oh! Obama won! Thank you America! Mulley puts it brilliantly when he says:
      The world watched tonight because this was a world election, with just Americans voting in it. All those people that were frustrated with their lives, their countries, the world around them just wanted a new regime and their American brothers and sisters voted for it tonight. Thank you.

      Besides that, work, Scouts and Friends are keeping me too busy to update here as much as I'd want to. I'm a bad blogger. I do however keep a Tumblr going that gets updated every off day with stuff I find. darran.tumblr.com

      Monday, September 29, 2008

      open letter to o2

      Dear O2 Ireland,

      I'm a long time customer of Vodafone, for at least the last 9 years. I've also only had 1 brand of phone, Nokia. I have been a loyal customer to both companies.

      Now since you got your monopoly on the iPhone here in Paddy taxed Ireland, and I really want one, the only option for me is to abandon the two companies that have served me well for the last decade.

      For the last 2 out of the 11 weeks that the new iPhone has been on sale I have been checking your website for the opportunity to purchase one. Needless to say I haven't been able to as you know well, they are all sold out.

      I don't want to hear your beef with Apple and their supply, I do know they are mighty pissed with your rediclous tariffs too and there is no one to blame for that. And I am aware that you will be changing them after Christmas, after all how can Apple target business accounts when faced with the options, a Blackberry easily out matches an iPhone on value!

      You have me, a customer who is willing to abandon ship and move networks for something you fought hard to gain exclusive rights to (did ye really have to work so hard on this considering the deal was in the bag once O2 UK got it). Yet, after 11 weeks with the phone on the market, I'm here writing this letter explaining my frustration.

      From Wednesday, if there is not any news on your website (last updated nearly 2 weeks ago) I will have no choice but to try and buy an iPhone online, get it unlocked and stay with Vodafone for several more years.

      If you loose potential customers like me one at a time and don't care if you do. I guess I'll be glad I join your Company. Hopefully that's not the case..

      Kind Regards,

      Darran :-)

      P.S. I know I won't hear anything from you on this.. but wouldn't it be nice if someone dropped me an email..

      Sunday, September 28, 2008

      cork lan sponsorship

      Any Cork or National based companies out there interested in sponsoring Cork LAN?

      Sponsorship can range from:
      • Name of the event - include your company name in the event name.
      • Competition sponsorship - "The your company challenge!"
      • Food Sponsorship - "Today’s meal is brought to you by your company!"
      • Area for your company at your event - show demo's, answer questions, get your product out there.
      • T-Shirt sponsorship - Logo of your company on the event’s T-Shirt. We are still looking for Staff T-Shirts, or we can sell CorkLAN ones with your logo on it.
      • Banners Placement - Put up banners of your company around the room during the event.
      • WebSite Placement - Your company logo/banner on the Cork LAN website.
      Sponsorship can range from one or many of these! We are very interest in competition sponsorship as it is easy to donate prizes, and everyone loves winning stuff!

      So if you are interested in even donating a spot prize anything in value from €10 up, please contact us on events@corklan.com and we can organise something!

      Thanks and please pass this onto anyone you might know who is willing to help out a new type of event in Cork!

      Saturday, September 27, 2008

      us presidential election post

      This will probably be the only post I do about the US Presidential Election 2008.

      First of all, has anyone noticed the connections between the West Wing TV Show and this election?
      There is definitely a Santos/Obama and Vinick/McCain link. Considering Santos was based on Obama!
      The candidates were also brought to the White House for a chat with the current president before he lands the winner in it for the next 4 year? What about the Republican just about to cancel the debate at the last minute?! Only time will tell, but hopefully Obama's running mate won't die on election night!
      The BBC also have a nice article on this here.

      On another note, as for Vice-Presential pick. McCain's choice was brilliant! A life safer for his campaign which would have been a walk over for Obama if another white male, stereotypical ticket was on offer from the Republicans! For those guts they deserve a it, if only to show the Democrats you messed up not picking Hillary (Altho if the West Wing parallel continues, Obama might have a chance to still pick her!)

      I think this comic sums up a lot too:

      So anyway, since I don't have a vote, I'm just going to sit back and watch the American People possibly screw the world over for another 4 years!

      Friday, September 26, 2008

      cork lan

      With just about two weeks to go, I suppose it is time I mentioned Cork LAN.

      Another boring Saturday?
      So what is there to do on your average Saturday Night? Go to the Pub, go to the cinema, go to a club or go drinking in a field. That pretty much sums up for your average Cork person. Now here is an option to do something else, something different, and the only reason it is going to fail is because people in Cork don’t like the idea of not going out and including one of more of the above mentioned activities.

      Cork LAN is a Local Area Network Party, held for the first time in Cork. We are unaware of any big publicly available LAN parties available in Cork before, so we are gonna claim that this is the first! (Feel free to let us know, and then explain why we weren’t told about it!)

      What is it?
      A Local Area Network party or LAN party is where a group of people come to one place and hook up their all their computers together and play games and the like. This has also spread over to the gaming consoles with the new network ready machines and online play. A LAN party is a chance for all these people to get together and play games, hang out and have fun.

      In two weeks, on Saturday the 11th of October there will be such a party happening in the Cork International Airport Hotel. Doors open early at 10am, but show up whenever you want on the Saturday. We will be kicked out of the room the following morning at 10 making it a 24 hour event!

      Open to all!
      This is not just for die hard gamers either. We will have Wii’s and Rockband and Guitar Hero too for the casual gamer!

      Why not give it a try?
      So the main things to take from this post are if you’re into hanging out, playing games, have a free evening and want something different to do, come along and bring a telly, Xbox and a few games! It doesn’t take that much to pack them into the car, we have do it many many times! Bring a group, it's always more fun with friends!

      Check out the website for more information and register your interest to get €5 off!

      Monday, September 08, 2008

      our next chief

      I've decided to run my own poll to see what the feeling out there is for the Next Chief Scout of Scouting Ireland.

      Who do you think will get it or should get it?

      Note: Options in alphabetical order, this has nothing to do with Scouting Ireland and the results of the poll do not reflect the views of it's members and so on, blah blah blah......

      Friday, September 05, 2008

      my cv

      I'm in the job hunting game these days and no better way to get my CV out there than to put it on my blog! After all, whoever is about to hire me will probably just Google my name and find it anyway!

      So if you or someone you know has a job opening and looking to fill it, please take a look at or forward on my CV! I'm interested in anything in the Cork area or beyond and involving IT and/or Business.

      My Curriculum Vitae in different formats:

      • Word Document - DOC
      • Portable Document Format - PDF
      • Google Document - HTML

      Monday, September 01, 2008

      free priority boarding

      This post is only for fun and meant to point out how poor security is and how easy it is to change your boarding card. Changing your boarding card may result in you not being able to board and prosecuted.
      I fly a fair bit with Ryanair. I was reading their in-flight Mag on my recent flight with them to see that there is a glaring mistake in their "aren't we a great airline company" page:
      From Ryanair Mag
      That bit in the middle:
      Passengers who avail of our FREE online check-in service enjoy the double benefit of skipping queues at both check-in and boarding, as Check'N'Go passengers automatically receive priority boarding onto their flight.
      Besides that mistake and Ryanair stealing €5 from you each way if you want Priority Boarding, I thought what is stopping you editing your own printed off boarding card to give yourself Free Priority Boarding?

      It turns out nothing! And I sucessfully managed to skip the queue on my recent trip with a modified Boarding Card. I present to you my:

      Guide to Free Priority Boarding in 10 Easy Steps!

      1. Book a flight with Ryanair

      2. Choose: 0 Bags & Online Check-in And No to being one of the first to board the aircraft:
      3. Have a PDF Printer installed on your PC. I use PDF 995, It's Free!

      4. Check-in online up to 5 days before your flight and print your boarding card to PDF.

      5. Open the PDF in Photoshop (YES! You can do that!)

      6. Move the page down a bit to make room for the two new lines:
      Priority Boarding Pass

      7. Add the text: PRIORITY BOARDING PASS in Arial, 14pt, Bold Italic.

      8. Print the Image to PDF, scale it to A4 size.

      9. Open the PDF and then print it to your physical printer.

      10. Enjoy FREE Priority Boarding :-)

      Sunday, August 31, 2008


      Yesterday I picked up a SubCard from a Subway. Hurray I thought! They are bringing back a loyalty scheme since they discontinued their Subway Stamps!

      Lets look at this new "Collect points. Get FREE Subs" deal:
      For every 10p [UK] or 15c [ROI] you spend you will receive 1 point.
      500 points gets you a regular 6” Sub, wrap or salad
      1000 points gets you a 12” Footlong
      That means to get a FREE  6” Sub, you must spend at least €75 or £50, and double that for a footlong!

      Now lets compare this to their old Sub Club - Customer Appreciation Card:

      From what I remember, you got a stamp for every 6” Sub you bought, and 2 for a footlong. Stick them onto the card and when you have all 8, claim for your FREE  6” Sub.

      An average price for a  6” varies from about €2.99 to over €4.50.
      So lets say you spend on average €3.50 for a 6”.
      Then multiply that by 8 to fill the card.
      You end up spending €28 to get your FREE 6” Sub, or the equivalent now of 500 points.

      So you now have to spend over 2½ time more to get your free Sub. On top of that, this time they have complete and accurate information on where and what you buy in the store from ordering extra cheese to making it a meal!

      For me, I don't want to give them all my eating habits, but when I end up spending €150 a little reward would be nice. Do I even want to know when I reach that amount!! Surely for handing them all that delicious customer data their reward wouldn't be as stingy.

      Saturday, August 30, 2008

      jamboree 2008

      The First Irish Scout Jamboree was held in Punchestown this Summer from the 2nd to the 10th 9th of August. It was an experience.

      This will be a post in pictures because Bloggers auto-save didn't work last night! So I only took my new camera out twice over the Jamboree, at the Opening Cermony, and on the last day. This is due to the fact it was really wet and I was working my ass off for most of it.

      The opening ceremony.
      So much promise and excitement. It was going to be great.

      What's that?
      The box that arrived via coast guard helicopter!
      It's Christy!
      It was Christy inside, our Camp Chief!!

      Then lots of stuff happened... and fast forward to the end:

      Our Campsite
      At the end of the couple of days, here is a view of our campsite, after the water receded.
      It was way worse this this two days before.
      Driving across the campsite.
      Impossible to avoid the puddles!

      Brian Cowen
      An Taoiseach, at the opening ceremony. Someone took the original video message on their camera phone after catching him after he received communion. He was clearly reading off a sheet of paper. But it was more than we got off our Patron!

      So that was the best of my pictures, more on my flickr photostream. I'm not going to get into all the problems there was and mistakes made. There is plenty of discussion on the chat forum.

      Overall, It wasn't Great and I think it is silly to even suggest it. I wouldn't even say it was satisfactory. Infact thinking back I don't even want to talk about it much. I'm just posting here incase anyone wanted to know my reaction to it, and in that case.... It was a Shamboree!

      Saturday, August 23, 2008


      Holy Snapping Duck Do! I just checked and I have not updated this since people stopped clapping and Tinkerbell died... You would not believe the fairy dust I have to clean up. I'm a blogger so I will though!.

      I am not going to post now with setting fire to people wearing Crocs, watching the grass grow, just generally being asleep, dreaming and chancing to society in general, my day is passing in a blur from mid-morning to sun down and beyond. I am looking at rectifying this. I need some perspective.

      I won't promise anything to you but I will make more of an effort to blog more often until the nice men in the white coats come back. Until I need your shoulder to cry on. Don't hold your breath though, you're likely to turn blue..

      (via The Lazy Bloggers Post Generator)

      Monday, July 28, 2008

      a quick summary

      This is just a quick summay of what is going on with me:

      This week I bought a new camera. Its a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4. Haven't had a chance to fully test it out. Keep an eye out for any chances to my Flickr Photostream.
      I saw The Dark Knight. and even tho it wasn't in focus (those lazy lazy bastards in Mahon Point Omniplex) I really enjoyed the film. It's amazing!!
      I'm off to Jamboree 2008 tomorrow. An Irish International Jamboree celebrating 100 years of Scouting in Ireland.*

      So I'll be back in about 2 weeks, until then, check out my twitter feed for any on-site updates!


      EDIT: * It's going to be great!

      Saturday, July 26, 2008

      eircom ups my broadband

      Eircom finally upgraded my broadband speed!

      According to my Router it should be: 3072/384 (kbps)
      What I'm getting from SpeedTest.net is only 2633/314 (kbps)
      I'll test it again in the dead of night.

      That took long enough to get upgraded!

      Thursday, July 24, 2008

      twitter counter

      I had a look at Twitter Counter to see how many people follow me. It gives you stats over time but what is better is that it gives your a FeedBurner style button you can put on your website showing the amount of people subscribing!
      My FeedBurner:
      My Twitter: TwitterCounter for @darran

      And here is the leaderboard for some of the RTÉ Twitter bots:
      I also made a bot/account a while ago to put Twitter Feed through it's paces. Bosca (Irish for Box) just pulls any Irish Blog or News and every 30 minutes publishes 5 new stories. In the last 5 months it had updated itself over 24,000 times!
      And any Brian Cowen news follow Biffo TwitterCounter for @biffo :-)

      Wednesday, July 09, 2008

      iphone prices worldwide

      With the release of the new iPhone world wide on Friday, I have been contemplating should I get one. Afterall my old phone is getting a bit dated!

      The offers here in Ireland from o2 are pretty shite to be honest. A €45, 18 month contract and pay €169 for the 8GB model up front! So I started to look online at the other countries offers to see was everyone else getting screwed, and the answer is yes.

      I've gotten prices from USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Mexico, Denmark, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. This is the 8GB model of an iPhone on the smallest and cheapest contract. You can see a summary below and a break down of each country on my Flickr Photostream.

      Some things I've noticed:
      • Switzerland is the cheapest place to buy a contract-less iPhone
      • Belgium is selling unlocked iPhones with no contract
      • Canada has the worst deal, with a 3 year contract
      • After Belgium there is Denmark with a 6 month and Norway for 12 month contact
      • The Netherlands, UK and USA offer unlimited data
      • Sweden, Norway, Mexico and Finland only have 100MB per month
      • Ireland and Switzerland isn't doing too bad with 1GB per month
      • Per month: Mexico, Germany and The Netherlands are all under €30
      • Ireland is up there with The USA, Norway and Denmark with most expensive monthly contact
      • At the end of the contact, Canada, USA, New Zealand and Ireland are most expensive
      You have to take what you get from the contract (datawise, free minutes, sms) with what your going to be paying. Obviously when you live in one country it would not make sense to buy a contact for another country.

      All currency conversions done via xe.com. I couldnt translate/understand Italy, Hong Kong or Japan. There is no word from Australia, Spain, Portugal or Austria.

      One last bit of information. The i in the iPhone means Internet, as it does it iMac. That holds true in the USA & UK as you can use it as an Internet Phone. It is a pitty that other countries put a cap on how much you can use the Internet on it. o2 here in Ireland gives you no indication of your monthly download and if you reached or exceeded your limit of 1GB.

      I found it intresting to see the wide differences around the world. I am considering getting the unlocked Beligan iPhone or waiting to see what the prices for unlocked one sell on eBay for. I'm not sure what i'm going to do yet. Lets see how the launch goes 1st!

      Friday, June 20, 2008

      am * dam

      Just back from Amsterdam and I had a good time!

      You can fly into Amsterdam with AerLingus from Dublin or Cork, but it was cheaper for me to get a Ryanair flight to and from Dublin than pay the huge price for the Cork flight. I've also restored my loyalty and faith in Ryanair. AerLingus are a bunch of hippies. They can't have it both ways, low fairs and high quality reputation. Has anyone been on an AerLingus flight that was on time?

      So anyway we stayed in two different Hostels for the week.
      De Lantaerne
      This was right in the heart of the popular Leidseplein location, great for partying and bars. Be warned tho, to get to our room (which was a box, but did it's job) on the 4th floor, we had to walk up and down 88 steps!
      Y Boulevard Hotel
      Once we got tired of walking up and down those steps we moved to this Hotel, which was closer to central station and a nicer friendlier hotel, not to mention a way nicer breakfast! Nice and quite compared to the last one.

      There is loads of Museums to keep ya occupied, but be warned about the Van Gogh Museum, he decided to become a painter at the age of 27 and then only did 10 years work before killing himself. Didn't think he deserved a whole Museum dedicated to himself! Also the Museum of Bags and Purses completely fail to mention Scottish sporrans at all!

      My final gripe with the city is a meal we went out for, seeing this sign:

      Good Deal!
      Yet after ordering my meal (of spare ribs with fries and salad) I got charged €17 for the ribs! I questioned it and was told basically since I didn't order it off the special menu, I had to pay the full amount! JERKS! So be warned, avoid Argentinos Restaurant just off Dam Square!

      So I should put putting up more photos on Flickr, but I have stuff to do now. Off to National Council this weekend I think to decide what kind of Programme we will be offering to our youth members!

      Tuesday, June 10, 2008

      irish scout decision time

      In just under 2 weeks time it will be decision time for the members of Scouting Ireland. Just 5 years after the vote on the merging of the two associations, we now have to decide on the creation of a new programme for our youth members.

      This is a very topical subject because with this new programme come lots of other changes like section ages and names. I will point out some of the main issues people seem to have with the new programme. And when I say new programme, it really is the 1st programme ever offered by the new association since its formation.

      Tracker Book Cover
      Me on the Cover of the Tracker Scouts Book!
      The development of the proposed programme uses the tools and techniques that come straight from the World Organisation of the Scout Movement:
      The Renewed Approach to Programme (RAP) is a new approach in developing youth programmes, which has been launched in the Interamerican Region some years ago under the name of MacPro and then adopted at world level. It is the approach that National Scout Organisations are advised to use in order to update or improve their youth programme.
      The development team, along with the handful of brave groups who volunteered to pilot the new programme have spent the last 2 years running, refining and improving all aspects of this new approach to programme.

      From what I've seen, groups who fully embraced the pilot have flourished and found it beneficial, while some other groups who were more skeptical and didn't implement it correctly seem to have a less positive view of the whole pilot.

      The bottom line here is that groups have tried this first hand, and the vast majority of them gave it the thumbs up. That is hard fact that is difficult to argue with. Yet people choose to ignore it.

      By far the biggest issue people have with the new ages for the sections is that they lose 6 year olds. The main reason is that most groups see them as the money making section in the group. So if we were going for money making, why not bring children on board at the young age of 5 like in some countries or even the age of 3 like in India? Think of the money rolling in then!

      I believe that the programme for Beavers (6 to their 8th birthday) doesn't give the kids a good grounding in the basic scouting experience that they learn as the progress through their scouting lives. It is a baby sitting service, and yes the kids enjoy it and have fun, but from what I've seen, the 7 year olds in the pilot are getting way more out of the section than I've ever seen compared to a Beaver at the same age.

      Section Names
      Everyone is now a Scout. For the new programme to work I think that there needs to be a new identity, we don't want people falling back into their old way of thinking. These sections are new and nothing like the sections that already exist, and the new names help give a fresh perspective on the sections and a fresh start.

      Around the world there are many different names for different sections. Even in the UK there are two different scout sections, Scouts and Explorer Scouts. I believe calling all sections Scouts the a great first step, and this is always an evolving process and will be refined as the years go on.

      My Views
      As you can probably tell from reading most of that, I'm pretty much in favor on the new programme proposals. I am a Discovery Scout Leader so I have experienced it first hand. It is no way perfect, nor should it be followed blindly. There are parts we didn't fully implement and parts we changed to suit ourselves. What it has going for it is that it's a start, a step in the right direction and a bold way of thinking that will pay its dividends in years to come.

      My only fear is that after National Council, and after nearly 4 years in our new association we won't have a proper programme in place for our youth members. Groups will still be stuck in their old way of thinking and Scouting in Ireland won't be able to cater for the changing demands of the young people in society.

      That's me again, investing a Scout :-)

      For Your Information
      Current system:
      Beavers - 6-8 years
      Cubs/Macaoimh - 8-11 years
      Scouts - 11-15 years
      Venturers - 15-21 years

      Pilot scheme:
      Tracker Scouts - 7-10 years
      Explorer Scouts - 10-14 years
      Discovery Scouts - 14-17 years
      Rover Scouts - 17-21 years

      Further Reading
      I do hope at least something gets voted in and that we can all look towards the future with Scouting in Ireland. Afterall, once upon a time we didn't even allow girls in!

      Thursday, June 05, 2008

      the langer's ball

      Got a nice email from Michael from The Langer's Ball (maybe a play on langball?). They are a 2-piece Irish Group that has been performing in and around the Twin Cities in the U.S.

      I had a quick look at their website and they have The Langer's Blog! No RSS feed tho, so I wouldn't classify it as a real blog. In my eyes a blog has to have a RSS feed!

      They do a nice trad version of Galway Girl, which you can listen to here:

      So all this has brought doubt into my mind at the title of my own blog: A Langers Blog.

      Should there be an apostrophe in my title?! I wondered about this before, but just decided to leave it out. So should I have one?

      • A Langers Blog
      • A Langer's Blog
      • A Langers' Blog

      Saturday, May 24, 2008

      twitter stuff

      Some interesting things happening with twitter and other services for it in the last few weeks!

      Last week I had a problem, As I was a new UCC Student I didn't know where exactly I was supposed to go for one of my exams. I put to the question out on Twitter, and within an hour or so I've got 2 replies! They didn't see my question thru Twitter, but on my Facebook status! So there you go. Twitter solves problems!

      Another cool tool is Twitterfone. Call a local number, say your tweet and a few minutes later it's updated your status! Haven't used it much yet, as no disposable (or any) income to me making phone calls just to update twitter, but in the future I'm sure I will!

      Tweetshots, as you can see from the two images above takes someones tweet and turns it into a image and they even give you the option to publish it to your Tumblr or embed it into a post!

      And finally, search twitter has gotten way better with Summize. This is a real time search of the twitter, that actually tell you when there is new results and you should reload!

      Follow me @darran

      Wednesday, April 30, 2008


      A sabbatical (from Greek sabbatikos) is a prolonged hiatus, typically 2 months plus, in the career of an individual taken in order to fulfill some goal.
      It's been about a half a month already since you last heard from me (no news with that last post either... yet!), and another 3 weeks till my exams are over. Fingers crossed, I'll have somehow achieved a Masters Degree!!

      Till then, or whenever I get back here, you can see the odd funny video, image, link, song over on my Tumblr page: darran.tumblr.com



      Tuesday, April 15, 2008

      20 pixels

      So this is the story:
      1. I got this Private Message yesterday from one of the Moderators (name removed) on the Scouting Ireland Chat Forum:

      Hey Ablaze

      Sorry to inform you that your signature can only have 1 image in it at a time. Can you please change it at your earliest convenience.

      Thank you

      Mod Squad Very Happy
      Here is the signature they were talking about.

      My usual signature is the ABLAZE that changes each letter on a new page load, and because of the Jamboree I added a countdown timer to the Big Day. (It's going to be great... apparently!)
      2. So I replied:
      Hi <--->,
      From the Site rules:

      # Maximum image width: 400 pixels
      # Maximum image height: 200 pixels

      Note: The maximum image file size, width and height are determined from the combined number of images in the signature.

      The two images in my signature are 420 x 134. I know that it is 20 pixels too wide, but after a bit of looking at a few of the other members signatures, I thought that wouldn't be a problem. Plus 20 pixels is a very small size.

      Let me know if you still have a problem.

      Yours in Scouting,
      3. I got this reply back later back (including a misspelling of my name):
      Hi Darren

      Thanks for the correction, I must admit I didnt look into before I pm'd you, we are currently asking all members to correct their sigs if they are not within the limits so if you could please make it so it fits within the rules.

      4. They admit they didn't even know the rules until I looked them up! They were asking me to correct my signature without knowing what to correct it to! So I replied again:
      You really want me to change it because it is 20 pixels too wide?
      20 pixels is this wide:

      5. And I got this:

      Rules are rules im afraid, I know it may only look tiny but if you wouldnt mind.

      6. At this point I'm getting kinda annoyed. This was never mentioned before, and it was not as easy as just resizing the images, I couldn't! I sent this off:
      Hi <--->,

      I actually would mind. I cannot change the image as both pictures are generated on page load on another website. The countdown timer wouldn't work otherwise.

      I kinda like it. In just over 4 months it will be gone!

      7. I got this reply today:

      Your signature is in breach of forum rules, I have spoken to other moderators regarding this issue and we have all agreed that your signature should be changed to comply with Site Rules. Please see below quotes from the site rules regarding signatures and moderators decisions. If you do not comply with these rules the Admin team can change your signature so it does comply. If you have any issues with this you can contact any of the Mod Squad or Admin Team.

      2) Images, Links and Signatures
      [[Text from Site rules already quoted above]]

      Thanks again
      Mod Squad
      I am kinda pissed now, this moderator reminds me far too much of Meitheal Staff.
      They already know my name, as they have called me by it before.
      They also know I know the site rules, I have quoted them already for their benefit (which they admitted they didn't look at before they questioned me)

      So now I've just decided to make a new signature. 400 by 200 pixels! Hope they are Happy.

      Maybe that's how you've found this website? Am I over-reacting? Why not leave a comment?

      Tuesday, April 08, 2008

      travel thoughts

      Here are some thought and observations from my recent trip to Sweden:

      • It is impossible to hear announcements on board. They always seem to have 4 stewards working, usually 2 native English speakers and 2 non-native. The non-native English speakers will do all the talking into the PA system making it nearly impossible to understand their thick eastern European or Russian (I'm certain it was Russian, he looked like he was with the KGB!)
      • If you dress up like a pilot you get free food. Wear a white shirt with epaulets and a ID badge. Sit either in the 1st row or the emergency exits in the middle. Introduce yourself as you board the plane. Always say your new. Then when it comes time for the food trolley to come around, order something to drink and eat and offer to pay with not enough money. They guy I was sitting next to ordered a cappuccino (€2.95) and a slice of pizza (€4) and offered to pay with a fiver. He got his meal for free! Altho he did spill the cappuccino all over his shirt and had to go change! :-)
      • They love flight change emails. These are emails they send to inform you that they will be leaving 30 minutes earlier than when you booked the flight. I've received seven so far (I got another one this morning), I even got one an hour before boarding my flight! I wonder when it will stop.
      Dublin Airport:
      • The Secret Door. When flying out to Dublin on a domestic flight to somewhere in the Republic of Ireland, there is another door to security you can go through. This will cut at least 5 minutes or 10 at busy times queuing up to go through security. It is just to the left of the main queue, manned by one person who will check your boarding card. Handy to know!

      • Texts aren't cheap. It was my first outing with my MAXroam sim. I put a message on my Irish mobile number, if people needed me, try me on my MAXroam number. The thing was everyone knew I was going away, no one needed to ring me! I do communicate a lot through texts on the other hand. On my Vodafone sim it was €0.29 to send a text, and it was €0.08 more expensive to send it on my MAXroam sim.
        • Saying all this I could have saved about €0.04/min to receive or anything from €0.09-0.20/min to make a call.
      • It didn't work out too well for me in Sweden. The Vodafone Group are over there making sure they keep costs down for their users. I'm sure in another country the pros would outweigh the cons. I really need to find a dual sim phone for trips!
      Get a MAXroam SIM and Enjoy Global calls at local prices