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Archive for the 'General' Category

Risque company names, clever for branding or bad, bad, bad?

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

While on my way back from Naas today I noticed a van for a company called ‘Doggie Style‘. The company actually provides mobile washing and grooming services for dogs, but the first thing that caught my attention was the large words ‘Doggie Style’ on the side of the van so initially I thought the company must be in a different industry altogether. Near the company name was more ‘word play’ with what I guess is the company’s attempt at a tag line… ‘good clean fun’. The company therefore has a lot of connotations associated with its name and branding but are these risque (some would say controversial) connotations good or bad?

Of course when people are trying to come up with company names, one of the requirements is for the name to be as memorable as possible for branding purposes. Company names such as ‘Amazon’, ‘Pink Elephant’, ‘Pigs Back’ and ‘Xtra Vision’ are unlikely to be forgotten too easiliy so in that respect a company name of ‘Doggie Style’ is right on the mark. I wonder though do the (perceived) negative connotations associated with this name outweigh the advantage of it being clever & very easy to remember, I mean I sure as hell wouldn’t want a van with ‘Doggie Style’ written in large lettering on its side pulling up outside my house… what would the neighbours say? :-) Additionally does it make the company appear tacky or unprofessional?

I guess that’s only one example (send me any examples you know of) though, but I’m looking for your thoughts on the topic title, so what do you think?

Reeling in the years… Irish soccer legends special

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

While clearing out the fire damaged wreck that is my house I came across a couple of old photographs of me and my brother with Irish soccer legends Paul Mcgrath, Jack Charlton and Ray Houghton. I think the photographs were taken in the Forte Crest Hotel (not sure if this hotel is still in existence) in Dublin Airport just before the Irish team were about to set of to Italy for the 1990 World Cup.

I’m in the green looking a bit scared. Apologies to big Jack for him missing half a head in his photograph.

As usual the Irish soccer lads were very accomodating towards the fans in terms of photos and signatures. Check the photos out below, click on them to open up bigger versions :

Off to sunny Algarve on an extended working holiday

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Well folks, it’s long been touted that my company will eventually not have a requirement for inhouse application development skills and when the final release of the new IT Strategy contained the following sentences & excerpts I pretty much knew that sooner or later the curtains would come down on my three year (circa) software development role with ESB International.

In accordance with the target Application Architecture IT & BP Function will not invest in the development of Application Development skills.

Buy Not Build - Purchase application software unless a substantial business case can be made for the development of a system in-house.

Minimise the Level of Application Development - An overall application architecture objective is to minimise the level of application development.

Rather than wait around until the development work completely dries up (and not wanting to move into the ‘Business’ side of things) I made a decision to resign and move over to the Algarve for nine or so months on an extended working holiday, in fact I’m ‘working’ (cough…) my notice as we ’speak’ and will be finished in ESBI on the 4th of April.

As for the Algarve, well the family have an apartment over there and I’ve managed to get a small bit of part time work with a Faro based web development company which should give me two-three days of work a week, of course I’m going to be looking after my usual quota of SEO work too. Additionally I’ve also got some Dublin based contacts keeping an eye out for any SEO/dev work which I may be able to take care of remotely so I should have enough bits and bobs work wise to keep me going.

On the three or four days I’m not working well what can I say… the place has 3000 hours of sunshine a year, full course meals (with wine) can be gotten for 15 euro-ish, bottles of decent beer cost about 30 cent, the beaches are magnificant, the females are magnificant and best of all the place is full of us Irish.

All the fun begins when I arrive on the 9th of April courtesy of a €12.99 Ryanair flight (thanks Michael…) so if anyone happens to be over in the Algarve anytime from mid April to the end of the year look me up.  If not don’t worry I’ll send you guys a postcard. :-)

Potential Trapattoni related headlines over the next while?

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

It’s finally settled, Trapattoni is in the FAI hotseat after about 111 days of searching. Along with him comes a fresh challenge to the pun kings of Ireland, namely the tabloid sports writers. What will the headlines be like over the next two or so years? Here’s a little taster of what you may see in newspapers like TheStar, TheSun and TheMirror:

 ‘Shut your Trap’ - Guaranteed to be used, perhaps when the smack talk begins between himself and rival managers in Group 8, or perhaps in response to Stephen Ireland if he dishes out more made up stories.

 ‘Trap Rap’ - If Trapattoni gets disciplined by UEFA, Fifa etc?

 ‘Through the Trap door’ - Perhaps in reference to getting into South Africa via the playoffs?

 ‘Trap-ped in Group 8′ - Perhaps in reference to failing to qualify?

 ‘Offside Trap’ - If Ireland or our opponents score a controversial late goal?

 ‘Trapa-phoney’ - If Trapattoni turns out to be completely useless?

 ‘Crapa-ttoni’ - As above.

 ‘Snapa-ttoni - Perhaps if Trapattoni loses the head and does a Jack Charlton/John Aldridge USA 94 job?

 ‘Trapa-stoney’ - If Trapattoni ever admits to smoking pot… perhaps in a heart to heart interview with ‘Dobbo‘?

 ‘Gio-canny’ - If he makes an inspired substitution?

 ‘The Italian Job’ - Going from his name to his nationality, of course I’m sure we will see it thrown in a couple of times too. Hopefully it will be in the context of Trapattoni engineering a big result for us and not in the context of a defeat by the Italian team.

‘Godfather’ - If he becomes loved by the Irish public?

‘Don Trapattoni’ - As above.

OK well I’m kind of clutching at straws now so I’ll leave it at that but there’s a few other good ones floating about the net, send in any I’ve missed. By the way if there are any budding tabloid headline writers among us check out http://www.rhymezone.com/ to see what you can come up with yourself.

RingJohn.com site redesign

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Just noticed the other day that Guinness Enterprise Centre based Internet marketing company Ring John has put a new version of their website live. I’m not sure if it’s the final version of the redesign but it appears to be a big improvement on the previous site. The old version used the very much clichéd variety of stock images of some very good looking blonde women to ‘entice’ all us one track ponies to contact them. I personally think the use of images like that is A) very template-ish (new word) and commonplace and B) so tack that it actually turns me off a company.

Thankfully the new site doesn’t use them. The new homepage puts emphasis on what the company does, with PPC and SEO services seemingly getting more prominent positioning than other services available. Of course the customer capture form is present above the fold, any online marketing company worth their salt will have a similiar page setup. The site is easy to navigate and seems to have a decent information architecture behind it which sees each service page breaking off into well defined sub service pages.

The site kind of reminds me of WebTrade’s website, note the emphasis on the ‘kind of’. The one thing I don’t like about the site is how the link to the blog is buried on the bottom footer. Is this another case of a company overlooking the massive benefits of pushing their business blog on their website? Blogs are an excellent way for potential customers to get to know your expertise, approach, vibe etc. for that reason I nearly would have thrown the blog link up onto the main header navigation bar similar to the way IQ Content and RedFlyMarketing have done.

Of course what I think about a certain site doesn’t really matter, what matters at the end of the day is whether or not a site works. The main metric as far as I’m concerned in measuring how well a site works is conversion rate, so if this redesign or indeed any redesign improves conversion rate that redesign should be considered a success. Are things ever that black and white though?

"Another hour later and you'd all be dead"

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Not related to what I usually ramble on about but I feel this story deserves to be told. Last night (Friday 18th Jan) at around 11:30 - 12:00ish in the family home we had a fire which started in the washing room at the back of the house when the clothes dryer overheated and went up in flames.

I had put two towels into the clothes dryer around 10 o’ clock so when I got up the next morning I could hop straight into the shower. Sometime in between half 11 and midnight while in my room I smelt smoke, seconds later I heard commotion from the others in the house. I ran down from the attic to the hall door and noticed that a) everyone (including the pet dog) was out in the garden in double quick time and b) a fire had taken hold of about 1/3 of the partition wall/roof between our washing room and sitting room. The wall that separates these two rooms had perspex windows so needless to say it would not have taken long for a fire to spread from one room to another.

Quick evaluation of the situation led me to conclude that it was an acceptable risk to try and put out or at least stem the fire myself before the fire brigade, who had just been called arrived. I ran back upstairs and grabbed a powder fire extinguisher as I was not sure of the source of the fire at the time. If the source of the fire had been electrical and I had started chucking water on it it would have made it worse, however if it was something else at least I knew powder would not make it worse. After opening the sitting room door I was greeted with thick smoke so couldn’t really see well, however I simply pulled the pin and tried to spray towards the base of the bright blur, because the fire was moving upwards on both sides of a wall the bottom of the fire one second was not necessarily the bottom of the fire the next so I then decided to just spray upwards to try and cover all the fire, it seemed to work well. It seemed the first fire extinguisher was empty after only 2/3 seconds, we had a second one on the landing window which I needed as the fire was not yet out. Thankfully after that one was emptied I was confident the fire was out, and by this stage the smoke was starting to get in my eyes and lungs and billowing all over the house so I didn’t stick around to investigate and left the house.

Two fire brigade engines arrived about 15 minutes or so later. There must have been about 20 guys, they all went in and made sure the fire didn’t reignite as often happens, they also checked for structural damage. Thankfully there was none and about two hours later we were allowed back into the house. The fire chief whose name was ‘flood’ (I couldn’t help cracking the joke that he’d be useful in the event of a fire) confirmed that the fire had started in the clothes dryer. He said that this was the stations second dryer related fire that night. He continued to say that in his experience dryers are responsible for causing more fires than any other household electrical appliance and that they must have their filters cleaned regularly so as not to overheat and catch fire.

When all the smoke cleared out and after seeing the damage properly we all agreed that it was not that bad and that it could have been a lot worse, the main thing of course was that everyone was OK, in fact the fire chief commented: “Another hour later and you’d all be dead” in relation to the starting time of the fire, everyone was settling down for bed when the fire started so we did not think his comment was just scaremongering, on the contrary his comment made us realise just how lucky we were.

As mentioned before the main thing in this (and any) fire is that everyone is all right, concerns about the property did and must come secondary, however considering the fire brigade took about 15 mintues (through no fault of their own - traffic, ramps etc.) to arrive I’m sure glad I had that second fire extinguisher as otherwise the whole house would have been gutted. Incidentally I ‘won’ that second fire extinguisher as part of a home safety kit during safety week in my company only a while ago. I’m convinced that if I didn’t win it my family wouldn’t have been going back into the house after two months never mind two hours. Needless to say we will be stocking up on fire extinguishers (and other fire safety equipment too of course) after this. In this case it’s important to note that everyone was out very very quickly (which we are all quitely proud of each other for) so fire extinguishers in this particular instance saved property not lives, next time they could save lives… if you have them, they definitely won’t if you don’t.

I’ve included a good few pictures of the damage below. Click on the descriptions to view the pics.

This is a view from the washing room. The fire started near the bottom right of the photo. It quickly spread up the walls and through to the adjacent sitting room.

This table is just in front of the partition between the two walls.

View from the washing room looking through to the sitting room.

Sut from the smoke settling on the kitchen table. Notice the finger marks which show just how thick the sut cover was.

The clothes dryer was the source of the fire. The fire brigade removed it and a gas canister from the washing room.

This photo shows extensive roof damage. The fire spread to the sitting room via the perspex windows which you can see in the bottom right of the photo.

View of roof damage in the sitting room. The natural colour of the roof is pure white.

View from the sitting room looking across at the roof and the burnt out windows/partition wall area.

This is where the washing machine and the clothes dryer usually are. The center of the picture is where the fire started out. The fire chief believed that the dryer had overheated and thus went up in flames.

This is a straight view from the sitting room into the washing room. I used the fire extinguisher from this position. I initially sprayed the bottom of the windows and then aimed towards the roof/top of windows.

View of roof damage from the washing room. The fire started in the clother dryer to the bottom right of the photo.

Roof damage just to the left of the source of the fire. Notice the melted light.

Two empty powder fire extinguishers. We had one in the house, the other one I ‘won’ in work. If I hadn’t had the 2nd fire extinguisher I believe the house would have been entirely gutted.

12 Lorcan Crescent, Santry, Dublin 9, Ireland +353 87 9807629