Tesco Mobile Ireland: A New Mobile Phone network in Ireland

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Tesco Mobile It was years and years ago, when no body even heard of a mobile phone, and if they did visions of a millionaire playboy with a brick phone came to mind, well a total exaggeration there, it was only a few years ago, that if your mobile phone went off in a shop, everyone turned to see who the hot-shot was. Eircell was the only player with the 088 network, which was owned by Telecom Eireann, and was a terrible network by all accounts, which dropped calls frequently, and had no security elements to prevent people from ‘listening in’.

Some things have changed; all for the better, competition has increased, quality of services have increased. For example 3 Mobile Ireland announced their new broadband service, which offers fast download speeds through their mobile network. And now in 2007 Tesco will launch their Mobile network in Ireland. The network will use O2 Mobile’s infrastructure but will be independent from the O2, so it will be in itself the fifth mobile network in Ireland, and thus add to the competition.

If competition is so great, why are standard calls so expensive still? These figures – below – (courtesy of RTE News) speak for themselves. The services being offered are becoming top of the range, however the cost of basic mobile phone calls is still something that needs a lot of work.

O2 last month reported an average revenue per user of €545 a year at its Irish business, compared with €299 in Germany and £272 in Britain

Do these figures mean that Ireland spends more, or costs are higher for calls?

Sold!

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About a month or so ago, a UK based company (I won’t say their names because I am not sure they would mind me blogging about this), asked me if I wanted to sell my Celebrity Blog. Immediately I decided, no, but on consideration, I thought of a number of reasons why I should sell it.

Having never sold a blog before (I’m not even sure if people sell their blogs, as a rule, – I don’t mean personal blogs of course), I was unsure of the process involved? I was also considering the fact that the person asking about the sale of the site may not be who they claim to be.

I took it one step at a time, and it turned out this was a legitimate offer. The company was very effective and efficient with the sale process and made it painless and almost easy. However, it could easily have gone the other way, had the company not been who they claim they were.

I have found (I hope) a wonderful home for my celebrity blog, and I get to monitor its development from a distance, which will prove interesting. I am also delighted that they are planning on maintaining the Irish identity of the site, which may include some Irish celebrity articles (something I did not have time to do myself – another regret)

 

Why the Irish Mobile Networks need a kick up the arse

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The expense of making a call on your Irish mobile phone is so high, that most people, especially those on Pay as you Go services, tend to never make mobile phone calls but rather they simply text each others. The mobile market which now includes four networks, Vodafone, O2, Meteor (owned by eircom), and the newest member Three Mobile, is well aware that a majority of their customers are teenagers and young adults, who cannot afford to pay for these top up cards.

However, little has been done, by any of the networks to reduce the price of mobile phone calls for top up customers. The networks simply introduce new packages which hide costs, and only seem cheaper than the competitor. So why are these networks not actually reducing costs, surely the market is now competitive enough for one of them to introduce a cheap package for their customers, that will prompt the others to follow suit?

I know there are networks, such as O2 that has introduced 1c weekend packages, but these are restrictive packages, designed to promote the network, and encourage higher usage at peak times. And nearly all the networks give free credit to customers who are new to that network, are they being nice?, nope, again a clever edge, to encourage people to become accustomed to spending money on their network, and thus rise the cost of making calls with that company.

But there is some hope out there, the callcosts.ie website is a great service, I’m not sure but I think it’s a ‘comreg’ service, it’s been out for sometime now, and they recently updated it recently to include landlines, and broadband companies.

The good thing about it, for me, and particularly in relation to the mobile phone site of the site, is that it gives transparency. This is something which mobile phone networks always seem to hide behind. I tapped in my basic average daily usage for text and calls, into the site, and it told me based on the information I submitted that I should be on the Meteor Network. This network I find is the cheapest one there is, but they do tend to have a lot of coverage issues, and their wap (mobile internet) service is below par. If you have to money to spend (which most people do not) Vodafone is possibly the safest bet with regards to coverage, and I love their 3G wap service, its ace but for top up customers Vodafone does seem to be expensive enough.

Three mobile seems to offer very sweet looking mobile phones, but I have yet to see them gain a competitive edge with regards price of top up call and text costs. But I must say that their Music service does seem like a nice touch, but of course the music download is currently dominated by the mighty Apple iTunes.

Here are the results from my input to the callcosts.ie website Continue reading “Why the Irish Mobile Networks need a kick up the arse”

Top WordPress Plugins

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Following on from my top 10 series of posts, I decided to look at the most popular plugins for wordpress, and in my opinion (most of them) are essential plugins for wordpress users. So without further ado, I give you the top 10 wordpress plugins.

Akismet: This comes with wordpress, as a standard plugin, it has a connection to a central database which is updated regularly and informs your wordpress installation about the latest spammers, so they are automatically blocked. You still have to option to see what is blocked, so that on the rare occasion that it blocks non spam comments you can move these to approved comments.

Google Sitemaps: After all your hard work posting, its a good idea to make sure Google Search Engine knows about every page/post on your site. Google Sitemaps does just that, simple to install, once you have set it up head over to Google Webmaster site, and you can inform Google of the location of the Sitemap file.

Ultimate tag Warrior: This is the essential Tag Tool for wordpress, there is so much you can do with it, each post can be tagged.

WP Contact Form: A great and easy way to allow your readers to get in contact with you. Upload two files, and a few options later you have a professional contact form on your site.

Related Posts: Related Posts is great for you and your readers, when it comes to reader retention, that is keeping people on your site, its a nice option to let people be able to read posts related to other articles you wrote. Related posts does just that.

WP Backup: I’ve spoken before about backing up your wordpress database. This plugin does just this, you can also set up an additional plugin called WP Cron, which can automate this process for you.

Gravatars: This is just something for fun, its nice to put a face to your readers. This service connects to the Gravatar Service, and places a picture beside the commenter’s!

FlickrRSS: Flickr images on your homepage, a great tool for integrating your photos on your blog.

FeedBurner: The latest version of this plugin has been released. The idea is that you can use this plugin from Ordered List to redirect your feed to FeedBurner.

WP Notable: “Notable displays a series of icons below each post allowing your readers to easily submit you to many different social bookmarking and networking sites.”

10 things you should do to protect your blog

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  1. Backup, Backup & Backup. – Wait I will go back and put that in ‘bold’, many people say “I never do it, it’s up to the host – right?” WRONG, it is up to you, it is your blog, always have a backup. You need to be responsible for your blog, so try to back up once a week, if you have a lot of content, otherwise, devise a backup schedule and stick to it. Use the new Google Calendar, if you don’t have a calendar application on your PC, or the good old’ pin and paper’ is a good alternative.
  2. Always wear SPAM protection. WordPress users are blessed with Akismet, which protects your comments against spam “Automattic Kismet (Akismet for short) is a collaborative effort to make comment and trackback spam a non-issue and restore innocence to blogging, so you never have to worry about spam again.” However, there is additional defenses you can use, for all the various platforms. Try a simple Google search, or visit the official website for your chosen platform.
  3. Copyright your content. Always state your policy on the copyright of your posts, this will protect you and any content you may use in your posts. Check out creativecommons.org “Creative Commons licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators. We have built upon the “all rights reserved” concept of traditional copyright to offer a voluntary “some rights reserved” approach. We’re a nonprofit organization. All of our tools are free.”
  4. Your Password: Remember your username and password to your blogging platform are like a set of keys, would you leave your keys in your car? A safe bet is to use a combination of numbers and letters with at least one uppercase letter.
  5. What version are you using? There are always and will always be updated to the software that runs on your blog, keep up to date with the version you are using. This will help keep you safe from exploits which may be utilized by possible hackers.
  6. Use “quote marks”, this comes back to point three. If you are quoting somebody, or an even an article, always quote them, and cite the where you found the original content, not only is this a courtesy mark, but it is also necessary to let readers, and the original source, know, that you are respecting the fact that they wrote this piece and you are using it as a part of making a point, or reference.
  7. Protect your self, I was going to leave this point until number 10, but from a personal experience, let me just say it again folks PROTECT YOURSELF. And I am not talking about protecting your online identity or whatever (that’s an issue for another day). Take a break, allow yourself time away from your blog. This will help with the creative juices, and may even prevent you from getting tired of your blog, and help keep your content fresh.
  8. Host: Make sure your host is suitable for your blog needs, most good hosts offer a regular backup service, and outside business hours support. This is essential. Even high profile blogger’s experience problems with their blogs, and when you have a good host there to help in your time of need, its a relief indeed ( perhaps that’s an understatement)
  9. Protect your domain, make sure that your domain registration does not lapse.   Many bloggers’ register their domain for 10 years (this seems to help with SEO)
  10. Be Ready: If one of your posts becomes popular, or is ‘Dugg’, you may suddenly have a lot of traffic, make sure you have the option to increase bandwidth if necessary.

Anousheh Ansari Space Blog

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Anousheh Ansari What a world we live in!

The first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, has said she was inspired by Star Trek as a child, she has boarded the ISS – International Space Station for a nine day visit, and has begun the first ever blog from space….. (powered by wordpress.com – see article here)

“The Earth is so beautiful and if we could all see it this way I’m sure we would do everything in our power to preserve it. I truly hope that more and more people get to experience this trip first hand.”

Anousheh Ansari is the fourth civilian who has paid money to travel in space, and it set her back almost 19 million USD for the privilege. In her blog she recently wrote:

From the side windows in the little cabins and the docking compartment, where I sleep, you see the complete curvature of the Earth against the dark background of the universe. This view is actually my favorite because you see the “Whole” not the “Parts.” I always like to see the big picture before deciding or worrying about the pieces. I wish the leaders of different nations could do the same and have a world vision first, before a specific vision for their country. Check out her blog here

 

Skip is on the mend!

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I finally took my dog Skip in to have her neutered, and boy is she pissed!

I was called in early to the vets’ office because she was screaming the place down when she came out of the anesthetics, you could hear her howling down the road. She came running out only hours after a serious operation, but the minute she got into my car, she feel into a deep sleep. She is great today also, has a eaten a bit.

Automattic launches wordpress.com

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The war of the blogs finally has a worthy opponent – wordpress has launched its own blog-hosted service, which is set to blow the others out of the water. WordPress the blogging software, which has a poetic approach to blogging by using code that allows its users to blog with ease and without the need to muddle about with code, that is of course if you don’t want to muddle around with the code, if you do then its very open to that. Now put all these features into a hosting package (you can upload images) with modern fresh templates and you have a service fit for any blogger. Poetry it would seem is code!

Wake Up Eircom – Doing it the old Way

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Those of you who have broadband, please look away now.

Because if you do, the chances are you do not live in Ireland. The ‘roll out’ for broadband by Eircom and other providers, are just so slow, its just beyond a joke. Each time you ring them for an update on availability the time-frame jumps a further two months. Dial up its just, well a joke. All you really can do with it, is send & receive Mail, forget graphic websites or music downloads. But of course the phone Bill is a happy at 250-300 Euro, because those of us who go online before 6PM ( no names here) will PAY with blood and sweat, with an blue and orange flavoured bill (eircoms chosen colors). I missed some auction bids on eBay, because the dial up was too slow, I can’t get all those music downloads, no software updates, no virus updates.

Those survey guys that are always reporting to us on newspapers, that tell us Ireland simply is not using the internet as much as the UK or US, the answer is staring you in the face. We can’t, where is Broadband for the rest of the country, we get that you have covered Dublin.

Now, I wonder why such companies as Eircom, spend so much money telling us about the benefits of broadband, by having posters, advertisements on radio, television with that sexy travel presenter, when half the country can’t get it? Why not put that money into speeding up getting broadband to everyone. I can appreciate that it is a “delicate technology” but this is a bit too slow. Perhaps it would cause a loss in revenue, I mean surly its better to have people on Dial up when you can charge them a fortune for it. I was looking at SKY Channel 666 NTL broadband ad channel and the Broadband offers there are very interesting and attractive, but I don’t live in the UK!

You know maybe, I like the rest of the Country should forget the Internet completely, and go to the pub!

This tends to be where RSS comes into play for me, as I can, download, easily and quickly my favorite website posts ( admittedly only a excerpt for some sites) using my Sharp Reader. RSS, I did not understand at first, but now, I get it, its a great tool, although it does take form the website visit – feel – you need for the internet website ‘experience’ but a website visit is obviously required or you will miss the lovely designs and templates update!