Busy fingers

My projects on Ravelry

It’s practically impossible to blog and crochet at the same time. Crochet one, blog two. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Thanks to Ravelry though I do have an online repository for my uber crochet geekery.

Ravelry is a superb resource and a fascinating database. It must be one of the most successful niche community fora in the world. Consumers, suppliers, hobbyists and professionals discuss all manner of yarnie issues and news in a very well developed and developing site. Personally I don’t have a huge amount of time for the discussions but a huge number of my recent creations have begun as (nearly all free!) patterns found on Ravelry.

Apart from finding challenging and beautiful patterns on Ravelry I have also managed to sell some of my recently inherited stash to a fellow yarnie in the US!

Another amazing resource for burgeoning hookers is YouTube where you will find a gazillion videos to explain any stitch.


I’ve been planning a post for ages about the yarns I was introduced to at a recent “yarn tasting” at This is Knit. It will come… One of these days 🙂


How not to run an online business or Schoolbooks.ie FAIL

At the end of August I ordered just over €100 worth of schoolbooks from Schoolbooks.ie (I know, I know, I should have ordered them last JANUARY right?!)

The nippers started back in school on 30th August and no sign of the books. I couldn’t tell from the Schoolbooks.ie website whether they were to arrive imminently or not. Around this time I realised that I wasn’t the only customer whose books were missing but I took them at their word (to the media, mind, not me) that the books would arrive shortly. However at this time our (truly wonderful and sorely missed) childminder finished up with us so there was no one at home to receive our parcel. So I emailed them at orders@schoolbooks.ie and asked them could they deliver to my city centre office. 2 working days later I was worried about the lack of confirmation about this action.

Upon investigation online I realised that the situation was far worse than I initially thought. I also realised that I was dealing with people who were being a little loose with the truth claiming, for example, that they had contacted every single customer that was affected by what seems to be some sort of technical issue. Apparently I didn’t count as I have never received a single word of communication in any format from Schoolbooks.ie. as I’m trying to be nice I will refer to this as “not best practice” especially as we are repeat customers.

I continued trying to get through by phone and tweeting about the issue in the extremely vain hope that someone might respond.

At this point I emailed to cancel my order. I still have no idea whether they read or acted upon that email. I thought that the books may still arrive.

By the end of the first full week (9 days of school) we decided we couldn’t possibly send the kids back to school the following Monday without books. I legged it to Reads of Nassau st one lunchtime and despite the assistance of a really helpful staff member Reads didn’t have a single one of the books (please note I was looking for Irish language books only for my Gaelscoláirí).

En route back to the office I rang the National Consumer Agency who made all the right noises in a non-committal sort of way. They sent contact details to me but there was nothing I hadn’t already gleaned from the Schoolbooks.ie website. I asked the NCA whether they would be investigating the issue further but the very nice chap I spoke with couldn’t say at that point. He also reminded me of our rights as online consumers which I was very familiar with thanks to my last job. One point he made was that should the books arrive AFTER I had bought them elsewhere I could refuse delivery and Schoolbooks.ie would be obliged to refund. Good luck with that, Rosie!

Since then I have written to the Visa Chargebacks department in the hope that my money might be refunded. I finally received a complete refund on October 8th.

Bodil Mimi Krogh Schmidt-Nielsen (b. 1918) with her childrenOn September 21st I spoke about this during my usual monthly technology slot on Splanc, Newstalk’s Irish language radio show. Obviously I’m dismayed that I’ve been badly treated, annoyed that I was out of pocket but what bugged me the most is that with the application of a little cop and some cheap or free technology a lot of this could have been fixed. If they wanted to be old fashioned about it a few grand to a half decent PR company could have saved their business. What galls me the most however is that the MD’s attitude to his customers has at the least cost him business and at most cost him his business. While I have as little care for him as he obviously has for me, I think in these recessionary times (sorry) it is practically criminal to play so fast and loose with his staff’s livelihoods and other people’s money. When I got home that evening, lo! the books had arrived and are still sitting on our sideboard in their packaging.

So what you might say? Well I think that Schoolbooks.ie are in fact a perfect anti-case study. I would generally avoid using negative examples but Schoolbooks.ie tick all the boxes.

It’s easier to keep old customers than find new ones (or as the grown ups call it Retention vs Acquisition). We have bought our books from Schoolbooks.ie for the last 4 years, spending at least €50 every year. Schoolbooks.ie have always been poor at maintaining contact, not reminding us at crucial points in the year about themselves in order to ensure our repeated custom.

Join the conversation or they will bitch about you and not even behind your back! I already knew that Schoolbooks.ie were poor communicators, having not received much by way of correspondence from them over the last four years; a blessing you might say in these times of bulging inboxes. It’s possible that Mr. John Cunningham, MD of Schoolbooks.ie, thinks that he is being stoical by refusing to engage with customers on Faceboolk Twitter, Boards.ie and blogs like this. He may be of the mind that it will all blow over but Gawd help the poor sucker who has to manage their SEO in the future. Considering the company is unlikely to exist in the future

Social media is all media. A storm in a tweecup can quickly become national news because you can no longer presume that the busy bodies on social media are not influencing the busy bodies in national media. This story quickly became a running theme for back to school week on Joe Duffy’s phone in radio show. Schoolbooks.ie became synonymous with bad customer service and it will be some time before the market will forget. What a waste of a perfect URL.


Happiness works for me

Well the cat is officially out of the bag. My future boss tweeted yesterday morning that I will be joining their team at Prosperity.

In some ways it will be a big change but in essence I hope I can continue to help people help companies do more, better online. To quote themselves:

“We are Prosperity: Ireland’s leading digital, advertising, marketing and creative recruitment consultancy. We bring great people and great companies together. We make the world a happier place. We know, it’s not world peace – but it’s a start. Happiness works. Seek happiness here.”

I’m all about happy. As my good friend told me in our physics class way back when “I always remember which is positive because it’s Roseannode.”

I’ve been with the IIA for just over three years and much has changed in the IIA, in Ireland, in the world and in my life since then. And just when you think that life may has paused, plateaued, someone suggests an alternative to you that gets you thinking, “What if…?”

I’m excited about the idea that I’ll be making people think “What if…?” every day. Imagine I’ll be changing lives from July – how cool is that?

Ná déan olc

This is my column for the May 2010 edition of Beo! In it I write about YouTube which had recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. I write in particular about the issues around copyright, artists’ fees & privacy that YouTube has brought into focus in its short life.

Bhí íonadh orm nuair a chuala mé an tseachtain seo chaite go raibh YouTube ag comóradh cúig bliana ar an bhfód, fód an idirlín! Bhí ionadh orm toisc nach cuimhin liom, roimh YouTube,  cén áit a bhfuair mé físeanna de chait ag canadh is cailíní beaga ag déanamh aithris ar Beyoncéataispeáint de radharc as Return of the Jedi, fráma ar fráma, déanta le Lego. Is fíor dóibhsean a deir go líontar gach folús!

Cheannaigh Google an feidhmchlár gréasáin óg seo mí Dheireadh Fómhair 2006. D’íoc siad $1.65 billiún ar an gcomhlacht. Tá físeán lucht a bhunaithe le feiceáil, Chad Hurley agus Steve Chen, is iad ag fógairt na nuachta seo le comhphobal YouTube. 

D’fhoilsigh Nicolas Carr ‘The Big Switch’ sa bhliain 2008, leabhair a rinne comórtas idir stair na haibhléise agus fás an idirlín. Mar chuid den phlé ann, déanann sé cur síos ar an bhfíseán seo de Chad is Steve. Tá gangaid i bhfocail Carr nuair a scríobhann sé faoin mbealach a dtugann Chad “kings” ar YouTube is Google. Dar le Carr, ar nós rí ar bith, ba chóir do Chad is do Steve a bheith níos umhaile os rud é gurbh iad a “ndaorchlann“ a chur na corónacha ar a gcloigne beannaithe. Murach pobal YouTube, (lena bhfuil siad ag gabháil buíochais sa bhfíseán seo, déanta na fírinne), ní bheadh YouTube ar bith ann. An fhadhb atá ag Carr leis seo ná an easpa tuisceana, dar leis, a léiríonn na ríthe óga ar an gcaidreamh seo idir YouTube is a pobal. Is gráin leis go bhfuil an bheirt seo ag gáire faoi $1.65 billiún a fháil de bharr oibre is cruthaitheachta daoine eile.

B’fhéidir go bhfuil pointe aige. Ní eisean amháin a bhí buartha faoin bpósadh seo agus an spré a chuaigh leis. Bhí úinéirí cearta físe buartha toisc fonn fadseasta Google eolas uile an domhain a chur ar fáil do chách saor in aisce. Conas a chinnteofaí go bhfaigheadh siadsan gur leo cearta an ábhair íocaíocht ar na cearta céanna? Don duine aonair, don bhfógraitheoir nó do mhargaitheoir nó réalta éirítheach, b’fhéidir gur chuma, ach do na comhlachtaí ceoil, scannáin is teilifíse, ba dheacracht mhór é. Maireann ceist cóipchirt go dtí inniu féin gan aon réiteach ceart, nó i ndáiríre, réiteach sibhialta. Ar ndóigh ní YouTube amháin a chruthaigh nó a bhuanaigh an fhadhb ach, leis an tosaíocht a thugann Google do fhíseáin i dtorthaí cuardacha, is beag brabhsálaí idirlín nár bhain úsáid as YouTube.

Is Réidh le Cách Stiall den Duine Eile

Ar bealach sin ceann de na fáthanna a cheapaim go bhfuil pointe ag Nicholas Carr. Tá cultúr cruthaithe ag teicneolaíocht atá ag déanamh dochar airgid dúinn ar fad dar liom. Cultúr atá ag súil le gach rud saor in aisce ach a ghlacann le fógraí ar chuile rud faoin spéir. Tháinig an t-idirlíon céim ar chéim as tograí taighde ag gabháil siar go lár an 20ú haois. Bhí paisean, fiosrachas agus mórtas acadúil ag baint leis an obair a ghin an t-idirlíon is teicneolaíochtaí eile. Sa leabhar ‘Outliers’ le Malcolm Gladwell, cíorann sé an nós go caithfear 10,000 uair a chur isteach in aon cheird chun teacht ar an saineolas, bíodh sé sin ar an ngiotar, an piano nó i sampla amháin atá aige, ag clárú ríomhaire. Sa sampla aige, déanann sé cur síos ar an méid ama a chaith Bill Gates óg ag obair ar ríomhaire. Mar chaitheamh aimsire, istoíche, nó tráthnóna Dé hAoine. Ar luaigh mé go bhfuil duais don té a thagann aníos le focal Gaeilge ar “nerd” dom?

Ba thogra ollscoile Google a chruthaigh Larry Page is Sergey Brin mar chuid de chéim dhochtúireachta. Ní dóigh liom go raibh siad ag smaoineamh ar ghnéithe cosúil le ‘paid search’ nuair a chaith siad snab an choinnill airneáin i Stanford.  Bhí an bheirt acu paiseanta faoina n-ábhar ach ní raibh siad ag súil go nginfeadh a gcuid oibre ceann de na comhlachtaí is tábhachtaí sa 20ú haois. Éascaíonn na teicneolaíochtaí seo scaipeadh an ábhair ach níl sé soiléir go gcruthaíonn siad saol níos cóire ina bhfuil an saibhreas a thuilltear roinnte ar chách a chruthaigh an saibhreas céanna.

Ré Mheath an Phríobháideachais

Tharraing YouTube solas ar ceisteanna i leith príobháideachais freisin mar, cosúil le teicneolaíocht uile Greasán 2.0, tá gnéithe sóisialta ag baint le YouTube. Is féidir líonra a chruthú air, trácht a scríobh faoi fhíseáin agus síntiús a ghlacadh le húsáideoirí ar leith. Bí cinnte go bhfuil Google ag bailiú an eolais seo ar fad. An buntáiste ná go bhfeicfidh tú físeáin nua atá cosúil leis an ábhar a thaitin leat cheana. An míbhuntáiste ná ní fios duit an bhfanfaidh na téarmaí is na coinníollacha mar a gcéanna i gcónaí. Ach do na dúchasaigh digiteacha, is réidh a roinnfidh siad mianta agus sainroghanna pearsanta leo chun greim a fháil ar an tairiscint is nuálaí.

Ach le físeáin, tá priobháideachas de shaghas eile i gceist. Nuair a tharraingítear fís cé leis an fhíseán sin? An leis an té atá ann nó an leis an té a tharraing é an físeán? Cás amháin atá an-cháiliúil ar YouTube agus a luaigh an t-údar Daniel J Solove ina leabhar ‘The Future of Reputation: gossip,rumor & privacy on the internet’ (ar fáil ar líne) ná cás an ‘Star Wars Kid’. Rinne déagóir fís de féin ag troid le “light saber” mar dhea. Ní raibh sé ró-scafánta ar a chosa, bhí sé ramhar, rinne sé gleo aisteach. Tháinig gasúir eile sa scoil ar an téip is chuir siad ar líne é. Is é ceann de na físeanna is mó spléachadh ar YouTube é, ach níor chuardaigh sé an clú seo. D’fhág sé scoil de dheasca na maistíneachta a tharla chuile lá ann agus tá sé faoi chúram síciatrach. Shocraigh a thuismitheoirí cás dlí a troid le tuismitheoirí na ndéagóirí a chur an físeán ar líne. Cé go raibh mé ábalta teacht ar an uafás ábhair ina leith, ní raibh mé ábalta teacht ar oiread is focal amháin ó Google féin i leith an scéil seo. Bhí siad sásta an t-ardán a thabhairt dóibh siúd a bhí ag magadh faoin gceatán bocht seo, ach an dóigh leat go gcreideann seisean, nó a mhuintir atá ag tacú leis, mana Google, “Do no evil.”

Cuir ceist agus tosnóidh comhrá

I was recently commissioned to take on the Technology section in the Irish Language Lifestyle Magazine Website, Beo. Here is my first article which was originally published in Beo.

Ag teacht abhaile dom ó Gradaim na mBlag i gCorcaigh, pócaí go breá ach cloigeann tinn orm, d’éirigh liom roinnt machnaimh a dhéanamh ar blagadóireacht agus cúrsaí ghnó. Ba spéisiúil éabhlóid an gradaim ghnó i measc na ngradam ó gur thosaigh sé mar Ghradam don Bhlagadóir Ghnó is Fearr ach i mbliana d’athraigh an teideal go dtí An Blag Comhlachta is Fearr. Is léargas ar leith é seo ar borradh na mblag comhlachta in Éireann fiú le bliain anuas. Is é sin le rá tá borradh tagtha ar na comhlachtaí atá ag úsáid blaganna mar lárchuid dá stráitéis ghnó.

Chun an fhírinne a scríobh ní ró-mhinic a bhíonn an t-ábhar sin i bhfad ó bharr mo chloigeann, tinn nó eile! Táim faoi láthair ag obair do chumann gnó Éireannach agus machnamh á dhéanamh agam chuile lá ar na bealaí is féidir an t-idirlíon a úsáid mar uirlis ghnó. Táim ag obair ní ach go háirithe le grúpa oibre ar an meáin sóisialta agus machnaimh, plé, ceardlainne agus tuairiscí á dhéanamh againn ar an gcás ghnó do na meáin soisialta. An feiniméan is mó spéise liom faoi dul chun cinn an ghreasáin ó thaobh gnó de ná don chuid is mó is iad na tomhaltóirí atá chun tosaigh ar na gnólachtaí. Tá corporáidí móra ag tabhairt cuirithe do bhlagadóirí, líonroirí soisialta agus fiú giolchairí (“tweeters”) teacht chun labhairt leo faoina bproifíl ar líne, na huirlisí a úsáideann siad, an méad ama a chaitheann siad agus conas ar thóg siad a líonra. Tá na corporáidí proifisiúnta ag labhairt leis na saineolaí “amaitéaracha” seo chun tuiscint níos mine a fháil ar an réabhlóid cumarsáide seo. Cúpla bliain ó shin ba leor suíomh greasáin cúpla leathanach nach mór cosúil leis an ábhar margaíochta clóite a bhí ag an ngnó cheana. Ach anois tá domhain nua ann ar line, áit a bhfuil an-chuid le tuilleamh ag an té atá cróga.

Is é cumarsáid atá mar bhunús an domhain nua cróga seo. Leis an ábhar margaíochta clóite bhíodh an cumarsáid ag gabháil treo amháin i gcónaí. Do mhórmhór comhlachtaí in Éireann, cuma cé chomh mór is atá siad, creidtear gur mar seo a leanann cúrsaí. Ach ní gá ach cuardach a dhéanamh ar Google, Facebook, BeboIGOPeople agus gheobhaidh úinéirí na ngnólachtaí seo amach go bhfuil comhrá ar siúl cheana faoina dtairgí agus seirbhísí, agus maith nó olc, leanfaidh an comhrá sin cuma má tá inchur acu ann nó muna bhfuil. Nó b’fheidir go bhfaighfidh siad amach nach bhfuil oiread is focal amháin scríofa futhú ar líne agus is measa sin i bhfad fiú ná gearáin. Dóibh siúd ar a dtugtar anois dúchasaigh digiteacha, daoine idir aois 15 agus 25, is é an t-idirlíon an chead pointe eolais agus teagmhála dóibh. Muna bhfuil daoine ag scríobh faoi do chomhlacht agus dá bharr ag nascadh chuig do chomhlacht ar líne teipfidh ort nuair a déanann saoránaigh an domhain úr cróga cuardach ort ar líne. Titfidh an comhlacht síos, síos an rangú agus ardófar iad siúd atá ag plé an comhlacht céanna ar a mblaganna maith nó, dia ár shábháil, olc. In Éireann, toisc braiteoreacht ghnólachtaí léimt isteach san uisce fiorúil agus an rud go bhfuil torthaí logánaithe ag Google ní ach go háirithe tá an contúirt seo méadaithe.

Dar liomsa sin ceann de na difríochtaí is mó atá ann idir an ghreasáin agus aon meáin eile a chuaigh roimhe. Tá cumarsáid mar bhunús ann ní ach go háirithe le seacht mbliain anuas. Agus tosnaíonn an cumarsáid sin go minic le ceist agus cuirtear an cheist sin le Google (I mí na Samhna 2008 thosnaigh 70.8% de na cuardach idirlíne ar Google). Muna bhfuil do chomhlacht le feiceáil mar fhreagra ar an gceist sin, caillfidh an chomhlacht amach. Rachaidh an easpa láithreachta i bhfeidhm níos mó is níos mó mar is é seo domhain na ndúchasach digiteacha áit nach mbeidh leathanaigh buí le fáil amach anseo.

Fiú an t-ábhar a diúltaíonn cumarsáid tógtar anois é agus déantar meascán nó “mash-up” an Bhéarla dhó fud fad an ghreasáin. Ar líne tá cearta freagartha ag an té a breathnaíonn ar aon suíomh, físeáin, cód fuaime, ábhar, íomhá, learáid gur fiú é. Níl tada digiteach ar domhain go bhféadfaí a chur ar fáil mar rud uathúil, mar aonad ann féin. Fiú má déantar iarracht acmhainní ganna a dhéanamh de acmhainn digiteach agus é a chosaint ó dháileadh agus athrú tá daoine ar líne agus níl faic níos gaire dá gcroíthe ach cosant na hacmhainne sin a bhris agus an acmhainn a scaipeadh fud fad an ghreasáin má’s féidir. Is cuma cad a cheaptar faoi dleathachas an ghnímh, is cumarsáid atá ansin freisin. Cumarsáid idir corporáidí agus a dtomhaltóirí.

Ach ní hacker mise, fiú níl aon spéis agam ann. Ligeann an ghreasáin dom mo shrutha cumarsáide a leathnú amach thar a mar a d’fhéadfainn riamh roimhe seo. Mar sin agus mé ag scríobh don iris seo don chéad uair ba mhaith liom cuireadh a thabhairt daoibh a léitheoirí. Níl i mo chuid alt anseo ach tús comhrá. Má tá fonn oraibh é a leanúint liom ar líne is féidir teacht orm ar mo bhlag, ar Twitter, ar LinkedIn, ar IGOPeople, nó ar FriendFeed. Agus cuirim fáilte riamh comhrá i nGaeilge ar ndóigh!

Foilsíodh an t-alt seo ar dtús i mBeo Márta 2009.