Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's Over!.... It's Over!!!

I have finally finished my work experience.
I swear never, ever to work in an office unless my family will starve if I don't. I can't believe that's how a "real" company works.

I mean how do they make any profit at all?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Scripture Study

I have never been very good at studying the scriptures, when I read usually it's like reading a history book. I never notice the symbolism or anything deep. I can say I have read the book of Mormon through from front to back but I gained very little.

But last night something was different, I decided I would study the scriptures. Reading over it again & again, thinking about what it means & here's the important part. Praying.

I read about Lehi's vision (Nephi1, verse 8), with the tree of life, the iron rod & the spacious building. I have read this before many times & I've heard the story countless times (even seen the cartoon). But last night I prayed, I studied it & I read over it again & again. And in it I have found things I never saw, & to top it all off the spirit was with me as I read.

And as I read I pictured myself with my wife & son at the foot of the tree of life, eating the fruit. I find it difficult to imagine anything I want more in my life than this.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Chocolate Friday

My mother has a friend in Caburys chocolate factory, the makers of the worlds nicest chocolate. Anyway with us (me & my mother)going to China she got a lot of chocolate, I mean a LOT. An entire suit case full!

That's just for China, she got extra for us as well so with my new supply of sweets I'm going to tell you about what I've been eating today.

  • Breakfast- Cheese sandwiches & Chocolate
  • Lunch- Chocolate
  • Snack after lunch- Chocolate & cheese sandwiches
  • Cycling home- mmmmmm....... Chocolate
  • When I get home - Chocolate
I feel sick.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

What went wrong (Part4)

I tried to do this on my own, sure my wife helped but only when I
asked, & I didn't value her opinion enough to listen to her. If any I
should have listened to her more.

If I had involved her from the start, as a business partner instead of
a source of free labor when needed it might have worked, if I had
done that I'm sure we would have tried something different.

It's not about what you think will work, it's about what ACTUALLY does
work, which means that sometimes (or all the time in my case) your

Friday, August 19, 2005

What went wrong (Part3)

An obvious failure was the market research & marketing, as in I did
none of one and very little, very badly of the other.

I was convinced that people would buy what I was selling, simply
because that was all I knew how to do, & they had better otherwise I
was screwed. My mind was already made up what was being done, &
nothing except having no customers (which is what happened) would stop

Instead of selling people what I want to sell I should give them what
they want, easier said than done but that's a mistake I wont repeat.

And then the marketing, who was I targeting? where was I trying to
sell? I was looking for it in all the wrong places. No no traditional
marketing is for traditional businesses & business models. And even
then it's becoming less effective & more expensive. I did flayers,
giving them out on the street & putting them in peoples door's. It was
spam, physical spam & no one wanted it or read it.

The hughetrain & Cluetrain manifesto has something to say on how it
might be done in this age.

What went wrong (Part2)

Automation, I didn't automate anything.

Everything was done by hand from creating a new website(for a
customer) to even answering email & transation processing. There were
o many tools I could have used, that I eventually learned of AFTER my
venture failed.

Even though I was studying programming & had done a whole year of it
my ability's & skills were so feeble that I couldn't put them to use.
I was competing in a technical market without any REAL technical
skills, all I had was some really terrible HTML knowlege.

What went wrong (Part1)

So you've read what happened, and now lets look back to see where I
made (thats me not my wife) the stupid mistakes (my wife didnt make
any mistakes,
she's perfect).

I guess I'll start with the product, the package website. At the time
this had probably been done already, especially with blogging
services. So how did mine compare? In terms of style it it was pretty
terrible, here's an analogy.

Just because a person knows good music when he hears it doesn't mean
they know how to make good music.
And the same applies to good design/style, jsut because you know good
design/style doesnt mean you can create it.

I have great taste in music (IMHO), and I know good design & style
when I see it, but that doesn't make me a musician or designer.

So next time I'm making a website/service whatever I WILL HIRE A DESIGNER.

And was it easy for people to buy? No, it really wasn't. People had to
email me (so everything was done to my time not theirs), they had to
post me a cheque for payment. The whole transaction would take over a
week for each & every ingle case, thats not business on demand!

And all that for 30EUR, which takes me to another point, I was
competing with free here (blogger), and what I did was NOT better than
what was available elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Failed Business, Loose ends

I need to mention a few things I missed.

One of my friend's did some "market research" for me, giving him a questionnaire for people to fill out. He never actually did the survey, he told me people were interested. Good enough for me.

Being new to computers(remember I was a freshman) I knew nothing about blogs, wiki's or any other web authoring tool.

I didn't know how to sell globaly, defeating the purpose of the internet.

I didn't know how to get paid, on my website I was asking customers to write me a cheque.

Even number Sneezing

It has been brought to my attention that any time I sneez it's always in even numbers, with 2 times being the most common, followed by 4, and 6.
Thank's Jonas for that life changing observation, now I won't be able to sneez without counting how many, if it's an odd number I'll thinl something's wrong.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Christopher Walking NOT running for President

Turns out that it's not actually true (according to this post )
It was a rumor, ha I got duped.

Problems writing to my blog

Something on my work network has changed thats preventing me from
uploading picture's, posting to my blog, and probably some other

So for now Ive managed to set it up so I can make posts from email.
That's also why theyre not lookingvery nice either.

Christopher Walken for President 2008 !

Wow, it actually true, Christopher Walken (the actor) is running for
president (in the U.S.), this is the guy who's been in Pulp Fiction,
The Deer Hunter & others.


wow is all I've got to say, just wow.

Failed Busines Part 5

So we've got the product(package websites), and we've let the world know about it(2 days spent giving out flyer's) and all we had to do was wait for customers.

Well we sure did wait, we waited a whole 3 days without a single call or email (actually I waited, my wife had better things to do).

I guessed that I would need to have at least 4 customers per week for this to be work,
and with half the week through & no takers I gave up.
My (recent) dream of working for myself came to an end & I went looking for a job.

I did eventually get one query, about a month later, but he never came back :-(

Failed Busines Part 4

Me and my wife donned our custom made t-shirts and set off, carrying a
bag of flyer's.
First we went to Grafton Street (a main shopping street in the city
center) and found at that time there were only French fan's walking
around before the rugby match, definitely not our customers.
So we then went on down to Mary Street/Henry Street and started giving
out flyer's.
It was a heart breaking experience, no one wanted them, and the few
who did accept one usually threw it away.

2-3 hours later we gave up & went home, I don't know how anyone else
ever manages to do that for a living but giving out flyer's is really
soul killing when it doesn't work.

With my ego & confidence beaten from the previous day we set out for
Rathmines, a wealthy residential area & delivered the flyer's into
people's homes.

Harder work than giving them out on the street but much easier on the
ego, I think we only did 2 very VERY long streets before we went home.

We printed roughly around 6000 flyer's, my guess was we managed to
give away or deliver about 2000, not great but not too bad.

Then we waited (it was a Saturday & Sunday that we did our advertising spree).

Failed Busines Part 3

I needed to let people know that I was open for business, so who were
my customers?
Guessed just anyone without a website, I thought that by pricing
myself so low (30EUR remember) that I would find someone.
A granny, a schoolkid, some very small business whatever I didn't
care. I was targeting anyone & everyone.

I decided to make some flyer's & just hand them out to people, in the
city center, why not I thought.
My motto being (not officially but in practice) "cheaper than the
cheapest cheap, cheaper, still not cheap enough!", which looking back
turned out to be a good idea, I think one of the only things that I
did right.

We found a copy store where we had our flyer's made (actually it was
an A4 sheet, with 6 flyer's printed on it, we cut them up later) I
think that cost us about 30EUR or there abouts.
So we just needed to hand them out.

Before we did that though me & my wife made t-shirts to wear while we
were doing it, the total cost of our marketing effort being less than
EUR50 not bad (that's right, it wasn't bad it was terrible).

Next we let the world know about our product.

Failed Busines Part 2

So I had my idea, now all I needed was to go & do it.
I went down to the company registration office and started Iron Guard Limited,
actually it was about a month of filling out paperwork to get it
registered but we (me & my wife, but mostly me) got it done.

Then the summer came & I got to work on my website (I got a hosting
service for 100EUR per year with the name web-pulse.net).
Wanting to keep in the mood of having a job I got up at 8.30 and put
on a shirt & tie,
then I sat at my PC (in my living room) from 9-5pm writing all the
HTML by hand.
At the time I didn't like the tools available (Mozilla writer,Scream
etc, remember I was using Linux) so I wrote all of it by hand with a
text editor.
For about 30 pages (about 5 pages for the site itself & then 25 templates).
I spent the whole week on the site, along with creating graphics using
the gimp (a free graphics tool).

Now you must remember I wasn't a graphics designer or a good web
designer either, and my only business experience was asking people if
they wanted fries with that?

So the quality of what I had done ,was questionable but as far as I
was concerned it was great.
I was feeling pretty good with myself, I wasn't sure if I could make
myself actually do any work at home and by the end of the week I had
the website finished.

Next came the business part, when I would tell the world about my idea

Failed Busines Part 1

It was coming to the end of my first year in college (I study I.T.)
and I was just after learning how to write in HTML. At the time I
really really didn't want to work for anyone,
because the only experience I had was in fast food places (like
McDonnalds, Burger King & an seeminly endless line of chip shops).
I was, understandably sick of working with food but there was my
problem, anyjob (non food) I applied gave me the same answer "well
your only experience was with (fast) food, so I think you had better
stick to that".

I was getting desperate, newly married (12th of May previous) and
needed a job, true my wife had work & we were living with my dad so we
didn't pay rent but I needed work.

So here was the dilema, I needed work, but the only choices were with
fast food, which I didn't want to do. And I had the answer, work for
my self, with computers!
It was so simple, such a great idea it was perfect, all I had to do
was think of something I could do with computers.
And after just learning how to write HTML I guessed I'd do that.

My HTML skill's were'nt great so I couldn't charge a lot, and who
would want's a cheap website?

The package website!, a website for anyone, for just 30 Euro I would
create their own website from a choice of templates & designes, and
find them afree place to host it.

Great, I had an idea so all I had to do now was execute or so I thought.

My failed business

Over the next few post's I'm going to talk about my first attempt at
starting a business, that failed, very quickly.
I'll explain what I did, & then talk about what I did wrong, and what
I learned (I hope).

Monday, August 15, 2005

I shall call him...... mini me

It has come to my attention that there is a conspiracy to take over
mainland Europe using clones of me, one has been spotted in Germany,
pictures & a video of him dancing it's clear to see that he is a badly
done clone or my father was very "fruitful" when in Europe. Because
not only is the one in Germany reports
of a half German half French clone of me living in Paris (if I
remember correctly, I might not as I was up all last night working on
my final report).

So there are 2 known clones of me running around Europe,& causing havoc no doubt.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Taking out the trash

Here is a picture of 2 weeks of rubbish, as you may guess my diet is not varied.
Consisting mainly of Tesco noodles, milk & Tesco Wheetabix, mmmm.

I was clearing out everything this morning because it's bin day; got all the rubbish & then forgot to take it out.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The plan

When my wife comes back from China (with my son :-D ) I am going to have a real hard time of working, studying & being a father/husband. All of these are full time jobs and there are not enough hours in the day.
A typical student job (which is the most likely that I would get) takes up too much time & really doesn't pay enough.

So I (with my wife, don't want to make that mistake again) must think of a ingenious way to bring in enough to live without costing me in time.

So I'm thinking of starting small, importing some little things like jewelry from China & selling them at markets or something like that.

It's crazy but it just might work, and if it doesn't so what! We didn't invest our life savings into it.
One of the advantages of a small family business.

Small family business V The Corporation

Seth has a new post about small is the new big (and a follow up) , how small companies are able to change faster than large ones, and how they can give a personalized service that big ones just can't.

This all makes sense to me, but I've been thinking about taking it one step further, how about small family companies? Think about it, the people involved you know them, hopefully you trust them.
They know who they are working for, and usually what they have to do.

Italy's economy is almost entirely based on the small family business (with the exception of stated started company's such as fiat, most of which are in trouble), when you think of an Italian family business you think of the mama, the papa, & the son working for his inheritance.
These people know the customers names, they know the people in the community.

The family business is a conversation, is it the new old way to go?

A new kind of dating website

I've been getting very excited by tags lately, in how they have been changing the way a lot of websites used to work. Here's how it's being applied to dating.

Ever use a dating website? Where you search a database of people, based on age, location or even whether they have a picture. In the real world dating or finding a date doesn't really work like that.

However now there is a fantastic dating site totally based on tags, consumating.com
Ever wanted to date a librarian, looneytoons, or someone with glasses?

It's not that this is a great dating site (which it is) but the fact that it uses tags, tags are how we actually think in & that's what makes this site so interesting.

ps. I contacted someone from the site & it's written in Perl with MySQL as a backend, relying a lot on JavaScript for the magic(AJAX).

This is part of the new web, and I'm very excited!
(Thanks fo the pic Antje)

Friday, August 05, 2005

A name form my program

Tinaw's Is Not A Wiki


his Is Not A Wiki

Thank's Paul for the idea.

How to burn your home down

I stayed up all Wedensday night programming, well at least until 3:30am.
after that I thought, if I go to sleep now I'm not going wake up in time, so
I did what any tired disorientated guy would do. I wateched Pulp Fiction & did sound recordings.

Then arrived in work 1 hour early I can't remember what I actually did, but I'm sure I was busy.

Then cycled home, nearly got hit by motorbike when workmate called me.
Got home, had noodles, put some oven chips in the oven, and went in to watch tv.
I then clised my eyes for just a minute

Nearly 2 hours later I woke up to a loud banging (friends at the door),
talked with them for about 5 minutes. Then went upstairs wondering why it was so smokey.

I forgot about the cooker!!!

All that came out was a tray of little black smelly things hours over cooked.

Stupid sleepy me.

Selling my electric bike

I've decided to sell my electric bike.

When I got it I thought that it wouldn't need insurance because it was a bicycle. After using it for 2 months & being stopped by the police at least twice every day (none of them actually knew if it was legal or not) I found the legislation for it.

This was a European Directive stating that anything not a pedalec was a motor vehicle.
A pedalec is something that only HELPS you cycle.

So I had an electric moped with pedals(which were useless unless you ran out of battery).
With tax & insurance being here what it is here(crazy) I couldn't afford to use it.

And what's really anoying it cost me over EUR1350 to get it, the moped cost EUR250 new, then shipping about EUR1000, then import duty of over EUR 150.

I wanted to import & sell them, they would have been a huge hit if it wasn't for the insurance, all the 16 & 17 year old's on my street wanted to buy it from me, thinking back I should have sold it to them.

So it's been sitting in my hall for a good year & 1/2 getting dusty.

And now I'm selling it, for Euro 350.
You will need tax & insurance, it qualifies as a 10cc motor, takes 8 hours to charge(fully) & takes you 30km on one full charge.
Top speed is 30kmh

Apart from insurance its dam cheap to run.

If your interested contact me mccarthyjames [at] gmail [dot]com

(the bike is actually blue, with slight differences from the picture, very slight)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Citizens Required

Having citizenship problems? Getting anoyed with the current establishment?
Or have you ever wanted to become part of the birth of a new nation.

Well now's your chance, visit here. Citizens Required

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Name the Program!

I've been trying to think of a good name for my final year project & I can't come up with any.
I'd love a cool quirky memorable little name to suit my application, something related to what it actually does, but the thing is, I don't know if there's a name for what it does, I'm not even sure what it's exactly supposed to do.

I was thinking of ProjectY4, it being the project for my class(Y4)
Or perhaps something from Star Trek, to do with the Borg collective?
Or some combination of names from any of these cartoon's, TV programs, or films.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Ghost in the Shell
Lost in Translation
Spirited Away
Star Trek (any of them)
Star Wars (any of them)
StarShip Troopers

Any idea's are welcome, ANY.

Project update

Only 3 days have passed since I started & I've gotten so much done.

Here's the basic structure so far.

  • Basic web server & servlet loader(very basic) from the control part
  • Basic file tools from the model, a regular file & a file with version history (for text)
Next is a rollback feature for the file version history and then get to work on the view

For more about Model, View Control see here.

I still can't think of a name for it though, any suggestions are appreciated.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Started coding

I've finally started coding for the project, it turns out I'm building a web application server to build my app on top of.

Being totally based on Model View Controller design, I've already got a VERY simple controller working using WEBrick's servlets & I've started on the model(not bad for 2 days work).

The models going to have 3 components, a document version control part, a simple document part & a tagging part.
Everything will be written in Ruby, except the tagging (uses MySQL) which isn't needed.

I want this framework to be even easier to use than Rail's, although I don't think it's going to be as popular or as flexible.