Sean\’s Sicily

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Jumping on the bandwagon of the RTE Apology to BIFFO

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Wow, the blogosphere is up in arms.  Twitter is swamped with the traffic of the #picturegate hashtag.  Blogs ranging from Irish Election to the Irish Times are up in arms.  Not about the caricture – hey, the guys a politician, he should have learnt to take these things on the chin.  No, about the embarrassingly spineless climbdown by RTE and the craven apology for covering the news.

I actually read the story the other day, and didn’t think twice about it.  Ho ho, good one that, move on. It took Cowen, the big idiot, to unlease the Streisand effect on the whole thing.

So here’s me jumping on the bandwagon and maybe getting a few new readers for my blog.  Or, in fact, a reader for my blog.

Anyway everyone seems to be posting this caricture of Cowen just to piss him off so here it is;

Pretty bloody ugly, but not as ugly as the huge fucking mess this idiot and his crew have gotten us into.  If they’re not saving their developer buddies at Anglo, they’re propping up house prices by being a sub-prime lender.  Or they’re taking medical cards off old people.  Instead of taking on the unions in the public-service sector, this new budget is probably going to screw big-time people like me.

Fuck ’em. Squirm, Cowen, squirm!

For the record, I have written an email to complaints@rte.ie;

a chara,

I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about your apology
to the Taoiseach for a report which was entirely accurate and
newsworthy. While there are countries that have laws governing
disrespect to the state and its offices, their laws are not mirrored
here. I have lived in Italy, for example, and have seen firsthand how
corruption, cronyism and nepotism can thrive when the news outlets are
prevented by law from disrepecting or discrediting state institutions.
Our constitution guarantees freedom of speech and includes in this
freedom the right to satire the government

That this apology came in response to political pressure is all the
more shameful.

Sincerely,
Sean M. O’Casaidhe

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Written by seancasaidhe

March 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Internet, Ireland

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Hotels Hotels Hotels

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One of the big things still outstanding after all the planning, is the honeymoon.  In this, Sonia and I have some conflicting ideas.

I’ve done a lot of travelling, been to a lot of places, some nice, some not so nice.

One thing I’ve learned is that to get the best prices for the best stuff – you need to do it yourself.

This doesn’t fly for a honeymoon, especially if you want your guests to chip in and help pay for it.  In Sicily for sure, you can’t just ask everyone to hand you brown envelopes.  It’s just not educato.

So per forza we have to use an agency.  And then you start paying agency prices.  Which, for the first agency we tried, was an average markup of 300% on the published rates.

Yep, that’s NOT a type – 300%.  €165 a night for the Travelodge Wynyard, which, if I book it myself, will today cost me €55.

OK, so we’ve decided to not use that agency for the hotels.  Marangolo are happy to book the flights for us themselves, and the price is the same for everyone for flights.  Our friend Vicenzo of Around-Sicily.com explained that on flights the margins are almost invisible, and that it’s on hotel bookings and tours that agents make money.

As such, we’ve asked Vincenzo to book our hotels – he won’t gouge as much as another agent.  Of course he needs to make a profit, and that’s fine, but I’m not paying anyone 300% if I can help it!

As a result of my preference to book everything myself, and if I can’t specify to the smallest detail what I want and how much I know it’ll cost, I’ve done a lot of research on hotels and I’ve definate favourites.  I was thinking of using the Shangri-La chain for all our stays, and I’ve sent an email to their booking office to see what discount they’ll offer if we do that.  The Shangri-La in Sydney has (reportedly) the best views in Sydney, of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.  Otherwise I’m also considering the Observatory hotel, and lastly the humble (in my opinion) Four Points by Sheraton, which at best has views only of Darling Harbour – BORING!

For Katoomba I’m just not at all convinced by the option – there’s some very expensive boutique hotels, but the TripAdvisor reviews are very mixed – there’s the usual gushing happiness, and then some very detailed and very negative reviews.  The more detailed the review, the higher my opinion is of it, so I’ve come away with a fairly negative opinion.  As such, I reckon I’ll be booking the YHA – ‘what?’ I hear you all scream – but youse haven’t been to the YHA in Katoomba, it’s great.  Combined with a private double-room ensuite, what more do you want?  The room will just be used for bathing after hours-long bushwalks along the Escarpment – although I don’t know if Sonia has quite understood that yet 🙂

In Cairns I was thinking Shangri-La again, or Il Palazzo Apartment Hotel, which looks nice.  Lastly, the Tradewinds by Rydges is the economic option.  We might be all luxury-ed out by Sydney and Paradise Bay!

Hong Kong proves to be a difficult one – my friend Peter Wong strongly recommended that we stay on the Island – he dismissed Kowloon as being just for stupid tourists.  All the real people stay on the Island, and it’s much nicer 🙂  But the best reviews are on Kowloon side – hmm, maybe the type of people who stay on the Hong Kong side aren’t the type who write reviews in TripAdvisor?

Anyway, Peter’s from Hong Kong so he knows what he’s talking about, and better yet, he has friends on Hong Kong island which maybe we can meet up with and get an insider’s guide.  So I’ll follow his advice and stay on the Island.  I’m thinking Shangri-La again, or the Conrad or Marriott, and the economic option is the L’Hotel Causeway Bay Harbour View.

There’s a big difference in price obviously between the best and the cheapest. Mind you, the cheapest options here aren’t all that cheap, and they’re definately not low-grade hotels.  I think the lowest is the Four-Points by Sheraton, which is probably a bit posher than my favourite hotel, Jurys Inn on Parnell Street, in Dublin.   Going with the best rooms in the all the Shangri-La hotels, it works out to about €224 a night.  Going to the most economic options, it works out to about €65 a night.

Honestly I think we’re going to mix and match – start out with the Shangri-La in Sydney to get over the jetlag and for the great views, and then opt for the more economic hotels as we go along.  That knocks the price up to about €89 a night, which isn’t at all bad.

Of course, once I include Paradise Bay… aiya!  BUT Paradise Bay includes the transfers from the airport and all food & drink, so that’s something to consider.

Which reminds me, I must write them and tell them I don’t like fish very much…

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ISC2 CSSLP Certifiation – Undecided!

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Another email from ICS2 today about their new CSSLP certification.  The email neglects to mention that the cert costs $650 .  And honestly, having a CISSP hasn’t made much difference to me, but then I haven’t been working in the security area for a while.  Most ads which mention the CISSP seem to be for network engineers, like the CISSP is proof that I know how to use a firewall…

Anyway I don’t think I’ll be going for this cert, even though I meet the requirements.  $650 is just too much to swallow when I already have issues with ISC2 and how American-centric they are.  What exactly do I get in return for my annual subscription and slaving over CPEs?  Not a lot, actually.  The ISSA Ireland branch is much more productive.
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Written by seancasaidhe

March 4, 2009 at 10:32 am

Posted in Internet, Work

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Annoying Commercial Opportunists not really getting Twitter or Linked

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I just browsed into LinkedIn today and saw this question on my homepage;

“What advice do you have for twitterers just getting started?”

As it happens I’ve a bit of advice to give out, having been on twitter for a while  now.  But when I clicked on the question, instead of something substantial, it was just a blurb for this guy.  So it was a totally bogus and misleading question.  Another irritating factor is that the content of the question is this

Click to Check Out My 3 New Innovative Twitters:
www.twitter.com/Solutionman
www.twitter.com/SolutionPeople
www.twitter.com/KnowBrainerTips

Well I did check ’em out;

  • Solutionman is following 1,412 streams, has 1,174 followers – and precisely 3 updates.
  • SolutionPeople is following only 672 streams, has 496 followers – and exactly 3 updates too.  Two of which are the same as those in “Solutionman”.
  • KnowBrainerTips is more of the same.

Innovative?  Um…
And now this guy’s set up a LinkedIn group – on twittering!  With precisely 9 updates.  3 of which are the same update spammed to 3 different accounts.

KnowBrainer?  This guy should focus on putting interesting things on Twitter instead of trying to use Twitter as a spamming tool.  But that’d be a no-brainer.  You get people interested in your stream and they start checking out your other stuff.

And if he follows me, I’ll bloody block him.

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Written by seancasaidhe

March 4, 2009 at 9:03 am

Flickr commenting

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Just spent all morning commenting on almost all of my contacts in Flickr… my fingers hurt!  Luckily I found something interesting in just about everyone’s photostream, ‘cos I really struggle if I have to comment on an ungreat photo.  I guess I just make contact with people who take great photo 🙂

Meanwhile Erika has been cleaning the house so I guess I have to get offline and do some housework! bah!

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Written by seancasaidhe

October 25, 2008 at 10:10 am

Posted in Internet, photography

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Bloody credit card

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Mike over at techdirt has commented on getting robocalls about a long-expired customer account, which brought to mind my own problems with Acid.ie.

I bought a domain there in 2004 for the standard 1 year.  By the time the year was up, I wasn’t interested anymore and let it lapse.
In June 2006, I got emails telling me that the account was suspeded.  Do I care?  No.  I was in India, mate!
Then an email telling me the account was re-activated!  Being in India, I didn’t worry about it too much.

The in Dec I got an “Order Confirmation” email notifying me that I was going to get billed €120.4 for the account – which AFAIK was closed.  In fact, at the same time, I got another email telling me that the domain had expired!  What, getting billed for an order confirmation that I didn’t order, on an expired domain??

Obviously I emailed post@acide.ie – the only address in the email.  Which bounced.  Being in Australia at this time, there wasn’t much I could do so I let it slide.  By the time I got back to Ireland, it was too late to try to charge it back.

Around June I started getting emails from Acid about suspending the account etc.  I emailed back asking them to delete the account.  Email – bounced timing out – obviously acid.ie like to send email out, but don’t like to get any in!

In Dec, I get an email telling me the account has been “resumed”.  Just in time to bill me again.  Another €120.4 .  This time, there’s another email address; support@acidewebsolutions.ie – which still didn’t work.

So I looked up who owns the domains, and emailed them instead – and they said they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, and that me and my credit-card aren’t on their systems.  Mystery!  Who the hell is billing me?  The issuers of the credit card, Tesco weren’t interested and didn’t care (which was their attitude to just about every problem I had with that card), so after multiple emails, and no satisfaction, I changed cards.  Screw ’em, try to charge a dead card and see what happens!

And I duly recieved a nasty-mail in January (presumably after their unauthorised debit had been bounced due to a dead card number!);

post@acid.ie
Sat 26 Jan 2008
Subject: Your hosting account will be deleted soon
Your account will be deleted on 09-Feb-2008, due to the fact that as of
26-Jan-2008 your account has an outstanding balance of -€120.40.
Your failure to make payment on your account may prompt us to take legal action
to collect the account immediately.

Prompt legal action?  I should be the one prompting legal action, the feckers have been billing my account for 3 YEARS without permission!  Anyway after this they seemed to have deleted the account.  Who wants to bet that they’ve “unpaid bill” put this on my credit record?

Cowboys.

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Written by seancasaidhe

October 25, 2008 at 7:37 am

MS IE8 – Speed not priority

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Hmm, looks like MS are continuing the software-bloat that they are famous for and are missing great opportunities to think a bit outside the box.

According to ZDNet interview, not only did MS not worry about the speed of their next browser, they don’t know how fat it’s going to be or how heavy it’s going to be.

They’re also continuing with this stupid (but from their POV profitable) effort to break up the web even further into sites-that-only-work-with-IE8, and everyone else, what with Accelerators and “Web Slices” trying to replace functions that are already in use in a lot of places.

Nice try MS, but no thanks!

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Written by seancasaidhe

September 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Internet

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