Archive for June, 2008

Not Your Typical Saturday Morning

I normally like to enjoy my Saturday mornings with a nice lie in. It’s safe to say that this Saturday started quite differently, and will prove to be unlike any Saturday I’ll ever experience again.

At 2am, I woke up and headed outside. After meeting a few folk along the way, we headed out to the Docklands area in Dublin. A solemn bus then took us to a top secret location, which turned out to be a fairly narrow path that lead out to a Lighthouse on the outer rim of the dock.

By 5am, I was surrounded by 2,500 fellow Dubliners and on the simple command of Spencer Tunick (one man with a camera), we simultaneously stripped completely bare – which literally occupied a matter of seconds. After ditching our clothes, we proceeded to pose in several positions while embracing the Irish Sea and suffering form the bitter cold. All in the name of Art.

The first 20-seconds was akin to jumping out a plane – truly unreal. After this initial period, you do become strangely complacent about the whole thing. Only after you put your clothes back on does rationality set back in and you question what the hell you’ve just done. Writing this post a day later, it all seems a bit of a blur – perhaps this is my mind’s attempt to erase these bizarre hours of my life. All in all, it was a fantastically uplifting experience. Nevertheless, I’m confident it’ll remain a once in a lifetime experience.

I’m due to receive a limited edition print as a prize for taking part. I’ll post it online when it arrives (albeit after getting some Photoshop treatment first).

 Tags: Random   Published: 22nd June '08

Exploitation or Leverage?

BusSongs has quickly achieved the of accolade of having the largest collection of nursery rhymes and Children’s songs on the Internet. When the site was acquired, it came with 130 songs, but this has spiraled to just shy of 1,000 in under a week. How was this possible?

There a whole bunch of outsourcing platforms now in existence – with eLance, Rentacoder and Odesk being the largest and most established outfits. They all operate with the same model; a buyer posts a project detailing the task they want performed, contractors bid on the project, the buyer than selects a coder (based on a combination of cost and collective feedback for that contractor) and then work commences. The platform typically holds money in escrow and acts as an arbitrator if things go wrong.

The benefits are obvious. You can tap into a vast talent pool, save on costs and spend your own time on more value-adding activities. How cheap is it? The addition of 1,000 pictures to Just Pooh cost a meager $90 and consumed around 18 hours of labour. Each batch of 100 songs for BusSongs (processing user submissions) costs $15 and takes roughly 3 hours to complete (the contractor was asked to only input public domain material). The contractor was very professional and did a really great job, despite it being a pretty tedious task.

As you might guess, most contractors originate from developing economies, but this isn’t always the case. With another recent project, I hired a Swiss guy to scrape data from my YPN account and spit it out onto a webpage. The resulting widget (shown on the right, with fake data) negates the need to manually log-in and run reports to pull the key data I want. Email me if you want a copy.

The contractor is getting a fair wage for their time (in relative terms) and effectively input money into the economy without extracting natural resources.

After a bit of a deliberation, I reckon that I’m not exploiting anyone. Anyone beg to differ?

Update: Added some extra clarity.

 Tags: Blog, Internet, Random   Published: 14th June '08

Performance Review

Not only does June involve much jubilation to celebrate my birth, it also marks the mid-point during the year and is a perfect time for a corporate-style performance review of the resolutions I set at the beginning of the year.

Here is a roundup of the resolutions, complimented with a suitable traffic-light rating:

Read more: Amber
I polished off three books in 6-months, which sounds pretty pathetic — and you’re right, it is. But sadly, this is actually a personal record. Having a book perched next to my bed isn’t doing the trick, so I think I just need to start going to bed earlier.

Do some daring things: Red
Hmm, I can’t think of anything that I can say was particularly daring. Have any suggestions?

Consume less sugar: Red
Trips to Belgium and the US have all resulted in new stockpiles of sweet delights. Moreover, the new Pizza oven at work pretty much writes me off. Despite my CV proclaiming that I’m an active runner, in truth I’m quite a lazy bum.

Travel to more exotic places: Green
Lots of traveling so far this year, much quite unexpected. Highlights include: Oslo, Monaco (via Nice), Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp), Soelden (Austria), California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diago and San Jose), Les Deux Alpes (France), London (x3) and Tijuana (Mexico). Prize for the most exotic location goes to Zanzibar (Tanzania). Glastonbury, London, Düsseldorf and Inverness are so far on the cards for Q3.

Be more focused: Amber
I’m not entirely sure what I exactly meant by this. Generally speaking, the grand plan is starting to take shape. Setting some targets does genuinely help.

Restart my dream diary: Amber
Fairly good job here. I started at the beginning of January and have clocked in 55+ dreams. It’s tapered off as of late, largely due to my holiday binge. Hopefully it’ll pick up in the lighter Summer months, which I hypothesize induces higher dream recall.

Embark on building a virtual real estate empire: Amber
Good groundwork has been layed thus far this year. The successful acquisition of BusSongs is helping to build some momentum.

Become illustriousness for something: Red 
Nah, I’m still just a regular Joe. I’ve not quite figured out my niche just yet.

Naturally, a full annual review will be forthcoming in late-December. I sincerely hope that you’re meeting your own expectations for 2008.

Note: Apologies for the recent downtime of – don’t fret, for the site was not targeted by evil-doers. I’ve just moved servers and the site should now feel a little more snappy.

 Tags: Random   Published: 3rd June '08