Tag Archives: CTYI

A bunch o’ days

So to us start us off today let’s watch a good ol’ video.

As you may have guessed, on Wednesday we did some eBay. Yeah, we owned eBay. Cos we’re that cool. But today’s blog post isn’t about Wednesday because I’m so ridiculously behind. So I’m just gonna mash Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday into one epic blog post. Enjoy.

So as I said, on Wednesday we did some eBay. Áine came in (she used to work for eBay) and told us pretty much everything about it. We did some stuff like eBay’s version of Search Engine Optimization. This involves using the BayEstimate tool to get as much out of your eBay title listing as possible. Then we did stuff like Advanced Search and saw how big the markets on eBay. For example, did you know that over £4.9 million worth of dress-related items alone are sold every 90 days? Madness.

After some eBay and lunch we went over to The Helix to experience 2 keynotes from the Diverse 2011 business conference. We observed speeches from Michael Wesch (the creator of the video The Machine is Us/ing Us) and Ciarán McCormack  (the man behind FÍS). both were absolutely brilliant. Michael Wesch, in particular, was quite extraordinary.

Thursday was great craic altogether. It was the day we tried to conquer Second Life, the incredibly popular online role-playing game. However, that description doesn’t really do it justice because it’s more than a game, it is actually a second life online, where you can reinvent yourself and be literally whatever you want to be. This video explains it nicely.

Unfortunately it didn’t really work for me as it was too laggy and to be honest I found it fairly boring. But there’s definitely a lot of interest in it. I believe I was told that over $4 billion has been actually spent on Second Life since it’s inception. So it’s taken quite seriously then.

In the afternoon we did some extremely basic computer game programming using an application called Scratch. Scratch uses a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to allow you to create games. In simple English this means you can drag elements from a list to create your own game. It’s pretty cool but unfortunately my game was too ambitious and hasn’t been finished. Yet. After some Scratchin’ we covered social bookmarking, in particular sites like Reddit and Digg. Stuff I’d done before but good to have it cleared up even more.

PayPal logo

Friday was PayPal. We went to their European operations and customer service headquarters in Blanchardstown. It was absolutely awesome. The first thing you do is go through this crazy revolving door which was great. I got in and thought it would be a great idea to take a photo of the logo. Bad idea. I was politely told to put my camera away. Fair enough. But anyways, we went upstairs to a conference room, past the foosball table, canteen and basketball courts (told you this place was awesome). In their we were greeted by Jonathan, who works in the Merchant side of the PayPal machine, and he ran through a PowerPoint with us. Some interesting points from it: PayPal’s been around since 2000 and were bought by eBay in 2002; as of 2010 they are responsible for roughly 20% of the world’s online money transactions; they consist of 3 sections – Merchant, Risk and Support; they have 250 million total accounts and 100 million active ones; they support 25 currencies; they work with 57 financial institutions worldwide and they employ over 18,500.

Phew. That was a lot. Then we had some seriously good free pizza and drinks (I love these guys) and were told to design an app incorporating PayPal in some way. Our app (courtesy of Tadhg White) was called “Call A Cab”. The premise was that you fire up the app and it locates where you are. The app then shows a map of taxis in the area and a timeline, showing how far away each cab is. Anyway, the whole idea was that you could order and pay for your taxi using the app, powered by PayPal. Unfortunately we didn’t win the prize of a wonderful 3 megapixel camera. But hey man, we ain’t corporate sellouts like that.

Facebook Logo

Monday, this was it, the day I’d been waiting for. We went to Facebook’s Dublin offices in the Docklands. Facebook is a company that needs no introduction but in case you want some background details, check this out. Again, it was fairly awesome. The best part was going around the office saying things like “Did anyone see Eduardo Saverin around?”. But quietly. Because if Mark Zuckerberg were to hear about it he might eat us for breakfast.

We sat through a presentation about Facebook Ads and then split into our ads to design an ad for The Helix Conferences. Our ad was so incredibly amazing that we won a prize. I say we, but in reality it was my sheer, unadulterated awesomeness that won the competition. Our prize consisted of a Facebook laptop bag (laptop NOT included), a Facebook frisbee, Facebook earbuds, Facebook sweets and a Facebook USB stick that can be worn as a fashionable wrist band. Sweet.

So that was a bunch of days. All in all, they were great. Only 2 more days in CTYI, it’s been great.

Let’s finish with some more music.



Tuesday, late again

This is really becoming a habit. Writing blog posts 2 days after doesn’t really work. Must do better in study. But anyway.

Some music to kick us off.

Great band, unfortunately they’ve split up now.

Anyhoo, Tuesday was great. We had Alan Harrison and Conor Barron come in to talk to us about Google AdWords and related subjects.  AdWords is an advertising service offered by Google. You know those ads you see at the top and sides of Google searches? They’re Google AdWords.

Google AdWords

The sections in red are ads

We started off with some great TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms); terms like SEM (Search Engine Marketing), SEA (Search Engine Advertising) and SERP (Search Engine Results Page – not really a TLA but sure whatever). Some facts were up next. Did you know that Google controls (only?) between 60% and 80% of the internet search market worldwide? Searching is so effective for them because of the advertising revenue they rake in.

Advertising is pretty easy on Google. All you have to do is go to the AdWords homepage, sign up and create your ad. Now, as you may have noticed, some ads appear above others. This is down to a few things. First of all, money isn’t the biggest factor. I know, fairly surprising. Your “Qual score” is very important. This score is a mark out of ten assigned to you by Google based on your history of advertising campaigns. If you’ve had successful ad campaigns in the past with low Bounce Rates (people clicking on your page only to leave straight away) and a high click through rate, your Qual score will be here. For first time buyers (of ads), however, the amount your willing to pay is obviously an important feature as you don’t really have a Qual score yet.

Over the course of the rest of the day we looked at how best to optimise your AdWords. You can specify where and when you want your ad to appear. You actually have quite a lot of control of your ad campaign(s). And of course it can be quite cheap as you pay for your ad on a CPC basis (Cost Per Click). This means that whenever someone clicks on your ad you pay, rather than a blanket payment for a certain amounts of ads for a certain amount of time. This also means you get more information about your ads in the form of Google Analytics. This service shows you who’s clicking on your ads and from there you can improve your campaign.

To close, a song in the spirit of things.

That’s enough for one day, two days late.


Monday…a bit behind schedule

So today is Wednesday. But 2 days ago it was Monday. And as I’m sure you, my avid readers, will have noticed, there was no blog post for Monday. Well I’d like to rectify that, because I’m sure you all want to know every detail of my enthralling CTYI life. So here we go.

Not really, here’s a musical diversion.

Flight of the Conchords, gotta love ’em.

Anyway, Monday was pretty awesome. We did some more research on social media and read up on twitter. Twitter was explained to us in the context of building relationships between businesses and consumers. Twitter, in case you didn’t know, is a micro-blogging service where people “tweet” (say) things in under 140 characters. For businesses this can be an opportunity to set up a means of communication between a consumer and themselves  whereby they respond to any queries the customer may have. It can be a question and answer forum in realtime then.

Businesses can also use Facebook to communicate with their customers and promote their brand. By using these forms of social media, businesses are showing that they are in tune with their customers interests and thus can build a bond of trust.

Isn't social media wonderful?


After that we went to a seminar given by Sunday Times political correspondant Sarah McInerney. She talked to us about how she became a journalist and why she did so, how to be a successful (ish) journalist and she plugged her book. It was quite refreshing listening to her actually. She was down to earth, honest and with a good sense of humour. If anyone remembers the Sunday Tribune’s social diary, you’ll remember that Sarah was the writer of that column. Apparently Ronan O’Gara is a diva and impossible to talk to (yeah, yeah, yeah…) and that Angelina Jolie is so lovely and em delicate… All in all it was a great lecture.

Sarah McInerney

A tour of the Helix was up next. The people running the course I’m doing at the moment also run a company called Techspectations (twitter here), which promotes small businesses and boost their social media presence. A business employing them at the moment is The Helix.

The Helix

So part of my homework on the course was to research the Helix’s competitors. We will present our research to them by the end of the course. So as a thank you for doing that for the Helix, Darran Heaney, the Events Manager for the Helix, gave us a guided tour. It was brilliant. We saw the 4 performances spaces, ranging from the Mahony Hall (largest), to the imaginatively named The Space (smallest). Darran was friendly and informative and I enjoyed the tour quite a lot.

Anyway that’s my lot. Here’s the now mandatory closing music video.

Great performance of a great song. From his new (ish) album Let Them Talk. Awesome.



Belated Friday

So what did we do today? Well for a start we made a video: Happiness. Check it out, it’s fairly amazing. In the morning we were given a crash course in videoing whereby we learned stuff like different types of shots, how to edit and how to brainstorm (or word vomit as it’s called). Then we were given a sheet of paper and a theme and told to think or die. Well, not that dramatic but vital organs were at stake. Anyway, we came up with a brilliant idea (Oscar stuff lads) and fleshed it out. Here is said video.

Shooting the video was some fun. We had to first “rent” out Spar (I asked politely). However, I did have a monetary issue upon leaving the shop. Thought I’d given the manager a 20 and thought I’d been short changed.  Well anyway I was wrong. That manager didn’t like me and commented to the next person in line “These half smart kids think they know it all”. I was miffed.

Some of the shots were kinda weird to shoot. And they didn’t really come out so well. Sure you’ll see the results anyway.

Videoing is fairly cool is has to said though.

Oh look it’s 19:37 on a Tuesday evening so it’s time for some cat videos.

Oh and some random funny stuff.

After the videoing it was time for some sports. I, rather stupidly, chose to do rugby. Actually it was brilliant but rather wet. So it was all going well until I decided to both kick, turn and run; at the same time. Not a good idea. I fell. Now, when most people fall like that it’s just a little bump and they laugh it off. Not for me. No, I managed to perfectly up-end (side-end?) myself and fall square on my hip. Ow. Now, not only was I sore, but I was also soaking and covered in grass. So I went home.

All in all, a good day.



Today started off in the lab. The computer one that is, so get those weird Jekyll, Hyde and Frankenstein connotations out of your head. We first did some research on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). So turns out that the meta tag “keywords” in HTML is no longer useful. Keywords’ function used to be highlight topics that site deals with. Keywords are invisible, only seen by a search engine.

However, keywords have been abused with some sites putting whatever search terms are popular at a point in time in their keyboards. This leads to a high click through rate for these sites even though their content is probably completely unrelated. So in a sense it’s spam. Uncool.

Uncool Spam

Uncool Spam

Google changed their search algorithm, however. The consequences of these changes were that “content farms” (keyword spammers) were effectively negated. Google now no longer really looks at the “keywords” tag. So now you’re more likely to get a more accurate return of results than before.

So SEO involves optimising the meta “description” tag. The description tag is the little snippet of text you get under a link in a search result. So to optimise this, one must make it easily readable for both the search engine and a human reading it. Therefore it makes most sense to write short sentences laden with keywords.
But make sure it makes sense!
Google's Search Algorithm simplified

Google's Search Algorithm simplified

Then we went to the W3 Schools Website and learned some basic HTML using this guide. All in all, very productive. I learned stuff, wahey! The rest of the day was really spent kinda messing around with World’s Hardest Game (again). But we did have a game of Gaelic Football later. Epic is the only world to describe it. Conor was a shambles but myself and Stephen (Mad Wexford lad that he is) were incredibly skillful.
That was all, apart from some dinner, study, home and perhaps bed. I’ll talk again tomorrow. Tomorrow’s Friday, and we all know what that means. Until then, here’s some music.