Web

Trinity switches to Gmail

A college that can’t manage their own email? Next you’ll be telling me about a college that can’t develop their own website!

ENN: Trinity College, Dublin has become the first European university to adopt Google’s Gmail application as its standard e-mail system. The college’s 15,000 students will change over to the system in October, and will retain their @tcd.ie e-mail suffix on the Google system for life. Welcoming the announcement, Google’s European sales and operations director John Herlihy said: “We are very excited to be partnering with an august and progressive college such as Trinity on this project. Their vision of how technology can enhance student life and build a long term relationship with college alumni is shared by Google”.

EDIT: Peter asked me to point out that UCC does manage their own website. In fairness though, I never suggested they didn’t — development is about design and implementation, and configuring a third-party CMS is hardly implementation. If configuration of the CMS takes up more than half the work, why bother with it in the first place?

Peter also remarks that UCC doesn’t employ any full-time designers of it’s own, but I’d bet that out of the thousands of students in UCC, there are more than a few that would produce far better than the frankly quite drab end-result. They’d appreciate the money a hell of a lot more too, no doubt a ridiculous amount?

I met Twenty!

Big ups to Twenty Major for winning the Most Humourous Post category in Saturday’s Blog Awards. I was well chuffed to be sponsoring a category again this year, so being the first to present an award to the elusive Twenty was a big bonus. :)

Well done Allyn for Best Videocast!

Congratulations to Allyn Quigley for winning CIX-sponsored Best Videocast with Size Matters at the Irish Blog Awards on Saturday night.

I’m not quite sure who was sponsoring Tom’s dancing, but boy did they get their money’s worth!

Irish Blog Awards voting open

I’m sponsoring two categories in the Irish Blog Awards this year, Most Humorous Post via Beecher Networks, and Best Videocast via Cork Internet eXchange. The initial nominees are listed below, you can vote for your favourite in each category here. Good luck to the nominees!

eCommerce capital of Europe me arse

This was supposed to have been posted to a mailing list – I can’t remember which one – in May 2000, and it’s been sitting in my Drafts folder ever since. No kidding. I’m sure I’ve posted it before somewhere but it doesn’t show up in Google, so this is it’s new permanent home. Can I delete it out of my Drafts folder now?

Bloody Irish banks told me last week that I couldn’t have a merchant account if I was trading online. Then they told me I plain couldn’t have a merchant account.

ME: Hi, I’m looking for a merchant account.
BOI: Sure, what kind of business are you in?
ME: I’m in the Internet trade.
BOI: You’ll need to talk to our eCommerce department about their Clikpay service.
ME: No thanks, I’ve checked out Clikpay and I don’t fancy it.
BOI: Well, I’m afraid that’s your only option.
ME: Why is that?
BOI: Mutter, mumble, chargebacks, mutter, security.
ME: Not a concern – I won’t be selling hard goods, and my transactions will be done on an SSL connection, the details of which will be forwarded to me via encrypted email.
BOI: Sorry, that’s our policy.
ME: Well, how about a traditional merchant account? If I agree to only take orders via mail and phone?
BOI: Ok, how long have you been a BOI customer?
ME: About a year.
BOI: Sorry, you have to have an account with BOI three years.
ME: But you’re stemming the growth of my company!
BOI: Sorry, that’s our policy.

*huff* Try AIB…

ME: Hi, I’m looking for a merchant account.
AIB: What business are you in?
ME: I’m in the Internet trade.
AIB: Sorry, we don’t have any Internet solutions available yet.
ME: I know that – how about a traditional merchant account?
AIB: That’s no problem, have you an account with AIB?
ME: Not at the moment, no. BOI told me I needed an account for three years though – is it the same with AIB?
AIB: No, not at all, but your current bank will need to sign off on it.

*hang up*

Ok, pardon the dialogue, but I just find it maddening. Even more maddening is that fact that if I send my partner in the States out for a merchant account, he will return with one set up and ready to roll by the end of the day. It will be cheaper, and it will be Internet ready. At the moment, that’s not an option for us though, and obviously an Irish merhcant account isn’t either, so I end up paying out a boatload for a NatWest or Citibank account through an agent. (Yes, I’m an agent, but I still have to pay the fee boys! :)

The crux of the matter is that Irish banking, government and telco’s are not, as they would have us believe, enabling and promoting eCommerce and eBusiness in Ireland. In fact they’re doing the exact opposite – they’re stemming it, squashing it into the ground. The merchant account debacle above is just one example that has affected me personally. Another is the fact that I’m paying on average £250-300 a month for my crappy 56k Internet connection, whereas my partner in the US is paying US$45 a month for a fast as fuck always-on DSL connection.

Another is the fact that since I started my business, I haven’t got one penny or word of support from the government. And I went looking – I was knocked from pillar to post until I ended up at the door of the Cork Enterprise Board, who told me that I could apply for a grant if I wanted, but that I had no chance of getting it. “Web design agencies are ten a penny.” Not mine, you prick.

Anyway, there’s a point to all this. I’ve had enough. I’ve had my fill, and I’m going to start bitching and whining about it – to the government, to the media, to any email address, fax number and snail mail address I can get my hands on. But I can’t do it on my tod.

As it happens, I actually did get a merchant account from BOI just two months later; two of them in fact. Why two? Because they required a separate merchant account for Internet transactions, at a different rate. I kid you not. And the Internet transactions had to be processed manually, with one of those mechanical swipey things. Remember them? I still have them at home.

I can only assume that the next part was going to be a plea for assistance, but I never got that far. Did I actually do anything? Surprise, surprise, no; at least not on the banking front. However I did join IrelandOffline a year or two later, organised a protest, and became it’s chairman for a while. The effect we had is arguable at best, but I’d be arguing that we had a positive one. :)