Saturday, August 25, 2007


As the date on my last post shows, I'm not updating this blog anymore. And because I'm not updating the blog I'm not visiting the blog that much anymore.

So, if you know me and you come across this blog you're probably better off mailing me or contacting me on one of the various sites where I have a profile than by leaving comments here!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What are you doing in Delhi airport?

I get so many hits on my blog from people searching for things like "How to get a taxi from Delhi airport?" or "How much to tip Delhi airport taxi drivers" that I thought it would be interesting to ask people what they're doing in Delhi airport.. are they flying in, flying out, from where, to where etc..

So if you've arrived here looking for something about दिल्ली (Delhi) airport post a comment and tell your story and ask your question :o)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Trying out the Hindi transliteration tool :o)

नमस्ते !!

एह... मेरा नाम Conor है :o)

आप कैसे हो?

Photographing strangers without permission

This post by Joe Ito reminded me about the same ethical/shyness issue I have when taking photographs. I don't feel comfortable taking a picture of a stranger without first asking their permission. Obviously that can sometimes ruin the photo as the interesting pose or facial expression they had that inspired you to want to photograph them is now gone. On the other hand you never know if someone might get offended (or worse) if you take a photograph without asking first..

A friend of mine, who is a great photographer, photographs without asking permission. She will literally walk up to a person, stand in front of them and take a picture of them. I've even seen her do this without even thanking the person afterwards.. she'll just walk up, shoot, look at the picture on her camera, walk off!

I don't know.. I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of those 50/50 things where some people think it's cool and some don't. What do people think? Is it ok to photograph strangers without asking first?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My blog wishlist

I would love to find the following types of blogs:

  • A "China Law Blog" for India
  • A blog written by a CIO of a large company on IT governance and management etc
  • A great Six Sigma blog
  • A great ITIL blog
  • A great travel blog, possibly focussing on less well known countries (although I guess the definition of "less well known" depends on what continent you're from :o/ )

Little help?

How do you eat yours?

I was reading an "old" post by Fred Wilson and I was wondering how often most people read blogs.

I read blogs only at the weekend in a feed reader (FeedDemon) so it means I work (should reading in leisure time be described in such a way?) through the previous week's posts on the 54 blogs I'm subscribed to at the moment (not counting the feeds that are in my "Delete?" folder) every weekend. In reality most of the blogs only get skimmed through or not looked at at all..

My problem with blogs around IT is that most of them cover the same issues (possibly because they're all reading each other) A perfect example was the iPhone launch. If you've seen one iPhone post you've seen them all.. yes it looks cool, yes we know you want one when it comes out, yes we know that it's tough to say whether it'll be a success because no journalist has yet had a chance to use it themselves, yes we know that it's unusual for Steve Jobs to announce a product that won't be available for another year, yes we know the walled garden approach of Apple is not smart (but soooo Apple), yes we know Apple is ignoring the Chinese market by not supporting a stylus for character support.

I would love to switch to subscribing to "review" feeds.. where someone who has more time on their hands than me reads a load of the top blogs and writes posts summarising what people are saying in the blogosphere and links to the best articles. That way I subscribe to a handful of blogs say "American Tech Roundup" (TechCrunch isn't this.. and it's too high volume.. the ideal review blog should have say one big post on "Social Networking Spring 2007" etc. rather than separate posts on individual services) "China Business Review" etc and can get the latest news and thinking a lot quicker and more easily than reading various blogs and trying to keep up with a flood of posts.

I agree with the comments on Fred Wilson's post about blogs too.. too many posts too frequently on a blog makes me switch off and usually unsubscribe. It depends on the blog though.. China Law Blog is very interesting to me so I can't imagine unsubscribing. On the other hand I was only subscribing to TechCrunch out of a desire to have an overview of the latest sites launching and eventually it got too much for me to pay attention to compared with the value it gave me.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

ISSA / UCD Irish Cybercrime survey

The ISSA / UCD Irish Cybercrime survey for 2006 was released recently.

As someone with an interest in the value and cost of IT for businesses, the cost per incident was very interesting. 75% of correspondents in the survey incurred a cost of over €5,000 to correct security incidents, and 22% of correspondents reported costs of over €100,000.

For anyone inside a company considering the cost of IT security solutions, it's important to consider the cost to the business of downtime (i.e. productivity loss, loss of revenue, etc), the cost of recovering service, as well as the cost of personnel issues resulting from security/legal breaches by employees. Any decent IT security solution can, with the right policies and procedures in place, be worth its weight in gold when compared against the cost incurred from security incidents.

An invitation to participate in the 2007 survey is at the end of the report.

Single sign-on starting to be a reality?

I migrated my old Blogger blog to new Blogger today so now I use my Google user account to log in to Blogger. It made me realise that the amalgamation of some of the major services on the web has made single sign-on a bit more of a reality.

For three of the internet services I use (Gmail / Blogger / Orkut) I use a single sign-on. For two others ( Yahoo Mail / Flickr) I use a seperate single-sign on. Maybe in the not-too-distant future we'll just need a single sign-on for each of the big internet companies; Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL? (Of those, I don't use any services from AOL so that's three usernames and passwords to remember for me.. )

Beyond that are the smaller sites such as DCU mail and Redbrick which I guess will always have their own seperate login information? I wonder if Google will ever try extending their authentication services so external services could allow users to log in using Google user credentials? MSN failed getting people to adopt Passport so I can't imagine them trying again any time soon.

Just a thought.. one less username for me to remember now, yay! :o)

(Incidentally, I like the new Blogger!! Better spell checking tool and more features in the text editor!)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cultural understanding when traveling on business

I never thought I'd recommend that the comments on a post are worth reading as much as the post itself but then I read this excellent article: "How not to be a cultural knucklehead in a global business world"

In the post Pamela Slim gives some great points which are worth noting if you have to deal with people from different cultures on a regular basis or travel a lot for business (or for holidays!). The many many comments on the post also include some great tips and they're definitely worth reading.

I'm going to try to avoid copying the points already made in that post and the comments but I'll add my two cent here.

There are three ways in which cultural insensivity can cause you problems:
  • You inadvertently offend people;

  • You just come across as stupid or ignorant; or

  • You live up to your own national stereotype.

For the first one, I think the fundamental point for dealing with people from other cultures is to be sensitive to them and pay attention for any cues that you're offending them (something I myself have been guilty of not doing diligently in the past!). Being sensitive to other people is a good point, especially because the same things that might get you into trouble with someone from a different culture might also rub someone from your own culture the wrong way too.

Normally people will give the benefit of the doubt to someone if they are a foreigner, so I wouldn't worry about offending people all the time, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

For the second point I've learnt a few rules in the past few years of dealing with people from different countries:

  • Never think, talk, or act as if you know more about someone else's country than they do. This might sound obvious but if you've been in a country a while or have read something about the politics there you might start inadvertently sounding off about it and give the impression that you think the person from that country doesn't know this stuff already! With politics the general rule about avoiding politics in conversations applies anyway.. you just don't want to go there :o)

  • People from any country don't always like to spend an entire conversation (or even part of it) talking about their country, their language etc.. usually they just want a normal human conversation about business or whatever.

  • Similar to point one, but never contradict what someone says about their own country, even if you feel it's wrong or inaccurate. Again this comes off as sounding like you think you know more than them about their own country.

If some or all of this sounds like basic normal conversational tips that's because a lot of multicultural "etiquette" is simply good polite behaviour and good old fashioned judging of people on their merits rather than on their dress or nationality etc.

Sometimes you can't help with your ignorance. You may meet someone from a small town in England that you've never heard of before or couldn't place on a map. Some people do get offended if you know very little about or have never heard of the town or country that they're from. In those situations whether or not the person is offended comes down to that person rather than anything you can do.

The third point is something I've come across myself before and it doesn't relate to insensitivity towards other cultures but rather a lack of awareness about your own. It usually only shows itself when someone from another culture picks you up on something you do or say. An example of this from my experience is when I was giving a class in New York last year, we'd have a morning break and a late afternoon break. On the second day of training the class pointed out to me that I kept saying we'll have a "tea break" when "over here we have coffee breaks." It was also pointed out that I used the phrase "rabbit in the headlights" versus the American "deer in the headlights". These differences were harmless but sometimes you may use a phrase people don't understand without even recognising it or your nationality may carry stereotypes or impressions in peoples' minds that you're not aware of or don't understand the cultural implications of.

Another issue is language. As a native speaker, if you are speaking to people whose first language is not the language you'll be speaking in, then it pays to check that they can understand you. The first time I had to speak to a class of people whose first language was not English I was asked to speak slower by one of the class. On the other hand, it's a delicate balance because you do not want to come off as a condescending LOUD AND SLOW talker. Some people may also find it offensive that you asked if they could understand you ok in the first place ("Are you implying my English is less than fluent!?") I look for the universal facial expression of incomprehension which is usually a good indicator that they either don't get the content you're speaking about or don't understand what you're saying at a linguistic level :o)

I didn't take offence at the New York comments which goes to show that walking on eggshells is not always necessary. Some people will be more easily offended than others. Sometimes you can't help offending people, for instance I had no idea that some people from Latin America find it offensive that Europeans only called citizens of the USA "Americans" until a Mexican friend pointed it out to me one time. What matters in those cases is how you can recover. Like I said above, most people will give foreigners the benefit of the doubt and just like "It's my first day" it's an excuse that works as long as you don't fall back on it more than once..

In summary (as much as one can summarise a rambling post :o)), I don't think that multi-cultural etiquette extends far beyond respecting other people, giving them their space, and not applying your preconceptions to them. I think it also involves a lot of self-awareness of your own cultural bias which only comes from interacting with a lot of different cultures over time, it's not something easily picked up from a book (nothing beats those "woah" moments when you realise something you took for granted was a part of your culture and not a universal thing).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Essential advice for graduates

I read this post today and it reminded me of lessons I've learnt in the last few years since college. This advice from David Maister is essential for anyone just joining the workforce. It is maybe a bit more applicable in larger corporate environments but I'm sure most of it applies to anyone who'll have to manage their manager.

The comments have a lot of great advice in them.