Appy Tuesday – Duolingo

I recently decided I wanted to improve my Irish language skills. Being a former Gaelscoil pupil I have a great understanding of the language but my grammar is not what it used to be because I haven’t used it in 10 years. I took to Twitter to find a podcast to try improve with but instead it was recommended that I try the Duolingo app.

Duolingo is a free language education app which was selected by Apple as iPhone App of the Year in 2013 and by Google as Best of the Best for Android in 2013 and 2014. With over 80 million users, Duolingo has become the most popular way to learn languages online in only 2 years. Duolingo offers the choice of learning 22 different languages, 12 of which are for English speakers wishing to learn a new language.



I set up the app to learn Irish. It is easy to do. Beginners start at basic 1 but there is also a placement option for more advanced users. I used the placement option and got to skip the lessons and went straight to the first gate test. The content is very engaging with a wide variety of methods used to teach words, aurally, written English to Irish, written Irish to English, pictures , matching of English words to Irish words. Points are awarded for completing lessons, I also like the daily reminders to use the app. Repetition is key and I plan on completing the whole course over the next few weeks.

Duolingo is available to download free from the App Store and Google Play

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Why is my website being outranked by a low quality site?

A question we hear all too often here at B*Different HQ. Why is my page rank 6 homepage being outranked by this old page rank 3 website?  

To start at the beginning too many people look at Page Rank, Domain Authority, Page Authority and even inbound link numbers as the be all and end all of their search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics. All of these are important elements but on their own they mean nothing.

Page Rank is what Google uses to determine the importance of a web page, It was developed at Stanford University by Google founders Larry Page (who it assumed to be named after) and Sergey Brin. Page Rank uses links as votes, and every unique link to a web page from another is counted as a vote in that pages favour.  That should mean that a website with the most links should just rank number one organically shouldn’t it?

Well no… With the evolution of SEO over the years, there has always been black hat SEO’s looking to rank quick and fast by any means possible, Keyword Stuffing, Directory Links, Spam Comments, Link Farms, Link buying and Selling whatever it took they did it.

Google are constantly updating their ranking algorithm to make sure that they serve the user the most relevant content. Over the last two years Google Panda and Google Penguin have been hard at work making sure that these manipulative strategies won’t work, when it comes to ranking.

Google’s ranking algorithms take over 200 ranking factors into consideration and is constantly being refreshed. For all the factors we know about there are 10 others that they keep to themselves.

There is no magic trick to ranking your website at number one in Google, but fresh relevant content that adheres to the Google Webmaster guidelines is the only way in which to do it long term, so next time you get an email offering you the number one spot on google for €99 a month or 500 backlinks for €45 just press delete and save your website and yourself from the stresses of getting knocked out of Google Results.

For a brief look into some of the Ranking Factors we know Google use check out this cool info graphic from the team at Search Engine Land.

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KickStarting 21st Century Patronage with Kickstarter

The greatest artists of history required the financial assistance of the wealthy when they wanted to undertake projects. Fast forward centuries and how do modern-day innovators fund their work? Well, there’s a site for that. That site is the four year old KickStarter. It is the new facilitator in canvassing people for money in backing your proposed project. You create a page with your proposal, the amount you are targeting to collect and date by which you want to collect it by. If visitors to the site have not pledged the complete target amount by your proposed date, then the project is cancelled and the creators receive no money.

The creator who proposed the project retains 100% ownership. Why do people support such projects and initiatives when they do not receive any shareholding in the company themselves? It is quite simple. In most scenarios the pledger may just receive an early copy of the album if they have supported an artist, or a discounted unit of the product if they back an engineer. Sometimes it is products that visitors to the site wish to see created and will gladly support its development in the hope of the product being brought to market. Once such example of this type of project is the Pebble Watch. This watch is the most supported venture ever on the KickStarter site, with the project having over $10,250,000 pledged from 68,928 visitors to the site. This is far greater than the relatively smaller sum of $100,000 that the creators originally targeted to collect.

This new form of crowd sourcing could be the way forward for anyone looking to fund any ideas, but the reach of such sites comes at a cost. Traditionally you may have been able to cross the street if someone was looking for funding, but now they can send you the link anywhere and at anytime. Not only that, but one may also receive a large number of requests from connections in your network that you may not know very well from all over the globe.

There is also the perceived lack of control by site management over what appears on the site and what happens to the money that has been raised. The creator could easily just used the money to go on holidays. There is no assurance that the cash will be used responsibly or efficiently or at all. The site also charges a 5% administration fee, excluding the 3-5% additional charge that Amazon charges to process the money. A 10% collectors fee is still better than the assignment not starting at all due to cash flow difficulties.

With the site’s vices in mind, it is still difficult to ignore the impact it is having and its potential into the future. KickStater claims that over 4.3 million people have pledged over $670 million, but we don’t know what proportion of this figure has been passed onto project creators.

Also striking is the power of the cumulative help of modern day patrons. Similar to Obama’s election fundraising strategy, it may be more beneficial to have many smaller donators rather than a limited number of larger givers.

So it’s the working class helping first time artists and developers? Well, not in all cases. For example Zach Braff , star of the hit TV sitcom Scrubs, raised over $3.1 million dollars for his film “Wish I was Here”. Braff has an estimated net worth of $22 million so it really proves that the site is open to all. Celebrities like Braff, and others with large social media following, can really effectively raise money.

With Braff passionately supporting  KickStarter, and with other well-known faces almost certain to utilize the sites tools in the future, it would appear that the sites success and popularity is only set to rise. So why don’t you post that project that you’ve always wanted to complete but never had the support of the cash? If you do, please send us on a link so we can help you in your efforts. 

About The Author: 

Shane McCarthy Business Information Systems student in University College Cork. 

Shane can be found tweeting from @TechShane and is always open to chats about business and technology! 

Check out his Webasite, Twitter and linkedin

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Part 3: A Need to BDifferent – Claremorris Colts RFC

As the season entered the home straight we were about to have our biggest moment as a club to date. Firstly our girls were chosen as the Connacht representative to attend the Aviva mini rugby festival in Ashbourne, Co. Meath. In a truly magical day our girls were fantastic in the way they conducted themselves on and off the pitch. Then in early April our secretary got a letter to say we were one of three nominations for Connacht rugby club of the year for the 2011/12 season.

To say we were shocked was an understatement, however although we were nominated we really didn’t think we would win as other nominees Connemara RFC & Loughrea RFC were more established than us and surely in our view in with a better chance of winning.

A wedding on the same night meant I was unable to attend the black tie affair in the Connemara Coast Hotel however when the phone rang at approx 11pm I knew from the crackling voice on the other end we had done it. Connacht rugby club of the year in our third season WOW!

As the season wound down things got even busier for us in the committee room. Recently we acquired 5 acres of land in town and we knew we had to put a plan together to fund the development of the grounds.  George Hook agreed to broadcast his Newstalk show the Right Hook live from the McWilliam Park hotel Claremorris. We then held the launch of our pitch development fundraiser that night in the McWilliam. The following day we planned a scrum clinic for local coaches,  truly was a rugby first for the West of Ireland.

So the Newstalk crew rolled into Claremorris on the Friday afternoon with George all set to do his thing. Club chairman Fergal Leonard and yours truly even got 10 minutes on air with the gregarious broadcaster to help spread the rugby gospel country wide.

It didn’t stop there however as later that night came the launch of the ‘Buy a Sod’ campaign. The draw was launched by a who’s who of the rugby world including, George Hook , ex Irish international Jim Glennon, current Connacht captain and Mayo man Gavin Duffy, world renowned scrum coach the great Roly Meates and ex Connacht, Munster and Wasps man Peter Bracken. The idea of the night was to boost the profile locally and help generate some sales. As the night went on the four post squares were auctioned off to crowd who had assembled.  The auctioneer for the night was Jim Glennon who judging by his performance certainly has a backup career if he ever gives up the day job. It was a fantastic night for all involved with the club.

The club also received a huge surprise on the night when local women Liz Killeen presented the club with an Ireland jersey signed by the grand slam winning squad of 2009 on behalf or her cousin John ‘The Bull’ Hayes who could not attend on the night, but promised to give the Claremorris Colts ‘New Field’ the once over once it was up and running.

The fun didn’t stop there as the Mayo club had an even bigger day planned for Saturday. We organised a Scrum Clinic and invited every club in Connacht to send their youth rugby coaches along to the clinic and hear the rugby bible according to Roly Meates. We also organised a Family Day and invited all locals to come and watch the scrum clinic and enjoy the activities such as bouncy castles, face painting, a BBQ and many others.

There was a fantastic turnout with over 70 coaches from across Connacht learning from Roly Meates, George Hook and Peter Bracken. Roly Meates gave a master class in how to coach the scrum and I can certainly say that every coach learned something new from the great man. There were also an army of parents and helpers on hand to ensure everything ran smoothly on the day and more importantly everybody got fed and watered. This was a truly magical rugby weekend from a fledging club and we now plan to build on this success and know we must continue to grow if Claremorris RFC are to have a home of their own in the very near future.

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A start up that needed to BDifferent – Claremorris Colts RFC Part 2

 
After the excitement of George Hook paying we knew we needed to continue our momentum and ensure that we were still doing things a little differently from the other clubs around us. 
 
We did this by securing a visit from the Heineken cup trophy. After of number of weeks nagging the Leinster branch they relented and let us have the trophy for the weekend. As per usual it was rainy Saturday morning on the pitch but that didn’t stop everyone enjoying themselves. The cup got passed from small hands to big and back again as everyone wanted to get their pictures taken with the famous trophy. The biggest concern some players had with it was why we couldn’t fill the trophy with coke. Once training was over the cup got brought from house to house many locals wanted to get a snap with the trophy, I’d hate to imagine the amount of car boots the trophy was in over the course of the weekend.
 
The season rolled on and we did quite well in a number of Connacht blitz’s however a notable achievement was just around the corner. It may have been Grand National day in England but the Claremorris Colts U10 team had their own race to run as they headed to An Cheathrú Rua for the Connemara cup and like the race across the water the outsider came out on top by the smallest of margins as U10’s won the first trophy in the history of Claremorris Colts RFC.The final itself without doubt the tightest game of the day with both teams not giving an inch. It was clear both teams didn’t want to lose and as the game entered the final moments neither team could be separated but all that was about to change. After been camped on the An Ghealtacht line Kyle Leonard somehow spotted the smallest of gaps and wriggled his way over to win the cup for the Mayo men. The roar that greeted the final whistle must surely have been heard across the Atlantic Ocean as the cup was heading out of Galway for the first time. Each and every player and their coaches Eddie McLoughlin and Fergal Leonard can be very proud of the display of rugby that was produced on a historic day for the us. Next up a Connacht club award and some rugby legends…
 
Claremorris Colts RFC can be found online here for more information and training times contact Paul Cunnane

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Appy Monday – Sonic The Hedgehog

 

Searching through the Google Play store over the weekend I thought all my Christmases had come at once when I came across Sonic the Hedgehog as the number 4 paid app. Retailing at just €2.85 (€2.69 on iTunes) it was a steal for 90’s gaming addicts such as myself! Sonic was the preferred game of my childhood. We were a Sega Mega Drive family, My boyfriend’s a Nintendo/Mario man! This game is sure to keep us occupied for a few hours.

The original Sonic The Hedgehog was released on the SEGA Mega Drive in 1991, the game including sound track has been completely remastered for mobile, with new additional features that include widescreen support with a frame speed of 60 frames per second, as well as access to online leaderboards, achievements and a time trial mode. Another great addition to the game is the ability to play as Tails and Sonic after unlocking with sonic first.

Download from Google Play Store Here or Download from iTunes Here

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