– my thoughts

On Thursday, 4/8/2011, went live, thanks to the nice design work of James from The idea to bring some attention to the increasing numbers of requests for unpaid interns in Ireland. Here are my thoughts on this project.

Myself, Michele & James, over an online discussion thought it would be a good idea to have a website to bring attention to the increasing trend of companies requesting people to do, what seems on paper at least, a job you would expect someone of experience/skill to perform. These jobs are often pitched as an opportunity to get experience or a start in an industry, but the employer is not willing to pay these people for their time.

Some employers even say that they’ve hired many people after these types of intern postions. But this carrot dangling really doesn’t justify someone receiving at least €8.65 per hour, the current minimum wage in Ireland. If you perform a task, that potentially someone else is paying for, i.e. a client of your employer , and you just get ‘experience’, there does seem to be some level of exploitation here.

Collins Dictionary, via, defines the word slave as

slave [sleɪv] n
1. (Law) a person legally owned by another and having no freedom of action or right to property
2. (Business / Industrial Relations & HR Terms) a person who is forced to work for another against his will
3. a person under the domination of another person or some habit or influence a slave to television
4. (Business / Industrial Relations & HR Terms) a person who works in harsh conditions for low pay
5. (Engineering / Mechanical Engineering)
a. a device that is controlled by or that duplicates the action of another similar device (the master device)
b. (as modifier) slave cylinder

Because of #4 I feel that the word slave is an appropriate word to use. The harsh condition being the fact that you don’t receive any wages for the work performed.

There has been some debate over the last 3 days about this topic, it even trended on twitter at one stage. It’s great to see that in some way has aided this debate. Some people were offended by word slave, to that I am sorry, that was not the intention. Others seem to have used it to pull some punches at companies, this was also not the intention of the website.

Irish Unemployment

With the rate of Irish unemployment hitting 14%, there are lots of capable people out there looking for work. It’s sad to see that people feel like they have to take these positions, as that’s what it’s now come down to.

Recently the Irish government launched an initiative to get people on the dole, into jobs. JobBridge allows employers to advertise these internship positions. The employers only have to pay their workers €50 per week, but they will continue to receive their unemployment benefit. People seem to be happy to apply for these positions, and I think it can be a win-win situation for both the intern and the employer. Where things could get dodgy is when these intern positions should in fact be full time positions. JobBridge define an internship as :

The aim of the National Internship Scheme is to assist in breaking the cycle where jobseekers are unable to get a job without experience, either as new entrants to the labour market after education or training or as unemployed workers wishing to learn new skills.

I hope they don’t have too hard of a time policing these jobs. JobBridge is a great idea, and I would love to see it succeed.

Internships are great

Personally I’ve only good things to say about my experience with internships. But they were all paid, I was able to learn and earn at the same time. It showed me that the employer valued an intern enough to give them a wage. I was given responsibility, but I was also given the opportunity to learn something new. If I wasn’t paid I don’t think I would have been able to do one for 5 months while living in Germany for example.

I do wonder about these employers who don’t offer wages in return for work, I mean we all have to survive, pay rent, bills and eat every now and again. Expecting someone to work for free won’t help them in any of these tasks. Some even say they are creating jobs, but without an employers PRSI contribution I don’t think this qualifies as ‘a job’.

Both Michele & James have also expanded on their thoughts on this and are worth reading. : Phishing attempt

Just a quick warning to people who might see the following email in their inbox titled “Recalculation fiscal activity for 2011” supposedly from

The email appears to be sent from, but this is just spoofed (email spoofing is just too easy). The text of the email says

Dear Applicant:

Please note that you can apply for tax refund, today we have sent your tax file number (TFN): 2 7 9 0 2 1 6 8 1 5
(See the tax privacy note in the Taxpayer’s declaration on page 8 of your tax refund) and is valid only 24 hours for security reasons.
Please take a few minutes of your time to complete the form, for your safety please do not reveal your TFN number to others.
In order to complete, please follow this link:

The contents of this email and any attachments are confidential and as applicable, copyright in these is reserved to Irish Tax and Customs.
Unless expressly authorised by us, any further dissemination or distribution of this email or its attachments is prohibited.

Irish Tax and Customs

and it has a link to
and not the official website. If you have received such an email, according to their security advice, you should forward the email to them.

The idea of such an email is to trick companies to fill out their personal details, such as credit card details, which will probably be used against them. The phishing site is very, very poorly done.

If you have filled this out, you should call your credit card company and cancel your card, and contact the revenue commissioners.

Flannerys Hotel Galway a review

seeing as I posted this on Roomex about Flannerys Hotel Galway, Best Western, I might as well add it here. One other note, Best Western does price matching apparently on their official website, but it really wasn’t worth the hassle of going through them, when RoomEx was cheaper. You would have to pay the full price, and then request a refund explaining where you could have gotten a better price.

Review of Flannerys Hotel Galway

Keeping in mind it’s a 3 star hotel, I would say it was still below satisfactory. I was staying in one of the non renovated rooms, which really could have done with a sprucing up. The bathroom is from the 80’s or 70’s. The bed was comfortable, but the linen looks like it was past its best. In a hotel when the linen starts piling it should be thrown out.

Interestingly enough these guys give you a RTÉ Guide for your incredibly small TV. One positive is that there is free WiFi everywhere, not just in the lobby as advertised.

Breakfast is less than average. The buffet style is not really a buffet style, as someone puts together your Irish breakfast for you. I’m guessing this is a cost saving idea (rather than a safety issue). The fruit salad was no great shakes either, as it was mostly apple chopped up, no bananas, berries or anything else. Don’t attempt to drink the coffee, as it tasted either like it was instant coffee, or it had been standing in a metal pot for a 1/2 hour. A Nespresso machine, that costs about €0.30 per cup would go a LONG way. Thankfully on my 2nd morning I wasn’t even offered coffee, but sadly I missed out on the toast too. The selection of juices was nice (apple, orange, cranberry and pineapple), but they failed to offer water as a drink. The breads and few pastries weren’t tested.

Food at the restaurant wasn’t anything spectacular to report, and the attitude of one barman would lead you to think that you were putting him out when ordering drinks or meals. Prices for food were around the €12-€18 range, and simply not worth it for the level of service offered. I offered to pay my bill when ordering at the bar, but instead, I get interrupted while eating, and a bill is put on the table instead. I’m guessing the bar staff could do with a bit of re-training.

The verdict

Would I go back ? No, probably not. The price to service is certainly not something I was entirely happy with.

Getting an Irish passport in Germany

Here is just a few words about my experience with the Irish Embassy in Berlin and the experience of getting :

  • new biometric passport
  • an emergency passport

Overall I must say that I am extremely happy with how I was dealt with in a fast manner by the helpful staff, and I do encourage you to call them if you have any questions or worries.

The background

Stupidly I washed & dried my passport, and it was in pieces afterwards. As it was expiring later this year I didn’t really mind so much, just I knew that it would take a bit of time to get one because of the strike in Ireland. And with plans to travel to a few places this summer I knew I needed a new one ASAP.

Passport forms

After doing some quick research I realised that I needed to get the forms for a renewal from the Embassy. A quick phone call to the staff was all that was needed and I had the forms by post on the following day. You can’t download the forms, and I guess this is probably a security precaution.

I realised on the following Thursday afternoon that I need a passport to go to Italy on the subsequent Monday. In a panic I filled out the forms, got passport pictures taken and got it all witnessed by my bank, and sent it off at 6pm on the Thursday. As I needed an emergency passport for the Monday, I included the copy of my flight booking, and the destroyed passport.

On Friday got a call from the Embassy to check some details, and the temporary passport landed on my door on the following day. Thank God for postage on Saturdays in Germany. So it literally took 65 hours to get an emergency passport. If I was in Berlin I guess this could be done almost on the spot, but due to commitments in Munich I couldn’t do the 1,200km round trip (plus I don’t own a car).

From right to left : The new one, the temporary one and the old passport

Emergency Passport

The emergency passport is good for 12 months, and looks different to the other Irish passports (it’s green). As far as I know you can travel to most places on it, but you might get some questions if you go to the USA with it. Once your full passport is ready, after being processed in Ireland, the Embassy will contact you, and ask you to send the temporary one, or your old one, back to them in Berlin. They will chop off a corner from them and send them back to you, along with your new passport. I’ve found that they are really quick with postage turn around, and in my case it was done with the return of post the following day.

New Biometric Passport

The new passport took just under 8 weeks to get to me, from sending the completed forms to getting the new one delivered. While it’s not quick, I do understand that these things take time. It certainly isn’t the embassy’s fault it takes 2 months to get a passport, they always seem to react to things as fast as possible. More about obtaining a new passport is on the Embassy’s website.

gimme a muggie {please}

Michele from Blacknight is having a little competition to win one of his nice mugs. These mugs are simply great, massive enough to hold about fifty espressos, dishwasher proof (I still haven’t treated mine to that abuse) and each one is truly unique.

Why I should get one

So here is my reason : I would love to have a buddy for my BlackDog mug and nothing would fit so good with it as another mug from the Magical Mug Maker Owen and a free one at that.

Plus you owe me one for pointing out that *bug* late last year, ahem !

Register 365 – fail

Today I got a email from Register365, saying that for security reason they are disabling the online web folder manager. The sneakily make it sound like they are just disabling it until it’s fixed. But in reading this it also sounds strange that they don’t disable it straight away if it is such a threat. Here is the email I just got :

Dear paul savage,

Thank you for choosing Register365 as your hosting provider of choice.


At Register365 we take the security of our customers’ hosting services
very seriously and as such we would like to inform you that our
engineers have discovered a potential security flaw in the WebShell file
manager. In order to preempt any risk of a security breach that may
affect our customers’ websites the WebShell feature will be turned off
as of Midday on Tuesday 9th February 2010 .

Please note this is a precautionary measure and FTP will continue to
work as normal and your websites should not be affected in any way by
this action.

If you need any support on how to use FTP clients to upload files to
your site please refer to our knowledge base articles located at

At Register365 we strive to provide the best quality of service and
infrastructure to all our customers and as you may already know, we have
been working hard to deploy a new shared hosting cluster based on state
of the art technology and delivering the most stable and secure hosting
environment on the Irish market. If you would like to find out more
about the new hosting cluster available with Register365 and how you
could migrate to the new platform for FREE, please contact

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our
support teams through the usual channels.

Kind regards

Namesco Ireland Limited (trading as Register365)

To that I submitted a support case as the service email came from “” .

You are disabling it indefinitely ? or just until you can patch the service ?
This is unclear in the email I got from you.

and to that I got the updated report that they are not fixing it, with some extra padding about saying it’s too difficult.

Good afternoon Paul,

Thank you for your email.

It’s being disabled indefinitely I’m afraid as it would be too prohibitive to have a patch developed, tested and deployed at this late stage in our H-Sphere platform’s life cycle.

We haven’t taken this decision lightly but the issue that has been identified could potentially be quite serious so urgent pre-emptive action was needed. Disabling the webshell feature for the foreseeable future seemed the most expeditious and safest solution.

We apologise again for any inconvenience caused.
Kind Regards,

Nathan P.
Support Team
Namesco Ireland Limited

An unconvinced customer

Somehow I am not convinced here, if it’s a security issue why not disable straight away, and why no provide an alternative ? It really doesn’t sound like any level of customer support or attention to security. If it’s a security hole, disable straight away. You are now suddenly not providing a method for people to edit their files outside FTP’ing them, this for many people is not an option because of company firewalls. All in all it seems like Namesco Ireland Limited / Register365 couldn’t give a toss about their customers.