Referral links

Unlike other ads on this page, the two links below are to services I use - if you're looking for a new SIM or broadband connection I can personally recommend them, and these are specific referral links that I can get bonuses from if you sign up, so please use them :-)

Get a free giffgaff Sim Broadband from £5.99 a month with an included wireless router when you sign up to Plusnet - terms apply

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Antisocial Networking: List of Top Tips

[Short link to this article if you need it:htp;//goo.gl/sWOd]

Everyone's using social networks these days. Well ok not everyone, the people that don't usually give one of two reasons. Either they don't have time or they think it's all about posting what you had for breakfast. If it replaces other information sources in your life (e.g. using social networking instead of reading news feeds) then it doesn't have to take any extra time. The second reason, well, possibly valid, so here are my tips on how to make your social networking activities worthwhile

I often see updates that are of no interest to me whatsoever, or I see things that just don't make sense. So here are my top tips to avoid for 'status updates' on social networking services to avoid me disconnecting from you. Don't be an antisocial networker:
  1. Status updates that don't stand alone - If I need a whole bunch of background information that only exists in your head instead of on your profile/recent updates to understand it, then it's entirely pointless me reading it and, frankly, why should I bother asking for more information if you can't be bothered making it clear in the first place?
  2. Replies that aren't linked to the initial article - This goes for twitter replies that aren't done through the APIs, or things like the (now defunct) 'wall to wall' comments on Facebook that don't actually respond directly to the original post. Reading a reply on its own is pointless to anyone following you.
  3. If you want to broadcast on social networks, don't hide behind 'private' updates - I treat different networks differently. Some systems (such as facebook where the 'friend' relationship is mutual) I use for more personal communication, others I'll broadcast to anyone who wants to listen to and/or get to know me. If the latter (e.g.twitter) why would I 'protect' my updates? It may reduce 'spam' followers, but how much does that really matter on balance compared to the benefits of being able to find your tweets on a search? Worse than lack of searching, related to the first point it makes it impossible to dereference a reply in someone's twitter timeline to see what it was a reply to if the original tweet was protected. The ultimate example is if you do a twitter reply to a protected post but start with a '.' or similar to make sure it's echoed to all your followers. For those reasons I consider protecting every update on such systems to be antisocial and, in my opinion, gives the impression that you believe you're the center of the universe and believe everyone should explicitly follow you instead of via lists etc. I can't even determine if a given person is worth following. I personally don't want people to follow me for my name rather than my content. Not only that, but on twitter people won't be able to see anything you @reply to them. You don't protect your blog entries, so why protect microblog entries?
  4. "You suck" "I don't suck, you're a psychotic moron" sort of comments without any useful content - You know the ones I mean. Blog comments, youtube comments, and occasionally forums degenerate into this sort of nonsense. I honestly couldn't care less if you think I'm an idiot, and I doubt anyone else does. that's not useful information. Please make damn sure you make it clear WHY I'm an idiot
  5. What?, Huh? Eh?" If you post a response with just one of those words or similar, then that's not productive. If something the person said isn't clear then at least give some indication of what you've misunderstood (unless it's a blatant typing error, even then say so) otherwise how can the person be expected to give a helpful reply?
  6. Large proportion of "retweets" without added value - I'm using the twitter terminology here but it can apply to Buzz etc. as well, and to a lesser extent posting links with no extra info/comment on Facebook. I'm following you because I want to hear what you have to say, not others. A 1:10 ratio of "retweets" is probably about right
  7. If you post excessively on one topic, tag appropriately - Seriously, it doesn't matter how much I like you, if you fill my update list with something I don't care about I will disconnect/block you. Prevent this by using the ACLs for updates on systems like facebook, or hashtags on other systems that I can use to ignore what is frankly just spam to me. It's just about being considerate to your audience
  8. Blindly posting meaningless URLs (especially shortened ones) - Not being funny but just because you shove a URL in my face, why should I read it? This is like the 'retweet' argument but worse. If the URL is meaningful I can determine whether to click on it (The URL of this blog entry is hopefully meaningful) but many aren't, and shortened ones definately aren't so give me a reason to click if you're going to give it to me. Would you click a random link in an email? No, so don't do it elsewhere. If you're still not convinced then consider the security - your account could have been hacked and you're distributing a trojan. I would be a Grade A moron if I clicked on every link in front of my nose
  9. Lots of LBS updates - LBS (Location Based Services) such as Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla and the like. Honestly, how many people actually care where you're having lunch? This is back to the original issues people have with twitter - that it only contains mundane useless information. Don't exacerbate the problem. If you want to tag your posts with a location then ok, if you're somewhere interesting then ok (any why not post a picture) but not just a post in "I'm in blahblah cafe" because I seriously don't care, and most of your 'friends' don't either so restrict who sees it... If I did care, I'd connect with you on foursquare.
  10. Blindly link every account you have together Make sure you understand the implications of notifications between accounts. It can result in a large amount of spam to your followers if you start performing operations in one application (such as bulk tagging 'favorites') that result in a stream of notifications elsewhere.
  11. "ReTweet and follow to win a free iPad" style of posts. Bottom line - that's just a way to get free advertising, and I get enough spam of that type that I don't need me 'friends' filling my client with more of it. And for the company doing it, it's a good way for me to decide to avoid them completely.

On another note, I came across this article recently on long email signatures which is worth a read ... I agree, long signature blocks, especially when people insist on adding in images that just fill up my mailbox, should be discouraged:

UPDATE: Regarding the private updates issue (point 3), I've written another blog post with a more complete set of reasons as to why protected twitter accounts are antisocial and should be discouraged

Monday, 11 October 2010

Nokia N900 and voice/video calls over the net (voip)

Having now used the N900 in variouos situations to perform voice and video calls over the net I can say that it's a great choice for VOIP.

The current version of Maemo supports Video calling using Skype or GoogleTalk out of the box, and VOIP using various providers. in fact it works with the no-extra-charge VOIP account that my broadband ADSL provider gives me, which makes it an excellent replacement for the landline since it looks like a normal landline number (for CLID and inbound calls)

The N900 is such a great device, and it was nice to see this stuff come to the N900 before other devices, and others are now catching up with some of their software features ...