Referral links

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

Friday, 28 January 2011

My #OneFortyOne twitter hashtag

[ Short link to this article if you need it - http://goo.gl/kfESIw ]

Just in case anyone sees a tweet of mine tagged with #OneFortyOne, it came about when one night I was listening to music into the early hours and decided to post a tweet with some lyrics from the song I was listening to at the time ♫. Afterwards I added the text "(No-one will read this at 1:41am will they?)"

So from then on I decided that if I was listening to music at 1:41am my time I'd tweet some lyrics from whatever I was listening to, and it'll always be tagged one #onefortyone. So now you know. Why not try it too - lets be honest - any followers in your local time zone up at that time aren't going to be looking for any particularly intellectual tweets anyway :-) (Having said that, rather inevitably someone in another time zone (Canada) pointed out that it wasn't 1:41am!)

If you want to follow my listening habits, which will usually include any #OneFortyOne entries, then you're welcome to friend me on last.fm where most of my music listening is dynamically posted, wherever I'm listening.


Monday, 17 January 2011

Facebook's privacy - more unacceptable each day

*UPDATE* it seems they may have backtracked on this change.

*UPDATE 2 1 Mar 2011* And are now going to re-enable it anyway after the initial storm has blown over:

I just read the Inquirer article on Facebook's address/phone exposing to apps. It appears that they now allow 'application' developers to gain access to your address and mobile number. Now I suspect it's not coincidence that the new facebook profile encourages you at the top to specify your hometown ... I guess we now know why. Along with places information in your profile, it's all a criminal needs...

Facebook's privacy options are rapidly becoming unacceptable. It's bad enough that the average user has more interest in being allowed to play games or see 'OMG look what Justin Beiber did...' than bother to think about what the 'allow this app to access your information' actually means. Seriously, what proportion of facebook users do you think have ever looked at the list of things it asks to access and thought through WHY it needs that information. So if a new facebook app or link asks for more than just 'basic information' then ask yourself Why? Answer: It probably doesn't.

A lot of the 'click here to see this video or what some person said' doesn't lead you to anything other than having another external - not controlled by facebook - application to post junk on your profile, or even you're friend's walls, and many won't even let you see the promised content. Seriously folks, if it exists, it'll be on youtube for free. Don't get sucked into it. Why can't isn't there a 'visibility to apps' checkbox against each privacy option within facebook as well as just friend visibility? Without that you might as well just make everything public and give up if you're going to accept any apps.

So if you're already accepted a bunch of these, now might be a good time to revisit your settings, especially if you're seeing 'ghost' posts on your wall that you didn't do. Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Edit your Settings (Under apps and settings) and see if there's anything there that you don't recognise. Some people might claim that google are 'The Evil Empire' but as far as I know they're only really using the data for their own purposes (i.e. advertising) and not handing it out for others to do evil with.

The thing that pushed me over the edge with facebook was a while back when I discovered that although there is foursquare integration and I could cross-post my foursquare checkins to facebook, it was COMPLETELY impossible to restrict who those posts are visible by. External application can ONLY post with default visibility - you can't control it on an app-specific basis. That's a decision from facebook. Foursquare were happy to discuss this, facebook weren't when I tried to contact them. Not that I'm surprised. This means that Places has that one 'killer feature' - ironically a privacy one by having visibility controls - over the system they're copying (in features and logo inspiration) - foursquare.

Bottom line. Facebook is free to use so ultimately it's up to them what they allow. But what would you do without it? They won't start charging, but if you're under the misguided impression anything you post on there is actually private then, frankly, you're an idiot. And for the conscientious people reading this who do give a damn about security, when you see one of your less careful friends use something that looks suspicious, go to the app, check it, use the 'report app' link if necessary.

I'll see you later on Diaspora (once they fix a couple of issues with aspect control and cross-posting privacy ...)

Monday, 3 January 2011

5 Ways Nokia cocked up in the smartphone market

Shortened link to this page if you need it - http://goo.gl/D1Ijz

[EDIT 9 Feb 2011: A leaked memo from Nokia's CEO admits problems, and confirms several of the points I made in this article. They're making a significant announcement this Friday]

[EDIT: 11 Feb 2011: Nokia have offically announced a tie up with Microsoft to use Windows Phone]

Nokia has had a lead in the worldwide smartphone market for some time. With a range of Symbian devices they had an exceptional amount of market share and held a dominant position. But then it all went wrong, and fundamentally it was because they didn't push the product in the correct directions. I wish it wasn't the case. Here are my top reasons why the Nokia/Symbian combination is declining:


  1. Binary incompatibility - The change from S60v2 to S60v3 meant that all applications had to be recompiled for the new devices, and that meant that developers had to ship and support two versions of their software to cover all devices. And at the same time mandating signing with a registered key didn't help encourage developers either.

  2. Screen resolution - My N80 had a resolution of 352x416. The N95 which was the logical successor as the flagship Nokia Symbian device had a resolution of 320x240. I wanted something with at least the resolution of the N80 but Nokia couldn't sell me one - that ultimately lead to me defecting from Nokia at that time for an HTC with a VGA (640x480) display. I even discussed this with an assistant in the Nokia shop - his personal phone was the HTC I was considering...

  3. Touch screen support - Nokia already had a history in resistive touchscreen technology with the communicator range of devices (Now the Internet Tablet range such as the N810/N900) but they took way too long to put it into their mainstream handsets at a time when touch screens were taking off. Nokia were one of the last manufacturers to get a touch screen into the mass market (the S60v5 based 5800 two years after the iPhone) which they could have got away with if the OS wasn't buggy and it lagged slightly in resolution (640x360)

  4. The iPhone - lets be honest, Apple came into the market and released something that was end-user focussed. It lacked some, well many, of Nokia's features but packaged them in a way that was slick and just worked. While Nokia were moving from S60v2 to S60v3 with little significant benefit to the end user or developer, Apple captured the mindset of the customer from Nokia in the 'it just works' stakes.

  5. Applications - ignoring the binary incompatibility issues already mentioned, Nokia never quite managed to market smartphone applications properly. If they had this aspect right they might just have overcame all the other shortfalls. I was an S60 smartphone user for years because of the potential of the devices (6600, 6680, N80), but Nokia and the other S60 providers never quite realised the potential the way I hoped they would.



[EDIT 21 Jan 2011: And they're still not making the effort. They've got some NFC-enabled handsets and have had for a while (although, bizarrely, not the high-end ones) but they haven't pushed the technology. Now it's being hailed as a major exciting feature in the Nexus-S and (probably) the iPhone4. WHERE ARE YOU NOKIA???]

Worldwide Nokia still has the edge in 2010 but in the US it's a different matter with RIM, Apple and Android well clear of Windows and Symbian, and the worldwide picture is sure to see Nokia lose that position in the not too distant future.

Sad, but true. Here's hoping the appointment a few months ago of ex-Microsoft business exec Stephen Elop to replace former CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (Nokia's first non-Finnish CEO) can have a positive effect on Nokia's rapidly declining smartphone fortunes.

Despite defecting from Nokia after the N80, I am now back again with the excellent N900 Maemo handset. It's the first handset I've ever owned where a year after getting it there still isn't another device I'd rather have, which is quite an achievement. good display, video out (for TVs or projections), hardware keyboard, high quality audio output, Skype/GTalk video calling and VOIP still make it an unparalleled piece of kit.