Thursday, November 12, 2009

Here's Wavin' at you Kid!

Thanks to Foamcow, the only real web developer I know, I got an invite for a Google Wave account.

Rubbing my hands with glee, I signed in. And then what?

Pete was the only listed contact, and he's far too busy working and tweeting to indulge in a spot of Google waving.

Happily, one of my Omani contacts saw my plea on Twitter and added me. She, Deepak and I got seriously stuck into a Wave conversation. Goodness me, how quickly the wave scrolled. We added maps and videos and ended up knowing each other somewhat better, but I haven't seen them on Wave since. Probably because the conversation could be carried out as effectively using Twitter or Live Messenger.

There's quite a Twitter community in Oman, and the majority have protected their tweets. There may be a feeling that Wave is not as 'protected.' Oman has only one ISP at present, Omantel, which is heavily censored. Neither can you be sure that the security services are not reading what you're writing. The filter even bans gmail from time to time.

Does everyone have to be online at the same time to participate in a Wave? Tweeting is more independent. You can pick up a tweet and reply when it suits you, rather than being constrained to follow a conversation in real time.

My five 'wavers' never seem to be online. So that avenue of enquiry has expired.

I have yet to work out how to incorporate Twitter and Facebook into Wave as Mashable suggested.

I had had an idea of how I might use Wave with my toastmasters group. I have to build a mini-website to inform my co-members about developments in a topic that I'm to present as the last project in the Technical Presentations manual. I thought Wave might be a suitable way of bringing people up to speed, particularly as I could use Wave to build a wiki, load photos, documents, maps etc.

Some hope. The club members won't even sign up for Google email accounts so that we could share Google Calendar and Google Docs. And if they don't have a Google account, there's no way they can be offered a Wave account in the future.

Enter the Google Wave cheat sheet. and a welcome clue. If you enter with:public in the search box, you see what everyone else is waving about.

Whoaaaaaaaah! An endlessly scrolling list of Waves that disappear out of the window in less than 3 seconds, most of which look as if they're junk. Too many Waves offering to check if your link works. That looks like spam. Honestly, it was disheartening.

I did follow two Waves. One on learning Swedish, since I did work in Stockholm as an au pair between 1969 to 1970 and learnt a bit of Swedish, and another for women in social marketing.

Love and bless them, the Google engineers have created something, essentially, because they can. We proto-Wavers are the sandbox. How many of us will survive the evolution of Wave?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lovin' my iPodTouch

Last week, a study showed that the British valued their communications tools more than holidays and buying clothes. Only buying groceries, toiletries and cosmetics rated higher than having a phone at home and a broadband subscription.

Mobile subscriptions were also deemed to be essential, rather than desirable. Only 19% of respondents put mobile subscriptions 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a list of items they would cut down on in the recession.

Now I happen to think that mobile phone charges in UK are extortionate. No wonder mobile phone companies appear to be doing so well. I, for one, would not countenance paying £40 a month for 24 months, just to get an all-singing, all-dancing phone such as the Nokia n97, which will be out of date by the end of the contract, irrespective of the generous allowance of minutes.

I just don't talk on mobile phones that much. Having said that, I managed to exhaust my humble £12 a month tariff in only one week whilst I was stuck in hospital in July. I haven't used the mobile since, and won't until the new monthly allowance of minutes becomes available. There are other ways of contacting people.

I did look at that £40 a month contract, I must admit. The Nokia n97 is an exceedingly powerful pocket machine with 32Gb memory and a 5 megapixel camera. But my new Nokia 6220 has a 5 megapixel camera too, and I have a little netbook which is easy to carry around and easy to use for someone of my ilk with arthritic fingers.

What finally turned me off the n97 was that the mobile operator would not carry Skype. I could have bought the phone and gone with a SIM from 3mobile, but I'm wary of 3 after I had to get REALLY angry when the call centre simply refused to let me not renew my contract. I gather I'm not the only one. I had to let off steam by writing to head office. They haven't replied.

I suppose the carrier might not be able to do anything about using Skype on the Nokia n97 when it's connected to wifi, but I didn't want to pay all that money just to find out.

Quite by chance, I discovered that Apple's iPodTouch 2nd generation enables web browsing, and Skype, when it connects to a wi-fi connection.

Reader, I bought one. Not new, mind you, but a refurbished model offered on the Amazon website. I wanted to find out what it would be like before committing to expensive mobile technology which I might not be able to use.

What is there not to like about the design of Apple products? Sleek, slim, futuristic, even holding the ipodTouch gives one a vicarious thrill. The screen resolution is brilliant.

I still have a problem with the keyboard. I can't imagine typing in emails other than one-fingered and slowly, and it's easy to hit the wrong button, which holds things up even more. Perhaps someone has made an app which provides a virtual keyboard on the desk. I shall have to find out.

So at the moment, my new gadget is a gimmick. I haven't found a wifi network I can connect to yet, other than at home, which rather defeats the object. I want to be Skype-able on the move.

But I've just checked back with FON and discovered numerous BTFon connecton points which should make life rather easier. This was what I was hoping for almost two years ago when I wrote about BT and FON teaming up. Check out BTFon and what it offers.

I've even found directions on how to connect to a BTfon hub on the ipodTouch. So there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm digitally distinct! Sort of.

Trawling through Google Reader, I found a blog post preening of being Digitally Distinct, thanks to the Online ID Calculator.

The Online ID Calculator reckons it can assess how distinctive you are on the net. More specifically, how well does Google recognise you? Because, if Google hasn't a clue who you are, you're not going to show up in its search results.

Canny, really. You part with some personal information, answer some questions about the number of valid results that Google returns about you, and hey presto, the calculator shows your position on a graph.

The graph plots volume of results on the y axis against relevance of results on the x axis. There are four quadrants.

High volume + low relevance = Digitally Disastrous
Low volume + low relevance = Digitally Dissed
Low volume + high relevance = Digitally Dabbling
High volume + high relevance = Digitally Distinct

And you get a nice little badge which you can post on your website, if you choose. But I guess only the Digitally Distinct WOULD choose to do that. I mean, would you tell the world you were Digitally Disastrous?

The calculator has been devised by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson, who are partners in Reach, an online personal branding club.

While your data may be protected, the terms and conditions suggest that the statistics may be used to devise a personal branding model and could be used as part of a database in the writing of a book on the subject.

Why could the Online ID Calculator be instructive? If you look for yourself on the net, you can bet your bottom dollar that people like recruiters or potential business partners will be looking too.

How do you want your personal brand to come across? What would you want people to find out about you?

I too can now display the little red rectangle. But I did learn something. In my quest to be a world acknowledged expert, I need to focus more on getting a higher volume of relevant results. I'm just a little too near the Digitally Dabbling quadrant for my liking.

I am digitally distinct! Visit

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Open Source resources to liberate libraries, enabling users to share - Web2.0 style

This SlideShare Presentation from Richard Wallis of Talis, a library system producer, suggests how Jangle and Juice can enable libraries to tap into resources on the web. Library users will be able to find many alternative resources when they're seeking information about books and authors. Since there's no sound, I can't actually tell you a lot more.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inventive ideas for using twitter - stock feeds and alternative websites

The trouble with web pages is that they stick right there on the net. You revisit a website and nothing seems to have changed. Except maybe for the blog. SEO advice is to maintain a blog so that Google will be constantly challenged by your addition of new content.

I have three main blogs, plus two or three others on the side. Often, I don't have the time to think through what to write. Sometimes, I'm just not inspired.

Hey ho twitter, although I conclude many of my days having to admit that I haven't had a single, brilliant, original idea to share with the twittersphere.

I love the interaction on twitter. I pick up stories and useful links to tips. I can ask questions. I can reply to questions. It doesn't really take up that much of my time. Tweetdeck runs quietly in the background (I turned off the sound alerts) while Twhirl also enables me to post and monitor content as well as upload a twitpic.

I'm not a mobile net user, because I spend so much time in front of a computer, that I want to get away from it while I'm out. There are other things in life.

But I was impressed by a twitter use that was tweeted today. An article in today's Washington Post describes how you can set up your Twitter account to follow market news. Surely better than having to download a desktop ticker. And you would be able to follow your customised twitter stream on your net enabled mobile.

It had to happen. I came across the profile of someone else who has revised the home page of his website to consist entirely of his twitter updates. Too busy, one presumes, to write something truly rational or descriptive about his life and work. So far, it details travels to meetings in exotic locations.

I'm always wary of people who list meetings as their principal activity. There is precious little evidence of anything useful coming out of meetings. All those summits that statesmen go to? The discussions have been held in advance by subordinate ministers and officials who phrase the final communique. If no-one is present at a meeting to minute its content, who knows if there is an effective outcome?

Mind you, I was wondering how to incorporate a FriendFeed page into my website yesterday. I haven't sorted it out yet, but Facebook friends will be able to click the appropriate tab in my profile.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Using Google to advertise your Twitter feed

Google is allowing Adsense users to define ads marketing their Twitter profiles. Instead of being directed to a specific web page selling a product, the ad clicker ends up at the advertiser's Twitter profile.

Apparently Intuit has spent a pile this way, promoting their TurboTax software. TurboTax spokeswoman, Colleen Gatlin, said that using Twitter humanises the company's interaction with potential customers. As well as being able to answer customer questions about the product quickly, it also gets customer feedback via Twitter.

I wonder if Intuit will publish the results of this advertising campaign as opposed to more traditional approaches.

Intuit's marketing department is analysing the results. As the marketing director says, it's not just the customers who subscribe directly who are the target, but their followers.

The same article also mentions newly launched Tinker. Tinker aggregates conversations from Facebook and Twitter relevant to 'event streams.' Oh and by the way, there'll be associated advertising.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

WiMax in Libya

Libya is launching its first commercial WiMax service next week. It will serve 300,000 customers and have a mobile component.

While reasonably priced by British standards, the cost is likely to be rather more than the average Libyan can afford, at least for now.

Apparently, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria already have limited networks.

WiMax does not depend on wired infrastructure, which, frankly, simply does not exist in Africa. All you will need is a USB dongle to plug into your laptop, providing you're within 50km of a WiMax tower. Ultimately, this will be a very cost-effective communications solution.

I was enthusing about WiMax over a year ago. I was looking forward to its arrival in UK, hoping that it would make it a lot easier and cheaper to use VoIP.

I guess vested interests have squashed that one. We're still in the era of mobile 3G - which does not work everywhere. 3, take note. There is no way that I can depend on your mobile broadband,

FON seems to have stymied. BTInternet, which was supposed to have partnered with FON to provide local wireless networks, doesn't seem to advertise it.

I've even become disillusioned with Skype. My Skype telephone number will expire within the month. Why am I not renewing? Voice quality was atrocious when I picked up calls on my laptop, even if reception was very clear when the call was diverted to voicemail.

Whether that's down to Skype, or the sound settings on my computer, I can't be sure. I had intended my Skype phone number to be my business number. When it came down to it, it didn't work. While you may forgive dropped calls and poor sound quality at a personal level and try to dial again, it's not at all acceptable for business purposes.

All the best to Libya in its new telecommunications era. I was in Libya in 1977 and I remember what it was like!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To Twitter, or not to Twitter? And THAT inauguration

Do you use Twitter? I bet anyone reading this would know that it's THE micro-blogging service. What's more, it forces you to read what other people write rather than putting it off to another day.

I only follow 60 people. 72 poor souls have opted to follow me. Twitter cognoscenti aim for thousands of followers, which rather makes me think they're following the 'stack it high and sell it low' principle. Establishing a global reputation as an expert of sorts.

The online marketers are the worst. Floods of tweets hog the timeline, often with @ responses to people who I don't know and don't know what question they asked and probably wouldn't want to know anyway.

I hate the hashtags and text-type language. If it were about usability and accessibility, some twitterers would fail immediately. The main protagonists are trying to build their own corporate profiles so that they can convince companies that they are the Twitter 'experts.' I wonder how much money I could charge per day to show other people how to use Twitter for marketing?

But then there are many positive benefits to being a Twitterer. I get some very good tips simply by following people who link to new information resources and techniques. I've also been following a friend of my son who is travelling the States and was in D.C. for President Obama's inauguration. I asked him to bring me an inauguration souvenir.

Just this morning, Karen Blakeman twittered about a Wordle analysing the words used in Obama's inauguration speech.

I'd love to reproduce it here, but Blogger won't let me insert the code. Here's the link to Wordle: Obama Inauguration Speech.

What's a Wordle? An online graphical representation of the emphasis given to words on a web page. It's useful for keyword discovery.

And if you'd like to watch the speech all over again and read the transcript, then this BBC page preserves the inauguration for posterity. There's even a glimpse of the Wordle!