Webometric Thoughts

February 19, 2008

Free Microsoft Software for Students

Filed under: Microsoft,free software — admin @ 8:35 am

Microsoft are making a number of software products free to students: Visual Studio, Expression Studio,XNA Game Studio 2.0, and Windows Server 2003. You currently need to be a student in either Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK or the US.

This is a winning move for both students and Microsoft. Microsoft creates great software, but it is often out of the price range of many students. This move will prevent the students moving to less user-friendly open source equivalents whilst hopefully getting them hooked on Microsoft products for life.

February 18, 2008

Laptops to come inside cereal boxes!

Filed under: Cloudbook,Eee PC,Elonex One,RM minibook — admin @ 7:42 am

OK, so I am exaggerating, but you do wonder how much cheaper they can get. Hot on the heels of the amazing Eee Pc (aka RM minibook), and the more recent cloudbook, comes news of Britain’s first sub-£100 laptop: the Elonex One (via ASUS Eee News).

It’s the sort of price where people will probably buy one just to see what they are like…I think I may have to buy one.

February 17, 2008

What’s Everyone Twittering About?

Filed under: Twitter,Zipf,tinyurl,webometrics — admin @ 10:09 pm

Whilst I am not personally a big Twitter fan, I am interested in discovering what people are Twittering about and how the posts differ from other forms of communication. With such thoughts in mind I started my first tentative Twitter steps this evening.

Adapting an open source RSS feed reader I set about downloading the public timeline (http://twitter.com/statuses/public_timeline.rss), for which Twitter has no restrictions on the number of requests that you can send. Whilst the original plan was to download an hour’s worth of data for a small pilot investigation, unfortunately I had to stop after about 45 minutes when I received Http 502 Status Code (‘Twitter is down or being upgraded’ rather than ‘exceeded the rate limit’).

The first post that was downloaded was numbered 723435732 (just after 7pm), whilst the last was numbered 723547592 (about 45 mins later). As the last number seems to be superfluous, there were a potential 11,186 posts to be downloaded, of which 6,422 posts were successfully downloaded. Many of the ‘missing posts’ will have been private, whilst others may have been missed due to delays in sending and receiving the RSS feed.

I have not, as yet, had time to do anything more interesting with the collected data than look at the frequency of terms using Text-Stat. So in true informetric style, here is the log-log graph of word frequency in rank-order:

Most noticeable in the frequency data is:
-Over 58% of twitter links are via tinyurl: ‘http’ appeared 588 times, ‘tinyurl’ 343 times.
-Twitterers are generally a polite bunch. The more ‘popular’ swear-words don’t appear that often, in 6,422 posts: shit (11), fuck (6), & cunt (zero). Admittedly a large proportion are not in English and the are a few variations on the words, but nonetheless I probably swear more than all these people in my average email.
-And they are not celeb-obsessed: Britney only gets three mentions, whilst there is no word on mention of Winehouse. Instead they err on the side of the geek: windows (19), Mac (25), iPhone (20).

As the analysis shows, these are early (childish) days. But hopefully I will have the opportunity, later in the week, to create the tools to investigate the data more thoroughly before downloading a larger sample.

February 14, 2008

Web Impact Factors for Blogs

Filed under: web impact factor,webometrics,wif — admin @ 9:52 am

Oh what a tangled web we weave… has just posted an interesting article on the problems of calculating the impact of a blog. In summary: Whilst a web site’s impact has traditionally been measured by dividing the number of inlinks by the number of web pages (the Web Impact Factor), the feed aggregators are having such a disproportionately large effect on the results they are useless. Whilst this is true, this is by no means the only reason for dismissing the use of the traditional WIF in determining the impact that a blog is having.

Other important factors that need to be discussed are:
1. The use of ‘number of pages’ as a denominator.
The number of pages has been used as a denominator to normalise for the size of organisations, whereas in this case it is normalising for the quantity of output as each of the blogs only has one author. Do we want to assess the value of individual posts, or the value of the blog/blogger?
2. The effect of the blogger posting comments on other people’s web sites.
Analysis of the links to my blog from external sites (after dismissing the feed aggregators) would find that I am the author of most of them. Commenting on other people’s blogs often provides a link back to your own blog, although these tend to be to the blog’s homepage rather than a specific post. Do we need to dismiss these links, or do they provide a useful indicator of a blogger’s contribution to the blogosphere?

Any method we use to judge the value of a blog will have its promotors and detractors often depending on how well it portrays their own work. Therefore I think we should stick with the WIF, at least until such time as my own webometric thoughts slip down the table.

nb. as an aside(-ish) I have noticed that for the first time Webometric Thoughts has leapt above both of the other webometricians’ blogs on a Google.com search for ‘webometrics’. Maybe Google rank is the only important indicator as it has such a disproportionately high effect on the success of a web site that all other indicators are now merely a reflection of it.

February 12, 2008

De-friending on Facebook

Filed under: de-friend,defriend,facebook — admin @ 3:57 pm

One of the Facebook issues that is often discussed is the juggling of friends from different spheres. Would you want professional colleagues seeing what you had been up to on a drunken night out? The vicar to see your debauched holiday snaps?

An issue that is often overlooked is whether you really want to know the continuous goings-on of certain people’s lives. Today I finally gave up and de-friended my brother:

Whilst his status could not be seen by any of my friends, and he never felt the need to write inappropriate comments on my wall, a person’s status can slowly drive you mad.

Unfortunately de-friending on Facebook is a rather un-momentous affair. Merely being asked if you are sure you want to go ahead, told you won’t be able to undo it, and told that the person will not be informed. Facebook should allow you to inform the person and provide the reason if you wish. As it was I had to resort to the traditional email to explain my actions. Maybe I should have looked for a de-friending application that offered to send some sort of animated e-card.

Three strikes and pirates will lose their internet connection

Filed under: ISP,UK legislation,wifi — admin @ 9:42 am

It is being widely reported that the UK government is considering requiring internet service providers to take action against people illegalling downloading music and films: email warning, suspension,and then termination of contract. Personally I welcome the move, although I have some reservations about the effect it will have on legal internet activity. The illegal downloading of films is a problem, and potentially a bigger problem than the illegal downloading of music. Whilst music can be produced relatively cheaply by amateurs, the rubbish on YouTube is not going to be making Hollywood quality movies any time soon.

The problem that is most often identified with such legislation is that of ‘piggybacking’, someoneelse using an open wi-fi connection. Whilst this can most often be sorted out by password protecting your wi-fi, some of the systems are not very good and can be easily hacked. The ISPs should have a duty to provide secure wireless encryption before they can suspend or teminate a contract. If they supply a secure system, then we can be expected to utilise it.

I am more concerned about the effect it will have on public wi-fi zones. Those coffee houses and pubs that make wi-fi freely available. Unless such places are excluded from any new laws, any legislation could hold back the growing adoption of certain mobile technologies.

So, if ISPs provide secure wireless encryption and the public wi-fi spots are excluded, I broadly welcome any legislation. It will also force parents to take more interest in what their children are up to online. Whatever they may say, they are rarely doing their homework.

February 11, 2008

Unexpected Traffic: RM minibook

Filed under: Eee PC,Guardian,RM minibook — admin @ 3:23 pm

The last time I had a large spike in my traffic was when I was privileged to receive a link on the BBC’s del.cio.us stream, resulting in a personal record high of 76 unique visitors in a day. Early indications, however, suggest that today may see a new record set as I receive a large number of visitors from Google searches. The reason seems to be a Guardian Unlimited article on the RM minibook.

Unfortunately (for searchers) the Guardian fails to mention the more well known name of the device, the ASUS Eee PC. As such there are middle-class lefties all over the country tripping across my blog rather than finding the more useful reviews.

So, a word of advice:
If searching for information on the RM minibook, also search for ‘Eee PC’
Then go out and buy one.

***A little update
The Guardian continue to post (this time on their blog)without mentioning that it is also called an Eee PC. Just one extra line would make it so much simpler for their readers.

February 9, 2008

Where is the truly addictive web site?

Filed under: addiction,web — admin @ 4:54 pm

I am finding myself increasingly bored with the web, whilst this may not be a problem for most people, my job is basically researching things I find interesting on the web. No interest, no research, no job.

The problem is that I have failed to find a web site that has me truly addicted. Whilst some sites have become endemic in my online behaviour (e.g., Google), they don’t particular provide me with any enjoyment. Where is the site that can give me a hit of enjoyment every time and that makes me want to return again and again with increasing regularity?

Some sites have provided me with an initial buzz, but have soon become tiresome (e.g., Facebook), whilst others are like classic comedies that you happily sit through with a faded reflection of enjoyment (e.g., JT’s blocks).

What I want is multimedia-fest that streams everything I want to my screen with minimal involvement. I am fed up with clicking amongst the crap.

February 6, 2008

Joiku and the Eee PC (RM Minibook)

Filed under: Asus,Eee PC,Joiku,JoikuSpot,N95,s60 — admin @ 12:08 pm

I don’t usually get my S60 news from GigaOm, but they have highlighted a potentially useful application that can turn the N95 (or other phone with the S60 operating system) into a wireless hotspot: Joiku. It is VERY important to take into consideration the data package that your phone comes with before adding it, and unfortunately it doesn’t come with any security, so once your phone’s a hotspot, anyone can connect to it!

As the Eee PC doesn’t come with bluetooth, there may be occassions when you want to access the web and don’t have the required wire, and therefore Joiku seems a useful solution. You will, however, need to change the wireless connection settings so the mode is ‘ad-hoc’ rather than ‘auto’ for the connection to be enabled, and even then I found trouble getting the computer to connect. It automatically loads the joikuspot.com homepage first, and I found this took AGES!

Whether the problems I encountered are due to something I am doing wrong, or a problem at Joiku’s end I don’t know, but if it gets sorted it will definately find a permanent place on my phone.

February 5, 2008

Reflections on Google’s Share Price

Filed under: Google,Microsoft,Yahoo,share price — admin @ 9:55 am

A posting by TechCrunch has caused me to reflect once more on Google’s share price. I have posted on the Google Share price twice previously:
- How quickly could Google stock crash? (when they crossed the $600 mark at the beginning of October)
- Google shares at $700 (at the end of October)
Whilst I initially said that I would (theoretically) sell at $700 and never look back, the rapid growth made me think it would probably be worth hanging around for the $1,000. My first instincts, however, were correct, reminding us once more of the dangers of being too greedy on the stock exchange. Now, with Google shares falling rapidly to $495 the question on everyones lips is how much further will they fall?

Whilst Google shares have lost a third of their value they are only back to their August value. The rapid rise can be seen as a momentary aberration, any big downturn in the economy is yet to show in the share price. So my latest Google share prediction:
The shares will bob around the $500 mark until Microsoft’s buyout of Yahoo is confirmed, at which point it was drop down to the $450 mark (possibly even as low as $400. Extremely slow growth, or even recession in the US will then see shares fall to $350.
What can Google do? Buying Yahoo would be seen as desperation, and I doubt they could match Microsoft’s offer. Basically they have to just keep doing what they are doing and hope that more people don’t start questioning whether or not they are living up to ‘do no evil’. Personally I find myself slowly breaking the Google spell and typing ask.com more often.

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