Webometric Thoughts

June 26, 2008

Eee 901 finally spotted for sale!

Filed under: Eee PC 901,RM minibook — admin @ 10:07 am

Looking through ASUS’s official sellers, I still expected to find the Eee 901 missing in action (as I did last week). However, whilst it is yet to appear on most sites, it is now available to order from Laptopsdirect.co.uk and Clove Technology.

Whilst Clove currently says that it will be available in late July, Laptops Direct say that stock is available in 2-7 days.

After my girlfriend’s trouble ordering the Eee 900, you would have thought she would be quick off the mark…unfortunately not.

June 25, 2008

iPlayer 2.0 – a long way to go

Filed under: 4OD,BBC,ITV,Kangaroo,video — admin @ 4:54 pm

On the same day that the BBC announce tomorrow’s launch of version 2 of the iPlayer, comScore release some details of where UK internet viewers are watching their videos. Despite all the whinging from the ISPs, the BBC is a distant second to Google’s collection of video sites, both in terms of the number of videos watched and the number of unique users, unfortunately they don’t compare the number of hours watched (the BBC programmes are likely to be a lot longer…and in the whinging ISPs defense, higher quality).

What is particularly interesting is that neither 4OD or ITV’s catch up service even make it on the top ten list. Reiterating the point I made when the BBC were criticised for over-spending on their online services: The BBC is not competing with commercial UK companies. Rather than criticising the BBCs spending, other content providers should be looking for ways of working with the BBC. Whilst the elusive project Kangaroo will help create an online presence for the traditional TV viewer, it is probably not enough.

People have changed the way they watch video, they are now seemingly watching shorter videos as they click through sites like YouTube. The traditional providers need to find ways of getting part of that market. Whilst attempts are made to make short clips available, it tends to be with a top-down approach, rather than giving the users the free reign that they want. Obviously such free reign is difficult as the BBC, Channel 4, and ITV work within copyright rules, whereas YouTube takes a more laissez-faire approach.

Its obviously not all doom and gloom for the traditional video providers. The iPlayer is still relatively new, Kangaroo will put a bit of bounce in the figures, and as the TV is replaced by computer entertainment systems people will probably start watching longer programmes again. Nonetheless, before the UK tv stations fall further behind, they need to start thinking outside the box a bit more :-)

June 19, 2008

Eee 901: Has the UK launch been delayed?

Filed under: Asus,Eee PC 901,launch date — admin @ 7:37 am

Supposedly the UK launch date for the Eee PC 901 was July 1st, but with less than two weeks to go and no sign of it being available for pre-order I am beginning to wonder.

This morning I made a point of looking on the sites of all the Eee PC UK suppliers ASUS mentions on their web site (http://www.asus-uk.com/eeepc/about/), but not one of them has the Eee PC 901 listed yet. I even looked on RM.com, where I got my original Eee PC. Nothing.

In comparison the slightly delayed MSI Wind is sitting there waiting to be ordered, and will be delivered on June 30th.

If I manage to get an Eee PC 901 delivered on the 1st July I will be very surprised.

Updated: 25/06/08 Finally spotted for sale.

June 18, 2008

UK to Map Crime

Filed under: UK,crime,mashups — admin @ 6:59 pm

Good old Gordon has announced that online maps with crimes plotted on them every month are set to be introduced in England and Wales. Whilst it will help to counter the right-wing-press’s claim that we are all about to be stabbed by hoodies the moment we step out the door, it needs to be done properly. We want access to the data, not just ‘online maps’.

A report last year called for the government to open up public data for the brave new web 2.0 world, whereas online maps sounds extremely web 1.0. Giving us the data gives us the opportunity to put together the maps people will want to see:
-house prices and burglary
-bars and assaults
-public art and graffiti (well I would be interested…)
I don’t want access to a criminal’s or victim’s personal details, or end up with some Megan’s law mashup, but I do want more than ‘online maps’.

Missing Medical Records

Filed under: data protection,medical records — admin @ 9:56 am

Whilst there have been some extremely large scale losses of personal data, such as the 25 million child benefit records last year, personally I haven’t worried too much, often the details are things we are happy to share with people anyway. Today, however, notice of the susceptibility of my data to the criminal elements dropped onto my door mat. A burgarly at the home of a doctor from my local practice included the theft of a laptop with all my medical details…unencrypted!

The loss of most details wouldn’t particularly bother me, medical records, however, are particularly personal. Whilst I don’t particularly want anyone reading my medical records, I am lucky in that my records will consist primarily of comments about my hypercondria, my childhood addiction to verrucas, and the strange rash I had from the age of 11 to 15…not exactly blackmail material.

Others, however, are likely to have things on their record that they may not even want to share with their partner. That the laptop “appears to have been stolen for its re-sale value, rather than for any information stored upon it”, is unlikely to do much to calm their fears.

Reports in the past have said that doctors will shun a national medical database because it will put our records at risk. Our records are already at risk, but maybe a national database would at least ensure that the data was encrypted.

Update: I am 1/11,000th of a BBC story.

June 16, 2008

A culture of plagiarism?

Filed under: plagiarism — admin @ 1:36 pm

As someone who has never been tempted to plagiarize anything, I have always been surprised by the prevalence of plagiarism in academia. It seems that students do it, academics do it, and now even media doctors do it. The BBC has reported that Raj Persaud, of This Morning fame, has admitted plagiarizing for a book and articles published under his name. Whilst plagiarism has always struck me as stupid, it seems particularly stupid for someone in the public eye and whose profession is based so much on trust.

If public recognition is going to continue being the primary reward of public science, then academia needs to be seen to punish plagiarism:Students should be thrown out, staff should be sacked, and qualifications revoked. Unfortunately public flogging is seen as old fashioned these days, and I can’t imagine masses of students being thrown out for cheating. The alternative, however, is far more radical: a move towards the wikification of science, and the loss of public recognition for the individual. Personally I am not convinced that academics would do half as much work if you took vanity out of the equation.

June 14, 2008

Eee 901…just in time

Filed under: Eee PC 901,mini laptops — admin @ 10:34 am

Finally the UK launch date of the Eee 901 was announced yesterday: 1st July, £319. Curiously yesterday was the date that RM had said they would deliver my girlfriend’s Eee 900 order, so I am pleased we canceled it as the quick launch of the Eee 901 would have definitely put a downer on the day.

The quick launch has also probably saved Asus one sale, as I had started to look at some of the numerous other mini-laptops available:
Acer’s Aspire One
Dell’s Mini Inspiron
MSI Wind Notebook
Without getting to spend a week with each of the laptops, it is difficult to see how people will choose between the options that are now available. The biggest concern with mini laptops is generally the keyboard, but you can’t really tell which you will prefer from reading the laptops spec online.

Update: 25/06/08 Eee 901 finally available to order

June 12, 2008

Image Copyright on the Web

Filed under: Google Analytics,Google Images,copyright — admin @ 8:58 am

I am unashamedly addicted to Google Analytics. If I am not looking at the number of visitors, I am investigating where they are coming from, and for Webometric Thoughts, many of them are coming from Google Images. I have had visits from 53 different country-specific Google Image search engines, and a little probing finds it is probably driven (bizarrely) by photos of me in different t-shirts! Whilst I found I am the top result for both‘blog t shirt’ and ‘qr t shirt’ (as well as appearing in the results for similar queries), I was surprised to find that other people have used my image on their blogs!

Along with the rest of the blogosphere, my blog does occasionally use other people’s images to illustrate a point. Personally I am never sure whether it is better to embed the image, thus using the other person’s bandwidth, or to copy the photo to my server. Whilst embedding the photo is less likely to be a breach of copyright, copying the photo seems to be the politer option.

But really people, are photos of me really the best illustration you can find??

June 11, 2008

Blogging is far from dead

Filed under: Hitwise,blogosphere — admin @ 7:55 am

When I started ‘Webometric Thoughts’, almost ten months ago, there was a lot of talk about the death of the blogosphere in favour of the newer (and shinier) social networks and microblogging. Hitwise figures, however, show that far from dead traffic to blogs and personal websites is at an all time high (in the UK at least): Blogs and personal websites account for 1.19% of all UK traffic.

The new high is particularly impressive as it shows traffic to blogs and personal web sites rebounding from a dramatic fall during the first three quarters of 2007, from just over 0.8% of the traffic in January down to just over 0.4% of the traffic in August. It was August that I started to blog, and the blogosphere was unsurprisingly discussing its own demise.

Whilst the blogosphere has weathered the storm of social networks, and is in a stronger position to weather the possible coming storm of microblogging (if Twitter ever gets its act together), the statistics give no insights into why there has been an increase. Have blogs and personal web sites responded to falling traffic by improving the quality of their sites? Is it a greater emphasis on blogs by the big players (e.g., Windows Live Spaces & MySpace Blog)? Or is it all the result of small changes in the Google algorithm promoting the heavily interlinked blogs?

Whatever the reason, blogs and web sites will need to improve if the recent traffic increases are to continue, probably including aspects of social networks and microblogging, as well as technologies not yet thought of. Hopefully, however, blogs will continue to be primarily independent affairs that are not too reliant on the whims of the big organisations.

June 10, 2008

Is the web linguistically on the left or right?

I am currently in the middle of reading David Crystal’s (2006) ‘Language and the Internet’, an interesting book that, when it started mentioning style guides, got me wondering about whether style guides could be used to determine whether the UK web space was politically on the left, or on the right. The leading broadsheets from both sides of the political debate have publicly available style guides (i.e., The Telegraph and The Guardian), and the differences could be used for the basis of such a linguistic-webometric investigation.

My personal favourite style guide section is The Telegraph’s Banned Words. Whilst the banning of terms such as ‘Europhobe’ have obvious political motivations, you have to wonder whether it was really necessary to explicitly ban referring to ‘perverted Scout leaders’ (Whilst Google Trends does not show the phrase to be endemic, that may be because of the Telegraph’s quick action). It is interesting to note, however, that despite the Telegraph’s authoritarian values, they seem seem to be very lax with their own language, the supposedly banned ‘mass exodus’ was used only a few days ago. Surely there will be letters to the editor!

Unfortunately these days search engines try to be helpful, and ignore many of the differences. For example, ‘Yahoo’ and ‘Yahoo!’ are both treated as the same, when any fool would know that the exclamation mark reflects the searching for more conservative opinions on the search engine. It would be nice to be able to turn a search engine’s ‘helpful’ features off occasionally.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress