In Tuesday’s post I stated: “I am thinking about O2′s Xda Serra“. No-one who knows me will be surprised to know I went out first thing yesterday and bought one:
First impressions were generally positive. Whilst I liked the touch screen, I was extremely grateful that there was a QWERTY keyboard; the inexactness of my stubby fingers would have soon led me to behanding myself! In no time I found myself happily using the keyboard, stylus, and my fingers all at the same time. I also enjoyed the benefits of a Windows operating system: the simple access to my email account of choice (i.e., hotmail), and the included mobile Office suite.
Then I spotted the downside. A rather large downside that led me to curse the phone, O2, the 18 month contract, and the time I wasted trying to sort it out. Basically, unlike my sturdy N95, there is no simple way to stop programs using the GPRS/HSPDA network for a data connection. Whilst this theoretically provides a seamless browsing experience, personally I’d rather know the data connection was definitely through WiFi.
O2 have an extremely old-fashioned view of unlimited mobile web use: “A fair use of 200MB per month applies to the O2 Web Bolt On”…not forgetting that you are not allowed “the continuous streaming of any audio / video content, enable Voice over Internet (Voip), P2P or file sharing.” Whilst these particular rules don’t seem to be confirmed in the forums, where users seem to think they will only be enforced if people get carried away, one likes to err on the side of caution.
According to my contract there is a “14 day Change Your Mind Policy”, but what can I change to. There is nothing else out there!
With my T-mobile contract finally finishing yesterday, I am now looking for a new phone. However, despite having my N95 for 18 months, there is no obvious replacement.
Although there are Nokia phones with slight improvements, such as the N96 (or even the N95 8Gb), the improvements are not sufficient to persuade me to sign up for another 18 month contract. It is therefore necessary to look further afield, and at the moment I am thinking about O2′s Xda Serra (a branded HTC Touch Pro):
Although it includes my main two requirements (i.e., touchscreen and qwerty keyboard), will I later regret not waiting for the N97? I have no way of knowing whether the N97 will be worth it, or whether it will even be in my price range. And at which point do you stop waiting? There is always a better phone just over the horizon!
Any comments or phone suggestions are welcome…although iPhone suggestions will fall on deaf ears.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a brilliant way for researchers (as well as commercial developers) to use the data of the big web organisations in new and innovative ways in a controlled and ethical manner. Whilst there are usually limitations, we find ways of working within the boundaries we are set. What is annoying, however, is if you find that the service isn’t being particularly honest about the boundaries. This post’s wrath is aimed at Flickr’s API.
Whilst many API services will limit the number of results you can view, this is usually clearly set out in the documentation. For example, most search engines only allow you to view the first thousand results. Flickr however allows you to keep calling results, only to start sending back repeated pages of results for anything over 4,500. This can be clearly seen in the two pictures below from the Flickr API Explorer for flickr.photos.search. The first shows a partial screenshot of the results for the ninth page of 500 results for the tag ‘web’:
The second shows a partial screenshot of the results for the tenth page of 500 results for the tag ‘web’:
Basically the same results with a different page number.
I wouldn’t mind the restrictions if they were clear. Whilst it may be stated in the small print somewhere, which I still haven’t seen, why would you send the same data again and again and claim it as different pages of results? It is still possible to collect all the results by using some of the other arguments, e.g., min and max upload dates, it just means that I had to waste numerous hours collecting data again when the problem came to light. Flickr now owes me one Saturday.
This serves as a useful reminder to all web researchers: Make sure the API is giving you the data it is claiming to give you.
On Thursday I got a letter from T-mobile, complaining about my mobile interenet usage in December:
Basically, in December, I used 7.7Gb of data, rather than the fair use amount of 3Gb.
Should you continue to use more than your fair use amount between 1st January 2009 and 31st January 2009 we will have to reduce your connection speed to 64Kbps…
Whilst T-Mobile are perfectly within their rights, it would probably be in their interests to try and improve their customer service attitude:
1) A look at my data usage over the previous 17 months of the contract would have shown the high usage to be anomally (due to moving house) rather than the norm, and as I regularly have a £100 of my monthly call and text allowance left over you’d think they would be a bit more leniant.
2) If I had continued to use data at the December rate, then telling me on January 22nd would have been too late to prevent me going over their limit in January; thus forcing me to be reduced to 64Kbps.
…and most importantly:
3) My 18 month phone contract ends this week. This letter doesn’t persuade me to sign-up with T-mobile for another contract.
It has been over a week since my last blog post, the reason being I don’t seem to have stopped for a moment. I’ve had to work on conference papers, maths coursework, attend a webometrics workshop, cross the country to meet with some bibliometricians, and on top of everything move office! More specifically move to Wolverhampton’s Molineux Stadium, where the university has some office space in the side of one of the stands. With Wolverhampton currently top of the Championship, promotion to the Premier League next season is a definite possibility, which would probably make me one of the only non-sports bloggers blogging from a Premier League club.
One downside of the move is that there will be far less chance to catch up on work on a Tuesday evening; I doubt very much whether 20,000 Wolverhampton fans will welcome my wandering onto the pitch and requesting they keep the noise down as I have a webometrics paper to write. Personally, I think the least they could do is offer me a seat in the director’s box when Norwich City come to town on the February 3rd.
After forgetting all about server-side programming since first attempting it back in September, I decided to have another go, more specifically using Yahoo BOSS. Yahoo BOSS allows you to send unlimited queries to the Yahoo database; a great tool for a webometrician, if only I could program. Anyway, whilst knocking up a VERY basic search interface:
…it occurred to me that successfully building a search engine into your site is potentially a good way of building traffic. Every time I visit a site from my new search page it will register in the site analytics of the page that I visit that a link has been followed from my web site, a fact that will also be advertised on the increasing number of pages that include a Feedjit-like widget. If people are half as obsessed by their analytics as I am, it is sure to increase traffic.
nb. The ‘search engine’ is very much a work in progress…
A couple of days ago TechCrunch posted about Just Leap In, another browser-based virtual world.
After playing about with it for a couple of hours I have come to the conclusion that it is pretty rubbish. Whilst, unlike Google’s defunct Lively, you can embed videos and pictures in your room (notice the beautiful picture of my pen), it still suffers from limited customization of objects and avatars, and is room-based rather than world-based. If Google couldn’t make this sort of product work, how will ‘Just Leap In’ succeed…they can’t even come up with a decent name! The site doesn’t seem to offer anything particularly innovative.
I always seem to like the idea of virtual worlds more than the reality of virtual worlds. Whilst a 3d web may seem like a natural extension of the current web to many, and undoubtedly has csome useful applications, the truth is that many things work better in the flat-document format and most people don’t need a 3d web upgrade. Obviously this opinion is waiting to be blown out of the water by a killer-3d-app that everyone will want to have; I’m just not seeing it yet, and every time I see another run of the mill 3d site I become a little more disillusioned.
There was a very interesting post over at Royal Pingdom about trends in current web terminology using data collected from Google’s Insights for Search (I mentioned it in my webometrics reddit but I don’t know how many of my blog readers also follow that). What I found most interesting was the slight decline of both “web 3.0″ and the “semantic web”, terms which are often used synonymously. It is also interesting to note, from looking at Google Insights for Search myself, that “Web 5.0″ is a term on the rise (albeit from a very low starting point):
Could it be that the premature discussion of “Web 3.0″, “Semantic web”, and the over marketing of “Web 2.0″ has led to it all being labelled as hype by the public? It remains to be seen what effect it will have on future funding and marketing of the next generation of web services.
As for “Web 5.0″, I still think it was described best by Stuart(2007). I have already started to forget most of what I know in case they charge per terabyte of data we need to upload.
According to the BBC:
From March all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will by law have to keep information about every e-mail sent or received in the UK for a year
Whilst I have yet to see the annoying cry of “Nineteen-eighty-four” appear all over the blogosphere, I’m sure it will by the end of the day. What intrigues me is how it will work, especially regarding web-mail accounts. Surely if I use a web-based email account somewhere outside the UK (or most probably the EU), and emailed people whose accounts are also outside the UK, then no ISP would be under any obligation to store the data.
Email is increasingly being replaced by other forms of communication, so if you really wanted to contact certain well-known unsavoury characters without the government finding out just instant message them.