Webometric Thoughts

March 28, 2008

Coding for the Eee PC

Filed under: BBC,BBC Micro,Eee PC,RM minibook — admin @ 2:18 pm

The Register notes that Asus have just released a Software Development Kit for the Eee PC. A cheap, widely available personal computer which can be easily programmed: Will the Eee PC be this generation’s BBC micro?

The SDK is a welcome addition to the Eee PC, although it will mean that I have to learn another new language as it supports C and C++, but hopefully it will encourage a future generation of programmers in the same way the BBC Micro did. In fact it should be more encouraging, this time you don’t have to be locked away programming in a room on your own, you can sit around in the park sharing code with your friends. Maybe the BBC could get involved this time with some nice ‘how to program your Eee PC’ television programmes :-)

March 19, 2008

Who is going to deliver the news tomorrow?

Filed under: BBC,citizen journalism,newspapers — admin @ 9:25 am

One of the many web topics that is of interest to me is the delivery and sharing of news on the web. Despite the rhetoric of the blogosphere I have never been persuaded that traditional journalism can be successfully replaced by so-called citizen journalism, for the most part the blogosphere highlights, and puts their own opinions on, news stories coming from traditional sources. Whilst I have always cast a cynical eye on the traditional media, I must admit that I didn’t quite realise how far journalism had gone in the cutting of corners and trimming of budgets. After finishing Nick Davies’ “Flat Earth News“, you can only conclude that news is up the proverbial creek.

Even the great BBC, which brought my attention to the book in the first place, is not immune to criticism. Can correspondents really do their job properly as they constantly jump between tv stations, radio, and the web?

At a time when the market is clearly not up to the job, surely it is time we should be emphasising the Beeb’s public service credentials rather than trying to force it into playing by the market rules. Surely there should be a campaign out there to increase the licence fee.

March 10, 2008

Not all links are equal!

Filed under: BBC,link analysis,webometrics — admin @ 9:45 pm

Thanks to a single link on the BBC’s delicious roll on Saturday night, yesterday saw Webometric Thoughts get its highest number of hits ever. Whilst for many sites 121 absolute unique visitors in a day (according to Google analytics) wouldn’t be worthy of note, the webometric blogging community have fairly low aspirations.

What is interesting, from the perspective of a Google Analytics junkie, is the difference between the amount of traffic this link drove in comparison to a similar on the BBC’s delicious roll on the 16th January. Whilst the January link only drove 17 unique users to my site, Saturday’s link drove 102 users over a three day period!

Was the extra traffic all due to the extra time the link was visible on the BBC? It was visible a lot longer, but weekend traffic is often slower. Or was it the topic of the posts? The first was about ISPs, whilst the second was about the iPhone. It seems equally likely that the difference in the traffic is due to the link’s anchor text. Whereas the first text referred to ‘David Stuart research fellow’, the second link merely referenced the blog ‘Webometric Thoughts’ (AC seems to have done much more digging than NR).

Not all links are equal, however equal they may seem.

March 8, 2008

iPlayer on the iPhone: Does the BBC believe the hype?

Filed under: BBC,iPlayer,iphone — admin @ 8:22 pm

I am probably the world’s biggest BBC fan, and think they have made some great moves on the internet, especially with the rolling out of the iPlayer. But now they have managed to annoy me. Just catching up on my RSS feeds, and found that yesterday the iPlayer became accessible on the iPhone. Whilst I look forward to the BBC rolling out on mobile devices, choosing the iPhone first is just annoying.

I appreciate that they have to roll the services out across the different systems one at a time, but I don’t understand why they chose the iPhone over the S60 based devices, specifically the N95 which would have made the service available to many more times the customers. It is not a repeat of the Linux/Apple/Windows debate as Windows was always the dominant platform. The iPhone is only the dominant device in the minds of certain sections of the blogosphere.

“We started with iPhone because it is the device most optimised for high quality video currently available”…seems a pretty lame excuse to me, especially as the N95 would have allowed for true mobile viewing as it could utilise 3G rather than being limited to Wi-Fi.

Obviously part of my annoyance is due to my having an N95, but in my defense I haven’t moaned about the lack of access on the Wii or the fact that when I try to access BBC files on the Netgear EVA 700 it refuses to give me a picture (unlike the Channel 4 programmes which work perfectly). I think this time it’s a legitimate whinge.

February 26, 2008

Google Top UK Brand? Not worth reporting.

Filed under: BBC,Brand name — admin @ 10:02 am

I was quite surprised to read on Search Engine Land that Google is the top brand in the UK. However, following up the story you soon realise that the the title isn’t really worth that much. The ranking is actually based on a survey of ‘1,500 professionals‘, rather than the public at large, and rather than being surprised that Google has knocked the BBC from the top spot, we should be surprised that the BBC ever held the top spot in the commercially focused business world.

Whilst the more vocal elements of the online community may worship in the church of Google, I think for the average UK user (myself included) the BBC brand is still a better indicator of quality, reliability, and distinction. The factors that the survey’s ranking was meant to reflect.

January 22, 2008

QR Codes at the BBC…but I am not sure why

Filed under: BBC,QR codes — admin @ 10:03 am

All about mobile life have pointed out that one part of the BBC have now started incorporating QR Codes (not the upstart Upcodes), although I’m not sure how much use the QR codes are.

BBC Programmes beta, which provides information on all current TV and radio programmes across the BBC, has provided a QR code for each of the programmes listed, simply by adding /qrcode to the URL. So, the QR code for Torchwood (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006m8ln) is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006m8ln/qrcode.

Whilst I love the BBC and can see a lot of potential in QR codes, I am waiting for them to roll out to more useful areas of the site before I get over excited. I can see how QR codes embedded on news and sports pages, linking to mobile optimised versions would be useful. However, I can’t imagine that it is very often that people think “I really want to be able to access these programme details on the move…if only I could easily transfer the URL easily across”. Whilst I suppose an avid fan may wish to embed a QR code on a T-shirt, to show affiliation with a programme, the BBC codes don’t even help with that as they are not in a useful format.

Although hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.

December 28, 2007

Bloglines after a Christmas break

Filed under: BBC,Bloglines,T-mobile,YouTube — admin @ 4:17 pm

If I don’t look at my Bloglines account every few hours the number of items soon starts getting out of hand. If I don’t look at it for a couple of days I find myself putting off the inevitable confrontation. Returning from Christmas in Norway, after not looking at Bloglines for a week, I find myself dreading the task in hand. Would I really miss out on some important item of note if I ditched the 1,358 items I am told I haven’t looked at? Probably not, but there is always the fear/hope that there will be something really interesting buried amongst the rubbish.

The only web story I came across whilst I was away was the Royal Channel on YouTube (every news channel seemed to discuss it), although I also noticed advertising on the BBC web site for the first time outside the UK (whilst checking the football scores). Both good examples of traditional institutions adapting to the modern world.

Unfortunately not everyone is as up-to-date as the Queen and the BBC, T-mobile’s current data plan could quite easily see many people dragged off to the poorhouse when travelling abroad: £7.50 per Mb of web browsing! Admittedly you have to be pretty foolish to not pay close attention to these things before travelling, but with 3G connections the Mb can quickly add up. My solution was to simply not use the web on my phone whilst away, but really it is time that the phone companies’ caught up, we aren’t looking at WAP anymore!

December 12, 2007

BBC iPlayer Flash streams: Linux friendly

Filed under: BBC,Eee PC,Firefox,Flash,Linux,RM minibook,iPlayer — admin @ 11:17 pm

The Beeb have been promising flash streams for a while, and when I went to download some programmes on the iPlayer tonight, I found it had already rolled out. This should go some way to placating the linux hoardes who have been complaining. As the picture below shows it now works on firefox/linux, even on the much maligned Eee PC/RM Minibook (the rather poor quality is because I sent the picture to myself via MMS rather than messing about with a wire or bluetooth).

(nb. its Peggy and Phil in the Queen Vic kitchen).

November 27, 2007

Single on-demand player for BBC, ITV and Channel 4!!!

Filed under: 4OD,BBC,ITV,iPlayer — admin @ 1:52 pm

The BBC’s iPlayer, Channel 4′s 4OD, and the streaming content from ITV.com have fundamentally changed my TV habits; about the only programme I now watch when broadcast is ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’ (available from 4OD, but for a price). Unfortunately however the iPlayer and 4OD don’t work perfectly, with the iPlayer being especially erratic (occassionally having a frenzy that eats up all the processing power), and the two downloaded services often rub each other up the wrong way as they use similar technologies. Hopefully a single player will solve many of the current problems and will increase adoption of video on-demand.

Whilst a Mashable posting has a little bit of a whinge about the use of DRM, compatibility, and UK only access, it seems be missing the bigger picture, as TechCrunch states “Ultimately the biggest winner from the deal will be the British viewer who will have unparalleled access to legal TV content online in the one spot.”

DRM is a necessity in the world of broadcast television, as is the restricting of access on a national basis, overcoming these boundaries are years away and will require unprecedented international cooperation (DRM-free music is a piece of cake in comparison). Compatibility will come with time, but it makes sense to start with the dominant system.

I did notice one comment on the TechCrunch site whinging about the BBC TV licence (and I am sure there will be more to come), so in the interests of keeping the balance, I would like to point out that I would willingly pay an increase in the TV licence!

November 14, 2007

Life’s a bitch…and then you marry one

Filed under: BBC — admin @ 4:50 pm

Usually coming across the above oft-used title would make me groan with despair at the state of modern society, but seeing it on the front page of the BBC is tantamount to having some great maiden aunt swearing at the christmas dinner table (the actual story is merely a diversion).

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