Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category

Twitter Cuts SMS Updates For UK

August 14, 2008
Twitter Logo

Bad news if you use Twitter and live in the UK. The announcement was made yesterday on Twitter’s blog:

 

Changes for Some SMS Users—Good and Bad News (via Readburner)

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t see much of a “good” side to this one. Bottom line: if you’re based in the UK, or anywhere other than the US, Canada or India, you won’t be able to receive updates from anyone you follow on Twitter. You can still send updates via SMS, but you won’t get anything back.

The reasoning is simple: Twitter released their SMS service without any deals in place, so they foot the bill for all update text messages. The blog post estimates a potential $1,000/user charge per year, which, if accurate, would be an astronomically huge hit for Twitter to take.

Talks with mobile operators in several European countries are “ongoing”, apparently. Chances are the deal will eventually be done with only a select few, just like Facebook which has a deal with O2 here in the UK.

Whatever the outcome, this is yet more bad press for Twitter. This is currently the top item at Techmeme, and it’s spawned a number of angry posts in the related Get Satisfaction thread. It seems the Australians are particularly upset that Twitter didn’t remember Oz wasn’t in Euroland…

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Ping.fm And The Social Media Duplication Problem

July 25, 2008
Ping.fm

I just got a beta signup to Ping.fm, so I’ve been trying it out over the past half hour or so. Essentially it posts a message to all your microblogging/status update services at once from one place. Here’s my first post:

“hoping I’ve successfully added my identi.ca account to ping.fm”

And indeed I have! It’s easy to set up. Now it’s just a question of deciding (carefully) which services to use it for.

And herein lies the rub. Because my use of ping.fm and other social media/web 2.0 services raises a related problem which could soon make signing up to any more services counterproductive: that is the problem of information duplication, also “noise“.

Every time I update ping.fm, it sends that update to Facebook, Twitter, Identi.ca and Tumblr (at the moment). However, I’ve set up twitterfeed to post all my tumblr updates to Twitter, so that will repeat information on Twitter – not good. To make matters worse, Twitter and Tumblr posts also appear on my Friendfeed, leading to further reduplication of information.

And so on. It turns out – surprise, surprise – that the more social media/aggregation services you use, the more complicated it becomes to manage your online lifestream.

Happily, you can customise Ping.fm to a certain extent to ensure that only certain types of update are sent to certain services. So you can, for example, set ping.fm to only sent status updates to Twitter, Facebook and Identi.ca, whereas microblogs and blogs are reserved for WordPress and Tumblr.

This is good to an extent, but it does mean you have to think carefully about the services you use if you’re into lifestreaming on Friendfeed etc. and you don’t want to piss off your followers.

How about you? Anyone else who compulsively signs up to new web 2.0 aggregation services and gets deluged by repeat info – leave a comment and let me know how you deal with information overload.

Reflections On PicLens

July 10, 2008

PicLens is a visualization extension for Firefox…

Piclens

Piclens for Firefox

It’s also one of the coolest looking things this side of a Mac. Once you’ve installed it, you can click the Piclens icon in the top right hand corner of the browser at any time and search for images on Google, Flickr or Photobucket. You can also search Youtube for video.

The end result is an instant 3D swooshy-swirly picture/video viewer interface. It’s as easy to use as any professionally-produced alternative and looks as good as, if not better than Vista’s built-in picture viewer. And it’s free of course.

There are a few sites which support Piclens; as well as the aforementioned Google Image Search, Youtube, Flickr and Photobucket, you’ll find support on Facebook and WordPress, among others. Browsing Facebook photos in Piclens is much more convenient and useful than Facebook’s own clunky photo album system.

New On Tumblr

June 22, 2008

Tumblr logoI blogged here about tumblelogs a long time ago.

Now I’ve finally signed up for one. Here’s mine: Lost and Found

I plan to use it for shorter, more frequent posts, pictures, songs and links which deserve a little more comment than you can give on del.icio.us. This blog will remain of course, but I’ll try to post longer, more in-depth articles, reviews and comments.

Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog recently you’ll know that I’m into web 2.0 services which aggregate all your content in one place, so you may never need to visit my Tumblr blog at all. But please feel free to catch up with me on Friendfeed and Swurl.

Lostmoya on Swurl

June 21, 2008

Ah, the endless search for that perfect web 2.0 application which will aggregate all my online content once and for all and let me get on with my bleeding life for a change instead of searching endlessly for that perfect web 2.0 app… etc.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Swurl!

It says it’s in beta at the top of the page, so it’s clear we’re firmly in web 2.0 territory before we even start. Swurl claims to make your life easier by bringing together all your online stuff in one place, kind of like Friendfeed.

In fact, there’s really not a lot of difference between the two that I can discern after a brief play-around with Swurl over the last half hour. Swurl does appear slicker, particularly when it comes to adding friends: it automagically finds all the friends from the services you add (e.g. twitter, youtube, del.icio.us) and sticks their updates in a separate tab. Whereas on Friendfeed you have to find and follow friends using that service.

Bizarrely, Swurl even accepts Friendfeed as a source for your consolidated online presence, which probably makes it some kind of meta-meta-mashup. My head’s hurting…

Anyway, here’s my Swurl profile if you want to check me out or whatever it is you kids do these days.

Friendfeed: Aggregate All Your Feeds Into One

May 7, 2008

In my ongoing quest to find the ultimate Web 2.0 utility I’ve just started using Friendfeed.

Friendfeed logo

The idea is simple: you subscribe for an account then add the feeds for a bunch of social bookmarking and networking services you already use, like del.icio.us, reddit, youtube, twitter, last.fm, etc. Friendfeed then monitors all your activities and publishes them in one place. Here’s mine.

If you’ve ever found it difficult to keep track of everything you’re doing online then that’s useful enough. But it doesn’t stop there. What’s even more interesting is that you can add friends see all their feeds alongside yours.

At the moment I don’t have any Friendfeed buddies 😦 so my Friendfeed actually looks identical to my individual feed. Over the next few months I’ll be working on my Facebook buddies who already use social bookmarking sites to try and get them to adopt Friendfeed too.

Incidentally, it’s also really easy to add people already using Friendfeed since it automatically publishes everyone’s activity into one mega-feed. So you can scan through (or search for something/someone in particular) and quickly add them.

Last.fm Weekend Power Troubles Finally Over

April 23, 2008

So it seems that the troubles experienced at Last.fm HQ in London over the weekend are finally over. To be fair, things had started to return to normal by Sunday evening – after a day of occasional weirdness and disappearing tracks on Saturday.

In fact, none of my scrobbles were lost; the worst damage is a missing shout from the weekend, which isn’t exactly the end of the world. Top marks to the server guys who kept users updated on the blog as the (planned) power outage struck.

It took a few days for everything to iron itself out, but this evening I logged on to a reassuring sight:

Lastfm tracks played

My “tracks played” count, of course! It’s been MIA for a few days so it prompted an incredibly geeky and obsessive sigh from yours truly when it finally reappeared… Must. Play. More. Songs.

Last.fm Really Does Keep Track Of What You Listen To

March 19, 2008

I wrote a couple of months ago about Last.fm‘s new service which allows you to listen to a wide range of full tracks, with the catch being that you get a maximum of three listens to any one song.

Well, I just tried listening to Shakira – Underneath Your Clothes for what was apparently my fourth time and, sure enough, up popped a box saying, pretty much, “that’s your lot”. Here it is, in case you don’t believe me:

Shakira on Last.fm

So Last.fm really does keep track of everything you listen to. Okay, so if I was desperate for more Shakira I could create multiple new accounts (presumably indefinitely) to effectively have unlimited plays. But, really, who’s going to go to that sort of trouble?

UK 08 Quake Survivors REPREZENT!

February 27, 2008

Oh yes! Last night at 12:55 am the largest earthquake for 25 years hit the UK. Measuring around 5.3 on the Richter Scale, the epicentre was hardly 20 miles from our house:

EMSC Local picture

I’ve never experienced a quake before, so it was rather unnerving. It only lasted for 10 seconds or so, but the whole house seemed to shake violently. Nothing actually fell off or was damaged, but it felt pretty severe from where I was sitting. Apparently people felt it as far away as London, and even Newcastle to the north!

God bless the Internet, though: at 1 am, when the BBC news site was just showing a line saying “Reports of tremors in the West Midlands”, reddit.com was already live and on the scene with about 20 different stories detailing exactly what was going on. Web 2.0 ftw!

Last.fm Frees The Music!

January 24, 2008

Lastfm LogoAs of yesterday, anyone can stream full-length tracks and albums for free on the Last.fm website:

Official announcement (via Mashable)

All the major labels are on board, and on their blog they mention that they’ve got similar agreements from “thousands” of independents.

Wow! Free music! So what’s the catch?

Simple: you’ll only be able to stream each track a maximum of three times before you’re asked to sign up for Last.fm’s new subscription service. According to the comments on the blog post, this will operate alongside the current basic subscription service, rather than instead of.

Details are sketchy on the price, but we do know that it will be more expensive than the current price of €2.50 per month. Once you’re subscribed, you can stream anything an unlimited amount of times. Here’s the lowdown on Last.fm:

“We’re publicly beta testing our new free listening service. You can listen to most tracks up to three times for free.

When the beta is over, we’ll offer a subscription package with unlimited access to a catalogue of music built on partnerships with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner, EMI and over 150,000 independent labels and artists.”

For music lovers like me, this is a really tempting option, although the lack of a download option and the open question of quality will no doubt be off-putting factors. It’s also worth mentioning that not every track ever is available to stream. Even so, free music… It’s difficult to complain about that!

It turns out that the announcement could also be great news for artists and labels. Last.fm has announced a payment system which sends money direct to artists every time a track is played. The success of the business model will depend on advertising, of course, and I suppose they’re banking on more people signing up for the premium service.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on this over the coming weeks, and will no doubt subscribe when the option becomes available just to try it out.