There is no doubt that the mobile is starting to make more of an impact on the Internet. Not long ago many people thought a mobile was really just for making calls and texting. It is difficult to miss the amount of publicity that the Apple iPhone and Google Android projects have generated recently. Many mobile phones come with a browser built in that is capable of rendering regular web pages and the price of Internet access from a mobile is dropping, and is often it is bundled with contracts. Ten years ago Nokia set this process in motion by releasing the Nokia 7110, the first mobile phone to have Internet access, it couldn't render regular web pages, only ones specifically written for mobiles but brought to the public the idea of Internet access in your pocket, available quickly wherever and whenever you need it. It has been a slow process for the mobile web, but it looks set to grow, and one social networking site in Japan has found that mobile traffic has overtaken non-mobile web traffic. A problem remains though, while mobiles are now capable of rendering regular HTML web pages, they still have very small screens meaning that web sites have to be redesigned to look their best. This, depending on how far you want to go, can be a time consuming process (and one I'm determined to do properly later this year!), fortunately there is a service available that promises not only to re-render your web content in a mobile friendly way, but also to render it in different ways for different devices, and to do all of this in the time it takes to have a coffee.
In many houses the TV and broadband line can be found only inches apart and in most cases no connection is yet made. The Internet had the power to bring about a revolution in the choice of programming available, instead of scheduled streams of programming that we have no control over we will be able to pick and chose what we want to watch from thousands of producers.
Monday saw the release of Easy Peasy 1.0, a version of Ubuntu 8.10 adapted for netbooks like the Asus EEE PC. I've just installed it onto my EEE, and am looking forward to using it. It is essentially similar to Ubuntu, but has some important differences: firstly all of the drivers needed for the EEE are included by default, meaning, amoungst other things, that the WiFi will work straight out of the box.
The OU produces a range of podcasts covering a wide variety of subjects that can be interesting not only to current students but also to people who enjoy more informal learning, or who are maybe just curious about a subject. Up until recently, this treasure trove was sadly locked away in iTunesU and so unavailable to Linux users (as iTunes is not available for Linux). Users of other platforms also had to use iTunesU as well, regardless of how they felt about this software. Fortunately, the OU has put this situation right though the release of a website that makes these podcasts available to all, it can be found at: http://podcast.open.ac.uk. The website is so new the paint is practically drying on it, but, despite being in beta, it is still capable of delivering a first class experience. It includes a number of ways to easily subscribe to podcasts, including RSS feeds (useful for programs like Amarok), a really great feature though is the sites ability to integrate with Miro, an application which is described as an "internet tv and video player". Miro is free, open source, cross platform and provides the ability to subscribe to, watch and manage video and audio podcast feeds. You can use the OU podcasts site entirely within it, providing a nice integrated experience and leaving you to enjoy the content.
It's a sad fact that most of the mobile operators, in the UK at least, sell their mobile broadband solutions with no support for Linux computers, despite the popularity of this operating system on netbooks.
Mobile devices are getting more and more powerful, if you get a mobile phone the odds are it will not just be a phone but a camera, organiser, music player, video player and web browser too. You can also extend the capabilities of you phone by downloading applications and games to it. One of the most significant aspects of this is that we are talking about technology that many people already own, not just-released or niche devices, so there is a sizeable potential audience for new applications.
Sometimes a piece of software can be so useful and easy to set up that you might end up taking it for granted and not thinking about it that much, even though you use it every single day. For me an example of this is the excellent Mozilla Thunderbird, an email client from the same people who make Mozilla Firefox. While Firefox is very well known, and now commands 20% of the worldwide browser share (well done to everyone involved!), maybe Thunderbird gets a bit overlooked. I've been using Mozilla Thunderbird happily for years now and always found it easy to use and reliable. So I was delighted to see that a new site has been set up to help "spread the word" about Thunderbird which can be found at: http://www.spreadthunderbird.com/. If like me you find Thunderbird really useful you can sign up to become an "affiliate" and place a handsome looking badge on your site to refer people. You won't earn cash from doing this but you will earn "points" that bring you kudos, visibility for your website, and most importantly the knowledge that you have helped. The badges come in all shapes and sizes, from the small (as in the left sidebar if you are viewing this directly on the website) to the very large.