Our relationship with the mobile phone is changing, and it is not just the high end phones that show evidence of this. The Sony Ericsson T715 is a new mid range phone available on 3 that comes preloaded with lots of features that will enable you to enjoy the web on the move, including built in Twitter and Facebook clients. You can also make calls and write texts on the phone, but that isn't very interesting; what is more interesting is that this is a great phone if you are into the "constant checking culture" now thought by 3 to be driving mobile broadband usage. Thanks to the kind folk at 3MobileBuzz I was able to try this phone out and see what it has to offer.
Today I got my Google Wave invite and was able to activate my account. There has been a lot of hype about this product (to say the least) so it was interesting to be able to finally have a go at using it, so I thought I would type up my first impressions based on only a few hours use, so treat it as a raw first impression rather than a highly considered opinion! This is a tool that I think has great potential for people collaborating on projects, especially if they are located in different time zones and cannot meet face to face very easily, but to use it effectively though does mean climbing a learning curve.
There was once a time when the computer industry was not really people orientated, instead the focus was on pushing data around and worrying about nothing but algorithms. Those days ended with the arrival of Web 2.0, the web changed forever, the model of top-down publishing of content was revolutionised by the idea of users generating content and maintaining connections with each other through social networks. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have brought the web alive as a social space, but what if you want to implement some of these ideas on your own site? This is where Michael Peacock's new book Drupal 6 Social Networking may come in very handy.
It took me a long time to get Tumblr, like many others I wondered what it was for, why would I use it instead of a blog? All a bit of a struggle for a computer geek to understand, we have so many tools on the internet such as wikis, blogs and forums that are designed to solve problems and bring us closer to realisable outcomes. We developers share traits with scientists and engineers in that we look at the world in a logical way looking for cold rational answers to questions.
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.
It has been a very interesting year for social networking, microblogging, the practice of sharing short messages with followers has really caught on and Twitter has certainly enjoyed the most buzz of 2008. A notable feature though of Twitter's rise has been the number of problems they have and its bizarre reverse product development cycle, it now has less features than when I first joined; and all in the name of stability, a goal that Twitter is going through a lot of pain to achieve.
Video is a fantastic medium, and the means to make video have never been more accessible. Many people have video cameras, not just dedicated units, but other devices capable of taking video such as digital photo cameras and mobile phones. The software to edit video is available for free with the availability of open source packages such as Kino, and you can make your video available to the world with services such as YouTube. But what about accessibility? It's a question I've heard raised about the use of video, often because people don't realise that you can add Subtitles (also known as Closed Captioning) to the videos that you upload. If you go to the YouTube page for a video you have uploaded you will see an option on the right hand side for "Captions and Subtitles". Here you will see a screen to upload your subtitles file, you'll notice too that you can upload different sets of subtitles for different languages, very handy if you want to provide translations in foreign languages for the dialogue in your video. People might use subtitles for all sorts of reasons, the most obvious might be because they hearing difficulties, but also for many other reasons, for example, they might be learning English, and having a subtitles file might be useful to help them follow the dialogue, or they might be in a quiet environment where listening to audio is not convenient.
On this day last year I wrote my very first blog post, prompted into action by a link from Martin Weller's blog to my then largely empty blog! I'm glad I became a blogger, I've already explained my reasons for blogging and the last year has no doubt seen some quite dramatic changes in the technology world.
Thanks to a fellow user of Twitter I was alerted to this great video on YouTube which is a presentation by Michael Wesch who is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, given at the Library of Congress back in June 2008 which is all about YouTube and the community that uses it. Admittedly, when I first saw the title I wasn't encouraged really, I thought it might be a rather dry, navel-gazing study of the community surrounding YouTube, reading too much meaning into what is happening there, maybe with slow death by Powerpoint. I was very wrong, this video is well worth watching, and all 55 minutes of it too. It is thought provoking and even moving in places, with plenty of facts and figures that make fascinating viewing.