Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Sat, 13 Dec 2008

Smart enough phone?

I'm not a huge mobile phone user. My PAYG account costs me a couple of pounds each month, so there is no point getting a contract that would cost a lot more, but it means I never get a cheap new phone. My current Samsung was second hand and is on its last legs. The aerial is broken and the battery does not last long. I'd like a nice smartphone that would give me some internet functionality, but can't justify the cost of £200+. Yesterday I read about the BenQ E72 on The Register. For around £100 it seems to offer most of the features I would want:

It lacks some things like a big screen and 3G, but I'll accept some compromised for a good price. The reviews suggest it's not great for power users, but they can probably justify the cost of an iPhone or Nokia n99999. I just want to gain some functionality I don't have at all and can live with it being behind the bleeding edge.

The main issue I can see is with the headphones. I use my PDA for music, but want to be able to get by with carrying just one device. For the rare times I need GPS I can take the Acer. I also ought to look at syncing data to my PC. I think that the newer Windows Mobile the BenQ has is supported on Linux. So is there any reason not to get one?

[16:12] | [/Gadgets] | Comments | G

Being social

A couple of months back I write a couple of posts trying to express what I thought about some of the social networks out there. As I am likely to keep using some of them for a while I thought I would write up how I was using them.

Facebook seems to be the hot place these days, but I still don't like it much. It's tricky to link into from the rest of the web and does a poor job of telling you what has been updated on the groups you are in. I have 26 contacts there. All are people I know well. I don't post much there directly. It comes from feeds on other sites. I do play around with some of the applications such as Blog Networks and Visual Bookshelf.

My preferred site for sharing with friends is still Multiply. As most of the family on there I can share pictures with them safely. Most of them rarely post anything. I post stuff several times each month. I've got 23 contacts there, all friends and family.

Several people at work were on LinkedIn, so I joined that. It has my career details, but I'm not seeing any benefit for now. It has groups and Q&A sections that I don't really use. Perhaps it will be useful the next time I'm looking for a job. I have 50 contacts. Almost all are with my current employer.

One of the phenomena of the last year or so has been microblogging. Basically it's about posting short messages about what you are currently doing, but has been expanded to allow for sending replies and direct messages to people. I played with Twitter and gained a few friends as contacts. I also followed a few of the on-line celebrities. I've since trimmed my list to 10, but am followed by 45. Some of those are bots or people just trying to boost their numbers. Putting the word 'guitar' in my profile seemed to attract several in that area. I've blocked some of the more extreme marketeers.

Fairly soon after joining Twitter I heard about Identi.ca that was doing similar things, but in a much more open form with open-source software and open protocols. I've met lots of interesting people there and had some good discussions. I subscribe to 35 and have 46 subscribers. They have just introduced the ability to block, but I've had a lot less marketeers there than on Twitter.

For music I love last.fm for recommending me bands and supplying great streaming in whatever genre suits my mood. I've got 11 friends there that include a couple I have never met. There's not much communication going on there. There used to be a way to see when friends had posted, but I can't find an equivalent in the latest version.

For a few years I've been logging sites I'm interested in on del.icio.us (I don't approve in the change of URL). I keep an eye on what my contacts are bookmarking and that often leads to interesting stuff. I follow 9 and have 11 'fans'. 5 fall into both camps. I'm up to well over 3000 links now.

I've looked at various sites for aggregating feeds to allow me to track what friends are up to on sites I don't use. Friendfeed is pretty good and allows for commenting, but I don't get many of those. I follow 5 and have 7 subscribers (2 mutual). whoisi is an alternative for those who don't like having to create accounts. I use it to follow 9 people, but can't see how many subscribe to my stuff. There is some duplication from Friendfeed, so I may drop some to keep things manageable.

There are a few other social sites I use where I have a few contacts, but don't gain much from doing so including Slashdot and Youtube.

I don't have massed of friends to connect with on-line and a lot of my friends are not interested in doing so. I also am not into mass-friending strangers just to get the numbers up. I use these sites to get some real benefits in keeping up with friends and gaining useful news and information. The most useful sites are Multiply, Identi.ca, last.fm and del.icio.us.

[15:56] | [/Internet] | Comments | G

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