A week in America

I’ve now been in America a week. That’s why I haven’t posted. I can’t really think of anything especially interesting to say except about the fun I’ve had with luggage.

The flight to here (Missoula) went via Minneapolis. I made the connection fine (a 5 hour wait in the airport made bearable by the fact that with my Nokia 770 I could talk to Julia using Google Talk – internet access was $7.95 for 24 hours with Boingo) but my luggage stayed in Minneapolis.

I have to say that lost luggage may not be so bad if you plan a little and look on the bright side. For example I missed a suitcase for a day. There was nothing immediately important in it and for me it just meant I got it delivered to where I was staying instead of having to take it myself. The only possible problem in this case was that we were flying out to Chicago the day after and not having my luggage for that would have been a pain. But in the end it was fine.

Coming back from Chicago was much more complicated however. Our original route was Chicago to Denver, Denver to Salt Lake City and then Salt Lake City to Missoula. The first flight was with United, the other two with Delta. The first flight had its take off delayed by an hour (they tried fixing the problem by rebooting the plane – a worrying sign) so we missed the connection in Denver. Everything seemed okay since we were booked on the next Delta flight to Salt Lake City. Except we were told that flight was also delayed and we’d miss the connection to Missoula if we took it and would have to spend the night. Sorting this out was confusing since we missed a Delta flight because of United and neither were sure what to do with us.

In the end we were put on standby for a flight straight to Missoula (on United). A minute or so before the gate closed they concluded that two passengers hadn’t turned up and let us on. Obviously our luggage was not going to be with us. It wasn’t so bad though since we only arrived half an hour later than we should have done (not bad for an hour delay :P). The story with the luggage is funnier than we’d imagined though. Apparently it was never flying with us in the first place. It took a Delta flight to Denver and made it on time. But to save confusion they let it wait at the airport for us. So it took the second flight (which was delayed), spent the night in Salt Lake City and arrived a day later (this morning). Three suitcases, delivered to Julia’s room (mainly dirty clothes, some books and a very heavy Christmas present).

Computers, Languages, Technology

Will Wiktionary ever be more than a mess?

Wikipedia is great. You can find out almost anything. The only criticisms of Wikipedia are strenuous at best and tend to either be: a) It’s unreliable (you shouldn’t use a single source anyway – that’s why Wikipedia articles are supposed to cite references) or b) It’s somehow elitist or a “members only club” – a view often held by banned users.

One of its oldest sister projects, Wiktionary on the other hand is not so good. I think it’s a marvelous idea that should be done and should definitely continue, but at the moment it is frankly a mess.

In case you don’t know what it is, it’s an attempt to create a free multilingual dictionary in every language. That is not a tautology – I’m emphasising the fact that it aims to translate from every language to every other language. That is the English version will contain every single word in every language with definitions and details in English. The German version will do the same but with definitions and details in German. And so on for every other language. Of course for some languages there will never be enough editors (English probably has the most and that’s nowhere near complete).

Ambitious. Possibly too ambitious. The number of editors doesn’t seem to be as high as Wikipedia and editing is far less fun – there is far more grunt work to do with laying out tables, sorting out headings, getting links pointing to the right places. There are quite a few bots which can automate some of it, but it’s still a large and largely dull undertaking.

Why am I telling you this? I don’t know. Maybe just to encourage a couple more editors to jump on board 🙂


Getting paid to review

Well it seems that PayPerPost isn’t unique as a few other people are jumping on the bandwagon. One of the notable ones is ReviewMe from the people at TextLinkAds.

Although the theory is essentially the same as PayPerPost, the implementation is different. In PPP advertisers list opportunities which bloggers can the accept. The price paid ranges from about $2.50 to $10 (with the most common being $4 or $5). ReviewMe works the other way round. Bloggers list their blogs with a price (determined by ReviewMe) and advertisers choose which ones they want to review their product or service. The price paid is dependent on the blog (how exactly they determine I’m not sure but it seems to be some sort of PageRank, Alexa, back-links type combination) and seems to be significantly higher. Of course you’re likely to get fewer offers though.

One offer they seem to be giving to everyone is to review ReviewMe itself (eerily like this) so every blogger accepted should earn something from them. And although I didn’t look at their payout details specifically, I would guess it’s the same as TextLinkAds – at the end of the month by PayPal with no minimum (and possibly other options with a minimum or a fee).

Blogging, Computers, Technology

How to get more visitors to old content

One of the main advantages of blogs as a publishing medium is also a big disadvantage at times – the time sensitive nature. The fact that the information is about as up to the minute as you can get (in general) means blogs are a better source of news (or more importantly opinions about news) than search engine results for instance. But this means that some of your content can be come rather pointless after a short time.

Some articles are essentially timeless however. If you’re lucky and lots of people link to them you should be able to get some steady search engine traffic but people looking for something that specific aren’t likely to hang around after reading them. So have come up with a reasonably clever way of letting you push your old content but still keeping a blogesque feel to it.

The idea is to create a custom feed of a subsection of your content. The example they push a lot is a podcast “series” about the same topic, but it can be any thematically linked (and generally ordered) series of posts from your blog. When someone subscribes they get the first post in the series. The next day, they get the next post and so on until the end of the series.

There is a plug-in somewhere for WordPress that lets you mark posts as part of a series and to create navigation links to quickly get between them. Used in conjunction with this would let your users read through the whole series or just sit back and have it delivered. Now if only I ever posted such a series…

Computers, Entertainment, Ruby on Rails, Technology

Nokia 770

My recently ordered Nokia 770 has arrived :o) For those that don’t know, it isn’t a phone – Nokia market it as an “Internet Tablet”. Basically it’s a PDA running Linux with WLAN, Bluetooth and an 800×480 touchscreen display. There’s too much about it that’s cool for me to go into right now, so I’ll leave you with the picture 🙂

Apparently the term “UMPC” is being used by a few people to describe the 770 (and similar devices) – “Ultra Mobile PC”.

Computers, Entertainment, EVE Online, Games, MPOGs, Technology

EVE Online events are real…

Ooh, EVE Online has suddenly become a lot more interesting to me. When you log in to EVE you get news stories from within the EVE universe. For example there was something recently involving the Gallente and a convoy delivering aid to a planet and something blew up or something. I never really paid much attention figuring it was just some light fiction to keep the universe “real”. Well apparently they are a little more than that. They are actually acted out by a group called Aurora, part of the Interstellar Services Department (a volunteer group responsible for things like the buddy program and forum moderation).

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

Web Television

My interest in MythTV has also sparked my interest in TV over the Internet. Many companies offer it “secretly”, for example movies on demand from cable operators in the UK are actually streamed over the Internet and loads offer small chunks of it. But are there any companies actually transmitting top content “live” over the Internet (free or subscription)? If it’s transmitted live (i.e. everyone receives the same thing at the same time), bandwidth some of the possible bandwidth problems can be mitigated with things like IP multicasting. And if you do have something like MythTV recording it for you the problem of people not wanting to see things at the same time go away too.

Well to answer the question (there was one :P), yes. Unfortunately for the most part they aren’t the big channels, but there are quite a few for niche areas and some countries even make their government subsidised national station available.

The first site I found for this was wwITV. They list quite a few live channels and loads of sites that offer clips. But unfortunately many of them are out of date and just return 404s. An alternative for sources of web television is tVadio. They’re newer and don’t have as much (and seem far less international) but at least the stuff they list actually exists and is of a reasonable quality (well whether you like the actual transmitted content of the channels is up to you :P).

The sites listed though still only represent baby steps on the path towards true Internet television.

Computers, Entertainment, EVE Online, Games, MPOGs, Technology

Gang warfare in EVE

There’s a new blog entry about the overhauled gang system in EVE Online. It’s basically gone all hierarchical. You can still create gangs as normal, but they no longer receive gang bonuses. To get the bonus the gang must be upgraded to a fleet. A fleet contains wings, wings contain squadrons and squadrons contain members. And each level has commanders. And all the commanders give gang bonuses (meaning a player can get a bonus from all three of his superiors).

Oh, and the first half of Kali now has a name: Revelations.