Thursday, February 24, 2005

No run of the mill mobile usage

Now this blogger has returned to two wheels for the daily commute, I was expecting to leave the annoyances of inconsiderate mobile phone users behind me. However, a recent experience has shown me that this form of communication is truly ubiquitous.

Anxious to run off the excesses of the festive season, I joined the thousands enrolling in the guilt-powered new year gym renaissance. As I pounded away on the treadmill, I was treated the peculiar phenomenon of the Crazy Frog ringtone (if you don't know what that is, consider yourself blessed) as a mobile went off in my vicinity.

Suprisingly, it belonged to the jogger next to me, who, without breaking stride, answered her phone and starting mumbling panting banalities into her phone, issuing the immortal line: 'HELLO, I'M ON THE TREADMILL'.

Is nowhere sacred?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sometimes the simplest ones are the best

My award for this week's top viral goes to those crazy kids that have been Photoshopping a touching airport scene.

The 'Airbus landing' shot is winning the office straw poll...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blackberry your head in the sand

Blackberrys have replaced the mobile phones of a few years ago, as the ostentatious communications item of the day. It has become a peculiar status symbol to sit in a café or meeting, furiously tapping away to clients and friends.

I witnessed this phenomenon on a recent stag do, where two of the merchant banking fraternity spent all day long 'Blackberrying' (surely there's a verb for this by now?) in bars in what seemed to be a vain attempt to impress the local beauties. However, given the lack of technology in the host country, an enquiry to said beauties revealed that they assumed they were fiddling with pocket calculators (seriously). Well, quite.

With echoes of mobile phone usage in the classroom, reveals that Blackberrys (or any other electronic devices) are being banned from use in the House of Commons - a development no doubt linked to Alistair Cambell's 4-letter Blackberry faux pas to the BBC.

Readers will of course be able to tell that this is a green-eyed monster of a post and that Jason Benali's alter-ego wishes he was important enough to qualify for a company one.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Tale of Three Bloggers

An interesting exchange has been brewing between El Blogador and the former apples of his blogger's eye, Johnnie Moore and Hugh of Gaping Void fame.

El Blogador started it with his public renunciation of the unfortunate duo with a rather direct Flushed down the Blog post stating:

"I have unceremoniously removed mssrs Hughtrain and Johnny Moore from my blogroll today. They've spent the past couple of weeks frenziedly banging nails into coffins and I just can't stand the racket any more."

As a man who takes a healthy interest in the blogging of others, Johnny Moore replied with a to-the-point, if tongue-in-cheek, Ouch:

"Oh. El Blogador has had it with me:

Wow, I didn't realise I was making that much noise. And I'm sorry El Blogador won't read my thanks for having listened in the first place as I'm no longer in his reader. It's the "unceremonious" part that stings, surely a flag ceremony and bag pipe jig (or lament) would be justifed?"

A quick look at the growing list of comments revealed a riposte from fellow cast-off Hugh:

"heh. i saw that a while ago. was going to post, but... it's hard enough finding time to post the good bloggers."

As a subscriber to all three blogs, I wonder whether I should take sides and pledge my allegiance to one or Moore?

On a more serious note, is this exchange indicative of my buzzword for 2005 'RSS fatigue'? Both the pleasure and the pain of RSS is being able to keep up with all the latest posts as they happen. It is inevitable that given the niche viewpoints that make many blogs interesting that a repeated theme may end up as a series of 'nails' to an information-overloaded subscriber.

The growth of RSS among regular blog readers makes me wonder if there will become an accepted level of posts, similar to the way we advise people on getting the frequency of email newsletters right.

In truth, most blogs are dependent on the individual's blogger proclivities and some feel the need to do it much more regularly than others. Such a train of thought medium is not suited to a 2-3 times a week limit, as, well, you're not always in the mood, are you? So, it's inevitable that the likes of El Blogador will fall in and out of love with his fellow bloggers.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mobile Bingo!

As a regular commuter on the trains into London, one of my pet hates is inconsiderate mobile phone users. Last night, I was the victim of a mobile sandwich as I sat sullenly trying to block out the loud, inane drivel from either side.

The only thing that kept me from mobile rage (surely the buzzword of 2005?) was creating an idea to help such beleagered commuters such as myself - mobile bingo.

To play, you write out a bingo-style card with classic phrases, such as:

- 'I'm on the train'
- 'I'm going into a tunnel'
- 'Can you hear me?'
- Double usage of 'Hello'
- A bizarre personal revelation, e.g. 'I've got this itch'
- An argument
- "I can't talk now" but keep going for more than five minutes
(Add your own in the comments section)

When you've ticked off a row, simply stand and shout 'MOBILE BINGO!' to the carriage. Even better, give out cards at the start of the journey, so you can play with your fellow commuters.

However, help may be at hand for those not able to play. On a recent visit to the airport, I noticed noise cancelling headphones in Dixons and indeed a quick Gooogle revealed detailed instructions on how to build your own (all you need is a degree in electronic engineering).

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Build it and they won't come

It is easier than ever to publish your content on the web. Whether to set up a blog, post a comment or a review, or even to make the effort to learn some HTML and set up your own site, the technology is there to hold your hand and doesn't require an advanced degree in geekdom.

However, the flip side of this liberation in content publishing is that there is not enough thought given to how to actually get people to visit your content, nor, to be fair, knowledge about how to do it.

Given the expansion of the web and the increasing ability to personalise web consumption through RSS feeds and improved web search, it is all too easy for anything from a personal blog to a corporate website to lie undisturbed on a server with only an author and a webmaster to care for it (or about it).

So, what should you be doing about it? A blog post is not the place to write a detailed guide, but here are some pointers:

- The web is full of useful/useless information - make use of it! Google to read up on the basics - learn about how search engines work, about directories, link exchanges, advertising... (If the thought of all that research sends you dizzy, then Web Marketing Today is a good place to start.)

- Research your competitors and peers. What are they doing to promote their website, can you help each other and who links to them? (To check who is linking to any url, you can do a link popularity check.)

- A website is for life, not just for one visit. Consider how you will encourage repeat visits. Think newsletters, reader interaction (e.g. comments, forums), RSS feeds...

- Track, track, track. Use web tracking tools, ask for feedback through polls and surveys and act on the information.