Wikipedians, And Why They Do It

For Wikipedians, and folk wanting to understand why they do what they do, here’s a survey that aims to explore  the motivation of contributors to Wikipedia:

Joachim Schroer writes “We are a research team at the University of Wuerzburg (Germany) interested in the reasons and motives why participants are involved in Wikipedia as authors, administrators, or software developers. We hope this study will provide statistical data and insight about Wikipedia which go beyond previous reports in the media, encourage a helpful discussion between participants and reveal best practices for Wikipedia as well as related Open Content projects.

We would like to invite everyone who contributes to Wikipedia at least once in a while to take our online survey. The questionnaire will be available until August 3 at http://www.unipark.de/uc/wikipedia/.

Should be interesting to see the results.

Treo 650 Spontaneous Reboot When Sending SMS Messages

Here’s a tip that’s completely useless for anyone who a) doesn’t have a Treo and b) hasn’t had their Treo spontaneously reboot when sometimes sending SMS text messages. As I couldn’t find this solution elsewhere, I thought I’d post it here for now.

  • Go to the home page of the Treo and in the ‘App’ menu select Delete…
  • Scroll down the list until you find Messages Database. (You’re now going to delete all your past SMS messages, but it’s a small price to pay.)
  • Delete it.

Your Treo should work fine now.

What’s Going to Happen to Skype?

Interesting piece over at Techdirt about Skype: Is it a viable business and if so, as what? Techdirt:Going Rate For Skype Apparently Now $3 Billion concludes:

While it’s likely that Skype will be sold, its value isn’t as a business or a service, but as a technology

On the way the piece discusses an alleged near-deal with News Corp (no I can’t find any sourcing for it, either) and a link to Om Malik’s suspicion that the recent price cut on some calls has more to do with a lower than expected takeup of SkypeOut credits than with it being Skype’s birthday.

I love Skype, but I suppose we should steel ourselves for the possibility that it doesn’t last, at least in its present format.

(Thanks, Buzz)

Skype Cuts Some Rates

Skype has lowered rates of its SkypeOut service to some destinations as part of its first anniversary celebrations. Here are the details:

Six major new countries have been added to the SkypeOut Global Rate, a fixed, low-cost rate of 1.7 Euro cents per minute to popular calling destinations. China, Greece, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Poland and Switzerland have joined more than 20 additional destinations in the Global Rate. Skype has also significantly lowered SkypeOut rates for calling numbers in Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Cook Islands, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland (mobile), Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

I’m not quite clear from the press release, but it sounds as if this is an average reduction of 15%.

It’s not all good news: Prices for SkypeOut calls to Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, Oman, Lichtenstein and Haiti numbers will increase slightly.

Why Did EarthLink Drop Charges?

What’s the story behind EarthLink’s decision to drop charges in part of the Alabama Spammer spam case? The Atlanta Business Chronicle yesterday said:

Atlanta-based EarthLink dismissed charges against Alyx Sachs and Albert Ahdoot and said it believes the two were victims of a massive and sophisticated campaign of identity theft and that they were unaware of and had no role in spamming. In January 2005, EarthLink scored a legal victory against the Alabama Spammers.

That must have been quite a campaign to dupe EarthLink, who one assumes are quite good at sorting their wheat from their chaff. The press release itself leaves no doubt that EarthLink feels the two are on the good side of the email marketing fence:

“Sachs and Ahdoot are considered professionals in legitimate internet marketing and recognized leaders in web based advertising,” says their attorney, Paul Sigelman. “Their dismissal is a clean triumph of truth for legitimate Internet ad agencies.”

Earthlink noted that after careful evaluation, it believes Alyx Sachs and Albert Ahdoot are by their own company policies diligent in enforcing maintenance of a spam-free Internet Ad business and prohibit the sending of unsolicited commercial email.

Sachs and her company (I think it was Netglobalmarketing, but the domain has expired) were the subject of a NYT piece in April 2003, and legal threats against Techdirt shortly thereafter after a reader of the site published the duo’s contact details (further discussed on Slashdot).

Ahdoot seems to have been near the top of the SpamHaus list of top (alleged) spammers, but is now nowhere to be found. I can see an interesting tale lurking behind this. How can one be a ‘top spammer’ one day and then the victim of massive identity theft the next?

Yahoo! Follows Loose Wire Advice, Buys Konfabulator

You probably knew this, but the Blessing of Loose Wire strikes again: Yahoo! buys Konfabulator, a widget manufacturer I wrote about in a recent column:

Yahoo! has bought Konfabulator, the software that brought widgets to the Mac and latterly to Windows.

Apple has since developed its own widget environment, Dashboard, and integrated it into the latest version of OS X. It was assumed that Konfabulator would quietly die; instead the developers brought out a Windows version good enough to attract the attention of the Internet search giant.

Widgets are small, floating applications that give access to specific information or tools, and provide easy and quick access to Web-based data without needing to resort to a browser. Popular widgets include weather and stock trackers and a yellow pages search.

Yahoo! are expected to use the technology to make it easier to access its services and, like Apple, is keen for developers to build their own widgets.

‘We are lowering the bar and letting people do a lot more with our material,’ said Toni Schneider, vice president of the company’s developer network.

Avid readers (hi, Mum!) may recall that as soon as I wrote a column about oddPost it was bought by Yahoo!. Then, shortly after I wrote about the email program Bloomba, they bought that. If they like I can suggest some other purchases…

Computer-On-a-Stick

Here, for those of you still lapping up the whole USB programs off your thumb-drive thing, is FingerGear’s Computer-On-a-Stick:

The Computer-On-a-Stick (COS) is a USB Flash Drive featuring its own ultra fast Onboard Operating System with a full suite of Microsoft Office-compatible applications.

According to Tom’s Hardware Guide, the drive is 256 MB and has programs taking up 192 MB, and retails for about $150. Software includes “a Debian-based Linux OS, a version of the open-source productivity suite OpenOffice as well as Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, an Instant messenger and a PDF viewer.” (Thanks, TechSpot News.)

A 512 MB version is coming soon, as is one with biometric fingerprint scanner.

Skipping The Trailers On A DVD

Does anyone know how to skip the trailers on DVDs? I’ve just sat through nearly 10 minutes of promotions — ‘For the first time ever on DVD’ — for six shows from MacGyver to Happy Days on a DVD of Frasier. What makes the folks at Paramount think they can force me to sit through this promotional dross, having just shelled out nearly $50? And these people get upset when folk buy pirate DVDs. Buying tapes was easier than this: just hit the fast forward button.

Anyway, there must be a way of hacking past this rubbish. Anyone know of any, on a computer or otherwise? (No, you can’t just fast forward, skip chapter or even go to the root menu, as these buttons won’t work while the trailers are playing.)

Oh and I’m going to complain to Paramount, a Viacom Company. How dare they make me fork out money and then sit through so much stuff it’s nearly my bedtime already. My plan is to charge them for the time I had to watch the trailers as their ‘entertainment consultant’ since they made no mention of the fact on the cover of the DVD that I would have no choice in the matter. I reckon 7.5 minutes at $450 per hour works out at pretty close to what I paid for the DVD.

NewsIsFree’s NewsMap

Another cool NewsMap, this one in the form of a treemap from NewsIsFree:

NewsKnowledge and The Hive Group have joined forces to bring you News Maps, visual maps of the NewsIsFree headline database. News Maps allow you to quickly scan dozens of news articles and instantly understand what’s being reported all over the world.

Each square in the News Map is an article. You can obtain additional detail on each article by moving your mouse over it. You can read an article by clicking on it.

The Hive Group’s Honeycomb algorithm organizes news headlines by source. Size and Color information indicate article age and popularity (described below). You can easily filter and rearrange you results to view articles that meet certain criteria, or that contain certain text.

We hope you enjoy our News Maps and encourage you to explore these new tools. We hope that News Maps will allow you to access news more quickly and comprehensively than you ever thought possible.

Not the most beautiful example of the genre (my own favourite is still newsmap) but still good to see people experimenting with different representations of news. 

More Software on a Stick

A bunch of useful USB-drive-oriented software for windows: Wipe usb drive software by Proxymis Multimedia and others

I haven’t tried any of them, but plenty to choose from.

My expanding directory of USB drive programs is here.