Tuesday, February 26, 2008

French teachers rating website to be sued, ruling to affect user generated content in France

Note2be (a play on "not" and "note" meaning a grade in French) allows French pupils to mark their teachers. Within 3 weeks or its launch, it was sued by the national teachers union on the grounds of "disrupting public order". The court is due to decide on the 3rd of March.
So why are teachers so unhappy? According to Aurelie, a 24 years old primary school teacher "On the Internet, everything is graded. We are not products». Oh the irony...

Article in French in communist paper Liberation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

French President: "Casse toi alors pauvre con!"

Nicolas Sarkozy is known for his "franc-parler" (straight-talking). While visiting the "Salon de l'agriculture", a customary political exercise for all French presidents, he came across a passer-by who refused to shake his hand "not to be dirtied". Sarkosy's response "then piss-off you jerk!". Reactions have been divided: those who were shocked by his language, those who sympathized (after all, he has been trailing in cow dungs for a few hours fending the crowds) and those who think he could have used more dignified insults.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Facebook's first decline in users

Users fell 5% to 8.5 million in January from 8.9 million in December in the UK, according to data from Nielsen Online. BBC article.

Blip or trend?

Edited: "Three Skypephone, second-thought due to lack of customer service". Happy ending.

I had the opportunity to experience Three's (lack of) customer service today and I am not impressed. I topped up my account on their website and got an error message, informing me that I may have been charged and should contact customer services. The irony is that none of the option on their automated service deals with this kind of queries. I tried another number and here again, I was trapped in endless automated loops. No option to speak to a human being. I was left to send an email and to hope for a reply within a few days...

I will keep you updated.

Update: I had a call from Three at lunch time. The error is now fixed. The option to speak to a human being is there but quite hidden. The guy I spoke to was courteous and efficient though so that makes up for it. Case closed.

Update 2: I have receive an email from an executive at Three regarding my negative experience. The issue I highlighted above was fixed in a matter of 2 hours by phone. I will suggest that an option to speak to customer rep be made more prominent in the automated options for phone support. Apart from that, I am still happy with my Three Skypephone and I am happy to recommend it as well.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cool Mobile Startups Products From the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Article on BusinessWeek. It is not obvious but you have to click on the pictures at the bottom of their page to see each product.

My favorites: GestureTek (let you play games and use applications by detecting movements from your phone, like a Wii nunchak) and Audience, a noise suppression technology that recognizes your speech and filter out background noise for clearer voice chats.

Poor young people use Yahoo!, rich old people use Google


Intriguing research from Hitwise. Yahoo!'s users tend to be younger than Google too (which would partially explain the wealth gap). The size of the bubbles is the propensity to have spent $500 online.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Illegal Downloaders Will Not Face a UK Ban

There are been a lot of gesticulations from the music industry recently, culminating to a release about how ISPs could be forced to enforce a "three strikes" system and ensure that those found downloading copyrighted materials do not ever come close to an Internet connection again. Read the Telegraph among others on the subject.

I personally think that the music industry should be spending more time working out a business model that is in tune with 21st century consumers instead of threatening privacy laws and its customer base. For an enlightened viewpoint, read the Register: "ISPs are calling on the record industry to put its money where its mouth is on illegal file-sharing, by underwriting the cost of lawsuits brought by people who are wrongly accused of downloading or uploading music" and Matt's excellent analysis of why this is stupid on torrentfreak: "This idea makes as much sense as trying to ban people from singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to each other over the telephone network, or burning down libraries to protect the publishing industry."(...) "CD sales are falling because nobody uses them anymore, and Hollywood is in rude health despite the pirates. There should be no more talk about changing laws and spending tax payer’s money on this ‘problem’ until someone proves there really is one."


Monday, February 04, 2008

Our media are mass producers of distortion

Nick Davies, from the Guardian talks about his new book, Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media.

The most striking fact is a research on 2,000 UK news stories conducted by Cardiff University:
  • Only 12% of the stories were wholly composed of material researched by reporters.
  • 80%, of the stories were wholly, mainly or partially constructed from second-hand material, provided by news agencies and by the public relations industry.
  • On stories written from press releases only 12% had their facts thoroughly checked.
I am too lazy to research whether that study was properly conducted in order to reach its conclusion...

MacBook Air Unboxed!

Funny!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Microsoft to buy Yahoo! for $44.6Bn?

It if happens, Yahoo's shareholders won't believe their luck... Tim Weber, business editor of the BBC News website: "It is a shotgun marriage, but the person holding the shotgun is Google." That sums it up nicely. BBC News.