Archive for the ‘web’ Category

Jungle Disk – online backup using Amazon S3

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

I’ve mentioned Jungle Disk in a few tweets before, but now I’ve got my first few bills from them, I thought I’d write a longer post about what they’re like.

For the uninitiated, Jungle Disk is an application that lets you use Amazon’s S3 storage as an online file store and backup service. You can set the app up to point at a directory of your hard-drive and forget about it – letting the client backup your files in the background. And you can get the client for Windows, Mac and Linux.

I started using it last December for digital photos. I had over 20 gigs of photos and video clips – photos from Uni, photos of my daughter’s first few years, photos from my wedding… and tons more.

And I wanted to put them somewhere safe.


A plea to Upcoming

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Upcoming doesn’t seem to like me very much at the moment. Not sure why… I’ve tried emailing them (several times!) but no reply. I thought I’d try putting something here to see if anyone knows why, or can suggest what I can do to fix it.

I’m not sure how long my Upcoming account has been broken… cos it all looks fine to me. Look – this is what I see when I logon:

screenshot of upcoming

Look – see? I can logon fine. I can see my upcoming (no pun intended) events, and those from my friends. I can see recent comments, changes and news from friends… all looks fine.

So what’s the problem?

This is what everyone else is seeing

screenshot of upcoming

User account not found? But… how? Why can’t you find me? 🙁

It doesn’t end there…


Tracking my petrol usage

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

I filled my car with petrol today.

Not normally something I’d blog about, but I wanted to write a quick post about because I don’t see many people using it.

The idea is fairly simple – a web app that you use to record when you fill your car with petrol, that can then work out useful figures like your average mileage and car’s fuel efficiency.

I came across it because you can update your record from twitter, and any excuse to find another way to use twitter is always good. 🙂

screenshot of my page

It’s fairly American-ized, so I have to remember to read “miles” everywhere it says “kilometers”. But I quite like it. It’s interesting to see that I do about 9 miles per litre on average, and that if I carry on like I have been in the last few months, I will spend about £390 a year on petrol.

Once they get more users and a bigger store of previous updates behind them, I can see this being a useful information resource. They record the make and model of your car with your updates, so imagine people looking to buy a car being able to see actual real-life fuel efficiency figures for the models of car they are interested in?

I don’t know how far they are from having a database big enough to be able to produce figures with a reasonable degree of statistical reliability, but it’ll be interesting when they do.

We need a personal Twitter glossary

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Something Luis Suarez said on Twitter last week got me thinking. I tweeted back at the time, but thought the idea was worth fleshing out.

We need a Twitter glossary. My tweets stand a chance of making sense to people who know me, or have been following me for a while, but to anyone else? Perhaps not. But with only 140 characters, I haven’t got the space to put everything in context in every tweet.

What I want is an up-front way of defining a list of terms that I am likely to use often in the future. For each term, I could give a definition – a description that could be used in a tool-tip when you hover over the word in a tweet, and/or a URL to a page with more info if you click on it.

For example, instead of a tweet like:

Gotta take Grace with me to a SYA meeting tonight

it might be useful if the tweet showed up on the twitter webpage like this:

Gotta take Grace with me to a SYA meeting tonight

Finally – a chance to use dopplr!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007


dopplr and other ways to have fun with location updates stuff

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Yesterday, Andy sent me an invite (btw – thanks, Andy!) for dopplr – another online service where you can see online where someone is at any given time.

I’ve mentioned before that I have tried stuff like Plazes, as well as trying out my own approach (which you can see in the right-hand column of this blog’s front page, or by going straight here). Dopplr is still a closed beta though, so I hadn’t had the chance to try it before.

So far, I quite like it – it adds a couple of interesting points…

Where am I?

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

I first come across Plazes a few months ago. The idea is pretty neat – you update a service to let people know where you are.

I’m not a big fan of the implementation though. It’s too tied to using the network you’re connected to to identify where you are – which means it can’t seem to tell the difference between any IBM site in Europe. And as I spend the majority of my time connected to an IBM network, that leaves Plazes thinking that I’m somewhere in Germany half the time. Not very impressive.

It has an API which is always a good thing, but that won’t let you create any new ‘Plaze’ which it doesn’t already know about. Which makes it a little useless for many circumstances.

And it relies on me being at my laptop. This is a bit limiting as I don’t always have my laptop with me. What would be really cool would be a service which actually updates where I am. (Okay, so they have a mobile client, but that’s for Symbian only so that’s no use to me 🙂 )

With this in mind (and my newly rediscovered love for PHP after having to do some work on the SYA database on Tuesday), tonight I decided to have a go at knocking together a solution that would better suit my needs…


Twitter for youth groups

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

I’ve been setting up some Twitter accounts for us to use in Solent Youth Action. I won’t go into too much detail about what Twitter is, as everyone already seems to be talking about it!

I think it could be a useful tool for us to use with some of our youth groups. By setting up a Twitter page for each youth group, and inviting the youth group members to register as “followers”, we can send them text messages to their mobile phone.

For example, we can quickly send out a reminder before an event by filling out a web form (or by sending a text message). The message will be sent as an SMS to all members of the group in one go, and at no cost to either us or the young people!

It might not be a perfect fit – the 140 character limit on messages could be restrictive, and it isn’t really intended for this sort of use. That said, there doesn’t seem to be any sign that Twitter mind people finding alternative uses for it (e.g. the BBC News Twitter feed) and services like Jyngle which are a better match are not yet available in the UK.

I think it could be useful – it’s a very immediate form of messaging, and is a preferred method for many of the young people that we work with – more so than email, for example.

We’ll give it a try with one of our smaller groups first and see how it goes. If it goes well, I can see us using it as a communications method with all of our groups.