Twitter’s businesscase

A study performed by a market research firm in the US showed that only 7.8% of all twitter messages could be said to have any ‘value’. The remaining 92.2% was useless or without value.

Question: what is the business case of the Twitter service? It has to be brilliant; Here is a service which people can use to send out trivial and useless messages to anybody. To one question is; are people going to pay for the right to end out useless en trivial messages?

link to BBC article.


This website is hosted on a VPS server from For those who do not know what a VPS is; a VPS is a Virtual Private Server. You get a part of a physical server as if it is your server. Big advantage is that you have “full” control over your server and you can host more websites for a price which is less what you pay for a managed single website package. Disadvantage is that you need to do some management yourself; check log files, clean up server, do some of the setup, etc.

One of the things I ran into was the amount of spam I received. It gradually increased from a dozen per day to some 300 to 400 per day. At a certain point my server even crashed because it received some 6.000 email in a period of five minutes.

This meant I had to take some action. I use Plesk on my server and it has some standard options like white lists, black lists, spf filtering but also a DNSBL feature. This last feature give you the possibility of checking incoming emails against a spam database. I had not looked at the feature but after checking Google I found the site I offers a free to use service for low-volume non-commercial use. You just enter into you Plesk Mail configuration screen and suddenly the spam flood is stopped. My spam went down from a big flood to a small drizzle, some 2 to 5 per day.

Great service!

Richard Stallman’s point of view

You must read this article by Richard Stallman on the BCC News website about Bill Gates retirement (BBC article). Richard Stallman is the founder of the Free Software Foundation and from the article you can see that he sees Microsoft as and Bill Gates as Dark Vader.
I agree with his argument about the Microsoft Tax which large suppliers have on their ready to use PC’s. You should be able to decide what you use on your hardware and if you use Linux you shouldn’t be paying for Windows. The question is; does the average buying/user really care what OS he or shee is using. I think most of them are thinking; as long as my applications I want to use are running and I don’t have to bother about the other stuff, I don’t care.

More interesting is to see how deep the founder of the organisation of the Free Software Foundation is in the trenches and is unwilling the move. All companies are wicked and have control over your freedom. The only way is free and open software.
I personally think these is a place for open and proprietary software.

Ubuntu 8.0.4 LTS versus Micrsoft Vista SP1 Business edition

In the past I have tried a number of Linux distributions. All those reviews ended with the feeling; “nice for a geek but I don’t think the rest of world wants to go back to the commandline and non consistent GUI’s”. Linux has gone a long way since then and now that Novell is claiming to have the Linux desktop for the masses and Ubuntu is distributed with some hardware manufacturers, I thought let’s take a look at Ubuntu and compare it with Microsoft Vista.

So I took an Asus F7E notebook with 2GB ram and plenty of diskspace and installed Ubuntu and Microsoft Vista. The claim that Linux now is easier to install, quicker, less memory footprint and as easy as Windows to manage so ready for the average consumer and maybe the workplace.
Let’s see.

Unbuntu 8.0.4. LTS

  • Install
    I downloaded the 32-bits Live version for the site and burned the CD (on a Windows machine). I could have tried the 64-bits version but my Vista version is 32-bits so I thought to keep it equal.
    Installation is painless. First question is whether you want to try or insall Ubuntu, second question is in which language, …, location, keyboard, use the whole disk or partial, name of the user, password, name of the machine. All obvious and clear.
    Conclusion: good. Was everything recognized? No, webcam and TMP chip were skipped.
  • First use
    Before I could start using Ubuntu I first needed to install a lot offpatches. Some patches needed conformation, most installed automatically but after installation a reboot was needed. All kind of error messages flashed on the screen (all text command lines). These had probably to do with the patches but reboot went smooth and the messages didn’t come back.
    After the first patches were installed I needed to install other programs. Ubuntu comes with a number of programs installed (Open Office, some music players and graphics programs) but it comes without stuff like flash player, the right codec for realplayer, mediaplayer, no Java, no java plugin for Firefox, no flash plugin for Firefox, no DVD burner software. Luckily if you search in the repository and you know what you are looking for you will find the right software.
    All in all it took me another two and half hour just to get that working and installed.
  • Customization
    After that I needed to customize the look and feel a bit. The display resolution was good but the fonts used were crap plus it was just strait gnome. Luckily you can change the visual effects and optimize the fonts used for LCD display. After that the display looked good.
  • Use
    Linux is known for its small memory footprint. Ubuntu is not different in that. 350MB used is very good. In the past consistency of design has always been a problem with Linux. A problem that still hasn’t been solved. For instance:
    If you use Evolution Mail and Office you notice the consistency in menu structures until you take a closer look. Why does OpenOffice Word use File – Exit while Evolution Mail uses File – Quit.
    Connection with the Internet, wired and wireless, works witout a problem.
    Working with sites like YouTube and other streaming media and flash using sites require some getting used to as not all media is started automatically. Sometimes you first have to click the header or player.
    Security is a bit like the Microsoft Vista implementation. You are admin but you need to confirm any change that is significant (install of applications, change of hardware settings, etc).
    Shutdown is fairly quick and coming back from suspend or hibernate is OK. The commandlines that keep on popping up are annoying.

Microsoft Vista – Business Version

  • Install
    Installation works without a problem as you should be able to expect from Microsoft. The product key decides which version is installed. I have a Business key so the Business version was installed. That version doesn have all the MultiMedia tools but does come with VSS which in a business environment is a big plus.
    Everything was recognized including webcam and TMP chip.
  • First Use
    Before gettings started with Vista you need to install a lot of patches. I had hooped that I could install SP1 and skip a number of patches but SP1 requires a number a patches installed before it can be installed. So I just let it go.
    Vista doesn come with a lot of business applcations so I needed to install Office 2007, Visio 2007, Notepad++, Acrobat Reader, Firefox, Java, Jzip, CDBurnerXP, McAfee. That took all in all another hour and an half including patches and a number of reboots (not required by Office but by CDBurnerXP, McAfee and Java).
    Installation of browser plugins is automatic.
  • Customization
    Vista doesn need a lot of customization. Aero works and if you have the graphics card does’t need a lot of cpu cycles. Vista uses truetype automatically and I didn’t need to change anything in the display settings.
  • Use
    Well, if you are used to Windows XP you will get used to Vista very quickly. The GUI is more flashy but I didn’t find it slower, something which is reported by some people.
    Security has been improved, if you choose to give your user account admin rights (which is against best practices) than you will see a number of confirmation messages when you try to install a program or start an administrative program.
    Memory usage is hefty. The base system (with all applications installed) uses something like 700 – 800MB. Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem to slow the machine down at least not as much as it did with Windows XP.
    Connecting to the network went effortless, wired and wireless.
    VSS works like a dream.
    Shutdown is not as quick as with Ubuntu nor is the waking up from suspend or hibernate.

I can conclude that Linux / Ubuntu has gained a lot of ground on the Windows desktop. The GUI is still not as mature but that can be fixed with a little borrowing. Major questions are; whould you advise you brother or sister to work with Ubuntu or Vista and would Ubuntu fit in the workplace. Answers; No and No.
Linux still is an OS which requires the user to be willing to learn, look and analyze problems themselves and live with the quirks of an developer product and not a consumer product. Linux in the workplace has a place as a good and stable server platform. For desktop platform most companies look for a platform which can support all major business applications and give them control over how desktops are used as tool. Think about policies, locked down desktops, templates, firewall setting, use of legit applications, image management, software distribution, roll based computing, etc..
I am sure that it is possible with Linux, I just don’t see it yet. There is a lot to be said about the quality of the Microsoft software, but it works and for now it sets the bar.

No respect for privacy

Read this article by Robert Scoble. It is about the import and export of your personal data which you place on ‘social’ websites/services like Facebook, Plaxo, Hyves, Google Friend Connect, etc.
Again it shows that US based companies have a very different view on the privacy of information compared with European companies and the European ‘governments’. Can they keep up this attitude if they want this services to be a global service? What if e.g. China forbids them, will they change the service like Google is doing for their search engine? I wonder, will these companies at a certain point change their service or will they remain on their island and e.g. ban non-US customers?

Twitter spam filtering

Scoble wrote about “the beautiful noise of Twitter and FeedFriend” in a reaction to a blog entry from David Risley who complains about the noise these systems produce.

I wrote about the Twitter service before. Twitter is like standing in an overcrowded bar where everybody is talking loudly, not listening to anybody but everybody has an opinion about something. Oops, isn’t that just like a blog!

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New browser on the block

I saw an entry on Robert Scoble’s blog about a new browser by AT&T called Pogo.
You would ask, why on earth do we need a new browser if we already have, IE6, IE7, IE8, FireFox 2 and 3, Safari, Opera, …. Well, maybe we need a new browser which is compliant with all the standards. Non of the mentioned above are. Unfortunately there is no mention weather Pogo is or will be.

A limited Beta version of Pogo is available on their website. You have to try it but at least look at the demo because it really has some nice features which undoubtedly will be taken over by the other browser flavors. Much of the visualization you find in Windows Vista en OS-X have been incorporated. It look really cool.