Thursday, 29 October 2009

Twitter Lists

Another new service has come my way - sadly not as ground-breaking as Google Wave but Twitter Lists, a new beta feature in Twitter described below, is going to be interesting.
Lists are timelines you build yourself, consisting of friends, family, co-workers, sports teams, you name it.

The feature is inspired by Twitter clients which use it as a way of organising users being followed to help manage updates and digest increasing amounts of information.

Lists has a couple of difference on the usual management listings of Twitter clients like Twirl, Brizzly and countless others.

--- Lists can be made private or publicly available for others to see and follow (at this stage this applies to List beta users only)

--- Users included in lists are notified and given a tally (in the same way that a user has follower numbers, there are now list numbers).

--- Users in lists do not need to be followed by the list creator.

Lists are live and can be edited and updated in real-time.

Why Lists are important?

Since Twitter changed the @reply, meaning you only see conversations between users you follow. This means if you want to know what is being talked about by a group of people, say for example Twitters in Thailand, you must follow the vocal members.

Lists is a way of helping people identify people within a network, to keep up with discussions.

It also bypasses the @reply block and allows users to view in on conversations which take place between people they are not necessarily following.

Lists have the potential to tweak the way we use Twitter, sorting through the noise with more organisation.

Google fake highlights issues with online news

Today's announcement of the 'new' Chrome OS showed why relying on the web for news has its problems.

First off, the news was fake - hats of to TechRadar, if its article wasn't, as it appears to be, the first to call it out, TR was certainly the most vociferous voice spreading the reality.

The story, which was run on a "major website" (despite not appearing on Google's own blog) before being subsequently pulled, exemplifies a growing trend of online news sites failing to research before publishing - such is the race to get the news out first and gain momentum on services that drive web traffic, like Twitter, Digg, Google News, etc.

With media and news now emanating almost entirely from the web, it is worrying to see onlines being fooled as they put SEO and web traffic before the accuracy of reporting.

Secondly, away from the news gathers, is the news spreaders. News of the fake launch was all over Twitter, marketing as a huge announcement, when in fact it was anything but significant.

Being viral doesn't make facts or stories true - why do people continue to blindly circulates link without at least visiting, or reading the articles in full first? Many will forward a link through Twitter, Digg, Stumble Upon, etc just because it is interesting at face value.

Part of the TechRadar story is below, it is in full here.
Reports of Chrome OS arriving for the masses look to be premature, with the site that is being pushed containing a proviso that the content is nothing to do with Google.

A report went up on a major website which sparked a Twitter furore, but the article is now gone and only the echoes remain.

The facts certainly stack up; the site at is not what you would expect an official release to be hosted on for one thing.


The lack of an official post from Google announcing the build is a second, but the real clincher comes on the very page itself

"Chrome OS is not related to Google," says a footer on the page "Service provided by SUSE Studio. See the license."
Update - Google has now blocked the download page which was available through a site hosted by Google (this was not the Google website).


And yes, I'm back.

Coming back in to Thailand this evening was a little strange, so far everything seems fresher. We definitely picked the right time for a break.

Usually we'd fly direct but, with the recent one year old birthday boy in tow, we decided a two legged approach may help break up the flight for him, making it easier for us. That was pretty much the case although the outbound flight proved difficult to satisfy the typical all-action, exploring needs of said one year old in the cramped environment of a plane.

The return leg was far easier being as it was around The Little One's bedtime meaning he spent a lot of the time sleeping and being pretty relaxed. Result.

One early observation of the trip is a renewed memory of why I hate so many of my fellow Brits. Much of the conversation and general rudeness and poor attitude of the flight was too much for me to bear.

Brits abroad.

Sadly I'm hitting the ground running this week so don't expect masses of updates (been a week already, after all) right away.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

UK politics heats up

Thai politics is a subject I've written about partly because, as a politics graduate living in Thailand, it is of natural interest and, secondly, it's quite a unique and interesting system.

For once though, I find UK politics to be a little more interesting (probably because I'm currently in London) - of particular interest is the coming appearance of the far-right British National (BNP) leader Nick Griffin on leading political show Question Time

Griffin's appearance on the show tomorrow (Thursday) evening has certainly ignited a few arguments with many calling for him to be barred from the show. Griffin himself, no stranger to absurd lines (for example Churchill would have been a BNP member), has claimed the publicity as a major boost, even saying thank you to the BBC for the opportunity.

The appearance certainly raises an interesting issue.

In the UK, more than Thailand (which sits 130th on the World Free Press index), there is universal freedom of speech .

However should this extent to the leader of a racist, fascist party whose appearance on a respected program may make his party all the more credible?

Many have argued that BNP views are such that the party is likely to be shown for exactly what it is on live TV, suggesting Griffin's self-proclaimed boost in the spotlight will ultimately be his downfall.

I agree with this line of thought although there is no doubting that, for the BNP's cause, "any news is good news".

The BNP may get a membership spike but it is likely to lose what little mainstream credibility it has and the new members, with such extreme views, would have joined regardless of Griffin's spot on Question Time, which will hasten their arrival rather than cause it.

The show is likely to receive higher than usual viewing figures and I'll be one watching as British politics will rival the craziness of Thailand - just for a night and no longer, we hope.

Photo credit BBC

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Surfin' the Google Wave

I'm now on Google Wave which I'm pretty chuffed about as it is brand-spankingly new, will doubtless become very important and, for now at least, it's something new for me to geek out on and get to grips with.

As we're still on holiday in the UK I'll resist giving the service a thorough run-out until I'm back in Thailand. Rest assured though that there will be plenty of details from me in the not too distant future.

And if you're lucky enough to already be on Wave, get in touch with your details.

For more info on Google Wave check out this recent post or the very geeky video below which gives an overview.

Big thanks to Chinarut aka Dancin Forever for setting me up on Wave.

UPDATE - It's a double-dose of tech as I'm trialling comments via DISQUS because, quite frankly, it's a pretty cool way of threading and story comments and discussions across the web/blogosphere together.

If you're a regular reader, should any of those actually exist here, I encourage/recommend you sign up as this is a shape of the future, I believe.

DISQUS certainly works well for some bloggers, though I'm not sure if Thailand blogs are ready for it just yet - we'll see.

Monday, 19 October 2009

With Great Grandpa

This photo alone makes the 24 hours plus of travel time, jet lag, (many) tears and lack of sleep from our Thailand-UK roundtrip worthwhile.

For the record, that's an 86 year age gap - quite amazing.

Top 100 Thai blogs

It was recently brought to my attention that this blog had entered the hallowed halls of the top 100 hundred Thai blogs charting in at number 49.

The site, devised by Thailand's Lost Boy, aka journalist and one-time Thailand resident Matt Crook, is a list of the most popular/well-read Thai blogs - an idea that, with hindsight, seems painfully obvious yet is incredibly useful and well crafted.

Whilst I'm a fan of such lists - the easiest way to find new content and blogs, for one - I always steered clear of listing in them. After all, Jonny Foreigner is not a glammed up SEO-show pony, despite the journalist/social media consultant day job.

However, after careful reflection (and a quick squint of Google Analytics) it isn't so bad after all, perhaps the plans for an all-singing-all-dancing, fanciful, new blogging project might involve this blog after all.

So, if you're a blogger or enjoy reading about Thailand and you are not familiar with the list, I recommend you take a look here.

PS: a quick glance before putting this post together and I'm shocked to see JF clock in at number 25

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I miss London

After a day hitting the shops, museums, parks and strolling the Thames it's clear the Missus and I still massively miss living in London.

Sure there are elements to dislike, the people are generally ruder than in Thailand, prices are higher, taxes are higher, rent is more expensive...the list goes on...but a day shopping here compared to Thailand wins hands done, particularly with a 1 year old in tow.

I love living in Thailand, yes, but massively miss living in London too.

Friday, 9 October 2009

UK bound

After months of planning, our trip to the UK was confirmed this week. Just in time, this coming weekend has been the estimated arrival date the folks at home have used to book various time off work and other activities.

Why the hold up?

The Missus, being the only member of our merry-3-man-band without a UK passport, requires a visa to return to the UK. We left it late but the process was almost single handily responsible for us booking the flights less than a week before we fly -- not to mention my nails are a little shorter than usual.

To explain why I feel like we pulled off a major coup in getting a visa, despite the fact our trip is 100% legit, here is an example.

I met the wonderful Missus whilst she was studying in the UK.

In order of action her processes were: arranging university course, booking halls and, last of all, applying for visa. With all the studying arrangements confirmed, getting a visa would be a doddle, right?


The visa was rejected in one day (back when the process was a day rather than this "up to a month" malarkey we have now) yet when she reapplied, as a family friend in the immigration service advised, using the same docs it was approved.

Right, ok...any logic there?

Well, bizarrely yes there is. A visa application boils down to the person who is processing it.

How do they feel?

Are they having a good day?

Is your name too long?

Did they have an argument with the other half over breakfast this morning?

Office vending machine run out of Kit-Kats?

Wrong type of leaves on the tracks delay their train and get them a bollocking for being late to work?

You'd better hope the answers to these questions, and more, is no or you could have a problem... and an accompanying rejection stamp.

Absurd? Yes, but I can vouch for the authenticity of this astonishing dynamic, I've seen with my own eyes. The braincells left discarded in the Home Office from my post-uni stint data-entering are my proof.

I digress, back to the trip... we fly off in the early hours of Saturday morning, not returning for more than two weeks. During that period expect my updates to be less regular than usual.

La gone na, Thailand, catch you later.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Google Wave

I don't often cross-post my work from Director but I'm going to shamelessly pimp out today's piece on Google Wave - a name that will become familiar with over time, if not already.

Google Wave is likely to be a major part of how we communicate and use the internet in the future

Check out the official Wave website for more info.

Why Your Business Should Care About Google Wave

Since its preview release at the end of September, Google Wave has barely been out of the headlines, being regularly touted as the future of internet communications.

Yet despite the hype only 100,000 people, worldwide, are invited to use its preview version, leaving the rest of us with a lot of questions.

What is Google Wave? How will it change the way we communicate and why should businesses be interested at this stage?

This week, the Business 2.0 column will take a look at Google Wave and why businesses, and others, should take an interest in its progress.

Internet Communications Born Today

Put simply, Wave has the potential to be a ‘game changer’ in the same way that MSN Messenger, Skype, email, Google Search, YouTube, eBay and others have shaped the state of the web and consumer habits today.

The principle belief behind Wave is to update internet communications. The founders saw that, whilst instant messaging and email are successful and popular, they were designed a long time ago and therefore to do not make the most of the web as it is today.

Wave is a difficult concept to grasp let alone explain but leading web technology blog Mashable succinctly described it as:
“A real-time communication platform. It combines aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management to build one elegant, in-browser communication client.“
Read this rest here on the Director blog.

Note the absence of lines like "Ride the Google Wave" or "Surf's Up as Google Wave comes in", tempting though they were.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Thai pop music - คนบ้านเดียวกัน (Neighbour)

I first showcased Thai pop music way back in June when I promised to "regularly" feature a more songs. I guess two in three months isn't particularly regular but here is the next offering.

This track is called คนบ้านเดียวกัน (kun-ban-dieuw-gan) aka neighbour in English.

It's not a song I like but it is massively popular in Thailand, played at weddings, celebratory events, karaoke parties and even on buses across the country.

Lots of songs include sing-along lyrics in Thai just like this one, such is the love of karaoke.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Tragedy in Saraburi

This weekend has been a sombre one as we have mourned the tragic and senseless death of a family friend killed in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Although I didn't know him well Khun Arom was well know to my in-laws, and most of town, as both a local politician and the owner of White Room, a restaurant-cum-bars in the city where my sister-in-law once worked.

Below is the news taken from this Bangkok Post article, one of media outlets to have covered it.
Five people - including two local politicians - have been killed in a shooting spree at a house in Saraburi.

Chawalit Thipsawet and Arom Udomsan, local politicians in Muang Saraburi municipality, were among the five bodies found in the single storey house located in a 10-rai compound in tambon Phukhae, Chalerm Prakiat district.
What the article doesn't state is some of victims were gunned down as they slept. Utter cowardice.

So who did this awful crime?

The murderer is, at this stage unknown. Media report across Thailand, in both English and Thai, have suggested the attack came after a Friday night out but the local perspective is somewhat different.

From what I've heard, a number of army officers that regularly visit the bar had racked up a sizeable tab. During one visit, a few weeks ago, the officers were confronted about the debt and, upon refusing to settle it, fighting ensued with several officers hospitalised from their injuries.

There is speculation that the murders were revenge for the events of that evening.

Many are quick to blame the army although it remains to be seen exactly what did happen.

I sincerely hope the culprit is caught and brought to justice quickly. There is absolutely no justification for killing five men is cold blood.

It's hard to believe that in a country known as 'The Land of Smiles', where Buddhism preaches tolerance and patience, there are individuals with such callous disregard for human life.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Microsoft tackles piracy in Thailand

You know piracy is a problem when a company produces a press release (in the loosest sense of the word) like this.

I've heard a few illogically thought-up ideas for fighting piracy in Thailand but found the press release from Microsoft to be perhaps the most toothless. See excerpt below.
With many people around the world keen to get their hands on Windows 7 as soon as possible, some consumers may have been tempted to purchase what they believe to be a genuine copy of Windows 7 from IT malls in Thailand.

Microsoft Thailand would like to alert consumers that the new operating system - Windows 7 - will not be officially launched in Thailand until October 31st, 2009. As such, any copies of Windows 7 currently for sale at IT malls and resellers or for download online will not be the genuine Ready to Manufacture (RTM) and could expose the owner’s PC to security risks.
I could summarise in a few words - "go get a cheap copy at Pantip Plaza".

I'm not sure this will do any good Mr Gates, and by the way I disagree with the idea that W7 is highly sort after.

Apple Snow Leopard and Google's Android OS are the sexy, desireable operating systems. People with Windows just seem to inherit it on a new purchase, I'd love to know just how many people "around the world" are keen to get their hands on W7?

Incidentally, The Missus recently took her laptop to be seen to at our local IT mall - it was overheating and prone to spontaneously rebooting without reason.

A week and around 1,000 Baht (£25) lighter, said laptop was healed, returned and found to be running Windows 7, long with the latest Adobe Photoshop, which the Mr PC Healer kindly installed without extra charge or request from us.

We got the laptop back last week, you can do the Math re the version of Windows 7 my missus is now using.

Piracy is so ingrained into Thai society, I very much doubt it will ever retreat with any significance.

Online advertising's UK milestone

Yesterday was a big day in the history of the web.

Findings from a PWC report for the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) found that online advertising spend in the UK had overtaken TV advertising spend for the first time.

Online has long been heralded as the future for, well, pretty much everything, advertising included. The online ad industry has been growingly steadily though many will be shocked that the balance of spending has tipped so quickly, and without warning, in the UK.

Economic conditions have undoubtedly played a part in hastening this event. The smaller, customisable nature of online advertising allows advertisers to stretch their budget further and be more targeted in their outreach of customers.

For example. The budget for one TV advert can be spread across a number of websites, to target either one specific demographic (for example mothers, by targeting baby and shopping websites). Whereas a TV ad will run to a limited schedule, perhaps twice an evening, or once a day, the online ad is permanent.

Online ad networks are pushing advertisers online too.

Using ad networks, companies can rotate their advert across a series of websites that cater to a particular audience demographic. Sophisticated networks can even recognise a visitor, see that he/she has read the advert already and instead provide an alternative ad to maintain their interest. This has given ad networks the opportunity to produce "serial" adverts, which run like a story (particularly effective when using video).

This news is a message that online is beginning to fulfill its potential in the West. As for Thailand, online advertising's share of the total revenue spent on advertising remains around 1.5%.

Thailand can blame a number of issues - including lack of widespread broadband, lack of widespread 3G, less mature consumer habits, language barrier issues, et al - but the fact remains that the day online overtakes TV ad spend is a far, far off...*if* it ever happens, that is.