Useful (free) Christmas Presents

Don’t unwrap them before the 24th (or 25th, depending on local traditions)!

Game: Flow – leave all Christmas stress behind and enjoy the really simple life

Website: WhatTheFont – identify a font by uploading an image

Software: PDFCreator – easily creates PDFs from any Windows program (license: GNU GPL)

Software: PC Inspector smart recovery – Freeware (sponsored by Convar) for recovering your photos from memory cards

Hardware: If you’re already a Fonero, Fon lets you give away a free La Fonera router for Christmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Location based services – another Google breakthrough?

Do you use your mobile phone to surf the internet? I don’t, at least when I can avoid it. Compared to using a PC with a fast DSL connection, an UMTS-enabled mobile phone is a poor replacement: more expensive, slower and harder to use. The only advantage is… well, that you’re mobile, of course?

There’s more, though, at least there could be: location based services, which are mobile services based on (or at least enhanced by) the knowledge of your current geographical position. Obvious example: take Google Maps on a mobile phone, add the position of the user and you’ve got something like a hand held GPS device with map functions.

Not very revolutionary, I agree. However, having read this article in The Observer (also mentioned on and, I’m sure there’ll be more. Imagine a social network system which doesn’t just know your preferences and friends, but also which friends or potentially interesting persons are near to you, right in this very moment! For example, you could have a powerful combination of the Lovegetty and an internet dating site.

Now let’s make no mistake here: the mobile telcos know about this idea and many other great ones for location based services. They just haven’t implemented them (at least not on a large scale) for a number of reasons (privacy concerns, the need to develop powerful software, maybe also simple lack of money after the UMTS disaster in Germany).

Google’s got money, highly capable programmers, creative developers and the courage to implement new ideas. I’m expecting something more than just a phone which has Google set as the home page in its browser.

Why the StudiVZ disaster won’t lead to a mass exodus to Facebook

StudiVZ, Germany’s most popular social network site for university students and often called a “German Facebook clone”, has been forced to shut down its website for several days following the exposure of a series of pathetic security issues. While this disaster provided hours of great entertainment for programmers and hackers, from a commercial perspective the most interesting question is the one posted by Don Alphonso in his recent blog: What if StudiVZ’s users simply turned to the original and registered with Facebook?

As he writes, this would leave behind an essentially worthless company. However, here’s the main reason why this won’t  happen: Facebook is available in English only. Yes, we’re talking about university students and not about consumers in general, which have trouble understanding even simple slogans in English. Still, we have to face the facts: A representative study rated only 5% of the students as having very good or good English language abilities. I’m serious. Just look at my lousy English – my fellow students thought it was amazing (“You must have spent a lot of time abroad” – maybe so, but not in English speaking countries).

Loosing 5% or even 15% of their users wouldn’t cause irreparable damage to StudiVZ. You’d need a far higher figure to generate the positive network externalities which really make social networking site work. Facebook won’t get there unless they set up a German version. They probably won’t get this done until Tuesday, when StudiVZ is supposed to be back on line. Apparently they don’t even own the domain

Lesson learned: Security and internationalization should be on your mind right from the beginning of a web project.

JAJAH on your mobile phone – it works!

If you have no idea what JAJAH is, you’re probably paying too much for your phone calls. You should go have a look at my post from February.

Good, now that we’ve established I’m not always too late reporting interesting new developments ;), let me tell you that using JAJAH’s VOIP-based callback service on a mobile works very well. While I couldn’t test the “seamless integration” on phones using the Symbian OS, triggering a callback with the Java application is not too much of a hassle either. For a list of supported phones and further information, go here.

Thank you, JAJAH! No longer will I have to postpone making international calls until I’m on a PC. 😀

Please note (to prevent expensive misunderstandings): If you use JAJAH while roaming outside your operator’s network,
you’ll of course still have to pay roaming charges for the incoming (callback) call.

Netobjects Fusion 7.5 kostenlos (upgradefähige Vollversion)

This post is available in German only as is the web site and software mentioned here.

Latest Release! NetObjects Fusion 9Während meiner Recherchen zu dem unten genannten Site-Style-Problem habe ich ein interessantes Gratis-Angebot von gefunden: Unter diesem Link lässt sich die Vollversion von NOF 7.5 gratis herunterladen sowie die Registrierung zur Erteilung einer Seriennummer vornehmen. Beides funktionierte bei mir problemlos. NOF 7.5 bringt gegenüber der Version 7.0 einige nützliche Neuerungen mit und sollte sich auch auf die aktuelle Version upgraden lassen (Seriennummer genügt zur Installation des Upgrades).