25 Feb 2010

O2 broadband sucks

Update: Read my latest post "O2 broadband finally comes through"

Warning: Rant ahead

It's been almost 7 months since I wrote "Moving from Talk Talk to O2 broadband" and we finally got connected via O2 broadband in July last year.Read my O2 broadband review.

I have since then regretted moving from Talk Talk. We were unhappy with Talk Talk's low connection speeds but we later found out that O2 is far worse. Talk Talk's connection did get better in the end but by then we had already decided to jump ship to O2.

We moved to O2 because of the good customer reviews and I have no idea who these idiots were. Now we are paying more for a lousy service.

Download speeds are no where near the promised 8 mps ( though they did mention that it is subject to location). We are still stuck with download speeds of around 4mps and upload speeds lower than 1mps (worse than Talk Talk) and get cut off all the time. I can't even have a decent conversation on Skype anymore.

They boast that their customer service staff are all based in the UK and calls are free.  

Who cares!

I don't mind if the customer staff is somewhere in India or Timbuktu as long as they solve my problems. Called the O2 technical support twice - the latest was last Saturday. After being on line with 2 different guys for nearly 45 minutes they couldn't solve anything and said that they will have the line analyst have a look at our line. They promised to call back within 24 hours and I am still waiting.

So far I have tried 3 broadband service providers in the UK - AOL, Talk Talk and now O2 and none of them have delivered what they promised. Forget about customer satisfaction.

To say I am unhappy with O2's service would be an understatement. Can't wait for our contract to end and jump to another broadband service provider but the question is "which one?" I don't know if the problem is poorly managed servers or just poor management in general, but I cannot wait until this nightmare is over.

21 Feb 2010

FarmVille on Facebook

Games are the main reason that Facebook has become so popular and FarmVille is the most popular game on it by far. When I last checked it's Facebook page had and mentions that it has 81,125,786 monthly active users.

Developed by Zynga, this Flash game allows you to build up your own virtual farm complete with crops, animals, buildings and even aliens cows. It is one of the several game applications I am playing on Facebook but of late, it is the only one I am most active on.

If you thought that online games were only for kids, you are totally wrong. Almost all my friends playing this game are in their 30s, most of them with kids and some in top managerial positions. My wife is hooked on it as well. I have just reached level 33 while top in the ladder is a lady friend who is on level 60. I know of a few of my friends who actually spent money to buy virtual stuff on this game - Yes! Real money.

I can only guess the reasons why this game is so popular. First of all, it may be due to the fact that FarmVille allows room for creativity and growth unlike other games on Facebook. You should see some of the amazing designs that some people have come up with.

Then there is the social networking part, you need to have friends and interact with in order to expand, to get gifts and experience.The game developers keep the interest up by coming up with limited edition decorations and gifts, mystery boxes, upgrades and special themes - for example, it's the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics now and Valentine's day theme a few days ago.

This could be a really interesting topic to research academically - the motivations, the virtual economy, etc. Too bad I am really busy with my own research on attitude towards blogs.

Are you on FarmVille?

12 Feb 2010

Google Buzz review

Two days ago I received an invitation form Google to join something called Google Buzz. Later on found out that it was Google's answer to Twitter after Google wave didn't result in that people waving at each other. The difference is that now, Buzz is fully integrated with the Gmail service and just a click away to millions of Gmail users Worldwide.

Initially I was sceptical but I am beginning to like it. I like the way I can integrate my Flickr, blogs and even Twitter accounts with it. That means that people who follow me on Buzz will see what I am up to on all these places. Users can post music and videos on it. On the downside, some guys who are already overloaded with stuff from all over the net might get annoyed.

You can comment on a Buzz, Like it, or email it. However, unlike Twitter, they don't have a Rebuzz facility.

So are you on Google Buzz yet?

2 Feb 2010

Apple iPad - future of computing?

To be an integral part of the digital world, communication should be fast and convenient. Even though you might not travel much, but it feels like places on the other side of the World is just a click away. The World is definitely becoming smaller and it's all mainly due to two reasons - advances in computing and communication. Computers are shrinking in size every day, while their performance keeps on increasing. The UK is now in a race with the Asian giants, namely Japan and Korea, to digitalize media. However, these Asian countries have so far outpaced the UK in this regards - they have been using digital text books for years, while paper books still rule here.

Gadgets like the palm top and tablet PC’s didn't sell that well despite all the publicity mainly due to limitations, namely, internet speeds and distribution. But it's slowly changing - today cable broadband in the UK are reaching speeds of up to 50Mbps. Mobile broadband speeds are increasing as well - upto 14.4Mbps. That doesn't sound that impressive unless you compare it to the speeds just a couple of years back. And it's just the start - upgrades of the existing 3G networks to 4G is expected to increase mobile broadband speeds up to 100Mbps.

I guess this is just the right time for a complete transformation and may be the reason why Apple is launching the 3G version of the iPad, following successful launches of the Mac PC, Mac Books, the iPod and the iPhone. I am eagerly looking forward to the launch here in the UK in March.

Looking at the various reviews on the web, I was surprised to see so many people criticising the product. A lot of people dismiss it as an oversized iPhone. So far I have read less than five positive reviews about the iPad.

Anyway, the Apple iPad is the slimmest multi-touch screen device around (9.56" X 7.47")- a communication and entertainment device designed for convenience and mobility. It will come preloaded with the Safari browser, email client, photo app, video player, Youtube app, iTune and Google map among others. And that's not all - users can download upto 140000 apps from the App Store.

It is powered by a lithium-polymer battery which can last upto 10 hours and comes with a choice of 16, 32 or 64GB internal memory. With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, the iPad can also take a 3G SIM card and access the internet at a speed of 7.2Mbps(which is the maximum speed of mobile broadband in UK at present). It has an amazing high resolution LED-backlit IPS 9.7” display.

It remains to be seen whether the launch of this 3G device would increase the number of mobile broadband users in the country. Since there were several providers who have benefited from the launch of the iPhone sold with bundled packages, it won't be surprising if the iPad is offered with bundled mobile broadband packages here in the UK as well. Will definitely be looking to see how the various broadband providers respond to the launch of similar gadgets.

Prices have not been announced as yet, but the 3G iPad will definitely be on the expensive side (as if that has deterred Apple fans in the past). Looking forward to getting my hands on one soon. I believe that ideally it will be best suited for business people, frequent travellers and those want to have internet access always on. Even though the device can be used as a normal reader, the popularity of the iPad will depend on the connectivity - the 3G features and support for various applications similar to the iPhone.