29 May 2010

Earnings from Blog Advertising

This has been a good week. I earned over US$200 - all from ads on my blogs. The number of advertisers who bought advertising space via Text-link-ads.com has jumped almost three times as well.

However, I do earn more from advertisers who contact me directly and I believe I give them a better deal as well. Getting rid of the middle man does mean a win-win situation for both advertisers and publishers alike. I have also signed up a few long term advertising deals as well.

This is really interesting because when I started blogging professionally in 2006, my main source of income were from sponsored posts, especially via Payperpost.com. It was hard work trying to come up with quality posts and received peanuts in return. I mean, I used to spend time researching and writing 200 words long posts sometimes for only US$5 and was delighted when I was able to get a $10 offer. Now, it's kind of annoying when advertisers contact me offering me $10 for a 300 long sponsored post with 3 links. In fact, I haven't written a sponsored post (advertorials) for a while. I am also thinking of getting some guest writers to contribute. Despite offers, I have resisted for sometimes because I wanted to retain my personal touch (and control). What do you think?

Look forward to more reviews and tech news.

25 May 2010

First impressions of the Nokia E72

Finally got down to writing a long over due review. I first blogged about the Nokia E72 in June last year and was able to try out the mobile for two weeks, thanks to WOMWorld/Nokia.

At first glance it looks identical to the E71 however, the E72 is slightly wider (by 4mm) but it is thinner than most Blackberries (and lighter). It also has a faster processor and several new features including the optical Navi Key - makes scrolling pages much easier as compared to the knob on the E71.

This Symbian smartphone also comes with Ovi Maps which means that you can ditch the sat-nav and use the voice-guided navigation on the phone. Though not as user friendly as my old Tomtom One, it can prove to be quite useful and I used it to find my way to our polling station in the recently concluded elections.

I got so used to the Qwerty keypad that it was quite hard to go back to typing on my old phone. It paired comfortably with the Nokia HF-510 speakerphone via bluetooth and the voice calling feature was amazing. And talking about connectivity, I had great signals throughout the trial wherever I went. So I guess I was wrong in blaming the 3 network, the fault was actually with our Sony-Ericsson phones. Connecting to the wifi network in our University was quite easy as well and with great internet speeds.

The only thing that disappointed me was the camera. The E72 boasts of a 5 megapixel camera with auto focus and flash. Maybe I was expecting too much but the results were not as good as I had expected. I felt that my SonyEricssson K770i gave better results. Indoor shots came out with a yellow tinge and there was a lot of noise even when taken in bright sunlight.
Indoor pic of my kids

Macro shot

The video quality was acceptable.

Making video calls was easy and my friends told me that the image and voice quality was really good.

It is a small thing but the leather case that came along with the phone does make the phone feel a bit classy while carrying out it's main function - that of protecting the phone. However, one particular feature that makes this phone really stand out was it's battery life. The phone was already charged when I received it and I didn't even need to recharge it in the 2 weeks I had the phone. Found out that it has up to 12.5 hours talktime and up to 24 days standby time.

The 2 weeks duration was too short to test out all the features - a shame really because the phone is targeted at business users and I didn't really have time to set up the Nokia Messaging service which allows you to access up to 10 personal email accounts with 1 GB of storage. Another great function that I didn't really get to try out as well was the Quickoffice, which allows you to view and even edit documents in Microsoft formats including Word, PowerPoint, etc.

In conclusion a great phone, especially for business users and people who want to have access to multiple email accounts on the go.

My experience with the 3 network and my new Samsung Galaxy Portal

My contract with the 3 network ended yesterday. I have been a loyal customer for more than 2 years now ever since I first trialled the 3 Skypephone and had been looking forward to getting a new smart phone.

A few weeks back, I received a call from one of their salespeople who tired to get me sign up for a new contract with a refurbished phone for 2 years. I might have been interested had the models on offer been new ones or if they had been cheaper. However, I realised that I could get newer models at the same price and I rejected his offer.

I was really excited when I visited their website and saw that they were offering the Nokia X6 on the Internet Talker 100 plan for just £14 pm. Both my wife and I have decided to reduce our expenses on mobile phones and we had set the limit of just £15 pm. I had been paying around £19 per month before this.

However, I found out that I could not automatically upgrade online. So I called up their customer service. Imagine my shock when I found out that the online offers were only for new customers. Old customers would have to pay the normal store prices, for example £16 for the Nokia X6 on the Internet Talker 100 plan. I could take advantage of their very attractive online offer (which runs till the end of this month) but it would mean losing my mobile number which would be a big hassle.

I had hoped that as a loyal customer I would be eligible for a discount or something. I had introduced so many of my friends and family members to the 3 network as well but apparently loyalty counts for nothing on the 3 network.

I talked to a number of their customer service people but they were simply not willing to compromise. In the end, I was so annoyed with them that I decided to change network and even took the PAC code.

Today I am almost ashamed to say that I had to swallow my pride and went back to them. I renewed my contract in their store in Coventry city centre today.

I have to admit, 3 has the best deals for mobile phones among all the providers in the UK. Even at £16 for the X6, they are still the cheapest. The free Skpye and Twitter is an added attraction. However, the biggest reason I had to go back to them was due to the fact that my wife had renewed her contract with them yesterday. I could still go but that would mean extra expenditure to call each other across networks. This is what my wife refers to as switching costs. It doesn't mean that I am satisfied with their service or loyalty but simply that the cost of moving is too high. So I didn't get any reduction in my rates, no gifts, no rewards, nothing for being a loyal customer.

So here is my new phone: The Samsung Galaxy Portal GT-I5700. I got it for £14 pm month on the Internet talker 100 plan. This is my first ever Samsung phone and I am hoping that I won't be disappointed with this phone.

Look out for a full review of the Samsung Galaxy Portal soon.

17 May 2010

HTC Evo 4G

Consumers in the US can now pre-order the much awaited HTC Evo 4G. This top end Android powered mobile phone comes with high resolution  4.3-inch WVGA touchscreen, 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and 4G/WiMax network - in fact it is the first mobile phone designed for 4G mobile broadband networks. The phone comes with 1GB built-in memory and 512 MB RAM. The list of features doesn't end there. The phone also comes with a 8MB camera with flash. I want this phone.

The HTC Evo will be available on the Sprint network for US$199.

Saving files online with Dropbox

My biggest nightmare is waking up one day and finding out that all my research data along with the analysis and completed chapters have all been wiped out due to a virus or something. This has actually happened to some unfortunate researchers and I am not taking any chances.

All my work is stored on my portable hard drive which is backed up locally on my pc (manually), and automatically online on IDrive. I am using the basic free version but I am quite happy with their service.

Quite recently I signed up with Dropbox - another online backup service. Read my Dropbox review here. I have been using Dropbox for slightly more than 2 months now and I am really happy with their service. I can access and even edit my files anywhere - with access to the net. The upload speed is really fast as well - definitely way faster than IDrive.

Initially, I only got 2GB space as compared to 12GB on IDrive but I found out that I can increase the storage space up to 8GB by inviting others to sign up. If you register with Dropbox by clicking the link here, both of us will get an extra 250MB space. A great win-win situation. So far, only two guys have signed up via my link and now I have 2.5GB of space. Looking forward to getting more guys to sign up and get the maximum storage limit.

9 May 2010

Nokia HF-510 speakerphone review

I have been trying out the Nokia HF-510 speakerphone for a little more than a week now. This device is a hands-free car kit for your blue tooth enabled mobile phone. A perfect replacement for my old hands-free headset. I never really got used to having something stuck on my ear.

Before unpacking

The speakerphone I received had already been fully charged and I haven't recharged it even once even though I have been using it well over a week now. Learnt that charging the speaker's in-built battery takes around 2 hours which gives approximately 30 hours talk time and 180 hours standby time on a full charge.

Pairing the device with the Nokia E72 via bluetooth was pretty straight forward. I had to select the speakerphone from the list of devices on the mobile, entered the passcode 0000 and the pairing was complete.

You can check the list of all the compatible Nokia handsets here. It's compatible with other mobile makes as well, including my old Sony-Ericsson K770i and 3 Skypephone.

The HF-150 comes with three mounts and I used the the suction cup to mount to the windscreen and it didn't fall off even once. I tried using it with my Dash genie dashboard holder but that was not such a good idea - it fell off a couple of times while driving.

Due to the DSP (Digital signal Processing) noise-cancellation technology, voices were surprisingly clear and sharp. Accepting and ending calls was a breeze - by pressing the front display panel which also acts as a button.

The volume was quite loud but adjusting it was really easy and convenient - turning the dial on the edge of the speaker, left to lower and right to increase the volume. I really like the fact that you could see the incoming caller ID on the integrated display - so you can decide whether to accept any of the calls. Not that I rejected any.

I liked the ability to copy and access your contacts on the integrated display without twiddling with the phone. However, the feature I really loved was the voice dialling feature. Only tried it today and it works really well. All I had to do was press the front panel for about 2 seconds and you get the voice dialling symbol. Just say the name (or nick name) of the contact and it dials automatically.

There were no negatives. The only thing was that I had to remove it whenever I had to leave my car parked for an extended period of time, for fear that someone might break into the car thinking that the speaker phone was a sat-nav. I might be a bit paranoid but you can never be too careful.

The HF-510 is not listed for sale on the Nokia online shop but it's available in various online stores and the cheapest was £59.93 at Handtec.

With some places banning hands-free headsets and others considering it, the HF-510 is definitely a good buy if you wanted to remain in touch on the roads. I could really get used to this speaker phone and was quite sad that I have to give it back. It's will be hard to go back to using my old hands-free headset.

Thanks to WOMWorld/Nokia for letting me try out the  HF-510.

4 May 2010

SEO Specialist UK

I was talking to this guy I met at a conference sometime back and gave him my business card. He was smiling when he read the tag line on the card - "SEO Expert".

I had the card printed just for fun when I received a free offer from Vistaprint. I never realised that they would be so professional looking and they were really useful when attending blogger meets and conferences. I am down to less than 50 cards now.

Anyway, the guy was telling me that unlike the Americans, people here in the UK might perceive the words to be a bit puffed-up or boastful. He suggested that I used the words "SEO Specialist UK" which means the same thing but somehow sounds more acceptable.

I guess this illustrates the importance of language and of course the differences in culture.

1 May 2010

Blur - the ultimate racing game

Blur, a new racing game, comes out on May 28th. The game for Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3 and PC, features real-world track locations from Hackney and Brighton, packed with fast curves, sneaky alternate routes and hair-raising jumps in over 50 licensed cars.

Check out their amazing official trailer and if the real game is anything like that, it will definitely be a hit.