* Posts by Ben Cockburn

15 posts • joined 29 Apr 2008

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram deplatform themselves: Services down globally

Ben Cockburn

3 Mobile also went down at the same time as Facebook and Virgin Media. The Downdetector charts are very, very similar. I wonder if they're all connected?

What if everyone just said 'Nah' to tracking?

Ben Cockburn

Quite laughable your understanding of the advertising industry on which you profess such insight.

Digital advertising is the first example where John Wanamaker's universal truth is being challenged. The waste is, in an objective and granular way, quantifiable and can be removed. Day-in, day-out, people and algorithms work to remove non-responsive target audiences from who they advertise to. It's only by doing that that publishers make any advertising money online at all.

The mere fact that the selection of adverts you are presented with in your social feeds, search engine searches and banner advertising changes over time is proof of this ongoing optimisation.

Ben Cockburn

Re: Two conflated things

Because the value of you in that non-targeted state is so low that El Reg couldn't actually make a living if it survived on those. The value of an untargeted ad to an Advertiser is an order of magnitude less than a targeted one. I read people talking about 'data vampires', but it's more like a data soup kitchen, with advertisers spooning out a thin gruel to publishers because that is all the average visitor is worth.

As it stands now numerous sites are being slowly strangled by the increasing privacy restrictions. But El Reg's readership won't hear of that nonsense, until you wake up one day and realise that you get what you PAY for.

First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

Ben Cockburn

Broken link to the A300 article?

Apple New iPad 3 Wi-Fi + 4G

Ben Cockburn

New iPad icon upscaling

The iPhone 3GS had icons with dimensions 57x57 pixels and the iPhone 4 doubled that to 114x114. iPad 2 to New iPad started with 72x72 and went to 144x144, so although the pixel ratio remains the same and the upscaling requirements seem the same, the iPad 2 icons already had 60% more image detail to spread, giving a less noticeable upscale. Also, I think it was the iPhone 4 iOS release developers have been able to use higher than natural resolution image for their icons, which the iProduct then automatically downscaled to the appropriate size, whereas iPhone 3GS and earlier you had to produce a 57x57 jpg to get it to display, so the images used for the iPad 2 icons may already have contained more detail than you expect.

Opera 10.50 goes from pre-alpha to final in 10 weeks

Ben Cockburn

A bit harsh...

Colour profiling? One of the most obscure features of Firefox 3, enabled only by a config change.

Fair enough it's not going to suit you but it's a bit harsh to give Opera 10.5 the thumbs down for something that a vanishingly small section of the population is ever going to use.

Alreet, Apple!

Ben Cockburn


Says the fella who has no idea...

Stones throw away? Ahh live in Gateshead me and a tell ye it's tae far. 13 minutes from Gateshead te the middle of Newcastle, that's aall. 25 minutes tae the Metrocentre - that's rubbish. And it gets busy there, like.

(Apologies to most Londoners, where, like I have to do tomorrow from Finchley, it's an hour and a half to get anywhere useful - by car, by train, by tube - but this is what we argue about up norf)


Ben Cockburn


That comment was not worth reading...

Lloyds TSB's online banking system shows no love for Firefox

Ben Cockburn

Lloyds and TSB

I used to work at a Lloyds TSBs call centre a few years ago and it likely boils down to when Lloyds bought the TSB. TSB had a whizzy real-time consumer focused system, whereas Lloyds had an ancient clunky batch-processed system. As a result, when they first got internet banking the LTSB service would shut down between midnight and 4am while the Lloyds bit processed the days' transactions.

Lloyds then migrated all the 'Lloyds Heritage' personal accounts about 6 or so years ago onto the TSB system, but it wasn't able to handle some of the 'business-specific' functionality that the Lloyds system used so they kept it on for business customers.

As far as I am aware the business and consumer units are developed separately, and as a personal customer I haven't had any problems with the LTSB service. Quite the opposite - the system is quick, you can download statements, navigate around it while using the 'back' button (that so annoys me about Smile) and don't need that damn card reader that Barclays and others are so fond of. I've tried Opera, Firefox and Chrome on the personal banking service and it works fine. Viva TSB!

Zango goes titsup

Ben Cockburn

Business model going strong

Although the UK affiliate networks have largely cleaned themselves of adware affiliates, it's unfortunately still quite common practice, particularly in the European markets where comparable operations had none of the controversy of the silent 'drive-by' installations 180 solutions/Zango and their ilk in the US were culpable of (even if you believed they didn't knew what their affiliates were doing). In addition there are still a lot of 'search engines' and traffic purchase operations that will sell you traffic that is actually sourced from adware-infected computers.

Still, advertisers aren't stupid, none of the big brands want to taint their reputation by association with such underhand practices and the evidence they were influencing a purchase is hard to come by with the adware engines, so eventually these operations will be pushed right to the fringe where only the desperate are prepared to tread.

BT does Italian Job on London traffic lights

Ben Cockburn

Ooo-err missus.

"Contractors working on the Olympic site in Stratford sent a large thrust borer through a deep level BT tunnel on Saturday afternoon."

El Reg spymobile snapper nailed on Street View

Ben Cockburn

And another


RIM Vodafone BlackBerry Storm

Ben Cockburn


I've had a Storm as a evaluation for the last couple of weeks and must admit to being disappointed. I'll qualify this by saying I use a Blackberry Curve for work and have been impressed with that phone, and have borrowed an iPod for a couple of weeks while the owner was on holiday. First up the battery life was absolutely rubbish - with a brand new battery I wasn't expecting to leave the office at 5.30 with it fully charged and for it to be dead by 11pm following fairly light use. Even switching off the 3G resulted in it lasting less than 24 hours.

Possibly as a result of it's energy thirst, the metal battery cover does get worryingly hot when you're using the apps. Not quite flaming laptop proportions but then considering where people usually keep their phones it probably makes for a good contraceptive...

I've got it until tomorrow so will see about upgrading the firmware that people have mentioned, maybe that will improve things.

The camera is pretty poor in anything other than good conditions and 5 seconds is far too long to be waiting for a photo after you press the shoot button. In dark conditions the photos are grainy and the light flashes a second or so prior taking the photo, causing everybody to think the deed is done and start to break up the pose when it does take it. Asking everybody to pose again gets very frustrating.

Compared to the iPhone the clickable screen is better when you're navigating around the system menus, as it noticeably eliminates mistaken clicks, but when the icons reach the size they do for the qwerty keyboard or some of the menu screens the force taken to press the screen increases the thumb/fingerprint size the phone detects, therefore causing the selector to wander a bit right before you press - frustrating and a definite step back from the Curve's dedicated keyboard.

The Pearl SureType entry is OK, but you aren't going to be interested in typing lengthy emails in it. I definitely preferred the iPhone's touch screen keyboard set up, the fact that a mere brush of the screen meant the large-fingered can accurately select letters was a happy experience in comparison to the Storm, despite the small size of the screen keys.

Finally, the browser - maybe I'm just too used to Opera Mini on the Curve, but there is something counter-intuitive about using it. It's not bad for reading sites, but trying to enter text/submitting searches into websites is an absolute pain and the phone tends to become unresponsive while you're using the internet. pressing the screen to zoom is haphazard and you can easily click a hyperlink by mistake. Can't recommend it at all.

Good things: The system is generally responsive (though becomes less so with the more apps you run) and the screen is top-notch, the built in software installed (messaging, camera, app installation etc) works very intuitively and the look and feel of the entire UI is much more polished than the decidedly threadbare Curve. Plus Brickbreaker with a touchscreen is sooo much better than with the erratic Pearl scroller :o)

I do like it, but the iPhone does what it can do that little more slickly than the Storm, so for me this is very much a case of waiting for v2.0 before I'd commit to a 18-24 month contract. Particularly given the battery life.

Be Unlimited pulls plug on home CCTV service

Ben Cockburn
Thumb Down

Oh come on, surely you're not that dumb...

Why would you call up O2 to ask about a Be's changes to their Be-branded service? Am I being thick here?

I'd like to state up front that I'm biased because my company works with Be (really nice bunch, they use their own staff for all their advertising!) but come on.

You're supposed to be the journos in the know. So I would think you could be relied upon to know that Be provide the O2-branded broadband, not the other way around. If O2 launched a broadband service and you wanted the skinny on it, I could understand you ringing up the Be Broadband people to get more info, but surely ringing up a large corporate like O2 about something their subsidiaryis doing off it's own back is just bizarre, if not wilfully dumb. O2 weren't even mentioned in the press release so why make that connection?

It's like asking Katie Price for her opinion on the Sun's decision to print 'her' opinion on some current topic as she poses for Page 3. Sure, they're kinda connected, but someone's sure going to get their knickers in a twist and you know they are not going to have any answers for you.

It's fair enough to comment on the removal of a service, but please don't begin to suggest you're being even-handed by claiming you asked for a response from O2.

[Warning - Black Helicopters circling] Did you file this rather sensationalist story 20 seconds after firing your email over to O2, safe in the knowledge O2 couldn't possibly deal with your query before you would have published anyway?

Supermarket offers phones for a fiver

Ben Cockburn

Love for simple phones ... Nokia 1100

I have a 1100 and it is still the most reliable phone I have ever owned. Lasts at least two weeks between charges - so long in fact, I kept forgetting to plug it in! And the torch was pretty damn useful - went to Glastonbury and it paid for itself several times over when I lost my wallet one night and found it using the torch in the mud.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021