Everyone's Twittering

The use of Twitter seems to have taken off enormously over the past few months as people are realising how the tool can be used not only for messaging, but also for marketing and self-promotion. It's interesting to see all the celebrities that are now 'tweeting'.  Some of them are obviously just using it for promotion, whereas some of them seem to be genuinely using it to communicate with friends.  It makes you wonder whether those in the latter category realise that their tweets can be seen by the whole world, such as:

Richard Madeley (@Richard Madeley) sending a tweet to Jonathon Ross (@Wossy) saying 'Fine show but Jude thought she saw some VPL. I’m sending you my favourite showbiz thong, recently worn in but clean. Hope it helps.'; and

Deborah Meaden (@DeborahMeaden) sending this to Duncan Bannatyne (@DuncanBannatyne), her fellow Dragon from Dragon's Den - 'Afternoon Duncan, can you thank Joanne for that lovely gift. Thank her for the invite, we’d love to come. See you @3.30pm'.

Many other British celebs have recently started tweeting, including:

As well as the celebs, the politicians have been quick to hop on the bandwagon and start using it for announcements, such as 10 Downing Street (@DowningStreet), Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon), Governer Schwarzenegger (@Schwarzenegger), our own PM (@KevinRuddPM), and of course Barack Obama (@BarackObama) who used social media so effectively during his presidential campaign.

You can tell a lot by the language and grammer that twitterers use.  For instance you can tell that Andy Murray (@andy_murray) is clearly of the texting age when you read his tweets, such as:

'Hit for cupl hours at kooyong 2day. Hot again. Nite match 2mrw. 2nd on rod laver', which for all you oldies translates as 'Had a couple of hours of tennis practice at Kooyong today.  It was hot again.  I have a night match tomorrow.  I will be second on the Rod Laver court'.

Twitter was founded as a micro-blogging service in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey (@Jack), Biz Stone (@Biz), and Evan Williams (@ev), which makes sense when you know that Evan Williams was also the founder of Blogger, which he sold to Google in 2003.  I remember at the time many commentators dismissing it as a fad and pointless, wondering how useful it could be when your posts are restricted to just 140 characters.

I wonder if they're still saying the same now?

This week Hitwise released figures showing the amazing growth of Twitter within the UK, which has increased ten-fold within the past 12 months.  Twitter’s penetration per head is even deeper in the UK than in the US. It ranked as the 291st most visited website in the UK, while in the USA it ranked 350th. It’s popular amongst the young, but the fastest growing age group of users is 35-44 year olds, who now account for 17.3% of UK visitors.

Twitter UK traffic growth 2008-2009

I'm not sure what the penetration is here in Australia but it certainly seems to be taking off.

I've been using Twitter for about 15 months now.  I mainly started using it out of curiousity and as a way of keeping my facebook status updated without having to log in to facebook each time.  The beauty of twitter being that you can send 'tweets' via text message.  Now of course there's also a plethora of applications that you can use to twitter from PC's, Macs and mobile phones.  I use Twitterrific on my iPhone so I no longer have to send text messages.  It's all very easy to link up.  When I publish this blog post my twitter account automatically updates my tweet feed to say I have a new blog post, which then in turn updates my facebook status.

Social media in general is changing the way we all communicate and connect with each other.  Even the Pope has launched a Vatican channel on YouTube.  With the use of social media now ubiquitous amongst teenagers, I strongly believe schools should consider teaching kids about internet safety and etiquette, if they're not already.  Many people struggle to realise the social effects and privacy implications that this new technology has.  Just this week a 41-year old UK man was found guilty of stabbing his wife to death after she changed her Facebook status to 'single'.

You can follow my not so interesting twitter feed here.

IPChitChat is now LIVE!!!

I am pleased to announce that after months of development, our new website - www.ipchitchat.co.uk - is now live!

We originally hired a web developer to build this site but it didn't work out too well. His work turned out to be really shoddy. It's our own fault, we should have done better due diligence when choosing the developer.

After getting rid of the web developer there was so much work to do to try and get the site looking the way we wanted that we decided it would be quicker to start again. I'd learnt so much trying to fix the work he had done that I had confidence that I could do a better job myself. I'm not sure I'd do it again. You wouldn't believe the amount of hours work it takes to create a site such as this, particularly when it's all open-source (using free software) to save money. If we'd have spent a fortune on a top e-commerce system then I'm sure it would have only took half the time.

Anyway, it has taken a lot longer than planned to get this site up and running, and there may still be the odd bug or two that we need to iron out, but I'm happy with the results.

So how does this differ to our old site - ipchichat.com, you might ask? Well, it's like comparing a Mac to a ZX Spectrum. The old site was completely built by hand using html. None of the site is database driven and we had to use a third-party to provide our shopping cart and checkout.

In the new site, the whole site is run using a proper content management system. Everything is database driven, making it much easier to manage and make changes to the site on the fly. We've integrated a proper shopping cart system, and now have our own SSL certificate so users can checkout within the site. We've got a blog, a download area - where users can download user guides, firmware, etc. Users can properly manage their account information on the site, and see their order history. We've got different account types for regular shoppers, corporate accounts, and resellers; meaning that users will automatically get discounts on products depending on their account type. We've got an help-desk system where users can submit support requests, and they will receive a support ticket, which is managed through our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The list goes on. We've also greatly extended the range of products we offer.

Over the coming months we've also got plans to introduce even more features.

Check it out at www.ipchitchat.co.uk - you can even sign up to our e-mail newsletter.

Jaxtr - Making International Calls Easy

I've finally found the perfect service for the Expat. Jaxtr is a service which makes international calls easier, cheaper and much more convenient. It basically means that I can now make calls to the UK from my Australian mobile phone at a cheaper rate than calling from my home phone - even cheaper than using a calling card!

It works by assigning you a local number in your country that you can call, which is then switched through jaxtr's VoIP network to the destination number you have assigned overseas. So for instance, I simply go in to Jaxtr and enter my Dad's phone number in the UK, it then assigns me a local Australian number that I can use that will get forwarded to my Dad's number. Calling UK numbers from Australia using Jaxtr costs 1 jax per minute, and you can purchase 1000 jax for $10 US, so basically it costs 1c per minute. Of course you still have the cost of ringing the local Australian number, but on my Vodafone plan I get $150 worth of call for $29 so that's also really good.

Jaxtr works with most of the countries around the world and from my tests the call quality is really good.