UK government sets non-personal data free to app developers

Gerald Lynch Computer Security, Internet, iPhone apps, Tech Digest news, Websites 2 Comments

After months of planning, the UK government have today launched their website, making reams of non-personal information available to developers in order to help create apps. 3,000 data sets have been made available, ranging from broad topics such as…

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Ofcom offers glimmer of hope in O2 tethering row

Paul Lamkin iPhone 1 Comment


Consumer blog Bitterwallet has posted an interesting update concerning the ongoing issue of whether O2 should be allowed to charge for iPhone tethering.

The row essentially boils down to the fact that O2 are proposing a £14.68 – £29.36 monthly bolt-on charge for customers who want to use their iPhone to tether 3G data to their laptops. iPhone customers already have a plan in place with O2 whereby they can download, supposedly, unlimited data, so customers would be paying extra for data they’ve already paid for.

Bitterwallet’s post includes a letter from a reader who contacted Ofcom to complain about O2’s proposal. The reader was told that “without further calls to them about this issue” any action Ofcom might take would not go forward. This implies that Ofcom will need more people to lodge a complaint before any action is taken.

If you did want to complain then Ofcom can be reached on 020 7981 3040 or 0300 123 3333.

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Excess datacentre energy used to heat homes

Duncan Geere Energy systems Leave a Comment


Telehouse is a company based in London’s Docklands that runs massive datacentres providing servers and other network gear to major companies.

It’s building a new one – Telehouse West – that’s costing $180 million, but the carbon footprint for such a facility is absolutely massive. Tonnes of heat is generated and the cooling systems involved have to work extremely hard. The company realized that the heat could be reappropriated for use in local homes.

As a result, the company’s been able to generate up to nine megawatts of power for local homes – the equivalent of boiling 3,000 kettles continuously. It’s the first major UK datacentre to implement such a strategy, and the first datacentre to gain planning permission in London since strict sustainability rules were introduced.

(via DataCentreKnowledge)

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Twice as many Brits email on the iPhone than any other smartphone

Duncan Geere iPhone, Mobile phones Leave a Comment


Stats from Comscore have revealed that 75% of UK iPhone users access their email on their phone – more than double the average for smartphones. The news kicks dirt in the eyes of critics who don’t like the onscreen keyboard.

60% of iPhone users accessed news on their device, compared to 15% for mobile phone users, and 37% of iPhoners have downloaded a game, compared to just 5.6% of regular smartphone owners.

Lastly, some demographics. 75% of iPhone owners are male, and most are between 18 and 44. That’s not too different to other smartphone owners, 65% of whom are male. Comscore cautions those who are calling it the next big thing, though – only 2% of British mobile phone owners have an iPhone.

(via Macworld)

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Guardian opens its content to the world, launches API

Duncan Geere Websites 2 Comments


The Guardian, a British newspaper, has today launched the Guardian Open Platform. “What’s that?”, you may ask. It’s an open API for all the Guardian’s web content. More simply, it’s a way for anyone to freely use Guardian content and data for whatever they want.

You may be wondering why on earth the paper would give its content away for free, given that it charges for it in paper form. Well, the answer is that the Guardian wants to be an all-pervasive source of knowledge on the web, rather than just a site that people have to go to to get that content.

Using the new system, anyone will be able to integrate Guardian data into web applications. The Guardian, in return, gets ad revenues. For the moment, it’s limited to just 5000 queries a day, and it’s all still in beta, but with any luck the Guardian can use their strong trusted position to become the default content provider for many sites on the net.

Guardian Open Platform (via TechCrunch)

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Amazon makes a terabyte of public data available on its servers

Duncan Geere Internet, Web 2.0 Leave a Comment


Amazon’s got quite a bit of spare server capacity. In its goal to become the world’s top online retailer, it bought so many servers that it’s now also running a cloud computing business on the side that’s actually rather cheap.

Last night, Amazon announced on its Amazon Web Services blog that it would be making a terabyte of public data available to its cloud computing users, for them to do whatever they like with.

The data includes stats from the US bureau of transportation , an *entire* dump of Wikipedia, the DBPedia knowledgebase (which includes info on 2.6 million people, places, films, albums and companies) and all publicly available DNA sequences, including the entire human genome.

There’s also a bunch of other stuff, and it’s all being made available at lightning-fast speed in machine-readable databases to Amazon’s cloud computing customers. It’ll take a while for the internet to really get to grips with this stuff and use it, but anything that’s about freeing up data and information is wholly supported around here. Three cheers for Amazon.

What would you do with the data? Work out why your trains are always late? Work out how many degrees of link separation a random Wikipedia article has to another? Use the human genome to create a clone army and take over the world? Share your ideas in the comments, and make me your second-in-command as world leader.

Amazon Blog (via ReadWriteWeb)

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Facebook changes terms of service, outcry ensues

Duncan Geere Intellectual Property, Web 2.0, Websites 9 Comments


A couple of weeks ago, Facebook changed its terms of service so that users won’t be able to delete their data if they leave the site. The blogosphere immediately erupted with criticism and it prompted a blog post from Mark Zuckerberg himself on who owns the data.

Facebook had been criticized for allowing a situation where someone could take a photo of you, upload it to the site, and then neither of you would be able to stop Facebook from using it for whatever purposes they like. You essentially waive all rights to the data.

Zuckerberg’s response to concerns is basically ‘chill out – we’re not going to take the piss here’. He doesn’t apologize, or even offer to soften the language – just asks users to trust the company. But how can users trust a company slowly eroding their rights?

Sure, odds are that Facebook isn’t going to suddenly abuse millions of people’s personal info, but if that’s the case, then why not retain the original language? Facebook has a history of communicating changes badly, and this is just another in a long line of screwups that include the profile redesign and the “Beacon” fiasco.

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