Track Santa this Christmas Eve with NORAD

Today is Christmas Eve, which means that billions of people around the world will be celebrating Christmas tomorrow. Different people of different cultures celebrate Christmas in different ways; some celebrate today, many tomorrow, and others over a twelve day period.

About Santa

If you live in the Britain, France, the USA, Russia, Germany, Canada, Australia, or a (big) handful of other countries around the world, then you are probably familiar with the character of Santa Clause, or Father Christmas.

Christindl, Pere Noel, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or whatever you call him, is a man who lives at the North Pole and sets out to deliver presents to good children across the world on Christmas Eve.

Good children will go to sleep on Christmas Eve and in the morning awake to find their stocking full and presents underneath the Christmas tree, courtesy of Santa. In return Santa asks only that children are good, and he uses information that robins relay to him to decide whether a child should go on the naughty list, or the nice list – he checks each list twice, just to be sure!

Track Santa With NORAD

This year, why not track Santa on his journey around the world with NORAD? Every year, the US military undergo a massive operation involving countless jets, radars and satellites to follow Santa on his journey, for the benefit of children everywhere, and to make sure that he doesn’t run into any difficulties.

NORAD Track Santa logoFrom December the 24th every year, you can track Santa thanks to NORAD. You can follow his route, watch videos as he completes parts of his journey, and learn about the different places he visits. As I write this Santa is over New Zealand, and has just visited Christchurch.

What are you waiting for? Track Santa now!

Remember this Christmas Eve to put the fire out before you go to bed, and to leave some milk/bear and a mince pie out for Santa, and maybe some sprouts or a carrot for the reindeer.

Merry Christmas all 🙂

An analysis of the iPhone 5

Is is nearly 3 months since the 6th incarnation of Apple’s iconic iPhone, the iPhone 5, was released. Often I think it is more interesting to discuss a technology a few months after its release, rather than just straight away, as faults have been exposed, and there are opinions about long-term use.

In this article I am going to explore what the critics think of the iPhone 5, the good, the bad and the faulty!

So what makes the iPhone unique from any other phone? Samsung would argue very little, because as soon as Apple’s latest smartphone was released, Samsung announced that it was filing a lawsuit against Apple, because it had infringed many of its patents.

Size and Weight

The iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 is bigger than its predecessor (the iPhone 4S). It is taller, the same width, and slightly thinner. When smartphones first hit the market, there seemed to be a race to make them smaller. Now however, the trend seems to be towards developing a bigger screen. Tablets are getting smaller and smartphones are getting bigger – will the two ever merge? I think they might, so watch this space!

Despite being bigger, the latest model is 28g lighter than the previous model, weighing an amazing 112g. Considering the technology inside the device, that is an impressive weight!

Camera

The pace of development of inbuilt cameras in mobile phones is staggering. The iPhone 5 has an 8 megapixel camera, which is very competitive considering that just a few years ago, 8MP was pretty good for a digital camera – which isn’t also a phone.

Reception

One of the main criticisms of the iPhone 5 is that it has stopped being a phone. Logically the primary purpose of a smartphone should be to call and text people, browsing the internet, using apps, taking pictures and other features are optional extras, and shouldn’t be the main function of the device. That said, there have been many reports about people finding that the iPhone 5 has really bad signal problems. I know of two people who are on the same network, one with a Samsung Galaxy S III and one with an iPhone 5. The person who owns the Galaxy can almost always get signal, whilst the person who owns the iPhone can’t. When the phones are in the exact same place, the Samsung device can get signal, but the Apple device can’t.

Speed

Because of all the new features of the phone, it needs to have a good processor, and it does. There was hope that it might have a quad-core processor, which it didn’t, however it does have a pretty good A6 processor, which is very speedy, and is what makes the iPhone 5 feels quick and slick. Match that performance with the 4-inch Retina display, and you have a very fast and flashy phone!

Siri

Siri has seen a few updates, but nothing major. The initial introduction of Siri in the iPhone 3GS was revolutionary, and there is still relatively little viable competition out there for Siri, however one expects an iPhone to come with Siri these days.

Maps

The iPhone 5 was the first phone released by Apple with iOS 6 – which had Apple Maps installed. Apple Maps is Apple’s own version of Google Maps, which has replaced Google Maps on the operating system.

Some of the navigation features have been praised, as having better clarity and being more useful than the Google alternative; especially due to the inbuilt Siri compatibility.

That said, there are major issues with Apple Maps, in that it can be really inaccurate. Australian police have actually advised people against using the software, after they had to rescue motorists stranded in the wilderness of a national park who were trying to find a city, which Apple Maps thought was in the middle of the the wilderness, not where it should have been!

Many places are not where they are meant to be, some just a few miles out, others quite a lot further! One example is Berlin. You know, that city in Germany. The capital city of Germany. Well according to Apple Maps, Berlin is on the continent of Antarctica, which isn’t only the wrong continent, but also the wrong hemisphere! Have a search for Apple Maps fails, and you get some pretty funny results!

Berlin, Antarctica - Apple Maps

Apple Maps really does think that Berlin is in the Antarctic!

Awards

The iPhone 5 isn’t short of awards. The phone is top of Time Magazine’s top 10 gadgets list 2012, which is a big achievement!

Sales of the phone are something else for Apple to celebrate. In the first three days of the phone being on sale, there were 5 million sales! That is 1 million more than the iPhone 4S got in its first three days.

Your Thoughts

Do you own an iPhone 5? If so, what do you think of it? Do you like the phone and iOS 6, it it revolutionary, or was it a waste of money?

Is there really that much diversity on the internet?

The internet is big right? Okay it is massive. With that massiveness one naturally associates extreme diversity. Don’t get me wrong, across the entire internet, there is amazing variation, with billions of people adding their spin to the net.

What I am going to investigate in this post though is how diverse the ‘main’ internet is. What I mean by that is the internet that we use every day. How diverse is the most regularly used/visited content? Is there really as much choice as we think, or is the majority of the internet dominated by a few firms?


In order to go about this research I am going to use Alexa, who gather statistics on websites traffic. For most sites, the data isn’t that accurate, however for really busy sites, the numbers are so great, the reliability of the data is much higher, hence why I can use it.

Alexa's Logo

Google

According to Alexa, Google.com is the most visited site on the web. How could it not be? Alexa estimates that 50% of all internet users visited Google.com in the last three months. Second on the list for most visited sites is Facebook, which is trailing with just 45% of internet users visiting the site.

Remember however that is just Google.com, Google has a massive monopoly over the internet. In the 100 most visited sites on the web, 18 of the sites are owned by Google – 16 localised sites, Google.com and GoogleUserContent.com (the site you see when there is an error finding/displaying a page).

Google undoubtedly has reduced diversity on the internet, having such a monopoly on the sites we all visit. The thing is, it isn’t just 18 sites. Google also owns YouTube and (the third most visited site on the net) Blogspot which is ranked 10th, Blogger at 47 (Blogger and Blogspot are now one) and Blogspot.in (India) ranked 73. That means 21 of the most visited sites on the net belong to Google, meaning it owns more than one fifth of the ‘main’ internet.

Googlite Logo

Google’s dominance on the web suggests that a lot of us are Googlites!

Can you call the internet diverse, when in the top one hundred sites, one firm owns more than a fifth of all sites? Maybe, what does the rest of the field look like?

Microsoft

Unsurprisingly, the company that is arguable Google’s main rival is in second place. Yahoo and Microsoft are currently in a ‘Search Alliance’ therefore restricting competition, so I am going to count them in the list of sites that Microsoft owns/influences. Here is the list of sites that Microsoft owns/influences which are top 100 websites:

  • Yahoo.com – Ranked 3rd
  • Live.com – Ranked 7th
  • Yahoo.co.jp – Ranked 16th
  • MSN.com – Ranked 17th
  • Bing.com – Ranked 29th
  • Microsoft.com – Ranked 30th – ironic how it is lower many of the other sites it owns!
  • Flickr.com – Ranked 53rd and Yahoo owned

Therefore Microsoft own/influence 7 of the top 100 sites. Add that to Google’s 21, and 28 of the top sites on the net are owned by two firms. More than a quarter.

I am starting to think the ‘main’ internet is not as diverse as one may first assume.

Amazon

Next on the list of internet giants comes Amazon. Amazon.com is ranked 10th, whilst Amazon Germany (Amazon.de) is ranked 91st and Amazon Japan (Amazon.co.jp) is 95th. Amazon also owns the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) which is the 50th most visited site. Amazon owns 4 of the top 100 sites.

Amazon's Logo32 sites gone.

Alibaba Group

The Alibaba Group is a privately owned Chinese business, which owns Alibaba.com, Tmall (tmall.com), Taobao (Taobao.com) and Sogou.com. The group therefore account for four of the sites that make up what I am calling the ‘main internet’.

36 sites taken by just 4 companies. How diverse is our internet?

eBay

Next we come to eBay.com which sits 23rd on the list of top 100 sites. eBay International AG (ebay.de) is in 80th place, followed by eBay UK (ebay.co.uk) in 86th. eBay also owns PayPal (paypal.com) which is ranked 46th.

eBay steals another 4 sites, leaving just 60 of our hundred left, and so far only 5 firms are involved.

Time Warner

CNN (cnn.com) AOL (aol.co.uk) and The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com) are all sites owned by Time Warner. Time Warner is the sixth business involved now, leaving just 57 sites.

WordPress

The blogging platform WordPress (wordpress.com) is ranked 19th, and its brother, which allows users to host the content management system on their own site (wordpress.org) is ranked 83rd.

The Official WordPress LogoThere goes another two sites, meaning just 55 left, and only seven players so far.

Twitter

Ranked number 8 on the list is Twitter, however its URL shortener (t.co) is ranked 31st, meaning Twitter is also one of the big players in the top 100 sites, arguably with some form of domination over the internet.

Twitter's Logo47 sites of the top 100 accounted for and a mere eight organisations involved.

The Rest

Of the final 53 sites, 5 are adult only sites leaving 48 sites – although many of these either are a part of, or are a much bigger group.

Some familiar faces appear in the other 48 sites, Facebook (2nd), Wikipedia (6th), LinkedIn (11th), Apple (34th), Tumblr (37th),  Pinterest (47th), BBC Online (48th), Ask (54th), AVG (62nd),  Adobe Systems Incorporated (67th), About.com (81st), ESPN (82nd),  Go Daddy (85th), Netflix (89th),  The Pirate Bay (92nd) and CNET (97th).

Remove these very well known, well established, and massive brands, and we are left with 32 sites – less than a third. Of the remaining sites, around half are Chinese, showing the growing influence and usage of the internet in China.

My Verdict

In this post I have established that of the sites we visit most regularly, 47 are owned by just eight organisations. Does that really represent the freedom that we all believe the internet offers?

I was surprised by the type of content, and the limited number of different sites that there are in the global top 100. It would seem that the most visited sites consist of search engines, social media sites and news websites. Interesting statistics.

So, what is your verdict on how diverse the internet we use everyday is? I personally am not quite as convinced as I was before writing this article that the internet is quite as free and diverse as we all believe.

Please note these rankings are changing all the time, and all content was correct according to Alexa.com at the time of writing – the 6th of July 2012.

Worldictionary – The Perfect Travel Companion

Have you found yourself staring at signboards in an attempt to decode the unfamiliar words written in a foreign tongue? Have you sighed in despair wondering why you didn’t think of carrying that bulky multilingual dictionary when you set out on your world tour? Wouldn’t it be unnerving to find yourself lost in a strange land?

If it wasn’t for Worldictionary, I would have felt like a fish out of water during my recent trip to Germany. Thankfully, a friend of mine had told me about it earlier and I was able to make the most of my vacation. With the simplest and most efficient translation tool in my hand, I didn’t have to pore over tourist brochures or look for assistance from locals.Worldictionary iPhone App Translation ScreenshotDesigned to be the best travel tool, Worldictionary is an iPhone app that provides instantaneous translation of words. It recognizes words in several languages like traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, Germany, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Czech, Slovak and Romanian and translates them immediately.
This app is synonymous with versatility. All I had to do was point my iPhone’s camera at a word and Worldictionary swung into action! The word was translated in a flash. And I didn’t have to manually type it in or take a snap of the word. This is indeed technology at its best.

Worldictionary keeps a record of the words you’ve searched for, making it easy to come back to them for later reference. This feature is indeed of great help to those who are interested in learning a new language. There is also an option of taking a picture of a line of text and getting it translated word by word. I found this feature to be quite helpful. Images of words saved in your phone can be easily translated too, without any typing.

The only improvement I would hope for this app is the ability to recognize and translate handwritten fonts too. Though there were places where I couldn’t use this app due to the unavailability of a network connection, I still think it is the perfect travel companion one can find.Worldictionary iPhone App Dictionary ScreenshotThanks to this app’s instantaneous translation services, you need not fret when you come across words on a signboard, in a menu or in a newspaper that are in a language that’s not your own.

Download Worldictionary now and visit exotic holiday destinations all around the world. Its available in iTunes for £3.99.