Micro-blogging platform Twitter's popularity continues to grow exponentially month-by-month and the service appears to be particularly popular in New Zealand.

Research company Perceptive says 6 per cent of the local population are now tweeting, above and beyond the 5 per cent level of twitterers recorded in the US.

But the service still has its critics, including social media commentator and author David Seaman who last week claimed frequent Twitter use causes the "equivalent of brain damage".

"We're seeing 30 and 40-year-olds acting like overly emotional teenagers on Twitter," Seaman said. "It's not all that healthy."

One of his worries is that Twitter use takes complex ideas and boils them down into "overly simplistic soundbites" because of the service's 140 character size limit for each message. "Basically, Twitter has some good uses, but it's making us all a bit stupider," Seaman claims.

Anyone with a view on Seaman's pronouncements is welcome to share them with me via www.twitter.com/simonhendery. Remember: you'll need to keep your message short and simple.


The brain-mushing potential of Twitter aside, another downside to the growing popularity of online social platforms, according to security company Kaspersky Lab, is that networking sites "have become hotbeds of malware and spam".

Kaspersky says that this year around 80 per cent of all internet users, or the equivalent of more than 1 billion people, will visit social networking sites, and cybercriminals are increasing their interest in this huge pool of potential victims.

To minimise security threats such as identity theft, Kaspersky has a list of recommendations including:

* For sites such as Facebook, create a bookmark for the login page, or type the URL (address) directly into the web browser.

* Don't click on links in email messages.

* Only type in confidential data on a secure website.

* Check your bank account regularly and report anything suspicious to your bank.

* Look for giveaway signs of phishing (data theft) emails, such as: messages not addressed to you personally, where you are not the only recipient or those that contain spelling mistakes, poor grammar or syntax or other clumsy use of language.

* Install internet security software and keep anti-virus protection updated.

* Be wary of unsolicited email or instant messages.

* Back up your data.


The global economic climate may have dampened enthusiasm for one of last year's most-hyped IT marketing buzz-words - sustainability - but the drive to sell green technology certainly hasn't faded away completely.

Canon New Zealand, for example, has just launched a range of calculators made from up to 80 per cent recycled material, namely bits from old Canon photocopiers.

The company says a single trashed photocopier can provide up to 4.7kgs of recyclable plastic, enough to provide the parts for up to 259 of its new LS63TG calculators.

Canon says while the keys and acrylic displays within its "green" calculators still require new plastic, the top and bottom cases, which use the recycled material, account for the bulk of the units' physical makeup.


Google's Android operating system for mobile phones will finally arrive next month with Vodafone announcing this week it will begin selling HTC's touch-screen "Magic" handset exclusively here.

"It's very exciting to be the first to bring an Android handset to New Zealand and add one of the best mobile internet brands to our line-up," said Vodafone's general manager of products, pricing and internet, Kursten Shalfoon.

Perhaps not quite as exciting as what's happening over at rival Telecom, where they're getting to launch an entire new 3G mobile network, but a minor coup nevertheless.