May 31 2007
I’ve been reading a lot of hype over the past few days about Particls, which is an Australian startup. I’ve visited the site a few times, but couldn’t really grasp the benefits. I finally figured the best way to check it out would be to download it and just have a play. Anything that could filter the content of my RSS feeds and prioritise items sounded like a good thing.
Without really reading too much of the guff that came with the installation I made a couple of vital mistakes, which I think potential users should be aware of.
The program itself wasn’t a particularly large download – a little under 3 MB. Another application was required – I think it was Microsoft .NET? So I downloaded that one too. It went smoothly and was reasonably quick.
I had exported all my RSS feeds into an XML file from Google Reader, and thought I’d upload them to particls, as well as add a few words that I wanted to monitor. That seemed to go fairly well and the engine started ticking away, analyising each feed, and then each item in the feed to determine the score, age and whether to keep or reject each item.
Periodically, I would check the progress on the event logging window. It was then I noticed something strange. The feed adapter was trying to subscribe to every (non secure) page I had ever visited! This included my blog admin pages, general websites and many (front and back end) pages for dLook and Obits. With the secure pages (like internet banking, Google Analyitics, Yahoo! Overture), the feed adapter merely tried to scan them, not subscribe.
I thought I should investigate the options. And sure enough the default option was to “Scan History”. Now, I understand that this could be a very beneficial way to discover a user’s interests, but it uses a heck of a lot of processing time (and I’m assuming bandwidth).
This went on for literally hours. Despite changing the history option to false, still it continued (I’m assuming because the process had already started). Perhaps I was presented with the option of turning this feature off, but I really don’t think so. So before you do ANYTHING look for this option and turn it off.
Then about 6 hours later, I got a bit of a shock when I received an email from my ISP saying that I’d gone over my 25 GB download limit (the first time I’d ever gone over 20 GB), and that every MB would be charged at an additional 15c. I’ve since found out that running Particls chews up around 300MB of bandwidth per day, so if your downloads are limited in anyway, you should use extreme caution. I don’t know what sort of bandwidth the initial setup uses – I’ll have a vague idea when the daily usage report is done at the end of the month.
Then, for one reason or another, I didn’t shut my computer down last night. I usually do, but I had a few things open. I didn’t realise that just shutting the Particls screen didn’t stop it running. Uh-oh! There goes another another 600 MB (and $90). An expensive exercise, and one I’m not in a hurry to repeat – not until this bandwidth issue gets sorted.
From the short glimpse I had of Particls running, however, it did seem pretty nifty. Not real keen on the ticker (a bit too distracting), but the pop ups looked effective.
13 Responses to “Particls – Expensive for a Free Service”