Facebook leads to lower grades!?!

'Red Spiral'
Creative Commons License photo: ishrona

In what must be one of the most ridiculously alarmist and inaccurate articles I’ve read in a while, career website Milkround is claiming that Facebook users could risk having lower grades as a result of their usage of the social networking site. Unfortunately, it looks like another instance of a journalist falling for the “correlation implies causation” fallacy.

According to Milkround:

Researchers at Ohio State University found students who enjoy communicating via cyberspace spend less time studying and risk getting a whole grade lower than their peers as a result despite more than three quarters of Facebook users claiming their interaction with friends on the site didn’t interfere with their work.

The study claims Facebook users averaged one to five hours a week studying, while non-users studied 11 to 15 hours per week.

By implication of the article and study, a typical student would do 4 times more work if they didn’t have Facebook and on average would achieve one grade higher.

College Football
Creative Commons License photo: rdesai

Here’s an explanation which is much more likely: More extroverted people who go to more parties and get involved in more societies are much more likely to use Facebook. The people who constantly work 24/7 are the people who are more likely to refuse to get a Facebook account or will have little use for a Facebook account. The likelihood of a student having a Facebook account depends on his participation in college life and how hard working he is.

Of course, students do use Facebook as a procrastination tool – I won’t argue with that. But correlations prove nothing. As a more rigiourous technique to test this hypothesis, we’d need to compare student’s results before they signed up to Facebook and results after signing up to Facebook (assuming a constant level of how hard-working or social the students are). Alternatively, you’d need a control group of people who are social and roughly as hard-working as the Facebook group but don’t use Facebook (good luck finding one).

Being Facebook friends with your boss could be worth an extra $6,500 per year

James, I think your cover's blown!
Creative Commons License photo: laverrue

BBC News’ dot.life blog reports on a study by IBM and MIT entitled the “Value of Social Network”. The study looked at the networks of 7,000 volunteers over three years and tried to give a financial value to these relationships.

Researchers found that having strong connections to managers (yes, sucking up to the boss) can boost the bottom line. On average, it adds up to $548 (£365) in extra revenue a month.

This conclusion is based on data and mathematical formulas that analysed e-mail traffic, address books and buddy lists of 2,600 IBM consultants over the course of a year.

So it would seem that there is a connection between being Facebook “friends” with your boss and your income.

Of course, correlation certainly doesn’t imply causation. Whilst networking is certainly great for your career, equally those in better paid jobs could be more dispensed to spend time networking and to have access to more networks. Something to ponder anyway.

BBC trial live mobile TV; when do you need a TV license?

Creative Commons License photo: videocrab

The Telegraph reports today that the BBC has just launched a trial of live mobile TV via WiFi.

The BBC shows are being simulcast on phones at the same time as they are broadcast on traditional scheduled television.

The service, dubbed Live TV, is still in the second stage of testing, but is available to some users already. It will enable viewers to watch channels such as BBC One, BBC Four, CBeebies and BBC News over a Wi-Fi connection using a compatible mobile phone. Radio shows can also be streamed live to handsets, the BBC confirmed.

To watch live TV on your mobile, visit www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/live/tv in your phone’s browser. Live radio can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/live/radio

The BBC have reminded people they need a full colour TV license to watch TV on their mobile. But I think we need a lot more clarity in what the law says about the situations when a TV license is needed. You need a TV license to watch live TV (whether you use a TV or laptop to receive it) as it is being broadcasted. However, the TV licensing website says:

Your TV Licence for your main home won’t cover you in your second home except in the following limited circumstances:
a) you only use TV receiving equipment that is powered by its internal batteries;

I am not a lawyer… but mobile phones do happen to be powered by internal batteries. So if you only use a mobile phone to receive television at a second address, do you really need a TV license? Or is the actual wireless router (which is connected to the mains) the device which acts as the “receiver”?

TopCashback: Cashback discounts on online shopping

Here’s another credit-crunch busting, money saving tip for all of you online shoppers…

Creative Commons License photo: elbfoto

I’ve been using TopCashback* for my online shopping lately and I think it’s an absolutely fantastic site. Essentially they give you discounts on shopping that you do online. The discount is paid as cashback straight into your bank account or PayPal.

The cashback discounts include 6% off Dell computers, up to 6% on purchases from Play.com, £40 on a new broadband contract, etc.

How to use TopCashback

Instead of going straight to the retailer website, you’ll need to go to the TopCashback website first. Make sure you’ve got a TopCashback account and then click on the link to the retailer from there. With some luck, your purchase is tracked and your cashback gets paid to your TopCashback account.

How does it work?

Online retailers often pay commission to websites which refer customers to them. This is how many websites make a profit. The most notable websites which make their profits through commission are price comparison websites such as MoneySupermarket. TopCashback is different in that it pays the entire commission right back to you: the customer.

TopCashback makes money through adverts on their website.

See Money Saving Expert for more info.

An example…

I was recently looking to sign up for O2 Broadband. As an O2 customer, I can get 8mbps broadband for £7.34 per month (£88 per year). That’s already a fantastic deal but on top of that TopCashback is offering £40 cashback on O2 Broadband registrations. After cashback, 8mbps broadband costs just £48 for the 12 months – equivalent to just £4 per month. That’s ridiculously cheap.

What are the alternatives?

Probably the most well known “cashback” site is run by loyalty card Nectar. Nectar’s e-Stores gives an absolutely abysmal amount of cashback through (maybe ~1%) .

There are a couple of others such as Quidco and Cashback Kings. Check to see whether you get charged a fee for using the service and if you get 100% cashback.

Get Cashback

* I earn a referral on registrations using this link. Non-affiliate version: http://www.topcashback.co.uk.