I received a letter the other day from Virgin Media telling me about a few reasons to be cheerful as a Virgin Media customer.

In his introduction, Steve Stewart, managing director of customer care, says we could all do with a bit of cheering up after the ‘summer’ (his quotes) we’ve just had.

Stewart’s letter and accompanying brochure were all to do with Virgin Media’s big marketing push for its combined TV, broadband, phone and mobile offer.

And it is a pretty good offer – all those services for £40 a month.

As I currently spend £37 a month with Virgin Media for its cable broadband service, plus £11 with BT for the phone line, £35 with Vodafone for my mobile contract, and of course the television license at another £11 a month, Virgin Media’s reasons to be cheerful look highly compelling, although without closely examining the details of the offer

Yet my experience with Virgin Media over the past few days tells me loud and clear that this is a company not be be trusted beyond the marketing spin of its letters and brochures.

google-jaiku Since the news broke last night that Google has acquired Jaiku, every manner of opinion has surfaced on what it means, why they didn’t buy Twitter, who will, etc.

Never heard of Jaiku? It’s a micro-blogging tool. Or it’s a presence indicator. Or it’s an instant messaging application.

Here’s Jaiku’s own description:

Jaiku is an activity stream and presence sharing service that works from the Web and mobile phones. […] Jaiku is a way to connect with friends by sharing short messages called Jaikus. You can create your own stream of Jaikus and follow your friends.

In the ultimate compliment, here’s the description on Wikipedia:

Jaiku.com is a social networking and micro-blogging service comparable to Twitter.

So it might help to know what Twitter is:

Twitter is a community of friends and strangers from around the world sending updates about moments in their lives.  Friends near or far can use Twitter to remain somewhat close while far away. Curious people can make friends.  Bloggers can use it as a mini-blogging tool. Developers can use the API to make Twitter tools of their own. Possibilities are endless!

That makes sense and so it should be easy to understand what Jaiku is and how similar it and Twitter are.

With both, you can post your Tweets and Jaikus from the web using each service’s own interface (or choose from an increasing number of third-party applications and services: I use Twitku, for instance, where I can post to both at the same time); from an instant messaging program; and from a mobile phone.

I sometimes use Twitter from my phone when I’m away from a computer. Twitter makes it very easy and cheap with local numbers (in the US, UK and some other countries). Jaiku doesn’t – you have to SMS to a number in Finland. I wonder if that will quickly change under Google.

There’s one major difference between them both, though, and that is presence.