Special thanks to Bill Gilam and Terry Manns for bringing this to my attention. In two days, AvantGo will no longer be spidering this site and your custom channels will break:
"Effective February 20, 2002, AvantGo Mobile Internet Service will be changing our custom channel policy. Our new Custom Channel policy is to limit access to a maximum of 8 users for most custom channels unless the content publisher has an agreement with AvantGo. Please attempt to re-subscribe to the custom channel through our website after February 20 to be one of 8 users who continues to receive the custom channel content. If you find that you can no longer subscribe to your favorite custom channel, please email the content publisher at their support email address and let them know you would like to access their content through AvantGo."
Why is this happening you might ask? Here's why:
AvantGo sells middleware solutions - they have servers that they want to sell to your big company. These servers dish out your corporate content in a mobile device friendly fashion. This is one way that AvantGo makes money - this server solution is likely $10K plus. The other way that AvantGo makes money is by offering companies like Rolling Stone the ability to push out news & ads to customers. Rolling Stone gets listed in the official AvantGo channels list, people click to add the channel, and Rolling Stone gets to extend their branding. For a while, Pocket PC Thoughts was listed in the official AvantGo channel list as well.
Why aren't we listed there any more?
Buried deep in the fine print of the AvantGo partner sign up process is a little gem that states the following: it's free to be a channel partner until you hit 5000 subscribers
. Once you hit 5000 subscribers, you as the partner have to pay $5000 US plus a certain amount per subscriber beyond 5000 (when they sent me the bill I believe it was 20 cents per subscriber). When AvantGo presented me with a bill for $6000 US, I had no choice but to say "pull my official channel from your site". The other Pocket PC web sites you see listed in their official channel list are either too small (under 5000) to get hit with this charge, or they've made a special agreement with AvantGo (like Smaller.com did way back when). So what happened when AvantGo pulled my site from their channel listing? All subscribers got a "Site not found" error in AvantGo.
You, being the smart readers you are, then switched to the "custom channel" option in AvantGo where you could point AvantGo to any web site and say "make this content available for me on my Pocket PC". I estimate there's around 8000 of you who did this with Pocket PC Thoughts, and I'm sure I'm not the only site that has smart readers. AvantGo finally had enough of this, and they're banner any custom channel with more than eight users on it.Bottom line: in 48 hours it will be impossible for you to use AvantGo to read this web site.
The solution? Mazingo
. Despite it's quirks and rough edges, Mazingo is the best solution for getting this site onto your device.
Here's a further explanation from AvantGo as to why they're doing this:
"Just as these organizations pay their ISPs to host their website content and their dial-up or TCP/IP providers to deliver business e-mail, AvantGo is now asking that Custom Channel providers with more than eight subscribers to help support the cost of delivering a mobile version of their content and/or applications to those users."
I don't begrudge AvantGo wanting to make money and stay in business. But for a site like mine, their "service" is pointless. The opening page of this site is designed to fit onto a Pocket PC screen. It doesn't need any "middleware tweaking". In fact, AvantGo has consistently ticked me off by messing with the HTML code and creating weird spacing where none should exist. They don't even support transparent GIFs! Mazingo has the right concept: the "pulling" is done by the local PC with local bandwidth, not by some server.
And there you have it. Remember we're still working
on getting a new template up and running that will make the discussion forums look good on a Pocket PC. Until that happens, those of you doing mobile sync should stick to the "lite" version of the Mazingo channel.