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skyfire’s Awesome Mobile Browser!

November 20th, 2008 | Category: AT&T,ATT,GPRS,live stream,N95,N95-4 8GB NAM,Nokia,qik,TWIT

Up ’till now, I’ve added hacks, and workarounds, and multiple different browsers and software programs to all the different mobile devices I’ve owned, just to make it do things like, get a decent browsing experience (close to a full on computer), listen to audio (any), watch video and most important of all in todays “NOW” environment, do this all live!

Nokia came with a decent browser, capable of many things, but not enough, enter Opera…

I was hoping Opera’s browser would improve upon the lack of things Nokia’s browser was not capable of doing, (live audio/video, better browsing through “more like PC pages”), etc., sadly, no.

Opera would display pages a tad nicer, but that was about it.

What I REALLY wanted was the ability to watch streaming video LIVE! Not, download the video from YouTube or similar sites and watch it… but stream live while the situation unfolds.

Many devices say they stream, but in reality they were simply downloading a “file” to then watch (the buffer might have been the closest thing to an actual “stream”).

Today, I ran into a newer browser called, SkyFire.

SkyFire is currently available for S60 devices (N Series and E Series Nokia mobiles) and Windows Mobile.

I must say, I was more than shocked, as SkyFire did not advertise it’s ability to stream live content, it simply touted it as a browser more like your PCs browser. That alone intrigued me. After all, I had tried several other claiming similar things to no real avail.

This is exactly what I wanted! I was amazed! The first site I tested (simply due to the fact that I wanted a streaming experience) was my favorite live a/v guy, Leo Laporte at twitlive.tv Here is the footage I took while testing it.

 



Then I moved on to my mobile video streaming site Qik.com and sure enough, they both streamed the live content right as it came out of my mouth. It was odd looking at my delayed qik video being streamed up, and then back down to skyFire’s browser on my N95 (over AT&T’s sluggish 3G network), (it was kinda of like watching what I stream from my phone on my full on computer) but hey, it worked, worked well and I am VERY happy!

The browser does not stop there, complete with standard back, forward, enter URL, bookmark, fit to screen, and zoom -+ options, but, I’ll still most likely use my default Nokia browser for quick and dirty things as it’s not really feasible to view a web page built for a monitor resolution of 1024×768 or higher on a 320×240 screen (despite zooming, just too much scrolling at normal size). But when I need a more full on computer like experience, you can bet, I’ll be turning to my newest browser, SkyFire!

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AT&T Sucks, giving free Wi-fi to iPhone customers only!

October 30th, 2008 | Category: Apple,AT&T,ATT,Cingular,EDGE,GPRS,HSDPA,technology,Wi-fi,wireless
AT&T has decided to give away their massive wireless network to iPhone users. Yes, I said, JUST iPhone users. Personally, I just think this sucks! Granted it’s only an opinion.  

For years there have been customers using wifi capable handhelds, and paying carriers through the nose to use their data service just so they’re mobile (not laptops) were more than just a calling device. But whenever they are at an airport or location that does not provide the faster more efficient connection for free, they’re forced to use the slower and more frequently annoying 3G, EDGE or GPRS connections OR pay for the wifi they find.

I’ve dumped nearly $100 a month in their pocket for 5 years just for the use of 3G, and since the release of the iPhone (and 3G capable device) the cellular data connection has only gotten worse. With that, I have owned multiple devices that have wi-fi capability, simply due to the poor and getting poorer data connections they provide.

NOW, I find out through iPhone users that they have received a message (click image above) indicating they can get (as an iPhone user) free wifi on any of the massive number of AT&T wifi hotspots. Personally, this just makes me steam!

AT&T, if you can’t bring enough to the party for everyone, don’t bring any at all.

Sorry iphone users, I love everything Apple, but the stupid @$$ deal they’ve made with this carrier!

Just call it what it is, give it another Apple name, “Free iFi”!

AT&T Sucks, giving Free wifi to iPhone users ONLY!
   
 

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beta tested qik software version 0.08.72

Thanks to the awesome developers at qik.com, I was able to get a beta version of the most recent qik software for my Nokia N95 8GB 0.08.72!  Let me tell you, it was well worth it!

I’ve used their software since the original version, and it’s been great… except for a few little quirks/desires.

I recently road the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, 2008 again this year (my 8th time, thank you.  :)  Anyway, I had a few problems with the first version(s) of qik’s software in that, the back light (screen) would always stay lit, making it a major suck on the battery life, and, the inability to run in the background (use other apps while recording).

Enter “request” of the qik developers, of course what I wanted the features for (the 204 mile bike ride)… and they added both giving me the newest beta version to test out on this ride!  I probably don’t have to tell you, just those two features alone, made a HUGE difference functionality and longevity!  Not only did I get a massive increase in stream life (due to the light shutting off automatically), but I was also able to record with the camera in the background saving me from accidentally stopping it with bangs against the handle bars!

Having the camera in the background (using “stay in background”) was a life saver for a few reasons.  I could utilize other apps while I was recording, making it nice to grab information and relay it as you record, say, you’re doing an interview, and you need to Google info, or shoot a plurk or tweet, pick up a phone call, etc. etc.  With this newest version of Qik 0.08.72 you can do just that and not have to stop the recording or be limited to the 10 second time out if you leave the screen.  (picking up a phone call may stop the stream anyhow on a cell network, (unless your streaming on wi-fi))

Additionally, if you’ve left the qik screen, while it’s recording in the background, those annoying accidental depressions of a button that might stop your stream (like in my case of constant banging against handle bars), don’t happen.  Yeah!!  :)

The second feature, is a no-brainer.  (auto light off or “Economy mode”). We all know when the light/screen is active on any portable device, it sucks the juice from your battery VERY quickly.  Well, by simply allowing the back light to shut off while recording, basically doubled my recording time.  That was awesome!  OK, so I wasn’t able to get the entire 204 miles streamed, but hey, how many want to watch someone ride 204 miles?  Even the Tour de France takes breaks and has some commercial interruptions.  Saves on some motion sickness. ;)

One cool thing about qik (in a situation like this) is it’s live (it’s not yesterday).  While riding the STP this year, I saw some individuals riding in front of a pickup with a lady and her heavy high quality, (slowing the ride) camera.  Although great that they can give you that 2 mile an hour quality video, I think it’s over, it’s done, I’ve streamed it for you while it happened using QIK.com’s service.  You can watch it as it happens or well, later.  :)

If you’re curious about the ride I’ve been referring to (the STP), see this post.  I’ve included some screen shots of the new version’s “options menu”.  Great work Qik Team!

Now for audio and (PIP) Picture in Picture for other incoming qikers, full on Video phone, here we come!  :) And AT&T (at this time), a better cell network so I can use 640×480 more frequently.  :)

On a site/api functionality level, it would be great if we could post “updates” like “I’m streaming live right now…” to an email address.  I love that qik auto posts to twitter, but I’d like to do the same with other SNs.  Many SNs have an email we can send to.  If we could set up email addresses to notify when we are live, that would seal a MAJOR gap in the notification process.  No?  :)


Click the image to see a better res view:

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iphone 3G, pleeease.

July 11th, 2008 | Category: Apple,AT&T,ATT,GPS,HSDPA,iPhone,live stream,qik,voip,Wi-fi

This is silly, just silly.

I have to agree with Leo Laporte (of twitlive.tv) and many related to the industry when It’s said that you may be wasting your money if you let “At this time” screw you into a contract for a partially functional (based on definition) device!

Leo’s been online (live) since the first Apple store opened in New Zeland, on Friday July 11th, 2008 convering the launch of the 3G iPhone! And, although I don’t have his following, I have been re-streaming Leo’s audio for those that can’t view it, but want to stay connected via audio only. (my live stream on the right menu). This has been nice for those who only have their mobiles or capable of a .pls stream.

Just as a plug for me and Leo, (as it’s my site)… I re-stream Leo whenever he’s online, for those interested in a mobile version at a lower bit rate for ease of cellular streaming.

But…, the title of the post is really, “iPhone 3G, pleeease.”

So far this is what we’ve learned about the new iPhone 3G.

1. It’s got GPS (but it seems to act more like triangulation) the kind that google maps uses for mobile devices. Hmm, not turn by turn… seems that’s what GPS is mainly used for.
2. It has 3G (thus the title). However, as it’s been repeated, 3G is really (At this time) only available in Major Metro cities (and not even all of them). In fact, there is more wi-fi coverage across the globe than 3G, so you decide which you’d rather use and (NOT) pay for?
3. Apps, Shmaps. Software is cool, but many other devices that have many other cooler and “completely functional” hardware have been open for development for a long time!

These seem to be the 3 most noted changes in the launch of this new device (and the apps don’t really count) since the software version 2.0 enables new apps on the old iPhone, and if you can install Google Maps on the old iPhone, then your “triangulated” GPS has been available since it was installed. Sooo… it seems 3G is the only enhancment. No?

Personally, I’d not get screwed into a contract, and rather have the immediate option to buy the device and plug my own/old sim to work. Sadly, Apple descided that was not a good idea (for who knows what reason)?

In addition to all this, with all the activation problems, (servers down, etc.) Apple and or AT&T “At this time” are sending people out of the stores with an inactive device. This may just lead to some never activating it “under contract”. Rumor has it, it only took approx 3 1/2 hours to unlock it yesterday (Via someone in New Zeland). This of course won’t take long to get into the wild for everyone to use, and thusly, if you have a device that is unactivated (opposed to activated forcefully in the store)… you may just be able to unlock it and pop in your existing sim.

Hmm, I’d love to know the numbers on that one.

If you don’t need the cellular, just get an iPod touch, install a VOIP client and use wi-fi for phone calls. :) Hey, at least your coverage would be greater with Wi-fi. ;)

One positive thing I can say, even though the new iPhone STILL does not have video recording (built in) (as I understand it), a company called qik.com will allow you to do just that, and live at the same time. So, if you’re one of the secondary “early adopters” of the newest iPhone, don’t fret completely, it has one improvement. (oh wait, the old iPhone can do qik too). DANG!

Thoughts, if Apple and At This Time are going to go into a shady @$$ deal like the last and this one, things really need to work, immediately! No? Or, was it your intention to have many unactivated devices in the wild?

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My Seattle to Portland Bicycle Live Stream (Live STP)

OK, so this weekend is the STP  (Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic) for those unfamiliar with the acronym (it’s not the Stone Temple Pilots).  ;)  The ride  is July 12-13 being a 1 or 2 day ride (we will ride 2).  This will be my 8th ride and this is my goal:

I plan to stream AS MUCH of the 2 day event that I can via my Nokia N95 8GB while riding.  I will be with some friends, so there will be a bit of banter, I’m sure (it’ll help keep it more interesting).  No music for safety (unless you want to mash up your own after each clip).

Here is the list of items I will use to archive this (a live stream) as long as I can.

Device: Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM
Software: Qik, Live Audio Video Streaming from a mobile Phone
Batteries: 1 1200 mAh and 1 1600 mAh
Standard wall charger for overnight battery refuels at the Centralia half-way point.
Green Recharging: HYmini Solar and Wind powered charger
Protective waterproof casing and a Gorilla Pod for stability

Here’s the trick… I will most likely be unable to stream every waking moment for a few reasons:
1.  this is being done via AT&T’s cell network.  So, we are dependent on their coverage which is obviously not everywhere.  :(
2.  even though I have portable recharging while I ride, streaming takes up so much juice, I can’t recharge as fast as I can use it.  :(  (however I will do a full recharge at the Centralia half-way point for finish line coverage.)

So, with those things in mind, feel free to keep this page open to watch as we go live.  If you never see the video come back, you may have to refresh, but qik (the service I’m using to do this) is pretty good at reloading when live.  Or, you can go to the direct page at http://qik.com/thecolor

If you ask me, this capability is amazing!  It changes the way we “do media”.  Qik’s software and capabilities bring everything to us, NOW, and I’m totally stoked to do this!

By going to the qik page you can use the Live Chat feature, but please be aware I may not be able to see the stream, nor will I be looking at it allot for safety reasons.  I will glance every now and then to be sure it’s still streaming, etc.  but if you say something and I see it, I’ll speak up.  :)

Each of these streams are archived once complete and are available on qik as downloads and Youtube (under “thecolor“).  So, you can either refer others to the qik.com/thecolor page for the live coverage + and or, just refer them to the specific recorded link/downloads if you want to show a previously recorded stream.

Wish us luck on a fun and sunny ride and that we get as much coverage of it as possible.  :)

Here is one riders page to wish him luck as well.  :)
Terry:  http://www.myspace.com/tmanbikeridnfool

P.S. if you want an auto notification of when it goes live (given those moments it drops for bad coverage, or otherwise)… you can follow me on twitter (user “thecolor“) and auto posts are made as soon as I go live.  :)

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I’ve been Qiking like crazy…

I need to do a video comparison of the recordings my Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM does on it’s own (stored locally) and those that Qik.com allows me to stream at its highest quality.  I tell you, if the qualities are anywhere near the same, Qik will be most likely replace my local video storage all except for those moments I just can’t stream.  :)  I recently recorded my bike ride utilizing numerous functions of my phone to get a real good test of things.

I received my wind powered (solar backed up) charger and mounted it to my bike.  Once that was on, I turned on my devices GPS (using free.3dtracking.net) to record my ride, I turned on the music so I’d be have something to pedal too and utilized the front camera of my device to stream via Qik’s mobile audio/video streaming service!

I tell you, this just rocked!  Not only did I start off with less than a full battery, but, I road for an hour (recorded for 59.30 minutes) and used all those things the entire time.  Once I stopped, and unplugged my device from the wind powered charger I still had 4 bars.  The wind powered charger did exactly what it said it would, and streaming on the lower end of Qik’s service was great.  Using all those things without a charge station of some sort would really put the drain on your battery and it would be dead in less than an hour (I’ve tested this just by recording using qik.com (not playing music or using GPS, just recording on qik).)

I was most likely on AT&T’s 3G (HSDPA) service the whole time, and never saw a (delay indication).  Granted I was not always looking, I’ve managed to drive with it and have no delay indicator.

I streamed up to qik, recorded the entire time, (the screen stays lit while recording with qik) and as we all know, screen activity reall drains a battery.  I was constantly pulling a gps signal from a min of 9 sats, and uploading my position every 30 seconds to track using free.3dtracking.net and playing the music.

All in all, I’m very impressed with all the features mentioned above.  The Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM rocks, Qik.com rocks, free.3dtracking.net rocks, and so does thinkgeek.com’s solar and wind powered charger!

How will I ever make this “analog thing” work?  :(

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Additional Qik Testing…

Ok, in testing Qik further today, I managed to get an entire 120:30 minutes recorded!!! On an odd note, Qik only represents it as an 18:09 min file, although the entire recording seems to be there. :) Now that is freakin’ awesome! I just dinked around, sat down and watched a movie and checked it when the movie was done!

I tell ya, (despite that it’s not high-def, hey the camera is not), it beats not having that kind of storage on many devices, espically if you want to record everything, and walks all over Comvu PocketCaster’s 100mb of storage. All you really have to worry about with Qik’s service (as far as I can tell at this point) is a net connection for the broadcast/recording and juice (battery). I had to plug my N95 in, but since I was connected to my wi-fi, I was fine for connectivity!

I recently purchased a solar and wind powered charger from thingeek.com to mount to my bike and or other portable situations and will be recording some riding as weather permits. :)

I’m guessing that Qik will handle as well (if not better) than Comvu’s PocketCaster with 3G (HSDPA) in streaming content, but we will see how well it holds up to that type of connection while traveling on a bicycle at 20+ mph for 16+ miles. Cell hand-offs can be a pain, even for calls, so it will be a great test to see a transmission in movement. Obviously I won’t be able to blog on it while riding (except for the concentrated grunts and oofs) and it would be better blogged about after I view the recorded stream, but feel free to comment if you are watching it live when I do it, I do believe that will show up in the view comments.

I’m not sure what days will be nice enough to ride here in Seattle soon (as I don’t have a weather proof holder for my bike yet)… but I’ve ordered a case that will allow me to mount the phone to the bike along with the chargers. Once I receive those, I’ll blog that I will test or that I have tested and you can check it out then… (it should be soon as they are all in the mail)!

Lastly (for tonight)… I use a free live GPS tracking service called “3DTracking“… I plan to use that at the same time as I like to record my rides and my fiancee likes to watch me ride up to her work or see where I am on a long ride! :) For Qik, I am requesting such a service be built in conjunction with the next software build! It would rock if I could not only record massive life experiences, but where they took place as well without having to write it all down later… exif baby, exif! People could not only see the live experience but view exactly where it is on the map at the same time (again, always live!)

Thanks for the GREAT software, I promise to keep testing it like crazy!!

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Qik rules!!!

Ok, I’ve just now gotten, (received) my QIK authorization, and software link and as you can tell from the “rain like” sound in the background as it re-echos the sound of my keyboard typing in the firefox tab behind my review, QIK rules!!!.

So far, the quality beats PocketCaster by several levels (not quite DVD (or near) as the N95 produces on it’s own, but quite nice. I’m using wi-fi at the moment at my house… so further tests will show it’s ability and quality once I’m out using AT&T’s HSDPA (3G) or GPRS connections. However, I must say it is VERY nice so far! I’ve still not received a notice for flixwagon, so that will be another post, if I ever get an invite!

Thanks QIK guys, (and I’d guess Michael more specifically.) :)

Download was near instantanious over my N95-4 8GB NAM once I got the SMS to my device, installation was a breeze at 313kb, and usage is simple, straight forward. I’ve yet to figure out if there is a rotation function in the software (as it is taking the footage wide screen (but HEY, don’t we all love widescreen)? ;)

The stored recordings online are equal quality to that of which I see on screen, and appear (at the moment) not to have a limit of storage size. Sadly, PocketCaster has a limit of 100mb, and I just hate having to delete my life once it’s recorded! Ya know what I mean? After all, I got the service for the purpose of recording my every move (granted my battery stays charged). :)

You also have the ability to post to:

twitter, seesmic, blogger, mobuzz.tv, justin.tv, youtube, and pownce… I’ll use the provided embed codes for posting in wordpress. I’m sure with a bit more research (beings I’ve only had it active and playing for approx 20 minutes now) I’ll find out more FUN things to do with the software and website! Bravo QIK!.

Now… for that test while I am sleeping, what do I sound like. To bad the N95 does not have a night mode so I can see it too.

I’ll keep you posted on the testing and fun, otherwise, check it out at qik.com

The echo is kind of funny. Specially when I clear my throat. ;)

You can reach my videos by going here: http://qik.com/thecolor… or you can subscribe to my video rss specifically here: http://qik.com/thecolor/latest-videos

Here is the embed function Qik provides from the user profile page:

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3 live mobile video streaming services…

To date I’ve run into three mobile streaming sites, and have so far only been able to test only one: Comvu’s PocketCaster

Rating 4 * * * *

of course, what does a rating mean if you have nothing to compare it to?

I still REALLY want to try out QIK but can’t seem to get a membership no matter what I try, signing up multiple times or emailing a commentor from my blog has yet to work. OIE!. :(

Today I came across another broadcaster called flixwagon. From reading up on FlixWagon, it seems they too are competition for the latter two services.

Either way, I’ve signed up for their services as well and we’ll see how easy it is to get an account and what they offer in comparison. So far it’s been 10 minutes and I’ve yet to get a welcome or confirmation email, so we’ll see.

On a side note, anyone offering a service, (alpha or beta or whatever), I personally feel it’s a good idea to make sure you have a confirmation email of some sort to the party that signs up, so they know you’ve got their request. I know, I know, 10 minutes is nothing. Sadly, the internet and computers have pushed me well beyond patience, thusly the need to be able to tell anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere, (the reason for such services like, Qik, Comvu PocketCaster and flixWagon.)

Stay tuned for whatever might come my way by Qik or flixWagon. :)

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My Stickam cams…

Well, I had these going (or visible) on my forum. Now that the forum is inactive, I needed a place to stickam (no pun intended).

I’ll try and better organize media and copy on my blog later. For now, at least the content is there for those that may have actually viewed it. :)

Obviously as before, if you see HAL… then I’m not live on that cam.

This is my work Cam This is my home Cam or iBook Cam

And if you look at the pocketCaster post below you’ll get the live mobile cam from my Nokia N95 8Gb – NAM. :)

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