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demoFone, a WebCasting app for S60 and UIQ3…

I recently became aware of an application called demoFone, which is a webcasting application for S60 and UIQ3 devices.

I personally own a nokia N95 8GB and try out all the new apps!  This is akin to qik on the (share your sreen with all) level.

If you are at all familiar with webcasting, you know the benifit of being able to share your screen with people, ‘specially when you’re trying to get a point across without flying around the world to point to “that” icon on the desk, or email that “massive” raw photo you just took.

With WebCasting you can have virtual meetings around the world and share the contents of your desktop, images, video, documents, etc.

After just a few minutes of testing the demoFone application, I was more than sold!  I’m always trying to explain myself over the phone with some luck, but run into problems when it comes to the photo I just took or the document I have local to my device, etc. but don’t really want to email it out (just yet) or I’d rather walk someone through the use of an application on my device.

With demofone I was able to do just that… and with video capabilities as well.  It does not have audio (yet), but with more users and the likelyhood of it’s popularity, I quickly see this application becoming a winner with many who just need to get their point across without mailing or texting  back and forth like crazy! AND, like many older webCasting services, you can just make the phone call (on another device) or on the same device (assuming you have some sort of semi-detached headset so you can see what you’re doing on the device) and talk at the same time.  It’s that easy.  I’d of course use wi-fi for display, as it will be much quicker, but if you need to, your mobile providers data connection will work too, slowly, but it works.  :)

demoFone, you g/uy/al/s have a great product here!

Below is a short video I took with qik of the application in use on my device.

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Microsoft Tag: Microsoft’s own 2D barcode – istartedsomething

January 08th, 2009 | Category: Camera Phone,iPhone,N95,Nokia,technology

Microsoft Tag: Microsoft’s own 2D barcode

blogged by:
Long Zheng on January 8th, 2009

Click here for Video

It just wouldn’t be right if Microsoft didn’t have its own barcode technology too, which is why today Microsoft Tag (Beta) was announced at CES 2009. Much like other 2D barcode technologies including the popular but underwhelming QR Code, Microsoft Tag allows data to be stored in a graphical bitmap using shapes and colors. But with a twist.

If you were to assume Microsoft Tag is just a clone of QR Code, you’d be wrong. In fact you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking about it. Microsoft Tag is based on a whole new technology called High Capacity Color Barcodes (HCCBs), which was invented in-house by Microsoft Research. The difference is not using square pixels, but triangle shapes and colors to store data. The following diagrams show off its advantages.

mstagcompare

Unlike other tag technologies too, the Microsoft Tags don’t actually store the information. You see, all it stores is a unique ID which it then sends to Microsoft’s servers. This way, you can include much more information, and more variety of information, then if it was just on the tag itself. A nice side-effect of this is also the ability for publishers to gather reporting data on how many times it was seen.

To read these tags, Microsoft is making available today a downloadable application to a handful of mobile platforms including Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and Symbian S60 phones. A camera and internet connection is obviously required. To get the application, point your phone’s browser to http://gettag.mobi.

I’ve only played with Microsoft Tag for a few minutes on my Windows Mobile phone, but its a noticeably better experience than I’ve had with other 2D barcodes in the past. For example you can read it from a very far distance, from a very side angle and even if it’s partially blocked.

In addition, it wouldn’t just be a Microsoft platform without developer tools. That is why starting today the “tag maker” service is also available so anyone can create these tags. For the moment this is a free service, but out of beta, one could potentially see this is where Microsoft plans to make a buck.

Here is a tag I created:

What I like so far over the 2D tags is that the image (perhaps their software) scans much quicker and interacts immediately.  In comparison to the 2D bar codes I’ve created, they can be slow and fight with white/black contrast, so focusing and reading sometimes compete.  (where it trys to read while it focus’ and or stops reading after it’s focused (a timing issue I’m sure with the software/read).

All in all, my views on the blog above and the product, is it’s a winner and I can see it easily taking off, espically since Microsoft has implemented numerous software for numerous platforms all at once!

Here are a few tags Long created so you can try it out.

isstags

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qik.com vs stickam

Well, I’ve done a reasonable amount of testing with the newly release mobile stickam application.

Here’s how I feel about it:
It’s ok. There, done. ;)

No, really, the app is nice, BUT… qik still has it over stickam.

Reasons: Qik records your video/stream and you can link to the archived footage, download it in 3GP or FLV formats, auto or manual post it to YouTube and a multitude of other Social Networks (video/audio/or text). Qik also has a bit better quality going on for it!
I’ve been using qik since it’s release pretty much… and the developers have also been easy to talk with, and obtain special releases to test, that eventually get out into the wild. :)
Qik also has the application available for more than the Nokia N95.

What does Stickam have, that qik does not? Well, from my testing, only two things… stickam shows you the number of viewers (qik could easily impliment) and stickam allows you to change your cameras orientation (when using the back (higher quality) cam). I do like both those features, but, not enough to do a total switch.

Winner: Qik, I love being able to read real time chats and converse with users on the other end (knowing how many people ware watching is not helpful if you can’t really chat). And the quality is great! In addition to all the other awesome networking features qik offers (like posting and downloading what you’ve done). :)

Qik, keep it up… and stickam, if you want to “compete” with the likes of qik, you’ve got a long road ahead. I’ll keep using stickam for my lappys and desktops, but while I’m mobile, it’s qik baby! :)

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Chicago Photosynth

October 24th, 2008 | Category: Camera Phone,HDR,N95,N95-4 8GB NAM,Nokia,photography,photosynth

If you spend enough time taking lots of decent photos, and drop them in Microsoft’s Photosynth, you can end up with a pretty cool project. (the “synthier” the better).

It can be difficult to get a high synthi rating with lots of photos, but as stated above, take time, get good shots and lots of them, and it will work out really cool.

Here are my most recent additions to my Photosynth collection, (shots of Chicago’s downtown skyline(s) and the Reflective Bean):





Additionally, I saw a really cool project called “gigapan” at Wired’s NextFest in Chicago. One of the bummers of GigaPan is that you can’t upload your photos and have it auto stitch… you have to stitch it first and then upload the panoramic photo. Granted Photosynth is not exactly panoramic, it’s got that 3D in/out functionality that Gigapan seems to be trying for.

With that, I’m in the process of stitching the Chicago 3 Photosynth using CleVR’s service and will upload it to GigaPan to make a comparison. This could take a bit, so come back to see the results and compare. Please let me know your thoughts and if you’ve seen other similar or better services.

My next goal, is to merge HDR images I’ve created (all using my Nokia N95-4 8GB), and some tight shots both stitched and in Photosynth, to get some super impressive results. Again, come back and see. :)

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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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Many no longer care about privacy…

Why are so many still complaining about privacy? Do we really have it anymore? Have we ever? (subjectivity and life…)

lightpole, locr, 3Dtracking, locationTagger, and brightKite… are just a few free small software programs for those of us that love being tracked (marked) on our mobile devices, by everyone we know AND don’t know in todays ever growing online social networking society, and there are plenty more out there.

How many people know where you are, even if you have no clue WHO they are?

What about the ever popular GPS devices so many now have in their car (built in by the manufacture or portable) to help them find that restaurant or prevent from being late! I’ve also started seeing a few more (nothing new) Public Service Announcements regarding young individuals not really thinking about what they post online (as if this is different from talking to a stranger ;) like we did before computers) but another easy, near softwareless manner of giving away who you are, your location, etc. Granted you need a network connection at least (without sneakers). Can you actually stop using these things and still be an efficient (un-shunned) active member of current society?

Consider this, even though you can prevent remote individuals from marking you at any specific moment with these applications turned off, just try and ask someone who relies on it or loves it to “turn it off and find a place by human interaction or looking at a fold out paper map”… they’ll probably flip and think of so many ways they can’t do it without their precious toy (or how it’s SOOOO much easier with it). :(

Keep in mind, even if you periodically play (not just leave the marking app on for every drop of juice your devices’ battery will give you), you still make a virtual trail of every spot you’ve been and very easily where you live, work, play, etc. by simply using a tracking or marking application as intended (including but not limited to: online shared photos, (my blog), instant or short messages, email, etc…) This, in itself is like “talking to a stranger”.. you’ve told someone (unknowingly or not) multiple times where you’ve been, that becomes a little stalkerish, no?

In the past (and still present for some)… Being tracked by anyone, including “BigBrother” has been a horrible fear. My sister is one of those that believe the devil will be on your door step if you embed an RFID chip “the mark of the beast (a digital 666)” in your body. What would a priest do if they found an RFID chip under your skin (on your head?) Hmmm, seems a bit like a digital version of “The Omen” better, be careful.

I now have an RFID in my Passport, in my office door’s key card, possibly my license, and who knows what other things I have that have not been “obviously” brought to my attention (products on shelves. etc.)

Honestly, I think being a cyborg is a pretty cool idea, and technically feel that with all my gadgets, (aside from them not being embedded) are darn near installed in me, as much as I can’t seem to live without them! You know… the naked feeling if you leave “it” behind?

Still, few seem to think (sit and really try to understand) the act of “chilling“, the added stress, a life speed limit (how fast you have to (or can) go now that you have this “whatever” to help you along. Or, where the data goes, and where it’s stored when they pop online and actually utilize these services to find a local store or destination or just tell your buddy (net or real) where you are, will be, have been, a photo you just took, your last random thought, etc.

Read that last paragraph really fast, or, copy it to a text to speech reader and speed it up, go on, you can do it, it’s ok to use technology to help you out, we do it every day (now)… but at what cost?… after all, nothings free.

Society as a large group (not a whole) has obviously accepted (and continue to accept) these devices (technology) for the benefits they provide, (and as many things in the past) have managed to squeeze their way into our lives (or should I say, slip and sneak), causing us to let go of the feelings originally associated with the fear, panic and privacy concerns we might have initially felt. Is this not a survival instinct “fear”? Are you numb(ing)?

So, what about the “privacy” or “analog” or “human interaction” of it all? Have those words (their definitions) become as ancient as the paper map we held or drew with ink or carried to show our neighbor or hid to protect a private treasure? Do those of us that utilize such services like maps online, digital services or mobile destination location devices care any longer who’s watching where we are going, where we have been, our related “friends” or social contacts… and the permanent date/time stamp made on the ever growing and less expensive storage databases available today?

Keep this somewhere in the forefront though… what happens if the energy disappears?… the energy that makes it all work? for now, we’re not 100% powered by everlasting sources.

I realize this kind of story might cause some thoughts of panic in those that are far on the side of fear, but for the rest, (like my Analog blog) who are even the slightest bit techie and or way overboard (like me)… perhaps, just perhaps, take a moment, and give some thought to, “where is the traditional art of communication, formality, and human interaction (with people, paint, texture, analog, survival, overall “skills” going) where is it going with you or has it left you? If you can’t answer that question or even take a moment to ponder it, just turn on your marking software, we’ll figure it out just by watching you. ;)

This is just a part of my brains thought process. Sometimes random, possibly deep. Not meant to freak anyone out, or belittle or set aside, just social 1’s and 0’s that came from analog atoms in my head. This is one measure to get it out, help me contemplate it further. Do what you will with it, just don’t yell at me, I need to decompress.

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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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Photo from this morning…

April 30th, 2008 | Category: Camera Phone,GPS,N95,N95-4 8GB NAM

Here is a shot I took this morning to emphasize the crazy weather. It’s spring, it should be like this, yet it has frequently been raining, hailing, snowing, and just being overall nasty. This is nice… to bad it was still to cloudy to get a sunrise photo… but the morning sun/light is always the best to shoot with, so I think.

Morning light on Seattle

You can catch the rest of these photos on locr.com or here is a link to my pofile:

Short URL to my profile at locr.com :)

I’ve included a nice partial panoramic shot of this photo (with a missing side).  It turned out quite nice.  I have additional shots I could seem together, but they are more of a landscape (less plant and landscape combo), which I thought was nicer.  You can see the missing images at the above link.  Feel free to seam them together for your own desktop or otherwise.

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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!!

1 comment

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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