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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

1 comment

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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PocketCaster vs Qik Live Mobile Streaming…

Well, I can’t really do a VS.. but the title makes you look. :)

Reason I can’t do a comparison at this point is ’cause no matter how many times I sign up for QIK, I get the same, “we’ll let you know when were ready for you’ type of statement. It’s actually kind of annoying. So, I went with Comvu for software called “PocketCaster.” PocketCaster is a similar service that allows you to stream from your mobile device (in my case the Nokia N95-4 NAM).

So far, it’s a killer app. Simple install, simple usage, and (for a live mobile stream where most devices are not capable of that yet), it’s not to shabby. :)

I can stream using my front cam (the smaller lower res one) or the main (back) cam which still seems to be compressed for the upload, but again, still cool and convenient.

Again, it’s LIVE, not pre-recorded! :) I have all the connectivity options, wi-fi, standard cell data connection, GPRS, 3G, EDGE, HSDPA as well as the ability to store the file locally or remotely for that “pre-recorded” archive. :)

Quality options range from 24kbps to 160kbps, of course I set mine to the highest.

It also has a GPS location functionality, which I assume will let viewers know exactly where you are. Now that rocks. My first test was indoors, so I did not bother testing the location function, but will let you know how that goes.

My second, third and fourth tests were outside on a walk from home and after viewing the archived footage and hear/rather seeing the IMs my friend in the NL was sending me (while I was narrating and strolling home in the rain) touring them a bit around Seattle, were, “this is just amazing!!” Streaming over wi-fi was great at home, but over 3G and EDGE it worked beautifully, which is a nice thing considering a walk down the street on a router (wi-fi) does not get you very far (no hand off like a cell tower). Thusly I was very happy to see how well it did over standard cell connectivity. :)

The one thing I wish was added was the “always ask” feature the N95 typically uses for data connectivity… as you have to manually set your connection option, which can be annoying to have to go in and change if you’re not near wi-fi.

Over all, my first few tests are way cool and super fun. Now, if I could only get an account and software for quick for a better comparison!

The embedded player was slowing the blog load, so I removed the embeded player and added a link to the right column.  Or, here.  :)

1 comment

Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM review…


This is a great product, superior to the iPhone by far!!

I’ve wanted an N95 since the first version came out, and I’m happy it’s only better with the newest NAM version with a built in 8GB card.

I would have appreciated an included expansion card slot, as I will quickly use the 8GB if not for applications for music and movies, but it’s acceptable.

I am very happy that it has all the needed freqs for the US both voice and data, which really make the experience of making calls or using the net all that much better.

The GPS freakin’ rocks!.. to bad the free 6 month plan that shows on the box is really only 1 day. I’m not willing to pay for GPS navigation since most cheaper units come with it for free. So, I turned to a better java application to replace Nokia’s pay GPS (not once by the way, but monthly) called amAze GPS, it has all that Nokia’s “maps app” offers and more.

The 5MP camera and near DVD quality video is the best, no other all in one device offers something that high (yet).

The video out is nice, although it seems to show at the phones resolution, not ntsc resolution or higher (320×240 I believe, so the images are jagged or pixelated on TV)… so I might use it for a full on movie, but it’s nice for surfing on a bigger screen or watching things like YouTube, (included) etc. where my computer (already attached to the HD TV is not on, not sure how that would happen. ;)

I could go on and on, but over all, Nokia has always provided an excellent working and well built product, and I’m VERY happy I went with their newest N95-4 8GB NAM. I don’t know what cause me to stray.

As for mobileCityOnline, their service was great. I admit, I had been burned online before, so was skeptical when I placed the “pre-order” since their orders kept getting pushed back by the manufacturer or shipped in smaller quantities, but the customer service was great in respect to keeping me informed and the natural process of their specific business with outside manufacturers… so that made me feel good. As for their shipping, can’t say it was more than prompt. I paid an extra $10 bucks for next day service, and as soon as the device came in their warehouse, sure enough it was next day I got it!!! Now that is excellent!

I would recommend this product and mobileCityOnline for it’s purchase. Hey, it saved me several hundred from the manufacture or Nokia store price! :)

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amAze gps for my N95


Well, even though the box my new N95 came in advertised 6 months free nav, it lied :( I got a day.

So, (as always,) not desiring to pay a stupid license fee, ‘specially for a typically free app when hardware is purchased, I set out to find just that, a free app that gave me nav for free (not just the sat
connectivity feature).)
Well, gotta love google and O.S. developers, ’cause with one search, “free N95 gps app” I came across amAze gps.

The first nice thing of course is it’s free!

Second, it’s java so it works on more than just Symbian and with external (bluetooth) gps as well as the phones built in gps.

Third (bonus) it has built in / again free voice nav, something my first thought for an alternative “Google Maps” lacks, but has sat./hybrid mapping, COOL!!

Fourth it has the sat./hybrid maps, like what Google Maps has but the built in N95 maps app does not. It does use your cellular or broadband connection to grab the maps, but most of us with this kind of toy have an unlimited data plan or use neighboring wi-fi from the sidewalk as we navigate our way down the street anyhow. ;)

Fifth it has a “gps location weather app”! Way cool! It’s kinda like lookin’ at your fancy in car, outside temp info and it’s location based, so no more guessin’ the zip or city. ;) Like that’s hard, but also a functionality option anyhow.

Those are only a few of the awesome things this powerful yet small app can do in addition to the basic gps/find your way/navigation things any standard gps should do but without all the extra costs involved with buying voices and maps, sheesh!

Fun, Fun!!

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Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM (North American Model) shipping…

Well, I finally heard from MobileCityOnline that my device is in stock and should be shipping within the day.

I’m way stoked as I feel this is (in my opinion) the best multi-purpose device out there yet.

Multi-purpose is for those of us that hate to carry more than one device around to do most everything.

This Nokia N95-4 8GB is not just a phone… it’s a full on PDA, in addition to having a well qualified 5MP camera, near DVD quality video recorder, GPS with A-synch capability, music and movie capability, wi-fi, GSM/GPRS/3G/HSDPA connectivity along with the standards like bluetooth A2DP for full stereo music control and entertainment, a normal headphone jack (not the stupid micro jack you see in most phones now a day), an accelerometer, and so much more.

Lastly (before I give this device a serious run over when I receive it and review the heck out of it)… Nokia’s proven this line of devices 3 times over (being the 4th in the “NSeries”) as well as many other excellent products, and are so ahead of the game in SDK capabilities we can only imagine the possibilities of what we get and what lies ahead!

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applephoneshow.com

June 26th, 2007 | Category: Apple,AT&T,ATT,iPhone,Macintosh,TWIT

Al the hype, all the cache, all the information you can discover about the Apple iPhone can be located at www.applephoneshow.com

For those listening to this blog, it’s Apple Phone Show dot com

Believe me, between their own stories, stories from others abound, and one of my favorite shows, TWIT or MacBreak Weekly the iPhone is bound to be a hit in one way or another… and the ApplePhoneShow.com web site is bound to bring that information to you.

Don’t just read about the URL here, go check it out. Just click on one of the links in this blog, or copy and paste this URL. http://applephoneshow.com

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