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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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Microsoft-Free Desktop Planned

August 05th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
40 Million credit cards stolen. Crooks busted, finally. Worldwide-scheme. IBM pushing the "Microsoft-free" desktop. Nobody is biting. Delta to offer Wi-Fi across entire US fleet. Sony grabs Rocketboom for exclusive distribution rights. PayPal co-founders investing in Space-X venture. AT&T now into Cloud Computing. Lenovo growing too slow. AMD versus Intel with new code words. Be careful if you are asked to upgrade your flash player. Hackers lurk. tech5
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Intel Developing a GPU

August 04th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Intel decides to get back in to the graphics chip business. I have the backstory. Apple updating the new iPhone already? Looks like the run rate for the thing is 800,000 a week. Meanwhile AT&T keeps the exclusive. Microsoft getting grief over Vista. Company proves that everyone is indeed within 6-degrees of Kevin Bacon. Google may lose suit over AdSense. Thailand bans GTA IV. New initiative to make $12 computer as an SOC. Motorola has a new co-CEO. SanDisk is 20 years old. tech5
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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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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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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.  :)

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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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