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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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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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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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tweeting my life away. ;)

May 05th, 2008 | Category: qik

I have not made a new blog in a few days.  I’ve been so busy twit or tweeting, I’ve lost track.  Oie.

I plan to stream another bike ride today, so feel free to watch at http://qik.com/thecolor

Bring your Dramamine and popcorn.  ;)  I’ll tweet about it before I start in case you a part of that network… of course, if you just watch my blog, you’ll see the tweet to the right.  :)

Oh, and this time I am going to try a slightly higher size 320×240.  It should be a bit cleaner, but may buffer just a bit.  You’ll have to let me know if there is much of a delay since I won’t be able to see it until after I ride.

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Virtual Radio Hack (vradio)

February 27th, 2006 | Category: live stream,vradio

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to stream my own audio through my A920 since I bought the dang thing. It seemed like no one had created a program to do this…. in actuality, no one had (for this device), until now. :)

Problem: I wanted my own streaming audio content on my mobile device and could not find software to stream a .pls file (playlist)

Device: Motorola A92x A920 with A925 firmware

Partial Resolution: I purchased a program called Virtual Radio at www.vradio.org

This worked great, except it would not allow me to stream my own content. The developer’s site said that they would add any live stream to their list and thus you could basically stream your own content that way.

Additional Problem: The developer refused to link my stream so I could access it through his great software. (what a waste!) Seems my stream was not good enough, not big enough and I did not advertise it. :(

So I Fixed My Problem: I set out to do what I do normally, what someone won’t do for me. :) In this program there is a great little file called vr_list.xml under the system>apps>vrcli folder.

The great thing about this file is that it’s easily editable and needs no recompiling to work with the existing program.

The problem with the program is that is is designed to connect to vradio.org and auto update the list. If you edit the file vr_list.xml and add your stream url, that update will simply wipe it out. To fix that problem, simply make the file read only, and hidden.

Once you’ve update the file with your own stream URL such as http://yourdomain.com:8000 and made this file read only and hidden, launch the program again, and search for the location in which you placed the link (Channel Group) The program should not only launch quicker because it is not able to update the file, but it will also display your new link in the Channel Group you placed it, viola, personal streaming content of which you have control over.

Another nice thing is that, since you can add any stream URL that is at least (to my knowledge) shoutcast compliant then you’ve got a massive shoutcast list: courtesy shoutcast.com. Just extract the stream URL and add it to your xml file and your set. :) In addition to that, you could actually go for a higher quality stream (like 128kbps) or whatever. Of course that greatly depends on your device and data rate. If you don’t have great speakers on it and a sucky data rate, well then, 128 kbps is either just not gunna load or it’s gunna chop from buffering like crazy. :(

Bare in mind, only you can see it… this is not a hack of the vradio site, only the software you own. But that was the point right.. to simply listen to your own music and control your list? :)

Hope this little post was helpful to anyone who wants to stream their own music on their Motorola A92x A920 A925 or any device that supports Virtual Radio.

Thanks Virtual Radio. To bad you would not help the little guy out. :(

Possible problems (if any): You might run into the occasional “Can’t write file” error when opening the program. If that happens, simply go back to the system dir you placed the new file in, change its name to something like bk.vr_list.xml.bk and reload the program. Once it’s written the new file and connected to vradio successfully, simply go back to the dir, delete the newly written vr_list.xml and change yours back (removing the bk.) and reopen the program. :)

—Edit—

The creator of the program had a change of heart and added my station as an exception. :) That was very nice of him. Thank you Juerg

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