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Review – Songbird 0.2 “Test Flight” September 30, 2006

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Songbird seems to have improved a lot since the v0.1 media player that I tried last year. It supports video and plays my FLAC music files (though doesn’t display the ‘ID3‘ info), and the memory use seems a bit more under control. More comment when v0.2 launches properly

I’d like a management tool with ratings and smart playlists, but no DRM (and I used J River Media Center, not iTunes, before I switched from MP3 to FLAC). I’ll have Squeezeboxes, so if it worked with Slimserver : great

Songbird’s networked features look interesting, but I had an app for Odeo (like iPodder) that collected podcasts for my server, so I need to view the screencast again, to see what it could really add for me

Microformats September 29, 2006

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If I understand correctly, a microformat specifies which (X)HTML tags to use for a small set of specific data (eg. name & address, or calendar events). They are simple, open standards. Humans can understand them and computers could be instructed to automatically add (just) the marked-up data into databases, for search engines or ‘mashed-up’ web services. (cf. Semantic Web)

The hCalendar format is based on iCalendar, so maybe one day I’ll be able to easily (automatically) add events from webpages to my calendar …and then ’synchronise’ my various online/offline, different vendor calendars, without needing $extra ‘middleware’ to translate between them. Maybe

AuPix September 25, 2006

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Tomorrow I start a new job, as Finance Director of AuPix Ltd, a Bristol startup working on ‘Video and Voice over IP‘ (VaVoIP). It took an opportunity like this to tempt me back into regular employment, and I’m really looking forward to it!

AuPix acquired IPR from SCOTTY Group, video technology which had been developed by UK-listed Motion Media plc before its 2004 ‘merger’ with SCOTTY. The AuPix team is mostly directors and engineers from the former Motion Media

Dieter Rams : Ten principles of “good design” September 21, 2006

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Good design is innovative.
Good design makes a product useful.
Good design is aesthetic.
Good design helps us to understand a product.
Good design is unobtrusive.
Good design is honest.
Good design is durable.
Good design is consequent to the last detail.
Good design is concerned with the environment.
Good design is as little design as possible.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Dieter Rams remains an enduring inspiration for younger designers, notably Jonathan Ive and Jasper Morrison, who have acknowledged his influence in their work at Apple and Rowenta respectively.

…from Rams’ Design Museum profile [via Signal vs. Noise]

Jonathan Ive September 19, 2006

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Business Week has an article about Jonathan Ive, head of the design team behind the Apple iMac and iPod …[via Signal vs. Noise]

He talked about focusing on only what is important and limiting the number of projects. He spoke about having a deep understanding of how a product is made: its materials, its tooling, its purpose. Mostly, he focused on the need to care deeply about the work….

“One of the hallmarks of the team I think is this sense of looking to be wrong,” said Ive at Radical Craft. “It’s the inquisitiveness, the sense of exploration. It’s about being excited to be wrong because then you’ve discovered something new.”….

Thinking about “design” as simply style or fashion misses the point….What really sets Apple’s products apart is the “fit and finish,” the ultimate impression that results from thousands of tiny decisions that go into a product’s development.

Why climb? September 16, 2006

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Dave MacLeod posts on the reasons why climbers climb. Some apply to me more than others do, but the specific ’some’ do keep changing!

Asterisk (telephony) September 14, 2006

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A couple of interesting posts, at a time when I want to understand Asterisk better …probably by buying (yet another) O’Reilly book

Firstly, Evan Henshaw-Plath’s “Integrating Asterisk and Rails” talk [pdf] at RailsConf Europe, including a list of ‘Fun Applications’ :

  • Listen to mp3 streams on your phone
  • Text to speech RSS reader
  • Email you mp3’s of your voicemail
  • Interactive voice driven Zork
  • Speakeasy – A volunteer community translation service
  • Make payphones ring when you walk by them
  • Trap telemarketers in an endless menu system
  • Spoof Caller ID
  • Add voice & phone interfaces to your Rails applications

…[via Peter Ferne]. I think this is the same topic as a “Hacking Asterisk and Rails with RAGI” article from Dec-05, but it’s a bit beyond me yet

Secondly, “Building Advanced Telecom Apps on a Shoestring” by Brian McConnell …[via Ken Camp]

European v’s American mobile phone use September 12, 2006

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Michael Mace at Mobile Opportunity compares European and American attitudes towards mobile phones

…[via Communities Dominate Brands]

Startup Review September 11, 2006

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Startup Review blog …[Found via Guy Kawasaki]

Extracted from the introductions (short and long) :

I plan to make only one post per week …a detailed case study on a successful Internet company …about ten hours of work per company

It will be written with a slant towards the investor’s perspective…. My name is Nisan Gabbay and I am currently working at Sierra Ventures, an early stage VC firm

I will focus on US-based start-ups. Since I live in San Francisco there will be some Silicon Valley bias here

ROK? – Not so much September 11, 2006

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The ROK Viper application was the 3rd UK Mobile VoIP story on 4 Sep, which I chose not to mention at the time

I’ve since seen a few critical comments, as people point out that it’s not really Mobile VoIP and it’s not compelling, and those are interesting

Review – “Everyware” September 11, 2006

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Dan Lockton [Found via Tom Coates] reviews Adam Greenfield’s recent book “Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing“, on his blog (or as Dan says, “discusses some of the ideas”), and more succinctly on Amazon UK, and concludes :

Overall, this is a most impressive book which clearly leads the reader through the implications of ubiquitous computing, and the issues surrounding its development and deployment in a very logical style…. Greenfield’s book is an excellent primer on the subject which ought to be on every designer’s bookshelf

I bought the book, based on a brief review by Jeffrey Zeldman, who said :

Adam Greenfield has written one of the most provocative books in years. If the right people read it, (Everyware) may do for the coming, computerless computing interface what Don Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things” did for design generally

Adam himself said, prior to publication :

Some of what you’ll find inside is a discussion of what we mean when we say “ubiquitous computing”…; whether it’s truly an immediate concern or a “hundred-year problem”; what different sorts of everyware might emerge in differing cultures; and, of course, an extended exploration of the social and ethical implications of this most insinuative of technologies.

Everyware is pitched to the smart generalist, as opposed to people with a technical background….

A future of geotagged photos September 5, 2006

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As usual, Jan Chipchase asks some interesting questions about human interaction with technology, this time about a (future) critical mass of geotagged photos

Elements of it border on ideas I suggested to Sharing Places, about creating time lapse movies from geotagged images

UK Mobile VoIP stories September 4, 2006

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Andy Abramson and TechCrunch UK both report the news that Mobiboo (London) has begun to offer a Mobile VoIP service, over Wi-fi, as an alternative to cellular

Andy also points to a story on newswireless.net that AQL (Leeds) is inviting Nokia E series users to sample free peer-to-peer Wi-fi calling over its mobile VoIP network

(They explain these better than I can. I need to think it through, later this week)

FairPlay DRM cracked September 4, 2006

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Macworld reports that :

Anti-copy protection activists have released a new solution that breaks Apple’s FairPlay DRM, which secures iTunes-purchased tracks.

The solution, QTFairUse6, comes from the same activists who this week unleashed FairUse4WM, which can strip copy protection from Windows Media files

…[Found via Dave Farber's IP list]

Update: Microsoft has released a ’security patch’ for FairUse4WM

Voice 3.0 September 3, 2006

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Ken Camp has an interesting taxonomy of telecoms voice service, which puts current early adopters at ‘Voice 2.5′/ 2.6

It begins part way through the linked post, with the paragraph “Voice 1.0 was dial tone” and ends with :

And perhaps it is time for the Requiem for VoIP, because VoIP isn’t the future. The future is Voice 3.0. And in that world, VoIP is just a facet of unified communications. Unified communications consisting of voice, video, presence, and user control coupled with fully converged services, including ubiquitous mobility and widespread application integration

Flickr Photo Compass September 3, 2006

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The Greasemonkey scripts for Flickr Photo Compass [via Lifehacker] and GeoRadar reminded me of some of the elements in Ajit Jaokar’s example of a Mobile Web 2.0 service, at Open Gardens

BEN – “Growing Pains” September 1, 2006

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Bristol Enterprise Network (BEN) will start the new term’s events on 13 Sep, 18:00 with “Growing Pains” …at the School of Chemistry, Cantock’s Close [map]

Bristol Media party September 1, 2006

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Bristol Media is having a relaunch party (after the summer break) for members on 7 September, 18:00 …at the recently opened Goldbrick House, 69 Park Street [map]