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December 2004 Archives

December 1, 2004

Sky Jumping

skyjumplogo.gif New Zealand is the adrenaline capital of the world. If I had time I would be heading down to Queenstown, however this time it's been in and around Auckland. Before leaving my son and I headed to Auckland'sSkyTower ( the tallest buiding in the southern hemisphere) where one can literally jump off the edge. It's some 172 meters to the ground and all over in twenty seconds. Reaching a decent speed of over 40 miles per hour I wondered if it was really a plunge to certain death or just another thrill ride. I convinced myself when signing up that it is really a personal elevator without a floor. Unlike a bungy jump one doesn't have to dive off and then bounce around. Instead I told myself that one merely steps off. I wonder about my glasses.. For the ride itself I'm in for a modified jock strap and a couple of guywires. A momentary sense of trepdation and three, two one.... !

skyjumpstuart4.jpg skyjumpstuart3.jpg

Pronouncement. It's all over too quick. There is skydiving in my future!

December 2, 2004

Skype Answer Machine - SAM

I’ve been experimenting with different Skype Answer Phones. I wrote some specs over a year ago. And the simple answer is a well developed application will be a game changer… The general wisdom is you won’t leave your computer working to handle your telephony needs. An early look at SAM a Skype Answer Machine makes traditional solutions seem old fashioned. This is the second Skype API enabled application that I've reported on.

Think about your current phone answer machine. When you come home, you step through the door and hear it beeping away with new messages. You press the playback button… visually you can see how many messages were left but you can’t choose the order. You begin listening. The first caller leaves a message no number.. the second a message with a number…. You search madly for a pen that works and any scrap of paper… the next message is already playing…. Before you know it have to listen to them all again carefully trying to write down numbers and names.

Now what if you had:

  • A solution that not only captured voice messages, it also enables one click return dialing.
  • Notifies each caller with a text message (can be customized) that they reached your answer machine so they can leave a note too.
  • Records the sent text notification and thus retains presence information (online, away etc. for someone who may not be on your buddylist) thus informing you of likely callback success or for making a short text answer for the message easy if all it needs is a one liner.
  • Can select the playback in any order you wish, getting faster to messages that you think are urgent or interesting..
  • Has all the other usual features.

    SAM created by Alex Rosenbaum is still in beta. I had no problems with the install. I know he is still refining it for sound card compatibility. SAM requires the latest version of Skype so download it first. It's only available in PC format, sorry Mac fans.

    SAMSkype.jpg

    What else may be engineered into this answer phone over time?

  • Smart Rings dependent on the type of call or contact category.
  • Voice Mail retrieval from another PC using the dialpad.
  • Managed Screening. Answer all incoming calls not on my buddylist or on my whitelist with a specific details request message and different text message.
  • Develop for use as a call recorder.
  • Use access to Presence information in new ways to be controlled by the user.
  • Bridge Skype to other telephony applications. Eg call forwarding.

    If you like Skype then try it out. It's really not a machine, it's a first step in a set of applications that will help change the way we see desktops. Now if I could just integrate my desktop so it works seemlessly with my mobile phone.

  • December 7, 2004

    StumbleUpon

    I had a wonderful conversation with TDavid of MakeYouGoHmmyesterday. For once I found myself being swamped with new links one of which was StumbleUpon. (see also TDavid.Stumble) . Everyone on Stumble has an RSS feed for the links they are clipping so while investigating what Stumble actually is I added his RSS feed to my aggregator and then scanned the last few clips. Some interesting examples emerged. It was enough to prompt me to install it and try it myself.

    StumbleUpon is a new way to surf the web. It lets you channel-surf pages recommended by friends and peers - great sites you can't find using search engines.

    We are a community-based, word-of-mouth approach to websurfing - pages you "stumble upon" come from like-minded people who share your interests. Add the Toolbar, choose some topics and click Stumble! You'll meet people who like your favorite sites as you discover the best of the web.
    StumbleUpon Toolbar

    What I found was it very quickly provided some neat and fun links. Not the stuff I'd normally find just by searching. I'm going to play with it some more. Where it will become even more useful is when someone sends me a link and I want to remember it quickly. Unlike favorites it saves them in a blog format. That makes it easy to go back to later. Adding the thumbs up to sites no yet in the community is a postiive too. Capture my own RSS feed and I have all those recent pages of interest that I should be blogging ready and available.

    The final twist in this post is better late than never. I'd captured Stumble in my link blog via Judith Meskill way back in the beginnning of the year. And low and behold TDavid blogged it back in January. So apparently I've just joined another social network despite thinking they are effectively dead and almost a year late. At least this one looks like I may learn from what others are clipping. Click Click Click....

    December 14, 2004

    Audio Video Blogging

    Just testing out Userplane's new A/V blogging tool. It's simple and easy to use. I just created a quick "testing" post. It's certainly easy to use. Beyond stop / start there is really no editing capability. Get it right or erase and start again. In this format it could be used as simple briefing and status report updates. When this converges with voice mail.. then it may be a whole lot more personable and persuasive to leave a video mail. The act of just recording a video will probably raise your energy level.

    Summary:
    Neat easy to use tool. I'm trying to insert it in a wikispace I'm working on. I'm also thinking about whether to simply replace the photo on the blog here with a short introductory video. Will have to think about the content. Alternatively it could become a little "this week I'm exploring... or thinking about". With the interests in podcasting it's introduction is timely. To do anything substantial in this area... additional functionality is required. Still the short burst have merits.

    December 15, 2004

    People Want Services

    Nice summary via Emergic and Feedster on Services.

    Servers are the core of the new "computing"” architecture in tomorrow’s world. It is the services which create value for the rest of the ecosystem of devices and the networks. As Atanu wrote on his blog recently: “Stand-alone computing a la PCs delivering ‘services’ is fine for those who can afford that luxury, but is definitely a show-stopper for those who have very little disposable income and yet can make use of those services that PCs deliver. I remind myself repeatedly that people do not want a PC -- what they actually want are the services that a PC delivers. As long as we focus on the fact that it is services -- and not the hardware nor the software -- that matter to people, we will not end up putting the cart before the horse. So if a firm were to deliver those set of services at an affordable price, it is immaterial to the consumer whether the consumer (of those services) uses a PC or some other device.”

    The first service that is important is that of computing and storage. The grid needs to deliver the user’s desktop – a dashboard from where the user can manage and interact with other services. As part of the desktop, users would be provided email clients, a productivity suite (word processor and spreadsheet), a web browser, and Instant Messaging clients. The browser makes possible access to the Web. This desktop needs to also be available via the cellphone – because it is highly likely that the user will have access to both. The computer can be used to manage the desktop, while the cellphone can be used for alerts, short messages, among other things. So, the grid needs to be able to deliver an appropriately formatted virtual desktop to both network computers and cellphones, allowing users anywhere access to their data.

    The second service is that of specific software applications and content relevant to the user’s interests. Thus, businesses could have a menu of industry-specific applications to chose from. Students would have access to a library of educational content available to them. For entertainment, there would be online games. To make this a reality, there needs to a platform on which third-party application developers and content providers can make their offerings available. Microsoft’s Windows API made this possible for software developers, while the open formats of the Web made it possible on the Internet.

    The third service is around communications. As IP networks proliferate, voice itself will become an application over the next-generation networks. We are already seeing this happen with Skype. Communications is a fundamental need – so far, voice has been for the most part a service available primarily through the telcom networks. As computing and communications converge on a common network, telephony will be a critical application on the grid.

    The fourth service is built around user-generated content. We are seeing this happen through blogs. Given an easy platform to create and disseminate content, users can bring forth their creativity and experiences to create a rich interchange of ideas, words and images. This is the shift that will happen in the world of media in the coming years – instead of there being only the big broadcast websites, there will be a very large number of niche sites, each catering to its own audience. This is what Chris Andersen referred to as the “long tail” in a recent article in Wired.

    Finally, we will also see broadband content move to this platform – but in an on-demand variant. TiVo has already shown what is possible by giving users the ability to time-shift television. Increasingly, that will be the way we will consume all entertainment – at a time and place of our chosing. There is also an opportunity to create non-films and non-music-based content. Imagine for example if instead of just reading the recipes, they came alive with video attachments showing the actual cooking process.

    Thus, tomorrow’s world will see various services become digital and converge on to a common delivery platform. The network computer will be the portal to a world not just of computing, but also telephony and television. It will be an on-demand world – available to us on a screen which is part of a cellphone or a computer.

    Tomorrow: Payments [Skype]

    Skype Chat Beta

    Skype is on the verge of obsoleting their text messaging system. Today a new Skype Beta 1.1 for Windows is available with mulitparty chat. The chat solution is very very elegant and solves the problem that all conference users have had (which chat client to use?). See using Skype Chat. It also has some nice memory features, including "recent chats" and "topic" capabilities. Plus... a big plus.... "When you are in a chat with several people (the new text chat in 1.1), the button in toolbar changes its shape and its tooltip is "Send File to All". And it does exactly what it says." from the forum. Try it.


    Beta version available (advanced users only)
    This beta version contains new features which have known issues. Before you download it, make a backup of your contact list and all data. New Skype users should not use this beta version.
    Download Skype for Windows

    Now I just need a streaming solution so the conference call between an expert panel (still limited to five) can be streamed to the up to 50 skype participants. Then questions can be taken and new members invited to the conference call as required.

    December 16, 2004

    Skype Voice Mail & Swarming

    Another little discovery in the Skype Beta 1.1. As with many innovative changes you have to try it or have it put right in front of your before you say WOW! Almost from the beginning we have known Skype will introduce voice mail. Well.... seeing visually how it will work I immediate thought this is going to be very different. Anyone who thinks voice mail on Skype will just be a crippled form of telephony still doesn't get it. In fact voice mail on Skype is another telephony revolution. For what is emerging is not an application that is one to one telephony rather it is really many to many communications. Each step forward on that course further separate Skype from the telephone. It also makes going back impossible.

    In the new beta right clicking on a contact provides the opportunity to send a voice mail. I seem to have a few contact for which it is active although it remains turned off and they don't go through. With a few Skype enabled Answering Machines emerging and ongoing developments in presence it's useful to think about how integrating voice mail into Skype will change behavior and build it's business.

    Some Observations:

    Voice Messaging: Voice Mail on the phone is a failure case. It means you didn't get through and were unable to complete the details of your call at that time. Voice Mail on Skype means that was the least intrusive medium to leave a message. It's friendly and brokers a better introduction than just using a text (now chat) message. As I can leave a message directly I may choose to use voice rather than text or write an e-mail. My perception is that Skype removes a barrier to sending voice messages. Thus I'd expect Skype voice mail to rachet up efficiency. It also further differentiates Skype from IM systems (re-establishing it's voice-centric nature.)

    Voice Broadcast: I've never mastered the art of sending broadcast voice mails on the telephone. With the behavior learned in Skype to create both conference calls and now multi-party chat, Skype is training you in the one step method to send multiparty invites and greetings. Think it is not a big deal? Look at Swarming on SMS and now click fifty buddies and broadcast a voice message that says "party". Your friends come running. On the enterprise side... message from the CEO. It's huge and it will be adopted by both kids and companies alike. (It may just get the kids off AIM!).

    Viral Subscription: Skype Voicemail is also likely to be viral. If I buy voicemail then you will need it to for the added benefits. Two immediate features. 1) Sending a voicemail may be more "polite" and less intrusive. It also enables all the broadcast features above. Thus corporate and mulit-profile / person accounts are on the horizon. 2) The voicemail function must enable differentiation between "buddylist", "registered skype accounts" and "free accounts". VoiceMail can intercept all non buddy list calls as a matter of course. Second, as it is less intrusive to leave a voice mail (and it won't be ringing on their desk disturbing them) in many instance a voice mail will be more appropriate than a text message. Example an update they don't need right now. Via your account you may also want to control the duration of the message that can be left. eg max 30 seconds and no repeat messages from the same caller within 10 minutes. We don't know what it will cost. (Voice mail should always be available to "buddies" for a paid subscriber!)

    Social Useablity:
    Note that everything is virtually one or two clicks. When I blogged SAM I pointed out how it was a more intelligent answer machine, simply by enabling one-click call back and the ability to select the listening order. Voice Messaging on one click for many will be easier than sending an e-mail. Recently I've ended up on some conference calls where we are chasing the last person via SkypeOut on a mobile. It's been amusing to leave a multi-party voice message. With the voicemail functionality it will be possible to close a four-way conference call and leave a call wrap-up in a voice mail. Then it will be interesting to see how voice messaging becomes more social.

    Timing: At the moment it is hard to time schedule a text message. They go in real time unless the other person is offline. However, voice mail (like sending a birthday wish) will make this potentially a simple matter. It's another service that builds on the premium service capabilities. It's also a good way to operate. For example in a department... understanding. send me... "want to see you about" chat messages at 10:00 am. Meeting beginning... agenda. etc.

    This emerging functionality may be the piece that means enterprises can't ignore Skype. With voice mail and premium accounts the whole system becomes more effective. Concurrently with the Skype API pulling presence enhanced corporate directories is a relatively a simple matter. The global nature of these many to many conversations will also encourage the development of new translation services.

    I still believe the premium services will be worth about 25 euros per annum (needs to enable multiple profiles eg five so I can deal with my kids!) with SkypeIn line charges extra. I'd think the voice mail only capability could be even cheaper. Skype may just be the first mass IM client to work out how to make money without advertising.

    December 18, 2004

    Audio Blogging -- Podcast Feed

    The hottest thing in audio is podcasting. A blogger can't think about podcasting without having a suitable RSS 2.0 feed. I've now added one to this blog. Means podcasts are sure to come. See the top left. Brandon's MT-Enclosures plug-in was one of the simplest I've ever installed.

    Audio blogging is starting to take off. Currently, Movable Type has no support for audio blogs so I decided to whip up a quick plugin to provide the capability. The missing link here is automating the process of adding the special link into your RSS 2.0 feed. That is the job of this plugin. To start audio blogging, you have to do the hard part first — record the audio file. Be interesting. Let’s say you recorded as an MP3 file. Then upload the MP3 file to your web server so that it is available for download. Then create a new blog entry that announces your post and has a link to the MP3. The link should be a standard tag with the HREF pointing to the MP3. Save and rebuild your index files. Your RSS 2.0 index will now have an tag in it pointing to the MP3. You are all done!

    The plugin supports a wide variety of file "types not just MP3! It handles audio, video, image and other file types.

    If you have Movable Type 3.0, the plugin will also ping audio.weblogs.com for you when you post a new enclosure. Currently, only entries with a category of "Podcasts" will trigger pings. You can change this in the source if you like.

    Brandon Fuller

    December 20, 2004

    Skype + Podcast Recorder = SkypeCasters

    Introducing instructions for SkypeCasting. The front-end solution for podcasters to create great sounding audio recordings from interviews and conference calls using Skype. For the last few days I've been recording podcasts using Skype. As the call ends with a couple of clicks it is converted to mp3 and uploaded to a blog. This is a real bloggers solution providing podcasting in almost real-time without resorting to studios, or fancy gear. Let the New Year ring in with new voices, and new conversations. Audio and podcasting will make a difference. Let's get the thoughts out into the world. Innovate in 2005 --- start podcasting. This post contains my first podcast and the instruction on how (links at the end).

    The SkypeCasters' recipe is simple and we have written it up in detail. Add together Skype, Virtual Audio Cables, Windows Sound Recorder, a simple Wav to mp3 converter MT_Enclosures and iPodder and you can be Podcasting later today! The solution will cost you $40.

    Why podcast? Why record? Where are immediate opportunities.
    There are many situations on the phone or Skype where you would like to be recording. Professional interviews are a prime example. Makes it easier to write up your notes later while you can completely focus your attention on the interview. Then we have the equivalent of "panel" discussions. The mini conference call fueled by good chatter and a great topic. Perhaps you are a budding poet wanting to spread a reading to a small group? Want to send a joint message or birthday greeting where the parties are dispersed, record a Skype conference call and e-mail the mp3. Similarly, finishing up a conference call --- create a simple 5 minute SkypeCast of the key action points. Blog it to your group. An hour in five minutes. It's over to you now. Tell us how you use it.

    Approaching podcasting like this is different to staged professional recording studios, and big production values. We know that if you have a talented studio behind you then mixing and turning out a professional Podcast will be no problem. This is the solution for those with no money who are happy to create SkypeCasts on the fly.

    multiparty recording.jpg

    What we have done: (GET INSTRUCTIONS)

  • A simple Skype recording solution for capturing "great" audio.
  • No extra overhead. It all works on one Windows XP PC.
  • A blog platform - MT- that "reads" for podcasts.
  • A lowcost way to distribute podcasts without running up bandwidth bills (podcasttorrent)
  • Quick and simple to do.

    Here is the recipe. I'd never have completed it without BIll Campbell's help. Our "proof of concept" SkypeCast is here. We are still learning some of the mic and audio tricks. It is converted at 32mbs... although perfectly passable at 16kps it begins to sound more like a telephone... and that might not be the best Skype proof of concept test.

    Looking forward to your feedback. I'll move the recipe details shortly to a wiki so they can be updated. In the meantime let us have your comments and learnings.

    Lastly, unleashing the capability to record Skype calls isn't meant to bypass common courtesy and the smarts of asking permission before you start recording. You could get yourself into trouble sending out a podcast without permission. You may want to get it via IM when you hit record. It's clear to me that recording without permission is going to happen. I'd appreciate getting some more insights in this area. I'd note that one can SkypeOut and record this way without the other party knowing or even the caller ID being identified currently.

    Instructions
    Podcast on SkypeCasting

  • SkypeCasting: The Podcast

    I tested podcasting over the weekend on my MT 3.12 Test Blog. So today I thought adding MT-Enclosures and an RSS2.0 feed to 2.66 --- what this blog still runs on would be easy. It's now working. I still don't understand why iPodder still misses and didn't download the same podcast link in the previous post. At the moment I put that down to mixed media. RSS 2.0 Podcast ready feed

    Podcast: SkypeCasting (see previous post)

    December 21, 2004

    Dave Winer SkypeCasting Interest

    Dave Winer picks up on using Skype for Podcasting and wants an easy solution. Actually I'd be interested to hear how the Mac community is working the Skype to mp3 to Podcast. Aren't Mac's supposed to be easier? Still the point i wanted to make was the immediacy in which audio can be blogged as quick updates or mini briefing. For immediate Eric Rice is leading with mobile phone calls to Audioblogs. It's one area where we are all going to need more stories to make it work and see it in action. It's still much easier to scan text, and yet audio brings a sense of presence unique to the medium.

    Speaking of Skype, I wonder if they know how central they've become in the podcasting world? One feature to die for, a way to record a call to an MP3. I'd be happy to meet with people from the company. Are they in Silicon Valley?Scripting News: 12/21/2004

    Dave followed up this note with a prod at all of us who don't read RSS 2.0 specs and just copy, paste and go. The points confirmed what I learned last night without reading the manual that RSS 2.0 only wants one enclosure per post. I don't read my manual for the DVD, the VCR, etc, --- just about anything I buy at least until I want to do more or I'm having problems. I almost never for software. I simply learn by using. So paste in MT-Enclosures and you are in business.

    What did amaze me was the number of new subscriptions I got to the RSS 2.0 index.xml feed last night.

    More on Skype Recording

    Following yesterday's post on SkypeCasting - recording call content on Skype for sending out for podcasts. I learnt a few more things and had some great suggestions.

    One point of clarity. What we did with VAC virtual audio cables and Window Sound Recorder may seem like a kludgy solution. However it has one distinct benefit over other methods that have been shared with me to date. The benefit is I don't have to listen to myself amplified in my headset as I speak. Julian Bond's solution in the post comments provides just this solution for free without additional Skype profiles running. You will hear yourself speaking. Testing with Peter Cooper's approach provided the same result. I was also recently pointed to Replay Telecorder. Yet another answerphone / recorder to be added to what will become a very competitive space. I certainly got it recording both of us... I tried it with different profiles and such. In principle running it on another PC and dialing that PC into a conference call will give you the instant recording capability you need. However the problem remains. How do you use your laptop in the park to record an agreed improptu conversation and turn it into a podcast? Plus put it on air in minutes not hours. Cameron and Mick's approach is way more difficult. While I think they may have improved it, this was tough.

    "Replay Telecorder", a little app which is supposed to record both sides of a Skype call (we live in different cities). Turns out though, when one of us hit "record", the other person would get terrible echo of their own voice and not be able to hear the recording party. After lots of mucking about and googling, we finally stumbled upon the idea of each of us recording our OWN voice using Audacity and then merging the two files later in post. It was about 11.30pm by the time we figured that out (90 minutes into the session). So we recorded for half an hour. That was the easy part. Then Mick compressed his recording as an 15 Mb mp3 (20 minutes), uploaded it to his server (20 minutes) and I then downloaded it (20 minutes). Then I merged the two files, that worked okay, and I added an intro and tail and re-compressed the whole thing as an mp3. cameronreilly: G'Day World

    Find the right recorder and you can always use another PC as a silent partner in a three four or five way conference. Just set the mic on mute. You can even automate it with an answer machine like SAM don't enable you to record longer than a minute or two and may not convert the output yet into an efficient mp3 file. Separately, I'm going to write up what we really need, which is only partially about recorder and more importantly focused how tech may work to solve the "recording" challenge. For at the moment almost anything can be recorded. You also won't know when it is happening. Somehow I think it is something the Skype team wants to solve too.

    Recording Laws and Solutions.

    Skype is heralding in a new world for potential recording solutions. For everyone that goes Skypecasting will want some protection. Who wants to be recorded and never get a copy? Should you get a review before it goes out. What sort of legal release is really necessary? What happens when the tape has mysterious blanks or is edited. Is there an original digital signature registry? How tamper proof will the records be. Get this right and Skype will have a role in the legal profession as well. Just imagine lawyers threatening lawyers with an IM contract confirmation and digital copies executed as the session closes. Things might move faster. Of course in Skype that requires authentication that the name really belongs to someone. Then these are things that the Skype API development team should be working on.

    Think twice before you Podcast the conversational Skypecast mp3 you just created. Take a look at the tape recording law and you know we need a solution. There are many cases where recording is legitimate and it is certainly used in every call center (ostensible for training). See Tape-recording laws at a glance

    While we are on the what's legal and not, I'm hoping a few legal eyes out there will take a look at the recording devices that are coming out. For as these devices capture your audio, with the Skype API they may also capture your buddylist, report on number of calls, time on the phone all sorts of things. Without due care you may find your PC transmitting info in the future that you were or aren't really willing to share.

    December 22, 2004

    Where is the Headset Santa?

    Dear Santa, this is what I really really want and no one but you might have it. It's sort of hush hush, my friends might find it too practical or too geeky, so let me tell you I know you have a nice big iPod in the bag for me. Still Santa that is a little late I would have liked it last year and my son's had a mini since the first day. Let me whisper what I really want. It is really quite simple.

    pc headset.jpg

    It's a cordless stereo headset with mic (not at all like the picture). It needs to be supremely comfortable so I can wear it for long periods of time. The battery will have to last a whole day even if it is being used lots. Maybe your elves can provide two batteries and a rapid charger to go with the USB wireless device I presume it needs. I don't like Bluetooth much and really want more range. If you must know I'm completely accustomed to using my Bluetooth headset with my mobile (great in the car) and now want some of those features at my desk. Even if I could work out how to connect my Bluetooth phone headset to my laptop and make it work with Skype I'd still not be completely happy.

    I think your elves need to make one with good range, long battery life, great sound and low weight. I'd like it to be portable and thus robust. I want some simple buttons on it to control volume and switch from Skype to iTunes to "silent white noise". Oh and that great voice dialing feature I've got with my Bluetooth on my Nokia mobile, I'd like that and make it work with iTunes selection too.

    Anything else? Well I'd like it to retail for less than a hundred dollars, but frankly given the amount of time I now use a headset I'd pay more for comfort and a "sound" that protects my ears from damage. Listening to all these podcasts is going to be very important and I should have to tell you how to make people happy.

    Well really Santa, I've been good, I gave up chocolate and became a Skypeaholic - still that is harmless enough right? And that Santa is exactly why I want this headset and not the iPod although I realize one must compromise from time to time.

    Oh and Santa, I know my friends would love some too!

    Can I be really greedy now Santa? Perhaps you can also influence the guys at Skype and Apple to provide a solution that works like it does with WinAmp. (See Skype file / options /advanced/auto-pause win amp). Plus Skype when it is from a buddy or anyone.. perhaps you can let me know "who is calling" voice before I answer. Then activate a voice trigger for accept, decline etc. Maybe Santa you can fix it with them. They have all these alliances and I'm still having to hunt for my mouse to answer it. It's hard to finish when you encourage a wish list. I want this headset to be really smart. When i put it down.. I want it to ring out loud.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    December 23, 2004

    Santa Comes to Rescue

    stereoheadset.jpg
    My letter last night to Santa got a little note back from the elves asking if this Sonorix bluetooth Stereo Headset is what I want? It looks perfect, then I'd really like to try it out first and I've never seen it in any of the stores. With it i could trade in my current bluetooth headset as well. I'm not sure what it retails for. Each time I click the link the price goes up. It is probably very expensive.

    The SONORIX Bluetooth Audio Player OBH-0100 is the first product of its kind in the world to integrate Mobile, Wireless and Audio technologies into a multi-purpose entertainment device, thereby providing the user with the Ultimate Solution for handsfree and audio demands. It functions as Wireless Headphone for PC enabling 2 way voice communication(voice chatting) and direct streaming of high quality audio, Wireless Headset for handsfree operation with mobile phones, Standalone Audio Player for listening to music anytime, anywhere. SONORIX.com :::

    Ok so who is going to buy it first? Plus Santa says I'm out of luck this year... it really is the iPod. Still I really really want to try it out. Let me try yours if you get one! I don't even think I've seen this on Engadget. See the Brochure.

    December 27, 2004

    How Skype Works

    Another paper on how Skype works. "An Analysis of the Skype Peer-to-Peer Internet Telephony Protocol" Orginal paper bye Salman Baset and Henning Schulzrinne. Plus the corresponding powerpoint. No new conclusions some nice detective work dated September 2004.

    December 28, 2004

    iPod Files Backup

    With any new gadget I just want to master them and then see what can be done. Like the millions of hits that apparently brought down the iTunes store on Christmas day I've been adding music. That's where iTunes one way copying becomes the first bug. Last year over Christmas I ripped all the CD's in our house. Many were added to my laptop, and the 40GB hard drive was really overfull with music. So the iPod was supposed to free up space on the laptop.

    Taking control of the iPod.
    After that first synch with the iTunes assuming you have lots of music in there. Switch the iPod to manual. iTunes / edit/ preferences / iPod. Unclick all the automatic updates. Otherwise each time you connect your iPod to the PC it just simply overwrites any music you may have added anywhere else. Do your really want to lose it? On manual you can go to other PC's and add the music from them via iTunes. So I added the music files on the other PC's around the house. Now the iPod has lots of music and can no longer synch automatically with the iTunes on the laptop. What you then need is a program that can copy / backup the files on your iPod to the PC. Then you have a backup of everything. It wasn't hard to find.

    I found two programs that would enable this. I first used iPod Access for Windows (also available for Mac) which provides a simple interface. After paying the $10:00 I was able to copy all my music files to the USB Backup Drive (didn't want them back on my laptop). I then returned to my laptop and deleted all the iTunes music files and folders. Thus starting with a clean sheet. Then clicking iTunes/ edit/ preferences / advanced I unticked the copy music folders to the iTunes library. Then iTunes / File / Add Folder to Library I created a new library that mimics my iPod without filling up the diskdrive on my laptop. So at my desk I have all the music I want and on the road I still have it in my iPod, which can still be managed through my PC iTunes, iPod Access or Anapod. As I buy new music that's added to the iTunes music folder. In time I will have to repeat the backup again. Anytime there is a need to add files from elsewhere.... just set the iPod to manual.

    The second program Anapod provides more functionality than iPod Access and I've not yet finished exploring it. I still have the trial version not yet paid the $25 this one costs. Anapod also provides a streaming function and will enable you to listen to the music on your ipod via WinAmp or I think broadcast it should you desire. The iPod is now plugged into the stereo in the other room. I may be time to sell all those CD's and make room for something new.

    I've also added an iTrip which plays music over FM to any radio close by. Thus the iPod now gets around the busted CD player in my car and I have music again! I also added iTalk, so the iPod can be used as a recorder. I have a few ideas on how to use that too. Both these little additions partner very nicely with the iPod.

    So now I have room to download all the new podcasts via iPodder and synch them quickly with the iPod. When I may ever listen to them all is another question.

    December 29, 2004

    SkypePodCaster

    Another experiment on the SkypeCasting front. What's required to capture Skype Calls from any PC directly onto an iPod. With an iPod combined with iTalk you have a line-in option.

    With a headphone sharing cable you can use Julian Bond's approach (although you will hear yourself talking too. and connect up your iPod as a recorder. It could work for underpowered PC's with limited disk space. Another option is to use a PC that has a second sound card or plug in a USB soundcard. Then you can use the iPod to record off the second Skype profile. (see SkypeCasting Instructions). Under either of these methods it may be good enough for simply capturing an interview, it is not likely to be podcast material and tuning beyond workable is not worthwhile. Possibly the right audio mixer connected to both the iPod and the PC would work.

    Then all these solutions just prove the futility of looking for a hardware related solution when the right "software" is just over the horizon. $10 for the "SkypePodcastRecorder" would be about right. A recording device that captures and balances the full audio stream from a single Skype profile. That will then create a whole new market for audio messaging.

    I've also found that iTalk on the iPod records .wav files at 128kps consuming approximately 1mb per minute. It's great for audio notes. and even longer sessions. You still have to convert it to an mp3. Any recorder above will do that automatically.

    Enough playing around....

    Giving Up Traditional Blogging

    As the year closes I've been thinking about my bloging. I've been fairly consistent in my posting, although slightly down in number this year versus last. So it is time to consider where my blogging is going and where blogging itself may be headed.

    I'm seeing signs that blogs are declining in usefulness and utility as they are pushed into activities they are not suited for.

    I'm also ready to give up part of my blogging and move on and forward. There was a time I enjoyed forums, although I found I could never track back to my contributions. In retrospect that was one of the elements that got me blogging, However blogging is also an individual pursuit and repository. It's great for being part of a "tell-em" world, blast it out, maybe you will get noticed, maybe ignored. Don't get me wrong. Going Blogging was one of the most rewarding things I've done in the last few years. It has connected me with wonderful people all over the world. It's brokered many a new introduction. Still I'm planning on giving up my blog in the new year. I'm migrating away from being just a blogger.

    Instead I plan on being a more collaborative contributor. Oh I want to own my own words, and I hope create and nurture new pages to life. However, they shouldn't stop there. For the most part a blog is a static repository while the world is a living organism. I want to breath life into change. Thus I need to open source my approach to writing, sharing, and becoming part of a broader collective intelligence. You simply can't do that with blogs. Oh you can share editing privaledges and blogs are excellent at top down hierarchical communications. So blogs are blasted out into the blogosphere and if you are lucky you are swamped with links and trackbacks. Then posts age and they are forgotten.

    So where am I going:

    To involve myself in platforms that enable a collective intelligence to be applied both from the core collective and by being so open that we can easily be perturbed by others entering the system. It may be too wishful to hope someone will correct my typos, however enabling an environment that is "Yes and!" where conversations can be built on is important to me. I took to blogging when I could see that participation in blogs and newsreaders would simply accelerate my learning. In the beginning I created a blogroll and so long ago often used to manually click back to other blog pages that I'd identified and wanted to read. Newreaders eliminated that need. As my Newreading list expanded I began managing it in new ways. Feedster became a savior, tracking "topics" and concurrently I tried to keep up a link blog --- however even that was too time consuming. Many pages I would have liked to note and save weren't blog ready and frankly putting them in my favorites file was like sticking them in a draw. Which brings me to "social bookmarking" - Furl, del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, etc. (I've generally played with these three and each are slightly different). In these solutions I have yet another way to filter and see what others are looking at. Wonderful for say sharing competitive intelligence. So what's happening? The social connections and the word connections in the data are simply becoming more important to me. Operating in MT doesn't enable me to offer up information like I'd like to.

    I have a pretty good mind for links. Usually I have more links I can recall from memory than may be useful on occassion. (Although Jerry with his "brain" has a repository that goes way beyond what I can remember). Still the lessons above mean that I increasingly see individual blogs through filters and so for some that means I'm further away, and they may pop up from time to time. Thus I've continued to set my scanning for new horizons. It's my conclusion that - that is the problem. Blogs aren't adapting to this new reality. Blogs remain static in structure, they haven't evolved much. On a time basis we are getting smarter by enabling them to notify for new file types (eg podcasts) however that is just smart use of RSS and that I think is RSS evolving.

    I'm not giving up on blogs. It's an infomation medium and format that won't go away, what needs to change is the way blogs are created and used. So long ago I wrote that I wanted a wikiblog and I know I am not alone in reflecting on it. At the time I thought it would be more useful, others could fix those typo's, although I was still coming at it from a blog format and approach. I was starting with the idea of blogging in mind. Rather the need was to go back to basics.

    "It's all about work!" It's about accelerating collaboration and learning. Which tends to happen when heads rub together and where the approach is more collaborative to begin with. The platform and approach I'm exploring and working on now started as a wiki, although in my mind it is not a wiki. It dispenses with categories and yet fulfills taxonomy needs. I'm looking forward to explaining what's different and what's the same. I am giving up on traditional Blogging. it just doesn't suit my needs anymore.

    I learned that the personal blog is not focussed enough. Had I set out to only blog about Skype I would have been much more successful. However, that alone would not be me. By contrast, many of the things I would like to blog about and read are collectively blogged by my friends, peers and others that I admire. I'd much rather be part of that and be able to search their work and where I might have contributed comments myself. (Note I can search my blogroll although I seldom do).

    Some might say that this is a foolish gambit. I've been a blogging regular for well over two years, and at the end of the "the year of the blog" I plan to migrate away. I will draw one comparison. I've been with Skype from the beginning, and it is only just now starting to be recognised. So I'm trusting my gut and moving forward. I've completed some interesting corporate blogging projects however have learned that for the most part as a work method it has not yet infected the heart and soul of the business. I believe that is structural as well as a lack of imagination on the parts of many managers.

    So will you too find a new form of blogging next year? How will your blogging change? I'd be interested to know.


    Blog Archiving: Monthly - Pointless

    On a slight tangent. Most of the blog programs I know have some form of archiving system. Usually by post, month and category. I'd just like to know how many have ever used the monthly archive to find a post. I think the answer is no and never. We use the blog search function, it is far quicker and more efficient. It also beats large categories too. So the real effectiveness in blogs is not in their archiving, in fact the longer you blog the more you discover that the categories you orginally created are worthless and you have too many posts to re categorize. That's the problem again with a static rather than dynamic approach to the taxonomy.

    December 30, 2004

    Skype for Schools

    Now even the teachers are encouraging kids to Skype.. Enabling this can be done through the Skype API and some smart presence sharing directories.

    World Class Schools, a collection of forty high schools and organizations all across the world, is introducing several innovative projects for 2005. One of the their most ambitious and innovative project is the Skype Foreign Language Lab Project. This project uses technology from the Skype Company and applies it to the classroom.

    Cunningham explains that Skype technology allows person setting at one computer to call a person at another computer and then talk to that person for free. He adds that this allows for projects like their Skype Foreign Language Project to turn a classroom of computers into a language lab by allowing students in a language class the opportunity to call and talk with native speakers on a daily basis for free. i-Newswire.com

    About December 2004

    This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in December 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

    November 2004 is the previous archive.

    January 2005 is the next archive.

    Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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