Showing posts with label blogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogs. Show all posts

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Kindle

Today's Sunday Times Culture section spurred me into researching Amazon's Kindle and establishing another dedicated aStore!

Obviously, as I'm a UK-based blogger, Kindle is out of my reach (unless someone at Amazon would kindly send me review hardware prior to a Pan-European launch)! Have you used Kindle? What's the end user experience like? Is it a viable portable platform when Apple dominates this space?

The Kindle Shop currently carries more than 100,000 books plus newspapers, magazines, and blogs. For your convenience, you can shop the Kindle Shop directly on Kindle or on your PC via Amazon.com. Either way, all titles are wirelessly delivered right to your Kindle for free. Amazon pays for the wireless delivery charges so you don’t have to. Buy a book and Amazon will auto-deliver it to you wirelessly in one minute.

The Kindle Shop provides the same Amazon shopping experience you're used to, including customer reviews, personalized recommendations, 1-Click purchasing, and everyday low prices. Check the store often; we're adding new titles every day.

Books
Whether you prefer biographies, classics, investment guides, thrillers, or sci-fi, thousands of your favorite books are available. The Kindle Shop offers more than 90 of 112 books currently found on the New York Times® Best Seller list and we’re adding more all the time. New York Times Best Sellers are $9.99, and you'll find many books for less. Can't decide what to buy? Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of any book for free. This way, you can try it out—if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Wii Network

Given the ubiquitous success of the Nintendo Wii, and an underlying trend of Mac User ownership, I've founded Wii Network (a FeedBurner Network).

This new network will comprise of Mac and Wii-related blogs.

In order to read it, you need to either subscribe via RSS or via email (I’ve set this up with FeedBurner but other email subscription services are available). If you subscribe via RSS and use a feed reader like Newsgator or Bloglines, new posts will appear soon after they appear on Wii Network members blogs. If you choose FeedBurner email, you’ll get a daily email with all the posts and a convenient table of contents.

Some of you may want to look at the feed only occasionally to sample individual authors you want to subscribe to. It’ll be interesting how this all works out. There is no actual blog site associated with the feed but there will be landing pages, which list the network members.

There are three principal benefits to participating bloggers:

1). Being discovered by new readers who view or subscribe to Wii Network.

2). Receiving advertisements (and revenue) through FeedBurner from advertisers who have purchased placement in the entire network.

3). Cool bling-bling like badges and other widgets to put on your blog site.

Advertisers benefit by being able to make network-wide buys. This is an excellent funnel to reach a targeted audience. Click here to buys ads.

If you would like to join the Wii Network, please e-mail me here. Thank you.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Band of Colours

Last week I received a speculative e-mail (via the contact form) from SoundSpectrum's Rick Eberle. He wondered if I'd be interested in reviewing their G-Force and SoftSkies plug-ins and sharing my thoughts with you?

I was terribly intrigued by this company, one that I'd never heard or read about before, and gamely visited SoundSpectrum's site! The feted plug-ins will be the subject of a future post. In the meantime, here's a basic FAQ prepared on behalf of the company.

SoundSpectrum - the #1 music and audio visualization software company on the market.
http://www.soundspectrum.com/

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SoundSpectrum for Consumer "Personal" Use:
============================================

G-Force is currently installed on over 100 million computers worldwide and our fan base continues to grow by millions every year. We supply the core visuals for Apple's iTunes and visuals for Windows Media Center and the upcoming Windows Vista OS, and our products are recommended by WindowsMedia, Yahoo Musicmatch, RealPlayer, Winamp, and most other popular media players for your computer. We have also been recommended by various media outlets, including CNet, Wired, USNews, and many online blogs and publications.

SoftSkies is a music visualizer and screen saver that produces photo-realistic cloudscapes, rich with color and motion. SoftSkies features mood-enhancing color designs, patent-pending cloud animation, dynamic imagery, and detailed visual controls. SoftSkies is ideal for relaxation, music appreciation, and creating ambiance for any environment. SoftSkies runs as a software plug-in to your favorite media player, as a screen saver display, or as a standalone application. Users can customize SoftSkies to design their own skyscapes with varying weather conditions and colors palettes. SoftSkies includes an assortment of color combinations designed in collaboration with Colorcalm, Inc. to add atmosphere and complement d├ęcor. SoftSkies also displays scenic photos as “living images” with animated cloudscapes that create a mesmerizing on-screen experience.

Consumers can download free trial demo versions and they can purchase the full versions (i.e. Gold or Platinum) from our web site (www.soundspectrum.com) as well. Consumer "personal use" versions downloaded from our web site are licensed strictly for personal use at home. *Public display and commercial use are strictly prohibited without special license from SoundSpectrum.

Here are a few reviews on us you might find interesting

On G-Force:
http://reviews.cnet.com/4531-10921_7-6398181.html

On SoftSkies:
http://theappleblog.com/2006/12/16/pub-softskies-platinum-review/

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SoundSpectrum for Commercial Use and Public Display:
============================================

G-Force and SoftSkies are also used in performances, nightclubs, theme parks, music festivals and retail environments throughout the world. Artists such as David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Journey, Aerosmith, Seal, Herbie Hancock, Raq, Fischerspooner and Michael W. Smith have used G-Force in their concerts and as part of their album releases. G-Force has also appeared in places as diverse as The Arizona Symphony, Germany’s Hamburg Planetarium, New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas, at the G-Force Rollercoaster at Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire and on video walls at TopShop stores in downtown London, England.

How does G-Force/SoftSkies work as an enhancement to a band/DJ's live performance?
-----------------------------------------------------
As the band/DJ plays, mesmerizing visuals that dance and react with the music are projected / displayed behind and around them. You can add your own pictures, logos, text or even video of the band/DJ to play along in the background meshed with the visuals too. The venue would need a video screen (LCD, LED, plasma, CRT, etc.) or a video projector with silk/ projector screen (or white wall) that is positioned behind the performer. This would be connected to a mini mac, or pc laptop to run the software. We are happy to furnish commercial licensing terms for performers or venues, upon request.

How does G-Force/SoftSkies work as an enhancement to a band/DJ's album releases?
-----------------------------------------------------
We are currently creating videos, videotones, wallpapers, online video singles and other DVD, dual disc & enhanced CD content meshing our G-Force and SoftSkies visuals with pictures, existing live and stock video and music from DJ’s, musicians and artists in many genres and on many labels.

These videos can be made as full screen HD, video iPod and/or cell phone compatible and can be sold and distributed separately online. Or they can be bundled and packaged to offer extra incentive for consumers to buy the actual CD package from retail instead of downloading specific songs from the web.

We have demo videos available at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsSMkM1Qrv0
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRVUD8dBhuA

*G-Force and SoftSkies must be specifically licensed for commercial use or any public display.

Read an article about our work using G-Force with Journey in concert:
Journey tours with SoundSpectrum

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Important Commercial License and Reseller information:
============================================

The most important reason to get the Commercial license is that it's illegal to use G-Force or SoftSkies for any public display or commercial purposes without a commercial license. The Gold and Platinum versions (found at http://www.soundspectrum.com) are licensed strictly for personal use, which is clearly stated in our start up screen, licenses, EULA, and on our web site.

With respect to features, the Pro (commercial) version of the software includes:

1. The ability to upload graphic images and photos directly into the visuals as "overlays" (i.e. in true-color in either “opaque” or “transparent” modes) which can be sequenced to display at regular intervals. This is in addition to our “Sprite” feature which enables users to add images and video, and our “text overlay” feature which allows them to scroll text on the screen with the sponsor and event information of your choice, easily manipulated and customized for each event they hold. They can also "turn off" the G-Force logo, as well.

2. A networking feature that enables clients to network two computers together so they can use the toolbar on the first computer to control the G-Force visual output on the other computer. This is useful if someone wants to control the visual output in real-time while the music is playing, to change graphics, colors, reactivity, etc., etc.

3. Pro users can also create "scripts" to invoke specific visual combinations, as well as text, photos, images, etc. (i.e. this is especially effective using the "overlay" capabilities) or we regularly create some scripts to specs for clients at an additional charge.

4. We can set up custom “hot keys” which can be used to seamlessly change from specifically built “theme sets” based on color, shape, background using just a qwerty computer keyboard. Save an unlimited number of “pages” containing “scripts” which can easily interact with your existing lighting/VJ configurations for a truly amazing enhancement to the room ambiance. Additionally, customers can create multiple instances of G-Force and SoftSkies; for instance this would give them the ability to run G-Force or SoftSkies in a “Blue” theme on one screen, in a “Green” theme on another etc. Due to the development time involved, this is only available for an additional charge.

5. Separately, we provide Pro clients with CD copies of the G-Force and SoftSkies personal use software which they can sell on-site to patrons who like the graphics, and we can offer them a commission on each piece sold.

*We also ask for some kind of acknowledgment which can be in the form of our logo appearing for a few seconds every 20 min or so within the display, or some kind of oral announcement or written acknowledgement (i.e. G-Force visuals provided by SoundSpectrum - www.soundspectrum.com ). It's important to us that people can identify what they are seeing, although we're very flexible as to the form of the attribution.

*There are also some projects in the works we may be able to use with an installation including interactive floorplates controlled by a kiosk, color kinetics integration, DMX lighting control and creating custom DVD’s for VJ and DJ use.

We're glad to provide customers with a one-time use commercial license for any event at nominal cost or we can set them up with a multi use license for a specific number of shows. (We also offer commercial licenses on a monthly or a yearly subscription basis) The per-performance cost varies with venue size and frequency of use.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Look! Labels!

After what seemed like an eternity, my Blogger account was migrated from Old to New Blogger last Friday night (GMT)!

The transition was, almost, seamless, and proved the edict that one should always backup a template (to a text editor such as bbedit)! For some reason, which I haven't had time nor desire to explore, illegal characters were introduced! However, a quick cut n' paste and, presto, time to start exploring all the new features.

For me, tags have always, literally, been the missing link on my blogs!

A tag is a (relevant) keyword or term associated with or assigned to a piece of information (like picture, article, or video clip), thus describing the item and enabling keyword-based classification of information it is applied to.

The notion of manually adding tags, to existing posts, seemed daunting and arduous in the extreme! And there was no guarantee that the addition of tags would increase Technorati and Google traffic and, by extension, readership. Thankfully, New Blogger introduces Labels (AKA tags) and there's no coding required (a panacea for those of us with heavily customised templates). Labels are available out of the box! Thank you Blogger.

The result? All posts should soon contain relevant tags and, hopefully, improve the reading experience in ways my prose, alone, never could!

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

aStore opening

Please drop by my new aStore, which has been designed specifically to cater for my blogger readership.

aStore by Amazon is a new Associates product that gives you the power to create a professional online store, in minutes and without the need for programming skills, that can be embedded within or linked to from your website.

What self-respecting store doesn't have a suitable logo to identify it from the crowd? Because aStore (at time of writing) doesn't allow users to generate more than one store (per affiliate account), I decided to combine the look and feel of both my blogs and incorporated their favicons.



Unintentionally I think it compares favorably with Gap and Apple Computer's current addiction to the '+' branding!

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

Designer Labels (Blogger goes beta)

I'm sure you already know that Google has lifted the wraps off of a substantial upgrade to Blogger! This was foreshadowed by the soft launch of RSS 2.0.

While the majority of users (myself included) await confirmation to migrate their existing accounts. You can get a sneak peek of what's in store for both my blogs here. Labels is a long awaited category/tag mashup that will enrich Technorati listings. Of course template trammels could render things "dunzo" as they say on Laguna Beach!

Please note that at time of writing, there's no auto-detect feature for RSS (amongst other technical foibles), at least until I've augmented the html code.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

RSS video for PSP

Video podcast support is coming to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) thanks to a new firmware update Sony Computer Entertainment has published today.

The update takes the PSP firmware to version 2.8. It allows the PSP to receive video clips through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from blogs and other websites. Sony first added RSS and podcast support in November 2005 and expanded it in April this year.

Additionally the firmware update adds compatibility for the ".3gp" audio format used by some mobile phones, and greater access to content stored on Memory Stick memory cards.

This update also includes a demo for World Tour Soccer 2.

At least one more update is expected before the end of this year. The update will add VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony and the ability to boot games from Memory Sticks, according to plans outlined by Sony in March this year.

Users can download the new firmware through the PSP's "network update" feature or here.

Thursday, 8 June 2006

Introducing RSS 2.0

On Monday night I noticed that Blogger had soft launched RSS feeds in addition to Atom! This had been reported as early as May 31st! Until now RSS was only available to Pro Blogger users and via services such as FeedBurner.

In anticipation of new enabling technologies, from today I've switched (on both blogs) the FeedBurner Full and Summary Feeds source from Atom to RSS. There is no need for existing subscribers to resubscribe. Apologies for any transient service bumps, bruises, cuts and grazes.

At time of writing there is still no official announcement from Blogger!

Google adds another peice to the GooOS puzzle. Firefox users can now download Google Browser Sync! I'll soon be cancelling my .mac account and trashing Microsoft Office in favor of Writely and Google Spreadsheets!

Monday, 8 May 2006

Nothing Compares 2 U

On May 11th this blog will be celebrating its second anniversary and the party will be held in Times Square (joking)! It only seems like yesterday that Tom, a friend, suggested that I start a blog. Ironically, to date he has yet to start his own!

Since the blog's inception, the organic nature of the web has evolved exponentially. Web 2.0 anyone?

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) have become, arguably, the de facto multimedia content distribution channel.

Google has launched a raft of enabling services; from AdSense and Analytics to Page Creator and Sitemaps. The latter should be on the top of every web authors to-do list since Bigdaddy sent 'shock waves' through the web community! Google's competitors, such as Yahoo! and MSN, are responding. Content authors and consumers can only reap the benefits of this dynamic competition.

Bloggers are increasingly becoming the source for new journalistic talent - their voices cannot be ignored and the audience is, literally, listening (subscribe to the text-to-speech podcast)! Mainstream media has taken note and is now making inroads into joining the 'conversation' and leveraging these valuable assets to mutual advantage.

Further to the above. Pluck has now launched BlogBurst (beta), which is an opt-in syndication service that provides editorially approved bloggers the opportunity to reach a large audience via top-tier publishers such as the Washington Post.

My blogs are now part of the BlogBurst network and I'll be monitoring this exciting development moving forward.

In summary. Not only has the blog afforded me the luxury of an extensible writing medium. The network of new friends and acquaintances has far transcended my very, very modest hopes. A big shout-out to Matt Shobe, FeedBurner co-founder, for all his incomparable help and advice with both FeedBurner and template chores. Imp for her most helpful hints. All the bloggers whom have shared link exchanges and their experiences. And, you dear reader, without whom, well you know...

Thanks for reading and please tell your friends, family, pets, neighbors...

Saturday, 25 February 2006

Gift from the Gods

Yesterday Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs celebrated his birthday. Google, which is often taken to task by Mac Users for tardy support, released Google Macintosh Widgets and Group (membership required). There is an abundance of excellent third-party options available, but these new official Dashboard Widgets are worthy of note. The Gmail and Blogger Widgets show promise and AdSense is sure to follow. Putting Gmail Notifier in the trash...

Did you manage to sign-up for Google's newly launched Page Creator service? If so, congratulations, anyone who got caught in the surge will have to wait for an invitation. As of today Gmail users can start using Page Creator (no Safari support as yet). Therefore I had a very quick look (Firefox 1.5) and published a basic page. Watch this space.

Google is certainly prolific. However, isn't it time to consolidate the paradigm?

The Blogger sidebar has undergone yet another face lift! The RSS chicklet confusion has been curtailed in favor of Full and Summary Feed subscriptions only. And coComments, a new trend, has been introduced (albeit restricted to my comments on other blogs until coComments introduces secure moderation).

I'm experimenting with Google AdSense placement. Please be assured that this is not intended to be too intrusive. Incidentally, according to various sites (notably ProBlogger) Google is testing a new AdSense format - video.

Wednesday, 15 September 2004

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

There are already excellent blogs that cover PVR (Personal Video Recorders). However, I want to chime in with my user experiences!

In December 2000 I bought a TiVo machine (manufactured by Thomson) and within a month sent it back! Not because the equipment was flawed, no, I lamented the lack of a built-in decoder and shelf space was at a premium. In early 2001 I interviewed for a TiVo guide editor post at sky. Prophetically, within a few months TiVo decided to withdraw from the UK market (continuing support for existing customers only). And sky focused on its own branded product that lacked TiVo’s signature feature - suggestions.

In 2003 I subscribed to sky+ as part of an upgrade package. However, following the ‘failure’ of two Pace V1 STBs (replaced with reconditioned kit) and ongoing technical issues including crashes, failed recordings and the inability to download recorded content to VCR/DVD – it appears that there may be sky+ software glitches that undermine its reliability - I decided to cancel my subscription. Question to sky: Do you seed software updates to testers during R&D?

As an avid Apple user, I’d welcome a digital lifestyle application that records directly to HDD/removable media along the lines of Elgato’s award-winning EyeTV. Coupled with QuickTime (H.264/AVC) and technology licensed from TiVo, the potential for another Mac OS X killer application is not that far fetched! Perhaps Apple will have the insight to add a TV tuner (included in my Performa 5200) in future revisions of the new iMac and claim the Media Center throne.