this week I found out about SCOTTEVESTs; a vest with a lot of pockets (even sealable pockets). a must have for fellow geeks and travelers.
a quick video I made while at work one day. I made an observation that I found interesting. I just wanted to share.
I made a few changes to pkShow, I added a remote control with indicators for the set. plus I added settings allow you any combination of 10 or 20 slides with 10 or 20 seconds. this way you have 1:40min, 3:20min or 6:40min set.
you can download the latest copy here.
I moved the server, when I did that I shutdown a lot of old DNS addresses and related site I don’t use anymore. So I updated the link above so you can actually download the software. If you run into that elsewhere, let me know and I’ll fix the link.
I recently started a new podcast. of course this led to questions and few people asking, if I was stopping my primary podcast. the answer to that, is no. I’m just continuing my adventures in podcasting.
for a while/years now, I have felt the need to produce more podcasts. I’ve reached out to a few friends/talent and have proposed ideas, with the ultimate goal in having a primary website that would bring all these shows into a mini “podcast network” site. originally the first efforts resulted in 3 ideas aside from my primary podcast (OtakuGeneration.net); an occasional video podcast, a cosplay podcast, and a spin off show from an older existing segment that someone used to submit to OG. the video podcast never really went anywhere as the producer for that show lost steam in doing it. it never came together and never took flight. the cosplay podcast producer disappeared, however I take some blame in it not taking off as I never really got around to helping her start production; but in my defense she eventually disappeared and didn’t take initiative. the last of the ideas took some shape. I built the functional parts of the facade website that feeds off the CDN, I talked to the producers/talent, but they never moved forward with any full effort (only occasional discussion), and I never found time to finish the prototype website. at least for the 3rd idea, I think it still has merit and one day I will complete my end of responsibilities and bring it to life. there was also a 4th podcast I help some friends spin-off from OG with an offering to eventually include it in the OG network site (if I ever got around to finishing it). but like the others it lost momentum. they did produce a bunch of shows, but it it eventually fizzled under lack of public interest. in other words they were unhappy that it didn’t make them magically as famous as they wanted. it stopped and they each moved on to other things.
that being said, I haven’t given up. I decided to start something new that only depends on me. this way I can find an additional outlet and reduce my rants and tangents on OG, as well as satisfy a small part of wanting to do more. for years I’ve been looking to do something like this show and I finally “pulled the trigger”. the original idea (years ago) was a weekly show where I would rant (with some structure) and record my thoughts as I commuted. instead I decided on an NRP style format, more like radiolab and this american life. I’ve decided on a “biographical vignette” format. it will have a bit of storytelling, some ranting, general thoughts and knowledge share. it will eventually will include soliciting friends and others to share their point of view and stories. last, by comparison to OG the new show should be short and mostly concise.
with that blogged, I bring you This Otaku’s Life …more are on their way.
I don’t know about you, but I have spent almost a lifetime taking pictures of friends and family (posed and smiling). I have no issues with this kind of picture taking. However, it gets kind of boring. Several years ago, I decided to host a New Years party (more like New Years weekend) at my place. A lot of friends (from far and wide) would come to my place for several days (just before and after the new year). Of course there’s a good chance I’m going to take pictures, and I did. At some point I noticed the trend of boring posed/smiling pictures. So I decided to liven it up a bit, with the silly face shot.
If you plan to take a silly face picture/shot, there are a few rules to keep in mind…
- Ask/suggest a “silly face” photo before taking it. It has to be a planned effort. People who made a weird/stupid face while you took a picture does not count. You must get the participants permission.
- No profanity or nudity. Generally the idea of the silly face shot is family friendly.
- You should participate in at least or more of the shots. It’s one thing to ask friends to make a silly face for fun, but as soon as you take a picture, it changes the game. A picture can last forever and later on be embarrassing. So include yourself, it more fun this way if you’re equally as willing. This also includes you posting the silly face pictures of yourself online (with your friends/etc).
- Try to make different faces. I found I default to similar stupid faces. So I try to vary them as much as possible. I’m also the one usually holding the camera, which means I’m generally in front. Because this is usually the case, I will occasionally do a “what is that person doing behind me” or the classic “did you just touch my bum” response-look. Whatever the case, have fun with it, be creative and not predictable with your silly face expression.
- Last, the “unintentional head in the shot“… I love these… this is when someone peaks their head or face into the shot. When I started doing this, it happened by accident and they were some of the best shots. Now I intentionally position the camera off frame to create this shot. Always try to get one of these shots. Trust me, you’ll love them.
NOTE: One thing to point out, most of the silly face shots are done via the vanity shot method. This is where you hold the camera out and extended with one or both arms and you click to take the picture. It’s also worth noting, when you take the shot you generally can’t see what you’re taking. The vanity shot takes some practice. Ask a hot chick, she’ll know what to do. Unless you are a hot chick, then you already know what to do. =)
Alright… here’s a few silly faces I have taken over the years… there are more… but I haven’t looked through every single picture I’ve taken.
If you have silly face pictures, I’d love to see them. Send them my way.
So I received a mysterious box on my doorstep (a few days ago), and to my surprise it was a Sony dash!
It’s about 7.5 inches wide (you can see pictures here), you can stand it upright, or on it’s back and the screen will flip accordingly. The Dash runs ChumbyOS and has over 1,000 widget-apps available. The interface is broken up, into: the menu system, an “alarm clock” screen mode with a power save option (it turns the screen off), and the dashboard. Currently the dashboard only has 2 different display layouts and it does not seem to be configurable. What you can configure, is: “channels”. To create a new channel, register your Dash (http://sony.com/mydash); you’ll need to sign-in or create a Sony Essentials account. Once this is complete you can edit the existing default channels or create your own. This is where you add apps to the channel. Once your Dash is registered, pull the power (re-power it) and let it reboot. It will sync to your account and will apply any changes you have made. After I did this I was able to customize and create channels on the device; not just from the website.
Here’s the VLOG I made the other day, when I received the unit…
After playing with the device for a few days, here’s some observations…
the snooze button only snoozes in 5 minute increments. A feature I like on my previous alarm clock, was the snooze default button increments were 8 minutes apart and you could compound them together by multiple taps of the snooze button. With the Dash you can specify multiple alarms and days. However, I would prefer the option of customizing the snooze delay per alarm and at the least have an option like tapping the screen to override the snooze delay temporarily.
networking with the Dash is pretty easy, but it’s only WiFi. There’s no choice for ethernet. For most, this isn’t an issue and it wasn’t for me. However, if I wanted to take the Dash to work it would be an enormous amount of red tape to get the device on the work WiFi network. This wasn’t a problem for me at home and I was able to add the Dash to my secured WiFi network (because I’m the red tape; the argument with myself was pretty short).
streaming music and videos is a nice touch, especially when combined with the alarm. However, in my bedroom, I’m not likely to watch any streaming videos on the device. I can do this directly from my TiVo. Like most households, I already have a TV in my bedroom (bigger than 7 inches). But I do understand this is a nice feature to have, if you put the Dash in your kitchen.
the screen is vibrant and images and video come through just fine.
the touch screen works just fine. I think any comments about the device feeling lagged has less to do the touch screen the more to do with the speed in which the device operates at. However, keep in mind the ChumbyOS is simple by design and is not intended to give you the pinch/zoom gesture experiences you get on iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
ChumbyOS is a very basic operating system. I’m not sure, but it feels flash based. I think Dash would of benefited from a richer operating system; by running something like Android instead. I assume if it was running Android the specs on the device would go up as well as the starting price. But if the Dash was running Android, you would have many more feature filled apps at your disposal. For example, Cooking Capsules running on your Dash in your kitchen I think would be invaluable.
media server / UPnP support is lacking. I wish this device was able to stream content from the media server in my house network. It’s nice that you can play music via a USB jump drive, but allowing this from iTunes or a media server would be a better direction to take, in my opinion.
In the VLOG, I mentioned several minutes of downloading. It turns out that Sony just released updates the day I received the device. So I suspect that this was uncommon and is not likely to happen often. Also worth mentioning, the Dash has a microphone. I didn’t find any applications that made use of the mic, but it’s nice there was some forward thinking on the design.
In summary, I like the device. I can see the potential. Is the Dash fulfilling all that it can be, right now? I don’t think so. But keep in mind, how many alarm clocks have you had in the past that could auto-update itself with new features, and run applications? that’s what I thought. I had a car radio system that could do that (a rio car), and for gadget nerds like me, that’s the “crack topping” to the awesomeness-sundae. Is it worth the cost? (currently at $199) …I would say yes. It’s a nice design and has a lot of potential, especially if you can find a use outside of the bedroom (like in a kitchen, your office, etc).
UPDATE (2010-06-01): Last night (technically this morning) I received an update. I noticed 3 changes: you can now define a snooze interval (from a list of options) per alarm profile, there’s a full screen option for the apps and now there’s more than 2 layouts (aka themes). Remember that potential thing I was mentioning above? yeah, there it is.
you might be asking yourself, why so many updates? simple answer. as I use the app more, small things needed some improvement, I made a few graphic changes (that I missed) and the app now checks for updates automatically.
for those in a hurry, here’s the latest version, you can download it here.
for those new to shortner, let me give you a brief explanation of what it is, and why you might want to use it. shortner is a URL shrinking platform. basically we can take long URLs (website links) and shrink them down to something easier to remember; a short-link. because we’re a true platform (not just a website application), we have developed an API (XML or JSON), and we can bind a shortner site to any DNS address (shortner.com, qrk.me, podcamp.me, etc). we even built the option to host private shortner sites and more. I won’t cover every feature, as the details will bore most of you reading this.
now this isn’t a new technology. TinyURL.com was the first that I know of to do this. I produce a podcast and we use shortner to track URL stats, and to share links during the show. once you have set the expectation, you really only need to read the short-code URL. we have also added a handful of other options not common to most URL shrinking sites: we automatically check each submitted link to see if it’s a malware site, generate QR codes (for your link), you can set a NSFW flag, add tags, add a description, and password the shortner link.
every link has a tracking page (example: http://qrk.me/_track/67) so you can track your stats. I use shortner when I want to share or tweet a link. it’s interesting to see how fast people look at the link after you tweet.
as I mentioned before, shortner is a platform. so if you choose to create an account, your user/pass works for all shortner sites. in addition to this, because of the API we have created several applications on different platforms (Windows Mobile, Android, Windows, Google Talk bot, Adobe Air, a .net library for developers and more). coming soon: a Silverlight based version, an updated Windows Mobile version, a Windows Phone 7 version and an iPhone application.
hopefully you see the flexibility we can offer with shortner. we would love for you to give it a try. and give us feedback. we’re always open to suggestions. if you’re a fellow youtuber or podcaster (with thousands of subscribers) don’t hesitate to contact us about a personal shortner site; we’re always looking for someone to try out shortner on a large audience to see how well the platform performs.
if we still haven’t lost your attention, check out the quick video tour. it’s a little outdated, but can provide you with more insight to what has been mentioned here.
the last thing on my mind… sometime in the near future, I plan to do a video on the Shortner (desktop) application. for now I’ll just give you a quick run-down of features that might not be so obvious.
- you can drag and drop (a URL; in text form) on to the application
- you can drag and drop an internet shortcut (from the desktop or a folder)
- you can right-click and paste a URL from the clipboard
- you can right-click and specify an API key (if you have one)
- it remembers the last shortner site you used and is selected by default
- it restores its last location and is multi-monitor sensitive
- sticky mode lets you retain the last tags used
- it remembers your username and password
- it can be set to auto-login on start
- it keeps an on-going history of your links (with quick access to the tracking pages and etc)
- …and more
I’m proud of shortner and we plan to continually add, change and improve. it’s worth nothing that the “we” is @webdevvie and @chaeseco (also @chaess); 98% John and 2% me. if you’re a developer, please check out our wiki we would love to see what you do with the platform. John and I will be at Google I/O 2010 (I’ll be wearing a shortner shirt); say hello if you see us walking around.
I made a couple minor updates this morning. but the one new feature worth nothing is the “show past links” feature. basically as you use the application we will log the links you created in the past. the log is stored locally, so it will only show links you created with that computer. you can find the new feature, under link history and then right-click.
you can download the latest copy here
I made another update to the desktop app (which you can download here). I added the password and description feature as well as updated the library which is included with this download. you can also get the update (inside the application) by clicking on “check for updates”under the help menu (right-click the systray icon).
enjoy. let me know if you run into any issues.