Too Cold for Technology?

Well, I’ve spent a few hours on and off over the last few weeks looking out for some technology to recommend to Kevin who is about to head off to the south pole to have himself another adventure. The Kiwis on Ice Expedition is almost ready to go and they’re on the lookout for a couple of last minute bits of technology – the main one being a GPS unit which can survive the sub-zero temperatures, and be power friendly enough to not require too much in the way of charging.

Obviously this is pretty specialised technology and Kiwis being Kiwis, Kevin doesn’t seem too concerned about having to jury rig up something to deliver what he needs, regardless, I’ve pointed him toward the lads at Navman, who are a New Zealand based GPS technology firm in the hope that someone there may be able to lend their expertise.

I gave Kevin a quick overview of blogging and introduced him to WordPress so now he’s stood up his website and has got his hands on a developer type to tweak the template they are using and provide a bit more eye candy. I’ll be watching their progress with interest over the next few weeks. Good luck guys!

The Boss(es Boss) is Blogging!

Hurrah, welcome to the blogosphere Miki Szikszai!

We’ve been discussing internal communications within our team for some time now, and recently had an offsite at which our profile was hotly debated. Blogging was one of the ways we identified we could raise our profiles internally and (where appropriate) externally.

So, at some stage last week, Miki set himself up on blogspot and you can visit his blog here (it’ll also sit in my blogroll links). I see this as a positive move and hope that it might start the ball rolling to entice others higher up the tree to also start blogging too.

Continue reading “The Boss(es Boss) is Blogging!”

Catching Casts Just Got Easier

Hey wow, I just recieved an email from Adam Zand from Topaz Partners (who are the doing the PR for the guys who brought us the MyPodder software which I blogged about here). Russell Holliman and his team have built on the MyPodder application since I last blogged about it and are releasing MyPodder formally tommorrow under the banner of Podcast ready. He goes on to invite me to download and review the software (and the portal) which I fully intend to do – once I can find my 256Mb USB key – unfortunatly, this may require me to tidy my desk!

Continue reading “Catching Casts Just Got Easier”

Blogging from my Browser…

Okay, I’m supposed to be on holiday, but since the in-laws are running a Bed & Breakfast called The Olde Millhouse B&B in Renwick, Marlborough they have got themselves broadband (yep – ADSL ‘JetStream’ is even avalible in the South Island!) so they can stay on top of their guests emails and stuff.
Anyway, it would have been a shame to go away without being able to access the interweb thingy, so I duly packed my notebook and my Linksys SRX wireless access point and setup when I got here.
Continue reading “Blogging from my Browser…”

Backing up this Blog

Well – since I’m gettign a bit more organised at home with our renovations, it seems to be trickling down into my online/digital life too. I then got to thinking, how MUCH would it suck if I lost my blog entries? I figured the answer was “Quite a lot”…

Well – since I’m getting a bit more organised at home with our renovations, it seems to be trickling down into my online/digital life too. I then got to thinking, how MUCH would it suck if I lost my blog entries? I figured the answer was “Quite a lot” so – off to Google I went, and this is what I’ve found…

Continue reading “Backing up this Blog”

Podcast on a Stick

Continuing in the vein of portable podcastiong, I’ve recently downloaded ‘MyPodder’, an open source pod catching client which installs on your USB memory key… Read on for my initial impressions

One of my favorite Podcasts at the moment is from Geek News Central, I find it has just the right amount of news, opinion and personality with the shows host Todd Cochrane sharing bits of his personal life (where relevant(ish)) with his audience… Anyway, he played a promo on his July 12th 2005 podcast which referenced an open source podcatcher which installs on your USB memory key.
Anyway, I’ve since headed over to the MyPodder site and downloaded their version 0.3 beta which has since installed quite happily on a spare 256MB USB key that I’ve recently freed up after getting a nice new Kingston 256MB key as part of a team day here at work. In summary:

  • The MyPodder site is fairly basic, but I’d rather they spend time on developing good robust applications than eye candy – so well done there.
  • The installation is basically “Unzip the download to the root of your USB Key” which is fine
  • The application lacks some of the niceties which I’d hope will appear in future versions such as importing XML files from other podcatching applications

So, all in all – it’s looking fine from the first cut, I’ll probably be back to this post to update my impressions after a while – one change I’ve already made is changing the launch batch file to make the last line read “call podcatcher.exe” which I hope will get rid of the current DOS window which appears looking like this:

G:\>ECHO OFF
————————————————–
STARTING PODCATCHER ON A STICK …. please wait
————————————————–
You can close this ugly window
after the podcatcher had started.
————————————————–

I’ve also changed line 1 to read “@Echo Off” just to make that first bit invisible too 😉
I’m also having a quick google as a background task to see if I can develop an Autorun file so All I need to is plug in the USB key and the application will automagically start.

Nice effort, worth a look for those of you who want to take podcasts from machine to machine (I just want to be able to save state so I don’t re-listen to content and be able to archive/purge stuff I’ve already consumed).

smartFeed – Podcasting for your Pocket PC

I’ve found out about a new piece of software called smartFeed which allows you to manage your podcasts directly on your PocketPC (or SmartPhone)… I’ve installed it and it’s pretty good!

I’ve been a keen listener to Podcasts for just over a year now and it’s getting easier all the time as it becomes more mainstream.

You may remember I wrote a piece a while back about the whole blogging / podcasting thing. Well, last night as I was painting the hallway (or dining room, I can’t exactly remember – there’s a lot of painting going on) I was listening to a Podcast from Geek News Central which referred to this entry over on DavesiPAQ.com. Now I’ve been happily using the Doppler software for windows to manage my podcast subscriptions and, through an entry on one of the Blogs that I subscribe to by Sean Alexander, I dutifully went through the HowTo and set things up to manage these Podcasts that doppler downloads, via Windows Media Player – which in turn allows me to sync them to my portable device… sounds complicated eh? Well – it kind of is, and I have some issues with Doppler as a package which doesn’t seem to want to allow itself to be killed automatically on a windows shutdown, but I may go into that in another entry at a later date.

So the good news, after quickly wiping paint off my fingers, I did a dash to the notebook (which was out of the way of paint splashes thanks very much), rewound the file a wee bit and grabbed the link. I installed it this morning (why don’t they give you 2 cradles for your PDA when you buy it, you *need* one at home and one at work!) and – though it didn’t work first off, giving me a "Could not find resource assembly" error message. Which in fact means that you need to download and install SP3 of .NET CF (of course) which you can get from here.
From there it was a simple task of setting the Podcasts to load to a particular directory of my storage card (root is default – yuck) and choosing which casts to subscribe to via the PDA.

To summarise:

  1. Install the latest .NET service pack for your PocketPC / SmartPhone
  2. Download smartFeed for your platform from http://smartfeed.org/
  3. Install the software
  4. Setup your destination directory (under settings)
  5. Add your Podcasts
  6. Retrieve some files (I’d recommend using the cradle link – bandwidth is MUCH cheaper when it’s not mobile 🙂
  7. Start listening…

Update [28/06/2005]: While preaching the good word of Podcasts to a collegue here at work, I’ve just seen that Doppler 3.0 has been announced and includes some very cool features including more support for Windows Media player, a plugin to launch Doppler and auto-download feeds and even uses the BITS technology to background load podcasts… nice!
Not yet launched into Beta, but definatly something worth keeping an eye out for 😀 😀

Ooooooh – I’m important and interesting… Listen to ME!

The New Zealand press finally catch up, and run a story on blogging…

Oh yippee… Television New Zealand ran a piece yesterday on blogging [watch the clip – 300K stream] where the breakfast show host introduced blogging as:

“Blogging is someone who for some reason believes the rest of the world needs to know what they did today…”

Bloggers don’t go to journalism school, they probably didn’t work on the high school news paper and they definitely aren’t pretty enough to read from an auto-cue without mumbling so how could they possibly have an opinion that others may find interesting, right?
Paul Renolds (the shows pet “IT Commentator”) agreed with the hosts summation but then, over the course of the interview, proceeded to backtrack on that position and actually explained blogging in a relatively well balanced manner, explaining it in what I’d term “Mum-speak” (i.e. my Mum could probably understand it…)

Checks & balances
The self-righteous host went on to make a fantastic comment that:

“One of the problems with the internet is there are no checks and balances”

Hmm – just like the mainstream media except, oh hey we’ll pretend to give a well balanced view but our bias are as clear as day for those who care to take an objective approach.
What the host and indeed the “commentator” missed, is the fact that you can easily Google for supporting references to pretty much anything your read on the web, and with people writing such social relationship tools as mydensity.com, you can start to see a web of ‘trust’ (if you will) which leads credence to the original site publisher.
There is no such web of trust / ability to cross reference new items as easily for mainstream media stories, and this is why I believe that blogging is a far more interesting way to get news and views than what is spoon-fed to the public that the mainstream press treat like children who need to be entertained rather than informed.
You’ll also notice that in this and most of my other blogs I am giving links to other sites where readers can click off to to learn more or to see other ideas which may support my position (or not) – don’t see much of that in the mainstream now do we?

I liked the fact that the commentator went on to introduce PodCasting and VideoCasting which are also things that I’ve been keen on over the last 6 or so months.

Podcasting:
There is a great article on how to get PodCasts on your Windows Mobile device (or indeed your Windows Media Player) which Sean Alexander wrote about a while back, it’s well worth a read and, after following this guide, I’m now able to listen to my PodCasts in the car as I negotiate Auckland traffic, which is more interesting (to me) than the talk radio or manufactured pop bands of today who seem to do little more than covers of old classic from the 80’s.

The Podcasts I’ve linked to above are just a selection of what feeds I subscribe to, but they are heavily skewed to gadgets, IT news and opinion and, well – there’s an obligatory Adam Curry subscription in there to.
Since I’m able to give a lot more depth of information that the 5 minute slots that broadcasters give to the public before their poor viewers brain gets full and they lose their attention – I can tell you that Adam Curry is regarded as the godfather of podcasting and, while that may be a point of contention for some of the commentators in the online audio space, he’s certainly turned into the poster boy of podcasting and appears to be doing a whole lot to support the ‘industry’ of bringing audio blogs to the ears of listeners around the world.
Again, you can click on the links to learn more – there is also this interesting story on podcasting vs. satellite radio, which I’ll have to comment on after I get around to seeing how I can receive satellite radio affordably in NZ.

VideoCasting
I’m yet to get into this emerging trend due to lack of time, bandwidth and headspace in which I can actually watch a screen as opposed to listen to audio. I guess that will be one of the determining factors in how well Videocasting takes off is that, to watch video you need to pay attention to a screen whereas podcasts are audio only and can be listened to while you do things like walk the dog, drive to work, do your chores around the house (I still remember listening to a great conversation on identity management while painting some plywood sheets for our deck at home – weird, I don’t know why I’m sharing that – it must be a ‘muslie for breakfast’ moment like my buddy the breakfast host said…).
Anyway, Robin Good whose blog I also subscribe to wrote this piece which you may find of interest to explain the emerging trend.

I think that video casting will take a while to gain traction, it’s major roadblocks being stupidly expensive bandwidth and lack of affordable portable media players with large enough screens to allow for long term watching of this content. Answer these problems and the building blocks will be in place, all we’ll need is content – perhaps we can SEE bloggers eating this mythical breakfast that the hosts were talking about! In the interim, Google has recently introduced a hosting system for video which is discussed here.

The host wrapped up the segment by magnanimously declaring that:

“Alright, it’s something that we obviously need to keep half an eye on at least”

To that I say yes, yes indeed. Syndicated content in conjunction with aggrigation tools such as RSSReader and Doppler is the best way to get breaking news out there, the web is an ideal distribution medium, and tools already exists to allow one to search and subscribe to content streams of interest to the individual. Broadcasters would do well to understand if not embrace this trend as it can have a very nice supplemental fit into their existing legacy content systems.

Googles recent video hosting initive just supports the views expressed here in regards to the way that news and information could be distributed in the future. Follow the link, pick a mirror and, if you’re interested – have a look at the transcript.
It is a plausible outlook – Should broadcasters take this seriously? – yes, will they? – no. At least not yet and definitely not by people like the host of this show. Whether it’ll be too late by the time they accept that the traditional landscape of reporting on stuff has changed remains to be seen, but then people who consider themselves smarter, better, more worthy of listening to than others are generally a bit slower to accept their equalities…

Everybody else is blogging so why can’t I?

Now this blogging is by no means a new thing but it’s recently made the news and a recent NetGuide ran quite a comprehensive guide on bloggs and blogging in NetGuide – Issue 79.
Now not being a wordsmith or journo by any stretch of the imagination, I’ll leave it to you to follow the above link and find out about bloggs.

When I first started toying with doing this, my approach to the blogging thing is to ask the question – Why? [“Why” has got to be one of my favourite questions as, with the right tone and inflection it can mean so many things – and as far as I’m concerned it’s possibly THE most valid question anyone can ever ask – you get such interesting answers too!]
The reason, I guess, differs for everyone, but the underlying premise is the same – everyone has something to say, and in the tradition of ‘Field of Dreams’ people seem have a “if we write it they will come” mentality. I’m kind of curious to see if this is true myself, so – I’ll be attempting to restrain myself from directing people to these pages (unless they hit the http://inskeep.net homepage – at which stage I figure they’re fair game).

Many of the people I discussed this with didn’t consider themselves ‘bloggers’ as such, and just consider themselves as online diary writers, for their own pleasure and that of their friends and family rather than a spectator sport for the world to enjoy. Like any fad, I
guess ‘blogging’ will pass and while the name may change, there will be those who take the time to write what they wish and publish it to the world, even if no one else is watching.

So why am I doing it? Well – as I state on the index page to this section of the site, I’m planning to use this as an exercise to research some of the stuff that interests me and put my ideas down on the page, hopefully allowing me to crystallise my thinking on some of the issues I’ve been kicking around over the years.
This isn’t going to be a (Robert X.) Cringely Column, nor is it going to be a self professed “leading source of Net-Industry news and commentary” such as the pages by the Aaardvark, it’s just going to be an exercise in jumping feet first into an idea and seeing how deep things get. As a toastmaster I already enjoy expressing my opinions verbally, so the challenge of extending this to a written form will be an interesting one indeed.