Forget $1500 Kindles, MobileRead is giving one away!

Cimg0333Yesterday’s news that the sold-out Kindle is going for upwards of $1500 on eBay got me scratching my head. I think we paid less than that for a full set of paper-based Encyclopedia Brittanica at one point many moons ago. For $1500, I’d consider buying a full fledged UMPC or small Tablet PC to read eBooks on and do a multitude of other tasks, but I’m biased. ;)If you’ve still got a fire burning for the Kindle (affiliate link), you might want to flex your design muscles and hit up MobileRead. They’re looking for a new logo and the prize is one Amazon Kindle. You have until the end of this month to get your entry (or entries) in, so don’t wait! If you already have a Kindle and want to add five or so bestsellers to your device, you can just enter a new tag-line for MobileRead. The best and catchiest one nets $50.

Swarmcast Releases Autobahn HD for Flash

Swarmcast today released Autobahn HD for Flash, a network accelerator that provides seamless playback of Flash content using adaptive bitrate streaming to specifically tailor video quality to a user’s connection. The company will also open up their source code, giving developers the tools to take advantage of Swarmcast technology, which makes it possible to significantly improve viewer experience for very little cost.

“We just want to get the technology into people’s hands,” Swarmcast CEO Justin Chapweske said in a phone interview. “I hope that with this product we can provide the platform that solves the quality problem for online video and allows developers to focus on innovating the user experience itself.”

Swarmcast Demo

Above: Full Screen 720P Video Using Autobahn HD for Flash

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Marc Orchant- the greatest man I have known

Marc Orchant- 1957 – 2007

I first came in contact with Marc Orchant about four years ago.  I had followed his writings on his blog, Marc’s Outlook on Productivity and realized he was a very bright guy that I would probably like to know.  It was a Saturday morning and I checked my email as I usually do and in popped one from Marc.  He introduced himself and said he really liked my writing on jkOnTheRun which at that time had only been in existence for a few months.  He went straight to the reason for reaching out to me as only Marc could and said he wanted the two of us to "do something together".  His insight into people was unfailing and he knew we would be good friends and should work together.  We exchanged a few emails and then jumped on the phone to properly get introduced to one another.  I quickly realized what Marc had already figured out, we were so alike in our passions and our desires that we became fast friends.  I am so thankful that Marc reached out to me that day.

Thus began our friendship which I consider one of the best I have ever had.  We have been speaking frequently ever since and jumped at the chance for everything we could work on together.  When I decided almost three years ago to do a Tablet PC podcast Marc was the first person I thought of for a co-host and when I asked him about it he was excited in that way that only Marc could get because we would finally be able to work together.  That began a near three year ride podcasting together but in recent months it became difficult due to scheduling conflicts to record the show as often as we wished.  This was particularly sad because Marc often told me that our recording sessions were the highlights of his week and I felt the same way too.  In the last two weeks we had come to the realization that we couldn’t do the show justice and were going to do a final show to let the listeners know we were going to end the podcast.  This saddened us both but it was the right thing to do.  Now it is very sad that we didn’t get that last show done, I even tried to find him on Skype the morning of his heart attack. 

Marc touched so many people that the great outpouring of concern about his health episode didn’t surprise me.  He was a person that you couldn’t help but respect and like because of the way he always conducted himself.  He was passionate about the things he spoke and wrote about but it went much further than that.  Marc genuinely cared about the people who were behind the things he was passionate about and that came through in the way he conducted himself.  It wasn’t just that a given technology was something he thought was great, it was how he really liked the people behind it that made the difference between what Marc did and what others do in the blogosphere.  He genuinely liked people and loved to interface with them every chance he got.  I can safely say that anyone who came in contact with Marc instantly picked up on that.  Marc didn’t just like to converse with others about his passions, he wanted to hear their take on it too.  He derived a great enjoyment of hearing what others had to say and he actually listened to them.  If you ever had a conversation with Marc I am certain that you felt he was aptly listening to what you had to say, because he was.  He didn’t only want to hear things that agreed with his point of view either.  He loved differing viewpoints and discussing them with you because as he told me more than once, that’s how he learned.  He was passionate about learning.

Marc and I had hundreds of hours of conversations and of course we had differing opinions about some of the things we discussed.  He would passionately and intelligently give his POV about the topic at hand and then aptly listen to mine.  I remember once laying out my differing POV about some topic we were discussing and at the end he told me "well pal, you didn’t convince me but I’m less sure than I was when we started this conversation".  That was high praise indeed and a total Marcism.

Marc was always able to look at an upcoming technology and tell if it was going to have an effect on our lives.  Take a look at this video shot at Microsoft where Marc explains what a blog is when people were just starting to hear about them:

http://www.youtube.com/v/icC2j_7psHY&rel=1&border=0

Tech world aside Marc was a devoted family man and spent hours conversing with me about the accomplishments that Sue, Jason and Becca were making.  He was so very proud of them all and rightly so.  They were the fuel that drove him each day and he loved them so much it was a joy to behold.  Marc was the most grounded individual I’ve ever met and his devotion and love for his family were the basis for that.  It drove everything he did each day and it was always a wonder to listen to him talk about his family.  He understood how lucky he was to have the great home life that he did but I am sure that the great man he was played a big role in that life.

The software company for which Marc worked when I met him had given him the most apt job title I have ever seen- Chief Storyteller.  This fit Marc to a T and he relished the role of sharing the company’s story to others.  He carried that on to every venture he embarked on after that too, and he was very excited that a new gig he was to undertake early next year would have him sporting that same Chief Storyteller title.  It was a chance for Marc to get immersed in one of his major passions and it’s a shame he didn’t get the chance to do it.  Chief Storyteller, that was Marc all right.

Marc touched me deeply as few other people have done so.  He was a nice guy, something that sounds trite but he really was and in such a way that it touched everyone with whom he came in contact.  He and I had a great friendship and he will be sorely missed.  I consider Marc to be one of the finest people to walk this earth and I know I am a better man for having his friendship.  I hurt where my heart and soul meet.

UPDATE:  I just fired up Skype and find it only fitting to see this:

Mo_skype

I hope you are up there listening to us buddy.

Marc Orchant status update

From Oliver Starr:

UPDATE: 8:18AM Pacific Time, December 9th, 2007

From Sue Orchant:

If the outpouring of love, support andcaring could heal Marc, he would be with us telling stories right now.Today we are going to make Marc more comfortable. Friends came by allday yesterday with continued prayers and love. Today just our familywill be with him. I know you are all still there for him and us. Thankyou for all you have done.

Heartfelt Love,

Sue and Family

Online Video: Is It Really Interactive?

Although the online video experience would appear to be this mythical, multilateral, interactive video utopia, the reality is, in fact, quite different. Because while it’s certainly possible for a network of collaborative video artists to work together, online, to piece together a long-term video mosaic of participatory brilliance, the reality has often been more of an ad hoc, trivial mess of mediocrity.
There have, however, been some notable successes. One particularly good strategy has been to connect an online series with a dynamic social network. Ze Frank‘s The ORG and Epic-FU‘s The Mix, both religiously updated by the fanatically involved, have used interactivity to successfully build a fan base and create high-quality, collaborative content. Witness, as well, the growth of interactive fictional dramas. The format allows for the viewers to influence the storyline, but the actors, writers, and directors are able to smooth the story out, making it accessible beyond those who contributed.
Below are four other interactive series that have piqued my interest, either with their success in implementing an interactive model or the promise of bringing something new to the space.
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Karina’s Capsule: Speechless

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke exclusively hosted Speechless, a series of short videos starring A-list talent that was produced and conceived by B-list talent and designed to promote United Hollywood‘s position by dramatizing the impact of the writers’ strike on the art form.
speechlessschwimmer.png
“For the first time in the TV and movie industry, high-profile SAG actors are together taking their talents directly and exclusively to the Internet,” the press release boasted (somewhat erroneously — Speechless player Eva Longoria is one of many high-profile SAG actors who has previously taken her talents directly to FunnyorDie, just to name a single example).
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MobileTechRoundup 117: freeware extravaganza!

Motr_coverCLICK HERE to download the file and listen directly.
MoTR 117 is 37 minutes long and is a 33.9 MB file in MP3 format.

INTRO: Based on “Time v2.1? by Meta Sektion, additional mixing by James Kendrick.
HOSTS: James Kendrick (Houston), Matthew Miller (Seattle) and Kevin C. Tofel (Philadelphia)

TOPICS:
It’s a freeware extravaganza!
Did Matt keep or return the T-Mobile Shadow?
Are we finally seeing a trend towards simplicity in device usage? The Shadow and Eee PC suggest yes.
James finally breaks down and buys the iPod Touch. How’s the browser?
CBS offers free WiFi hotspot over a 37 square-block area of midtown Manhattan.
Thoughts on the new Zune software, features and functions.
Freeware #1: VLC works great in Linux (and nearly every other platform too!) Windows Mobile folks should consider TCPMP.
Freeware #2: Palm Emulator for the Nokia Internet Tablets.
Freeware #3: LightSaber 1.1 for the Nokia N95. You gotta hear Matt waving his N95 around with this!
Freeware #4: Nokia Audiobooks application.
Freeware #5: iphonelogd archives your iPhone calls in iCal on a Mac.
Elgato’s eyeTV works great for watching television on a Mac. Or on your iPod Touch!
Freeware #6: Handbrake is a great DVD / video encoder for multiple platforms.

CONTACT US: E-mail us or leave us a voicemail on our SkypeLine!
SUBSCRIBE: Use this RSS feed with your favorite podcatcher or click this link to add us to iTunes!

How To: Import RSS Subscriptions into Apple Mail

I never quite understood Apple’s decision to include RSS support in Safari, but not in Apple Mail. Other mail clients such as Thunderbird have offered this support for years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use them. They had never offered the power Mail did, with built-in smart folders and the way it had always played so nicely with iCal.

When I first heard that Mail would be offering RSS support in Leopard my first thought was, “finally”. After installing Leopard I immediately opened up NetNewsWire and exported my subscriptions as an OPML file, only to find out that Mail wouldn’t accept it. Mail isn’t alone in missing this very important feature, Safari doesn’t offer OPML importing either.
If you have been using Safari as your application of choice for reading RSS feeds you will be fine, it’s a simple mouse click away to bring them into Mail. But Safari for the most part is nowhere near powerful or feature rich enough for most of us.
So what do I do now? Am I stuck with individually re-subscribing to all of my several hundred feeds all over again? At first this seems to be the case, but the long answer is: no. It involves a little jimmy-rigging and taking the long route but it is possible.
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How To: Access your iPhoto ’08 Library from your browser

Since iPhoto ’08 came out back in August, I’ve had mixed feelings on its new features.
I’m not a huge fan of Events and there are lots of little things that just annoy me now. One of which is that the iPhoto library now exists as a “package” instead of a readily accessible set of folders. Even after doing “Show Package Contents” on the library file it can get pretty hairy trying to actually get to the raw photographs.
Generally the only time I really have a desire to get to said files is when using a browser to upload photos. You can’t just navigate to your library files and grab the picture you want. There is a way to make it possible, though and it’s fairly straight forward.

1. Access the iPhoto Library Folder

iPhoto Library

Control-click (or right-click) on the iPhoto Library file and choose “Show Package Contents.”
iPhoto Library

2. Create Folder Aliases

After doing “Show Package Content” you should now see the folders and files contained in the package.
iPhoto Library
You’ll see two folders, “Modified” and “Originals,” which contain the actual photo files that iPhoto uses. These folders contain sub-folders which seem to be, for the most part, identical to the Events you might have set up. These are the folders we want access to when getting single files to upload in a browser.
What we have to do is create a folder alias to give us access directly to these folders outside of the iPhoto Library package.
Control-click on the “Modified” folder and choose “Make Alias” from the contextual menu. Leave it named “Modified alias” and then drag the new alias folder to the same directory that your iPhoto Library is in.
Repeat this for the “Originals” folder.
You can then rename the aliases to whatever you choose. You should end up with something like this:
iPhoto Library

3. Access the Files

Chances are the aliases still won’t give you access to the files when you are just in the Finder, but they will work when you are using a browser to open them.
Take a site like Flickr, for example. I’d like to upload a few of the original photo files to my account. I’m presented with the “Choose File” upload buttons and I can now access the files from within the browser:
iPhoto Library
And there we have it! It’s definitely a bit of a hack job for what should be a simple task, but until Apple changes this format we seem to be stuck with this solution.

Town Gets WiFI

“Enter Name” gets WiFI, has to be most generic headline in the news business. Wi-Fi Networking News points out that this is becoming quite a trend. Though the depth of the articles has increased, and focus has shifted from single brand or location.