AnDevCon – Developing Media Applications

Just finished a day long workshop in San Francisco at Andevcon. It went well and hopefully the participants found it useful.

Here are the slides and examples:
Camera via Intent
Custom Camera
Custom Camera with Parameters
Custom Audio Player
Audio Recorder
Video Capture

Of course, similar examples plus more can be found in my book, Pro Android Media and the source for the examples in the book is available

The problem with delicious

I recently heard (well, read on a listserv) from a couple of folks I know that were looking for an alternative to Delicious.  These people have a lot invested in their bookmarks but are finding it difficult to re-find them for various reasons and have therefore decided to move on.

I too have been having that problem as of late.  Perhaps I am not careful enough to put every tag in that I should for every entry, perhaps I am not consistent enough in my tagging and so forth.  While I could blame myself, it seems there are a couple of things that could be done to help me out, for instance, if I bookmark something, perhaps allow me to search not only the tags I have entered but also the top tags as many people do a better job of tagging than one.  That’s the power of the crowd, no?

I know, I know, Delicious gives me the opportunity to use the top tags when bookmarking.  Unfortunately, the main way that Delicious has been failing me is not recognizing when I am linking to something that already exists because the URL is slightly different therefore not giving me the opportunity to use those tags.

I spend a lot of time reading articles in the times, some of them directly from the site, some of them via RSS and many of them via email (from various news alerts that I have setup).  Each of these methods, visiting the same story on the times site yields a slightly different URL ending:






Here is the main URL for an article which is the base but could contain any of the above at the end:

It seems that I generally come upon NY Times articles in a different way than most other Delicious users as they never seem to be previously bookmarked.  Strange..  

Doing a tag search on Delicious for something obvious in the arlticle: “nytimes” and “seeclickfix” illustrates the problem:

There are at least 11 different entries with slightly different URLs..

Since mine will be the 12th version, I won’t have the benefit of having any tag suggestions from previous bookmarkers. This makes me sad and it probably means that I’ll never find the article again.

Come on..  Delicious..  I know it is easy to fall into the void when you are purchased by a company such as Yahoo but someone there must care a little bit..

Mobile, 5 Years in the future

I was just interviewed for an upcoming book and one of the questions was:
Fast forward 5 years into the future, can you paint me picture of the mobile world?

Here is what I said:
I am going to beg out of this one and instead paint a picture of my utopia.

My mobile utopia 5 years from now:

Carriers have accepted the fact that they are too large and slow to beat the current crop of DIY wireless systems that are being built. They have realized that the cost of maintaining service such as the little used voice platform is not worthwhile when all that anyone cares about is the openness and speed of their internet connection. Besides, they are sick of battling the hackers who continually figure out how to bypass their restrictions and really sick of spending their lobbying money to battle Googlezon and the like over whether or not they have to carry 3rd party data without charge.

They have finally realized and accepted their place in the world as “dumb pipes”, wireless ISPs.

They have given up on locking down phones. Nobody will sign a 2 year contract anymore for a free phone that they can’t install any of the open source software on.

On the other side of the coin, Googlezon, DIYers, hackers and hipsters are developing and deploying game changing hardware and applications at a phenomenal pace.

A prolific open source community has introduced a kit based mobile phone with every feature imaginable and battery life that puts devices from 5 years ago to shame. Tourists are carrying around monstrous looking home built teleconferencing systems with them as they gawk at the Naked Cowboy in Time Square and talk with their relatives and friends back home.

Hipsters in Bushwick no longer carry laptops and projectors to their VJ gigs but rather bring their mobile projector enabled high-speed wireless video mixing system and no longer have to be hunched over a keyboard and mouse. They simply mingle with the crowd or dance until they drop with every movement being tracked by sensors programmed to project and mix particular clips or dynamically generated visuals.

I can’t think of anyone who uses a laptop computer anymore. Everyone seems to have adopted the projected keyboard and gesture controlled interfaces that are common on mobile devices now.

Data flows pretty seamlessly and just by pointing to a contact in the sky a voice, data or text channel is opened to that person.

Wow.. Things are different now that the networks have been broken..

(Perhaps we can dream..)

Television 2.0 – What is it, is it already here and what does that mean?

I doubt that anyone reading this doesn’t believe that television, every aspect of it from in-studio production to distribution is either on it’s last legs or going through a major transition but humor me while I make the case and describe what I think is to come.

Among several interrelated activities, I teach a class at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) called Producing Participatory Media. This is only the second time I have taught the class and perhaps as a result of our ever accelerating rate of change the class is completely different than it was the first time around.

I started out the first class this semester asking the students what was the last piece of media they consumed and how they consumed it. By media, I meant audio or video.

I had a some broad categories on the white board that I intended to mark up with numbers. I don’t recall the exact categories but they were along the lines of:
Broadcast (television/radio)
Streaming (live or simulated live internet delivered content)
Download (downloaded from the internet)

As soon as the first person said what they watched or listened to, I realized my categories were terribly outmoded. In fact, I was really the only one in the room of approximately 30 people (lots of people on the wait list) that had watched broadcast television recently (I watched NY1 in the morning). Every one else, had used completely non-traditional forms of media distribution and consumption.

(It should be noted that ITP is a 2 year Master’s program that draws people from every walk of life but completely immerses them in technology and the culture around technology so the data is certainly skewed.)

As expected (to anyone paying attention) a couple of students had used P2P file sharing software like Limewire or Kazaa and either listened to the music they downloaded on their computer or on a portable MP3 player like the iPod. I put these into the category of download. Ok, fine, it was expected.

The first surprise came when one student, a Japanese student said that he watched Japanese television that was streamed from his home on his Sony PSP (Play Station Portable). Wow..! I didn’t know where to put that. Of course, the technology employed was streaming but it is certainly not what I meant when putting that category on the board.

My thoughts when putting that category up was intended to hit internet radio and television but in the same mode as traditional television and radio (one to many). His mode was completely different, one to one and somewhat interactive (he could change the channels on his home television and see the result on his device).

Of course, I had seen this before, specifically on mobile phones running Pocket PC in combination with a Windows Media Center running at home. I also knew that Sony has a product that allows people to stream their media on to their PSP in the home (I didn’t know that it was easy to use outside the home).

This wasn’t mind blowing in and of itself,

(this is an incomplete post from 2006, just wanted to get it out there as a record of what I started noticing then)

CES Wrap-up

Two weeks ago, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Here is a quick write-up regarding it:

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show was a very interesting and overwhelming event. First of all, it is by far the largest event that I have ever been to. The numbers were 150,000 plus attendees and 2500 plus vendors (booths).

As the show title indicates, it is very consumer electronics orientated. This means, home theater audio and video, in car systems, mobile phones, portable music players and video players, digital cameras and video cameras and video game systems were there in a big way. While my interests and technology applicable to my work cross all of these areas, the sheer size and number of similar items makes it very difficult to find the best of the best. Fortunately, CES in general and these areas are well covered by the media and in reviews by other bloggers as well as by awards given out at the show. Therefore, I decided that it wasn’t worth my time at this type of event to focus on them. If you are interested, CNet has good coverage online at: and from CES itself lists the award winners:

I, on the other hand was determined to find devices that enable the types of things that my research focuses on. Specifically, I went with the intention of looking at video capture devices that enable streaming as well as remote control capabilities, set top boxes that have open interfaces to allow for the development of software that runs on them, tablet computers, remote controls and phones that fit the bill to be used as a prototype platform for development of my various projects.

With these tasks in mind I shied away from the areas of the conference that dealt with in car and home theater systems (mostly audio and large screens) and started off by going to the small out of the way booths. Fortunately, this tactic paid off almost immediately. I discovered (actually I think I may have rediscovered) a device called the Pepper Pad: which is essentially a tablet PC running linux crossed with a universal remote control. It fits all of the requirements for developing a prototype for one of my projects and exceeds the capabilities (and suitability to the task at hand) of the devices that I have been using. The Pepper Pad does have a couple of drawbacks. First of all is the cost; it is in excess of $800.00, far too much for wide adoption. Second is the size; it is just a bit too large for my prototype purposes.

These drawbacks are more than made up by the devices capabilities. Also promising is the fact that I made contact with and had a good conversation with the lead technical individual at the company that makes it.

Finding the Pepper Pad was the most useful thing to happen for me at CES but a couple thoughts and notes are worth putting down as well.

1: Convergence, that nasty word from the mid 90’s has finally arrived. Fortunately, it is being done better this time. No more are the dreams of a super device that does everything. Rather, the CE industry is starting to make devices that can talk to each other and share content. Handheld devices that can get content from set top boxes and media centers that can pull up photos and music from PCs are everywhere.

Unfortunately the CE people don’t quite know what the internet is good for yet. They have realized the potential of the internet as a distribution medium but have not realized that it needs to be open. In my opinion, there is no reason to use the internet for distribution unless it is open (both on the consumption side and publishing side). They are still treating the internet as a cable network when they should just be using a cable network.

2: Yahoo, Google and Microsoft were at the show in a big way (I don’t mean sq. feet). This is interesting because they are not CE companies and don’t really have CE products yet they hold the mind share and rightfully so. They get with the CE companies don’t get (about the internet).

Microsoft’s Media Center platform is actually pretty nice and does offer the things that I would like everyone to offer (an open platform with API’s).

Google understands standards and wants interoperability. See the Google Keynote.

Yahoo is the only company there that really showed an aptitude for mixing social behavior and media. I saw prototypes of Yahoo content on a TV platform that almost encouraged social behavior (in the standard Yahoo way).

3: Still, nobody understands that the TV is not the place for interactive content. People are still trying to shoehorn the internet onto TV. It will have some limited success but in the end, it will never live up to what can be done on a PC.

Last here is a list of things that I saw with quick notes that I thought interesting enough to take a further look at. I haven’t had the time to dig yet but I wanted to get them down.

DX5 Digital Camera – Clone of Xacti ?
Microsoft TV IPTV Edition
Playstation 3 – Blueray – Interactive Java Games supported by Blueray spec
SCH-B360 Samsung compact satellite mobile tv phone – dmb – evdo – tv out
DLNA – nokia support
GE Solar Cam
Panasonic 3CCD SD Camcorder SDR S190 or S100
Excercise by playing video games = very itp like – game runner
Ant – iptv platform – not really sure what level – javascript interactivity
Philips remote control honoree 2006 innovations – TSU3500 or SRU9600
ACE LHD Professional Media Server
Lifetouch by exceptional innovation
JVC G Series HDD camera
SD PDA Camera SDC-001A (for palm and pocket pc)
Lego mindstorms nxt
VEX Robotics Design System
Akimbo = not open
Creative Webcam Live Wireless
Yahoo mirror display – in bathroom computing
Yahoo mobile
Walkview handsfree = sports dv camera
Opcom chipcam camera modules
Viiv = upnp = dlna?
Universal remotes with breakout box for devices (basically IR blaster)
Samsung sports camcorder – mpeg4 asp (dumb)
Samsung cameras ptz – see data sheets
Wisecomm wireless camera
Dlink wireless g optical zoom ptz camera
Xavix baseball golf and so on (physical interaction)
Creative Zencast = serious magic = vision
Nokia modeo
Leadtek H.264 based Triple-Play Set-Top Box

Other news:
Google video launched a pay download service
Tivo series 3 – HD and Digital broadcast tuners coming soon.
TiVo Desktop 2.3 Beta: featuring automatic transfers and support for Apple® video iPod™ and Sony PSP™ (Playstation® Portable).

Future of Television Conference

Beyond TV: Next Generation TV
So, I went to the Future of Television conference a couple of weeks ago and was somewhat suprised. Last year, I poked my head in to see what was being discussed and it was a big snooze. After checking out the website, I figured it was worth my time this year so I went.

Wow.. I was surprised. You wouldn’t know it but there are people in TV who really “get it”… Larry Kramer from CBS most notably get’s it.

Here is what I had to say on the day of:
I am writing from Future of Television Conference at NYU’s Stern School of Business today. I am here for several reasons, first of all I would like to know what the networks and traditional media concerns think of the scrappy interactive folks. Second, I am here doing recon. Specifically, I would like to know how long video bloggers and other decentralized media creators have before traditional media begins to offer enough of what they are doing to satiate “consumers”. (Perhaps that is not exactly my fear but close enough for now.)

First of all, I have to say that Larry Kramer gets it. He really does. He is open to experimentation. At CBS he has launched many interactive initiatives from a broadband news channel to podcasts of daytime soaps to fantasy sports sites to deep entertainment content add-ons to viewer/user photo posting to writer and producer blogs to actual audience participation through SMS. Phew..

CBS isn’t the only media company doing this type of experimentation. The other networks, cable and broadcast are doing the same or similar. Notable is ABC News Now, ESPN, Playboy and the like.

The question is, whether or not this is enough. Will this engage and empower viewers enough to keep them despite the ever growing number of alternative content channels. The networks certainly know how to deliver programming to a passive audience. They are just beginning to support a more engaged and digitally connected viewer.

A later speaker in the day, IBM’s Saul Berman described the audience by categorizing them in 3 camps. “Massive passives”, the folks that CBS has always served, lean back, over 35, want to be entertained but don’t feel compelled to buy the latest gadget or create their own media.

The next camp, arguably the focus of most of these efforts he described as “Gadgetiers”. He describes this group as heavily involved in content, they are fans, will seek out other individuals who are interested in the same content they are. They will purchase the latest devices, use time shifting (TiVo) and will space shift (TiVo To Go). They are also the heavy buyers, the early adopters, in short, the people that the advertizers (and therefore the networks) covet.

It remains to be seen whether what the networks are starting to do will appeal to this group in the long run. In the short term, it is clear, if you put it out there they will come. How long they stay is another matter.

The last camp, the “Kool kids”, the ones really getting all of the attention, are the hardest to understand. He suggests that this is the group that rejects DRM and “walled gardens”, in short, the group that wants media on their own terms. This is the group that uses P2P software and is heavily social. They have dream devices that aren’t out in the market as of yet.

I know that the kks (short for “Kool kids”) are what have network executives up at night. They are the hackers and inventors who are really driving the internet. TV and media in general will fit into their game or be disregarded.

Ok.. So the big question at the end of the day? Will the cable and TV networks run scared and do everything possible to protect their business models or will they embrace the new like they must. My feeling after this conference is that they have learned something from the music industry and will try to embrace but there will still be a major shakeup and Yahoo! and Google just might become the “new” networks. Good or bad.

Hillary support’s The INDUCE Act

I was dismayed to learn that Senator Hillary Clinton has come out and in fact co-sponsored Senator Hatch’s Induce Act. What follows is a draft of a letter that I am writing to Sen. Clinton to express my concern. I hope that others will do the same.

Here is some background material:,1283,64315,00.html

Like your iPod, read this:

Please comment on the letter as you see fit.

Dear Senator Clinton,

I was dismayed to learn that you have come out in support of Senator Hatch’s Induce Act. I hope that on further consideration of the issues that this bill covers that you change your stance to better reflect the opinions of your constituents and for the betterment of our society.

The Induce act as it currently is written does much to stifle free-speech, artistic and fair uses of media. Imposing legal responsibility on the makers of devices and software for illegal use such device or software will create a burden so great on manufacturers and creators of such programs that they will not develop or offer products that have potential for misuse.

I fear that by trying to curb the theft of copyrighted material you will instead be curbing the ability for individuals and groups with legitimate uses for the technology that enables such to use it. Being thoroughly immersed in an academic and artistic atmosphere, I am witness every day to fair uses of technology that would not exist today were such a law in existence. In fact I feel that the software that I am using to write this letter would not have been developed simply because it includes the ability to cut and paste text from any source into the document.

I believe that should this Bill become law that it will undo much of the progress of free-speech and alternative media creation that has been enabled by the internet, personal electronic devices, computers, tape recorders and so on. Furthermore it will be a giant step backwards and lead to increased power by the media and further relegate citizens to the role of consumer without a voice.

I hope that you will reconsider your position on this matter.

Thank you for your time.

Shawn Van Every

What happened to my book? Technology | Blowing up “The Anarchist Cookbook”

I used to have a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook but can no longer find it. Hmmmn.. Not too long ago I decided to see if it was still in print and available, in the process I found William Powell’s comments/letter on the Author’s comments section on Amazon’s page for the book. Here is some discussion of that from Amazon. BTW: Of course it is available, I added it to my wishlist.

From the Salon article:
The author of the famous do-it-yourself bomb book renounces his creation — on Amazon.

Visit the page on Amazon:

Here is the Anarchist Cookbook FAQ: