It had to happen on #13 right? On my recent 14-day tour of IFA and IDF (Berlin, San Francisco) I prepared myself with four devices. One Windows laptop. One Chromebook. One smartphone and one featurephone. What I didn’t plan for was a total failure of the main Windows laptop. Chromebooks don’t work as a fallback laptop.
Everything had gone very smoothly with my Haswell-based Ultrabook. The platform has great battery life (in this case, all-day working without a charge) and 1080p video editing and rendering for my (admittedly basic) YouTube videos. Photo editing (for blogs) is easy and there’s enough space in a 128GB SSD for a two-week session. When your Ultrabook fails, however, you’ll need a backup. I’m usually equipped with a second, lower-powered Windows laptop or tablet but this time I only had the Lenovo N20p Chromebook. While that has battery life, a quality browser, good WiFi and a keyboard that won’t drive me crazy it can’t handle video editing. When you’re producing up to 15 videos for YouTube per day you need local processing. Lesson learnt. A Chromebook is not a fallback solution.
As YouTube and display ad revenues fall, the business plan for an independent content creator becomes more and more difficult. Over 8 years I’ve created content around mobile PCs and follow a start-up phase funded party by the German state, everything has been organically funded.
The ad revenue problem is there because we’re not talking about a hobby business anymore and, as with everything, it reaches an equilibrium where business becomes just as hard as it should be. In the early years we could always relay on ‘break-out’ content to keep the finds flowing but now I need to change the way my content is financially supported.
I’m sitting here and experiencing real peace and quiet right now. Being away from the desk makes you think differently and in this case I was cycling up a foothill of the Alps here in Bavaria thinking about how many websites are struggling to compete against the big boys. Media companies like AOL are all over the web now covering every important topic and working-in coverage of niche keywords while they do it. The SEO power of these media companies is quite phenomenal. They’re also getting good at theatre.
The Daily Mail is a classic example of news theater and has built a huge following based on it. Techcrunch is one example of a website that works its theater well too. Teasing headlines, controversial content and often a slightly off-balance focus.
Security and privacy stories are the worst with many issues never being tested and analysed for true risk.
I’m seeing it all over now and as the big guys fight amongst each other for 10 hard-hitting stories per day it’s only going to get worse.
As what you might call a second-tier blogger who runs 4 websites privately, I don’t get involved in the fight but it does affect my traffic. A lot of private websites that used to ‘link-love’ are now part of these big media networks and with their celebrity bloggers are able to drive traffic via social networks with more efficiency. The theater happens there too. Twitter is full of it although when I take a look into the German language on social networks it doesn’t happen so much. It tells me that it’s largely coming from the USA which makes sense to me. Silicon Valley and the USA in general has always been good at theater!
Are you experiencing ‘theater’ more on websites now? Is sensationalism creating into the equation? Are you a private blogger trying to make a living in this tough environment? Maybe all blogs need to become part of a network eventually?
Posted, possibly while reclining, with the Galaxy Tab 7
I can’t deny that my sites (UMPCPortal, Carrypad) growth has been stunted by my reduced attention span in the last 18 months. Two important family considerations (both good!) have hit my working day very hard and I’m struggling to fight my way back into care-taking the sites as I should be. I don’t want to give details but a baby and a hard-working, successful wife gives you a clue.
In addition to the time issues, there’s also the tablet crave.
I am, quite frankly, struggling to keep up with the short-form coverage [that’s a polite way to put some of the content i’ve seen recently] coming from established tech sites.
I’ve lost all of my blogging momentum as a result of these two issues. One took the time away, the other took some of the desire away.
In my last report – How Was my CES 2011 Mobile Reporting Kit? I didn’t have much positive to say about my plan for quick-fire mobile blogging. 3G failed me and I ended up scrabbling around trying to find WiFi hotspots. Not only is it a pain in the neck, it’s also a security risk. I connected to 18 different SSIDs in Las Vegas!
In Barcelona last week, it was a completely different story. On day-one I used the hotel WiFi but as soon as my 3G card was configured, I didn’t touch another Wi-Fi all week. Everything, including video uploading, was done via Vodafone 3G and finally, because of the 3G, the kit worked together in harmony, including a new photo blogging process that I’ve detailed below.
A reminder of what I’m using:
I took my Atom-powered Gigabyte Touchnote netbook (in use since April 2009) and the Canon S2IS (In use since Mid 2007) I added the Galaxy Tab and the Nokia N8 Smartphone (thanks to Nokia UK for the loan of the phone) and a pay-as-you-go SIM card and 3G data service from Vodafone Spain. Although there’s a nice range of tech there, it certainly isn’t high-end across the board.
As always, the netbook was for long-form typing and video ‘finishing’ and uploading. I didn’t do any live blogs with the Canon S2IS attached via USB this time but the S2IS was used for videos. It’s a rather embarrassing 640×480 resolution and I only get about 9 minutes in before the card runs out because it records in M-JPEG and only supports SD cards, not SDHC but, the optics and Mics are great and the video file is easy to process on a netbook. With the long zoom it also works well in keynotes and press events although I do realise that none of the images taken in low light are anywhere near print quality!
Despite my love for this camera I have to find something that is faster, supports 720p video, is more sensitive and, somehow, supports external audio input. The rotating viewfinder is a must for self-filming too. I really would love Bluetooth support on my next camera for instant sharing/pushing but for the time being, I’m considering an Eye-Fi solution and the Canon SX20 or new Fujitsu HS20. I just cant afford to go to four-thirds and and I can’t justify 1 Kg of DSLR equipment!
The reason I’m so bent on having Bluetooth on my camera is due to the way I’ve been using phone cameras for the last 3 years. The Nokia N82 gave me the ease of transferring images to PCs and other mobile devices for easy editing, sharing and photo blogging. At MWC I used the N8 for just that and the experience was amazingly stress free and flexible. Far more than simple photo-bogging.
Photo blogging like never before, without a PC!
Take one Nokia N8. Pair it over Bluetooth to a Samsung Galaxy Tab, connect the Galaxy Tab to the internet via a 3G service and boom! You have one of the easiest, richest photo blogging solutions I’ve ever seen. The solution was so liberating that I ended up posting about half of my content last week without the use of a PC. In most of those cases I was standing up and in some cases, even walking! The solution also allows for multiple images in a post. Here’s an example that was posted on the Samsung booth just minutes after shooting a video.
Note that this process also works with Twitter, Email, Pixelpipe, Evernote, Facebook and other sharing targets. That’s the flexibility of the Android sharing subsystem coming in to play.
Unfortunately, the size of the N8 720p videos and the low speed of the Bluetooth 3 protocol (remember, the N8 and the Tab don’t have the ‘HS’ Wi-Fi extension that speeds up transfers) mean it can’t be used for that but 480p is possible on the Galaxy Tab, with video light and pause capability. There’s no continuous auto-focus but if I can find a video splicing application that fits my needs, it might work! [I’m currently testing Clesh the web-based service which now has an Android client]
Other improvements could be made too. Ideally I’d like to be able to auto-send an image to the Galaxy Tab although selective sending isn’t exactly a problematic or time-consuming task. The best improvement would be in the WordPress editor. Inclusion of html source, bullet-point support and positioning of photos (rather than just at ‘top’ or ‘bottom’) would make posts look less samey and if the WordPress application could support the sending of ‘custom-fields’ I could feed more layout info to my back-end.
Some of you might be thinking – “Why not use Pixelpipe or get a slider phone or Use the camera on the Galaxy Tab.” Yes, this is something I’ve tried to do in the past but there are a few problems with that. Number 1 â€“ The N8 takes extremely good low-light and close-up photos without flash. 2 â€“ The large screen of the Galaxy Tab allows me to thumb type and review a lot of text (see pic below. )The WordPress application adds a lot of value to the processes enabling auto-resizing, links, tagging, geo-tagging and more. The portrait mode keyboard on the Galaxy Tab is superb. Haptics and Software work well together.
Take a look at this pic, taken with the N8 and transferred by Bluetooth of-course! You can see how much screen area is still usable with the keyboard on-screen.
The N8 also has an excellent photo gallery application (fast, smooth, usable), high quality audio recording capability and good outdoor screen clarity. Its the perfect device for this set-up.
In terms of rich photo blogging, I’ve found a great pair of devices in the N8 and Galaxy Tab. So much so that I might reverse my original decision to hand back the N8 and look for a different phone.
As far as the camera and netbook go though, a move to 480p 720×480 or similar is a must. This is potentially a 1000 Euro and 2KG decision so I’m not going to do it without a lot of thought. The ideal solution will give me 720p source and 480p editing in 1.5 Kg but that will be very tough to achieve. The AMD Fusion platform (Toshiba NB550d perhaps?) and a Fujitsu HS20 could be a good place to start. I’ll be testing soon so keep an eye out for the next mobile reporting kit.
I’ll be at CeBIT, Hannover next week where the kit will be in action again.
Yes, Carrypad wasn’t a product of the iPad boom. It started on paper in late 2005 as my phone contract renewal time was approaching. I had a boring job and I spent quite a few hours thinking about what I really needed. I was already using Internet data over GPRS on a daily basis and was wanting more. More screen, more flexibility, more battery life and more processing power. There wasn’t a phone on the market that could satisfy my requirements. Convergence wasn’t happening.
There’s the third device requirement popping out now – Sofa, Bed, Car.
I tell you – this is mini-tablet/micro laptop territory. The product group with no definition. We need a new definition here:
sofapod, stylepod, stylepad, lifepad, lifepod, midipod, midipad, intermidi. Mmm. Those names are all to obvious. Lets try Carrypad. Yeah we’ll call it the carry-pad.
And at that point in writing the draft posts I registered the domain and set up the blog. The Carrypad Journal went live 5 years ago today.
I wasn’t the only one thinking about this category though. There were other bloggers around and, unknown to me, a project within Microsoft called Origami was about to go public. The Origami team, led by Otto Berkes, had been tasked with putting forward requirements for the next generation of personal computer. They came up with a social, location-focused sharing device proposal and a demonstrator called Haiku. [See this article for a retrospective.] It was so ahead of its time that it beat technology by about 4 years. When Microsoft tried to implement it they had no operating system, no processing platform efficient enough or powerful enough and radio technology was too power-heavy. The mobile devices â€“ Origami UMPCs â€“ were dismissed as ugly, useless ‘tweeners.’ Many, many journalists missed the point of the project, called it a complete failure and ignored the space. What actually happened is that Microsoft hit the nail on the head with the project and should have kept it secret for another 4 years while they developed a matching operating system. They still haven’t done it even today, 5 years later. Instead, others have stepped in and are making a success of it.
Other significant mentions need to go to Pepper Computing â€“ Their PepperPad was a concept that was also far too ahead of technology. Nokia had the Linux-based 770 too. They recently lost their way with that one!
Despite the negative press that the sector was getting, I carried on blogging and found a niche, a big niche of pro-mobile passionate users that enabled me to leave my job and go ‘pro.’ These users and fans still exist today and not just in vertical markets for transport, health, ‘blue-light’ and other industries. You’ll find them over at UMPCPortal which was the detour I made with Carrypad to keep up with the buzz of the UMPC. I’ve learnt a lot from these people over the years and despite falling viewer and story numbers there, find it difficult to focus completely on the consumer tablets without going back to UMPCPortal for a ‘pro’ chat every now and again.
I would have gone bust in 2008 had it not been for the netbook though. Thankfully, the wave of real sales, millions of sales, helped advertising revenues and propped me up. It also helped that many netbooks were being called UMPCs in Asia. 2008 was a big year for traffic.
Late in 2009 it was obvious that the market was starting to change. More and more ARM-based products were reaching the market in tablets, phones were becoming super-phones and Android was taking off as the slim, consumer internet/sharing operating system I had been looking for in 2006. I started populating Carrypad again with stories about the Nokia N900, Dell Streak and Motorola Droid. On the 1st Dec 2009, Carrypad re-launched. Just 30 days later, Apple announced an event for the 26th Jan and it turned out to be the iPad. Carrypad was back on its original track â€“ but not for longâ€¦
Two days before the first person started queuing for the iPad my wife gave birth to my Son Nicklas and my world was turned upside down. I wanted to write 24/7 about tablets and consumer tech. I wanted to go to every meeting and event possible. I had more plans than ever for Carrypad. I also wanted to spend time with my family. It was a hard time trying to get the balance right and the last year has been the toughest yet as I try to balance my passion for ‘Carrypads’ and give time to my Family. Funnily enough, the products I cover have helped and there’s one product that, more than any other, tells me that I was right. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the Carrypad!
I won’t dwell on how much I’ve used it over the last 4 months but if you pay attention to other mobile bloggers, you’ll also hear them praise it too. Yes, there’s a space for 10 inch in the home but no other device has ever been more personal to me than the Galaxy Tab. It’s hard to imagine how it could be improved! [Although I have tried]
So that’s where I am now. I’m at a point where family life is getting easier to cope with, where I’ve got a device that satisfies my original requirements and where I need to start thinking about the next big thing. I’ve got the wrist in my head right now but disruptive technologies like foldable screens, solar power, voice control and superphones will all put a spin on it. I’m also looking closely at operating systems that could potentialy span the fun, app-centric and location-aware mobile space to the pro-focused desktop space.
Independent blogging is getting hard though and it’s tough to see a future where I can continue as I have done over the last 5 years. Twitter has cheapened the process of cross-linking and getting friendly traffic, large blog organisations are increasingly working inside their own walls and spammers and content copying add another challenge. The plan right now is to put more effort into my white-labeled product database on which I can build a blog that doesn’t rely on advertsing. I want create a new forum on Carrypad and will continue to arrange unique content through my contacts. Running two websites (actually three or more if you include my minor projects) is also inefficient and so it’s likely that I will combine the two soon, maybe under a new, generic name which would release the domain Carrypad.com for a sale. To be honest, now that the ‘pad’ market has taken off, I don’t want to be confined by it. The market will evolve and so must I. Where could we be in another 5 years?
Thank you to everyone that has contributed to the success of my web projects over the last 5 year. From Paceblade for trusting me with my first review device through VIA Technologies who sponsored my solarumpc tour. Thanks to Jeff Moriarty for reaching out when he worked at Intel. That relationship continues today.
And thanks to the readers. Thanks to the people that correct my terrible spelling. Thanks to the people that challenge my opinion. Thanks to the people that add knowledge and thanks to the people that help others via comments and forum posts. Thanks to other tech bloggers that have been so helpful, generous and friendly.
Most of all thanks to my Wife for putting up with my long and unpredictable working pattern and supporting my pro-blogging career. One day, my love, I promise I’ll earn some money ;-)
Like the books says, cross the chasm to a small island and build out from there. Or something like that anyway. [Ref: Crossing the Chasm]
I don’t know if many people out there are considering starting a new blog these days but there’s one thing for sure, the only way to do it organically is to focus on a tiny niche and build out from there. Some of you might have noticed my experiments with product blogs recently. I did the MyOmniaPro blog and now I’m doing the XperiaX10 blog. I definitely learnt a lot from the two experiences and see an advantage now in running multiple smaller blogs rather than one big one. The reasons?
Focused community. All the readers are there for one reason. It build quickly.
Easier SEO. Naming the blog myomniapro.com brought it to the top of a Google search for Omnia Pro within about three months. I’m currently testing with a sub-domain xperiaX10.carrypad.com in the hope that I get good keyword SEO from the domain name but also add to the value of Carrypad.com which I also own. If that works, I might do further sub-blogs.
Choose something you love, buy it, blog it. It’s so much fun to learn, to share and to get feedback on something you own.
Focused advertising. Through Amazon you can place highly targeted ads meaning better chance of clickthrough and conversion. Google is also able to determine the subject of your blog very easily.
Product-focused forums work well. Much better than forums that focus on a sector.
When the product dies, move on. If you don’t like the product, be honest, sell it and put the blog on ice. Move on to a new topic.
You’re not tied to a sector.
It’s easier to become an expert on a device than on a sector.
One disadvantage is management and time-splicing between multiple blogs.
WordPress MU helps to set sub-blogs up super quickly though so that shouldn’t be a problem. As far as time-splicing goes, focus on what you love but pay attention to stats. If you’re in it for the money, you need to attend to the things that are popular.
Hope those thoughts help you with your blogging plans. I’m off now to post my first impressions of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 – A device I’m really enjoying.
Oh, and by the way, I’m still running two big blogs because they’ve already got traction. I have no plans to spit them up as that would be too much of a risk.
You might have seen me mention a thin blogging kit in a few other posts recently; well this one is here so that I can get my plan in order, and show you what the idea is. Let’s call it the TBK for now! The goal of the TBK is obviously to keep things thin & light! The result will hopefully be a super-light weight, and fully capable blogging platform.
iPhone 3GS (133g) [for pictures/videos and data tethering]
As you can see, the entire kit is just under 1000 grams [2.202 pounds] (excluding the iPhone because that is always with me regardless). And the thickest that anything in the kit gets is the iGo BT keyboard (when closed) at just 17mm. Check out the relative sizes, and a comparison to an Asus Eee 1000HE [Portal page]:The pieces of the TBK will allow me to do pretty much anything I need to. The Archos 9 as you know is a full x86 computer with touchscreen which will be running Windows 7, meaning that I’ll be able to access my blogging software (Windows Live Writer) and do anything else that works best on a computer running a full OS, like media editing. The Mogo BT mouse and iGo BT keyboard up the ante on input for the Archos 9, providing essentially a full input experience, and everything is wireless.
If you’ve looked at the Mogo BT mouse, you’ll notice that it is actually designed to store and charge in a notebook’s express card slot. The Archos 9, as well as most small computers, don’t have an express card slot, but luckily Mogo also makes a USB express card adapter to charge the Mogo mouse if your computer happens to lack said slot, so I’ll be able to charge anywhere that USB is available. And while the Mogo mouse won’t be able to stow away in the Archos 9, I think it is plenty thin to fit the case with the iGo BT keyboard.
In addition to having high quality input through the mouse and keyboard, the iPhone will be able to provide important functions, such as video, geo-tagged content, and data tethering when WiFi is not available.
Have any suggestions for must-have thin accessories that might be great for the TBK? Let me know in the comments, but keep it thin!
Edit: Response to comments – Hey guys, good points about the netbook. Trust me, I didn’t overlook the whole category, in fact, I have an HP Mini 1000 already!
The TBK is just an Archos 9/slate experiment, I guess I should have made that clear. I haven’t used a pure slate, especially down at this size (I have a convertible tablet), so I’m not exactly sure how useful the Archos 9 will be. While a netbook is definitely a good solution, I must say, notebooks are boring!
I really just want to see how thin I can keep the entire kit. This doesn’t have any special practicality, but I’m wondering how compact I’ll be able to carry this setup. There is also increased flexibility. This doesn’t apply as much as this screen size, but on smaller devices, it is generally useful to be able to put the keyboard away and be able to have just the screen out for particular scenarios, like viewing media. With this TBK I’ll be able to selectively use one or more parts as I need them. So If I’m on the bus and I want to watch a show, I can essentially have just the ‘screen’. Again, this is just an experiment to see how a slate can be used, as we’re seeing many pop up in recent months.
Many of you know that I’m re-cutting my teeth in the smartphone world over at MyOmniaPro. What better way to track the smartphones as they move closer to MID and ultra mobile PC territory than to buy one, write about it and talk to the smartphone fans and experts out there. I even joined my first ever smartphone podcast this evening with WMpoweruser, PDA.pl and UnwiredView.com. It was great to talk to those guys about features, user requirements and operating systems. Running a blog at the edge of your core catchment area is a great way to keep a balanced view.
The Viliv X70 EX Premium Air has a long battery life, reasonable processing power and built in 3G so it didn’t take me long to start messing about with it as a mobile broadcasting solution and that’s the focus of Version 6 of my mobile reporting kit. Live video.
I spent some time testing different webcams, microphones and configurations and have come up with a 2KG setup that will allow you to do live, mobile broadcasting over Ustream with reasonable quality. The total cost of the solution is under $1000 and the setup can not only be used for live streaming but can be used as a complete Ultra Mobile live blogging solution.
What I’ve done is taken the X70 EX and the car kit. I’ve mounted part of the car kit onto the leg of the tripod so that the ultra mobile PC can be clamped in. It provides a sturdy screen at a good height when sitting on a chair in, say, a conference room. The X70 EX has Wifi and 3G included. The 3G is HSUPA capable which puts it in the 1Mbps max upload class (assuming you have the right coverage)
I’ve added a 4-way USB hub to the X70 and then plugged in a Philips SPC900 webcam (manual focus) and Samson USB mic. The Philips cam has been chosen because the drivers seems to be very efficient and can produce 20fps VGA framerate while still doing automatic white-balance. Many other solutions I’ve tried including the built-in cam, drop to below 10fps and lower when using the automatic white balance features. Auto-focus would be nice, as would optical zoom and a quality sensor and optics but for the price, the Philips cam does well.
One of the ‘tricks’ I use on the live video sessions is to avoid the use of the browser-embedded video capture software in the ‘flash’ control panel. The CPU requirement is high, the quality is poor and there’s very little control. Instead I use the standalone Flash Media Encoder (FME). It’s an application that takes audio and video inputs and allows you to stream to a media ‘relay.’ More details on this can be found here. On a desktop machine it can be used to broadcast very high quality VP6 or H.264 encoded video but on a ultra mobile PC is can be used to fine tune the broadcast for a good balance between quality and CPU load.
Unfortunately you can’t control the end-user stream with the FME so you still have to run the Ustream Broadcast Console. The wonderful advantage of this is that you don’t have to run the broadcast console on the same PC so you have three options.
1) Run the broadcast console on the same PC â€“ Not recommended as it takes a lot of valuable CPU and doesn’t do much except start and stop the broadcast (unless you want to add text and links overlays.)
2) Run the broadcast console on another PC. This could be on another laptop that you have with you or on a remote desktop machine that you access via a remote desktop solution.
3) Get someone else to handle the broadcast console on a remote machine, anywhere on the internet.
The Ustream broadcast console automatically detects that you’re streaming via the FME and allows you to switch directly to that stream. If the stream drops out it gives you the option to drop back to a local video source. It takes some playing with to understand the architecture but its very flexible once set-up.
After doing some testing with various settings I settled for a total 550kbps average broadcast bandwidth by using the VP6 encoder at 500kbps with a 20fps VGA (640×480) frame rate and size. For audio I used a 48kbps MP3 audio track. If you’re broadcasting music, you’ll want to pump this up to 96kbps or more.
550kbps is a good rate for 3G broadcast on HSUPA. 50% utilisation is a reasonable expectation although you must expect to get some frame loss as the quality of 3G services varies wildly based on usage and position.
This broadcast was recorded by Ustream at their servers (not at the source) while broadcasting over Wifi. It gives you a good idea of what the end user will see.
It’s re-sized to 80% of full frame size.
Once again, this is not recorded at source, it’s what the end user is likely to see. I hope it streams OK for you for the Ustream server and apologies for my appearance!
640 x 480 is arguably too big for web-embedded broadcasting but if possible it’s worth doing as when you ask Ustream to record the stream (a single button press on the broadcast console) they’ll be capturing better quality that you can use and post-process later. If you find the upload bandwidth isn’t available though, switching to QVGA and dropping the bitrate to under 300kbps, 15fps, is going to work in most situations.
Using the solution for one-man live photo / text blogging.
To do live video and live photo and text blogging on the X70 EX might be asking a little too much but if you’re not into doing live video, here’s another possible arrangement. Using a Canon Digital Camera (possibly others too) you can replace the video camera and then use the Canon Remote Capture software from the PC. Doing this forces an immediate transfer of the image to the PC where you can drag it into LiveWriter or your favourite blogging software (I prefer LiveWriter as it does some nice image re-sizing) and update a live blog. With a USB keyboard plugged in you can type your text as you go along too.
The X70 EX will run for about 4 hours over 3G in this setup. That’s one 30wh battery powering the cam, mic, 3G and PC. It’s amazingly efficient. If you need more power though, get the X70 EX car kit which has a car adaptor in it. You can then run the solution from a 12V car battery or general purpose Li-Ion battery. You can even use a 24w solar panel to keep the whole system topped up for a whole day’s broadcasting. If you’re using 3G, make sure its a true flat-rate connection!
The solution is very mobile when in use. By grabbing the neck of the tripod, the unit stays well balanced when walking. You’d need to find a good USB mic solution that could be mounted to the tripod but this shouldn’t be very difficult. I can see myself having some fun with this a IFA in Sept as I walk around the booths!
I’d like to find a higher-quality USB web camera with, if possible, built-in white balance, auto focus, brightness etc. Maybe even zoom and an LCD preview screen. I’m wondering if there are any digital cameras or digital video cameras that can be used in this way. If anyone has any information on this, please let me know.
I need a new keyboard. My Samsung Ultra Mobile USB keyboard appears to be broken so I’m looking at the Aisonic 800M right now. The integrated mouse control is a must-have but can I find one anywhere? Nope. I’ve written to the manufacturer to see if I can buy some samples.
The Ultimate Live Reporting Setup?
While I was thinking about keyboards, I thought about just using my netbook with Synergy keyboard and mouse sharing over a Bluetooth PAN. The advantage of this setup is that you have one keyboard, two PC’s, two screens and the ability to live stream, run the broadcast console AND live blog using a USB-connected camera. It would add 1-2KG to the setup (netbook + cam) but wow, you’d be the ultimate one-man band live blogger!
As an alternative to using the X70 EX on it’s own, you could use a netbook or, for more processing power and the ability to connect a web-cam, a digital cam and to do live video and simultaneous live blogging, a full power laptop. You won’t be able to mount the netbook on the tripod so you’ll lose a lot of mobility but as a laptop solution it should work fine. Choose a 3G-capable laptop with a good keyboard. Something like the Samsung NC10 3G or Eee PC 1000 GO range which offer good battery life too. Overall though, with the car mount, the 12V charger, the built-in 3G and light weight, I think the X70 offers one of the best solutions for mobile use.
As for streaming platforms, Ustream works well but I’m looking to try out Livestream.com soon. They have been working in the Ultra Mobile space recently (and demonstrated a mobile internet streaming solution at Computex) so maybe they have some good ideas. Their basic ad-supported streaming service is, like Ustream, free.
Previous versions of the ultra mobile reporting kit.
Welcome to today’s 5-country map-based, near-live media tour. As I travel through Germany, Luxemborg, France, Belgium and Holland. In the map you’ll see the main part of this tour – a map that i’ll be updating with media and route info as I go. You should see images, audio, tweets and video if everything goes well. I expect the tour to last about 10-12 hours.
Update: Podcasts and images below!
With me I have two Intel based MIDs. The Wibrain i1 and the OQO 2+. I’ve got spare batteries for both and haven’t got any charger with me so it will be interesting to see how much battery I get through. I’ve also got a GPS puck (bluetooth) a USB snake cam and my headset. I’ve also got a stack of podcasts loaded up on my phone!
For information on the roaming 3G services i’m using today, see this post.
Update: Treating myself to a burger and thinking about all the things Ive learnt today. The experiment worked but it was mostly a hand-finished exercise only possible because i had a full browser and a PC. So much more could be automated in software to make this easier. 3G worked well although getting out of the cities highlighted that even European 3G doesnt cover you at all times. Battery life on Wibrain was amazing. I have switched to the 3rd battery to write this but the Wibrain has been on from 0930 until 1900 and still had 1hr left.
Using a MID to take high quality images in the future should really help because software can automated the tagging, resizing, editing and uploading along with local creation of the mashup file although its arguable that a camera would always be better positioned on a phone if its the one device you always have with you.
After realising that I couldn’t use the navigation software on the Wibrain due to the GPS already being used by the tracking software, I had to resort to the smartphone. Man that’s a dangerous experience! I could hardly see the screen. Smartphone navigation is great for pedestrian applications but it canr replace a well designed 4″ experience.
It was a shame that I couldn’t test the ClarionMiND today as the car mount and tailored UI would have really helped. I’ll have a chance to test it next week though so maybe ill re-do a smaller version of the tourr.
Today has been fun and challenging but now its ime for me to clear my table and head out into the car park and back home. Ill try and update this post with thoughts as I have them so check back soon.
Tomorrow, I’ll be doing some driving. Actually quite a lot of driving. I’ll be driving through 5 countries in about 12 hours and while I do it I hope to keep you updated on where I am, what i’m doing and use a MID to generate and post-process all the info into a nice media stream. One of the challenges will be navigation. Another challenge will be staying online. I’m quite sure that the 3G coverage will be good but i’m also sure that the cost is going to be high. Current charges for roaming data in Europe are just stupid. 4 Euro per megabyte is a standard charge if you havent set any roaming deals up and it goes way higher than that if you mess up use the wrong access point. Ideally there would be a virtual provider in Europe that could sell you a pre-pay SIM and offer cheap data across all EU countries but so far I haven’t found anything. Instead i’ll be signing up for 24-hour roaming sessions. For 14,95 I can roam for 24 hours with Vodafone. Not bad is it! Until you read the bit that says ‘max 50MB’ compared to the 4.95 they charge for a full day’s in-country flat rate, it’s almost criminal!
I can eat 50MB in minutes on a MID so I’m going to have to be extremely careful. I had an option to use another 50MB on a special T-Mobile card but when I tried it the other day I got charged per megabyte. The website is unclear about my data options and as I write the part of the site that tells me my options is down so I won’t be risking it with T-Mobile tomorrow. That leaves me with quite a challenge. I’ll be OK in my home country of course but the mad dash from Luxemborg through France, Holland and Belgium will be a challenge. I wonder how much I can squeeze out of 50MB. Will I still be able to provide you with live positioning data? Will I remember to compress my photos before sending them to flickr and will I be able to do a few quick podcasts?
Planned route is below but I’ll be making a live map mashup as I go tomorrow.