Friday, January 12, 2007

mp3s need meta tagging for podcasts

As I listen to increasingly more podcasts, one frustration I keep encountering occurs when I am listening to a podcast/radio show that runs for over 40 minutes, and I need to stop it in the middle. Then, if I've quit the player, I have to manually try and find the place where I stopped.

One simple solution would be to add timecodes and labels to the comments field, for instance:

0:00,"chapter 1",2:45,"chapter 2", etc.

And then players could support this information by allowing you to skip ahead by timecode within a single mp3.

It would also be nice if mp3 tags could be given temporary bookmarks -- so I could stop and bookmark it in my iPod and then resume it on my PC.

C'mon lazyweb ... make it happen!

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who are the Apple designers?

It's well known how vigorously Apple defends its trade secrets and new products like the iPhone. However this seems to include stopping their team from blogging. (As Robert Scoble notes and former Apple employee, Chiqui explains further).

Whether or not Apple condones or condemns blogging is irrelevant -- from my point of view, there are lots of amazingly talented UI and user experience designers who work there, and I'd like to know who they are.

While Steve Jobs will occasionally let the praise for Apple's well designed products trickle down to people like Jonathan Ive -- for the most part he seems happy to take all the credit for himself.

This is unfair to those of us in the industry. The IA/UXD profession is largely open about sharing practices and processes that have been helpful in our work, and this improves the industry as a whole -- it makes us all better designers.

The design community has always been supportive of Apple -- they should be aware that they can make a useful contribution to the UXD dialogue and, in turn, support the design community.


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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Longer term prediction - ambient power sources

Well, I didn't do my 2007 predictions, in part because I wasn't sure I could top my 2006 predictions.

But I will post a futurist idea I had over the holiday when my mom asked "when will everything be completely wireless?"

At first, my response was -- "power can never be wireless. probably everything will have a rechargeable battery, but eventually it will have to charge."

But then I thought -- what about an ambient, surface-based-transmission power source?

Here's how it would work. The outer layer of your phone, or monitor, or whatever electronic device would receive power when in contact with a power transmitting surface -- such as a desk. The surfaces would need to conduct electricity only when in contact with each other, otherwise they would be inert and safe to touch.

In other words, you put something down and it starts charging until you pick it up. No more power cables.


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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The new blogger - I knew there'd be consequences

I was having trouble posting to this blog, so I thought it was Google's way of strong-arming me to switch to the new version of Blogger -- however the real problem is that I let one of my domains expire accidentally (I manage about 12).

Well, the move to the new Blogger has gone relatively smoothly, and I'm looking forward to trying out the new features -- but unfortunately it's killed my ability to post from Performancing.

When I get a chance, I'll have to bite the bullet and migrate to Wordpress, but that will call for a redesign.

... ok, now I'm rambling and I probably shouldn't be writing anything at 3.30 am ... ah the joys of jetlag.


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Monday, January 08, 2007

How to get me to unsubscribe

This is a capture from my Bloglines feeds page. That bit in the middle is a feed that 'cleverly' decided to insert an image promotion and another image 'post your story here' (why??)

This is not how RSS feeds were meant to be used. Repeating images are annoying, and ads even moreso. Surefire way to get unsubscribed from my feeds.

That having been said -- I can understand the frustration with not being able to convert the portion of your feed reading audience into trackable website traffic.

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My celebrity look-a-likes?

I was impressed by the choices made for Mike's look-a-likes, so I thought I'd try it out too.

Apparently I'm a combination of Judy Garland, Harry Potter, Salman Rushdie and Superman.

Try it yourself at Incidentally, since you have to register, you're helping them build a facial database for who-knows-what purpose -- but hey! it's fun.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

What would it take to save a TV series?

Over the holiday, while in the US, I discovered a series called Day Break. I watched the first six episodes and was ready to write a blog post about how this would be the next sleeper hit to reach the UK.

However, when I looked it up I found that ABC has already cancelled the show, and may not even air the remaining episodes which have been filmed.

Instead of launching into a rant about how short-sighted TV executives nearly cancelled hits like Seinfeld and Cheers -- I thought I'd be more positive and ponder about what it would take for a fan-based movement to gain enough ground to revive a series.

We've seen fan-based movements before with Firefly, Arrested Development and Enterprise -- which actually raised enough money to run a full page ad, but all failed nonetheless.

So far, series like Family Guy have only been brought back from the dead when they've lived long enough to be put on DVD, and then DVD sales renew interest in the series.

Fans of Day Break have launched a petition to save it, but given the trend -- Hollywood is more likely to listen to dollars than voices, and I'd guess they wouldn't notice a petition no matter how many people sign.

So -- what I'm wondering is how much money would have to be raised to save a series? The premise could be simple -- funds could be donated against the purchase of future DVD sales. If the series doesn't come back, then the funds are returned. But how much would it take for TV executives to sit up and take notice?

Here's another question. Given that fans will readily go out and do grassroots / guerrilla marketing on behalf of the television programme they would like to save -- why don't networks announce which shows are in danger of being cancelled or the production companies for that matter?

There is certainly a missed opportunity here. Eventually one online-savvy media company is going to launch their series direct to internet, and then follow up with DVD sales and the other companies will be left playing catch-up as usual.

Big media ... wake up and smell the Long Tail.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

2006 Predictions - Redux

It's time to look at the predictions I made at the end of 2005 and see which I got right and which I got wrong:

1. Location-based mobile services will gain a foothold
Wrong. At least in terms of what I had in mind -- people regularly using their mobiles to find nearby services.

2. Yet another I-Should-Have-Thought-Of-That service will be bought by Yahoo or Google
Right. One word - YouTube.

3. EBay does something big.
Wrong. They haven't done anything groundbreaking.

4. PS3 puts XBox360 to shame
Wrong. On two counts. First, Sony bungled the launch and marketing. Second, I completely ignored the Wii -- and that was the real story this year.

5. TV production companies start to finally understand the value of putting episodes online
Right. For example, you can watch the full episodes of Heroes online. Maybe they've finally realised that an online buzz improves overall sales, and opens up overseas markets for syndication.

6. VidCasts will not become successful
Yes and no. You could argue that the webcam vlogs found on YouTube are VidCasts. And there are a few cult-hits like Ask-A-Ninja -- but I'd still argue that VidCasts have not gone mainstream yet.

7. Encyclopedia Britannica and/or Encarta to adopt Wikipedia model
Wrong. I over-estimated the negative publicity around Wikipedia at the time. However, I was right about the gap in the market -- which the wikipedia co-founder, Larry Sanger, is hoping to fill by launching a competitor, the poorly named: Citizendium

8. Episodic games finally released by a major publisher
Right. SIN Episodes launched in May 2006.

9. Affordable terabyte hard drive hits the market
Right! The LACIE 300797U retails for $530, but is on sale for just over $440. I predicted $400 -- I'd say that's pretty much spot on.

10. Space time capsule launched with a digital snapshot of the internet
Right ... surprisingly, because this was sort of a joke. It wasn't a physical time capsule, but the Yahoo! Time Capsule ran from October to November and the data was beamed into space. I'd still like to see my idea of a physical internet archive stored on the moon come to fruition though.

OVERALL: 6/10 correct predictions

I'll post predictions for 2007 soon.

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