Archive

Archive for the ‘Mobile/Cell Phone’ Category
02 Feb

SMS + QR Code = Awesome geek business cards

Okay, okay… so you are saying to yourself, “Robert that SMS business card thing your wrote about is a little tech geeky. So, can you make it even MORE tech geeky?”

Why, yes. Yes, I can.

I mentioned QR Codes in a few posts back. These are new bar codes that anyone can generate to point to a specific URL, display text, share a phone number or send an SMS.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

If the answer is merging Contxts.com with QRCodes and printing them on the back of business cards, then you are correct! And, well, we may need some mental help. But who cares. Nerd is the new cool, right?

So, here it is… I created a QR Code with the SMS number of 50500 and message of webjournalist. All you have to do is take a picture of the code using the appropriate app on your phone, and your phone *should* send out a text message to Contxts and get my contact info.

My business cards with QR codes.

I say *should* because depending on the QR app you have (and believe me there are many) it may or may not work.

Hey, it’s cool. (Don’t judge me.)

28 Jan

Testing out iCall – free VoIP iPhone app

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iCall is the new iPhone app that allows you to do Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls over the Web and 3G. VoIP, while much cheaper, is also generally known for low audio quality. Sorry, it’s true.

Well, it’s also true here. The audio quality from my iCall call was pretty bad… but remember you get what you pay for.

Compared to a traditional cell phone or land line, the audio quality is dramatically worse. Granted I was on AT&T’s not-so-great network, but you can’t blame them for everything and you can’t blame them for this.

The audio was slurred coming in when I heard my voicemail greeting and it was stuttered going out when I heard the audio playback.

Compared to Skype, the quality is also worse. But, in a pinch, this may be a cool app to have.

That said, this may happen to be a coincidence, but my battery was drained from 70 percent to 20 percent five minutes after the call.

Verdict: I don’t recommend this app when GoogleVoice is around the corner.

I uploaded my the audio so you can check it out.

Listen!

28 Jan

Two business card alternatives: Save the trees, embrace the geekiness

My paper contacts in my office.

A few months ago, I uploaded a photo of my trusty, old Rolodex onto Facebook.

Over the years I have met some great people, collected a ton of business cards and attempted to alphabetize them in my Rolodex.

That alphabetizing part only lasted about 20 minutes some ten years ago.

Since then, I have had piles from different conferences strategically growing on my desk, in my backpack and around my Rolodex.

So, if business cards don’t work for me, what would?

Here are two ways I’ve begun sharing my contact info. Both of these I learned from people at I’ve meet at conferences.

The first is the extremely, iPhone-geeky-awesome Bump. This was introduced to me by David Stanton (@gotoplanb), Poynter Institute and University of Florida instructor, and all around cool tech guy. We met at AEJMC and sure, it probably took longer than physically swapping business cards, using the bump was much more fun. More importantly, it gets the contact information into your phone!

Why is it called Bump? To swap info, each iPhone user first loads up the free app, establishes a connection, then does a fist bump. Okay, the fist bump is actually optional… but the gesture/motion between the two iPhones triggers the app to look for a receiver/sender and syncs up the info. [See the video]

The second is simply, simple and I can’t believe it is free. At this year’s CES, I met some great L.A. tech folks, including Lisa Borodkin (@lisaborodkin). She’s an Entertainment + new media law and policy expert that is jumping into Web journalism reporting for LAist.

I didn’t believe her, but she asked me to text her first name to get a text back with her contact info. I did it, it worked. I set mine up.

Contxts is awesome. The downside: it’s in the SMS side of your phone, not contact side. But, it’s in your phone and adding it to your contacts shouldn’t take too long.

How’s it work, exactly? Just have people text your name/code to 50500 and boom, they get your info. I got greedy, so I have two accounts: webjournalist and roberth.

Try ’em out and tell me what you think.

There are TONS of alternatives to business cards swaps, and these are just two I’ve played with. Which ones have you used? What do you recommend we try or try to avoid?

Let’s do what we can to save the trees… and embrace your inner geek.

27 Jan

Apple’s iPad matches hype, but it’s no print industry savior

NYTimes created an iPad app that takes advantage of the new platform.

NYTimes created an iPad app that takes advantage of the new platform.

Well, it surely doesn’t have the best name, but the much anticipated, the much rumored and the much hyped iPad is finally here.

For those in the newspaper and magazine industries, the iPad has been championed as the device that will save them from bankruptcy. For those who knew of Tablets PC from years ago, this was going to be a flop.

My impression: Damn, it’s slick!

First, snap out of it… this will not save the print industry. Stop it. Who are you kidding? Content is, for the most part, the same as a Web site.

What this does do is give the content creators another distribution method to share news and information. Another opportunity to develop a way to deliver engaging content and capture the elusive revenue.

But, like the Democrats’ attempt at overhauling Health Care, the track record and innovation from our industry’s leadership is… well… lacking.

That said, let’s leave the revenue model/funding concerns for another day. Let’s take a closer look at this device and how it can really change how we cover news.

Here’s what it has:
– Incredible price
– Long battery life – allegedly
– An established OS
– WiFi enabled and upgradable to 3G – sadly through AT&T
– Assisted GPS – with 3G
– Translates existing iPhone apps and the established marketplace
– You can buy an adapter to read SD card

Here’s what’s missing:
– Camera
Adobe Flash compatible, although there is a report that this may soon change.
– Wireless charging
– Wireless syncing
– Tethering

There are some significant unknowns:
– How easy is it to type on?
– Is this a truly mobile device? Will we remember to take it with us?
– How durable is that thin screen?
– Will people want this?
– It’s not E Ink (thank goodness), but will you read books on it? Eyes be damned?

In short, it’s a bigger, stronger iPhone – minus the camera.

From my perspective, depending on the keyboard, this could be the device that really allows Mobile Journalists to be be truly mobile. It’s not the *Multimedia* Journalists’ tool yet, but at least you could potentially use this device instead of your phone or laptop to file your story. You can use the SD card reader to transmit your pics and video.

Any way you slice this, Steve Jobs and Apple have really created an impressive product and a new category that can really shake things up. This may not be our industry’s silver bullet, but it is a great opportunity for us to innovate… let’s not screw this up!

10 Jan

CES 2010 debrief: Kid Rock, Intel and batteries

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Kid Rock, Geordi Laforge, great gadgets and great folks… my first CES delivered an impressive experience that made it well worth the trip – even if I stayed at a bad hotel like the Excalibur. (Hey, and no CueCat!)

You’ve heard by now that 3D TVs were the buzz of the conference and that an army of eBook readers are about to swarm the market. There were some impressive booths and demos, especially from Kodak and Intel.

But my take away from CES was the growing technology compensating for the limitations we’ve gotten from crappy battery life.

Here are three devices I recommend checking out:

HyperMac batteries come in all sizes.

HyperMac batteries come in all sizes.

HyperMac is a full-fledged external battery made for all your Apple devices.

Coming in difference sizes, you can lug around a battery the size of your laptop to power your laptop. Or a deck-of-card-sized battery that is great to recharge your iPhone a few times over. It powers your devices through its USB port.

If you are tired of carrying around all your cables to charge your devices, PowerMat has some interesting options. This company launched its first device in October, but they have already developed and improved on their impressive technology.

The truly wireless PowerMat. Coming in Q3.

The truly wireless PowerMat. Coming in Q3.

Later this year that are going to release replacement batteries for your cell phone (and soon for your digital point-and-shoot and video cameras) that will work with their wireless charging mat.

But, for me, the best thing coming out in Q3 is their really wireless, portable charger. This (large) pocket-sized mat holds enough to completely charge your iPhone four times or even give your netbook some extra juice, with an adapter.

This mat is truly wireless. Just place your device on the mat, hear a beep and see it charge. There are several different contenders entering the new wireless-power market, but as of right now these guys are leading the way. Keep an eye on this company.

This little thing can get a charge by wind, solar, hand crank or plug.

This little thing can get a charge by wind, solar, hand crank or plug.

And for those of you concerned about your carbon footprint, MiniWiz has developed a wind, solar and hand-cranked power device. This little device is made to hold you over until you get to the plug.

Sure, you can say it is a gimmick, but it’s a nice device in a pinch. One minute of wind power charges your phone for one minute of voice.

There is a newer, smaller version coming out later this year.

With things like the MiFi and these new batteries, we’re getting closer to being a completely wireless reporter without the need of a plug — well, for at least several hours.

11 Dec

Gaming changing tool: UStream iPhone App

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With all the new technology that continues to come out, it actually is hard for me to get impressed by something. I can think of only a handful of times that my jaw dropped.

This may be one of those times.

For more than a year now, I and some seattletimes.com colleagues had been experimenting with livestream. It’s been a virtual arms race to see who would own and lead that technology. From Justin.tv to livestream.com (formerly Mogulus) to Kyte.tv to UStream.tv, each had very cool features and some significant weaknesses. (When I get a chance, I’ll post my experiences with each and a review of them.)

These free live streaming apps allowed journalists to do live video from just about anywhere, taking on TV’s ownership of live shots. All you needed was a camera, laptop and a strong, reliable Internet connection.

At ST.com we tried a variety of experiments, some more successful than others… but we tried. We knew it was just a matter of time before the technology would catch up to our ideas. While not perfect yet, technology has been making some significant strides… and yesterday was a big step.

In addition to live streaming from your laptop, there was an even smaller arms race from a few folks wanting to stream from your cell phone.

Qik was one of the first… but you had to have a special phone. When the iPhone came out, Qik would only work if you had a jail-broken iPhone. Then they finally had an approved app, but live streaming was not a feature.

Skype would work on one-to-one calls, but only on WiFi, not 3G.

No one had cracked the nut to offer streaming from your phone, broadcasting live to the world. Well, no one, until UStream’s new iPhone that was released earlier this week.

Let me just say it: This is a journalism game changer. Professional, citizen, whatever! You can now cover breaking news from your phone to your homepage to the world. Awesome!

I downloaded the free app and took it for a test drive. As with all technology, there are some strengths, there are some weaknesses… but, for the most part, it worked!

Here are some videos I did the morning the app was released:

STRENGTHS: WEAKNESSES:
> It works on both 3G and WiFi. > UM, you’re depending on the AT&T network. Enough said.
> UStream’s video-related chatrooms is displayed on your iPhone screen. > The quality of the content coming from those chatters is still, well, low.
> It gets published and promoted on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and your channel. > When you are testing it out, you may swamp your friends with repeat “Check out this video” as you practice.
> You can offer polls during your stream. > I don’t know if you can craft the question, especially when live streaming.
> Visual quality is as good as the iPhone’s camera. > Visual quality is as good as the iPhone’s camera. I have shaky hands, which means you see shaky video.
> The audio quality is decent for what it is. I used the mic/ear buds, but found that actually hurt the quality. > No real external mic jack — because it’s a PHONE, not a camera!
> It’s free! > People see a lower third ad when viewing your video. But it’s freakin’ free to use!

Overall, if you have an iPhone, you HAVE TO GET THIS APP! (That’s right, all in caps.) Get the UStream app and get to work!

π