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Month: January 2007

Well-behaved embedded video ad


No-one can have missed the new crop of Apple-beats-PC ads – nicely filmed, but getting a bit annoying even for Mac Addicts like me. I won’t bother with a detailed critique now: suffice to say that they’re carried by the particular humour of the comedians, and that the ads aren’t so much for the Mac as for iLife (I suppose that Apple have to flog the software angle).

Anyhoo, that’s not the point. The reason I thought of the ads again today is that – upon visiting Technorati – I see that the ad’s running embedded on the home page.

Best of all, the ad’s running silently – you need to mouse-over the ad to both enable sound and restart the clip (all of which happens seamlessly I should say).

It struck me as a sensible way to have rich media and clips operating on the home page: unobtrusively and considerately. I wouldn’t be surprised if the click-through (or rather ‘mouse over’ is higher because it’s elective – rather than the rush of people looking for ways to ‘kill’ the ad as it interrupts whatever else we were doing at the time.

Good to see such sensible developments in ad serving.

SMS – direct from the Apple Address Book with the K800i

A while ago I posted about a lovely little app from that allowed me to sync my Ericsson K800i with my mac. One of the best £1.49s I’ve ever spent!

Anyway, the lovely folk there mailed me today with a new plug-in that allows – at LAST – me to SMS directly from my mac via the K800i.

In case people aren’t aware, when your mac is “paired” with a mobile phone and you’re in the Address Book application, you can right-click (or command-click, as Mac Users say) on a mobile number and select “SMS” from the contextual menu.

This allows one to knock out SMS messages as if there were no tomorrow. The only reason I miss the Hated Treo 650 is for its awesome texting capabilities, but now I feel liberated.

There’s an additional nice touch in the software that, when you get an incoming call there’s an on-screen notification and you can accept, reject or immediately SMS the caller. Best of all, at the end of a call, you’re asked if you want to log the call in the contact record:

Called at 30/01/2007 10:03

is added to the notes record. Granted, it hasn’t got duration, whether initiated or incoming, or even a billing code (!) but it’s still a neat touch. Best of all it’s simple, lightweight, needs no effort on my part and – gloriously – just £1.49.

With all of this Mac-K800i Karmic Goodness I may even be slightly sad when I trade up to the inevitable iPhone… Maybe.

UPDATE: 20070326… The other day I went to sync my phone and – erk – there was an error: apparently the plugin was no longer compatible with iSync. Of course – the curse of configuration management when you run Software Update and just install all latest updates to OSX! I wandered over to Feisar’s site and found this helpful update – typically clear and helpful. Honestly, this is such a helpful site – and even better value! This really is my favourite ever £1.49 spent online! : MacWorld San Francisco 2007 Keynote Live Coverage

Not quite “being there”, and not as fast as IRC, but props to the folk at MacRumours for their line by line coverage of Job’s keynote…

Read this bottom up… I particularly like the “crowd cheers” commentary.

9:43 am one device, not 3 separate
9:43 am crowd goes wild again
9:42 am 3rd
internet communicator
9:42 am revolutionary
9:42 am mobile phone
9:42 am 2nd
9:42 am crowd goes wild
9:42 am widescreen ipod
9:42 am first
9:42 am 1984 – first mac
2001 first ipod
today – introducing 3 revolutionary products

I know, I’m a sucker, but I WANT ONE.

Just nipping off to find a way to preorder… 🙂

My only sadness is that it’s not like the Newton Reborn… Your day will come again, my sweet. Soon, yes soon.

Podzinger – searching videos for text and keywords

Interesting to see a video search technology making it to the big time (free time).

Podzinger uses speech recognition software to ‘search inside’ audio and video. The cunning part is that it’s able to do this to a repository of stuff (YouTube) and then add to its index. Looking at the Podzinger website they have a number of ‘content partnerships’ and I assume that this entails a form of notification of new content for indexing.

Many moons ago, at the BBC, I was excited by the notion that we could search our TV output for text strings. At the time, speech to text conversion was execrable (back in 2000) and so the idea didn’t fly.

Interestingly, the part of the BBC in which I worked was also responsible for the closed captioning (subtitles) and so in theory we had a time-stamped, “already text” option for searching. Unlike speech-to-text software the Carbon-Based Lifeforms who were creating the captions (think of stenographers on speed) were able to spell correctly the phonetically-challenging names and technical terms that defeat generalist conversion dictionaries.

While it’s great to see a move to increased searchability of visual material, I’d love to see more use made of the close-caption resource. Any one at the BBC reading this and fancy a quick mashup?? 🙂

It’d be worth it just to be able to search on “Sound of footsteps approaching” or “[loud music]”, not to mention the seminal “[Warm applause]”.

MacBookPro – sleep/shutdown and battery management problems – resolved!

I’m a bit of a Mac fan and I’ve already posted about getting an early MacBookPro. All was well (OK, the heat was annoying and carting such a lump around has also made me think more about getting a ‘computer on a memory stick‘[pdf]… but I digress).

Overall, life was good and even the I’m-going-to-kill-myself annoyance with the refusal to sleep problem didn’t covert me to PCs (and thankfully a fix arrived quickly).

What drove me to distraction was the spontaneous shutdown when the pooter was running on battery. Surely, the whole point of laptops is that they run on batteries (!) and so the problem was stupendously annoying, especially since the accursed battery level was reading 97%.

After this had happened a few times I read the tales of woe online: general problems with the early batteries, silence from Apple, long delays in having MBPs assessed. Sigh.

I rang Square, where I’d bought the MBP, and was told it would be three weeks even to look at the machine, and no there are no loan machines. I was also told that there was no guarantee it was a battery problem, but that I could buy another battery (gee, thanks) but – oops – no they were out of stock anyway.

So – more in annoyance than anything – I rang the Apple “Genius Bar” at the Regent Street Apple Store and, after a brief wait, got through to a chirpy-sounding person, clearly reading from a call-centre screen prompt. After asking me if I’d done the obvious (I had) and the non-obvious (firmware updates, checked RAM seating, reset power management) things went silent for a while (SFX: sound of reading notes).

Then, bingo: “there’s a website where you can check if you’re eligible for a battery replacement”. We visited the site together (ahh) and I completed the details (you need battery serial number and MBP serial number) and the site told me I was eligible. I completed my details and was warned of a lengthy delivery delay. Still, I was pleased it was being “sorted” and was rather impressed. All v easy, and I was surprised not to have found details of this on the web.

I was even more surprised and impressed though to receive the batter the next day, less that 24 hours after I’d completed the form, and on the last working day before Christmas. All arrived in a neat box with a return-paid label for the old battery (environmentally-responsible disposal).

In all, from my very low expectations, Apple turned round a major annoyance with a slick, prompt and free service.

Hugs all round – and I hope that the URL will help some other early adopters (fools as we are – or just incontinent in our desire for more Appley Kit Goodness). For now, back to enjoying the 3-hour unplugged battery life…