2018: Life on the Net…. A Video

This panel at Fortune Brainstorm titled “2018: Life on the Net” caught my interest. The 19 minute video (below) was moderated by Quincy Smith, CEO of CBS Interactive. On the podium was Lawrence Lessig, professor of Law at Stanford Law School, Joichi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons and Chairman of Six Apart Japan, and Philip Rosedale, founder and chairman of Linden Lab, (Second Life.)

Thoughts from panel included;

  • MIcro-payments not working
  • Media just starting to work
  • Ignorance within government on how Internet works leading to the application old style corrupt culture being applied to it
  • Government waiting for something bad to happen to the internet so they can come in and take control of it
  • Economy shifting in media production because of Internet
  • Influx of Money from Capitalism and Venture Capitalist can take stupid forms on the Internet
  • Concept of big centralized company will be less prevalent than it is today because of the collaborative and shared nature of the Internet
  • Government and Academic research will open up to be more Open Source
  • More 3D data and adoption of gaming style software interfaces

Enjoy ….brad….

Microsoft’s Surface Sphere Prototype

Microsoft researchers have taken the wraps off a touch based sphere prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a round computer display to life. People can interact with the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.

Sphere, as it’s known, is purely a research project. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to offer it as a product. The idea is to see what the technology can do, and how people will use it and is a cousin of the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer.

The system employs advanced algorithms to translate images designed for a flat computer screen so that they appear properly on the rounded globe. The unit also ingrates an infrared system that can sense when hands or objects are placed on the sphere, to let people interact. In the spherical version of the classic Pong arcade game, people place their hands on the surface to direct the bouncing balls inside the sphere.

Photos can be resized or dragged around the sphere in real time and transported to someone on the other side of the sphere by using a palm.  A potter’s wheel application allows people dip their fingers in virtual paint and press against the static globe as the digital work surface spins. Below is a video of the unit;

The Ups and Downs of RSS Feeds and What I Did To Overcome them… (For Now) Pt. 2

Overcoming Twitters New RSS Access Restrictions

In doing my investigation of RSS authouring tools that I outlined in Part 1 of this blog I came accross an obsure posting at a site called Get Satisfaction. In reading the posts it turned out that Twitter RSS feeds were changed to require authentication. When my Yahoo Pipe went out to get the RSS feed from Twitter, it was rejected because my pipe, and as far as I know all Yahoo Pipe components, lack the ability to authenticate access to RSS feeds.

In further following the posts someone suggested that an internet service called Free My Feed — a free and simple service where you don’t even have to create an account– takes a Twitter RSS feed along with the account login information and produces a second authenticated RSS feed that can be read by Yahoo Pipes and pretty much any other RSS reader.

It only took me a few minutes but it turned out that the rss feed produced by Free My Feed could be cleanly read by Yahoo Pipes and I was back in business. I had to write a new pipe because of the restrictions that Twitter had added but in the end I have a system that is a lot easier to understand. Its documented on one of my Googe Sites.

The Ups and Downs of RSS Feeds and What I Did To Overcome them… (For Now) Pt. 1

For the past few days I’ve been rained out of the video shooting that I had been planning to do. I decided that this would be a good time to develop a few more skills in understanding RSS feeds for both my blogging and digital signage work. The skills will probably come in handy when I get back to work.


It became necessary for me to learn about RSS because we decided RSS feeds would provide the best content backbone for a digital signage project we were working on at Ryerson University. After a lot of work I thought we had developed a system that employed Twitter and Yahoo Pipes that met our needs. But over time Twitter has not proved to be a consistent service for RSS feeds. For some reason Twitter’s integration with Yahoo Pipes was changed without notification. It was to the point where my Yahoo Pipe that I employed stopped working. I had to use the RSS output from Tumbler’s Micro Blogging site as the RSS feed to my WordPress blog to get around the problem. Now I find what I devised to be complicated, convoluted and the combination is not working to my satisfaction. So I decided to explore other alternatives to generate RSS feeds.

I won’t go into the gory details of my first efforts creating the Twitter Yahoo Pipes (documented here) but I found Twitter’s 140 character limit to be ideal for Digital Signage applications. As a cloud service Twitter automatically provided the policing to limit the text in digital signage posting and once the message was posted to Twitter it automatically generated an RSS feed that Ryerson’s digital signage system could pick up and display. The feeds only problem was that it would add the account name to the head of the post. The service I discovered to fix this problem was Yahoo Pipes. Pipes which is a free mash up tool, and a pre-made pipe that would eliminate the account name from the Twitter feed and re generate a new feed that could feed the Digital Signage system (and my blog). As I mentioned earlier it worked great for the longest time and then stopped working. All attempts to fix it have been difficult given Twitter’s irregular operating schedule and unannounced changes to its services.

The Downs Of RSS

For something called Really Simple Syndication, its something that is really difficult to author (or at least find out how to author). When I first went to the net all I could find were sites that would tell me how the files were formatted. I had trouble even finding the simplest tool to help me create an RSS file from scratch. Even a trip to Toronto’s Worlds Biggest Bookstore was no help in finding a good book on RSS.

I finally learned– after much reading and fusing– that an RSS file is little more than a standardized XML text file that is placed on a central server –usually a web server–. Because its standardized other devices can read and extract elements of the data contained in the text file. Hence the formatting is important so the precise information that one wants from the file can be extracted accordingly such as into Ryerson’s Digital Signage application.

Finally Some Authoring Programs!!!

When I work I like to keep things simple if I can. Given that my days plans were rained out I finally had the chance to look for some simple authoring programs.

The best program I found was actually a live web RSS Feed Creator application put on-line by the University of Mississippi. What is good about it is it creates an RSS feed on the fly that I could cut and past into Notepad. I could then save it manually as a .rss file and sent to my web server for testing. What I liked aboutthe webpage was that I could see the data being added to the RSS file in real time. This helped me immensely in better understanding the formatting of RSS files. I did a quick test using the website and Tristana Reader and the output seemed to work fine. Another bonus is that the Java code found on the webpage is quite editable. I used it to create a personal wepage that would create an RSS feed.

I also I tried a number of desktop based RSS authoring tools. RSS Builder (Freeware) has a built-in FTP client that allows for the RSS file to be downloaded to ones website. It authors in RSS 2.0 and having tested it, I know it creates RSS feeds that work. RSS Builder also allows one to save and reload existing files for updating before being republished. If you don’t like freeware I found Tristana Writer to be very good with similar features to that of RSS Builder.

Other Authoring Tools Available To Call Upon

Other programs that I came across while looking into authoring programs included:

The Ups

After playing with these tools for some hours I ended up gaining a much greater practical understanding of RSS Feeds and how they are generated. So what did I do to overcome my problem with Twitter and Yahoo Pipes? I came across an obscure post on the root of the problem and I found a solution. I’ll cover that in my next post.


Hitachi: Dawn of the Tera Era

To anyone who is close to this business, storage systems that contain terabytes of information is common. However terabyte hard drives are now becoming mainstream in the consumer space so Hitachi released the video below to outline the advantages of the technology. It’s a pretty funny video and kinda reminds me of the old Peter Puck video’s that used to run on ice hockey broadcasts to explain the rules of hockey. Enjoy…..

InfoComm 2008 – Projector Technologies

Projectors From Canon

About the only standard projector(s) that I’ll post on from InfoComm 2008 are Canon’s. At the conference Canon released the WUX10, the world’s first WUXGA (1920×1200) projector using LCOS technology along with the SXGA SX80. Both of these projectors feature LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) and the WUX10 is the highest resolution of any Canon projector incorporating a 0.71-inch WUXGA, the world’s first LCOS panel of its size to achieve such a level of resolution. The SX80 features a 0.55-inch SXGA (1,400 x 1,050 pixels) panel. The panels eliminate the “screen door effect,” which is a visual distraction common to LCD projectors.

The SX80 Multimedia Projector is being the world’s first projector to offer PictBridge connectivity. In addition, both of the new Multimedia Projectors feature Canon’s AISYS (Aspectual Illumination System) Optical Engine and also feature newly developed Genuine Canon 1.5x Powered Zoom/Focus Lenses. In addition both projectors feature Off and Go (which allows users to pack-up quickly after a presentation by simply unplugging the power cord while internal circuitry continues to run the fan and cool the projector), auto Set-Up functions for focus, keystone, signal inputs and screen color-correction; and an RJ-45 Connection with a built-in network interface for centralized monitoring of projector units.

Pocket Projectors

Atlantis Mini Video Projector

I’ve been interested for some time in what is happening in the area of pocket projectors and it turns out that InfoComm is one of the best places to see the latest developments in this area. The Atlantis Mobile Cinema Ultra-Mobile Multi-Application Mini Projector (model APSE-10A) is touted by Atlantis to be the world’s first pocket size projector. According to their website it provides high resolution projection video up to 50 inches in screen size,providing clear VGA resolution pictures. It uses a built-in battery that makes it ideal for presentations in remote areas.

Samsung SP-P400

Samsung was showing its SP-P400 that it has labeled as a pocket projector. It employs an LED lamp, employs SVGA (800 x 600) resolution, and outputs at 150 ANSI lumens. They were showing them working to projecting onto 3M’s Vikuiti display material in the SAMSUNG booth at InfoComm. Below is a video of the unit I found on YouTube;


Finally the last one that I got a look at was the TAXAN KG-PL105S. Other than the link provided there is not much that I can tell you about this unit other than to click on the pictured specification sheet to enlarge it.

InfoComm 2008 – Odds and Sods

The following is a series of links to some of the other things that we saw at InfoComm 2008.

SureVue 2A Rugged, Fanless Digital Signage Player

Seagate EE25 Series ™ Hard Drives

Seagate EE25 Series ™ Hard Drives

WebDT Signage System’s DS1200 Touchscreen

Security Door Controls

Security Door Controls

InfoComm 2008 – Podium and Presentation Technologies


Intellerum was a company that we spent some time with at InfoComm 2008. They make storage components for Academic use including laptop carts. We talked to the designer of the product and he had come out of the Academic environment so we had a lot in common. He had added a few advances over that of some of his competition. One useful item we found was a simple wall mounted casing that would be great for a late night laptop dropoff container. It contained a pushdown lock so the enclosure could be left unlocked. In the case where a student needed a laptop for an evening could return it to one of these enclosures later I the evening and engage the lock so that it would be in place for the next days classes. Intellerum’s website is thin but they do make some useful products and are innovative.

Nomad ADA Podium

While our particular operation is not big on fixed podiums the Nomad ADA Podium is unique. It’s a height adjustable podium which is designed for people of any physical stature and its been designed to be wheelchair accessible. It integrates with a wide variety of presentation equipment and ceiling mounted projectors connect easily to it.

The Nomad ADA Podium pull-out lectern, which can be tilted for optimum viewing angle, it accommodates a preview monitor, it allows for either push button or an electronic touch screen control system, which allow the presenter to raise or lower the podium and tilt the monitor, it accommodates a document camera, a combo VCR/DVD Player, contains a Bose sound system, has notebook tray and hookups, comes with a 3200 ANSI Lumen XGA LCD projector and mounting hardware, employs annotation and built-in PC options and uses an RF keyboard and mouse.

TECOM TechPod™

One item we really liked was the integrated TechPod podium. Its advantage was its integration being shipped with all the audio-visual equipment required for a lecture installed in a compact console. The unit comes with an intuitive and user-friendly interface that allows the lecturer control over all devices. Below is a video of the unit and how it is designed to operate;

TECOM TechPodXpress

In our operation we prefer the portable solutions. TECOM’s TechPodXpress has every multimedia capability built in, and is managed through a simple control panel. Because its on wheels it can be moved safely and easily from one place to another on its wheels.

It innovates on the solution that we’re currently using because it contains a user friendly control panel, computer interfacing including making use of built-in CD/DVD, VHS playback, built in sound system, document camera, laptop connectivity, LCD projector, rolling cables for easy connections and automatic operation and shutdown.



In terms of portable systems we found the AVRover system to appear to be more rugged than the system that we purchased. It’s metal exterior and the methodology used to adjust the projector seemed better than what we are currently using. The model SVS 200 is a 36″ high and like all other units has its components securely mounted inside. There are no doors or shelves with all controls are easily accessible, including the projector. Laptops, DVDs, CDs or VCR tapes, document or video cameras, iPods (including video) and microphones all integrate with the system.

One item that makes this system stand out from the others we saw was the Onfinity CM2 Max interactive whiteboard system. The AVRover system can make any surface interactive through the use of a camera fixed in the stand and a wand. Below is a video of this technology in action;

One last item they showed as the AVRover Puppy. This looks like a great product for boardroom tabletop presentation as it takes a lot of the functionality of the AVRover and packages it up neatly for boardroom presentations. The Puppy is an all-in-one table top AV system. All one has to do is plug it in to an electrical outlet and connect a laptop, iPod or video camera and turn it on.  It contains your projector and provides clear amplified sound. It weighs 25 lbs, travels using an optional rolling carry case and was designed to fit into carry-on luggage.

InfoComm 2008 – Neat and New Technology

VBrick InfoCaster Partnership

From our perspective it was great to see that Harris and VBrick got together around digital signage by announcing a strategic partnership where VBricks technology is being designed to interoperate with Harris’s InfoCaster product. VBrick will provide the encoding hardware that will interoperate with InfoCaster to deliver live video streams on a digital signage network. VBrick also announced its H264 Appliance that will allow for High Definition streaming using their technology.

GefenTV Ethernet

Gefen was demonstrating two Ethernet extenders: the GefenTV Ethernet over Power Line and the GefenTV Ethernet over Coax Extenders. The technology delivers a plug and play method of Ethernet delivery using the existing cabling infrastructure. Both systems use small sender and receiver units where receivers are equipped with four Ethernet 10/100M ports to accommodate multiple connections, each capable of supporting up to a 200Mbps transmission for instant data delivery.

The GefenTV Ethernet over Power Line solution allows users to tap into any standard wall jack to deliver the Ethernet to any room with a power outlet. Likewise the GefenTV Ethernet over Coax extender uses standard coaxial cable to deliver Ethernet data throughout the home or office.

Roland’s Video Switching and Conversion Technology

Roland was showing their new F-1 Field Video Recorder.  The unit employs a shock-resistant floating HDD, two channels of additional audio inputs, multiple power supply options, remote control via LAN, on-site review of clips, unlimited file size, and a number of additional functions including HDV and DV capture, additional 2 channels of balanced audio, removable HDD, RGB output and utility software for previewing, file management and basic editing.

We were looking at Roland because we were interested in their line of Vision Mixers that incorporate computer feeds as well as traditional cameras. We looked at their V8 switcher for standard definition and their V-440HD that has the capability to input 4 SD video sources and 4 HD or RGB video sources. They also have a small V-44SW switcher that is a rack mount HD switcher similar to the V-440HD. We also took a look at the VC-300HD video converter that does format conversion of Digital/Analog, HD/SD or compressed/uncompressed signals as well as direct connections from computer RGB sources.

Vaddio HD Production Switcher

The ProductionVIEW HD from Vaddio is multi-camera control system is designed for live broadcast events. It integrates PTZ camera control and multi-format HD/SD live switching with real-time graphics and effects into one console. The surface gives system users real-time knobs and buttons to control functions and produces only one frame of delay — a critical requirement for broadcast.

The unit features six inputs of any combination of component HD, RGBHV or SD Video, focus and iris knobs on control surface for making manual adjustments, six discrete auto-sensing RS-232 camera control ports, lower Screen Graphics Over-lay mode, selectable cut, fade and wipe transitions, 3-axis hall effect joystick, adjustable pan, tilt and zoom speed knobs, 12 camera presets, transition speed adjustment and it is compatible with Vaddio, Sony and Canon PTZ Camera Systems.

TrackVIEW System

Another great product Vaddio is showing is a product they call the TrackVIEW System Next Generation. It’s used where hands-free camera tracking and broadcast style preset camera control are required. The system is not well described on their website but it has the capability to follow the activity of a classroom situation through camera presets based on floorpads, following the teacher around a classroom using image recognition and switching to students asking questions at desks by sensing the closest microphone to the student speaking. Ifound a video of the system in action on YouTube that shows the basics. It’s lacking the features that have been added to the system for interaction with students at the desks;


FogScreen™ projection screen, produces a thin curtain of “dry” fog that serves as a translucent projection screen.The system uses tap water and ultrasonic waves to create a smooth foggy airflow that captures images just like a screen. You can walk right through a FogScreen projection screen without getting wet as the microscopic fog droplets actually feel dry to the touch, just like air. Below is a YouTube video on the medium;

Other Products Of Note That We Saw In This Category

Ansmann Rechargeable Batteries

Ansmann Rechargeable Batteries

Data Reels - AMETEK Hunter Spring Products

Data Reels - AMETEK Hunter Spring Products

Z-Band High Definition TV over CAT cable

Z-Band High Definition TV over CAT cable

Arrive.Infopoint - Room Scheduling Appliance

Arrive.Infopoint - Room Scheduling Appliance

InfoComm 2008 – Light Emitting Diode (L.E.D.) Technology

One area that’s been growing at InfoComm over the past few years that I’ve atteneded is the area LED’s. I thought rather than write a post about it, I’d edit some of the video that I shot as LED’s are more of a visual thing;